HC Deb 15 December 1998 vol 322 cc781-822

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on amendment to Question [14 December], That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Which amendment was, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: this House, while welcoming the proposal for a directly elected mayor for Greater London, declines to give a Second Reading to the Greater London Authority Bill because, instead of creating an Assembly consisting of representatives nominated by each London borough and the Corporation of London, which would best serve London's interests, it provides for the establishment of a directly elected Assembly which would diminish the status of the London boroughs and would be likely to lead to conflict between the boroughs and the Greater London Authority; and because, in failing to provide for the transfer of London Underground to the private sector so as to boost investment and in proposing the imposition of new taxes on motorists in London to pay for cuts in central government spending, the Bill offers an inadequate response to the problems of transport in London."—[Mrs. Shephard.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

4.37 pm
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Jack Straw)

Londoners are justly proud of their city. It is our national capital, and one of the foremost cities in the world. It is famed for its diversity and for its financial and business might. It is a cultural magnet for the rest of Europe and well beyond. London's history, museums, monuments and restaurants draw visitors in their millions.

Yet, in spite of all those strengths, London's governance is a mess. Difficult decisions are not taken and no one is able to provide Londonwide solutions to Londonwide problems such as pollution, poverty and the crumbling transport infrastructure. Uniquely among major cities, London has no leader. How is our capital supposed to continue to compete with New York, Paris and Tokyo when it has no one to speak for it?

Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister spelled out the overall case for the creation of a mayor and an assembly for Greater London. Today, I want to concentrate on parts VI and VII of the Bill, which make relatively minor changes to the London fire and emergency planning authority and very significant changes to the accountability of the Metropolitan police.

I shall deal first with the fire authority. Our proposals in part VII for setting up the London fire and emergency planning authority recognise that the present authority is already a strategic and representative body for the whole of London and that the present arrangements work well, so our changes here are relatively prosaic. The new authority will be a reconstituted form of the present authority and will inherit its staff, functions and powers. However, it will have a smaller membership of 17—just over half the existing number. The majority of members will be assembly representatives appointed by the mayor. The rest will be representatives of the London boroughs. Like all fire authorities, it will remain democratically accountable to local people. The proposed arrangements will provide streamlined decision making and will establish a clear relationship between the mayor, the assembly and the authority.

Part VI is concerned with the Metropolitan police, who are also covered by clauses 80 and 81 on finance and schedules 16 and 17. The Metropolitan police authority will be the first police authority for London to be democratically accountable to Londoners. That step is long overdue. It is right in principle, and it should improve the way in which we tackle crime and disorder in the capital.

Before justifying those statements, I shall describe some of the key staging posts in the history of the Metropolitan police. Sir Robert Peel was the architect of the Metropolitan Police Act 1829 which established the force. That Act made provision for two justices with powers to direct and control the force, under the authority of the Home Secretary. Two justices—or commissioners, as they were soon to be called—were duly appointed: Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, who worked in tandem for the next 21 years. Even today, the offices of Metropolitan Police Commissioner and deputy Commissioner are civilian posts. Only in the force's post-war history has the Commissioner been a police officer.

I was looking at the portraits in New Scotland Yard and reminding myself that the Commissioner appointed in 1945 had been the permanent under-secretary in the Home Office immediately beforehand. He was wedged into a uniform and put in charge of the Metropolitan police.

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex)

Typical Labour fix.

Mr. Straw

I suspect that it was a Conservative fix, or a coalition fix. The tradition before that had been that Commissioners and deputy Commissioners were appointed from the armed forces, and it is only since the war that police officers have run the force at Commissioner level, but they are still considered to be civilians. That is one of many anomalies that the Bill will sweep away.

When Peel proposed an organised police force for London, many people objected, as they had done for decades. In 1785, just three years after the post of Home Secretary was established, such was the opposition to a London police force that William Pitt had been obliged to drop a Bill similar to that passed in 1829. Between those dates, some minor advances were made. The Middlesex Justices Act 1792 provided for seven mini police forces, each under a magistrates office, to add to the existing Bow street office. In 1800, the Thames river police brought a further dimension to the capital's policing.

Those were ad hoc changes. There was still no unified, organised police force. Numerous parliamentary committees, including an 1822 Select Committee, rejected the idea of such a force, despite huge panic across the country about the mob behaviour and disorder that followed the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815. It was argued left and right that any benefits that might accrue from an organised police force would be outweighed by the loss of individual liberty.

Robert Peel was eventually able to secure his vision of a professional London police force. His determination was quickly rewarded. The doubts of the previous decades evaporated as the advantages of the 1829 Act became apparent. David Thomson vividly describes the events in his book on "England in the Nineteenth Century", in which he says: By establishing very early contact with disorder rather than waiting until it had grown too great to be quelled without bloodshed; by preventing mobs from forming rather than trying to disperse them after they had formed; by creating a spirit of civilian co-operation with the public in the common cause of good order; above all by making the detection and punishment of offenders more inevitable and certain, Peel's police conferred an immense boon on the whole country. London's model was soon being exported elsewhere.

Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne)

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I am very supportive of the Metropolitan police, but he has twice referred to them as London's police force. Will he confirm that they never have been London's police force; they cover an area that includes my constituency and others that are not in London, have never been in London and whose people do not wish to be in London?

Mr. Straw

I understand that. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will approve of the fact that, following representations from him, his colleagues and Surrey county council, I have accepted that the boundaries of the new Metropolitan police force ought to be coterminous with those of the Greater London area.

As I was saying, London's model of policing was soon exported elsewhere, first to the boroughs of England by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 and then to the rural areas by the County Police Act 1839. One notable difference was that the authority to which the police forces outside London were responsible was not the Home Secretary. In the case of the boroughs, it was to a watch committee whose members, until the Police Act 1964, were drawn entirely from the elected members of the municipal council, and elsewhere magistrates in the quarter sessions were empowered to set up a police force and to appoint constables.

Here began a divergence which has persisted to this day. Legislation has modified and updated the police authority structure outside London, while leaving the position of the Home Secretary as the police authority for London untouched. Why should this be so?

Back in 1829, there was considerable fragmentation in the government of London. I have already mentioned the fragmented policing arrangements, but local administration lay in the hands of 150 separate parishes, which were plainly in no position to oversee the activities of a single police force. It says something for the remarkable foresight of Peel that he was able to draw the boundaries of the Metropolitan police force wider even than those drawn in 1963 for the Greater London area, boundaries that we are now accepting. It was said that he drew the boundaries according to the distance that the Commissioner could travel on a horse in a single day.

The establishment of the London county council by the Local Government Act 1888 presented an opportunity for change. Some parliamentarians argued that the London county council should become the police authority. Indeed, Mr. Pickersgill, the Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green, S. W., observed: The second point, perhaps, which would attract the attention of the Metropolitan critic was this, that whilst the Metropolitan ratepayers were to provide for the cost of the police they were to have no control over them."—[Official Report, 13 April 1888; Vol. 324, c. 1255.] That argument was hard to refute, but it did not win the day. The view was then taken that, because of the unique national and, indeed, imperial functions of the Met, the Home Secretary should remain the police authority. It should also be pointed out that the old LCC covered a much smaller area than the Metropolitan police district—poor alignment of boundaries is not just a modern curse.

The status quo again prevailed in 1962, when the royal commission on the police reported. It argued successfully that the forthcoming London Government Act 1963, which created the Greater London council, should not be used to change the Home Secretary's position. As a result, the Police Act 1964 left arrangements in London as they were.

Next came my own modest contribution to the debate about the policing of London. One of my first actions on entering the House in 1979 was to introduce a private Member's Bill—the Police Authorities (Powers) Bill—in which I proposed, among other things, a police authority for London. Once that Bill had died the usual early death suffered by such Bills, I resurrected my proposals early the next year in the 1980 Police Bill. What I said is something to which I still hold: I believe that experience has shown that in the Metropolitan area there is … insufficient accountability … through local representatives. That can be remedied only by having a Greater London police force responsible to a local and democratically elected police authority."—[Official Report, 11 March 1980; Vol. 980, c. 1156.] There is one more chapter to record. On 23 March 1993, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), a former Home Secretary, told the House that the Government's police reform programme would include the creation of a new police authority for the Metropolitan police in line with the new national pattern. However, while the new national pattern duly emerged in the Police and Magistrates' Courts Act 1994, it was not applied to the Metropolitan police area, because the new Home Secretary, the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard), had decided against the policy of his predecessor—not for the first or, indeed, the last time, either on police or many other issues.

I have run through this history because I think that it is important, when making a significant change of the kind now proposed, to understand how things came to be as they are; only then can we be sure whether the change is justified. On this occasion, I believe that the case for change is overwhelming. Moreover, I believe that, once the Metropolitan police authority is established, it will gain acceptance as rapidly as the idea of an organised police force did at the beginning of the previous century.

Let me explain why. First, there are grounds of principle. I quoted earlier a concern about the absence of accountability for the policing of London. As Home Secretary, I am an elected Member, but I am not elected by Londoners. I may claim—indeed, I do claim—many things for the outstanding town and borough of Blackburn, but not even I would dare to suggest that being the Member for that constituency is the best qualification for being London's police authority.

That point does not apply just to me. One has to go back about a quarter of a century to find the last Home Secretary representing a London constituency—Mr. Robert Carr, as he then was, who represented Mitcham and was in my post from 1972 to 1974. Policing has its roots in local communities. It follows that the police authority should have representatives from those communities. In London, that is not the case.

The Metropolitan police authority will address that accountability gap, and so will the provisions to alter the outer boundaries of the Metropolitan police district. For historical reasons that we have already discussed, those boundaries extend beyond the 32 London boroughs to parts of Essex, Hertfordshire and about a third of the administrative county of Surrey. In some parts of Surrey and Essex, the boundaries of the Metropolitan police service go slap bang through the middle of existing districts, which makes any effective partnership between the police and those districts more difficult, whatever the strength of will of police commanders and chief executives.

Mr. Wilshire

I ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept my thanks for the way in which he has handled that issue. It is a difficult matter for those of us outside Greater London. I hope that he will allow me to put it on the record that I support what he is suggesting for my constituency.

Is he aware that there has been close co-operation between the Metropolitan police and Surrey police and that the changes that he seeks to achieve are working well, but that, as I am sure he will understand, because he kindly saw me, his proposals will not work if there is not adequate finance? I am sure that he is aware that it is not his responsibility, but another Department's, but he will have a problem achieving what he seeks to achieve unless adequate money is available.

The sum of £7 million has been offered to Surrey, but the minimum cost of what the right hon. Gentleman seeks to achieve is £10 million. Will he use his best endeavours, as I seek to do, to get the financing sorted out, so that what he seeks to achieve and what my constituents support will be forthcoming?

Mr. Straw

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his thanks, which I know is full-hearted. I do not wish to be ungrateful, but I was anticipating that there was going to be a "but" in what he said. Indeed there was, and the "but" was about the money; not a great deal changes in terms of the role of Opposition, whoever fill that role.

There have been detailed discussions with Surrey. Indeed, I have made myself available to any right hon. and hon. Member and to district councillors to talk about the matter, as well as to county councillors. Each authority put forward bids for the transitional costs, and we looked at them. It will come as no surprise—it is also a timeless verity—to learn that our judgment about the amount needed for the transfer was less than the bid, but I still think that £7 million is adequate for the purpose. Of course, if the chief constable or the hon. Gentleman wishes to argue about it, I am happy to see them and to discuss that further.

Under the new arrangements, we shall at long last have police forces that fit within the administrative areas of county councils or metropolitan areas. That is to general benefit, and it is consistent with our overall approach of aligning criminal justice agency boundaries to improve the working relationships between those agencies and district councils.

I want to highlight my personal concerns about having to combine the position of Home Secretary with that of the police authority for the metropolitan area. There is, frankly, insufficient time to give the role of police authority the attention that it deserves. That view is shared by some former Home Secretaries of both parties to whom I have spoken.

Even more importantly, conflicts of interest can arise from having to act with both my Home Secretary and police authority hats on. The carefully designed system of checks and balances provided by the tripartite system for running the police service—the chief constable, the police authority and the Home Secretary—generally works well, and we are not proposing to disturb it. However, I believe that the system is bound to become confused when one person fulfils two roles.

