HL Deb 02 July 1985 vol 465 cc1046-66

2.57 p.m.

Read a third time.

Clause 4 [Development plans]:

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Elton) moved Amendment No. 1: Page 3, line 11, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 1, it will be for your Lordships' convenience if I also speak to Amendments Nos. 2 and 21: Amendment No. 2: After Clause 4, insert the following new clause:

("Joint planning committee for Greater London.

.—(1) The local planning authorities in Greater London shall not later than the abolition date establish a joint committee to discharge the functions mentioned in subsection (2) below.

(2) The joint committee shall—

  1. (a) consider and advise those authorities on matters of common interest relating to the planning and development of Greater London;
  2. (b) inform the Secretary of State of the views of those authorities concerning such matters including any such matters as to which he has requested their advice;
  3. (c) inform the local planning authorities in areas adjoining Greater London, or any body on which those authorities and the local planning authorities in Greater London are represented, of the views of the local planning authorities in Greater London concerning any matters of common interest relating to the planning and development of Greater London and those adjoining areas;
and the committee may, if it thinks fit, contribute towards the expenses of any such body as is mentioned in paragraph (c) above.

(3) The expenses of the joint committee which have been incurred with the approval of at least two-thirds of the local planning authorities in Greater London shall be defrayed by those authorities in such proportions as they may decide or, in default of a decision by them, as the Secretary of State may determine.

(4) In this section references to the local planning authorities in Greater London are to the authorities which are the local planning authorities in Greater London for the purposes of Part II of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 or section 4 above.").

Amendment No. 21: Schedule 1, page 90, line 37, leave out paragraph 18.

I should say by way of preface that your Lordships will wish to dispose of Amendment No. 1 before we come to decide about amendments which the noble Baroness has to Amendment No. 2; and that, I suggest, we can do formally at the end of my introduction, and we can then address ourselves to Amendment No. 2.

During the Committee stage of this Bill your Lordships will recall that we had an extensive discussion in response to Amendment No. 19 tabled by my noble friend Lord Sandford. This was designed to secure some form of co-operation between the London boroughs themselves, and between them collectively and SERPLAN. This co-operation was needed on those planning and development matters that required a wider than London over-view. I gave an undertaking to consult the London Boroughs Association and the Association of London Authorities to see whether they saw the need for some form of statutory provision.

Your Lordships will recall that on Report I said that the ALA had indicated that it did not wish to pursue the idea but that I was continuing discussion with the London Boroughs Association about its proposals for a body representative of all the London boroughs. Such a body could enable the boroughs to discuss common issues and to present their views to the Secretary of State as well as enabling them to liaise with SERPLAN.

The proposal was given a warm reception by your Lordships and I promised to come forward on Third Reading with an amendment to that effect. I also undertook to consider the need for the London Planning Commission if such a proposal were accepted, and, without commitment, to consider whether the idea of a similar representative body should be extended to the metropolitan counties. I shall come back to the London Planning Commission shortly. It will of course be more pertinent to consider the position of the metropolitan counties when we are discussing the amendments in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Birk.

I now bring before your Lordships Amendment No. 2, in fulfilment of my undertaking to provide suitable machinery for London. I accept that the machinery is required. Greater London has 6.7 million inhabitants, governed by 33 local authorities. It provides 3 million jobs and attracts more than 1 million commuters from outside its borders every day. It is a major tourist centre, attracting about 13 million tourists from other parts of the United Kingdom and between 7 and 8 million from overseas every year. The sheer scale of all this exerts a considerable influence on the surrounding parts of the south-east region, and the anxiety of SERPLAN to incorporate a London view within its own structure is entirely understood; so is the desire for a means of collecting the boroughs' views.

This amendment therefore provides a new clause requiring the London boroughs, before abolition date, to establish a joint committee to discharge certain functions. I emphasise that this does not mean that we are proposing the setting up of a strategic authority. As I have already said on previous occasions, the Government do not see a role for such an authority. Those matters of an overriding strategic nature, such as the siting of major motorways and airports, fall naturally to be decided by central Government and will continue to do so. On the other hand, matters of a local nature fall most naturally to the boroughs. This does not leave much in the middle, as the GLC have found in their search for a role. Nevertheless, as this amendment acknowledges, it is important for the new all-purpose planning authorities to be able to confer with each other on matters of common interest in planning, and with their neighbours outside Greater London. This could of course be done on a non-statutory basis. But following your Lordships' guidance on the matter, we recognise that in the case of London, because of the large number of boroughs concerned, it would be helpful to establish a statutory arrangement. If there is to be such a committee, the Secretary of State will find it useful to consult it, as well as others, about planning matters and in particular about his strategic guidance.

The functions of the joint committee have been tailored to this end. In designing them we have followed the advice of both the London Boroughs Association and SERPLAN. They are: first, to consider and advise the boroughs on matters of common interest relating to the planning and development of Greater London; secondly, to inform the Secretary of State of the views of the boroughs about such matters, including any such matters on which he has requested their advice; and thirdly, to inform the local planning authorities in the vicinity of Greater London, or any body on which those authorities and the boroughs are represented, of the boroughs' views about any matters of common interest relating to the planning and development of Greater London and those adjoining areas.

I use the words "in the vicinity of Greater London" advisedly. In drafting the amendment we have rather ill-advisedly used the word "adjoining". My noble friend Lord Sandford, with great personal acumen, has pointed out that that would exclude some members of SERPLAN from the consultations. That would be entirely contrary to our purpose, and I shall therefore be glad to welcome, when we get to them, Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 of my noble friend to remedy the defect.

