HC Deb 23 May 1989 vol 153 cc804-58 3.39 pm
Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

I beg to move, That this House condemns this Government's total neglect of the inner city areas of Britain which has led to a reduction in investment, a decline in the quality of housing and schools, a deterioration in adequate health care, an increase in poverty and a growth in crime; and therefore calls upon the Government to work in partnership with local authorities, to ensure the increases in both private investment and public enterprise which inner cities so desperately need.

Mr. Speaker

I must announce to the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Hattersley

I have written to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the Minister apologising for the fact that, before the debate is over, I must leave for the inner city of Birmingham which in part I represent. I offer a general apology to the House for my absence later, as well as offering it to you personally and to the Minister.

Two years ago, on the stairs inside Downing street, the prime Minister promised action on the inner cities—a sudden and uncharacteristic enthusiasm that came after eight years of wilful and deliberate neglect. For a moment, it seemed that the Prime Minister had at last accepted her duty to be Prime Minister of all the country, but our hopes were confounded. Life in the inner cities continues to deteriorate relative to life in the rest of the United Kingdom, and sometimes even in absolute terms. It deteriorates because the Government's approach to the inner cities reflects all the inadequacies of modern Conservatism.

Tory inner-city policy is based on bone-headed Conservative dogma. Public expenditure is cut when it should be increased; market forces are expected to provide results that they are incapable of producing; public enterprise is stifled when it should be encouraged. Tory inner-city policy is autocratic. Decisions that would best be taken locally are imposed by Whitehall, and initiatives that should be organised in partnership with those who live in and represent the inner cities are exclusively taken and managed by bureaucrats.

Tory inner-city policy shows contempt for genuine racial equality. Most of the black and Asian British live and work in inner cities. At best, the Government patronise those British citizens and at worst they discriminate against them. They think of them as a problem to be contained, not as men and women who should be given a fair share of national resources.

Eight years ago, we debated Lord Scarman's judgment on inner-city policy. In that debate the then Home Secretary, the noble Lord Whitelaw, described the need to allocate resources to disadvantaged groups but he refused to promise that the resources that he regarded as necessary would be provided. It was a wise precaution. Paragraph 6.32 of the Scarman Report was explicit: It is clear from the evidence of ethnic minority deprivation … that, if the balance of racial disadvantage is to be redressed, as it must be, positive action is required. The Labour party gave unqualified support to that recommendation. On behalf of the Labour party I used these words: we do not ask for the black and Asian British to be given better employment prospects than their white contemporaries. I simply ask that they be given the same prospects and opportunities. To achieve that end special action is needed."—[Official Report, 10 December 1981; Vol. 14, c. 1012.] To achieve that end, special action is needed. We believed that in 1981 and we believe it today.

Tory inner-city policy is above all else cynical. It is targeted not on the needs of inner cities themselves but on the requirements of Conservative party public relations, intended to soften the callous image with the illusion of compassion. Anyone who doubts that judgment need do no more than examine the wholly bogus announcement of the so-called "Action for Cities". That fraudulent prospectus, published over a year ago, was advertised as a programme that would invest £3 billion in the inner cities. Closer examination shows that the initiative provided £100 million of new investment, 5 per cent. of the total that the Government claimed. The rest was old money, dressed up to look like new. In fact, over the 10 years of Conservative Government, the inner cities have lost, rather than gained, public investment and public spending. Between 1981 and 1987, the seven urban programme partnership areas received £770 million in partnership money; at the same time, they lost £850 million in rate support grant.

I suspect that the Government will attempt to justify these reductions by claiming that the emphasis of their inner-city policy has shifted from social expenditure to economic regeneration. In a moment, I want to examine the outcome of that regeneration policy, on the terms and against the criteria which the Government choose. One thing is absolutely clear: the inner cities are in desperate need of increased public expenditure—on new houses and the repair of old ones, on new schools and additional teachers in them, and on hospitals and amenities. Until that money is spent, the quality of life in the inner cities will continue to deteriorate. What is more, industrial investment will not be made in areas of visible dereliction, yet the Government continue to reduce the quality of life and increase the obvious dereliction in the inner cities.

I adduce one example, from my experience in the inner city of Birmingham. For 10 years, Government policy on the renovation and improvement of houses has, at each state of its revision and development, made it more difficult for money to be spent on improving inner-city domestic property. There is no doubt, as I know to my cost from wrestling with the new proposals with the Birmingham corporation and the residents of my constituency, that the latest proposals for improvement grants will make it more difficult than ever before for inner-city dwellers to receive the money which makes their houses habitable.

I do not suggest for a minute that the problems of the inner cities are solely the products of Conservative policy. They are largely the product of history. The industries which once made the inner cities prosperous either no longer exist or have changed their form. Small companies have been replaced by large, and the largest companies have developed on sites which are at the margins of, or outside, the cities. The large houses which once were owned by prosperous inner-city families have been broken down into multiple occupation. A cumulative deterioration has set in which makes the inner cities a unique problem.

The inner cities are unique not because they suffer from disadvantages which are unknown outside them; they are unique because all the known disadvantages—unemployment, inadequate housing, increased crime, shortage of services and amenities—are to be found within them. Because all these disadvantages are concentrated within the same area, they breed off each other and multiply.

This concentration of disadvantage can be counteracted only by Government action, and that action has not been taken. In the time available to me in this short debate, I propose to deal with only four of the causes of inner-city crisis, beginning with the first essential requirement putting the iner cities back to work. That was the promise of the Government's inner-city initiatives, and that promise has been broken.

If the promise had been kept, unemployment in the inner city would have fallen at a faster rate than national unemployment, but during the past seven years unemployment in the inner cities has fallen 6 per cent. more slowly than it has in the economy as a whole. The reason is clear: the Government believe that the market, timidly influenced by marginal financial incentives, can solve the inner cities' problems. It was the market that caused the inner cities' problems, and only direct intervention can solve them.

This is demonstrated by the results of the urban development grant—the city grant. The inner cities need jobs that provide employment for unemployed men and women who live there, yet of the permanent jobs assisted by urban development grants, only 25 per cent. were new to the national economy. The rest were old jobs, which had been relocated to the inner cities and had, in general, brought their old employees with them. Only 18 per cent. of the UDG jobs were taken by men and women who had been unemployed previously. If the UDG has done little or nothing to help inner-city unemployment, that is at least better than the results of the urban development corporations. They have driven traditional jobs, the jobs that employ local residents, out of the areas, just as they have driven out the traditional residents.

I take my example from London. The London Docklands development corporation has forced 84 firms to relocate out of the area—forced them by the use of the compulsory purchase order, which the LDDC is able to operate from an autocratic position with an authority that no local government institution would be allowed to employ. The new businesses that are replacing those companies forced out of London docklands have not provided employment for displaced local residents. The Tower Hamlets example is particularly revealing. Before the development of the corporation, firms in the borough employed 35 per cent. of their work force from residents of the borough. New firms that arrived after 1982 employ only 13 per cent. of local labour. It is not surprising that London docklands boroughs now account for an increasing proportion of London's unemployed. The net result of Government policy has been quite opposite to the results that they have prophesied and claimed.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

For eight years, I was a councillor with the London borough of Lewisham, one of the riparian boroughs that made up the Docklands Joint Committee, between 1974 and 1981. In those seven years, how many new houses and jobs did that committee bring to the docklands area?

Mr. Hattersley

A great many more than have been brought to it since then. I bow to, and am deeply impressed by, the hon. Gentleman's wide experience of these matters. If he thinks I am wrong in what I have just asserted, he had better say so. If he thinks that the LDDC is not bringing in companies that do not employ local labour, he had better say so. If the figures produced by the development corporation, which show that most of the new jobs are bringing in men and women from outside, are wrong, he had better say so.

Mr. Bennett

My question, which the right hon. Gentleman clearly heard, was how many houses and how many jobs the Docklands Joint Committee brought into being between 1974 and 1981. The simple answer is that it sat and talked and did nothing.

Mr. Hattersley

Nobody accepts that for a second. More important than that, it did not drive out jobs. I repeat my contention that, on the evidence provided by the LDDC itself, it is effectively driving jobs out of the docklands boroughs.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Docklands Joint Committee produced a strategic plan, which in my constituency would have meant that some 15,000 to 20,000 people would have been housed in publicly owned housing on land that has now largely been sold off to private developers? Furthermore, of the additional 20,000 jobs in the LDDC area, about which the Government boast, 15,000 are brought in from outside, with a net loss of 6,000 jobs over the whole area. Does that not show that the LDDC is not serving the needs of local people?

Mr. Hattersley

It shows more than that. It shows one of the more unsavoury aspects of Conservative party tactics. When it was obsessed with private enterprise taking over these matters, and with giving private enterprise authoritarian powers by creating the LDDC, it thought it wise to abuse the institutions that were to be replaced. That is the normal technique of Conservative policy, which shows the shabby nature of its policies and attitudes, as well as their failure, which I continue to describe simply by relying on the figures.

Mr. Tony Favell (Stockport)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hattersley

Not now, but I will give way in a moment.

The jobs that the urban development corporation is providing for inner-city residents are almost invariably the jobs that those residents least want. The London Docklands development corporation, after much pressure from the boroughs, has now agreed that 4 per cent. of the new jobs in its area should be geared to the needs and attract local residents. That total is disgracefully inadequate. The jobs themselves are likely to be still more inadequate. A report into Canary wharf concluded that most of the new jobs created by the corporation would be part-time low-paid and concerned with cleaning and catering. It is not surprising that the LDDC chose to suppress that report rather than allow it to be published.

The epitaph on the Government's record on creating jobs in inner cities is provided by the unemployment statistics in the 44 inner-city authorities for which comprehensive figures are available. In only 14 of the 44 authorities did employment improve as compared with the national average. In four, the numbers of unemployed were higher in absolute terms than when the Government came to power.

The second task that the Government set themselves was to improve housing conditions in the inner cities. Housing conditions have deteriorated. During the last six years for which figures are available, homelessness has increased in the programme authority by an average of 63 per cent., outstripping the national increase in homelessness by 14 per cent. The total stock of council housing has fallen by almost 2 per cent. That reduction is a direct product of Government policies—their refusal to allow councils to build the homes which were necessary to replace those which were sold. The private rented accommodation which has been built in the inner cities, particularly in London, is wildly beyond the means of the traditional inner-city family. For the typical low-income family to be decently housed, we need a programme of sustained municipal building. The Government will not provide it. They positively obstruct it because they are blinded by dogma to the real needs of the people.

The third need of the inner cities—both in terms of the lives of the men and women who live there and as an inducement to new industry to move into those areas—is a reduction in inner-city crime. Since the Government were elected, the whole country has been swamped by a crime wave of record proportion. The statistics of crime in the inner cities over the past 10 years is a savage indictment of Government policy, for much of the blame must lie with a Government who allow the acceleration of inner-city unemployment, cause the deterioration of inner-city housing, and, by their so-called social services review, deepen and extend inner-city poverty.

Anyone who doubts the relationship between deprivation and crime ought to read again Lord Scarman's report, which said: There can be no doubt that it is a factor in the complex conditions which lie at the root of inner-city crime. The Government are responsible for those conditions and they must take responsibility for the crime which they create—crime of which the inner-city families are overwhelmingly innocent victims.

Let me remind the Government of the record. In the west midlands police division, which includes my constituency in the inner city of Birmingham, burglaries have increased by 49 per cent. since 1980 and wounding with intent has gone up 63 per cent. Assault on the person has increased by 75 per cent. That pattern is reproduced throughout the inner cities of Great Britain. In the past 10 years, recorded crime has grown by 47 per cent. in central Manchester. The incidence of recorded violent crime in central Leeds was up a staggering 89 per cent. for the first three months of this year, compared with the first three months of 1979. In central London, the figures are equally bad.

The Government came to power promising to crack down on crime and saying that they would combat and overcome crime in inner cities. In Hackney, crime has increased by 50 per cent., in Lambeth by 40 per cent. and in Southwark by 30 per cent. No one doubts that poverty and despair breed crime. That is not to condone the increases but to explain them, and to condemn the Government on whom the responsibility, indeed the blame, for increasing crime figures must fall.

Fourthly, a year ago, the Government promised improved inner-city education. I hope that the Minister will tell us what form that improvement in inner-city education is to take. Is it suggested that opting out of the state system will help the inner-city schools? It will do quite the opposite. Inner-city schools will become the poor and neglected relatives of their suburban neighbours. Is it suggested that city technology colleges will help the inner cities? The nearest CTC to the inner city I represent is located in Solihull. In that borough, it is unlikely to do much to combat the problems with which CTCs are said to deal.

Education in the inner cities is expensive. There is a great need for extra facilities, nursery places, English as a second language teaching and special needs classes. The Government's record of expenditure on education budgets can be summed up in a single sentence. They abolished the Inner London education authority for spending too much on inner-city education. That is the true reflection of Government policy. They have adopted that policy and they have failed to help the inner cities because they do not care about them or understand them and because they are ideologically incapable of advancing policies that meet their needs.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

My hon. Friend probably knows that the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts is dealing with teacher shortages. In the words of the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, the shortages are "catastrophic". It is difficult to get Conservative Members even to admit that there are teacher shortages; they do not for a moment admit that there are teacher shortages on a grand scale in ILEA, which they are trying to abolish.

Mr. Hattersley

I say with the greatest affection for my hon. Friend, who represents the constituency in which I was born and brought up, that it seems a long time since he first made that point to me and I made a dangerous point in reply. I will make it again, notwithstanding his great experience of education and education trade unions. I believe, as he may believe too, that some special inducement must be made to bring teachers into the areas where teaching is most difficult. We are prepared to spend extra money in some schools on persuading teachers to spend time teaching Latin and Greek to small groups of boys and girls, so we should be prepared to spend extra money on persuading more teachers into the areas of greatest need to teach English as a second language to boys and girls and to deal with other special difficulties.

I sometimes get into trouble with my hon. Friend's union when I make that point, but I have made the point strongly and I will go on arguing for it, not to interfere with proper wage negotiations with teachers, but to defend what is necessary to help the people who teach, who want to help and who need help. They can be enabled to help only if we have a pay structure that reflects the particular problems of teaching in the central areas.

Mr. Favell

As a third native of Sheffield, perhaps I should join the party. We have heard at great length an attack on the Government's policies for dealing with the inner cities, but we have not heard one word about the Labour party's policies, apart from building more council housing and providing more social security. We have heard no other word of remedy from the Labour party.

Mr. Hattersley

The hon. Gentleman is about to hear more than one word on our policies in the next five or six minutes. He and his party's Front Bench must understand that they have been in power for 10 years and that the whole focus of political debate for the next two or two and a half years will be on the inadequacies and failures of the Government's policies over the past 10 years. The scare stories about what has happened, from the Zinoviev letter to the groundnut scheme, will not work any longer. The Government will be judged by their record, and I have no doubt what the judgment will be.

To return to my previous point, the Government are, by their very nature, incapable of meeting the needs of the inner cities. I believe that the Prime Minister herself believes that the problems of the inner cities are intractable and are a necessary part of the divided society, which she positively welcomes and which she has done much to create. The Secretary of State for Social Security no doubt regards inner-city residents as the undeserving poor—the families who buy television sets when they have no right to expect the entertainment enjoyed by their more prosperous contemporaries. He will say of the inner cities that they are not so much poor as unequal. Unequal they certainly are, but other countries have tried to reduce that inequality, and have succeeded.

All our partners in Europe are taking positive steps to provide the jobs, the houses and the services that the inner cities need, and so is America. Those initiatives, which even in America involve a key role for public initiative, have been described by the Prime Minister as "Marxist". I know that the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) has impertinently asked the Prime Minister whether she has ever read any Marx. That is a question of staggering naivety. The Prime Minister never shows any evidence of ever having read anything, so why should we think that she has picked out Marx while she has neglected everybody else? [HON. MEMBERS: "What about Neville Chamberlain?"] By comparison, Neville Chamberlain was a paragon of erudition, culture, literature and understanding.

