HL Deb 03 July 1984 vol 454 cc234-70

8.52 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 7.

[Amendments Nos. 49 to 59 not moved.]

Clause 7 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 60 not moved.]

Lord Evans of Claughton moved Amendment No. 61: After Clause 7, insert the following new clause:

("Report on financial consequences of abolition.

.Within three months of the date on which this Act comes into force, the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament a report on the financial consequences of abolishing the Greater London Council and the metropolitan county councils and transferring functions from those councils to any other body or bodies, specifying in particular what difference, if any, is likely to occur in public expenditure.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to require the Government to produce reliable information on the vital issue of abolition in time for Parliament's consideration of the main abolition Bill. It imposes a deadline of three months from the passage of this Bill.

During the general election, Government spokesmen widely claimed that savings of £120 million per annum and 9,000 jobs could be achieved by the abolition of the metropolitan counties and the Greater London Council. Since the magic period of the general election, the Government have consistently declined to publish details of the savings they claim will be made. Further, when introducing the Bill on Second Reading the noble Lord the Minister said: It has even been suggested there will be no savings. There are bound to be transitional costs. But can anyone doubt that the elimination of a whole tier of government will not lead to savings…?"—[Official Report, 11/11/84; col. 892.] I do not pretend that I have delivered those words with the same emotion or sincerity that the Minister used when he said them, but those were his words.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I recognise them.

Lord Evans of Claughton

The noble Lord says that he recognises them. As far as I can detect, no estimate has been given of the transitional costs referred to by the noble Lord the Minister. So far as I know, no evidence has been adduced to support the plea that eventual savings must follow, although I concede that one might expect there to be savings from the abolition of a tier of local government.

Nevertheless, one might have that anecdotal view, but the evidence, such as it is, points to the opposite direction. In fact, the Government do not propose the elimination of a whole tier of government. The functions of the Greater London Council and of the metropolitan counties are not being abolished but are merely being redistributed to other bodies—to district councils, to London boroughs, and to quangos. In my submission, the likely effect will be that the costs arising from duplication and overlapping may increase as a result of the substantial number of members of the additional bodies that will be created under the proposed legislation.

I pray in aid the independent study of likely costs commissioned by the metropolitan counties from the consultant group Coopers and Lybrand. I regret to say that the Secretary of State declined to give information or evidence to Coopers and Lybrand, but their study concludes: There are unlikely to be any net savings as a result of the structural changes proposed by the Government and there coud be significant extra costs". Those extra costs were calculated by Coopers and Lybrand as being between £36 million and £61 million.

Next, and understandably, I suppose, the noble Lord the Minister and his right honourable friend the Secretary of State have preferred to give more credence to studies produced by the metropolitan district councils, who, of course, as I said earlier in our debates in Committee, have a strong interest in disposing of the metropolitan counties. The metropolitan district councils have produced studies, but, in my submission, without detailed knowledge of the services provided by the metropolitan counties.

The most recent study they commissioned was by Price Waterhouse, and it was a conglomeration of previous and discredited studies. It was produced for the Conservative-controlled district councils in the West Midlands. This report was compiled in the very brief period of three weeks, based on a collection of information that took only four days to produce. Although it incorporates information provided by only six of the 36 metropolitan districts, it arrives at a figure for savings claimed to be across the whole of the metropolitan counties. The report was rushed out two days before the 1984 municipal elections for some reason which I am sure more sophisticated Members of the Committee could explain.

The report, in commenting on the level of its own evidence, states: Much of this information is often insufficient, either for the purposes of apportioning services which will become the responsibility of the participating authorities on an individual basis or for the purposes of understanding, for example, how certain central establishment costs or overheads are allocated or apportioned to the relevant services". From this, it seems that a study was carried out without the necessary level of detailed information as to how the services of metropolitan counties are organised. The Greater London Council believes that if abolition takes place, rates will have to rise in 25 out of the 32 boroughs to maintain the existing level of services.

I am sure that the noble Lord the Minister from his happy smile will be suggesting that perhaps this is an exaggeration and that the existing level of services will not be maintained. The stockbrokers, Fielding Newson Smith, have also shown that abolition will probably cost London ratepayers at least £10 million a year more as the cost of borrowing for capital schemes by the 32 boroughs, would be greater than borrowing the same money by one authority; namely, the Greater London Council.

The evidence suggests as things stand at present that such savings as might be made would only be made at the cost of services. No other conclusion seems possible unless the Minister can show how £120 million every year and 9,000 jobs can be reduced by redistributing existing functions to other bodies without a loss of the quality of the services. I am the first to concede that some of the services that may be provided at the moment are services which would not be provided and would not be needed perhaps by the residents of the Greater London Council area and by the metropolitan counties.

However, I submit that such savings of that kind—about which much play has been made in your Lordships' House and in this Committee about unnecessary services to various groups which have been outlined from time to time, on services to prostitutes and lesbian and other groups—are minuscule quite frankly in the overall cost of local government. I know of no case in the period in which I have been involved in local government where reorganisation has proceeded without some much more reliable investigation of the likely cost and savings.

I do not believe that this Government can have much confidence in expecting that Parliament will be satisfied that their claims are well justified since they have not produced evidence nor have they sought to release or seek further information as to how the savings claimed by the noble Lord the Minister and his right honourable and noble friends, made in the general election, can be substantiated. The Association of Chambers of Commerce, for instance, said on 9th April this year when they challenged the Secretary of State to provide a detailed breakdown of savings: Only if such evidence and guidance is forthcoming can the continued support of the business community for abolition be counted upon. These are the kinds of criticism which a Conservative Government should take very seriously.

In my opinion—and I am quite happy to accept such evidence if it is provided—if reliable, independent information is provided of the saving in costs that can be made from abolition then I think that I and a great number of my noble friends—and I am sure members of the Labour Party—would be willing to take the claims of the Government more seriously. But such evidence as is so far available suggests that costs will rise while services will suffer. So far as I know, no evidence exists to justify the proposals for abolition. In my submission therefore it would be irresponsible to proceed further without furnishing proper information to your Lordships' Committee or to Parliament itself to enable it to consider the full implications of the proposals.

In other words, what we are saying is that really the Government should put much more seriousness into detailing the claims it makes for the savings both in terms of personnel and of cash before they can be expected to be taken seriously in the claims made in the heat of a general election and now that such material saving can be made. So far, in my submission, that evidence has not been produced. I believe that it will be very difficult for the noble Lord the Minister to produce it but I beg of him, if he wants us to consider this matter seriously, to try to produce details of how such savings can be made, in what way they can be made and what evidence he has to support such proposals. I beg to move.

Lord Bellwin

Throughout our debates on this Bill I have acknowledged at all times the legitimate interest of your Lordships in the financial consequences of our proposals. I have made clear that demands for precise and detailed estimates are premature, because the fact is that whatever is said or is not said, much depends upon the decisions that will be taken by the successor bodies throughout 1985 and early 1986. The fact is that until the boroughs and districts have access to the detailed information about the existing GLC and MCC services, and until the planning cycle leading up to 1986–87 begins, it will be impossible to make a comprehensive assessment of the financial consequences of abolition. Although some matters lie within the control of central government, it really is the local decisions that matter. The Government will be able to do no more than report to the House such information as comes to the Secretary of State about those decisions.

The Secretary of State has given a firm undertaking that we will keep Parliament fully informed on the costs and savings from this change. In particular the Financial and Explanatory Memorandum on the main abolition Bill will state the expected effects on public expenditure.

I repeat that assurance now. There is no purpose in placing a clause in this paving Bill to produce an unnecessary report before useful information is likely to be available. The time to debate this is during the proceedings on the main Bill, by that time I hope that information will have been made available to the boroughs and districts and that further indications will be forthcoming of the likely plans of those councils. If I may just comment on some of the observations that the noble Lord made—although I am bound to say again that they are really relevant to the main Bill and not to this Bill—the Coopers and Lybrand report was based on certain assumptions which they chose to make, but that is all that it was. It was based on assumptions. It depends where you start as to how you finish, if you make other assumptions. It is not good enough to simply say, that because Price Waterhouse's study was certainly a much less in-depth study their conclusions are of less value; because there again you have a firm of at least equal stature. No one would claim otherwise. They would not put their name to something which they did not think was valid but they, too, had to make assumptions. The same criticisms could be made of their conclusions because they also had to make assumptions. Therefore, one cannot build a whole case on that.

I attach much more credence to the conclusions by those metropolitan districts or London boroughs who were prepared to make their own assessments in conjunction with their offices, and so on. Their conclusions actually came to much more, in terms of saving, than anything we had ever said. If your Lordships consider the sheer logistics of the whole exercise it is a fact that it will take a whole tier out. Of course, that does not mean that everybody in that tier goes. The overheads, or most of them, go. There are people who are duplicating work. It is what one wants to put on by way of a number. I was about to refer again to the GLC, but I do not want to keep doing so as it is unfair. I am glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, is not in the Committee as she objects to us always quoting the GLC and not the metropolitan counties. Of course, she is right.

