§ 2.53 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Elton)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Elton.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]
Lord Hayter moved Amendment No. 135ZB:
Before Clause 47, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Voluntary service authorities.
§ .—(1) On the appointed day there shall be established in Greater London and each metropolitan county a body corporate to be known by the name of the London Voluntary Service Authority or by the name of the county with the addition of the words "Voluntary Service Authority", as the case may be.
§ (2) Each authority shall consist of members of the constituent councils appointed by them to be members of the Authority.
§ (3) The constituent in relation to the London Voluntary Service Authority shall be the London borough councils and the Common Council.
§ (4) The constituent councils in relation to a metropolitan voluntary service authority shall be the councils for the metropolitan districts comprised in the county.
§ (5) Each 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.
§ (6) Each authority shall annually review the social needs of the inhabitants of its area.
§ (7) Each authority shall make a scheme for making grants to eligible voluntary organisations.
§ (8) In this section "voluntary organisation" means a body the activities of which are carried on otherwise than for profit but does not include any public or local authority and "eligible voluntary organisation" means, in relation to Greater London or a metropolitan county, a voluntary organisation whose activities will directly or indirectly benefit either the whole of Greater London or that county or any part of it extending beyond the area of any particular constituent council.").8
§ The noble Lord said: I should perhaps preface my speech by saying that it has been agreed that for the convenience of the Committee there should be a grouping of this amendment with the next one, under the names of the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, and others, and with Amendment No. 136ZB, which noble Lords will find at the bottom of page 4 of the Marshalled List, under the names of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster.
§ Amendment No. 136ZBA: Before Clause 47, insert the following new clause
§ ("Transtitional funding for voluntary organizations
§ .—(1) The Secretary of State shall provide transitional support under the Local Government (Social Needs) Act 1969 for expenditure by London boroughs or metropolitan district councils, acting under any of their powers, on revenue support to voluntary organisations benefiting their areas which are funded in the year before the abolition date wholly or partly by the Greater London Council or a metropolitan county council; and such transitional support shall be provided annually for the four years after the abolition date up to an amount that the Secretary of State shall determine, having regard to the need to ensure continued funding of voluntary organisations comparable with that which obtained before the abolition date.
§ (2) Any local government contribution towards projects funded under this section shall be disregarded for purposes of calculating block grant penalty under section 5 of the Local Government Finance Act 1982.").
§ Amendment No. 136ZB: After Clause 47, insert the following new clause
§ ("Supervisory Council for s. 47 schemes
§ .—(1) The Secretary of State shall by order appoint a Council to oversee the schemes made under section 47.
§ (2) The Council shall have responsibility for distributing as it thinks fit any sums made available by the Secretary of State for voluntary organisations under such schemes.
§ (3) The Council shall report annually to Parliament.
§ (4) This section shall continue in force for three years after the passing of this Act and shall then expire unless Parliament by affirmative resolution of each House determines that it shall continue in force for a further period of three years.").
§ Let me start on a non-controversial note. The Committee could have been saved a great deal of trouble, and the noble Lord as well, if many of the issues in this Bill had been argued out more fully in another place. But if there is one area in particular where the expertise of many of your Lordships and the compassion of all of us in this Committee can most usefully be employed, it is on the effect of this Bill on voluntary organisations, with which so many of us are familiar.
§ I assume that noble Lords on all sides of the Committee will share a determination that many excellent voluntary services should not be damaged or destroyed as a by-product of this abolition Bill. The Government have given repeated assurances that no such damage is intended, but we feel that the Bill in its present form will not deliver that assurance in practice and will not help us to tackle the massive social problems of all our conurbations.
§ The amendment is based on the full acceptance of the principle that local responsibilities, including support for voluntary projects, should be devolved to districts and to boroughs. The amendment relates only to the voluntary services which benefit people in more than one district or borough, since its scope is precisely the same as that of Clause 47. It also accepts that borough and district nominees—I emphasise the word "nominees"—should be responsible for supporting these county-wide services. There is no conflict here 9 with the purpose and spirit of the Bill. Our quarrel is with the highly inadequate arrangements suggested in Clause 47 for supporting county-wide voluntary services.
§ Perhaps I may remind your Lordships' Committee that we are dealing here with services now receiving about £30 million in support from the GLC and the metropolitan county councils combined. They are often the front line in the attack on social problems which run right across borough and district boundaries; problems such as alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness and racial discrimination. Other voluntary organisations provide a cost-effective service operating over a number of districts and boroughs on matters ranging from the citizens' advice bureaux, law centres and other organisations to support the victims of crime. Other voluntary services provide the essential resource materials, advice and information to enable local projects to function in many different parts of the county.
§ Funding from the county has in innumerable cases been the crucial core to which to attract private charitable donations, volunteer effort and funds from central and local government. Parliament therefore has a heavy responsibility for the sake of the many vulnerable and disadvantaged people who benefit to ensure that this impressive edifice of initiative and service is not brought tumbling down by inadequate legislation.
§ To our minds Clause 47 has serious weaknesses. First, it is left to boroughs and districts to decide if they want to make a scheme at all. There is reason to fear that no scheme would materialise in some metropolitan counties in which there is no tradition of collaboration between the districts. Political and parochial divisions between different districts run very deep. Moreover, they may see little political advantage in supporting a county-wide service which may primarily benefit other districts. Then we have a big question: what is to become of the charitable organisations which may have no scheme or grants to which to apply? The Bill provides no safety net for them. Such an insecure prospect may kill voluntary organisations as staff leave and management committees seek to escape the threat of heavy personal responsibilities. I do not believe that your Lordships would find this acceptable.
§ Secondly, there is no provision requiring any sort of county-wide or London-wide overview of need; and I stress the word "need". This is a highly significant omission when services to meet county-wide problems are being devolved to local ward councillors whose perspectives and priorities are quite properly geared to the particular district or borough electorates which they serve.
§ Thirdly, grants to voluntary organisations can be made only with the agreement of at least two-thirds of the districts or boroughs. How will voluntary organisations be able to lobby so many different authorities to explain their clients' needs and seek support? Even where they can, there will often be extreme difficulty in obtaining sufficient support. In Merseyside and Tyne and Wear, for example, four out of five districts would need to agree. In South Yorkshire it would be three out of four. In Greater 10 Manchester it would be seven out of 10; and so on. Even where the odds are less mountainous, districts and boroughs are sometimes split by bitter political divisions which are not of voluntary organisations' making. Moreover, many eligible services are the Cinderella client groups which lack political appeal. They may benefit a few boroughs, but not the whole.
§ 3 p.m.
§ For these reasons charitable services, however important in the perspective of county-wide needs, may often fare badly in competition with all the other claims on the budgets of the boroughs and districts. In some cases, these boroughs are the only source of funding which Clause 47 provides. Hence the need to secure the support of two-thirds of the boroughs or districts would probably imply the demise of many services. Of course that device may well kibosh the homosexuals and the lesbians but it may also kibosh many others as well.
§ No doubt we shall be told in reply that a lead borough, in this case Richmond, has been identified in London and that the London Boroughs Association is entertaining grant applications for a wide range of groups concerned with single homeless people. I should not want to minimise the great effort that has been made to achieve this. However, it is of no comfort to voluntary organisations in the metropolitan counties where, so far as I know, not one lead borough has yet been identified. It is also of relatively little comfort in London, where nobody knows the scale of the budget which would actually pass the two-thirds test and, incidentally, where the single homeless account for less than one-fifth of the GLC's present spending on county-wide services. These then are the reasons why voluntary organisations throughout London and the metropolitan counties have denounced Clause 47.
§ It has been suggested once or twice in this Committee that the voluntary organisations have made such energetic representations to your Lordships simply because their natural anxieties have been fuelled and exploited by the GLC. That interpretation is incomplete and inadequate. Voluntary organisations have developed their own independent assessment of what this Bill will do to their work; and I will admit that they are handicapped and irritated by some of the more foolish GLC advertisements. Their arguments are based on local experience and are levelheaded arguments which compel respect.
§ They are led by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, formerly called the National Council of Social Service, which has worked alongside Governments of all political colours ever since 1919, with the great object of protecting and promoting the interests of voluntary organisations. It does not lightly become involved in any matter of public controversy.
§ This amendment provides for formally constituted authorities with powers to precept, subject to the systems of financial control which apply to all the other authorities established by this Bill. They will comprise borough and district nominees in line with the thrust of this Bill as a whole. They will have a duty to review social needs county-wide and make a scheme or grants to eligible voluntary organisations, again set out in subsection (10) of this clause. They will have no 11 powers relating to local projects which benefit only one borough or one district.
§ This amendment is really based on charity and compassion, which perhaps sounds rather alien to party politics. Yet in this case of course it must conform so far as possible with the political implications of the Local Government Bill. Therefore we who are sponsoring this amendment accept the abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan councils. We are not trying to link it with residuary authorities because this has become somewhat suspect for reasons which have emerged during the Committee stage. Nor are we seeking for any elective procedure. We start from the premise that, just as everybody's view on art is as valid as anybody else's, so is everybody's view on charity—though I suppose I should add that the view of the right revered Prelate on charity is perhaps better informed than my own.
§ I ask the Committee to support this amendment as an arrangement more worthy than Clause 47 of the magnificent contribution made by voluntary services across our capital city and across the metropolitan areas, and to set their very genuine fears at rest. I beg to move.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
The new clause proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, particularly affects grants currently made by the GLC or the metropolitan counties for charities working on a wider than borough or wider than district basis. This is clearly the type of charity that will be most at risk after abolition of the upper-tier authorities. The suggestion that the smaller councils, freed of the precepts of their larger regional parasites, will joyfully and collectively assume the responsibility for funding, to a comparable extent, existing London-wide and county-wide voluntary activities, is frankly naïve and can only be received with scepticism.
It may be said, "All right; so be it. Boroughs and districts must decide how much they can contribute to charities whose operations extend outside their own boundaries. That is local democracy". However, if local democracy decides that the realities of local government finance prevent it from contributing to voluntary bodies dealing with alcoholism, drug abuse, homelessness, mental handicap and so forth, what happens?
The Bill proposes in Clause 47 that there should be a lead borough or district through which applications are channelled and processed prior to the hurdle of securing a two-thirds majority. I understand that, in London, Richmond has offered itself for this job and the London Boroughs Association is confident that the new unit will be able to cope with this much-enhanced task. That may be so, but it says nothing about the amount of funding that will clear the two-thirds hurdle, or the maximum amount that may be imposed by the Secretary of State under Clause 47(5).
Furthermore, it takes no account of the nightmare that will face charities of having to lobby successfully 22 out of the 33 London boroughs, or seven out of 10 in Greater Manchester. The director of one of the largest lobbying organisations told me quite openly that he saw this clause as a charter for lobbyists. The 12 smaller charities would never be able to face the cost. In the six metropolitan counties, the situation is even worse since not one single district has yet offered to take the lead in its area. Therefore there will be large areas of the country in which the mechanism proposed in the Bill will simply not exist.
These are some, and only some, of the reasons that the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, for voluntary service authorities for London and the counties is so important. These authorities fall fully within the scope of Part IV of the Bill. Their funds will be derived as under Clause 66 of the Bill. If you need them for police, fire and civil defence, you need them for the rising tide of social problems presented by old age, homelessness, unemployment and so forth. That is why we on these Benches so strongly support this amendment.
I now want to say a very few words about Amendment No. 136ZBA, which is the second amendment on the Marshalled List, which has been grouped with the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, in this debate. I shall be as brief as I possibly can. This amendment addresses a related but separate issue. The transitional assistance which the Government propose to give to districts and boroughs in coming to terms with their new responsibilities in this field is at present quite inadequate.
The Government have on offer only £7.5 million to help in the year after abolition, tapering away to nothing after four years. Where help is offered, districts and boroughs must pay a 25 per cent. contribution in year one and more thereafter. This rising contribution will be fully subject to rate support grant penalties if the penalty system remains unchanged. The Government's offer will be quite insufficient to prevent the collapse of many local projects, the total of whose grants is several times as much as the money currently on offer. Even this is less generous than it sounds, for reasons which I shall shortly explain.
First, let us look at the realities of the situation. Several districts and boroughs have no significant experience or understanding of partnership with the voluntary sector. For instance, nine London boroughs currently give less than £200,000 a year each to voluntary bodies of whatever kind. Even this is better than the position in some metropolitan districts where certain local authorities prefer to municipalise everything on the grounds that voluntary organisations should be composed exclusively of volunteers and should require no support whatsoever from public funds. Those authorities which do not believe in a pluralistic pattern of services to meet social needs will have little difficulty in finding arguments to reject grant applications from the voluntary sector.
Further, many districts and boroughs have very different priorities from those of the larger authorities. Many have no record of concern for child-care or latch-key schemes for the children of working mothers, or for the needs of ethnic minorities, or for transport facilities for disabled people, to mention only a few. Others will have contracted a positive dislike of voluntary services which help citizens assert their rights against municipal landlords and other local government services. So there may well be a direct conflict of interest between, for example, an advice 13 bureau or a law centre and the council that is asked to contribute to their support. Few of your Lordships in this Committee, I would suggest, are opposed to the widest possible range of advice and information being available to our citizens.
Furthermore, the leaders of boroughs and districts which support the abolition of the upper tier have committed themselves, understandably enough, to savings for their ratepayers as a result of abolition. This will surely be a powerful brake on grants to voluntary bodies however worthy or, indeed, essential.
I invite your Lordships to consider also the general financial climate in local government. Nine London boroughs are rate capped. A further eleven are in grant penalty. Most metropolitan districts are also in penalty. Sixteen London boroughs plan to decrease their support for voluntary organisations in 1985–86 and a further six plan no growth. This is the measure of the heavy competition for available resources.
Now, along come the Government saying they hope and believe that boroughs and districts will pay exclusively from their own budgets for all county-wide voluntary services and most local ones inherited from the GLC and the MCCs at the very time when they are striving to avoid or minimise cuts in statutory services and to find money to continue local projects that they have nurtured within their own boundaries. It simply does not add up.
There will inevitably be a conflict between statutory and voluntary services and between internally financed voluntary services and those previously financed from outside. For all these reasons, there is little doubt that all manner of local projects will go to the wall as a by-product of abolition unless the Government are prepared to step in with much more generous transitional assistance.
I should now like to deal with, and I hope demolish, the argument that boroughs and districts will have more resources after abolition because they will no longer be paying the precept to the GLC and the MCCs and they will get a share of the GRE assessment previously allocated to the upper tier. This does not wash. First, some authorities will want to deliver the savings to ratepayers and will therefore levy less than the precepts of the defunct authorities. Secondly, rate-capped authorities will be constrained by the obvious disadvantage of rate capping. Thirdly, dividing up the GRE of the GLC and the MCCs will not cover what they actually spend, since they spend more than their GRE. Fourth, statutory services already under severe strain will make pre-emptive prior claims. Fifthly, many smaller authorities will not be in tune with the broader perspectives on which upper tier authorities based their grants to local organisations.
I refer briefly to the second subsection of the amendment that would relieve any local authority contributions under the scheme from rate support grant penalty. This must be right because penalties would distort the whole scheme. For example, an authority in penalty might have to pay back to the Government £2 for every extra £1 that it spends in this field. That means that it would end up paying 75 per cent. of the cost of a project under the transitional finance scheme when it was, in theory, supposed to pay only 25 per cent. It is for identical reasons that 14 much urban aid spending by local authorities is disregarded for penalty purposes. So no new precedent will be set up by disregarding the transitional scheme in the same way.
The effect of Amendment No. 136ZBA is to give reality to the Government's assurance, repeated on a number of occasions, that they do not intend worthwhile voluntary organisations to go to the wall as a result of abolition. It is based on the same principles as the Government's own scheme for transitional finance but lifted into a more realistic order of magnitude while firmly leaving the ultimate decision with the Secretary of State. In determining the level of transitional assistance, it simply enjoins the need to ensure that there is no dramatic decrease in the overall flow of funds to voluntary organisations in the four years after the abolition date. It will be up to the Secretary of State to define the criteria for transitional assistance so that he can make absolutely sure that no such assistance is available in respect of allegedly lunatic projects or for any other reason to which the Government take serious exception. I believe that this will be welcomed as an important safeguard by many of your Lordships.