The effect of my amendment as improved by my noble friend is very much what I predicted on Report. It will enable the boroughs to come together to discuss matters of general concern, it will provide a vehicle for them to continue the important liaison role with other planning authorities in the south-east through SERPLAN, and it will be very useful as a source of information to the Secretary of State when he comes to prepare his strategic guidance. I understand that a proposal on these lines has the wholehearted support of the London Boroughs Association and I commend it to your Lordships.

However—and here I return to Amendment No. 1—it puts into question the role of the London Planning Commission. Your Lordships will recall that I promised to consider that question in the light of the outcome of our discussions. As your Lordships will be aware, there has been some questioning of the role of this body and of how it would liaise with the boroughs. The main task originally seen for it was to provide advice to the Secretary of State in preparing his strategic guidance. To do this it was intended that it should work in a close relationship with the boroughs. That position was designed before the new joint committee had been thought of and it seems to us that the joint committee will be a perfectly adequate body to which the Secretary of State can look for information as to the views of the boroughs. That view was put to me in this House at Report stage by my noble friend Lord Sandford, and has since been endorsed by the London Boroughs Association at a recent meeting of its Housing and Works Committee. Accordingly, Amendments Nos. 1 and 21 delete Clause 4(2) and paragraph 18 of Schedule 1, which provided for the establishment of the commission.

My amendments as drafted, but with the two small adjustments proposed in Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 of my noble friend, provide for a statutory joint committee by means of which London boroughs can consult each other and SERPLAN. It will be the means of their keeping in collective contact with their non-London neighbours, and will also provide the source of London-based advice that the Secretary of State needs for drawing up his strategic advice.

These amendments are the result of your Lordships' work in Committee and of consultations which I and my officials have had with both SERPLAN and the London Boroughs Association. Had the Association of London Authorities seen fit to join in the discussions, it, too, could have had a hand in designing them. Although it did not, I am confident that we have here a workmanlike provision for our purposes. I am grateful to your Lordships for putting it in train and to my noble friend, as well as to SERPLAN and the London Boroughs Association for their helpful and constructive assistance.

That is the content of Amendment No. 2 that I have described to you. As your Lordships will have seen from the Marshalled List, there are amendments to that amendment, to which I have already referred, in the name of my noble friend and amendments in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Birk. I think we can all agree that, however the principal amendment emerges, whether in its present form or amended in some way, it will dispense with the need for the London Planning Commission. So if the noble Baroness and the usual channels opposite are content, I shall be happy to put that question now and subsequently to listen to the speech on her amendments by the noble Baroness and to follow the Marshalled List in the usual way. My Lords, I beg to move.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I think the noble Lord the Minister asked whether we, on this side, would accept that. Yes, we accept it, and we will accept the first amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Elton moved Amendment No. 2:

[Printed earlier: col. 1046.]

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move this amendment, I look forward with interest to the comments of the noble Baroness and others on their amendments which they will wish to move to this amendment.

Baroness Stedman moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 2, Amendment No. 3: Subsection (1), at end insert— ("and the local planning authorities which are councils of districts (in this section referred to as "district planning authorities") in each metropolitan county shall not later than that date establish a joint committee to discharge those functions.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we have tried at earlier stages of this Bill to persuade the Government to accept the very real need for a continuation of strategic planning in the metropolitan areas, and Amendment No. 3, to which I shall speak now, and Amendments Nos. 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 20, to which I shall also speak and which are consequential upon it, really try to make that possible. Amendment No. 4: Subsection (2)(a), at end insert—("or that county"). Amendment No. 5: Subsection (2)(c), at beginning insert—("in the case of Greater London").

Amendment No. 8: Subsection (2)(c), at end insert— ("(d) in the case of a metropolitan county inform the local planning authorities for areas in the vicinity of the county or anybody on which those authorities and the district planning authorities in the county are represented of the views of the district planning authorities in the county concerning any matters of common interest relating to the planning and development of the county and those areas;")

Amendment No. 10: Subsection (2), final line, leave out ("paragraph (c) above.") and insert— ("paragraph (c) or (d) above, as the case may be.")

Amendment No. 11: Subsection (3), after ("Greater London") insert— ("or of the district planning authorities in a metropolitan county")

Amendment No. 12: Subsection (4), at end insert— ("and references to district planning authorities are to the authorities which are local planning authorities for metropolitan districts for the purposes of that Part of that Act of section 4 above.")

Amendment No. 20: Schedule 1, page 79, line 27, leave out ("Secretary of State") and insert— ("joint committee established under section (Joint planning committee for Greater London) of this Act")

The Government now seem to accept the need for some statutory provision for Greater London. They have accepted the need to temper the role of the Secretary of State and his officials, and to ensure that the elected representatives of the boroughs and the neighbouring shire counties have a forum through which they can influence the formulation of strategic planning guidelines and try to resolve any cross-boundary issues. The Government have, therefore, accepted the need to facilitate the co-ordination and the synchronisation of the unitary development plan preparations. They have accepted that the institutional complexity and the need to reconcile a diversity of interests make impracticable a voluntary arrangement to represent and co-ordinate those interests. I would contend that those same arguments would apply with equal force in the metropolitan areas as in London.

There is widespread concern among the metropolitan borough councils about the role of the Secretary of State in issuing strategic guidance on topics listed in the revised proposals paper. In Merseyside both the Sefton and Wirral councils have seen that as an unwelcome central involvement in matters which ought to be resolved locally, and the professional organisations in the North-West—the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Royal Institute of British Architects—have all expressed similar concern to the Ministers involved.

