HL Deb 17 June 1985 vol 465 cc34-70

4.48 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 80AC: Page 26, line 29, leave out paragraph (c).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House to discuss Amendment No. 80AF at the same time. Amendment No. 80AF: Page 26, line 40, after ("functions") insert ("except passenger transport functions").

The purpose of the amendments is to prevent the break-up of the joint transport authorities by excluding passenger transport functions from the provisions of Clause 42. In the White Paper, Streamlining the Cities, the Government, in referring to the current trend of PTEs to break up their operations into smaller accountable units, stated that, these are unlikely to coincide with district boundaries A group of international consultants—Booz, Allen and Hamilton—examined the possible break-up of West Yorkshire PTE and found that a rationalisation of facilities such as those for servicing and garaging has slowly taken place since the setting up of the West Yorkshire PTE. The rationalisation was an intelligent thing to do, and anyone operating or examining a service would agree with that, but it has produced a situation whereby if districts opted out of the PTE E and tried to operate their own services some would be without adequate facilities and others would be over-provided. They concluded that the inevitable result would be a substantial increase in overall costs.

That confirms the White Paper statement that the organisation of passenger transport services does not necessarily, or even very frequently, coincide with district boundaries. That is inevitable because transport patterns pay little respect to boundaries. They tend to be rather complex. For example, 25 per cent. of employed people work outside the district where they live. Again, I refer to the West Yorkshire area. Public transport must recognise this, and appropriate structures have grown up over the years to accommodate the needs of the community. That is why the first PTEs were established in 1968 and why metropolitan counties were made passenger transport authorities in 1974.

Since then each of the six metropolitan counties has made great progress in co-ordinating bus and rail services, fares, ticketing arrangements and concessionary travel across the whole of its area, much to the benefit of passengers. For instance, Tyne and Wear Metro operates in every single district of the county, supported throughout by properly integrated bus services. Old and disabled people can travel the length and breadth of their counties under a single concessionary scheme. Prepaid, county-wide, all-mode tickets of various kinds have improved patronage and encouraged interchange between bus and rail to the benefit of both—for example, Merseyside's zone and "saveway" tickets.

That would be very complicated and bureaucratic, if not impossible, if some areas dropped out and different arrangements had to be made on crossing a district boundary. It would be a chequerboard pattern, with those in and those out, and so on. It would be extremely complicated. Breaking up the joint boards would increase costs and would not bring about more effective services. It would also adversely affect the areas that wish to stay inside the system. I say that on the basis of your Lordships having accepted Amendment No. 58D in a much earlier debate. I think that that would be detrimental generally to public transport in the counties and in the PTEs. The clause should not be amended in the way previously suggested, and I beg to move this amendment.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I shall now endeavour to salvage those elements of my last speech which applied only to transport and which were snatched from my lips by the untimely decision of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, to speak only on the police and marginally on the fire and civil defence services aspects. I am well served and I think that I have something coherent to say.

As far as public transport is concerned, we made it clear in the original White Paper, Streamlining the Cities, that we would be prepared to consider on their merits any proposals which a metropolitan district council wished to put forward—proposals, that is, for taking over some or all of the responsibilities which the passenger transport authority would have for the provision of public transport services in the metropolitan area.

Paragraphs (c) and (d) of subsection (1) of Clause 42 fulfil that commitment. Paragraph (c) would make it possible for an order made by the Secretary of State to remove a metropolitan district entirely from what is now the strategic transport authority. Indeed that power could be used to dissolve a strategic transport authority if, but only if, that was what the constituent district council wished to see. Paragraph (d) provides greater flexibility. The PTE is responsible for the actual running of the public transport services under the policy direction of the joint board. The paragraph makes it possible for my right honourable friend to transfer some but not all of the powers of the STA or the PTE to an individual district.

Before he made any decision on an application for secession under those provisions he would of course need to be convinced that the proposed change was in the best interests of transport services for the area in question. As was made quite clear in Streamlining the Cities, he would also need to be satisfied about the relationship between the district and the joint board as regards facilities such as rail services, or indeed the Tyne and Wear Metro, which benefited the metropolitan area as a whole. The provisions in the Bill therefore allow the greatest possible degree of flexibility in arrangements for future public transport provision. That would be particularly necessary if the new joint board were to retain the wider strategic functions which it at present possesses under the terms of amendments passed in your Lordships' House.

Decisions as to future transport provision would of course depend on the nature of any proposals put forward by individual district councils as well as on the circumstances of each particular case. It may well be, for example, that a district would wish to take over responsibility for its own bus services. If that was its wish, and if my right honourable friend found that acceptable, that provision would of course be subject to the provisions of the Transport Bill, which has now achieved its Second Reading in your Lordships' House. That would mean that the bus operation would be formed into a separate company owned by the metropolitan district council. It would run bus services on a commercial basis and would also bid, along with other bus operators, for contracts for subsidies offered by the district council.

As to timing, I am not sure whether the noble Lord adverted to the subject of concessionary fares.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

Yes, my Lords.

Lord Elton

My Lords, in that case, if it was agreed that a district council should take over responsibility for the support of its own bus services in the way I have just described, the Government believe that it would also be right for it to take over responsibility for its own decisions on concessionary fares. We can see no grounds for denying a metropolitan district which has those responsibilities the same powers to take its own decisions and exercise its own judgment and priorities as would be enjoyed by any other local authority.

As to timing, my right honourable friend does not believe that it would be practicable for secession to take effect immediately on abolition day. It would not even be possible for it to come into force before the beginning of the next financial year on 1st April 1987. But my right honourable friend would be prepared to consider any proposals which any district council wished to put forward as expeditiously as possible, and would urge any council which wished to put forward such proposals to do so as soon as possible.

The Government have from first to last made it clear that they would be prepared to consider proposals from districts which want to take over some or all of the relevant public transport functions. That is not something which we have put into the Bill as an afterthought. This provision therefore fulfils a clear commitment.

We have also made it clear that before accepting any such proposals Ministers would want to be fully satisfied that they were in the best interests of transport provision in the district in question and would not be to the disadvantage of other districts in the metropolitan area. Their interests therefore would be protected. I must ask your Lordships not to be persuaded by the noble Lord's cogent but I think unsuccessful arguments.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, it was an interesting reply. The noble Lord kept making the point that the Secretary of State had to be fully satisfied. He said that more than once. He said that the proposals had to make transport sense, though that was not his actual phrase. He said that particular metropolitan districts could be drawn out and it would still make sense, but I think that that is most unlikely. If the Secretary of State is reasonable—and another Minister may be in the position by that time—when a district asks for permission and he considers whether it will make transport sense, he surely cannot be fully satisfied. The noble Lord said that the Secretary of State would need to be fully satisfied, and I hope that that will be remembered when the time comes that a metropolitan district asks to secede. However, I do not propose to take the matter further at this point.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 80AD to 80AK not moved.]

5 p.m.

Lord John-Mackie moved Amendment No. 80AL: Before Clause 43, insert the following new clause:

("Open spaces and London Recreation Authority.

. —(1) On the appointed day there shall be established for Greater London a body corporate to be known as the London Open Spaces and Recreation Authority, in this section referred to as "the Authority".

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

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

(4) The Secretary of State shall by order taking effect on the abolition date make provision for vesting in the Authority the lands, property and functions to which this section applies.

(5) This section applies to—

  1. (a) the parks, open spaces and sport facilities owned immediately before the abolition date by the Greater London Council which are situated in more than one London borough or outside Greater London or which in the opinion of the Secretary of State are for the benefit of an area of Greater London greater than the London borough in or near which are situated or which require the resources of a London-wide authority for their future development;
  2. (b) the functions of the Greater London Council with regard to the management of those parks, open spaces and sports facilities including powers to provide public events and entertainments therein;
  3. (c) any interest in land held by the Greater London Council immediately before the abolition date under the Green Belt Act 1938;
  4. (d) the functions of the Greater London Council under the Green Belt Act 1938; and
  5. (e) any sports facilities not otherwise transferred by this section which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, could with advantage be vested in the Authority.

(6) The Authority shall be a joint authority within the meaning of Part IV of this Act and the provisions of that part shall apply to this section as if this section were included in that Part.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, since I have been a Member of this House, this is the second time I have been landed with a job that I was not prepared to take on. The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, is not carrying out his duties as efficiently as he should! My task on this particular amendment was to deal with the question of agricultural land. That has been mentioned only very briefly by my noble friend Lord Melchett, I think at Second Reading. However, I consider it an important item in the layout of the various duties of the GLC.

Before I speak about that, I can certainly say a little about the main gist of this amendment, which of course is to try to co-ordinate all the ramifications of what the GLC does for the people of London where it has control in the green belt. There is no doubt that there is to be fragmentation of all these various jobs, and farms, recreational grounds and so on are to be broken up between numerous local authorities and counties. The Countryside Commission is extremely worried about this. If I may, I should like to quote what it says on the subject: For many people in Greater London and the other metropolitan areas the countryside on their doorstep is a very valuable and much appreciated asset, as recent public opinion surveys have shown. As the statutory body responsible for the conservation of the countryside, access to it and recreational opportunities within it, the Countryside Commission is concerned that legislation should not damage the very considerable advances made in recent years"— and I emphasise that to noble Lords. The Commission has not adopted a position for or against the more controversial provisions of the Bill. It merely wishes to ensure that the roles and resources proposed provide for at least as effective management of the countryside in and around the major conurbations as before. Sadly, because this is not a matter of contention between the parties, there is real danger of the issue being overlooked. The Commission set out detailed views on the Government's White Paper Streamling the Cities in October 1984 and a copy is attached. It is recognised that the issue is as much one of providing a co-ordinating role"— I repeat, "co-ordinating role"— as of providing additional resources, and it may well be that this can be on a temporary and transitionary basis. What is certain is that explicit government action will be required if the momentum is not to be lost".

That was written by the statutory body responsible, as it said, for the conservation of the countryside. I think its opinion should be given consideration. I am quite certain that other noble Lords will go into the details of all the various ramifications that are at issue. I must emphasise that of course the Countryside Commission is interested not only in the green belt around London but in all the areas concerned in the metropolitan counties as well. I now see the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, in his place. He will deal more adequately than I have done with some of the major issues.