I do not want to build a case on the policy decision. The noble Lord could fairly have said that the policy decisions which are taken would be taken differently by another party in power. I have always said that I do not want to make this whole case on the fact that enormous savings would be likely if different policy decisions were made. Nevertheless, it is true. There would be some explaining to do on how there are all these millions to spend on these things. Your Lordships must not say that it is minuscule. I do not consider £9 million spent on a women's committee as minuscule—not that it does not do some good work, but £9 million! The GLC has spent £6 million on propaganda. Where did the money come from? On what grounds was it raised in the first place? It had to say it needed this money for something. It did not say it needed it for these purposes, but it got the money. One might fairly ask: from whom have they got the money and why? Yet we are talking here of tens of millions of pounds as if it were minuscule. It is not; it is massive.

Having said that, I do not want to build a whole case on that. The case must rest on the savings in administrative costs, overheads and other things. That will depend very largely on what the boroughs and districts decide in making decisions. Certainly it does not have to mean that savings will be at the cost of service levels. I smiled, it is true, when the noble Lord said, "The GLC believes". Well, they would, wouldn't they!

I say again that I have said more than I should on a subject which ought to be debated on the main abolition Bill. Nevertheless, I feel that this is an amendment, of all the amendments in his name—and there are many—which the noble Lord would not say is his number one priority. I hope he will feel able to withdraw it.

Lord Evans of Claughton

Whether it is my number one priority amendment or not is very difficult to say, because as the Committee stage goes on my priorities change. Possibly the Government have made too much claim on the savings to be made without being able to substantiate them.

I remember in my days in local government that it was a great thing for my Liberal colleagues in the City of Liverpool to go rushing round saying what terrible amounts of money were being wasted by the Conservative, and then Labour, controlled city council on the Lord Mayor and on balls and other entertainments. It was a good thing and won votes. With the greatest respect to the Government, I suspect they are pursuing the same course. If one takes the global figures for local government expenditure, these expenditures—which we will be discussing under Amendment No. 67 and in the Title of the Bill on Amendment No. 103—are comparatively minor.

If the noble Lord the Minister is saying, "You are spoiling my strategy by insisting on discussing this now; it should be discussed under the main Bill" I say in response to him that if we are to take a sensible view about the main Bill, if we ever reach it, we must know on what he bases these claims about enormous potential savings. They are huge savings—9,000 employees and millions of pounds. The Government have not yet produced the figures, but since the Minister tells us that he will have the figures for us—and I like his confidence that we will be satisfied with his explanation when we come to the main Bill—I will await that with eager anticipation and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 [Postponement of exercise of functions]:

9.14 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 62: Page 7, line 13, at beginning insert— ("() This section shall come into force when an enactment has been passed by Parliament which provides for the abolition of the Greater London Council and the metropolitan county councils and the transfer of the functions.").

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this amendment is to omit Clause 8 in order to enable development plan reviews, boundary reviews and other necessary activities until the substantive abolition proposals are enacted. We are back to the real or unreal nature of tonight's debate. We are literally anticipating, or not anticipating, a statement which may or may not be made. We do not know what we shall be faced with when the Government have made their decision. I am speaking to this amendment because it is a logical consequence of the decision of the Committee on Amendment No. 1.

During the debate in another place Conservative Members of Parliament criticised the Government for gerrymandering, funking elections and threatening the good name of the Conservative Party. None of us on this side of the Committee will object to that or to the veracity of what they were saying. In particular, a former Conservative Prime Minister, Mr. Heath, commenting specifically on Clause 8, thought it unnecessary for the operation of the Local Government Boundary Commission to be suspended.

Under Clause 8 the Secretary of State for the Environment will cease to be under a duty to consider alterations to structure plans. Structure plans are fundamental in the work of the MCCs and the GLC and aim to guide investment in a sensible way. This aim is achieved by a set of policies which offer statutory guidance to district councils in order to harness the resources of the whole area to deal with common problems. Clause 8 also suspends work on, and approvals to, revisions of boundaries.

Subsection (3) removes from the Secretary of State a long-standing duty to consider proposals for transferring functions for co-ordinating recreation on the Thames and other rivers to the GLC. This seems to me to be an unnecessary part of the abolition process brought into the paving Bill. It is no good the Minister saying, as he did in the previous debate, that we are bringing parts of the abolition argument into the paving Bill. In my view that is exactly what the Government are doing with Clause 8, and particularly subsection (3).

Subsection (4) allows the Secretary of State to vary the date of introduction of safety provisions in respect of reservoirs in different parts of the county. This raises the danger that the more vulnerable areas—the densely populated metropolitan areas—will not have the benefit of these safety provisions until after shire areas. The introduction of these provisions is already overdue. The Government should not be bringing forward such provisions in a paving Bill.

During the debate on the Second Reading of the Bill in another place neither the Secretary of State for the Environment nor the Under-Secretary made any reference to Clause 8. It would seem, therefore, that this clause is unnecessary and of no value to the objectives of the Bill.

This is the main basis of our argument. Although the clause itself is unsatisfactory, we are also concerned with the concept of "good housekeeping" —the "good housekeeping" provisions contained in the Government's paving Bill prior to the abolition of the GLC and the MCCs. The Government constantly use the offensive term "good housekeeping". Particularly in respect of Clause 8 we believe that that term is used to conceal a profoundly undemocratic measure, which will bring chaos to London's planning over the next decade.

I should like to draw the Committee's attention particularly to Clause 8(1). This will allow the Secretary of State to halt the further consideration of much needed alterations to the Greater London development plan—the statutory planning framework for London. We have all this ballyhoo surrounding the paving Bill's cancellation of the GLC elections. This clause is really part of the main legislation. I repeat that the Government chide us for bringing main legislation matters into debates on the paving Bill. In our view the Government are doing exactly the same here. We should not let that pass unnoticed.

A great deal needs to be said, and will be said, if not tonight, once the Government have made up their mind and when the Minister has been told what is in their mind. We keep hearing about statements made on the radio, not just this afternoon but also tonight. I promise the Minister that as soon as I hear anything I shall let him know. In the meantime, I beg to move.

Baroness Lockwood

I should like to support my noble friend on the Front Bench, particularly in his reference to the effect that this amendment would have on subsection (1) of Clause 8. I do so not in relation to the GLC but in relation to West Yorkshire, because this is a clause which is going to affect all the metropolitan counties. As I am sure the noble Lord the Minister will be aware, it will have very real repercussions on West Yorkshire.

Like my noble friend, I do not want to trespass too much on the main Bill, but this clause gives the Secretary of State powers to hold up some very important structure plans. In relation to West Yorkshire, the last structure plan went through in 1980. It had been under discussion and debate for some time, so it is now more than four years out of date. Plans are already well in hand to put revised proposals forward. These revised proposals are going very greatly to affect the housing provisions and the preservation of the green belt in an urban conurbation. These are very important and very essential to the amentities of the county as a whole, and not just to individual metropolitan district councils.

Again as the Minister will be very well aware, West Yorkshire covers part of the mining industry. There are very important proposals to be revised in relation to mineral and waste disposal. These are proposals of the kind that cannot be held up just because of the passing of this paving Bill. Therefore, I feel it is indeed essential that we have something along the lines of the amendment that has been moved, to ensure that there is no unnecessary delay to these important proposals.

Lord Skelmersdale

I am somewhat confused by the noble Lord, Lord Graham. I understood that it had been arranged that we would take Amendments Nos. 62, 63, 64, 65 and 66 separately. He then appeared to go ahead and speak to the whole lot. I am quite happy to fit in with his plans as long as the Committee understand that that is what we are doing at the moment.

There is no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Graham, is perfectly correct that, taken together, this series of amendments is (I think in his own words) intended to kill the clause. He called this a logicial extension of the Committee's conclusion on Amendment No. 1. I do not think it is, because these are much needed provisions in an interim situation. The Government have announced their intention to bring in the main Bill and to have it in full operation by 1st April 1986. In that case, like it or not, we are in an interim period, so it is right and proper that we should now make plans for that interim period. Of course I accept that the timing of some of the proposals for the interim may be affected by the decision of the Committee on Amendment No. 1. However, irrespective of that, the interim period exists.

So we are now considering a paving Bill designed to make interim provisions leading up to the abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan county councils and the transfer of functions to the lower tier. As part of these measures Clause 8 (and I make no apology for saying it again) makes some straightforward, good housekeeping provisions. The noble Lord, Lord Graham, cast some aspersions on this phraseology, but I hope to show that the clause as a whole is a perfectly right and proper way to proceed.

The sole purpose of these provisions is to avoid abortive and wasteful work being carried out during the whole of that interim period. It does not prevent useful and worthwhile work from continuing; and it most certainly does not prejudge abolition. If we are to avoid waste during the whole of the interim period, these provisions must be included in the paving Bill. However, if we were to accept this amendment—that is to say, the first amendment, No. 62—then we might just as well leave the whole clause out of the paving Bill altogether and introduce it as part of the main abolition Bill. In the meantime, the Secretary of State and other bodies would continue to be obliged, instead of simply able, to undertake this work, however abortive and wasteful.

The noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, referred to West Yorkshire. I can give her an assurance that if the work to which she has referred is not going to prove to be abortive and wasteful then of course my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will carry on in exactly the same way as he has under previous legislation. Under this clause, he will not be obliged to, but he will be able to, taking account of the circumstances. I believe that this is the proper way to proceed. The best that I can say about the first amendment in the group is that it is illogical. On that ground, I would ask the Committee to think again.

Amendment No. 63 deals with structure planning. There is at present an approved structure plan in force in Greater London and each of the metropolitan counties. However, the GLC and the county planning authorities are expected to keep their plans under review. Under Section 10 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, they may submit to the Secretary of State such alterations as they consider expedient. The Secretary of State may then hold an examination in public under Section 9 of the 1971 Act before taking a decision on any alterations.