The day will come when Government policy is based on something more respectable than prime ministerial ignorance and prime ministerial prejudice. That policy will be based not on dogma, but on an objective assessment of what can encourage the creation of jobs and the reduction in poverty. In consequence, it will be one of partnership. It will be a partnership between private investment and public enterprise; between national Government and local government; and between the people of the area and those agencies that are created to assist them. Partnership with local residents is essential.

If the national Government pursue policies—ranging from discrimatory immigration laws to the pauperisation of the young unemployed—which disadvantage the inner cities, the Government must expect the people who live there to feel suspicious about the initiatives that the Government take. If the Government fail utterly to meet the problems of the inner cities, they must not be surprised if the inner cities feel despair and if that despair leads to the crime and vandalism that further accelerate inner-city decline.

Partnership has to be built around policies which are intended explicitly and specifically to help the people in the inner cities and the conditions that prevail there—not, for example, the inner-city landowners who are the only real beneficiaries of the enterprise zone scheme. We cannot afford silly little Government diktats that prevent local councils from insisting that inner-city firms provide employment for inner-city residents. We cannot afford stupid limitations on assistance to co-operatives and common ownership projects, when such new, local, small enterprises are exactly what the inner cities need. Above all, we cannot afford a doctrinal refusal to invest in inner-city services and inner-city infrastructure.

I vividly recall a meeting with the Birmingham chamber of commerce—a group of men and women who even in a good year would not want to see the return of a Labour Government. We were told by the Birmingham chamber of commerce that, if the Government did not show their faith in the inner cities by spending their money there, nothing would induce private enterprise to create the confidence that would enable them to provide the essential investment. The inner cities will not prosper while they are left to themselves and to the market—and that, I fear, means that they will not prosper until another Government are elected.

4.8 pm

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister of Trade and Industry (Mr. Anthony Newton)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: `welcomes recent falls in unemployment in the inner cities and the increasing level of investment in their regeneration; notes with approval the growing commitment of the private sector and the improved partnership between the private sector, voluntary organisations and central and local government in tackling inner city problems; and looks forward to continued progress under Action for Cities and other programmes designed to ensure that all parts of the United Kingdom share fully in the increasing prosperity of the nation as a whole.' This is the second debate in little more than a week which suggests that the Opposition have become the victims of their own propaganda. Last week we had a debate on the alleged "decline" in manufacturing industry. About the only fact that the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould), whom I am sorry not to see in his place today, could produce in support of his claim was that, although manufacturing investment was rising strongly, as he was forced to acknowledge, it was still marginally lower than in 1979. In my response I acknowledged that he had a small, modest point, and advised him to use it while he could because I did not think that he could depend on it much longer. I am glad to be able to tell the House that this morning we published the final estimates for the value of capital investment in manufacturing in 1988, and they show that manufacturing industry is not just higher than it was in 1979 but higher than the previous record figure.

The Opposition's motion contains the even more flimsy charge of total neglect of inner cities. Not surprisingly, the speech of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) did not remotely substantiate or sustain that charge. Nor could it conceivably have done so, as no previous Government have ever brought together such a comprehensive range of programmes as those which make up "Action for Cities" and its component parts in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. No previous Government have given the problem of urban regeneration so much emphasis by bringing together programmes in that way, or put so many resources behind measures to tackle the problem.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the £36 million that was provided when the "Action for Cities" campaign was launched in March 1988 as the total expenditure on the programmes of which it consisted. One year later, when I launched the reporting document, "Progress on Cities", about two and a half months ago, I was able to say that the estimate for those same programmes had risen to about £3.5 billion. It had risen by £0.5 billion between 1988 and 1989—far more than would have been needed to maintain the value of those programmes in real terms. If that is to be described as neglect, I can think of quite a few others who would like a share of it.

Mr. Richard Caborn (Sheffield, Central)

What was the reduction in the rate support grant for major cities in the United Kingdom? Will the Minister contrast that with the small injection of capital to which he has referred?

Mr. Newton

We have directed the pattern of Government expenditure to local authorities and others, including urban development corporations, in a way that has markedly increased the impact of those programmes and their effect on the ground.

What is even clearer than the expenditure statistics that I have given in overall terms is the evidence of what is happening not only with physical regeneration and redevelopment—we heard little about that from the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook—but with the level of unemployment. In the 57 urban programme areas—I go a little wider than some of the right hon. Gentleman's statistics—unemployment has fallen by one third in the two years to March 1989, and by not far short of a quarter in the past year alone. In the past year, too, there has been a particularly encouraging drop in long-term unemployment—that is, those out of work for six months or more —which is one of the hallmarks of far too much inner-city unemployment.

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about variations in different parts of the country, I will give him the facts as stated in last week's announcement of a further fall in unemployment. They put into a slightly different perspective some of what he said about the pace at which unemployment is falling in different parts of the country. The facts are as follows: All regions in the United Kingdom have shared in the downward trend in unemployment with the west midlands and Wales experiencing the biggest reductions over the past year followed by Yorkshire and Humberside, the north-west and the north. Within this total long-term unemployment has been falling faster than unemployment generally and in January the number of long-term unemployed was the lowest for more than six years. That is the perspective in which the right hon. Gentleman's remarks should be considered.

Mr. Eric S. Heifer (Liverpool, Walton)

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us exactly what is happening on Merseyside? He cannot put the whole of the north-west together. What is actually happening on Merseyside?

Mr. Newton

I visit Merseyside, the north-west, the north and the west midlands fairly frequently. Unemployment is falling in all parts of the country and the level of confidence and optimism is rising.

Mr. Hattersley

Will the Minister simply give us the figures which meet or do not meet my point? For the promises made two years ago to be met, unemployment in the inner cities should be falling more rapidly than elsewhere. The Minister has given figures for Scotland, the west midlands and the north of England, but the west midlands is not one big inner city. What is the unemployment figure in the inner cities? Is it not the figure that I gave? Is not the Minister trying to confound the issue with irrelevant alternatives?

Mr. Newton

I am trying to put into perspective some of the figures that the right hon. Gentleman sought to use about the pattern of unemployment. It has admittedly and undoubtedly taken a considerable amount of time to achieve the progress that we wish to see with this particularly intractable part of the unemployment problem.

Some of the more satisfactory trends in inner-city unemployment can be seen in areas where the Government have established specifically targeted task forces to help overcome problems in three or four wards of a city. A disturbing aspect of the Labour party's recent policy document, which was the exact obverse of one of the right hon. Gentleman's implications, was the apparent desire to get away from carefully targeted measures aimed at specific pockets of unemployment and difficulty which exist in places such as Birmingham or Bristol against the background of fairly widespread prosperity for the city as a whole. That is particularly true in Bristol.

The Government's targeted approach, which is beginning to be seen coming through in some of the figures —I make no grander claim than that—reflects the approach that we have tried to adopt to inner-city problems. The continuing fall in unemployment—as shown in the figures announced last week, which accompanied the press release from which I quoted a few moments ago—gives us all further encouragement.

What was most striking about the speech of the hon. Member for Sparkbrook was not its variance with what Ministers say at the Dispatch Box—that is something that we expect and could sensibly predict—but its variance with what is said around the country by those who have looked at what is happening in our cities and those involved in local government and in the industrial and commercial life of our cities.

I could have brought a very substantial sheaf of documents relating to these matters to the Chamber today. Instead, I have culled a few which I felt it might be sensible to refer to the House. The managing director of the Newcastle Chronicle and Journal, at the north-east business man of the year dinner earlier this year, which I attended, said: There is a renewed pride in what is being achieved. The fundamental change of attitude throughout the region over the past 2 or 3 years is miraculous. We have moved from being a depressed, depressing and defeatist area to one which wants to take on the world. I refer also to a special report published in The Times last autumn about regional developments generally. Its sub-heading read: Improvements in the national economy have given Britain's poorer areas an opportunity they are determined to use … And … with government help, they are seeing results. Just before Christmas The Sunday Times reported: Sheffield set to carve role for tomorrow. I am glad to see hon. Members who represent Sheffield constituencies present in the Chamber today. After referring to what had been happening in Sheffield, the article continued Even more strikingly, this new feeling has trickled down to the level of the Sheffielder-in-the-street. It was hard to find anyone last week who was not anxious to stress the city's exciting future.

Mr. Flannery

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Newton

Yes, indeed. I was in Sheffield a week or two ago and everyone to whom I spoke voiced the same view as that expressed in The Sunday Times to which I have just referred.

Mr. Flannery

The right hon. Gentleman is not telling the full story. The reality is that the Government left the east end of Sheffield a desert—it was so still and quiet. There has been an upsurge at the prospect of the student games coming to Sheffield in a couple of years' time. We are pleading with the Government to give us more money for that. The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier), could tell the right hon. Gentleman a lot more about Sheffield's lack of money and its urgent requests for more from the Government.

Mr. Newton

No doubt my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has heard the hon. Gentleman.

Sheffield's pride in being able to stage the student games reflects its change in mood and confidence, which is also reflected in the work of the urban development corporation and plans that it has for the lower Don valley, in what the local authorities and the local business men, including those in the chamber of commerce, are achieving through partnership, and in the fact that there is a much stronger partnership now between the public and private sector in Sheffield than was ever the case two or three years ago.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) asked about Merseyside. I will come closer to the immediate situation there by referring to a substantial supplement on Liverpool in The Times yesterday, which the hon. Gentleman no doubt saw, headed "Panorama of growing prosperity" and subheaded: As Liverpool toasts its Cup Final victory, it is also celebrating an economic turnaround which will enable the city to enter the 1990s with its confidence restored". Another subheading reads: How Merseyside turned optimism to realism and won the confidence of industry and new investment". Perhaps most telling of all is a quote from the Labour leader of Liverpool city council, Keva Coombes I am convinced that we have more reason to be optimistic now than for many years". He is then reported as saying that: there was also now a more pragmatic approach to working together between the council and central government agencies. Finally, with regard to the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, I have with me the foreword to a document recently published by Birmingham city council called, "Birmingham economic strategy", signed by the Labour chairman of the economic development committee, Councillor Albert Bore, which says: There are many indications that Birmingham is regaining its competitive edge in many of the manufacturing sectors in which it was previously world famous. It is also going to become one of Europe's major visitor destinations for business, culture and leisure in the 1990s. Another Birmingham city council publication, "The Birmingham Investment", published within the past month or so, says: Look around the city and you will see evidence of new investment and new development everywhere. This is the city that the right hon. Gentleman was describing in such gloomy and depressing terms no more than 10 minutes ago. It goes on: From more than £500 million of new retail and leisure developments—including Britain's national indoor arena—to the new industrial and office property developments that are rising all over the city. We are told: Listen to the city's new business community, and you will discover a new mood of confidence and optimism among thousands of local companies. That is not a Minister talking, but Birmingham city council.

Mr. Bruce Grocott (The Wrekin)


Mr. Newton

I can understand why the hon. Gentleman may wish to stop me, but I will continue for a moment.

The publication goes on: Over the last few years a series of investments has changed the whole landscape of business property in Birmingham … Birmingham Heartlands, for example, has brought the city together with 5 major developers in a unique inner city regeneration programme.

Mr. Grocott

The Minister is talking in glowing terms about new developments. Will he confirm the fundamental point that any recovery taking place in the west midlands in general or in Birmingham in particular is recovery from the devastation caused by the Conservatives as a deliberate instrument of economic policy in the early 1980s? Let us not overlook the question of the quality of jobs. In the west midlands, for instance, in engineering alone the number of apprenticeships, according to official Government figures, is 54 per cent. of what it was in 1979. Is that not a dreadful indictment of the Government?

Mr. Newton

I am not in a position to confirm the hon. Gentleman's observations of the causes and position from which industry in Birmingham and the west midlands is recovering, but let us consider the statistics relating to the motor car industry—historically a source of great importance to the midlands. The decline in that industry set in during the period of the Labour Government—aggravated, admittedly, in the early 1980s by a world recession. The industry is now recovering. Last year, the production of motor vehicles in Britain exceeded the 1978 level—[Interruption.] The decline started during the 1970s. It did not suddenly start in 1979. The level of motor car production has now exceeded the 1978 level because, for the first time in a decade, the industry is moving up and not down.

Mr. Hattersley

I remind the Minister that the debate is explicitly and specifically about inner cities. Whether his facts are right or wrong, to talk about the prosperity of a whole region is wholly irrelevant—[Interruption.] The Minister has hardly said a word about the inner cities since his opening remarks.

The idea that the tourist attraction that Birmingham is becoming, and I hope will increasingly become, will provide any jobs in the inner city of Birmingham is ridiculous. In the bit of the inner city that I represent, the improvement in the motor industry will have no effect whatever. The debate is designed to focus attention on specific problems. For the Minister to talk in such general terms shows that he does not even know what the inner cities are.

Mr. Newton

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would rather I did not give way, as I have been doing in line with the normal courtesies of the House. My last observations were in response to the intervention of his hon. Friend the member for The Wrekin (Mr. Grocott). Does the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook really believe that the vehicle industry has nothing to do with the inner cities? Only a fortnight ago I was at what is now Leyland-DAF Vehicles, what used to be Freight Rover, in inner city Birmingham, one of the areas in which we have a task force—[Interruption.] It is important in the area in which it is located. That firm is now embarking on a modernisation, expansion and training programme to ensure that the jobs that it is creating go to the people who live around the factory. That is the importance of some of these developments. If Opposition Members do not appreciate that, they should study some of the issues involved.

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

Will the right hon. Gentleman reflect on the task force experience in Leicester? Three years ago, amid a great fanfare, the Leicester task force was set up in Highfields. This year, in a sneaky letter to me and to other Leicester Members, it was announced that the task force was to close because of its failure. Will the Minister explain why that task force closed in Leicester?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman is not merely paraphrasing the letter that was written at the time but is turning it on its head. The point made in it was that the economic and employment situation in Leicester, including Highfields, had improved to a significant extent during the life of the task force, that a number of development funds and other activities had been set in hand which, in our view, would have a continuing beneficial effect, and that we felt it right to use the resource represented by task forces in areas where the problems are greater than those of that part of Leicester. The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that at the same time as I announced the winding down of task force programmes in Leicester, Wolverhampton and Preston between March and the end of the year, I announced new task forces, which are very much welcomed by the local authorities involved, in Granby and Toxteth in Liverpool, in Bradford and in Lewisham. Those areas all have significant problems which I believe that the task forces can help to overcome.

If the picture painted by the Opposition motion is unrecognisable in the real world, no right hon. or hon. Member would disguise the fact that there is still much more to do in pressing ahead with the programmes and initiatives to tackle inner-city problems. That is not surprising. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook was very fair in acknowledging that the problems of inner cities did not suddenly come on to the scene in 1979 or in the early 1980s but that their causes are deep-seated and go back at least one generation—some would argue, longer than that—and just as their roots go back a long way, so it will take time to overcome them fully.

Today I seek to describe the progress being made in overcoming problems which have been encountered over decades and even for generations. The right hon. Gentleman acknowledged that the causes are complex. The most obvious among them is the failure to come to grips with the pattern of industrial change over a long period and instead to pretend that it was not happening by disguising it in various ways, with the result that the process of adjustment was even more difficult than it needed to be. I should have made that point in particular to the hon. Member for The Wrekin if he were still in his place.

Whatever view is taken of the causes of industrial change, old industries close, leaving derelict sites which detract from the environment and causing a loss of income to the community which is reflected in declining property standards and falling land values. Too often, it also means that younger, more economically active people leave the area to work elsewhere, which in turn breeds a loss of community pride. Together, those factors create a depressing physical environment which has other adverse social and economic effects.