I wish to speak on the farming estate belonging to the GLC. This estate extends to nearly 13,000 acres, of which just under 10,000 acres are let farms. There are just over 100 farms in the accepted sense of the word, and there are just under 100 statutory smallholdings. The farms vary in size from about 90 acres up tc the biggest one of 600 acres. The horticultural holdings go all the way from one acre upwards to about 50 acres.

I have no interest in that way now, but I was a tenant of the GLC from 1967 to 1979. I found it a particularly good landlord. I just want to illustrate how good it was, because I think it is an essential part of my argument that it has been a very good landlord. I should like to speak of a situation that arose in relation to the farm that I tenanted. The farm was in two parts, about 400 acres and 100 acres. The main reason for that was because there were only two cottages on the main farm and the other farm had one house on it. That augmented the stock of houses for labour in that area, which of course is very difficult to obtain unless one has a house. The GLC came to me because a farmer had to leave his farm near Heathrow Airport because of the expansion of the airport. We came to an agreement whereby I gave up my 100-acre farm to this farmer and the GLC provided me with a house on the other farm to replace it. That kind of arrangement can only be made when there are good landlords and tenants willing to co-operate.

The other thing the GLC does is to operate the farming ladder. Where it is appropriate, smallholders are given a chance to step into bigger farms on this estate. Last year, two smallholders stepped up into farms on the estate. I have heard it said that, on the whole smallholdings do not provide this ladder. I think it is because they are separate from any other estate. In this case, they are part of an estate with farms, and the farming ladder therefore operates there.

The amenities side of the estate is well maintained. Since the dreadful loss, about which we all know, of over 7,000 elms, a major tree planting programme has been taking place. The council runs a farm, Park Lodge Farm near Harefield, as an educational centre, providing facilities for Londoners, especially children, to gain a greater understanding of the working of the countryside in all its aspects—farming, amenities, recreation, and so on. Many thousands have taken advantage of this. The project received an RICS award in 1983. I have the submission here. It is a very good one indeed. It is great credit to the GLC and the estate management section of it that it carried that out.

The GLC has also a contributory interest in 20,000 other acres in the green belt. It carries out very close surveillance on this to protect these areas from undesirable development. All this is managed by a team of certified land agents. The chief land agent, who I know well, has been there for over 20 years and has gained a tremendous knowledge of all the farms and the area. I should hate to think that that knowledge will be lost.

What will happen to all this if the Government take their way? (I suppose one should say "have their way", but this present Government, with their huge majority, can of course just take their way). Leaving aside the recreational and contributory lands, more than half the farming estate will go to the boroughs. Not one of these boroughs has a qualified land agent or any other agent with any experience of agricultural estates. The rest will be fragmented between the counties, which of course have land agents but which are receiving only less than half of it. Thus a 10,000-acre estate, a going concern, well managed, is to be handed over piecemeal to 12 different authorities. No wonder the NFU is concerned about some of its members! Nothing is more upsetting than a change of landlord. I have had it happen to me. It upsets tenants no end.

There is also little wonder that there is a heading in the Farmers Weekly, which I have here, which says: GLC's demise may bring chaos for farm tenants". They use the word "may": I use the word "will" bring chaos to farm tenants. The Government pay lip-service (I see the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, in his place: he has paid lip-service, but I hope it is not only lip-service in his case) to the need for a tenanted section in agricultural occupation. We had the Agricultural Holdings Bill a couple of years ago. This was to bring a stream of tenancies on to the market to compensate farmers for losing their three-generation security of tenure given to them by the Labour Government. No stream of tenancies has appeared. In fact, I think the opposite has happened: more and more farms that had been tenanted have been sold. One of the best farms in Scotland was sold this year when some of the estate land became vacant. When the NFU looks down the garden path it was led up, it must have great regrets over what it did.

The Government also give lip service to the farming ladder. Here is an estate with a complete ladder, one acre to 600 acres. Why break that up? There are 16 smallholdings, very small ones, of about two to three acres each, that will go to Surrey but only one farm of just over 100 acres. The borough of Enfield is getting 2,500 acres—to be exact, 2,439 acres—consisting of farms but no smallholdings. What chance has the efficient smallholder in Surrey of being considered for a farm in Enfield? This is the point that I wish to make. The estate is broken up. The smallholdings go to a county whose stock of smallholdings is increased. Those fellows on an estate at the moment—two of them, as I say, stepped up last year—have no chance.

What is to stop the counties or the boroughs selling off land? They have been doing so already. I hope that the Government have been warned as a result of what happened in Somerset when this was an issue at the local elections. With all due respect to the borough of Enfield, and I represented a large part of it for 16 years—

Lord Graham of Edmonton

And very well too, my Lords.

Lord John-Mackie

My Lords, thank you. Who, on its staff, knows about agricultural estate management? It is ridiculous to hand over 2,500 acres with no arrangements for their management. I could go on pointing out the chaos, as Farmers Weekly puts it, resulting from the break-up of the estate. Who will run Park Lodge Farm? It had 10,000 visitors over last weekend. Which borough will get this demonstration farm and run it for the whole of London? Will it be Harrow, Hillingdon or Ealing? It will not happen. It is ridiculous. If the Government really believe in a tenanted sector and the farming ladder, this estate must not be broken up. I plead with the noble Lord to accept the amendment, which would keep together the estate and all the other things that the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, I am sure, will now put before the House. I beg to move.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, I must apologise to your Lordships for not being in my place when the amendment was called. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, for moving it. At the Committee stage, I moved an amendment to set up a London regional parks authority. It received some encouraging support although it did not quite carry a majority of your Lordships. This amendment is, I believe, an improvement. It covers not only the parks but also the green belt that was previously included in a more ambitious amendment, featuring arts and recreation, which your Lordships did not accept. There is a natural and logical connection between the parks and the green belt. Both serve recreational and environmental purposes and share common services. I hope therefore that the new version will appeal to your Lordships.

I do not want to repeat what was said at Committee stage, but I should remind the House of the GLC's holdings. First, the parks. There are 43, totalling 5,500 acres containing many sports facilities including 230 football pitches, most of which serve wide areas of London larger than a single borough. Indeed, many parks cross borough boundaries, including Hampstead Heath, Golders Hill, Blackheath, Abbey Wood, Crystal Palace, Hainault Forest, Hackney Marshes and Wormwood Scrubs. The GLC's green belt holdings, to which the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie has already referred, consist of 12,500 acres which it owns outright and a further 21,000 acres in which it has a contributory interest. Of the 12,500 acres owned outright, 8,000 acres are working farms and about 1,100 acres are smallholdings. The remaining 2,000 acres are country parks such as Trent Park, Hounslow Heath and Hainault Forest.

5.15 p.m.

I want to turn to the reasons for keeping the GLC's parks and green belt lands under one authority instead of splitting them up among the boroughs and the county councils. I shall deal first with the parks. The GLC parks are different from those currently run by the boroughs. The borough parks are primarily of local significance, whereas the GLC parks serve wider areas of London and indeed, in some cases—for example, Hampstead Heath and Hackney Marshes—they serve the whole of the metropolis. When the GLC was formed, the 1963 London Government Act required that there should be a review of the parks that t he GLC had inherited and only those that served an area substantially larger than a single borough were to be retained. This was done, and a number of small parks passed to the boroughs. This happened, I believe, while the noble Lord, Lord Plummer, was leader of the GLC.

As recently as 1978, Lord Marshall's inquiry into the GLC concluded that the present division of the parks between the GLC and the boroughs was correct. That was back in 1978. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, will take note of these points. His comment during the Committee stage that the boroughs already have 20,000 acres of parks in comparison with the GLC's 5,500 acres misses the rather important point that the GLC's parks are of a different character from the borough parks, as recognised by the 1963 Act and by the Marshall inquiry.

Administrative efficiency and economies of scale are obvious reasons for keeping the GLC parks together. But there is another telling reason. It is that sports facilities are not spread evenly across London. Under the Bill, some boroughs will find themselves running facilities which mainly benefit residents of other parts of London. Some boroughs may respond to this; others may not. The Minister may say that the boroughs will no longer have to pay the GLC precept. This is true. But there is no guarantee whatever that they will spend these savings on this type of service. Hackney may have urgent priorities that take precedence over the maintenance of 100 football pitches on Hackney Marsh when most of the users come from outside the borough.

As regards the development of new parks, especially Burgess and Mile End parks, the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, spoke powerfully about these in Committee. I am glad to see that the noble Lord is again in his place. He also spoke passionately about Park Lodge Farm and Langley Farm. I shall therefore leave these matters in his capable hands.

I turn now to the question of how parks which cross borough boundaries are to be managed. This is important because Ministers have made some rather misleading statements on the matter both at our Committee stage and in another place. To the layman, it would seem obvious that there are bound to be difficulties if two or more boroughs are expected to run a park when they may be of different political colours and have different management policies and different demands on their financial resources. In another place, Sir George Young suggested that such problems would not arise because a number of parks are already run jointly by two or more boroughs. As examples, he cited Clapham Common, Tooting Bec, Wimbledon Common and Wanstead Flats.

At our Committee stage, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, repeated the examples of Clapham Common and Tooting Bec. I am afraid that both Ministers were wrong. None of these parks is managed by two or more boroughs. So they cannot be used as examples of successful inter-borough management. Clapham Common is owned and run exclusively by Lambeth; Tooting Bec is owned and run exclusively by Wandsworth; and Wanstead Flats are part of Epping Forest, which is managed by the City of London. These instances seem to me to be important, not only because they show that Government assertions that everything will be all right on the night are not supported by their chosen examples but also because they show clearly that the Government have not given serious consideration to the likely effects of these proposals. Had they done so, they would surely have discovered that the examples they have chosen to support their arguments do not stand up to examination.

I turn now to the GLC's green belt responsibilities. Although there is nothing in the Bill about these, we know from a Government Statement made on the 7th November last year that it is intended to transfer them to the boroughs and the county councils. The effect of transfer on this basis will be to fragment the green belt so that there will be no overall policy on preservation and resistance to undesirable development. Where land which the GLC owns outright is concerned, it will pass to bodies which could be highly vulnerable to pressures for development. Where the GLC has only a contributory interest, the other landholder will no longer be required to gain GLC consent for development under the Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act 1938. Such matters will be decided by the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Indeed, the Secretary of State's statement, also contained in the press release of 7th November, is tantamount to an admission that he knows that the green belt lands will be less safe in the hands of the boroughs and counties than they are at present. On that occasion he said: I am also taking this opportunity to remind authorities of my own considerable powers and responsibilities for the oversight of all 1938 Act interests, including those being transferred when the GLC is abolished, and of my continuing determination to regard this land as inalienable". That all sounds very fine, but does it inspire the fullest confidence? It certainly does not in the light of a remark made by the Secretary of State in an article published in the Sunday Times on 5th May, when in relation to the Government's policy for the green belt, he was quoted as saying: We want to keep the green belt green but a balance must be struck between conservation and development. I have little sympathy for those who believe that we can stop the clock and say no to further development. That would be an extreme example of the 'I'm all right Jack' attitude". I must confess that I find it very difficult to reconcile these two statements. The Secretary of State appears to be saying that the green belt is inalienable except when he says that it is not. Of course, the present Secretary of State may turn out to be a splendid guarantor of the green belt, but that does not bind his successors.

