HC Deb 12 May 1988 vol 133 cc522-64

Order for Second Reading read.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Before we begin the debate, I inform the House that Mr. Speaker has selected the last instruction on the Order Paper standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore)— That it be an instruction to the Committee on the Bill to consider and report to the House on the likely effects on other London wholesale fruit and vegetable markets of the proposals to transfer the Spitalfields market to Temple Mills. I take it that there is no objection to debating the instruction with the Second Reading. I thank the House.

7.1 pm

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead and Highgate)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I start by explaining that the Paymaster General, the right hon. Member for the City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke), is muted as a Minister and is not permitted to speak on legislation such as this.

For a variety of reasons, I was delighted to take on the task of presenting legislation on behalf of the City. I explain at once that I have no financial interest. I am an old citizen. I went to the City of London school. My father worked at Smithfield market for some 15 years, so I know the high quality of City markets. I am a member of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London. I look forward to the City of London administering Hampstead heath in the not-too-distant future.

As I see it, opposition to the Bill is divided into two, or perhaps two and a half, sides. Some of my hon. Friends have constituency interests or trade interests. I hoped to convince them to support the Bill or to let it go to Committee, where their points could be thrashed out. However, I am delighted to say that agreement has been reached between the Covent Garden market authority, its tenants and the corporation, which means that the authority no longer objects to the Bill. Some Opposition Members have legitimate constituency interests. I hope to persuade them to let the battle of detail occur in Committee, rather than to try to prevent the Bill having a Second Reading.

Those of us who have witnessed City debates over the years know that some members of the London Labour party have a pathological hatred of the corporation of London. Indeed, they tried to abolish it, but they failed, even when there was a Labour Government. If they were objectively to look at the corporation's record, they would see every reason for backing the Bill and not opposing it.

Officials of the corporation wrote to all hon. Members who put down a blocking motion, and invited them to meet them and to hear the facts. That offer was taken up by only two of my hon. Friends. I can only assume that the other signatories did not wish to be confused by facts

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

I hope that the hon. Member will not continue in the vein of his last sentence. The issues are fairly well cut and clear, and we know exactly what our position is. The objectors—certainly those from the London borough of Newham—have been dealing with the market traders who are most affected. They are in consultation with the City of London. There was close liaison. It was not a matter of our not wanting to meet City representatives; there was just no point in doing so.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

Over the years, I have blocked many Bills. As a Member of Parliament, I considered that it was my duty to meet those who were directly promoting the Bill to know what was behind it.

The City has tried to overcome amd meet legitimate fears. If I should suddenly disappear during the debate, it may be to get information from Heaven, as it were, although I am glad that one of my hon. Friends will assist me in that regard.

I shall briefly explain the purposes of the Bill. It is to relocate the present market in Tower Hamlets to a fresh site in the London borough of Waltham Forest, although a tiny spot of the new site is in Hackney. It is to adapt and to amend many of the local enactments that are applicable to Spitalfields so that they apply to the market on its new site, but otherwise to make no significant changes to market regulation law. It is also to require the corporation to offer accommodation in the relocated market to traders at Spitalfields market and at Stratford market, which is about one and a half miles from the relocation site. The only reason why the Bill must be promoted is that any proposal to move the market elsewhere and to apply existing legislation can be authorised only by an Act of Parliament.

Mr. Tony Banks

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the Bill is before us because the present Spitalfields site is governed by statute? Parliament must give approval to redevelop that site. But approval is not required for the establishment of a market at Temple Mills. Indeed, if the Bill goes through, a new statutory market will be set up in Temple Mills, which does not require a statute, competing with a non-statutory market, that of Stratford in my constituency.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

I thought that I made it clear that the only reason for the Bill was to apply existing regulations to a new site. The only way to do that is by introducing a new Bill.

The Bill is brief. It has a short title, definitions and an appointed day, so that one may advertise the making of the resolution for the alteration of the site. It provides an appointed day so that the new site may be substituted for the existing site, and that all obligations and liabilities shall go to the new site and operate on the new site as from that day.

Mr. Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)

My hon. Friend explained that, under the existing statute, it is necessary to bring the measure before the House because it proposes to move the market site. Notwithstanding that, and the fact that there will be redevelopment on the old site, which I understand is in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, will he confirm that both sites and both development proposals have been given planning permission by the respective local planning authorities? Presumably they will have taken local opinion into consideration, even though the Secretary of State thinks that it is not necessary on this occasion to hold a public inquiry.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

I answer my hon. Friend briefly by saying yes, but I shall deal later with planning implications.

One clause sets out the details of offering sites to traders at Spitalfields and Stratford markets. It is important to emphasise that both groups of traders will be offered sites and will be able to occupy new accommodation at the same time. If hon. Members bear that point in mind, they will see why it is relevant to Stratford market. Another clause provides for a slightly higher scale of fines for road traffic offences in the new market. Clause 7 repeals parts of the Spitalfields enactments that are totally spent or otiose. Clause 8 is formal, and shows that all costs of the Bill have been met out of the general rate of the City.

If the Bill is not carried, Spitalfields market will remain in its present condition. It will not close, because it is a good market in which there is only about 1 per cent. of vacant trading space, but it will decline and contract as a result of buildings growing older and becoming increasingly unsuitable for modern handling and storage techniques. There will be continuing heavy traffic congestion in the area and limited parking facilities for traders' and buyers' activities. One cannot resolve those problems by renovating existing buildings. So the problems, which are already well known to anyone who goes to Spitalfields, as I have done on and off for more than 30 years, are obvious.

As the market slowly declined, bits might well be redeveloped, but there would be no opportunity of redeveloping the whole to a proper development brief which would provide significant planning gain. Therefore, although there might be modest developments, those who saw that the Bill had not gone through would not be interested in putting resources into a major scheme.

The City explains the situation in the brief that has gone, I think, to every Member of the House, and I want to make only four points at this stage.

The corporation reached its decision only after lengthy tendering processes. It took close account of the traders' wish to move to the Temple Mills site and no other. The development group had obtained planning permission from the London borough of Tower Hamlets for the proposed redevelopment of the Spitalfields site from the London borough of Waltham Forest for the construction of a new market building on the Temple Mills site and from the London borough of Hackney for an access road. So three local authorities—Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Hackney—have given their approval. Alas, I have to report that none of them is controlled by the Conservative party.

The case for the move rests upon a variety of propositions. At present Spitalfields is grossly unsatisfactory in planning and traffic terms, and there are many more desirable uses for the site than as a wholesale market. The existing buildings, as anyone who has examined them will know, are unsatisfactory and need extensive work. There is need for rationalisation of markets in east London. That has been considered on previous occasions and it is believed that this fits nicely into what was seen. Temple Mills is the best available site because there is not much likelihood of the site for a large modern market with modern access, ancillary facilities and parking being available elsewhere. The Spitalfields traders overwhelmingly support the move, to the extent of about 80 per cent. of their number.

Unsuccessful efforts were made which would have moved the market to the site of the Stratford market in the constituency of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). Indeed, it was the only possible site other than Temple Mills. Stratford market comprises between 20 and 25 traders—about a quarter of the number at Spitalfields—but its site would be large enough for a combined market. However, it has many disadvantages. The road network at Temple Mills is better than that at Stratford and will be even better when the M11 extension has been completed in about 1993. The M11 extension would not greatly assist the market at Stratford. The Stratford site is not owned by the company that put in the development proposal but is owned in part by the gas hoard, and its land is known to be polluted. The Stratford site has a variety of entrances and exits which make it much less secure and more difficult to manage than the Temple Mills site, which would be enclosed, with only one main access and egress point.

There is a considerable number of residential dwellings in the vicinity of the Stratford site and the market would therefore be environmentally less acceptable than on the Temple Mills site, which has alongside it basically only railway marshalling yards and sports fields; and 110 Spitalfields traders would have to relocate to a new market at Stratford, while the 20 to 25 Stratford traders would remain where they are. The Spitalfields traders could not accept that state of affairs because it would give those already in situ an unfair advantage, whereas at Temple Mills all would start at the same time, and with incomparably better accommodation.

There are at Spitalfields about 30 residential tenants. Many of them have the right to buy under the appropriate legislation and the corporation has promised to keep them informed of development proposals, which it has. It is perhaps worth noting that those tenants have formed a body called the Spitalfields market residents action group. That body has not petitioned against the Bill. Indeed, many of the residential tenants are in favour of the proposed move of the market but wish to remain in their existing accommodation if that move takes place. This can be achieved because in the development plans the residential units have been included in the building lease to the development group, but the corporation will take back a long lease of those units, notwithstanding that there was a quite considerable reduction in the valuation thereby.

The agreement with the developers makes it clear that, while demolition works and the construction of new buildings are going on, they will comply fully with the corporation's requirements for the protection of residential sub-tenants. In its planning agreement Tower Hamlets has restricted work on the site to between 8 am and 6 pm, from Monday to Friday and 8 am and 1 pm on Saturdays. Environmental health officers will of course have powers to stop operations that are a nuisance.

The Spitalfields development group has offered the Spitalfields traders the sum of £7.5 million and the Stratford traders the sum of £1,125,000, through their respective tenants' associations, if the Bill is enacted and the move takes place. This will help the traders to relocate. None of that money is being offered by the corporation.

As I have said to my hon. Friends whose objections have been met by the undertaking that has been drawn up between the Covent Garden market authority and the corporation—and I have a particular interest in the Covent Garden market because I think that I am the only Member present who served on the Committee when we reconstructed the finances of the authority in 1977—I do not believe that its future is in any way threatened by the Bill's proposals.

There were two anxieties. One was that the new Spitalfields market would be too large for the combined markets at Stratford and Spitalfields. That was not the intention and it would not have been sensible. That has been made clear in the undertaking. The second anxiety was that low rents would be used to attract Covent Garden tenants. Again, that is covered. It would be foolish for the corporation even to have thought of doing that. The undertaking makes the situation clear.

As for the size of the market, planning permission has been obtained for a market hall of some 300,000 sq ft gross. That was settled by measuring the trading area and the storage space and making allowance for the extensive use that is made of the public highway to store goods. Planning permission also includes 40,000 sq ft for any Stratford traders. But the planning permission represents the optimum provision and there is no intention of creating additional trading space. Any trader who wanted to lease a larger area would have to make out a very strong case. An undertaking was given and that has now been passed on.

Much of what is said in the various instructions shows—it may not be intended, but this is how it appears—a desire to interfere in the proper local government planning business. Each of the responsible local authorities has looked at these proposals and given, in its own respect, planning approval. I can imagine the uproar if a proposal had come from the Conservatives to interfere with local authority planning proposals in a matter such as this.

Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney)

To set the record straight, I should tell the hon. Gentleman that the proposal to give planning permission to the Spitalfields market development has never been debated by Tower Hamlets council. It was voted on there, but under the extraordinary, almost bizzare, arrangements of the council, the borough is divided into five or six neighbourhoods, and it was left to a neighbourhood group to come to the decision, which I think was made on a majority of two.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

I remember that a majority of one in the House was sufficient to nationalise shipbuilding, a rather dubious decision.

I have here a letter from. Councillor Patrick Streeter who makes the position clear: The Council … supports the relocation because it will make possible a significant improvement in the environment of West Spitalfields, particularly reductions in heavy vehicle movements at night time, and in problems of rubbish disposal. He also confirms the Council's support for the relocation of Spitalfields Wholesale Market to the proposed site at Temple Mills. If the right hon. Gentleman is saying that the borough council of Tower Hamlets acted illegally or improperly, he has his remedy, and so has anyone else, by going to law, but he knows that the council has acted within the law, otherwise it would have been challenged.

Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the three councillors who represent the Spitalfields ward are opposed to the proposal?

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

It is interesting that most of the people who live there are not, which is somewhat different. Nothing was said a moment ago to prove that the proposal interferes with the planning wishes of a local authority.

Support has come, as I said, from Tower Hamlets council. Perhaps just as important is a letter from the chairman of Spitalfields market tenants' association who says: From the very outset I have personally supported the move for relocation and was more pleased than anyone that more than 80 per cent. of my Association voted in favour of the move … The proposed site at Temple Mills offers a self contained and purpose built market on a secure site … It offers both suppliers and customers a very high standard of handling facilities … On site, control and efficient vehicle circulation with improved parking facilities … will be conducive to good training conditions and attractive access for employees … The fact that the site is enclosed will enable much better control to be exercised over what is now an escalating problem of unsupervised rubbish dumping. I paid a visit there yesterday at approximately 3 o'clock and, even though the local authority is paid to clear away the rubbish, the area was a disgrace. If the three councillors for the ward were doing their job, they would be active in trying to get the place cleared up. I suggest that anyone who went there at 3 o'clock might not want those conditions to continue.