The Minister's amendment would at least establish some kind of advisory arrangement and would keep alive the strategic planning idea to allow professional work to continue for Greater London as a whole. But why is there no equivalent proposal for the metropolitan counties? Is it an oversight on the part of the Government, or do they feel that only London is a special case? Surely it is unfair to overlook the provincial conurbations, and the least that the Government can do is to extend to all the areas affected by the Bill their new arrangements for London, however poor and imperfect some of us may consider them compared with earlier suggestions that we made during the passage of the Bill.

All we are seeking today by our amendments is to make the same arrangements for town planning in the metropolitan counties as the Government are seeking for Greater London. It is not a very radical proposition and it is not aimed at upsetting the Government's purpose in the Bill. All we are seeking is a small change, and in doing so we are motivated by a strong feeling for the need for fairness and equal treatment for all the areas affected by this Bill. We are asking for justice to be seen to be done to the metropolitan counties as well as to Greater London.

We believe that the Government are right to make arrangements to continue discussions about strategic town and country planning. We had hoped that we might get something better than the present proposals, and certainly we had expected that there would be something which at least recognised the needs of the areas such as Merseyside, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and the other "met" counties just as much as Greater London.

3.15 p.m.

We accept that London deserves a voice because of the many issues which affect the boroughs collectively and because in many respects London ought to be viewed as a single complex area. But we must not overlook the fact that each of the conurbations outside London and the Home Counties also has problems and opportunities that bind them together. The district councils in the metropolitan areas need to agree on the best means of protecting their open countryside; they need to agree how to rebuild their run-down inner city areas; they need to agree to what degree to develop their competing town centres and where to build their major highways. Those are problems which they cannot solve alone as districts, but they are problems which at the very least they ought to investigate and discuss together.

Just as London cannot be viewed as a simple collection of individual boroughs, independent in all that they think and do, neither can the metropolitan districts. That reality is recognised by the way people behave in their everyday lives. Private bodies, Government departments, the churches, voluntary organisations and indeed the public at large all recognise that they have a common interest which extends beyond the individual metropolitan counties.

For example, let us just look at Manchester. That is an areas which will have 10 city and borough councils to look after its interests in the future, the main one being of course Manchester. But the reality of local affairs is such that the Manchester Evening News circulates in every one of those 10 districts; the Manchester Diocese also extends into every one of those 10 districts; and the Manchester postal district extends into Manchester, Trafford, Salford, Wigan, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham and Tameside. The Manchester travel-to-work area as defined by the Department of Employment extends to Manchester, Trafford, Salford, Tameside, Stockport and Rochdale. The Manchester outer ring road passes through Manchester, Trafford, Salford, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Tameside and Stockport. The current Manchester bid for the 1992 Olympic Games is largely dependent on the facilities in the areas lying within Salford and Trafford. The Manchester Docks are in Trafford and Salford. The Manchester ship canal flows between Salford and Trafford, but it stops short of the Manchester boundary. Indeed, Manchester United Football Club has its ground in Trafford.

Those are the sort of facts that can be repeated over and over again for the other metropolitan counties and they illustrate quite clearly that the areas work as close-knit units. Of course they have their local loyalities in individual towns and areas, as they have in London, but they are also interdependent for social, economic and spiritual purposes. The way that these counties are to be planned and developed in the future is of pressing interest to the whole of the area. There must be some effective arrangment to enable that to happen. That is what we are seeking by our amendments.

Whether by neglect or forgetfulness the Government have not seen fit to allow the metropolitan county areas to enjoy the extremely modest arrangements that they are prepared to make for town planning in Greater London. I ask your Lordships, is it right and is it fair that the metropolitan authorities should be treated in any different way? The larger provincial conurbations deserve to be dealt with no less fairly than London, and that can be achieved if your Lordships will support our amendments this afternoon. I beg to move.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I rise to support the amendment standing in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, and myself. Later I shall come to another amendment which is quite different, and that stands in my name and is supported by the noble Baroness. In doing that I should like to give a small—

Lord Elton

I am terribly sorry, my Lords. I ought to have asked this before the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, sat down. She said that she was speaking also to Amendments Nos. 9 and 20. I think that that was probably a slip. I am quite happy to take it that she was not speaking to those as long as we are clear.

Baroness Stedman

My Lords, Amendments Nos. 3. 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 20.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I think that the confusion is that Amendment No. 20 is really in the group with No. 9, but I do not think that that matters.

In supporting the amendment of the noble Baroness I should also like to give a small cheer to the amendment tabled by the Minister. Unfortunately, good as it is as far as it goes, it does not go far enough to meet the view not only of this side of the House but also of many noble Lords opposite, of some Government supporters in another place, and of all the relevant professional organisations that there must be some mechanism by which boroughs can contribute to a conurbation-wide view of planning and development issues. To do that the joint committee will need to have at its disposal sufficient professional and technical staff. The Government amendment makes no specific mention of that. I am sure that the House would welcome an assurance that those resources will be available.

The Government amendment would also provide the mechanism required by many noble Lords to enable a coherent London input into regional planning to become a reality. The amendment does away, we have just agreed, with the undemocratic, non-elected London Planning Commission, and I think that has received the support of the House. All this is to be welcomed, and in it the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has obviously played a leading role.

All too often there is, as the noble Baroness has pointed out, a regrettable tendency to neglect the rest of England. Sitting in London, as we do, it is perhaps understandable that the capital city is considered first. Yet we should always realise that London is not unique when it comes to urban problems, protection of the countryside, building motorways or safeguarding the country's heritage. These issues are of pressing importance for London but they are just as strongly felt on Tyneside and, as the noble Baroness pointed out, on Merseyside and in some of the other conurbations, in areas which have been laid waste by adverse social and economic change and where concerted action is needed to tackle unemployment and dereliction.