One change that my immediate predecessor, the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe, did make was to establish a Metropolitan Police Committee, an appointed body, to advise the Home Secretary on his role as police authority. I have been greatly assisted by that committee—for example, in the establishing of priorities for policing and in the approval of an annual performance plan. I should like to place on record my thanks to its members, and particularly to Sir John Quinton, its chairman.

Earlier this year, I decided to expand the committee by adding 10 new councillor members, nominated by the London Government Association. Despite all that, the essential fact remains that the Home Secretary's role as police authority is an inherently unsatisfactory one.

Opponents of change may argue that the Met is unique, and that that alone justifies a special degree of central Government oversight. Particular consideration in the past has been given to the national and international functions of the Met. Those national roles remain today, although they are not as widespread as they once were. The creation of separate national bodies, such as the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service, is evidence of the changes that have been occurring.

The Home Secretary has a particular responsibility to Parliament for the exercise of national police functions. I have always accepted that the arrangements for London's policing must be tailored accordingly. The Bill achieves that. It does so, first, by providing for an agreement between the Home Secretary and the new authority through which the latter undertakes to ensure that the Met performs its national functions to an acceptable standard. Secondly, the Bill proposes to allow the Home Secretary to appoint directly one of the seven independent members of the authority with that person having a particular interest in the Met's national functions.

Those provisions, along with the other powers conferred on the Home Secretary under the Police Act 1996, provide adequate safeguards without the loss of accountability. Hon. Members who have read the Bill will notice that we have preserved the special position of the Commissioner and the deputy Commissioner. Those posts will continue to be royal appointments. The Secretary of State will have to approve a shortlist of candidates, and the mayor will have the chance to offer a view about the list, but the MPA will choose a single candidate for consideration by the Secretary of State and for approval by Her Majesty.

The size of the Met has also been cited as a reason why it might be too dangerous to loosen the grip of central Government. That, too, is less of an issue today. When the royal commission reported in 1962, there were 156 police forces outside London. Most of them had fewer than 1,000 officers in their force and many had fewer than 500. One Shetland force had just 18 officers, but many of the borough forces had fewer than 200. The largest single force was Lancashire, with just over 3,000. That contrasted with the 20,000-strong force in the Metropolitan area. Today, following the reorganisations that took place in the 1960s, all but one of the 41 forces outside London have over 1,000 police officers; 13 have over 3,000; and two—the West Midlands and Greater Manchester—are over a quarter of the size of the Met.

The police authority model set up under the Police and Magistrates' Courts Act 1994 has shown itself able to cope with those larger forces. I do not believe that the size of the Met will present insuperable problems. The new MPA will have 23 members, rather than the normal 17 elsewhere, and this should prove sufficient to discharge its functions.

Perhaps the final argument against the creation of the MPA is that it may bring no tangible benefits to Londoners. Well, I would certainly accept that, in the great majority of what it does, the Met performs very well. The latest recorded crime statistics bear testimony to that and we all need to remember it. The figures show that crime in the Met continues to fall. Overall crime is down 8 per cent., burglary is down 16 per cent., robbery is down 19 per cent., vehicle crime is down by 11 per cent., and violence against the person is down 5 per cent. Operations such as Bumblebee and Eagle Eye have demonstrated the Met's ability to get to grips with serious crime problems. Home Office research has shown that London continues to enjoy one of the lowest homicide rates in Europe or north America. London's homicide rate is three times lower than that of Amsterdam, and eight times lower than that of New York city.

I applaud, too, many of the more recent developments in the Met, not least developments on the very important issues of how police deal with racial and violent crime. The House will understand that I cannot comment on the proceedings of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. However, I can say how much I welcome both the commitment of the Commissioner and his senior management team to building a truly anti-racist service, and the appointment of assistant Commissioner John Grieve to lead the racial and violent crime task force.

The Commissioner also has my support for his strategy of moving to borough-based policing and putting the emphasis of policing where it belongs—at the local level. It is important to have effective structures in place also above the borough level, and the Commissioner is considering that point, in consultation with interested parties and his criminal justice parties. He favours reducing the current number of areas from five to three, possibly with an intermediate tier comprising three or four borough command units grouped together under one commander.

I congratulate the Met on what it has achieved and is attempting to achieve. I believe also that more could be done if the service's accountability to the population it serves was more deeply rooted in the community it serves.

The Government's overall approach to tackling crime and disorder is based on partnership and community involvement. Giving local people and relevant organisations a say in how the community is policed unquestionably bring results. Loss of community support and involvement is a very difficult obstacle to overcome.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and our proposals on best value are two examples of our approach of rooting policing in the local community. The 1998 Act places a statutory duty on local authorities and the police service, in conjunction with other bodies, to conduct a thorough audit of local crime and disorder problems by consulting widely in the community, to propose a strategy for dealing with those problems and to audit the strategies' effect. The Metropolitan police authority will be subject to the Act's consultation requirements, and will therefore be able to play its full part in the crime and disorder partnerships—which will be strengthened by coterminosity, at borough level, of police and local government boundaries.

The authority will be subject also to the best value duty that we are proposing to place on all police authorities under the provisions of the Local Government (Best Value and Capping) Bill.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

I am, as ever, reluctant to strike any negative or sour note. However, I point out to the Home Secretary that there is a distinct possibility that Chislehurst police station in my constituency will close very soon. I am told by the assistant Commissioner that police may be forced directly by the Home Secretary's budget allocations to close that police station. Against the background of the Home Secretary's comments in this debate—on community involvement, strengthening police effectiveness and so on—will he tell me how I should explain to the people of Chislehurst that closing their police station will make policing in their community more effective?

Mr. Straw

I should expect nothing else but for the right hon. Gentleman to strike a discordant note—he did so with his own Front Benchers when they were in government, and he does so now. The first thing that I should expect him to say to his electors is that the current year's police budget and last year's, for 1997–98, were based on the budget set by the previous Administration—[Interruption.] It is no good Opposition Members groaning about it; it is true. The only change that I made to the Metropolitan police service was to give it a little more money than it anticipated receiving from my predecessor as Home Secretary. That is the truth of it.

As for this year's settlement, the precept for London has not yet been set. I therefore have no idea how the police service in the constituency of the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) can be speculating about the effects of budget changes that have been not been established. It is a fair settlement.

The other thing that the right hon. Gentleman should point out to his constituents is that the police settlement for London, and for all the United Kingdom, is far in excess of anything that would have been provided by a Government whom he would have supported. Of that there is absolutely no doubt. We know it to be the case, because the shadow Chancellor has damned our spending plans, including those for the police—not because we are spending too little, but because we are spending too much.

The right hon. Gentleman should tell the people of Chislehurst that his shadow Chancellor said that our spending plans are reckless. Had the right hon. Gentleman's party been in power, it would not just have been the closure of Chislehurst police station, but the police service generally would have been denuded across London and throughout the country. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention; it has made me feel a lot better.

Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley)

A calming question. The Home Secretary mentioned the precept. As I understand it, the inner-London magistrates courts probation services are covered by the precept, so there are numerous questions about what will happen under the Bill, as it makes no mention of them.

Mr. Straw

The hon. Gentleman need not worry; we intend to deal with that—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Ah."] This Bill is about changing the way that the police service is funded and controlled. We have other proposals for the future of the probation service—as the hon. Member for Mole Valley (Sir P. Beresford) will know, because he pays assiduous attention to these matters—which were included in a consultative document that I published in the summer, on 8 August. We are proposing changes in the way that that service operates in London. I made it clear that we are minded to move from five separate probation services to a single service to cover the Greater London area. It would therefore be coterminous with a court service, the Crown Prosecution Service and the MPA.

Other hon. Members wish to speak in the debate—

Sir Paul Beresford


Mr. Straw

I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman.

I want to say something about the relationship between the GLA and the MPA. The existence of a mayor and an assembly adds a dimension to the policing of London which is not present elsewhere. We have modelled the MPA's membership and functions on those of police authorities outside London, and have remained faithful to the tripartite structure. However, it is also right that the MPA should reflect the existence of this pan-London structure of assembly. After all, it was the absence of a Londonwide local government body in 1829 that contributed to the otherwise anomalous policing arrangements we see in London today.

The mayor will be involved through his or her appointment of 12 assembly members, including the deputy mayor, to the police authority. He or she will also be able to make representations on the list of candidates put forward for the office of the Metropolitan Commissioner. Equally importantly, as two high-profile London figures, the mayor and Commissioner will want to establish an effective working relationship. As for the assembly, it will provide a majority of the MPA membership. It will also be required to hold meetings at which it can put questions to the MPA about the discharge of its functions.

Jointly, the mayor and the assembly will set the budget of the MPA as part of the single financial structure created by the Bill. However, to ensure that the policing of London is not put at risk, the Home Secretary will have the explicit power—a wider power than that which exists in the Police Acts—to set a minimum budget, sufficient to provide an efficient and effective police force.

In summary, there will be two bodies—the GLA and the MPA—working together. The two bodies will be accountable to the people of London, and will deliver benefits on their behalf. The new arrangements should mean improved policing on the streets. By harnessing the views and ideas of local people, and working with Londoners to reduce crime, they should contribute to creating a safer and more secure environment for the people of London. I commend the Bill.

5.9 pm

Sir Norman Fowler (Sutton Coldfield)

One of the interesting sub-plots of this debate so far has been the parade of potential candidates for mayor of London—a parade in which the Home Secretary and I are non-marchers.

In yesterday's debate, the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) said: I also hope that I can look forward to seeing the Deputy Prime Minister campaign at my side in my struggle to become the Labour party candidate. I am not very good at judging body language, but the way that the Deputy Prime Minister went a dangerous colour of beetroot red and muttered audibly, "I'll campaign for the Labour party candidate," did not automatically lead us to the conclusion that the prospect filled him with enormous enthusiasm.

Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Canning Town)

I do not have the same recollection of what happened last night. The Deputy Prime Minister's response was that he would campaign for the Labour candidate who would be the next mayor of London.

Sir Norman Fowler

The hon. Gentleman ought to concentrate. That is exactly what I said.

Next, we had the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), who said: I make it clear that I have a further interest in that I intend in the new year to put my name forward for selection, and possibly therefore election, to the Greater London authority. Asked in what capacity, the hon. Gentleman replied: That is not a matter for today."—[Official Report, 14 December 1998; Vol. 322 c.647, 651.] I did not see the Deputy Prime Minister's reaction, but, as he winces every time the question of closer links between the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats is raised, I would guess that he is not greatly in favour of that solution either.

The third potential candidate is still to come. According to Michael White in The Guardian, the Minister for London and Construction, the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford), has emerged as a "late runner for mayor". Mr. White also comments—quite unfairly— critics say the balding and bespectacled 53 year old lacks the charisma to be Mr. London". We all agree that that is unfair. Mr. White concedes, however, that the hon. Gentleman is very voter friendly on the doorstep". We look forward to the hon. Gentleman's campaign speech.

There is a serious point to be made about the selection of candidates for mayor, and, indeed, for the assembly. In October 1997, the Government Office for London—that is, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions—asked Professor Dunleavy and Dr. Margetts to examine some of the issues involved in the election of the London mayor. One of their recommendations was central to this debate. They said: The responses of political parties to the new voting systems will greatly affect the legitimacy of the systems with the public. There is a case for Government intervention to guarantee the use of one member one vote procedures in the selection of party candidates". Conservative Members would have no difficulty with that proposal; nor, I think, would the Liberal Democrats. The system proposed by the Government, however, seems so designed to prevent the candidacy of the hon. Member for Brent, East that he has warned the Prime Minister that he will organise an American-style write-in campaign if the party hierarchy in the capital keeps his name off the short list. As for the system that I think the hon. Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Mr. Fitzpatrick) was defending, the hon. Member for Brent, East has said—this did not strike me as a complete endorsement of his policy, although he may think differently— They have ignored the mandate of their own membership. I hope no one is going to need hospitalisation. One was aware at the weekend of bone-crunching pressures being applied to people". I feel that, to put it at its mildest, the Labour party still has some way to go to meet the spirit of the report that the Government themselves commissioned. Doubtless, when he sums up the debate, the Minister will wish to emphasise his determination that a "one member, one vote" system should obtain, so that obvious candidates are not excluded from the selection. [Interruption.] I am an enthusiastic friend of my noble Friend Lord Archer, and it would be quite improper to say that he is here.