The effect of Amendment No. 63 would be to maintain the Secretary of State's duty to consider proposals submitted to him for the alteration of the Greater London development plan or of a metropolitan county structure plan. That would clearly be absurd. It would be a waste of time, money and effort to have to consider alterations that could not be processed before abolition takes place. Amendment No. 69, however, which is part of this group, would take matters one stage further. Its effect would be that any alterations to the Greater London development plan or to a metropolitan county structure plan which had been submitted to the Secretary of State and consideration of which had been postponed under Section 8(1) would be automatically approved at the time that Section 8(1) was repealed. This idea fills me with total horror. It is wholly inappropriate. What we are being asked to put the stamp of Parliament on is a procedure, sight unseen, to override a decision by the Secretary of State. If abolition was not proceeded with, submitted alterations to the GLDP or to a metropolitan county structure plan should be dealt with as if Section 8(1) of the paving Bill had not been in force. The Secretary of State would need to consider the alterations and follow the statutory procedures including probably the holding of an examination in public before deciding whether to approve the alterations, with or without modifications, or to reject them.

Amendment No. 65 seeks to maintain the Secretary of State's duty to consider proposals submitted to him on the transfer of recreation and amenity functions from the Thames Water Authority to the GLC. Subsection (3) is there again to avoid abortive work and unnecessary expense in the transitional period leading up to abolition. Suspending this duty is entirely reasonable. There would be no point in transferring to the GLC a function which, some months later, would revert to the Thames Water Authority or by changing its course go somewhere else if the GLC is abolished. Although the duty is being suspended, the Secretary of State will still be able, if he deems it expedient, to consider proposals; and should abolition fail, this provision would be repealed by order under Clause 1. The transfer of these functions has been under discussion between the Thames Water Authority and the GLC since as long ago as 1975. It is sensible now to suspend the Secretary of State's duty at least until Parliament has decided the main abolition issue.

The final amendment in this group of amendments concerns the Reservoirs Act. I do not think that the noble Lord actually referred to it, so perhaps he intends to move that amendment separately?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

No, I do not.

Lord Skelmersdale

Would the Committee find it useful if I was to refer to it?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I do not think so.

Lord Skelmersdale

In that case, I shall take the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, on a previous occasion, and shut up.

9.30 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The noble Lord read his brief on Amendment No. 63 at breakneck speed, and I can see why. He can only have hoped that we would not notice the fundamental illogicality of what he says. I do not believe that this lame duck Committee stage is the appropriate time to make a long speech. But it is necessary to point out that, under any regime in London and in the metropolitan counties, there will have to be something other than district and local plans. There will have to be some continuation of strategic land use planning, and that I believe is recognised in the Government's own intentions and in streamlining the cities. I believe there is talk of a planning commission which would fulfil those functions.

At present the position in London is that the GLC has been spending three years on producing amendments to the Greater London development plan, which I remind the Committee was drawn up in the 1960s—20 years ago. Those amendments are to be submitted to the Secretary of State in mid-August of this year. If this Bill is passed with Clause 8(1) incorporated in it, it will be this Bill which creates an interregnum during which the Secretary of State is not obliged to consider the submissions of the GLC. Whatever one may think about a Government-appointed planning commission as a way of keeping a structure plan in trim after it has been produced, surely when a democratically-elected GLC has been spending three years on producing it, it is absurd to suggest that there should be this period of time when this Bill is in force when no consideration whatsoever is given to the conclusions which the GLC has reached.

It is not as if this is an un-thought-out matter. The Secretary of State had to be reminded by the High Court that the department was under an obligation to consider amendments. As I understand it, the Secretary of State announced that he was going to see to it that the law which obliged him to consider the amendments to the Greater London development plan would be changed. Clause 8(1) presumably is the legislation which is being put forward to codify that defiance of the High Court's decision.

It is not good enough for the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, to suggest that it is proper to have this period, however long it may be—none of us yet knows that—in which this Bill is in force and in which no action whatsoever is taken to bring up to date a development plan which already is 20 years out of date. In effect, what he is saying is that by the time we go through all the procedures the Greater London development plan will be 30 years out of date. I suggest that that is not acceptable.

Lord Skelmersdale

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh—of course, his experience of Greater London is very much greater than mine—I should like to say that my understanding of the situation is that the GLC was charged in 1965 with creating a plan for London. Subsequently this became the structure plan under the 1971 Act. This plan for London was presented in 1969. Then there was an inquiry under Sir Frank Layfield, until 1972, and it was approved finally in 1976 with the label, if one likes, of a structure plan. As the noble Lord says, quite rightly, it is already out of date. I have no doubt that work is going on in the GLC, and that discussions are going on with the boroughs, on updating it.

But the question is whether in this period of time the Secretary of State should retain the duty to look at it, if indeed it is presented to him. I am quite sure that the noble Lord knows no more than I do as to whether it will be presented to him. But, as is well known, the Government intend to set up a planning commission for London. Again, I have no doubt that it may very well want to look at this whole subject; and there is no earthly reason why it should not.

Although it has not been mentioned yet, in regard to the simplified arrangement that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State announced the other day, I should like to point out that he has suggested that the right thing to do would be to have a local plan in each area, covering the whole borough, as the local structure plan. Again, this is something that I am quite sure the planning commission will want to look at.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The noble Lord's protestations of ignorance and innocence are very affecting. But he ought to have been briefed adequately with the firm knowledge that he is to be presented with substantial amendments to the Greater London development plan, to the structure plan; and that the GLC had to take the Department of the Environment to court within the past 12 months in order to get it to fulfil its statutory duty to consider such amendments. When it came to court, Mr. Justice Hodgson made some very unflattering remarks about the Department of the Environment and said that the department's behaviour was less than might have been expected of a great department of state. In saying that, I do not claim to quote the actual words.

The issue of local plans and district plans is really a red herring. The boroughs will continue, and they will continue to produce their borough plans, which will contain district and local plans. The point about which we are arguing is the structure plan—the Greater London development plan as a whole. The point that we are trying to make—clearly, with no success whatever—is that as long as there is a democratically elected government for London, surely the procedures laid down by law for co-operation between central Government and that democratically elected GLC to revise the structure plan (which, as the noble Lord conceded, is based on the ideas of the 1960s and is therefore out of date) ought to be continued and there ought not to be a gap.

Lord Skelmersdale

This clause does not prevent them from doing that. It simply stops the Secretary of State having a duty, which is what I have sought to explain all along.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

The Minister has ineffectively wriggled away from the main point, which is that there is no need for Clause 8(1) if the Government do not intend to be malicious in their actions in respect of not only the GLC, but also the metropolitan areas on this particular point. The updating of the Greater London development plan has been going on for two or three years and its timetable was agreed by the Department of the Environment. My information is that it will be deposited with the department in July, though in fact mid-August has been mentioned. There will be a period of about two years, until after April 1986, during which the matter can proceed. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Government think that it is better to have 32 separate structure plans for the 32 boroughs, instead of one structure plan for the whole of London.

I should like to quote a ruling given in a recent case involving the Westminster district plan. It may very well have been the same judge as my noble friend quoted. An appeal court judge ruled: The sense of having the two plans"— a structure plan and a local plan— is obvious in that someone must look at London as a whole, and it is impossible to plan for Greater London strictly borough by borough". If the Government have their way and Clause 8(1) stands, we are very much afraid that there will be a great deal of abortive work. Quite frankly, there is nothing political—

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

If the noble Lord will give way, I think that that is a point which I must dispute.

Several noble Lords

Order, order!

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I have not given way. I am not too sure how I am out of order if I am asked to give way and do not give way. So the cry of "Order, order" was directed at the noble Baroness. Of course I shall give way at an appropriate time, unless the noble Baroness wants to point out that the Government's motive is political. If the case is to be made that it is a political act and not a legislative or planning act, then we would be moving a little closer to a real argument on the matter. I am not raising this from the point of view of the political content of the structure plan; I am simply arguing that Clause 8(1) is unnecessary. Of course I shall give way.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

I thank the noble Lord for giving way. The point that I wish briefly to make is that there was no form of consensus whatever on the new amended plan and it has a very much greater political content than the previous Greater London development plan. That is why the minority party at County Hall has objected very strongly to it. That is one point, which is of passing interest. The other point, which is of greater relevance, is that if all these matters are to go to the borough, surely the borough plans will be the more important.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I do not doubt for a moment that in the preparation and completion of a structure plan there will be differences even on party lines as to the land zone use of the area under review. I can appreciate divisions on party lines. However, I am not looking at this as a matter which has a political nexus one way or the other. This is where we and the Government fall out, as we consider that there are roles to be played by an overall London authority which can best be performed in unity, rather than in 32 separate pieces.

There are not that many roles, but there are a number. One of them is to over-view how the planning, reshaping, and reconstruction of London ought best to take place. There are many people wanting to make good speeches on this matter; good speeches are there to be made, and the good briefs are there to be read. So far as we are concerned it is not a matter that we want to leave alone. We are sad that the Government are intent on ignoring the realities for a purpose.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

Of course, there already exists a Greater London plan. The subsection refers only to any alteration to it.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

If the existing structure plan is many years old and will not be altered for many years to come, if Londoners are satisfied that the overview of how Greater London ought to be planned should be left in that way until the 32 separate boroughs come to their 32 separate ways of planning their 32 separate bits, and if that is what we mean by local democracy, then that may satisfy the people, but the result may be something which historians will look back on and consider a disgrace from a land-use planning point of view. In view of the situation and the unsatisfactory nature of the Government reply, I give notice that at a more appropriate time we intend to come back and vigorously pursue these matters. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 63 not moved.]