I have tried to be brief. There is a lot more that I could explain, but I shall reserve the rest of my remarks for later. The issues are complex in their intertwining but simple in their objective. The local authorities are in favour. The Spitalfields traders are in favour. There are safeguards for Covent Garden and fair offers for Stratford. I do not think I can do better than end with one more quotation from the letter from the chairman of Spitalfields market tenants' association—this may cover the point in the instruction: An East London complex which offers accommodation to traders from Spitalfields and from Stratford will, in my view, result in a sensible rationalisation of fruit and vegetable sales and distribution in London. Our enthusiasm is strong and our commitment to the move beyond doubt. My Committee feels … that we are now presented with a chance of moving from a market built for horses and carts to a market designed and built for the 21st century. This is not a moment to support restrictive practices or to fight progress but to take up the challenge and secure Spitalfields Market for a further century or two.

That was to be my last quotation but perhaps I ought to make just one more. It is from a letter dated 10 May from the Transport and General Workers Union to all TGWU-sponsored Members of Parliament; in the list are Mr. Tony Banks, Mr. Syd Bidwell, Mr. Peter Shore, Mr. Allan Roberts and about thirty others. The letter says: I am writing to you now as a matter of urgency to inform you that in the last couple of days my branch has reached a satisfactory agreement with the SMTA with regard to compensation for our members. We have therefore withdrawn our petition against the Bill and, once again, are keen to give it our unreserved support. May I urge you therefore to do all you can on 12th May to support the passage of the Bill. Yours fraternally Markets Officer, TGWU.

7.25 pm
Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney)

The Bill is about two issues. The first covers the transfer of Spitalfields market to a new site at Temple Mills in the borough of Waltham Forest. The second is about the points that arise from the proposed redevelopment of the 11-acre site which Spitalfields market comprises in the borough of Tower Hamlets. The two issues are indissolubly linked.

One major defect of the private Bill procedure is that the Bill deals with the transfer of the market. Of course, that is one reason why we have a somewhat incongruous person on the Treasury Bench—the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. I readily acknowledge that he has an interest in the matter, but I doubt whether he would claim that it was the predominant interest among those affected by the Bill. One would have thought that a Minister from the Department of the Environment would have been a more appropriate person to speak on the Bill. I say that without wishing to quarrel with the Minister of State.

There have been defects in the speech of the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg). He could not, or did not wish to, deal with the major issue of what is to happen to an important and crucial inner city site. I have no objection to his expounding on the clauses of the Bill and on his belief, which I challenge, about the sentiments and motives of various people who were quoted by him, as well as many others who were not.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

I made it clear that I was making a brief speech. I could have explained the matter in considerable detail, but the House does not like lengthy speeches. I should be delighted to explain in much more detail, if the right hon. Gentleman wants it, exactly what will happen, but I think the right hon. Gentleman knows. I shall leave him to it, but I shall follow up what he says if need be.

Mr. Shore

Perhaps I should declare an interest. I am the Member of Parliament who represents the City of London Spitalfields market area. I have had intimate contact with the whole of that area for the past 25 years.

I said that it was a major defect of the Bill that it dealt only with issues relating to the transfer of the market. There is no mention of the redevelopment proposals for the Spitalfields market site. Although it was referred to in the hon. Gentleman's introductory remarks, there is no mention of the Spitalfields development group which is the principal agent of change, not only to provide the alternative market site in Temple Mills but to build a new market there, and which is to redevelop the vacated market site in Spitalfields.

The link between the provision of a new market at Temple Mills and the redevelopment design for the old Spitalfields market site is crucial. Meeting the cost of relocating to Temple Mills is possible only because of the large profits that the Spitalfields development group believes that it will make from its own proposals for the redevelopment of the present Spitalfields market site. The attraction of the whole package to the City of London corporation is the large capital sums and ongoing revenues that it will receive as a result of the deal. My speech must inevitably deal with the issues of relocation of the market and with the larger issue of the redevelopment of the Spitalfields market site.

On the question of relocation, I begin with the preamble to the Bill, which states: (1) The age and condition of Spitalfields Market is such that the market fails to meet modern market needs and practices and the situation of the market is inconvenient for transport facilities and proper regulation: (2) The impracticability of providing satisfactory accommodation for the market in new premises on or near the site of the existing market makes it expedient that provision be made to move the market to a new site available at Temple Mills in the London Boroughs of Hackney and Waltham Forest.

Those are highly contentious assertions, as the City of London corporation knows. They are challenged in at least three of the six petitions that have been deposited against the Bill. We learnt from the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate that that number has been reduced by one. The Transport and General Workers Union, about which I will comment in a moment, has also dropped its petition.

The City of London corporation acknowledges in its report of 22 October 1987 on the future of Spitalfields market that there was no overriding reason to relocate the market. We were aware, however, of an apparent desire on the part of the Market Traders and possibly the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, for the market to be moved. Of course, there are problems with the Spitalfields market. The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate and the City of London corporation's report agree with that view. Many of the buildings are old; the standard of cleansing is far from satisfactory; it generates heavy traffic; and there is congestion in the surrounding streets.

The report of the City of London corporation concluded: despite these factors, the market is relatively successful and it has to be said that not all the problems are insurmountable: e.g. with the co-operation of the local authority (Tower Hamlets) and the Metropolitan Police much could be done to alleviate rubbish dumping and traffic congestion respectively. More space could be found in the area for vehicle parking and the Corporation could consider taking control of the surrounding streets in order to regulate the whole trading area. Let us be clear at the start. We are not dealing with a decaying market that is no longer profitable so that its transfer to an alternative site is imperative. On the contrary, we are dealing with a market which—in the words of the City of London corporation—is a victim of its own success.

The corporation does not add much to its case with the assertions in its recent brochure in which it stated: Establishing a market at Temple Mills meets the objectives set out in the 1985 report of the Conservative Back Bench Horticultural Committee which was chaired by Sir John Wells. The Committee envisaged three London markets in the 1990s, west, central and east, and wanted the Corporation to run the eastern market. A similar objective was expressed in the published conclusions of the O'Cathin report 1981 that was commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The City of London corporation, having little solid backing for its case, is quoting what would appear to be two authoritative reports. But that is not so. The report by Sir John Wells—a former colleague who represented Maidstone and was a considerable horticultural grower himself, especially of fruit—was never published. The public cannot assess in any way what weight to attach to what he had to say. The O'Cathain report has also remained unpublished. The report was prepared primarily to consider the grading of horticultural produce. The report did not make any proposal for the relocation of the Spitalfields market, but found that, of all the London fruit and vegetable markets, it was the one working most effectively. That deals with the alleged authority of those two reports.

Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly)

Today I made inquiries of the House of Commons Library to find out whether the O'Cathain report, commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the 1980s, had been published. I was informed that not only had the research paper not been published, but that it was not available in the House of Commons Library. I have made inquiries, and one firm conclusion of the report was that the Government should be responsible for a strategic plan for the markets of London. It seems odd that we have not received that strategic plan or any movement towards the development of such a plan. In fact, the Government are giving tacit support to the piecemeal development of London markets by means of a private Bill.

Mr. Shore

My hon. Friend reinforces my point. I will come later to the question of the strategic planning of horticultural markets in London.

The retention of the market in Spitalfields has been the consistent view of the Tower Hamlets council, which throughout the 1970s rejected proposals to relocate the market. The council changed its mind only last year when a new Liberal council gained control of the town hall with a majority of two. Relocation is not confined to whether the existing market can continue to be viable or is capable of improvement. As the petitions made clear, there is anxiety in Stratford about the adverse effects on the existing market of the proposed transfer to Temple Mills, which is only one and a quarter miles away. I shall not pursue the issues involved in the Stratford petitions because I know that my hon. Friends the Members for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton), for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) and for Newham, South (M r. Spearing) will have a good deal to say about that matter.

Worries of a different kind about relocation are contained in the petition of Mr. Alan Thomerson, on the grounds that the Bill fails to offer a better situation at the new site, except in so far as within the actual bounds of the new site, whereas the external traffic generated by the market will only add to an already traffic-saturated area. That is his judgment of the proposed new site. It should be noted that this petitioner is a director of four companies trading within the Spitalfields market.

Another major relocation issue was raised in the petition of the Covent Garden authority and the Covent Garden tenants' association. We have learnt from the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate that that has now been withdrawn. Nevertheless, it is worth considering the points that those organisations made. They point out that there are currently five wholesale horticultural markets in London. Their major contention is that, due to an increase in direct trading between growers and importers, on the one hand, and supermarket chains, on the other, the proportion of produce passing through all the London wholesale markets has declined and is likely to continue to decline. Therefore, the Covent Garden petitioners make the entirely sensible point in their petition that before a new market is established at Temple Mills an independent assessment should be made, firstly, as to the need for such a new Market at all, having regard to the number of horticultural markets that already exist in London and t he expectation of the continuing decline in the wholesale market trade; secondly, as to where would be the optimum location of any new market; and thirdly, as to the size of any new market, the need for which is shown to be justified. They are also worried that the other London wholesale fruit and vegetable markets could be subjected to unfair competition from the new market at Temple Mills owing, as they put it, to the unduly favourable terms as to the rents payable and the costs of services and the provision of plant and equipment there, made possible by the very profitable redevelopment of the existing market by the Spitalfields Development Group. The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate has told us that they have been satisfied on that point. They have been satisfied that unduly favourable conditions, which would undermine competitiveness, would not be offered to the new tenants of Temple Mills market if it is established. However, I did not hear the hon. Gentleman say that they had withdrawn their remarks about the need for a thorough appraisal of the need for a new market and where a new market should go. Therefore, I assume that the points made then, which are serious and major points, still remain. I should have thought that common sense alone would have pointed to the need for a proper appraisal of London's need for wholesale fruit and vegetable markets before allowing any major development of the sort before us this evening to proceed.

One of our problems is that there is now no Londonwide strategic authority to give an objective appraisal of proposals of this sort. Such proposals have implications that go far wider than the concerns of the boroughs immediately involved.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

Before my right hon. Friend leaves the matter of relocation, will he provide me with information linked to the point that he made about Covent Garden? Does he recall that when Covent Garden was changed to its new location at Nine Elms, further Bills had to be brought before the House on the matter of keeping it going? Far from the question of subsidy, can my right hon. Friend tell the House whether there is any likelihood of the new rents at the possible site at Temple Mills being greater than if the market remained at Spitalfields, thereby making trading conditions more difficult or adding to the costs of wholesale markets in London? Would that not be an additional factor to be looked at to ensure that conditions, apart from other factors, were appropriate at Temple Mills and that new traders could get in there just as easily as they can get into Spitalfields today?

Mr. Shore

My hon. Friend has raised an interesting point. However, the information that I have at present and the fact that the Covent Garden market tenants' association has withdrawn its petition can only lead me to assume that it has been satisfied that unduly advantageous terms will not be offered to the new tenants at Temple Mills. Similarly, I assume that the market traders now in Spitalfields have been given some assurance that the rents will not be too high.

Mr. Spearing

For how long?

Mr. Shore

I do not know. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South has raised the question of how long initial leases will last and the processes under which new leases will be negotiated.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

I want to be as helpful as I can. This was agreed late this afternoon. I shall read the relevant clause of the undertaking. It says: Market Traders to whom the intended Act applies will be offered leases of premises at the Market Hall on the new site for a term of six years from the date of their occupation of such premises, with a rent review after three years of said term, such review to be based on the Retail Price Index from time to time, subject to a maximum increase in rents of 9 per cent&During the said term no conditions of a financial character more favourable to Market Traders will be offered or granted by the Corporation and the service charge at the new site will be borne in full by the Market Traders without subsidy and the Corporation will be responsible for any service charges attributable to unoccupied lettable space.

Mr. Shore

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for providing the information. I should have thought that that was a reasonable guarantee for the first six years. However, people think beyond that time. Obviously, they have to make their own judgment. The way in which rents for commercial property have been moving in London in recent years makes me believe that a substantial increase in rents can be expected in the future.

I have made the point about the Greater London council not being available to give any judgment on a strategic wholesale market site in London. With the abolition of the GLC, which previously performed that function, we now have only the London planning advisory committee to influence London planning. That is a sort of statutory committee set up in the aftermath of the demise of the GLC.

