§ 4.9 p.m.
§ Third Reading debate resumed.
Lord Sefton of Garston moved, as an amendment to the Motion "That the bill be now read a third time", at end to insert:
("but this House considers that the Canary Wharf development will highlight the problems of high costs and congestion in the South-East and that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into the matter.")
The noble Lord said: My Lords, can I clear up what appears to be a misunderstanding? I certainly do not intend to oppose this Bill; I never have. I do not intend to delay it; I never have. I had assumed that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London having withdrawn the amendment he previously tabled, the long list of speakers did not contain anyone wanting to speak to that matter. If I have been the cause of the tremendous number of people, certainly more than I ever thought, putting down their names, then I apologise. I can perhaps say to the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, that there is nothing in my amendment that would delay, damage or obstruct the Third Reading of the Bill. In fact, if the noble Lord were so minded, he could accept my amendment. The amendment does not simply say, "this House considers". It also includes the words:
that the Bill be now read a third time".
§ I believe that it is absolutely vital and essential, more now than ever before in the history of this country, that the financial world should be attracted to London. Lord knows, the deterrent to the international financial world coming to London has not sprung from someone who wishes to see fair treatment between the North and the South of this country. It has sprung from the City of London. The other deterrent factor is, of course, the high cost of setting up offices in the City of London.
§ The congestion that follows the setting up of offices and the high cost are also deterrent factors to the private sector coming to London. I believe this implicitly. I am a socialist. I would never subscribe to the view that the pursuit of private greed ever results in the best for the largest number of people. I do not subscribe to that feeling.
§ I recognise however the implicit fact that in the international field we have to be competitive; therefore, this nation should look upon itself as a limited company. Somehow or other we have to make the City of London pay. We can make it pay only by being efficient. When it takes 15 minutes to move one mile in a perfectly good British motorcar, the inefficiency should be apparent to everyone in your Lordships' House. But that is the common experience in London.
§ I say to the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, "Do not worry about the amendment; it has no problems for you". I look for another reason to see why so many noble Lords have their names down to speak on a Bill that would have gone through with a nod of the head if I had not tabled the instruction at Second Reading. I was told that. Everyone knew it. Now we have a long list of speakers. Why? I can only assume that the London Docklands Development Corporation sent the speakers, or some of them, the same letter that urged me to support the Bill. There is no need to urge me to support the Bill.
§ While we, in the City of London when we are here, appreciate all the problems in the City of London, even the greatest supporter of private, capital enterprise would agree that there are some abuses that should be stopped. We have a duty to ensure that the country is run with a sense of fairness and that we make proper use of our economic resources.726
§ It is ironic that the Statement before this Bill, once again in regard to our economic affairs, highlights the difference between the North and the South. There is no one from Middlesex bothering about the Statement. Those taking part were from Lancashire, the Midlands, Birmingham and everywhere else in the North. That is the pattern of our economic affairs.
§ I suppose that we could have tackled the housing problem in London if we had got down to it properly and looked at the problem as a whole along with the needs of the rest of the country. We did not. We certainly could have tackled the congestion in the City of London and the South-East, but we did not. We could have tackled the question of high costs; again we did not. We did not tackle these problems because Parliament has never really given itself to the task of looking at a proper regional policy.
§ Parliament has never got down to the task of saying, "What is wrong if we have an over-affluent society in the South-East and a very poor society in the North?". Parliament did try in 1978 to divert some of the government-provided jobs from the South-East to the North, then government stopped it. There was a case made out in government circles for the moving of the jobs inside the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to the North, as I said in the debate on the Second Reading, and as I say in my instructions. However, the Government saw fit to abolish it.