Lord Skelmersdale moved Amendment No. 64: Page 7, line 18, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord Bellwin, and unusually, the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and the noble Lord, Lord Evans, I beg to move an amendment, on which there is obviously all-party agreement, to leave out subsection (2) of Clause 8. When drafting the Bill it seemed to the Government that there would be little point in reviewing arrangements for authorities which were shortly to be abolished. We have, however, reflected on the matter, and one consideration in particular has weighed heavily with us. If abolition did not go ahead, it would be necessary to reinstate the May 1985 elections to those councils—and to do so as quickly as possible. However, if the Local Government Boundary Commission was stopped from carrying out its present programme of reviews, a very unsatisfactory situation would arise, for the reviews could not then be re-activated and completed in time for the reinstated elections. On reflection, therefore, we have come to the view that subsection (2) ought to be deleted, and I commend the amendment to your Lordships.

Lady Birk

There is not much to say on this, except that it is a rare moment when we are all of the same opinion. We are glad that the Government saw that what was originally in the Bill was a little hasty, and that what is now to be in the Bill—I do not suppose there will be any difference of opinion on it, as we are all on the same side; it would be only the Alliance, or the Cross-Benchers, who could perhaps be against us on this matter—will prevent waste of time and money, and will be more equitable. Apart from it being an indication of the problems of this rather unpopular Bill, this improvement is to be welcomed. I welcome and support the amendment which is in all our names.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 65 and 66 not moved.]

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 67: After Clause 8, insert the following new Clause—

("Control of general expenditure powers.

.—(1) Except with the consent of the Secretary of State neither the Greater London Council nor a metropolitan county council shall on or after 1st April 1985 incur any expenditure under section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 (power to incur expenditure for purposes not otherwise authorised).

(2) The expenditure to which subsection (1) applies includes expenditure after the date mentioned in that subsection in respect of contractual liabilities entered into before that date but not earlier than 26th June 1984.

(3) The Secretary of State shall not give his consent under this section in respect of any expenditure unless he is satisfied that it is expedient for the council in question to incur it and, as respects expenditure under subsection (1) of the said section 137, that the expenditure is in the interests of the council's area or any part of it or of all or some of its inhabitants.

(4) Any consent under this section may be given either in respect of particular expenditure or in respect of expenditure of any class or description.

(5) Expenditure incurred in contravention of this section shall be treated as contrary to law for the purposes of section 19 of the Local Government Finance Act 1982 (powers of court in respect of unlawful expenditure by local authorities) but, save as aforesaid, this section shall not invalidate any payment, contract or other transaction.")

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this new clause is to make expenditure under Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 by the GLC and the metropolitan county councils from 1st April 1985 subject to the consent of the Secretary of State.

Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 empowers a local authority to incur expenditure equivalent to the product of the 2p rate for the benefit of its area or the inhabitants of its area for purposes not otherwise authorised. It also enables local authorities to incur expenditure in making contributions to the funds of certain bodies and in respect of certain appeals to the public.

Many—indeed most—authorities use this power sensibly for laudable and worthwhile purposes. It has, for example, been used in conjunction with urban development grant to get many imaginative and valuable projects off the ground in our run-down inner city areas. It provides the channel for much of the local authority support for many worthwhile voluntary bodies and charitable organisations. Used responsibly, Section 137 is a discretionary power which can provide much benefit for local communities.

The Government have no wish to put the stopper on the responsible use of Section 137, particularly in the voluntary sector, to which we all attach so much importance. But I have to say that there are increasing fears that in the specific context of abolition the current leadership of the GLC and MCCs may be planning to use this power in other ways so as deliberately to cause serious damage both to successor authorities and ratepayers.

We have always recognised the potential for obstruction by the outgoing leadership of the authorities which are to be abolished. The Bill currently before your Lordships' Committee already includes provisions designed to inhibit obstructive or irresponsible actions on the part of the abolition authorities. In particular Clause 7 requires the GLC and the MCCs to provide information about the authorities and their functions; while Clause 9 provides for districts and London boroughs to have the right to challenge the accounts of the abolition authorities from 1983–84 and to be consulted about their expenditure, and so on.

But Section 137 presents new possibilities. Fears have been expressed that an authority may try to deprive itself of major assets, particularly land and buildings, before it is abolished. It is thought that the tactic might be to sell assets to a convenient, independent body such as one of the so-called enterprise hoards, which would then repay the council from grants made to it by the authority itself under Section 137. Ratepayers' money would thus have been used to finance the disposal of publicly-owned assets with no benefit to ratepayers at all.

The Government naturally hope that the authorities concerned will not seek to obstruct the Government's intention in this way. But I have to tell your Lordships that the omens are not good.

Take, for example, a recent letter to the Daily Telegraph from the leader of Westminster City Council—one of the authorities that will be directly involved in picking up many of the GLC's functions on abolition. She wrote: To those of us on the ground it is clear that Mr. Livingstone and his cronies are now single-mindedly and deliberately booby-trapping the future. Undoubtedly (they) wish to mortgage London's future by committing successor authorities to reckless spending which cannot be avoided in subsequent years. My fear is that the new transitional council may find the cupboard is bare when they arrive at County Hall and all they will inherit will be the shell of the present GLC organisation from which the assets have been stripped".

The leader of Westminister City Council has good reason to be concerned. Almost daily now we see statements from representatives of the GLC and MCCs and their political masters which give a clear indication of the stance they intend to adopt. A recent report of an interview with one of the Labour Party's environment spokesmen said: non co-operation is central to Labour's campaign to frustrate Government policy".

On a number of occasions the leadership of the GLC have made it clear that they have every intention of resisting the implementation of abolition. A recent interview with the leader of the GLC revealed, interestingly, that the Greater London Enterprise Board is now the only major beneficiary of funds which the council can spend under Section 137. Let there be no doubt about it; we are talking about big money. The GLC and MCCs are huge authorities with enormous tax bases at their disposal. The product of a 2p rate which the GLC is entitled to spend under Section 137 amounts to almost £40 million. Against this background the Government would be failing in their duty if they were not to provide some protection for the successor authorities and ratepayers against such action. The Government therefore propose that all expenditure under Section 137 by the GLC and the MCCs from 1st April 1985 should be subject to the Secretary of State's consent.

Subsection (1) of the new clause provides that the Secretary of State's consent will be required for any expenditure which the GLC or a metropolitan county council incurs under Section 137 after 1st April 1985. For the avoidance of doubt, subsection (2) makes it clear that this expenditure includes expenditure in respect of contractual liability entered into before 1st April 1985 but not earlier than the date upon which the new clause is tabled (26th June). If this expenditure were not included it would represent a loophole, and a large loophole, in the protection which we envisage. On the other hand, it would be unreasonable to extend the period of retrospection back beyond the date of tabling of the new clause.

Subsection (3) provides that the Secretary of State shall not give his consent to this expenditure unless he is satisfied that it would be expedient for the council in question to incur it. In addition, as regards expenditure under subsection (1) of Section 137, the Secretary of State will need to be satisfied that the expenditure is in the interests of the local authority's area or the inhabitants of its area. This is the test which already applies to local authority expenditure under this subsection. But the expediency criterion is new. Under this criterion the Secretary of State can have regard to the interests of a local authority's ratepayers as well as its desire to promote the interests of the body or persons in respect of whom it proposes to incur expenditure. So while it may not be unlawful for an authority to incur a particular item of expenditure, it may be expedient for it to do so. For example, it may be inexpedient to make a very large payment to one particular body having regard to requests for financial assistance under the section from other bodies having similar objects, the purpose for which the payments are to be made, or the total amount of expenditure which the authority is free to incur under the section.

Second, let there be no doubt that the Government are powerfully committed to the voluntary sector. Evidence of that commitment—if evidence were needed—is the £150 million a year we currently give to the voluntary sector and our stated determination to ensure that adequate funding arrangements are made for the period after abolition. With regard to the new clause before your Lordships today, I commend to you what my right honourable friend the Secretary of State said on 26th June in another place: Much of the expenditure under Section 137 goes to supporting valuable activities, for example, in the voluntary sector. The Government's commitment to a responsible and effective voluntary sector is beyond doubt and I wish to make it clear that it is certainly not the Government's intention to use the new power, if enacted, to restrict the work of worthwhile voluntary sector activities.

I hope that this will reassure your Lordships that worthwhile voluntary organisations having nothing to fear from the new clause. I urge your Lordships to accept the clause.

9.54 p.m.

Baroness Birk

The noble Lord said that much of this expenditure goes to supporting valuable activities and so on, and that there was nothing to fear from it. I am frankly quite appalled at this. One may talk about using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but this is really the most appalling incursion in this Bill. First of all, the question I should ask is this. What is it doing in this Bill anyhow? The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, at the beginning of the proceedings last Thursday raised the point about the inclusion in the Bill at this point and the Long Title being stretched like a piece of elastic in order to encompass it. The Minister in moving just now talked about the specific context of abolition and the obstruction by outgoing leadership. He quoted for us as evidence the leader of the Westminster Council. It was not evidence he was quoting at all; he was quoting a letter of opinion. Lady Porter is entitled to her opinion about this, the same as everybody else, but to call that evidence is nonsense, in the same way as was the quote the noble Lord gave from somebody who, he said, was concerned with Labour's campaign.