I wrote to the chief planning officer, asking whether he and his people had considered the strategic London need for fruit and vegetable markets. He said: Thank you for your letter dated 29 February . . . and the information on the Bill. As yet LPAC has not been able to fully consider the strategic problems of London's wholesale markets. An officer level 'Retail Topic Working Party' has considered the issue . . . They have identified the declining role of London's wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower markets . . . However, this will need much more careful research and consideration before the LPAC could give advice in any more robust form. Therefore, there is no authority based upon the London planning advisory committee. Indeed, it goes on to say: The rationalisation and relocation of the wholesale markets could have significant strategic planning consequences. However, LPAC is at present fully occupied in the preparation of and consultation on Strategic Planning Advice for London to the Secretary of State for the Environment. That consideration has come far too late to assist us in considering what the Government are proposing. I have said that it seemed to be common sense to have an inquiry of the sort that I have mentioned, and I adhere to that view.

In its recently published brochure, from which I quoted earlier, the City of London corporation makes much of the support that has so far been mobilised for the market's move. The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate referred to the views of the tenants and other people connected with the market. The corporation says: the decision to relocate follows extensive consultation and has the overwhelming support of tenants of Spitalfields&the proposed move to Temple Mills is supported by the vast majority of Spitalfields Tenants and their customers. It is supported by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of Spitalfields Market site and the construction of the new relocated market respectively. I do not dispute that the majority of market tenants are now resigned to the inevitability of moving. However, it is not clear to me that they ever felt that they had a genuine choice—certainly not during the past few months.

The GLC carried out a study of east end London markets in 1985. Of the 100 market tenants—there are just 100 of them—70 replied to the detailed questionnaire. A total of 59 found real advantages in the present site at Spitalfields and 69 of the 70 had no immediate plans to relocate their business. The claims of the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate and the City of London corporation about the great popularity of the move should be partially offset by that quotation.

Whatever can be said about the 100 market tenants, no such claim for support can be made on behalf of the inhabitants of Spitalfields. Indeed, I have a long list of community groups and associations, small businesses and persons living in Spitalfields who oppose the proposed redevelopment. They make up the campaign to save Spitalfields from the developers and they have petitioned against the Bill. The list includes the Spitalfields small business association, the Spitalfields community farm, the governing bodies of local schools, the tenants' associations in Herbert and Jacobson houses, Wheeler house, the Montefiore, St. Mary's and Davenant community centres, the Spitalfields housing and planning rights service, the Tower Hamlets homeless families campaign, the three councillors for the Spitalfields ward—to whom my hon. Friend and neighbour the Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon) referred—and the whole Labour group on the London borough of Tower Hamlets, which is 24 councillors strong.

I might add that the redevelopment proposals for Spitalfields market have never been discussed by the Tower Hamlets council. They have been debated only in the so-called Bethnal Green neighbourhood, which includes the Spitalfields, Weavers and St. Peter's wards, where the Liberals have a majority of one.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that local authorities are entitled to delegate planning decisions to a neighbourhood committee in which a proper process is gone through and a decision taken by a majority vote? The composition of that committee reflects the balance on the council as a whole. Therefore, the decision would probably be no different had it been taken by the whole council. In any event, the site was owned by the City. Therefore, proposals for development of the site are a matter for the City and the local authority, Tower Hamlets, only has planning control—

Mr. Spearing


Mr. Hughes

Yes, only. It does not have the power to determine the development that is to take place on the site. That decision resides with the owners, the City of London.

Mr. Shore

The hon. Gentleman is over-generous to the Liberal council in Tower Hamlets. We understand his political affiliations, but he knows very well that there are many examples that we could use to show that Tower Hamlets is not the most sensitive council in Britain or London today. Indeed, it has shown a marked insensitivity in dealing with what is, after all, the biggest area for redevelopment in the borough, other than the docklands area which has been torn from the council's clutches by the London Docklands development corporation. We hoped that the 100 acres of land available would be used for the benefit of the people of Tower Hamlets. Instead, they have been used for many developments, very few of which are of benefit at all to the people of the borough.

Mr. Hughes

The right hon. Gentleman and I have identical views on the docklands corporation. The LDDC took land from the local authority, following a decision by the Government and the House over which the local authority had no control. The difference is that in this case neither the Government nor the local authority have any control over the ownership of the site. The site remains in the ownership of the City of London and the City has therefore always been the proposer of schemes. In the case of the LDDC, council-owned land was taken away by Government order and handed to the development corporation.

Mr. Shore

The hon. Gentleman understates the powerful position that development control gives to local councils. The power to say no to proposed developments is the power to initiate, or at least encourage, alternative proposals, and Tower Hamlets can justifiably be accused of failing to use precisely that power.

Let me deal with the area itself—Spitalfields—and the proposals for the market redevelopment that the Bill will release upon it. On the Department of the Environment's figures and the old GLC's index of social needs, Spitalfields is the most deprived ward not only in Tower Hamlets but in the whole of London. During a visit there last year, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales commented that it reminded him in many ways of a Third-world country. The great problems of Spitalfields are housing and unemployment. It is now as it has been for the past three centuries—a working class and multi-ethnic community. It was the main point of settlement for the Huguenot community expelled from France in 1685. It attracted the heaviest settlement of east European and Russian Jews fleeing from the pogroms of Tsarist Russia at the end of the 19th century. In the past 25 years it has become a focal point for the Bangladeshi community, which is now the largest group of residents in the Spitalfields ward.

Spitalfields' main manufacturing activitives are clothing and the leather trade. People are employed in small workshops, often in very poor environmental conditions. Although Spitalfields is an industrious community, it has high unemployment, reflecting the general contraction that has taken place in Britain's manufacturing industry. Last September Greater London as a whole had 11.9 per cent. unemployment, whereas Spitalfields had 20.4 per cent., and the figures for January suggest that the discrepancy is now even greater. The 1981 census showed that 63 per cent. of the residents were manual or semi-skilled workers. With a high birth rate and growing population in Spitalfields and with the cessation of local authority housebuilding in recent years, the housing problems of Spitalfields have become acute. Several hundred Bengali families in bed-and-breakfast accommodation are under the threat of eviction from the Tower Hamlets Liberal council. Thousands more are living in conditions of chronic overcrowding in run-down estates. No one who has had any contact with the area can doubt that its major need is for more and improved housing and modern workshops for its clothing and other industries.

There is virtually no land available for development in the Spitalfields area or the borough of Tower Hamlets, other than Spitalfields market. I repeat that the London borough of Tower Hamlets lost out grievously through the transfer of land by vesting orders to the London Docklands development corporation.

It is against the background of Spitalfields' clamant needs that we must judge the proposals put forward by the Spitalfield development group. The central proposal of the group—no mention of this was made by the sponsor of the Bill—is to construct three substantial office complexes, totalling 885,000 sq ft. In particular, as the city's report put it, The proposal to redevelop the Spitalfields site will provide office accommodation for the Financial City. There will be a retail centre comprising approximately 80,000 sq ft of lettable space, to cater for a broad range of shopping requirements. As the Spitalfields development group put it in its own brochure, letting policy—this will really please the people of Spitalfields— will ensure that the mix covers a wide spectrum including quality restaurants, wine bars and cafés. There will be 64,000 sq ft for small business units and 200,000 sq ft for housing accommodation.

A section 52 agreement has been made with the London borough of Tower Hamlets, the most important part of which is the provision of 118 units of residential accommodation to be released to the three housing associations operating in the area. In addition, there is to be a community trust with—2.5 million of capital to assist businesses and to improve the environment. Further provisions include an undertaking by the Spitalfields development group to use its reasonable endeavours to procure that throughout the phased programme its retained building contractors for the development . . . provide a number ... of on-site training opportunities for persons whose normal residence is within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in appropriate skills related to the Construction industry. There is to be a grant of .50,000 a year to the Tower Hamlets Association for Technology Training. Premises are to he provided for a law centre and a fashion centre.

These are not negligible gains, but they must be seen against the background of the major office development in the area, the enormous financial sums which will be made by the development group and the exceptional housing and other needs of the Spitalfields community. Moreover, as we know from recent bitter experience in other parts of our borough, major office redevelopment leads to soaring site values in adjacent areas. Small businesses in the area of Spitalfields, which often now pay a low £3 to £5 per sq ft rental for their premises, will be faced with massive rent increases or will simply be bought up for more lucrative office and commercial development.

There will be strong pressures on local housing estates to be decanted and sold for privatisation. House prices in general will soar in the Spitalfields and Stepney areas. Already there is evidence of this. Earlier this year, in Wilkes street, in the heart of Spitalfields, a grade 2 listed dilapidated four-storey house was marketed for £250,000. On 27 January this year, the Daily Telegraph reported: An early 19th century cottage in Woodsere St., off Brick Lane, is attracting considerable interest at £189,000. Four adjoining terraced houses—part of the same 1826 development—arc being sensitively restored for sale at £225,000 to £250,000. That is great news, but I am afraid that not many people in Spitalfields will be able to take advantage of refurbished houses at such prices.

Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)

Will my right hon. Friend consider what can be done with the £50,000 per annum for training? A YTS trainee at an institute of technology costs about £4,500 per annum. If my calculations are right, £50,000 would enable between 10 and 12 young people to be trained. Is that in any way adequate?

Mr. Shore

I am glad that my hon. Friend has made that point because it brings out the minimal contribution to the area's training needs that this section 52 agreement will allow. My hon. Friend's point about a component of the section 52 agreement could be made about virtually all of them. They are inadequate in terms of what they supply. The members of the Tower Hamlets council were taken for a ride. They could have secured a far better section 52 agreement if they had set their minds to it and been a bit more experienced in the business of looking after a council and its needs.

Mr. Spearing

Can my right hon. Friend give us some information about the Bishopsgate site? I understand that arrangements for another 2 million sq ft of office space have already been made for that empty site. Is that not enough for the area? Would it not be better to keep the present mix and ameliorate some of the problems that may come from the development? Was the decision made by a small neighbourhood committee or by the council?

Mr. Shore

The Bishopsgate development is outside the borough of Tower Hamlets but is immediately adjacent to it. Large office developments are being made in the borough and nearby.

The overall effect on the Spitalfields community of these proposed redevelopments needs an effort of imagination to comprehend. One long-term resident of Spitalfields, Mr. Ralph Samuel, put it forcefully and succinctly in an article in The Guardian last November when he wrote: It should be obvious to all but the self-deceived that to stick an international banking centre in the heart of an old artisan and market quarter, a huge complex with some 6,000 executives and subalterns, is, to put it gently, a rupture from tradition. It drives a wedge into the heart of the district, a wall of offices separating the North from the South. It destroys the century old frontier between the East End and the City, opening up the former to the spread of banking and finance. A lot of people will lose their jobs when the market is flattened and numbers of market related businesses could be expected to go to the wall…the market scheme will mean a social revolution, the inversion of what Spitalfields has stood for during four centuries of Metropolitan Development".

Of course, the City of London needs new offices to accommodate the expansion of financial services, following the big bang and the internationalisation of the money markets, and to house the new technology which market makers need. But office building does not have to be, and should not be, the primary claimant on all available land in the City or its adjacent boroughs. There are other values—architectural and community—that must also be defended. The trouble is that office building is by far the most lucrative form of development in inner London. If return on capital, regardless of other considerations, is allowed to be the arbiter of future development, not only Spitalfields but many other communities will be ripped apart.

Office rents in the City of London rose between 1979 and 1985 from just over £20 to just over £40 per sq ft—a 100 per cent. increase. Between 1985 and 1987—the period of the big bang— rents soared from just over £40 to about £75 per sq ft. Unfortunately, the official collection and publication of data on commercial floor space in London terminated in 1985. The Government thought that it was no longer a matter of public interest even to record, let alone guide and control, the number of new offices in the London area. Since then, figures have been unofficial and incomplete, but from the speech made by the chairman of the City of London planning and communications committee at Mansion house on 2 December 1987, we learnt that during 1987 a record 13 million sq ft of office space was under construction within the square mile.

In the City of London, planned development has been radically revised, as the recently adopted City of London local plan makes clear. That local plan has been accepted by the Department of the Environment. I know that that is not really a matter for the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, but I assure him that that is the case. The Department of the Environment and the Secretary of State for the Environment approved it. The City of London local plan said: Offices are the predominant land use in the City forming 65–5 million sq. ft., 68 per cent. of all floor space .. For the City to continue and expand as an international financial centre it must be able to provide accommodation that meets the changing needs of the financial services centre. The Corporation intends that office developments be encouraged so as to cater for these requirements.