§ Do any of your Lordships really subscribe to the view that the distribution of economic resources in this country is fair, just or proper? I am not asking that the situation should be rectified overnight. I am not setting myself up as an authority as to how it should be done. What I am suggesting is that, instead of building garden festivals in Liverpool and in Stoke-on-Trent and not bothering about the result, we should look at the question of a regional policy within the context of a national economic policy. It is no use going to a region and saying "This is what needs doing here", if you are allowing all the resources to be concentrated in another region. In effect, this country is slowly and surely building up to such a situation. We have neglected all the chances to plan properly.
§ When I started to move the Instruction I was told not to be silly, and that nobody would take any notice; it should not be done on this Bill. I searched and searched for other ways to draw attention to this very problem, and more importantly, to get your Lordships' House during all the time that is available to stop talking in debates at which we have no vote at the end, to face up to the problem and decide to do something. Perhaps the Front Bench spokesmen on either side might tell me there is another way, but the only way I know in which problems of that sort can be looked at is through a Select Committee. It would not cost much. A Select Committee would be able to gather all the evidence needed for any change in our economic policy. The Select Committee would be able to do many things that I cannot do.
§ On Thursday there is a Question which will be raised which is very apposite to this subject: "What is the difference in costs paid to employees of the Government in London, and those paid to people in Merseyside?" This question arises because for some mysterious reason or other the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought that if people in the provinces 727 would only lower their wage demands, and accept lower wages then people would flock up to the North. Well, are they, my Lords? Twenty per cent. more is paid by the clearing banks to the same staff in London as is paid in the North, but do the clearing banks move their staff? Certainly, they do not. Will Government move if in fact the differential is the same? Of course, they will not. This has been tried before.
§ There are many other questions which could be raised. With all due respect to the noble Lord, Lord Alport (whose opinion I value very greatly having had a long conversation with him about the problems of Liverpool and Merseyside), the report does not really go into the matters that are associated with the creation of 200,000 more jobs in London's Dockland. The report did not really deal with the problem of 200,000 more people having to be transported from the centre of London to the Dockland. I accept why it did not do so. I accept of course that the report is limited in its scope and therefore I do not criticise it. However, it has enabled me to air the problem here and pose the following question to Members of your Lordships' House: "Do you think there is a problem?" Do not forget that London Dockland will be followed by something else—Stolport. This would create the need for more people to move from the east of London to the city centre.
§ Lo and behold, when the Channel Tunnel Bill comes to your Lordships' House one of the proposals will be to take all the people arriving from France through the tunnel to Waterloo. Will that not have an effect upon the people there? I have heard already Members of your Lordships' House, particularly noble Lords on the opposite side, getting very irate about the number of tourist buses that are parked outside your Lordships' House. Of course, noble Lords have been irate. Regularly, every summer, they complain about the congestion caused by tourists. The Channel Tunnel Bill will introduce more on top of those already to be seen in Victoria. One will be unable to walk along Victoria Street, never mind go down there in a cab.
§ Those are some of the problems that will arise from an increase in commercial activity inside London's Dockland. Does anyone deny them? Of course not. There are plenty of speakers on today's list. If someone is going to suggest that we do not have a problem over congestion in the South-East, he can stand up and tell us all about it; he can tell us how nice it is to live in the South-East, how convenient it is to live in the City of London and how easy it is to commute between the City and home—an hour and a half each way—crammed into tube trains. They call that a civilised way of life! That is the kind of situation which pertains in the City of London.
§ I am not saying that it is bad. After all, if your costs go up by 20 per cent. and you are fortunate enough to be a civil servant, an employee of one of the big clearing banks or an employee of one of the financial houses, it does not really affect you because your association or union will immediately slap in a demand for Greater London weighting. What does that mean? In effect, it means that the 20 per cent. increase in wages alone, not counting the cost of housing or the rateable value of an office in London, is, 728 by and large, met by the rest of the country. It is a London levy which income-tax payers in Merseyside, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the North are expected to pay so that the Government can dish out the money to civil servants in London. Is that wrong? Will someone say that it is not a true statement of affairs? Of course, it is true, and it is continuing. Therefore, that is another problem that could be examined.