As the Minister knows, or I think he has said, this is a section which empowers any local authority to incur expenditure which in their opinion is in the interest of their area or any part of it, or some or all of its inhabitants up to the limit of the product of a rate of 2p in the pound. One of the problems in the past up to now has been either the inability or the unwillingness of many local authorities to use this amount in order to improve the quality of life in their areas. Now the Government are seeking to add a sort of hurdle to this, an obstacle race, which will make it extremely difficult for many of the things which are important to the quality of life of the area to be done at all.

At present the power is protected against misuse by the ability of any ratepayer to challenge the propriety of any decision by a council to spend money under this section by action in the courts. In 1978 the Tory-controlled Greater Manchester County Council introduced a scheme of providing bursaries to enable children in the county to obtain an independent school education. The House of Lords Judicial Committee upheld the power of the Greater Manchester Council to incur expenditure under Section 137 for that purpose when it was challenged. So it was challenged and heard, and the decision was made by the Judicial Committee and not by the local authority itself.

It is recognised that Section 137 permits a local authority to incur expense for a purpose which may be controversial. This, it seems to us, is absolutely essential for our democracy. To put everything down and tie it up and constrict it in this way is a further incursion into the autonomy—which has become almost a laughable word—of local authorities.

The effect of the new clause, in the case of the Greater London Council and the metropolitan councils, will be to prevent the use of Section 137 unless the Secretary of State's consent can be obtained. This means two things: it means a very long-winded procedure in the first place; and secondly, that the local authorities are again handing everything over and having to throw their hands up, willingly or unwillingly, for the Secretary of State to take the decision. It is an absolute outright denial of the discretion which was conferred upon local authorities by Parliament in 1972. The examples given by the Minister, so far as I can see, obviously all refer to the GLC. There did not seem to be any instances which he could bring to mind or which he could bring to bear of anything that the other metropolitan county councils had done in order to merit this sort of treatment or behaviour.

Now Section 137 is the power which the metropolitan county councils use to enable them to make grants to bodies such as marriage guidance councils, citizens' advice bureaux and all the various councils of voluntary service and a multitude of bodies which it would really take far too long to read out or think of. They are aided in this way, through this particular section. Also—and this is very important and often forgotten—it aids economic development, frequently combined with funds from the private sector, from the Government and also from the EEC. So the action taken in the new clause moved by the Minister is of tremendous importance, of great severity and absolutely draconian.

We know very well, of course, what set this up. The Minister said they were concerned about what would happen between the passing of this Bill and the implementation of the measure on abolition if it gets through both Houses of Parliament. This is another example of the Government having to twist past legislation and present practice in order to bring about in advance a certain result. In order to put right something which they have not done, they therefore take action in prospect instead of in retrospect, or instead of trying to do something which will work in with local government practice at the moment and not undermine in this very drastic way something which has been cosseted and guarded by Governments of both sides up to now, in that local authorities have been encouraged to use Section 137 to provide some of these services and the other things which otherwise would not have been provided. I think that to bang it on the head like this is quite outrageous and will cause tremendous hardship in the various communities.

What the Government have been concerned about up to now is what has been a very small proportion of the expenditure by the Greater London Council on what are peripheral activities which are unpopular among many people. But out of the budget that they have—I think it is something like £38 million that they are spending on the whole range of their activities, many of which I am sure the Minister must applaud and support—it is a very small amount that is spent on things of which they would disapprove. It is certainly less than 3 per cent., and it really is a very small amount taking the whole budget of the council.

The lead this will give to authorities everywhere is very retrogressive. For example, when I was a Minister in the department in which the noble Lord is now a Minister we were trying very hard to encourage local authorities to use this 2p rate to do things of the sort which Government could not do separately and which they could not get done by private enterprise. That was very important, and I think the Minister will agree with me that it was very hard to get this working at all. He must accept, as a local government man himself, that this is such a discouraging and retrogressive step to put to local government.

In addition, as he has quite rightly and fairly pointed out, subsection (3) says: …it is expedient for the council in question to incur it and… that the expenditure is in the interests of the council's area or any part of it or of all or some of its inhabitants. That seems to be a very dangerous concept. This is going to be a matter of subjective opinion for the Secretary of State and not for the local authority. It can be argued that a local authority may well use some of its funds raised under Section 137 for activities which are unpopular in that area as regards the majority of people, or which are not liked. But those people have the opportunity and the right to vote out of office those councils which are promoting these things. What can they do here? They will have to wait for a general election! And what will they do when it is all left to the Secretary of State to decide? In any case, that can be as subjective as it need be in the areas. Whether this was something done as a panic move I do not know, but it does not seem to me to have had the proper consideration, either in its drafting or in the thinking behind it, that it should have had.

The discussion tonight should be taken as an example. I hope that we shall hear from other noble Lords who may not hold the same political opinions, but who also feel very worried about these very serious incursions into the Section 137 grants. It is something which, without any doubt, the Government should take back and say, "We have made our point that we are concerned about expenditure. But we agree that maybe this is not the right way to do it and we will have another look at it".

Lord Tordoff

It is a little difficult to know where to start on this amendment and I do not think I was very much helped by what the Minister said. It seemed to me that he was painting a picture of wild expenditure way outside the provisions of Section 137, because when we really look at the facts the truth of the matter is that the majority of the Section 137 expenditure is already committed for the period about which we are talking.

For example, if we take the Greater Manchester Council, I understand—although I may be wrong—that their proposed expenditure already committed for the 1984–85 period is of the order of £7.85 million, which compares with a maximum of £8.6 million which they can raise under a 2p rate. Let us not forget that there is a ceiling on this expenditure and the ceiling is a 2p rate. So far as the Greater London Council are concerned, it has been said that they can spend this vast sum of £40 million or thereabouts. Of course they can, but the majority of that is already committed for the coming year and a lot of it is committed on a running basis.

A great deal of the expenditure is attaching to what I was rather sad to hear the Minister describe as "so- called enterprise agencies". I must say that I took the phrase "so-called" slightly amiss coming from the Minister, who I really thought had a belief in enterprise agencies as having done a great deal in helping small businesses—

Lord Bellwin

We are not talking about enterprise agencies at all. We are talking about enterprise boards, which are a totally different matter. I shall be glad to elaborate later if the noble Lord wishes.

Lord Tordoff

I should be interested to hear what the noble Lord has to say on that at a later stage. But the fact is that a great deal of this money is committed to enterprise agencies already, and there is not so much loose money lashing around from the 2p rate that there can now be sudden wild spending in directions which the Greater London Council have not already thought of.

We are all aware that the press and members of the party opposite have made great play of some of the expenditure going to causes which would not be funded if members of my own party were in charge. But as the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, has said, the whole point about this Section 137 expenditure is that there is a certain amount of risk in allowing local authorities to spend according to their own lights.

People are making plans on the basis of expenditure over a period of more than one year. Many voluntary organisations must do that. Many of the good causes, about which I am sure we agree, need to have some assurance for the future. There is no question that, unless the Secretary of State is prepared to lay down some criteria as to what he thinks are good causes, compared with what the existing authority think are good causes, then the voluntary organisations and all the other people will be in a state of considerable doubt as to whether their funding will continue into the future.

Perhaps the most worrying point is that there is a precedent being set here by the Government taking away this power from the metropolitan counties, and from the GLC. Of course, it is directed mainly at the GLC and it is perhaps unfair on the metropolitan counties, particularly, to get caught in this net, because of the rather foolish activities on a very small scale of Mr. Livingstone and his friends.

How far does this go down the line? What can the lower tier authorities expect in the future if a party of a different political complexion comes into power with a different set of criteria and a different set of priorities? Let us assume, for instance, that that party does not like a voluntary organisation of which the present Government approve. What kind of area are we moving into? The whole purpose of this Section 137 expenditure was to give power to local authorities to use their initiative and their own criteria. That power is being destroyed in principle.

I object also to the fact that this clause is suddenly included in the Bill on the eve of the Marshalled List being produced. It totally changes the shape of the Bill and makes it not only an interim provisions Bill but a local government expenditure Bill to such an extent that the Long Title has to be stretched enormously. However, we shall probably come to that point in a few minutes.

It seems to me that this is a very bad measure to introduce into the Bill at this time. The Government have taken fright for no very good reason, as a result of fantasies which are of their own making. Because of the commitments which have already been made and because of the expenditure which has already been committed, I hope that the Government will take this clause back and think about it.

Lord Mottistone

A great deal has been said from the Benches opposite which misses the point. We have here an example of one of the authorities already acting in a rebellious sense against this country's elected central government, and it has declared its intention to be even more rebellious. My noble friend Lord Bellwin gave examples of that. It is very important indeed that there should be measures to curtail it. The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, said that powers were being removed. Powers are not being removed. They are being checked up on. They are still there. My noble friend did not mention any of the metropolitan county councils, perhaps because he has not detected the rebellious spirit which is present in the GLC. There is no doubt about it. Your Lordships should not be at all fooled by it. There is a rebellious spirit which must be curtailed and contained.