The office boom has not been confined to the City of London. Substantial new office developments have taken place in virtually all adjacent boroughs. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South has already referred to the great development at Bishopsgate, which I understand is a development of 4 million sq ft. In Tower Hamlets 10 million sq ft are to be developed in the Canary Wharf development. I am sure hon. Members on both sides of the House saw the picture of the Prime Minister yesterday sitting on a mechanical piledriver—an appropriate instrument for her to control—digging the foundations for that development, which is now under way. The docklands light railway is now being extended to the Bank to provide direct communications with the City. Given the exuberance of the office building boom and the substantial setback that black Monday brought to the expansion of financial services, I do not know whether there will soon be an over-supply of office accommodation; but I have seen a confidential report, which cost the Tower Hamlets council £5,000. It was never published or followed up, but it showed that, in the view of the consultants who were asked to report on the matter, there was a gloomy prospect of the dangers of over-supply outside the square mile and in the Spitalfields development.

We no longer have the base of information, following the Government's abandonment of the collection of official information, by which we can seriously judge. But I am clear on one point: the 800,000 sq ft of new office space that the Spitalfields development group is to build on the Spitalfields market site will have only a marginal effect on the total supply of new offices in central London, but a most devastating effect on Spitalfields.

It is wrong that a development of such size and importance as that described in the Spitalfields development group plan for Spitalfields market should be decided by a group of inexperienced and short-sighted councillors in Tower Hamlets, by the City of London corporation and by the Spitalfields development group. Within such a group the overriding consideration is not the welfare of the people who live in the area, but financial gain. For the City of London, the owner of Spiltalfields market, the gains are enormous. From the sale of the long-term lease of Spitalfields market it will receive more than £60 million. The cost of constructing the new market and of obtaining the alternative site in Temple Mills is worth a further £34.5 million. And that is not all. The City of London corporation will receive an initial ground rent of £500,000 a year, which is about twice what it is getting from the existing rentals of Spitalfields market, rising to 5 per cent. of the rack rental of the offices, when they are developed. That is estimated to he worth about £2 million a year when development is complete.

The prospect of such rewards does not exactly encourage cool and disinterested judgment of what is best for the development of Spitalfields. For the Spitalfields development group the rewards are unknown. The group has been coy about gains and costs. The financial and property press speaks of a £500 million urban redevelopment scheme. Twelve international banks have each provided more than £26 million in loans, totalling about £315 million, to underwrite the Spitalfields development group's venture. The developers are to provide £175 million, adding up to a total of £500 million. If the City of London is to be provided with the £94 million in cash and assets that I have mentioned, and an annual £2 million of the ongoing profits from office development, there must be large rewards for the Spitalfields development group. The planning gain for Tower Hamlets is estimated at between £18 million and £20 million.

The most culpable parties to this story are Tower Hamlets council and the Secretary of State for the Environment. The council should not have given planning permission and, knowing the importance of this site, the Secretary of State should have called in the redevelopment plan for Spitalfields market, appointed an inspector and made sure that the various possibilities for the redevelopment of the site were fully and impartially considered. The public inquiry should also have considered the cases for and against the retention of the existing market, the alternatives for its relocation, and the general strategy for market development in London.

Instead, the Secretary of State has been supine and inactive. Today, he wrote to tell me that, now that all the planning procedures have gone through, he no longer has a role to play. He has written himself out of the script of the redevelopment of Spitalfields and left all the decisions to the pull of market forces and the test of profit. Covent Garden was called in, as was Coin street—but not Spitalfields. This is a classic example of the Government's inner city policy.

For all those reasons, my hon. Friends and I have tabled a reasoned amendment declining to give a Second Reading to a Bill which authorises the transfer of the Spitalfields Market to a different site without any previous public inquiry either into the merits of such a transfer or into the most beneficial way of redeveloping the vacated site. It is for those reasons also that we tabled the three separate instructions to the Committee.

8.16 pm
Mr. Robert G. Hughes (Harrow, West)

I listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore), who is the local Member for Spitalfields. It took us back in the history of major projects and ideas for London. It was a study in negativism, claiming that if only we had a bit more time we could do something rather better. It was a study, too, of why the Labour party, which, for most of Tower Hamlets' existence, was unopposed on the council—candidates were often unopposed when standing for the council—now has a minority of seats on it. Labour Members did not understand why that happened, and the right hon. Gentleman's speech led me to believe that they still do not understand why.

I could not understand from the right hon. Gentleman's protracted remarks of whom he is supposed to be in favour. Who is he trying to protect? In whose interests was he speaking—the market traders? Plainly not. We know that they want to go to the new market at Temple Mills. Now that the objection from Covent Garden has been withdrawn—that is welcome—we have heard that without the new development at Temple Mills the market trade in London is likely to suffer. Perhaps the people of London would also suffer—

Mr. Tony Banks

I hope that, during his perambulations, the hon. Gentleman will come to the problem of Newham, because if I am lucky enough to catch the Deputy Speaker's eye I shall speak about the market interests of the traders in Stratford. I hope the hon. Gentleman will bear them in mind.

Mr. Hughes

The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney spoke for nearly an hour. I have been on my feet for only two minutes, so I make no apology for not having reached the point in which the hon. Gentleman is particularly interested, but I shall come to that.

The right hon. Gentleman's speech was not in the interests of the local people of Spitalfields who we now hear have not opposed the Bill. Was it in the interests of the people of Hackney and Waltham Forest? This is particularly interesting in terms of Labour party politics. Where are the hon. Members for Hackney? I suspect that they support the scheme and welcome the 6,000 jobs that will come to their area. We may well hear from the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen), who was in the Chamber earlier. I understand that, with a few reservations, he supports the scheme. I understand that the Labour-controlled Waltham Forest council supports the scheme. Only a few people from one part of London are against it.

Mr. Leighton

We are all listening with great suspense and interest to the hon. Gentleman's fascinating statement. He says that Hackney will get 6,000 jobs. That is a nice round figure which he has obviously researched carefully. Can he explain exactly what those 6,000 jobs will be and when they will arrive?

Mr. Hughes

It is for the hon. Gentleman to make his speech. We have been hearing—[Interruption.] Does the hon. Gentleman want an answer?

Mr. Leighton


Mr. Hughes

We have been hearing negative remarks about the jobs coming in. I suppose that the 36,000 jobs created in the London Docklands development corporation area are also a myth. Presumably they have not arrived. Presumably no one is working in that area.

Mr. Leighton


Mr. Hughes

No, I shall not give way on that point. I want to move on to my next point.

Mr. Leighton

Does the hon. Gentleman want the information?

Mr. Hughes

Yes, I shall certainly give way.

Mr. Leighton

The hon. Gentleman has conjured out of the air 6,000 jobs for Hackney. He is now telling us that 36,000 jobs have been created in London Docklands. The LDDC commissioned a report from Peat Marwick McLintock, a prestigious group of consultants, and those consultants looked into precisely that point. In paragraph 6(1) of their report they said: Its efforts"— in trying to get employment— have met with limited success. Indeed, as we noted earlier there are now over 1,000 more unemployed people in Docklands than in 1981. Where are those 36,000 new jobs? They do not exist.

Mr. Hughes

I listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman's precise words and I urge people to compare my point with his response. Not one thing that the hon. Gentleman has said contradicts my statistics. He merely moves on to something else.

This is a vendetta against the City corporation. It is a knee-jerk—

Ms. Gordon


Mr. Hughes

I shall give way, but I should like to finish one point.

Ms. Gordon

Six years of the London Docklands development corporation have resulted in a net loss of jobs. Most of the jobs were transferred from Billingsgate and Fleet street. Some jobs were created but so many local firms were squeezed out by compulsory purchase orders that the final result was net loss of jobs. The hon. Gentleman's figures are not correct.

Mr. Hughes

The hon. Lady really must keep up. I had moved on to the next point, having dealt satisfactorily with that matter. If she would like to try to keep up with the game, we shall try to answer her points.

This is a knee-jerk reaction by the Labour party. We have seen it often against anything that it does not control: if the Labour party cannot control something, it is not worth having.

The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney told us that he would address part of his remarks to what was going to happen on the Spitalfields site, suggesting that my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) had neglected to do so. I listened carefully to what he said, but we did not hear one solid reason why the Spitalfields site should not be redeveloped. We did not hear one well-argued objection to what is proposed for that site. Nor did we hear any constructive analysis of what will happen on that site. I listened carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman said, but on those points he said nothing constructive.

The Labour party accuses Conservative Members of talking glibly about inner city regeneration Opposition Members say that we have no plans for the inner city. The answer is simply that when a scheme such as this comes along we take a positive attitude towards it. We look at such schemes and ask whether they can provide something new for the people of London. It is the Labour party which has a negative attitude.

Spitalfields has a varied and multiracial population which forms the seeds of a thriving community. I accept that there is poverty and deprivation, but with the seeds of a thriving community it deserves the opportunity that the scheme will provide. For years its people have been either patronised or ignored—I refer in particular to the Bengali community—by the Labour party. Hon. Members on both sides of the House would agree that the treatment of those people by the Liberal council has been shameful. Both parties who have controlled Tower Hamlets council have treated them shamefully. The Bill, provides many opportunities for them. It provides opportunities for London and for the local people.

Mr. Tony Banks

It says here.

Mr. Hughes

Yes, in my notes.

We heard some rather snide comments from the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney about the £2.5 million net in rents that will come into the City of London from this development each year. But he neglects to tell the House that 80 per cent. of the money that comes into the City of London corporation is redistributed to London boroughs. Boroughs such as Tower Hamlets and Hackney will be the beneficiaries of the £2.5 million per year. That money is not going just to the City of London corporation.

What we have seen displayed tonight, and I am confident we shall see it displayed a lot more, is a consistent lack of vision by the Opposition—a lack of vision which means that they always try to oppose anything done by the London Docklands development corporation. They have suggested that few or no opportunities for work have been created. Presumably they do not accept that one quarter of the houses and flats built there are now occupied by people who were previously council tenants. Presumably the self-build schemes do not involve council tenants or people who were on council waiting lists.

Mr. Spearing

The hon. Gentleman may know that half the area of the LDDC is in my constituency. The first occupants of houses built by the LDDC may have come within his category, but is he aware that it is virtually impossible for any of my constituents to buy a new house in that area because they have gone up so much in value? People have been made homeless and cannot stay there. Children of families who have lived in the area for generations are being priced out by the very mechanism that he is advocating.

Mr. Hughes

It is rich for Labour Members to talk about the lack of opportunity for people in the inner cities. Probably the majority of real east enders do not live in the east end any more because of the lack of opportunities provided by the Labour party when it was in government. There were no houses to buy, so they moved out to the new towns and to places such as Upminster.

When I was involved with Stepney and Poplar as my party's candidate, 16 new maisonettes were put on the market by the GLC and 3,000 people queued to buy them. People who, according to the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney, did not want to buy their own homes voted with their feet and got out. The opportunities were never available then, and they may not be now, but certainly the Labour party is in no position to complain that they were not available.

That brings me to a point that I wanted to make about the LDDC. In 1979 I was my party's candidate against the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney. At the beginning of the election campaign on the Isle of Dogs—which was then in the right hon. Gentleman's constituency—I spoke to the George Green residents and tenants association. I made a promise that made the members of that association fall about laughing. They thought that I was lying. They said that I was making election bribes which could never be carried out.

I said that within 10 years there would be a new train line to their area. I am sure that no hon. Member would deny that there is now a magnificent mass transit system to the Isle of Dogs. I submit to the right hon. Gentleman, who said that the LDDC had brought nothing to his area, that that might have been a substantial gain to residents who had previously felt trapped on the Isle of Dogs.

This is another example of a major scheme that will bring great benefits to the people of the area. The Labour party again says, "Wait—wait for a strategic plan." There was always a new false dawn with the LDDC, the derelict areas of dockland and the Isle of Dogs, but never a proper scheme with any chance of succeeding. This is a scheme which will succeed; a scheme which will bring benefits to the people of Spitalfields. I believe that it will be widely welcomed by them, by the trade and by the people of London, and that it will bring great benefits to all but the narrow interests of the Labour party.

8.32 pm
Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar)

The hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) keeps referring to negative attitudes. The real negative attitude is the naked greed of pinstriped men who lust for profits, arid once again propose to blight the east end of London.