Lord Elton

My Lords, perhaps I may put the noble Lord right on one matter. I think that he should have said that green belt land will not be available except when the Minister says it will.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that correction. I shall read this very carefully when I come to look at Hansard. I do not think the noble Lord was saying that the Secretary of State did not make the statement which was attributed to him in the Sunday Times.

It is also of some importance that the Government have no support for their proposals from prominent organisations which are concerned with the preservation of the green belt. For example, the Civic Trust has said that it believes that the proposals in Streamlining the Cities could set back the implementation of Sir Patrick Abercrombie's vision of green belts and green wedges by many years. Indeed, the Trust went further. It said with regard to environmental quality that it, can find nothing to commend in the White Paper proposals". The Countryside Commission takes the view that abolition of the GLC would be a step towards weakening the protection of the green belt because of the greatly increased number of authorities which would become involved, each with more local and conflicting interests.

The Council for the Protection of Rural England believes that recreational projects in the green belt which cross boundaries will become more difficult to initiate and, for those already in existence, increasingly difficult to ensure uniform standards of maintenance. I should have thought that the views of these organisations are not to be dismissed lightly.

I have spoken at some length, and longer than I intended, but the future of London's green parks and green belt is so important a subject. Up to now discussion in this area has been somewhat overshadowed by perfectly legitimate concerns about arts funding and the management of Hampstead Heath, on which I see that another amendment has been tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe. Of course, I am sympathetic towards that, but I am bound to say that I think the general principle of London's parks management is one which we should try to establish, in which case the worries about the heath will fall away.

Finally, I should like to summarise the main reasons why we need a London open spaces and recreations authority, although I am prepared to negotiate on name if other noble Lords can think of a better title. They are as follows: first, the special character of London's parks and the fact that they serve much wider areas than a single borough; secondly, economies of scale and administrative efficiency; thirdly, to avoid conflicts which will arise between boroughs where a park crosses borough boundaries; fourthly, to preserve the valuable teams of experts, such as the GLC Landscape Architects Division.

Few London boroughs employ any landscape architects and, therefore, they often have to turn to the GLC's experts for advice; indeed, only an organisation with a large number of parks could justify employing such a group. There are other specialist groups which it makes sense for the GLC to employ, which are uneconomic for individual boroughs, and one example is the GLC's horticultural unit. There is also the matter of completing Burgess and Mile End Parks. The final reason is to prevent the green belt being subjected to almost irresistible development pressure. In this context we have to remember the long-stated strategy of Consortium Development, for instance, which is to build 15 new towns in the South-East, and where more tempting than the green belt? I repeat, the glory of London is in its greenery; not in its avenues, boulevards, Roman antiquities, dazzling light or crisp air. The glory lies in the parks, the terraces, the gardens and the cordon sanitaire, which we call the green belt. This Bill does not offer adequate protection for these unique aspects of London's heritage.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, I oppose this amendment. We are now at the stage of the Bill where it is difficult to avoid repetition. The various aspects of this amendment, acknowledged by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, very fairly to be a more ambitious amendment than previous amendments, in truth and in substance have already been spoken to seriatim, but not in relation to this form of grouping. This is really a new bite at an old much-nibbled cherry.

The farming activities and the green belt under paragraphs (c) and (d) may well call for special consideration and long-term co-ordination of policy. The point is well made about the qualified land agents and the tenanted sector, but no doubt how that is dealt with is a matter for further consideration. However, in its present form the amendment is open to very serious objection on any showing because it is again an attempt to co-ordinate activities of the GLC, transferring them to a recreational authority. What recreation has to do with farming and so forth is difficult to understand.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, with the leave of the House, if the noble Lord will forgive me, it has a great deal to do with farming. If the noble Lord knows Hackney Marshes, he will know that about 100 football pitches are sited there. There are about 230 football pitches throughout the whole of the GLC's estate.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, the noble Lord and I can take different views about that. As I regard this clause—and, if I may say so, it has been spoken to with great ability from the Opposition Front Bench—there is a serious problem about the question of farming. The GLC has had a good record in that area. There are problems about the qualified land agents and the tenanted sector. At least I was trying to come to grips with the sense of the part of the argument which certainly impressed me. That does not square with the broad concept in paragraph (e) of sports facilities and a recreational authority. That is the point I was trying to make, on which the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, took me to task. But I am unrepentant.

We are really here again creating unrelated, assorted, disparate functions and loading them all into another of these joint authorities. As your Lordships know, they are joint authorities with a limited lifespan. So what happens when the temporary and transitional transfer has taken place? In the main, although perhaps not all, these activities lie within the remit of the boroughs in accordance with the concept of devolution, and by and large the boroughs are competent to manage their affairs without the superimposition of this tier. It is for those reasons that I oppose this amemdment not only in substance, in spirit, but also in particular in the form in which it is presented, carrying in so many disparate functions into what is called a recreation authority.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Birkett

My Lords, this is one of those occasions on which I must not only declare my interest but declare it very particularly, especially in view of what the noble Lord has just said. I feel slightly hurt because the amendment has been described as covering various altogether too disparate territories. This territory is exactly my concern every day of the week. It is precisely my territory.

I am a director for recreation and the arts. Recreation and the arts cover not merely all the green spaces of London but the recreation which happens within them: the sports, and, in a slightly separate way, the arts; although often they are not as separate as one would think because the entertainments programme extends right through the parks. "Recreation" is not one of my favourite words although it occurs within my own title. It has that slight flavour of bureaucracy about it which does not endear it to me. If one looks at it and wonders what it really means I suppose that "re-creation" is what our green spaces, what our parks, and what our arts and our sports do for us. They put us together again. Recreation, or re-creation, is essentially what the services that the GLC in my particular department provide. Therefore, I find that this amendment, although admittedly it is broader then ever before, commends itself more to me than it has done before simply because of that breadth.

I could wish that there has been fewer engagements, fewer skirmishes, across the Floor of this House on the subject of this enormously complicated Bill. I sense that so many of your Lordships care so much for the precise area of this amendment—indeed for parks, open spaces, the countryside, recreation and sport, everything contained within it—that had we reached this point in the continuing debate weeks earlier, I would have hoped that I might have persuaded both sides of the House to vote for this amendment because I believe that it concerns the most serious danger, certainly within my own area, that abolition presents to us.

It has been said that today's debate can only echo, or re-echo, things that have already been said. Therefore, I shall not weary your Lordships for long. But I must re-echo three elements of that area of recreation, of sport, and of art about which I am talking. One is the green belt itself, which has been mentioned many times this afternoon. It is a pity that this amendment comes today on a Monday and was not considered last Thursday because I could have urged all your Lordships to go to Park Lodge Farm in Denham and see the open day there. However, I may be forgiven for that regret because, as has been pointed out, 10,000 people went without us.

What I might have been able to urge upon your Lordships was to look not merely at Park Lodge Farm itself but upon its two neighbours; upon Knightscote Farm next door and upon Langley Farm just beyond it because they are one day to be the complementary farms. Park Lodge Farm is a modern, active, 1980s farm. Knightscote Farm is the museum of the farm world, and Langley Farm will be a re-creation of a Victorian farm, which is where it has its origins.

That trio will be of educational benefit, of entertainment benefit—if that is the right phrase—and it brings up in my mind one of the greatest regrets that I nave about this entire abolition proposal, and that is not so much what will be abolished that we have already done, but what I sense will be abolished is the potential for doing the things that we have not done.

This is not merely an admission that we have not done things which we should have done. Money is never limitless, whatever your Lordships may think of the GLC. Time is never limitless. Talent and imagination are not limitless. There is so much still to be done. That applies to Burgess and Mile End parks. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, will be concerned about the future of those two because they concern me more than any other open space. They are half-finished. They consume a large amount of money. Laying out London into parks does consume money. The future of those two parks, half-finished as they are and consuming millions a year, must be of concern to us all. I have wearied your Lordships before on this subject and I shall not do so further again; but that is another unfinished task before us.

The third point is to re-emphasise how much of London's green and open space depends on the teams of people I am happy to control at the moment. There are specialists like tree pruners, entertainments people, dog handlers, the special duty keepers, play leadership, and a great raft of people who live centrally. They look for where they are needed from week to week. They do not belong to a borough. It cannot be expected that boroughs will pick them up individually because they do not belong there yet.

I look in vain to find an authority which will understand the strategic functions they perform. For that reason too I regret what is before us. If this amendment is broad, it is broad with a purpose. I hope that we can all agree that that purpose, which is looking after recreation and everything that the countryside of London means to us, is not something which will be lightly disregarded. I beg to support this amendment.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, if one had not known it already, I think all your Lordships would have sensed that the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, is the son of the man who was in his day perhaps the greatest advocate at the Bar. In a hereditary House it is nice to see hereditary abilities coming out. One can understand—if it is not impertinent on my part to say so—that when you have been doing the kind of obviously fascinating and interesting job that the noble Lord has been doing on behalf of the Greater London Council, he would be I do not know whether it is more or less than human, or anyway quite different from human kind, if he did not intensely resent its breaking up, and feel instinctively that those to whom these functions would be entrusted would not do them as well as he did.

I accept at once that if you are to have a GLC then it is sensible to put a Lord Birkett in charge of these activities. But your Lordships' House has decided, as the Commons has decided, as the electorate has decided, that there is not to be a GLC. Therefore, we come up against an amendment which proposes once again the setting up of a London-wide authority with precepting powers.

