HL Deb 01 July 1981 vol 422 cc213-35

Debate resumed.

4.11 p.m.

Lord Cross of Chelsea

My Lords, may I begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, and the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, for the kind things which they have said about the work of the Select Committee. Speaking for myself, I enjoyed the work very much. Law Lords tend to lead a rather isolated existence in your Lordships' House, and it was a rewarding experience for me to be able to work day in and day out with four working Peers in your Lordships' House, and to become friends of them. At the same time, I do not think that any of us would have volunteered for the job if we had realised that it was not going to take the predicted three weeks but a period of nine or ten weeks.

I have no doubt that it is good for the public image of your Lordships' House that we should consider these hybrid orders very carefully and in a judicial spirit, and perhaps all the more so because there is no analogous procedure in another place. But at the same time I hope that it may be possible for the Procedure Committee to look into the procedure, and see whether some changes in it might be devised which would make it unnecessary in a subsequent case to have quite such a volume of oral evidence called as was called in this case.

The question on which we were asked to report was whether the London Docklands were a suitable area for the establishment of a development corporation. Our report sets out, I hope clearly, the chief arguments advanced on each side for or against the setting up of the corporation, and the conclusion that we reached I think, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, that the Government had made out their case. All that I would seek to do this afternoon, if you will allow me, is simply to mention a few salient points which impressed me.

First and foremost is the immensity of the task which faces anybody which is setting out to regenerate Dock-lands. Of course, from statistics and maps and photographs one can learn a great deal, but it was really faces any body which is setting out to regenerate Dock-lands on the top of a double-decker bus that I really came to realise what vast areas of land—land not far from the centre of the capital—had become vacant and derelict through the gradual decay and indeed virtual disappearance of the Port of London.

Of course as we stress in our report, and as the noble Baroness has mentioned, a great deal has been done, and is being done, by the three borough councils. I should like to mention again here what we say in our report, that we were all of us—I think I may speak for my collegaues—very favourably impressed with the quality of the borough officers who gave evidence before us. But there is no doubt whatever that in Docklands population is continuing to decline and jobs to decrease, and there is a crying need—I think there can be no doubt of this—for the attraction of new industry into the area.

It seems to me that it is a fact—some of your Lordships may think it a regrettable fact, but nevertheless a fact—that a body appointed by the Secretary of State, with a chairman like the chairman designate of the corporation, is more likely to attract private investment into Docklands than the three elected borough councils, especially if one bears in mind that those councils, as well as being concerned with the Dockland part of their area, have all the rest of their respective boroughs to concern themselves with and cannot approach the problem of Docklands in the single-minded spirit in which I think, or I hope, the corporation would approach it.

That really is the chief consideration which moved me to come down in favour of the setting up of this corporation. But an allied consideration related to it is that the corporation would, I think, undoubtedly be in a better position to, and more inclined to, encourage the building of a certain number of private houses in Dockland. Of course in the nature of the case the preponderant need in Docklands must always be for public rented accommodation, public rented housing, and one hopes that a time may soon come when the Dockland boroughs will have money to enable them not only to modernise their existing housing stock but to build more small houses—not, one hopes, tower blocks—with gardens, for rent. But I think in spite of what was said by the noble Baroness on the figures—our figures may not be absolutely right—there cannot be any doubt that there is an unduly small proportion of private housing in Docklands, and if you are going to attract industry into the area I think it is desirable that there should be a reasonable supply of moderately priced houses to attract employees, and for the use of employees.

Those are the two chief considerations which moved me—the attraction of industry, and the building of a certain number of moderately priced private houses. In conclusion, I would say that I welcome the decision of the Government—I gather rather unwillingly arrived at—to exclude the Mint site from the area of the development corporation. As some of your Lordships may know, it is an important site at the corner of Tower Hill, but it is not part of Docklands, and the fact that it is now ripe for development has nothing whatever to do with the decay of the Port of London but is merely caused by the fact that the Mint has moved away and the coins are made elsewhere.

So far as I could gather, the chief reason why the Secretary of State and his advisers wanted to include the site, although not part of Docklands, in the Dockland regeneration area was that they did not trust the Tower Hamlets Borough Council to use their powers to control the development of the site in a way which the Secretary of State and his advisers would think a sensible and desirable way. I think we all, both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness, are at one in saying that it is all important that the new corporation, if it comes into existence, should win the confidence of the borough councils and work in harmony with them. It seems to me that anything which would lend colour to the idea that the establishment of the corporation is an attack by a Tory Minister on the Labour-controlled East End boroughs is much to be deprecated. After all, Governments change. Before the Corporation has done its work of regenerating Docklands, we may have another Government of a different political complexion, and that Government may be under pressure from some quarters to abolish this corporation even though it is working very well. The fact that the Mint site was included, for the reasons I have stated, in the development area is to my mind just the sort of thing opponents of the corporation might make play with, and for that reason I am glad to see that the Government have agreed to accept our recommendation to exclude it.

4.20 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)

My Lords, I intervene briefly to make two short points. First, I join my noble friend Lord Bellwin and the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, in thanking the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross of Chelsea, for his very skilful chairmanship of this committee, and to thank the committee for their hard work and feat of physical endurance over this long period. I think I must take the responsibility first of all for advising the committee that it might last only three weeks when, as your Lordships know, it lasted nine or ten weeks, and therefore I thank them with even greater sincerity.

The statistics have already been mentioned—that they sat for 50 days and saw 38 witnesses—and the only additional figure I have is that the transcript runs to 3,406 pages. This herculean labour has resulted in a succinct, readable and closely-argued report and a unanimously agreed one, which is a considerable achievement on the part of the committee. Perhaps, like members of a jury, they should now be excused from service for the rest of their lives, but I think your Lordships would agree that would be far too great a loss to this House to contemplate. In thanking them all, perhaps your Lordships will permit me to convey, through the noble and learned Lord, our apologies to Lady Cross, who must have suffered a good deal of inconvenience as a result of the duration of the committee.