This amendment complements the new clause moved by the noble Lord, Lord Hayter. Whatever the Committee's decision on that amendment, which I strongly support, it is vital that this provision for transitional finance should be written into the Bill. I hope very much to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, that he will accept it.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ The Earl of Perth
I wish first to apologise to the Committee for the fact that my amendment appeared so late. I am sure that many of your Lordships will not have had a real opportunity to consider its merits or its demerits. Having said that, let me get down to what it is all about. I start by echoing the worries of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, and others about the fate of voluntary organisations. The problem that we face today is how best to ensure that they continue to receive proper assistance from the boroughs in the London area and the districts in the metropolitan areas. It is not only the boroughs that have to help. The charitable organisations themselves will have to raise some money. Apart from anything that comes from the voluntary organisations or from the Government, there must also be a contribution by outside groups.
I fear that I have to say that I am unhappy about the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, and others. If that amendment succeeds, my amendment falls. I hope therefore that I shall be able to persuade your Lordships that the merit in my amendment outweighs that contained in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter. I am very glad to know that I have at least one supporter in the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, who has put his name to my amendment. That is one up.
My worry about the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, is that, above all, whether we like it or not, it has a political flavour. Whatever the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, may say, many of your Lordships must recognise that this is the case. Whether this is because the boroughs themselves have a political flavour or because, potentially, the amendment 15 represents a nucleus for forming a new GLC or MCC at a later stage, as in the case of waste disposal and other examples, we cannot get away from it. This is my main objection. It also involves no less than seven local authorities, which complicates matters.
What am I proposing in my amendment? My amendment comes after Clause 47. Very simply, it starts by saying that the Secretary of State shall appoint a council to oversee the schemes made under Section 47. It is possible that Section 47 needs to be changed. There are many amendments before us today to that effect. I am not objecting to that. What I am saying is that there should be a council to oversee the workings.
Secondly, I say that if the Government, as we know they intend to do, help the voluntary organisations, or rather the schemes that have been formed, at least for a period of years, it will be for the Government to pass any funds that they make available through this council. What sort of council will it be? It is, I suggest, fairly easy to see its composition. Certainly, it should contain some members of the borough councils themselves. I hope that the Secretary of State would also recognise the important role of the Churches. Then again, there are such bodies as the National Council for Voluntary Organisations or, more important still, the Charities Aid Foundation, which already has the job of discriminating between the good and the bad in the charity world. If the Secretary of State, as I feel sure will be the case, forms a council with that sort of membership and appoints a chairman, pre-eminent and recognised by one and all to be anxious to promote the good of voluntary organisations, that will constitute, I suggest, a very strong body to help.
Let me take the matter further. I have called it a council quite deliberately because I believe that an analogy can be drawn with what the Arts Council does at present in relation to the arts. The Arts Council receives a grant from the Government and it distributes that grant according to what it judges to be the right and proper merit of the various people who are asking for help. My idea for the council which I am putting forward is very much the same: it will judge according to need, according to how worthwhile it considers various projects to be, and generally it will take into account the type of support that the voluntary organisations are receiving from elsewhere. It is not just the Government who will do it. Like the Arts Council, they will decide whether the voluntary organisations can get outside help—as, indeed, they ought to do.
If I am right and if the idea of a council to do this job is a good one, then it is very important that we should have a chance to see how it progresses. Indeed, that is why subsection (3) of my amendment asks that the council should report once every year to Parliament.
Finally, I have no idea whether in years to come this will or will not be a good and necessary council. Therefore I suggest that after the period of three years Parliament should have a chance to judge for itself. If Parliament judges that the council should continue, then it may continue for yet a further period.
16 One of the great features of today is the growth of voluntary organisations. Indeed, that is natural when one considers the greater leisure time available to people. Yet, bearing in mind all the attempts of Government and local authorities, very often it is the local people who start these voluntary organisations who know the gap and what is needed. If my amendment is right, the council which will be set up will be able to judge the rights and the wrongs and which are the best schemes. I know that it is a novel idea and that novel ideas take time to get off the ground. However, I very much hope that, in view of what I have said, your Lordships will feel that this proposal is really worthwhile.
I hope that you will support my amendment rather than the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, and I say that for the following reason. If your Lordships were to go along with Lord Hayter's amendment, then my amendment would fall to the ground. If that were to happen then not only would I be sorry but I believe that a great opportunity would have been missed to start something which in every way is an exciting new thought as regards how best to help the voluntary organisations to do even greater things in the years ahead. I am not quite clear whether I should or should not be moving this amendment at this stage. However, I hope to do so in due course.
§ Lord Elton
Clause 47 deals specifically with only one aspect of funding for voluntary bodies—that is, the power to establish collective schemes under which boroughs and districts acting jointly can fund voluntary organisations serving more than one borough. The amendments to which noble Lords have spoken do, however, range rather widely. Therefore I hope it will be helpful to your Lordships if at the beginning of this debate I speak generally about the whole issue of voluntary bodies and abolition and respond to the more detailed aspects of the amendments at the end of it.
I must preface my remarks by noting that the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, and his supporters have removed from the Marshalled List the notice which they had originally put down to the effect that they proposed to object to the Motion that Clause 47 stand part of the Bill. We must therefore assume that this arrangement is intended to go in parallel with the Clause 47 arrangements, unless they correct that assumption. However, that is what flows from the removal of that notice from the Marshalled List.
I shall not now digress on the oddities of funding that may arise from that decision, nor indeed upon the fact that there are no indications in the noble Lord's Motion as to where the funding is to come from, although there is every indication of where it is to go. I wish to speak to the wider issues first. Voluntary organisations which now get money from abolition authorities are naturally very anxious about their position. Therefore first let me establish that the Government wholly support the principle of voluntary work. We believe that it brings considerable benefits not just to the immediate causes which it supports, but to the community as a whole. I wish also to give credit where credit is due. I freely and readily agree that in London, where anxiety is greatest, the vast majority of GLC funding goes to voluntary organisations which are 17 doing a good and very worthwhile job of work. They bear no responsibility for the actions of the current GLC administration, and our respect for them is in no way affected by the conduct of that administration.
We also recognise that many voluntary bodies in the areas touched by this Bill are anxious about the future. Their anxiety is perfectly natural and has been made clear to us in many approaches by individuals and by organisations; and we have paid, and are continuing to pay, close and careful attention to it. I believe that the care and personal commitment in all this of my honourable friend Sir George Young are already well and rightly known to a number of your Lordships. I know that many of your Lordships have received copious correspondence on this subject. I believe that your Lordships would have done so even without the cynical campaign to heighten anxiety among the already anxious, organised by the political opponents of this Bill in London, of which your Lordships took scornful note a week or two past. Therefore we pay careful attention to it.
We cannot very well discuss the changes that are to be made in the existing arrangements for getting money to the voluntary bodies if we do not first have a clear picture of what those arrangements are and what are their effects. Some people are a little hazy on the facts. One might almost suppose that most of this money comes from the GLC and the metropolitan county councils. I ought therefore to start by saying something about what happens now.
From where, in fact, does the income of these bodies come at present? I remind the Committee that your Lordships concern centres on the money, recently raised to £50 million a year, given to London voluntary bodies by the GLC, and the very much smaller amounts given by the metropolitan county councils to voluntary bodies in their county areas. If you roll up the two together you would certainly not get a total of more than £60 million in 1983–84. Against that figure your Lordships must set, first, the £215 million of grants given by the Government nationally to voluntary bodies; and, secondly, over and above that £215 million the very substantial sums paid by the Manpower Services Commission and other sponsored bodies. In London alone some £28 million was channelled into the voluntary sector via the boroughs last year.
As I have said, outside London the role of the county councils is small. Easily the biggest source of public cash for the voluntary organisations in the metropolitan county council areas are already the district councils. This Bill is of much less consequence to them than it is in London. I have shown that in London it is very much not the case that the voluntary sector is supported either wholly or even chiefly by the GLC. I have done so without even referring to the £900 million or so which the Charities Aid Foundation estimated as coming nationally to charities from private and corporate subscriptions in 1980–81. Apart from the very considerable sources of money to which I have referred, there are also the borough councils themselves. It is these elected councils that will be responsible for the GLC share of funding after abolition, now that we have it in perspective. They already have close connections with the 18 voluntary sector and they already provide the voluntary sector with cash.
The London Voluntary Service Council estimates the amount of that cash at £28 million over and above everything I have mentioned so far. At present much of the money goes to voluntary bodies that do all or most of their work inside the boundaries of the borough that gives the funds. That linkage will in no way be affected by what we propose in the Bill. Each of the bodies will still have to knock on one door only in its borough to get their cash from local government, and it will be the same door that they are knocking at now. So your Lordships' concern is not for them. It is with the remainder, with the organisations that operate in or bring benefit to more than one borough. They may serve several boroughs or they may serve the whole of London. It is to these bodies that much of the GLC money has been going. Your Lordships' fear either that it will dry up altogether or that there will be no one to see that it is properly distributed. There are two concerns and they run in parallel.
Before I come to what further proposals we have, let me describe how things stand at present. Under the Bill the boroughs will have the whole responsibility for local government funding of voluntary organisations. They already undertake considerable activity in this field, and it is true that we look to them for a response in no way different from their response on any other of their inherited functions. In the short term we expect them to increase substantially their funding to voluntary groups. We expect them to support individually and collectively those groups which are of genuine benefit to the areas which they serve and which will no longer get GLC support.
At this point some of your Lordships will no doubt narrow your eyes and say, "Ah, he is forgetting the GLC's £50 million. They will not have that money". But in fact they will. They will have exactly that money. And where, I ask, did the GLC get that money from? They obtained it from these boroughs, from the very boroughs we are talking about; and the boroughs, of course, obtained it from their ratepayers. The GLC secured it from the boroughs by precept, and that precept will cease. The London boroughs therefore will have exactly the same amount of cash available between them for this purpose next year as the GLC would have had and could have spent on their behalf had it not been abolished. It is the boroughs' money collected from the boroughs' ratepayers by the boroughs and paid to the GLC by the boroughs as precept. The effect of the Bill is merely to transfer the function of spending the same ratepayers' money from the GLC to the boroughs. Not one-tenth of a penny increase in the rates will be needed to maintain that expenditure at its present level as a result of abolition.
§ Lord Kaldor
Can the noble Lord confirm that the money paid by the boroughs to the GLC was earmarked for these special purposes?
§ Lord Elton
I understood the noble Lord to ask me whether the money was earmarked for this purpose. The money was precepted for this purpose by the GLC. It will in future be paid by the boroughs under 19 arrangements which I am about to describe. Whether the level at which it is paid will remain exactly the same or not, I cannot of course say. That will be for locally elected councillors to decide.
§ Lord Elton
Well, I think that is no bad thing. I ask the Committee to hear me out. It will be for them to decide both on exactly how much money to give and indeed to which organisations to give it. This uncertainty is not, as your Lordships might think from the knowing noises opposite, anything new. It has not been introduced by this Bill. The level of support has always gone up and down. It has varied under the GLC and may vary in exactly the same way under the boroughs. The reason why I cannot now give, and never under any past arrangements could have given, a guarantee is that the decision is not for Ministers, it is for councillors. Councillors elected by the Greater London Council have been having their say and now it will be the turn of councillors elected to London borough councils. I would remind the Committee that they have a good record and already give some £30 million of support to the voluntary groups in London. The source of the money that the voluntary sector now gets from the GLC will be, just as it now is, the borough councils who collect it from their own ratepayers.
§ Lord Pitt of Hampstead
Is not the noble Lord in some sense trying to mislead the Committee? The real difference between what exists now and what will exist after abolition is that the precept will no longer be in existence. What now happens is that richer boroughs contribute to the aid which is required by poorer boroughs; the voluntary organisations in poor areas of London are being helped from the GLC precept, and the people who pay are from the richer boroughs. Once that precept is removed that redistribution will also be removed.
§ Lord Elton
I intend no discourtesy to the noble Lord although he said that I might be misleading the Committee, which is a wounding thing to say. I intend no discourtesy to the noble Lord and other Members of the Committee if I say it would be a good thing to hear me out before trying to unstitch what I am saying, because your Lordships do not know what is yet to come. As the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, has rightly said, the difference in future will be that the GLC will not be there to collect it from the boroughs by precept and hand it out. I accept that that is an alarming prospect for treasurers of voluntary bodies. Things were difficult enough when they had only one door to knock on without being suddenly told, as they believe, to knock on 32 in pursuit of exactly the same cash result. We recognise that difficulty and that is why we have provided in Clause 47 of the Bill for the boroughs to come together voluntarily themselves and provide a single door to knock on.
There is a similar problem, it is true, in the metropolitan counties. Given that the districts and boroughs already have wider powers to fund voluntary bodies than either the metropolitan county council or the GLC, and given that the Bill does nothing 20 whatever to diminish those powers for groups operating wholly within the districts or borough administrative boundaries, there is, as I have said, no problem for the locally-based body. The only legislative action required therefore is to give them clearer and stonger powers to fund groups that serve more than one borough. That is the effect of Clause 47. That clause enables simple majorities of councils in an abolition area to select a lead authority and make a collective grant-giving scheme. It provides for financial decisions to be approved by a two-thirds majority; and I do not doubt that your Lordships will become interested in the balance represented by the majority by which those decisions are to be taken. We shall no doubt return to that. There is however a lower majority for initial adminstrative costs so that such schemes can be started up quickly this year.
A constant theme of our critics has been that too little is being done to prepare for abolition, and what has to be done in the available time is too much; but with an eye on Clause 47 the councils are already preparing for the future. A number of them have begun to collect information about those voluntary groups in their areas which at present receive funding from the upper tier authority. Several have invited bids from the groups concerned. In London a majority of the boroughs are already involved in preparing a collective scheme. Richmond has been designated as a lead borough, a grants unit has been set up; and your Lordships may well have seen a letter from its chairman in The Times just over a week ago.
We in the Department of the Environment have seconded staff who are already starting to work with it. While they are doing so, management consultants are drawing up plans for a permanent organisation. The post of director has been advertised at a substantial salary. They have already contacted 800 voluntary groups—not a few but 800—to establish their needs and priorities. They have taken a number of decisions which mean that so far 69 organisations providing mainly for single homeless, as well as all women's aid hostels in London, whether or not they are currently funded by the GLC, have been recommended for grant aid.
There is no lack of will on the part of these boroughs. If the remainder have the interests of voluntary organisations truly at heart, they will, I am sure, join in very soon. They will not help them if they continue to stand aside. If they hang back, they should perhaps receive some advice as to how to proceed in the interests of the under-privileged for whom so many of these organisations work.
The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, was anxious about the uncertainty of future funding. I have already pointed out that there is nothing new in this. Boroughs do not strike, and the GLC does not strike, their budgets this far ahead of the next financial year. The budget will be made by the Richmond group in the autumn. That budget will be made in the light of policy and criteria decisions taken by the group as a whole. That again means that there is not a multiplicity of doors to lobby—if you can lobby a door; there is the one.
There are safeguards under our proposals and they are there both to protect the position of the lead 21 authority and to give stability to the schemes. The Secretary of State also has to set a limit on the amount which can be spent each year. Let us be clear both about the purpose of this and about the way it will be used. Its purpose is to be a safeguard to limit the potential demands which may be imposed on individual authorities which may not have been part of the majority voting for a scheme. We originally proposed to use it to impose limits of £10 million in London and £3 million elsewhere. We withdrew those figures when it was made clear to us that the first of them at least was too low.
The first undertaking that I give to your Lordships' Committee this afternoon and to the voluntary sector generally is that the Secretary of State does not intend to use this power as a means of reducing the level of grant in 1986–87. I can, therefore, give an assurance today that we will set the limits for 1986–87 in the light of authorities' budget plans for the collective schemes and that we will not seek to contain those budgets below the level of the equivalent expenditure by the abolition authorities this year. This, I believe, meets some of the concern in the second subsection of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock. The successor bodies will, as a result, be free at least to spend right up to the amounts spent by their predecessors, and that expenditure will be in addition to what they themselves are now spending under current schemes.