Mine is the neighbouring constituency to that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). I was born in his constituency, arid I have a special interest in Spitalfields. My father was a councillor for Spitalfields, East; many of my school friends lived in Spitalfields, and I would go there to visit them arid play. My sister went to Central Foundation school, which was in Spital square. I therefore know the area well, and have always considered it very special.

Even when very young, we knew of the Huguenots who had sought refuge there. We saw their buildings, with the large windows to let in light for silk weaving, and the mulberry trees in the yards where the silkworms grew. Spitalfields market was also a large part of our lives. The market received its charter in the 17th century. It is very successful, with trade totalling over £180 million in 1987, and it is fully occupied. In 1984–85, 42 of the traders had a turnover of over £1 million each, and 78 per cent. reported that their trade was improving. It is not a dying market, but a flourishing market.

There are many new dealers in ethnic food, such as vegetables imported from Kenya, and that side of trading is thriving and growing. The market supplies Bengali shops, for instance. No account has been taken of the fact that trade has arisen because of the needs of the local community. It supplies the majority of the vegetables that form a large part of their diet, food that is not readily available elsewhere.

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

Does the hon. Lady agree that the existing Spitalfields market does not contain the necessary facilities—cold storage or ethylene ripening facilities, for example—to accommodate the further development of the trade to which she has referred?

Ms. Gordon

I do not have the details, but I see no reason why the existing market cannot be improved. There are problems. Improvement is needed in cleaning and the removal of waste, and in the access roads. But there is no reason why the local authority cannot deal with improved cleaning facilities, for instance.

The traders have been faced with a fait accompli. The initiative has come wholly from big business. The proposal that the market should be relocated at Temple Mills, and that the site should be redeveloped, is prompted by the value of the site. The Bill has nothing to do with the condition of the market and whether it can be improved. Behind the proposal is the value of the site to the City of London corporation, and the hundreds of millions of pounds that will be made out of it by the developers.

Mr. Hugo Summerson (Walthamstow)

Will the hon. Lady contrast the "lust for profit of the pinstriped men in the City" with the doubtless large profits that the market traders of Spitalfields are making?

Ms. Gordon

The profit that the traders in Spitalfields market are making is a mere fleabite compared with those of big business. They are not damaging the lives of local people, as the proposed developments will harm the community.

There is no knowing how the move to Temple Mills will affect the Spitalfields traders. There is no knowing how it will affect the fruit and vegetable dealers in the many smaller retail markets in the east end—and there are many such markets dotted all over the east end. People travel from miles around, not just from the east end, to get cheap fruit and vegetables. The development will be detrimental to those in the east end, Hackney and the surrounding areas. We also do not know how the move will affect traders in Stratford, but no doubt my hon. Friends who represent the other areas that will be affected by the move will deal with that.

One of the reasons given for pulling down the market is the problem of traffic. If the proposed developments are built, traffic problems in the small medieval streets around Spitalfields will be immense. That is a false argument. Spitalfields is a unique and historic area, with a high degree of social and communal cohesion. There has always been racial tolerance. It must be the only area where a building can be found that was a place of worship for the Huguenots, became a place of worship for Jewish refugees and is now a mosque. It is also an area of industry and enterprise. The majority of residents live within 10 minutes of their place of work, but that will be changed if the new development is allowed to go ahead.

I have unfortunately seen the results of the beginning of a development in my constituency, where the land is being regenerated and the community is being destroyed. That will be the pattern in Spitalfields if we allow the market to be pulled down and redevelopment to go ahead.

The local community live, work, go to school, shop and have their cultural and religious needs met within the small area of Spitalfields. The area will be changed out of all recognition by the new proposals. The proposed relocation of the market development will pose a serious threat to the continued existence of the present community.

The developers claim to be concerned about Spitalfields' heritage and its historic character. This is not just a matter of individual buildings, some of which are beautiful and date from the 18th century; it is a matter of the unique mixture of work, home, market and trades. The area's inheritance is under threat.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney has already mentioned the high unemployment rate of over 24 per cent. within Spitalfields. The Home Affairs Select Committee report on Bengalis in Britain said that this figure is likely to conceal a higher rate. As my right hon. Friend has said, the jobs that exist centre around the clothing and leather industry, and work in the market, in the shops and the cafès around it. Jobs will not he created by the new development; they will be squeezed out.

I have received case after case concerning small firms on the Isle of Dogs that employ local labour in the type of jobs for which the local people have been trained being squeezed out. Only today I received a letter from Limehouse Studios. In 1985 that company signed a new lease with the LDDC for 200 years. Now it has been informed by the LDDC that it is to be compulsorily purchased. That is a typical example of what has happened in that area and that is what will happen to artisan workshops and small businesses in Spitalfields if the Bill goes ahead.

Mr. Spearing

That example of the juggernaut of the LDDC must be compared with the fact that the Canary Wharf development was not called in for consideration. The Prime Minister was in the area yesterday. Was my hon. Friend able to tell her about Limehouse Studios? Was she able to point out that the sort of things that are happening in Spitalfields, Canary Wharf and on the Isle of Dogs are not welcome?

Ms. Gordon

I knew about the Prime Minister's visit to Canary Wharf and the earlier visit by Lord Young only from the newspapers. I was neither invited nor informed. Indeed, the mayor and the leader of the council were not informed. I believe that they walked out of a banquet in Whitehall to which they had been invited when they found out what had happened at Canary Wharf. We can expect more such behaviour in the future.

Mr. Tony Banks

My hon. Friend has just revealed that the Prime Minister acted most discourteously by not informing the constituency Member of her visit. I assume that my hon. Friend will accept that the Prime Minister must be rather careful. She is so unpopular that she is a positive incitement to violence on the streets. Therefore, she must keep her visits quiet until they have taken place.

Ms. Gordon

I take my hon. Friend's point. I must also inform my hon. Friends that Lord Young's visit was not disclosed—

Mr. Banks

He is even more unpopular!

Ms. Gordon

We must also take into account that the Canary Wharf development is unpopular with the community and that everything to do with it is shrouded in secrecy. The local people are not told what is happening in case they express their opinions in the usual east end manner.

The shops that will be built in the new development will not be those that are needed. The regulations have already been changed and the class of use has been changed to enable banks, building societies, travel agents and estate agents to be included. Sadly a beautiful old place that used to make scales—I believe that was in Paxton street—has gone out of business. It has been replaced by a new faceless computer office.

Workshops will be undermined by the rapid rise in land values that will ensue. The one thing that the people of Spitalfields and of the east end do not need is more office space. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney has already said that 27 million sq ft of office space is in the pipeline for London. Within 30 yards of the boundary of Spitalfields we can see the towering mass of the Broadgate development, which is currently under construction. That will provide about 4 million sq ft of office space. Canary Wharf will give us a further 6 million sq ft. I do not know who will occupy all those offices. Perhaps they will stay empty as their values rise, as we saw with the Centre Point development in London.

The area needs developing. There is need, not for offices, but for economically priced rented accommodation, for improved workshops and for environmental improvements that will benefit the community. There has been talk about the Liberal council negotiating a community gain. The community gain that it negotiated with the billionaire company Olympia and York on Canary Wharf was pathetic—£50,000 a year for training. The community gain for training that is attached to the Spitalfields package, should it be put into effect—I hope that it never will be—will be £250,000 over five years. It has already been pointed out that that will be less than the cost of a small house. What type of training will be provided for that? It is derisory and despicable.

Part of the community gain is the contemptible proposal for only 118 residential units on this 12 to 14 acre site. Such provision is derisory when one considers local need. Indeed, most of those units will be one or two-bedroomed units. The families in that area are large and they need four or five-bedroomed houses. The residential units will not be for them. The corporation has also told Tower Hamlets council that it wishes to have nomination rights for some of the housing. How much will that benefit local people? Not more than would go in the corner of a tooth.

The area will be turned into a ghost town. There will be a park provided and no doubt it will be full of office workers at lunch time, but it will be empty after dark and people will be afraid to go into it.

If the Bill is agreed, the sky will be the limit for land values. In Wapping, less than half a mile from Spitalfields, the price is currently £20 million an acre. That is almost unbelievable. The professional gentrifiers have already moved into Spitalfields with the yuppies in their wake.

A few weeks ago, when I was doing a television programme, one of the executives introduced himself to me and said that he lived in the neighbourhood next to my constituency. He told me that he had bought a house in Woodseer street. I expressed surprise and he told me that he had bought his house three years ago and that he had paid £52,000 for it. He said, "Islington is finished." I think that sums it up: Spitalfields is the next place for the takeover.

What will happen to the local people after the takeover? They will be priced out of the area. A very vulnerable local community will be forced out. It is worth noting that the £52,000 house is now worth nearly £200,000. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney read out some house prices, and they are soaring. If the Bill goes ahead, the same things will happen to the people of Spitalfields as have happened to the people on the Isle of Dogs. All this is even before the development begins. Flats on rundown housing estates are selling for £60,000 when the average wage of local people in the area is £100 or less. What chance do they have in this melee?

Mr. Spearing

Is not the silence of the Prime Minister and her activities possibly related to her inner city policy? Is not what my hon. Friend is describing the real inner city policy of the Prime Minister, which is colonisation by the people she likes whom she described on election night as "our sort of people"? Is that not the hidden agenda of her inner city policy for London?

Ms. Gordon

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. The right hon Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) was reported in The Daily Telegraph—or perhaps it was in an article that he wrote for The Daily Telegraph—as suggesting that we need more charitable donations to solve the problems of the inner cities. He said that we must honour the men who built the workhouses. Is that supposed to be the future for the unfortunate people of east London? Do we want to bring the workhouse syndrome back to the area? The Government honour the people who built the workhouses, not those who achieved the biggest slum clearance in Europe. A Labour council built 84,000 housing units, but the Government honour those who built the workhouses.

Most of the community gains do not meet the needs of the people in Spitalfields and the adjoining areas. We need a strategy that begins to address the problem of inner city deprivation and regeneration, with social and economic responsibility. The social effect of regeneration in the American cities, the model on which this type of development is based, has been to increase poverty, to displace the local population and to create more deprivation and despair among the ethnic groups, but it has created no jobs and very little housing or other benefits for working people or for ethnic minorities.

For those reasons, the House should be examining alternative developments which will reflect the interests and needs of the people of Spitalfields and not those of the business men in the City of London. For those reasons, I support the instruction.

8.52 pm
The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Selwyn Gummer)

I thank the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) for the generous way in which he suggested that I was an unsuitable Minister to intervene in the debate. I shall explain to him why I intervene to explain the Government's view on the Bill, and perhaps comment on one or two of the things that have been said, in a way that I hope he will find helpful.

In the traditional way, the Government are taking a neutral stance on the Bill, for it is a private Bill. If the House decides to give it a Second Reading, no doubt it will proceed in the normal way to question, to argue, and to seek to provide from it the kind of Bill that hon. Members want.

The Bill has obvious implications for horticultural marketing in London. Therefore, it is a Bill which should most properly be considered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, not least because marketing is of increasing importance in agriculture. We have moved from a period when production was king to a period in which effective selling has become increasingly important. The market in the big centre has great importance in that. Therefore, I believe that it would be wrong to suggest that the Bill can be discussed only from the point of view of planning in the way which some hon. Members have sought to do so far. As I understand it, the Bill is concerned with the better marketing of horticultural produce and addresses itself to those problems.

There have been concerns, particularly from the Covent Garden market, that the changes might in some way affect the situation there, but I am happy to hear that those problems have been overcome and that the objection by that market to the Bill has been withdrawn. I am sure that the House also will be aware of the withdrawal of the objections from the Transport and General Workers Union. Again, it is natural that I am concerned with that, as the Transport and General Workers Union represents a majority of agricultural and other workers who are unionised. That, too, is of considerable importance to the House.

I am a little concerned about the question raised by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney about calling in the planning proposals. I should have thought that, if he felt so strongly and, indeed, if the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon) had also felt that strongly, they might at the appropriate time have asked the Secretary of State to call in the proposal.

I have some experience of that procedure because I have recently had to do precisely that in my constituency. I found out the date by which such a request had to be made and I sought to get the Secretary of State to call in a particularly objectionable proposal. I am happy to say that I succeeded. However, I had to get in my objection in time. The right hon. Gentleman did not do so. He felt strongly about it, but he put forward no objection. As the House has been asked to deal with the scheme on a planning basis, it is reasonable to say that if an objection has not been brought by the local Member of Parliament, perhaps it is reasonable for the Secretary of State to believe that he should not call it in.

