HL Deb 10 June 1985 vol 464 cc1001-70

3 p.m.

Report received.

Baroness Stedman moved Amendment No. 1: After Clause 2, insert the following new clause:

("Strategic Planning in Metropolitan Counties.

.—(1) The Secretary of State shall by order taking effect on the abolition date make provision for the authority established by section 28 of this Act ("the authority") for each metropolitan county to exercise the following functions relating to town and country planning in that county to the extent and in the manner that such order shall provide—

  1. (a) the provision of strategic guidance for the preparation by each council of a metropolitan district which is a local planning authority in that county of a unitary development plan, and for the formulation in the county of policies for public transport, highways and traffic management;
  2. (b) the collection, examination, analysis and dissemination of data required for the discharge of that function.

(2) Strategic guidance to be issued by the authority under this section shall include guidance with respect to—

  1. (a) the general level of provision for housing development to be made in the county, indicating the provision to be made in each metropolitan district;
  2. (b) major transport links for which unitary development plans should make provision, particularly routes crossing the boundaries of a metropolitan district in the county;
  3. (c) the general level of provision of and the locations for major new commercial or industrial development in the county;
  4. (d) the further development of major town and city centres in the county;
  5. (e) any need to give priority to particular areas of the county for development; and
  6. (f) overall policies on green belt, agricultural land and mineral extraction in the county.

(3) An order under this section shall contain such supplementary and transitional provisions as the Secretary of State thinks necessary or expedient, including provisions amending any enactment (including this Act) or any instrument under any enactment and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, that order shall make provision—

  1. (a) for the production, consultation and examination in public of strategic guidance;
  2. (b) requiring a local planning authority in a metropolitan county not to give publicity to or adopt a unitary development plan or a joint unitary development plan unless they have first obtained a certificate that the plan conforms generally with strategic guidance given to them in pursuance of subsection (1)(a) above;
  3. (c) for the determination whether a plan so conforms, by the authority;
  4. (d) for the determination of that question by the Secretary of State in any case where he so directs or where it appears to the authority that a plan does not so conform.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 1 I shall be speaking also to Amendments Nos. 2 to 11, 16, 17, 24, 26 and 33.

Amendment No. 2: After Clause 2, insert the following new clause:

("Strategic Planning, Highways and Traffic in London.

.—(1) On the appointed day there shall be established for Greater London a body corporate to be known as the London Planning, Highways and Traffic Joint Authority (in this section and in Schedule (Strategic planning, highways and traffic functions in Greater London) of this Act referred to as "the Authority").

(2) The Authority shall consist of members of the consituent councils appointed by them to be members of the Authority.

(3) The consituent councils in relation to the Authority shall be the London borough councils and the Common Council.

(4) The provisions of sections 29 to 36 and Part I of Schedule 9 of this Act shall apply with respect to the members of the Authority as they apply with respect to the members of the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority to be established under Part IV of this Act.

(5) Part I of Schedule (Strategic planning, highways and traffic function in Greater London) of this Act shall have effect for the purpose of conferring with effect from the abolition date on the Authority as respects Greater London functions with respect to—

  1. (a) structure plans and other matters under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971;
  2. (b) highways;
  3. (c) road traffic; and
  4. (d) other matters;
being functions for the most part at present exercisable by the Greater London Council.

(6) Part II of the said Schedule shall have effect for conferring with effect from the abolition date on the London borough councils and the Common Council the functions of the Greater London Council in relation to road traffic regulation and town and country planning not to be transferred to the Authority hereunder and Part III shall have effect for the purpose of making consequential and other amendments to the relevant enactments for the purposes of giving effect to the transfer of functions under this section.

(7) In this section and Schedule (Strategic planning, highways and traffic functions in Greater London) of this Act. "the appointed day" means such day before the abolition date the Secretary of State shall by order appoint.").

Amendment No. 3: After Clause 2, insert the following new clause:

("Planning and the environment in metropolitan counties.

. The Secretary of State shall by order taking effect on the abolition date make provision for the authority established by section 10 of this Act for each metropolitan county to exercise the following functions relating to town and country planning and the environment in that county to the extent and in the manner that such order shall provide—

  1. (a) the functions of a county planning authority in their capacity as mineral planning authority under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971;
  2. (b) the functions of a county planning authority under that Act with respect to—
    1. (i) in the use of land or the carrying out of operations in or on land for the deposit of refuse or waste materials;
    2. (ii) the erection of any building, plant or machinery designed for purposes of treating, storing, processing or disposing of refuse or waste materials;
  3. (c) the functions which, immediately before the passing of this Act were exercisable by a metropolitan county council under section 89 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, the Local Authorities (Land) Act 1963, the Inner Urban Areas Act 1978 and the Derelict Land Act 1982, relating to the reclamation or improvement of land which is or is likely to become derelict, neglected or unsightly;
  4. (d) the functions which, immediately before the passing of this Act, were exercisable by a metropolitan county council under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, the Countryside Act 1968 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 relating to—
    1. (i) the provision or improvement of facilities and opportunities for the enjoyment of the countryside by the public, including the provision of country parks;
    2. 1003
    3. (ii) the provision of nature reserves and access to open country;
    4. (iii) the preservation and enhancement of areas of outstanding natural beauty;
    5. (iv) the provision of land for public open space; and
  5. (e) the appointment of wardens under section 49 or 62 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.").

Amendment No. 4: Clause 3, page 2, line 10, leave out subsection (1) and insert— ("(1) For section 1(1) of the Town and County Planning Act 1971 (local planning authorities) there shall be substituted— (1) Subject to the provisions of this section—

  1. (a) in a non-metropolitan county, the council of the county is the county planning authority for the county and the council of a district is the district planning authority for the district;
  2. (b) the council of the metropolitan district is the local planning authority for the district; and
  3. (c) the council of a London borough is the local planning authority for the borough.

(1A) In a metropolitan county, the authority established by section 10 of the Local Government Act 1985 is the county planning authority for the county and the council of a metroplitan district is the district planning authority for the district for the functions referred to in section (Planning and the Environment in metropolitan counties) of the said Act of 1985.".").

Amendment No. 5: Page 2, line 21, leave out subsection (2) and insert— ("(2) For section 1(2A) of that Act (meaning of "local planning authority") there shall be substituted— (2A) References in this Act to a local planning authority shall, except as respects Greater London and the National Parks and subject to subsection (2AA) below, be construed as references to a county planning authority and a district planning authority, and the foregoing provision shall have effect subject to section 183 of and Part I of Schedule 16 to the Local Government Act 1972. (2AA) In its application to a metropolitan county, subsection (2A) above shall not have effect except in relation to the functions referred to in subsection (1A) of this section.".).

Amendment No. 6: Page 2, line 25, leave out subsection (3).

Amendment No. 7: Page 2, line 36, leave out subsection (5) and insert:— ("(5) For section 182(2) of the principal Act (which, with Schedule 16 to that Act, deals with the allocation of local planning authority functions in England) there shall he substituted— (2) In England (exclusive of Greater London and the Isles of Scilly) and in Wales all functions conferred on local planning authorities by or under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 shall, subject to subsections (2A) and (4) and section 183 below and to Part I of Schedule 16 to this Act, be exercisable by both county planning authorities and by district planning authorities. (2A) In its application to a metropolitan county, sub-section (2) above shall not have effect except in relation to the functions referred to in section 1(1A) of the said Act of 1971." ").

Amendment No. 8: Leave out Clause 3.

Amendment No. 9: Leave out Clause 4.

Amendment No. 10: Before Schedule 1, insert the following new Schedule





Strategic Planning

1. The Secretary of State shall make an order for the purpose of transferring on the abolition date to the Authority the following functions, that is to say—

  1. (a) the functions of a county planning authority under Part II (Development Plans) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 ("the 1971 Act");
  2. (b) the functions of a mineral planning authority within the meaning of the 1971 Act including the power to determine planning applications with respect to the matters mentioned in paragraph 32 of Schedule 16 of the Local Government Act 1972;
  3. (c) the functions of a local planning authority under the 1971 Act with respect to applications for planning permission for and to enforcement of planning control in respect of—
    1. (i) the use of land or the carrying out of operations in or on land for the deposit of waste materials;
    2. (ii) the erection of any building plant or machinery designed for the purposes of treating, storing, processing or disposing of refuse or waste materials;
    3. (iii) the development of land within an area designated by a development plan as green belt; and
    4. (iv) the development of land in a way which would conflict with or prejudice the implementation of the Greater London Development Plan;
  4. (d) the functions at present exercisable by the Greater London Council under Part VI (acquisition and appropriation of land and related provisions) of the 1971 Act;
  5. (e) the functions at present exercisable by the Greater London Council under section 89 of the national Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, the Local Authorities (Land) Act 1963, the Inner Urban Areas Act 1978 and the Derelict Land Act 1982.

2.(1) Without prejudice to its powers and duties under the 1971 Act, the Authority shall from time to time prepare, and cause to be published in such manner as seems to the Authority appropriate for informing persons appearing to the Authority to be concerned, plans relating to highways and traffic in Greater London.

(2) It shall be the duty of the Authority and of each London borough council and the Common Council to have regard to such plans in discharging their functions in relation to highways and traffic and in preparing and revising development plans under Part II of the 1971 Act.

(3) The Authority shall establish an organisation for the purpose of conducting, or assisting in the conducting of, investigations into, and the collection of information relating to any matters concerning Greater London which appear to the Authority to be relevant to the discharge of its functions including, without prejudice to the generality of this paragraph, matters pertaining to the use and development of land, the ecology and environment of Greater London, highways, road traffic and other transport issues.


3.—(1) The Authority shall be the highway authority under the Highways Act 1980 ("the 1980 Act") for all metropolitan roads and that Act shall he construed accordingly.

(2) The following provisions of the 1980 Act shall apply to the Authority as they now apply to the Greater London Council and references in those provisions to that Council shall be construed as reference to the Authority, that is to say—

  1. (a) section 7 (delegation of functions with respect to metropolitan roads);
  2. (b) section 15 (general provisions as to metropolitan roads);
  3. (c) section 24 (roads communicating with metropolitan roads);
  4. (d) section 62(5) (traffic light signals);
  5. (e) section 64(4) and (5) (dual carriageway and roundabouts);
  6. (f) section 66(7) (safety provisions);
  7. (g) section 67(5) (guard rails);
  8. (h) section 69(2) and (3) (subways);
  9. (i) section 79(3) (prevention of obstruction of view at corners);
  10. (j) section 80(4) (power to fence highways);
  11. (k) section 95(1) (bridges);
  12. (l) section 96 as extended by the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974, section 14 (trees and verges);
  13. (m) Part VIIA (provision of amenities on certain highways);
  14. (n) section 160 (unnecessary obstructions);
  15. (o) section 264(2), (3) (vesting of drains);
  16. (p) section 269 (transfer of property in metropolitan roads);
  17. (q) section 285 (improvements not involving widening); and
  18. (r) section 298 (duty to furnish information).

(3) Not later than 1st April 1987 the Authority shall, in consultation with the London borough councils and the Common Council, review the existing network of metropolitan roads and prepare and submit to the Secretary of State for his approval proposals for the revision of that network.

(4) The Authority shall be a "council" and a "local highway authority" within the meaning of section 329 of the 1980 Act.

Road Traffic

4.—(1) The Secretary of State shall by order make provision for the following purposes—

  1. (a) to transfer to the Authority as respects metropolitan roads the functions of the Greater London Council under Parts Ito VII of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 ("the 1984 Act"):
  2. (b) to authorise the Authority, for the purpose of regulating traffic on metropolitan roads, to exercise the powers of a London borough council or the Common Council under the said Parts I to VII of the 1984 Act as respects roads communicating with or adjacent to metropolitan roads in accordance with procedures to be prescribed by the Secretary of State in regulations made under Part III of Schedule 9 of the 1984 Act;
  3. (c) in order to ensure that the exercise by a London borough council or the Common Council of their powers under the 1984 Act does not have an adverse effect on traffic on roads for which they are not the highway authority, to confer on the Authority reserve powers similar to those given to the Secretary of State by Part I of Schedule 9 of the 1984 Act;
  4. (d) to enable the Authority to exercise the powers of a London borough council or the Common Council under sections 6 and 9 of the 1984 Act for prohibiting, regulating or restricting the use of heavy commercial vehicles, in such ways as the Authority may consider expedient for preserving or improving the amenities of Greater London or any part thereof;
  5. (e) to transfer to the Authority—
    1. (i) the functions of the Greater London Council under section 73 of the 1984 Act with respect to traffic signs which are light signals for controlling the movement of vehicular traffic and of pedestrians; and
    2. (ii) all rights, property, liabilities and contracts of the Greater London Council with respect to the system of urban traffic control established and maintained by that Council and;
  6. (f) to require the Authority to manage, maintain and, where appropriate, develop and extend that system.

(2) The Authority shall be a local authority for the purposes of section 38 (as amended by section 8 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (power of local authorities as to giving road safety information and training)) of the Road Traffic Act 1972.

Other functions of the Authority

5.—(1) The Authority shall be a "London authority" within the meaning of section 50 (travel concessions on journeys in or around Greater London) of the London Regional Transport Act 1984.

(2) The Authority may assist, by way of grant or loan the work of any local authority or voluntary body rendering public service to the inhabitants of Greater London by means of activities which appear to the Authority to relate to the functions of the Authority or by the provision of transport services for the benefit of the public or any class of persons.

(3) In this paragraph "voluntary organisations" shall have the meaning given to that term by section 48(10) of this Act.




6.—(1) The Secretary of State shall by order make provision for the transfer to London borough councils and the Common Council of the Greater London Council's traffic regulation functions and its functions under the 1971 Act, so far as such functions are not transferred to the Authority by or under Part I of this Schedule.

(2) "Traffic regulation functions" in this paragraph means the functions of the Greater London Council under the Road Traffic Act 1972, the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 and any local enactment relating to road traffic.



7. Without prejudice to sections 99 and 100 of this Act an order made under this Schedule may contain such provisions for the amendment, adaptation or modification of this Act or any enactment passed before this Act as may appear to the Secretary of State to be necessary or expedient for securing the purposes of, or to be incidental to or consequential upon the transfer of functions by or under, section (Strategic Planning, Highways and Traffic in London) or this Schedule.").

Amendment No. 11: Schedule 1, page 79, line 27, Leave out ("Secretary of State") and insert ("the authority established by section 28 of this Act").

Amendment No. 16: Leave out Schedule 1.

Amendment No. 17: Leave out Clause 7.

Amendment No. 24: Leave out Clause 9.

Amendment No. 26: Leave out Schedule 4.

Amendment No. 33: Leave out Schedule 5.

These amendments are a further attempt to safeguard the planning and environmental services which are currently carried out by the metropolitan counties and the GLC. At the outset, perhaps I may express my appreciation to the noble Lord the Minister for responding to my many questions on these issues in time for this debate. I know that he must have been buried under piles of briefing material in the past two weeks and I am most grateful to him for having taken the time and the trouble to reply to my queries. But while his replies have given somewhat fuller information about the issues I raised, they were not convincing enough to persuade me to alter my attitude this afternoon.

I want to speak in general terms to Amendments Nos. 1 and 3 and the consequential amendments relating to the metropolitan counties. My noble friend and others will deal with the amendments relating to the position in the London area. As I said at Second Reading and again in Committee, there is widespread concern about the future of town and country planning work in the metropolitan areas and in the GLC, and the consequences which would otherwise be left for the future shape of our large cities and their surrounding countryside. Amendment No. 1 places the strategic policy-making and the research and information services with the passenger transport authorities and Amendment No. 3 places the environmental work, the land reclamation, the waste disposal and the countryside work with the waste disposal authority which has now been set up under Clause 10 of the Bill.

These are quite modest amendments. They do not seek to wreck or overturn the Government proposals for the abolition of the metropolitan counties. They do not attempt to establish another mini authority designed to thwart the Government's commitment to abolition. They merely seek to adapt the powers of the two bodies already established within the Bill; and I believe that the division of functions we propose is in keeping with the work of those bodies. What would the amendments achieve? The first one would make secure arrangements for the research and information role of the metropolitan counties and would put strategic guidance on a sound local footing and at the same time deal with many of the procedural difficulties concerning guidance and unitary plans. They would ensure the continuity of the very valuable work already going on in the field of strategic planning. These were causes for concern on all sides of the Chamber at Committee stage.

At that time the noble Lord, Lord Broxbourne, was able to be in his place. I am sure that, like me, the House regrets that he is in hospital and not able to be with us today, and will wish him a speedy recovery. But he has sent me a copy of a letter he has sent to the Minister, in which he says that he made a speech stressing the desirability of what he thought was generally known as strategic planning, and this is on the record. He referred then to submissions of the institutions, the RIBA and the RICS. The noble Lord goes on to say: I have now received a further communication on the subject from the RICS, both because of my known interest in these matters and because I am an honourary Associate of the Institution. As I shall not be able to make any comment on the matter on the floor of the House, I am respectfully again bringing the matter to your attention and requesting its sympathetic consideration. I am sure that the interval between Committee and Report Stage has reinforced a sympathetic approach to this matter on the part of Ministers". We are all hoping so.

The second set of amendments to which I have referred would give the new waste disposal authorities a better set of powers to enable them to do a proper job. They add up to a logical package to enable the waste disposal authorities to tackle environmental work generally. They would go some way towards answering some of the worries about the future of the countryside work and projects expressed in this Chamber in Committee, because they would ensure the best use of scarce skills on environmental work. Many experts in the field over the past two decades have recognised and have accepted that the use of land and transport need to be considered together: for example, the level of bus fares and the amount of space that is available for car parking can have a major impact on the success of shopping centres, just as the construction of new roads can markedly affect the environment by allowing pedestrianisation and the diversion of heavy lorries. If we give broad planning and transport powers to the same joint board, I believe it is more likely that these essential links will be recognised and will be properly exploited in the larger urban areas.

The strategic guidance which we have in mind would secure the same objectives as the Secretary of State set out in his consultation paper. Strategic guidance is not a dry academic subject. It is concerned with the way in which we deal with our countryside: whether green belt should have adequate protection; whether city centres are to be encouraged to flourish; how and where industrial areas are to develop and where new roads should be built; and how best can we foster the run-down areas of our cities and many other vital topics of a similar nature. The difference from the Secretary of State's guidance is that under our proposals this would be drawn up by, and be the responsibility of, local politicians. It would set out the essential background for the production of unitary development plans, and we believe that in most cases it would remove the need for the Secretary of State to use his reserve powers to call in the UDPs to ensure their compatibility.

This would be achieved by a joint board issuing certificates of conformity to the strategic guidance in much the same way as local plans are certified to conform to the structure plans at present. This process would also overcome the technical difficulties which were foreseen by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, to do with the testing and re-testing of strategic guidance as each unitary development plan came up for public examination or inquiry. The system that we are proposing is simpler and is less formal than that used for the production of structure plans, although our intention is that strategic guidance is produced only after widespread consultation and can be challenged at a public hearing before it is finalised.

Any guidance produced must have a firm factual foundation, and this simplified task of producing the guidance would be a natural inheritor of much of the present research and information work carried out for structure plans and for their reviews. It would avoid a major discontinuity in the production of development plans and the Secretary of State would not have to rely on voluntary co-operation from borough or district councils. So not only would our proposals remove a lot of the uncertainty with the arrangements now in the Bill but they would relieve the strain on the staff of the Department of the Environment who might be called upon to do this work.