§ Lord Elton
It is safeguarded by the undertaking which I, as a Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, gave on behalf of my right honourable friend a moment ago, and which is written into the record.
One inference which could be drawn from the first amendment—I take it very poorly when noble Lords opposite shake their heads at a clear undertaking, given in terms, limiting the use of a power given by statute to a Secretary of State by a Minister of State in his department. I think it is a perfectly adequate safeguard.
As I was saying, one inference that can be drawn from the first amendment, the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, is that the scheme that I have described would produce some sort of policy vacuum. In fact, the councils operating, a scheme under Clause 47 will of course be able to set the policy under which the collective grant giving is done. There can be no doubt that there must be a clear set of policy guidelines and of priorities. That would be essential, particularly in an area such as London, where we can expect a budget of several million pounds. In London the necessary majority of the boroughs have assured the voluntary sector that they will provide such a policy.
In our view it is right that these policies should be drawn up by the same authorities as are responsible for the statutory, social, housing, and other services with which voluntary organisations are generally most closely associated. Those authorities are the London boroughs, and we see no case for a separate statutory 22 body to duplicate a role which they are ideally qualified to perform and which most of them are clearly taking on.
I ask the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, and his supporters to consider carefully the importance of that practical and illuminating link between the social work department and the needs of the voluntary sector. It is, after all, the boroughs which already know most about such critical matters as those referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, such as those involving child care schemes and latch-key children, to which the voluntary sectors also relate.
We therefore think that we have the shape of this scheme right, but we also recognise that there may well be difficult problems for local groups as we change from the existing system to a new one. These are transitional problems, and that is why we have announced a transitional grant scheme. Under it we will pay a proportion of the cost incurred by a local authority in taking on a voluntary project which has been receiving funding from the GLC or a metropolitan county. We will pay 75 per cent. of the total in the first year, tapering down to 50 per cent. in the second year, 50 per cent. in the third year, and 25 per cent. in the fourth. At Report stage in another place we announced that we would cover £10 million worth of projects under this scheme each year. That is double what we originally proposed and it reflects our willingness to respond to the voluntary sector's concern.
Your Lordships, and the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, in particular, have made it clear that that concern arises from the fact that the scheme in the Bill is a voluntary scheme, and that the concern persists in spite of the fact that the voluntary scheme has already started to work where it matters most, in London. Whether or not that anxiety is well founded, I accept, and the Government themselves accept, from your Lordships that it exists.
My second announcement that I have to make today is therefore this: we will again double the amount of transitional aid. This will increase it to cover not £10 million, but £20 million worth of projects. That raises our commitment to transitional aid to a total of £40 million of Government cash over four years. That money will be allocated so as to take account of the total amount of extra funding each authority is taking on.
I ask your Lordships to note that this money is separate from, and additional to, the resources which the local authorities concerned already have; and it is separate from, and additional to, the extra resources that will be released to them by abolition and the end of precepting by the upper tier bodies. These councils, I repeat, already provide every penny spent on these grants, both by the GLC and the MCCs. The whole of that money is already provided by them out of their rates.
Some of your Lordships fear that this provision will in some way be negated by our general system of rate control. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, was moving towards that concern, if he did not express it. My third undertaking, therefore, this afternoon is 23 that both RSG and targets, if we still have them, will be adjusted to take account of their additional responsibilities for this expenditure.
If there was any doubt about our readiness to give special help to the voluntary sector, I hope I have finally removed it. But increased financial support from Government is only part of what is needed to sustain a vigorous and independent voluntary sector. The noble Lord, Lord Hayter, emphasised—and I deeply sympathise with what he said—the importance of official money in attracting private money. Anyone who compares the funding of charitable causes in our capital city with that in major cities in other countries is struck by one particular thing: how small a contribution is made by our private corporate sources compared with theirs in the Western world.
In the United States, for example, corporate donations for these purposes are estimated at just under 2 per cent. of pre-tax profits. In this country the proportion is about one-tenth of 1 per cent. In this country we have built up high levels of public sector funding and we have got used to them. This can, and sometimes does, result in unfortunate threats to the independence and integrity of the voluntary movement. Pressures can be put on voluntary bodies when they become over-dependent on funding from the public purse. They should not be required to become embroiled in political issues; that destroys their freedom of action. It is essential that we protect their independence and their integrity. We have recently seen the pressures that can be put on voluntary bodies when they become over-dependent on funding from the public purse. Your Lordships will remember the examples.
We believe that it is necessary to the health of the voluntary sector that it should begin to be able to get a greater proportion of its support from private and independent sources. It would be a source of great strength to the voluntary organisations as a whole if we were able to create for them a new permanent and independent source of funding. The present reform of local government provides an admirable opportunity to do this and we propose to take it.
§ Lord Barnett
I believe the Lord is in danger of giving the House a misleading picture. He talked about public funding of voluntary organisations and quoted the example of the United States. But the 2 per cent. to which he referred also includes substantial public funding because it is wholly allowable for tax.
§ Lord Elton
The noble Lord can return to the detail as we all will during the debate. The fact is that however one does the calculations there is greater support coming from the private sector to the voluntary sector in the United States than there is here to an order of magnitude of a considerable size.
In no way put on the wrong foot by the noble Lords's well-timed interruption, I shall now make my fourth announcement of this afternoon. It is that we intend to use a proportion of the resources to endow a charitable trust for London whose purpose will be to provide assistance to voluntary bodies whose activities benefit Londoners and to focus additional support from the private sector. The initial endowment that we 24 propose is a least £10 million. If the proceeds arising from the disposal of the GLC's surplus assets allow, we might be able to increase that amount further. In addition, we intend that the new trust shall be added to by contributions from private and other corporate sources. It will be seed money sown both for short term benefit and for future generations of Londoners.
§ Lord Elton
I really ought to finish because your Lordships will look at the clock and think that I have taken even longer than I have—and that is long enough! We propose that the new trust shall be administered by a widely-respected and established charitable organisation that will take it and keep it right out of politics altogether, as the noble Lord, Lord Perth, would wish. The trust would not replace existing sources of grant giving nor would it replace anything provided for in Clause 47. On the contrary, it will be additional to both. The other arrangements we have already announced will continue to go forward. It will necessarily take some time for the endowment of the new trust to become available, but I believe your Lordships will see in it an important and constructive investment in the long term.
We must get the nature and the composition of the new trust and the terms under which it would give grants right. These are matters on which we propose to consult very extensively, as your Lordships would wish, before we take firm decisions. We are particularly anxious to discuss them with the voluntary sector and charitable organisations themselves. All this will take time and will be a matter for subordinate legislation. What we must do in the Bill is to provide a place for that subordinate legislation. The unallocated assets of the GLC will pass to the London residuary body on 1st April next year and it is from them that the endowments must be transferred. We shall therefore bring forward an amendment at Report stage to enable the Secretary of State by order to require the residuary bodies to make payments to such charitable trusts as he may specify.
At present our proposals are for London only, but we shall not rule out the possibility of considering such trusts for one or more metropolitan areas. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Perth, will see the merits of non-political bodies standing outside both national and local government to set, as it were, the tone of this form of activity and to set an example. Outside London the main difference is that the metropolitan councils have been in existence for a shorter time and have acquired fewer assets. But, equally, in the metropolitan areas the need is not so great.
§ Lord Elton
No, it would be much better if I sat down altogether rather than having the noble Baroness leaping up before I sit down so that I then have to rise again.
To summarise: first, all the reserve resources now spent on the voluntary sector by local authorities in London will still be available from the same sources, not via the precept but direct from the boroughs. 25 Secondly, the scheme that we provide in Clause 47 provides a focus for collective action to which the voluntary sector can look as well as the councils. Thirdly, that scheme is already in being, in embryo, and kicking. It will work. Fourthly, nonetheless we recognise that there are transitional difficulties. We had already offered grant on £10 million-worth of projects now raised to £20 million which means £20 million of Government cash now raised to £40 million for the transistional body. Fifthly, we have assured the Committee that that will not be caught by the provisions for controlling the expenditure of local authority money in the terms which I read out a moment ago. Sixthly, we are providing a new voluntary charitable body outside politics altogether and endowing it with £10 million to start with as a focus for non-political private sector money in the future. I know that the right reverend Prelate will speak next. I know him of old. He is efficient; he is analytical; he is clear—and he was once my boss. I therefore know that he will tear to pieces very carefully everything that I have said. However, when he has finished I ask your Lordships to put the pieces together and you will find a very good scheme for London.
§ Baroness Fisher of Rednal
May I ask just one question? I have listened with the greatest of interest to what the noble Lord has said, but on behalf of all metropolitan councils I wish to say that the deprivation, the unemployment, is much higher than it is in the London area. The anxieties are as great as in London; and when he said he had the shape about right, I should say that the shape he gave for the metropolitan counties is like the piece of jigsaw that is lost under the table that one can never find.
§ Lord Elton
I have done many jigsaws and I have always found the piece in the end. It is an important piece, but it is less important than the London piece. I shall not recapitulate the whole of my speech, but the ratio between the district councils and the MCCs is entirely different from that of London and the whole of the piece is therefore smaller. We recognise its importance, and we are open to suggestions for trusts there, too, as I have said.
§ 4 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
Before I speak to this amendment, to which I have attached my name, may I apologise for the absence of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark who is at this moment presiding over a conclave (I think "conclave" would be the proper word) of all his clergy at a conference in the Midlands which was arranged many months ago. He is very sorry that he cannot be here with us today and hopes that it will not be taken amiss or to represent any lack of concern on his part.
I appreciate very much the assurances which the Minister has given with respect to the voluntary associations and the concern of the Government that their work should not be affected adversely. What he said reflects the commitment which the Prime Minister gave to the leaders of the churches in reply to a letter which they wrote to her. I accept that these statements are in the best of faith and I wish to affirm that. For that reason, I welcome what the noble Lord, 26 Lord Hayter, said in his opening speech about the real issue being one of method rather than of aims. I accept what the Government have said with regard to the voluntary associations. I welcome many of the points that have been made by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and I hope he will not think I am ungrateful if I do not refer to these in detail. They are encouraging and I shall explain why in reply to the noises behind me because, in spite of all that he has said, he has really not directed his attention to the main issue. The main issue is a very simple one. It is that to which I direct myself and upon which I shall concentrate. None of his proposals provides the necessary framework to ensure adequate security for the voluntary associations and make certain that their needs, the needs of those associations which extend beyond one borough, will be met.
One does not have to take an unduly low view of human nature to appreciate the need for such a framework. I sometimes think that those of us who sit on these Benches actually take a rather more realistic view of human nature than do some other Members of your Lordships' House. Perhaps not, however, because the odd thing that I notice here is that the Government have not shown themselves lacking in zeal for legislative framework in other aspects of human relationships when they feel that it is necessary in order to help people to behave in a better way. I cannot understand why in this particular case they are so loath to pursue the same course of action.
I should like to take a simple example from my own Diocese of London which, as many of your Lordships will know, extends down to Staines in the West, up to the River Lee and Enfield and so on, including the East End and Tower Hamlets as well as the centre here, the Cities of London and Westminster. We have resources at our disposal which come from one source or another. They are at our disposal. We do not receive them from on high. They are ones which come from the disposal of our land, from voluntary giving and so on. So far as that money is concerned, we need and we have a statutory framework which enables that money to be shared and then to be applied where it is most necessary.
The point that I really want to make is that the framework that we have in the diocese, which is there by statute, does not put another body over us in respect of this expenditure. What it does is that it makes us get together, it gives us a framework to do that and then says, "When you have agreed in the proper way you will all abide by it". So there is a body called the Bishops' Council which is also our diocesan fund on which all these deaneries—boroughs, if you like—are represented properly. We meet together. It makes decisions and they are binding.
It is a body which is drawn from and composed of representatives of the parts of the diocese, and this amendment does not propose for another body, an additional body to be slotted in above. This, I am afraid, is why I cannot go with the noble Earl, Lord Perth, because I think that he is putting in another body. The body which is proposed in this amendment cannot be seen in any sense as a successor body to the GLC because it is constituted of the bodies, the boroughs themselves, which (as the Government recognise) have the responsibility for recognising and 27 meeting local needs. This body which we have in the diocese—which any diocese has; but it is particularly important to London with our structures and our needs—we do not resent. We welcome it.
Let me give an example of a recent case where we disposed of a certain site in London. One-third of the proceeds had to go to looking after redundant churches elsewhere but two-thirds of it comes with us. It is available for us to use in the right way. As soon as that money became available, I was under immediate pressure for that money to be spent where the site was, in the area, for that immediate locality, irrespective of how its demands related to those in Tower Hamlets or in Brent or elsewhere.
What happened was that the proper body, again not a body from above but the body composed from among ourselves, met and decided how that money should be allocated, having taken counsel from people who could assess the needs of the different parts of the diocese. We need that body. We do not resent it, as I say: we welcome it. We should be in a most lamentable condition if we were in a situation where all the pressure went to spending money locally where it was raised. Supposing that the site to which I referred had been in the middle of Chelsea and that we had let them spend it all there. What howls there would have been, and rightly so, from some parts of the rest of the diocese where the need was infinitely greater. It is a statutory body and it needs to be a statutory body. It means that we accept its decisions. It is a body which we accept as determining how we spend. This amendment cannot be seen, in my judgment, as a proposal to have a successor to the GLC in any form. It is a body like ours, composed of the boroughs, to help them to meet the London-wide needs.
On the question of funding, may I say that my concern is not merely the maintenance of funding; it is in giving the local authority associations the money that they need to be able to look ahead, to explore—because they have often taken the initiative. I found it a little odd that apparently (if I understood him aright) the Minister said that we must hope that the boroughs will follow the example of the GLC in providing the money which the GLC itself had spent. It seemed to me very odd that we should be urging the boroughs to follow the example of a body that we are in process of demolishing. I mean that quite seriously.
§ Lord Elton
I spoke for too long and necessarily left out detail. Your Lordships have seen lists of what the GLC is funding. I said that a lot of it, most of it, a great deal of it, was very worthy. I did not say that all of it was. I am in no way counselling the boroughs to spend exactly the same amount of money on exactly the same causes.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
I am grateful to the noble Lord the Minister but I still think that my main point holds, which is that the money has got to come from the boroughs and that we cannot just ask them to do what the GLC did, even in its better moments. The function of legislation, as I understand it—and I have said this here before—is to make it easier for people to do what is right and harder for them to do what is wrong. We all need it, and I believe that the boroughs need it in this instance.
28 It is not just a question of people being awkward or unco-operative and so on; it is also a question of loyalty. It is to this that the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, referred on an earlier occasion when she pointed out the tensions which one can have between one's statutory responsibilities to the area in which one is an officer and the needs of the wider area. I believe that we need something such as we have proposed here in order to help those members and officers to be able to resolve that kind of tension which otherwise arises. I appreciate very much the spirit of the letter which Councillor Cobbold wrote to The Times. I must confess that I am not convinced by it. I feel that if one really looks at what is happening it is in far too rudimentary a stage to give any real strength to the voluntary associations. It is true that they wrote 800 letters to various bodies but may I tell the Committee that they wrote on 23rd April and asked for answers by 10th May, and that that includes a Bank Holiday? Frankly that is not very realistic so far as the voluntary organisations are concerned because voluntary organisations have very little capital, if any; their staff are greatly pressed, they have little security and they are not in a position to produce quick answers or to survive long periods of uncertainty.
I could make one other reference to the question of ethnic minorities, but that would take too long and I have spoken too long already. But there is a great gap here which we do not believe is really covered by the proposals as they stand. Of course we welcome the proposals for the fund to which the Minister has referred. That is very encouraging but I do not think that it is in any way to be seen as a substitute for the framework which we see as essential in order to enable the boroughs to work together.
Perhaps I may endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, said about the inspiration of our concern. So far as I am concerned, the GLC did not inspire me one bit on this. I have never known an occasion on which all the leaders of the churches became all of one mind so quickly. The immediate response to the Society of Voluntary Organisations in respect of its first inquiry about response to Streamlining the Cities showed without any pressure from outside—it was a spontaneous response—an overwhelming concern for these proposals.