My second point is simply to respond to the committee's third recommendation; namely, that the Select Committee on Procedure of the House should consider the procedure on hybrid orders in the light of the proceedings on this order. As the noble and learned Lord said, this House is unique in giving private interests a right to petition and, on occasions, state their case to a Select Committee against an affirmative order which is hybrid, and I guess that this is a right which your Lordships would wish to retain. It is a constitutional safeguard that does not exist in another place. But I also agree with the committee that the procedure involved needs to be examined in order to avoid a repetition of so lengthy a process, and I certainly undertake that the matter will be referred to the Procedure Committee as early as possible.

4.23 p.m.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross of Chelsea, who was the chairman of the Select Committee, generously said that it was a rewarding experience for him to go through this task with four working Peers. As the first of them to speak in this debate, I think I can safely say on behalf of the other three noble Lords that it was an equally rewarding experience for us to be guided through this marathon by the noble and learned Lord, who throughout guided us with skill, patience and good humour. I called it a marathon, while the Chairman of Committees described it as a herculean task. Hercules did many great things but I do not think he ever ran in a marathon, so I must not mix metaphors.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross, said that we arrived at our conclusions with varying degrees of enthusiasm. I had a few misgivings and I think I can most usefully spend my time by briefly expressing and explaining them. The first concerns the national interest. In paragraph 3.1 of our report we refer to the fact that the 1980 Act permits the setting up of urban development corporations, and we say: The Secretary of State may, if he thinks it expedient in the national interest, designate as an urban development area an area of land". The words "in the national interest" must mean something.

The principal witness for the Government, an Under-Secretary, at one stage ill his evidence described the Docklands as London's backyard. That raised in my mind the question: could it be said that London's backyard, as distinct from, say, S.W.1., was truly in the national interest as distinct from purely local interest? Old Father Thames, meandering along and driving a great wide highway right up into the heart of the City, is of enormous national interest and I would happily have settled for an organisation rather smaller than what is proposed, collaborating with the riverside local authorities to develop and regenerate the riverside on both banks all the way from the Pool of London right down to the Thames barrier, leaving the hinterland of the Docklands behind the river frontage to be the responsibility of the local authorities, being land of purely local interest. I imagine that the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, would agree with the last part of what I just said. However, 1 could not deny that any large urban area in need of regeneration must to some extent be a matter of national interest, and therefore I must go along with my colleagues on that.

In paragraph 3.6 we refer to the large funds being made available, especially to the UDC if it is set up, and we say: The Committee were also told that if the UDC were not appointed, the availability of this money would be uncertain because the UDC is the Secretary of State's chosen instrument for the regeneration of the docklands". What about Parliament's chosen instrument? If the two coincide, that is fine; but I should have been much happier, and I believe my fellow members on the committee would have been happier too, if we could have been told that this extra money will be made available for the development of Docklands by whatever means Parliament, not the Secretary of State, decides is the best way of tackling the job.

In paragraph 6.3—this was referred to by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross—we say: … each borough is necessarily as much concerned for the parts of its area which lie outside docklands as for the parts which lie inside it and cannot possibly have a single minded concern for the regeneration of 'docklands' as a whole". That raised in my mind this question: if it is wrong for the established local authority to do something, does it become right to do it if you shackle the local authority and set up some other organisation to do what it would not be right for the local authority to do? I was rather troubled about that, but I was consoled by the fact that in the first sentence of paragraph 8.8 of our report we were able to state: The Committee are very conscious that to transfer development control over so wide an area from democratically elected councils to a body appointed by the Secretary of State is a step which is not easily to be justified, especially in an area such as docklands where the attachment to local democracy was shown to be so strong …". If we learned one thing throughout this marathon or herculean task, it was the strength of the feeling among the local community. It has been said that a percipient observer, someone such as Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, can still see in London the signs that London was once simply a collection of villages which gradually became joined together, and certainly the local community spirit in Docklands is, I believe, as strong as that which one can find anywhere in the country.

The only other matter that gave me disquiet arises from the last sentence in paragraph 8.4 of our report, which reads as follows: it is to be remembered that council tenants now have the right to buy their homes, and this may contribute to a solution of the problem". That sentence is in one of the few parts of the report in which I had some hand in the drafting, and I must confess that, given a free hand, I would have made more of this point. It is early days to know how strongly the right to buy a council house will catch on among tenants. I think that it was only last autumn that the right to buy was established. I believe that it might catch on to a very considerable extent and might make nonsense of some of the calculations that were made before last autumn about proportions of public and private housing which would be desirable.

Very heavy weather was made by witnesses before the committee of striving to achieve exact proportions of public and private housing, not simply throughout the Docklands as a whole, but in every single, separate area. But on the other hand, one of the witnesses before us told us what I think must be self-evident to many of your Lordships: that Londoners have the habit of commuting very considerable distances between their homes and their place of work. Therefore, it seems to me that what is important is to get right the housing mix, between public and private over London as a whole, and not to strive to get it right in every single, small area. I believe that if one does so strive in every single, small area, the new right to buy council houses, so turning public housing into private housing, will make nonsense of some of the calculations that are to be made.

My final point is allied to that. We were told much about the need to attract to the Docklands the key workers in industry. I suppose that the key workers are the warrant officers and the NCOs of the industrial world, and we were told that private housing would be necessary in order to attract these important people into the Docklands. I can only say that if I were a key worker in industry, being offered a job in Dock-lands, and being told, "There is a private house available for you, you can take out a mortgage, buy it and settle in it", I might be rather daunted by that prospect. But let us suppose that I were told, "You can rent a council house, take your job, see how you settle into it and into the neighbourhood and enjoy life there, and then if you do, at the end of three years"—or whatever is the qualifying period—"you will have your opportunity to purchase your council house". I should have thought that that would be a much more attractive proposition to put before one of the key workers in industry. I have come to the end of my catalogue of reservations. I feel better for having ventilated them, and I hope that my remarks will have contributed to the debate.

4.35 p.m.

The Earl of Crawford and Balcarres

My Lords, in participating in the debate I feel that perhaps first should declare an interest, in that the Government in their London Docklands Development Corporation Order 1980 originally proposed that the Royal Mint site should be included within the urban development area; that the Royal Mint site should come within the planning authority and the ambit of the development corporation. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Cross of Chelsea, has already said, the Select Committee, when it considered this matter, recommended that the site should lie outside the area of the urban development authority. The committee felt, quite understandably, that the Royal Mint site did not really historically form part of the Docklands. The site is in fact owned in large measure by the Crown Estate, and it is as First Commissioner of the Crown Estate that I feel I should declare an interest.

