HL Deb 14 May 1985 vol 463 cc1073-97

6.25 p.m.

House again in Committee.

[Amendments Nos. 132G, 132H and 132J not moved.]

Baroness Lockwood moved Amendment No. 132K: Before Clause 42, insert the following new clause:

("Archaeological services in metropolitan counties.

.—(1) The Secretary of State shall by order under this section taking effect on the abolition date vest in the appropriate residuary body the functions to which this section applies.

(2) This section applies to the functions of a metropolitan county council exercised immediately before the abolition date relating to the funding or provision of archaeological services.

(3) An order under this section may contain such supplementary and transitional provisions as the Secretary of State thinks necessary or expedient, including provisions for the transfer of property, staff, rights and liabilities and provisions amending any enactment or any instrument made under any enactment.").

The noble Baroness said: I should like to move Amendment No. 132K, which is concerned with archaeological services in the metropolitan counties. Although there was a reference to the archaeological services in the previous amendment, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, it was not discussed during the omnibus debate that we had at that time. There are aspects of the archaeological service which need particular care in the context of this Bill.

All the metropolitan counties, to some degree or another, have a unit dealing with archaeology in the area of the metropolitan county. The purpose of this amendment is to transfer to the residuary body the responsibility for maintaining those services as they now exist and for transferring the staff and other aspects of the unit to this body so that the service can continue.

During the Second Reading debate of this Bill I referred in my speech to the concern that I had for some of the services being administered by the metropolitan counties for the need to maintain continuity and a sense of history. This is particularly so in relation to this amendment. It is a small service but nevertheless an important one, and one which we need to maintain. It is certainly concerned with the history of our nation.

The metropolitan county areas have not been renowned in the past for their archaeological richness. I suppose this is due to the fact that all of them are densely populated and occupy a small proportion of the land of the country. Indeed, I think that 25 per cent. of England's population are in the metropolitan county areas and are concentrated in only 5 per cent. of the land. Therefore, it is perhaps not surprising that the archaeologists have traditionally kept away from these areas because obviously the problem of excavation is more difficult.

During the last 10 years we have seen a reversal of this trend, and we are finding that these areas are rich in potential. I can perhaps illustrate this by some of the finds that have been made in my own county of West Yorkshire. First, I would emphasise that we are talking about a small service. In the case of West Yorkshire the unit consists of 11 staff, but those 11 staff include specialists. For instance, there is someone who is responsible for site and monument records; and there is an historic buildings vernacular architect, an aerial photographer and interpreter, and a pre-historian. In other words, they are specialists who are all concerned with archaeology and who are working together as a team. The unit could be said, in a way, to be re-writing history. I know that in another context many of us would deplore the re-writing of history, but in the case of West Yorkshire, for instance, before 1976 nothing was known of the Iron Age in that part of the country. But three major sites have been discovered and excavated, and we now know where people were living and even such details as the diseases from which they suffered. This is a new aspect of history which can go into our history books.

6.30 p.m.

Many people think of archaeology as being just excavation and digging; yet a lot of the work is done through aerial surveys. Again, both in West Yorkshire and in a number of the other metropolitan areas there is regular aerial surveying of the area, which has been responsible for revealing new features and new habitations within the area.

A third factor is the recording of the sites and monuments. Again in West Yorkshire, since 1975 there have been some 30,000 entries of sites and monuments within that county alone. These are now in the process of being computerised. So we can see that these services are very specialised, but nevertheless they are very important and it would be difficult to break them up. We could not, for instance, in West Yorkshire, have six teams doing what the one county team is doing; and, in the whole of the metropolitan area, to have 36 teams doing this would be a nonsense. Therefore, what we are suggesting is that the service should be transferred to the residuary bodies so that it could be taken over in its present setting and continue with the work without interruption to the staff, who naturally are very concerned about their future.

In case it should be thought that we are dealing only with history when we talk about archaeology, then, of course, we are not, because these services are important to the future. For example, when planning applications are being made it is important that the planning and development should take place in areas that would not threaten archaeological sites. The unit provides a service in the definition of conservation areas; and the unit also provides services in the way of listing buildings. The impact of major new development schemes, such as roads which go across district boundaries, pipelines and, in an area like West and South Yorkshire, mineral extraction, is such that it is very important that we should know of both archaeological sites and of the work that is being done at them.

So this fits in with planning and development for the future, and I would suggest to noble Lords that this is one of the services that really should be taken over as an entity. That is a view which is shared by many who are concerned with this whole area. The Council for British Archaeology is naturally concerned, and claims that it would be much more expensive in terms of manpower and of overhead costs for the service to be done at district level. The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission are concerned about it; the Civic Trust and the Victorian Society—in fact, all who are concerned with our past, our history and our inheritance. So I suggest that this is an amendment which should commend itself to your Lordships, and that it would really be a betrayal of history if we were to fragment and destroy the service which has been built up. I beg to move.

Viscount Colville of Culross

I wonder whether the noble Baroness is right in saying that the distinguished bodies that she has just mentioned support this particular amendment. I should like to suggest to her and to the Committee that perhaps the way in which she has gone about it is not really apt to deal with what I entirely agree is an important point. Certainly, when it comes to the impact of archaeological discoveries, investigations or assessment on the planning process, the very last body I would suggest as being suitable as the repository for the skills of these teams which have been set up is the residuary body.

I remember very well a most important planning application which happened to have been made in relation to a very historic part of the city of Hereford. I attended the first conference on this in 1974, and I do not think that the development has been carried out yet. It was fraught with difficulty. Hereford is an extremely difficult city in terms of redevelopment because there are so many historic buildings and, indeed, archaeological sites. But to transfer the expertise, in circumstances of that sort, to a body which, so far as we know, is going to last only five years is really exactly to miss the point; because what one needs is something very much more permanent.

I do not think that the residuary body—and we do not want to go over all this again—has any chance of continuing for ever, whereas the interest in archaeology is not only a permanent thing but grows as technology improves the techniques. Therefore, if I may suggest it to the Committee, the noble Baroness is perfectly right in drawing attention to this fact but not, I suggest, in saying that it should go to the residuary body. Is there really not any possibility that in a metropolitan county there can be some co-ordination whereby the districts may jointly draw upon the skills of these teams so that they do not have to duplicate them? After all, in many shire counties there are matters of great archaeological importance where there does not have to be an overall team and where the district council may very well be the right body, or, alternatively, there may have to be a coordinated county body supported by a number of districts. I would suggest that this matter be carefully considered, but I hope that my noble friend will be able to come up with something rather more practical than this.