The metropolitan counties are already the acknowledged experts in this field of research and information. Indeed, many central government departments appreciate their work: their local population projections, statistics on land available for development, local economic data and information about recent building construction. The metropolitan counties have been gathering all this information, which is then used by health authorities, water authorities, district councils, private developers, academics and many others. The metropolitan counties have the staff, the expertise, the computers and the contacts to carry on this effective work. They act as agents for other public bodies in collecting and analysing data. They act also as co-ordinators and research leaders. All this expertise has taken a long time and considerable effort to establish. If arrangements are not made to continue that service, then it could so easily be broken up or destroyed.

Some hope is held out for a voluntary scheme for information collection with a nominated lead district. But is not the solution we propose more effective and certainly no more expensive? If the House accepts the amendment, this will avoid costly upheaval and break-up of work, by keeping that expertise together. It is generally recognised that information is only as good as the experts available to interpret it and then to make use of it. That is why the giving of strategic guidance and the analysis of information hang so well together.

Amendment No. 3—the other major amendment—seeks to place the environmental work in the metropolitan counties with the waste disposal authorities, which themselves will need to have experts to make the best arrangements for the difficult problems of waste. In Committee, the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, said that waste disposal was a problem for the neighbouring shire counties rather than for the metropolitan counties themselves. In fact, much domestic waste is still deposited or treated within metropolitan county boundaries. Even where it is finally placed outside, it is often processed or transshipped within the metropolitan counties. Not only will the waste disposal authorities have to operate to the highest standards: they will need to ensure that the best sites are available to them.

This is a town planning matter as well as a technical matter. It needs the broadest possible view to secure the correct balance between local environmental problems and the needs of waste disposal. Surely it is better for the local councillors running the waste disposal operation also to have the power to consider, select and approve the sites for their operations? Does it not also make sense for them to consider proposals for waste disposal by private concerns? The giving of site licences for waste disposal and planning permissions for that activity would then be under one organisation.

The minerals industry itself, as the noble Baroness, Lady Vickers, reminded us previously, is very concerned about the proposal to transfer mineral planning powers to the districts. We accept that major quarries are noisy and potentially dangerous. They have problems with water courses; they lead to a concentration of heavy traffic on the roads; and they make for an unsightly environment. But they are also a source of important building materials and of raw materials for industry. A proper balance between the problems and the opportunities presented often requires complex operating restrictions, landscaping works, phasing of operations, close liaison with local residents, agreement on lorry routes and access, and agreement on land restoration. Above all, it needs constant vigilance and monitoring by the authorities.

All this takes time and expertise; and while two or three people may be adequate in each of the metropolitan counties, they must be experts to understand the quarrying industry and its needs. Quite clearly, those skills cannot be reproduced in each district or borough council area. The minerals industry needs continuity and a consistent approach to its activities if disruption to its operations is to be avoided. Transferring the present county-wide arrangements to another county-wide body would ensure that.

3.15 p.m.

There must be an overall view of this work. Concern for environmental standards, coupled with the fact that mineral extraction often provides the sites for waste disposal once workings are exhausted, has led us to the conclusion that minerals planning work should be undertaken by the waste disposal authority. That same authority could also complete the work if they had the skills for land reclamation. I am sure we are all agreed that nothing is more unsightly than a waste tip, yet yesterday's eyesore can become something very attactive tomorrow. It can be a golf course, a sports field or parkland. That means reclaiming and landscaping the sites. In a way, the waste disposal authority is the agent for environmental improvement, and so it makes sense to build other land reclamation work onto the waste disposal operation.

The specialist land reclamation teams in the metropolitan counties are already deemed to be candidates for some kind of joint working arrangement with perhaps a lead council, or for being placed with the residuary bodies. This amendment would guarantee the continued operation of that work by making the definite administrative arrangements now, and not waiting until a later stage when the effectiveness of land reclamation units might irreplaceably waste away as the expert staff leave.

I hope it is obvious now that this amendment seeks to establish a bundle of skills within the waste disposal authority for treating environmental problems and for seizing environmental opportunities. This House is concerned about the future of countryside work. At present, the metropolitan county staff who look after the countryside and its improvement also work on land reclamation sites. By putting the countryside and landscaping work with the waste disposal authority, we could retain this important environmental work in the metropolitan counties under one roof. We could keep the specialists together and they could continue to work as one unit on waste sites, reclamation schemes and the countryside, as they do at present.

It is important to keep a county-wide perspective of that work. Many important countryside areas follow or cross district boundaries, and yet for the greatest benefit to be achieved they need to be seen as single entities, just as the opposite banks of a river need to be improved together, in order to carry out the theme. There is concern both inside and outside this House that there should be adequate arrangements for strategic town planning and for environmental services. This House has also expressed considerable concern and anxiety about the future of the countryside work. I believe that the amendments I have been explaining allow those concerns to be met without undermining the principles of the Bill, and in such a way as to secure the continuation of proven and valuable work and to keep together the services of expert teams. We believe that our proposal suggests the natural and logical places for the services in question to be carried out. There is nothing in this amendment that is out of keeping with the existing shape of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendment No. 2, which I understand has been included in this group. It may be for the convenience of your Lordships if I speak also to Amendments Nos. 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 24, 26, and 33, which have also been referred to.

This is the stage of the Bill at which we must make every endeavour to introduce some rationality. Some amendments were passed at Committee stage, and they are improvements; but the Bill requires further amendment if the functions and services with which it deals are to be performed adequately and sensibly in the interests of the general public.

At first sight this new clause and schedule, and the consequential amendments that flow from them, may appear to constitute an unduly long and complex package. But the principle behind the clause is clear. It proposes to bring together, under one body, strategic planning, highways and traffic in London. The body will be a joint board similar to the one already agreed for fire and civil defence. In fact, the new clause itself is quite short and clear, but the consequences of changing the Bill in this relatively simple and eminently practical way are technically complex: hence the schedule. As regards highways, the functions in the schedule are in fact identical to those already agreed for residuary bodies, so there is nothing new in that part of the schedule.

I am therefore going to speak this afternoon only about the principles at stake here and the strong case for making this change. There are three basic reasons. First, it makes practical commonsense to put together overall planning, highways and traffic, since in a great city they must be co-ordinated if chaos is to be avoided. Secondly, by proposing a joint board for these three related city-wide functions we are consistent with the Bill which already provides, in Part IV, for similar bodies. Thirdly, we are not in breach of the manifesto on which the Government base their claim to legislate on these matters. Let me read from the Conservative manifesto at the last election. In regard to the GLC and the MCCs it said: We shall abolish them and return most of their functions to the boroughs and districts. Services which need to be administered over a wider area—such as police and fire, and education in inner London—will be run by joint boards of borough or district representatives". That manifesto said nothing about transferring functions to Ministers; nothing about planning permissions and residuary bodies appointed by Ministers; and nothing about trunking 65 miles of London's roads. Indeed, it did not say that the GLC's services were to be broken up at all except where they were to be returned to the boroughs.

But what is proposed in the Bill? Strategic planning in London—currently a GLC responsibility—is to be transferred to the Secretary of State, advised by a planning commission appointed by himself. In other words, London's strategic planning is to be "nationalised"—surely a very odd development for this Government. Highways and traffic, on the other hand, are currently, as a result of the Committee stage amendment, to be transferred to the London residuary body under the present Clause 7. This is an improvement, but it is unsatisfactory as a permanent solution owing to the impermanence of the body concerned. A joint board offers a more satisfactory alternative because it is far more accountable.

Thus our suggestion is to bring together these three intimately linked services under a single board whose 33 members would be chosen by the 32 boroughs and the city corporation. Decisions on how we use land and plan activities on that land have an obvious impact on transport services, and vice versa. Such decisions can only be made sensibly on a city-wide basis. Therefore there must be an overall co-ordinating framework which does not require yet more powers and responsibilities to be vested in Whitehall. The boroughs, not the Secretary of State, should have collective responsibility for the strategic plan for London. The fact that the board will be composed of borough council members offers the best possible guarantee against any over-zealous encroachment by the new body on to the individual responsibilities of its constituent parts.

Professional and expert opinion is rightly appalled at the prospect of 33 separate planning authorities, separate highway authorities and separate traffic authorities for our capital city. For that matter, the unitary development plan has no significant professional or popular support. It muddles the proper distinction between strategic and local planning and would, if left as it stands, give rise to practical problems on a horrendous scale. There is no logic whatever in imposing on London a different planning system from that which will remain in the surrounding shire counties.

What the boroughs can do individually, they should do. These amendments which I am putting to your Lordships do not interfere in the slightest degree with what the Government plan to devolve to them. But the House has already accepted that what they cannot do is to maintain and improve the main road network with its major bridges and tunnels, or the flow of traffic on those roads, together with such essential services as computerised traffic signals. These tasks require skills, resources and commitment which, as the report of the committee of the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, to your Lordships' House has emphasised, should not be lost through ill-considered fragmentation.

Executive planning powers are perhaps less complex, but there is a core of powers that must be retained London-wide. Planning control of the green belt, large-scale mineral extraction and land reclamation, and major applications which may conflict with London-wide interests must clearly remain within the competence of a single but representative body. The amendment also provides machinery, which is lacking in the Bill, for London-wide resources to be devoted to the renewal of particular areas. The GLC's success at Covent Garden shows what can be done. I see no reason to deprive the boroughs collectively of this power.

In this way we can retain in London both co-ordinated policy and effective executive action. Highway investment will better serve the economic, social and environmental policies of the overall plan. Conservation policies and programmes will not be cut off artificially from decision-making on strategic roads, housing, industry and open space policies. We shall not see 18 separate planning authorities making their own decisions on the green belt. We shall keep together the research, data, expertise and skills needed for London-wide planning and transport work.

I want to stress that this is not a GLC replica. There will still be substantial devolution to the boroughs—which we support because we are a devolutionist party—and that devolution will take place particularly in the two areas highlighted by the Government in Streamlining the Cities as causing friction and delay. All GLC planning controls, with the exceptions I have outlined, will be scrapped. The new body is likely to see only some few hundred major applications a year rather than the 3,000 or 4,000 at present handled by the GLC. The boroughs will become traffic authorities for all roads outside the strategic network, which means the management of some 7,000 out of the 8,000 miles of London's non-trunk roads.

That is fine. We accept all that. We approve of it. But, my Lords, we are talking about London: your London, my London, our capital city. We are dealing with the management of one of the greatest, most renowned and most complex cities in the world. We all know, surely, that London is greater than the sum of its parts. We must have an overall plan to provide elementary direction, coherence and co-ordination to a city of 6.5 million people, to say nothing of the increasing throngs of tourists who flood into it. Our residents, our commuters, our visitors and, not least, our investors need to know where they stand, what the general framework is and what the ground rules are; and they need it in the form of a statutory structure plan which has been clearly thought through and subject to proper consultation and inquiry. Nothing less will do—certainly not the hotch-potch the Bill offers us.

Therefore the question before your Lordships this afternoon is whether the vital functions I have been talking about are to go to the Minister and two quangoid bodies—the residuary body and the planning commission—appointed by him, or whether they are to be placed in the hands of the borough councils through a single joint body chosen by them, which in no way contradicts anything envisaged in the Conservative manifesto at the last general election. I put it to your Lordships that there can be no reasonable doubt that the second of these propositions is the more appropriate, the more sensible, the more practical, the more pragmatic and the more democratic. I hope and believe that it will receive support from all sides of the House.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, we have an amendment on the metropolitan counties moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman—and an amendment on London. The metropolitan counties and the GLC situations are slightly different but the thrust is exactly the same, and these amendments are aiming at largely the same situation. My noble friends on these Benches and I support the amendments and all those which have been grouped together. I shall not spell them out now. What we are discussing is of course strategic planning. It is not a phrase that trips off everyone's tongue every day of the week. Nevertheless the matters which it embraces are of tremendous importance. They are rapidly becoming very well known to everyone and are talked about.

3.30 p.m.

People living in an inner-city area which is run down are concerned about its renewal. Those of us who live in towns and cities are concerned about the preservation of the open countryside on the fringes and would take it amiss if suddenly that started to disappear. The planning of new housing, shopping centres, offices and factories is of tremendous importance to everyone in their daily life. More and more people are anxious to conserve our historic heritage and the natural habitat. All that is part of the phrase "strategic planning", as is the planning of new roads not purely for the benefit of motorists but also to encourage economic growth and to protect the environment. The promotion of new recreational opportunities is another aspect. In short, it includes many of the things that bear directly on the quality of life for millions of people in our capital cities and in our largest and oldest industrial areas.

For example, I am sure that many noble Lords have seen the work going on to "green", as it is called, the river valleys of Greater Manchester and to create attractive new landscapes out of the wastelands of South Yorkshire. In London the revitalised. Covent Garden will be familiar to most people, and it has just now been mentioned. How many noble Lords know of the other work of the GLC to restore community life in areas around the centre of London which have been neglected for years, or of its 10-year programme to create out of former gravel pits in south London a water park which will in fact be bigger than Hyde Park? These are all set out in the community area policy document.

I do not think that the Government can believe that those achievements and many others that have been mentioned have come about by accident. They have not. They have not even grown like little Topsy, bit by bit. They are the product, first, of an overall plan which sets out priorities for investment and coordinates programmes to achieve the aims; and, secondly, of an ability in specific areas to mobilise the money, skills and commitment to get on with the task of turning proposals on paper into achievements on the ground.

Neither of these important and essential services is preserved in the Bill as it is at the moment. The overall plan is to be abandoned in favour of a few general paragraphs of so-called strategic guidance from the Secretary of State. "Strategic guidance" is not defined anywhere in the Bill. It is mentioned in passing on page 79 in Schedule 1, paragraph 2(4)(a). We do not know what it means or what will be said. It is intended to sort out the inevitable cross-boundary friction and presumably to take the place of the well-known strategic planning. The money and the skills are to be fragmented among 69 boroughs and districts; that is, the GLC and the "mets" taken together. The result will be the worst of all possible systems. Policy decisions will rest remotely in Whitehall, while all implementation of policy will be dispersed among the local authorities, the quangos and the joint boards.

Curiously the very system that is to be scrapped in our major cities, where the greater social, economic and environmental problems are undoubtedly to be found, is to continue in the shires, where the problems, needs and pressures are undeniably less. My colleagues and I are still waiting for the Government to explain to us why a two-tier planning system is considered inappropriate for London and the metropolitan counties but right for Cumbria, Suffolk and, believe it or not, the minute and remote Isles of Scilly. It does not make very much sense, does it?

No wonder the Bill's proposals for planning have brought universal condemnation from every reputable professional body. If I started to read out the list of the bodies and individuals who have written to protest to the Government on the basis of purely functional and professional representation, it would take, I am afraid, a great deal of time. They include the CBI, the London Chamber of Commerce and the House Builders' Federation, and I do not think that anyone could say that any of those has ever shown particularly Leftist tendencies. All those organisations recognise that 69 separate plans for London and the "met" counties is ludicrous. They do not defend the GLC or make a political point. They are not defending the "met" counties as they are at the moment. They are alarmed at the prospect of more delay, which has always been the strongest criticism of our planning system, more uncertainty and more conflicts of interest in development which the Bill will inflict on the planning system.

I admit that the drafting of the amendments is complicated, but they add up to a simple proposition. They will secure precisely the coherence and the effectiveness in planning that we need. In fact they will be an improvement on the present system. They will maintain through joint boards of borough or district representatives a strategic framework for each built-up area. They will help to co-ordinate the activities of those bodies—Government departments, joint boards, nationalised industries, private firms and individual boroughs and districts—whose decisions will influence the future shape of our cities.

The key relationship between overall land use planning and overall transport planning must, as has already been stressed, be maintained. Over the past 20 years we have learnt painfully the need to ensure that what we invest in our transport services must be compatible with the decisions that we make on land use and development.

Last week Coopers and Lybrand, whose name is certainly well known to every member of your Lordships' House, produced its report on the implications of abolishing the GLC. At paragraph 22 on page 10 it said of planning: The need to avoid competitive physical developments and to allocate land use in the most resource-efficient way argues for planning and land use to have a strong element of overall strategy". That is stated by a highly respected firm of accountants which has given advice and made reports on various propositions and which is certainly independent and of the highest calibre.

In the same paragraph it says of transport: Our review identified strong linkages between public transport planning, highways planning, traffic management and enforcement and development planning and control". There is nothing in the Bill to secure those linkages, but the amendments will do that. Integrated policies will enable us to plan for effective action on the ground in ways which are not circumscribed by artificial administrative boundaries. I am not asking for extensive executive powers for these joint authorities, but in selected areas they can and should have a key role. The green belt, land reclamation, countryside conservation, urban renewal schemes and environmental protection are some of the most important areas.

The joint authorities can effectively deploy resources of money and specialist staff for that work. Expert teams of land surveyors, ecologists, pollution scientists, economists and landscape architects now exist. As the report of the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, emphasises, and as the House recognises, their work is impressive and valuable. We have already discussed that in Committee. Fragmenting them would be a retrograde step. Even if each of the 33 boroughs and 36 districts tried—and it is highly unlikely—to provide their own specialist teams, that would be significantly less cost-effective and inevitably a service of a lower calibre.

Much more needs to be done to improve the quality of life in our major cities. New problems will inevitably arise as time goes on. City-wide planning is essential and really must not be replaced if we are to maintain the progress made over recent years and be capable of responding to fresh challenges in the future.

Finally, I must reiterate that nothing in these amendments can be interpreted as attempting to recreate the GLC as it is, or the metropolitan counties. We want to see effective devolution to individual boroughs and districts of the detailed controls which can sensibly be devolved. At the same time, we want the authorities collectively (not going to Whitehall, not quangos) to continue to plan at a strategic level. This is completely compatible with the principles of the Bill; it avoids wrecking the planning system; and there is every reason why it should be welcomed by the Government.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Elton)

My Lords, the number of amendments that have already been spoken to is rather daunting. It may be helpful if I summarise the three schemes that they set out. Before I start to do so, I should like first of all to join with the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, in her condolences and good wishes to my noble friend Lord Broxbourne, the copy of whose letter arrived in her hand, and she started reading, about a minute and a half before the original reached me. Thus she will not expect a considered reply at the beginning of this debate. However, with your Lordships' leave I shall of course be replying to this debate.

I think I should make the Government's position clear on a number of matters at the beginning. First, I should acknowledge that each of the schemes links in to amendments already carried against the Government's advice and your Lordships may wish me to comment on our intentions towards those. It is not our intention to seek to get your Lordships to reverse on Report decisions which were come to after full discussion in Committee. I do not think that that would be a proper use of your Lordships' time. In any case, the Government do not intend to reach a final view on the amendments carried against our advice in Committee until we have seen the overall outcome of your Lordships' consideration of the Bill. We shall then consider our position against the background of the principle of the Bill, approved both here and in another place, that the functions of the GLC and of the metropolitan county councils should, so far as is possible, be devolved to the boroughs and districts. We shall also be considering the need to provide a framework within which the successor authorities will be able to carry out their functions in an efficient and economical manner.

So far as the highways and traffic management provisions are concerned, the Government proposals are based on local responsibility, on consultation and, where necessary, on co-ordination.

The amendments which imported Clauses 7 and 8 into the Bill have reflected two concerns: concern over how strategic traffic co-ordination would be achieved, and concern over how expert teams would be kept together. These are concerns which the Government fully accept. That is why arrangements to secure necessary co-ordination were built into the Bill from the start. The key and strategic networks proposed for London, the power to give guidance, and the reserve powers over the UTCs are all specifically addressed to the first concern. They will allow area-wide issues to be sensibly addressed within a system in which the statutory powers rest with the boroughs and the districts.

Your Lordships' concern that expert teams should not be needlessly dispersed is one we have already recognised and debated at some length. We have undertaken to ensure that the residuary bodies will play a positive role in holding valuable expert teams together. I have tabled an amendment, to which I shall refer again later, with that end in view.