On an earlier amendment the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, warned me that I could not, if I had spoken—which I did not—use the argument that the amendment went right against the spirit, or the philosophy, or the policy of the Bill. I am not absolutely sure on that point that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, was right on that amendment, but as I did not seek to intervene then I must leave that point with him. But it is as plain as a pikestaff that this amendment, which proposes the setting up of a London-wide authority with precepting powers and a wide variety of functions, goes slap against the major policy of the Bill. It proposes that functions which under the Bill will go to the boroughs should be retained in a new authority set up London wide.

That is a totally different situation from the situation which still exists today while the GLC drags out its last few painful months of life. When there is no GLC is there any case for saying that functions, which throughout the rest of the country are generally performed to the satisfaction of their electors by local authorities, shall not be transferred to the boroughs together with the other functions which are being so transferred under this Bill from the GLC? It is difficult to justify saying that the London boroughs are incapable of undertaking these functions.

The only possible exception is the case of Hampstead Heath, but as that is covered by another amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Cottesloe, I should be wasting your Lordships' time if I were to direct argument to that. Otherwise, throughout the country parks, recreation areas and all these other various amenities, spelt out at great length in this amendment, are discharged by the elected local authorities. If they are not discharged satisfactorily, the electors of those authorities can always effect a change in them. Therefore it seems wholly wrong at this stage of our discussions of this Bill to propose the setting up of this large authority. It would be a massive affair. With all these functions it would have very substantial staffs and have further staffs on top for the purpose of co-ordinating them and their activities. It would plainly be an expensive addition to the burden which is already carried by London ratepayers and would be carried in the future.

Therefore, though one sympathises in human terms with the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, and feels that in losing the services that he so well undertakes, we may be losing something, it is plain that the continuance of this kind of thing under a new authority would plainly not only be contrary to the spirit and intentions of the Bill, but would be wholly anomalous, expensive and unnecessary.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, I, too, wish to oppose this amendment. The implication that the Greater London Council owns the green belt is quite inaccurate. Much of the green belt is in private ownership and yet from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, there came the implication that the GLC was the owner as well as the protector of the green belt. The noble Lord, Lord Birkett, spoke about the farm in Denham. To my knowledge Denham is in Buckinghamshire and I think the Buckinghamshire County Council would be quite capable of protecting land there. Most of these farms—a number are in my own GLC constituency—are tenanted and the tenants have every right that farming tenants have everywhere else. Therefore I see no sudden dramatic change about to take place.

Hackney Marshes were mentioned. I was the vice chairman of planning when Hackney Marshes were to be developed. We found that because the GLC had been dilatory for a long time all sorts of wonderful conservational projects had been built up. Due to pressures from local residents we went to inspect and it was decided to turn it into a conservation area. However, that happened almost by chance, not by deliberate and careful planning.

There is the suggestion that local boroughs are incapable of caring for open spaces in London. The City of Westminster has not one but dozens of open spaces and recreation patches already. People underestimate these matters. It was certainly underestimated by a gentleman from overseas who bought what was described as a desirable building site in Rutland Gate in the central square garden. When he applied for his planning permission to build on it he had quite a nasty shock; so the local borough certainly cares.

I should point out that Paddington recreation ground is a large and successful amenity run by the City of Westminster and it attracts people from a much wider area. That is just an example of how local boroughs can and do run recreational facilities. We have had excellent recreational facilities from the GLC. The expertise is there and I hope that the people with that expertise go to the boroughs where these most important sites will be. But to underestimate the boroughs would be a mistake. They are used to running parks and recreation areas. They have tree experts and other experts.

The noble Lord, Lord Birkett, stated that the GLC was responsible for all the green spaces in London, and I feel that that statement is rather an exaggeration. The GLC may look after a large number, but it does not look after all the green spaces of London; there are other experts as well. This present amendment would create a new and unnecessary structure. I oppose it.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I did not intend to intervene, but what the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, have said is not in line with the facts as they are. First, we are not talking about odd urban parks which belong to and are run by many of the boroughs. We are talking about open spaces and green belt land which does not always respect borough boundaries. A widespread city such as London is so built up that it is of tremendous importance to ensure that the land which we call green belt or open space is kept and is respected; otherwise it will be encroached upon and there will be no rural surround to London at all. Everything will be built up.

What I find impressive in the argument for this, or a similar amendment, is that organisations such as the Civic Trust, which has no particular interest in who looks after what, are concerned about the best way of carrying out these functions. The Civic Trust has come out strongly against the present system, saying that it can find nothing to commend in the White Paper proposals that will protect the green belt as it is now. Similarly, the Countryside Commission takes the view that abolition of the GLC would weaken the protection of the green belt and the Council for the Protection of Rural England has the same views. There is no political or other reason why these groups should take these views unless they believe them. They are specific organisations, concerned with specific functions. I do not think that this argument can be dismissed. There are many other examples, but I do not wish to take up the time of the House. To dismiss this matter in this way as though it was something which individual boroughs could look after is grossly unfair. They cannot, and they should not be asked to do so. The proposal will not work by default. I am sure this is quite plain and it will be a great pity if we lose the opportunity in this House to do something about it.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I start by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, on the impressive way in which he sprang into the fairly large breach left by the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, not only from the place where he now sits, but from his usual place as well. The Bill before the House is a Bill to abolish the GLC and the metropolitan county councils and to transfer as many of their functions as possible to the borough councils in London and the district councils in the metropolitan counties. These purposes already have your Lordships' declared approval, as well as that of another place. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, will be able to read this tomorrow. One complete set of the functions in question is that of owning and managing public open spaces. The Bill as drafted provides for those functions to be transferred in line with the principal purpose directly from the upper-to the lower-tier authorities.

The effect of the amendment now before your Lordships is only upon London. In London the upper-tier authority is the GLC and the lower is the London boroughs. The Bill accordingly would transfer parks, open spaces and sports facilities from the GLC to the boroughs. The amendment would intercept that transfer and direct both ownership and the responsibility for management of all these facilities not to the various boroughs but to a single body composed of members of those boroughs, adequately and accurately described by my noble friends Lord Campbell of Alloway and Lord Boyd-Carpenter.

The noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, brought to this debate an agricultural tang which I do not think it had to that degree at Committee stage. I was interested in what he had to say. The GLC's farms are principally in the 1938 green belt and are located, as my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes said, in the counties outside Greater London. If they are tenanted, all that will happen is that the landlord will change its identity. I know of no reason to suppose that the county councils do not have the service of adequately certificated land agents. I suspect that the noble Lord was thinking that the farms in the outlying districts would go to the boroughs; but if he looks at the map, I think he will be reassured.

Lord John-Mackie

My Lords, I was given the particulars of exactly where the farms were going to go. The Borough of Enfield certainly is getting 2,500 acres and one or two other boroughs are going to get quite a lot. But the point that I was making was that more than half was going to the boroughs and, of course, less than half going to the counties.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord, and I shall take further advice but, at least as to the half that is not going to the boroughs, he may be reassured. Statutory smallholdings will also pass to the county councils and this will not have the effect of dispersing smallholding ownership, therefore, but of concentrating it in different hands.

As far as the acreage is concerned, as I understand it, the boroughs will receive 7,500 acres and the counties 5,300 acres. But the Department of the Environment—and all this bears on what the noble Lord has just correctly drawn to my attention—has just invited the authorities to discuss a different distribution if this would be more appropriate. We are prepared to be flexible and I shall see that the noble Lord's point is brought to the attention of those who are considering this possible redevising of the distribution.

The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, in his amendment proposes the interruption of the devolutionary process for a variety of reasons which include the protection of the green belt, the scale of the present operations of this kind by the GLC, and its acquired expertise. Perhaps I may look first at the green belt. I was a little surprised by the tenor of what the noble Lord said about where he thought we now were and what he thought was the attitude of the present Secretary of State. What is proposed in the Bill is a transfer of assets and interests. There is to be no change in the law protecting this land. Receiving authorities will have the same obligations as the GLC to protect the land under the 1938 Act and the Secretary of State's consent will continue to be required for disposal or development of the land.

I am not sure what the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, was quoting, but I can say that in his statement of decisions in response to consultation issued on 7th November 1984 (which is the authoritative source) the Secretary of State made clear his policy that this land should continue to be protected, and he reminded authorities that he regards this land as inalienable. I remember having difficulty with the pronunciation of that word at Committee and I know, therefore, that I have referred to this before.

Agreements were acquired giving a public authority interest in each holding. The intention then was that this should be in perpetuity and, while the Secretary of State must continue to consider any proposals on their merits, he would agree to changes only in the most exceptional circumstances. Green belt land will, of course, also continue to enjoy protection in structure and local plans prepared under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, as amended in accordance with the policy advice in Circulars NHLG 42/55, 50/57 and DOE 14/84. I read those slowly into the record. The point that I wish to make, as it were verbally, is that there is no change whatever in the legal protection of this land and that the Secretary of State's commitment to its protection actually has been reinforced within the last 12 months. So, in that respect, your Lordships can set aside the anxieties which the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, sought to link with his amendment, because they do not apply.

In welcoming the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, to this debate, I hasten to acknowledge his expertise. Indeed, if any of your Lordships doubted that the expertise of the GLC was enlightened and efficient, you had only to listen to the noble Lord speaking in the Committee debate eloquently and, as I recall, helpfully—although not exactly in the sense that I would have wished—from the Cross-Benches. He did so with all the authority of the person now responsible for discharging that duty for the GLC. I am glad to take this opportunity of acknowledging that there are some things that the GLC has been doing well, that this is very much one of them and that the noble Lord has played a conspicuous part in that achievement. I hope that he will not entirely disappear from the scene when the present regime does so.

The noble Lord spoke not only of expertise, but also of scale. He mentioned at Committee stage, certainly, that the GLC was responsible for over 5,000 acres of public open space; and the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, reminded us that, as I reminded your Lordships at Committee stage (which was on 14th May) that the borough councils, on the other hand, already manage nearly 25,000 acres of similar land; that is, incidentally, nearly five times as much as the GLC. So that that disposes, I should have thought, of the argument of scale as well as the argument of green belt protection. The argument has been put forward that they are of a different nature. I am aware that it is said that at the time that the LCC was succeeded by the GLC there was an inquiry which was designed to separate public open space into those pieces which had a local function and those which had a more-than-local function. I think the expression was "a regional or strategic function". Looking at the list, I am not sure that the argument holds good for very many of them. I do not know whether the Archbishop's Park in Lambeth or Geffrye's Garden in Hackney or Tower Hamlet's cemetery would fall into what I would call the strategic band. But it is about that sort of place that we are talking.