Mr. Heffer

There is no question but that there has been industrial change and that it is continuing, but does not that create a need for the Government to intervene? If there is decline in one or two industries, or in a whole series of them, surely the Government must have policies, plans and concepts for dealing with workers who are left high and dry and unemployed. Have not the Government failed to do anything serious about developing alternatives to deal with industrial change?

Mr. Newton

No, I do not think that that is true. The hon. Gentleman may wish that it had proved possible in some cases to avoid some of the transitional difficulties which arise in moving from one pattern of industry to another, but I hope that he agrees that one of the most notable features of the regional economy currently—although the north-east is the most striking example, this can be seen in the north-west as well—is the increasing growth of new industries, not least with the assistance of inward investment from overseas in creating electronics industries, rebuilding some important parts of motor car manufacturing and the like. Very often that is assisted by the kind of Government policy for which the hon. Gentleman calls. In his own region, assistance was recently given to Vauxhall for further investment at Ellesmere port, which will both safeguard existing jobs and create new employment in that part of Merseyside. That is just one of many examples that I could cite.

As the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook seemed to recognise, it follows from the complexity and the deep-seated nature of the problems that there can be no simple or overnight solution to inner-city decline. It requires a range of measures tailored to deal with different aspects of the problem, and carried through with a sustained and determined approach over a number of years. That is precisely what we have sought to bring about through the "Action for Cities" programme.

I emphasise that the Government's approach starts from the recognition that the first essential is a prosperous national economy. The whole House knows—certainly the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook knows it well from his experience in the last Labour Government—that regional resurgence and inner-city regeneration cannot be created on the back of the national economic stagnation and relative economic decline that we saw in the 1970s. The foundation of what we seek to achieve in the inner cities is what we have already achieved for the country as a whole —sustained economic growth such as has not been seen since the war.

It is on that foundation that we have built and are pressing forward the range of programmes and initiatives to which I referred briefly earlier in my speech. They cover housing, with the Estate Action programme involving tenants in the management and improvement of their homes. They provide a substantial increase in the money available to housing associations through the Housing Corporation and through local authorities. They cover a large expansion in training programmes, both to encourage enterprise—through, for instance, support for small firms—and to help people back into work.

The programmes cover matters that the hon. Member for Walton has just raised, with support for inner city business—including regional selective assistance—and a variety of grants for small firms, as well as the work of the English Industrial Estates Corporation. They cover a substantial programme of derelict land reclamation, and —this comes closer to the points raised by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook and by other hon. Members in interventions—they cover the urban programme, including city grants, and the work of the urban development corporations, which together are receiving a substantial increase in the coming year.

The programmes also cover the task forces to which I referred—in some 16 locations up and down the country —and the co-ordinated work of the city action teams, bringing together the work of various Government Departments. They cover the safer cities campaign, which is directed strongly towards the crime problems to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. It is, perhaps, unfortunate that he did not tell us about the decrease in a number of important elements in the crime figures last year. No one disputes that substantial increases in crime have occurred—again, over a period going back well before 1979—but last year, according to the metropolitan and non-metropolitan force figures, there was a decrease in recorded notifiable offences of 11.3 per cent. in the west Midlands, 4.5 per cent. in West Yorkshire, just over 6.5 per cent. on Merseyside some 6.5 per cent. in Northumbria, more than 13 per cent. in South Yorkshire and nearly 8 per cent. in Greater Manchester.

No one is suggesting that further progress is not needed in tackling such problems. I merely ask the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook and his hon. Friends to recognise that in many important respects—and, I believe, to a significant extent as a result of the approach that the Government have adopted and the wide range of initiatives brought together in the "Action for Cities" programme—progress is now being made in dealing with some of the problems that have proved intractable for Governments of both parties over a long period.

All the initiatives that I have mentioned are being pressed forward continuously. In March, when "Progress on Cities" was published, we announced a number of new task force projects. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment announced the building up of his compacts initiative to improve opportunities for inner-city youngsters to build links with and get jobs in local firms. That is going on in a consistent drive all the time.

Today, for example, we are announcing an important agreement between English Estates and London Industrial to co-operate in a joint venture for a substantial programme to provide managed work space in inner-city areas of London. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier), whom I am delighted to see here, has today announced two new city grants totalling more than half a million pounds towards the construction of industrial units on the Ketley business park in the Wrekin and—this will interest the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), I hope—towards the cost of the refurbishment and conversion of a 160,000 sq ft factory into industrial units in Huyton in the borough of Knowsley.

Those are just further examples of practical steps being taken under the initiatives to which I have referred to tackle the sort of problems that we all acknowledge need to be tackled if we are successfully to overcome the long inner-city decline.

As a number of right hon. and hon. Members wish to speak in the debate, I will therefore emphasise only briefly three points that I believe to be of particular importance in considering what the Government have been seeking to do.

Mr. Vaz

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Newton

I think not. I have already taken up a good deal of the time of the House. I think that it would be sensible now to allow the hon. Gentleman to make his own contribution to the debate.

The first point that I want to make about the way in which the Government programmes are organised and the results that they have achieved concerns the significantly greater involvement of the private sector in the regeneration of inner cities and in working together with local authorities to that end. Sheffield, to which I referred earlier, is a very good example—as is Birmingham, with the Heartlands scheme—but those examples are now being matched and modelled in many parts of the country with the development of business leadership teams, often involving a direct partnership between local authorities and the business community, such as the Wearside Opportunity, the Newcastle initiative, Teesside Tomorrow, and a number of others.

That greater involvement of business, which is crucial to the real regeneration of the inner cities, is being assisted and supported by the way in which—this is what I had in mind in answering an intervention a few moments ago —the remodelling of some of the initiatives to which I referred in summarising the elements in the "Action for Cities" programme is very much directed to ensuring that Government money brings in substantial amounts of private sector investment alongside.

The urban development corporation is a very good example. I will not use only the London Docklands development corporation because the gearing there is particularly high—between £8 and £10 of private money coming in for every £1 of Government expenditure on the urban development corporation. That is well above the average, but even the average is about £4 of private sector money coming in behind every £1 of Government money and much the same ratio is true for city grant as well.

It is important to understand the extent to which the Government's initiatives are bringing in other resources on a very large scale and that therefore the figures that we use —whether £3 billion for last year or £3.5 billion for this year—for the total Government spending on the inner-city programmes are a significant underestimate of the resources now coming into the cities to assist with their regeneration.

The second point, on which the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook touched, is the improvement, which I very much welcome, in the degree of co-operation and—the right hon. Gentleman also used the word—the partnership which is taking place between central and local Government. Many local authorities, for example, are becoming much more actively involved in the work of urban development corporations and of the Government's task forces and in co-operating not just with other agencies in Government but with the private sector and voluntary organisations. That is a very important part of the improvement in the scene that has occurred in the past few years and one that I very much welcome.

The third point that I wish to emphasise is very much related to the points that have been made about the need to ensure that the benefits of all these programmes, including the work of the urban development corporations and the physical redevelopment that is taking place, accrue to the people who live in the inner-city areas. I do not accept the simple assessment that has been made in some quarters that the mere fact that docklands is being regenerated—to take an example that is frequently used —attracts people into the area and therefore can be seen as benefiting them as well is contrary to the aims of Government policy.

Part of the problem of the inner cities, a point to which I referred earlier, has been the extent to which many of the young, dynamic, economically active people have left the inner cities over a long period, leaving behind only the deprived and the disadvantaged. It follows that part of the real long-term answer to inner city problems must be to recreate more balanced communities in the inner cities and therefore to attract back to them—

Mr. Vaz

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Newton

No, I do not intend to give way now.

We must attract back to the inner cities some of the groups who, historically, have left or been driven out. I make no apology for that.

Mr. Vaz

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Newton


Mr. Vaz


Mr. Newton

What is important—I very much welcome it—is what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment is doing through his training programmes, what the urban development corporations and others are doing through their programmes—not least those associated with Canary wharf—and not least what the Government's inner-city task forces are doing by developing what are called customised training projects, involving the matching of local unemployed people with the training required to get them the jobs that are known already to exist and the employment that is required with local employers. That is an increasingly significant part of the inner-city policy.

Mr. Bernie Grant (Tottenham)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Newton

No, I will not give way, for the reasons that I have already explained.

That is, I repeat, an increasingly significant part of our inner city policy, and one to which we are determined to give greater emphasis.

I have taken up a good deal of time, not least because I have sought to respond substantially to the interventions that have been made.

Mr. Vaz

The Minister has not done so.

Mr. Newton

Whether it is judged in terms of expenditure, the range and purpose of the programmes and the increasing results of the programmes—measured not just by what I say, but by what people are saying throughout the country, whether business leaders, or local government leaders and others—there is no way in which what is happening can credibly be presented, as the Opposition's motion seeks to present it, as a story of total neglect.

Mr. Vaz

It is.

Mr. Newton

It is a story of increasing success in spreading to all parts of the country the increasing prosperity that we have created for the nation as a whole. I invite the House to reject the motion and to pass the amendment.

4.47 pm
Mr. Robert Litherland (Manchester, Central)

When we discuss the regeneration of the inner cities, we have to differentiate between myth and reality. The myth was perpetrated by the Prime Minister at the last general election when she said that the Government must get into the inner cities. That myth has been prolonged by Government propaganda. Glossy brochures have been distributed, illustrating proposed developments in the inner-city areas. There has been media coverage of visiting Ministers donning protective helmets and cutting tapes, trowel in hand, ready for action. They have posed and postulated in order to convince the electorate that all is well, that the inner cities are safe in their hands.

That is the myth. The only people to benefit will be the developers and financiers and those with the yuppie mentality, enjoying their new "with it" accommodation in converted warehouses or posing in their new theme pubs. What, however, is the reality? In Manchester inner city, the commercial centre is surrounded on the periphery by real people with real problems. They have experienced the loss of some 25,000 jobs, mainly in manufacturing industry, since the early 1980s, creating an army of unemployed. There is still over 33 per cent. male unemployment in the inner cities. That is intensified in pockets where there is a concentration of ethnic minorities who, like the disabled, find it hard to get employment, unless in the low-paid service sector, doing menial tasks.

In the inner city of Manchester, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said, there is a lower standard of living than in greater Manchester or north Cheshire. Before the changes in benefit in April 1988, 83,000 people were dependent on supplementary benefit. Those are the very people who have suffered an adverse effect in their meagre standard of living since then. A total of 18,000 have lost all housing benefit, and 45,000 now receive no help with their water rate bills. Then there are the children: 7,000 have been deprived of school meals. Because of social security changes, and especially because of the abolition of Department of Social Security grants and their replacement by the social fund, 50,000 people are worse off. Also, they have the spectre of the poll tax just over the horizon.

Poverty is a stark reality in the inner city. It manifests itself in low birth weights, premature deaths and increased crime. A recent report by the city council on the impact of poverty shows what poverty really means: Not being able to afford food. Over a third of households in poverty said they ran short of money to buy food. Falling into Debt. Over a half of households in poverty said that they had fallen seriously behind with payments during the previous year. A Cold Home. One third of households say there are times when they go without essential heating, and around half of them are in debt with fuel bills. That is the inner city in Manchester. In a so-called booming economy, the gap between the poor and the rich is widening. The few jobs created outside the bogus training schemes are mainly low-paid and part-time, with no job security. As the better-off receive tax handouts and the benefits of the poll tax, the poor in the inner cities are losing. They are the people who are left on the sidelines.

Ethnic minority households suffer even worse. Their rate of unemployment is estimated at more than one and a half times that of white people. They have greater difficulty in obtaining work.

There are only two growth industries. The first is the demolition contractor, smashing down the old, empty factories, like wolverines at a dead carcase. Those factories once provided jobs and dignity for the people of pride in their craft. The other growth industry is the loan shark, preying like a vulture on the misery of people. Again, what can we expect? That is private enterprise and will be welcomed by the Government, who cynically deceive the inner-city people that all is well but at the same time deprive them of meagre means so that they can line the pockets of their affluent friends and supporters.

It is no use building luxury flats, marinas and theme pubs, and in Manchester fantasising about the G Mex Centre, mainly financed by public money, and the vast improvements to the Holiday inn, once the Midland hotel owned by British Rail, when very few of the people that I represent can afford the prices that would give them access to such places.

Next time Ministers come to Manchester, they should visit the real people and see their standard of living, their poor housing conditions and the effect on a great city and its people of the Government draining it of financial resources. If Ministers have any conscience, they will riot sleep easily afterwards. The Prime Minister's words have rebounded in her face. She has no conception of life in the inner cities. She does not care, and she has betrayed the finest people in the country.

4.54 pm
Mr. David Gilroy Bevan (Birmingham, Yardley)

It gives me great pleasure to support my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy. The Government have achieved miracles in the resuscitation of the inner cities. Much of what I heard earlier from the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) represents a Birmingham that I do not recognise. I have lived there for 60 years; I was born, bred and educated in Birmingham. I served on the city council and the West Midlands council for 20 years. My father was a slum clergyman in a city centre mission, where I worked from my teens. I know my Birmingham, and I know the city centre.

Birmingham's decline happened from the time of Sir Stafford Cripps, under the national Government. Giving assisted area status to every other part of the country was against the interests of the heartland of Britain. Industry was not allowed to build brick upon brick there until the Conservative Government got in and reversed that policy in 1979. The dictum of strengthening the weak weakened the strong in the west midlands, until the area had to be totally refurbished.

Thanks to the actions of the Government, the picture is totally different. By January 1989, in England alone, inner-city unemployment had fallen by 26 per cent. and in Birmingham it had fallen by 23 per cent. No wonder the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook moved the motion in such a quiet tone and was so inhibited. The real massage from the inner cities is that they are alive and thriving under a combination of public and private enterprise and that they are economically successful. Many of the things that the right hon. Gentleman said were inaccurate. I saw the chamber of commerce not some time in the past, as he did, but last Friday, and it did not express any dissatisfaction. It was waiting to hear what the Secretary of State for Transport would say on inter-urban roads. He introduced a programme that will raise public investment in roads from £5 million to £12 billion. That will help the economic success of Birmingham and the west midlands.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook spoke about city training centres but he got the address wrong. The address is Kingshurst, Birmingham. It is a mere 100 yd or so outside the city boundary.

We have a picture of increasing success. I am pleased that earlier today the House approved without argument the Third Reading of the Midland Metro Bill, which will lead to the investment of £1,000 million in the light electric railway system to link the towns lying between Wolverhampton and Birmingham on the line of the Wolverhampton low-level rail route. This will work wonders and green up an area which has been neglected in the past; it will environmentally help the city centres of all the so-called black country towns which lie along the route—and that is only part of the scheme.

Following the advent of the national exhibition centre, we have approved and are building a conference—convention centre which will open in two or three years time. We are spending £147 million, which is coming partly from Europe, partly from the Government and partly from private enterprise. We are spending £240 million on a canalside leisure project. So, in Birmingham and the inner city, £1.6 billion-worth of building and investment is under way.

Everywhere, shopping schemes, factory schemes and units of commerce are being created in Birmingham, with a consequential shattering reduction in unemployment. Unemployment has almost ceased to be the major problem that it was in the past.

We have spent about £90 million on Birmingham international airport, and another £80 million is to be spent on it, bringing business people from all over the world to our factories, convention centres and exhibition centres.

Heartlands Birmingham, a city centre initiative chaired by a former illustrious colleague of ours, Sir Reginald Eyre—the former Member for Birmingham, Hall Green—is redeveloping more than 2,000 acres. That partnership was requested by the Labour-controlled city council of Birmingham; it is a partnership between the private and public sectors, involving a large amount of private enterprise money. This urban development authority was not in line with Government thinking on urban development corporations, one of which has been so successful in and around the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Hicks). Nevertheless, the initiative was allowed and is now in being.

It is introducing phenomenal infrastructure. A new water link scheme on the canal was initiated this very week. When, in future, we discuss inner-city redevelopment we must bear in mind not only isolated spots of canal redevelopment but redevelopment throughout the country on canals that run through so many of our city centres in the midlands and the north. In Brum we have more canals than Venice, and I commend to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy this complete urban renewal along canal frontages by means of environmental and commercial schemes.