Two important points arise from the Home Secretary's speech. One relates to the policing of London. The right hon. Gentleman went into the history of the Metropolitan police in some detail, and he was right to do so. The force was first organised in 1829, which is a tribute to Robert Peel. The Home Secretary should also have told us: At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the very word 'police' was virtually unknown in England; a position which led one French visitor to complain: 'How can one expect order among these people who have not such a word as police in their language?' All that is set out in an excellent book that I wrote on the history of the police.

The Home Secretary proposes that he should cease to be the police authority for the Metropolitan police and that he should be replaced by a new police authority that would include 12 assembly members. So about half the assembly members will sit on the police authority.

As the Home Secretary said, in 1993 my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) expressed some reservations about that proposal when he said: It is not proposed that there should be a police authority in the same way as for other forces because of the special national interest in the work of the Metropolitan police. I shall not repeat the arguments, as the Home Secretary knows them well.

We shall consider the proposal in depth in Committee, so I shall concentrate on one or two fundamental issues that surround the change. The first question should be: what do the public want of their police? Of course they want a force that is close to them and good relations to exist between police and public—that is, with all groups in the population. Good community relations always have been an integral part of policing.

In terms of international comparisons, no one can seriously accuse the Metropolitan police of falling down on that duty. Of course there are exceptions where cases have been handled badly and individuals have been unfairly treated, but in my view they are very much the exception. In other police forces around the world and certainly in Europe, the Metropolitan police is held up as an example of a force with good public relations.

The Home Secretary is always rather churlish about my books—

Mr. Straw

I have not read that one.

Sir Norman Fowler

Then there is a treat in store for him. In one, I compared the British police—particularly the Metropolitan police—with police forces in other European countries.

Mr. Straw

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir Norman Fowler

Let me finish citing the example.

The result was that the London police were seen as the model of how a police force should be organised. That is not by any means a case for being complacent, but it serves to put the issue in some context.

As well as good relations, the public want effective policing. They want crimes investigated, crime prevention undertaken and burglars, robbers and muggers detected and convicted. The Home Secretary is the police authority for just one force—the Metropolitan police—but what happens in that force has a pervasive effect on every police force in the country. The advantage of having the Home Secretary as police authority is that there is no one else to blame when the objectives of tackling crime are not achieved. The buck stops with him.

Irrespective of whether or not we have a new police authority, the financial levers of power remain with the Home Secretary. Of course they are crucial in achieving an effective police service. That is not the case in other countries.

In New York, which has roughly the same population as London, a proactive policing policy has reduced crime dramatically—in the past four years, it has fallen by 40 per cent. A few weeks ago, I visited the New York police, and, while I was in the city, the New York Times carried a survey showing that 60 per cent. of the public believed that life in the city had improved thanks almost exclusively to more effective policing.

In the past five years, the incidence of crime in London has also fallen. The Metropolitan police and, indeed, the Home Secretary's predecessor deserve credit for that. What is fundamentally different between the two cities is that, as a prelude to New York's attack on crime, the mayor ordered the recruitment of 7,000 more police officers. Without that, it would have been impossible to implement the so-called zero tolerance policy.

In London, the contrast could not have been greater. The strength of the Metropolitan police has increased since 1979, when the force numbered 22,000; when the Conservative Government left office, it numbered 26,700. However, numbers are now falling. Indeed, many people predict that, over the next three years, the numbers in the Metropolitan police could fall to 24,000, 23,000 or even 22,000, which was the number in 1979.

We listened with some care to what the Home Secretary said about finances. In fact, between 1979 and 1997, resources for the police service increased by more than 70 per cent. in real terms; as my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) said, that was what made the growth of the police service possible. Now, however, although there is an increase in cash terms, there is no real increase whatever.

Despite the fact that there will be a new police authority, responsibility for what happens in London will continue to rest heavily with the Home Office and the Home Secretary. In Committee, we shall have to consider carefully what improvement the change will make. The acid test will be what best serves the public interest. We are prepared to suspend judgment on that, but we reserve the right to reconsider the matter.

On constitutional change—

Mr. Wilshire

Before my right hon. Friend moves on from the police, will he assure me that, when he seeks the support of Conservative Members for the changes that he wants to make to the Bill, he will not ask us to oppose the proposals to make the Metropolitan police boundary the same as that for Greater London?

Sir Norman Fowler

I give my hon. Friend a categorical undertaking on that.

On constitutional change, the position is much clearer. Neither the Deputy Prime Minister nor the Home Secretary seems to have examined the subject in much detail. One of the main themes in the debate about London has been the make-up of the new assembly, and the role of the new mayor. Labour Members have suggested that our proposal for an assembly made up of borough leaders is unworkable. It is odd that, when we consider the make-up of a new second Chamber—the Chamber to replace the House of Lords—one of the favourite proposals is that a substantial number of its members should come from the regional assemblies. On 12 December, The Herald of Glasgow reported that the Lord Chancellor had said: The Scottish Parliament could be given the task of electing Scottish members of the reformed House of Lords". The argument is that such a system would provide a form of unity and avoid the creation of unconnected layer after unconnected layer of government. It is the same argument that my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Norfolk (Mrs. Shephard) advanced yesterday.

Mr. Straw

I had the experience—I make this point in the most non-partisan way I can—of serving on the old Inner London education authority, which was partly made up in the way that the right hon. Gentleman proposes: it comprised the Greater London members for the inner London boroughs, plus one borough representative from each of the 12 boroughs.

ILEA was set up by the London Government Act 1963, and both major parties tried to make it work. However, as a borough representative, I thought that the system was inherently unsatisfactory; we were not clear to whom we were accountable. The same would be true even if borough leaders were put on a Greater London authority. The right hon. Gentleman's proposals would not create a sense of unity; the experiences of people of both parties who served on ILEA suggest that the new body should be directly elected.

Sir Norman Fowler

I hear what the Home Secretary says, but I do not agree. The Government's approach illustrates one of the difficulties inherent in the debate; their plans for constitutional change are not joined up. Different electoral systems and different kinds of constituencies are proposed—party lists are taking the place of named-candidate lists in some elections, and there are enormous gaps in the constitutional plan. For example, no one knows how the second Chamber will be constituted—for the very good reason that the Government do not know. We heard vague words yesterday about regional assemblies but, in practice, we know that the only change outside London will be the introduction of unelected regional development agencies. On the basis of the Bill, our proposals for London seem to be looking stronger and stronger by the minute.

For the assembly, according to the White Paper, the Government are working on the premise that assembly members will be required to think and act strategically, looking at London-wide issues in the round and at the long-term interests of the capital. They do not nor should they duplicate the local representational roles of borough councillors, MPs and MEPs. Let us be clear—we can now eliminate Members of the European Parliament from that list. No one pretends that the party list system that the Government have chosen for the European elections will provide truly local representation at that level. The loyalty of the Member of the European Parliament will be to the party, not to the local public. That is the basic argument that we have made, and will continue to make.

The Minister for London and Construction (Mr. Nick Raynsford)

Before the right hon. Gentleman digs himself further into a hole, will he reflect on the views of the London boroughs? Is he aware that the Association of London Government has stated clearly that it does not share the Opposition's view that the assembly should be made up of London borough leaders? The chairman of the ALG has said that the role of the assembly should not be confused with the local role of London borough councillors. Is not that a clear example of what London boroughs think? Will the right hon. Gentleman realise that he is wrong?

Sir Norman Fowler

No, I will not. The Minister is always guided by such representational views. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] In an Evening Standard survey of the boroughs to which he referred, only five of the 19 Labour council leaders gave their enthusiastic backing to the Prime Minister's idea. Four refused to comment, or said that they had not made up their minds. Ten were against the proposals. That was in 1997. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) will deal with parts of the letter to which the Minister referred.

I wish that the Minister would deal with the argument, and not for ever seek to quote people as if that settled the matter. It does not. The argument is flawed in the first place. Duplication takes place only if functions are duplicated; that must be the case, surely. The Government, however, say that that is not the case, and that functions are different. Why have the Government adopted different systems in Scotland and Wales? In Scotland and Wales, those who represent assembly constituencies will be the same as those representing parliamentary constituencies. Why are not the Government adopting that system for the elected assembly for London?

Mr. Raynsford

I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that we have adopted exactly the same electoral system in London as in Scotland and Wales—the additional member system, with some members elected for constituencies and some from a party list. Clearly, the right hon. Gentleman is not terribly well versed in those constitutional matters, which are all completely consistent.

Sir Norman Fowler

The Minister has a great future as an estate agent, having given such an answer. He knows perfectly well that I was talking about the constituencies—the coterminosity of Members to constituencies.

I am delighted to respond to the other point, about the electoral system. My basic fear is that, when the Government talk about thinking and acting strategically, that means that the assembly will be remote from the public whom it intends to serve. That danger would be averted if our proposal were adopted.

The Government propose 25 assembly members, 14 of whom will be elected by first past the post. They will represent not areas that are coterminous with parliamentary constituencies, but massive constituencies with between 300,000 and 400,000 voters. That makes the assembly far more remote than Parliament or a local council.

The second eleven will be elected on a Londonwide basis, not by first past the post but through a form of proportional representation. They will be elected from a party list. Just when we thought it was safe to come out of the shelter, the Government are set for a new battle on the open and closed lists. The proposed system is precisely the same as the system for the European elections. That is why the Home Secretary did not refer to it.

Generally, the public will vote not for a named candidate but for a party. They can vote for named independent candidates but not named party candidates. The party will choose the order in which candidates will be elected, and the public will have no choice. For example, the Labour party organisation might put the name Raynsford at No. 1 and, with luck, the name Livingstone at No. 11; and party members might put the name Livingstone at No. 1 and, with luck, the name Raynsford at No. 11; but what is certain under the proposals is that the one group that will have no say in the order will be the electors themselves. They will not be able to re-order the party candidates.

Once again, we have all the other drawbacks of the party list. If a candidate fails in his constituency bid because of his unpopularity with the public, he can always get on the party list. Under the list system, there will be nothing as inconvenient as by-elections to replace someone who resigns or dies: the next man or woman on the list will simply be appointed. That is what the Government propose.

Again, we are witnessing a transfer of power from the public to the party organisation. The only change is that the arrangement has now been condemned by at least two reports. It was certainly condemned by the Jenkins commission on electoral reform, which has published its report since the White Paper was issued. The report said: The Commission recommends that the second vote determining the allocation of Top-up members should allow the voter the choice of either a vote for the party or for an individual candidate from the lists put forward by parties. They should therefore be what are commonly called open rather than closed lists.

Mr. Straw

Is the right hon. Gentleman defending Jenkins?

Sir Norman Fowler

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to destroy Jenkins, I would certainly join him.

Mr. Straw

I was merely asking whether the Conservative party was now moving from outright opposition to Jenkins to Jenkins a la carte.

Sir Norman Fowler

We have made our proposals. I was seeking to demonstrate—I did so conclusively, I believe—how inconsistent the Government are. They set up the Jenkins commission, and when it reports they propose a different system.

I know that the Home Secretary has a hang-up about Roy Jenkins and all that, but Jenkins was not the only one to oppose the closed list. The Scottish Affairs Select Committee, in its report only a few weeks ago on what it descriptively calls the operation of multi-layer democracy", said: We feel that an open list would be more in keeping with the principle of trusting the people and giving them the maximum choice. It seems to me that the practical effect of what is happening is that, step by step, the Government are giving more and more power to the political organisations and less and less to the public. By one measure after another, the whole focus is beginning to change. Elected representatives will be answerable to the party bosses much more directly than they will be to the local public.

We do not support closed lists. The case against them has been stated thus: Where PR is based on the list system, with votes effectively cast for a party, and the winning candidates taken, pro rata, from each party's list, power passes from the individual constituency party to those who draw up the list. Those are not my words, but those of the current Home Secretary in an article in The Times in September 1985. [Interruption.] If the Home Secretary does not listen, he will miss the quotations.