I do not think that I need say much about transport congestion. I have already referred to my own personal experience this morning. Even London Regional Transport admits this, so who am I to argue? In its annual report, it says:
Traffic congestion is causing lost mileage [and higher costs] and excess waiting times, and is worsening".
That is very nice for those who have to travel by public transport. Of course the situation is worsening, because Canary Wharf is also a generator of other activity. If Canary Wharf is to provide a third of the extra 200,000 jobs to which the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, referred, other organisations will go to Dockland in order to cash in on the prosperity of Canary Wharf. Therefore, again, congestion will increase.
§ I am not saying that there is an easy solution. This Government have been in office since 1979. I do not say this in a party sense; I merely mention it in order to show that governments of all colours have a certain pattern of development. As a result of pressure by Members of Parliament from the North, who were mostly Labour Members, the previous Labour Government began a regional policy that encouraged movement from London to the provinces. That was perfectly in order. Now the complete opposite has happened. This Government have stopped that flow. There is, of course, a philosophy behind their policy, and I accept it. However, I am hoping to appeal to Members of this House to forget the political philosophy of either Left or Right and to ask: is it right or wrong that the policy of the marketplace adopted by this Government should rule when we are talking about equity and fairness in the distribution of economic resources (and that means jobs) to the rest of the country? I maintain that that is not right.
§ I have taken up a long time, partly because so many speakers are on the list. If so many names had not been put down, the House would not have had to put up with me for so long. It is a peculiarity about this House that one is told when to put down one's name. I did not want to put down my name following the opening speaker. I wanted to speak at the end because some of the things that I have said may not have been disagreed with. So I have to repeat them over and over again. I can call in evidence only those Members of this House who share my concern. At the conclusion of the Queen's Speech, there was no vote of any moment. Everyone knew which way the vote would go; it was a vote for or against loyalty to the Government. At cols. 266 and 267 of the Official Report of 19th November the noble Lord, Lord Alport, dealt with the problems of Liverpool, my home town, of which I am very proud. I note that one of the organisations there received a very high award from the CBI. My noble friend Lord Dean—and I forgive him for coming from Manchester—was also concerned about the North. Perhaps a better person to call in evidence as regards 729 concern over the North—South divide is the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. I shall not take up time quoting his remarks. If noble Lords are interested they can read the Official Report.
§ My noble friend Lord Mellish, of London Docklands fame, also made some very telling remarks about the North and South. He said that it is a national problem, and that we cannot just walk away from these problems. He was referring to some of the problems outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Alport. My noble friend said that we must face them.
§ I am merely asking that this House goes along with that. We should face the problems; we should set up a Select Committee in order to obtain evidence. What evidence is there that something needs doing about the affluent South, while all the important statements coming from the Government are further worsening the position in the deprived North? Is there, or is there not, something to be done?
§ I am very sorry that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London has withdrawn his amendment. I was sorry to be told by some Members of this House who come from the North that I am wasting my time and should not press this amendment to a vote. Those who believe that there are problems about the North-South divide and have named some of them should at least be given an opportunity to stand up and be counted. Therefore, I intend to press my amendment to a vote. I have been told that I shall look silly if only two people vote for me. I shall look even sillier if only one person votes for me. However, as a certain famous international politician once said, "I may be in the minority of one, but that does not count. I am bloody well right." That is what matters. If I do not get another teller, I could not care less. Those who do not support me but who believe in what I am saying will let themselves down, not me.
§ I have already referred to the Channel Tunnel, and I conclude my remarks on that. I shall treat the House kindly and shall not go into all the quotations from the Daily Telegraph which I have here. However, in yesterday's edition of the Daily Telegraph there was an article about the British Road Federation's proposals to ease traffic congestion in London, which is something that is close to all our hearts. It will be very nice for the proposers, the developers, and the construction firms if a proposal to build a £200 million elevated road above the railway lines from Wandsworth to the City of London goes ahead. When serious-minded people propose that kind of remedy to solve our traffic problems that is the sort of farcical situation which we are reaching.