I was also called to account by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock—my honourable friend was similarly called to account for saying in another place what I said here—for saying that the experience in Tooting Bec and Clapham Commons made it clear that land which fell into the ownership of different authorities, even if they had sharply different political leanings as to their elected members, could be peacefully managed. The noble Lord made much of the fact that each is managed by only one of the authorities acting as to half of the territory or thereabouts on behalf of the other. I do not see that that is any argument against my argument which is that the fact that the boundary runs through the land in question does not stop it being properly run because, manifestly, it is properly run. So I do not see that the difficulties regarding the green belt or scale or shared ownership are anything like big enough to justify the breach in the general intention of the Bill which this amendment proposes.

That brings me to the actual content of the text of the amendment which your Lordships may have found a little familiar, and you were reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, in case you had missed it, of its parentage. Your Lordships can see it in col. 1024 of the Hansard of 14th May, almost the whole of it, word for word, in Amendment No. 132E. That was the Committee stage amendment which we debated. The noble Lord, Lord Birkett, said that he only wished we could have discussed all this three weeks ago; his wish has been granted, because we did so. The Committee stage amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, proposed, as this one does, a joint authority which, like this one, is to be a body corporate made up, like this one, of members of the borough councils and the common council and charged, as this one will be, with the lands, property and functions of the GLC related to the parks, open spaces and sports facilities at present owned by them where they fall into or benefit more than one borough area or which require, as he put it, "the resources of a London-wide authority for their future development". That amendment, like this one, provided for the new authority to run all those facilities and to take on, like this one, the green belt responsibilities of both the City and the GLC.

The difference between the amendment lies, first, in the name of the new body. The old one was called the London Authority for the Arts and Recreation, while this one would be called the London Open Spaces and Recreation Authority. The second difference, which is of course paid for by the first, is that the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, has dropped out of the text—which he has taken from the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi—the references to museums, concert halls, theatres, galleries and artistic and cultural activities.

6 p.m.

I shall come back to the composition of the new body in a moment; but the first point that I wish to make arising from that is about its functions. It is simply this. All the functions listed in this amendment for transfer to the new body proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, were listed in the same order and the same words in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, at Committee stage. That is important because your Lordships considered them with some care along with the other functions to do with the arts from roughly five past three in the afternoon until twenty-three minutes to six in the evening and then threw the amendment out by a majority of 29 votes.

It is true that more time was given to the arts than to the parks. Today's debate has provided a welcome remedy for that. Nevertheless, we are by convention obliged to abide at Report stage by the decisions that we took at Committee stage. It therefore follows that the only merit the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, can claim for his amendment, over and above what your Lordships have already rejected, is not that it contains provisions for the parks, open spaces and recreation, but that it does not contain provisions for the arts. The improvement on what the noble Lord now proposes over what was proposed before amounts to no more than this: he has dropped the arts.

The only remaining difference—and one have not mentioned before—is a further deletion from the text of the Committee stage amendment. Whatever the merits or demerits of what the noble Lord otherwise proposes, this deletion seems to me to be fatal to his proposal. What he has left out is the careful reference by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, to the provisions in Part IV of the Act. That is more than a drafting error because it leaves us entirely in the dark as to the composition of this body, other than that it is made up of councillors. We do not know how many members there are to be; how they are appointed, either at first or on a vacancy. We do not know what attention, if any, is to be paid to the political balance between the parties; we know nothing about remuneration or expenses. We do not even know if it is to have a chairman. As to where its money is to come from, that remains a total mystery; and a very important one.

This unnecessary committee appointed to deprive the London boroughs of functions they are well equipped to discharge, suffers from what in other circumstances noble Lords opposite would vigorously call the disadvantage of not being directly elected. It is a mystery as to where the money is to come from; or how it is to be controlled; it is without limit of size; without any distinct form; and without any discernible source of finance. It is a pig in a poke and I advise your Lordships not to buy it.

Lord John-Mackie

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I should like to try to correct the situation about the land. The figures I have given refer to the land that is present in the various boroughs. As I understood it, a statement was made that that land would pass to the boroughs and the land in the counties would pass to the counties. If that is not correct, then I think the noble Lord will need to tell us. But it does not alter my main argument: that it is a major mistake to break up an estate of 10,000 acres which is working so well at the present moment and of great benefit to smallholders and farmers.

Lord Elton

My Lords, with your Lordships' leave, I do not think there will be time for me to get an exact form of words. I was quite careful in what I said in reply to the noble Lord after he intervened for the first time in my speech. If he would read that, I conceded that the acreage was greater to the boroughs than to the counties, but I also said that we were looking at this and would consider his views (which are on the record) as to any further alterations in the boundaries. The noble Lord was kind enough not to interrupt my peroration. I hope your Lordships have not forgotten it.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, with the leave of the House, we have had an interesting debate and I shall not delay your Lordships very long. There are one or two points that I should like to bring out. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, referred to our simply setting up a temporary body; and he asked what was the point of that. This is not the case. The body was designed to be a Part IV body within the terms of the Act. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, also argued that—

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, goes too far along this road, I have observed that, although technically speaking it is his amendment, he did not move it but the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, did. The noble Lord therefore has already spoken once; and we are at Report stage, which puts the House in some difficulty.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, I requested the leave of the House. Will the House allow me a minute? I shall pass on if I may simply from the points I was making concerning the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, to the important points that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, made.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, with the leave of the House, would the noble Lord tell us whether he is winding up to finish this amendment?

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, that was my intention, with the permission of the House.

Noble Lords


Lord Sandford

My Lords, the House was glad to give the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, leave to make a short point but I am sure that the House does not intend to give him leave to wind up a debate that he did not move.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, if that ruling is accepted, may I make the one point? We shall then test the opinion of the House. It was simply that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, accused me of in effect reverting to the umbrella authority which would have covered the arts and recreation. I want to assure him that all I have done is to take the parks amendment, to which I spoke at Committee stage, and to add to it the green belt. As regards what type of animal is proposed—

Noble Lords


Lord Kilmarnock

—it is already, as I have said, a Part IV body subject to the finance provisions of Clause 67 of the Bill.

Noble Lords


Lord John-Mackie

My Lords, I moved this amendment earlier and I see no reason why we should not test the feeling of the House.

6.7 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 80AL) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 109; Not-Contents, 160.

Airedale, L. Kennet, L.
Ardwick, L. Kilmarnock, L. [Teller.]
Attlee, E. Kirkhill, L.
Aylestone, L. Lawrence, L.
Bacon, B. Listowel, E.
Bamett, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Bernstein, L. Longford, E.
Beswick, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Birk, B. McNair, L.
Birkett, L. Mayhew, L.
Blyton, L. Melchett, L.
Boothby, L. Meston, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Milford, L.
Bottomley, L. Mishcon, L.
Briginshaw, L. Monkswell, L.
Brockway, L. Morton of Shuna, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Nathan, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Nicol, B.
Buckmaster, V. Northfield, L.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Ogmore, L.
Caradon, L. Oram, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Parry, L.
Chitnis, L. Phillips, B.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Collison, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Crawshaw of Aintree, L.
David, B. [Teller.] Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Rea, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Diamond, L. Roberthall, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Rochester, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Ennals, L. Serota, B.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Shackleton, L.
Falkender, B. Shepherd, L.
Falkland, V. Shinwell, L.
Foot, L. Silkin of Dulwich, L.
Gaitskell, B. Simon, V.
Gallacher, L. Stallard, L.
Galpern, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Gladwyn, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Strabolgi, L.
Grey, E. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Hampton, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Tordoff, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Heycock, L. Walston, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Howie of Troon, L. White, B.
Irving of Dartford, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Jacques, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham. E.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
John-Mackie, L.
Abercorn, D. Ingrow, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Kaberry of Adel, L.
Aldington, L. Killearn, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Kilmany, L.
Allerton, L. Kimball, L.
Ampthill, L. King of Wartnaby, L.
Arran, E. Kinloss, Ly.
Atholl, D. Kinnaird, L.
Barber, L. Kitchener, E.
Bauer, L. Lane-Fox, B.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Lauderdale, E.
Bellwin, L. Liverpool, E.
Beloff, L. Long, V.
Belstead, L. Lothian, M.
Boardman, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Lyell, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. McAlpine of Moffat, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. McFadzean, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Caccia, L. Malmesbury, E.
Cairns, E. Mancroft, L.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Marchwood, V.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Margadale, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Marley, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Cayzer, L.
Coleraine, L. Merrivale, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Middleton, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Cottesloe, L. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Cowley, E. Montgomery of Alamein, V
Cox, B. Mottistone, L.
Craigavon, V. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Craigmyle, L. Munster, E.
Craigton, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Croft, L. Norfolk, D.
Cullen of Ashboume, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Davidson, V. Orkney, E.
De La Warr, E. Pender, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Perth, E.
Digby, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Donegall, M. Radnor, E.
Dormer, L. Reigate, L.
Eccles, V. Renton, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Renwick, L.
Elibank, L. Rochester, Bp.
Ellenborough, L. Rodney, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Romney, E.
Elton, L. Rotherwick, L.
Energlyn, L. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Erroll of Hale, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Faithfull, B. St. Davids, V.
Falmouth, V. Salisbury, M.
Fanshawe of Richmond, L. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Ferrers, E. Sandford, L.
Fortescue, E. Savile, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Sherfield, L.
Gainford, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Somers, L.
Geddes, L. Stamp, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Glanusk, L. Sudeley, L.
Glenarthur, L. Swansea, L.
Gowrie, E. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Grantchester, L. Terrington, L.
Gray, L. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Torphichen, L.
Tranmire, L.
Hanson, L. Trefgarne, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Trenchard, V.
Hemphill, L. Trumpington, B.
Henley, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Hertford, M. Vickers, B.
Hives, L. Vivian, L.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Whitelaw, V.
Hood, V. Wise, L.
Hornsby-Smith, B. Wynford, L.
Howe, E. Yarborough, E.
Hylton-Foster, B. Young, B.
Inglewood, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Strabolgi moved Amendment No. 80AM: Before Clause 43, insert the following new clause:

("Arts Council Funding

.—(1) The Minister shall make available to the Arts Council of Great Britain such sums as are sufficient to enable it to exercise its functions under this Act and to undertake such new responsibilities as are necessary in consequence of the passing of this Act.

(2) The sums paid under subsection (1) above shall be additional to any moneys which are paid to that Council in any year in respect of its other functions and responsibilities.