I imagine that the site of the Royal Mint is very well known to all of your Lordships. The area that we are discussing under the amendment order is a substantial one; it amounts in all to about six acres. Because of the slope of the land, it is in an extraordinarily dominant situation. Without any question, it is a site of great significance to the whole surrounding area. First, there is the commercial importance of the area. It lies on the eastern edge of the City. It is also a site of great historical importance, being very close to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, and it is an area to which many visitors and tourists coming to London almost automatically gravitate. Within the site there is an important classical building. The whole complex of buildings which constituted the Royal Mint were originally designed by John Johnson, and on his death in 1807 the building was completed by Sir Robert Smirke. I think it fair to say that this classical building contributed in its own right to the fact that the area is designated as the Tower Outstanding Conservation Area. I suspect that those features of the Royal Mint site are known to all of your Lordships.

However, in addition to those features, the site has a strategic importance, in that, as the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, said, it is the natural gateway to the Docklands. The London Docklands Development Corporation—and I think everyone who is, or has been, concerned with the regeneration of the dockland area—sees this part of East Smithfield as being the gateway to the Docklands. When the redevelopment of the Docklands and of this area has taken place, it will be through this part of East Smithfield that commerce, traffic and population will flow into the docklands.

In the eyes of the Crown Estate Commissioners, the situation demands, and must receive, a quite outstanding development. It is our purpose to strive for something of quite unusually high quality for the area—high quality architecture, workmanship and materials, and high quality landscape design for the area. At the very least, the development which is undertaken must be compatible, I should have thought, with what is going to be done in the St. Katharine's Docks site, which lies immediately across the road, south of the Mint.

One of the most exciting possibilities which presents itself because of the redevelopment of the whole area is that of creating a physical link between the Royal Mint site and the St. Katharine's Docks—in fact, creating for the Royal Mint site a dockside frontage which does not exist at all at the moment. Preliminary talks have already taken place with the owners of the St. Katharine's site, and these preliminary talks show that the owners of the St. Katharine's site share wholeheartedly and enthusiastically the commissioners' feeling that, here, a very great architectural and landscape opportunity presents itself.

I think I can give an indication of the scale of what we have in mind. The Mint site, to which the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross of Chelsea, and myself are referring, is very large indeed. It is six acres. But in addition the area of the St. Katharine's site which is going to be developed, and to which we would hope to undertake a landscape linking and architectural linking, is a further 28 acres. This, together, could form a unique area of high quality development facing, in one direction, towards the City and constituting, in the other direction, a gateway to the Docklands. Such a development would, of course, be situated right in the very heart of one of the most historic areas of London.

Our only anxiety at the committee's recommendation lies in the fact that the two gateposts of this gateway to the City that I am describing will lie within the ambit of two different planning authorities. The planning authority for St. Katharine's will be the corporation; the planning authority for the Royal Mint site will be the London borough of Tower Hamlets. It is therefore absolutely essential that the two planning authorities agree to the basic approach and the main elements of development. The necessary architectural and landscaping harmony which one needs for both sides of the gateway will be tragically lost if there is not full agreement between the two planning authorities. The task will be something like building a great arch, the two pillars of which are within the responsibility of different authorities; but, of course, in the case of a development of this importance and on this scale the complexity is infinitely greater than the mere building of an arch.

The commissioners are quite sure that the Secretary of State will be aware of this aspect, and that he will feel satisfied that the matters can be appropriately handled so that none of the really great opportunity which lies before London will in fact be lost. I should like to express the hope that perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, will be able to confirm this view, and also endorse on behalf of the Government the Crown Estate Commissioners' approach to their redevelopment task. If he could confirm this it would be a great reassurance to the Crown Estate Commissioners in their task of creating a really worthwhile development which is so important to London and which, I believe, will play a major part in the regeneration of the Docklands.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Ampthill

My Lords, may I first add my tribute to the chairman of the Select Committee, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross of Chelsea? He steered the long proceedings with such unerring skill and unfailing good humour that I am sure the whole House will feel greatly in his debt. For those of us who sat with the noble and learned Lord it was an educational experience which will stand us in good stead if we should ever be selected for such tasks again—but the House might reasonably decide that we are by now over age!

The committee will also be grateful for the appreciative remarks made by the noble Lord the Minister and by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk. I regret that the noble Baroness does not agree with the establishment of an Urban Development Corporation, but I shall try to do my best to persuade her as if she were present. The noble Earl is concerned about the Mint site. So, indeed, was the committee. We appreciated the supreme importance of it; but we could not get away from the fact that it is not part of Docklands, and I think we also took into account the fact that the Crown Estate Commissioners were big boys and could probably fight for themselves.

Before embarking on what I believe to be the main issue, may I briefly refer to one matter to which no reference is made in our report owing to our wish to keep that document to a reasonable length? Scattered throughout the area are a vast number of buildings of some architectural merit, mostly warehouses of the Victorian era. They are attractive in their Dickensian way, and many should of course be preserved to retain some of the character of the area; but I think it was the general view of the committee that the department should consider whether future development will not be inhibited by the number of preservation orders which have been made. The buildings were not too well constructed, and conversion to other uses is neither easy nor cheap. They also tend to be situated, for obvious reasons, on the banks of the Thames—the most attractive sites for future projects, of whatever kind those may be.

I now turn to the subject which has exercised me most during the course of the inquiry—the fears of the petitioners against the order. A distinction must naturally be made between the fears of the boroughs and those of the community groups, though some are shared. In the case of the boroughs, their civic pride is obviously hurt, for some of the powers they have until now exercised will pass to others. One witness compared the arrival of an Urban Development Corporation with the dissolution of the monasteries, but I shall not burden the House with that fantasy.

The boroughs mind very much that Government money is to be channelled through the UDC and not through them. They are alarmed that their great local knowledge will not be heeded by the UDC. They believe that they possess the entrepreneurial spirit that is required, if only the funds are available to them. They are apprehensive that their electorate will be giving them hell for developments over which they will not have control. They see their land for public housing disappearing for office blocks and picturesque pads for folk from Chelsea and Hampstead.