I believe that residents of a large northern city really could be forgiven if they were to take a rather cynical view of Parliament busily making arrangements for London while neglecting the urgent necessity to do anything for their conurbation and neighbouring conurbations. We must do more than make excuses for not taking in the metropolitan counties. What is required is action in a fair and even-handed manner.

This amendment gives us that opportunity. I feel that the Minister should certainly make sure that the opportunity is not missed. If we are prepared to see a joint committee set up for London to discuss how land should be used, how investment should be guided and how the environment is to be protected, then surely we should be prepared to make equivalent arrangements for the metropolitan counties.

I know that in the past the Minister has fallen back on the question of numbers. However, if I may say so, I do not think that that is a strong enough or valid enough argument. All right, there are 33 boroughs in London and no more than 10 districts in any one metropolitan county. But, with great respect, I think that that argument misses the main point. It is needs and not numbers which influences the arrangements we should seek for the metropolitan counties. The northern towns and cities have many genuine opportunities to exploit their assets and overcome their problems. However, this has to be a co-operative enterprise and boroughs and districts need to talk together to find the answers to their own problems.

Unlike the situation in London, everything in the metropolitan counties is to be left to voluntary cooperation. As I think has been argued through the various stages of the Bill in this House, this is a very uncertain remedy. Of course we cannot ensure that councils will agree on the best way of working together, but what we can ensure is that they talk about it. This amendment would give that assurance. My noble friends and I support it as a reasonable, practical and, above all, fair way forward.

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

My Lords, perhaps I may add to what the two previous speakers have said. I do so taking into consideration the noble effort that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has made on behalf of SERPLAN. I again draw the attention of the Minister to the co-ordinating committee that operates in the West Midlands as a planning organisation. The West Midlands county is sitting round the table constantly with the shire counties of Stafford, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, which I should say are all very notable shire counties. The West Midlands county is in constant contact with them to protect the green belt and to see that development is taking place in exactly the right places. I should have said that that is of equal importance to the conurbation of the West Midlands as London is to the SERPLAN authorities.

Taking the points made by the noble Baronesses who have previously spoken, I feel that on some occasions the Minister knows little about the facts of life in the metropolitan county areas. When we talk about the fact that the boroughs in London will confer, let us be quite clear about what the boroughs in London are. They are all Londoners, they are all part and parcel of London. When one is talking about the metropolitan counties, it is easy to speak of them as 10 districts, but what are those 10 districts? In the main they all have a major city and they all have towns. They are not merely districts like the districts of London: they are towns in their own right, with their own mayors and their own councils. They are entirely different. I think that is what the Minister does not recognise: that they are towns in their own right.

Because they form part of the large conurbations, it is important that planning should be taken very seriously. That is not only in relation to economic development, which obviously includes the provision of jobs, but also, as others have said, in relation to the protection of the countryside, the need to organise public transport and the need, especially in the West Midlands, to take note of all the motorway networks that are linking up the north, south, east and west of the country. I think all these matters are somewhat forgotten when one is talking so constantly, as we are, of London.

I give my support to what has already been said. If the Minister does not give way, I think he will be making a grave mistake and will be showing that he is not being fair to the rest of the metropolitan counties and is showing favouritism to the London area.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, both the noble Baroness who has just sat down and the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, in moving this amendment, seemed to take the line that the joint planning body, the joint planning committee contemplated by this amendment, is a boon of enormous value to the areas concerned. If they will allow me to say so, with respect, the whole tone of their speeches was that London was being favoured and the other metropolitan counties discriminated against by my noble friend.

I can only wonder, in all seriousness, whether the ordinary people in any of these districts are really very concerned at whether there is to be a joint planning committee operating in their area. I rather suspect that very few of them are either interested in this or know anything about it. Thus the concept that this is some terrible grievance being inflicted on the provincial metropolitan counties by the Government really does not stand up.

The whole argument at earlier stages of the Bill for one of these joint committees was, as I think your Lordships who have been here throughout our discussions will recollect, almost entirely concentrated on London and the emphasis throughout was on the very special problems of the Greater London area. These are obvious: the sheer size, the sheer number of people and their relationship with the planning problems of the whole of the South-East. Hence, indeed, the discussions about SERPLAN in which my noble friend Lord Sandford played so distinguished and helpful a part. That was the whole emphasis.

It is only now, on Third Reading, when the Government, in my view very properly, have sought to meet the special problems of London that we are told that their doing so creates something of a grievance for the other areas in respect of which very little was said at all the earlier stages of the Bill. I am afraid that leaves one somewhat sceptical as to the reality of the case which is being made. I suggest to your Lordships that there is a very clear distinction, and it is the distinction of size and complexity. We are dealing not with a trophy, not with some great object of sentimental affection: we are dealing with the question of a small piece of local government mechanism.

Your Lordships in general thought, and the Government in due course in general thought, that there was a case for this particular mechanism to deal with the specific problems of Greater London. It does not follow, I suggest, that in the totally different circumstances of the metropolitan counties, with their smaller population and their much smaller number of local authorities, there is suddenly a crying need for that particular mechanism. To use the argument for London and turn it into a grievance makes it more difficult for my noble friend on the Front Bench to make concessions designed for the particular needs of any particular area. I hope therefore that your Lordships, on reflection, will reject the amendment.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, with respect, I do not know how the noble Baronesses, Lady Birk, and Lady Stedman—the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, is in a rather different category—can support these amendments and keep a straight face. The noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, put it perfectly when she asked, "Is London a special case?" Through all the hours and days that we have been debating this Bill, the Opposition and the Alliance Benches have been saying that London is a special case. The whole of their argument for getting something done has been based on the fact that London is special and should therefore be dealt with separately. It is hardly fair that they should now suddenly switch the argument round and use it as a weapon to beat the Government for being neglectful. I have not accepted that London is all that much of a special case. But your Lordships' House did so, and voted accordingly. Now, very properly, we must accept the decision of the House.