I do not want a successor body to the GLC. What I think we need is a co-ordinating body with statutory authority which will provide a framework to enable the boroughs to carry out the intentions expressed both by them and by the Government. In passing, do not let us forget that the London Boroughs Association is a voluntary association. It could go out of existence at the drop of a hat, so far as I can see. We cannot really leave the future of the voluntary organisations to something like that. If this amendment fails it would be better for the scheme to be mandatory, and that is why I support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt—
§ Lord Renton
Will the right reverend Prelate allow me to intervene? I do apologise, but perhaps he does not realise that the London Boroughs Association was given specific duties under Section 14 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1970; that until two years ago it was able to exercise those powers but 29 that changes in the last two years have frustrated its statutory duty and since then it has carried on with a voluntary duty without the statute having been repealed.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
I am very much obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, and I should like to follow up what he said, if I may have the indulgence of your Lordships for a few more minutes. In consultations that I have enjoyed with the Government about this Bill, I did say that one thing which would make all the difference to us would be to have some statutory recognition given to some body with responsibility for co-ordination. If in fact the situation relating to the London Boroughs Association was what it was previously—and I am grateful to the noble Lord for informing me about this, because nobody else has provided any information—that would go some way to meeting my point. But now, as he says himself, it has become voluntary and I do not think this job can be left to a voluntary body in that way.
The disadvantage of simply having a mandatory scheme is that it would have to have the power of the Secretary of State to enforce it, if the need arose. I think it is better left to providing the framework by statute, in which the boroughs themselves can be helped to get together and provide the necessary support for the voluntary organisations in our capital. I realise I have said nothing about the areas outside London, but I believe that what I have said applies equally to them and I hope that your Lordships will bear that in mind in voting upon this issue.
§ Lord Kaldor
Can the noble Lord inform the House that the new sources of funds at the disposal of the designated council for the financing of museums and art galleries will not include the imposition of fees or charges for visitors to museums?
§ Lord Ennals
I rise to support most strongly the amendment moved so ably by the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, and the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock. I have a great deal of respect for much of what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Perth. My objection to it has already been stated by the right reverend Prelate, but much that is said in that amendment could be incorporated within the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Hayter.
I was quite delighted to see that the noble Lord, Lord Bancroft, had added his name to this amendment as one of the sponsors. After all, as a former Permanent Under-Secretary of the Department of the Environment he would not have put his name to an amendment like this, with all his knowledge and all his background, unless he felt it was the right and proper thing to do.
Perhaps I may say to your Lordships that although I am speaking from this Bench I am speaking as one who has spent much more than half his life working with voluntary organisations. I am speaking in no sense in a political way, and this amendment, quite clearly, has nothing to do with politics. Thank heavens for that. It so happens that there are 15 of the 30 voluntary organisations in London and one in one of the metropolitan authorities with which I am associated as an officer or in some other way. I want to make it clear that I feel most deeply about the tremendously important role that voluntary organisations have to play in our society. They have played that role in the past and must play it in the future.
It has been suggested, I know, on earlier occasions and referred to again today, that somehow or other we or they have been lobbied and got at by the GLC. I am frankly not interested in what the GLC has said to me about this. I am interested in what the voluntary organisations have said to me about their problems. They have done so in meeting after meeting: the disabled and the homeless and especially those groups who are least able to help themselves, such as the disabled and those who are mentally ill or mentally handicapped; those who are suffering from those infirmities who have set up their own organisations which could not have existed had they not had the financial support of the GLC, where that applies. I am certain this also applies to the metropolitan authorities.
So I beg your Lordships to recognise that I speak as a voluntary organisation man with a deep conviction. Even when I was Secretary of State for Social Services I sought, by means of greatly increased grants that were given, to show my feelings, as I did when I launched the Good Neighbour campaign. I am most grateful to the noble Lord the Minister for intervening as early as he did. As one would expect from him, he made a number of points that are extremely relevant and on which I should like spontaneously to respond, if I may.
It has been suggested that the same money will be available, whether under the scheme as proposed by the Government or under the provisions of the amendment. We have no assurance of this. We know perfectly well that the money to be raised, as the noble Lord the Minister said, would be raised by the London boroughs, and by the districts in the case of the metropolitan authorities. I wish I could think that the record of those who are to provide money, if they so do, somehow or other is going to be totally different from their record up to now. The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, quite rightly said that nine of the London boroughs give less than £200,000 a year to all voluntary organisations; that 16 London boroughs have already said that they plan to reduce their spending on voluntary organisations in 1985–86; and another six have said that there will be no growth.
How can we feel certain—and I want to come on to the Minister's personal assurance—that that money will be available, especially since it requires the approval of two-thirds of the authorities concerned? The letter from Councillor Bowness, the chairman of the London Boroughs Association, of course reminded me that if they had their will it would not be two-thirds but three-quarters who would have to give their approval before schemes were adopted. So I ask—
§ Lord Elton
The noble Lord asked me a question. He asked how could we be certain that the money would be forthcoming. I would remind him, first, that there is no certainty that the money would be 31 forthcoming next year without abolition. There is no compulsion on the GLC to provide this money; there is no compulsion on the GLC to precept this money. The only compulsion is on the boroughs to pay the money if it is precepted.
I then ask him to reflect who actually puts up the elected people to make these decisions. It is the same electorate who are electing people to the GLC and to their local borough councils. It will be the same people carrying out those elections in the future. Therefore the electoral pressures will be the same. All the indications are that the results will be the same. The balance between local giving and overall giving will of course vary as it has in the past; but there is no certainty now, and there is no likelihood, that it will go wrong in the future.
§ Lord Ennals
I wish that I had the confidence of the Minister. I have to say that I do not have it at all. All the evidence of past performance suggests that there are some local authorities who, with the wishes of their electorate, will wish to contribute; and others who will do as I say they have done and who have decided that they are not going to increase the funds concerned. We have to accept that.
§ Lord Ennals
I feel that I must make my speech. The Minister gave an assurance. In your Lordships' House we would always give due respect to an assurance that is given, but we would give much greater respect if that were placed in the Bill. If I may mention one of the assurances to which he referred, it was that there will be as much money next year as there was last year. All he has to do is to accept Amendment No. 135AAB, which calls for subsection (5) to be deleted, because that in fact goes in exactly the opposite way.
I well remember, when debating on the London Regional Transport Bill an issue concerning voluntary organisations, the noble Earl, Lord Avon, giving an assurance again that the organisation Dial-a-Ride would without doubt be funded from the London boroughs. In fact I am afraid that exactly the opposite has happened. I admire Dial-a-Ride tremendously as an organisation which has opened the doors to people who have been housebound, who have been unable to move to places which they wanted to visit, to see relatives or to have forms of entertainment. Yet unless something has happened in the last week or so, only two of the London boroughs have made a contribution in spite of the assurances that were given by a noble Lord from the Government Bench. Only two London boroughs have sought to finance that magnificent organisation. They happen to be Camden, where I pay rates; and Islington. The Greater London Council has itself had to bear 95 per cent. of the total cost.
What assurances can they have? They are writing to me and telephoning asking to speak to me because, they say, "We have had an assurance before and it did not come off. How can we accept an assurance now? And if the assurance is genuine then why can it not be put into the Bill; or why cannot the amendment"—that has been so ably proposed and supported from all sides of the House—"be carried through?" The noble 32 Lord knows he cannot guarantee what will be the attitude of the London boroughs. I have to say that I am always a little doubtful (I hope the Minister will not take me amiss) when someone comes along with last-minute offers which suggest perhaps that they are a little concerned about how things will go. All of a sudden, instead of £ 10 million, we have £20 million in transitional funds produced today.
§ Lord Elton
It is interesting that when the Government resist the Opposition we are intransigent; and when we answer pressure in Parliament we are in some way caitiff.
§ Lord Ennals
I do not think that is an answer at all. I am speaking in favour of the amendment which would give some guarantee and some commitment. After all, even with the £20 million we are only talking about transitional figures. It is only a transitional period. The noble Lord made it clear himself that it is £20 million for one year; then it is reduced by the next year; and then it is phased down to nothing. He also brought out of the hat this new trust—the sort of community chest which as I understand it (I will certainly give way if I am wrong) is a £10 million sum that will come from selling the GLC building, County Hall.
§ Lord Elton
The noble Lord asked me to put him right; I do. It does not come from that source. It comes from the whole of the GLC assets, any part of which is surplus to the requirements of the successor bodies. It is a very much larger fund and is far more than one building.
§ Lord Ennals
That is right. I did not expect that it came just from one building. But this is an entirely new proposal. It is similar to the community chest schemes which have operated in the United States. It is quite new so far as this country is concerned. If it is £10 million, then presumably it would be the interest that would be available; and that would be roughly £1 million out of a £10 million capital sum. We have to bear in mind the enormous gap and the amount that we have already seen which was contributed by the GLC. The Minister was absolutely fair. The vast majority of the grants that were given by the GLC were for worthwhile projects. I think it was quite right that he should emphasise that. But a new trust producing £1 million extra a year, if that is roughly what the estimate would be, depending on interest rates—the noble Baroness thinks it is £1½ million; or it may be a little less—is clearly no answer at all to the problem.
He referred to the threats on the independence of voluntary organisations. I think that everyone who is involved in voluntary organisations is dedicated to ensure that their independence is not undermined by successive Governments—whatever colour they may be—or by any other authority. I think respective Governments have shown that same approach. What they are worried about is not that they are going to be interfered with by this Government or by a new organisation to be set up. They are concerned that they will not have the money to do their job.
I heard the Minister say that he was going to have consultations with the voluntary organisations. He must know the tremendous consultation that there has 33 been during this whole period about the role of voluntary organisations. He must know that it is the National Council of Voluntary Organisations—which is as far from being a party political organisation as any organisation that I have ever met, because it represents all that is best in the voluntary organisational movement as well as the churches—which has been expressing support for the amendment so ably proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Hayter.
It is quite true that the voluntary organisations are very frightened indeed. If they were not very frightened none of us would have had the sort of representations that we have had. I must say that over the weekend I was deeply moved by someone who telephoned my home. His speech was quite clearly impaired. He was trying to get over a message to me. I could not understand it. There was someone else at the side of the phone who asked, "Lord Ennals, did you understand what my friend was saying?" I said, "I am sorry, but I have to say I did not understand it. Can you possibly say what it was?" He said, "He was trying to say to you: 'Can you do your best to see that the proposals that have been made are carried and that we are not dependent upon the scheme that is in the Government's Bill'?". Of course that was difficult for him to say. I was deeply moved and there were tears in my eyes. That is the last I shall say in response to the Minister.
My noble friend Lord Barnett—as the Minister said, perhaps at a very timely moment—intervened and asked about tax in relation to schemes that are comparable with schemes in the United States. He said that it was not perhaps very relevant. I think it is very relevant indeed. No doubt, at a later stage he will respond to that, since he was not able to do so earlier. So my concern is not just with the big voluntary organisations. I thought that the GLC was quite absurd when it put out an advert that said that MENCAP, MIND or many other organisations were in peril. That was not true. I am saying it, as well as the noble Lord who has the distinction of being president of MENCAP. What are in peril are the individual voluntary organisations, sometimes parts of or affiliated to bodies such as MIND, MENCAP and the Church of England Children's Society, of whose committee I was a member until very recently. It is those small organisations that are worried; it is not the national organisations.
Perhaps I may conclude—there is much more that I should like to say, but there are other noble Lords who are better qualified than I am—by mentioning a letter that I received very recently from the Royal National Institute for the Blind. No one could for one moment think of that organisation having some political motivation. It states:The Royal National Institute for the Blind is not itself directly funded with grants from metropolitan county councils or the GLC".It puts itself together with others that are going to live on.However, district councils and boroughs sponsor places vitally needed by pupils in RNIB's special schools, old people in homes for the blind or people who need rehabilitation. Abolition of the metropolitan county councils and the GLC will place greater 34 responsibilities on districts and boroughs for funding projects. We fear that there may be less money available overall to enable these councils to meet their obligations".It goes onIn the last year the metropolitan count councils and the GLC funded voluntary organisations to the tune of about £60 million".That we know.The money helped, for example, physically and mentally handicapped people and victims of crime who need emotional and practical support".The letter continues:The Government now proposes that it will contribute £7.5 million for a transitional year".All right, that figure has been raised. I shall not read any more; but the organisation expresses its deep concern.
There cannot be any other legislature in the world which has more people who, in one way or another, are involved in the work of voluntary organisations than has your Lordships' House. There cannot be any place with greater experience of voluntary work than your Lordships' House, regardless of which political opinion your Lordships may hold. I plead with noble Lords to take seriously what the voluntary organisations say, to accept that they are really frightened about their future. When we look at the mass of social need in our society, in London and in the metropolitan areas, we should not be talking about whether the voluntary organisations are to be cut back. Our task is to look at this and to see how voluntary organisations can do more; by raising their own money, of course, but also by having a guarantee and a certainty that their future is there, in order that they can serve the nation as they have done in the past.
§ Lord Bellwin
I shall not keep your Lordships long, because I suspect that if I did, I should be repeating many of the arguments already made, but there are one or two observations which I should like to make. First, if the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, is so concerned that the many bodies which he mentioned are, to quote him, "scared", I am not in the least surprised, in view of all the distortion, publicity and advertising that has been going on. It has been going on for so long that it would be rather amazing if they were not scared.
What one has to look at is: who is responsible for their being scared. Who are these people? In many instances they are the same people who are deluging us with the kind of material that I have been receiving on a scale that I have never experienced before in my whole life. I make no bones about it. I am heartily sick and tired of it. So far as I am concerned, it is very counter-productive, and many of your Lordships tell me that you feel the same.
The noble Lord, Lord Ennals, said that he feels most deeply about this subject and the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, said that the amendment is based on charity and compassion. But there is no monopoly on compassion. There is no monopoly of feelings on these matters. I come from a background where I lived among scenes of deprivation and all that goes with it, and I am very aware of the magnificent work that the many voluntary bodies carried out. I want to see them expand. I like to think that in my former incarnation I made a small contribution towards helping some of 35 them so to do and I want that to continue. I am satisfied that what is in the Bill will happen. I was there—
§ Lord Bellwin
Will the noble Lord allow me to continue? I was there when much of the words and music of this Bill were being written. I was there when we discussed what might or might not be done to assuage the fears.
§ Lord Ennals
I greatly respect what the noble Lord had to say about the voluntary organisations and about his own contribution. But is he now saying that all of these organisations have not followed the debates, have not read the Bill, and that they are dupes who do not understand what is going on? If he is, he is doing a great disservice to some fine people, who have at the head of their notepaper the names of people as distinguished as the noble Lord and others who are here today.
§ Lord Bellwin
I intend to make only one speech, and I want to go on by saying that, having been there when it was started, having watched the imaginative response of the Government to the representations and the consultations, and having listened today to what the Minister has come forward with, I believe that there can be no possible complaint about a lack of response to consultation with organisations such as the NCVO. They are highly responsible bodies for which I have the greatest respect. So I am satisfied that the Government are responding.
I want, fairly briefly, to make one or two other points which must be made. It is very difficult speaking in this debate when we seem to be covering so many amendments. Amendment No. 136ZBA calls for transitional support for a period of four years. The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, spoke about that, but I want to say this about it. In all the legislation on local government with which I was concerned for five-and-a-half years never once did we as a Government seek to impose upon local government prespecified spending on prespecified services of any kind. The one factor we always maintained was that we were concerned about the totality of spending. We were concerned where individual authorities were, in total, exceeding what was fair and reasonable in relation to everybody else in local government. But we always said that the priorities on spending must lie with local government itself.
I ask your Lordships to think very carefully about what is being said today. It is being said that you cannot trust people in local government, because they will not have the money. I thought that my noble friend Lord Elton very explicitly explained why they will have no less money than they have now. But I want to remind your Lordships of some of the kind of spending that has taken place by many of these same authorities which, we are being told, will not have the money. I want to remind your Lordships that a sum approaching £20 million has been spent on campaigns by the seven authorities that are about to be abolished; and spending by the district authorities and others on 36 campaigning alone can be measured in millions. If they stop all that nonsense, they will have a great sum of money which they can apportion.