These are valid concerns, genuinely held. If the UDC is set up, it will be imperative for it to acknowledge them and to ensure that harmony prevails between their organisation and the borough councils. I see no reason why this should not happen. The boroughs got on very well with the Docklands Joint Committee, though that body was, of course, largely their own creature—and a fairly ineffectual one, at that. Might they not welcome a gutsier set-up; one with teeth, that can acquire the land that the statutory undertakers cling on to, that knows the ropes in the City and has access to the Secretary of State? Provided the issue of land for public housing is resolved, I foresee the likelihood of great progress being made.

The fears of the community groups are of a different sort and, although I have sympathy and, I hope, understanding for them, it is to a lesser degree. I should be able to tell your Lordships how many of the groups there are in Docklands, but they are born and they wither, they spawn and they amalgamate and no two articulate activists weaving their way through them all could produce the right number. The total is surely close to three figures.

The most potent of them is the Docklands Forum, and potent it unquestionably is. While leading counsel for the boroughs in his closing speech strongly disclaimed that there was evidence to support it, your committee had little doubt that the Docklands Forum had in 1980 successfully squelched the DJC's determination to revise the original strategic plan, which was patently incapable of fulfilment. The Forum has a wide-ranging membership of just over 40, including such diverse elements as the CBI and the Surrey Docks Child Care Project—each with one vote, so that no one can say that it is not democratic. I shall have to return, with some reluctance to the word "democracy", for we heard it uttered countless times; but for the moment it should be said that the forum, unlike some of the other groups, does not reach its decisions in considerable ignorance of the facts.

The forum itself was not a petitioner against the order; we do not know why. Some of its constituent members did petition; some of the other groups petitioned but called no evidence so could not be cross-examined; individuals who were members of groups which did not petition nevertheless gave evidence on behalf of other groups which had petitioned. A number of the groups were formed very recently when the shadow of a UDC loomed. How representative the groups are in reflecting the views of those who live and work in Docklands is hard to establish.

Your Lordships may take all this as a splendid example of local democracy working, but I hope that I may be forgiven for saying that this Member of the Select Committee found it more than somewhat confusing. The overall impression left with me is that the groups are united only by an allergy to change. Is it wrong that their "clout" should be reduced? Is it right that it is better to do nothing than risk making planning mistakes? The Docklands Forum shares this nostalgia for the past. Like so many who dwell in Docklands, they have little recognition that the work practices of the dockers and their predecessors may have contributed to the closure of the docks and their related industries. They are concerned, as are the borough councils, with what they believe to be the best interests of those who presently live in the area. One respects and shares their concern for those living in this wasteland, but it is dreadfully frustrating that they do not see that new enterprises have to be planted and grow in the corner of the world that they love so much.

The fear common to both the borough councils and the community groups is that the establishment of a UDC is a mortal blow to democracy. We referred in our report to a pamphlet called Local Democracy Works. Perhaps, though the inaccuracies in that document do not give one great confidence and neither does the extent of the achievement in Docklands over the past few years bear it out.

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, in a breezy speech a few Friday mornings ago said: Democracy is all right as long as you do not give way to it".—(Official Report, col. 703; 15/5/81). In fairness, it should be said that his noble friend Lord Mishcon intervened a few moments later to describe the speech as "eccentric"; but, in the context of the future of Docklands, I think that I go along with Lord Houghton. The setting up of a UDC may well erode the capacity of the individual voter or the groups to influence the plans of the UDC in the same way as they have stultified those of the DJC. But the influence of the local people will still be considerable, for the UDC will need to consult the boroughs in accordance with Section 140 of the Act. This is in addition to the ordinary obligations to consult as the planning authority. On the other hand, I think it may well happen that the groups will not participate to the same extent in the making of decisions; I regard this as a price worth paying in order to cause speedier progress to be made.

The scale of the disaster which has overwhelmed this huge area of the capital is so great that I believe that only the new machinery that Parliament approved last autumn can hope to grapple with it. It is not the case that there is no industry left in Docklands. For the past decade there have been three: the making of plans, the discussion of plans and the revision of plans. High expectations have been raised by this activity but pathetically little has happened on the ground. For the sake of the dwindling population still living there, for the sake of London and for the sake of the whole country, I profoundly hope that this House will approve these orders.

4.56 p.m.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, it may not have gone unnoticed that this is an occasion on which my Front Bench seem not to be in full agreement wth the stand I have taken in supporting the Select Committee's recommendations. That is not to say that I have not a great deal of sympathy with some of the views expressed by my noble friend Lady Birk. I expressed some of those concerns in my own speeches on Second Reading and in Committee. What one must consider today is that we are considering the report of a committee which heard detailed evidence lasting some 46 days. Although the conclusions and recommendations are unanimous and each member of the committee would have arrived at his views for different reasons, nevertheless they were unanimous. It must not be assumed that they were arrived at without misgivings and without serious consideration. The transcripts will give evidence to that. We have before us a report of only 15 pages, a little over 7,000 words. The noble Lord the Chairman of Committees has just said that the transcripts are of 3,406 pages and 2 million words. That is what we members of the committee are basing our conclusions and recommendations on—listening to 2 million words. And, what is more, every committee member posed many questions.

I should like to echo what my collegaues have said in saying what good fortune we had in having the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross, as our chairman. He helped to make our committee (if I may use the word) pleasurable for this period of time. But it was a happy committee and my colleagues, as well as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross, assisted greatly in that.

As the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, has said, we did not lightly put on one side the question of taking away democratic control over development control. For myself, I was impressed by the obvious pride of the local authority witnesses in their work for their own councils and for their particular area. The report indicates that the committee value far too highly the work of the local council easily to dismiss their role in this matter. As the evidence unfolded, it seemed clear to me that there were outstanding and urgent problems. First, the speedy availability of land is essential if this work is to proceed; secondly, there was the uncertainty as to whether adequate funds would be available from central Government if there was no urban development corporation. It was not for your Lordships' Select Committee to decide on the question of availa- bility of funds. If they were not available, this would hold up the work.

Third, was the drying up of finances for new public housing because of cuts in the HIP (Housing Investment Programme) of the councils by the Government; and the fact that the councils only had money to carry through rehabilitation of existing housing stocks. Fourth, was the urgency of attracting private investment which is absolutely vital for the work of bringing in new industries and the development of Docklands. It is clear from the report that the committee appreciate the work put in by the DJC in the preparation of the strategic plan. The corporation and chairman-designate said this would be retained as the base plan. I was pleased to note that the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, confirmed that in his opening remarks in this debate.