I believe that even in London the districts and boroughs could get together. They would be more representative of the area. They would carry more authority because they were elected from the area. I am convinced that they could come to conclusions on planning and all the other matters that would be better than those of any committee such as that envisaged in my noble friend's amendment. I cannot, however, accept the suggestion of those who, having got away with all this special pleading for London, now say that it is automatically right for the metropolitan counties. The noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, speaks with authority in respect of the West Midlands. I would claim, if I may say so, that I perhaps do so, too. I do not accept the noble Baroness's assessment that it is impossible for the areas and districts that cover the West Midlands voluntarily to get together and come to better conclusions than are likely from a joint committee. They have done so in the past. I am convinced that they could do so again.

The noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, quoted Manchester. I do not know what connection the noble Baroness has with Manchester that enables her to speak with such authority. I resist what she says. I represented, as a Member of the European Parliament, an area covering eight constituencies. I was not aware of any difficulty among those eight constituencies in getting together and formulating policy. It is perhaps the case that Conservative committees can succeed in that respect while other political parties cannot. However, I am convinced from my experience that all political parties would be able to do the same. I do not believe that we should go further than what is proposed in the amendment by my noble friend. I wonder whether the other place will be prepared to accept the need for it, as your Lordships' House have done, even in London.

I interpret the amendments very clearly as an attempt to take over the authority of the elected districts and also to remove the overriding influence of the Secretary of State. I have much more confidence in a voluntary association of locally elected authorities getting together and coming to a common conclusion. If I am wrong and if, for some reason, they cannot get together, then the Secretary of State has the power and the influence to step in and guide them along the right road. To have the extra joint committee in the metropolitan areas would merely bring back the two-tier planning system which this Bill was intended to remove. It has been expensive. It has been unnecessary. It has delayed the general development of various parts of this country. I do not think that we should have anything to do with what is likely to flow from these amendments.

Lord Hunt

My Lords, I must correct the impression left by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, who contends that it is only now at this late stage—the Third Reading stage—of long and protracted discussion of this Bill that the case is being made for the need for county planning arrangements for the metropolitan counties. The noble Lord has attended assiduously discussions at Committee stage and in the full House. He is well aware, if he reads or re-reads Hansard and sees the amendments put down earlier, that the case has consistently been made equally for the metropolitan counties. The case is just as strong in my contention for the metropolitan counties to have county-wide strategic planning machinery, even if it is only advisory machinery, as it is for London.

The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, says that he is pretty sure that, to a great extent, people living in the conurbations of the metropolitan counties due to be abolished have no knowledge of, or interest in, the possibility or otherwise of machinery to cater for the county-wide planning needs of those conurbations. That is strictly irrelevant. They will soon find out, following abolition of the metropolitan counties, what they are going to lose if and when the districts fall out and do not make the provisions provided during all these years.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I believe that I can help the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, in interpreting the remarks of my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, is right in saying that we have spent a good deal of time, although not so much proportionately as I, a Mancunian, would have liked, on the metropolitan counties as compared to London. We have, however, spent a good deal of time on them. What has puzzled my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, as it has puzzled me, is that the argument today has been stood on its head, notably by the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher of Rednal.

When we started debating the Bill, we were told over and over again how important it was that the metropolitan counties, in some form, should survive. When we, from this side of the House, referred to the historic cities and towns with their own personalities that make up these metropolitan counties, our views were dismissed as mere antiquarianism. Today, from the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher of Rednal, we have heard a very eloquent statement of the precise reason why we, on this side, think that the weight in these counties should revert to the historic cities and towns with their very different complexion and history. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, might, I believe, be satisfied with that.

I am worried about a quite different point. It relates to London and to my noble friend's amendment. It is the reference that the amendment makes on the need for important decisions concerning expenditure to have a two-thirds majority combined with the reference that he made to the continued refusal of the Association of London Boroughs to take part in discussing and planning the new arrangements. What assurance has he that boroughs that have boycotted the future in this way will enter into this arrangement once it becomes law? If they refuse to be represented, how is the two-thirds majority to be calculated? I believe that other noble Lords might like to hear what the Minister has to say on that, I admit, somewhat narrow point.

Lord Sandford

My Lords, I had hoped that mv, first remarks on this part of the Bill would be to welcome the Government Amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 21. But it does not seem to have worked out like that. We are now involved with the amendments concerning the provincial metropolitan county councils, Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12. It was obvious, was it not, long ago when the White Paper Streamlining the Cities was published and long before this Bill that some consideration should be given to strategic planning in the metropolitan areas outside London. However, we must remember that from that moment the Labour Party saw to it that the Association of Metropolitan Authorities—and all the members concerned are members of that association—was not allowed to participate in the discussions and negotiations on that point.