The one thing that Heartlands Birmingham would appreciate now, on top of the vast sums of money announced in the inter-urban road scheme, is finance for the Spline road, which will be needed to bring more factories and redevelopment into Heartlands. I should declare an interest as an adviser to PPG Industries—

Mr. Litherland


Mr. Bevan

—a firm which has brought to the centre of Birmingham a project involving huge refurbishment of most of the land. It did the same in Pittsburgh, and it has invested £60 million in Wigan, not far from the area of Manchester represented by the hon. Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Litherland) who has been making sedentary remarks. This firm has specialised, and has introduced private sector schemes of excellence everywhere. I hope that this redevelopment will continue.

In addition to passing on to my right hon. Friend unstinted congratulations on the regeneration of our city, I recommend to him the adoption of a scheme of tax-free municipal bonds, which can produce more and more money for the redevelopment of inner cities. This scheme has been wholly successful in America. Tax-free bonds have been taken out by corporations and individuals on worthless land in the Baltimore inner-port scheme, and in Boston, Massachusetts, Washington and New York. Redevelopment has increased the worth of those bonds substantially. Thus, they have rejuvenated city centres in many parts of America. I hope that we too will be able to begin such a system to improve still further the excellent development that is already in place. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will, with his right hon. Friends in the Treasury, determine whether such a scheme could perpetuate the excellent action that has already been taken in Birmingham and other areas.

5.6 pm

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge)

It is a measure of the Government's failure adequately to deal with the problems faced by our inner cities that, after ten years, we still have to raise these issues and press for more effective solutions. The Government have tried, as the Minister has described this afternoon, in their own way, but despite the numerous gimmicks—tons of glossy brochures, loads of slick advertising, breakfast time press launches and myriad excuses—the basic problems remain: inadequate housing, poor facilities and poverty in the areas that we describe as inner cities.

Despite the attempts by the Secretary of State for Social Services to deny the obvious, large-scale poverty has grown in the past ten years in these areas. Where there is poverty, bad housing, poor facilities and services, there is unfortunately also crime to add to the miserable conditions in which people must live.

The Opposition motion calls for more emphasis on partnership between Government and local authorities. Inner-area partnerships already exist. My constituency is entirely encompassed by the Newcastle-Gateshead inner area partnership. The system was set up by the last Labour Government but, although it has been continued by this Government, its effectiveness has slowly been eroded by inflation, which has not been properly compensated for and which has led to a reduction in real terms of Government investment. Government restrictions on the type and duration of schemes have led to an emphasis on economic development, and because of its limited resources and a reduction in support for socially desirable schemes, the partnership can have little impact—yet it could have had a major effect.

The influence of local authorities has been gradually limited even though almost all the innovations and partnership proposals come from them. Those which do not, come from the voluntary sector. The Department of the Environment merely holds the purse strings, and Ministers continually block schemes which councils know will benefit their areas because they do not fit the Government's political philosophy. The money that central Government contribute, apart from being eroded and strictly applied, has to be balanced against the money that was taken away from the councils by reductions in rate support grant and other grants over that period. In the case of Newcastle and Gateshead, the reduction in rate support grant alone came to more than twice what was received through partnership over the past 10 years. The Government give with one hand and take back with a forklift truck.

One of the most worrying aspects of the Government's 10 years has been the horrific increase in crime. As I said earlier, our inner cities have also borne the brunt of this. What has the party of law and order done about it? The answer is percious little, and nothing that has had any noticeable effect. Northumbria police authority has continually pressed for more resources to deal with the problems that it faces, particularly in the Tyne and Wear conurbation. The Government's response has been not only inadequate but inequitable.

If the criterion for the distribution of resources was crime, then 200 police officers should be distributed to the Northumbria force from other areas. In the Tyne and Wear area, an officer handles an average of 50 crimes a year—the highest in the country. In Manchester, the figure is 46 and in the Metropolitan police force it is only 27, the lowest in the country. That is possibly because, per capita, Northumbria has the lowest number of officers and the Metropolitan police force has the highest. There are 2.4 officers per 1,000 of population in Northumbria, and 3.9 in London. However, when the Northumbria police authority asked the Home Office for 80 extra officers for 1989–90, it got just 30.

As a further example of the unequal nature of the distribution of resources, when the Government were approached with a request for 59 officers for the specific purpose of policing the Tyne and Wear metro system, they turned the request down. However, London Regional Transport has been loaned 82 officers from the Metropolitan and City of London forces, pending the completion of training of 50 extra British Transport police. I understand that a meeting is to be held on 27 June, in another attempt to convince Ministers of the merits of the Tyne and Wear case. I hope that Ministers will take account of the disparities that I have mentioned and grant this necessary, but in the circumstances modest, request.

A number of important problems need to be tackled urgently if the people of the inner-city areas on Tyneside are to be relieved of their problems, and its economy regenerated. In housing, massive renewal and refurbishment is needed at a time when Government policy has halted council house provision and slashed the housing capital programmes of the local authorities. Last July, Newcastle city council made a realistic bid for approval to borrow £48.3 million for 1989–90, but received permission to borrow only £6 million. Apart from being grossly inadequate to meet the needs of the city, that was even 25 per cent. less that it had been in 1988–89, before inflation is taken into account. That is a measure of the Government's understanding or caring about the housing needs of the inner-city areas, the plight of the homeless and the needs of those with special housing problems.

The same thing has happened in education. In Gateshead, the council's secondary education system is in an unholy mess, largely because of the parochialism that the Government encourage. The Government's answer is to encourage privatisation and to bring in business men to run our schools. Thus, we have the proposal for a city technology college in Gateshead, just to add further confusion and complication to the problems that already exist. That proposal sacrifices our children's future to the short-term needs of business men. This was amply demonstrated by the main sponsor of the new college, Mr. Peter Vardy, a local second-hand car salesman, who said that the purpose of the college would be to education children for the needs of business"— that is, when they are not being indoctrinated into Mr. Vardy's preference in religion. I am sure that all parents who care about their children's education and future will avoid the college like the plague, despite its deliberately alluring title of "King's college", which masks its sinister purpose.

Our inner cities, particularly in the north-east, need adequate infrastructure and good communications—not least, the provision of a high standard roads network, both within the region and linking us to the rest of the motorway system. Again, the Government, despite the opportunity, failed to come up with the goods when their future proposals, outlined in last week's White Paper, fell short of providing the vision or the urgency required. I hope that the representations that will be made to Ministers from both sides of the House on behalf of the region will be taken fully into account.

The Tyne and Wear metro transport system is one of the most modern and efficient in Europe and has brought great benefits to the conurbation. Earlier today, the House agreed to a Bill that will allow for the extension of the system to Newcastle airport—an important and significant extension for the local economy. Again, the system will be relying on the Government for financial support, and I hope that they will look sympathetically on that request.

Unemployment remains a massive problem in the northern inner cities, with some wards in my constituency running male unemployment rates in excess of 50 per cent. That provides further evidence of the nonsense spoken by the Secretary of State for Social Services. The Government claim that this problem is reducing, but while some reduction is evident, a major factor in that reduction is the manipulation of the method of calculating unemployment rather than any significant increase in job opportunities. In my inner-city constituency, what decrease there has been, has been at a lower rate than that for the region as a whole.

Those jobs that have been created are generally low-paid, part-time and in the catering and service industries. The days when people could rely on stable, well-paid work in valuable manufacturing industry have gone, as the Government's disastrous neglect of manufacturing led to a slump of previously unknown depths. Only now, as the Chancellor has told us, has it begun to make progress against the level that it was 10 years ago. In the process, we have lost the skills and the expertise of our craftsmen, which at one time were passed on to future generations, but have now been lost for ever in many cases.

The recovery of which the Chancellor spoke is not a recovery in manufacturing industry. As has been said, the recovery is from a particularly low base. I worked in an engineering factory on Tyneside for 20 years and in 1979, that factory employed about 6,000 people. Now, it employs about 1,600. It has picked up in recent months and is beginning to improve, but it has a long way to go to get back to 6,000.

The north-east of England is a marvellous place in which to live, to work and to bring up a family; I would never wish to work anywhere else. However, our inner-city areas not only share the problems faced by similar areas but also have the disadvantages which I have outlined, which a Government could resolve, with a little will and by letting us help ourselves. No doubt hon. Members will know that many good things are going on in the north-east. They include co-operation between local government and the private sector, which has always been a feature of the area and has brought a great deal of benefit. It would continue to do so were it not hampered by the Government's obsession with giving dominance to the private sector, often when it does not want it.

The Chancellor of the Duchy quoted the managing director of The Newcastle Journal saying at a recent dinner held in my constituency that the region was ready to take on the world. Some people will say anything for a free dinner, particularly when those attending the dinner are the people who dish out the rewards. However, he neglected to say that much of what is happening in the north-east is the result of the innovation of local people, the assistance and encouragement that people are given by the local authorities, and the contribution of the local authorities themselves. It has little to do with Government policy, which has hampered rather than encouraged that progress.

I look forward to the day, not too far away now, when we shall have a Government who recognise the legitimate role of all sectors of the community, stop interfering and let us get on with the job.

5.18 pm
Mrs. Maureen Hicks (Wolverhampton, North-East)

For too long, those who live in our inner cities have felt relatively abandoned—second-class citizens making do with second best, for whom no one appears genuinely to care, and invariably finding themselves living within the confines of local Labour authorities whose interest seems to be to keep them imprisoned in an environment of fear and despair. The Opposition's motion is distinctly hypocritical.

It took my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to take the bull by the horns in June 1987—thank God she did—and to recognise that for too long successive Governments had ignored the underlying problems in the inner cities which had to be tackled. Why should those who live in the inner cities be denied the quality of life that the rest of us all too easily take for granted? It was a matter of taking up the basic strands of inner city life, injecting leadership—one of the most important criteria of any initiative—finance, enthusiasm and determination to overcome the problems which have contributed to an inferior way of life.

Instead of talking, we should act. I could talk for hours about the Government's successive initiatives. I find it quite incredible that Opposition Members can say that nothing has happened under this Government. The Government have provided new jobs, training, new homes, more homes for rent, better education for all, a rejuvenation of derelict areas in which no one wished to invest, and an improvement in law and order. Within that structure, they have recognised the need for local authorities of whatever political persuasion to endeavour to put politics behind them and to work with the Government and the private sector for the good of local people.

Unlike one or two Opposition Members, I can report at first hand that Wolverhampton is a thriving town. In the debate on manufacturing last week, we discussed the huge turnaround in the past seven years. People are flocking to invest in Wolverhampton and to set up new companies. But we have to remember the people who live there, and how much their quality of life depends on jobs and on the environment that is provided for them.

One of the most important and disturbing problems in Wolverhampton has involved homes and housing. People want housing where they can feel safe and which they can respect. One of the most serious problems in my constituency is the inability of the local Labour council to impose strict housing management, with the result that no matter how much money it spends—whether from ratepayers or taxpayers— the area is left to decline and heads are buried in the sand when it comes to ensuring that tenants abide by the rules of their tenancy, with the result that, all too often, such tenants reduce the quality of life of the people around them. In Low Hill in my constituency, thousands of pounds have been spent doing up council properties, with fantastic results, but the local housing department then allowed gipsy families to conglomerate in those houses and mow down the front garden walls, which had recently been erected, to put their caravans in front of the houses. Sometimes they even tethered animals inside their homes. Yet normal, conscientious people, many of them pensioners, are expected to live alongside such activities. Regrettably, the local council has shown no determination whatever to sort that situation out. The local council talks a lot but does little.

Ms. Dawn Primarolo (Bristol, South)

The hon. Lady said that the council neglected to carry out repairs to council houses. Before accusing the council of neglect, will she tell the House what the budget is for the Wolverhampton housing committee to spend on council house repairs and whether it has declined in the past three years in real terms?

Mrs. Hicks

The hon. Lady must have misheard me. I was not discussing repairs. I was discussing improvements that the council has made. In some cases it has done a marvellous job, but I decry the fact that, having invested money in council houses, it has then abandoned those properties so that no one wants to live in them. I ask the hon. Lady why Wolverhampton council has not collected the £4 million outstanding in rent arrears, which could be further invested for the good of other tenants.

Ms. Primarolo

Because the Government have made the tenants so poor that they cannot afford to pay their rent.

Mrs. Hicks

Now that the hon. Lady has opened up the debate, why does not the council get on with the job of filling the 2,000 empty homes so that we can solve the housing problem?

Another area in my constituency is called Heathtown, where, after 16 years of a Labour local authority, people felt like prisoners living in high-rise flats where the lack of housing management resulted in squalid conditions fit only for animals. I have seen it many times. The flats were not fit for people to live in and they were a breeding ground for criminal activity. The local council could not give the flats away to people on the waiting list and had to advertise them outside its own area although it has a long housing waiting list. The Government stepped in, recognising that Labour councillors could not control the housing and offered a much-needed estate management initiative, 'Estate Action', and an initial injection of £600,000. The local Labour authority now thinks it marvellous that the flats have security doors, video cameras and concierges. The local people assume that it is local authority money and, as with so many initiatives, do not realise that it was Government money and Government-inspired.

When the Opposition with their hearts on their sleeves talk about the homeless, they do not mention the delaying tactics that Labour councils apply to prevent people from owning their own council homes. On Fridays and Saturdays my surgery is filled not with social security problems but with people who put in to buy their council homes two, three or four years ago but find the local council using delaying tactics to thwart the right to buy. That is a disgrace.

Nationally, there are 103,000 empty local authority dwellings, many in inner-city areas. Nearly 22,000 of those are available for immediate letting. In theory, every homeless family could be taken out of bed-and-breakfast accommodation if Labour authorities would let those properties.

Jobs and training figure very largely in the west midlands, where there has been an enormous reduction in unemployment. Wolverhampton has had the benefit of a Government task force which has done a marvellous job getting people into work. One of the problems that: we recognise is that people need to be retrained in new skills and others need basic remedial education to help them apply for training places. When I hear Opposition Members talk about the creation of jobs and about training and skill shortages, I find it incredible that in Wolverhampton, where there is high unemployment, the local Labour council has turned down £700,000 for 400 places. That is the sort of initiative that the Labour council takes on employment training.

When I visited a day-care centre for the elderly last week. I met many elderly people who said, "Mrs. Hicks, I hear that your Government is closing down our day centre." When I asked them why that should be so, they said, "We have no more employment training places—what are we to do?" I had to explain to them that their local caring Labour authority was handing back the money for those places and then asking my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, "Why has the European Commission turned us down for money for training, and why won't our local Member of Parliament, Mrs. Hicks, fight for more money for training?" [Interruption.] I draw from experience in my appraisal of the local Labour council only because of the Opposition motion today. It is far better to talk from experience than simply to waffle.

I want to talk further about the creation of urban development corporations. I was fortunate the other day to go around the London docklands for the first time. I must admit that I had left it too long. It was fantastic. I came back to the House and decided that the whole House should take a day trip to the London docklands because the enthusiasm that I saw there sent me back full of heart. There were so many achievements there such as rebuilding and new factories—

Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield)

They were there before.

Mrs. Hicks

I can see what was there before, where the area has not been improved. The area had been so run down that people believed that nothing would ever happen. If we can achieve such rejuvenation through the Black Country urban development corporation, which is in its early days, it would be extremely encouraging. In the Black Country UDC we have £160 million, which will provide 20,000 jobs, but the Labour party locally says, "If we get back in, we shall do away with all urban development corporations."

I recognise that one of the most disturbing elements of inner-city life concerns law and order. If people do not feel safe in their flats, whether they rent or buy them, that is a disgrace. In Wolverhampton, we have a superb town centre where local people were frightened to shop. They said, "We have a lovely town centre, but we shall avoid it like the plague because it is not safe by day or by night."