The new Clauses 7 and 8 will have to be considered in another place. Whatever view is ultimately taken of those provisions, they do not deal fully with all highways and traffic responsibilities. Each leaves for consideration the extent to which the chosen successor body shall inherit these functions. The detailed provisions of the Bill as introduced in your Lordships' House could therefore still he needed and must therefore remain in the Bill. At the risk of being tedious, I must stress to your Lordships that to the extent that these and other amendments before us are intended to prevent the transfer of functions to the boroughs and districts, they run counter to the philosophy of this Bill.

3.45 p.m.

Before I return to this group of amendments, I should also give notice that the Government do not regard the deletions proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, in Amendments Nos. 8, 9, 16, 24, 26 and 33—and it is difficult to say that without sounding like the railway announcer at Crewe junction—or those proposed by the noble Lords, Lord Carmichael and Lord Tordoff, in Amendments Nos. 25 and 27 "and all stations" to 29, as consequential on the earlier amendments before us today, and we shall therefore wish to oppose them.

I now return to the three schemes embodied in the large group of amendments now before us. The first of them was most persuasively presented by the noble Baroness. I must say that if I had been presenting them, I would not have done as well. I spent Saturday looking for the merits of her amendment and most of Sunday considering what I should say about it in the contrary sense. It came to my mind that the reason why the amendment looks so different to her from what it looks like to me is that she is the parent and I am not. Therefore, perhaps she has a prejudiced view of what she is looking at.

The first of the schemes is presented quite simply in the first and third amendments on the Marshalled List. It is concerned only with the metropolitan counties and has no effect upon the arrangements made in the Bill for London. The arrangements that concern this scheme are those for the functions that relate to planning, to public transport, to highways and to traffic regulation in the metropolitan counties. At present, these functions are all discharged by the metropolitan county councils.

Before I summarise what the noble Baroness proposes for these functions, let me remind your Lordships of how we propose to deal with them. Under the Bill as drafted, the planning role of the county council, in producing and maintaining the county structure plan, passes to the district councils, which will each produce a unitary development plan. Part I of each of these plans will replace the equivalent part of the old county structure plan. In order to maintain overall strategy and compatibility between them, which is something in which the noble Baroness and her friends are essentially interested, each district will be required to draw up that plan in the light of strategic guidance issued by the Secretary of State. I was surprised to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, say that she had no idea, and that none of her friends had any idea, what it would be like or what it would say. That is because quite apart from the, I thought, fairly extensive description I gave in Committee, I placed in the Library two physical examples of the kind of thing we expect, which I invited your Lordships to look at. Maybe the noble Baroness has looked at them. If she has not, I invite her to do so between now and Third Reading, when she will be better informed.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will give way for a moment. Yes, I shall do my best to be as well informed as I can. I try to be well informed the whole time, even on this difficult subject. However, it is not in the Bill. The Bill is completely vague on this matter. As far as the Bill is concerned, there is nothing in it which replaces our present system of strategic planning.

Lord Elton

My Lords, as to the latter comment, I cannot agree. As to the former, I should like now to put on record the very high regard I have for the noble Baroness and, indeed, for her colleagues on her own and other Opposition Front Benches. It too often goes without note that, although I am labouring under piles of paper, it has been very largely generated for me, and I have a great deal of advice. However, noble Lords (who are, after all, members of a voluntary organistion) when in opposition do the work themselves. It is true that they do it with the assistance of certain interested parties, who provide material for your Lordships from time to time, of not all of which I approve. However, your Lordships' labours are mighty. I acknowledge that, and I in no way rebuke the noble Baroness when I suggest that in this matter it may just be possible for her to be fractionally better informed at Third Reading. That should not take much because she is already so well informed.

I have become so enthusiastic in advancing the causes of the Opposition that I am not sure where I am in advancing my own. The provisions to which I have referred, providing for the strategic guidance to link into Part 1 of each unitary plan, are in Clauses 3 and 4 and Schedule 1. The public transport provisions of the Bill are in Clauses 28 to 36, Clause 39 and Schedule 11. I merely repeat those because the number changes between stages are so confusing. These provide that the public transport functions of the old metropolitan county councils shall, in future, be discharged by passenger transport authorities. There will be one PTA for each metropolitan county, made up of members of all the elected district councils. I am not doing very well this afternoon, my Lords. I have twice lost my place and I shall now rescue myself at the last moment.

The noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, in particular, was concerned about the research and intelligence function at present discharged by the upper tier. Others have argued that a London-wide authority is needed for the GLC's research and intelligence functions. I do not want to do more than refer to what was said in Committee. During the Committee stage, I told your Lordships that we had revised and strengthened the then Clause 86. Your Lordships have now approved it as Clause 87 to provide for the boroughs to organise this activity themselves. I also explained how computer facilities and expert staff could be held temporarily by the residuary body while long-term arrangements were being finalised. I have tabled amendments that clarify the positive role to be taken in this, and in other respects, by the residuary body to achieve exactly the continuity and permanence that the noble Baroness and others seek. In Committee, your Lordships seemed to think, as the Government believe, that these provisions are the better way of dealing with research and intelligence and that a new body is not really needed for that purpose.

The last two sets of functions in the first scheme in the name of the noble Baroness are those relating to highways and road traffic. For these functions, the provisions now in the Bill differ from those that were in it when we read it for a second time. The intention then was that all highways and traffic functions should pass to the district councils. In Committee, your Lordships added two new clauses to the Bill. The first transferred the highways and road traffic functions of the GLC to the London residuary body. That does not, for the moment, concern us because we are looking at the "mets" under the noble Baroness's scheme.

The second, now Clause 8 of the Bill, simply adds to the transport functions already given to the metropolitan county PTAs the highways and road traffic functions that were to have passed from the metropolitan county councils to their district councils. It is to these same passenger transport authorities that the noble Baroness now wishes us to transfer not only public transport, highways and traffic management but also, and most noticeably, strategic planning. That is certainly true of the noble Baroness's second group of amendments. This is made up of Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 7 concerned with those aspects of planning dealing with mineral extraction and the countryside and its enjoyment. Again, she has looked for a body already existing under the structure of the Bill. This time, she has chosen the joint waste disposal authorities which your Lordships decided to put into the Bill in what is now Clause 10 of the new print.

The powers that the noble Baroness would give them under paragraphs (d) and (e) of her amendment would, I note in passing, be concurrent with those of the district councils. One can only assume that the joint authorities are meant to be reinserted into the Bill to supervise the districts as a middle tier planning authority of exactly the sort that the Bill is designed to remove. Your Lordships will not be surprised to learn that we are very strongly against such an idea.

Some of your Lordships are anxious that country parks of great importance and interest that meander, for instance, along river valleys and therefore straddle the boundaries of a number of borough or district councils may suffer. Your Lordships fear that non-co-operation and decline will result from this geographical fact. Experience, I believe, suggests otherwise. We already have striking examples of cross-boundary cooperation for just this sort of purpose under the existing scheme and on a larger scale, what is more, between metropolitan districts and counties. Arrangements vary from one project to another, with either a district or a county council taking a lead role and employing staff, and other interested authorites contributing finance. They can and do do this now. They can and, I believe, will do it in the future. There is no reason whatever for this ability to be extinguished by abolition. I am not persuaded, therefore that we must recreate a middle tier authority to do this sort of work.

Nevertheless, I recognise your Lordships' remaining anxieties. And your Lordships will, I believe, recognise that the Countryside Commission may have an important role to play. The chairman of the commission is to discuss with my honourable friend the responsible Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment the question of the cash and manpower necessary to ensure that countryside management is responsibly carried forward by successor authorities, and we will do so very shortly. I am sure that this task would have been made much easier if the non-co-operating authorities had been prepared to give the commission the information for which it asked. Our basic approach is clear. We look to successor authorities to identify suitable arrangements for the continued provision of countryside facilities and to the commission, and not to this amendment, to ensure that, if there are difficulties, satisfactory arrangements are made for the years ahead.

The noble Baroness's two schemes are both directed at metropolitan counties, and her approach is therefore fairly easy to summarise. She believes that the districts, which are directly elected bodies of some substance, are incapable of producing acceptable development plans that are not in conflict with each other but in line with the strategic guidance issued after consultation by the Secretary of State. Nor does she believe them capable of running their highways or their own urban traffic management. She wishes, on the contrary, to place an extra tier—a supervisory tier—into the planning system and to give not all but almost all, that function to the passenger transport authority in each metropolian county area. She would also give them the highways functions of the district councils. These are all functions that we were transferring, in conformity with the agreed and established principles of the Bill earlier endorsed by your Lordships, from the metropolitan county councils to the metropolitan district councils.

Having intercepted them, as it were, on the way from the upper to the lower tier, the noble Baroness wants to replace them at the original level in new hands. I pause there to say I find it surprising that anyone could think that this would save time in planning processes. Inevitably, it would take longer. The hands of the district councils remain outstretched, expectant and more or less empty when she has finished with them. But she is still left with a few crumbs of unallocated authority. These she does not give to the district councils. She gives them instead to the waste disposal authorities. That is the noble Baroness's solution to the problem. It is not one that we welcome.

I turn now as briefly as I can—these are major matters—to the third group of amendments before us. These begin with Amendment No. 2 and include Amendments Nos. 8 to 10, 16, 17, 24, 26 and 33. The group is brought before your Lordships by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, and differs from the others, in that those of the noble Baroness are addressed only to the metropolitan county councils, while his are addressed only to London. Let me summarise briefly what the group sets out to do. Amendment No. 8 would remove Clause 3, which establishes the London boroughs as planning authorities. Amendments Nos. 9 and 16 would remove Clause 4 and Schedule 1, which set up the unitary development planning system. Amendments Nos. 24 and 26 would sweep away Clause 9 and Schedule 4, which transfer the highway functions of the Greater London Council to the boroughs. Amendment No. 33 would strike out Schedule 5, which does the same thing for road traffic.

I do not wish to dwell disproportionately on the last three amendments. But they are worth more than a glance in passing. They have some odd effects. For example, paragraph 7 of Schedule 4, as in the Bill, ensures that the metropolitan district council is empowered to adopt private streets and highways maintainable at public expense and so enjoys powers available to all other highway authorities. Removing Schedule 4 removes that provision. The intention may be healing surgery, but the effect on the Bill, I am sorry to say, is one of amputation.

The removal of Schedule 5 by Amendment No. 33 would have a similar damaging effect. The deletion of paragraph 3 of the schedule would mean that in the metropolitan counties there would be no authority to make traffic orders in respect of roads that are not trunk roads or principal roads at all. The removal of Schedules 4 and 5 would leave completely unclear which local authorities would be responsible, for example, for either highway maintenance or signing on unclassified roads.

4 p.m.

Having thus scraped our picture off the canvas and made, in my view, some holes in the canvas as well, the noble Lords supporting the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, then proceed to set up a new London planning, highways and traffic joint authority. This would be done by the new clause setting up the joint authority in Amendment No. 2 and the new schedule setting out its functions in Amendment No. 10.

We have spent a long time already discussing planning in London. If I may remind your Lordships, it all started with a debate in Committee on an amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Sandford. The issues broadly are these. Planning in London is at present carried out in general conformity with the Greater London Development Plan. The Greater London Council has an important statutory position as the authority responsible for that plan and it exercises also a supervisory role in relation to some development control matters. The importance of major London planning decisions for the rest of the south-east region is very great and is monitored by SERPLAN. SERPLAN is a non-statutory body of which the borough councils are members.

The Bill before your Lordships will abolish the Greater London Council and remove its supervisory powers. Very many people are convinced that that can do nothing but good for those who have to live under the planning system over which it presides. The removal of an unnecessary layer of bureaucratic decision-making will save months and even years of the time in which development ought actually to be taking place. However, in Committee your Lordships pointed out that it will also remove a level of supervision which some people nonetheless find reassuring. I explained that the boroughs would not be left free and unfettered to do exactly what they like. On the contrary, they will draw up their plans in two parts.

The top part, or part 1, will perform the same function as the bit of the existing Greater London Development Plan that covers their own area. They will be required to do so in the light of the strategic guidance published, after extensive consultation, by the Secretary of State. This will ensure among other things that boroughs do not draw up plans that are at odds with those of their neighbours. The plans will be subject to public objection and discussion and, if necessary, to call-in by the Secretary of State. Call-in can be singly or collectively and could apply to whole plans or only to the general policies in part 1. The continuum of planning across Greater London would therefore be protected. Under the Bill the Secretary of State will also have the advantage of advice by the planning commission for London which will have London-wide issues as its prime concern.

When I described those arrangements in Committee your Lordships remained anxious that the views of Londoners as a whole would still not be available to the Secretary of State, that the London Planning Commission might be very expert but that experts were sometimes out of touch with ordinary people in a way that elected representatives were not, and that there was no formal protection of the way in which the interests of Greater London and of the the south-east region interacted. It was to those issues that my noble friend Lord Sandford had addressed himself and tabled an amendment.

After listening most carefully to the points made in debate, I said that I would not wish to impose a statutory arrangement of the kind he had in mind without proper consultation. I undertook to consult the London Boroughs Association and the Association of London Authorities to see if they would want to come to some type of formal arrangement to secure co-operation between the boroughs, and between them and the neigbouring authorities. Those discussions are now under way.

The Association of London Authorities have said—and I think, I regret to say, that we would have predicted this—that an amendment on the lines proposed in Committee by my noble friend does not go anything like far enough for them. They remain of the view that an elected, statutory, London-wide planning authority is needed. As we have explained on numerous occasions, we believe that a body of that kind is not needed. Moreover, it would be an open breach of the principles of the Bill that both Houses of Parliament have now accepted. I regret, therefore, that discussions with the minority of London boroughs represented on the ALA are not fruitful, as they do not recognise the realities of parliamentary procedure.

In advance of meeting the London Boroughs Association I have had discussions with my noble friend Lord Sandford to make sure that I understood his proposals, and my right honourable friend the Minister for Local Government and I then met with representatives of the London Boroughs Association to discuss this matter in detail. It would be fair to say that the LBA, which represents a considerable majority of the London boroughs, was initially very wary of the insertion into the Bill tout court of even a body of the kind suggested by my noble friend. However, I have since received a letter from the chairmen of the two relevant LGA committees—that is, the housing and works and the general purposes committees—and it sets out proposals which are not yet a formal LBA view but which the chairmen of those committees tell me they will be commending to their association.

In brief, the proposals suggest that there should be a body representative of each of the London boroughs which could, first, provide concerted borough input and views to the Secretary of State on all matters related to the strategic planning for Greater London; secondly, provide, by means of representatives serving on SERPLAN, a Greater London input to SERPLAN on matters related to strategic planning for the regions; and, thirdly, allow the London authorities to discuss among themselves any London-wide planning issues or other planning matters of common concern.

Lord Diamond

My Lord, the noble Lord has referred to a letter. No doubt he will be good enough to put it in the Library so that anybody who wishes to look at it may do so.

Lord Elton

My Lords, the reason I hesitate is that I was expecting to put the concluding letter in the Library. However, if it is helpful to the noble Lord and if there are no objections to my doing so—because it is not my property—I shall do so.

Such a body would have modest administrative and professional support provided on a lead borough basis and funded, the LBA proposes, by all the boroughs following agreement by an appropriate majority of the boroughs. The LBA remains adamant that a planning authority is not needed for London. Moreover, its view is that if there were a duty on the boroughs to establish such a committee, there would be no room for the London Planning Commission because of the risk of confusion and duplication.

The LBA's proposals raise some important questions of principle for the Government. We need in particular to consider whether, if they were to be adopted, a separate statutory London Planning Commission would be desirable or not. However, I can say that we are sympathetic to the general thrust of its proposals and look forward to hearing the views of the House on the issues during the debate this afternoon. In the light of them I would hope to be able to undertake at the end of this debate—when, by your Lordships' leave, I shall reply—to bring amendments forward at Third Reading. I must stress, however, that the Government do not accept the need for a strategic planning authority in the metropolitan areas, whether for the preparation of the strategic guidance as proposed in the first amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, or for the development control and other planning functions as proposed in her Amendment No. 3. Still less do we accept—

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, I wonder whether my noble friend the Minister can assist me. Is what he is saying broadly accepting the spirit of Amendment No. 12, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Birk?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I think that it is a little more complicated than that. Amendment No. 12, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, has other connotations and we shall doubtless be discussing the amendment later. What I am saying is that in the light of your Lordships' views on the fairly clear statement—at least, I hope it is a clear statement—of the desire of the LBA, which represents the majority of the London boroughs, and of my noble friend who is chairman of SERPLAN and one of the Members of your Lordships' House with the most powerful credentials as an authority on planning, I hope to bring forward amendments at Third Reading to answer those concerns. If you Lordships read the record I think you will find that that is precisely what I have said. It is certainly precisely what I mean. However, I wish to hear the debate and obviously your Lordships' reaction before I finally commit myself.

I think that I was in the middle of a sentence when my noble friend rose to his feet, and I shall therefore risk repeating myself. I was saying that we do not accept the need for a strategic planning authority in the metropolitan areas for either of the purposes suggested in Amendments Nos. 1 and 3. Still less do we accept the need for the kind of plenipotentiary planning and transport authority envisaged in the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock.

Let us therefore be quite clear that what all the amendments now before your Lordships—both those of the noble Baroness and those of the noble Lord—would do is to create precisely the type of situation that this Bill is designed to abolish. The Government believe that there are other and better ways of meeting the accepted need for certain issues to be coordinated and considered across local authority boundaries which do not, as these amendments do, multiply the stages of planning applications. I would point in particular to the kind of arrangements proposed for London by my noble friend and discussed with, and I hope commended by, the LBA.

I have no doubt that your Lordships will look most closely at all the alternatives before reaching a conclusion. I am confident that in doing so my noble friends and noble Lords opposite will wish to give due weight to the advantages of the single-tier planning on which this Bill is based. Devolution of functions to the boroughs and districts as we propose—and we, too, are a devolutionary party—will eliminate the duplication and delay inherent in the two-tier approach. The amendments would throw those valuable advantages out of the window. I am convinced that the principle of devolution which runs through this Bill is indeed the right approach and that my noble friends who have supported this Bill will wish once again to endorse it.

Lord Plummer of St. Marylebone

My Lords, before my noble friend the Minister sits down, I should like to be clear as to exactly what he is proposing. It is difficult to take it in at short notice. I understood him to say that the London Boroughs Association would put foreward views with the aid of a modest staff. Did he use those words? Who is going to pay for this modest staff? What new bureaucracy is being set up among all the other various bureaucracies to which we seem to be giving birth all around London?

Lord Elton

My Lords, what I have put before your Lordships is this. I have engaged, as in Committee I undertook to do, in discussions with both my noble friend and the representatives of such London boroughs as wished to enter into consultation—and that was most of them—represented by the LBA. The LBA came to a conclusion—no, that is wrong. The two committee chairman from the LBA who came to see me and my right honourable friend have put forward a proposal which matches closely what my noble friend had in mind, and they have said that they will commend it to their association. We shall have their answer on that commendation before Third Reading.

If it appears to me that your Lordships, and particularly my noble friends, are in support of this proposal, and if it is endorsed by the LBA, the way is clear. It seems to me that it embodies what my noble friend put before your Lordships with general approval, I think, not only from this side of the House, as a solution to the difficulties which your Lordships genuinely saw. I do not want to take unnecessary time, but would my noble friend like me to read again the short paragraph which describes the functions?

Noble Lords


Lord Elton

The proposals suggest that there should be a body representative of each of the London boroughs which could, first, provide concerted borough input and views to the Secretary of State on all matters related to the strategic planning for Greater London; secondly, provide, by means of representatives serving on SERPLAN, a Greater London input to SERPLAN on matters related to strategic planning for the regions; and, thirdly, allow the London authorities to discuss among themselves any London-wide planning issues or other planning matters of common concern. Such a body would have modest administrative and professional support provided on a lead borough basis and funded, the LBA proposes, by all the boroughs following agreement by an appropriate majority of the boroughs.