But having said that, at the end of the day the greater concern must be that you cannot seek to dictate exactly what each authority should spend on each separate service. If we cannot trust authorities to do that, we must not hear from noble Lords opposite, as I have heard in the last few years, about how we seek to control them and tell them what to do. I trust them, because I was a member of one of them. I support them, and always have done. But I wonder how happy the local authority associations are about the implications of what is being said today.
I will not detain the Committee longer. As the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, has probably gathered, I feel equally deeply. I have all along been concerned about the voluntary bodies, but I am satisfied more than I have ever been about this whole Bill, having listened to what was said today by my noble friend the Minister in respect of what the Government intend to do.
I ask noble Lords to bear in mind the key factor mentioned by my noble friend and to consider the fact that we are being asked today to vote on a question of £60 million out of the hundreds of millions of pounds which are there anyway and which will not be affected. I am satisfied with what the Government propose to do. I hope that all my noble friends, many Cross-Benchers and—as I am an eternal optimist—even some noble Lords opposite will see that there is merit in the Government's action and that the fears which have been expressed are groundless.
§ Lord Irving of Dartford
I hope that the Committee will allow me to speak to this group of amendments, although I have put my name to a later amendment on the Marshalled List, Amendment No. 136.Amendment No. 136: After Clause 47, insert the following new clause:
§ "Grants for Information and Advice Service.
§ .—(1) The Council of a London borough and of a district in metropolitan counties shall make such grants to appropriate voluntary organisations as are necessary to ensure that such organisations can provide citizens with information, advice and assistance with regard to the responsibilities and rights of those citizens.
§ (2) In this section "voluntary organisations" has the same meaning as in section 47(10) of this Act.
§ (3) The duty created by this section shall not be regarded as restricting the powers of section 47 of this Act.").
§ However, it is quite clear that, as a result of the Government's proposal concerning the fund, much of the debate will arise on these amendments—although I do not believe that the amendment in my name and that of the noble Lord, Lord McGregor, will be any the less relevant, whether or not the other amendments are carried.
§ One of the serious consequences of the disappearance of the GLC and the metropolitan counties will be the interruption to the work of many voluntary bodies upon which much of the well-being of our people depends. I should declare my interest. I am vice-chairman of the National Association of Citizens' Advice Bureaux. This is one of the largest, if not the largest, of voluntary bodies. I will describe to the Committee the consequences that this Bill will have for that organisation in respect of the 37 interruption and possible damage to the CAB's information and advisory services.
§ The Citizens' Advice Bureaux were established in 1939 to provide an emergency service during the war. Bureaux worked from mobile units, air raid shelters and rest centres—helping people with their personal problems. After the war, CABs were still needed to deal with resettlement problems and to advise people about benefits under the new welfare state.
§ This service has continued to respond to the changing needs of the community. The association now consists of a central office and 22 areas in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which provide support services to 682 main bureaux and 221 extensions. Scottish CABs are in a separate organisation but it is of course associated with that representing England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
§ Approximately 13,500 people—90 per cent. of whom are volunteers—work in the service, and a further 10,000 people are associated with the committees which run the bureaux—and they are also volunteers. It is a large and complex organisation. Any interruption of funds could be totally disastrous to the service it gives to the public. The service has an open door policy. Any member of the public can walk into a CAB and obtain free, confidential and impartial advice on any subject. People are often advised by the press and television and by indications in leaflets published by Government departments and by libraries to obtain help from their local CAB. In response to need, an increasing number of CAB also provide specialist services—such as debt counselling, tribunal assistance, and assistance with workers' rights and legal work—to complement their generalist service.
§ The national association receives a grant from the Department of Trade and Industry to provide back-up services to bureaux, and the local bureaux are funded primarily by local government. The service has gained a high reputation for itself and has received high praise from many quarters. Indeed, when it was under attack last year it was encouraging that so many Members of both Houses who had experience of the CABs came to its support.
The independent inquiry set up by the Secretary of State last year under the distinguished civil servant, Sir Douglas Lovelock, described the service as,
an invaluable national asset".
A month later the Government accepted the inquiry's recommendations that the CABs should have £1 million more to improve back-up services and to help encourage local authorities to offer long-term support.
§ The noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, is not in his place now but he made the point in our rates debate, more than adequately, that this organisation represented the best type of voluntary organisation where, for the involvement of a number of paid staff, the money put into it stimulated the work of a vast number of voluntary people. The GLC takes a London-wide view, but there are rich and there are poor boroughs in London—and the poor boroughs will suffer if there is no London-wide organisation to provide them with effective support in areas which desperately need it; areas of dereliction and poverty. That is why we need a London-wide authority.38
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Lord Elton
It may be helpful if I interject at this stage to make a point I intended to mention when winding up this debate. The effects of the Clause 47 scheme will be, in conjunction with the London rate equalisation schemes, such that the burden of supporting these schemes will be distributed in roughly the same proportion as it is now. Your Lordships' Committee can dismiss from its mind any anxiety about the penalising of the poorer boroughs.
While I am on my feet, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord, Lord Irving, whether, in speaking to Amendment No. 136, he is preferring this amendment to his own, or whether he intends to speak also to his amendment later in the event that Amendment No. 135ZB falls.
§ Lord Irving of Dartford
I will not speak again; I do not intend to impose myself on the Committee twice in one evening on the same subject.
It is true that there is an equalisation scheme but it is also true that the amount of money available in poorer boroughs will be wholly inadequate to deal with many of the problems which they will have to face and which exist historically. When the time comes, I feel sure that there will still be problems. I will speak later about the difficulties which exist already.
Total funding by local authorities in England and Wales in 1982–83 was £9.2 million. With help given in kind, overall funding reached a little more than £10 million. The total number of inquiries continues to rise at a slightly slower rate than in 1982–83. Nevertheless, this year there has been an increase of 8.9 per cent. over the last year for which we have figures. This represented an additional 500,000 inquiries. Given the stringent financial conditions under which many bureaux have been operating, their increase in workload is significant. In many places, clients have to wait up to two hours for an interview and advisers are under an increasing strain.
I turn now to the crux of the problem. The funding of individual bureaux is already patchy and inconsistent. The association is keen to encourage local authorities to recognise that increases in bureau workload require additional resources, if the demand for local services is to be met. In some parts of the country increases in funding have not kept pace with inflation, let alone with the increased demand for the service from the general public. Last year the number of inquiries totalled 6 million.
The Lovelock Report stated:We are in no doubt that the level of funding to bureaux needs to be raised",but added that:in the present economic climate local authorities have limited funds at their disposal".Some authorities, such as the London Borough of Hillingdon, have for this reason already confirmed that they are withdrawing 65 per cent. of their grant aid to the CAB service. It is expected that this will cause the closure of two bureaux and our legal support service. All this is without the problems to be imposed on the service by the abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan authorities. It is in the light of difficulties already existing that we now see the end of support 39 from the GLC and the metropolitan authorities. It is unrealistic to believe that authorities facing acute difficulties in funding their bureaux at present will be able to take on much additional funding, even with the money that they will receive from the precept that will no longer go to the GLC.
With less than 10 months to go, we have no guarantee that the funding now provided by the present authorities will continue. I am sure that the Government do not want to damage this service, which is unique in the world and which last year attracted visitors from 10 or more countries to see it in operation. It is the case that the Government have, over the past year or two, generously increased their support for hard-up services, but if they want to prevent damage they must act to ensure that there is no interruption in the transitional period and, above all, no reduction in the total amount of money available.
In terms of the fund, the proposal is obviously a recognition by Government of the tremendous financial problems facing voluntary organisations such as the CAB service when the GLC and the metropolitan counties are abolished. Such recognition is greatly welcomed. However, the CAB service relies on the GLC fund for about £500,000 a year, and this will need to be underwritten by the Government long before April 1986—a mere 10 months to go—if there is not to be an interruption of services. I think that many organisations will still have great anxieties even after what has been said today by the noble. Lord. They will have grave anxieties about the future, particularly during the transition period. Therefore, I beg to support these amendments.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
The noble Lord, Lord Ennals, called in aid, very justifiably if he will allow me to say so, his own very distinguished record in connection with the voluntary bodies. I hope I may pay him the flattery of imitation and say that I can claim, however modestly, that during the six-and-a-half years I filled the office of Minister of Pensions and National Insurance I did my utmost, within that department and outside, to encourage and assist the development of voluntary bodies. So there is really no quarrel between us on this.
Nor indeed is there any quarrel with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, who is no longer in his place. As the right reverend Prelate said, the difference that we have is not about ends but about the means. Despite the absence of the right reverend Prelate, who made a powerful speech which was highly critical of the Government, I should like to come back to him on at least one of the points that he made. He took my noble friend Lord Elton to task by saying that my noble friend has missed the point and that the real point was that the Bill did not give security to the voluntary bodies. What security do they have now? What is there to prevent the GLC, if it went on, from cutting right back on some or all of them? They have, it would seem to me and I suggest to your Lordships, much less security now, when they are completely dependent for this large part of their support on the decisions of one large body, than they will have when, under the Bill, they pass into the care of the boroughs.
40 I do not know whether the right reverend Prelate realises that this large expenditure by the GLC—£50 million in the current year—is a very new development. As recently as 1981 the figure was between £8 million and £9 million. A figure that has grown in that spectacular way can, as your Lordships know well, wither away equally spectacularly. I thought that the right reverend Prelate—unusually for him and, if I may say so in his absence, particularly for a Balliol man—was very unsound indeed. He then went on to say—
§ Lord Melchett
Is the noble Lord implying that this growth is a bad thing which should not have happened? That is what he seemed to be saying.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
I was not saying that it should not have happened. I was merely pointing out that a growth of that speed, first, has an element of uncertainty about it and, secondly, that it is interesting—and I am indebted to the noble Lord for his intervention—to consider what happened to the voluntary bodies up to 1981 when the support that they received from the GLC was very modest indeed.
I am very glad that the right reverend Prelate has returned to his place because I want to take up a further point with him. He told us about the experience he had in his great diocese of the demolition of a church and the disposal of the funds. He had to resist, as I am sure he did very properly, any suggestion that those funds should be used solely in the near proximity to the demolished church. But again, what security is there that the GLC will use its funds to support voluntary effort in any generalised way? Is it not at least possible that it may wish to use them particularly in areas where it has a great deal of support; perhaps even in the areas represented on the council by its leading members of the majority? With great respect to the right reverend Prelate, it seemed that on both these points he was being somewhat unfair to my noble friend the Minister.
I have only two other points to make. First, this amendment proposes to set up an authority. I think it is a mistake, particularly in this sphere, to call any such body an authority. If one calls a body an authority it is apt to develop authoritarian tendencies. It is apt to think that it is the boss. For a body of this sort, if it is to be set up at all, it is a mistake—perhaps a revealing mistake—that those who drafted the amendment inserted the word "authority". Perhaps it suggests a line of thought on their part because the alternative, and the alternative posed by the Bill, is that we should trust the boroughs, the elected representatives of the people throughout London.
In that context, I received recently a letter from Mr. Bowness who, as your Lordships probably know, is chairman of the London Boroughs Association. I should like to read an extract from this letter which seems highly relevant to the amendment. Mr. Bowness writes:I ask you to remember that the boroughs have been supporting voluntary organisations consistently for many years, both through the joint scheme and individually. In 1984/85 we gave some £30 million, in addition to substantial help under the Urban Programme. GLC funding"—41 and here he comes back to the point I made—has on the other hand been a short term phenomenon, growing from only £8 million in 1981 to its present £50 million which could as readily vanish again. We are answerable to local people for what we do, and I can assure you that no local council would lightly ignore the needs of voluntary groups in its area. We know what they can do, and how effectively they can do it. Equally important, so do the electors to whom we answer".Therefore on this amendment I say one simple thing to noble Lords opposite; simple because it is an expression they so often use themselves in arguments on other matters: why not trust the locally-elected representatives of the people to do what is right?
§ The Lord Bishop of London
I apologise for having to be out of the Chamber for a few moments. First, perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, that in my reply I may have been insufficiently grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for his additional financial help. I thought that in what I was saying I was trying to help to bring about precisely what he said he intended should come about: namely, encouraging the boroughs to work together and giving them a framework in which to do so.
The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, quoted from a letter which I too have. It seems to me very significant that the chairman said:I can assure you that no local council would lightly ignore the needs of voluntary groups in its area".That is the crux of the matter. The chairman should have said:I can assure you that no local council would lightly ignore the needs of voluntary groups in its area and would be very sensitive to greater needs in other parts of London".If he had said that, it would have meant a great deal more to me.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
If the right reverend Prelate had studied the letter from Mr. Bowness, if it be identical to mine, with the care which the responsibilities of his great diocese might make difficult for him, he would have noted that earlier on in the letter Mr. Bowness refers to the fact that,the boroughs have been supporting voluntary organisations consistently for many years, both through the joint scheme and individually".I ask the right reverend Prelate to note the words "both through the joint scheme".
§ 5 p.m.
§ Lord Soper
I rise to support this amendment because I believe that this Bill, unamended, will do great damage both to the financial situation and indeed to the more, shall we say, spiritual characteristics of the voluntary services. I have not been in any way reinforced in any opposition to that view by what has been said this afternoon.
I believe that there is a requirement—and I speak with some passion on this—to understand what is the nature and what are the particular virtues that belong to voluntary associations. I shall spend a moment or two in describing them. In many respects voluntary services are the bell-wethers of enlightened civic administration. The first créches in London were 42 organised by the Methodist Church in 1885. The crÉches have now become the broad highway of intelligent and responsible administration with regard to children in care or lacking care. That kind of opportunity should be cherished and there is as ample a need for such adventurous participation in this kind of voluntary activity as ever there was before.
There is a second virtue which must be introduced if we are to find a comprehensive attitude to this very complex question. I can put it in the form of an anecdote. It is a very simple one. I myself have been engaged in voluntary services and have been responsible for some over the past 60 years in London. I remember almost the last thing that happened in the old LCC, of which I was a member. There was a project for something to be done for the poor relations of the alcoholics, the spirit drinkers. A long discussion followed and finally it was agreed that if the West London Mission would provide that particular service the LCC would fund it.
The reason for such a decision was not that they believed that those who would be responsible would be careless of the moral and other spiritual responsibilities attached to such a totally disagreeable form of service, but that they believed that there was a peculiar kind of devotion and commitment which could be expected from those in the voluntary area. I believe that that is true and I shall be very sorry to see either of those virtues within the voluntary services pass away. I am sure that they will not, but I see the imperilled position that now faces the voluntary services in particular on the basis of the responsibility that will be theirs in the local boroughs.
It seems to me that the demands on local boroughs in many respects will be in inverse proportion to their capacity to pay for them. Is it not obvious that there is an alcoholic problem in, shall we say, Lambeth, which is not so obvious and much more concealed in, shall we say, Richmond? Is it not obvious that, whatever might be the intentions and the commitments of the Lambeth people to deal with this problem, they will be expected to pay far more and to take much greater responsibility than their restricted resources can command or can deploy?
There is another equally relevant question. I share with the episcopal Bench a realism about the way in which one can trust the local authorities. I very much doubt it, I am afraid. I am not committing myself to a condition of total depravity but there is a situation of original sin in which personal behaviour patterns are very largely geared to the immediate issues with which people confront themselves or are confronted. I have no evidence to support the view over the past 50 years that when you are dealing with local authorities they are likely to take very much more account of things outside their own areas than of things that belong to their own immediate areas of responsibility. It is in this kind of circumstance that I look for an authority—I do not mind the word—which in its essence will do three things.
In the first place, it will provide an overall commitment to which there will be a more likely response than if you depend on the individual responses of local boroughs themselves. Secondly—and here I introduce a note which has not hitherto been struck—not every voluntary commitment is 43 worth supporting. I confess that, having some knowledge of the Church, there have been a number of voluntary associations and voluntary services which I believe have been, if not perverse, then thoroughly impractical and thoroughly stupid. I believe that an authority should discriminate between that kind of service which is required and is obviously desirable and that which is promoted by undue sentimentality. Perhaps I may give an example of that. Over the years I have had something to do with alcoholism and with the provision of some answer to it. How necessary it was for us to try to provide that the alcoholic treatment was based on knowledge and expertise and not merely on the sentimental desire to reclaim the drunkard or the alcoholic.