(3) In this section "the Minister" has the same meaning as in section 46 of this Act.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 80AM. As the House is aware, on 6th June, just two weeks ago, the Arts Council of Great Britain made a very disturbing statement about their capacity to take over the arts-funding role of the GLC and the metropolitan county councils after abolition. Having now looked carefully at their financial situation, the council have concluded that if they are to receive only the £16 million the Government have offered them to compensate for the loss of GLC and MCC funds, they will not be £4 million short, as the Minister had previously indicated: indeed they will not be £8 million short, as Mr. Luke Rittner, their secretary-general, had originally thought. No, my Lords, they will be underfunded by the staggering figure of £30 million.

It is estimated that the GLC's and the MCCs' arts spending in 1984–85 was £46 million, excluding films and museums. The Government have offered £34 million to compensate for the loss of funds from the GLC and the MCCs, and of this £17 million is earmarked for museums and galleries and £1 million for the British Film Institute. This leaves only £16 million for the Arts Council to fund all the other arts bodies which the GLC and the MCCs currently support and for managing the South Bank arts complex in London.

If we take £16 million from £46 million, we arrive at the £30 million shortfall I spoke of a moment ago. The Arts Council have now made clear that unless there is a very substantial increase in the funds the Government make available the council will not be able to run the Royal Festival Hall and the rest of the South Bank as the GLC currently does. The council will not, at the present level, be able to cover the replacement of metropolitan grants even to the major companies.

The council take the view that of the £46 million, £9 million is spent on countrywide activities, and they expect, regretfully—and I regret it too—that there is no prospect of this being made up. That still leaves a requirement of £37 million to be given to the arts through the council and through local authorities. The Arts Council, I understand, believe that no substantial part of the £37 million will be found by successor districts, for the reason that the great majority of metropolitan grants do not go to organisations whose work is conveniently located within the geographic boundaries of a single district.

If the Government are to honour their pledge to protect arts funding so that the arts do not suffer as a result of abolition, the sum of £16 million that has been made available so far will have to be substantially increased to close the gap. The Arts Council are making a case for about 550 arts organisations out of the 600 funded by the GLC and the "mets". These cover the whole spectrum of cultural activities throughout England and Wales and many of these will be at risk.

Concerning the South Bank arts complex, the Arts Council have now made allowance for the capital needs of the South Bank; that is, the money to maintain the fabric of the buildings, which the Government in their haste forgot all about—it is not the first time they have forgotten something in this Bill. It makes an allowance of £1.7 million for inflation over the two-year period from 1985 to 1987. So these figures are certainly much more realistic than those that have been quoted in the past; but they make no allowance for running the facilities adjacent to the Festival Hall, which we understand the Government intend to pass to the Arts Council; facilities such as the Jubilee Gardens, the Riverside Walk, the Hungerford railway arches, which contain Felix Topolski's mural, and probably the new Festival Pier.

I do not know how much all this will cost to run, but it will certainly be a substantial sum. I would remind the House that during Committee on 14th May, the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie said, rather rashly I thought, if I may so, that; the Arts Council is frankly delighted" [Official Report, 14/5/85; col. 1058.] at the prospect of taking over the South Bank complex. We now know that that is not the case. Far from being delighted, the Arts Council are very apprehensive indeed. I understand that they are so worried, in fact, that they may even refuse to assume responsibility for it.

The worries about the future of arts funding in England and Wales which are being voiced on all sides of the House, and indeed outside this House and throughout the country, are in our view fully justified. The Government have to do a great deal more if they are to honour their promise that abolition will not harm the arts and our cultural life. My Lords, I beg to move.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, whatever the anxieties about the arts to which the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has referred—and on that point I think your Lordships will want to await what the noble Earl on the Front Bench, who is of course the Minister for the Arts, says—I suggest to your Lordships that this amendment simply will not do. Perhaps your Lordships will look at subsection (1), which reads: The Minister shall make available to the Arts Council of Great Britain such sums as are sufficient to enable it to exercise its functions under this Act and to undertake such new responsibilities as are necessary in consequence of the passing of this Act. In whose opinion are those sums to be assessed? Is it to be the opinion of the Arts Council? It does not say so. Is it to be the opinion of the Minister? It does not say so. It simply puts it vaguely like that. In this day and age, when, as your Lordships know, this country is facing very severe economic difficulties, it really has a touch of irresponsibility about it to put forward an amendment in such loose terms in respect of financial provision.

Having said that, there is only one other point that I want to make. I hope that the Arts Council will take over the South Bank complex. I have a very high regard for the Arts Council and I believe that it will be able to operate that complex much less extravagantly than the GLC has done. I will not go into details, but everything, from the salary paid to the director to the general laxity over finance that has been shown there, suggests that when it is handed over to a responsible body like the Arts Council it will cost a great deal less than at present.

Lord Somers

My Lords, I should like to support this amendment very strongly. I do not think there is any noble Lord here tonight who would sincerely want to see the arts dying of starvation; but I am quite certain that unless something is done by the Government, that is what will happen. I must say it is very good news indeed to hear that the Arts Council is preparing to take over the South Bank, which of course includes the Queen Elizabeth Hall. But the Queen Elizabeth Hall is not a great deal of use if there are no orchestras to play in it, and that is precisely what will happen unless the Government supply a little bit more in the way of funds to the Arts Council to support them. Not many noble Lords realise, perhaps, that no major orchestra ever gives a concert without ending up in the red, and it is that debt that has to be paid by the Arts Council or somebody else. That is the painful fact of life for any orchestra.

Therefore, we have to face the fact that if we want to keep these sources of really fine music going we must pay for them. It would be rather interesting to know—though I do not think that any of us will attain to that knowledge—just how much the Government have benefited by what has happened. I should say that probably it is a sizeable amount, but, surely, if they are going to take away the source of life of orchestras, and other arts, too, it is up to them to provide something which will take its place. I sincerely hope that they will provide something more than they have at present.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Somers, I have a great deal of sympathy with what I know the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has in mind. We want to maintain and, if we can, improve the arts in this country, but I do not think for one moment that the noble Lord who moved this amendment expected it to be accepted. He knows that in purely parliamentary terms, as my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter has said, it is too open-ended. You do not know to what you are committing yourself.

I do not think that any responsible Government could possibly accept an instruction which is as open-ended as this. One does not know what it would cost. One does not know whether or not the extra money that would flow as a consequence of it would be properly spent, so as to maintain the standards to which the noble Lord, Lord Somers, has been referring. In addition to that, I think that from the tactical point of view it would be wrong to contemplate accepting anything like this, because I do not think the Arts Council figures stand up to really detailed scrutiny. I do not think that what they say it would cost to do the things that the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and I want comes anything like within them, and if you give them an open cheque such as this there is no inducement at all for them to provide the quality and the amount that we want within a sensible budget. So I do not think we ought to give them that sort of open cheque, to spend as they like.

The other factor that I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, and his friends have properly taken into account is what they will get from the boroughs as a consequence of their being relieved of the precept. They will be left with the same amount of money in their hands as now goes through the Greater London Council system. Why should we think that the boroughs are not going to make a reasonable contribution to the arts? It is the same money. It merely comes directly from them instead of going via the Greater London Council under the form of their precept.

So I think that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, is very valuable. It is on the record. It will let this Government or any Government know, with the support it is getting from both sides of the House, that we want to maintain our arts at a level which is commensurate with the vital part they play in our lives today. We want that. But, at the same time, I think that when we are preparing statutes, as we are doing now, we ought not to give open cheques to anybody, and when we are setting out on a slightly new road, as we are, there ought to be every inducement for the Arts Council to be as economical as they can be, and for the boroughs to be in a position where they are shamed into making the same contribution directly as they now make through the precept. To act differently would be damaging to the way in which we spend the nation's money.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Ritchie of Dundee

My Lords, I should, very briefly, like to approach the matter from a different angle and say a word about the regional arts associations, which have not had very much said about them in all the debates that have taken place in the last few weeks and months. We have heard a great deal about the Arts Council, the GLC and the metropolitan counties, but we have heard very little about the regional arts associations, which have over many years done a very fine job in the arts. I say this particularly because they have paid attention to small and, sometimes, amateur groups of artists and this has very often been unheard of.

I should also like to say that the Greater London Arts Association is working in close collaboration with the London boroughs and there will be a great opportunity for the arts associations of the north, for the Merseyside to work with the Merseyside area, for the Northern Arts to work with the Tyne-Wear area and for the West Midlands and Yorkshire to work with those areas, in softening the blow that abolition will cause. I hope it will be possible to have as generous a grant for the Arts Council as possible, in order to support the very excellent work that has been done, and is being done, by the regional arts associations. Therefore, I support this amendment.

Lord Boothby

My Lords, I came here with the intention of voting for this amendment, because I know of the immense services that the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has rendered to the arts in the past and no doubt will in the future. But I must say that I have been convinced by the speeches which have been made that the proper authority for running the arts—whether we have a Local Government Bill or not, and whatever happens to the GLC—is the Arts Council. I have great confidence in Sir William Rees-Mogg and in all the work that he has done. I believe, apart from the financial reasons cogently advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, that the proper authority to administer the arts throughout this country is the Arts Council, for which it has been set up and about which there has been no complaint yet made to justify interfering with the powers that they already have. Therefore I intend, greatly to my own surprise, to support the Government.

Lord Birkett

My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will forgive me for one second if I speak about the South Bank and take up a point which the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, made. He accused the GLC of being rather profligate and expensive in its running of it and he mentioned the director. Profligacy is a matter of opinion, but there must be confusion here because, unless he is referring to me—and I suspect that he is not; it is, of course, part of my empire like everything else—

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, the reference was to the director of the National Theatre.

Lord Birkett

My Lords, I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I missed the reference to the National Theatre. I thought the noble Lord was talking about the concert hall, and I was going to point out that it is only a matter of weeks ago that we even appointed a general manager there. I stand corrected. I am most interested to hear what the noble Earl has to say about this amendment, because I think that the phrase "I told you so" is the most attractive ever invented. Therefore, I shall now be tempted to bring it out.