I think I have now repeated decorously, clearly and slowly the vital part of the correspondence, and I have also explained its status. I ask your Lordships to bear it in mind when considering the other proposals put forward in the quite substantial number of amendments on the Table before you at the moment. I shall listen closely to what your Lordships have to say. I look forward to giving an undertaking at the end of this debate to act at Third Reading if that appears appropriate.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Sandford

My Lords, as my noble friend on the Front Bench has mentioned my amendment and myself in his remarks, it may be helpful to the House if I comment now. First, by way of preliminary, perhaps I may say that I hope that all noble Lords who showed an interest in this subject at the earlier stages have received a copy of the document published by SERPLAN headed Development South-East Regional Strategic Guidance. I sent it with a letter of 22nd May. I do not know whether or not the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, has read it. She certainly pretended a moment ago that she had not read it, since it makes clear what is strategic guidance in this area and what is involved.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I am sure that he sent the letter, but I have not received it. Had I received it, I would have read it, and had I read it, I would not have pretended that I had not read it.

Lord Sandford

My Lords, I apologise for imputing that to the noble Baroness. I hope that other noble Lords have received it. I want to stress at the outset that what I am talking about is London and the SouthEast—that is to say, the topic addressed by Amendment No. 2—and not at the moment the metropolitan counties.

An elected statutory authority for handling strategic planning was the first choice of all the members of SERPLAN, but that has been rejected by this House and by the other House and is not now a live topic. What we are now considering is their second choice, which was the provision in the Bill for some properly constituted body to discharge strategic planning functions in Greater London and with which the Home Counties, and the districts in the Home Counties, could collaborate. That was the essence of Amendment No. 19 to which I spoke at Committee stage and withdrew on the undertaking of my noble friend to which he has just alluded.

I am glad to confirm that I have persuaded him of the force of this case and of the need for something in the Bill to bring it about. I am glad to hear him say that he has persuaded the London Boroughs Association of that. He has persuaded me that we can get by with something far less elaborate and inconvenient than the full range of devices and arrangements which are set before the House in the cluster of amendments we are now debating.

If the London Boroughs Association can go further and persuade my noble friend, as I have been trying to do for some months, that with some simple arrangement in the Bill on the general lines of my original Amendment 19 we can do without the London Planning Commission, then so much the better.

Perhaps I may comment on the questions of the noble Lord, Lord Plummer, about the staff involved. The additional staff in SERPLAN would be quite modest. I think that it would be of the order of six or seven additional staff, some of them professional and some of them administrative. But that would be on the understanding that the research and data collection hitherto undertaken by the GLC would be carried out under the arrangements provided by Clause 87 of the Bill. As your Lordships will recall, we heard from my noble friend on the Front Bench that that could be arranged on that basis.

I should like briefly to turn to the metropolitan authorities in the metropolitan counties and the situation in the metropolitan areas outside London and the South-East. I have no particular responsibility for them; only a measure of concern as president of the Association of District Councils, which has the operation of the sharp end of strategic planning in its hands. I do not believe that anything as elaborate as the South-East Regional Planning Conference is needed in those areas. All the metropolitan boroughs put together are only just more in number than the London boroughs. Something much simpler will suffice. It will be necessary for the shire counties surrounding those metropolitan areas and the metropolitan boroughs within them to come to arrangements of their own for the discharge of these functions, because if they fail to do so they will find themselves convened together in conferences by the Department of the Environment and sitting under the chairmanship of one of their officials. That would be the worst possible outcome. Apart from making that passing observation, I do not wish to add any more.

Lord Molson

My Lords, I am not ashamed to say that it is quite impossible for anyone listening to so many prepared speeches referring to a number of different clauses and schedules fully to understand exactly the implications of all that has been said. I think I have been able to take in the general atmosphere. The atmosphere at this stage is very different from the atmosphere at the Committee stage. While my noble friend the Minister of State rightly abstained from committing himself in any way at this stage to any definite proposal, I thought that his whole approach was different from what it had been at Committee stage.

To try to summarise the matter in about two sentences: while my noble friend continues to reject any proposal for formal organisations—that would be described as mark 2 of the organisations that are being abolished—he has taken a sympathetic view of the arguments that have been put forward in relation both to the London and SERPLAN areas and also the MCCs to ensure that under the new system there shall be friendly consultation and co-operation between them.

I noticed that noble Lords, in speaking to these amendments, disclaimed any proposal to go back upon the decisions of another place and of this House that we would not have elected bodies taking the place of those it is proposed to abolish. I welcome that and associate myself completely with it. I shall read with the utmost care and attention what has been said. I feel that the general attitude of my noble friend the Minister, and especially what he said in reply to my noble friend Lord Sandford, indicates that he is more sympathetic than I thought at one time he was to consultation and co-operation between the new lower-tier authorities upon whom such great and responsible duties are being imposed. He has gone a long way in spirit, without in any way committing himself to any particular structure, to meeting the reasonable arguments that obtained support from all parts of the House that when these intermediate authorities are abolished it will be necessary to ensure that there should be friendly co-operation between the smaller authorities that it is intended should take over.

In putting my name to at least one of these amendments, I felt that it was a probing amendment, and as such it has served an extremely useful purpose. I welcome what has been said by my noble friend the Minister, and after listening to his speech I should not for a moment feel disposed to vote against the Government.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, following the line that my noble friend Lord Molson has taken, which I think is a proper interpretation of the atmosphere of the House, I should like to say that in addition to the detail of the amendments there are other aspects which we as a House ought to take into account apart from the interpretation of the amendments and my noble friend's answer to them. We as Back-Bench Members have a role distinct from that of the Executive, the Government. At this stage of the Bill's journey to the statute book, that difference ought to be taken into account. For example, on the amendment as put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, and on Amendment No. 2, I found that when they were describing what they wanted to achieve I agreed absolutely. Nobody could dissent from that clear desire to have the best possible alternative when we have a change of government machinery. Of course we want to make use of the expertise that is available and have the right answers on some of the tricky questions that will arise on environmental and other matters of that sort. We want to ensure that we get it right. On the question as to what we want to attain, there should be absolute unanimity. But it makes a difference whether the Opposition's solution as to attainment is the right one. I do not share their solution but I share their aspirations.

Dealing with solutions, my noble friend, on behalf of the Government, speaking as the Government, has a different view to that of the Opposition. I hope it is not considered a presumption, but the suggestion I should like to make to noble Lords in all parts of the House is that perhaps our procedure at this stage should be to continue putting our points and giving our solutions (if we think we have solutions) but to do it in the spirit of having it on the record, not voting on it on this occasion. I say that because while I agree with what is aspired to, I cannot agree with the solutions.

We have to bear in mind that in this House we have already made fundamental changes to the Bill compared with the Bill that emerged from another place. As my noble friend has said, there is no question in this House at this stage of wanting to try to alter those fundamental decisions that have already been made. As I tried to put on the record, they were decisions with which I did not agree for the reasons I tried to explain. But they were made, they are there and the Government, through the mouth of my noble friend, have said that at this stage there is no question of trying to ask this House to remove them, but they may vary their application.

It may be that the decision as to how we apply the alterations should be made in another place. If that is right, when the Bill goes to another place they can then give consideration to the fundamental changes we have made and at the same time they can take into account our views arising from this debate. That is why the speeches made by the noble Baronesses, Lady Birk and Lady Stedman, and the sponsor of the second amendment are absolutely invaluable. From the Opposition's point of view, not voting now could make the other place more likely to agree to the fundamental changes, though there is no guarantee that they will. Who can say with certainty what the Government or the Back Benches in the other place will be prepared to accept? Some of the fundamental changes that have been made could stick if this House is reasonable now.

Viscount Simon

My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt a noble Lord who knows so much more about the other place than I can ever hope to know, but surely when the Bill goes back to another place they can only consider the amendments we have made. They cannot introduce any new developments.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, precisely. That is what I was trying to say. But may I make it clear? I am grateful for the intervention. What I was trying to say was that it could well be that, if they see the spirit of how we envisage the next step flowing from the fundamental changes, that may make them more ready to accept our changes rather than removing them, which otherwise would be the case. I am talking now to those who believe in the changes; for myself I do not think we ought to have made the changes; they are not the right ones in the light of what we set out to attain when the Bill first came to us.

We now have these four big amendments. We have on the record the sort of advice that we have had on these various amendments: I am suggesting that by not putting the matter to the vote, we shall avoid giving the impression at this stage that not only are we making the general alterations to the broad structure but are also trying to dictate the small print too. I believe that it can be seen that our small print solutions, which are explained but not pushed to a vote, show a spirit which may make the Government and the other place more likely to accept the fundamental changes we have already had. I believe that the right way to do it is not to vote on these amendments but to place on the record our views as to what the next steps ought to be. I believe that would be in keeping with the function of this House. We are to revise and give advice on these matters but not to pretend that we are the sole Chamber of this Parliament.

I think chat, if we want some of the changes that have been expressed by the majority vote in this House, the advice I am giving, for what it is worth, is more likely to achieve that than by appearing to go whole-heartedly for all the small print and all the detail. I am suggesting this seriously and if the noble Lord—who has great experience, who has sat in Cabinet, and as a Law Officer—will give consideration to it he may well see the force of the point I am making. If we want to get the general drift along the lines on which we have voted, we are more likely to do it by not pushing the matter to another vote.

It has been made perfectly clear by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, that it is not at all in her mind or that of the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, to try to wreck the Bill. They have made that perfectly clear. They are saying that these are next steps only which will in no way undermine what was the main purpose of the Bill. Whether or not that is advice that is likely to be accepted, I do not know.

While there is no need to go into much greater detail, because I feel that my noble friend has dealt with the amendment in detail and with a forthrightness which was very helpful to all of us, I would suggest this to the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman. The district councils with their unity plans can initiate or inherit strategic planning just as effectively as any other body. It is right to look at anything as a whole, and to recognise that one is putting little bits into what is a plan as one has conceived it. That is what I imagine strategic planning to be. Why is it suggested that it has to be only one of these other bodies in the amendments that can do it? It has been my belief from the first that a voluntary association of boroughs and district councils is just as capable of taking a very sensible and proper approach as would be the bodies to which the noble Baroness wants to give greater powers. If the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, will allow me to say so, she is one of the most experienced politicians in this House. I fought I think it was 12 elections in Peterborough. She was the election agent against me on almost every occasion and she pushed it to a recount almost every time, though I always managed to win. I hope I can persuade her on this occasion.

Where I thought that the noble Baroness showed her expertise was in the way she suddenly gave all sorts of powers and credit to the waste and disposal authority. When the waste disposal authority was set up by the Committee, the great argument that was made by the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, and supported on all sides, was that, because of the toxic waste, expert laboratory guidance was vital. It was their expertise on that very narrow front which I think won the vote which brought about that change.

But now the noble Baroness is saying in her amendment, "Oh, yes, they may be expert on that, but let them also be responsible for the environment. Let them be the ones that deal with the general environment matters." What is their expertise on planning? I felt she was perhaps using one argument in one debate and contradicting it a little in another. The very expertise which narrowed their strength when we discussed it in Committee showed that they would not be the right people to deal with the wider problems that come under the general heading of environment, and things like that.

The only words I want to add to the detailed explanation given by my noble friend are these. The general aim set out in the explanation of these amendments has to be right. The solution as set out in the amendments is not right. My noble friend has said that he will take into account all that has been said. He also indicated a certain acquiescence with some of the views which have been expressed. When, through him, the Government make their final decision, I hope they will also take into account the views that certainly I hold and that many of my noble friends hold.

I believe that the voluntary association, in groupings of the district councils and the borough councils, can be just as effective, and in terms of being democratic more effective, than these other groupings—call them quangos or whatever you like. I believe the fundamentals behind this Bill when it came to us were right. It gave us a more democratic answer. We would have had a more realistic answer to the detailed work that goes with local authority decisions.

My general advice to my noble friends and to noble Lords in any part of the House is that I believe we should go on making these contributions—all of us who feel we have a contribution to make—but not to vote on it at the end. I think that would give a general impression that would be damaging. Having said that, I hope my noble friend will give proper thought to what has been said from all parts of the House. I hope he will not rule out those of us who have believed from the first that the Government have not been as wrong as many of their critics would like to suggest.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, the noble Lord was good enough to refer to me earlier. Does what he is contending amount to this: that all he wants this House to be is a talking shop, without the sending forward to another place of positive amendments? Unless at this stage we put positive amendments for the other place to consider, there is nothing left for it to consider and we are talking at great lengths for no purpose at all.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, no. Nobody knows better than the noble and learned Lord that Parliament is a talking shop. Parliament is not a good Parliament unless it is a talking shop. The general idea of Parliament is for individuals of all types and from all walks to put their general view, and for the Government or the Executive to take the best of it and discard the worst of it. The suggestion that I am making to the noble Lord is that if, having won some battles in the fundamental changes already made, one is then going to go into dictatorial detail, one may not be able to retain that advance which one thinks one has made. That is all I am saying. There is all the difference in the world between saying, "We'll have nothing whatever"—it is no good the noble Baroness trying to wave me down. I have tried to wave her down often, and she has never fallen for that.

Baroness Stedman

My Lords, I think it may have escaped the noble Lord's notice that we are at Report stage now, and we are not supposed to have comings and goings across the Floor of the Chamber, as is happening now.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, there was a question put to me, under the guise of "Before the noble Lord sits down". It is the noble Baroness who is out of order. It is she who has made a comment, after having made one speech—not me. But at the end of the day I hope we can maintain the spirit that was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Molson, because as a member of her fan club I love the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, very much. I do not agree with her very often, but I am a great admirer of her ability in debate, and there is no reason for either of us to wave the other one down, ever.

Lord Shinwell

My Lords, is not the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, seeking to establish a new principle—namely, that those who are unable to accept every word, every line and every comma of a Bill that is before your Lordships are entitled to frighten the Government but on no account must they seek to wound by entering the Division Lobby? What is remarkable about an effort of this kind is that the Government can defeat the Opposition at almost any time they like. It is only a matter of sending out telegrams to all quarters of the United Kingdom to Members of your Lordships' House, very esteemed colleagues who sometimes, for reason into which we are not entitled to enter, absent themselves. But there are occasions when arms are twisted and they find themselves in the Division Lobby.

First of all, to establish a principle of this kind seems to be unnecessary. I think there is something to be said for congratulating the noble Lord the Minister who has been in charge of the Bill and whose speeches have been excellent. There is no doubting his sincerity and integrity in this matter—of course not. If I may put it this way (because I cannot really find the right language), he is almost of Cabinet rank; and we are very glad to hear him. I do not doubt that in due course—and I hope in my time—he will achieve that to which he is entitled. But let us look at this. A Bill has been promoted and a vast number of people through-out the United Kindgom are in opposition to it. They do not like some people associated with the GLC, and I can understand that—there are some people who are associated with the GLC who create a certain distaste in my mouth also, and in my mind—but that is no reason why we should not argue the case out.

One thing has happened which the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, apparently omitted to mention. Why, in that long speech, he forgot to mention it I cannot understand, but I will remind him of what he should have said. On almost every amendment the argument has been in favour of the Opposition—there is no question about it—so much so that the Minister himself has been much more agreeable since he has realised there is some guts (if I may use that somewhat ugly expression) in the Opposition argument. He has said, "Give them something: they are entitled to it"; and he has done so.

4.45 p.m.

I remember that some weeks ago when this matter was first raised I ventured to suggest the Government might be a little more generous than they had seemed to be up to then. It did not seem that they would yield an inch but they have yielded quite a lot, I am bound to say; and they have gone a long way. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, admitted that. Let us leave it at that. Even when we know we have got the better of the arguments and even if we know the Government can vote against us as and when they please, surely this House is entitled to exercise what limits of authority it possesses. It has been attacked over and over again; it has been said that it should never have existed; it has even been said that it should be immediately abolished. There are still some people who say that it should be abolished and there is even talk of doing it after the next general election. That has often been said but it does not happen; so I think your Lordships can sleep in your beds quite comfortably.

That is the position. Therefore I would say: let us be grateful to the Minister and to his noble colleagues on the Front Bench. They are, if I may say so, a very excellent team—better, I think, than they ought to be! Of course, if you get a strong Government it is very difficult to fight them. I find myself in great difficulties trying to work up an argument against them, not because I dislike them—far from that—but simply because I cannot get the right argument against them. They seem to have got the best of the argument, although many of my colleagues can achieve even better and more substantial arguments against the Government.

That is the position. If I may have the temerity to do so, I would say to the Minister that his esteemed noble colleague, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, is very anxious to have people not voting against the Government so that the press and the media will say, "The Government won without a single vote. Even the Lords don't vote against the Government, so there must be something in this legislation that is beneficial and worthwhile". That is what the noble Lord is after. It is a bit sneaky, if I may say so. It is a bit crafty. But he must not play tricks of that kind, when some of us who have experienced of him in another place and in this place realise that he is sometimes up to tricks. This is one of them, and on this occasion it is not going to work.

Lord Bancroft

My Lords, if I may, I should like to return for a moment to the amendments. I have been immensely instructed by the debate about political philosophy which has taken place across the Floor of the House, but I should like to get back to the amendments. I should like to begin by saying how greatly I admire and respect the dialectical abilities of the noble Lord the Minister. My respect for them has increased tenfold this afternoon. He made much—as who, in his place, would not—of the drafting effects and the drafting defects of the amendments. He, unlike us, has the deft hands of his department and of parliamentary counsel to set them right quite easily, if he so wishes. But some of the other demons he conjured up with such skill were, I think, a little overdone. I listened with enormous interest though, alas, with less comprehension to what he had to say about the London Boroughs Association's propoals. I am not clear to what extent they deal with my central point, which is the intertwining of planning and transport.

But again I have to state my admiration for the breathtaking skill with which he extracted goodies from thin air a week or so ago—£40 million for the voluntary organisation. Today it is the letter from the LBA and their proposals. But I will be brief; I promise that. I leave to others arguments about the wording of the election manifesto. As a non-political old "pro", if I may so describe myself, I recall with a touch of nostalgia the days—I might almost say the happy days—when manifestos were written with a broad nib and almost a broad brush, dipped into disappearing ink. Now they are written in a fine italic hand with a pen dipped into indelible ink, and—Heaven save us—they have guardians who tick off each completed item, "fulfilled pledge", with the devotion of an ink monitor ticking off full inkwells. I make no more of that.

Let me say again what I have said before. I am not a friend of the Greater London Council, but my concern here with these amendments, like that of so many other noble Lords, is with the policies that govern land use planning and transport. These policies interact at all levels, and especially in London. They give rise to acute and conflicting requirements, and it is necessary to have organisational machinery which complies with these policies and, so far as it can, resolves rather than sharpens the conflicts between them. In short, land use planning and transport should be brigaded together in organisation terms, because that reflects the policy interaction.

If I may remind the House, it was a Conservative Government who, less than 15 years ago, published and acted on a White Paper, Cmnd. 4506, which said: It is increasingly accepted that maintaining a decent environment, improving people's living conditions and providing for adequate transport facilities all come together in the planning of development. These are among the main functions of local authorities and are having an ever-increasing impact on ordinary people, in town and country and especially in and around the larger urban areas. Because these functions interact, and because they give rise to acute and conflicting requirements, a new form of organisation is needed at the centre of the administrative system". Six years later it was a Labour Government who whimsically—I use the word literally—separated these two essentially complementary functions at central Government level. As a clerk in the Department of the Environment, I helped to plan and carry out both the unification and the dismemberment. It is one of the many reasons why I am a Cross-Bencher. There is room for more than one view on the proper organisation of these matters in Marsham Street, but I think no one will quarrel with the observation that the planning and transport policies interact closely; and few, I hope, will quarrel with the subsequent observation that organisational machinery should comply with the needs of policy.