Paragraphs 5.2 and 5.4 and also 8.2 of the report stress that the committee recognises the substantial amount of progress made by the boroughs in dock filling and consolidation, in preparing infrastructure and in carrying out various environmental and community developments. But the evidence before us was clear that the target of new housing by 1982 is well behind, and, although there have been some very helpful new industrial developments, only some 800 new jobs have been created. The fact is that no fewer than 8,500 jobs have been lost during the past five years. I appreciate as well as anyone else that there is a problem of recession, but the LDSP target was for some 10,000 to 12,000 extra jobs by 1982. I may say to my noble friend Lady Birk that we had all the evidence before us in the 2 million words and we also had close consideration and questioning of the operational reports.

The evidence by all witnesses made the committee aware of the obstacles to achieving regeneration. This was more than ever confirmed by the visit to which reference has been made: in particular, the closure of the West India and Millwall Docks as recently as March 1980 showed how this problem had really been accentuated. I also observe on the periphery of the Isle of Dogs the large amount of dereliction on land and property held in private hands. This is another factor to which the new corporation, if it is to be established, will have to pay some attention.

We had before us numerous excellent witnesses. I should like to echo what other noble Lords have said and say how impressed we were by the competence and enthusiasm of the local authorities' officers, chief officers, housing officers, industrial development officers and the planning officers. To me they epitomised the best in public service, which is often criticised by some, including. noble Lords in this House. They were not just treating it as a job but were interested in the people that they served.

I hope that the Secretary of State and the UDC, if established, will recognise this and use the local authorities' staffs to the utmost. To me it is clear that if the corporation acts wisely there will be the fullest co-operation from the borough officers. Evidence before us was that even now there has been close cooperation between the borough officers and the designate-chairman, vice-chairman and chief executive of the UDC. Not only should the expertise and enthusiasm of these officers be used by the UDC but in my view it would be madness to appoint other officers not only because it would duplicate but it would also add unnecessarily to the cost.

It should be noted that the Committee urge in paragraphs 9.9 and 9.10 that officers of the boroughs should be left to supervise some of the developments because of their close acquaintanceship with all the details. This is particularly so for the important development at Hay's Wharf and Chamber's Wharf on the Southwark riverside and the projected large-scale development of the Lysander site in the Surrey Docks.

I draw attention of noble Lords to the section in the report on the extended area on the north Southwark riverside which was not in the Docklands joint area. I draw attention to what the Committee said in paragraph 9.7: … were it not for Butler's Wharf and Platform Wharf the Committee would have hesitated to recommend the inclusion of the 'extended area' in the UDA". The only reason it affected us in this matter is that in the case of Butler's Wharf a substantial sum will be required in connection with conservation because the local development plan insists that conservation be adhered to, and there is lack of money available from the local council to develop housing on Platform Wharf which has been allocated for housing purposes.

Reference has been made to the proposed enterprise zone on the Isle of Dogs. This to me played no part in deciding whether or not to support the UDC. I am satisfied that the Tower Hamlets Council, who have put in a bid for the zone, could have carried this out just as quickly and equally as well as the UDC designate which has also put in for the zone.

I was impressed, as were other noble Lords, by the network of community bodies. This must be almost unparalleled and is certainly unparalleled in my experience of local authority and public work which goes over a long period. Some of them have obviously been established to deal with Dockland problems but others have existed for a very long period and play a very important part in the social life of their areas. I am certain my colleagues on the committee will agree with me that we were impressed by the amount of consultation that there had been by boroughs with these community bodies in the preparation of local plans.

I am very pleased to note the assurance of the chairman designate, Mr. Nigel Broackes, that the UDC, if appointed, will seek to keep a close relationship with these bodies. It is absolutely essential. The Local Government Act provides that when a UDC is established it must prepare a code for consultation with the local authorities. Here I emphasise what my noble friend Lady Birk has said. It is absolutely essential that the code of consultation should be drawn up as quickly as possible. This was emphasised by the Select Committee in paragraph 8.7. It should not wait 12 months. That is something which I believe is essential and this should be proceeded with without delay.

Attention should also be drawn to two paragraphs in the report dealing with the problem of housing. Paragraph 5.8 sets out the very limited amounts of land outside Docklands which the three boroughs have available for house building. The boroughs have been looking to the vacant land in Docklands as opportunities for thinning out congested areas and to give their people opportunity for a better environment. This matter cannot be disregarded and I hope it will not be disregarded by the UDC. This is further explained in paragraph 8.6, and the committee have expressed the view that the UDC ought also to look ahead and have in mind the probable future needs of a borough for land for public housing. I hope that that will be kept in mind because that point is at variance with the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, in his opening speech.

It is to be hoped that the Secretary of State and the UDC will pay heed to the comments and suggestions on various matters which the committee have set out in their report which are supplementary to the brief recommendations. May I with respect also suggest to the Secretary of State that a great deal will depend upon the other appointments that he makes to complete the membership of the UDC? I have noted with concern that in oral Questions to the Secretary of State in another place on 10th June complaints were voiced about the membership of the Merseyside UDC. That must not happen in relation to the Docklands. The corporation will need commercial and industrial expertise to attract the necessary investment and development; but in my view it will also need persons with knowledge and understanding of environmental considerations, and both are needed to regenerate the area and give the Docklands community an environment for which they have been striving for very many years.

May I in conclusion say that I believe that we all want the Docklands to be regenerated. I am satisfied that it cannot be done in isolation. There must be regard to the effect on the areas of the boroughs outside Docklands—and indeed the effect on East London as a whole. I believe the committee's observations can help on this and the various points which I have mentioned. I should like to conclude by saying that I am in full agreement with the conclusions and recommendations. As I said at the outset, the members of the committee would have arrived at these in various ways. I look forward to the UDC with the boroughs and the GLC co-operating together to build in the Docklands something of which at the end of the day all of us can be proud.

5.10 p.m.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

My Lords, I should like to begin my few remarks by paying a tribute to our chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Cross of Chelsea, for his leadership of the Committee and for welding us into a team for this tremendous marathon. It is, I suppose, a matter of some interest that five Peers, with the noble chairman, from quite different sources and with different political convictions, should all have reached the same conclusion on this somewhat controversial subject. I think that was a good deal due to the leadership of the chairman, who saw that we all soaked in equally the facts as they were poured upon us in the months that we sat there; so I thank him.