There is just one other point. What about Greater London?—because this is only referring to metropolitan counties. There is a great deal of archaeological importance in Greater London which I think very often turns up in the course of investigations of planning applications, and as to which some very difficult decisions have to be taken. Again, I think it is highly unlikely, even if the matter was extrapolated so that the residuary body of Greater London was put in charge of this, that they would be able to complete their task in five years. Therefore, I should think that, whatever the solution is, it is not this one.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

I am very much surprised at the noble Viscount's intervention because if he were interested in the subject he might be expected to say, "I agree absolutely with this, and what we have to ask the residuary body to do is to get the districts together and form a permanent council, or something of that kind". If he agrees with it, it would be much better to say so rather than, as it were, getting the whole thing put aside.

I regard this as a test of the Government's sincerity. Every suggestion we have put up from this side—some of them have gained your Lordships' agreement and some have not—has been suspected by the more militant characters on the other side of being an attempt to put back the bodies which have been dissolved. Not one of the most anti-GLC and anti-metropolitan bodies can think for one moment that having a central body which is looking after archaeology in metropolitan districts is an attempt to put back those districts. I am sure the noble Viscount would agree that that is not the case.

It seems to me that what we want is exactly what my noble friend has said, plus the proviso that, as the residuary body is not permanent, during its lifetime it should arrange something to carry this out which would be permanent Alternatively, if the Government were to say that they would do that immediately, let them bring in an amendment on Report to appoint a small advisory body to do that. I think it is quite wrong to ditch the whole thing just because the residuary body was mentioned. It is more serious than that. It is a serious issue and I think it really would be a very bad thing if this Bill were to go through this Chamber with no attempt being made to recognise that archaeology requires a certain amount of skill which not every district council can produce. There must be a body which can help them all and deal with them all. It seems to me an honest, straightforward and sensible thing, and I hope very much that when the noble Lord replies he will be able either to agree with what has been said or else indicate a willingness to bring something forward at a later stage, along the same lines.

Viscount Colville of Culross

I really must answer the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, on this because what he is saying is wholly inconsistent with what he said earlier this afternoon. He said that in his own amendment, which is Amendment No. 132FA—and I remember clearly that he was not in his place when I mentioned this earlier—what he was seeking was some sort of transitional body. He received a great deal of support on this from your Lordships. I notice that what he chose to put in his amendment was an "appropriate joint authority". Those are the words in his amendment. He did not choose the residuary body, because he realises as well as everybody else that if we are going to get a smooth transition the residuary body is the wrong one because of the way that it is constructed in this Bill. I am perfectly willing to support the noble Lord in trying to smooth the transition for the archaeological services, as in the arts and recreation. All I am saying is that the residuary body is not the right method.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

If I may reply very quickly, I think we are in total agreement. The residuary body was left in because it seemed the easiest existing body to attach and we knew that the Government were very frightened of appointing new bodies. But when it comes down to a single thing like archaeology, that objection hardly applies. I should be very happy if the noble Viscount were to support us. If the noble Lord, when he comes to reply, says he cannot do anything about this, we shall move an amendment on Report in terms agreed with the noble Viscount.

Lord Montagu of Beaulieu

I thought it might be helpful, as chairman of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, to say just a few words on this subject. First, I will admit that the commission is concerned that there may be a reduction in archaeological conservation work in the metropolitan counties as a result of the abolition of those councils and the disbandment of the teams. We have been discussing with Government various matters and have pressed them to find some method of ensuring that funds are available for the continuing work of these archaeological and conservation teams or whoever may take over from them. We have been writing to the archaeological units up there, suggesting that we establish trusts or companies limited by guarantee to take over the work of the archaeological and conservation units in these areas.

6.45 p.m.

We believe that the commission can act as an excellent catalyst to bring people together in order to ensure that the necessary funds are raised. That would also include private funds. I would remind your Lordships that we are responsible for over £5 million a year of archaeological money which is put into these units. I am sure the noble Baroness did not wish to suggest that all the funding came from the metropolitan areas. We already support them to a very large degree and we also support aerial surveys; and since October all listed buildings consents have to come through the commission. So we are fairly confident that in the event of abolition of the metropolitan districts outside London we can play a very valuable part in replacing those bodies, and, as I say, acting as a catalyst to make sure that this important archaeological work continues.

Lord Beloff

I should like very briefly, if I may, to suggest a revolutionary proposal: that is to say, that we should stop doing things in the British way and look at the way in which this problem might be tackled elsewhere. I agree totally with the noble Baroness about the importance of archaeology as a subject and as a contributor to history, and also about the importance, when you have a multi-disciplinary team, of keeping it together. The issue is where this team should be located and how it should be financed.

Perhaps I may suggest that if this were another country which was very interested in archaeology—as an example, let us take Israel, which I happen to know very well—the natural place for teams is connected to a university. All the metropolitan counties have universities within their boundaries and all of them have, I think, at least one university of international repute. I should have thought that if a location for these teams could be found in an appropriate university and if arrangements could be made for local as well as national finance, as the noble Lord, Lord Montagu, has mentioned, to be specifically allocated to this, that would in the long run be a great advantage to the archaeologists themselves. It does not seem to me that local government, which as we have learnt deals with a great many things, is the natural ambience for archaeologists. I should have thought that universities are.

Lord Monkswell

I rise with a little hesitation on a subject of which I know very little, but I will introduce into the debate an aspect which I know rather more about and of which I have some experience: that is the effect of the proposals of the Bill on the teams, in terms of individuals and specialists. Here I must bring into the debate my experience in engineering. Your Lordships will be aware that in the engineering industry there have been numerous massive factory closures and redundancy programmes. They have had the effect of unsettling people and providing the risk of a very poor future for professional staff within the engineering industry. The result has been that some very able and highly skilled professional engineers have left the industry completely. They have said, "I wash my hands of this industry; I am going to do something completely different". And because they are highly able individuals they have found work in some other sphere.

It strikes me that the proposals, or the lack of them, with regard to the archaeological teams may have an effect similar to that which I have described in engineering. I think it is very important that we, and hopefully the Government, give some indication td these teams that they have a valid part to play in our society; that we wish to continue employing them and to keep highly-skilled professional people with the prospects of continued employment in their chosen profession. Really what we are trying to sort out here are the best methods of doing that. I hope that the Government's intention is not to say that just because we are abolishing the metropolitan counties these teams should be made redundant, unemployed and, if necessary, at some future date perhaps re-employed. I hope that the Government will have a rather more far-sighted view with regard to the highly-skilled and able professional people who are involved in this work.

Lord Montagu of Beaulieu

May I add one point? There are some very successful archaeological trusts in the country—for example, in Wessex—which are funded by various sources. Of course we shall continue to project fund archaeology wherever it is; and it deserves such support.