Therefore, it is totally inappropriate for Members opposite now to accuse the Government of having neglected the issue. It was perhaps they who specifically refused to take part in any consideration of the matter. I must say that the professionals concerned, the Royal Town Planning Institute, are almost as dilatory. Whether there should or should not be anything in the Bill about this is still perhaps debatable. What is not debatable is about the only thing that became clear during such discussions as we did have; namely, that whatever applied in the rest of the country would be totally different from whatever applied to London and the home counties, for reasons which have been rehearsed over and over again throughout this Bill. Here, at the very last stage, we have something which is a carbon copy of what has been designed for London and the South-East, and for that reason I cannot recommend the House to agree to these amendments.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, is of course totally correct that every conceivable case has been argued for the superimposition of an extra tier of local government. However, as other noble Lords have said, London was always argued on the basis that it was a special case, and that case has been met by Amendment No. 2 in the name of my noble friend the Minister. As soon as that was put down, Amendment No. 3 was tabled on the basis that the special case is not a special case but a case of general application. For the reasons given by other noble Lords, surely at this stage of the Bill it would be inappropriate to accept Amendment No. 3. Many issues are raised in the string of amendments, in particular Amendment No. 20, which removes authority from the Secretary of State in favour of a joint planning authority for Greater London. However, I hesitate to weary your Lordships on that.

Lord Middleton

My Lords, I have some experience in strategic planning affecting metropolitan areas and districts in that for about 11 years I was a member of one of the economic planning councils set up by the Labour Government in, I think, 1968. We had planning functions and duties very similar to those that are being set up for London by the Government. We had to advise Government on a strategic plan for the region that we covered and we had to advise the local authorities.

When we advised Government, Government always listened very politely but whether in fact they ever acted on our advice we were never quite sure. The noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, is quite right that the metropolitan districts are huge and they are very proud. In my area I had districts such as Leeds and Bradford and, before local government reorganisation, Hull. They thought that they knew very well how to manage their planning. When we advised them on certain aspects of trying to fall in with the strategic plan that we had devised, they looked on this advice with modified rapture. I must say that I share the view of my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter that the metropolitan districts—these very large, powerful districts, as the noble Baroness described them—will not miss having a superior strategic planning body to advise them.

3.45 p.m.

Baroness Lockwood

My Lords, there seems to have been some confusion about the previous debates that we have had in the House. Certainly from this side of the House there has been a consistent demand that there should be central authorities within the metropolitan counties in order to co-ordinate both the strategic planning and other planning services. I think that it is most inappropriate to say that it is only at this stage of the debate that we are now asking for this facility.

Certainly from the point of view of West Yorkshire I have consistently asked for machinery to co-ordinate various services, including planning services. The noble Lord opposite has just mentioned two of the very important districts in West Yorkshire—Leeds and Bradford—which I agree have been very important cities in the past and which remain very important districts and very competent local government authorities. But within West Yorkshire there are other districts which are not so centralised as either Leeds or Bradford and which have different problems. It is those different problems that have been brought together and co-ordinated through the metropolitan county councils. It is because we have not been able to get this message across when other amendments have been moved on previous occasions that we are now coming back asking for the same facilities for the metropolitan counties as are being afforded to the London boroughs. I think that it is very appropriate that we should have the same facilities in the metropolitan areas.

Lord Broxbourne

My Lords, at the risk of being unfashionable, but I hope not divisive, perhaps I may strike a somewhat more sympathetic note in regard to these amendments than my noble friends have been able to. At an earlier stage of the proceedings on this Bill I testified to my belief in the importance of what has come to be known as strategic planning and strategic guidance, though, as your Lordships know, these are not terms of art in our statute law. They are important in that they enable us to continue with that evolution of the philosophy to town planning which at least ever since the Act of 1909 has broadened out into a positive science designed to apply in a wider and more general context than the detailed planning control hitherto.

I think that these amendments are designed to promote that cause of strategic planning and strategic guidance, and of course the concept is supported by the professional bodies. During the course of the Report stage, in which I was not able to take part, I wrote to my noble friend Lord Elton, saying that I had received further representations from one of these professional bodies, cujus minima pars sum, reiterating its support for the approach made by these amendments and inviting my support. I now rise only to ask my noble friend when he replies whether he will specifically address himself to the representations of those professional bodies which, as he will be aware, in paragraphs 8, 9 and 11, testify to their opinion as to the necessity of some such machinery as this for the metropolitan counties and do not differentiate between the case for them and the case for London. If my noble friend is able to deal with this point, I shall be happy to be convinced, but I am bound to say that as long as those arguments remain unanswered and are not dealt with, it seems to me that there is some substance in the purpose at any rate and in the concept of these amendments, even if not in their detailed provisions.

Lord Elton

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, has brought forward the first of two groups of amendments designed to achieve two changes to what the Government now propose in Amendment No. 2 to put into the Bill. The Government proposals are in Amendment No. 1, which your Lordships accepted, which strikes out of the Bill the London Planning Commission, and Amendment No. 21, which is consequential upon it, and in Amendment No. 2 we propose a replacement in the form of a joint planning committee for Greater London.

I am grateful to both noble Baronesses for their acknowledgment of the extent to which the Government have moved to meet their concerns, which I think went rather wider than those of most of my noble friends. Perhaps I may start by reassuring the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, that on the matter of resources for the joint committee proposed, the question of the scale of resources will be for the joint committee itself to decide. What we have done in the Bill is to provide that the expenses—and that of course will include the expense of employing staff—can be recovered from all the local planning authorities in Greater London if two-thirds of them agree to those expenses.

I think that that was the two-thirds majority to which my noble friend Lord Beloff asked me to address myself. It applies only to the expenses of the joint committee, but not to its policy. In other words, policy decisions are taken on a straight majority, but the financial decisions are taken on a two-thirds majority. That applies to all the authorities, notwithstanding the silence, which I again regret, of the ALA on the subject.

The noble Baroness's group of amendments, Nos. 3, 5, 8 and 10 to 12, are the ones which strike at the Government's amendments. They have the intention of duplicating in every one of the metropolitan counties the provisions which our Amendment No. 2 proposes for London.