The analogy with Northern Ireland has always been a bogus one, because the Government know that that system was introduced to meet the special needs of Northern Ireland, as specifically explained by the then Prime Minister. The debate on the European parliamentary elections showed that there is little support in the House for closed lists, and I can tell the Government that we will oppose that proposal with all our strength.

Who will benefit from the new system? The answer was given by the Home Secretary in his 1985 article. It is a marvellous article and includes the following comment on Hitler: He rose to power in the Weimar Republic, which used a very respectable system of PR. I do not suggest that any other system would have prevented his rise. I do assert that PR did not prevent it—yet moderation and stability is the large, and wild, claim made for this system by our own centre parties. On the subject of the beneficiaries of PR, he said: PR is not a matter of morality, but crude party advantage—which is why the Liberals only adopted the idea in 1922, when their decline really began. For once, we can all—well, perhaps not all—agree with the Home Secretary.

To be fair, it is not only the Liberal Democrats who stand to benefit. On the basis of the 1998 London borough election results, it is estimated that the system proposed by the prospective candidate for mayor, the Minister for London and Construction, would give the Labour party 11 seats, the Conservatives nine seats and the Liberal Democrats five seats, although they would have won no constituency seats. That underlines the crucial importance of the Lib-Lab pact in local government.

We do not believe that the Government have made their case for their approach to the elected assembly for London. The structure is different from the model used in Scotland and Wales. It will remove powers from the boroughs and create a body that is remote from the public it serves. Above all, by using the closed-list system, the Government will transfer power from the public to the party organisation. We oppose that, and we believe that many Labour Members oppose it. It is one of the reasons why we will vote for our reasoned amendment tonight.

5.39 pm
Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Canning Town)

I am conscious of the limited time available for Back Benchers to contribute to the debate, and I will try to keep my remarks as brief as possible. I wish to raise several issues, including three on which I would like the Minister to comment when he responds to the debate. The first is on the London development partnership and the business case for London; the second is on the Metropolitan police service; and the third is on the London fire brigade.

The London development partnership is the shadow organisation for the development agency. There is a solid business case for additional river crossings in east London. Given that a decision on any such crossings will be delayed until the mayor and the assembly are in place, will my hon. Friend the Minister for London and Construction say whether the LDP will undertake the appropriate background, assessment and research work necessary before a decision is taken? If so, it will mean that the time between now and May 2000 is not wasted. In recent years, there have been extensive consultations about river crossings, and the package put together by the Government office for London over the past couple of years seemed to receive overwhelming support.

In addition, does my hon. Friend believe that the LDP in its present form is adequately resourced to undertake that background research in the period before the mayor and the assembly are in place? The chief executive, Eric Sorenson, is highly respected and leads a prestigious board. Its members would be more than able to get on with the job, but I should be interested to hear from the Minister whether they would require additional resources.

I turn now to the Metropolitan police service. Does the formula for funding that service take adequate account of the non-metropolitan or non-London tasks that the service performs, such as guarding embassies and providing diplomatic protection? Is the funding formula due for review? Will my hon. Friend say whether it is possible that the mayor might believe that additional resources would be appropriate in due course?

I am a member of the police parliamentary scheme, and over the past seven or eight months I have heard consistent resentment from police officers about the way in which the press have portrayed the statement from Sir Paul Condon, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, to the Home Affairs Select Committee. Asked to estimate the number of corrupt officers in the Metropolitan police, the commissioner said that there were certainly fewer than 1 per cent. The tabloid press did some arithmetical calculations and said that that meant that there were about 300 corrupt police officers in the Metropolitan police.

No doubt there is some corruption in the force: no police service can avoid that. However, I agree with other hon. Members that the vast majority of officers in the Metropolitan police are committed and dedicated professionals. They go about their duties selflessly, sometimes sacrificing their lives to protect the capital and its residents. No police service is without flaws, and the inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence has raised some serious questions. However, as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said, the Commissioner and his senior officers are committed to tackling the problem.

I join my right hon. Friend in welcoming the Commissioner's plans to move to borough-wide policing from next year. I commiserate with those chief superintendents who failed to win appointment as police supremos for their boroughs, and congratulate those who were successful, especially Chief Superintendents McPherson and Boylan, who in due course will be the officers in charge of Tower Hamlets and Newham respectively. Both officers are very professional, and will give great leadership to the police service in east London, which area will be better protected as a result.

My concern about the funding of the Metropolitan police is genuine and shared by many, and in the same way the funding of the fire service is causing consternation across London. This year's possible reduction in the number of appliances is the result of a national problem and has to do with the structure of the fire service pension fund. I know that the Home Office is studying the matter to work out a solution for firefighters' pensions in the medium and long term, but the immediate pressure on fire service budgets exerted by the requirement to pay pensions will not go away.

Contrary to what the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) has said, pressure on the fire service pension budget is so extreme simply because of life expectancy. For 30 years, firefighters expected to die soon after retirement. As a result of the shorter working week—now 42 hours—health and safety legislation and, most critically, the arrival of breathing apparatus, they now have a normal life expectancy. Whether they have retired after 30 or 55 years, or on a medical pension because of ill health, retired firefighters in the capital outnumber the firefighters who are employed and contributing to the pension scheme. That pressure on the fire service budget will intensify in the years to come.

Recently, the hon. Member for Billericay wrote to Graham Noakes, chairman of the Essex fire brigade committee, saying: All Britain's fire services are far too overstaffed. It is one of the last dinosaur industries clinging to feather bedding, using shroud waving and blackmail to prevent the modernisation of the service. The Algarve is stuffed with healthy young British males, living comfortably, their incomes supplemented by disablement pensions from the fire service. That is a not uncharacteristically inflammatory comment—if hon. Members will excuse the pun—from the hon. Lady. I have a brother who lives in the Algarve and, were it "stuffed" with medically retired firefighters, I am sure that he might have mentioned it to me in the past 15 years.

As I have explained, the pensions bill is so great because firefighters are living longer, although that is not to say that there is not some abuse and that some people do not receive pensions fraudulently. However, the checks and balances in pension legislation are such that the chances of doing so are remote.

In conclusion, as we heard last night and again today, Londoners overwhelmingly welcome the arrival, and the return, of strategic government for London. Most right hon. and hon. Members recognise that east London will be the engine room for this world-class capital, taking it into the next millennium with the channel tunnel rail link, Canary wharf, the Jubilee line extension, the dome, the City airport and developments in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Barking and Havering. East London will be the engine that will ensure that the capital makes progress. The return of strategic government for London will only assist that progress, and Labour Members overwhelmingly welcome the Bill that the Government have produced.

5.47 pm
Mr. Peter Brooke (Cities of London and Westminster)

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Mr. Fitzpatrick), which is one of the Tower Hamlets seats. One of my Liberal ancestors, my great-uncle, was the Liberal Member for a Tower Hamlets seat before the Liberals entered the decline to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) referred—before proportional representation. I therefore feel a sense of vicarious association with the hon. Member, and will seek to match him for brevity.

As we enjoy the second day of debate on what the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Ms Perham) accurately described yesterday as the greatest city in the world, I am conscious that the powers that be which look after us in this Chamber have given the debate a law and order slant. I hope that the House will forgive me if I defer my remarks on that subject until a later stage of the Bill.

The Home Secretary is unconsciously in my debt and, being absent, will continue to be unconscious, for had I risen to speak at 11.50 pm last night, when the Minister for Transport in London sat down, I would still have been speaking at midnight, and hence would have continued to speak today, perhaps even until 7 pm; so the right hon. Gentleman would have been delayed.

The police changes have long been foreshadowed, which certainly increases their acceptability. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield on his admirable dissection of the proposals in the Bill. It was one of the paradoxes of yesterday that almost every Labour Member ritually mourned the passing of the Greater London council in 1986, but went on to imply that they mourned the fact of its death, not the substance or condition of the GLC when it died, and thus would not want to restore it to life. It occurs to a bystander that my noble friend Baroness Thatcher may have done the Labour party a favour not merely by giving it a grudge that it could nurse for a dozen years, but by wiping the slate clean so that it could start again with London government.

I mentioned almost every speech made by a Labour Member, but one exception was that of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), in whose welfare I take a keen personal interest. Were he to be taken from us to be mayor, the Northern Ireland Select Committee would lose a valuable and relevant colleague. Perhaps not unexpectedly, he found plenty of good things to say about the GLC. As one element in the GLC's disappearance was the local government challenge to central Government that he set up, I was less surprised than some by the rich list of examples in the Bill in which the Secretary of State is given powers to override the mayor, even if that turns devolution into a Lewis Carroll concept.

However, in Brent, East, whatever other Labour Members think, the leopard has clearly not lost his spots, and tax raising, health authority and higher education powers in the Bill were all required or requested by the hon. Member for Brent, East. He also wanted the mayor to take over the appeal role from the Secretary of State on borough planning decisions. Far from the replication of the GLC, the hon. Gentleman seeks its massive expansion.

This is not the moment to stir the dying embers of old controversies, but beyond the pride in the Inner London education authority expressed by the hon. Member for Brent, East, I think that London students today would thank him more if polytechnics had been allowed to borrow to create student hostels in the capital, and had not been prevented from doing so because rents could not be a penny higher than the existing rents. Any parent who has had to fund students in private accommodation would have settled for the half loaf of a new ILEA hostel, even if the rents had been marginally higher. Moreover, I doubt that the London Institute would have been able to recreate itself so smoothly, on a much more compact campus, in the way that King's college has done during the past decade, if ILEA rules and regulations had still applied. There are dividends that can come from freedom.

At the higher and more elevated level of constitutional reform, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield implied, the Bill sadly joins the queue of piecemeal and inconsistent ventures that the Government have promoted. I read somewhere that the Prime Minister is not interested in the detail, but for that the rest of us will have to pay.

There was an illuminating exchange yesterday, during the excellent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley)—whom I, perhaps uniquely, can see in the Chamber—between my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), who leads for the Liberal Democrats on the Bill. They spoke about legislating for London first, before issues such as English regional government, let alone a parliament for England, have been sorted out.

Mutatis mutandis: as my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield said, it is the House of Lords all over again. If the Government go further with such legislation for England, what happens now in London will be a rock in the road around which we shall have to navigate. Labour Members take pleasure in the concept of joined-up government, but on the constitution they are more into painting by numbers.

Just as the events on Clapham common caught the Government by surprise, despite the fact that the Clapham omnibus passes the common as a matter of course, and caused them practical embarrassment in the run-up to the Welsh Assembly, so a tremendous punt, in these arrangements, is being taken on the quality of the first mayor. Those whom the Government would like to undertake the role are proving remarkably reluctant. It reminds me of the election for the mayor of New York, when John Lindsay stood as the liberal candidate and Bill Buckley stood as a Republican in protest. When, on the eve of poll, Buckley was asked what his first reaction would be if he were elected, he said that he would immediately ask for a recount.

The hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms Ruddock) said yesterday that the mayor of London would clearly be a very special woman or man. However, given the powers that she or he will be given by the Bill, I have to ask, what if, by accident, she or he is not? It might be left to my party to solve the Government's dilemma by winning the election.

The Standing Committee on the Bill will get down to discussion of the list system. Yesterday, it was a joy to hear the Liberal Democrats eulogise lists: closed lists, open lists, laundry lists, civil lists, uncivil lists, Beachcomber's list of the Huntingdonshire cabmen. All those lists have their merits and Liberal Democrats can find arguments for any of them, but patently, any list will do. Incidentally, I have not investigated what happens if someone on the list, who is elected, wishes to cross the floor. I assume that he or she has to surrender his or her seat. It sounds like a Whips' paradise.

The functions of the Greater London assembly will also be discussed in Committee. I acknowledge that transport is genuinely a strategic issue, although, as the Government go on and on about integrated transport, I cannot help recalling the old Department of Transport joke that an integrated transport strategy is any transport policy other than the one that the Government have been pursuing up to that moment. However, I have noticed that the Bill would make the Greater London authority both the traffic and the highway authority for the new strategic London road network, and that Transport for London might well become the traffic authority for all roads with signals, which would massively remove traffic control from the boroughs. All that sounds much more executive than a strategic authority was expected to be.