Lord Strabolgi

In spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Montagu, said, with all his great experience, I should like to support the spirit of the amendment and particularly what my noble friend Lord Monkswell has just said. This will undoubtedly lead to the fragmentation of the archaeological units and therefore to the virtual loss of the service in many respects. In particular, I am informed that the disappearance of the units in South and West Yorkshire will create a void in the West Yorkshire-Humberside region, and in turn the total loss of the service could affect planning and development control and the protection of our heritage and create gaps in the knowledge of our environment.

I believe that the total archaeological professional staff of the six metropolitan counties is 23. This is hardly divisible by the number of district councils which would be involved. By splitting small teams, which together cover the several specialisms necessary for archaeology, there would be a consequent loss of efficiency. It is inconceivable that any individual district would set up a total unit. Indeed, such action would surely be wasteful in many cases since no one district could justify such a unit. It is therefore essential that archaeological services are the responsibility of a country-wide body and we believe that the residuary body could fulfil this role, at least during the transitional period.

Lord Elton

I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, put an extra "r" into the word and that he meant a county-wide body rather than a country-wide body. I wonder whether I can be helpful and try to smooth the transition of the ruffled water. Your Lordships have described the excellent work of the archaeological services, which is highly regarded not only by the Government but, I believe, throughout the academic world; and I fully accept its importance, as do the Government.

I should point out to your Lordships that the support it has drawn on for finance is not entirely dependent on the metropolitan authorities. It is in fact the Manpower Services Commission and the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission which have provided most of the funding. The noble Baroness referred, with very proper approval, to the work in West Yorkshire. She probably knows that, in 1984–85, 75 per cent. of the unit's income came from the MSC and almost all the rest came from the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. So that is not threatened by abolition. It is no mean investment of public money and it will continue to be open to the successor authorities after abolition to seek exactly the same support from exactly the same services. So in that respect we can be more confident than the noble Baroness led us to fear; but of course she has other grounds for anxiety.

She raised the question of the organisation through which the resources can best be channelled. The Governments view is that there is no reason why the districts should not act together in setting up archaeological organisations. The view of the noble Baroness, that the districts cannot be trusted with the task, is not one that we share. I should say that each of the counties has its own arrangements and that they vary considerably. There seems almost no uniformity as to what is the best level or the best organisational arrangements under which archaeology should thrive.

In Greater Manchester we have an archaeology unit for which funding is shared on a 50–50 basis between the county council and the university. In Merseyside there seems to be only a sites and monuments record in the county council planning department. South Yorkshire is different again, with a county council unit mostly staffed by MSC-funded posts. Tyne and Wear benefit from both a keeper of archaeology in the county museum service and a county archaeologist in the planning department. West Midlands, on the other hand, appears to rely mainly on the Birmingham University field archaeology unit, as my noble friend Lord Beloff would think proper. Then there is the rather more sophisticated organisation in West Yorkshire to which the noble Baroness referred with appropriate approval.

So I am quite ready to accept that most of the different organisational and funding solutions adopted in the metropolitan counties have their own particular benefits and that many of their significant features are certainly worth preserving. What I cannot accept is that the district councils are incapable of taking over responsibility for this work.

May I draw your Lordships' attention to Clause 93 of the Bill, which already imposes a duty on all districts in every metropolitan county to establish by 1st September 1985—that is, long before abolition—a joint preparatory committee. This committee will have a duty to co-ordinate the making of preparations for the exercise of functions previously exercised concurrently with the county councils, as are these. Moreover, under subsection (2)(b) of that clause, the joint committees will also have a specific duty to consider whether any of the functions could with advantage be discharged jointly and, if so, to promote arrangements for this under Section 101 of the Local Government Act 1972.

This will enable them to make joint arrangements for the employment of staff and the provision of facilities for archaeology. It will also allow them to consider provision for archaeology in the context of their other related activities; for example, in the fields of historic buildings, the county sites and monuments record and conservation. It will allow them to decide on the best arrangements for their areas and the arrangements are bound to differ, because they differ already and the requirements are different.

The districts will not be unsupported in this task—and I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Montagu for his intervention—because they will be supported by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission which, as I think he told your Lordships, has already taken the initiative and has written to every district council and every borough council, I believe (but we are concerned here only with the districts) to point out the difficulties and the opportunities and to encourage them to come together with its assistance. So we are not doing nothing, but it is not central Government who are doing the something.

My noble friend referred to Greater London. It is not in the amendment and perhaps I should refer him to our exchanges on an earlier day in Committee, when my noble friend referred in a speech in which he made an announcement about the Museum of London to the role that that will play as a base for archaeology in our capital. I warmly welcome the approach of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. I am not suggesting that its proposals are the only way forward. But I am quite sure that it is far better to leave those concerned the freedom to consider all possible options in the way already provided for in the Bill, with considerable care and with some foresight; and it provides the opportunity for that care and foresight to be continued from 1st September under the arrangements which I have quoted.

Baroness Lockwood

I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, has not been more accommodating in his response, because I was encouraged by the comments made by some of his noble friends on the other side. It seemed to me that the noble Viscount was absolutely right when he said that what we are seeking is a permanent solution to this problem. Of course, we are seeking a permanent solution to the problem, and it seemed to me that transferring the services as they are at the present time—and I accept entirely what the Minister said about the variety in the six different metropolitan counties—to the residuary bodies would give us an opportunity to work out a permanent solution; not a solution worked out in the short space of time between now and September.

This would fit in with what the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, said about the universities being a possible home for the archaeological services. As the Minister has said, already two of the counties do have an arrangement with their appropriate university. That is a possibility which could be looked at. But what we want to do in the meantime is to retain the teams and to retain the service as it is.

7 p.m.

The Minister referred to the support which is being given by the Manpower Services Commission and by the Ancient Monuments Commission. Of course, the service and the financial assistance from both these two bodies is very important, but in West Yorkshire the Manpower Services Commission provided 97 temporary staff in order to carry out the plan which the metropolitan authority was preparing. They were working to the plan of the metropolitan county; they were not doing independent work on their own. This is the crux of the whole matter. Each of the six metropolitan counties is developing its service. Some are more developed than others, and I am very proud of the way in which West Yorkshire has developed. Some of the other metropolitan counties are not as far advanced in their service; nevertheless, they are beginning to develop it more.

In effect, what I was asking for was some additional time so that we can keep what we have and look to how we can build upon it. I was not very taken with the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Montagu, when he asked whether the districts could not come together. Nor was I impressed by the Minister's argument of passing the service over to the districts. The districts are prepared to co-operate, but the districts are not big enough on their own to provide a comprehensive service. Nor are we certain—

Lord Elton

I find it a little surprising for the noble Baroness to say that the districts are not big enough to provide a service on the scale which we have just heard described. There are not 97 permanent posts in West Yorkshire. We are talking of a handful of people in most of the metropolitan areas. We are talking, incidentally, not of a temporary body in the form of the HBMC, but of a permanent body there. We have until abolition for these quite powerful organisations to come to a sensible conclusion under the wise and experienced guidance of the commission to solve what is administratively a small problem in which they invest a great deal of local pride, which they will not want to throw out of the window, and which I am convinced will not be damaged by the sort of squabbles that have marred arrangements for other things. We do not want to prolong this, but I thought I ought to say those things before the noble Baroness finally sits down.