The debate shows quite clearly—and I hope that all noble Lords will agree with this—that the reason we have all reached the conclusion that a UDC should be set up was the sheer immensity of the task of regenerating London Docklands. Even with the backing of Government finance and influence on a massive scale, the UDC will face a huge challenge. The noble Baroness is absolutely right: the partnership and co-operation of the London boroughs is essential and the five points on which she asked for assurances were reasonable ones which will help, I think, to make the kind of relationship we all want to see there.

I thought that the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, about the membership of the UDC and the rest to be appointed is also a very important one, and I would hope to see some of the members drawn from that area. It is absolutely vital that there should be partnership. I was very sorry that we were unable to satisfy the wishes of my noble friend Lord Crawford. I sympathise with his disappointment about the Royal Mint site and can only think that had that site still been operational the prospects of patronage perhaps might have produced a different result. As it is, we shall have to let it rest, with our sympathy.

The closure of London Docks—and this is a point which has not yet been made fully—has been one of the heaviest blows our national economy has suffered in the last four years. The rundown of the dock labour force between 1960 and 1981 was about 25,000. But one ran reckon that as many again dock-related jobs were lost and so we are talking of a total job loss in that small area of the order of 50,000, which is gigantic. That really is a major calamity, and it is made worse by the fact that the residue of the closedown is hundreds of acres—thousands, I suppose, when we include the Royal Docks—of derelict docks doing nothing, with massive financial and technical problems involved in bringing these specialist installations into some other use.

It really is a very major problem and, seen in this perspective, regeneration does rest primarily on attracting into the area large numbers of businesses, large and small, which will offer new jobs to the local workforce, or those who remain of it—because all too many of the younger ones have already gone out. Here I entirely agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross, that this was the major factor that progressively seeped in upon us. All other developments, however attractive or desirable, must take second place to this. This means that the strategy of redevelopment must give priority, first, to the preparation of new sites for industry and commerce; secondly, to the improvement of local public transport, which is very bad now; and, thirdly, to the provision of attractive sites for private house-building for owner-occupation, plus vigorous marketing of the whole development.

As other speakers have said, the evidence gave us a detailed description of the present situation on the ground and a detailed account of the achievements and plans of the three London boroughs. It quickly became apparent—here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill—that the DJC, having drawn up the LDSP, was really no more than a piece of co-ordinating machinery. The London boroughs proceeded to carry their plans into effect on the ground and I, along with my noble friends, recognise that the boroughs have done much valuable work in the past four or five years in the process of solving some difficult hydraulic and structural problems. I pay tribute to the high calibre of the officials.

They have to their credit some attractive housing schemes and public open spaces to show for it, and the beginnings of some new industrial and commercial developments—for instance, the Billingsgate Fish Market, News International and the new Lysander development, projected but not yet started. These are outstanding examples. The noble Baroness is quite right in saying that there will be more jobs coming through from that but, on the basis of the evidence as we see it now, the record shows, as other noble Lords have said, that in the past five years some 8,500 jobs have been lost and only some 800 have been gained. The fact is that this appalling decline of employment which I have set as the background continues to be a wound which is bleeding and not yet even staunched: much less is the patient on the road to recovery.

My impression was that the boroughs had not given sufficient priority to the preparation of new sites for industry and commerce. In addition they had almost completely neglected private housing schemes to make an attractive proposition to private enterprise to find a home there. One must recognise the fact that a manager of a business contemplating a move has the whole country to choose from and he will not choose the Docklands unless it is made sufficiently attractive to him; and it is the reverse of attractive at present, not only because of the vast areas of derelict docks but also because the area is completely dominated by public authorities and public corporations in ownership of land, houses and employment—about 80 per cent. across the board. This is the reverse of attractive to private enterprise, investing their money and forming new businesses in the area. Here I agree 100 per cent. with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross. These three London Borough Councils have major housing problems. We have heard a lot about them and, my word!, I sympathise with them. It was evident that their first priority was understandably to use the new space they were going to have made available from dock closures for developing new council housing schemes which would help in this respect, and industrial development came second, although they were doing a great deal there too.

I recognise that and sympathise with them over this and I have no doubt that in the context of the closure of London Docks the first priority must be the creation of new jobs. Incidentally, a great deal of new housing will go with that priority as a supporting adjunct. I have been a local government man in the past and recognise the strong feeling in these London borough councils that Government should respect their constitutional independence and allow them to administer the development in their respective territories themselves. I sympathise with them on that. They certainly put up a worthy fight from the word go as soon as the Secretary of State announced that he wished to set up a UDC 21 months ago. But in this case they have on their hands a calamity which goes far beyond the dimensions of any local problem: it is a national calamity of an exceptionally difficult nature and it needs the full strength of our national resources to cure it. It needs to be seen in the perspective of our national economy rather than in the local one. This is what the UDC can offer to give, with the talented and powerful leadership of Mr. Broackes and Mr. Bob Mellish, with tremendous standing in that area and in Parliament, and the large-scale Government finance and vesting orders to get it going.

Even then, I would stress again that the UDC can succeed only if the London borough councils will give it full support and co-operation. They will continue to be responsible for the major part of all the local public services in the area, and of course they have got all the local records. But they have to their credit a great deal of the infrastructure and new development work already done, on which the UDC can build. So the ideal solution for the regeneration of this calamity area is that the UDC and the London borough councils should work in partnership. That is the only way it can be achieved. This gives the best prospect for success and, in that spirit, I hope that this noble House will approve the order.

5.20 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, I must offer my regret that my name does not appear on the official list of speakers. That is due to a misunderstanding which was entirely my fault. None the less, I trust that your Lordships will bear with me in the circumstances, and allow me to offer a few observations on this difficult problem. I say that it is a difficult problem, but there is no real ideological difference here. The Labour Party is not a party which is opposed to the development corporation as such. Indeed, historically I think it can be claimed that the Labour Party is the father and mother of the development corporation. So from that point of view, the party is not, in principle, opposed. The real question is whether this particular proposal is one which ought to obtain our support; and I am bound to say that I was deeply impressed by the remarks made from our own Front Bench by my noble friend Lady Birk, who seemed to me to put forward cogent reasons why this proposal is not one which ought to gain the support of the House.