I genuinely salute the proposals for a London air quality strategy. Acid rain does not stop at national boundaries, nor does pollution stop at borough ones.

However, on waste, when the Minister winds up I shall be interested to hear how cost control, practicability and environmental benefit will be required, given the mayor's unfettered powers over recycling. At first blush, the Bill seems like an opportunity for environmental postures without responsibility for the practical consequences.

I am also curious about what the culture, media and sports strategy will make of broadcasting. Overall, that strategic initiative seems to be a makeweight thrown into the Bill to enlarge its strategic compass.

While on the subject of curiosity, I did not detect in the winding-up remarks of the Minister for Transport in London yesterday an answer to the question of my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Norfolk (Mrs. Shephard) about why the calculations made at the London School of Economics of the costs that would fall on Londoners from the Bill were much higher than those made by the Government, and why the Government believed that my constituents at the LSE were wrong.

Finally, as we are on short commons today, I want to raise in brief outline some issues on the planning powers in the Bill, which are less naturally strategic than the transport issues. I shall not argue a detailed case, because a whole speech could be devoted to them, but I want to illustrate the problem statistically. The Government office for London's consultation document on planning applications of strategic importance was published in August. Four categories of development were outlined and criteria recommended for identification as strategic. Fulfilling any of those criteria triggers the consultation of the mayor.

The Government office for London states that, by the criterion of floor space, between 100 and 300 planning applications per year would be considered strategic—that is 0.5 per cent. of all the planning applications in the capital. That percentage sounds a little precise against the numerical bracket of 100 to 300 for strategic applications, but that is less important than the fact that those applications tend to be concentrated in central London, which would elevate the percentage arithmetically. Of the 100 to 300 applications, 59 were awarded planning permission in the City of London in 1997; of those, more than a quarter exceeded the Government office for London floor space criterion, and four of them were more than twice the criterion; but on analysis, none of the 59 schemes raised any strategic issues by virtue of their size alone.

Similarly, on height, where the criterion threshold is 50 m, the London planning advisory committee's draft advice on high buildings and strategic views in London recognised that the established scale of development in the City meant that additional buildings exceeding 50 m would not always raise issues of strategic importance. The City of London already contains more than 50 buildings that are more than 50 m above ground level, 17 exceeding 80 m and eight that are more than 100 m tall. The International Financial Centre, otherwise known as the NatWest tower, stands 185 m above ground level. The height threshold in the City appears to be worthy of further consideration.

The City's competitiveness depends on decision making not being unduly bogged down. The City corporation organised a consultation meeting with the business community to consider the Government office for London's proposals. The overwhelming view of the meeting was that the proposals were unsatisfactory.

Much was made in yesterday's debate of the unanimity of opinion throughout London about the attractiveness of what the Bill envisages, including for the business community. Such unanimity always makes me apprehensive that the world is missing something. Therefore, I am, by instinct, reassured from the City business community's reactions that all is not wholly well.

6 pm

Ms Joan Ryan (Enfield, North)

As the Member of Parliament representing London's most northerly constituency, I obviously have an interest in the Greater London Authority Bill. However, I am conscious that the legislation is not just about London and Londoners. Perhaps that is because I was not born and brought up in London. I am in London through no accident of birth: I choose to live here. I chose to come to London 18 years ago and I have stayed. I think it is a magnificent city.

However, I am conscious that London is a capital city, and therefore belongs to all the citizens of the United Kingdom. We have a responsibility to them: they want to visit a clean, well run city of which they can feel proud. Tourism is very important to London and its economy. In turn, the London economy has an important effect on the whole United Kingdom economy. So we must also view our responsibility for London in terms of its role as a capital city and its significance to the whole country.

My constituents, like many others in London constituencies, have suffered from the lack of co-ordination of key London services and functions, and will benefit greatly from the reforms that the Bill proposes. I congratulate the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions and his colleagues on many aspects of the Bill. I shall concentrate briefly on three major areas of responsibility for the Greater London assembly and its directly elected mayor: economic development, the environment and the policing of London.

I think it important to consider the reality of London's economy. It is one of the dominant capital cities of the world and, historically, has depended on its ability to trade and create wealth. As we have heard, however, 13 of Britain's most deprived local authorities are located in London. We have extremes in London. Unemployment in the capital is greater than the totals for Scotland and Wales combined. London businesses are crying out for skilled workers who cannot be found. Effective measures to address those problems should have been taken over the past decade, and probably before then, too. Those issues should have been dealt with years ago, but we had to wait until 1 May 1997 to see any solutions advanced.

Enfield, North is perhaps a good example—if "good" is the right word—of how London has suffered from the lack of any co-ordinated strategy. The responses to the consultation exercise illustrate what most Londoners, and certainly most London businesses, already know: there is a desperate need for a body with a strategic role in economic development, regeneration and tourism.

In a sense, London has become many cities. Each borough competes with its neighbours to provide often isolated facilities in order to attract enterprise and employment, or works with its immediate neighbours while competing with other bits of London. I do not single out those boroughs and their efforts for criticism—what else can they do? They cannot ignore the needs of their populations. However, I point a finger at the Conservative party for its negligence in government.

In yesterday's debate, we heard nothing but carping from Conservative Members as the Government strive to overcome their legacy and their neglect. Each borough needs—and plainly requests—a strategic body to maximise the benefits of investment in London, its facilities, opportunities and its work force. The Greater London authority will deliver that body. The mayor will draw up London's economic development strategy with the London development agency, which will be responsible for implementing that strategy. That is a clear and straightforward process, which will free London's businesses and allow them to devote their energies to ensuring that their businesses succeed. It will help to attract sustainable long-term investment projects, which I believe are frequently deterred by the frustrations of the current system.

In my constituency—an area that once thrived, with household-name manufacturing industries—there are earnest efforts to create new business opportunities. They are necessary because of the collapse of the industries that made Enfield the place it is today. However, those efforts are undermined because Enfield is competing for investment not only with other European cities, the far east or America but with other London boroughs. Enfield is part of London, and Enfield and London will benefit from the focus and coherence that the Greater London authority and the mayor will bring to London's economic development.

While economic development is certainly a major concern, there is more to London than that. The Bill recognises that fact and sets out wide-ranging proposals to improve quality of life in the capital. London's environment must be considered positively. My constituency, which borders the northern fringes of the capital, is home to sights of great beauty and interest. It was good enough to serve as a retreat for royal persons in centuries past, and now provides a haven of recreation for the people of Enfield and from across north London. The protection and promotion of London's natural habitats, assessment of the state of London's environment, the management and recycling of waste generated in greater London and air quality management strategies will bring to London the benefits of improved health and a better quality of life. Our nation's capital deserves those improvements.

The policing of London is an issue raised constantly by constituents, and is a major concern. Through the Bill, our Metropolitan police force will become more accountable and much more in touch with the population that it serves. I understand that tourism in the capital creates unique problems, but the basis of an efficient and respected police service is a relationship of trust between the police and the communities in which they operate. I believe that the Bill will strengthen that relationship.

I was surprised to hear the comments of the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler): one would think that the Bill was an attack upon the Metropolitan police. They do not view it as such. It is not an attack, but a step forward in the relationship between London's police force and the people of London. That can only be a good thing. Such a move is long overdue and much needed, and I think it will be very welcome.

It is remarkable to hear Opposition Members—particularly Conservative Members for London constituencies—attacking the Bill's proposals. Londoners have told them at every opportunity, "This is what we want." They voted for it in the Government's manifesto at the general election and in the London referendum—an overwhelming result, with more than 70 per cent. of Londoners voting for the Bill.

I am delighted that my Government have listened to Londoners, and have set about delivering for them with vigour, enthusiasm and commitment. Whatever the Conservatives might think, the Bill has achieved something very important: it has united Londoners in a positive proposal for the city's future. It is important to note that the interest that we have witnessed in the mayor for London and the GLA will help to reconnect Londoners to the democratic process and perhaps assist in reversing the worrying trend of low turnouts in local elections.

I welcome the Bill and look forward to seeing it become a reality that will improve life for all Londoners; it will certainly have a very beneficial impact beyond the boundaries of London.

6.9 pm

Mr. Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington)

I thank the Home Secretary, who is no longer in his place, for giving me such an interesting history lesson about the Metropolitan police.

I shall concentrate on two aspects of the Bill—policing and transport. I welcome the establishment of the Metropolitan police authority and the fact that a majority of its members will be assembly members. I hope that the authority's democratic oversight of, and input to, the Metropolitan police will reduce the occurrence of serious miscarriages of justice such as the case of my constituent, former Police Constable Gordon Warren, who was thrown out of the Met on bogus medical grounds and offered a paltry sum to compensate him for his pain and suffering. He received no protection from senior Met officers.

Although I welcome the establishment of the authority, I regret the absence of tax-varying powers for Londoners, which means that they will not be able to decide whether they want more or fewer police officers patrolling the streets. London streets have a small police presence compared to cities in other European countries.

I am reluctant to bore the House with statistics, but I am sure that hon. Members will find figures for London more relevant than the rather misleading national figures quoted by the Minister for Transport in London in last night's debate. The need for further funding is more apparent than ever. Despite an increase in the special grant to the Met, the overall increase in its allocation for 1999–2000 was only 1.7 per cent., which is below inflation and below the national average increase of 2.7 per cent.

The position is even worse if one considers the 4 per cent. pay rise for the Met, because staff costs account for 80 per cent. of expenditure. The police estimate that an increase of 6 per cent. per annum is required if they are to stand still in real terms. All that is taking place in the context of a drop of 1,500 in the number of police officers since 1992. The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) did not refer to that fact in his contribution, in which he gave figures from 1979.

Although Liberal Democrat Members welcome the birth of the Metropolitan police authority, we believe that the mayor should be given the power to raise more funds, if that is what Londoners want, to improve London's policing.

All hon. Members would, I am sure, agree that Londoners will judge the success of the mayor, the Greater London authority and the new citywide government on their ability to deliver a radically improved transport system. That has been severely hampered in a number of respects. In yesterday's debate, much was said about the proportion that the Secretary of State and the Consolidated Fund will take from the proceeds of congestion charging or parking levies.

I shall not dwell on schedules 13 and 14, because I am sure that, by now, most hon. Members know them by heart, but it is worth quoting from "Breaking the Logjam". Page 13 of the document refers to powers to require a proportion of the revenue to be paid to central government", and page 16 says that local authorities that introduce charging schemes should be able to retain 100 per cent. of the net revenue generated for at least 10 years". We have been told that London will have a citywide government, so perhaps it is outside the scope of a measure that applies to local authorities.

The Minister for Transport in London (Ms Glenda Jackson)

Let me set the hon. Gentleman's mind at rest. As I said in yesterday's debate, the mayor and the assembly will be required to spend every penny raised on the mayor's integrated transport strategy.

Mr. Brake

I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. She has made that point several times. It is a pity that so much confusion has arisen between documents issued by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Bill. Why are the Government committed to using 100 per cent. of that revenue for the transport strategy for only 10 years, and not longer? They could clear up the confusion by amending schedules 13 and 14. The project of the mayor and the GLA will not survive if, as I said yesterday, revenue from congestion charging that is raised in London boroughs—for example, in Chelsea or Cheam—is spent elsewhere in the country.

The Government must also reassure Londoners on the question of the public-private partnership. Yesterday, some hon. Members had difficulty describing PPP. The Minister must answer key questions. First, a figure of £7 billion is being quoted ad nauseam, but what is the cost of the PPP over the duration of the contracts? It is not £7 billion. Will the Minister confirm that, over the 20 or 30 years of the contracts, the cost may be about £500 million per annum, so Londoners will have to pay back much more than £7 billion?

What percentage of that amount will be paid by Londoners? That question was asked yesterday, but it needs to be considered again. Liberal Democrat Members are still uncertain about the funds that the new transport authority for London will receive from the Government towards its investment costs in years to come and what it will be expected to pay for from the revenue on congestion charging and parking levies. I hope that the Minister will answer that today or in writing at a later date. We need to know whether the Government, as the AA has said, are simply substituting new money for old.