Baroness Lockwood

I am sorry, but, again, I am not convinced by the remarks of the Minister. I am more concerned at seeing this service continue over the whole of the urban area. As I said in my opening remarks, there are difficulties which relate specifically to the urban areas and it is those difficulties which the metropolitan counties have begun to overcome.

I am not convinced that the districts would co-operate unless there were some obligation on them to do so in relation to this service, which, as the Minister has said, is a small service and is likely to be given little priority when one compares it with the other services for which the districts are responsible.

Lord Elton

Will the noble Baroness kindly tell us where in her amendment the obligation rests on the councils?

Baroness Lockwood

The amendment suggests that the service be transferred to the residuary body.

Lord Elton

But the noble Baroness is not proposing that it should remain permanently there, and she says a permanent solution depends on an obligation on the councils. Where is it?

Baroness Lockwood

I am sorry, but obviously the Minister was not listening to what I said. I said that the service could be transferred as it is to the residuary body, which would give us a full opportunity to determine then what the permanent solution should be. I referred to the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, of the universities being involved, as one possibility.

It seems that the Minister is not only not prepared to move one inch from the Bill as it is printed; he is not even prepared to listen to argument. While I was myself prepared to be conciliatory, if he had been as conciliatory as some of his noble friends on the Benches opposite I would not have pressed the amendment. But in the light of his reply, I feel bound to press the amendment.

7.6 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 132K) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 117; Not-Contents, 149.

Airedale, L. Diamond, L.
Ardwick, L. Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Avebury, L. Elwyn-Jones, L.
Aylestone, L. Ennals, L.
Bacon, B. Esher, V.
Banks, L. Evans of Claughton, L.
Barnett., L. Ewart-Biggs, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Falkland, V.
Beswick, L. Fisher of Rednal, B.
Birk, B. Fitt, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Foot, L.
Bowden, L. Gaitskell, B.
Briginshaw, L. Gallacher, L.
Brockway, L. Galpern, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Gifford, L.
Buckmaster, V. Gladwyn, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Glenamara, L.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Caradon, L. Gregson, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Grey, E.
Chitnis, L. Hacking, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Hampton, L.
Collison, L. Hanworth, V.
David, B. Harris of Greenwich, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Hatch of Lusby, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B. Howie of Troon, L.
Hunt, L.
Denington, B. Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Ingleby, V. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Irving of Dartford, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Jacques, L.
Jeger, B. Rea, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Rhodes, L.
John-Mackie, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Kagan, L. Roberthall, L.
Kennet, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Kilbracken, L. Rochester, Bp.
Kilmarnock, L. Rochester, L.
Kirkhill, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Kissin, L. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Sainsbury, L.
Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Seear, B.
Lockwood, B. Serota, B.
Longford, E. Simon, V.
Lovell-Davis, L. Stallard, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. Stedman, B. [Teller.]
Mackie of Benshie, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
McNair, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Mar, C. Strabolgi, L.
Mayhew, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Melchett, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Meston, L. Tordoff, L.
Mishcon, L. Walston, L.
Monkswell, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Mountevans, L. Whaddon, L.
Nicol, B. White, B.
Ogmore, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Perry of Walton, L. Winstanley, L.
Phillips, B.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Elliot of Harwood, B.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Elton, L.
Allerton, L. Erroll of Hale, L.
Ampthill, L. Ferrier, L.
Annaly, L. Fisher, L.
Arran, E. Fortescue, E.
Auckland, L. Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Barber, L. Gainford, L.
Bauer, L. Gardner of Parkes, B.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Geddes, L.
Beloff, L. Gibson-Watt, L.
Belstead, L. Gisborough, L.
Bessborough, E. Glanusk, L.
Boardman, L. Glenarthur, L.
Boston, L. Gowrie, E.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Gray of Contin, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Grimston of Westbury, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Halsbury, E.
Campbell of Croy, L. Hanson, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Carnock, L. Henley, L.
Cathcart, E. Holderness, L.
Chelwood, L. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Clitheroe, L. Hood, V.
Coleraine, L. Hornsby-Smith, B.
Colville of Culross, V. Hylton-Foster, B.
Colwyn, L. Ingrow, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Kaberry of Adel, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Kemsley, V.
Cornwallis, L. Kimberley, E.
Cottesloe, L. Kitchener, E.
Cox, B., Lane-Fox, B.
Craigavon, V. Lauderdale, E.
Craigmyle, L. Layton, L.
Crawshaw, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Croft, L. Loch, L.
Davidson, V. Long, V.
De La Warr, E. Lothian, M.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Dilhorne, V. Lyall, L.
Drumalbyn, L. McFadzean, L.
Dundee, E. Macleod of Borve, B.
Eden of Winton, L. Margadale, L.
Elibank, L. Marley, L.
Elles, B. Marshall of Leeds, L.
Masham of Ilton, B. Salisbury, M.
Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Savile, L.
Merrivale, L. Shannon, E.
Middleton, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Molson, L. Southborough, L.
Monk Bretton, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Montagu of Beaulieu, L. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V. Swansea, L.
Morris, L. Swinfen, L.
Mottistone, L. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Mowbray and Stourton, L. Teynham, L.
Munster, E. Thorneycroft, L.
Newall, L. Tollemache, L.
Nugent of Guildford, L. Tranmire, L.
Onslow, E. Trefgarne, L.
Orkney, L. Trumpington, B.
Pender, L. Tryon, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L. Ullswater, V.
Portland, D. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Rankeillour, L. Vivian, L.
Reay, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Renton, L. Whitelaw, V.
Renwick, L. Windlesham, L.
Rochdale, V. Wynford, L.
Rodney, L. Young, B.
Romney, E. Young of Graffham, L.
St. Aldwyn, E. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
St. Davids, V.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Strabolgi had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 132KA: Before Clause 42, insert the following new clause:


. The Secretary of State shall by order taking effect on the abolition date make provision for the transfer to the London Residuary Body of all parks, open spaces and sports facilities owned immediately before the abolition date by the Greater London Council where any such park, open space or sports facilities is in the area of two or more London boroughs, or is outside Greater London, or is approved by the Secretary of State as being for the benefit of an area of Greater London substantially larger than the London borough in or near which the park, open space or sports facility is to be provided.").

