§ 2.11 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received from the Covent Garden Market Authority their decision on the views expressed by the Fantus Company in their study for the Re-location of the Covent Garden Market; and whether they are able to indicate the future steps that will be taken.]
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD (LORD ST. OSWALD)
My Lords, the Covent Garden Market Authority will not reach any decision on the Fantus 284 Report until they have considered the views of their three statutory committees. They will also need time to consider the views of other interested bodies, including other public authorities and trade organisations. If it is generally agreed that the Market should be rebuilt outside the Covent Garden Area the Covent Garden Market Act, 1961, will need to be amended. In that case, the Authority hope that their discussions will have been completed satisfactorily in time for them to introduce a Bill at the beginning of the next Parliamentary Session.
§ LORD MOLSON
My Lords, I am much obliged to my noble friend for the Answer he has given. Is he aware that the Report of the Fantus committee indicates that the Beckton site, in their own words,is the only site of the five examined at which it would be possible to construct an efficient Market providing all the facilities which are necessary for the economic handling of horticultural produce at a reasonable price "?Does the noble Lord realise that it is extremely desirable that the Market Authority should announce fairly soon their conclusions upon this matter, and that if they come to any conclusion other than that the Beckton site is the right one it would appear to be a perverse decision flying straight in the face of all the evidence with which it has been presented?
My noble friend has asked, I think, three supplementary questions. I am aware of the conclusions reached by the Fantus Company. I am perfectly certain that the Authority will wish to come to a conclusion as soon as possible after proper consultations. As to the other, more difficult question, on a matter of opinion, I think it would be quite improper for me to give an opinion before the Authority have in fact communicated their views to the Government.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, could the noble Lord say whether, before there is any question of developing the existing Covent Garden Market site, the Greater London Council, as the development authority and the traffic authority, will be consulted?
My Lords, really the first step is for the Authority to give their views on the Fantus Report 285 to the Government. I do not think I should answer any question further forward than that.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
The noble Lord must be aware that the Authority has not yet been set up. What I wish to know is: before this important area is developed as a market, will the newly-created Greater London Council, which is the development authority for the whole of Greater London and also the traffic authority, be consulted in the matter?
As I understand it, the noble Lord is referring to the existing site. The Question refers to the choice of possible new sites. I do not think that, by any stretch of his own imagination, the noble Lord can suppose that his supplementary arises out of the substantive Question.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, would the noble Lord not agree that it would have been very much better, and that the whole difficult problem could have been dealt with far more expeditiously, had the Act under which the Covent Garden Market Authority was set up been modified, as was suggested by several noble Lords in the debate here, to enable them to take advantage of the recommendation of the Fantus Report without needing further legislation?
The procedure followed was agreed upon by Parliament and agreed upon by your Lordships' House, and I agree with that decision.