Lord Tordoff

Does not the noble Lord accept that this applies to the metropolitan county councils as well and that all their expenditure will have to be vetted by the Secretary of State?

Lord Mottistone

Yes, indeed; and if their expenditure is reasonable, the Secretary of State will approve it. It is as simple as that.

Lord Tordoff

Does the noble Lord know, from this amendment, what is meant by "reasonable"?

Lord Mottistone

Perhaps one could read it from the fact that my noble friend on the Front Bench did not mention the other metroplitan county councils when he gave examples of why this is necessary. Many of the points which the noble Baroness made were off the point of what the amendment is about. It is to make sure that there is a measure of control. That is in the interests of the ratepayers of London, because they are the potential sufferers from mis-spending by a wild group of people who feel that their days are ended. The ratepayers of London will be the sufferers. The whole point of this legislation is to protect the ratepayers in the areas concerned. I very much trust that my noble friends and those on other Benches will support this amendment, which I believe to be very necessary in the circumstances. It is sad that it should have to be necessary. I hope that everybody will support the amendment.

10.15 p.m.

Baroness Birk

The noble Lord said that the ratepayers of London will suffer. He also said that I missed the point. I did not miss the point. I was concerned about the control, not about the right of local authorities to exercise their autonomy. The noble Lord restricted his closing remarks to the GLC. If he is arguing that this applies only to the GLC, or that it should apply only to them, and that the "mets" are brought in to make it more even, then would he not agree that in that case the Government should come out into the open and say, "Okay, this should be vetted just for the GLC"? If that is what the Government mean, why do they not say so? Is that what the noble Lord would prefer?

Lord Mottistone

It is not for me to tell the Government how to write their amendment. The fact is that this particular Bill is all about not only the GLC, but also the other vast county councils. Therefore, there must be equality of treatment throughout. This particular amendment is so worded that if any of those bodies behave in a sensible fashion, the new clause is not something that need worry them.

Baroness Lockwood

I was appalled at the way in which the Minister moved this amendment. I am not going to defend the GLC because my noble friend Lord McIntosh will, I am sure, be able to do that very competently. But this Bill is not about the GLC; it is about the GLC and the six metropolitan counties. But in moving the amendment the Minister made all his comments from the point of view of the GLC and he pleaded in aid of his arguments some of the peripheral activities of the GLC which are controversial. But it is not just the GLC that will be affected.

The Minister himself said that he accepted that some expenditure was very worthwhile. He went on to comment that it would no doubt be supported by his right honourable friend the Secretary of State. The fact remains that the authorities will now have to apply to the Secretary of State for permission to carry out that which they had been authorised to do under previous legislation.

The Minister mentioned the sum of £40 million which the GLC has to spend in this way. The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, made the point that the metropolitan counties have a much smaller amount of money to spend, and it is often spent in very small sums. What kind of structure are we going to have? What kind of bureaucracy will the Minister build into the system when everything that the metropolitan counties want to do must be referred to the Secretary of State? Many of the counties support local employment policies, sometimes in co-operation with the European Economic Community. They first have to go through that bureaucracy and now they will have to go through another bureaucracy in order to have their plans approved. This is a nonsense. I believe that the Minister is over-reacting to some of the things that may have been said in debate and is posing them in the form of threats which I am sure will not arise—certainly not in some of the metropolitan counties.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I am glad that I shall not be in the shoes of the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, if this amendment is passed. I do not believe he has any conception of the depth of the Heffalump trap that he is digging for himself. He will have two problems that he has not even started to appreciate. First, there is the problem of actually policing this new clause. I do not think he realised that the giving of grants under Section 137 is an extremely complicated and detailed matter, requiring a great deal of local knowledge, which involves a considerable amount of staff time. Is he suggesting that all this work will have to be duplicated by his own civil servants in Marsham Street? I do not think he has any idea of the amount of work involved and of the inadequacy of the information available to the officials in Marsham Street for the purpose of performing this responsibility.

The second trap is that the Minister has put himself right in the firing line for all the voluntary organisations. It does not do him any good to give general assurances. The fact is that literally thousands of voluntary organisations receive money under Section 137. Their applications for next year, from 1st April, are coming in now. There may be no contracts signed before 26th June, but they are coming in now. If the voluntary organisations are told, as they have been told tonight, that any application made from now on for next year's funding is subject to approval not only by the GLC or the metropolitan counties, but also by Marsham Street, then they will go "spare". The amount of correspondence that the Minister will get from those voluntary organisations—not just the Minister but Members of Parliament and Members of your Lordships' House—and the amount of very effective pressure from these voluntary organisations, which are simply concerned about the lack of security, will be huge. He will be overwhelmed.

The Countess of Mar

I would like to support these Members for two very good reasons. First of all, we have had a great drama about the spending of the GLC. What about Islington Borough Council and a rather dubious newspaper they supported and the gay groups they supported? I have no interest in London—that is, I do not live in London; I come here three days a week to attend your Lordships' House. I suppose I am interested in London really when it comes down to it. But these are the people to whom the powers are being handed over. They are behaving in exactly the same way, as far as I can see, as an outside observer, as the GLC is behaving. They are helping their ratepayers. The minority groups in a great many circumstances feel that they are left out of society because nobody is helping them. Again, from what I can see, the GLC and the local borough councils are supporting these groups.

The other reason why I am not very happy about this—I am very pleased that the noble Lord the Minister qualified it—concerns the enterprise board. I heard that the expenditure of the GLC under Section 137 was £40 million a year. I understand, for example, the Greater London Enterprise Board receives a grant from the GLC of £35 million a year. I visited their headquarters the other day and was very impressed with the work that they are doing, not only to save industries that are now in trouble, but to provide new jobs. If every time they want a few pennies these people are to have to go to the Minister, they will be in a dubious state. I believe they have only been in existence for two or perhaps two and a half years. They will not know whether they will be able to go on for the next six months or the next 10 years. They need some sort of certainty if they are to provide businesses of stability. I am very concerned about this amendment.

Lord Plummer of St. Marylebone

I have not agreed with every paragraph or detail of this Bill, but this particular clause I regard as absolutely essential to the transitional arrangements. One has only to look at one's postbag over the last 14 days to a month to see the number of people who have appealed to you to retain the GLC in its present stage and to know, when reading the reason why they want it retained, that it is because they are one of a number of freeloaders—freeloaders who have had money given to them by the GLC which they never should have had. The GLC Labour administration in County Hall at the moment has shown an irresponsibility in dealing with this discretionary allowance which has never been experienced by any previous administration at County Hall, either Labour or Conservative.

I feel that the time has come for a brake to be put upon it. To say that the power is within the electorate to vote it out of office is to disregard the facts. The fact is that there are so many people now in receipt of these freeloading subsidies that they will vote in anybody who will continue it, or indeed hope to increase it. I hope that this clause goes through as put forward by the noble Lord the Minister.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

I too would like to support this amendment. I think in this debate we are losing sight of the fact that this is simply an interim provision that we are discussing. This is simply to be for the one year which we believe it will take to complete the abolition of these authorities. Great reference has been made to the Greater London Enterprise Board. I was interested in the council agenda from last week's Greater London Council meeting. The report from the leader of the council—he was discussing the activities of the Greater London Enterprise Board—said: Local authorities have not normally taken this sort of action. Its procedures"— meaning local government procedures— were not shaped to intervene in the local economy. However, this administration of the GLC has adapted the institutions of local government". That is a most euphemistic way of saying that they have taken ratepayers' money to create a very small number of somewhat illusory jobs; and that is where most of the Section 137 money has gone to.

The report goes on for seven pages and during that time it emphasises how most of the Greater London Enterprise Board activity has been in setting up information centres with trade unions and conducting public inquiries, campaigns drawing wider attention to the social implications of what is happening in industry—not jobs, just the wider social implications—and generating debate. That is what it has done more than anything else: generate a great deal of talk. That covers the point about the Greater London Enterprise Board.

I am concerned that the limitation on Section 137 will not really do very much to solve the problem of overspending and extravagance at County Hall. Pretty well all the total expenditure of Section 137—as was mentioned, £35 million—goes to the Greater London Enterprise Board. That leaves only just over £3 million, and in this Chamber tonight we have heard that discounted as such a trifling amount we should not bother about it. To me it is not trifling and if one is a ratepayer producing that money it often represents a loss of jobs in London at those big firms who are also paying those rates.

The smaller authorities would love to have even that £3 million extra to spend. The discourtesy and casualness with which the GLC throws this money away is hard to believe. One noble Lord said that subjective judgment will be required on the part of the Minister. What is being required now? Last week on the Women's Committee the financial adviser to the council advised that a grant should be repayable if the concern being given the grant became profitable. The chairman asked the committee to ignore the advice from the financial adviser and to rule it out. Of course, that was done. That is the sort of example that I believe is very important. If the Greater London Council has a financial adviser and he produces a financial report concurrent with grants advising something of that nature, or advising refusal, his advice should be considered. There are other instances. The financial adviser might recommend that a property should be let at the market rent instead of £1 a year, but the committee says, "Let us go for £1 a year although the financial adviser says otherwise". That is going on all the time.

I also mention that a great many grants are given out to all sorts of other projects. There are so many powers under the Local Government Act in which money can be handed out that this Section 137 will not touch very many people. A lot of money is handed out under the National Health Service Acts and under agency agreements with the borough councils. That is a very important point which people do not appreciate. There was an instance with Hackney Council—a grant of £151,000 which would be delegated to the borough council under Section 101 of the Local Government Act.