Mr. Heffer

Ten years ago your Government were going to solve all that.

Mrs. Hicks

We said, "Let us have video cameras in the town centre," and Wolverhampton was one of the first towns to do so. Local Labour councillors said, "We do not want nasty video cameras because they are an invasion of privacy and a restriction on individuals". [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, they are."] We have seen the biggest reduction in crime in Wolverhampton and we now have virtually no criminal activity in the town centre. All the other local authorities now say, "Let us follow Wolverhampton's initiative," and who is taking the credit for that? It is the local council.

Mr. Bernie Grant

Give us the figures.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

There is the real spokesman on law and order.

Mrs. Hicks

I happen to have the figures with me. We have had an 18 per cent. downturn compared with the same period last year. Robberies are down by 52 per cent. in Wolverhampton, house burglaries are down by 24 per cent., criminal damage is down by 16 per cent. and wounding is down by 3 per cent. The only figure to show an increase is for the theft of bicycles, which have increased by 38 per cent. The figures speak for themselves, as they do throughout the west midlands. I was delighted when the Government chose Wolverhampton as one of the first towns to take part in the 'safer cities' scheme and we worked hard to be chosen. The scheme involves many threads, not just the Government or the police, but junior crime prevention, probation officers and the local community. If inner-city life is to improve, everyone must be involved. We cannot just leave it to the local council or the Government.

Unless we provide sound education to equip young people with skills for the future in a manufacturing area such as mine, we shall have problems as a result of the decreasing work force. We welcome all initiatives to bring industry and schools closer, and I am glad that we have now taken the initiative with the chamber of commerce to establish a compact in some of the schools in my constituency. I also welcome the city technology colleges. One of the first towns that would have had the offer of a CTC was Wolverhampton, but what happened?

Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North)

The council did not want one.

Mrs. Hicks

That is right—the hon. Gentleman knows his party so well. There is a skills shortage in the area, and as a manufacturing area we should be encouraging our young people in technology, but the council did not want a CTC because it believed that it would be elitist. That is one of the saddest decisions that the council has made.

The Conservative party has shown commitment and vision. Our initiatives speak louder than the hollow words of the Opposition. The Opposition motion is a cheek coming from a party that has not come forward with one policy, but merely destructive opposition to all that we have achieved.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. I remind hon. Members that this is a short debate. Contributions ought to be brief.

5.35 pm
Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Cromarty and Skye)

I will be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I will not be tempted to follow the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Hicks) down the highways and byways of Wolverhampton although, having spoken just after her in last week's debate on manufacturing, I must say that she makes it sound an interesting place—all the more interesting for her presence there.

Immediately after the last election, the Prime Minister suddenly declared that there was a problem with Britain's inner cities. She has, of course, long since slunk off from the photo call which followed that pronouncement, while the deeply felt problems of the inner cities persist. Wolverhampton may be a shining exception, but what we are seeing develop in Britain—this is not surprising, given the Government's conscious efforts to Americanise this country in so many ways—is an urban under-class, which has become a common and tragic feature of many north American cities.

That new class grows from a combination of many factors, many of which have been referred to this afternoon, such as poor housing, sub-standard education, soaring crime—much of it drug-related—racial tensions and the exodus of the better-off to the suburbs, with a good portion of the job market going with them. There is high youth unemployment, dependency on state benefits and the break-up of family structures. All those factors combine in different ways to contribute to the problem, and each factor tends to reinforce the others.

There is economic decline and that is true of a city such as Glasgow. We have had one by-election recently in Glasgow and another will soon be under way. Glasgow shows the tale of two cities that we see elsewhere. In some areas of Glasgow, there is a high proportion of people who have worked in the traditional industries that have declined and all but gone. Such a massive economic collapse—especially in the traditional sector—has hastened many of the problems of the inner cities.

I will concentrate on one or two issues and suggest one or two of the policy areas that the Government should be addressing which would help the inner cities. They could help London, which has a pitifully high proportion of exiled young Scots who are homeless, or Glasgow, which has made marvellous strides forward in recent years and is a shining example, I readily concede, of a Labour local authority that has worked fully with the grain of the private sector to the benefit of the local environment. However, problems persist in both places and I want to bring some of them to the Minister's attention.

When one considers council accommodation in the Greater London area, one sees that nearly 40 per cent. of families live in council accommodation, much of it in poor condition and much of it suffering, as the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Ms. Primarolo) said, from the massive clawbacks inflicted by the Government on local authority capacity to spend money on repairs and improvements. If one looks across the river, one sees an area with a high elderly population and a history of poor health, much of it due to poverty and to bad social conditions, which were most notable in housing, and a dual problem emerges within welfare provision.

Bad housing, the lack of capital spend and the sort of problems referred to by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East about poor management at the local authority end, combine to create a bad social basis which, in itself, is bad for people's health. However, further than that, there is a reluctance on the part of general practitioners to move their practices into inner-city areas because such practices are likely to be small and to draw on a dwindling and elderly population. As that means that the capitation fee is likely to be low, a GP's income will be depressed while the work load will be heavy. I cannot see how the Government's policies on the NHS and on hospitals opting out will in any way assist in any inner-city area that is suffering from such problems.

Surely that policy will result in a concentration of what might be called the more glamorous high-tech operations and a consequent dimunition in the emphasis that is given to basic health care and especially to preventive health care and to recall facilities, not least in women's health, in which, throughout the country but especially in the inner cities, much greater progress must be made.

I turn now to crime, which, as I have said, is often drug-related. The crime rate is high and in too many of our inner cities it is rising. The number of serious crimes reported per 1,000 residents in inner London is more than 50 per cent. above the average for metropolitan areas. It has no less than doubled since 1971. On average there is now a violent crime every hour in Britain's capital city. Non-violent crimes, such as theft and burglary, are now so common that, as all hon. Members will know from their own experience and from their friends and contacts in this city, many people do not even bother to report them either because of the lack of time that is given to following them up or clearing them up or because of the probable low success rate that individuals think will be achieved in redress.

Finally, I underscore one point about education made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East, although I do not follow the philosophy of her analysis. It is absolutely essential that teacher morale is improved and that better pay and conditions are achieved for teachers. We should move towards a right to numeracy. That means no non-qualified maths teachers in our schools. Schools should be integrated more closely with their local communities, including the business community. In that context, the compact programme of the much-maligned ILEA must be welcomed.

There is much to be done about inner cities in this country. It must be something of a frustration for the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that, although this subject became the overriding priority of the Prime Minister after the last election, one suspects that now it does not figure very prominently on her scale of values. Under this Government, that is likely to lead to inner cities being relegated once again to the position that they occupied during the first eight years of this Conservative Administration.

5.43 pm
Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

I hope that the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy) will not take it amiss if I do not follow him down the avenue that he took, although I shall mention some of the points that he raised.

When the former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ruschcliffe (Mr. Clarke), made his statement on inner-city policy last year, in the questions that followed I pointed out that inner-city deprivation does not occur only in the inner cities, because one can find similar deprivation in small towns and rural areas throughout the country. That is certainly true of my constituency, in parts of which unemployment is running at over 20 per cent. In the constituency as a whole unemployment is twice the national rate, even though it has fallen from 7,000 to 4,000 in the past two and a half years. The largest group of questions with which I deal in my constituency surgeries relates to welfare benefits, which makes me similar to many hon. Members representing inner-city areas.

My experience of this subject goes back to the days when I was a pupil in a 2,000-pupil comprehensive school in south London. Then I saw at first hand some of the major problems that afflict us to this day in inner cities. That was reinforced by my experience when I began teaching in Bermondsey in south-east London, in what was popularly known as a "sink" secondary modern school, and by my eight years as a councillor in an inner London borough.

That experience is borne out every day when I travel to the House, because when I am in London I live in Forest, Hill and travel through the London boroughs of Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth. As I drive through the Aylesbury estate, which is not a mile and a half from this House, I see boarded-up council properties covered with graffiti; walls that are falling down; street furniture, such as traffic lights, that is out of order or that has been knocked on the side because of accidents that happened perhaps six or nine months ago. I see streets that are littered with paper and which have not been swept for months and where the pavements and the road surfaces are broken. Young saplings that have been planted by the local authority have been broken and snapped off. Yet those are the areas with high spending councils that produce high rates bills for their citizens.

The issue of "the condition of the people", which is how Disraeli described it 100 years ago, will be a major issue at the next election. The key to the problems in our inner cities lies in the fact that those areas have one thing in common: they are run by Labour local authorities. The problems are not the shame of 10 years of Conservative Government but of 40 or 50 years of municipal Socialism. It is those Labour authorities that have done so much to ruin the environment of their citizens and to ensure that they have very little freedom of manoeuvre or of personal choice and responsibility. The "local state"—to quote a Marxist term—which has been in power in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham for years, with the exception of three years in the late 1960s, has been responsible for taking away people's choice and freedom. It has been responsible for building the large impersonal council estates that have been so badly vandalised.

As I stand at a bus stop that is not two miles from the House, I hear people saying, "Why don't they do something about it?" Those people believe that the local council is responsible for everything. They believe that the amorphous "they" have the duty to ensure that the environment is cleaned up. To a large extent those people are right: "they"—that is, the local authority—have made sure that the local citizens have very little personal power because they live in council houses and must use the local authority schools. They have no choice about the sort of environment in which they live. Such people also have a feeling of desperation because they feel that they cannot do anything to improve their situation themselves. Again, that is to come back to the fact that in those societies people have very little choice or responsibility.

I was most surprised and, indeed, gratified to get support for this thesis from Linda Bellos, the former leader of Lambeth council, who admitted that people in areas such as Lambeth have been failed by the education system, failed by the anachronistic rating system and, yes, failed by municipal housing". That was said in a speech at Brunel university on 22 October 1987. At least there is a glimmer of understanding among some members of the Labour party about the reality of the issue.

The London borough of Tower Hamlets reached the stage where 90 per cent. of the housing in the borough was owned by the local authority. People had no opportunity to buy a property or to rent a property from a private landlord if they wished to do so because the local authority had effectively municipalised private housing out of the borough. If one did not come within the criteria for getting a council house, one could not live in the area. It was therefore no surprise that doctors, nurses and teachers were driven away from such boroughs and had to drive into the area from outer London to carry out their work. Many of them gave up the battle and there is now a chronic problem in Tower Hamlets where, according to some surveys, 30 per cent. of the children have to be sent home daily from school because of the lack of teachers.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)

I am pleased that my hon. Friend quoted from the speech by Miss Bellos. I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) was not present to hear it. It is indicative of Opposition Members' interest in the matter that only half a dozen of them are present. Only one Opposition Member—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. This is a short debate. Hon. Members have been sitting here patiently waiting to speak.

Mr. Bennett

My hon. Friend makes a good point. Only three Labour Back-Bench Members are present for a debate that they selected.

When I was a councillor on the housing committee of the London borough of Lewisham, it was interesting to visit estates in the Surrey docks which we were taking over from the GLC and note the dereliction of the slums that had occurred in about 10 years. I also saw a friend who lived in the Barbican estate, which was built at exactly the same time and was of exactly the same model, but it was a model estate. That suggests something about council housing and about the way in which tenants are given little control over their own lives. They are not given a say in management, there are no housing co-operatives and there is no chance to buy properties in some London boroughs. That has an effect.

I listened with interest to an Opposition Member shout about yuppies. It seems extremely odd that a group of young people who have the initiative and enterprise to do something about getting jobs and about improving the houses that they buy should be vilified by Opposition Members as people who should not be emulated. That does not mean that we must praise some people's nasty city barrow boy mentality, but it ill becomes eminent personages to go to Tower Hamlets and tell the Bangladeshis there, "Your problems are caused by yuppie gentrification," when, for the first time, the gentrification of inner-city areas caused by people using their own money to improve those areas has started to bring private capital into areas which for so long have been under municipal control.

The same applies to employment. It is no use Labour Members arguing that London has high unemployment when, at the same time, we know that job opportunities in London are good. The black economy in London is thriving. Given the large number of vacancies, there is no reason why anyone in our capital city who wishes to have a job should be out of work.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Bennett

I will not give way. I have only a couple of minutes left.

Another interesting point is Labour Members' attitude to docklands. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East, I have been to docklands and seen the incredible changes that have taken place since 1981, when the urban development corporation was established by my right hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine). I was a member of the local authority. I remember the seven wasted years of the Docklands Joint Committee, when the five riparian boroughs and the GLC talked but did nothing at all. It is no use the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) saying that they were planning. The people of docklands wanted jobs for the area and new houses built.

Education is the key to trying to improve many inner-city areas. Opposition Members have unjustifiably made much of the Inner London education authority. On examination results, ILEA came 87th in the league. Wigan, which has similar social problems, came ninth. It is interesting to note that Wigan was able to educate its children at half the cost of ILEA. We must make sure that teachers are paid well according to the regions in which they work, the subject that they teach—if there is a shortage of teachers of certain subjects—and performance. I do not want blanket increases for teachers if poor teachers are equally rewarded.

It is no use just talking about crime in inner cities. There is serious crime in inner cities. Much of it involves mindless attacks on strangers by yobboes on buses and trains and in the street. We must examine what is causing it. It has nothing to do with society or Doctor Hienz Kiosks in the Opposition who tell us that we are all guilty. It is to do with the personal morality of the people who do the attacking. It comes down to the education and social systems in our schools. We do not give moral education and guidance to our children and tell them when things are right or wrong. Our education services and the Secretary of State for Education and Science should make sure that, in future, the curriculum contains a large element of moral education to try to get those who see no danger or harm in mindless violence to be educated in the values of right and wrong.

5.54 pm
Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar)

I must put the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) right. He talked about Labour authorities. I lived in docklands in the east end for most of my life, and I remember that the Labour council carried out the biggest slum clearance scheme in Europe at a time when Tories were saying, "It is no good giving the workers baths; they will only put coal in them." The Labour council took people out of hovels. Getting a council flat meant a new life, and that was everybody's ambition. Many of those council flats are still desirable and beautiful today, especially those that were built by the GLC. Many of them are run down, but our rate support grant has been stolen by the Government. We have been rate-capped, and Labour councils, and Tower Hamlets council, are now handicapped by insufficient funds to repair and restore properties. Hon. Members should not deride that slum clearance, at it gave new life to thousands of people.

I represent a docklands constituency. It is high on the list of indices that measure poverty and deprivation. I have the plans of the Docklands Joint Committee, which knew what the area wanted and needed, and it was very different from what the Government have imposed upon it. The Docklands Joint Committee was made up of representatives from the GLC, the Department of the Environment and local boroughs—a good mix of local and national bodies. Its overall objective was to use the opportunity provided by the availability of parts of docklands for development to redress housing, social, environmental, employment, economic and communications difficulties. The boroughs provided freedom for similar improvements throughout east and inner London.

We have something very different with the London Docklands development corporation, a neo-colonial quango answerable to nobody but the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for the Environment. That body was imposed upon us. The LDDC's aims were different. It was to regenerate the land, not the community, as the Secretary of State for the Environment has said. Its actions have been detrimental to the community. The availability of that large area of vacant land was an historical opportunity to solve the London housing crisis once and for all. That opportunity has been thrown away.

Let us examine council house building figures since the Government have been in office. The number of council new build completions in east London in 1979 was 4,250. The latest figures available for 1986–87 is 430—a tenth of what it was before. New build completions are grinding to a halt. In 1979, there were 3,613 new build starts. There were 490 in 1986–87.

Conservative Members say that there are too many council houses and that people need to buy their own houses. That is not what local people think. They think that they need more council housing, not less. There are over 10,000 people on the waiting list. They, those on the transfer list and the homeless think that we in the east end need more council housing, but the Government do not listen to what we say, because it does not suit them and their speculator friends to do so. The number of right-to-buy sales in the five years from 1980–81 to 1985–86 were 16,200. In the last year of that period, the number reduced to 2,716, and it is falling.