What powers will the mayor have to amend the contracts? We accept that the final details of the PPP contracts need to be agreed, but will the Minister consider having a review two years after they have been signed, so that the mayor and the GLA can negotiate, on the fringes or perhaps more radically, with the infrastructure provider about what the company will provide? They could then have some influence over the running of the tube.

Londoners are expecting the mayor and the GLA to get rid of cattle truck conditions on the tube. If simple answers can be given to those simple questions, that will go a long way to reassuring Londoners that the PPP is on track, that they will not have to pay through the nose for it, and that the GLA will be able to fine-tune or enhance the deal in years to come.

Ms Jackson

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made abundantly clear yesterday, the public-private partnership will be completed by the Government. It entails a process of competitive bidding by those who want to win the contracts. My right hon. Friend also said that, if completion of the PPP was later than the introduction of the mayor and the assembly, the mayor would be consulted. The contracts will be long-term, and will clearly have to contain checks and balances to ensure that they are being delivered at the price agreed. As my right hon. Friend made clear, decisions will be based on best value. I hope that that clarifies the position for the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Brake

I thank the hon. Lady for her answer. I welcome the fact that the mayor will be consulted, but we are asking for more than consultation; we are asking for a clause to be written into the contracts to allow the mayor and the GLA an opportunity to review them in a couple of years once the PPP has bedded down. The Minister will say that the contracts have been drawn up, but I am well aware, from my previous employment, that flexibility can be built into contracts to provide more or less service. That could be negotiated in the current deal.

Ms Jackson

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to intervene on him a third time. In essence, he was saying that the contract would agree to intervention. As we have already made clear, the Government are committed to completing the PPP process. A contract that contains within it the possibility of the various issues that he mentioned being reconsidered will be a completed contract. Surely he is not suggesting that someone would enter into a binding contract with the proviso that, perhaps two years down the line, all involved could ignore the signatures on the paper. That would be a curious way of conducting business.

Mr. Brake

I do not feel that we should debate this any further, but that was not the point that I was making. I think that the Minister understands perfectly that we are saying that, two years into a contract, there should be a review point at which the contractors, the mayor and the GLA would negotiate some flexibility, perhaps enhancing certain services and reducing others. I assure the Minister that it can be done if the will is there to do it.

Londoners expect road traffic reduction to be tackled. The Government have already missed the opportunity to deal with road traffic reduction at a national level, so let us not miss the opportunity in London. A slowdown in the increase in the number of cars in London is not an option. Surely London, of all the areas in the country, is the one where the Government, the mayor and the GLA should be committed to reducing traffic. I see no reason why that could not be written into the mayor's transport strategy at this point, so that there is a firm commitment to deliver significant road traffic reduction in London.

On a related matter, scope should be given to Transport for London to anticipate congestion charges and parking levies in order to raise revenue now. That will ensure that the carrots are provided now—the sticks can come in future, once a viable alternative is in place.

We need greater integration of the rail services. The Bill is not as tough as it could be. Yes, the mayor is able to give advice to the franchising director, but the franchising director is not required to take it.

I fail to understand why all boards except one will have assembly members or borough representatives on them. The board of Transport for London will be the sole board on which no assembly member or borough councillor will be present. I should like the Minister to explain the logic behind that. I understand the need to have experts on boards, but why not have one elected representative who can put the views of London commuters? I look forward to the Minister's explanation.

The introduction of the new Metropolitan police authority is to be welcomed. It will help to restore confidence in the Metropolitan police and give the whole community a stake in its police. That is vital, given that confidence in the Met is low following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

If London is to maintain and strengthen its position as the world's premier city, the GLA must be given the wherewithal to integrate all modes of transport, including rail. The mayor must be given the power to enhance not only buses but tube and train services, funded by congestion charges and parking levies. Londoners must know that their money will be spent on London transport, the whole of London transport and nothing but London transport, in its entirety and for eternity. I am sure that we shall return to those issues in Committee.

6.24 pm
Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden)

Like many hon. Members who have spoken in favour of the Bill, my views have been formed by experience in London local government. Having been a London councillor for 16 years, during the time of the Greater London council and after its demise, I am glad that the Bill does not mark a return to the GLC, but establishes a genuinely new strategic body that will focus on certain core responsibilities.

The GLC performed some things well, but its remit was too vast and the things that it tried to do too numerous for the services that it provided to be of consistently high or responsive quality. The Greater London authority, by virtue of being much more narrowly defined and having its role very carefully specified, stands a much better chance of beginning to tackle some of the endemic problems that have beset London for too long.

It has long been my belief that the main division in London today is not between north and south of the river, as was traditionally the case—although, having been born and bred in south London, I recognise that divide—but between inner and outer-London. As my constituency is at the very southern tip of the Northern line, I qualify as an outer-London Member of Parliament. The problems of outer London boroughs such as my own are, of course, very different in many respects from those of inner London.

In terms of housing and education, for example, many inner London boroughs have vast social problems that we in outer London, thankfully do not face. That is why it is good that the government have left responsibility for those issues firmly where they belong—with local councils, which are best placed to devise local solutions to their own problems.

Although much divides inner and outer London, we have some extremely important common problems, and they will require effective policies from the mayor and the assembly. The Bill identifies transport, planning, development and the police as major areas for the mayor and the assembly. Many hon. Members have made their comments on specific matters contained in the Bill. I shall add a few words, not so much on the substance of the GLA's responsibilities as on the manner in which they are to be carried out.

I hope that the GLA will become a model for a new type of strategic authority, one which genuinely listens and responds to those who will be directly affected by its decisions. Ironically, by the way in which she abolished it, Baroness Thatcher succeeded in making the GLC wildly popular. During that time, the people of London felt genuinely close to an organisation from which they had felt distanced for years.

It is crucial that the GLA establishes a similar rapport with Londoners. It can do that only if it seeks out relevant views and opinions and by genuinely listening to people with experience of the issues within its remit. That is why I am slightly concerned to note the responses to the Bill from the London Voluntary Service Council and the London Chamber of Commerce. Both organisations warmly welcome the establishment of the authority, but question its commitment to meaningful consultation.

Both the voluntary sector and the business community contain an enormous wealth of experience and expertise that must be listened to by any strategic authority concerned with planning, development and transport. Just as the Government are calling on authorities throughout the country to change the culture of local government and to commit themselves to modernisation and openness, the GLA must lead the way in demonstrating a willingness to engage in meaningful consultation. I am sure that a commitment to full, open and regular consultation with business, borough councils and the voluntary sector is implicit in the Bill, but it does no harm to emphasise it and to assure those important partners that their views will be heard.

There is no shortage of Londoners with a view on the future of our city—ask any cab driver. There exists an anonymous web of quangos, panels, bodies, councils and boards of all kinds, all of which are churning out reports and recommendations on a vast range of subjects directly relevant to the work of the GLA. There can be no doubt that the absence of a strategic government for the capital has meant that so much of this work remains fragmented and ineffective. The GLA must pull this together and harness the energy in building a better future for London.

The referendum last year showed that Londoners want the new mayor and the assembly and will welcome the Bill. If the mayor and the assembly demonstrate a willingness to hear the views of Londoners and to take those views seriously, they can build on this good will to benefit all of London.

6.29 pm
Mr. Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South)

Time does not permit me to dwell on the speeches that have been made, other than to pour praise on my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke), who showed that he can always enhance any debate, and to say to the hon. Member for Enfield, North (Ms Ryan), as someone who represents the most southerly constituency in London, that she should bear in mind the fact that London's economic recovery started after we abolished the GLC.

Our fundamental concern about the Bill is that clash and conflict between the new authority and the boroughs will be inevitable. It is for that reason that we urged the Government to have two questions in last May's referendum. If we had been successful, as many thought we should be, we would have said yes to the mayor, but no to the Government's current proposals for the assembly.

We believe that an assembly made up of representatives from the 32 London boroughs and the corporation of London would avoid conflict within the authority and build a bridge between the man in the street and the mayor. That is the basis of our reasoned amendment.

It has been argued that that proposal is flawed. The case against it put forward yesterday by hon. Members was that, perish the thought, borough representatives would stand up for their boroughs; but that is the essence of democracy. We put our constituency point of view and the mayor is going to stand up for London, so what is wrong with an assembly comprised of borough representatives standing up for their boroughs?

Indeed, the weakness of the proposed closed-list proportional representation structure is that the mayor will be detached from what the man in the street is thinking. Borough representatives would tell him. That is better than focus groups, consultants and unelected officials. We in the Conservative party believe in the borough link. We believe that it is the cornerstone of democracy and have no hesitation in fighting for it tonight.

The House should be in no doubt about the threat that the Bill poses to the boroughs of London. Clash and conflict are inevitable. The impact of the Greater London authority is just dawning on London authorities. The latest edition of the Local Government Chronicle quotes the chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea: I think the immediate things that make everybody's hair begin to rise are the road network, transportation and planning, where the potential for conflict is substantial. Lest anyone thinks that that quote is politically biased, I quote the chief executive of Islington: It's now about to dawn on everyone that the GLA is going to have a massive impact on the way the boroughs operate. The Minister for London and Construction yesterday waved a letter, as he did this afternoon, from someone calling himself the chair of the Association of London Government.

Mr. Raynsford

He is a council leader himself.

Mr. Ottaway

The Minister makes my very point. That spontaneous letter turned up, just by coincidence, on the day of Second Reading. I am sure that the Minister will let us know in his winding-up speech whether he requested that letter, but, having made inquiries into the its origin, I find that that opinion was reached without any consultation within the ALG and, as was effectively drawn out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler), the shadow Home Secretary, it flies in the face of the real opinion of ALG leaders.

Mr. Raynsford

That was 12 months ago.

Mr. Ottaway

I know that the Labour party is good at shifting its views, but to have a complete U-turn on its policy within 12 months takes the biscuit.

If ever there was a Jekyll and Hyde piece of legislation, this is it. It sets up a new authority with a powerful mayor, with his own mandate. However, it contains as many measures giving powers to the Secretary of State as references to the mayor. We have only to look at clause 18 to get a feel for the legislation. It refers to the Secretary of State eight times, to the Treasury twice and to the mayor not at all.

The briefest examination of clauses 70 and 71 reveals that the Secretary of State can either increase, decrease or change the budget in any way he wants. As for clause 73, where the council tax is calculated by the formula R minus P1 minus A divided by T, all I can say is that any Bill with a formula in it is on the road to ruin.

Mr. Keith Hill (Streatham)


Mr. Ottaway

The hon. Gentleman will soon find out.

The true picture is emerging. The Prime Minister wanted a presidential-style mayor with glamour, and the Deputy Prime Minister then spent 18 months constructing a straitjacket for him. It is almost as if they knew that their efforts to prevent the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) from becoming mayor were doomed. It is legislation designed to keep him in check in the event of his success. We hereby name those the Livingstone clauses.

Mr. Simon Hughes

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ottaway

I am sorry. Time does not permit me. I will give way in a minute if I get ahead of the clock.

What is becoming clear is that, such are the Secretary of State's powers that, whoever is nominally elected as the first mayor of London, the real first mayor of London will be the right hon. Member for Hull, East (Mr. Prescott). He will make the decisions; he has the power. If that is freedom for London, it is freedom in a straitjacket. The Government are saying, "Do anything you like as long as it is what we tell you to do." If anything epitomises the Blair Government and their control-freak tendencies, it is the Bill.

If anything illustrates the Government's muddled thinking, it is their proposals for congestion charging. Eighty per cent. of commuters into London already travel by public transport, but the Deputy Prime Minister wants to hit the other 20 per cent. His excuse for clobbering the private commuter is that the roads are congested; that is his story and he is sticking it.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Sticking it?"]—sticking to it—but what is causing the congestion? Is it the volume of traffic or could it be the actions of the Traffic Director for London, who published his revisions to the network plan some two months ago? In it, he said: Red route success will now be judged against tough new targets set by the Secretary of State for Transport. Targets include providing at least 500 new signalled pedestrian crossings, traffic calming at 1,200 side road junctions, 200 cycle crossings". That is fair enough—it is a clear statement of policy—but the point is that the congestion is being caused not by the motorist, but by the Government.