Mr. Tony Banks

The Minister might be interested to know that the London borough of Newham did precisely that. It asked the Department of the Environment to call in the whole development and the move of the market to Temple Mills. It was refused completely by the Department.

Mr. Gummer

I am sure that what the hon. Gentleman said is true. I was remarking that it did not seem to be quite such a matter of urgency and concern to the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney or indeed to his neighbouring Members of Parliament if they did not feel it necessary to do that, particularly considering their view of the quality of Tower Hamlets council. I am in some difficulty here for I do not wish to intrude upon private grief. I do not have, from my memory of the days when Tower Hamlets was run by the Labour party, a brief for Tower Hamlets council in general. It seems to me that much of the deprivation in Tower Hamlets is the result of one of the worst planning systems and sets of attitudes over 40 years that can be imagined.

I remember that when I was a member of the Inner London education authority it was impossible to get teachers because Tower Hamlets borough council did not believe in building houses for sale. It wanted to municipalise the area, and it has done so, with the result that the mix of population has been destroyed and there is very little chance of it returning. The history of Tower Hamlets borough council is not so great as some would have us believe. The present borough council has procedures that some may find unusual, but it has been elected and has reached a decision.

I find it difficult to believe that the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney would have been so enthusiastic about his condemnation of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had a Labour council reached that decision. If a Labour council had made such a planning decision, I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would have been quite so concerned about the impropriety of not calling in the application. I suspect that he is more concerned about internal political arguments after the surprising—to the Opposition—change in Tower Hamlets.

Mr. Spearing

Just to reinforce what my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) said about Newham, does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that both my hon. Friend and I asked for the Canary Wharf application to be called in? The Secretary of State did not call in that application, either. Does it not suggest that there is a lack of sensitivity in the Department of the Environment and among Ministers about controversial matters that affect London boroughs?

Mr. Gummer

It has been suggested that there have been differences of opinion between Ministers in the Department of the Environment and those in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. I am happy to say that on this point, as on all points, I am entirely of the opinion that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is right.

I listened to the speeches of the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney and the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar. Then I listened to the interventions of the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and was struck by the fact that it was all a matter of saying no, which was very sad. Then I asked myself why the London Docklands development corporation was set up. It was set up because nobody was doing anything. There was no chance of getting any policy through. Every plan to use the area in a way that any sensible city would use it was destroyed by inter-borough rivalry and Socialist dogma. My right hon. Friend was right to set up the LDDC to ensure that something is done that will be very much the envy of the rest of Europe and the world.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

Does my right hon. Friend also agree that it was the inactivity of the London county council, the Greater London council and the London Labour boroughs that caused 20 or 30 years of dereliction and that it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) who, together with Bob Mellish, got the London Docklands development corporation working? I do not know of a better Londoner than Bob Mellish.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. We seem to be straying from the confines of the Bill.

Mr. Gummer

I am sorry that we should have done so, but I think that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will agree that a parallel was drawn between the development of this important site and the development of another important site nearby. I shall not be led further down that road, apart from saying that the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney said how sad it was that the GLC had disappeared and how useful it would have been in these circumstances. It is the first time since the abolition of the GLC that I have heard anybody remember that we ever had a Greater London council.

Mr. Tony Banks

Silly little man.

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Gentleman who has just shouted out is a—

Ms. Gordon

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Gummer

I am happy to give way to the hon. Lady.

Ms. Gordon

I see people in my surgery weekly and receive letters almost daily from people who want housing transfers but who have to be told that because the GLC no longer exists there is absolutely no chance of their getting a transfer.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We must return to discussing the Bill. Time is very short.

Mr. Gummer

The transfer of this market to another site is a matter of concern to the planning authorities. Both the planning authorities involved have given planning permission. Waltham Forest gave planning permission in October 1986. Planning permission was given by Tower Hamlets last year. It is for a mixed development on the Spitalfields market site, comprising mainly offices, with 238 residential units, retail use for small businesses, a museum and open spaces and restaurants, subject to a number of conditions.

I hope that the House will decide whether the future site will be better than the existing one. I do not think that we can follow the line of the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar, that we do not know whether this will work. That is one of the problems of any change. We must decide whether it is worth giving the proposal a chance. We ought not to he led astray by visions of naked and pinstriped people lusting for whatever it may be; how they are both I am not sure. I had better not go down that avenue, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

It would perhaps be better to consider the Bill in a cairn atmosphere and to put aside local party political differences, and the sad vendetta against those who make money, most of which goes to the benefit of other boroughs in London. It is those on whom our welfare services depend. It is only the wealth creation of the people of Britain that enables us to provide any of the housing for the hon. Lady's constituents. or any of the health and welfare services that we provide. Sometimes I think that those who are so generous in their attack on those who make money should remember that most other countries would he very pleased to have a financial centre of the strength and value of the City of London. Very few people shout about that in this country, but foreigners would like to have the strength and money that comes from the City.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) only shouts from a sedentary position. He has not been in the debate. The House has got used to listening to the hon. Gentleman; either he lectures us for far too long or he shouts from a sedentary position.

The Bill ought to be considered on its merits rather than against any dogmatic background. There were a number of petitioners against the Bill. Some have withdrawn their objections. We ought to ask ourselves whether it would be reasonable to allow the Bill to go to a Committee, where the petitioners would be able to put their cases. The Committee would be in a much better position than we are to examine the issues involved and to ensure that the interests of the petitioners are safeguarded. It would have the added advantage of expert advice.

The detailed arguments about the Bill must be worked out, as is customary, by the private interests involved. I hope very much that the House will feel it reasonable to give the Bill a Second Reading and to allow it to proceed in the usual way to a Committee for detailed consideration of the issues involved.

I would be sad if, given the horticultural needs and the use of markets in a modern world, when all kinds of new equipment, proper refrigeration, properly cleaned areas and hygiene have become more important, the consideration of the Bill should cease to be about that and instead become embroiled and enmeshed in a series of arguments that sound like arguments we have heard for 40 to 50 years. In a sense, those arguments remind us that much of the dereliction in London and the deprivation of London's people has been the result of out-of-date Socialist and Marxist councils.

9.8 pm

Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly)

I am intensely disappointed with the Minister's response. His last comments do him and his office no good at all.

There is no doubt that the central issue this evening is not the relocation of Spitalfields market but the nature of the communities that will be affected by the development and the changes that will be inflicted on those communities if the proposed market relocation goes ahead. There is no doubt where the Government stand on that issue. Clearly, they will support it, despite the fact that at no time during the debate have more than 10 Conservative Members been present. I have no doubt that, if hon. Members vote on it, Conservative supporters of the Bill will appear out of the woodwork, bars, dining rooms and whatever. The Government will have enough supporters to get the measure through the House—at least on a strong unofficial lobby. That will bring the House into disrepute.

I am sorry that the Minister has not replied to any of the real issues that have been raised. I understand that he is not in a position to do so. The issues relate to inner city development, economic policy, investment and the strength and viability of inner city communities. They also affect the strength of ethnic groupings. My hon. Friends who represent inner city areas are concerned with such issues. Of course, the portfolio of the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food does not allow him to reply to such issues. Perhaps he will explain why that is so.

Mr. Gummer

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will explain why, if they are the issues, the Labour party has put forward its agriculture spokesman to answer the debate.

Mr. Davies

The Minister knows as well as I do that I stand here precisely because he stands there. It was the Government's choice to put forward an agriculture Minister to reply to the debate. I am the shadow agriculture spokesman. I wish that it were the other way round, and I were the Minister. I assure the House that, if I could choose who should reply to the debate, it would not be the Minister; it would be one of the new Ministers who were trailed after the 1987 election, when the Prime Minister said, "We must now go for the inner cities." Glib promises were made by Ministers with inner city responsibilities. I would call one of them to the Dispatch Box to answer the debate.

The Minister had an opportunity to make his own speech. He neglected to do so. He missed his opportunity. I have given way to him, and I shall do so again, but he must make up his mind. I have my own speech, and I intend to make it. I shall accept interventions from the Minister when I directly refer to him, but he must recognise that he has missed his chance.

Mr. Gummer

It is up to the Opposition to decide who to put forward to speak. The only reason the hon. Gentleman makes his speech in such a way is that the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore), having failed to ask for a certain planning operation to be called in, is trying to make up for his constituents—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that we can now leave substance and shadow and get on to the Bill.

Mr. Davies

I am sure that the House recognises that there are well-established precedents. There are procedures to be followed. Hon. Members know why the Minister is here this evening.

The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) should be congratulated. There is no doubt that there is a case to be made. There is no doubt also that he presented that case as well as it could be presented. Of course, on one or two occasions, he lapsed and attempted to vent some political spleen, but my hon. Friends were tolerant and did not respond. My congratulations are sincere. There is a case to be made, and he made it.

Of course, there is an alternative case. I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) who, in his analytical approach, dissected and dispatched the case. He was well supported by my hon.

Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon). They widened the debate. The debate is much wider than the relocation of Spitalfields market.

I suspect that the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has replied to the debate this evening because the Government do not wish the debate to be widened. They want to restrict it, and to be seen to be restricting it, to issues relating to Spitalfields market. But the issues are much wider than that, and it is when they are challenged on the consequences of the move from Spitalfields that they are most vulnerable.

I am sure that most of my hon. Friends view with very grave concern the developing practice of using private Bill procedures, wherever possible, not only to circumvent proper planning procedures, when necessary, but also, as we see this evening, to avoid a proper, searching public examination of the issues involved.

I went to the Library yesterday for a list of private Bills introduced during this Session. The list is too long to read out this evening. That is a measure of the extent to which the House of Commons is being used by individuals for private interests. Legislation is being presented to the House of Commons to circumvent the normal planning process and to ensure that the planning issues, or the issues of economic or community development, are not explored in a rational forum and assessed by independent planning inspectors, but are made subjects of political debate in the House. The sad consequence is that unless the Bills pass through unopposed they become the subject of political controversy that will be resolved only by the Government's wheeling out their payroll vote. All the contentious issues that we have debated in the House in recent years have been resolved only when the Government have decided to use the payroll vote to expedite the matter.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

I should not like the hon. Gentleman to be under any misapprehension. This Bill has nothing to do with the planning process. That has been dealt with by the local authorities already.

Mr. Davies

I am fully aware of those issues and I fully understand that, even if there were a consensus, a Bill would have to be presented to the House to allow the move. My case is that no real attempt has been made to reach that consensus or to satisfy the very real needs of those communities, which are crying out in the torture that they are experiencing in the grotesque juxtaposition in which they find themselves—levels of poverty, which most hon. Members do not believe exist, side by side with the gross affluence that we have come to associate with the City of London. Those are the issues that should have been resolved before the Bill was presented to the House. I am sure that the matter would then have been dealt with in a very different way.

We must recognise that, however desirable that might be, it is not the case. We have to look at the controversies. We have to look at the events in this Chamber last night when we discovered that the chairman of Associated British Ports had been to visit the Prime Minister to ensure that the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill, on behalf of a privatised company, no doubt with funds flowing into Tory coffers, had her personal assistance in delivering the payroll vote.

We well remember the events of the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill, with P and 0 pouring money into the Tory party and laying on champagne receptions to get the Tories here for the vote.

In my own part of the country, we have the Cardiff bay development. I shall not stray too far, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but it is relevant to this debate, because we have that intermingling of public and private funds, we have the Tory party and Government Ministers involved and, in the case of the Cardiff hay development corporation, a high Welsh Tory—there are not many of them, so all of them have to be high—appointed to public office by his brother-in-law, the Secretary of State for Wales. That is the intermingling of interests that concerns us all—the intermingling of Government and private funds, the private Bill procedure, and the Government machine getting those matters through the House of Commons.

We know where the party lines are on the Spitalfields issue. Unfortunately, there are party lines because the promoters of the Bill have not sought a consensus. We know that Tory Members will come to vote, not because they are concerned about Spitalfields market but because they know where their duty lies—supporting their friends in the City of London. They will do their duty this evening. We are all concerned because the Government cannot decide where the boundary lies between the national interest, the Government interest and the interest of the Conservative party. They seem to think that all three interests are indivisible.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney referred to the glossy leaflet issued by the Conservative Back Bench horticultural committee as justification for the measure. So we have a group of Conservative Back Benchers offering justification for this private Bill.