My own background, I must freely admit, like that of the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, who has just spoken to us so convincingly from his own point of view, is one of local government. I have not myself served on a development corporation, but my wife has served on one in Northampton. I can, therefore, claim some knowledge at secondhand of how a development corporation works. My wife was also, like myself, at one time a member of the GLC and the LCC, and one has the opportunity of comparing the two from close personal experience.

There are some things which, in certain circumstances, a development corporation can do which a local authority cannot do. The ideal situation in which a development corporation can operate, and has operated in the past, is where there is no suitable authority to carry out the functions over the whole area. This has been the case in most of the development corporations which have been set up by the Labour Party. They have been in areas in which the local authorities were overlapping and were not capable of covering an area or did not have powers to carry out the functions.

In this area, however, we have in the Greater London Council a body which regards itself as capable of carrying out this function, given the necessary backing and finance. There has been some reference to the role of the boroughs, but relatively little has been said about the GLC. When I received, as I did, a letter from the Director of Administration and Solicitor to the Greater London Council, Mr. Fitzpatrick, asking for my support to oppose this order, I naturally gave it very careful consideration and I am bound to say that the GLC seems to me to put up a very strong case.

The view that it takes on, for example, the question of the forum, which the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, raised is: The council fears that the direct democratic links between Londoners and the organisation of Docklands development developed by means of the Docklands Forum and the Forum's representation on the Docklands Joint Committee will be broken and not replaced, leaving East Londoners without a voice in their future. It is additionally important that these links should be strengthened as the Forum is the only local organisation on which the TUC is directly represented.". That is one point of view.

Another point made by the Greater London Council in the document which it has been kind enough to send to me is its position as a planning authority. It feels that the new authority will take away from the Greater London Council the planning powers which it at present possesses. In other words, it will render the GLC's decisions nugatory in this area which is normally under its control. It says that after the order has been gone through, and after the subsequent powers have been given to the new authority, the GLC, will not even be the final arbiter to decide whether any proposal is in conflict with the statutory structure plan for London. The UDC will not be a plan-making authority and the plan-making authority will have no power to ensure compliance with or achievement of its plan". The GLC therefore feels that the new authority will, in fact, take away the proper powers and the proper functioning of the Greater London Council in this area.

The noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, who introduced the order, said that this was a single-minded authority which would not be diverted by the necessity of engaging in all kinds of other activities. To an extent, that is right. It is the strength of a development corporation that it is able to concentrate on its one function. But the GLC—I think, somewhat cogently—points out that it is not necessarily a virtue. It says that: It could lead to adverse effects on surrounding areas and centres"— surrounding areas which would be within the GLC area— as the UDC—being necessarily a single-minded authority—will not have regard to the wider effects of any proposal. This is essentially a GLC role. I think that the GLC has a point there. It might be said that this could be overcome by association, by discussion, by friendly relationships between the two bodies. But there seems to me to be a possibility of inherent conflict here, and I am rather inclined to doubt whether that kind of relationship could be satisfactorily established.

I shall not burden your Lordships with the dozen pages of closely typed arguments with which the GLC has provided me, setting out the financial consequences of what will happen. I shall not burden your Lordships with the other argument which the council puts forward, that if it had been given the financial backing which the new authority is to receive, it would itself have been able to carry out in the past the duties which will be placed upon the new authority. However, I shall give your Lordships the conclusion to which the GLC document comes, and which is quite short. It reads: With suitable resource allocations from central government, it is contended that the local authorities and the DJC could have achieved what the new UDC is intended to achieve. Instead, the draft Order proposes the creation of a 'quango' to which Government funds are to be directed. Such a body is not subject to democratic control as normally understood, nor is it geared to the needs of the local community. The GLC regards it as undesirable and not required". I am very much afraid that my noble friend Lady Birk will not get from the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, the proper assurances in reply to the five undertakings to which she asked him to reply. I hope that he paid full attention and has a proper note of those five undertakings, and that she will receive an answer to each one of them. I rather suppose that she will not receive the kind of answer that she wants. If I am right in believing that, then I hope that we shall decide not only to oppose this order but to divide the House against it.

There is one other point which I should like to make. The relationship between a development corporation, a non-elected body, and a local authority, an elected body, might be said to have something in common with the relationship between this House and another place. But in the relationship between these two we have no hesitation in this House in saying that the elected organisation must take priority. We have no hesitation in saying that the elected body is the one whose views must prevail. If I could be satisfied that that would be the relationship between the new development corporation and the GLC, I should be reasonably happy with this arrangement. But as I am satisfied from the order that the fact of the matter is that the unelected body will prevail over the elected body if there is any conflict between them, then for that reason I oppose this order and I hope, as I said, that we shall divide against it.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, in commenting on all the points which have been made by your Lordships, I cannot resist the temptation to comment first on the observations made by the last speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney. He said that the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, may not receive the assurances that she wants. She may indeed not receive the assurances that she wants, but assurances she will certainly get from me and an answer to all the points that she made. Whether the noble Baroness will be satisfied with the answers she gets, only she can decide. But I assure noble Lords that the noble Baroness will get answers.

As to the noble Lord's comment about dividing the House, I am not sure whether that was a threat or a promise. I can assure the noble Lord that the prospect does not daunt me too much. There has been expressed in today's debate a real interest in what is being attempted. Everything that has been said has been most constructive. I recognise a welcome in your Lordships' House for these proposals, for which I am most grateful.

May I refer specifically to the points which were made by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk. Her concern is not new to us. She expressed it when we discussed this matter last year during the passage of the Local Government Planning and Land Bill. Very few today will agree with her when she talks about the romance of docks and docklands. Romance there may well have been but, as I see it, there is not very much romance in it today. If we can bring back to it something of that romance, rather than it being a negative it will be a positive conclusion to reach.

The noble Baroness said that the UDC was undemocratic, unnecessary and friendless. We can talk about the democratic aspect of the UDC, but neither I nor, indeed, would the committee accept that it is unnecessary. The noble Baroness only had to listen, as she did later on, to realise that the UDC is not friendless—far from it.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I did say that it was locally friendless. I knew that it had plenty of friends here.