I have to hand it to the Deputy Prime Minister. He creates the congestion, taxes it and then uses it to replace the subsidy to London Underground, but is he going to apply the money to London Underground? I hope that the Minister will use his winding-up speech to clear up the muddled picture over London Underground's finances.

We know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Government subsidy for London Underground ends in 2000, presumably at the end of the financial year in March. We also know from the Deputy Prime Minister's speech yesterday that his plans for public-private partnership may not be ready by then. That is fair enough, so, first, can the Minister confirm that he will seek further subsidy from the Government to cover the interim period until the plans are in place?

Secondly, we had until now assumed that the proceeds of congestion charging would be used to replace the subsidy. The Minister makes it clear that that is not the case, but, when questioned about the on-going costs of the public-private partnership, the Deputy Prime Minister said that that was a matter not for him, but for the mayor, so the picture is becoming clearer.

The Deputy Prime Minister is inviting investment in an inherently loss-making organisation. He talks of £7 billion investment from the private sector. He will then turn to the mayor and say, "You pay it back." That means two things. First, removing the subsidy from London Underground is, effectively, a tax by the back door on Londoners. Secondly, it is a £7 billion invoice sitting on the mayor's desk on the day that he starts work.

If there is one concern that rises above all others, it is the expectations that have been raised by Labour's legendary spin doctors: those men of the Millbank tendency, who sit in that rather fuddy-duddy tower along the Embankment, take any proposal and inject adjectives such as radical, modern, world-class, strong, integrated, improving, building, tackling, better—all words raising the temperature in judging the success or failure of a given policy.

It is the approach of those who have never had to stand up and face the electorate. They were at it yesterday when they stuck in the Deputy Prime Minister's speech the fact that the mayor would be able to eliminate poverty and social exclusion in London. The serious point is that the inherent danger in letting those people loose through that most powerful of media, the British media, is that expectations are raised among the people of London and the country generally that things can be achieved when, in fact, they can never be achieved.

Never could there be a bigger clash or conflict between new Labour's ideas and the expectations raised for London than when there is a confrontation with the biggest gimmick of them all. Twice a year, the mayor and the assembly will attend a meeting which will be open to all members of the public and which will be known as a people's question time. That takes the biscuit. We have the people's Parliament, the people's Government and now the people's question time.

Who can attend? Who will be the lucky people to put a question to mayor Ken? It does not say in the Bill, and, as far as I can see, the 52 million people in the United Kingdom are allowed to attend, and probably 300 million people from the European Union as well. Perhaps that could explain the secret, hidden after-use for the Dome. Is that where Mayor Ken will hold his people's question time?

Mr. Simon Hughes

I have heard what the hon. Gentleman said about question time and that is a relatively small part of the Bill. However, does he not accept that it is far better for people elected by Londoners to be held to account by Londoners? At the moment, the people who represent and speak for London, including the Minister and the Minister for Transport in London, are appointed rather than elected, and are under no obligation to speak to a single Londoner.

Mr. Ottaway

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I object to the gimmicky nature of the people's question time. Let us have a proper question time, but let us not have it in this new Labour gimmicky style that does nothing but try to appeal to the British media.

I was talking about people's question time being conducted by mayor Ken. I am for ever grateful to whoever is continuing to send me copies of the minutes of the meetings of the London Labour party. The latest report says: 'Control freakery' is not just a bad habit of over-zealous Party apparatchiks. It is an intrinsic part of the Blairite strategy for managing a democratic society in conditions of economic instability. Do they know something that we do not know? It goes on: Tony Blair has made clear his intention to exclude Ken Livingstone from Labour's one member one vote ballot for London Mayor. At … AGM Ken declared he would fight this battle 'to the wire'. His determination was warmly welcomed, as it will be among tens of thousands of Labour activists and millions of London's voters. It does not stop there. It goes on: The current crisis over the selection of candidates consequently raises the issue of keeping the Party Labour. The most hardline position is summarised by Fraser Kemp MP, quoted as saying about the vetting system: 'If we are to be consistent, it has to apply to Westminster MPs'. If the Millbank Tendency pursues this line it will lead to further clashes with the membership. That is what it will be about. When London needs a clear and cohesive voice, a voice of quiet reason to pull together and harness the energy that is this great city, the Government blow it. They argue among themselves, then hype it to a level that raises people's expectations and on which they cannot deliver.

It will be a battle from the outset with every pressure group in London and beyond looking for instant salvation. Those people will be doing that because the Government have told them that the Bill will be the be-all and end-all of their problems. The Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister and the House know that that is not the case. The sooner the expectations are tempered, the better it will be for London and Londoners.

This is a complex piece of legislation and we will do our best to make positive suggestions for improvements, as would be expected from a constructive Opposition. Whoever wins the election and becomes the mayor, and whoever ends up in the assembly will have a tough time. The Bill makes their job harder, not easier, and I urge the House to reject it.

6.45 pm
The Minister for London and Construction (Mr. Nick Raynsford)

Opening the debate yesterday, the right hon. Member for South-West Norfolk (Mrs. Shephard) referred to the Bill's proposals as an "experiment". She is wrong. The Bill puts an end to an experiment on which the Conservative party embarked in 1986. It was an experiment to see whether it was possible to run one of the world's great cities without any strategic direction, with no citywide representation, with no leadership, with no responsibility and with no accountability.

It was clear from the start that the experiment would not work. It was clear that one could not run a city the size of London through quangos, joint boards, ad hoc committees and obscure advisory panels. Any Londoner could have told the Conservative Government that. Londoners could see that, with no one in charge, there was no one able to take effective action to tackle strategic issues affecting the city. No one was able to take real steps to reduce poverty and social exclusion across the capital. There was no one to take responsibility for London's transport infrastructure and traffic congestion, which the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) appears to believe only arrived in the capital 18 months ago with the election of this Government. That is an extraordinary proposition. There was no one taking on the problem of air pollution and congestion.

Of course, 12 years ago, nobody bothered to ask the people of London. What a contrast with the approach that has characterised the development of the proposals before the House tonight. The proposals formed a key part of our manifesto and have been subject to extensive consultation, arising from the Green Paper we published last July and then confirmed in the White Paper published in March. Those proposals were then put to the people of London and approved in a referendum in May. In that referendum, people in every borough across the capital voted yes to a mayor and assembly for London. Their verdict was clear; the great experiment of 1986 had failed. All it proved, in the end, was that where no one is in charge, nothing will get done.

All over London—except, perhaps, on part of the Opposition Benches—there is now an acceptance of the principles underlying our proposals: that London needs a strategic level of governance; that it must deliver a proper balance of leadership and democratic accountability; and that it must work in close partnership with the rest of London—with business, the boroughs and London's voluntary sector—in fulfilling its role.

It shows just how far we have come. We have a Bill and we have general support for the principle from the public and, I believe, from most parts of the House. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), in between announcing his candidacy for the mayoralty, confirmed yesterday that the Liberal Democrats would support the Bill. We welcome that. However, The Official Opposition are all over the place. They tell us now that they support the idea of a mayor, conveniently forgetting to mention that they strenuously opposed the proposition until last year's general election. Obviously, we welcome the change of heart, as, no doubt, does Lord Archer. He has been assiduous in listening to the debates, and he must have been astonished that his own party referred frequently to mayoral candidates without once mentioning the possibility of him being elected. What an interesting indication of the Conservative party's lack of confidence in its leading candidate.

The Conservative party appears to be oblivious to the obvious truth that, if there is to be a mayor responsible for a city the size of London, that mayor must be accountable. There must be an elected assembly able to keep watch on the mayor's actions, to scrutinise and agree the mayor's budgets and to take up issues of concern to Londoners and matters of Londonwide importance.

Sir Paul Beresford

In reality, the assembly will be a toothless organisation—excuse the pun, given my other profession. The mayor will present what he wishes to the assembly and it will forward reports to him, which he can reject overnight. The assembly will be able to vary the budget only if it gets a two-thirds majority in a hung council, with the influence of the patronage of the mayor who is responsible for the jobs of about a third of the assembly members. That is not realistic.

Mr. Raynsford

The only toothless people I feel sorry for are the victims of the hon. Gentleman in his other walk of life. This is a carefully structured system to ensure accountability. The assembly will be able to override the mayor where it believes firmly that the mayor is wrong and it can command a two-thirds majority. It makes sense.

The idea of an assembly composed solely of current borough council leaders is, quite simply, inadequate. The borough leaders already have sufficient responsibilities in their own areas, and will rightly continue to pursue their own local interests rather than taking the wider perspective essential for a wider city assembly. Regardless, the boroughs themselves—whom the Tories claim to be supporting—have made it manifestly clear that they want nothing to do with the Tories' propositions.

The Opposition are proposing an arrangement that is patently unsatisfactory, and that does not command the support of the London boroughs or even of all their own Back Benchers—some of whom argued yesterday for an elected assembly. What a mess, and what a party! It is no wonder that the Leader of the Opposition has issued a Christmas card depicting a rather small flock of miserable-looking sheep being herded by a demented shepherd into oblivion. I can think of no more appropriate metaphor for the Opposition's stance on this legislation. The Government are adopting a very different approach.

Mr. Simon Hughes

I am not dissenting from the Minister's analysis; I have heard about the Christmas card. Will he confirm that, if the general view of the Committee and others is that the mayor's powers need to be reined in—particularly on the recall issue, which we debated yesterday—and that the assembly's powers have to be increased, the Government will favourably consider readjusting the powers of the two parts of the Greater London authority?

Mr. Raynsford

I confirm that we have constructed proposals that are designed to ensure a proper balance between the powers of the assembly and those of the mayor. We shall happily debate that balance, and whether any adjustment to it is necessary. However, we believe that we have created the right structure of a democratically elected mayor and a democratically elected assembly, who will be able to work together in the interests of London.

The mayor and assembly will be able to work also with the boroughs to pursue London's interests. That is what we want—a framework to serve the people of London. The framework will also involve radical new voting systems, giving the mayor a strong mandate and creating an inclusive assembly.

Sir Norman Fowler

As for that radical new voting system, why is the hon. Gentleman proposing the closed-party-list system?

Mr. Raynsford

As the right hon. Gentleman should know by now, we are proposing exactly the same system as applies in Scotland and Wales—where people will have a direct choice of their own constituency candidate, for whom they will personally be able to vote. There will be a top-up vote for parties to ensure that there is a proper, proportionate election which is representative of those parties. It is a fair system. It is the system that will apply in Scotland and Wales, and it will apply also in London. Only the right hon. Gentleman—who is obsessed with the issue—seems to see any disadvantage in it.

Londoners will have a new role in ensuring direct, face-to-face accountability by participating with the mayor in the people's question time—which the hon. Member for Croydon, South had the gall to condemn and to try to ridicule. I hope that the people of London will take note of the contempt for democracy and for the people of London that he demonstrated.

Many hon. Members from both sides have spoken and intervened in this debate. The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) not only made his rather curious foray into the issue of voting arrangements, but indicated the Conservative party's failure to reach a decision on the creation of the Metropolitan police authority. In his words, he had "suspended judgment"—I think that that means that he is sitting on the fence—on creation of the authority.

It is extraordinary that Conservative Members have taken so long to reach a view on the Metropolitan police authority. After all, it has been five years since the former Home Secretary, the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), stated:

I have also re-examined the role of the Home Secretary in relation to the Metropolitan police. I propose to establish for the first time a police authority for the Metropolitan police on the new national model separate from the Home Office and with essentially the same tasks as police authorities elsewhere."—[Official Report, 23 March 1993; Vol. 221, c. 766.] He was right. Why on earth has the Conservative party taken so long to catch up with him? Perhaps it is uncomfortable for Conservative Members to be associated with the right hon. and learned Gentleman because of his views on Europe.

Sir Norman Fowler

In helping us, will the hon. Gentleman tell us whether he believes that, at the end of three years, there will be more or fewer police in the Metropolitan police?

Mr. Raynsford

As the right hon. Gentleman will know, in the arrangements that we are making, the Home Secretary will retain a reserve power to ensure that there will be an adequate budget to maintain an adequate and satisfactory level of policing.