My right hon. Friend also raised the question of the O'Cathain report by a Right-wing economist, almost a quango groupy, employed in 1981 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to produce a report. The report was never published. Somehow it has leaked out from the Ministry and is used by the corporation as a justification for the measure. That is a cause of great concern. Questions of propriety are involved. Shabbiness has come into the House on these matters. The result is that the whole procedure on private Bills is in disrepute. A Select Committee is considering the matter and I hope that shortly we will have an opportunity to debate its report and to redress some of the wrongs.

The Minister was surprised that I was here to reply to the debate. I gave him the reason. I am not familiar with the Spitalfields area. It is not an area to which I go every day, but, when I knew that I was to reply to the debate, I made arrangements to go to Spitalfields, and I have spent a considerable time there during the last two days. I should he grateful if the Minister could tell us whether his ministerial engagements allowed him time to go to Spitalfields. He is the Minister responsible for the Bill and he should tell us how much time he has spent in Spitalfields over the last two days.

Mr. Gummer

I am happy to say that Spitalfields is a place not only to which I go, but which I go through regularly—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), who spends most of the time shouting from a sedentary position, should note that I made a distinction between those two activities. I agree with the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) that it would be difficult to reply to the debate without having done so.

Mr. Davies

The Minister singularly refused to say whether, when he knew that he would be replying to the debate, he took the opportunity of going to Spitalfields to examine the position, to talk to the residents and to make his own assessment of the impact of the Bill on the people. He made no mention at all in his speech of the consequences of the move on the people of Spitalfields.

Mr. Tony Banks


Mr. Davies

I will give way to my hon. Friend, but I know that my hon. Friends who represent the three Newham constituencies are anxious to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I want to conclude my remarks quickly so that I may listen to their speeches. However, I shall give way because my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) is very anxious about the matter.

Mr. Tony Banks

I certainly am very anxious, because we still have not heard anything about Stratford market. The Minister for fruit and veg has been at the Dispatch Box but he did not say a word about Stratford market. Perhaps my hon. Friend would like to say a few words about it.

Mr. Davies

As part of my preparation for the debate, I took it upon myself to contact my hon. Friend and he spent many hours briefing me. [Laughter.] It is a strange irony that it is a matter for mirth that an Opposition spokesman should seek to acquaint himself with the problems of individuals who are faced with such legislation. It is a pity that the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who can so something about it, did not consult my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West. If he had, he might have been wiser and had something to say at the Dispatch Box this evening.

I took it upon myself to consult my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West. I know that he is worried about the impact on his market. If he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will put his case. I know also that if he does not catch your eye, he will ensure that the interests of his market traders are brought to the fore in a forceful way.

The case for the people of Spitalfields has been put already by my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney and my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West. From my visit to the area I gained the impression that this is a unique and distinctive community. It is struggling to survive, but it is capable of being viable if given a helping hand. If it is not helped, it could be destroyed.

I offer to the House three graphic but brief illustrations of my conclusions from my visit to Spitalfields. As my right hon. Friend mentioned, Herbert house is a block of residential maisonettes. It is a visible exhibition of poverty, squalor and overcrowding that I did not know existed in 1988. Representing one of the most deprived and depressed mining areas of south Wales, I was shocked to find that degree of squalor in this capital city. What made that squalor more obscene was that it was overshadowed by the Broadgate development, rising up and blocking out the skyline. It is a symbol of wealth and affluence next to an area of abject poverty. That Broadgate development represents a world of business, employment and high finance which could not be further away from the everyday experiences of the people who live in Herbert house, whose outlook is blocked by that expensive development. That visit illustrated to me what the Bill is all about.

I was told that I had to see Aldgate Barrs. I was told that it had been offered as planning gain for an earlier planning development. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West suggested that the local authority may have been conned into agreeing to that development. Aldgate Barrs was held up as a vision of what could be offered to a community if it co-operated with new planning developments. The community was told at the time that there would be new shops, new leisure facilities and new community facilities and that the community would benefit. The shops are there, the keep-fit centre is there and the theatre is there, but the shops, the theatre and the keep-fit centre are of no use to the people of Spitalfields. Those facilities are outside their experience.

The Aldgate Barrs centre is busy by day, full of yuppies going about their business and leisure activities, but it is empty at night. It is closed also at weekends when the community, if it is to enjoy the benefit of planning gain, should be playing hard. But when the Aldgate Barrs centre could be enjoyed by the community, the doors are shut. That is not enriching a community; that is giving to the community a perpetual reminder of what it does not have. That is the sad aspect of that development. That constant reminder of a different lifestyle which is not available to the people of Spitalfields makes us angry.

The final indignity displayed in Aldgate Barrs is an advertising sign—[Interruption.] It might be a matter of humour to Conservative Members, but I do not find it humorous, because the advertising sign says: Bring a touch of France to your patio. It is advertising new patios for gardens—in Spitalfields.

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

What is wrong with that?

Mr. Davies

I will tell the hon. Gentleman what is wrong with that. The people who are living in the area that that facility is supposed to be servicing are living in squalor.

There are 1,300 homeless families and 12,000 families on the housing waiting list. A total of 25 per cent. of the male population in Spitalfields is unemployed and the average wage of those in work is £110 a week. The hon. Member for Fylde asks what is wrong with telling them to bring a touch of France to their patio. He does not know what world he is living in.

Another example of conditions in the area can be found on the Chicksand estate. It is a multi-storey tenement of two-bedroom flats. Those flats are being sought by property speculators who are offering £75,000 a time. That is happening in a ward in a local authority area where very few people can afford to exercise the right to buy which was so grandly given to them by the Government. They are so poor that they have to stand by and see property speculators paying £75,000 for multi-storey tenement flats in an area with that level of poverty.

That shows the real issues involved in the Bill. It is not just about having nice hygienic conditions of freeze-drying for horticultural products. That is not the issue. If it was, the Minister would have said, "I am concerned with a strategy for the markets in London." He would have said, "I am trying to develop a plan to ensure that the markets of London are best located and best run." He did not do that. He offended the House by gratuitously ignoring the real issues to which I have referred.

We are not being asked to approve the renovation of a worn-out market; we are being asked to relocate it to allow the redevelopment of the site on which it is currently located. The motivation for the Bill comes not from the residents of Spitalfields but from those whose fingers are in the development pie. The losers, if the Bill is passed this evening and completes its stages unchanged, will be the people of Spitalfields. For those reasons, we cannot support the Bill as it stands.

9.32 pm
Mr. John Bowis (Battersea)

I listened with care to the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore), the representative of Spitalfields, and the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon), the daughter of Spitalfields. If there is one thing about which there is agreement, it is that the Spitalfields site is fairly scruffy and could well do with a facelift, a move or whatever. I do not think that there is any dispute between us on that.

I have no objection to the removal of the market and the building of a new market elsewhere, as long as the result is a market system that provides fair competition for the markets in London.

My interest in the Bill and the reason why my name is one of those appended to a motion blocking the Bill is that I represent the constituency of Battersea, within which is the bulk of Covent Garden market. In fact, a small part of it is outside my area and when I go into the flower market and walk beyond an imaginary line I find myself trespassing on the patch of the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland). That is where the market starts to have its rates doubled.

The problem I wish to raise has been put to me by the Covent Garden market tenants association, the traders and the employees of both the market and the traders, many of whom live in my constituency. It is a problem about which concern has been properly expressed. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) for referring to the fact that there has been considerable work between the City of London corporation and Covent Garden and active participation by my hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) in an attempt to find solutions to the problem. As my right hon. Friend the Minister said, it is a pity that some people do not seem to have gone out of their way to look for solutions to the problems involved in the Bill.

The problem centres on the capacity of London markets. Unlike any other western capital, London has a chequered history in that a lot of markets have been formed. Every other capital city in western Europe has a single wholesale horticultural market. We have not one, but five, plus the small market, albeit largely retail, at Greenwich. We need to examine the danger of overcapacity. That is why we have not allowed the Bill to go through unopposed. We feel that market capacity should be examined carefully to ensure that the new market will not have adverse repercussions on the traders, markets or consumers of London.

The traders and employees at Covent Garden put three specific points to the corporation. First, they said that there should be a survey to establish the impact of the new market. I do not suggest for one minute that the wholesale markets have become inefficient. I am merely saying that trading patterns have changed. Whereas people used to go to their greengrocer for virtually all their fruit and vegetables, they now go increasingly to supermarkets. The supermarkets, in turn, go to their own wholesalers and many of them import direct. When considering investment in new markets, we need to ensure that we take that on board.

It was sensible to call for a survey to establish the need. There have been two reports—the O'Cathain report of 1981 and the Wells report of 1985. The O'Cathain report recommended a planned reduction in the number of markets. The Wells report recommended that Spitalfields market should be closed and that the City corporation should join with the tenants at Stratford in building a "modest yet modern market". It is a modest yet modern market that we have sought. It was and is important to have a survey and I hope that it will be carried out during the passage of the Bill.

The second point that the Covent Garden traders made to the corporation concerned the size of the market. People have justifiably wanted to ensure that the market is large enough to accommodate the existing traders from Spitalfields and Stratford if they want to transfer but not so large as to tempt market traders from other markets. To some extent, we have achieved that in our discussions and I welcome the assurance given by my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate on the space needed and the pourboire—if that is the right word—to encourage existing traders to go. I hope that he will confirm that that will not be available to traders who trade at markets elsewhere. [Interruption.] I am glad to have that confirmed.

The third problem involves rents and rent increases. There was concern that if the rents were simply based on current rents that would take no account of the more attractive and extended facilities of the new market. Such rents could be considered to be some sort of subsidy to market traders in the new markets.

None of those apprehensions reflects on Covent Garden's viability. Covent Garden has been extremely successful since it was inaugurated. It has managed to conquer its massive debt repayments; the figure is now below £2 million and falling year by year. The space available at Covent Garden is well used and the gap that has been created by the use of supermarkets has been filled by other outlets for horticultural goods—not least distribution to the catering sector.

Although 1 was one of those who wished to block the Bill, I thank the City of London corporation and the Covent Garden market authority for their dedicated work in coming together to seek solutions. Tonight we have had, if not an eleventh hour solution, at least a seventh hour solution and have come to a substantial measure of agreement. Unfortunately, the City of London corporation has not agreed to the survey, but perhaps that will come later.

We have gained the reassurance that the new Spitalfields will be of a sufficient size, and sufficient only, to satisfy the needs of the Spitalfields and Stratford traders who move there. There is agreement that the space in the new market will take full account of the greater efficiency that can be achieved by modern market facilities and of the declining role of the wholesale market. The new Spitalfields will simply replace the old market. It will not result in overcapacity, which is a great danger for London wholesale markets.

We have been given some reassurance that the occupancy costs—rent and service charges—for tenants at the new market will be at least comparable to those of the Covent Garden market. Therefore, to a large extent, our worries about unfair enticements have been put at rest.

The City of London corporation has satisfied me and the people whom I represent at Nine Elms that its plans will not adversely affect the marketing at Covent Garden or the overall position of London markets. We can look forward, while the Bill is in Committee, to these reassurances being tightened, tidied up and brought back as a cast-iron guarantee to the market traders and employees of Covent Garden. It was right that I should have held out for the interests of my constituents. By holding out, consulting and negotiating, we have achieved for Covent Garden what other markets might have achieved had they done likewise. I have no doubt that we can formalise the agreement satisfactorily. I am happy to say that I shall not vote against the Bill.

9.42 pm
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

The hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) said that he has been speaking for his constituents and the interests that he represents and that they have been satisfied. But the interests represented by my hon. Friends from Newham constituencies and I have not. Those are the interests of the London borough of Newham and the Stratford mark et traders, who are sorely affected by the proposal and who take a close interest in the proceedings of the House.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) said, the Bill is not about mark et needs in east London. It is about the mega-millions of pounds involved in the redevelopment of Spitalfields. To use a catch word with which perhaps you are not familiar, Mr. Speaker, we are talking "loadsa" money here—but not "loadsa" money for the Stratford traders and certainly not for the people of Newham.

The Minister for food mountains, who was at the Dispatch Box a short while ago, could have addressed himself to the interests of market strategy in fruit and vegetables throughout London and east London in particular. But he chose not to. He made a few petty points about the Greater London council and sundry Labour-controlled councils in the east end of London.

I want to talk about the Stratford market traders and the position of the fruit and vegetable wholesale market in Newham. It has not suddenly appeared; it has its roots in a history going back to 1253, when Henry III granted Richard Montfitchet the right to hold a Tuesday market at West Ham and an annual fair from 19 to 22 July. The market developed gradually, but history is silent about it during the intervening centuries.