Many elderly people and pensioners have told me that they do not want to buy their houses at their time of life. They cannot afford it with the little bit of money that they have left. They would rather enjoy themselves and have some security with a little money in the bank. However, they are afraid that the Government's policy means that their council estates will be sold to private housing organisations. They are afraid that they will lose tenure and eventually be forced out. They have been forced into buying.

Many people have told me that they wished that they could return to being council tenants because they had encountered problems with their properties. For example, people have found asbestos flaking off beneath wallpaper when they have decorated. The local authority claims that it cannot help because it has no money. The Government will not give the local authority money to help, claiming the council must find the money from its own pool. A hell of a lot of people in east London are in a dreadful mess.

People are also finding that the service and other charges are higher than they had thought they would be. They cannot afford those charges as inflation rises. We must remember that 10 per cent. of those who are registered as homeless are mortgage defaulters and that figure should not be taken lightly. Buying a house is not the answer to everyone's dream, although for those who can afford it, it may be desirable.

In 1978 there were 3,601 homeless people in the area. In 1986–87 that figure had risen to 9,037. We should bear in mind that childless couples and single people are not included in that figure. Similarly, it does not include people sleeping in cardboard boxes or on other people's floors. In 1983 in the east London boroughs, there were 438 people in bed-and-breakfast accommodation. In 1988, there were 1,550. Those figures are an indictment of the Government's policies.

The LDDC has brought in speculators who have built many houses. However, the local population cannot afford them. Very few properties built in my constituency were ever in the affordable bracket. Only the houses built by Barratts at Glengall place and by Comben on the Mudshute were relatively affordable. Local residents were supposed to be given priority for lower-priced houses, but there was a great deal of fiddling by unwelcome speculators.

Thames Television inquired into the fiddling and found that one group of business men had bought 15 properties. In other cases, properties were bought and resold without being occupied. People bought rent books to show a local address. There were 10 dubious sales at the Caledonian wharf, which were actually stopped. Some of the Cascades flats were bought and offered for resale while the scheme was still just a hole in the ground.

We need consider only how the price of those apartments and houses has risen to see that this was not housing for local people, but simply an opportunity for the speculators to get rich. In 1985, a two-bedroom flat in London Yard on the Isle of Dogs cost £58,191—much more than local people could afford. In 1988, it cost £160,000. In 1984 a one-bedroom flat on Clippers quay, also on the Isle of Dogs, cost £40,000. In 1986, it cost £109,000. A two-bedroomed flat which cost £39,495 rose in three years to £199,995. A three-bedroomed house, which is what most families want, rose from £60,000 to £175,000. In large part, that housing was bought by speculators and resold, or bought by people from outside the area who had large incomes and large pockets.

Many young people with high salaries took on heavy mortgages. Some of them are now unhappy with what is happening. They find that life under the dictatorship of the LDDC is not so great. Some of the houses are jerry built. I have been told of an estate where the land is subsiding and water has come flooding in. I have heard of cases where a property was purchased for a great deal of money in a quiet court, but one flat was turned into a wine bar and residents had to suffer the noise of car doors banging late at night. Similarly, people complain of noise from across the river from the Victoria deep water metal crushing depot. I have also heard that some roads are covered in mud when it rains. Bus drivers have told me that some of the roads on the Isle of Dogs are becoming dangerous because of some of the developers' sloppy work.

As the market drops, I believe that Canary wharf could become a great ghost edifice like some of those in New York. It is meant to be the biggest office development in Europe. It will create huge wind funnels. My area does not need that development.

Housing action trusts were another of the Government's policies for inner cities. We are all aware of the east enders' reactions to HATs. All the apartment houses down the Mile End road had huge banners hanging from them attacking and denouncing HATs. The tenants did not want them and they made that quite clear to the Minister when he met them at mass meetings. The Government had to retreat on HATs. The tenants were ready to blockade themselves in their own homes to stop anyone entering.

The tenants knew that, under HATs, after several years their estates would be sold to speculators, their rents would no longer be affordable and they would lose tenure. I went into places which had water streaming down the walls, yet even those tenants preferred to stick with the local authority rather than have a HAT. They did not trust the Government.

The pick-a-landlord scheme is also causing terror in areas like the east end. People feel secure with the local authority. They can vote for it and they can vote it out. They can bring pressure to bear. They can speak their minds to local councillors. However, the Government's schemes will remove their democratic right and control over housing. Tory Members who talk about Government proposals giving tenants' control are talking through their HATs. That is all nonsense.

The east enders have seen two bodies which they respected and supported destroyed by the Government—the Greater London Council and the Inner London education authority. An opinion poll showed that 90 per cent. of Londoners did not want ILEA abolished, but the Government disregarded them. How can the Government claim that they are a democratic Government?

County hall, our city hall, which belongs to the community, will be sold off, probably to become hotels and expensive apartment houses so that rich people can enjoy the river. Londonders will lose all rights to that building. That is typical of the Government's approach to the inner cities. They take away all the best places.

I warn people from other towns who have been told that they are going to have an urban development corporation that the LDDC, which is supposed to be the jewel in the Government's crown and the model UDC, has pinched pieces of land along the river, canals and bridlepaths. It has pinched the most pleasant places which go to rich people and local people do not get a look in. The children of local people are forced to move far away. That is bad for the community, especially for an aging community.

Housing has been for a very long time the most urgent problem in the inner cities and in east London in particular. Jobs are also very important. Before I made my maiden speech in the House two years ago, I carried out investigations and discovered that, despite all the public money which has been poured into the LDDC—money which was never available for the plans of the Joint Docklands Committee and the local authorities—there has been a net loss of jobs. A month ago I asked another series of questions and found, rather to my surprise, that there was a slightly bigger net loss of jobs, despite everything that has happened in the past two years.

Health care is important in an area with a rising population. Unlike the rest of the country, in Tower Hamlets there has been an explosion in the birth rate, bringing housing and health problems in its train. Two weeks ago, I held a meeting with general practitioners from Tower Hamlets in this building and they were unanimously against the Government's proposals for the Health Service. They have been denounced as greedy, as liars, but in fact they are devoted people. One has to be devoted to choose to work in east London.

At that meeting I took 12 pages of notes on why they knew—not felt—that the Government's proposals would damage the doctor-patient relationship, damage the interests of doctors, particularly in the smaller rundown practices that they are trying to build up, and damage the interests of their patients. They feel that people will have to make long journeys for operations and that there will be no continuity of provision, because, whereas a district health authority may make a contract with Wolverhampton for hip replacement operations one year, the next year somewhere else may be cheaper. For the first time, there will be a money limitation on drug provision. That is already frightening people who require a lot of drugs.

Everyone is worried about the London hospital. That has always been a community hospital, deeply integrated with the local community, but it is now expressing an interest in opting out. Neither the doctors nor the community health council were consulted. The London hospital has expressed an interest in opting out without consultation.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

Opting out of what?

Ms. Gordon

Opting out of the Health Service in the long term. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] I have met officials who are already talking about providing operations more cheaply than private hospitals. In the long term, that means opting out of the Health Service.

Mr. Hind


Ms. Gordon

It is not disinformation. We are destined to have a two-tier Health Service. Hospitals such as the London hospital will start by changing their policies, providing heart transplants and glamorous medicine rather than serving the local community and will eventually opt out of the Health Service.

Mr. Hind

They will not be allowed.

Ms. Gordon

Whether they are allowed to or not, in the meantime local people will have to travel far to obtain the services that they need. If the Government's proposals are put into effect, the London hospital will no longer be a community hospital.

The Inner London education authority has been building new schools and extra classrooms, but east end schools cannot attract teachers. When there was council house building, there was also a key worker scheme, but that no longer exists. Doctors and teachers cannot come to the east end because they cannot afford to buy the houses that are being built there by the speculators whom the LDDC has allowed in.

The hon. Member for Pembroke spoke of teachers being paid by results. Payment by result was abandoned as an uncivilised method of education in the last century. It is rather surprising to hear the last century's ideas being trotted out again as new ones.

The hon. Member suggested that there should be regional agreements on wages. I f regional agreements on wages replace national arbitration, teachers will go from areas with poor councils, many problems and deprivation, to the richer areas. Instead of the stability that children need, teachers will be on the move even more than they are now and there will be fewer teachers in Tower Hamlets rather than more. Such policies will damage education in the east end of London.

Again, those policies are designed to create a two-tier system. Just as we shall have a two-tier Health Service with hospitals opting out, so we shall have a two-tier education service, with working-class children given minimum education, as happened before the Education Act 1944. Only a few working-class kids who are more academically able and quicker off the mark will be educated alongside middle-class and rich children. They will have a different kind of education and curriculum. Time will prove me right. That is what the Government's policies are designed to create, when and as they can introduce them. However, they will not be able to do so, because this Government will not last beyond the next election.

In the east end of London, transport is developerled,which again is not what the east end needs. The docklands light railway was welcome, but it is not safe transport. The doors are not safe, there is nobody at the stations and at the moment it does not even operate at night or during the weekend. I have been told by LDDC officials that the computer system does not work well. The trains still stop at the ghost station of Canary wharf, and no one knows how to prevent them from doing so. Anyone who travels down the A13 will see that transport in the east end is a complete mess. There is a constant snarl-up on that road. There are traffic jams at 9 pm and during the weekends.

Just as the inner cities need an integrated health policy with primary, secondary and local community care implementing the Griffiths report's recommendations, which the Government are so carefully ignoring, so they need an integrated transport policy. The GLC's "Fares Fair" policy was right. That was designed to take people out of their cars and on to public transport. Just as we need more affordable housing, so we need more affordable public transport.

I cannot finish without talking about the environment, about which the Prime Minister talks so much. It is proposed to run a road through Victoria park, the only large park in the east end. Mile End park will be encroached upon. The Tower Hamlets environmental trust has identified 36 small pieces of land, designated as public open space, which are under threat. Such pieces of land are important to those living in flats. They are needed for taking a walk and for walking the dog, and the lives of children centre around them. They are under threat because everything is becoming market-led and he developers have their greedy eyes upon them.

We wanted local jobs and workshops so that people could use their skills to work at local trades. We could have had a riverside walk. This is an historic area. There are places of interest that could have been developed. Instead, there are expensive flats along the riverside, and the are built right up to the river's edge so there can be no riverside walks. No tourist will be able to walk along there from the tower; nor will the local people. Even part of Island gardens on the river front is under threat, as is the King Edward memorial park. The interests of the local people and the environment come second to the market.

More money has been poured into the police. There are many new inspectors and other high officials in the police force, but there are not so many extra men in the lower ranks on the streets to prevent crime. Their number has hardly increased at all.

Local people are the experts. They know what they need and want. They express their wishes, desires and demands through the locally-elected authorities, some of which have been abolished and others of which are being rate-capped so that they have no money to improve their areas.

Local people need affordable rents, affordable transport and local democracy. They do not want the form of dictatorship that is being imposed on them because it is not acting in their interest but in the interest of the profit makers. It has brought no benefits to the local community and it is driving many of them out of the inner cities.

6.20 pm
Mr. Tony Baldry (Banbury)

The hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon) spoke for over 20 minutes in this comparatively short debate and throughout her speech she presented no new ideas and displayed no vision for the future. Her speech showed that there is no leadership in the Labour party in London or in the inner cities.

I apologise in advance to the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser) who I know is keen to make his electioneering speech for the Vauxhall by-election. In view of the amount of time that his hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar occupied, it will not be possible for me to permit him to do that and at the same time make a reasonable speech myself.

In his opening remarks, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley)—I do not think the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar could have been listening to him—said that one way to improve education in the inner cities would be to introduce regional pay variations and give financial incentives to people to teach in the inner cities. Perhaps it is another failing of Labour Members that they do not listen to the comments of their colleagues.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook painted a picture which had little relationship to reality, so I shall cover some of the background that we should have in mind in this important debate. Unemployment is now at its lowest for 18 years, with a fall of 1 million in the unemployment register since the 1987 election campaign. There has also been a record fall—of 500,000 in the last two years—in the number of long-term unemployed. Indeed, long-term unemployment has fallen faster than total unemployment, and that has been reflected in inner-city areas, where unemployment generally fell by 22 per cent. in the year to March 1989, and in the same year, long-term unemployment in inner-city areas fell by 22 per cent.

During the week, I live in the inner-city area of Lambeth—in the parliamentary constituency of Vauxhall—and I suspect that my hon. Friends and I have done more to represent the people there than has the erstwhile hon. Member for Vauxhall who is set to go elsewhere.

In the inner-city areas we have seen a new enterprise culture, with self-employment on the increase. On average, 500 small firms have set up each week since 1979, many of them in inner-city areas. Unlike the depressing future projected by the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar, the prosperity of the inner cities will turn on competitive businesses earning commercial returns. The entrepreneurs and members of the business community whom she decries because they are coming into inner-city areas are the very people who will generate the prosperity which will provide the jobs for her constituents and those of other hon. Members.

We must continue to encourage private sector development and work to enable inner-city residents to benefit fully from the regeneration of their own neighbourhoods. Since the beginning of March this year, the Government have announced 10 new schools-industry compacts, five new safer cities programmes, three new inner-city task forces and four new initiatives to help inner-city residents to take part in employment training. Compare that with the lack of new ideas in the speeches of Opposition Members.

At last in our inner cities we are beginning to get a grip on ensuring good education in our schools, with a national curriculum, testing assessments and a new academic rigour which is raising standards and encouraging parental input. My young son goes to an inner-city school in Lambeth. It is an indictment of ILEA that vast numbers of black children attending that and other schools in inner-city areas go to supplementary schools on Saturdays. Up till now, it has been felt that the standard of education they received in inner-London schools has been insufficient to meet their needs.

Only now is the Labour party beginning to recognise that black and other parents in inner-city areas want their children to achieve proper standards of literacy and numeracy so that they can compete in the world outside. We are providing the resources to enable them to do that. Spending per pupil increased by 30 per cent. in real terms between 1979–80 and now, the pupil-teacher ratio has improved from 18.9 in 1979 to 17 today, and average class sizes have been falling. That is all good news.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook gave a litany of figures about inner-city crime, but his figures did not reflect the facts. There were falls in recorded crime in practically every metropolitan area last year, and in London, recorded crime was down by 5 per cent. in the 12 months to September 1988. The strength of the metropolitan police force has been increased by 5,550 officers in recent years and a further 300 posts have been approved for 1988–89.

Whatever yardstick one wishes to use—be it developing enterprise culture, improving education and facilities or increasing resources for the police and tackling crime—in all spheres the Conservatives have introduced and are introducing positive, realistic and worthwhile initiatives.

From Opposition Members we hear only a counsel of despair, often unrelated to the facts. For example, in the last week Labour Members have tried to suggest that many of our inner cities are gripped by deep poverty. In fact, the Government are spending almost £50 billion this year, about one third of all Government spending on social security. Real take-home pay for a family on average earnings with two children has gone up by 27 per cent. under Conservative rule. It barely rose under Labour. Tax thresholds have come down, taking large numbers of people out of tax, and people at all levels are better off than they were in 1979.

Those are all facts that the electors of Vauxhall and other inner city constituencies will have good cause to remember. Indeed, I suspect that it will be hard for Labour campaigners to find people in Vauxhall who can say with honesty that they are worse off now in real terms than they were in 1979.

Mr. John Fraser (Norwood)

The hon. Gentleman has been quoting general figures. Lambeth borough council commissioned independent consultants to produce a survey of incomes to show what has happened to earnings in Lambeth over the last 10 years or so. That survey made it clear that the bottom 25 per cent. of the population have suffered a continuing reduction in their real standard of living. Those are incontrovertible figures, produced, as I say, not by the council but by independent consultants. In other words, the poor have got poorer and the rich have got richer, and that is the real truth of the inner cities.