I am very grateful that, in funding the alcoholic set-up for which I was responsible, the Greater London Council insisted on certain quite obvious technical and administrative conditions without which they were not prepared to fund what we were trying to do. As a result—I shall not detain the Committee—we now have a three-tier system which is funded particularly in the realm of detoxification, which is an expensive thing; which can provide something of the process of rehabilitation of the alcoholic; and which, finally, can set up something in the nature of protected housing. These are illustrations of the way in which an overall authority, by whatever name you call it, will indeed be responsible for the distinction between those things which ought to be funded and those which are not, and can provide a sense of obvious and much required expertise in that function.
I finish by saying this. I hear on many sides and in many open places that the present Government are committed to the dismantling of the welfare state. I do not make such an accusation, or not now, but I am quite sure that there is widespread fear that that is what in fact is happening. If there is one thing that could allay that fear it would be if the Government of the day were prepared to see that the impoverishment of the voluntary services is one step along that road, at any rate in the opinion of a great many of our contemporaries and ultimately of the rate-payers.
In that regard, I hope very much that this Government will see to it that, whatever may be the virtues in the two-tier administration—I share an appreciation of those virtues—they are dead wrong on this particular issue and should take the advice of those who really know a great deal about social services and particularly voluntary services, not as though we are immaculate in what we say or infallible in what we propose, but because one cannot ignore the overall commitment of the Methodist Church, the Anglican Church and other Churches, that this particular amendment is required if the virtues of this Bill are to be preserved.
§ Lord Shinwell
I am a Back-Bencher but Back-Benchers should have an opportunity to speak. I will not be long, I assure you. I want to declare an interest. I am president of the Easington Council for Voluntary 44 Service. I initiated it ever so long ago; 30, 40 or 50 years ago. They elect me president every year although I have offered to resign to allow somebody to undertake the tasks involved.
When I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, expressing his views about it, I agreed with much that he said but with something I was bound to disagree. It was the statement he made that we must leave matters of this sort to the elected representatives to do what is right. That is exactly what he said. But they are not always allowed to do what is right. They are subject to the parties, the political parties, which help to elect them at election times. They are subject to what the Government of the day decide that they should do. They are subject to the financial provision made to them from time to time. At certain times that can be withdrawn. Sometimes it is reduced, as we know, by reduction in grants and so on.
Thus it is going a bit too far (I will put it no higher than that) to say that these matters must be left to elected representatives. The fact of the matter is that one cannot afford to leave everything to elected representatives any more than one can afford to leave everything to one government. As we see just at the moment, there is almost chaos in Government circles because of misunderstandings about this or that, However, I do not want to pursue that line this afternoon. I have no time for it; nor have I the inclination.
What occurs to me is this. We are talking about the need for freedom, to be permitted to express ourselves. I am all in favour of that. I think that in a civilised society it is essentially wrong to interfere with one freedom; that is, the freedom of those who are elected or who are engaged in voluntary service, whoever they may be. It is a mistaken line of policy. There must be an element of freedom. As one knows, one cannot always have that freedom in an elected body. There is a great deal of criticism of elected bodies, for example, local authorities. There was a great deal of criticism of the GLC. Long before the GLC, in the days of Herbert Morrison, the London County Council was the subject of almost daily criticism.
In the long run there must be something alongside elected bodies. There must be voluntary services: a number of people who club together and say, "We do not think that is right; we must say something about it, we should express an opinion about it". One may offer those organisations some funds to enable them to carry on, or one may deprive them of funds which they have been given in the past. One does that kind of thing. There is nothing wrong with that.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and with the right reverend Prelate. There must be something. It does not matter what kind of organisation is set up. It can have all the authority in the world (and we do not have that in this country) but alongside that there will need to be some bodies, people who can get together from time to time. For example, there may be a body of women who have similar conceptions about society and who want to express their opinions. I should allow that, as long as they do not ask for too much money and as long as they satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Elton. May I say how much I admire the noble Lord's capacity for debate, even if I have not agreed with a single word he has said? That does not matter.
45 No; you cannot allow even voluntary bodies to have all their own way and to be presented with funds to do what they like with. That cannot be allowed to happen. Alongside these voluntary bodies, who have funds at their disposal, are set other voluntary bodies who say, "You cannot spend this and you cannot spend that". One wants an element of freedom. Therefore I suggest that whether noble Lords vote for the amendment or vote against it, we should vote so that there will still be some voluntary bodies continuing. They may not have a great deal of authority but they are the kind of concept which the country cannot afford to ignore or destroy.
§ Lord Bancroft
It is a disconcerting experience to follow the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. They are all brilliant debaters, and I most certainly am not. In the case of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, there are two further reasons for its being disconcerting. The first is that I have to confide to the Committee that he has been an object of strictly non-political veneration to me for 35 years. The second is that he and I and the right reverend Prelate were all at the same college. He also speaks with authority on the subject of authority, given his past experiences.
Since I retired, I have never made any secret of the fact that I have little time for the GLC or the metropolitan county councils. Of course they have good things and some excellent staff to their credit. However, they have often failed to deliver the services which we expect from local government effectively, efficiently and economically. All too often some of them have become continuous political corroborees. Yet, in abolishing them, I ask noble Lords to consider whether, in one or two areas, it is right to put in their place something which is ineffective, inefficient and uneconomical. That is the gravamen of my criticism against Clause 47, even with the imaginative, interesting and very last-minute additions made to it so ably by the noble Lord the Minister.
I do not think that those noble Lords who like myself support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, can properly be described as a platoon of bleeding hearts; not do I think that those who oppose it can be described as a section of Scrooges. I hope that the right reverend Prelate and others will forgive the reference to military formations. Those who support the clause are interested in devising an arrangement which is in keeping with the spirit of the Bill but which actually delivers the help that is so sorely needed.
I think especially of disabled people. Organisations dealing with disability regard this clause with dismay or despair. I hasten to add that this in no way derogates from the good work which the boroughs and the districts have done and will continue to do, mainly within their own borders; because we are here dealing with London-wide and county-wide tasks.
During the debate, we have been reminded that the existing borough and district precepts will be available for supporting county-wide voluntary organisations. I concede at once that some will be available. However, 46 it would take a robust, even a Panglossian view of human nature to imagine that, left entirely to themselves, the boroughs and districts would feel themselves able to spare more than a fraction of the amounts of their present precepts (in some cases already small) for county-wide voluntary organisations.
I repeat that I heard with enormous interest what the noble Lord the Minister had to say during the course of his remarks. Most of it was extremely helpful. All of it was imaginative. Yet I am bound to confess that at the end of the day, in organisational terms, I feel one is left with a body or series of bodies which are patched, which clank, whirr and wheeze into action. I do not think that that is sensible.
There was a word about the United States experience. Taking up a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, and, indeed, commented on by the noble Lord the Minister, perhaps I may say something about the United States. I think it is the case that, despite much greater fiscal concessions to private and to corporate giving in the United States of America, despite Community Chest there and all the rest of it, the American voluntary sector depends primarily on government funds. A quotation from—as I think the noble Lord the Minister would agree—one of the greatest experts on the American voluntary sector, Lester M. Salamon of the Urban Institute, Washington; confirms what I say. He said:Private charity is no longer the principal source of support for the charitable sectors [in the US]: government is.Now, I should like to comment, if I may, on the reference—
§ Lord Elton
The noble Lord paused as though he had disposed of something that I had said. I never claimed that the United States Government did not provide a very large amount of money to charities. What I said was that American private corporations provide a vastly greater proportion of their pre-tax profits than do ours. I shall come back to the arithmetic of that later, but that is what I said. I never made the position that I thought I heard the noble Lord, with satisfaction, demolishing.
§ Lord Bancroft
I assure the Minister that I would not dream of thinking that I had disposed of that point. I was adding a gloss to it.
I now come to the proposed voluntary trust for London. This, in my view, is to be welcomed unequivocally. But the fund's contribution to the solving of the totality of the London-wide problems facing the voluntary sector over a long period of time, let alone the problems of the metropolitan counties, will be, in the former case, I fear, pretty minor, despite what has been said, and so far, in the latter case, nil. It is, I repeat, a welcome experiment, but in the context of this Bill it is a piece of interesting marginalia with, I am bound to say, a whiff of makeshift diversion about it.
I pass without comment over the fact that we first read of the proposed voluntary trust in The Sunday Times yesterday and again in The Times today. This simply confirms me in my attachment to the television proverb that in this country the ship of state is one of the few craft that leaks from the top.
47 I have great sympathy with the amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Perth. What divides us, I think, is that the noble Earl believes that the system in Clause 47 is fundamentally workable. I believe that it is basically defective. To set up a council to supervise a defective system will not improve its defectiveness. It might produce an efficient defectiveness, but that is not, I think, what we are after.
§ The Earl of Perth
Perhaps I may make one comment, since the noble Lord has mentioned my amendment. It is simply this. Both the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London and the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, have, I am afraid, misrepresented my proposal. They said that they were not interested in it because it added yet another body to the set-up that we are talking about. My answer is that this is not the case. I am proposing that there should be a body totally outside politics that would be replacing both the GLC and the MCCs. If the amendment on which the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, appears first, is passed, my amendment would also replace the voluntary service authority. My proposal is not to establish another body. It is a substitute. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, has sympathy for me. If he has sympathy for me but votes for the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, my amendment disappears.
§ Lord Bancroft
I am grateful to the noble Earl for what he has said. His remarks enable me to conclude my remarks on a note of total agreement in the sense that I regard the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, as totally non-political. I shall vote for it because I have put my name to it. I believe that it has wide support both here and elsewhere.
§ Baroness Faithfull
During the debate in the other place my noble friend Lord Elton's ministerial colleague Sir George Young said that the voluntary organisations needed stability, security and permanence. Those were, I think, his words. First, however, I wish to pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Elton for upping the £10 million to £20 million. In this day and age he is to be congratulated on that. Secondly, perhaps I may also congratulate him on his idea of the trust.
I have only two points to make. Will the boroughs do their duty, or will they not, under the framework mentioned by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London? I have every confidence in the desires and wishes of the boroughs. However, I do not have every confidence that they always have the money, or that they will have the money. Times have changed. There was a period when the boroughs could afford to give money. Now, quite rightly, not all of them feel that they can afford to do so. It is argued that local people will lay down what they want their councillors to do. I am sure that local people will not want their local councillors to spend money on London-wide projects, such as those to which the noble Lord, Lord Soper, referred, when the boroughs are short of money themselves. It is not a question of whether or not the local councillors support the voluntary organisations. You cut your coat according to your cloth. That is, I am afraid, the reality of the situation.
48 Some people say that the boroughs will not take this course. But they are doing so now. I do not blame them. If they have not the money, they cannot pay. I would cite one example in my capacity as president of what was called the Adoption Resource Exchange engaged in finding adoptive homes for handicapped children. Voluntary organisations found the homes, vetted them and prepared them and then offered them to local authorities for £3,000. To keep a child in care costs £3,000 a year. If the child is adopted, the local authority does not have to pay the £3,000. This can be multiplied over the years until the child is 16 or perhaps 18. A great deal of money is therefore saved by the local authorities.
One authority has rung today to say that in future it will not be indulging in the scheme; it will do the work itself. That is not cost-effective. Coming down to hard cash, what worries me is that the boroughs will not be able to afford to help voluntary organisations. That, in turn, will not be cost effective. At the end of the day they will have to pay out much more money.
My second point concerns the trust which my noble friend Lord Elton spoke about. I fully support the trust. I go further and say that I should have liked to see a national trust set up. I should have liked to see local voluntary organisations given stability, security and permanence by a national trust. It is my hope that in that way finance to voluntary organisations would not depend on the ebb and flow, and swing, of political opinion in the country, either locally or nationally.
The question will be asked, "What about the financing of such a trust?" I would only say that in Australia, in order to fund voluntary organisations, the Australian Government allow tax concessions for voluntary contributions. Secondly, they allow direct funding on a matching basis. Lastly, though I am not quite sure I understand what it means, there is joint Commonwealth and state funding.
I support the two amendments, that of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, and that of the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, to which my name is attached. I support them simply as stepping stones over the next few years to enable us to think out a much better way of permanently helping the voluntary organisations.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Lord Mottistone
Before my noble friend sits down, I should like to raise one matter. In the first part of her speech she made a great point about the fact that if it were left to the boroughs, they would not have the money. I cannot see how the body suggested under Amendment No. 135ZB will have any more money. There does not seem to be any arrangements about it. Surely, it will have to be funded through the boroughs? Therefore, the totality of the money will be exactly the same.
§ Lord Elton
My noble friend has raised the point that I was about to raise. We have been discussing all this time how the money is to be spent. I can see nothing in the amendment which says from where the money is to come. I presume that it is to come from the rates. I presume therefore that there is some system of charging or that there is to be a precept. Noble Lords opposite nod their heads sagely and eagerly; but 49 I cannot see it written anywhere in the amendment. We need to know about that, and I need to know about that before I answer the debate.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
Perhaps I may try and answer the noble Lord. My understanding was that it was to come through a precept on the boroughs made by the boroughs themselves. That is why I was able to say that this is not another tier with its own funding, not another body. There is the money which comes from the rates and the body exists to enable that rate money to be shared in a way which fulfils what is being asked for in Clause 47.
§ Lord Elton
Is the right reverend Prelate able to tell me who sets the level of the precept? I thought that it would be the body referred to here. However, if it is not a precepting body but only a distributing body then we must know who will set the level of the precept. Is that going to be the Clause 47 system? Shall we have the two going in tandem, or what?
§ The Lord Bishop of London
As I understand it, it would fulfil the functions which are at present provided for in Clause 47. The boroughs would set their own rate. They would have obligations as regards voluntary grants and they would agree among themselves under this framework as to how the money should be distributed. That is the situation as I understood it. However, there may be other noble Lords better equipped to answer the point.
§ Baroness Gardner of Parkes
Under those circumstances, if it is to be a precepting authority, then it will set a precept on the poorest of the poor in the same way as it will on everyone else. Will there then be an exemption or some way in which to help those people? It seems to me that if we are to set up yet another precepting authority we shall run into all the same problems as we have at present.
§ Lord Ennals
I should like to answer the point raised by the noble Lord the Minister. If he looks at subsection (5) of the amendment, he will see that it says:Each authority shall be a joint authority within the meaning of Part IV of this Act".It is in that subsection that the precepting power is granted.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich
One hundred-and-fifty-eight minutes ago the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, made a very useful speech when he spoke of charity and compassion. The fact that the Committee is so full tonight is another way of saying that we are a House and a Chamber which believes passionately in both compassion and charity, and therefore in the principle of the voluntary organisations. In that regard I take comfort from the very clear statement by the noble Lord the Minister when he says that the Government wholly support the principle of voluntary organisations. I hope that that rings out from this debate.
I also have the greatest respect for the noble Lord, Lord Ennals. He and I share the same title of 50 "Norwich", in English, or "Norvic", which is Latin. I have seen his work in our fine city of Norwich. He is second to none in the way in which he has cared for voluntary concerns. Indeed, I also believe that that is something upon which the whole Committee is agreed.
I shall not enter into the private argument between the Balliol men. They can get on with it on their own. As a simple Cambridge man I would not understand about Balliol. It is a different university from my own and I wish them the best of British luck. Personally, I am preaching in Great Snoring in Norfolk next week and that, as far as I know, will keep my feet firmly on the ground—not, I hope, an Oxford living.
Here we are, after 161 minutes, looking still at this very important and, I believe, major amendment. In the light of the four major assurances which the noble Lord the Minister has given openly and publicly on behalf of the Government, and in the light of the fact that we must assuage the fears of which the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, has spoken as regards the voluntary organisations, the message must go out clearly from this Chamber that whatever our view on the amendment, we are concerned about those who need help. I believe that the voluntary organisations will receive from every corner of this Committee support, care and concern. I believe that to be a united feeling.