I note without comment that most local authorities, in their internal organisation, have continued to recognise the truth of these observations, and indeed I think the two departments of state concerned—I speak subject to correction—continue to have joint regional offices. I have little doubt that something like the London authority which is proposed is necessary. To me, I have to say, it is necessary to the point almost of being self-evident. I do not try to convince myself, let alone your Lordships, that this will be a stable solution. Nothing in this Bill will be stable. But it will be a sight more stable, more efficient, more effective, more economical and more responsive than what was envisaged. I have not yet absorbed what is now envisaged. It is for these reasons that I put my name to the amendments.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Bancroft, referred very justifiably indeed to the dialectical skill of my noble friend the Minister, and I will refer with equal justification to the dialectical skill of the noble Lord, Lord Bancroft. As the noble Lord knows, I have been exposed to it in different circumstances over the years, though the technique was different. It is perhaps the technique with which your Lordships are familiar from the television film—I was going to say "Yes, Minister" but it was, I think, more the one called "No Minister". So I always listen to him with respect, but, as he will recall, not always with conviction; and I am afraid that is so on this occasion.

I want to address my short observations to your Lordships solely in respect of London and therefore with reference to Amendment No. 2. I do so because I am a great deal more familiar with the problems of the Greater London Council than I am with those of the rest of the country. For this purpose I will disregard the warning which the late Mr. Aneurin Bevan once gave, that knowledge of a subject is an all but fatal handicap in making a speech about it.

I have really only three points which I will ask your Lordships to consider very seriously. Both the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, and the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, in moving the first amendment, went out of their way to suggest that acceptance of these amendments would not seriously interfere with the main pattern or purpose of the Bill. With great respect to them both, I disagree with that. It would, in quite substantial degree, frustrate the purpose of transferring all possible powers to the boroughs by interposing another and, in the case of the London body referred to in Amendment No. 2, very powerful body, as a higher-tier authority, over and above the boroughs and exercising authority over them. To that very substantial extent, therefore, I would suggest to your Lordships that these amendments go against what I think my noble friend rightly called the philosophy of the Bill.

I would ask your Lordships to look at Amendment No. 2 and in particular at subsection (5) of it, where the powers to be transferred to this body are referred to:

  1. "(a) structure plans and other matters under the Town and County Planning Act 1971;
  2. (b) highways;
  3. (c) road traffic; and—
most sinisterly of all— (d) other matters". The noble Lord did not in fact tell us what the "other matters" were, but it is a very wide expression, particularly when it is read with the following line: being functions for the most part"— for the most part, I ask your Lordships to note; not exclusively— exercisable by the Greater London Council". Therefore we are faced, as we were at the Committee stage, although I am happy to note in a more agreeable atmosphere than existed for at any rate part of the Committee stage, with very much the same type of effort from the Benches opposite; that is, an attempt in some way to give a life after death to the GLC. For that reason, I would suggest to your Lordships that this amendment is perhaps a little more serious in both its intention and its effect, certainly, than was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, when he addressed your Lordships a little while ago.

There is one further aspect which I hope your Lordships will consider. This proposal, unlike that outlined by my noble friend the Minister as being likely to be brought forward by him, confines control of planning and transport to the area at present covered by the Greater London Council. If you study the structure of the South-east of England, that is an absurd idea and indeed it is partly, I think, the cause of the failure, now widely admitted, of the GLC, because the GLC area of London is only the centre of the whole of the South-eastern region. Millions of people who are interested earn their living in the GLC area and live outside it. Planning involving green belts and all contact with the outer areas involves land outside the GLC area, and roads in particular of course are an area in which the GLC conspicuously failed.

So many of us have travelled on the motorways across the countryside—modesty forbids me reminding your Lordships of when and by whom they were originally planned—which now end in an area for which the GLC is responsible. Your Lordships, having driven fast across the country, then sit in the jam created by the failure of the GLC to plan the inner London road areas in a way that will connect them up properly with the motorways. Again—I do not wish to speak ill of, if not the dead, the very nearly dead—the idea that the GLC, concerned only with the GLC area, is a wonderful strategic planner is immediately negatived when you consider its utter failure to deal with the steady decay in dockland which has been reversed only by the action of the Government in taking the matter out of its hands and setting up the Docklands Corporation under, to begin with, the dynamic leadership of Sir Nigel Broackes.

5 p.m.

Therefore, the proposal in the amendment for planning and transport powers in this new body seems to me to fall down on two points. First, it frustrates the purpose of the Bill to transfer these powers to the boroughs. Secondly, it fails to grasp the point—which my noble friend's discussion of SERPLAN shows he understands—that you cannot plan the building, the roads or the transport systems of Greater London in isolation from those of the rest of the south-east. We shall get a very much more sensible result from the kind of thing that SERPLAN contemplates; and there I think all your Lordships will want to express our gratitude to my noble friend Lord Sandford for the remarkable work which he has done in that area. I suggest it is on those lines, and on the lines forecast by my noble friend the Minister, that we shall deal with the practical problems about which all of us on all sides of this Committee are concerned. We shall get those problems much more effectively dealt with on those lines than by tying us down by the creation of yet another large and cumbrous authority confined to Greater London.

Viscount Esher

My Lords, I am sure that we would all agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, said about the objectives of this Bill. We are all agreed with its aims. It is a question of means and I think it is on means that we are bound to be sceptical. I was disappointed to hear the noble Lord, Lord Molson, with his long experience, putting so much faith in voluntary co-operation among boroughs and districts. It was because such voluntary co-operation failed over the last 20 or 30 years that the metropolitan authorities had to be set up. Even in attempting to reply to the Minister, and to give him the advice of the London boroughs, the London Boroughs Association was unable to agree upon a reply. These are the difficulties that we have to face. It seems to me that over the course of this long debate, in the process of taking to pieces the roles of the GLC and the metropolitan counties, we have lost sight of the totality. If you like, one could say that the trees of administration and management have really closed our minds to the wood of imagination and comprehensive vision—

Lord Elton

My Lords, I do not want to use up my right of reply, but I think I ought to draw the attention of the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, to the fact that what we are proposing is putting something in the Bill which is a statutory and not a voluntary arrangement.

Viscount Esher

My Lords, I am very glad to hear that. My own feeling about local government is that it is increasingly moving away from its primary role, which must surely be to coincide with the places with which people identify. If you are a Londoner and you live in Golders Green, you can identify with either London or Golders Green but you cannot identify with Brent or Camden. What Liverpudlian ever claimed proudly to be a citizen of Bootle? What Mancunian would feel intense loyalty to the borough of Tameside? In recent, and, I am afraid, misguided, experiments in local government I feel that we have lost sight of this essential characteristic.

First, we have recently relegated ancient historic cities to second-tier roles. The Government now propose to go back to a patchwork of boroughs and districts which we have inherited from history, but which bears no relation to the geographical facts with which people have to contend in their daily lives. This is not just a management issue, though of course it is that and it has to be mainly that that we discuss. It is not only that refuse disposal, structural planning and transportation—and I think we are all agreed about this—can effectively be managed only at conurbation level. It is that the future of our great urban conglomerations can only be understood, can only make sense in the public mind and people can only judge them at that conurbation level. One has the impression that the authors of this Bill believe that this scale of thinking is out of date, something that went out in the 'sixties. But we are soon going to need this scale of thinking again. Let me give your Lordships two examples.

The next big urban crisis, as I am sure we are all agreed, will be the dilapidation and collapse of our housing stock, not just the system-built housing of the 'sixties and 'seventies, but the far greater quantity of semi-detached jerry-built housing of the 'twenties and 'thirties. Secondly, we will surely see before the end of this century, with the growth of electronic information and control, the disappearance of the great armies of commuters who at the moment pour into our cities and occupy the great office blocks. Is this the time, with this lying ahead of us, to disperse the skilled staffs that we shall need to handle these major urban problems in the very areas where they will be at their worst? Will 69 metropolitan districts and boroughs and 32 London boroughs, which are so ill coordinated and so uneven in quality and experience, be up to the job, each separately?

Would any Government, even with the help of the Countryside Commission, as the Minister has told us today, or with the help of these associations of boroughs and districts, got together as voluntary efforts to agree, want the job of knocking together the heads of all these 101 authorities? It would be like commanding from Whitehall 101 battalions on seven fronts all over England, and anyone who had that job, even with advice from various quarters, would want to set up good generals and let them get on with the job; and, incidentally, by doing so avoid the invidious position, which many noble Lords have criticised, of the Minister having to make the judgment and then listen to objections and act as referee in a game in which he has himself been a player.

In Committee the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, dealt with that argument. He pointed out that in the case of motorways, in the case of the setting up of new town development corporations, Governments did the planning and eventually had to make a judgment, after public inquiry, on their proposals. But those were strongly criticised. The system has been under attack ever since it came into existence—not by me, because I believe that there are some national matters which can be initiated only by Government. But equally there are regional matters, matters on the scale of the conurbations, the great cities, which can be initiated only at regional level, at metropolitan county level, and which without that kind of initiative on the ground by those who know their resources, who know their country and who know their people never get off the ground.

This is why it is impossible for a member of my profession to speak up for the kind of makeshift arrangements which we have had discussed today. I think we have to speak for a necessity to continue to tackle the environmental problems of our great urban regions in a comprehensive and efficient way. This is why we cannot regard ministerial guidance, however much advice has been sought beforehand, as adequate to the scale of the problems that lie ahead. The kind of guidance given by Mr. Heseltine in the south-east can certainly answer what one might call the "what" questions, which in many cases are simple and platitudinous. What it cannot answer is the "where" questions. It is the "where" problems which can be solved only at local level.

I do not see the need for a greedy bureaucracy to do this job. We are accustomed, are we not, to agency arrangements in matters of this kind. The motorways are built by the county councils as agents for the Ministry of Transport. It is obvious that matters such as house building, house management, estate and park management and waste collection will all continue to be done at the proper level of the boroughs and districts. The more we can draw a sensible line between staff and front-line operations, the better, the more economical and the less overgrown will be the metropolitan offices. But if we consider what, for example, the Greater Manchester Council, to which I referred earlier on in Committee, has done on the ground, is it really possible to imagine that Manchester and Salford, notoriously at odds through history, let alone the boroughs of Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Tameside, Trafford, Stockport and Wigan, would have got together to achieve the same results? It seems to be quite inconceivable.

Reserve powers, the power to precept, the power to go out and do jobs on the ground seem to me to be essential and are the reason I put my name to this amendment. I know that joint boards, for which we are prepared to settle, are far from ideal. Members of joint boards are inclined either to be excessively defensive of the expenditure of their own authorities or sometimes to wash their hands of the whole thing and hand over to an excessive degree to officials, though I must say that in some planning committees one wishes they would do it more. But since the Government and this House as a whole are plainly set on reverting to joint boards for 70 per cent. of the work now done by the metropolitan counties, since the principle of joint boards is now apparently acceptable on all sides, though without any show of enthusiasm anywhere, there seems to be no point in pursuing any arguments against it. The only question therefore is whether we prefer that the specialist teams, which at present manage the environmental work of the metropolitan counties and the Greater London Council, disappear, disperse, or survive.

When I think of the physical problems, of which I mentioned only two, which unquestionably lie ahead before the end of this century and the social problems that we see in sometimes horrible form in our conurbations, I am in no doubt at all that these authorities with the imagination to handle them on the proper scale must survive. This is why it is the view of all the planning professions and the conservation societies that this amendment should be supported, and that with it the Bill might just be made to work, might just avoid what we all want to avoid, which is a replay of this whole business under another Government with another round of contentious and expensive local government reform. I urge noble Lords on all sides of the House to support the amendment.

5.15 p.m.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, it seems to me that today we have become very confused with these amendments. The noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, moved her Amendment No. 1, and then the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, hopped up and spoke to Amendment No. 2. Amendment No. 1 is totally related to the metropolitan counties and Amendment No. 2 is totally related to London. Jumbling the two amendments together in this way has made it quite confusing for Members to follow the arguments. When I listened to the noble Baroness—she spoke about waste disposal authorities taking over mineral rights and reclamation of land—I thought that that was very interesting and might be relevant to the metropolitan counties, but it certainly did not seem at all appropriate to London as I knew it. Then when the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock spoke, he pleaded for exactly the same thing in London. That I must oppose most strongly.

I sat for many years on the minerals committee of the Greater London Council and members came on to that committee who had the mineral workings, usually gravel workings, within their boroughs. Every time the complaint was made that that large central authority did not take enough interest in, or have enough knowledge of, what was going on locally; that the trucks that were taking the gravel out were pounding down the roads of local residents; and that the land was not being reinstated because no one was enforcing the reinstatement. I remember one particular case in which a very nice walking path through which gravel was allowed to be removed was lost. When the Greater London Council said that it must be reinstated it was replaced in an entirely different position which was not as satisfactory to local residents; and yet a long historic right existed for that walking path to be there. So consequently on mineral rights and planning there was the demand for more local power. This is why I support the Bill. I believe that it will give more decision making and more local power back to those people who are right on the spot and who know exactly what is happening in their areas and what they need.

It is, of course, a different matter that there must be a stategic overview. I was very interested in what my noble friend the Minister said in that regard, though I am still not entirely clear on the detail and I shall later read what he said. I know he repeated it, but a lot more information is required to know how that would work with the voluntary system in the London boroughs. Unfortunately, I was not here for the traffic management debate when your Lordships voted to return those powers to a central body. Again, I think it is a shame because, although some parts of it might well have been returned to a central body, all the small local schemes such as those involving the siting of pedestrian crossings, have all gone and have been swallowed up again into one large authority. Local people had so looked forward to being able to decide on where to have parking lines and on where disabled people could go shopping. They wanted to have the pedestrian crossings where old people crossed. I know from my personal experience that so often when you wanted a crossing in position A, the Greater London Council said, "No, you must have it 100 yards down the road". Even when you placed it there, at a good deal of expense, people still crossed where they had always crossed, because it happened to be the most convenient place.

There should be local decisions on local matters. I quote the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock: "What the boroughs can do individually, they should do". I support that point. The amendments tend to take more power away from local people. I want to see the strategic role kept in some form and I believe that the planning commission for London which has been built into this Bill will, with the support of the arrangements which the Minister has announced, achieve that. I hope that it will be effective. I certainly believe that the strength of this Bill is in the power it will give local councils. For that reason I oppose the amendment and support the Bill as drafted.

Lord Elton

My Lords, if nobody else has anything to say, then I have. By your Lordships' leave, therefore, I should like to say first that I recognise, as do the Government, the concerns which have resulted in amendments to replace the Secretary of State, with his strategic guidance, with a mechanism which appears to be further from the national centre of administrative and political power.

Those concerns are, first, that the people who have to live under the planning system we devise shall not be ignored by the authorities in the way in which my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes so clearly described. Secondly, that local interests shall be properly considered by those responsible for regional and national interests. Those are very serious and proper concerns. They are, moreover, concerns which chime in very closely with those of the party of which I am a member and which forms the present Government.

My argument, therefore, is not that the man in Whitehall knows best. I have been both too long outside Whitehall and long enough inside it to have discovered that that dictum is usually open to doubt and sometimes is patently untrue. My argument, on the contrary, is that under our proposals the voice of the man in Whitehall will be heard no more frequently and no more obtrusively under this Bill than it is now; that the voice of the truly local authority—the borough or district council—will be stronger than it is now and therefore better able to protect the individual; and that the voice of the public will be raised at least as frequently and as effectively as it is now—and probably more so.

The difference between what we propose and what happens now is simply that an intrusive and unnecessary administrative layer will be removed from the planning system. I ask your Lordships to clear your minds as to what that layer consists of. It is not the bottom tier of local government. It is not as close to the people as are the boroughs. It is, therefore, not as well qualified as they are to assess the truly local impact of their decisions, of the kind to which my noble friend referred. Its role, if it has one, is to assist the wider impact of their decisions. I believe we would all agree with that. It must work to a wider scale and refer to the interests of a wider area.

What is that scale? What is that area? What is the background to the big decisions, the decisions which fall naturally to a London-wide or county-wide authority? We have only to look at recent history to see that the proper background is neither the area which we call Greater London or anything of the even smaller size of, say, Greater Manchester or Tyne and Wear. If one wants to build, an airport or construct an urban ring road, those upper-tier councils are no more competent to weigh the wider issues than are the boroughs or districts. The issues are regional and supra-regional. That is why they are already decided by the Secretary of State under the system we currently have. That is why they will continue to be so decided under this Bill.

The plain fact is that the planning remit of the GLC and the MCCs is too dam big to make them proper custodians of local interest and too dam small—

Noble Lords


Lord Elton

There is no "n" at the end of it, my Lords. Their planning remit is too dam big and too dam small to make them proper custodians of either regional or national interests. That is why we have set our hand to doing away with them as the planning authorities—not replacing them, but doing away with them.

If one replaced them by hanging their functions onto some other successor body at the same level, as the noble Baroness would do with her amendments, one would certainly produce some rather incongruous mixtures of functions. The waste disposal authorities dreamed up in Amendment No. 3 would have an extraordinary hotch-potch of duties, would they not? They would have all of waste disposal, bits of development controls and minerals, but no other planning functions. I ask your Lordships to note, therefore, that they would have no significant planning expertise. They would have bits of countryside policy, but not others. This would produce a lopsided kind of creation.

Besides doing that, one would do two other things. I dare say that noble Lords will think these even less desirable. First, one would fly in the face of a principle which I believe to be very dear to the friends of the noble Baroness and to the other Members of the alliance parties. It is that decisions on planning applications should at all stages rest in the hands of directly-elected bodies. The boroughs are directly elected, the districts are directly elected, and the Secretary of State is directly elected.

Noble Lords


Lord Elton

Indeed, my Lords, the Secretary of State is directly elected. When one is dealing with a national planning issue—as my right honourable friend has shown recently, with conspicuous skill and sense, on a number of occasions—it is very important that one should be an elected member. This is about protecting the interests of people. That is best done at local level by the truly local people and at national level by the truly national people, both of them elected.

Neither the passenger transport authority that we have put into the Bill, nor the waste disposal authority which the Opposition has put into the Bill, will be directly elected. Nor will the body proposed in Amendment No. 2, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, be elected. That seems to me to be a fatal flaw in all the proposals now before us.

I repeat what I said before: it is not open to noble Lords to remedy that law by making any of these bodies directly elected at a later stage. That, as we have established time and time again, and as your Lordships have accepted upon a vote, would be contrary to the principles of the Bill established by both Houses of Parliament.

The second defect of these proposals is that without providing any real additional protection for the public interest, at either local or regional level, and still less at national level, they re-establish a wholly superfluous level of investigation, inquiry, correspondence and delay, the whole of which will cost time and money, which this country simply cannot afford if it is to keep up to date with the rapidly developing world.

I used the word "inquiry" and I am well aware that some of your Lordships will immediately think of the examinations in public and wonder whether, after all, the Secretary of State's strategic advice will not, without it, be authoritarian, centrist and antidemocratic. Amendment No. 2 would remove the Secretary of State entirely and leave no expression of regional or national interest and no restraint on their behalf whatsoever. How very trusting is the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, in his pet creation.