But your Lordships will recall that we started with the famous figure of £16 million, out of the £34 million which the noble Earl promised for arts grants after abolition. He himself reckoned that it would be some £4 million short, expecting, as I understand it, that what remains of local government after abolition would, and should, pick up that sum of £4 million out of the £16 million. Assuming that even £5 million were picked up by local authorities, or sources other than large local authority funds, I have calculated that there would be £8 million to £10 million short and have said so loudly. It now appears to me that the sum is exactly £16 million short. If you take £5 million from £37 million, it leaves £32 million, of which £16 million is promised and another £16 million is necessary. Everybody's mathematics will differ, but that is the position as I understand it. Therefore, I am waiting to hear the noble Earl's mathematics—I am sure he has them well up his sleeve—because that is what is before us this afternoon.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, before the noble Earl gives us the benefit of his mathematics which, unhappily, have proved faulty in this matter—and I have no doubt that he will present to us an argument to the contrary—perhaps he will permit me to rehearse the position which has brought us to this pass. We on this side of the House are, in effect, acting as the agents of the Arts Council. For this reason, the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, should change his mind again and come with us, because it is the Arts Council who have put the cat among the pigeons and have said that the Minister is misleading them and everybody else by stating that they can get away with a figure of £16 million—

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Arts (The Earl of Gowrie)


Lord Jenkins of Putney


The Earl of Gowrie

My Lords the noble Lord mentioned me, so would he care to give way? The Arts Council have not accused me of misleading anybody.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, if I have offended the noble Earl by using the word "misleading", I withdraw it. But I must say, as I shall demonstrate in a moment, that what the Arts Council have said is that the figures given by the Minister are inaccurate to a fantastic degree. He has said that the amount which is sufficient to cover their needs in this matter, to enable them to do the job that they are required to take on under this Bill, is about £16 million. They have said that they want twice as much as that. That is the reason why we are here, that is the reason why this amendment is on the Marshalled List, and that is precisely why I say that, unintentionally perhaps, the noble Earl has misled the Arts Council in this matter.

It is 21 years since I first entered Parliament—I was a late entrant—and I have never encountered a Bill which has lost friends as rapidly as has this one. As we approach the later stages of this measure, we find that not only are the Opposition parties united against it, not only are many Cross-Bench Peers opposed, but support on the Government side is, to say the least, luke warm. Noble Lords opposite are going into the Government Lobby out of loyalty, I think, rather than out of any conviction. I have been informed, and I think reliably, that in the Government itself there are an increasing number who take the view that the day this Bill was embarked upon was a disastrous one, not only for the country but even for the Conservative Party.

It may yet be possible to do something fundamental about that, but at the moment what this amendment seeks to do is to mitigate some of the damage. It seeks to ensure simply that the Arts Council have sufficient funds to replace the arts support provided by the Greater London Council and the metroplitan county councils. In doing that, they cannot state a figure. It would be totally improper to do so and the Government, on the whole, are not anxious to state figures. They prefer, on the whole, not to do so and in this respect we are right not to try to state a figure. But, of course, the figure under the heading of "such sums", which appears whenever such matters are mentioned in legislation, gives the decision to the Government. It is the Government, it is the Minister, who will decide—one hopes in consultation with the Arts Council—what such sums are. Therefore, there is nothing here that we need to be afraid about.

This is an astonishing development which has happened at the Arts Council. In the persons of its chairman and secretary-general they originally stood firmly by the Government; so much so that they were widely criticised as being the Minister's puppets. But now that they have had time to look at the facts they have changed sides. They now say, "No, not on your life. On this basis, disaster will follow."

It is, nevertheless, difficult to withhold sympathy from the Minister and I certainly do not do so. He has been deserted by his friends. He begins to resemble Casabianca, the boy who stood on the burning deck whence all but he had fled. The noble Earl had one or two standing with him still, but the latest to go overboard is the significant figure of Sir William Rees-Mogg, followed closely by Mr. Luke Rittner. If I may mix my ships a little, the good ship "Monetarist" is beginning to look more and more like the "Titantic". As for the design of Mr. Milton Friedman, he has gone back to the drawing board and has not been heard of since.

I must make it clear that in reaching its claim for at least an additional £17 million the Arts Council has taken the view that this is the minimum sum which wilt enable it to do the job which it has been required to do by the Minister. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships of the Arts Council's statement of 6th June. The council said that its first preference for the organisation of arts funding in the event of the abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan counties was not that the Arts Council should be given extra funds but that a joint board for the arts and heritage with power to precept should be created in London and in each of the metropolitan counties. The Government, sadly, opposed our attempts to introduce sensible arrangements along these lines, but they cannot, if they are to maintain the slightest shred of credibility, oppose this amendment which seeks, now that we know the real scale of the shortfall in arts funding, a scale supported and stated by the Arts Council itself, to ensure that the Arts Council gets most of the funds that it needs.

This amendment does not run counter to the Government's stated intentions, as the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, said, I think quite correctly, in relation to an earlier amendment. This amendment simply seeks to give legislative force to enable the Minister to get enough money to fulfil his own promises. That is all it seeks to do. It enables him to give his friends on the Arts Council the money they now know they need and have said that they need. I hope that the noble Earl the Minister will therefore adivise the House to accept this amendment. If he fails to do so, I would urge the Minister's friends and all other noble Lords to save the noble Earl's face by accepting this amendment even if he should feel forced to ask you not to do so.

Viscount Eccles

My Lords, I shall be very brief. First of all, I agree entirely with my two noble friends: we could not put in an Act of Parliament an open-ended financial commitment such as that contained in this amendment. That is certainly true. My noble friend who sits beside me mentioned the Director of the National Theatre and the high salary. I know nothing about that. I have very great admiration for Sir Peter Hall. When he was appointed I was Minister, and I received a postcard from the first Viscount Chandos which read as follows: Do you realise you have appointed the most expensive boy in the business? Never mind that, my Lords.

What I should like to say, having had to get money for the arts out of the Government as best I could for a long time, is that in my opinion my noble friend Lord Gowrie is doing very well indeed—far better than we had ever expected. I think it is remarkable in these financial times that he has extracted so much money. What always concerns me is that the Arts Council has to look after two sections of the arts which are so different. The national companies, which take such enormous sums of money, should, I think, be financed directly by the Treasury or the Minister. The Arts Council's real job is in the smaller artistic efforts, especially in the provinces. I do not think that the metropolitan counties—I really only know about the north-east coast—were anything like as extravagant as the GLC. It is very important that those metropolitan counties should get the money that is necessary to carry on. As for London, it is a very difficult case to argue, as undoubtedly a great deal of money was wasted.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I was moved to rise by the extraordinary statement, based on no evidence that I know of, that there are no noble Lords on this side of the House who are enthusiastic for the Bill before us. It is true that there are some noble Lords on this side of the House who have reservations about one or other aspect of it, but the attempt to suggest that the majorities in the Division Lobby today and on other days do not represent a carefully thought out policy in which we support Her Majesty's Government is offensive.

Secondly, I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, with all his experience, really intended this amendment to pass for the technical reasons that have already been given. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, says, "Of course, it is the Minister who would decide how much money". It is not even the Minister. Public expenditure is governed by the responsibility of Ministers to Parliament. Public expenditure, of which this would be only a part, is not something that can be dictated here and there by an amendment to a Bill dealing with a specific issue such as the arts. However much we may prefer public expenditure on the arts to public expenditure on many other aspects of our national life, this cannot be made an exception. Therefore, although I strongly feel with the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and others about the importance of this form of funding, it does not seem to me that those who are concerned with it have done their cause much good with this amendment.

The Earl of Gowrie

My Lords, I sometimes have sympathy with the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, because I know he shares my own interest in, and passion for, the arts. But what usually riles me are the noble Lord's rhetorical and parenthetical asides. It is always a great temptation not to sit on one's hands about them. All Governments, I might point out to him, are monetarist these days: printing money has gone out of fashion. If the country is sufficiently unfortunate as to have a Labour Government again in the foreseeable future, I will bet the noble Lord a grant of £100 from each of us to any arts body which he cares to name that that Government will employ a methodology of cash limits and monetary control just as any other Government will.

The other parenthetical aside from the noble Lord which created some irritation for me was this business about my puppet friends, as I think he put it, Sir William Rees-Mogg and Luke Rittner. Ever since I have been Minister both Sir William and Luke Rittner have said that they needed more money for the arts, and ever since I have been Minister I have told them that I would try to get them some more but nothing like as much as they wanted. We have always known exactly where we have stood on that matter. As to the general policy, which is an important aspect of the debate, I have to say that I stand on record, I think, as one who has opposed the GLC and urged its abolition since 1971, when it was in Conservative hands. I have always thought it a wholly supererogatory tier of government, and that remains my view today.

Perhaps I may turn now to the amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, very fairly said that his amendment referred to the recent statement by the Arts Council that the £16 million which I undertook last year to make available for the performing arts and the South Bank complex after abolition is insufficient. Of course, there will alway be room for differences of view as to how much money is sufficient, and with nearly every other speaker on this side of the House—my noble friends Lord Harmar-Nicholls and Lord Eccles in particular—I really do not see how the amendment which has been tabled could have been made effective. I do not believe that this issue of the amounts of sufficiency or insufficiency of money is a matter which can be dealt with by legislation. I suspect that on reflection the movers of the amendment may themselves share that view.

I have of course discussed the funding situation with Sir William Rees-Mogg, and I am studying the Arts Council's press release. The Arts Council has not yet put any specific proposal to me for an increased level of central Government funding in 1986–87. It would not come as an enormous emotional blow or mental shock if at some point in the foreseeable future it did so. I shall at that time study its calculations most carefully, as I always do. However, no direct comparison, it seems to me, can be made between the £16 million—out of £34 million altogether—which I undertook last year to make available and the £37 million which the Arts Council, to judge from its press release, is now talking about.

I want to make it clear to the House on just what terms my £16 million was offered. My £16 million is what the Government have undertaken to contribute. It is based on what the GLC and the metropolitan counties budgeted to spend in the year 1983–84. I deliberately left a proportion of that to be picked up by the boroughs and districts. The proportion is £4 million, and my criticism of myself is that this is an insanely modest sum. I believe that it is in the interests of arts bodies to have a funding relationship with their local authorities as well as with the Arts Council of Great Britain, and other sources of funds.

By contrast with that the Arts Council's £37 million takes account of increases in GLC and metropolitan county councils' spending in the last two years. It also goes beyond that to include sums which are not being spent by the abolition authorities at present but which the Arts Council, perhaps very fairly, thinks ought to be spent in support of the arts next year in the areas affected by abolition. I say "ought to be spent." They ought to be spent by somebody, but it is not yet clear by whom. Thus, the £37 million includes £3½million for the total replacement of GLC support for 160 smaller organisations which affect more than one single borough. At least some of that figure should,, in my view, be provided by the boroughs and districts.