Baroness Nicol

I propose not to move this amendment, in favour of Amendment No. 132KB.

[Amendment No. 132KA not moved.]

Lord Kilmarnock moved Amendment No. 132KB: Before Clause 42, insert the following new clause:

("Parks in London.

.—(1) On the appointed day, which shall be before the abolition date, there shall be established in Greater London a body corporate to be known by the name of the London Regional Parks Authority.

(2) The Authority shall exercise all the functions exercised by the Greater London Council in respect of all those parks, commons and open spaces owned or managed by the Greater London Council immediately before the appointed day except for the land specified in any order made under section 46(1).

(3) The authority shall consist of members of the constituent councils and the Inner London Education Authority appointed by them to be members of the Authority.

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

(5) 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: The subject of parks and recreation has already been discussed this evening and so I shall be brief. The noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, has already spoken on this subject and the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, made some reference to it in his brilliant speech. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, for withdrawing her version, which would have put the London parks under the residuary body, which would of course have some of the disadvantages already pointed out by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross.

The object of this amendment is very simple. It is to keep together the management of the 5,500 acres of park presently run by the GLC and to preserve intact the expertise of the management team. To this end we propose a joint board within the scope of Part IV of the Bill, to be called the London Regional Parks Authority.

Of all the great capital cities of Europe, London is the richest in gardens and open spaces. One may think of Paris for its layout and boulevards, Rome for its antiquities, Madrid for its sparkling air blown down from the Sierra de Guadarrama. But London's most essential characteristic is to be found in its parks. Some are royal parks, administered these days by the Department of the Environment, and many are not. It is these parks whose management functions we seek to hold together. The word "regional" was chosen because most of these parks are used by people from all over London and, in some cases, from all over the world.

My own particular interest is Hampstead Heath. I have seen and read with sympathy the amendments put down in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe. There was a trenchant leader in The Times on 30th April on the unsuitability of the Corporation of the City of London to take on the heath, despite what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, on this matter. If I may quote The Times, it stated: Now the Corporation, amiable anachronism though the City is, is elected by no residents of Camden, Haringey or Barnet nor, in large measure, does it belong to the fuiltime residents of the Square Mile. Historic purchase makes the Corporation the manager of Epping Forest and Highgate Woods but to suggest the City as the guardian of Hampstead Heath in the context of a measure advertised as 'streamlining' government and promoting accountability beggars belief'.

Turning to the next option, I gather that the three boroughs concerned are not particularly keen to take it on. Obviously we want to see proper arrangements for the heath, but I am not sure that even this "model urban park", to quote The Times again, should be treated as a special case, as is proposed in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, which appears later on the Marshalled List.

Excluding Hainault Forest, Hampstead Heath is the largest unit managed by the GLC. But there is also London's other commanding height, Blackheath, as well as Battersea Park and Holland Park, to say nothing of Hackney Marshes and Wormwood Scrubs. All are substantial areas and some are household names. Our amendment would embrace them all.

In only one respect have we subtracted from the total area at present managed by the Arts and Recreation Department of the GLC, and that is in respect of the South Bank and Jubilee Gardens, comprising only 10 acres which are already catered for under Clause 46(1) of the Bill. Also, of course, we did not want to tangle with our powerful friends in the arts lobby, and so we are prepared to let them have that river walk which belongs properly to the South Bank complex of buildings and to let them set up their statues and artifacts there.

Finally, I should like to say a word or two about the development branch of the Arts and Recreation Department. Those of us who are lucky enough to live near Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill, Battersea or Blackheath should not forget the important task of the creation of new parks in less fortunate parts of the capital. Cases in point are Burgess Park and Mile End Park, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Birkett. There is also the upgrading of existing parks, the landscaping of road schemes, flood alleviation schemes, the upkeep of ILEA school grounds, playing fields, and so on. The people carrying out this work are a team of landscape architects and civil engineers which simply could not be maintained in a cost-effective way by a smaller authority than the one we propose. Their dispersal would be another blow at expertise and excellence, a tendency which has already given rise to some concern in other parts of this Bill.

The London parks have been described as the lungs of London. Lungs need care if they are to expand and if the capital is to breathe properly. The more ambitious amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, would have swept up parks and the arts and museums, and so on, and had it been carried, my amendment would have been otiose. However, I believe it is now very much required. It is simple and it gives clearly defined responsibilities. There would be an existing expert workforce to draw upon. I beg to move.

Lord Birkett

Your Lordships will be aghast at the thought of hearing me speak again this evening, as I fear that I spoke too long this afternoon. However, I cannot resist adding a moment or two on this subject to say a little of what I forgot to say earlier on the subject of parks and the need for a strategic authority. I shall not weary your Lordships again with the tales of Burgess Park and Mile End, and so on, but I want to say, for example, that we have Hounslow Heath in London about which, I confess, we have done nothing so far. There is the whole question of education within the parks, which should be a centralised education service using the greenhouses and glasshouses that we have. A nursery is provided; and I referred earlier to an arboretum in Newham—something which I believe only a central authority can deal with. There are so many good reasons for a central authority that I shall simply allow your Lordships to think that I can continue the list all night but make you feel relieved by not doing so.

Lord Plummer of St. Marylebone

I was unable to vote for Amendment No. 132E because I felt that it lumped together too many things in one place which, to be truthful, were not compatible. The situation in London is very different. To give some idea of the number of parks and other activities which it is proposed to transfer to the London boroughs it would be useful to give in broad outline, and briefly, what is involved for those who may not be aware of the size of the problem.

The GLC owns some 43 parks. They contain two athletic stadia, four athletic tracks, 230 football pitches, 41 cricket pitches, 116 tennis courts, seven bowling greens, three swimming pools, nine horse riding facilities, 14 rugby pitches and two golf courses. Most of the parks are large and, as has been said before, they serve a wide area of London. Indeed, although Hampstead Heath gets all the publicity, there are many others of a similar nature, such as Golders Hill, Blackheath, Abbey Wood, Crystal Palace, Hainault Forest, Hackney Marshes and Wormwood Scrubs, all of which cross borough boundaries.

Under the Bill all these will be transferred to the London boroughs. However, on the question of transfer we have been all through this before—at least, I have, as have some noble Lords opposite. I believe that certainly the same structural issues to which my noble friend the Minister referred have been throughly investigated on previous occasions. When the GLC was formed in 1964 there followed a thorough analysis of the parks which it inherited from the predecessor bodies. From 1967—in fact, during the time I was Leader of the council—the transfer of local parks to the boroughs was thoroughly investigated and was carried out, keeping only those—and I quote from the Act, approved by the Minister as being for the benefit of an area of Greater London substantially larger than the London boroughs in or near which the park or open space is proposed to be provided". That is a policy which I strongly suggest still applies and is good common sense.