As regards the amendment, I came to the Committee with a very sad heart. Although, due to sheer pressure of work in the diocese, I have been unable to be present as many times as I should have liked, I have watched a steady change of pattern—though I should like to be thought wrong—in the way in which we are dealing with a Government Bill. Essentially, we are a revising Chamber, and that is something which I recognise and which I believe we all recognise. I see in not only this amendment but in the amendments preceding and following it a steady determination so to dismantle this Bill that we are not tonight speaking only about this amendment. I believe that we are speaking about a change of course in the way in which we conduct our business. I share my anxiety. I am happy to be thought wholly wrong, but I believe that there are many people who think that I am right. However, we shall leave that matter for the moment.
I return to the amendment. In the light of the fact that the Government, through the Minister, have given four direct assurances concerning matters of major importance to all of us concerned with the voluntary organisations—and I am second to none in my concern, support and care for them—I believe it would be right for those who moved this amendment now to withdraw it. If not, I feel that we will be moving towards an approach to the Bill which is beyond a revisionary approach. I shall leave the matter there.
I have put my name to one of the amendments, and I assure your Lordships that I shall be brief. I must confess that I have been tempted to nail my colours to the masts of both the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, and the amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, in the hope that one of those two vessels will reach port. After considerable thought I feel that Lord Hayter's vessel is perhaps 51 better equipped than the other, lighter vessel in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Perth.
I wish to speak about only one area of this problem which is of vital importance. It concerns the ethnic minorities, the refugees and the migrants. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, has tabled Amendment No. 136D, which is almost identical to the amendment which I did not move. Therefore, I do not in any way want to pre-empt the noble Baroness. However, I suggest to the Committee that these two amendments can quite easily stand side by side. I did not move my Amendment No. 85 because, taking the advice of a great many noble Lords and a great many bodies who know so much about this matter, it was considered at the time that the problems of the ethnic minorities would best be considered under Clause 47. Nevertheless, I wish the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, all possible success with her amendment and I shall, of course, support it.
My reason for rising at this late hour is to tell your Lordships' Committee that in its report on its response to Streamlining the Cities the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said that abolition will affect the ethnic minorities more than any other group in London. What strong words they are! That is the linchpin of my speech, but that is not the end of the story because that view has been shared and expressed by the Commission for Racial Equality, by the British Refugee Council, by the London Voluntary Social Council, by the Runnymede Trust and by several other bodies. Let me examine briefly why the ethnic minorities will suffer. They will suffer because, as I see it (and I may well be wrong) there will be no central body to combat multiple deprivation, racial discrimination in housing and employment, and to meet their many social and other needs.
The Commission for Racial Equality in its report for 1983 said that no less than 50 per cent. of employers still discriminate against ethnic minorities; and a Policy Studies Institute report for 1984 reached the conclusion that black unemployment was twice that of white. There is a very important aspect of this problem. Perhaps I can draw the Committee's attention to the Race Relations Act 1976, Section 71 of which obliges local authorities to draw up policies to combat racism. The point here, when related to London—I fear I cannot speak about the metropolitan counties—is that of the London boroughs less than half have drawn up a programme at all. That is why I cannot in any way accept the Government solution which is that the functions of the GLC and the metropolitan counties in these spheres should be devolved to the London boroughs and district councils. How can one do that when we have this situation with half the boroughs doing nothing about implementing the legislation?
The situation is even more serious. No less than one-third of the boroughs are totally disinterested in the problems of the minorities; 14 of the boroughs have no specialist staff and have not applied themselves in any way to the problem. So I feel very strongly that what we need is some kind of overall authority such as has been proposed. This idea has been supported by many noble Lords who have spoken. We need an overall authority with an advisory 52 role, a co-ordinating role and a watchdog role. Your Lordships have accepted the principle of overall bodies for highways and waste disposal. We are not now dealing with highways or waste disposal; we are dealing with the real, live human problems: and human problems surely demand humane solutions.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
There is one very important point which has not been made in this long debate. I feel it needs making, and clearly. I speak as one who has spent the whole of her adult life working within voluntary organisations, who was involved for eight years as the chairman of a main committee of a strategic local government council, that committee being responsible for much strategic grant-aiding; and I speak as someone who has discovered that the way to get continuity and stability of funding, and the understanding of councillors of all political parties for voluntary organisations, is by depoliticising the exercise. How does one do that when the exercise is about money raised by local government councillors on behalf of the people they represent, and they have different political views and so do their electors? How does one do that?
In the council where I served we had an all party sub-committee which looked, with an official, at all grants and at the merits of all the different applications. We decided and we recommended to the committee, and as a result there was virtually never a vote. I am bound to say that the amendment is proposing a method which I do not believe could produce a structure that could be apolitical when it looks at these grants. I have listened very carefully and very seriously to what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London had to say about the need for structures. This structure will mean that when councils are deciding whatever it is that they have to decide—my noble Friend the Minister asked who was to raise the money, and how; and that has not yet been revealed—if they are deciding in some way the level and allocation of funding they will do so simply as people who have come from the councils which they represent. If we are talking of London as at present constituted, it is fairly evenly balanced. The decision will depend on who is there. If there is a change after an election there may be a slight swing or there may be a big swing. It will be enormously political; and quite frankly that is not what the voluntary organisations want. They have been kind enough to tell me their views.
I went to one meeting of voluntary organisations which was chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, and he was kind enough to allow me to ask the voluntary organisations whether they agreed with me about certain things. I believe he will agree that on the whole they did. As far as I can make out, the noble Lord the Minister has now largely met exactly what they were saying—the problem about increasing the bridging money while the new authorities decide how they want to allocate their resources. They also agreed that it is up to elected people to decide on behalf of London that which is funded on behalf of the people of London through local government; and that we cannot tell what they will do and we should not want to tell what they will do. They agreed that. They are 53 fearful. They have had many assurances. I believe the last thing they actually want, although because they have not all been on local councils they do not envisage what will happen, is a highly politicised body such as this body is bound to end up being.
I know that the proposal of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is an attempt to rectify that. We come to that point when we take that amendment, but certainly I feel that what is wanted is in no way what is proposed in this amendment and that the recommendations in the Bill, although they were by no means perfect when they started, have got a good deal better this evening. We may yet get them a tiny bit better still, but certainly this amendment should be rejected.
§ Lord Ennals
Before the noble Baroness sits down, she referred to a meeting at which I had presided, which was not of course a meeting called by me but a meeting of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations. I think that if the noble Baroness were to consult the national council she would find that they are by no means satisfied with the assurances that have been given and that they are deeply worried—as worried as they were before.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
I accept what the noble Lord has said. I believe I said myself just now that I do not think the voluntary organisations quite envisage the kind of politicisation that will take place if this amendment should be accepted.
§ Lord Ingrow
Perhaps I could draw your Lordships' attention to that part of the country north of Potters Bar. We seem to have dwelt in London for a rather long time today. At the start of the afternoon, if I heard the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, aright, he said that the district councils were political. This may be true. It had not actually occurred to me that the county councils were not political. There does not seem to be very much in it between them, but I suppose it is a good stick with which to beat the districts. In the last few weeks I have listened to a series of attacks from all sides of the House on metropolitan district councillors. They were used as a peg to try to achieve some particular kind of amendment to the Bill. If the councils have not been rogues or fools then they have lacked moral principle entirely or have been far too inexperienced to deal with large authorities such as these.
That last argument has gone overboard on this particular issue. There is no great problem of administration involved except that subsection (6) of the amendment would seem to need an organisation about the size of the Greater London Council to carry out that work every year. There is no excuse for that particular proposal today.
This criticism, with great respect, seems to have come in the main, if not in the great majority, from noble Lords whose practical experience of metropolitan districts, or even county boroughs or non-county boroughs, seems pretty tenuous. The criticisms have come just the same, but not from practical experience. These are the councils which after next April we shall have to be dealing with, and perhaps we should not say too much about them.
The interesting point which came out, that the metropolitan districts raise more money and generally 54 give more money to charity than the county councils, is as one would have expected. If you are in a district and trying to raise money for a charity it is Lord Mayors and Mayors who issue appeals. If the chairman of a county council issued an appeal he would not get the postage back. It is the Lord Mayors and Mayors who count in the cities and towns in this matter. They are the ones raising the money.
If we are talking about voluntary organisations, to some of us voluntary organisations conjure up things like the lifeboat fund, or the NSPCC, organisations supported by people up and down the country who believe in this cause and work for it, and not enormous bodies which have to be funded by central Government in order to exist. It has seemed, listening to the arguments today, as though there is a terrible risk in the minds of some people that these awful people might not do what we think they should do. This is a paternalistic attitude. It ought not to prevail.
We have elected councillors. If they are not doing their job and what the people want, they will be thrown out at the next election. That seems the right and proper way. We ought not to say that we know best—that was discredited about 40 years ago—and that it must be done this way, and that we cannot trust these other people. It may be expedient and an easy touch for the charities, but it is not democratic.
§ Lord Pitt of Hampstead
Perhaps I may delay the Committee for a minute to follow what the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmster, had to say. It is true that in fact the ethnic minorities are most worried about the abolition of the GLC. I must apologise to the noble Lord who has just sat down in that I have to come back to discussing London and not stick to the subject of the metropolitan counties. However, I know London best.
The noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, dealt with the situation in London in relation to the way in which boroughs have attempted, or not attempted, to do anything about Section 71 of the Race Relations Act. I want to deal with another aspect of the matter, and that is the question of ethnic minority organisations. In that respect the situation is even worse. Until the GLC started making grants to ethnic minority organisations very few of them received any grant at all from local authorities.
Their fear is that the removal of the GLC will mean that the situation which prevailed before 1981, when the GLC started giving grants to ethnic minority organisations, will again prevail, and that they will have difficulties in being able to do the work that they are now doing. In actual fact as a result of GLC funding there are a large number of ethnic minority organisations in London which are doing good work. There is a great deal of worry about the consequences to them of the abolition of the GLC.
I would therefore invite your Lordships to make a decision which will enable a London-wide authority to exist to make those grants, and that that London-wide authority should be able to precept on London as a whole because those two requirements are essential. I notice that the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, is about to speak. I want to tell her that her city has a large number of blacks, but it does not make the contribution that it can afford to make. That is part of the problem.
55 The areas which can afford to make real contributions are not making them, and the areas which need them and cannot manage to make contributions are the very areas where there are large numbers of blacks, and where in effect the authorities are sympathetic but are being rate capped. For example, my borough, Camden, does not have the same number of blacks as Westminster, but Camden makes a much larger contribution. In fact it has been rate capped as a consequence and been penalised.
In the various interventions I have made in this debate I have always spoken in the same direction, and that is that the precept, making it possible for the sort of distribution which takes place now, the kind of services which are being granted through the richer boroughs servicing some of the needs of the poorer boroughs, is an essential pre-requisite to any proper functioning of local voluntary organisations in London.
§ Lord Elton
I rise merely to provide an opportunity for the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), to speak. She has been trying to do so for ages and cannot without my help.
Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)
I am grateful to the Minister. I speak with far more trepidation than the noble Lord, Lord Bancroft. Anyway, he is much too modest and underestimates his debating powers. He spoke with an immense amount of expertise and authority. However, thanks to the noble Lord the Minister I shall carry on.
I should like to support Amendment No. 135ZB in particular, and 136ZBA which, as the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, said many moons ago, is complementary to it. Although I am very much cheered by the undertakings made by the Minister this afternoon, I do not feel that they solve the whole problem. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London said, they are not really a substitute for the framework offered by 135ZB.
I shall try to be brief and stick to two points about organisations dealing with disablement which, predictably, is what I am most concerned about. Many of these organisations, those dealing with minority groups, feel that they will not command enough support in individual boroughs to obtain grants. I feel that a voluntary service authority with a duty to review annually the inhabitants' social needs and to produce a grant-making scheme would help these organisations a lot. I think under the amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, they would still have to secure the agreement of two-thirds of constituent councils unless I have misunderstood it.
Now the first of my two points. I should like to refer to Dial-A-Ride, which I gather has already been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ennals. I must apologise that I was not in the Chamber because I was moving from one end of the Chamber to the other. I shall omit much of what I was going to say in an effort not to bore the Committee. I hope what I say still makes sense.
56 I should like to talk briefly about Dial-a-Ride because they are seriously worried about funding. This service has liberated many Londoners who are too severely disabled to use either the public transport system or, indeed, even the taxi service. It is currently 95 per cent. GLC funded and, as yet, has received no assurances about funding, and it is apparently to be left to the boroughs. I feel that Lord Hayter's amendment might be helpful to prevent Dial-A-Ride foundering because of lack of funds, lack of uniformity, and lack of co-ordination.
However, Dial-A-Ride must really be planned as part of the transport system to run alongside conventional public transport. However accessible the latter becomes to severely disabled people—and it is most desirable and necessary that it should become so—there will always be a need for a combination with Dial-A-Ride because no public transport system could ever hope to provide the door-to-door service which people with a mobility problem need. Really it is only logical that Dial-A-Ride should be taken over, developed, and financed by LRT. I realise that the Government are aware of the importance of Dial-A-Ride and the taxi service to the disabled. I hope that the Minister might be able to make another welcome announcement and be able to say that LRT will take over, develop and fund Dial-A-Ride. However, I have to talk about it in this context because at the moment it is said to be a borough responsibility.
My other point was very much covered by the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hayter. I mentioned the organisations concerned with minority groups. We have heard how worried are the CABs and how some of them are threatened with closure. The citizens advice bureaux do a marvellous job and cover a wide spectrum of the community. How much more will the smaller advisory services, dealing with the small disability sectors, feel threatened and at risk? I will give a few examples. The Disablement Income Group, DIG, which runs an advisory service for disabled Londoners on a grant from the GLC, does not think that it will be able to convince the individual boroughs that it is doing enough in a particular borough to warrant even a small grant. OSCA, which is the sickle-cell anaemia organisation, would be in the same position with only one or two members in each borough, and such a small minority would not have a chance. SENSE, the national blind and deaf rubella association at present receives £53,000 from the GLC. Over the past two years it has approached every London borough and secured less than £2,000 in funding. This illustrates very well how likely it is that those organisations dealing with severe, rare or multiple handicaps would slip through the net and not receive assistance. The organisations must be able to convince the individual boroughs to secure the agreement of the two-thirds of a borough. I think that an authority which must review needs and produce a grant-making scheme would greatly help these organisations. That is why I warmly support the amendment.
§ Baroness Gardner of Parkes
I should like to reply to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, about the so-called rich boroughs and what they do or do not 57 do for ethnic minorities. Perhaps at the same time I should say that I support Dial-a-Ride. When the noble Lord said "your city" I presume he meant the city of Westminster. Tonight my husband finishes his term as Deputy Lord Mayor. Immediately after that he will become the vice-chairman of the social services committee and I shall be pushing him very hard on Dial-a-Ride, which is an excellent service and is greatly valued by the people of Westminster.
But we return to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Soper, which the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, also took up, on the concept of the richer and poorer boroughs. Westminster may appear a rich borough because it collects such a high rate for every penny, but the GLC and the Inner London Education Authority have been absolutely soaking it to such an extent that it has ended up with about 15 pence for every £1.35 raised. Therefore Westminster ends up poorer than the poorer boroughs to which it hands out all the money in equalisation.
The other side of the picture is where the noble Lord, Lord Soper, is genuinely concerned, about boroughs such as Lambeth. I understand that under the Bill there will continue to be additional equalisation between the boroughs. I hope that the Government balance that finely enough to leave Westminster with a little more to spend on its social services while enabling something to go to the poorer boroughs to help them as well. There will certainly continue to be equalisation, though I do not think anyone has mentioned that today. We have all implied that once the GLC has gone, the poorer boroughs will have no other source of funding. The so-called richer boroughs pay a great amount in to help those poorer boroughs now.
Other speakers have mentioned that nine London boroughs give less than £2,000 each to voluntary organisations. I should be interested to have details of those and I wonder whether many Members of the Committee are aware that many London boroughs have had an agreement with the Greater London Council whereby they have made no attempt whatsoever to fund anything locally, because under the agreement they say, "You send it all up to us, we will pay it, you need not charge your ratepayers, we will charge everyone else in London". That agreement will go, but it means that those boroughs will be able to reconsider matters. Possibly it will involve the nine boroughs we are talking about; I should be interested to know.