Sir Norman Fowler

How many?

Mr. Raynsford

I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman that—no one in my position can do so—as I am not responsible for that budget. However, I can give him the very clear indication—as the Home Secretary gave it earlier in the debate—that the Home Secretary is determined to ensure that the Metropolitan police force has the resources necessary to discharge its functions. That is what we shall ensure.

My hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Mr. Fitzpatrick) asked a number of questions, the first of which was on east London river crossings. The Government have said that decisions on new crossings must wait for the new mayor. However, the Government will safeguard the alignments and ensure that preparatory work continues so that the mayor will be able quickly to reach a view. Meanwhile, English Partnerships is performing development work on the crossings.

My hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Canning Town asked questions also about the Metropolitan police budget for their work in national functions. I assure him that, for 1999–2000, the police were allocated a special payment in recognition of their special capital city, national and international functions. The payment will be made as part of the central Government funding formula and will not be affected by creation of the new Greater London authority.

The right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke), with his usual humour, expressed some distaste for the constitutional reform that the Government have begun. I hope that, in the years ahead, he will look back and regale his grandchildren and others in his usual humorous way with stories of the role that he played in the establishment of Britain's new constitutional arrangements, which secured a far better and more democratic society than the one that he knew initially.

The right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster asked also about planning powers. His rather relaxed view of whether tall buildings or very large office blocks should be subject to the mayor's scrutiny is not entirely in keeping with the views of many people in London, including some of his own constituents—to whom I was speaking at a meeting of the Knightsbridge Association—who have expressed concern about the scale of development. It is right that we have to strike a balance in the matter—which we are attempting to do—between legitimate concern for environmental protection and arrangements to enable business not only to prosper, but to thrive. We have consulted on the matter, and are considering the conclusions to be drawn from the consultation. We shall soon make announcements on it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Ms Ryan), in a very effective speech, highlighted the importance of the economy and action by the new authority to improve London's economy. She stressed that the Bill was a step forward in the relationship between the Metropolitan police and the people of London.

The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake) gave a welcome to the Metropolitan police authority. He asked questions about police funding to which I have already responded. He asked a series of questions on transport, not all of which I shall be able to answer now because of the shortage of time. Nevertheless, I shall stress to him two points.

First, the Government are quite determined to ensure that there is in place a satisfactory public-private partnership to guarantee adequate funding for the underground for the years ahead. It is the Government's responsibility to make those arrangements. The mayor, when elected, will be consulted on them, but it would be crazy to amend a bidding process and contractual arrangements when we are halfway through them. That would simply not be practical politics.

Secondly—as the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington asked about the composition of Transport for London—I stress that the body will be an executive that executes the strategy determined by the mayor, who will be the democratically accountable person.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh)—in a commendably brief speech, which was not necessarily her choice, but due to time constraints—gave warm support to the restoration of citywide government.

We have lived through a period in which London has lacked strategic government. We are bringing that period to an end. We are restoring a democratically elected citywide government to London—a new form of strategic citywide government—with the power to make a difference. We promised to put right the civic vandalism of 1986, and to restore democratic and accountable government to the capital. The Bill delivers on that promise. I warmly commend it to the House.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 140, Noes 396.

Division No. 23] [7 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Beresford, Sir Paul
Amess, David Blunt, Crispin
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Body, Sir Richard
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Boswell, Tim
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Beggs, Roy Brady, Graham
Bercow, John Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Loughton, Tim
Browning, Mrs Angela Luff, Peter
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Burns, Simon MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Butterfill, John MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Clappison, James Maples, John
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington) Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh) Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe) May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Nicholls, Patrick
Collins, Tim Norman, Archie
Colvin, Michael Ottaway, Richard
Cormack, Sir Patrick Page, Richard
Cran, James Paice, James
Curry, Rt Hon David Paterson, Owen
Davies, Quentin (Grantham) Pickles, Eric
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice) Prior, David
Day, Stephen Randall, John
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Redwood, Rt Hon John
Duncan Smith, Iain Robathan, Andrew
Evans, Nigel Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Faber, David Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Fallon, Michael Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Ruffley, David
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman St Aubyn, Nick
Fox, Dr Liam Sayeed, Jonathan
Fraser, Christopher Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Gale, Roger Shepherd, Richard
Garnier, Edward Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Gibb Nick Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Gill, Christopher Spicer, Sir Michael
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Spring, Richard
Goodlad, Rt Hon Sir Alastair Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Steen, Anthony
Gray, James Streeter, Gary
Green, Damian Swayne, Desmond
Greenway, John Syms, Robert
Grieve, Dominic Tapsell, Sir Peter
Gummer, Rt Hon John Taylor, Ian(Esher & Walton)
Hague, Rt Hon William Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thompson, William
Hammond Philip Townend, John
Hawkins, Nick Tredinnick, David
Hayes, John Trend, Michael
Heald, Oliver Tyrie, Andrew
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David Viggers, Peter
Horam, John Wardle, Charles
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Waterson, Nigel
Hunter, Andrew Wells, Bowen
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Whitney, Sir Raymond
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Whittingdale, John
Jenkin, Bernard Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Wilshire, David
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Yeo, Tim
Lansley, Andrew Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E) Tellers for the Ayes:
Lidington, David Mrs. Caroline Spelman and
Lillley, Rt Hon Peter Sir David Madel.
Abbott, Ms Diane Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Ashton, Joe
Ainger, Nick Atherton, Ms Candy
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Atkins, Charlotte
Alexander, Douglas Austin, John
Baker, Norman
Allan, Richard Ballard, Jackie
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry Cox, Tom
Barron, Kevin Cranston, Ross
Battle, John Crausby, David
Bayley, Hugh Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Beard, Nigel Cummings, John
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Cunliffe, Lawrence
Begg, Miss Anne Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Cunningham, Ms Roseanna (Perth)
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Darvill, Keith
Bennett, Andrew F Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Benton, Joe Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Bermingham, Gerald Davidson, Ian
Berry, Roger Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Best, Harold Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Betts, Clive Dawson, Hilton
Blackman, Liz Dean, Mrs Janet
Blears, Ms Hazel Denham, John
Blizzard, Bob Dismore, Andrew
Blunkett, Rt Hon David Dobbin, Jim
Boateng, Paul Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Borrow, David Donohoe, Brian H
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Doran, Frank
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Dowd, Jim
Bradshaw, Ben Drew, David
Brake, Tom Drown, Ms Julia
Brand, Dr Peter Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Breed, Colin Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Brinton, Mrs Helen Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Edwards, Huw
Browne, Desmond Ellman, Mrs Louise
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Ennis, Jeff
Buck, Ms Karen Etherington, Bill
Burden, Richard Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Burgon, Colin Fearn, Ronnie
Burnett, John Field, Rt Hon Frank
Burstow, Paul Fisher, Mark
Butler, Mrs Christine Fitzpatrick, Jim
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen Flint, Caroline
Cable, Dr Vincent Flynn, Paul
Caborn, Richard Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Foster, Don (Bath)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife) Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Foulkes, George
Campbell-Savours, Dale Fyfe, Maria
Cann, Jamie Galloway, George
Caplin, Ivor Gapes, Mike
Casale, Roger George, Andrew (St Ives)
Caton, Martin Gerrard, Neil
Cawsey, Ian Gibson, Dr Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Chidgey, David Godman, Dr Norman A
Chisholm, Malcolm Godsiff, Roger
Clapham, Michael Goggins, Paul
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Golding, Mrs Llin
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S) Gorrie, Donald
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clelland, David Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clwyd, Ann Grocott, Bruce
Coaker, Vernon Grogan, John
Coffey, Ms Ann Gunnell, John
Cohen, Harry Hain, Peter
Coleman, Iain Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Colman, Tony Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Connarty, Michael Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hancock, Mike
Cooper, Yvette Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Corbett, Robin Harris, Dr Evan
Corbyn, Jeremy Harvey, Nick
Corston, Ms Jean Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Cotter, Brian Healey, John
Cousins, Jim Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) McGuire, Mrs Anne
Heppell, John McIsaac, Shona
Hesford, Stephen McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Hinchliffe, David Mackinlay, Andrew
Hodge, Ms Margaret McNamara, Kevin
Hoey, Kate McNulty, Tony
Home Robertson, John MacShane, Denis
Hood, Jimmy Mactaggart, Fiona
Hoon, Geoffrey McWilliam, John
Hope, Phil Mahon, Mrs Alice
Hopkins, Kelvin Mallaber, Judy
Howarth, Alan (Newport E) Marek, Dr John
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Howells, Dr Kim Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Humble, Mrs Joan Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Hurst, Alan Martlew, Eric
Hutton, John Maxton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Illsley, Eric Merron, Gillian
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead) Michael, Alun
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Michie, Bill (Shefld Heeley)
Jamieson, David Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Jenkins, Brian Milburn, Alan
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Miller, Andrew
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield) Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Moore, Michael
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Moran, Ms Margaret
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Jowell, Ms Tessa Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Keeble, Ms Sally Morley, Elliot
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Mudie, George
Kelly, Ms Ruth Mullin, Chris
Kemp, Fraser Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye) Norris, Dan
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Oaten, Mark
Khabra, Piara S O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Kidney, David O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Kilfoyle, Peter Olner, Bill
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) O'Neill, Martin
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green) Öpik, Lembit
Kingham, Ms Tess Organ, Mrs Diana
Kirkwood, Archy Osborne, Ms Sandra
Kumar, Dr Ashok Pearson, Ian
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Pendry, Tom
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Perham, Ms Linda
Laxton, Bob Ptekthall, Colin
Lepper, David Pike, Peter L
Leslie, Christopher Plaskitt, James
Levitt, Tom Pond, Chris
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Pound, Stephen
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Powell, Sir Raymond
Linton, Martin Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Livingstone, Ken Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Livsey, Richard Prescott, Rt Hon John
Llwyd, Elfyn Primarolo, Dawn
Lock, David Prosser, Gwyn
Love, Andrew Purchase, Ken
McAllion, John Quin, Ms Joyce
McAvoy, Thomas Quinn, Lawrie
McCabe, Steve Radice, Giles
McDonagh, Siobhain Rammell, Bill
Macdonald, Calum Rapson, Syd
McDonnell, John Raynsford, Nick
McFall, John
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough) Stringer, Graham
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N) Stuart, Ms Gisela
Rendel, David Stunell, Andrew
Robertson, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S) Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Rogers, Allan Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Rooker, Jeff Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Rooney, Terry Temple-Morris, Peter
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Rowlands, Ted Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Ruane, Chris Timms, Stephen
Ruddock, Ms Joan Tipping, Paddy
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Todd, Mark
Ryan, Ms Joan Tonge, Dr Jenny
Salmond, Alex Touhig, Don
Salter, Martin Trickett, Jon
Sanders, Adrian Truswell, Paul
Sarwar, Mohammad Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Savidge, Malcolm Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Sawford, Phil Tyler, Paul
Sedgemore, Brian Vis, Dr Rudi
Shaw, Jonathan Wallace, James
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Ward, Ms Claire
Shipley, Ms Debra Wareing, Robert N
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Watts, David
Singh, Marsha Webb, Steve
Skinner, Dennis Welsh, Andrew
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) White, Brian
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S) Whitehead, Dr Alan
Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale) Wicks, Malcolm
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Smith, Sir Robert (WAb'd'ns) Willis, Phil
Snape, Peter Winnick, David
Soley, Clive Wise, Audrey
Spellar, John Wood, Mike
Squire, Ms Rachel Woolas, Phil
Starkey, Dr Phyllis Worthington, Tony
Steinberg, Gerry Wray, James
Stevenson, George Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles) Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Stinchcombe, Paul Wyatt, Derek
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger Tellers for the Noes:
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin Mr. Greg Pope and
Straw, Rt Hon Jack Mr. Keith Hill.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 62 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Ordered, That Clauses 1 to 4 and Schedules 1 and 2 be committed to a Committee of the whole House. That the remainder of the Bill be committed to a Standing Committee. That when the provisions of the Bill considered, respectively, by the Committee of the whole House and by Standing Committee have been reported to the House, the Bill be proceeded with as if the Bill had been reported as a whole to the House from the Standing Committee.—[Mr. Mike Hall.]