Mr. Baldry

I categorically and emphatically deny that the people of Lambeth or anywhere else in Britain have got poorer in real terms in the last 10 years. The safety net below which nobody can fall has improved dramatically during those years, and that is why the poor of Lambeth as of any other area, are better off.

The hon. Gentleman confuses the position by comparing the standard of living of one section of people with that of another section. We must see that poor people have a level below which they cannot fall. On that basis, Conservative policies have ensured that everyone in the community—single-parent families, pensioners, the longterm disabled—are all better off in real terms than they were in 1979.

Inner-city recovery is on the way. The cycle of decline has been broken. Eight years of continued economic growth have created a climate in which enterprise can flourish. This year, nearly £3.5 billion of Government measures will help to carry that enterprise and prosperity into inner cities. Those Opposition Members whose response to every problem is the phrase "more money" should take on board that figure of £3.5 billion. Investment is strong. Unemployment is falling. New education and training policies are in place. Recorded crime is down. Our cities are developing a new and positive image. The simple and straightforward truth is that the inner cities are safe in the hands of a Conservative Government.

6.30 pm
Mr. Eric S. Heller (Liverpool. Walton)

I agree with members on the Government Front Bench on only two points. First, I agree with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that inner-city problems did not begin with a Conservative Government. However, my argument is that those problems became worse under the Conservatives. Secondly, I agree that unemployment has fallen—but it is equally true to say that, in the first five or six years of Conservative Government, unemployment was at a much higher level than under Labour.

In shoving so-called facts across the Chamber at each other, we often risk missing the whole point, which is that we live in a society in which unemployment is liable to increase and decrease at certain times; in which there will be relative poverty and real poverty, and in which people will be much better off at other times. We have not addressed the real problems of the inner cities and the people who live there.

Not all inner-city housing is bad. It is nonsense to say that every inner-city area is full of poor housing. But it does exist, and in some cases there is no housing provision at all. That is true also of city outskirts. Some people living in the inner cities suffer real poverty and from other problems that developed over the years. One of them is high unemployment, which affects not only the ethnic minorities. Problems are also faced by young people of 15 or 16 years of age who have never known a wage packet at the end of the week. They have no idea of the dignity of being employed. It is vital that people have jobs.

The difficulty of solving those problems is that there are two distinct approaches to doing so. The Government believe that they can all be solved by private enterprise, and that if one can only secure private investment and encourage the involvement of business men, that will be sufficient to deal with the situation.

Mrs. Maureen Hicks

indicated dissent.

Mr. Heffer

The hon. Lady disagrees, but I remember what happened in Liverpool after the riots that took place not only in Toxteth but other cities. The Heseltine proposals involved a combination of private and public enterprise and private and public investment. We all know what happened to that scheme. The majority of the Cabinet turned it down because it did not want public involvement or problems solved partly by public effort.

I am not denying that some good things have been done in Liverpool. I would be damn silly to deny something worth while which offers employment to a few of my constituents. Even minimal employment is better than no employment at all. The garden festival was very nice while it lasted, but the number of real jobs it created was very small. I refer also to the new dock developments. There is a new shopping complex, and the new Liverpool Tate gallery—of which I am much in favour, but some Liverpool people who have seen the exhibits there did not think they were much, and I agree. There is also a new yuppie housing estate. What is really needed are all those developments plus new jobs.

Creating jobs means establishing new industry. How is that to be done? There used to be a system of regional assistance. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) claimed that Birmingham had suffered because of Labour incentive schemes that encouraged new business ventures in areas of high unemployment, but that type of incentive is still needed. I go further: there is a need for public ownership and developments so that we can stipulate the location of new industry.

The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Hicks) referred to bed-and-breakfast accommodation. Liverpool has practically solved the problem of bed-and-breakfast families, and was slaughtered for it. Liverpool's Labour councillors were called all the names one could think of for building houses—nice, lovely, semi-detached houses for ordinary people. I am sure that some Conservative Members think that those houses are too good for the working class. The money to build them came not from the Government, because they made massive cuts in local authority grants. Instead, Liverpool council borrowed money from private enterprise at higher rates. Nevertheless, it had an obligation to provide decent accommodation. That policy is being continued under the new Labour administration.

Liverpool has also new sports centres and parks, to provide the city with new lungs. However, much more needs to be done. The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) claims that we have no new ideas. I can tell him of one new idea that I hope will be adopted when a Labour Government are elected. The first thing that a Labour Government should do is bring together all the local authorities and trade unions in the area—and I do not mind if the employers' organisations and Government Departments are represented as well. They should sit down and decide immediately what is required and how much the Government can provide to help to overcome the problem.

I should have liked to say much more, but I shall conclude by making one more point to the Government. Some of my hon. Friends do not seem to understand why all those wonderful houses were being built in parts of London. Well, I understand it; I understand why they have been built along the line of the docks in Liverpool as well. The Government want to create a yuppie area where they hope that people will vote Tory and get rid of Labour Members of Parliament: their objective is as simple and as silly as that. What they should be doing is acting to meet the real needs of the people in such areas, and my party, if it were in government, would have the policies to do that.

6.40 pm
Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)

It is a well-known fact that the inner cities were discovered by the Conservative party during the last election campaign. That has been thoroughly chronicled. In next to no time the Prime Minister, with sensible shoes and handbag, was standing on a piece of waste ground in—if I remember correctly—Stockton, announcing its imminent colonisation. I am afraid that I must tell the Government what they are likely to know already—that those who live in those areas are unmoved and probably sceptical.

We learned very little from the Chancellor of the Duchy's speech, except that he has a deep admiration for the politics of Mr. Keva Coombes—which shows a certain breadth of vision—and that he reads the trade supplements thoroughly, albeit with a rather naive enthusiasm.

I want to say a few words about the problems in Scotland, where the scene is perhaps a little different but will nevertheless, I suspect, be familiar to many of my colleagues from south of the border. When the Secretary of State for Scotland makes his speech, I expect that we shall hear a good deal about GEAR—the Glasgow eastern area renewal scheme—and, no doubt, about the merchant city. Those things are, of course, worthy of comment. The GEAR scheme involved public investment of £300 million over nearly a decade. As the Secretary of State knows, the Government have been criticised a good deal for cutting short before its time a scheme started by the Labour Government, but I welcome what was achieved, and what has happened in the merchant city. The partnership between the public and private sectors reflects credit on all who were involved, including the city council.

I hope that we shall not encounter something that has become very familiar in Scottish politics—the somewhat cynical opportunism with which Scottish Office Ministers have dealt with such matters. Double standards are well to the fore. In Scotland, if one brick is laid upon another or if a sod is turned in any part of the country, particularly in an inner city, a junior Minister from the Scottish Office will be there, appropriately enough, to take the plaudits and the credit.

Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton)

And the photographs.

Mr. Dewar


Ministers tend to boast about the services provided in inner-city areas, such as education and housing. We are led to believe that all the phenomenal progress is due to the good heartedness and deep belief in high public spending of such unlikely figures as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth).

Mr. Hind


Mr. Dewar

No, I will not give way as I have only a short time in which to speak.

Within days, the same figures are usually being paraded in a slightly different context to illustrate the profligacy and irresponsibility of the same councils. I am glad to see the Minister nodding in cheerful agreement—clearly he has enjoyed some recent examples. The merchant city is certainly an example of inner-city development in Glasgow, but one has only to walk a few hundred yards to find oneself in a very different environment. For reasons that my Scottish colleagues will understand, I have been spending quite a bit of time there recently.

As every hon. Member knows, unemployment in Scotland is far higher than it is in Great Britain as a whole. Seasonally adjusted figures published only a few days ago showed a Scottish unemployment rate of 9.7 per cent. However, much as we may argue about the basis on which those figures are compiled, one fact remains clear—that the Scottish unemployment rate is about 50 per cent. above the national average. In whole wards, not just collections of streets, in the inner cities of Glasgow, and also in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee, unemployment is as high as 25 or 30 per cent.

I make no apology for mentioning Glasgow, Central, which is very much in the minds of everyone in Scottish politics at present. It is relevant, as it has the fifth highest unemployment rate of all the parliamentary constituencies of Great Britain and the worst in Scotland. It is a classic deprived inner-city area, where such problems are very real, and it has taken its share of the collapse of employment in Scotland. Regional employment changes mean that the number of employed and self-employed people has fallen by 118,000 in the past decade, and many instances have been in the inner cities.

There are more homeless people and more social problems—for instance, the problem of simply maintaining housing stock—and no Government can be complacent about the facts. In 1979, 450,000 claimants and their dependants were in receipt of supplementary benefit. About 830,000 now receive income support. That represents the growth of poverty, and anyone with any knowledge of the demography and social shape of Scotland will know that much of that poverty is concentrated in inner cities, as are the problems of peripheral housing schemes.

If the Minister wishes to see the impact on the health and social life of the population, he should look at "Glasgow: Healthy Cities Project", a position statement published recently by a weighty committee chaired by Dr. Thomson of the Greater Glasgow health board and including—to their credit—a number of the Minister's political friends. There is no doubt that the problem exists and can be seen.

What is disappointing is the Scottish response. We have had "New Life for Urban Scotland", a typical new-style Scottish Office glossy. I can reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) by telling him that it has the merit of containing only one picture of the Secretary of State for Scotland. It dealt largely with the peripheral schemes in Wester Hailes, Castlemilk, Whitfield and Ferguslie park. I make no complaint about that—they have real problems—but there was no mention of the inner cities.

It would be hard to say where the cash is for the inner-cities programme in Scotland—the equivalent of what the Government are claiming to be providing south of the border. Scottish Enterprise is to retain its existing budget—the Housing Corporation budget combined with the Scottish Development Agency budget. There is little evidence that even the substantial £350 million budget of Scottish Homes has not been largely carved out of money that would otherwise have been available for housing in any event.

I cannot go into detail, but I should say that I have looked long and hard for this new money. I have consulted people who are not in politics, the technicians and practical men who administer such matters, and they have to concede that they cannot point to where it is—not, I believe, because they are blind or lack expertise, but because the new money is simply not there. The damage to the inner cities is being done by the Government's general policies—for instance, the housing policy that has allowed the figure that can be taken into the housing revenue account to fall from £125 million to £3 million, has allowed the contribution for every local authority house in Scotland to be cut from £238 to around £60 and has taken a cumulative total of billions from the rate support grant settlement.

The inner-city areas will be particularly hit by the poll tax, because they are exactly the kind of poverty-stricken areas that will be left to pay a significantly higher percentage of local revenue raised than they did under the previous system. I challenge the Secretary of State to deny that. We have seen the murder of regional policy and regional incentives.

I cannot resist a small competition to which hon. Members might like, in 15 seconds, to produce the answer. I ask the House what Julius Caesar would say if he landed on our shores today. I have the answer, because the Prime Minister told a doubtless astonished Conservative party conference at Perth that he would have no hesitation in saying, "I came, I saw, I invested." I must confess that my only regret is that the Secretary of State did not manage it in Latin.

I recognise that there has been a remarkable change in the Government's approach to Scottish matters over the past few years. It used to be fashionable to abuse the Scots, to tell them that their story was a cautionary tale of the dependency culture and that all their faults were their own fault, but there has been an about-turn. We have invented the economic miracle. We are told that Scotland is the birthplace of Adam Smith, a perfect enterprise economy of which we can all be proud.

It is unfair perhaps to dwell on conference speeches and I have some sympathy with the Secretary of State because it cannot be easy to know what to say to Scottish Tories gathered in Perth. I did not greatly admire his suggestion that my constituents were building frigates like fury or the hopeful suggestion that together we shall climb mountains. That is not in my immediate plans.

What I welcome—I make a serious point here—is the rather tentative suggestion that the Secretary of State is interested in putting peace on the agenda in Scottish politics and building bridges between the Government and the people of Scotland. I do not want to overstate what he said. He described a case for a modest period of consolidation, but against the general background of argument, even that is of some significance. The tragedy was that the next day the Prime Minister arrived and stamped on the Secretary of State, making it clear that any bridges that he might build would quickly be torn down.

Looking at the situation in the inner cities and in the Scottish economy generally, I hope that the Secretary of State did not make that speech simply to deceive. I hope that he meant what he said because it is important to Scotland and to the inner cities and areas of deprivation that we have a change of direction and that there are signs of a change of heart on the part of the Government. The right hon. and learned Gentleman would be doing us a signal service if he showed a certain independence today and indicated that that change of heart will come and that some of the Government's damaging policies will be abandoned.

6.52 pm
The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), when he explained to the House why he could not remain throughout the debate, might have undertaken to read the speeches that we have heard this evening because he would have heard not only from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster but also from four of my hon. Friends a devastating response which must have made the Opposition wonder why they had chosen this subject for debate.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan), who knows Birmingham better even that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, pointed to the massive improvements in the inner city of Birmingham. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Hicks), in an effective fighting speech, pointed to the priorities for urban policy and the inadequacies of the Opposition. My hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) pointed out that those localities which have had Labour-controlled local authorities for years, which are the highest spending local authorities, are those which seem still to have the most difficult problems, perhaps because of the control that has been exercised on them during those years. My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) correctly emphasised that only by encouraging the business community to help create prosperity in those localities can one achieve the desired results.

The most interesting and extraordinary remark by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook was his reference to enterprise zones. He suggested that it was only inner-city landlords who had benefited from enterprise zones. I suspect that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) would not agree with that, as his right hon. Friend has clearly not visited Clydebank, which was made an enterprise zone in 1981. Had he done so, he would know that in the first six years after its designation it was not inner-city landlords who benefited—400 new businesses with more than 4,000 new jobs were created in that enterprise zone.

Mr. Dewar

We welcome the progress made in the Clydebank enterprise zone, one third of which falls within my constituency, but does the Secretary of State agree that the main basis for that success has been the work of the Scottish Development Agency and the heavy public investment that has gone into the area?

Mr. Rifkind

It was the work of the Scottish Development Agency with the funds provided by the Government. I am happy to acknowledge that.

I was interested to note that the hon. Member for Garscadden had attached his name to the Opposition motion. At this point, I wish to do something unusual, Madam Deputy Speaker, and refer to the terms of the Opposition motion as judged against the speech by the hon. Gentleman and what has been achieved. The hon. Gentleman may care to read the motion—he has probably not done so up to now, so it would be useful for him to be reminded of it.

The motion refers to total neglect of the inner city areas. Presumably that includes the city of Glasgow. The hon. Gentleman referred to the GEAR project in the east end of Glasgow. The motion that he has signed says that it has led to a "reduction in investment" over the past nine years. The hon. Gentleman confirms that. Does he regard £300 million of Government investment and £200 million of private sector investment in the GEAR area as a reduction in investment?

The Opposition motion refers to a decline in the quality of housing. Does that apply to the GEAR area where 6,000 houses have been either built or improved as a result of the Government's inner urban policy? The motion to which the hon. Gentleman has put his name also refers to the decline in schools. We know that the most controversial issue in Strathclyde at the moment is the attempt of the Labour-controlled authority to close schools, not to keep them open.

When the motion that the hon. Gentleman has signed refers to what is described as a deterioration in adequate health care", does he have in mind Glasgow—the best-funded health authority in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Dewar

The right hon. and learned Gentleman used to have a reputation for being laid back and rather composed. Now tantrums at the Dispatch Box are the order of the day. His intemperate remarks about the closure of schools show that he has not read his own Department's circulars about how he expects education authorities to bring school accommodation into line with the fall in school rolls.

I welcome the right hon. and learned Gentleman's praise for the GEAR project, which was planned and started by the Labour Government. Does he not accept that the impact of the community charge or poll tax, on housing benefit and other benefit changes mean a growth in poverty? Does he not accept that industrial investment in Scotland is now running at a lower rate than in 1979?

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman carefully avoided the terms of the motion to which his name is attached. We are not talking about industrial investment in Scotland but about investment in the inner city areas. The hon. Gentleman knows that in GEAR, which is the biggest example of inner-urban investment in the United Kingdom, not only has investment been dramatic, not only has housing been restored and renovated, not only has health care been the most generous in any part of the United Kingdom but, as his own Labour-controlled district council has said, the urban regeneration there is the best example in the United Kingdom of what inner-city regeneration can do.