I remember one committee that I sat on where 17 of the grants were totally for Lambeth. None of this was for London overall. Many of the grants given by the Greater London Council were for specific boroughs with no overall London concept. Setting aside the 15 per cent. of grants that everyone in the Committee is opposed to, given to what we would call the bad causes, much money is given to what I do not consider are voluntary bodies in the true sense. To me a voluntary body has to be a body which augments the money it is given. It augments it either by raising additional funds or by involving other people and getting them to help. That is a true voluntary organisation. If an organisation does not augment what it is given by the local council—the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, has often made this point in 58 debate—why should the local council give money when it could do the work better itself, with its own social workers?
It is because of the marvellous element of productivity and involvement of the voluntary organisations that the local councils give the money. The voluntary organisations involve more people or produce additional funds. I would divide my local organsiations into, first, those 15 per cent. totally out and, secondly, the lot doing nothing but asking for 100 per cent. funding for everything they do and making no effort to involve extra people or extra money. We certainly need to review those.
These amendments do nothing to help. Amendment No. 136ZBA is positively harmful in that it is a blank cheque to give everything to everybody that they have had up till now. Without further ado I oppose the amendment.
§ Lord Pitt of Hampstead
Before the noble Baroness sits down, I hope she will realise that she has illustrated the point I was making.
§ Lord Elton
Your Lordships have conducted a fascinating debate. For me the most bitter-sweet moment was when your Lordships' Committee's eldest member flattered me by saying how well I debated, and illustrated perfectly the truth of what I have long suspected, that the more persuasive I think I am being, the more vigorously he disagrees with me.
That is a disincentive to a long speech. I shall therefore, pick up a number of points that your Lordhips made to which you expected answers. I begin more or less at random, with the point made by the right reverend Prelate, that the current voluntary scheme had started by sending out 800 requests for information in a matter of a dozen days. I should tell your Lordships that the request was for information, not for bids and, secondly, that the replies were asked for as quickly as possible, so that work could begin as soon as possible, which is something your Lordships keep urging. Thirdly—and perhaps more to the point—over 400 replies have been received. So it was not such an impossible task that was set.
I accept, as do the Government, the importance of the citizens advice bureaux. They rightly command a great deal of support from local authorities. I do not think that I ought to address them any differently from all the other voluntary bodies to which your Lordships have referred, except to say that at Second Reading the coadjutor of the noble Lord, Lord Irving of Dartford, the noble Lord, Lord McGregor of Durris, in his amendment said that terrible things were happening in Hillingdon. Hillingdon is not, as I think Lord McGregor suggested, but not the noble Lord, Lord Irving, a rate-capped authority. But even here, when the authority was taking difficult decisions on cuts, not just on voluntary bodies but across the board, it has continued substantial funding for citizens advice bureaux, so that all four bureaux remain open, though I understand that they may somewhat curtail their hours. I should not want your Lordships to feel that the pruning knife is working there already with a chill foreboding of what will happen after abolition.
59 The noble Lord, Lord Ennals, and the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), are both concerned about Dial-A-Ride, as are we. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, in the nicest possible way, said that an undertaking of my noble friend Lord Avon had not been met. The Government are well aware of the importance of Dial-A-Ride. They have established a joint working party from the Department of Transport, London Regional Transport and the boroughs which is now looking urgently at the future funding of Dial-A-Ride and other transport systems for disabled people. It will report to Ministers shortly. The Government have set up and are funding a London branch of the National Advisory Unit for Community Transport specifically to help Dial-A-Ride develop along sensible and cost effective lines in future. As no arrangements have yet been decided upon and the working group is still discussing them, it is rather far fetched to accuse my noble friend in his absence, however politely, of not having delivered. The process of delivery is in train.
The noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, was concerned about the ethnic minorities. I shall return to this but, again, I think that it is wrong to deal with individual causes separately. But I should tell the noble Viscount that the councillors who are actually responsible for the borough's grant scheme have already assured the LVSC last week that they are considering a specific part of the grants unit dealing with ethnic minorities.
Both these questions touch on money and I come to the question of the levels of private company giving in the United States and in the United Kingdom. I made the comparison—and it is an order of magnitude—of between just under 2 per cent. and a figure of 0.1 per cent. Noble Lords have sought to diminish the clarity of that comparison by asking whether the figures are treated the same. The short answer is that the figures I quoted relate to income and profits; that is, before taking account of the different tax regimes in each country. It is not contested, I think, that the levels of corporate giving are far higher in the United States both in absolute terms and as a percentage of income. The noble Lord, Lord Bancroft, quoted his source and I quote mine. I think that it is no less eminent. It is Professor Ralf Dahrendorf, when he gave the inaugural Arnold Goodman lecture on 29th November 1983. The noble Lord claimed that he was merely casting a gloss on what I said. I rather think he was casting a smoke screen in front of it.
The noble Lord, Lord Pitt, brought us—I think on an intervention in a speech by the noble Lord, Lord Irving of Dartford; and I think it was the first or second time he spoke—to redistribution. I will repeat what I then said about redistribution. Under the collective scheme, all the boroughs will contribute to the cost of making grants. The extended equalisation scheme will ensure that these costs fall on ratepayers in much the same way as if the GLC had precepted for that amount. So the redistributive function which is held dear, I think, by the right reverend Prelate and by the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, and by many noble Lords, and rightly, will be preserved. There is no threat to it to justify supporting the amendments now before your Lordships.
60 I can say to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that our intention is that the schemes in Clause 47 are essentially mechanisms to facilitate local co-operation in each abolition area. We have discussed the concern about the need for an imposed mechanism in each area, but the effect of his amendment, as I understand it, would be to provide a body to compare the arrangements in each area with those in each other area.
§ The Earl of Perth
I think that the purpose of my amendment is just this. The Government have undertaken—and I am sure that we all rejoice at this—to make considerable grants over an interim period to the local authorities under the grant scheme. My proposal is that the body which should distribute these should be non-political and should so deal with the various matters, not comparing one with the other but judging on the merits of the case.
§ Lord Elton
I am obliged to the noble Earl, and I shall in a moment come back to the question of the depoliticisation of voluntary grant giving.
I do not think that it is necessary for me to summarise this debate, because your Lordships have paid such close attention to it. I shall point out just one thing which relates to all the individual anxieties which have prompted noble Lords later in the Marshalled List to suggest that a particular body should be written into the Bill so that it either gets first call on the voluntary grant aid or shall have a statutory right to it. Listening to this debate has confirmed my opinion that you could not anywhere in the United Kingdom and possibly in the world find an assembly of people representing more special interests of this sort than there are here tonight. Hardly one of your Lordships is not president, founder, patron, governor, treasurer or you-name-it of something. If any of your Lordships succeed in imprinting the name of your particular favoured ewe lamb in the Bill, the noise of others shouting, "Me, too", will be deafening. I do not think that we can proceed in that way and, therefore, we have to proceed in the way in which both the amendments and the Government propose; and that is to have a system which will be equitable to all.
What is there that distinguishes the system proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, from that proposed by the Government? In each case there is a separate body that is to decide how the money is to be distributed. We understand—and I absolutely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, in his interpretation of the drafting of the amendment—that it is a precepting, (in London's case) London-wide authority with the power to perform this function. What we propose is a London-wide, non-statutory body to perform this function.
The function is a voluntary function. I thought I heard from the right reverend Prelate the phrase, "the obligation for voluntary grant". If one is obliged to give something, it is not voluntary. Your Lordships have to decide whether the proper way of doing this is to appoint a statutory body with the duty to call from the constituent councils a sum of money determined by that body on a simple majority. I think I got that right from the amendment. It appears to me that the 61 idea is that they shall vote and if 51 per cent. of them think that X is the right sum for the budget or that Y is the right amount for a particular cause, that shall be the decision of all.
I notice that in your Lordships' minds at the end of the day there are two real concerns, and two concerns only. It boils clown to this. First of all, on behalf of the voluntary bodies, you are afraid of the effects of transition; you are afraid that there will be an interruption of funds. Secondly, you are afraid that for political reasons there will be a change of policy thereafter. On the first count I really think I ought to have satisfied your Lordships. I think that a period of four years is reasonable to quote as the period of transition. I think that £20 million of projects amounting to £40 million of hard Government cash spread over those four years is enough to account for that transitional anxiety.
I was interested and pleased to note that when he spoke the right reverend Prelate seemed to move away at once from the question of the quantum, of how much there should be, to the question of whatever is the Latin for "how"; I have forgotten it.
That brings me to the second matter. It was really illuminated for your Lordships far better by my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour than it could be by me, because she speaks from direct experience. What she said has the ring of convincing truth about it. If you have a body of which the policy swings on one vote from one direction to the other and back again, you are dealing with a political body which can change its policy overnight. And we have seen that in the existing bodies. If you have a qualified majority—and there can be arguments about the size of the qualification—then what you need is a requirement for a broad consensus of political opinion as to what ought to be supported and what ought not. You can give the detail to the lead borough, and that is what is in the Bill.
Those are the comparisons. I do not want to make too much of this, but I think it is an important and exciting moment that we have now established the fourth commitment of the Government that there shall be a trust for London to expend not only the interest on the initial capital, which will be, I would remind your Lordships, at least £10 million, but also the interest that will accrue on the independent money that we expect and are confident will be attracted to it.
I do think that these things together constitute a very strong case indeed for accepting the Government's proposals and rejecting those in the amendment. If your Lordships have final hesitations about the transitional aid, I would ask you to remember what I said, so that I do not have to repeat it at length now, about the way I protected it as I spoke both from limitation by the Secretary of State below the current level and from the impact of GRE estimates and targets, should they persist.
I think I have done more today than I have ever expected to do in my Parliamentary career to justify the policy of the Government and to put on the line the help that we are able to give to the voluntary bodies. I have no embarrassment in asking your Lordships to stick to the Government's Clause 47 and not to try to adapt the Bill in the way suggested.
§ Lord Hayter
I should like to make just three quick points. I was glad that the noble Lord the Minister straightened out the Committee on the financial implications of this amendment. Of course he is right and the position is set out in the amendment and in the Bill for those who want to read it. Secondly, I think the Minister's assurances in relation to the transitional financial provisions are well worthy of study, but that is not what we are going to vote on now. So far as this amendment is concerned, once again I think we are all at one: we want to do the best we can for the voluntary authorities. We think one way and others think the other way. Let us put it to the vote.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 135ZB) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 164; Not-Contents, 180.64
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Airedale, L.||Gaitskell, B.|
|Alport, L.||Gallacher, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Galpern, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Gladwyn, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Glenamara, L.|
|Avebury, L.||Graham of Edmonton, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Gregson, L.|
|Bancroft, L.||Grey, E.|
|Banks, L.||Hampton, L.|
|Barnett, L.||Hanworth, V.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Harris of Greenwich, L.|
|Bernstein, L.||Hatch of Lusby, L.|
|Birk, L.||Hayter, L. [Teller.]|
|Birkett, L.||Henderson of Brompton, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Henniker, L.|
|Boston of Faversham, L.||Hirshfield, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Hooson, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Howie of Troon, L.|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||Hunt, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Hutchinson of Lullington, L.|
|Buckmaster, V.||Ingleby, V.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Irving of Dartford, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Jacques, L.|
|Caradon, L.||Jeger, B.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Jenkins of Putney, L.|
|Chelmsford, Bp.||John-Mackie, L.|
|Chichester, Bp.||Kahn, L.|
|Chitnis, L.||Kaldor, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Kearton, L.|
|Collison, L.||Kennet, L.|
|Darcy (de Knayth), B.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Darling of Hillsborough, L.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|David, B. [Teller.]||Kinloss, Ly.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Kirkhill, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Kirkwood, L.|
|Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B.||Kissin, L.|
|Denington, B.||Leatherland, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Eldon, E.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Ennals, L.||London, Bp.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Longford, E.|
|Ezra, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||McCarthy, L.|
|Falkender, B.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Falkland, V.||McNair, L.|
|Fisher of Rednal, B.||Mar, C.|
|Foot, L.||Mayhew, L.|
|Fulton, L.||Melchett, L.|
|Meston, L.||Shaughnessy, L.|
|Milner of Leeds, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Molson, L.||Shinwell, L.|
|Monkswell, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|Morris of Grasmere, L.||Simon, V.|
|Morris of Kenwood, L.||Soper, L.|
|Mountevans, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Mulley, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Murray of Epping Forest, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Nathan, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Nicol, B.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Ogmore, L.||Stone, L.|
|Oram, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Phillips, B.||Strauss, L.|
|Pitt of Hampstead, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Plant, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Plummer of St Marylebone, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Prys-Davies, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Rea, L.||Walston, L.|
|Reilly, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Ritchie of Dundee, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Robertson of Oakridge, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Rochester, Bp.||White, B.|
|Rochester, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Ross of Marnock, L.||Willis, L.|
|Sainsbury, L.||Wilson of Langside, L.|
|Seear, B.||Wilson of Rievaulx, L.|
|Seebohm, L.||Winstanley, L.|
|Serota, B.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Abercorn, D.||Denham, L. [Teller.]|
|Airey of Abingdon, B.||Denman, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Denning, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Dilhorne, V.|
|Ampthill, L.||Donegall, M.|
|Annaly, L.||Dormer, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Drumalbyn, L.|
|Barber, L.||Dudley, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Duncan-Sandys, L.|
|Bauer, L.||Dundee, E.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Eden of Winton, L.|
|Bellwin, L.||Elibank, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Elphinstone, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Elton, L.|
|Bethell, L.||Fanshawe of Richmond, L.|
|Blake, L.||Foley, L.|
|Boothby, L.||Forte, L.|
|Boston, L.||Fortescue, E.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Freyberg, L.|
|Braye, L.||Gainford, L.|
|Brentford, V.||Gainsborough, E.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Gardner of Parkes, B.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Geddes, L.|
|Burton, L.||Gibson-Watt, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Gisborough, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Glanusk, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Glenarthur, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Gowrie, E.|
|Cathcart, E.||Grantchester, L.|
|Cawley, L.||Gray of Contin, L.|
|Cayzer, L.||Grimthorpe, L.|
|Chelmer, L.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Halsbury, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Hanson, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Harmar-Nicholls, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Harris of High Cross, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Harvey of Tasburgh, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Hatherton, L.|
|Cox, B.||Henley, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Hives, L.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Holderness, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Hood, V.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Hornsby-Smith, B.|
|Davidson, V.||Howe, E.|
|De Freyne, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Ingrow, L.||Renwick, L.|
|Ironside, L.||Romney, E.|
|Jessel, L.||Rootes, L.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Rotherwick, L.|
|Kemsley, V.||Rugby, L.|
|King of Wartnaby, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Lauderdale, E.||St. Davids, V.|
|Layton, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Savile, L.|
|Loch, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Long, V. [Teller.]||Simon of Glaisdale, L.|
|Lyell, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|McAlpine of Moffat, L.||Soames, L.|
|McAlpine of West Green, L.||Somers, L.|
|McFadzean, L.||Southborough, L.|
|Macleod of Borve, B.||Stamp, L.|
|Marchwood, V.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Margadale, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Marsh, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Sudeley, L.|
|Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.||Swansea, L.|
|Merrivale, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Mersey, V.||Teviot, L.|
|Middleton, L.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Monk-Bretton, L.||Torphichen, L.|
|Morris, L.||Torrington, V.|
|Mottistone, L.||Tranmire, L.|
|Nelson of Stafford, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Norfolk, D.||Trumpington, B.|
|Norwich, Bp.||Ullswater, V.|
|Nugent of Guildford, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Vestey, L.|
|Orkney, E.||Vickers, B.|
|Orr-Ewing, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Pender, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Perth, E.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Peyton of Yeovil, L.||Wilberforce, L.|
|Porrit, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Rankeillour, L.||Young, B.|
|Rawlinson of Ewell, L.||Young of Graffham, L.|
|Remnant, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Lord Skelmersdale
I think perhaps this is an appropriate moment to take the Statement. I therefore beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.