Those of your Lordships who have taken the opportunity to examine the examples which I placed in the Library and what the strategic guidance is likely to look like will, I think, have been reassured. To the rest of your Lordships I say not merely that it is too brief and general to provide any useful basis for such an examination. I say not merely that it will be based on wide consultation. I say not merely that after it has been drafted in the light of that consultation it will be published in draft for comment. I say not merely that that comment will be considered and taken into account before the guidance is given its final form. I say also that the Part I unitary plans of every borough and district will be the proof of the guidance and that all of them will be subject to the closest public scrutiny and discussion under the Bill as already drafted.

Nor will that lead to discontinuity between neighbouring authorities, since it will be open to the Secretary of State both to give neighbouring authorities simultaneous commencement dates and, where necessary, to review them together. These provisions are all in Schedule 1, which the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, rashly in my view, seeks to remove from the Bill.

All those considerations apply equally to London and to the metropolitan county councils. They seem to me to be a full and sufficient reason to prefer our proposals to anything and everything proposed by the other parties today.

I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, was worried that by giving positive guidance in the way that I have described the Secretary of State would in some way be prejudicing his other role as a decision maker on those planning applications which come to him on appeal. As my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross explained when we last discussed this matter, there is nothing new in what we propose with regard to this duality of role for the Secretary of State. Ministers are often in the position of being both the proposing and the concerning authority, but much happens in between.

In fact, the Secretary of State has been much more closely involved in the approval and modification of structure plans than he will be in the preparation of unitary development plans. Yet this role of the Secretary of State has not given rise to any conflict with his task of making decisions on planning appeals under the present system. The Secretary of State's role in relation to strategic guidance will be of an essentially general nature.

5.30 p.m.

I accept that in London things are different from the way they are in the metropolitan counties. Before I dealt with the concern of the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, about duality and the Secretary of State, I concluded my last passage by saying that all the considerations I had put to your Lordships referred both to the metropolitan county councils and to London. I accept that in London things are different. London has more than three times as many local councils as the biggest metropolitan council, and no less than eight times as many as the smallest. Therefore, there is a different balance to be struck between, on the one hand, the boroughs and London as a whole, and, on the other hand, between London as a whole and the south-east region. I am not wholly persuaded, therefore, that we need to make the same arrangements for the metropolitan counties as those I am about to propose for London, or that those arrangements are not made voluntarily in any case. However, I undertake to consider between now and Third Reading, without commitment, whether we should not meet your Lordships' remaining concerns about this with an amendment to the Bill for that purpose.

I accept what my noble friend Lord Sandford told me. I accept the generality of what the London Boroughs Association has discussed with me over the table and what was expressed in the letter to which I referred earlier. I am very much aware of the tenor of the remarks of my noble friends, and others, who discussed what I propose in the earlier stages of this debate; and I believe I am right in saying that the sense of this House will prove to be that we should proceed on that basis. I have twice read out the general terms to your Lordships, and I do not think I should repeat them.

Whether or not the amendment replaces the London Planning Commission—and I accept that there is a case for saying that it should—your Lordships have persuaded me that we need a consultative planning committee for London. I can therefore undertake to bring forward amendments at Third Reading to establish a committee of London boroughs, and in finalising the details I shall wish to work closely with the London Boroughs Association. That will accord with the advice of my noble friend, who is the chairman of SERPLAN, which will doubtless look to play an important part in its own work. That is to answer the views of those who represent the substantial majority of elected London boroughs.

What I offer is something which I would expect to appeal to the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, who may now wish to stay her hand, although from the frequent goings and comings from her Bench it is not yet clear to me whether or not she will. I believe that it represents an honourable compromise between the unattainable ambitions of those who want to perpetuate the GLC and the minimum requirements of a Bill to abolish but not to replace it. I think that your Lordships will be well advised to accept what I shall propose at Third Reading and bring a chapter of strenuous argument to a constructive and beneficial close.

Baroness Stedman

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his very full reply to our amendments. I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bancroft, for giving me his assurance that planning and transport naturally go together.

The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, was concerned that we are trying to frustrate the purpose of transferring all possible powers to the boroughs; but on the front of the Bill it is stated that the purpose is to transfer functions to local authorities within their areas and, sometimes, to other bodies. Since two other bodies have already been put into the Bill, and those are the two bodies on which we are trying to hang the different parts of planning and transportation, I should have thought that they logically fitted within those powers.

These are not probing amendments and were not intended to be probing amendments. We withdrew amendments at Committee stage which would have led to a similar solution, and we indicated that we would probably come back on Report. We are still concerned about the nature of the strategic planning because policies are constantly being monitored and reviewed to reflect the changing conditions. They are not static, and nor do they have any end date. I still doubt whether genuine agreement will be reached between the districts. I can see an inner district rating a city regeneration as very high, and probably as the most important issue which they face and need to overcome, but those on the edge of the conurbation would see it as rather less directly relevant to their problems at the time.

I am also concerned about the staffs of the specialist teams, and what is to happen to them. I do not know what sort of holding out there will be to place these staffs with the residuary bodies. The staffs will still be worried about the future, and will want to know where they are going.

I have a very high regard for the work of district councillors. I also know that the smaller an authority the more inward-looking councillors tend to become and the more parochial they become in their attitude. I believe it was the noble Lord, Lord Plummer, who, in Committee, said that London boroughs will give a view about their own cabbage patch but have regard to no other part of London. Even the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, asked what Tower Hamlets had in common with Kingston-upon-Thames. That is what will go on all the time.

As regards waste disposal, I think they are the authorities who ought to be concerned about environmental matters. They could be, and I think should be, the licensing authorities, the people responsible for land reclamation and countryside work, because they naturally follow from the other duties they have.

The noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, was concerned about mineral planning. We must be particularly careful about that. I doubt whether there are enough qualified people in the employ of the metropolitan counties or, for that matter, the GLC for all the districts and the boroughs to find themselves with the right sort of skilled advice which they need to have on a major issue of this sort. It is important that we keep the existing teams together as being more cost-effective than having smaller teams which are not so good in each of the districts. Indeed, the Stevens Committee, the Verney Committee and the Flowers Commission all stressed the importance of providing adequate specialist staff for mineral extraction. The trade associations were also worried about the break-up of that side.

We have heard about the increased centralisation that the Bill is providing. I accept that the Secretary of State has had a hand, and does have a hand now, in important planning decisions over the whole of the country, and not just in the metropolitan areas and the GLC. However, the Bill is extending the power for the Secretary of State to become involved in the day-to-day plan-making process. It was the Local Government Planning and Land Act 1980 that severely reduced the development control powers in the metropolitan counties, and the increased involvement in plan-making by strategic guidance I see as a continuation along that path of more central Government involvement in local issues.

The noble Lord the Minister has referred many times in the course of the passage of the Bill to the patchwork quilt that we are to get from all the structure plans and the unitary development plans; but it will be a rather odd patchwork quilt, as I see it, because patches will be missing owing to the different rates of progress. Some may need changing as later UDPs are tested and perhaps found to be not quite right; or even the strategic guidance might hake to be altered.

The noble Lord has been very conciliatory this afternoon. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Molson, that today there has been a much more conciliatory attitude from the Government Front Bench than at earlier stages. However, I still do not see where a SERPLAN scheme will leave the metropolitan counties. I still do not see how the Minister can positively assure the House that there will be co-operation between the metropolitan districts and their neighbouring shire counties. There is just as much need for co-ordination in the metropolitan areas as there is in London.

I do not think that we can wait for Third Reading to see what the Minister is bringing forward. I think that that would be leaving it too late, and the information given to us by the Minister this afternoon has been too imprecise, or, as the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, used to say, too "iffy". Therefore I feel that we must press the amendment. I hope that the House will support it today. If at Third Reading the Minister produces something that really is better, so be it.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I should, I think, on a matter of order explain to the noble Baroness that my undertaking to look at a possible amendment at Third Reading to look after the metropolitan counties would be overtaken if she were, as I hope she will not be, successful in the next few minutes.

5.40 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 145; Not-Contents, 146.

Airedale, L. Kearton, L.
Amherst, E. Kilbracken, L.
Ardwick, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Attlee, E. Kirkwood, L.
Avebury, L. Kissin, L.
Aylestone, L. Leatherland, L.
Bancroft, L. Listowel, E.
Banks, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Barnett, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Lockwood, B.
Bernstein, L. Longford, E.
Beswick, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Birk, B. McCarthy, L.
Birkett, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Bottomley, L. McNair, L.
Briginshaw, L. Mayhew, L.
Brockway, L. Meston, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Milford, L.
Buckmaster, V. Mishcon, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Molloy, L.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Monson, L.
Caradon, L. Mountevans, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Mulley, L.
Carver, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Chandos, V. Nicol, B.
Chitnis, L. Northfield, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Ogmore, L.
Collison, L. Oram, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Peart, L.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
David, B. [Teller.] Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Denington, B. Rea, L.
Diamond, L. Reilly, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Ennals, L. Rochester, L.
Esher, V. Ross of Marnock, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Ezra, L. Sainsbury, L.
Falkland, V. Seear, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Shackleton, L.
Fitt, L. Shepherd, L.
Foot, L. Shinwell, L.
Fulton, L. Silkin of Dulwich, L.
Gaitskell, B. Simon, V.
Gallacher, L. Soper, L.
Galpern, L. Stallard, L.
Gladwyn, L. Stamp, L.
Glenconner, L. Stedman, B. [Teller.]
Graham of Edmonton, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Grey, E. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Grimond, L. Strabolgi, L.
Hampton, L. Strauss, L.
Hanworth, V. Tanlaw, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Hayter, L. Tordoff, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Wade, L.
Hooson, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Walston, L.
Hunt, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L. Whaddon, L.
Ingleby, V. White, B.
Irving of Dartford, L. Wigoder, L.
Jacobson, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Jacques, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Jeger, B. Wilson of Rievaulx, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
John-Mackie, L.
Kaldor, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Arran, E.
Aldington, L. Atholl, D.
Allerton, L. Auckland, L.
Ampthill, L. Bauer, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Layton, L.
Bellwin, L. Long, V. [Teller.]
Beloff, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Belstead, L. Lyell, L.
Bessborough, E. McAlpine of Moffat, L.
Birdwood, L. McAlpine of West Green, L.
Boardman, L. McFadzean, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Malmesbury, E.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Mancroft, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Margadale, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Marley, L.
Caccia, L. Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Caithness, E.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Merrivale, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Mersey, V.
Campbell of Croy, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Moran, L.
Cawley, L. Morris, L.
Cayzer, L. Mottistone, L.
Chelmer, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Chelwood, L. Newall, L.
Coleraine, L. Norfolk, D.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Norwich, Bp.
Cottesloe, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Cox, B. Onslow, E.
Craigavon, V. Orkney, E.
Crawford and Balcarres, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Croft, L. Peel, E.
Davidson, V. Pender, L.
De Freyne, L. Perth, E.
De La Warr, E. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Polwarth, L.
Digby, L. Portland, D.
Drumalbyn, L. Rankeillour, L.
Eccles, V. Redesdale, L.
Elibank, L. Reigate, L.
Ellenborough, L. Renton, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Renwick, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Rodney, L.
Elton, L. Romney, E.
Fanshawe of Richmond, L. Rugby, L.
Forester, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Fortescue, E. St. Davids, V.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Sandford, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Selsdon, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Shaughnessy, L.
Glanusk, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Glenarthur, L. Soames, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Somers, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Strathcarron, L.
Hanson, L. Strathspey, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Sudeley, L.
Henley, L. Swansea, L.
Hives, L. Terrington, L.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Teviot, L.
Hood, V. Teynham, L.
Hornsby-Smith, B. Thorneycroft, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Thurlow, L.
Inglewood, L. Tranmire, L.
Ingrow, L. Trenchard, V.
Kaberry of Adel, L. Trumpington, B.
Killearn, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Kilmany, L. Vickers, B.
Kimball, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Kimberley, E. Whitelaw, V.
Kinnaird, L. Young, B.
Kitchener, E. Young of Graffham, L.
Lauderdale, E. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5.50 p.m.

Lord Kilmarnock moved Amendment No. 2:

[Printed earlier: col. 1002.]

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment, which I now move. One or two points were made in the debate. Picking up a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, about the sinister wording, "other matters", I should like to reassure him that they simply cover services such as dial-a-ride and concessionary travel, which I think even he would not consider to be particularly sinister.

In relation to the reference of the noble Lord, Lord Elton, to the London Boroughs Association and SERPLAN, I am afraid we felt that the offers that he made to us were too shadowy. He talked about honourable compromise. When he spoke of (I think I quote his words) a statutory advisory committee, that did not seem to me to be much of an advance on the planning commission which is already in the Bill. If we have to wait to see what comes at Third Reading and we do not like it, we shall then have no remedy left. Therefore, I think I should test the opinion of the House.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I do not propose to make another speech. I merely wish to remind your Lordships that the substantial material that I deployed in the last debate related to this amendment, and not to the one before. I should hope your Lordships would rather widen the majority that your Lordships granted us last time.

5.52 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 140; Not-Contents, 150.

Airedale, L. Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Amherst, E. Elwyn-Jones, L.
Ardwick, L. Ennals, L.
Attlee, E. Ewart-Biggs, B.
Avebury, L. Falkland, V.
Aylestone, L. Fisher of Rednal, B.
Bancroft, L. Fitt, L.
Banks, L. Foot, L.
Barnett, L. Fulton, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Gaitskell, B.
Bernstein, L. Gallacher, L.
Beswick, L. Galpern, L.
Birk, B. Gladwyn, L.
Birkett, L. Glenconner, L.
Boothby, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Grey, E.
Bottomley, L. Grimond, L.
Briginshaw, L. Hampton, L.
Brockway, L. Hanworth, V.
Bruce of Donington, L. Harris of Greenwich, L.
Buckmaster, V. Hatch of Lusby, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Hayter, L.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Henderson of Brompton, L.
Caradon, L. Hooson, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Chandos, V. Hunt, L.
Chitnis, L. Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Ingleby, V.
Collison, L. Irving of Dartford, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Jacobson, L.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Jacques, L.
David, B. [Teller.] Jeger, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. John-Mackie, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Kearton, L.
Denington, B. Kilbracken, L.
Diamond, L. Kilmarnock, L. [Teller.]
Kirkwood, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Leatherland, L. Rochester, L.
Listowel, E. Ross of Marnock, L.
Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Sainsbury, L.
Lockwood, B. Seear, B.
Longford, E. Seebohm, L.
Lovell-Davis, L. Shackleton, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. Shepherd, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L. Shinwell, L.
McNair, L. Silkin of Dulwich, L.
Mayhew, L. Simon, V.
Meston, L. Stallard, L.
Milford, L. Stamp, L.
Mishcon, L. Stedman, B.
Molloy, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Monson, L. Stoddart of Swindon. L.
Mountevans, L. Strabolgi, L.
Mulley, L. Tanlaw, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Nicol, B. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Northfield, L. Tordoff, L.
Ogmore, L. Wade, L.
Oram, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Peart, L. Walston, L.
Pitt of Hampstead, L. Whaddon, L.
Plummer of St Marylebone, L. White, B.
Wigoder, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Prys-Davies, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Rathcreedan, L. Wilson of Rievaulx, L.
Rea, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Reilly, L.
Ritchie of Dundee, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Elliot of Harwood, B.
Aldington, L. Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Allerton, L. Elton, L.
Ampthill, L. Fanshawe of Richmond, L.
Arran, E. Foley, L.
Atholl, D. Forester, L.
Bauer, L. Fortescue, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Bellwin, L. Gardner of Parkes, B.
Beloff, L. Gibson-Watt, L.
Belstead, L. Glanusk, L.
Bessborough, E. Glenarthur, L.
Birdwood, L. Gowrie, E.
Boardman, L. Gray of Contin, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hanson, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Henley, L.
Caccia, L. Hives, L.
Caithness, E. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Cameron of Lockbroom, L. Hood, V.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Hornsby-Smith, B.
Campbell of Croy, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Inglewood, L.
Cawley, L. Ingrow, L.
Cayzer, L. Kaberry of Adel, L.
Chelmer, L. Killearn, L.
Chelwood, L. Kilmany, L.
Coleraine, L. Kimball, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Kimberley, E.
Cottesloe, L. Kinnaird, L.
Cox, B. Kitchener, E.
Craigavon, V. Lauderdale, E.
Craigmyle, L. Layton, L.
Crawford and Balcarres, E. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Croft, L. Long, V. [Teller.]
Davidson, V. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
De Freyne, L. Lyell, L.
De La Warr, E. McAlpine of Moffat, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] McAlpine of West Green, L.
Digby, L. McFadzean, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Eccles, V. Malmesbury, E.
Elibank, L. Mancroft, L.
Ellenborough, L. Margadale, L.
Marley, L. Romney, E.
Masham of Ilton, B. Rugby, L.
Maude of Stratford-upon- Avon, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
St. Davids, V.
Merrivale, L. Sandford, L.
Mersey, V. Selsdon, L.
Monk Bretton, L. Shaughnessy, L.
Moran, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Morris, L. Soames, L.
Mottistone, L. Somers, L.
Munster, E. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L. Strathcarron, L.
Newall, L. Strathspey, L.
Norfolk, D. Sudeley, L.
Nugent of Guildford, L. Swansea, L.
Onslow, E. Terrington, L.
Orkney, E. Teviot, L.
Orr-Ewing, L. Teynham, L.
Peel, E. Thorneycroft, L.
Pender, L. Thurlow, L.
Perth, E. Tranmire, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L. Trenchard, V.
Polwarth, L. Trumpington, B.
Portland, D. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Rankeillour, L. Vickers, B.
Redesdale, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Reigate, L. Whitelaw, V.
Renton, L. Young, B.
Renwick, L. Young of Graffham, L.
Rodney, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.2 p.m.

Baroness Stedman moved Amendment No. 3:

[Printed earlier: col. 1002.]

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment a long time ago. If I may refresh the memory of the House, it was to put things like land reclamation, looking after the countryside and the giving of site licences with the waste disposal authority as being the environmental body as well. I beg to move.

Lord Elton

My Lords, again, I think that your Lordships have heard enough of me for one afternoon. I have certainly. The noble Baroness is not going to remind you of her arguments. I shall not remind you of my arguments except to tell your Lordships that I think they are rather better.

6.3 p.m.

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

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 141; Not-Contents, 153.