Let us consider the attitude of the Opposition with regard to inner-urban policy. The hon. Gentleman concentrated his remarks on the city of Glasgow. We all know that there is a great deal of very proper pride in what has been achieved in Glasgow over the past 10 years. I paid a tribute to all those who have been involved, including Glasgow district council, Strathclyde regional council, local residents and the Scottish Office. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would also like to acknowledge that.

If we wish to see who has given the lead in achieving these objectives, the hon. Gentleman might care to mention the fact that the present Conservative Government and the Scottish Office provided the funding for Glasgow's conference and exhibition centres, 50 per cent. of the funding for the Burrell gallery, and all the funding for the Glasgow garden festival as well as designating Glasgow a city of culture for 1990. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to give credit where credit is due, he should bear that in mind.

My hon. Friends have demolished the argument advanced by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, and the hon. Member for Garscadden does not need me to demolish his argument—he has only to read the Opposition motion to realise how inadequate his speech was. On that basis, I invite the House to vote for the Government amendment and to reject the Opposition motion.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:

The House divided: Ayes 194, Noes 288.

Division No. 209] [7pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Allen, Graham Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)
Anderson, Donald Dewar, Donald
Armstrong, Hilary Dixon, Don
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dobson, Frank
Ashton, Joe Douglas, Dick
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Duffy, A. E. P.
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Eadie, Alexander
Barron, Kevin Evans, John (St Helens N)
Battle, John Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Beckett, Margaret Fatchett, Derek
Beith, A. J. Faulds, Andrew
Bell, Stuart Fearn, Ronald
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bermingham, Gerald Fisher, Mark
Bidwell, Sydney Flannery, Martin
Boateng, Paul Flynn, Paul
Boyes, Roland Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bradley, Keith Foster, Derek
Bray, Dr Jeremy Foulkes, George
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Fraser, John
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) George, Bruce
Buckley, George J. Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Caborn, Richard Golding, Mrs Llin
Callaghan, Jim Gordon, Mildred
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Grocott, Bruce
Canavan, Dennis Hardy, Peter
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Harman, Ms Harriet
Cartwright, John Haynes, Frank
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Heffer, Eric S.
Clay, Bob Henderson, Doug
Clelland, David Hinchliffe, David
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cohen, Harry Home Robertson, John
Coleman, Donald Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Howells, Geraint
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Corbyn, Jeremy Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Cousins, Jim Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Crowther, Stan Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cummings, John Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Illsley, Eric
Dalyell, Tam Ingram, Adam
Darling, Alistair Janner, Greville
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Kennedy, Charles Prescott, John
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Primarolo, Dawn
Kirkwood, Archy Radice, Giles
Lambie, David Randall, Stuart
Lamond, James Redmond, Martin
Leadbitter, Ted Reid, Dr John
Leighton, Ron Richardson, Jo
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Litherland, Robert Robertson, George
Livsey, Richard Robinson, Geoffrey
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Rogers, Allan
Loyden, Eddie Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
McAllion, John Rowlands, Ted
McAvoy, Thomas Ruddock, Joan
McCartney, Ian Sedgemore, Brian
Macdonald, Calum A. Sheerman, Barry
McKelvey. William Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McLeish, Henry Skinner, Dennis
Maclennan, Robert Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McNamara, Kevin Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McWilliam, John Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Madden, Max Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Marek, Dr John Snape, Peter
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Spearing, Nigel
Martlew, Eric Steinberg, Gerry
Maxton, John Stott, Roger
Meacher, Michael Strang, Gavin
Meale, Alan Straw, Jack
Michael, Alun Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Turner, Dennis
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Vaz, Keith
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Wall. Pat
Moonie, Dr Lewis Walley, Joan
Morgan, Rhodri Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Morley, Elliott Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Wigley, Dafydd
Mowlam, Marjorie Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Mullin, Chris Wilson, Brian
Murphy, Paul Winnick, David
Nellist, Dave Worthington, Tony
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Wray, Jimmy
O'Brien, William Young, David (Bolton SE)
O'Neill, Martin
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Tellers for the Ayes:
Patchett, Terry Mr. Ken Eastham and
Pike, Peter L. Mr. Allen McKay.
Adley, Robert Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Aitken, Jonathan Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Alexander, Richard Bowis, John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Allason, Rupert Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Amess, David Brazier, Julian
Amos, Alan Bright, Graham
Arbuthnot, James Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Browne, John (Winchester)
Ashby, David Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Aspinwall, Jack Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Atkinson, David Buck, Sir Antony
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Budgen, Nicholas
Baldry, Tony Burns, Simon
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Burt, Alistair
Batiste, Spencer Butcher, John
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Butler, Chris
Bellingham, Henry Butterfill, John
Bendall, Vivian Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Benyon, W. Carrington, Matthew
Bevan, David Gilroy Carttiss, Michael
Biffen, Rt Hon John Cash, William
Blackburn, Dr John G. Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Chapman, Sydney
Body, Sir Richard Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Boswell, Tim Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Bottomley, Peter Colvin, Michael
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F rest) Hunter, Andrew
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Irvine, Michael
Cope, Rt Hon John Irving, Charles
Cormack, Patrick Jack, Michael
Couchman, James Jackson, Robert
Cran, James Janman, Tim
Critchley, Julian Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Currie, Mrs Edwina Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Day, Stephen Key, Robert
Devlin, Tim Kilfedder, James
Dicks, Terry King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Dorrell, Stephen Kirkhope, Timothy
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knapman, Roger
Dover, Den Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Durant, Tony Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbastonj
Dykes, Hugh Knowles, Michael
Eggar, Tim Knox, David
Emery, Sir Peter Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Lang, Ian
Evennett, David Latham, Michael
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lawrence, Ivan
Fallon, Michael Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Favell, Tony Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lightbown, David
Fishburn, John Dudley Lilley, Peter
Fookes, Dame Janet Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Forman, Nigel Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lord, Michael
Forth, Eric McCrindle, Robert
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Franks, Cecil MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Freeman, Roger McLoughlin, Patrick
French, Douglas McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Fry, Peter McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Gale, Roger Major, Rt Hon John
Gardiner, George Malins, Humfrey
Garel-Jones, Tristan Mans, Keith
Gill, Christopher Maples, John
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Marland, Paul
Glyn, Dr Alan Marlow, Tony
Goodlad, Alastair Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mates, Michael
Gorst, John Maude, Hon Francis
Gow, Ian Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Greenway, Harry (Ealing H) Mellor, David
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Miller, Sir Hal
Grist, Ian Mills, Iain
Ground, Patrick Miscampbell, Norman
Hague, William Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Mitchell, Sir David
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Moate, Roger
Hampson, Dr Keith Monro, Sir Hector
Hanley, Jeremy Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hannam, John Moss, Malcolm
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Moynihan, Hon Colin
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Mudd, David
Harris, David Neale, Gerrard
Haselhurst, Alan Needham, Richard
Hawkins, Christopher Nelson, Anthony
Hayes, Jerry Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Nicholls, Patrick
Hayward, Robert Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Heddle, John Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Norris, Steve
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hill, James Oppenheim, Phillip
Hind, Kenneth Page, Richard
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Paice, James
Holt, Richard Patnick, Irvine
Hordern, Sir Peter Patten, Chris (Bath)
Howard, Michael Patten, John (Oxford W)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Pawsey, James
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Porter, David (Waveney)
Powell, William (Corby) Stanbrook, Ivor
Price, Sir David Stern, Michael
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Stevens, Lewis
Redwood, John Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Renton, Tim Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Rhodes James, Robert Summerson, Hugo
Riddick, Graham Tapsell, Sir Peter
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Temple-Morris, Peter
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Roe, Mrs Marion Thurnham, Peter
Rossi, Sir Hugh Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rost, Peter Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Rowe, Andrew Tredinnick, David
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Trippier, David
Sackville, Hon Tom Waddington, Rt Hon David
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Sayeed, Jonathan Walden, George
Scott, Nicholas Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Shaw, David (Dover) Watts, John
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wheeler, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Whitney, Ray
Shelton, Sir William Widdecombe, Ann
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Wiggin, Jerry
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wilshire, David
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Shersby, Michael Winterton, Nicholas
Sims, Roger Wolfson, Mark
Skeet, Sir Trevor Wood, Timothy
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Yeo, Tim
Soames, Hon Nicholas Young, Sir George (Acton)
Speller, Tony
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Tellers for the Noes:
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Mr. David Maclean and
Squire, Robin Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 30 (Questions on amendments):

The House divided: Ayes 281, Noes 195.

Division Number 210] [7.15 pm
Adley, Robert Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Aitken, Jonathan Brazier, Julian
Alexander, Richard Bright, Graham
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Allason, Rupert Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Amess, David Browne, John (Winchester)
Amos, Alan Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Arbuthnot, James Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Buck, Sir Antony
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Burns, Simon
Ashby, David Burt, Alistair
Aspinwall, Jack Butcher, John
Atkinson, David Butler, Chris
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Butterfill, John
Baldry, Tony Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Carrington, Matthew
Batiste, Spencer Carttiss, Michael
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Cash, William
Bellingham, Henry Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Bendall, Vivian Chapman, Sydney
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Benyon, W. Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bevan, David Gilroy Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Cope, Rt Hon John
Body, Sir Richard Cormack, Patrick
Boscawen, Hon Robert Couchman, James
Boswell, Tim Cran, James
Bottomley, Peter Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bowis, John Day, Stephen
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Devlin, Tim
Dicks, Terry Kilfedder, James
Dorrell, Stephen King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Kirkhope, Timothy
Dover, Den Knapman, Roger
Durant, Tony Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Dykes, Hugh Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Emery, Sir Peter Knowles, Michael
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Knox, David
Evennett, David Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lang, Ian
Fallon, Michael Latham, Michael
Favell, Tony Lawrence, Ivan
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Fishburn, John Dudley Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fookes, Dame Janet Lightbown, David
Forman, Nigel Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lord, Michael
Forth, Eric McCrindle, Robert
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Franks, Cecil MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Freeman, Roger McLoughlin, Patrick
French, Douglas McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Fry, Peter McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Gale, Roger Major, Rt Hon John
Gardiner, George Malins, Humfrey
Garel-Jones, Tristan Mans, Keith
Gill, Christopher Maples, John
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Marland, Paul
Glyn, Dr Alan Marlow, Tony
Goodlad, Alastair Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mates, Michael
Gorst, John Maude, Hon Francis
Gow, Ian Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Mellor, David
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Miller, Sir Hal
Grist, Ian Mills, Iain
Ground, Patrick Miscampbell, Norman
Hague, William Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Mitchell, Sir David
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Moate, Roger
Hampson, Dr Keith Monro, Sir Hector
Hanley, Jeremy Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hannam, John Moss, Malcolm
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Moynihan, Hon Colin
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Mudd, David
Harris, David Neale, Gerrard
Haselhurst, Alan Needham, Richard
Hawkins, Christopher Nelson, Anthony
Hayes, Jerry Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Nicholls, Patrick
Hayward, Robert Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Heddle, John Norris, Steve
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Oppenheim, Phillip
Hill, James Page, Richard
Hind, Kenneth Paice, James
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Patnick, Irvine
Holt, Richard Patten, Chris (Bath)
Hordern, Sir Peter Patten, John (Oxford W)
Howard, Michael Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Pawsey, James
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Powell, William (Corby)
Hunter, Andrew Price, Sir David
Irvine, Michael Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Irving, Charles Redwood, John
Jack, Michael Renton, Tim
Jackson, Robert Rhodes James, Robert
Janman, Tim Riddick, Graham
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Roe, Mrs Marion
Key, Robert Rossi, Sir Hugh
Rost, Peter Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Rowe, Andrew Temple-Morris, Peter
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Sackville, Hon Tom Thurnham, Peter
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Townend, John (Bridlington)
Sayeed, Jonathan Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Scott, Nicholas Tredinnick, David
Shaw, David (Dover) Trippier, David
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb1) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shelton, Sir William Walden, George
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Watts, John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Wheeler, John
Shersby, Michael Whitney, Ray
Sims, Roger Widdecombe, Ann
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wiggin, Jerry
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wilshire, David
Speller, Tony Winterton, Mrs Ann
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Winterton, Nicholas
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wolfson, Mark
Squire, Robin Wood, Timothy
Stern, Michael Yeo, Tim
Stevens, Lewis Young, Sir George (Acton)
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Tellers for the Ayes:
Summerson, Hugo Mr. Kenneth Carlisle and
Tapsell, Sir Peter Mr. Mr. David Maclean.
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Abbott, Ms Diane Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Allen, Graham Corbyn, Jeremy
Anderson, Donald Cousins, Jim
Armstrong, Hilary Crowther, Stan
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Cummings, John
Ashton, Joe Cunliffe, Lawrence
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Dalyell, Tam
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Darling, Alistair
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli
Barron, Kevin Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Battle, John Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)
Beckett, Margaret Dewar, Donald
Beith, A. J. Dixon, Don
Bell, Stuart Dobson, Frank
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Doran, Frank
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Douglas, Dick
Bermingham, Gerald Duffy, A. E. P.
Bidwell, Sydney Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Boateng, Paul Eadie, Alexander
Boyes, Roland Evans, John (St Helens N)
Bradley, Keith Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Fatchett, Derek
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Faulds, Andrew
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Fearn, Ronald
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Buckley, George J. Fisher, Mark
Caborn, Richard Flannery, Martin
Callaghan, Jim Flynn, Paul
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Foster, Derek
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Foulkes, George
Canavan, Dennis Fraser, John
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Cartwright, John George, Bruce
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Golding, Mrs Llin
Clay, Bob Gordon, Mildred
Clelland, David Gould, Bryan
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Cohen, Harry Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Coleman, Donald Grocott, Bruce
Hardy, Peter Mowlam, Marjorie
Harman, Ms Harriet Mullin, Chris
Haynes, Frank Murphy, Paul
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Nellist, Dave
Heffer, Eric S. Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Henderson, Doug O'Brien, William
Hinchliffe, David O'Neill, Martin
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Home Robertson, John Patchett, Terry
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Pike, Peter L.
Howells, Geraint Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Prescott, John
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Primarolo, Dawn
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Randall, Stuart
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Redmond, Martin
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Reid, Dr John
Illsley, Eric Richardson, Jo
Ingram, Adam Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Janner, Greville Robertson, George
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Robinson, Geoffrey
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Rogers, Allan
Kennedy, Charles Rooker, Jeff
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Kirkwood, Archy Rowlands, Ted
Lambie, David Ruddock, Joan
Lamond, James Sedgemore, Brian
Leadbitter, Ted Sheerman, Barry
Leighton, Ron Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Skinner, Dennis
Litherland, Robert Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Livsey, Richard Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Loyden, Eddie Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
McAllion, John Snape, Peter
McAvoy, Thomas Spearing, Nigel
McCartney, Ian Steinberg, Gerry
Macdonald, Calum A. Stott, Roger
McKelvey, William Strang, Gavin
McLeish, Henry Straw, Jack
Maclennan, Robert Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McNamara, Kevin Turner, Dennis
McWilliam, John Vaz, Keith
Madden, Max Wall, Pat
Marek, Dr John Walley, Joan
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Martlew, Eric Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Maxton, John Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Meacher, Michael Wigley, Dafydd
Meale, Alan Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Michael, Alun Winnick, David
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Worthington, Tony
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Wray, Jimmy
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Rhodri Tellers for the Noes:
Morley, Elliott Mr. Ken Eastham and
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Mr. Allen McKay.
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)

Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House welcomes recent falls in unemployment in the inner cities and the increasing level of investment in their regeneration; notes with approval the growing commitment of the private sector and the improved partnership between the private sector, voluntary organisations and central and local government in tackling inner city problems; and looks forward to continued progress under Action for Cities and other programmes designed to ensure that all parts of the United Kingdom share fully in the increasing prosperity of the nation as a whole.