As recently as 1978 the Marshall Inquiry, conducted by Lord Marshall, concluded that the present division of responsibilities between the GLC and the boroughs was right. However, it added the interesting comment—and I think I must mention this—that it could see little justification for the administration of the royal parks by central Government, and for reasons of economy and administrative efficiency there was a case for the GLC to assume some responsibilities for them; in other words, keep the central strategic administration and do not fragment it.

The message is clear, therefore, from those who have actually studied the situation. London's major parks should be run by a single body, which is why the new clause proposes transferring them to a residuary body. There are many good reasons. Among them I mention, first, administrative efficiency and economies of scale, which have been referred to before. Secondly, if the parks are passed to the boroughs, they will be subject to a large number of different management policies. Some boroughs will be willing and able to devote the resources required for them and others will not. Thirdly, if parks which cross borough boundaries are passed to a number of boroughs, what will happen when they disagree about how they should be managed—we have already had examples of this over Hampstead Heath—or how much should be spent on them?

London is famous for its large parks, and splitting up the administration will not maintain standards. It is a well-known axiom in local government that when savings have to be made in a borough council budget it is the parks committee which always suffers first. That is the danger in splitting them up. Unless there is a new central authority, as has been mentioned previously, the highly qualified teams of experts which only an authority with a number of parks could justify employing would be broken up.

There is then the issue of the GLC sports facilities. These are not spread out evenly across boroughs but are concentrated in particular areas. However, the users come from all over London. I give just one example. Hackney Marshes contains over 100 football pitches. It is the largest concentration of football pitches in Europe. Is it reasonable to expect Hackney, one of the poorest boroughs in London, to run these facilities mainly for the benefit of people who come from other parts of London? Anybody concerned with football in London knows that literally the clubs come from all over London and some come from outside. Is this, as the noble Earl the Minister said, how we want things to settle down? The case for the GLC parks and sports facilities continuing to be run by one authority is overwhelming. I hope that there will be support for this amendment which is for the benefit of Londoners.

7.30 p.m.

Lord Molson

I wonder whether I might intervene for a few moments because I believe that there is an opportunity for consensus between both sides of the Committee on this matter. In the first place, as a realist I recognise that the Government are completely opposed to the creation unnecessarily of further new centralised bodies. I regard that as being a fact which we ought to recognise. On the other hand, there is no doubt from the speeches that have been made that the Government are anxious to preserve the amenities which exist at the present time.

I think that the case has been forcefully made that to devolve responsibility for all the parks of London upon the districts would in many cases result in the fragmentation of administration. I think that in almost all cases it would mean that there were not sufficient financial resources to enable each one of those parks to be satisfactorily administered. Therefore I hope that, if the Government stand firm upon their principle of not establishing one more centralised authority because they feel that that would be a complete breach of the whole policy of this Bill, they will nevertheless meet the very substantial—indeed, unanswerable—argument that it is not appropriate for the parks to be administered by a number of different London boroughs.

For the first time in these discussions I regret to find myself in disagreement with my noble friend Lord Plummer. As Minister of Works, I was responsible for the royal parks. None of my responsibilities was more agreeable and more interesting, and I may say that there was none to which I gave more thought and time than to the administration of the royal parks, which are of course part of the great glory of the heritage of London. So, as I say, grievously for the first time my hackles rose if I understood the suggestion that the royal parks should be handed over to some centralised body rather analogous to the Greater London Council. I would rather make an alternative suggestion: that the parks and open spaces which have been under the GLC should be taken over by the Department of the Environment, which like some great monster has absorbed the—

Baroness Birk

I think that the noble Lord has misread the amendment. I interrupt because in a lowlier position I also had responsibility for the royal parks in the previous Labour Government and I also feel that they should not go to any other body. But this amendment refers to: those parks, commons and open spaces owned or managed by the Greater London Council". The royal parks will stay exactly where they are. This has nothing to do with the royal parks.

Lord Plummer of St. Marylebone

Will my noble friend allow me just to explain this? I did not say that I wanted the royal parks to be taken over by the GLC. I merely commented that somebody else said that.

Lord Molson

I am sorry if I misunderstood my noble friend in what he was suggesting. I concur of course in what the noble Baroness said. But the point I really want to establish is this. I think that probably a majority of your Lordships will feel that to devolve the administration of all the parks and open spaces in London to the districts would result in fragmentation in a great many cases and in almost all cases inadequate horticultural and financial resources to maintain them in a satisfactory state. In addition of course, as is universally recognized, the standard of administration in different districts is different.

I suggest that there should be some kind of consensus in the Committee that perhaps the Government will be willing to consider modification of the wording of the Bill in order to establish some kind of uniform administration throughout London without going as far as actually setting up the body which is proposed in the amendment.

Lord Kissin

I put my name to this amendment because I feel that there ought to be some clarity as to what will happen to the parks that are at present administered by the GLC. I have studied carefully the reply that the noble Earl gave me at the beginning of last week. He said that I suggested something sinister was in the Government's mind. I do not suggest that for one second. What I suggest is that the Government do not know at the present moment how they will proceed with this matter. Different answers are given in another place to those which we are getting here.

In another place the Minister responsible said that the question is totally hypothetical because the Government do not know what they are going to do about them. What concerns me is that at the end of this short discussion on the Bill we should have a clear view as to how the Government propose to run the GLC-administered parks.

I do not want to repeat all the arguments, but the problem is that the parks and open spaces run through various boroughs. The political views of those boroughs are not indentical, and so how are they jointly to administer them? I know that the Government are terribly keen not to establish another tier, but this is semantics. They have to have a number of authorities of some kind which will deal with the various matters. We can pro tem call it a residuary body or whatever else it may be. At some stage they will have to face who is to do what.

Some years ago the present Prime Minister set Sir Leo Pliatzky the task of abolishing quangos. I think that we may end up with an enormous number of quangos. I feel that this has not been thought out.

As I said, I do not want to repeat the arguments that have already been made at length and with greater clarity, but a leader in a national paper that I read said that the well meaning opposition have at all times been able to tell the Government where they have failed to convince them. The Government are not clear at this point how they can identify to us the authorities which will have the duty to administer these parks. These parks give great advantages to the whole of the community and not just to the boroughs that surround them. If the Government are not clear now, I feel that we shall be faced with disastrous consequences—with upheavals within councils, fights and upheavals between various councils, and escalating costs to all concerned. I feel that this is a kind of television play: "It will be all right on the night". I should like the Government to consider very seriously whether they can in some way meet our anxieties over the very important areas that are now admirably administered by the GLC.