Lord Tordoff

I thought we were debating Section 137 powers, not any sort of overspending by the GLC. We should confine ourselves to the 2p rate and then we will not get ourselves confused.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

With respect to the noble Lord, I do not think it is fair to consider it in that sense. The 2p rate is being diverted almost totally to the Greater London Enterprise Board, but people are believing that when we are talking about Section 137 we are talking about the voluntary bodies that are coming for the money. On the whole, the voluntary bodies are not getting the money under Section 137 and, therefore, they will not be as adversely affected as one would expect by this amendment. If they are genuinely deserving causes, I believe that they will get the money.

Conditions are set up whereby money is given through other borough councils to local projects. In the report it is said that, although the GLC is meant to be a strategic authority covering the whole of London, it feels quite entitled to hand out £150,000 to one particular borough, and, incidentally, that borough has done all the research on the grant. The point made by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, is important. He said that a great deal of time and effort is devoted to preparing these reports. At the moment reports are being prepared by other boroughs to send to the GLC. If the reports are already in such detailed preparation, it will not require very much effort to pass them on in their present form.

The grants being considered by the GLC are often so extensive that there is not time even to look at them. On the agenda of last week's Women's Committee were 60 items for consideration for grant. The pile of papers which arrives on Saturday costs about £12 to post. The people handing out the money cannot possibly have time to study the grants properly. Recent reports of the research that is done indicate that due consideration is not being given even by the officers' department. Again we are seeing a situation where commitments are already being made for 1985, 1986 and thereafter. I notice that the police committee has money committed for the next two or three years. The contingency fund already has £18 million committed.

We cannot view it as a simple matter which can be lightly brushed aside. We have to realise this. The GLC is not a health authority, although it is funding health projects; it is not a police authority; but in the past few years it has spent nearly £1½ million on antipolice activities. It takes on duties that are nothing to do with its statutory responsibilities. It is wrong for money to be taken from London ratepayers as a whole to be spent in that way.

I shall just give the Committee a final quote. Talking of how the Government had plans to watch his money, the Leader of the GLC said on 26th June: We committed all our capital spending as soon as we heard of the Government's plans to limit expenditure". He went on to say that he had lots of reserve projects ready to go, because he is going to make sure that he has, and spends, every penny he can.

We must not underestimate the determination of the GLC to redistribute the London ratepayers' money in the way that it, but not necessarily other people, believe is right. I strongly support this amendment.

10.33 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Not for the first time the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, has put her finger on the argument. It is that the GLC and other authorities are doing things which they ought not be to doing: for instance, they ought not to be helping to create jobs. She would say that that is somebody else's job; it is not the job of local government. It ought not—

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

I did not say that. I said that it was not succeeding in doing that.

Lord Mottistone

The noble Lord is talking nonsense. My noble friend did not make that point.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

She said that local government was spending money on things on which it ought not to be spending money.

The majority of the money spent by the GLC out of its £38 million (which is not £35 million but £26 million) is on grants to the Greater London Enterprise Board. The Minister's sneering observations about the "so-called" enterprise board set the tone; but he was talking not only about the Greater London one but about the whole concept. Particularly in the past five years, local government has been driven into this. It has had to look at the shortfall in national provision by the Government and to say that there are things that it believes need to be done.

It is appalling that the Minister and the Government have decided to act in what I consider to be a punitive, shoddy and shabby way. Section 137 concerns discretion. They see an authority exercising its discretion in what it believes to be the best interests of its ratepayers. We can all criticise, but the ratepayers elected those people. We are not talking about every ratepayer knowing every jot and tittle and every element of the programme, but those people have said, "We have an opportunity", and they have decided to exercise it.

The Minister has chosen to selectively quote some of the activities of authorities like the Greater London Council and—in my view very selectively and unfairly—point out some of the activities that they are supporting. Let me go through the budget of the Greater London Council. The Minister must have it. Certainly the noble Baroness must have it. She mistakenly quoted £35 million. She ought to have known better. I am sure she did. She could have corrected that figure. It is not £35 million. I have the GLC budget as far as Section 137 expenditure is concerned. It is £26 million to industry and employment. For public health and safety, which is one of the elements that was mentioned, there is £100,000. Regarding transport, Members opposite would say that this is not a proper use of Section 137 money and there are a number of other things that they are doing as far as that is concerned.

However, let us look at some of the other groups, which it is simply said are good and will not be affected: There are: the mentally handicapped; the Spastics Society; hostels for the single homeless; Age Concern; Pensioners' Link; the National Council for One Parent Families; the national child care campaign; housing action centres; Cancerlink; the association to aid the victims of medical accidents; community care; day nurseries; créches; pre-school playgroups; latch-key schemes; the Greater London alcoholics advisory service; the Greater London Citizens' Advice Bureaux; the local citizens' advice bureaux, and the like.

If we are really arguing about a tiny proportion, a sledge-hammer is being used to crack a nut. That is an expression that has been used. If the Minister is not going to merely express a view but is going to check and to challenge, it is a pity and a shame. I believe it was the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, who said that we have a very dangerous situation; there is a rebellious spirit in Greater London which needs to be curbed. Apparently in 1984 it is a crime in local government to have a rebellious spirit against central government. That is what local democracy is all about. What does the noble Lord want in local democracy? Does he want compliance? Does he simply want acquiescence; no challenge; no rebellion and no voice saying, "We do not believe in what the Minister is going to do"?

Lord Mottistone

Will the noble Lord give way?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Not at the moment. I will give way when I am ready. I did not understand that it was automatic. I will give way when it suits my case. There are some things which this freely democratically elected council has decided to do under the proper statutes and which it has the provisions to do. The noble Lord has said. "I do not like what they are doing". Any other council which carries out activities will find a check and a challenge on matters of that kind.

Reference has also been made to the metropolitan authorities. The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, drew attention to the activities of the Greater Manchester Council. I have here a list of the ways in which the Greater Manchester Council have been exercising their rights. No doubt the Minister will say, as the noble Lord Mottistone said, "All I want to do is to check, to scrutinise and to make sure that every penny that the council wishes to spend is money which I approve". Because if the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, and the Government at the end of the day are going to say, "Every penny that you spend has my imprimatur", it really means that they need to have a system.

Whether the noble Lord likes it or not, although the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, will know a great deal more about it than I do, I understand that the Greater London Council go through some fairly strong vetting and approval procedures before the money is given out. When it is given out it may not be given out to the sources which the noble Baroness wishes.

This is all going to be taken on board by the Minister and by his civil servants. This is at a time when the Minister tells us that there is a shortage of money, that there is a shortage of staff and that there are a great many priorities that need to be undertaken. Yet this again will take away from local government something that it apparently has the right to do but that it is doing in the wrong way.

This is another example of the Government wishing to go down the very dangerous road of eventually saying that there is very little left to the discretion of local councils. In the view of this side of the Committee, this is a retrograde amendment. It is certainly one that we are not prepared to accept. We shall have to consider what decision to take in the light of it and especially in the light of the Minister's reply.

Lord Hooson

I wish to mention briefly Amendment No. 103 which is to be heard with Amendment No. 67. It is a change to the Long Title of the Bill. So rarely is the title of a Bill ever changed that even the page is not numbered. If one wishes to find to what the amendment applies, one is not assisted by numbering. An important point is raised here. I do not know whether the noble Lord can tell us how often or when the Long Title of a Bill has been amended in this House. It does not suggest that the Government have thought out their strategy on the Bill.

The Bill has been through the other place. The Long Title encompassed everything that was then contained in the Bill. A Bill has to be covered by its Long Title to be effective. It seems to me that a highly uneasy precedent has again been set. It suggests that the Government have not thought out their strategy and now have to incorporate the words, to control the general expenditure powers of those authorities". The only reason I can suggest is that the Government have had to re-think their strategy when the Bill has gone through one place and has emerged in another. It suggests that the Government would be wise to reconsider their whole position and study whether they have really thought out their long term purpose. A possible explanation for the extension of the Long Title is surely that the Government, by extending the life of the GLC and the other authorities, will be giving them power without authority and without responsibility because they will not have to face an election at the end of it. That seems the inevitable consequence if the Government change their strategy on this point. It is difficult to justify this strange procedure.

Lord Bellwin

I should begin, I believe, by making one or two things again clear. I should perhaps have made them clear originally. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, raised some points that were particularly irrelevant. We are taking action here to control Section 137 spending only in 1985–86, not 1984–85 expenditure. There may well be expenditure already committed before 26th June. If so, this does not apply to any such committed expendiure. It is primarily the year 1985–86 that we are talking about.

Lord Tordoff

I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord at this stage, but he will accept that a number of these expenditures roll on a year over year basis. This was the point that I was trying to make. Considerable uncertainty will have been raised in the minds of a number of voluntary organisations which have a rolling programme.

Lord Bellwin

I am glad that the noble Lord says that. It gives me the opportunity to confirm that organisations—this picks up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh—with perfectly proper spending, have nothing to fear. The noble Lord asks who decides whether it is perfectly proper spending. You have to look at this in the context of abolition. Your Lordships may have noticed that, in moving the amendment, I deliberately did not refer to a single, particular organisation. I could have given the list that everybody now has. It was put out by various bodies. I have literally pages and pages of details of what many would consider weird spending. But I deliberately did not give the list because, frankly, this amendment has nothing to do with the majority of perfectly proper instances of spending on voluntary organisations.

