HC Deb 19 February 1990 vol 167 cc718-20

Order read for consideration of Lords amendments.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Lords amendments be now considered.

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

The last time that the Bill was briefly debated in the House was on a revival motion on 1 December 1988. The House divided on that day, and the revival motion was carried by 107 to 23. Thereafter, the Bill went to the other place, where, after Second Reading, it went into Committee. Several of my constituents, including the organisers of the campaign to save Spitalfields from the developers, appeared before their Lordships and argued cogently and tenaciously against the main proposals of the Bill. As Spitalfields is an important part of my constituency, I too gave evidence.

Although we did not defeat the Bill or win any substantial amendments, their Lordships recommended an increase in the provisions for planning gain—notably, a doubling to £5 million of the moneys for the community trust and a trebling of the moneys for training local people to acquire new skills—a sum of £150,000 over five years.

Today is the last chapter in the story which began with the Second Reading debate in the House on 12 May 1988. I understand that today we may consider only the Lords amendments to the Bill. The amendments are very narrow indeed. As the promoters of the Bill described them, they are technical. Therefore, I would not be in order to use this occasion, as I have used previous debates, to deploy the main arguments against the bill—that moving the market from Spitalfields to Temple Mills is not proven on planning grounds and that the proposed redevelopment of the vacated Spitalfields market site takes wholly inadequate account of the needs of my constituents for additional housing and small workshops. Those major and potent arguments must be placed on one side. The debate is confined to the amendments made in the Unopposed Bill Committee of the House of Lords.

The amendments on the Paper—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but he is about to embark on comments which may be more appropriate to the next motion which I shall put to the House. At present. we are considering the Question, That the Lords amendments be now considered. Once that is disposed of, we can consider the Question, That the Lords amendments be made. The right hon. Gentleman might prefer to address his remarks to that question rather than to the one before the House now. I shall dispose of the first question, after which the right hon. Gentleman can speak on the second motion.

Question put and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendments.

Mr. Shore

Thank you for your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The amendments relate to clause 4, which authorises from the appointed day the establishment of the new site for the market in Temple Mills. Under clause 4(3), the corporation of the City of London is enabled to exercise all rights, powers, authorities, privileges, obligations and liabilities in the new market site as they operated in the old Spitalfields site. Subsection (4) specifies certain amendments to both the City of London (Spitalfields Market) Act 1902 and the City of London (Various Powers) Act 1922. It has been argued that the wording of the original clause 4(3) was technically unsatisfactory and did not do that which it was intended to do. The amendments before us, therefore, are designed to clarify the real intention of the clause.

7.30 pm

The first amendment, inserting new clause (3A), reads: For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that no obligation relating to the holding of the market shall require the Corporation to permit the carrying on of market trading on any part of the new site on which the carrying on of such trading would constitute development for which planning permission has not been granted under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. The new form of words raises the question of planning permission under the 1971 Act. This is the first reference to that Act that I have come across in all the debates on the Bill. My questions are simple. What developments relating to the carrying on of trading on the Temple Mills site would constitute development for which planning permission is needed? Was permission sought for any development on the present Spitalfields site? If so, was such an application ever refused?

The second main amendment is to clause 4(4), and refers to the corporation's power to dispose of lands in the new Temple Mills site not required for the purpose of the market. The words added in the amendment free such land from any trusts attaching to it by reason of that land having formed part of the site of the market. What trusts presently exist relating to land in the Temple Mills site? Is any compensation available to any trust whose interests may be involved? I look forward to the sponsor's explanation of the amendments and to his answers to my questions.

Finally, I wish to express my regrets that the debate on this important Bill must be confined within the ambit of these amendments and that we cannot seek, as we would wish, to persuade the House not to proceed further with a Bill that rides roughshod over so many of my constituents.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead and Highgate)

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore), and I shall deal briefly with the relevant points. First, I must emphasise that these Lords amendments are no different from any other Lords amendments, and that the procedure is identical to that followed in all the private Bills that have been passed in this House since the right hon. Gentleman has been a Member. There has never been any opportunity of debating at this stage the principle of the Bill.

As I have done previously, I acknowledge the right hon. Gentleman's deep constituency interest in this issue, and that of the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon) who may wish to speak later. I am authorised to say that the hon. Members for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) and for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) fully support the Bill, as amended, because it is in the interests of their constituents.

The right hon. Gentleman asked, first, about the developments for the carrying on of trading at the Temple Mills site. The answer is, arguably any market trading outside the new market buildings for which planning permission has been given, such as the car parks or landscaped areas on the Temple Mills site. That is the simple answer.

Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman asked what trusts presently exist and whether any compensation is available. There are no such trusts, so the question of compensation does not arise. I should explain what the trusts are. The corporation is subject to a trust, the beneficiaries of which are all members of the public who wish to come and trade. It is one of those archaic lawyer's delights. There is not a trust in the sense that the right hon. Gentleman and I, as occupants of the Clapham omnibus, would expect. Those are the answers to his questions.

The Committee of this House found no need, after long debate, to make amendments. After many days of debate upstairs, for some strange reason their lawyers decided to gild the lily. There is no more to this than that. These are technical amendments, which do not alter by one jot or iota the principle of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.