Baroness Nicol

Before turning to the other matters which I want to speak of, may I say that the noble Lord, Lord Plummer, and the noble Lord, Lord Kissin, I think by a slip of the tongue, both referred to a "residuary body". We are not discussing a residuary body; we are discussing the establishment of a London parks authority, which would be a permanent body for as long as it was needed to continue and not a temporary one.

There is very little left for me to say. All the noble Lords who have spoken have covered most of the points. However, I should like to say that we, from our side of the Chamber, will support this amendment. We will support it with warmth because it deals with the conflict of interests between boroughs, about which we have spoken until I am sure everyone is bored stiff with it. However, it is something about which we are very concerned. We are concerned to see that the functions which have been carried out so well in the GLC are continued. It might even be capable of carrying on the ecology team which up until now has been doing such splendid work with Dr. Goode and his helpers.

When we discussed this matter on Clause 6 the Minister paid tribute to the work of the ecology team and hoped that it would continue. However, we want more than hope. It is not enough to say that the powers are given to the boroughs. We know that the boroughs have the powers. That is not the point. The point is: the boroughs having those powers, will they use them? Even if the Government give them money, unless the Government are prepared at the same time to say that this money is to be used for this purpose (which I understand they are not prepared to do), there is no guarantee that the money will be used for that purpose. Who can blame the boroughs for this? Some of them have dreadful problems of dereliction, of housing, and of homelessnes of every kind. It seems to me that it is putting an unfair burden on them to tell them that they must make the decision and then answer to their electorate for the kind of matters that may look to some members of their electorate, who are desperate, as icing on the cake.

Thus we feel that the only hope is to have a body of this kind, which has a prime responsibility to do what we all want done. We are all saying that we want it done. Even the noble Lord the Minister says that he wants it done. What we are arguing about is that the only way for him to persuade the Government to say that it must be done is to set up an authority whose prime responsibility it is. We support the amendment.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

I wish to oppose the amendment. As I know everyone is waiting for dinner, I shall do so very briefly.

The noble Lord, Lord Birkett, said that the parks should be used for an educational purpose. This amendment, as it is set out, indicates that the education authority that would be represented on it would be the Inner London Education Authority. There is no mention whatsoever of the fact that in outer London the Inner London Education Authority have no responsibility whatever. This amendment would be putting them in charge of the parks of outer London. I certainly think that would be wrong.

I also think that it is important to realise that where parks are totally within one borough there will not be a problem. I appreciate the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, that she is worried about whether they spend the money on the parks. However, where a park is in one borough I do not think it will be a problem. I think the boroughs are quite capable of handling their own parks. Many are already in control of parks and open spaces. The sports facility question is an entirely different matter. For example, I do not think Crystal Palace sports facilities could be coped with by that borough. However, I believe that the sports answer is a different one. It is not to set up a regional parks authority but rather to transfer the sports facilities to, for example, the Sports Council.

Everyone has referred to the shortage of money. However, this equalisation levy, which is very clearly set out in the Bill, will ensure that the same money will be there. There will be no less money than there is today. In fact, there may be more because there will be a considerable saving on administration.

Holland Park, which has been referred to again and again, to my mind is essentially a local park. When we had the speech the other night from the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, he made the point very clearly that he looked on it as his local park. It is totally within the borough of Kensington and Chelsea and I am sure that they would be quite capable of taking it on. I should like to see Hampstead Heath, which is covered by three boroughs, go to the city corporation. They have a good record of running such things. I am not a bit deterred by that editorial in The Times which was quoted. Therefore, all in all, I oppose this amendment.

7.45 p.m.

Lord Elton

With an eye on the clock, I wonder whether the Committee would not wish me to say now what is the Government's position. Thus I shall endeavour to be brief. The Committee feels very strongly on this matter and so do I, so I shall not be unduly brief.

This amendment seeks to establish a joint authority for the management of the parks and open spaces at present in the ownership of the Greater London Council. We have already looked at a number of amendments to do something like this for other services. It is and should be seen as part of a series of testings of the question. Sometimes it is a residuary body; sometimes it is an existing joint authority; and in this case it is to be a specific and new joint authority. I shall return to that later. My first observation is that the Members of the Committee who have spoken in favour of this amendment, and basically against what is in the Bill, seem in my view to be in something of a position of not understanding what goes on at present. Therefore, perhaps I should explain to the Committee that the local authorities, the boroughs in London, already have the powers, concurrent with the GLC, to do exactly what the GLC is doing for its parks.

My noble friend Lord Plummer drew attention to the 43 parks and the large number of facilities that there are in them owned by the GLC. He probably knows that their acreage extends to, I think, 5,500 acres. What he did not say—and I am not certain if the Committee knows it—is that the acreage of the parks already in the ownership and already managed by the London boroughs is 20,000. It is four times as much as that owned and managed by the GLC. Therefore it is not as though we were giving a titanic task to pygmies.

The next thing to realise is that the London boroughs are not only not pygmies but they are not going to run amok, because they are elected bodies, elected by people who live very close to the parks about which we are talking. Therefore the management is likely to be responsible because failure of responsible management is likely to result in failure at local borough elections. That is what democracy is about; and that is what your Lordships should remember throughout these debates.

The next question for your Lordships to ask yourselves is this. I have no doubt that it will be thrown in my face that there is no co-operation, there can be no co-operation and there never has been any co-operation on anything between the London boroughs. That tune has been played very frequently. I understand that Tooting Bec and Clapham commons are already run by agreement between the boroughs of Wandsworth and Lambeth. Therefore, where is the need to construct this great strategic new body if the skill is there, if the supervision is there (which is electoral) and if the co-operation has been demonstrated to be available?

I suppose I shall be told that it is a lack of finance. I can be told that only by people who have not listened to the able speech of my noble friend Lord Gowrie, earlier on, on the question of finance. However, if we are to look first at a matter of scale and compare the GLC with the boroughs, and look at the facilities to which my noble friend Lord Plummer so eloquently referred, the vistas of football grounds and other specialist facilities, it is the boroughs who already supply, and are the major providers of, sports and recreation facilities in London. In 1983–84, for instance—and I ask your Lordships to take note of this—the boroughs spent 10 times as much on recreation as the GLC. We have already said there will be provision in the GRE assessments for these facilites to make sure that the new responsibilities are recognised by funding in the block grant. My flow is interrupted briefly.

Baroness Nicol

While the noble Lord's flow is interrupted, may I make an intervention. Is he saying that when the GREA is allocated, the money will be earmarked for this purpose?

Lord Elton

No. That brings me straight to my next point. What the noble Baroness seems to be saying, although it is not what she is explicitly saying, is something which was a horrible watchword when I grew up at the end of the last war and the beginning of the present blessed peace—"The man in Whitehall knows best". In her case, the man in Whitehall says, "You shall spend this amount of money, no less"—and sometimes no more—"on parks". It is not earmarked, but there is allowance for it and it is for the electorates of the local authorities to supervise the local authorities to see they get the distribution of priorities right.