I fear that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh—certainly not with the wrong intention; he does not do that, anyway—actually may have caused a lot of concern to a lot of organisations. In this response I am glad to be able to reassure them. In my opening speech I was at pains to say that there are, all over the country, many worthy bodies which receive support under Section 137. Perhaps I may be allowed to finish. All right; I shall give way.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I think my intervention may be helpful to the noble Lord. If he is so anxious to reassure these bodies—and I accept what he says—will he tell the Committee when his officials are going to start to consider the applications which already are coming in for next year? Will he say how quickly they can be considered?

Lord Bellwin

I have no doubt that there are many bodies which will be only too anxious—many of them, as my noble friend Lord Plummer, said, at the instigation of the GLC and others—to do anything they can to make mischief and to go forward in that way. May I give your Lordships a quotation? I have tried not to raise the temperature at all in this debate, but let me give your Lordships a quotation from what was said in another place. Mr. Tony Banks, the Member for Newham North-West, asked whether the Secretary of State had not put his finger on it when he said he suspected that an extended GLC would wage war on the Government. He said that that indeed was what it would do, and had been doing.

Let us try to get this whole question into proper perspective, and let us not be naïve about it. Noble Lords opposite know exactly what we are talking about in this whole affair. To try to pretend that in some way there is a body which is concerned only to give money to worthwhile causes and that it is not interested in the stripping of land and so on, and transferring in this way, really and truly is to live in some world that just is not real.

I shall try to comment quickly on some of the points that have been made. I must stress that the lower tier authorities are not affected at all. There are some 431 local authorities in this country. We are talking here about seven of them, and we are talking about seven in the context only of abolition. I must stress that point again: in the context of abolition. We are talking about it for a period up to the point of abolition. It is happening only because of the great concern there is about what these authorities may do. It is true that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, said, there is less likelihood of this in the metropolitan counties. I agree with her; I keep making that point all the way through. But it is not entirely so. The fact is that these happen to be seven of the authorities which are part of this proposed legislation; and so they come into it.

Enterprise agencies—I have opened many of them, and visited many of them—are there to give advice and to guide mostly small businesses, and so on. I think they do a splendid job. The enterprise boards are there rather to invest money in bodies which they think they can help either to start businesses or to—

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Save jobs.

Lord Bellwin

Save jobs. It is part of the employment thing. There is no complaint at all about the objectives of enterprise boards. I should rather not get into that. Again, if there is anything that is good, is achieving things, and is worthwhile, that is fine; they have nothing at all to fear. That is my answer to the noble Countess, Lady Mar. If they are doing a good job, they have nothing at all to be concerned about in this. We are not interested in that.

The noble Countess was absolutely right when she said that there are some authorities which, equally, put to very questionable use some of the monies that come through Section 137. But the fact is that they are not being abolished, and we are not seeking to curtail the expenditure of Section 137 money to anybody else at all outside the context of abolition, although I assure noble Lords that the pressure is great and continuous and never does a day pass without people giving us examples of what they consider to be the misuse of Section 137. But we have always kept away from that and have had to assuage their concerns. However, that is for another day and is another matter.

The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, said that she dislikes this intensely. When before have we ever been faced with a situation in which authorities have been admittedly in this position and in which we have had to be concerned about the stripping of assets and the passing over of them in different ways? That is, if you like, a new ball game.

I am grateful to my noble friends who have supported the Government's position on this matter. To answer the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, the Long Title must accurately reflect the contents of the Bill, and this amendment merely accommodates the provisions of the new clause. There is no deep-dyed implication at all. I assure the noble Lord that the amendment is within the scope of the Bill, and I do not say that lightly. I understand the concern. Indeed, for the last few years I have fought very hard in many areas to retain the Section 137 power and not to have it curtailed because I have been a supporter of Section 137; but I have not been a supporter of the abuse of it.

Here we are in the special situation of abolition, and this whole amendment is being put forward solely in the context of abolition. It is a short-term measure; it applies only to these authorities. It does not in any way adversely affect the good spending that they do—and they do carry out some good spending. No one need have any fears of that kind. Having said that, I beg to move the amendment.

Baroness Birk

The noble Lord the Minister has raised a number of points and has answered a great many of our queries as well as he could and as courteously, as usual. But I do not think that any of us can feel reassured by what he said. On the contrary, in his opening remarks, when he moved the clause, he referred to the "so-called enterprise board". As nearly everybody who has spoken in the debate has mentioned the same phrase, I do not think we misheard him. The noble Countess, Lady Mar, then spoke; and the noble Lord paid tribute to some of the boards and said how good they were. But if I had been termed "so-called", I would not like to be an enterprise board or any other body asking for help or money. I would consider that I had started under an extremely grave disadvantage.

The noble Lord then went on to say: the pressure is great and continuous"— presumably because of the so-called extravagances, or alleged extravagances, of other local authorities. That is an ominous sign. Are we now to see this sort of thing used against district councils, county councils and other boroughs? Once a Government create a tool, they use it, and that is a very dangerous situation. The Minister's own words were: that is for another day". The noble Lord said that this would not last long. The noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, said that it was for just one year. But that is not in the Bill. We do not know what will happen. That is where we came in at the beginning of this rather wasted afternoon and evening. What will happen? It can be one, two or even three years before any abolition legislation gets through both Houses and is implemented. By then, this travesty of Section 137 will be built into the legislation and so local government will become more and more of a captive in a smaller and smaller prison cell which is closing in on it all the time.

This is a dangerous clause to have in this Bill. The point about the Long Title has been mentioned. It is extremely late now to do anything about it, or to press it. All we can hope is that between now and the next stage the Minister will read what has been said by so many noble Lords from all parts of the Committee about the dangers and fears regarding this new clause, and will rethink it and come back, not just in terms of a narrow interest, but also in the interests of local government generally.

In the Government's view there is a certain amount of wrong spending, or overspending. But why should there be this war between local government and central Government which, unfortunately, has been exacerbated for a long time now, and which today is, I fear, exacerbated mainly by the central Government? Why should it he so wrong for local government to behave in a rebellious and also individual manner? What we are discussing in this clause is not really only to do with the abolition question or the paving Bill, which is what we are supposed to be discussing. It is to do with the further destruction of local government.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 68 and 69 not moved.]

Clause 9 [Accounts and financial consultation]:

[Amendments Nos. 70 to 77 not moved.]

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 78: Page 8, line 7, at end insert ("and about any other proposal that would involve expenditure in a subsequent financial year").

The noble Lord said: This is an extension to reasonable requirements, and I think it will not be controversial. I beg to move.

Baroness Birk

I do not propose at this stage to go into it. It is a recent amendment, and we are not happy about it. It is much too wide and general and, again, has dangers. But it is far too late to start arguing the toss about it now.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 79 and 80 not moved.]

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 81: Page 8, line 13, leave out ("mentioned in that subsection") and insert ("beginning on 1st April 1985").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 82 to 85 not moved.]

Lord Renton moved Amendment No. 86:

[Printed earlier: col. 1121.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 87 not moved.]

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 88 not moved.]

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Number of councillors to be appointed by constituent councils]:

Lord Renton moved Amendment No. 89:

[Printed earlier: col. 1121.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

11 p.m.

Lord Renton moved Amendment No. 90:

[Printed earlier: col. 1121.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 91: Page 10, line 1, leave out Parts II to VII and insert—

Metropolitan District Number of Metropolitan County Councillors
Bolton 10
Bury 6
Manchester 20
Oldham 9
Rochdale 7
Salford 12
Stockport 11
Tameside 9
Trafford 9
Wigan 13
Metropolitan District Number of Metropolitan County Councillors
Knowsley 11
Liverpool 36
St. Helens 11
Sefton 19
Wirral 22
Metropolitan District Number of Metropolitan County Councillors
Barnsley 19
Doncaster 20
Rotherham 18
Sheffield 43
Metropolitan District Number of Metropolitan County Councillors
Gateshead 19
Newcastle-upon-Tyne 25
North Tyneside 18
South Tyneside 15
Sunderland 27
Metropolitan District Number of Metropolitan County Councillors
Birmingham 42
Coventry 12
Dudley 11
Sandwell 12
Solihull 7
Walsall 10
Wolverhampton 10
Metropolitan District Number of Metropolitan County Councillors
Bradford 19
Calderdale 9
Kirklees 15
Leeds 32
Wakefield 13.")

The noble Baroness said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment negatived.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 92:

[Printed earlier: col. 1121.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 93: Page 10, line 9, column 2, leave out ("4") and insert ("5").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 94: Page 10, line 33, column 2, leave out ("9") and insert ("10").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 95: Page 11, line 31, column 2, leave out ("16") and insert ("15").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Consequential amendments]:

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 96: Page 12, line 21, leave out ("(3),") and insert ("(2) and (3),").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 97: Page 13, line 1, at end insert ("and").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 98: Page 13, line 7, leave out from ("borough") to end of line 12.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Renton moved Amendment No. 99: Page 14, line 6, after ("Council") insert ("or the Common Council").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 100: Page 14, line 13, leave out ("172") and insert ("173").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 101 not moved.]

Lord Renton moved Amendment No. 102:

[Printed earlier: col. 1121.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

In the Title:

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 103: Line 11, after ("authorities;") insert ("to control the general expenditure powers of those authorities;").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Title, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.