I notice that Conservative Members are being whipped in to vote in the interests of the City of London—the Chamber is suddenly quite full. Despite my legendary abilities to call people in to listen to my oratory, I know that that is not what they have come for. They would not be here on a Thursday night—they would all be getting their behinds out of this place as far as possible to look after their constituencies, as they should. But here they sit, waiting for a vote, knowing that they must stay here because they have been told to. That makes a mockery of the private Bill procedure.

Sir William Clark (Croydon, South)


Mr. Banks

I would have given way if the hon. Gentleman had been in the Chamber earlier; he should have come to listen to the arguments.

The real history of Stratford market dates from 1879. As London spread out and Stratford became a busy commercial centre that was increasingly inadequate to supply the needs of an ever-growing population, a market was established in 1879 which we would all recognise today as Stratford market. That market is now threatened by the Bill, and this is the first time that that has been raised during the debate.

The Stratford wholesale fruit and vegetable market occupies a site of about 6.25 acres of land—and buildings—that was originally owned by the Great Eastern Railway 100 years ago. It is now the property of the British Railways Board. It has an overspill in Burford road in which a number of market traders occupy premises and trade under the auspices of Stratford market. In 1985 the British Railways Board granted a 125-year lease on those acres of land to the new Stratford market development company formed by the traders, the majority of whom are now acting as their own market authority. Access to the market is via Burford road to the north and Abbey road to the south. So there is more than one access point, and I correct the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) on that point.

The constituency office of Newham, North-West is at the end of Burford road so I can look out of my office window and see what is going on in the market—

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

I specifically said that there was more than one exit at Stratford market. I saw it yesterday afternoon, and the building to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Mr. Banks

I accept the hon. Gentleman's correction of what I said. He also said that much of the land around Stratford market was polluted by the gas board. I am assured that such a technical problem can be easily overcome with large quantities of concrete. They managed to do it at Chernobyl, so I am sure they can do it in Stratford.

The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate also mentioned access roads. I know that he has been in the area and had a look at it. Newham borough council has many good plans for developing the infrastructure in the area if the Spitalfields market could be transferred to Newham. About 40 acres of land in Stratford could be used to relocate Spitalfields market. Conservative Members will realise that there is a difference between the point of view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney, who is representing the interests of Stepney, and that of the hon. Members who represent Newham.

We would be delighted to have Spitalfields market in the London borough of Newham. We want that development in the London borough of Newham. We are not trying to oppose it. We want it in Stratford. But that is not the proposal. The proposal is that it will be in Temple Mills, which will have a deleterious effect on the Stratford market. We still have not received the assurances that we want from the promoters that they will look after the interests of the Stratford market traders.

The British Railways Board has played a fairly low role in all this. Not only did it give a 125-year lease to the Stratford market traders; it then sold a site in Temple Mills to rival developers for a new market. Frankly, it has been playing both ends off against the middle. The people who will now lose out badly look like being those in the London borough of Newham and the Stratford market traders.

The Stratford market traders have done their best to develop the site and to look to the future in terms of what we want there. The draft plan that was prepared in the 1980s concluded with the statement: It is the intention of the Stratford Market Development Company to take steady but progressive steps towards improving the basic ideals set out whilst at the same time preserving the interests of the tenants currently domiciled in the market, ensuring that upheaval is kept to a minimum. The complex is well situated in an area close to the main road routes and those envisaged in the future. With the co-operation of all concerned, it is felt that there is considerable potential for the market to develop and generate trade, providing additional employment with a greatly improved working environment. There were plans, and those plans are still there, to try to develop the Stratford market area within a catchment area of some 3 million consumers.

As I have said, the opposition to the Bill comes from the London borough of Newham, which is extremely worried about the corporation's proposals in the Bill to close the present Spitalfields market and relocate it at Temple Mills, only 1.3 miles from Stratford market, causing severe disturbance to the existing Stratford market.

I have mentioned to the Minister that the London borough of Newham attempted to have the proposal called in by the Department of the Environment, but that was met with a blank refusal. We oppose the development and have tried to do so, but have had no co-operation from the City of London or the Department of the Environment.

The council feels that if the Bill is passed it will cause unemployment and hardship for some of those whom the council and my hon. Friends the Members for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) and for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) represent. The Bill will prevent the development of an expanded market at Stratford on a wider area of some 36 acres, of which the present market forms a part. That is larger than the Temple Mills acreage that is proposed for the new Spitalfields market.

The council contends that the corporation's proposals take no account of the existing market provisions on the eastern side of London. The provision of wholesale fruit and vegetable markets in east London is a complex matter and should be seen in the historical context of its various aspects. The Department of the Environment commenced a study in 1981. The Minister of State was not there at the time, but the report's recommendations have never seriously been considered by his Department, nor have they been considered by the City of London.

By the early 1970s the new Covent Garden market was established at Nine Elms, and, more recently, the western international market has been built at Heston to serve the western side of London. Conservative Members may find this vaguely amusing or vaguely boring. I make no apologies on this occasion for boring the House because I am boring the House in the interests of 300 employees at Stratford market and 25 traders who I know are paying close attention to what is going on in the House. I do not think that they have been very impressed by what they have seen on the Conservative Benches tonight, and that is from a party that is supposed to be looking after the interests of small traders.

Mr. Jack

Why, if he is so interested in the Stratford market employees, does the hon. Gentleman seek to deny them the chance of entering a modern horticultural market that could further develop their opportunities?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am not bored, but others among the hon. Gentleman's colleagues wish to speak. Will he bear that in mind?

Mr. Banks

I am delighted to hear that I am not boring you, Mr. Speaker. That is the last thing I would want to do. But I must respond to the hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack). Why does he not consult the market traders? Why does he think that they want to go to Temple Mills? He knows that they do not want to go—or I hope that he knows. They want to stay where they are. They want the new Spitalfields market—if there is to be one—based where they are at the moment. If they are forced to move to Temple Mills because their market will not be viable if the Temple Mills market is established, it will undoubtedly mean the loss of their trading position, and of many jobs in the area.

Mr. Spearing

Does not my hon. Friend find it rather strange that Conservative Members should self-confessedly be bored by an important exposition of the interests of Stratford market traders? Is it not probable—indeed, we can assume by their presence that it is obligatory—that Conservative Members are here only because of their concern with the interests of Spitalfield market traders? Would it not be natural for them to be interested also in the market concerns of Stratford—unless, of course, there is some other reason that they have not expressed?

Mr. Banks

I understand my hon. Friend's point. I know the City of London of old. Conservative Members have undoubtedly done their work. They are probably sitting there full of City of London champagne. They have probably been guzzling vast quantities of caviare. They would not be here at 9.56 on a Thursday evening if they had not all been bribed in some way.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Members of the House are not bribed. The lion. Gentleman must withdraw his remarks.

Mr. Banks

A more honest group of people I have never contemplated, Mr. Speaker. I should have said that they had been induced in some way to come and show their fascination with market strategy and market traders in the east end of London. But I take the point, Mr. Speaker. I know that many Opposition Members want to speak.

We oppose the Bill. Effectively, it will mean the end of Stratford market. It will mean a loss of jobs and facilities, not only for the traders but for the London borough of Newham. On those grounds—and there are many more that I wish I had the opportunity to enunciate—I am against the Bill. Having said those few words, and in the hope that I have not bored the House, I shall sit down.

9.57 pm
Mr. Hugo Summerson (Walthamstow)

I preface my remarks by saying what a shame it is that, of the two hon.

Members representing the London borough of Waltham Forest, I have just been called but the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) has not yet been called.

I welcome the contribution that the new market will make to the London borough of Waltham Forest and to the local economy. In planning terms, the Bill will achieve two extremely useful purposes. It will make full and proper use of a site that appears almost purpose-made for the job at Temple Mills, and of the site of Spitalfields, which has clearly outgrown its present functions.

For those reasons, I welcome the Bill. I shall sit down in the hope that the hon. Member for Leyton may have half a minute in which to speak.

9.58 pm
Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)

It is wonderful to have a minute and a half to represent the views of Leyton, where the market will go. [Interruption.] At least, it is proposed for it to go there. I do not think that I can do justice to the views of all the people of Leyton—

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 113, Noes 23.

Division No. 301] [9.59 pm
Alexander, Richard Harris, David
Arbuthnot, James Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Hind, Kenneth
Atkins, Robert Howard, Michael
Atkinson, David Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Baldry, Tony Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Howells, Geraint
Beith, A. J. Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Bellingham, Henry Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Boswell, Tim Hunter, Andrew
Bottomley, Peter Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Irvine, Michael
Bowis, John Jack, Michael
Brazier, Julian Janman, Tim
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Knapman, Roger
Browne, John (Winchester) Knowles, Michael
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Lawrence, Ivan
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Carrington, Matthew Lightbown, David
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Lilley, Peter
Chapman, Sydney Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Lord, Michael
Cohen, Harry McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Major, Rt Hon John
Cope, John Mans, Keith
Couchman, James Maples, John
Day, Stephen Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Dorrell, Stephen Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Dover, Den Moore, Rt Hon John
Durant, Tony Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Emery, Sir Peter Moynihan, Hon Colin
Fenner, Dame Peggy Neubert, Michael
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Forman, Nigel Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Fox, Sir Marcus Page, Richard
Garel-Jones, Tristan Paice, James
Gill, Christopher Rhodes James, Robert
Goodhart, Sir Philip Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Gorst, John Roe, Mrs Marion
Gow, Ian Rossi, Sir Hugh
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Ryder, Richard
Ground, Patrick Shaw, David (Dover)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Squire, Robin
Hannam, John Stanbrook, Ivor
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Macdonald, Calum A.
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Meale, Alan
Cryer, Bob Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Pike, Peter L.
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Dixon, Don Skinner, Dennis
Foulkes, George Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Spearing, Nigel
Gordon, Mildred Wray, Jimmy
Haynes, Frank
Holland, Stuart Tellers for the Noes:
Lamond, James Mr. Tony Banks and
Leighton, Ron Ms. Joan Walley.
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Steen, Anthony Watts, John
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Wells, Bowen
Sumberg, David Widdecombe, Ann
Summerson, Hugo Wilshire, David
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Winterton, Nicholas
Thorne, Neil Wolfson, Mark
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Tracey, Richard Tellers for the Ayes:
Tredinnick, David Mr. Greg Knight and
Waddington, Rt Hon David Sir Michael Shaw.
Warren, Kenneth

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 109, Noes 21.

Division No. 302] [10.10 pm
Alexander, Richard Cohen, Harry
Arbuthnot, James Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Cope, John
Atkins, Robert Couchman, James
Atkinson, David Day, Stephen
Baldry, Tony Dorrell, Stephen
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Dover, Den
Beith, A. J. Durant, Tony
Bellingham, Henry Emery, Sir Peter
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Boscawen, Hon Robert Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Boswell, Tim Forman, Nigel
Bottomley, Peter Fox, Sir Marcus
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Gill, Christopher
Browne, John (Winchester) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Gorst, John
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Gow, Ian
Carrington, Matthew Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Ground, Patrick
Chapman, Sydney Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Harris, David
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Cryer, Bob Pike, Peter L.
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Primarolo, Dawn
Dixon, Don Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Foulkes, George Skinner, Dennis
Godman, Dr Norman A. Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Gordon, Mildred Spearing, Nigel
Haynes, Frank Wray, Jimmy
Lamond, James
Leighton, Ron Tellers for the Noes:
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Mr. Tony Banks and
Macdonald, Calum A. Ms. Joan Walley.
Meale, Alan
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Page, Richard
Hind, Kenneth Paice, James
Howard, Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Roe, Mrs Marion
Howells, Geraint Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Ryder, Richard
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Shaw, David (Dover)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Squire, Robin
Hunter, Andrew Stanbrook, Ivor
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Steen, Anthony
Irvine, Michael Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Jack, Michael Sumberg, David
Janman, Tim Summerson, Hugo
Knapman, Roger Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Knowles, Michael Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Lawrence, Ivan Thorne, Neil
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Lightbown, David Tracey, Richard
Lilley, Peter Tredinnick, David
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Lord, Michael Warren, Kenneth
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Watts, John
Major, Rt Hon John Wells, Bowen
Mans, Keith Widdecombe, Ann
Maples, John Wilshire, David
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Winterton, Nicholas
Moore, Rt Hon John Wolfson, Mark
Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Tellers for the Ayes:
Neubert, Michael Sir Michael Shaw and
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Mr. Greg Knight.
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
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