The noble Baroness said there must be a "must". It was not an intervention, but a speech, and a very good speech. I always take great care when replying to her because she is a skilled debater and knows her stuff. But it is not the case that there is any compulsion at present. The noble Baroness wants compulsion in the future but if the GLC wanted to do this, and the GLC is an electorally supervised body, that is the constraint on the GLC. The political reality of being controlled by the electorate means that it is not going to stop funding but it could stop it 100 per cent. tomorrow if it wanted to. The noble Baroness wants to introduce something quite new under this Bill—that is, an earmarking of funds to say, "This money should be spent on this function and we know best that it should".

My last observation—and it has been a short intervention, if I can call it that—is this: there is a close similarity, is there not? between the opening passage of this amendment and the opening passage of Amendment No. 132E. If your Lordships compare the two—and the noble Baroness resignedly nods her head: I know not whether it was to some other intervention. She assures us it is, but it would be very appropriate if she nodded her head resignedly to this. Amendment No. 132E, which your Lordships have just convincingly rejected, was to provide exactly this provision, along with a lot of other things. This is a specific provision simply for parks. To my mind, this makes it even less acceptable than the last. The fact that it is superfluous as I have demonstrated is another matter, and I ask your Lordships not to accept it.

Lord Kilmarnock

I am grateful to everyone who has spoken in this short and important debate. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Plummer of St. Marylebone, for his support, and to the noble Lord, Lord Molson, for his qualified support. I should like to say to him quite clearly there is no intention here to create a further new centralised body.

The body proposed in the amendment would be a joint authority within the terms of Part IV of the Bill and would no doubt be able to draw on the existing expertise of the arts and recreation body managed by the noble Lord, Lord Birkett. We are not setting up anything not already in existence by another name. There is also no suggestion in the amendment that the Greater London Council should take over the royal parks. That was a a strand which crept into the debate, and which I think is something of an irrelevance.

I also want to take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Elton, when he referred to constructing a great new strategic body. I can assure the noble Lord that this amendment is absolutely no part of any plot to reconstruct some vast umbrella body. In that connection, it seems to me that it is a different sort of animal from the body proposed in Amendment No. 132E—much more an octopus body, with many arms. I do not think the two should be tarred with the same brush.

There has been widespread support for this from all sides of the Committee, although there have been some voices of dissent. I could not quite understand the objection of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, to an ILEA representative on the board, because the ILEA has a lot of school grounds and gardens. That was the only purpose for which it was put in. I do not think the noble Baroness should imagine that there will be Marxist indoctrination in the greenhouse!

In view of the support that the amendment has had, I think I should test the feeling of the Committee.

7.55 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 132KB) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 110; Not-Contents 138.

Airedale, L. Fisher of Rednal, B.
Ardwick, L. Gaitskell, B.
Auckland, L. Gallacher, L.
Aylestone, L. Galpern, L.
Bacon, B. Gifford, L.
Banks, L. Gladwyn, L.
Barnett, L. Glenamara, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Beswick, L. Greenway, L.
Birk, B. Grey, E.
Birkett, L. Hacking, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Hampton, L.
Bowden, L. Hanworth, V.
Briginshaw, L. Hatch of Lusby, L.
Brockway, L. Henniker, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Buckmaster, V. Howie of Troon, L.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Hunt, L.
Caradon, L. Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Irving of Dartford, L.
Chitnis, L. Jeger, B.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Collison, L. John-Mackie, L.
David, B. Kagan, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Kilbracken, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Kilmarnock, L. [Teller.]
Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B. Kirkhill, L.
Kissin, L.
Denington, B. Lawrence, L.
Diamond, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Ennals, L. Lockwood, B.
Esher, V. Longford, E.
Evans of Claughton, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Falkland, V. Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L. Rochester, L.
Mar, C. Ross of Marnock, L.
Mayhew, L. Seear, B.
Melchett, L. Seebohm, L.
Meston, L. Serota, B.
Mishcon, L. Simon, V.
Monkswell, L. Stedman, B. [Teller.]
Mountevans, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Nicol, B. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Ogmore, L. Strabolgi, L.
Perry of Walton, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Phillips, B. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Pitt of Hampstead, L. Tordoff, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L. Walston, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. Whaddon, L.
Rea, L. White, B.
Rhodes, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Ritchie of Dundee, L. Winstanley, L.
Roberthall, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Halsbury, E.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Hanson, L.
Allerton, L. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Ampthill, L. Henley, L.
Annaly, L. Holderness, L.
Arran, E. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Barber, L. Hood, V.
Bauer, L. Hornsby-Smith, B.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Beloff, L. Ingrow, L.
Belstead, L. Kemsley, V.
Bessborough, E. Kinloss, Ly.
Boardman, L. Kinnaird, L.
Boston, L. Kitchener, E.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Lane-Fox, B.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Layton, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Caithness, E. Loch, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Long, V. [Teller.]
Carnegy of Lour, B. Lothian, M.
Carnock, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Cathcart, E. Lyell, L.
Chelwood, L. McFadzean, L.
Clitheroe, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Coleraine, L. Margadale, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Marley, L.
Colwyn, L. Marshall of Leeds, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Conwallis, L.
Cottesloe, L. Merrivale, L.
Cox, B. Middleton, L.
Craigavon, V. Molson, L.
Craigmyle, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Crathorne, L. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Crawshawe, L. Morris, L.
Croft, L. Mottistone, L.
Davidson, V. Munster, E.
De La Warr, E. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Nugent of Guildford, L.
Dilhorne, V. Onslow, E.
Drumalbyn, L. Orkney, E.
Dundee, E. Pender, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Elibank, L. Portland, D.
Elles, B. Rankeillour, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Reay, L.
Elton, L. Renton, L.
Ferrier, L. Renwick, L.
Fisher, L. Rochdale, V.
Fortescue, E. Rodney, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Romney, E.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Geddes, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Gibson-Watt, L. Salisbury, M.
Gisborough, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Glanusk, L. Savile, L.
Glenarthur, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Gowrie, E. Southborough, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Swansea, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Swinfen, L. Vivian, L.
Swinton, E. Ward of Witley, V.
Teviot, L. Whitelaw, V.
Thorneycroft, L. Windlesham, L.
Tollemache, L. Wynford, L.
Trefgarne, L. Young, B.
Trumpington, B. Young of Graffham, L.
Tryon, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Ullswater, V.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Lord Skelmersdale

In moving that the House do now resume, I should say that it has been agreed that we shall not return to this business until at least 8.45 p.m. I beg to move.

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

House resumed.