Airedale, L. Birkett, L.
Amherst, E. Boston of Faversham, L.
Ardwick, L. Bottomley, L.
Attlee, E. Briginshaw, L.
Avebury, L. Brockway, L.
Aylestone, L. Bruce of Donington, L.
Bancroft, L. Burton of Coventry, B.
Banks, L. Campbell of Eskan, L.
Barnett, L. Caradon, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Bernstein, L. Carver, L.
Beswick, L. Chandos, V.
Birk, B. Chichester, Bp.
Chitnis, L. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. McNair, L.
Collison, L. Mar, C.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Mayhew, L.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Meston, L.
David, B. [Teller.] Milford, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Mishcon, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Molloy, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Monson, L.
Denington, B. Mountevans, L.
Diamond, L. Mulley, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Ennals, L. Nicol, B.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Northfield, L.
Falkland, V. Ogmore, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Oram, L.
Fitt, L. Peart, L.
Foot, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Fulton, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Gaitskell, B. Prys-Davies, L.
Gallacher, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Galpern, L. Rea, L.
Gladwyn, L. Reilly, L.
Glenconner, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Grey, E. Rochester, Bp.
Grimond, L. Rochester, L.
Hampton, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Hanworth, V. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Sainsbury, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Seear, B.
Hayter, L. Shackleton, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Shepherd, L.
Hooson, L. Shinwell, L.
Hunt, L. Silkin of Dulwich, L.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L. Simon, V.
Ingleby, V. Stallard, L.
Irving of Dartford, L. Stamp, L.
Jacobson, L. Stedman, B. [Teller.]
Jacques, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Jeger, B. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Strabolgi, L.
John-Mackie, L. Tanlaw, L.
Kearton, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Kilbracken, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Kilmarnock, L. Tordoff, L.
Kirkwood, L. Wade, L.
Kissin, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Leatherland, L. Walston, L.
Listowel, E. Whaddon, L.
Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. White, B.
Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Wigoder, L.
Lockwood, B. Williams of Elvel, L.
London, Bp. Wilson of Langside, L.
Longford, E. Wilson of Rievaulx, L.
Lovell-Davis, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
McGregor of Durris, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Cameron of Lochbroom, L.
Aldington, L. Campbell of Alloway, L.
Allerton, L. Campbell of Croy, L.
Ampthill, L. Carnegy of Lour, B.
Arran, E. Cawley, L.
Atholl, D. Cayzer, L.
Auckland, L. Chelmer, L.
Bauer, L. Chelwood, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Coleraine, L.
Bellwin, L. Constantine of Stanmore, L.
Beloff, L. Cottesloe, L.
Belstead, L. Cox, B.
Bessborough, E. Craigavon, V.
Birdwood, L. Craigmyle, L.
Boardman, L. Crawford and Balcarres, E.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Croft, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Davidson, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L. De Freyne, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. De La Warr, E.
Buckinghamshire, E. Denham, L. [Teller.]
Caccia, L. Digby, L.
Caithness, E. Drumalbyn, L.
Eccles, V. Mersey, V.
Eden of Winton, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Elibank, L. Morris, L.
Ellenborough, L. Mottistone, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Munster, E.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Elton, L. Newall, L.
Fanshawe of Richmond, L. Norfolk, D.
Foley, L. Norwich, Bp.
Forester, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Fortescue, E. Onslow, E.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Orkney, E.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Orr-Ewing, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Peel, E.
Glanusk, L. Pender, L.
Glenarthur, L. Perth, E.
Gowrie, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Plummer of St Marylebone, L.
Grimston of Wesbury, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Polwarth, L.
Portland, D.
Hanson, L. Rankeillour, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Redesdale, L.
Henley, L. Reigate, L.
Hives, L. Renton, L.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Renwick, L.
Hood, V. Rodney, L.
Hornsby-Smith, B. Romney, E.
Hylton-Foster, B. Rugby, L.
Inglewood, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Ingrow, L. St. Davids, V.
Kaberry of Adel, L. Sandford, L.
Killearn, L. Selsdon, L.
Kilmany, L. Shaughnessy, L.
Kimball, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Kimberley, E. Soames, L.
Kinnaird, L. Somers, L.
Kitchener, E. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Lauderdale, E. Strathcarron, L.
Layton, L. Strathspey, L.
Lindsey of Abingdon, E. Sudeley, L.
Long, V. [Teller.] Swansea, L.
Lucas of Chiiworth, L. Terrington, L.
Lyell, L. Teviot, L.
McAlpine of Moffat, L. Teynham, L.
McAlpine of West Green, L. Thorneycroft, L.
McFadzean, L. Tranmire, L.
Macleod of Borve, B. Trenchard, V.
Malmesbury, E. Trumpington, B.
Mancroft, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Margadale, L. Vickers, B.
Marley, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Masham of Ilton, B. Whitelaw, V.
Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L. Young, B.
Young of Graffham, L.
Merrivale, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.13 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 4 to 11 not moved.]

Schedule 1 [Development plans]:

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 12: Page 90, line 39, leave out sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) and insert—

("(1) The Secretary of State shall by an order at any time before the abolition date establish a body to be known as the London Planning Commission which shall—

  1. (a) assist him in preparing guidance for local planning authorities in Greater London in relation to their functions in respect of unitary development plans; and
  2. (b) endeavour to achieve co-ordination and coherence in the planning and development of Greater London and to participate in regional planning for the South East of England as a whole.

(2) An order under this paragraph shall make provision—

  1. (a) for the appointment by each of the London borough councils of one of their elected members to be a member of 1054 the Commission and for the terms of office of members of the Commission;
  2. (b) for the payment to members of the Commission of such remuneration and allowances as the Secretary of State shall determine;
  3. (c) for defraying the other expenses of the Commission;
  4. (d) for enabling the Secretary of State to give directions to the Commission as to the discharge of its functions; and
  5. (e) for such incidental and supplementary matters as he thinks requisite.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we now come to the amendment which has often been referred to as the "fallback". It is absolutely clear from the votes which have taken place on recent amendments that, in spite of the Minister's promise to come back to the matter on Third Reading, there is considerable feeling for some change to be made in the Bill. I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, is not in his place. However, the noble Lord referred to this amendment when he intervened during the Minister's speech and asked whether what the Minister had said about the London Boroughs Association's plans was very similar to the proposals put forward in this amendment.

The London Planning Commission as proposed in the Bill is undemocratic and it is a non-elected quango. Anybody who is assisting in the preparation of London's overall planning framework should be democratically accountable to Londoners. Without the minimum requirement for borough council representation proposed by the amendment, the commission will become yet another step in the removal of planning issues from local democratic control. We have seen examples of that in the London Docklands Development Corporation, the Isle of Dogs enterprise and several others. The Conservative-controlled Enfield Borough Council wrote in their response to the original White Paper that they, would not support the creation of such a body since it would not be democratically accountable to Londoners"— and they were, of course, referring to the London Planning Commission as in the Bill. Perhaps the Minister will be able to tell us when he replies how many boroughs do in fact support the planning commission as it is at present.

The enhanced powers which the Bill seeks to give to the Secretary of State and therefore Whitehall are both unnecessary and undesirable. Strong feelings were expressed on that matter during the previous debate. National Government should not in principle be even more involved in the running of London's planning system that they are already. That is what the Bill seeks to do by making the Secretary of State responsible for preparing, following advice from the planning commission, strategic guidance to which individual borough councils must have regard in drawing up their unitary plans. The preparation of the strategic guidance upon which the Minister puts such reliance is therefore, according to the Government, a vitally important stage in the new planning system. Therefore at a minimum borough councils must have an early part to play in the preparation of the strategic guidance.

The Government have consistently assured us—most recently in the Committee debates in this Chamber—that they are prepared to consider suggestions for maintaining a London-wide dimension within the new planning regime and a London voice on the South-east Regional Planning Conference. In Committee we debated Lord Molson's amendments on these issues and the Government gave a limited undertaking on the points and recognised that some more formal arrangement may be required.

The Minister spoke earlier about his consultation on this issue with the London Boroughs Association and the Association of London Authorities. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, is now in his place, and therefore I ought to repeat what I said earlier. The noble Lord made an intervention on this particular point and compared what the Minister had said with what is proposed in this amendment, which naturally I hope will therefore have the noble Lord's support.

The mechanism proposed in the amendment, within the existing structure of the Bill, will enable the borough councils to make a joint input to the preparation of the advice to be given by the London Planning Commission to the Secretary of State on strategic guidance. The amendment would also require the borough councils to formulate a joint voice for London in respect of regional planning issues.

I commend the amendment to the House for your Lordships' consideration. In view of all that the Minister said when commenting on the amendments upon which we have just recently divided, I feel that this amendment is very much along the lines of everything he said about the boroughs and about strategic guidance. Therefore, I hope that he will accept it and save us the necessity of having another Divison.

Baroness Stedman

My Lords, I should like briefly to support what the noble Baroness has said regarding London and to give notice, in effect, that if the House accepts this amendment for London, then we anticipate coming back at Third Reading with something similar for the metropolitan counties, because it is just as important for there to be co-ordination in the metropolitan counties as it is for there to be co-ordination in London.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, I of course support the spirit of this amendment, because on planning, and in particular strategic planning, there is need for the co-ordination of advice, and on this a strong case, which commended itself to my noble friend the Minister, was made out on old Amendment No. 19 at Committee stage. But this of course involved no executive functions. As I read Amendment No. 12 it is advisory only and involves no executive functions.

One cannot discuss this amendment without going back to the old amendments which, so to speak, are in limbo at the moment. The vice of old Amendment No. 26 at Committee stage lay in the mismatch of the marriage of convenience between the planning functions which involve no executive action and the other functions, the transport functions, which inevitably involve executive action.

I think that my noble friend the Minister has explained already what he has in mind—a body with triplicate functions—but I also share the difficulty of assimilating totally what has been said without having the opportunity to consider it. However, there is some amalgam of Amendments Nos. 19 and 26 which is going to be reflected in this body to which my noble friend the Minister referred, with triplicate functions that he explained.

It would appear that something along the lines of the noble Baroness's Amendment No. 12 is in the pipeline. I therefore would find it difficult, if forced to a Division, formally to support the amendment. On this occasion—though I do not think he is in his place—may I dissociate myself from certain views expressed by my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls on this amendment, which involves no constitutional issue. However, I certainly would prefer not to be forced to divide.

Lord Sandford

My Lords, I should like to support the intention behind this amendment, but to suggest to the House that it is not necessary or desirable to have it in the Bill at this stage. What it seeks to do is what my noble friend on the Front Bench is seeking to do after discussion with me and following consultation with the London boroughs.

I can share with the House, if it is any help, my confidence that those discussions will lead to a result at least as good as this and, if anything, slightly better. It will make it clearer than does this amendment that the new arrangements, made along the lines of my original Amendment No. 19, will be properly related to SERPLAN, and therefore will not only take care of planning within London but, as my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter was stressing, make sure that it covers regional planning in the south-east as well.

This is covered in subsection (1)(b) of this amendment, but it is important to look at the mechanism more closely, and so far as I am aware no consultations with SERPLAN have taken place in the course of drafting this amendment. I would need to be convinced that the arrangements set out here fit.

I think the intention here is sound. It is to be preferred to the London Planning Commission, which would be appointed as envisaged in the White Paper, and which all along I have sought to persuade my noble friends on the Front Bench to reconsider. As I mentioned when we were discussing the earlier amendments, my view is that if we get something right as a result of the discussions going on already, all reference to the appointed London Planning Commission can be dropped. I would not recommend the House to pursue this amendment at this stage.

Lord Elton

My Lords, one would not expect the noble Baroness to come forward with an amendment which I could commend to the House without the consultations to which my noble friend referred with the London Boroughs Association. I recognise that she is pursuing something which is less disagreeable than what she was pursuing earlier this evening. The London Planning Commission provisions of Schedule 1 of the Bill are contained in three paragraphs, of which the noble Baroness's amendment leaves only one intact. That is the one which says: A statutory instrument containing an order under this paragraph shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament". Therefore, this is a complete replacement of what we have in the Bill for the London Planning Commission. It would first turn the London Planning Commission into a borough-based body, and extend its functions to the co-ordination of planning and development in Greater London and to participation in regional planning for the south-east. As envisaged by the noble Baroness, the commission would however no longer have the role of advising the Secretary of State on other matters relating to Greater London's planning and development.

In the first debate today I undertook to bring forward an amendment at Third Reading to provide for a borough-based body. Such a body would not necessarily rule out an appointed and expert London Planning Commission as provided for in Schedule 1, but I am impressed by the arguments which have been brought forward this afternoon against it and we shall consider them closely in deciding the format of the amendment I have undertaken to bring forward at Third Reading.

If there is to be a planning committee made up of borough representatives, there is certainly no case for a London Planning Commission also made up of borough representatives, which would appear to be what the noble Baroness would leave us with. I think your Lordships should note that odd form of duplication. I ought also to point out that it would not be appropriate for the Secretary of State to bear the costs of the commission if its constitution is drawn up in the way proposed in the amendment. It should be paid for as we propose.

I have to conclude that the amendment would add nothing to the provisions we shall be making for planning in London, which will achieve what the noble Baroness is after. If she wishes to divide, I must advise the House most strongly to vote against her, not only because I think that what she has proposed is wrong, but also because it is premature. I think that she would be wise to wait and see what we propose to put down at Third Reading. It is possible even that she would agree with us when she saw it.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, the Minister puts me in an almost impossible position. The discussion on planning started at Second Reading when several noble Lords raised the whole question of planning and strategic planning. At Committee stage we had two further big bites at that cherry. There were amendments moved on an earlier clause and on a later clause of the Bill. They were probing amendments, but they were strongly put at the same time.

We have now reached Report stage and we are still discussing this question. On the earlier amendment the Minister said that he would probably, or possibly, come back with something on Third Reading. I do not think that this is good enough. It is extremely vague. We do not know exactly what is coming forward. Third Reading is late in the day to have to make a decision. The Minister said that I might prefer it, but on the other hand I might not. It is extremely unsatisfactory.

If the Minister could give me an assurance that he is to do something along these lines, I would not quibble about the particular words. It has been difficult because he made two speeches on the other amendment. I am not complaining about that, but I cannot remember all the details of what he said. However, he has referred to the London Boroughs Association, and I certainly gained the impression from that—and I think I am right in saying also from the letter from which he quoted—that the London Boroughs Association was discussing this point, or that the noble Lord had had discussions with it. I should have thought he had gone far enough along that road to be able to give a very strong indication of what he would do on Third Reading, without having to produce an amendment at the moment.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Elton

My Lords, by your Lordships' leave, if nobody else wishes to speak, I thought that I had given a firm undertaking and that your Lordships had voted on that basis on at least one of the three occasions on which we have just gone through the Lobby. I shall be as brief as I can and recapitulate what I said. First, I went over the ground of the development of the discussion in Committee to which the noble Baroness referred. I then said that in Committee I gave an undertaking to consult the London boroughs as to their view on the sort of statutory arrangements my noble friend suggested because I would not wish, as the noble Baroness suggested that the House should now do, to commit your Lordships to a statutory arrangement of this sort without discussing it with the London boroughs.

I have had a meeting and my noble friend, my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Local Government and I have met representatives of the London Boroughs Association, which has written a letter in the terms which I have read out twice. I can read out the essential paragraph a third time. It is fairly precise. It says, in brief, that the proposal suggests that there should be a body representative of each of the London boroughs which could, first, provide concerted borough input and views to the Secretary of State on all matters related to strategic planning of Greater London; secondly, provide by means of representatives serving on SERPLAN a Greater London input to SERPLAN on matters related to strategic planning for the regions; and, thirdly, to allow the London authorities to discuss among themselves any London-wide planning issues or other planning matters of common concern.

Such a body would have modest administrative and professional support, I remind my noble friend Lord Plummer, provided on a lead borough basis and funded, the LBA proposed, by all the boroughs following agreement by an appropriate majority of the boroughs. I referred also to the hostility of the London Boroughs Association to the idea of the continuance of the London Planning Commission, which is something in which my noble friend, powerfully supported from behind me, and I have added to the matters for consideration between now and Third Reading.

Perhaps I confused the noble Baroness by saying that on that issue we have not come to a conclusion. On the first three issues I have undertaken to bring forward amendments to meet those proposals broadly as I have repeated them. I do not use the word "broadly" as a get-out. I merely use it because the language I have used so far is not statutory drafting language, but is the language of correspondence.

On the London Planning Commission I must take the advice of my right honourable colleagues. I can tell your Lordships that I am much impressed by what has been said this afternoon, and I believe that they will be, too. They will add the views of my noble friend and others who have spoken from behind me as well as from across the Floor of the House to the effect that the London Planning Commission might well be superfluous. I should not like the noble Baroness to divide the House on my unwillingness immediately to give her the assurance she wants on this. I should have thought that she could devise a later occasion for that assurance if she wants it.

Apart from that, it seems that nothing divides us except the odd and regrettable incompatibility, in my view, of having both a London Planning Commission, which her amendment puts into the Bill, made up of borough representatives, and the other London planning body being also made up of London borough representatives. It seems to me that they would be talking to themselves rather than to each other. I am happy for the noble Baroness to take the opinion of the House if she wishes. I am clear in my mind that your Lordships should firmly reject what she puts before you. I only wish to deter that because I thought that the noble Baroness, who is wise and cautious, as we all know, might discover that if she stayed her hand she might find on Report that we were genuinely coming forward with something that she would like to have and it would be a pity to have obstructed that at this stage.

Baroness Denington

My Lords, before the Minister sits down will he make it clear whether the new body he is proposing will be a statutory body?

Lord Elton

Yes, my Lords. For the second time, I am happy to repeat that.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I should like to thank the Minister because he is trying to be as helpful as he can. I still cannot help feeling it is a pity that this whole debate did not take place between Committee and Report. This amendment and amendments similar to it have been on the Marshalled List for a long time. I trust I can now accept that the Minister will go away and consult and that something will appear along the lines of what is evidently wanted, not only by this side of the House but all round the House. I hope also that amendments will be published on the Marshalled List in plenty of time for all of us to be able to consider what we want to do about them. That is most important because we cannot have things sprung on us at the last minute, particularly on Third Reading.

Lord Elton

My Lords, with your Lordships' gracious leave, I should say that I am always in favour of early tabling of amendments, and I hope that in future the noble Baroness will follow her own advice, particulary on Thursdays and Fridays.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I do my very best. It is often difficult, as the Minister knows. As he pointed out earlier, he has a bigger staff than I have. In view of that undertaking, which I accept seriously, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 13 not moved.]

Lord Skelmersdale moved Amendment No. 14: Page 93, line 20, leave out ("cease to have effect on that date and").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lord Elton I should like to say that this technical amendment has arisen from our earlier debates. The House will recall that there was some discussion on the context of an amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, on the fate of proposals for alterations to structure plans which will not have been approved by abolition date. I gave firm reassurances that any valuable material from such proposals could be utilised by local planning authorities in preparing their unitary development plans.

Nevertheless, I also gave an undertaking to my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway that I would check whether the expression, "cease to have effect", in paragraph 24(1) of Schedule 1, which deals with such proposals, would prevent their contents being used in this way. I am satisfied that that would not be the case. However, it would appear that on closer examination the phrase, "cease to have effect", is redundant in this case. It does not add any force to the purpose of the sub-paragraph, which is to prevent confusion over the status of such proposals in relation to development control decisions following abolition. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Campbell and to the noble Baroness, and in this spirit I beg to move the amendment.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I am not happy about this amendment. There seems to have been some confusion about this, and this amendment has not solved the problem for me. I cannot speak for the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, but re-reading what took place when this matter was originally debated I should not have thought that this has become clearer for him either. The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, will remember what he said when this arose. It was on a question of structure plans that the amendment arose. I was concerned that these plans would disappear and not be used, unless beforehand they had been agreed to and accepted by the Secretary of State. The feeling among many people was that a great deal of work would go into a waste-bin, that it would be a costly exercise and very unfortunate for planning departments.

When I moved my amendment the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, said, as reported in col. 398 of Hansard of 2nd May: The noble Baroness can rest assured that, although I cannot accept her amendment, this work will not be lost. Where appropriate it will make a worthwhile contribution to getting the new system of unitary development plans off the ground". The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, then went on to say: In view of the assurance given by my noble friend the Minister, and in view of what he has said—that these are not to be consigned to the waste-bin—would he be good enough at some time to have a look at the words 'cease to have effect', which in law seem to render the whole thing null and void, contrary to the assurance that he has given to your Lordships' Committee?" [Official Report, 2/5/85; col. 398.] The trouble is that the "cease to have effect" is a redundant phrase because in the same paragraph further on it makes it quite clear that those words are not necessary because they will not be used anyhow; that it will be disposed of in any case. Therefore taking out those words will not make any difference. It may be that that is a drafting amendment, I agree, but that was not what I was talking about originally; and nor, if I dare venture to say so, as I understood it, was the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway. I do not know if we could have a little further clarification of this?