I think I made it clear, when this point was raised on Report, that I was in no way convinced that it would be a good thing. I did, however, I agree, undertake that I would consider the idea, and that undertaking also I have fulfilled. It was an interesting process because it made me compare London with the metropolitan counties more directly than I had done hitherto, to see whether my feeling that they were of entirely different orders was well founded or merely a careless and misguided misapprehension.

I wonder whether I can best explain my position by repeating word for word a short passage from what I said when I moved Amendment No. 2—which this amendment seeks to alter and extend—at the beginning of this afternoon. It was a passage in which I explained why the Government had been persuaded that a joint planning committee was appropriate to London.

I ask your Lordships to listen to the series of statements I then made as I repeat them, and I ask your Lordships which, if any of them, could by any stretch of the imagination be applied even to the biggest of the metropolitan counties. I said: "Greater London has 6.7 million inhabitants". Your Lordships will know, I do not doubt, that the West Midlands has 2.6 million and Tyne and Wear only 1.1 million. I went on: "It provides 3 million jobs". Your Lordships may know that the West Midlands provides 1.1 million and Tyne and Wear only 400,000.

I said: "It provides 3 million jobs and attracts more than I million commuters from outside its borders every day". That is every working day, it is true. "It is a major tourist centre attracting about 13 million tourists from other parts of the United Kingdom and between 7 and 8 million from overseas". None of the metropolitan counties can begin to match that huge gravitational ebb and flow.

When I went on to say that, "The sheer scale of all this exerts a considerable influence on the surrounding parts of the South-East region", I was saying something that I could not say in the same spirit, or with the same truth, about any of the metropolitan counties at all, let alone the smallest.

Those, nevertheless, were the reasons which persuaded the Government that a joint committee was appropriate for London, and not one of them applies even to the biggest metropolitan county, let alone to the smallest. Nor will these districts in the county areas be alone, acting in isolation. They will have every opportunity to consider all common interests and issues by voluntary non-statutory means, and they will do so in the light of the strategic guidance provided by the Secretary of State.

As my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter properly stated, London is a special case, which needs special treatment. We recognised this from the start—it is not some afterthought—by putting the London Planning Commission into the Bill. But your Lordships think that this—and I am sure we are all agreed on this—is something better, which is why we have taken it out again. But to take it out does not invalidate the principle upon which it was there, which was that London is different.

When the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, said that it was need and not number which should determine our decisions, I think she was beguiled by an attractive alliteration into making a statement which does not accurately reflect reality as it is. In a passage well timed to coincide with the meeting of the General Synod, and therefore an unusually generous proportion of right reverend Prelates are among us this afternoon, the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, said that the inhabitants of Manchester were all dependent upon one another for economic, social, and, I note, spiritual purposes.

That is certainly true of all of us everywhere. No man, and no urban district either, is an island to himself alone, and it is not my purpose to suggest that they should be. Our concern is in no way to suggest that. On the contrary, it is simply to create statutory bodies only when they are inescapably needed, and here, despite the catalogue of places on the Manchester ring road which the noble Baroness eloquently recited—and presumably she could have gone on round and round forever, but she spared us—we are convinced, as my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls ably pointed out, that it is not necessary.

My noble friend Lord Broxbourne asked me to consider the representations which were made on particular matters. On the general case for a strategic authority I think I have already—whether to his satisfaction or not I know not, though I doubt it—given sufficient reason why a strategic authority is not necessary on grounds of scale or on grounds of complexity.

There was also an argument for an examination in public, but I do not wish to retrace the considerations we had in Committee and on Report. However, if my noble friend will look at Hansard, he will see references to the way in which public interest is canvassed, public views solicited, and public opinions taken account of in the unitary development planning process.

As to the need for research, which was the third limb of concern which was put before me under cover of his letter, I would point out the provisions of Clause 88 and our earlier associated amendments, and suggest to my noble friend that that is well and truly provided for.

Therefore, we come back to this: I have brought before your Lordships an amendment which we have worked on steadily and hard, under pressure from both your Lordships and outside groups—those who would play—as well as from individual people with knowledge. We have come forward with something which answers all the concerns—I believe my noble friends will agree with me when we come to conclude the debate on the principal amendment—which were brought to us at Committee stage.

During the process between then and now we have adjusted what we proposed so as to fit more closely with what your Lordships want, and I believe that that is what I now put before you. It was tailor-made to reflect the needs of Greater London. The close interlinking between London and the South-East region, for reasons of sheer scale and number, is far more influential and far more interactive than that between any of the metropolitan counties and its hinterland. The statistics which I recited to your Lordships must make that clear beyond a peradventure of doubt.

Therefore in advancing the case for doing this for London, in answer to what your Lordships have asked me to do, I do not think I one whit weaken my conviction that this should not be extended to the metropolitan areas where I believe that voluntary arrangements suffice and that your Lordships should abide by the well-regarded principle that setting out statutory bodies where they are not needed is a mistake. I ask your Lordships to resist the amendment.

Baroness Stedman

My Lords, I am afraid that the noble Lord has not convinced me about his argument for not giving similar treatment to the metropolitan counties as to London. Indeed, as noble Lords on the other side have been talking my mind has gone back to my fire service days during the war when I used to lecture recruits on the history of the fire service and tell them about the early days of this century when fire insurance was introduced. Fire appliances attended a call and if the right plaque was not on the wall they went away without putting the fire out. Indeed, after the last war fire appliances did not cross county boundaries until it became compulsory under the 1947 Act for them to work together and to give cross-boundary support. Without a proposal for the metropolitan counties similar to that for London we shall be back to that kind of position on planning issues which cannot be dealt with in an overall fashion.