It includes £4½ million for purely local activities. I have always said, I think from the first week of my appointment, that the boroughs and districts should surely pick up the bill for these activities, and that remains my view. When one considers what Bristol, Bournemouth and Thamesdown, to take but three examples, manage to do for the arts, it is rather absurd and insulting to suppose that boroughs and districts in the abolition areas can do nothing. If I were Bristol, Bournemouth or Thamesdown or, come to that, Glasgow or Edinburgh, I would resent what the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, said when he asked, "What local government remains after abolition?" I remind the House that abolition involves only one tier of Government and only seven areas of this country.

The £37 million also includes a substantial capital provision of £3½ million for the South Bank, most of which seems over and above what the GLC is spending at present, let alone what it was spending in 1983–84. As regards revenue funding, I should say that I have budgeted for the revenue cost of the South Bank in my £16 million contribution. There may well be some arguments between the Arts Council and myself, as funding Minister, about whether or not more is needed or at what stage more is needed. The Arts Council and I will, as always, have to come to the most equitable and best agreement that we can.

The £37 million of the Arts Council projection includes £2 million for other "capital replacement funding." I am not saying that capital replacement funding is not desirable, but it is additional to what is being spent today. It includes £2 million to replace matching funding from the GLC and MCCs which has not yet been obtained but which might have been obtainable if those authorities had survived. I am very glad to say that the Arts Council—and I congratulate it on this—has so far done very well in attracting matching funds from boroughs and districts to help with its Glory of the Garden policy. I back that matching, or challenge, or partnership funding approach. I certainly think that to accept this amendment would throw that out of the window as well as other things.

I hope that it is evident from these examples that the figure of £37 million, to put it a little bluntly, contains nearly everything that the Arts Council could think of on the expenditure side. I understand that. At the moment we are in that season of the political year when organisations that are publically funded by the Government start putting in their bids for next year's money. If I were chairman of the Arts Council, that is precisely the kind of approach that I might, at this season of the year, adopt myself. But the whole pressure of the Arts Council's case and, therefore, also the case of the amendment, is that on the income side next year's spending must be contributed by central Government out of general taxation and nothing by anyone else. I see no reason whatever to take that view.

I hope I shall not be accused of any inconsistency in this respect. I made it clear a year ago that the Government were not, and could not be, committed to pick up whatever increases in arts support the GLC or the MCCs might decide to go in for in the last two years of their existence. They have gone in for such increases. Many of the increases have been specifically designed to swell the volume of arts activity—the built space available for the performance or the number of people employed. I do not intend to speculate about the motives for this surge of activity. Like most human motives, they are probably a mixture of good and bad. Central Government and general taxpayers cannot be expected to give any guarantee that they will automatically pick up these decisions and fund their consequences for the indefinite future. I made clear to all concerned a year ago that I would not guarantee that; and I repeat that I do not guarantee it now.

That said, of course I understand—and this is perhaps a point to make in regard to the very sensitive contribution by the noble Lord, Lord Somers—that all change brings some uncertainty and all uncertainty brings some anxiety. It would be wrong for me to ease that anxiety by simply saying that central Government will take on the whole of the replacement task. There is a proper responsibility for the boroughs and districts, as indeed there is for all the other boroughs and all the other districts in the rest of the country outside the affected areas.

I believe my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls pointed out that ratepayers in the affected areas will have a lesser burden to carry as a result of abolition. I agree with him. I hope that they will take that on board and make a generous contribution to this area of our national life about which we all care so much, wherever we stand on the political divide.

There is also a proper responsibility for the arts bodies and organisations themselves to seek what I call plural funding, whether from central Government by coming to Sir William and myself, or from local government, from consumers—the best form of box office that there is—from patrons or from business sponsors. Nor can I defend a situation in which the ratepayers of, say, a city such as Bristol, are expected to make a substantial and generous contribution to the arts—and Bristol is indeed very glad to do so—but for some extraordinary reason, as a result of the amendment, ratepayers of London or of Manchester would be expected to make no substantive contribution whatever.

I note, however, as I always do, the great interest and concern of this House in arts matters. I undertake to think most carefully about the calculations which the Arts Council has made in a general context of arts funding rather than in the context of this particular Bill. I shall give the most thorough consideration to whatever bid for central Government resources it decides to put forward. As I said earlier, it has not put forward a bid yet. In short, as before, I will do my best, and my previous best has not overall been all bad. That is as far as I can go today, and I urge the rejection of the amendment if it is put to the vote.

Lord Strabolgi

My Lords, I think that we have had a very interesting debate. I should like to say in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, that I am not claiming that the Arts Council can or cannot run the South Bank better or more cheaply than the GLC. But this is a case that the Arts Council itself has put up. It has written to me and to a number of other noble Lords. It has had a press conference, and this has all been in the press. In its letter to me it says: If the Government is unable to increase its offer of additional money beyond £16 million currently offered, the Council could not run the South Bank at its present level and cover the replacement of Met grants even to the larger companies". It goes on to say that the, Council's detailed examination of each grant given by the Mets in 1984–85, leads it to believe that no substantial part of that £37 million will be found by successor districts.… There would be no provision whatsoever for smaller regional or county-wide organisations either in London or outside"— which was a point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles— organisations which have been assured by the Minister that 'the arts have nothing to fear from this abolition' ". That point was, I think, endorsed by the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, when he talked about the Arts Council's case. Indeed, what a strong case it has.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, for what he said, but I should just like to remind him that it is to the Arts Council of Great Britain that the amendment is proposing that the sum be directed.

I am rather surprised that the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, mentioned Glasgow and Edinburgh. My understanding is that the Bill does not apply to Scotland, and I think that Scotland is rather wise in not having this inflicted on it.

The Earl of Gowrie

My Lords, I referred to Glasgow and Edinburgh precisely because the Bill does not apply to them. It would to me be a rather insulting notion to think that other cities in areas not affected by this legislation are not making a substantial contribution to the arts. All I am suggesting is that under the legislation the various parts of the country are put on the same standing where local government and where arts funding are concerned.

Lord Strabolgi

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl. I shall read carefully what he said tomorrow. I am sure that he had so few good examples that he had to choose one or two from north of the border!

This is an amendment to ensure that the noble Earl comes up with the money. At the moment he does not seem to have persuaded his right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do that. There is a large shortfall, as I attempted to show. There is a very large gap indeed. There is great concern throughout the country about the number of arts organisations that are at risk. Therefore I think that we must test the feeling of the House.

7.4 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 80AM) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 95; Not-Contents, 148.

Airedale, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Ardwick, L. John-Mackie, L.
Attlee, E. Kilbracken, L.
Aylestone, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Bacon, B. Kirkhill, L.
Barnett, L. Lawrence, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Bernstein, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Beswick, L. Longford, E.
Birk, B. Lovell-Davis, L.
Birkett, L. McNair, L.
Bottomley, L. Melchett, L.
Brockway, L. Meston, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Mishcon, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Monkswell, L.
Buckmaster, V. Morton of Shuna, L.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Mountevans, L.
Caradon, L. Nicol, B.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Northfield, L.
Chitnis, L. Ogmore, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Oram, L.
Collison, L. Parry, L.
Crawshaw of Aintree, L. Phillips, B.
David, B. [Teller.] Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Dean of Beswick, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Rea, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Ennals, L. Rochester, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Ross of Marnock, L.
Falkender, B. Serota, B.
Falkland, V. Shackleton, L.
Foot, L. Silkin of Dulwich, L.
Gaitskell, B. Stallard, L.
Gallacher, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Galpern, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Strabolgi, L.
Gregson, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Grey, E. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Hampton, L. Tordoff, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Walston, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Whaddon, L.
Heycock, L. White, B.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Wigoder, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Ingleby, V. Wilson of Langside, L.
Irving of Dartford, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E
Jacques, L.
Jeger, B.
Abercorn, D. Beloff, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Belstead, L.
Aldington, L. Boardman, L.
Allerton, L. Boothby, L.
Ampthill, L. Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Arran, E. Brabazon of Tara, L.
Barber, L. Brougham and Vaux, L.
Bauer, L. Caccia, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Caithness, E.
Bellwin, L. Cameron of Lochbroom, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Campbell of Croy, L. Liverpool, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Long, V.
Carnock, L. Lothian, M.
Coleraine, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Lyell, L.
Colwyn, L. McAlpine of Moffat, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. McAlpine of West Green, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Macleod of Borve, B.
Cottesloe, L. Marchwood, V.
Cox, B. Margadale, L.
Craigavon, V. Marley, L.
Craigmyle, L. Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Craigton, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Merrivale, L.
Davidson, V. Middleton, L.
De La Warr, E. Monk Bretton, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Monson, L.
Digby, L. Mottistone, L.
Donegall, M. Mowbray and Stourton, L
Dormer, L. Munster, E.
Eccles, V. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Nugent of Guildford, L
Elibank, L. Orkney, E.
Ellenborough, L. Pender, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Perth, E.
Elliot of Morpeth, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Elton, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Faithfull, B.
Falmouth, V. Portland, D.
Ferrers, E. Radnor, E.
Fortescue, E. Rankeillour, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Reigate, L.
Gainford, L. Renton, L.
Geddes, L. Renwick, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Rodney, L.
Glanusk, L. Romney, E.
Glenarthur, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Gowrie, E. Salisbury, M.
Gray, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Greenway, L. Sandford, L.
Halsbury, E. Savile, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Selsdon, L.
Hemphill, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Stamp, L.
Henley, L. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Hertford, M. Sudeley, L.
Hives, L. Swansea, L.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Swinfen, L.
Hood, V. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Hornsby-Smith, B. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Thorneycroft, L.
Inglewood, L. Torphichen, L.
Ingrow, L. Tranmire, L.
Kaberry of Adel, L. Trefgarne, L.
Killearn, L. Trenchard, V.
Kimball, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
King of Wartnaby, L. Vickers, B.
Kinloss, Ly. Vivian, L.
Kinnaird, L. Whitelaw, V.
Kinnoull, E. Wynford, L.
Kitchener, E. Yarborough, E.
Lane-Fox, B. Young, B.
Lauderdale, E. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, it is now probably an appropriate moment to move on to next business. I should say that the House will not come back to this particular Bill before 8.15. I therefore beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

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