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, my noble friend the Minister has written to me about this. I have to be perfectly frank with the House; I have not done my homework on this. The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, has brought back total recall of what happened. I agree with the noble Baroness. It is not just a question of a drafting amendment. It is a question as to how that assurance given by my noble friend the Minister stands in the light of the revised drafting which avoids a form of otiose redundancy. I am sure that the assurances given will be repeated, but I should also welcome clarification on this.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, reminded us that the worry of the Committee on 2nd May was that all the good work on structure plans should not be consigned to the dustbin. The approved structure plan will remain in force until a unitary development plan becomes operative and it is to that that the local planning authorities should continue to look in making such decisions, rather than proposals which are without statutory status. This amendment therefore, deleting the offending words, proposes that for the avoidance of doubt the phrase should be deleted. I should like again to assure the House that those advising the Secretary of State on his strategic guidance and the local planning authorities in drawing up their unitary development plans will be expected to take on board whatever is of value in those proposals. I hope that this amendment will serve to make it quite clear that there is no barrier in this legislation to prevent them from so doing.

To sum up, the work of these proposals will be preserved and used in the preparation of unitary development plans, and my only intention—and that of my noble friend—in putting down this amendment, and of myself in speaking to it, was to make that absolutely clear. I hope in the circumstances that the amendment can be accepted.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I must ask him something. I have found my place in the schedule. All this does is to take out, shall cease to have effect on that date", but following that there is left in, and be treated as having been withdrawn by that council". It therefore does not make that any more satisfactory at all. It is a belt and braces job; the noble Lord has taken off the braces now but the belt is still there. It will not therefore make any difference at all. It is as it was before. When the noble Lord said that these considerations will be taken into account, that is research. It is not what the amendment itself asks for, which was to be able to use the structure plans and to be able to make use of them instead of their just going into the waste paper basket.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, if I may have the leave of the House very briefly, I do not think, with respect to the noble Baroness, that that is the interpretation. One starts with the assurance of the Minister. We can accept the assurance of the Minister; it has been given on two occasions. One then sees how the clause as it is amended affects it. Now treating it as having been withdrawn by the council—that affects the process of withdrawal—it in no way counters the effect of the assurance given by the Minister which happened at an earlier stage. If there be any doubt about it no doubt it could be taken back, but, as I see it, truly there is no problem here.

Baroness Stedman

My Lords, could the noble Lord say what happens to the unapproved structure plan alterations? A lot of work has gone into those and they have not all yet been approved by the Minister. Will the work done on that also be taken into consideration as with the structure plans proper?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, again with the leave of the House, with the deletion which I am proposing in this amendment, paragraph 24 of Schedule 1 reads: Any proposals for the alteration, or for the repeal and replacement of a structure plan which have been prepared by the Greater London Council or a metropolitan county council before the abolition date but have not been approved by the Secretary of State shall be treated as having been withdrawn by that council", These words, as they currently are in paragraph 24(1) of Schedule 1, follow exactly, so I am advised, the 1971 Act in relation to structure plans to prevent development control decisions using unapproved plans. In other words, what we are doing is bringing the proposed legislation in this Bill into exactly the same format as existing statute. Therefore I do not see that the House can be particularly worried by this.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Skelmersdale moved Amendment No. 15: Page 93, line 36, at end insert— ("(4) In the case of any such local plan or proposals as are mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) above the grounds on which the Secretary of State may give such a direction as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (3) above shall include the ground that he considers it desirable that the plan or proposals should, instead of being treated as abandoned, be dealt with by him in accordance with sub-paragraph (3) above.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 15. The House will be familiar with the purpose of this amendment, which is essentially a technical one. I referred to it on 2nd May during the debate which we had on the proposals for both structure and local plans which have not been approved or adopted by abolition date. This amendment concerns local plan proposals only.

As the House will already know we have been most careful in drafting Schedule 1 to ensure as smooth a transition as possible from the old to the new system with the minimum loss of existing plan work. In the case of local plans, these are to be incorporated in the unitary development plans. It has been our intention throughout to ensure that any valuable local plan work which should be used in this way is not lost by default. Paragraph 24(2) therefore states that such proposals if prepared by the GLC or an MCC will be lost unless the Secretary of State has called them in prior to abolition date. It became clear to me on 2nd May that this provision is not as clear as it might be particularly in relation to the grounds on which such a proposal might be called in. This amendment therefore provides a new sub-paragraph in paragraph 24 specifying that a call-in can be made for the purpose of saving proposals from being abandoned.

I am sure that it is the wish of the House that this amendment be accepted. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 16 and 17 not moved.]

Clause 8 [Strategic highway functions in metropolitan counties]:

Lord Kaberry of Adel moved Amendment No. 18: Page 5, line 34, leave out ("Principal") and insert ("classified").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 18 and with it I hope I may be allowed to discuss Amendments Nos. 18B, 19, 19A, 20, 21, 22 and 22A.

Amendment No. 18B: Page 5, line 36, leave out from second ("the") to ("of') in line 37 and insert ("purposes").

Amendment No. 19: Page 5, line 38, leave out ("principal") and insert ("classified").

Amendment No. 19A: Page 5, line 39, at end insert— ("and also in relation to the control management, development and extension of any system of traffic control for roads within the county;").

Amendment No. 20: Page 5, line 41, leave out ("non Principal") and insert ("non classified").

Amendment No. 21: Page 5, line 44, leave out ("non Principal") and insert ("non classified").

Amendment No. 22: Page 6, line 1, leave out ("principal") and insert ("classified").

Amendment No. 22A: Page 6, line 12, at end insert—

("(2) The Secretary of State shall by order taking effect on the abolition date make provision for transferring the following functions relating to highways and road traffic from the metropolitan county councils to the metropolitan district councils to the extent and in the manner that such order shall provide—

  1. (a) the functions of the highway authority under the Highways Act 1980 in relation to non-classified roads;
  2. (b) subject to subsection (1)(c) above the functions of the county councils and the highways authorities for the purpose of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 in relation to non-classified roads within the metropolitan districts.

(3) The authorities established by section 28 of this Act may enter into arrangements with all or any of the metropolitan districts within its area for the discharge of such of the functions contained in subsections (1) and (2) above as may be agreed between the authorities.").

These amendments all relate to similar points, three in number, which I hope will help to clarify definitions used in Clause 8 and to avoid any doubts in the future.

This section was introduced in Committee and gives power to the authority to be established under Clause 28 of the Bill in relation to highway control. The clause as at present printed refers to a definition of the roads coming within the new authority as being "principal roads". I think that term is too limited; it may be strictly inaccurate, and certainly it is insufficient. The Highways Act 1980 contains a definition of roads, and Sections 12 and 13 specifically deal with those definitions. Incidentally, the definitions grew up over a number of years, linked with the variety of Government grants which could be made for differing types of highways. Section 12 of the Highways Act 1980 said, broadly speaking, that all roads are classified by the Minister. They may be classified as "principal" or merely classified in the categories that most of us know as A, B or C roads.

Section 12(3) clearly states that the Minister, for the purposes of classification, can refer to classified roads which are referred to in that Act or in any other enactment or instrument, whether passed before or after that Act. That clearly will refer to this Bill, when it becomes an Act. The Minister can also classify highways or proposed highways— in such manner as he may from time to time determine after consultation with the highway authorities concerned". A later section contains provisions for him to revise his opinion after consultation.

However, a principal road is of a more limited character than "classified". If I may give an example taken from my own West Yorkshire County Council, there are in all some 4,000 miles of roads, and of those 1,100 miles are classified A, B or C by the Minister. Of those 1,100 miles, 500 are currently described as principal roads. What is clear is that a principal road is a classified road but a classified road is not necessarily a principal road. We know from the Highways Act that the Minister has power to alter his classification from time to time as circumstances change. These amendments are intended to clarify the fact that the transport and highway authority to be established under Clause 28 of this Bill will have control of all classified roads. Amendment No. 22A, which I hope to move later, will show that non-classified roads will go to metropolitan district councils.

Amendment No. 18B seeks to put right a limitation on that clause, being related only to Section 1 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The effect of the amendment is that the clause relates to the whole of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, and whatever provisions in that Act may apply or may be necessary for the future will be available to the new authority.

There is one further clarification point which applies to the powers of the authority, and Amendment No. 19A refers to that. I ought to point out that there is a misprint in that amendment as printed in the Marshalled List, because the last word of it should read "county" and not "country". There is a question as to whether or not the authority would have power, as the clause is now drawn, it having been given management of road traffic. It could be argued that that includes the control of the county urban traffic control system. However, I put that amendment down, and I hope to move it, in order to clarify the matter beyond any doubt and to seek to define such a system, with its support services, for the new authority to have full power of control over that urban traffic control system.

I sought in Committee to define what an urban traffic control system was, but, alas!, that fell when this particular clause was carried. Therefore, I now seek to define such a system with its support services, and to put it beyond any doubt. It would make it clear that the traffic and highway authority under Clause 28 will have power (and here I quote the amendment) also in relation to the control management, development and extension of any system of traffic control for roads within the county".

Currently, it is worth placing on record that an urban system of traffic control today covers a wide variety of duties, all collated with a very skilled and expert team. It covers transport, planning, modelling, data collection, accident investigation, analysis of associated traffic management, highway and civil engineering design and construction computing. I do not think it is necessary for me at this stage of the Bill to elaborate on the skill and design work put in by those who manage the urban traffic control system. It is sufficient, I hope, for me to remind this noble House that when we talk about urban traffic control we are dealing not only with cars, trucks, lorries and passenger vehicles, but with the lives of the people in those vehicles and, more especially, the people in or near all highways.

These amendments are put forward in a construc-tive sense, and they are intended to improve a clause which your Lordships decided to adopt during the Committee stage. If these amendments are accepted, they will make that clause abundantly clear so that there is no doubt about what is meant. I beg to move.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I have very little to add to what the noble Lord, Lord Kaberry of Adel, has said in his immaculate introduction of these amendments, save only this. This is a natural corollary to the statements that were made by the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, at Committee stage. Unfortunately, he is still out of the country and unable to add his name to these amendments. However, I feel certain he would have done so had he been here, because at the Committee stage he criticised his own amendment which, if your Lordships remember, was moved on behalf of the Select Committee, and he said then that he did not believe it was sensible to separate major roads from minor roads. He said that the traffic light system of any urban traffic control inevitably involves all roads, and he did not believe that one could separate those two classes under a strategic highway authority.

The noble Lord, Lord Kaberry, has indicated what is meant by "principal", "classified" and "non-classified" roads. It is interesting to note, perhaps, that while we are extending the mileage of roads covered by the original amendment from some 10 per cent. to some 20 per cent. only—in other words, there will still be 80 per cent. of the roads in these urban areas which are non-classified—nevertheless in so doing we have now subsumed 97 per cent. of all the traffic signals in those areas.

The noble Lord, Lord Kaberry, referred to the importance of urban traffic control systems. Certainly your Lordships' Select Committee were much intrigued by them, particularly when we went to Leeds and the whole of your Lordships' Select Committee were moved from Brotherton House to the railway station during the rush-hour in what seemed to be a matter of seconds. One had a feeling that someone was actually watching what was going on. No doubt it was the excellent people in the urban traffic control. Of course, the train broke down at Doncaster and we were delayed for an hour-and-a-half, but that was not the fault of the urban traffic control.

That was a good example to us of what can be done, quite apart from the remarkable demonstrations that we saw on that occasion of the way in which Leeds had been able to save vast amounts of money by using these teams together. What is important is that urban traffic control must be seen as a piece. I believe these amendments improve the original amendment, which your Lordships have agreed to, without in fact taking the principle of the matter away from what your Lordships decided.

It is additionally envisaged in subsection (3) of Amendment No. 22A to provide greater flexibility. I think in that sense the Secretary of State is not deprived of his necessary authority to make modifications as and when they are genuinely necessary. So I hope that the Government will accept that these amendments are, as the noble Lord, Lord Kaberry, said, put forward in a spirit of trying positively to improve the situation and I hope, too, that they will be accepted.

7 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Kaberry has made several interesting points in support of Amendments Nos. 18, 18B, 19, 19A, 20, 21, 22 and 22A, and has drawn on his considerable experience in West Yorkshire. He expressed similar concern in Committee when he proposed that responsibility for the highways and traffic functions on the most important of the metropolitan county council roads should be given to the police authority. We heard several noble Lords express concern about good management in regard to these main roads, known technically as principal roads, and your Lordships added what is now Clause 8 to the Bill, against the advice of the Government, as a possible way forward.

The present group of amendments which we are discussing go a considerable step further, however, in preserving the metropolitan county council structure. Amendments Nos. 18, 19 and 22 would substitute the word "classified" for the word "principal" in Clause 8. In doing so they would strip away from the metropolitan district councils the proposed responsibilities for all but very minor roads and side streets which Amendment No. 22A seeks to transfer by order to the districts. The effect would be that the metropolitan county PTAs would be responsible for not just the main strategic routes in the country, which some have argued are of country-wide interest, but also every A road not in the trunk road network, every B road, and every traffic measure on them—even a few yards of yellow lines—leaving the metropolitan districts, the size of, say, the city of Leeds, in which I know my noble friend is most interested, with a very minor and unrewarding task.

My noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes, who, I am sorry to see, is not in her place, referred, on the earlier amendment, to difficulties in London about the siting of, for instance, pedestrian crossings. By contrast, the county-level authority would retain virtually everything of value. My noble friend explained earlier that we wished to take a view on Clause 8 once we had seen the overall outcome of your Lordships' consideration of the Bill. I recognise the concern expressed by the noble Lord, but I have to say that these amendments go further than Clause 8 and in a direction which is wholly contrary to the spirit of the Bill. Moreover, whatever the final decision on the destination of the functions, we should prefer to see that set out in detail on the face of the Bill, as Schedules 4 and 5 now do. In any event, I know that many noble Lords wish to discuss the details of those provisions which this order-making power seeks to replace. For these reasons, I urge noble Lords not to accept those amendments.

Turning to Amendment No. 18B, again this seeks to remedy the same technical deficiency in Clause 8(b). The effect of the amendment is to widen the joint transport authority's traffic powers, so that they embrace all the functions of the local authority under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, not just the functions under Section 1 of the Act. Although Amendment No. 18B goes some way to remedying this particular defect, Clause 8(b) would still be defective, because some traffic powers under the 1984 Act are conferred on the highway authority rather than on the local authority; for example, powers in respect of traffic lights and powers to make temporary traffic orders. Amendment No. 18B, I also submit, should therefore be resisted.

Turning to Amendment No. 19A, this also appears designed to remedy a deficiency in Clause 8. It does, however, go further in providing for the joint authorities to assume responsibility for urban traffic control systems on all roads in their areas, not just those parts of the system on principal roads, which would have been the effect otherwise. I have to make it plain that the Government cannot accept any further imposition on the functions of the passenger transport authority. We have already made full provision for urban traffic control to be run by the districts. They will be best placed to determine what they need, and I believe it would be wholly wrong to remove this function from them. To provide for the transfer of all metropolitan county urban traffic control systems to a joint authority is, I submit, a far less flexible approach than the one we envisage, which will allow arrangements to be made by the local authorities in keeping with their local circumstances.

I am fully conscious of the importance of these urban traffic control systems, but we believe that the best means is by voluntary co-operation between the authorities concerned, and the whole purpose of this Bill is to provide for the devolution of the functions to these local authorities. I hope I have given a sufficient explanation to my noble friend.

Lord Kaberry of Adel

My Lords, before the noble Lord the Minister sits down, will he tell the House how he envisages some voluntary joint control of the metropolitan district councils? In regard to any metropolitan counties now in existence, in terms of a voluntary basis who is to pay, how is it to be controlled and who is to be the presiding authority over the system? Surely that has been thought out.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the metropolitan district councils co-operate with one another on the basis of perhaps a lead district taking control of the urban traffic control system, and those districts concerned with that urban traffic control system would apportion the cost among themselves and the lead district. I think that would be the solution.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, by leave of the House and before the noble Lord sits down, surely we are approaching this matter in a very curious way. It was my belief that your Lordships had made up your minds at Committee stage that you were not going down the route which the noble Lord is now describing. The Government may wish at a later stage to overturn that decision of your Lordships, but surely we are now in a situation where that is the position in regard to the Bill. The voluntary coming together of districts on this matter is no longer on the cards for this particular function. Therefore we have to look at the Bill as it is.

The amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Kaberry, to which I have willingly put my name, as has my noble friend Lady Stedman, are an elucidation of the principle which is now enshrined in the Bill following the amendment that your Lordships passed at the Committee stage. I am sorry that the noble Lords, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, and others who, each afternoon until the evening shift arrives lecture us on the subject of the constitution, are not in their place, since they would, doubtless, wish to correct me, but—if I dare say so—it is surely constitutionally improper for the Government to behave as though the Bill now is as it was when first brought before your Lordships.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, with the leave of the House, again, for a third time, all I have said, I think, is that my noble friend Lord Elton earlier explained that we wished to take a view on Clause 8 once we had seen the overall outcome of your Lordships' consideration of the Bill. I therefore do not think it is entirely unreasonable for me, on my part, to attempt to resist a suggestion in the form of an amendment which I believe can be better handled by voluntary co-operation, and I do not think that noble Lords should set aside this opportunity for voluntary co-operation.

Lord Kaberry of Adel

My Lords, the Minister has said quite a lot and I should like to read the report of it in the greatest detail tomorrow, because I think he missed the bus on one or two points. But I do not want to lose this opportunity of reserving the chance of bringing the matter forward at a later stage. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 18A: Page 5, line 36, leave out from ("a") to ("principal") in line 38 and insert ("county council and a highway authority for the purpose of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 in relation to").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall be very brief. Perhaps I may preface my remarks by saying that I agree so much with the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, that it is quite wrong of us to anticipate what the decision of the other place may be. We must deal with the fact that earlier in the Committee stage Amendments Nos. 58C and 58D were accepted. That is how the Bill stands and I think we are going to be incredibly frankled up, if that is the correct term—certainly "frankled" is a good Scots word—if we do not accept that.

Amendments Nos. 18A and 18B transfer all the traffic powers contained in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 in relation to principal roads to the authorities established under Clause 28 of this Bill. This overcomes the anomaly in the Bill as presently constituted, which was identified by the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, during the Committee stage, whereby responsibility for traffic and parking meters on principal roads is split between different authorities. The amendment eliminates any ambiguity or overlap of responsibility in relation to the traffic function and particularly in relation to principal roads.

On the question of co-operation, I wonder how we avoid the difficulty that I have been hearing about that, for instance, Westminster City Council are talking in terms of having a one-way bus lane contrafiow—I do not know how far it has got—in Charing Cross Road against the traffic, the same as there is at Piccadilly, except that there will be no barrier between the other traffic and the buses. This throws an enormous strain on the surrounding streets where people will be using rat-runs to get away from this difficulty, and unless there is some co-ordinating authority it is hard to see how such a scheme can work. Therefore I believe that Amendment No. 18A would be of considerable help as the Bill stands at present and, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, something such as Amendment No. 18A is necessary. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am not in a position this evening to answer the noble Lord about the proposed contraflow system in Westminster. However, I recognise that this amendment appears to make a technical improvement to the provisions of Clause 8 as passed by your Lordships in Committee. Although I am willing to accept without commitment this amendment to Clause 8, I cannot advise your Lordships to extend Clause 8, which this amendment does not do. Amendment No. 18A seeks to remedy the technical deficiency in the description of the traffic powers to be transferred to the joint transport authorities under Clause 8(b). The amendment redefines the functions in terms of those of a "county council and a highway authority" under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. For example, power to install traffic lights or to make temporary traffic orders rests with the highway authority. I am content, therefore, to accept Amendment No. 18A without prejudice to the Government's view on Clause 8 as a whole.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 18B, 19, 19A, 20, 21, 22 and 22A not moved.]

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, I think that this is an appropriate moment to break for the next business. I therefore beg to move that further consideration on Report be adjourned. We shall not return to this business before a quarter past eight.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.