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, the noble Baroness may well say that it is locally friendless, but she would have to bring a lot of evidence to convince me that there is nobody locally who is for it. However, this clearly cannot be done now. I owe it to the noble Baroness specifically—I shall do it as quickly as I can—to refer to the five points which she made regarding assurances. On consultation before laying further orders, I should point out that a consultative memorandum on the proposed planning régime was issued on 5th February. Comments were received and considered. A meeting was held with the local authorities and the shadow corporation and revised proposals were circulated for comment. The noble Baroness's reference to only seven days being allowed for consultation was somewhat misleading. May I assure the noble Baroness, and the House, that we shall continue to consult all those who are involved about proposed orders.

If I may turn to the point made by the noble Baroness about the need for a code of consultation to be mutually agreed, I can assure the House that the LDDC will do its utmost to reach agreement with the local authorities. I hope everyone agrees that it would be unreasonable to expect me to say more than that.

Thirdly, the LDDC has wide general powers to contribute to the provision of local authority and other services. The Secretary of State will certainly expect the LDDC to frame its programme with the boroughs' needs in mind. Turning to her fourth point, may I assure the noble Baroness that the LDDC will take full advantage of the accumulated experience and expertise of the local authorities. I am concerned that it is a private sector expertise that they will be buying in. On the noble Baroness's fifth point, I can assure your Lordships that both the LDDC and the Government will bear in mind the housing needs, present and future, of the local authorities when considering the vesting orders.

I was grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cross of Chelsea, for what he had to say. As one might have expected, he put his finger very clearly on the important points. He told us what had impressed him when looking at the matter and stressed, as did all speakers, the importance of working together with the local authorities and the local agencies. We fully recognise how critical this is if there is to be the progress for which we are all looking.

The noble Lord, Lord Airedale, is concerned as to whether or not this is in the national interest. He spoke about somebody's reference to this as London's backyard. Well, it is round about a 6,000 acre backyard, which is a pretty sizable backyard. I know that he agreed in the end that this was of major significance. The noble Lord referred to the Secretary of State as being the chosen instrument; he would have preferred Parliament to be the chosen instrument. I should have thought that the Secretary of State of a Government with a parliamentary majority stands in the locus of Parliament's representative. But possibly we are playing with words. One thing which I can tell the noble Lord, and I hope that he will find it interesting and encouraging, is that 120,000 council tenants bought their homes between May 1979 and May 1981, and that at present there are 250,000 applications. This may not be generally known, and it is not without some significance.

I am pleased to see that my noble friend Lord Crawford and Balcarres has been able to stay. I was delighted to hear about the Crown Estates' approach to the development of the Royal Mint site and their sense of the great opportunity which it provides for a superb scheme. I have already referred to the site's significance as a gateway to Docklands. I certainly agree that it is crucial that speed is made in settling a development brief for the site which recognises this, so that progress can he made and the opportunity realised. Tower Hamlets and the LDDC will certainly need to work closely with each other and with the Crown Estates.

On the point of concern about there being two planning authorities, I hope I may assuage the noble Lord's fears by saying that when the planning order is made to effect the transfer of planning powers to the UDC it will provide that there must be consultation between neighbouring planning authorities about any proposed developments which affect both authorities. In practice, I do not think we shall encounter the kind of concern to which my noble friend referred, and which I know concerns him.

I was most encouraged by what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill. Somehow, he caught the flavour of what we are trying to do here. He covered the one point which I want to make, and which I shall cover in a moment, when he spoke about the scale of the problem. That really is the key to it. It is the scale of it, the size of it, that we are talking about. I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he said. I shall look forward to reading carefully in Hansard what he said.

May I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, for adopting such an open-minded approach. I know he will not misunderstand me if I say that it was a typically open-minded approach. He and I have debated many matters together in this House, and have always found that to be his attitude. When we debated this matter last year during the course of the Local Government Planning and Land Bill, I realised his concern and his anxieties. It is all the more reason why I should pay tribute to his open-mindedness. It gives me great encouragement in many other directions. I am sure that at the end of the day he will be pleased that his reservations—reservations which I know he still has, and that is not unreasonable—have turned out to be unfounded.

As for my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford, who is always of such great help to me and whom I am always so pleased to see sitting there whenever I am involved in debates in your Lordships' House, I am grateful to him for what he said. He seems to put it together in a few words, but he always gets it right—at least from where I sit. He said that Dock-lands must be made more attractive to prospective private employers. That is right. That is the key to what this is all about.

There is no way in which the public sector, with any amount of money, is going to put in resources which can do the trick here and if the private sector is not brought in, one way or another, it will simply be another extension and there will be improvement and, yes, the local authorities were making progress and, yes, the DJC could show some good schemes and tribute has been paid to them. All these things we readily acknowledge, but there is the question of the private sector coming in—and it can only be a single-minded body given the resources, having the skill, the know-how and the willingness to co-operate: and, my goodness! that has been made clear enough. It is only such a body that can really achieve this. That is why we are so enthusiastic; that is why we are willing to plough in a lot of money in resources. We believe in it.

We do not want to go on so that in 20 or 25 years' time everyone will say "Well, yes, it is better". It will be better, but it will not be where we want to be and it will not be within the timescale that we want. So I have no hesitation in commending these orders to you, in asking you to support them, and when your Lordships have done that I am confident that we shall all see a situation in Docklands that would not come about if we were not to make this move now.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, before the Minister sits down may I just come back to some of the assurances. Unfortunately, Hansard had my papers when the noble Lord was replying. I, too, would like to say how pleased I was to see the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, present today. On the question of the code of consultation, I asked the Minister if he would give an assurance that it would only be approved if it was mutually agreed, and I was not quite sure how firm that was. Surely it is possible to get it mutually agreed, is it not? I do not think I received a direct answer.

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, what I did was to assure the House that the LDDC will do its utmost to reach agreements with local authorities. No one can say that it will reach agreement on every point, but I know that the importance of so doing is well appreciated by all concerned, because it has been said by nearly every speaker, and I endorse that. If for some reason we cannot work with them, the progress will be slow and unsatisfactory and that we do not want. I hope that satisfies the noble Baroness, Lady Birk.

On Question, Motion agreed to.