The noble Lord, Lord Elton, gave us a whole string of numbers. Quite frankly, I think numbers are an irrelevance in this issue. They do not affect the need for consultation and discussion among the metropolitan districts to ensure that they are advising sensible strategic planning decisions. The uniform arrangements in the metropolitan counties and in London may be an unsatisfactory way of carrying out strategic planning, and the members of the planning professions among us would probably agree with that. At least they would provide a link and a means of discussing and solving problems.

The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, referred to this discrimination in favour of the metropolitan counties and said that very little had been said earlier of the metropolitan counties. But as the noble Lord, Lord Hunter, said, many of us have spoken at every stage of this Bill on the need for proper planning procedures within the metropolitan counties. This is not a last-minute conversion: we have been fighting for it since day one of this Bill. The shire counties around the metropolitan areas are concerned about what will happen to planning and to functions when there is no overall policy for the original metropolitan counties for them to discuss cross-boundary issues. It is important that at least there should be some sort of advisory committee to cover the whole of the existing metropolitan areas. Therefore I must ask the House to express its view.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone)

My Lords, the original Question was that Amendment No. 2 shall be agreed to; since when Amendment No. 3 has been proposed. The Question I now have to put to the House is that Amendment No. 3 to Amendment No. 2 shall be agreed to.

4.4 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 126; Not-Contents, 161.

Airedale, L. Ilchester, E.
Amherst, E. Irving of Dartford, L.
Ardwick, L. Jacobson, L.
Attlee, E. Jacques, L.
Aylestone, L. Jeger, B.
Banks, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Barnett, L. Kagan, L.
Bernstein, L. Kearton, L.
Birk, B. Kennet, L.
Blyton, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Boothby, L. Kinloss, Ly.
Boston of Faversham, L. Kirkhill, L.
Bottomley, L. Leatherland, L.
Brockway, L. Listowel, E.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Broxbourne, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Lockwood, B.
Burton of Coventry, B. Lovell-Davis, L.
Caradon, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. McNair, L.
Collison, L. Mais, L.
Crawshaw of Aintree, L. Masham of Ilton, B.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Mayhew, L.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Melchett, L.
David, B. [Teller.] Milford, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Mishcon, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Molson, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Monson, L.
Denington, B. Morton of Shuna, L.
Diamond, L. Mulley, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Nicol, B.
Donoughue, L. Northfield, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Oram, L.
Ennals, L. Peart, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Phillips, B.
Ezra, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Falkender, B. Plant, L.
Falkland, V. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Prys-Davies, L.
Fitt, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Gaitskell, B. Rea, L.
Gallacher, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Galpern, L. Roberthall, L.
Gladwyn, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Grey, E. Seear, B.
Hampton, L. Serota, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Shackleton, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Shepherd, L.
Hayter, L. Silkin of Dulwich, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Stallard, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Stamp, L.
Hunt, L. Stedman, B. [Teller.]
Hunter of Newington, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Stone, L. Walston, L.
Strabolgi, L. Whaddon, L.
Strauss, L. Willis, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Tordoff, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Underhill, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Harvington, L.
Allerton, L. Henley, L.
Ampthill, L. Holderness, L.
Arran, E. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Auckland, L. Hood, V.
Barber, L. Hooper, B.
Bathurst, E. Hylton-Foster, B.
Bauer, L. Ingrow, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Kaberry of Adel, L.
Beloff, L. Kemsley, V.
Belstead, L. Killearn, L.
Bessborough, E. Kilmany, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Kimball, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Kings Norton, L.
Brookes, L. Kinnaird, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Lane-Fox, B.
Cairns, E. Lauderdale, E.
Caithness, E. Layton, L.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Loch, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Long, V.
Campbell of Croy, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Luke, L.
Chelwood, L. Lyell, L.
Chesham, L. McFadzean, L.
Coleraine, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Mancroft, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Marley, L.
Cottesloe, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Cowley, E. Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Cox, B.
Craigton, L. Merrivale, L.
Cranbrook, E. Mersey, V.
Crathorne, L. Middleton, L.
Crawshaw, L. Milverton, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Mottistone, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L. Mountgarret, V.
Davidson, V. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
De Freyne, L. Munster, E.
De La Warr, E. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Nairne, Ly.
Digby, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Onslow, E.
Ebbisham, L. Orkney, E.
Eden of Winton, L. Peel, E.
Effingham, E. Pender, L.
Ellenborough, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Elles, B. Porritt, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Radnor, E.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Rankeillour, L.
Elton, L. Reay, L.
Fanshawe of Richmond, L. Reigate, L.
Ferrier, L. Reilly, L.
Forbes, L. Renton, L.
Fortescue, E. Renwick, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Rochdale, V.
Freyberg, L. Rodney, L.
Gainford, L. Romney, E.
Gardner of Parkes, B. St. Aldwyn, E.
Glenarthur, L. St. Davids, V.
Gowrie, E. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Granville of Eye, L. Sandford, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Sandys, L.
Greenway, L. Savile, L.
Gridley, L. Seebohm, L.
Grimthorpe, L. Sempill, Ly.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Sharples, B.
Sherfield, L.
Halsbury, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Somers, L.
Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Stockton, E.
Stodart of Leaston, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Sudeley, L. Vinson, L.
Swansea, L. Vivian, L.
Swinton, E. [Teller.] Whitelaw, V.
Taylor of Hadfield, L. Windlesham, L.
Terrington, L. Wise, L.
Teviot, L. Wolfson, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L. Wynford, L.
Townshend, M. Young, B.
Tranmire, L. Young of Graffham, L.
Trefgarne, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Trumpington, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.