§ Let me draw your attention to what happened in Los Angeles. The worship of free enterprise and the freedom of people to use motor cars anywhere they wanted was pursued by the local authority, who then built motorways right throught the city. If you went to Los Angeles at a certain time, and they allowed you, you could go down a motorway and fly right off the end of it because it was never completed. They found that by planning for traffic to this density they were in effect killing the very places that the motorist wanted to get to. That is how they stopped it; they ended a motorway right in mid air.730
§ There is Stolport, the Channel Tunnel, Canary Wharf and the extra traffic that Canary Wharf will generate, and now a proposal by the Church of England to develop Paternoster Square with, I think, a million square feet of offices. I am sorry that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London withdrew his amendment. Now that proposal comes along.
§ Members of this House may think that this is a serious issue, or they may not. Let me tell you that the people in the North think it is serious enough. People in the North think it is serious enough to get to a situation where the Tory Party in Liverpool has walked out, neglected it. They are having nothing more to do with it. It will not be long before the people in the North will be saying the same thing to this kind of government. If we go on for another 20 years with a slow Rake's Progress of dividing this nation into two, do not be surprised if the division becomes very painful, and indeed a lot more painful from Brixton, Liverpool and elsewhere, the deprived areas, because that is what will happen unless we do something to rectify the situation. I beg to move.
§ Moved, as an amendment to the Motion "That the Bill be now read a third time" at end to insert ("but this House considers that the Canary Wharf development will highlight the problems of high costs and congestion in the South-East and that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into the matter.")—(Lord Sefton of Garston.)
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ Lord Nugent of Guildford
My Lords, since the noble Lord is going to divide the House at the end of the debate, I ought to spend a minute or two answering the amendment so far as it relates to the Bill. I certainly read the amendment to mean that the noble Lord wanted a Select Committee to be set up and presumably to reach a conclusion before the Bill was approved. But I am sure the House is relieved to hear that that is not his wish and that indeed he is in favour of the Bill. Therefore, when the substantive Motion is put to the House, assuming the amendment is not carried, no doubt he will vote for it.
After listening to the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, I feel that is is unlikely that any noble Lord in the House could be other than in favour of the Bill, because why it was needed was extremely well explained. But the noble Lord's main contention was the need for a national regional policy which would somehow help the extreme problems of the northern half of the country, with which we are all familiar. Certainly I respect the noble Lord's sincerity and the passion with which he puts over his case, but I must observe that that does not quite fit into the Third Reading of this Bill.
The noble Lord is probably right in his guess that the long list of speakers on this fairly simple measure was provoked by what appeared to be a hostile amendment—or at one time, when the right reverend Prelate's amendment was there, two hostile amendments—that might have stopped the progress of the Bill, which to most noble Lords appears to be an extremely valuable measure. In so far as it has provoked an interesting debate the noble Lord has succeeded, as a great many noble Lords are to speak 731 who otherwise would not have spoken, including myself.
I was not invited by the London Docklands Corporation to speak. In fact, I had to ring up yesterday and ask the corporation whether it would be so good as to send me some facts so as I could speak on the Bill. Therefore, it was not all that busy getting speakers together. I assure the House that I shall not take very long in my remarks because most of my speech is not needed. The noble Lord made the primary point—about which I agree with him, and the House would agree—that what we are concerned with here regarding the London Docklands Corporation is the further development and strengthening of the capacity of the City of London to earn a substantial part of the nation's living in its trading with the world.
London, with its financial and commercial services, is I suppose by far the strongest point in our whole economy to earn the money we need in order to live as a nation. Therefore, this major expansion which Canary Wharf promises—and that kind of specialised building is needed nowadays—connected into the middle of the City is undoubtedly going to help London's capacity not only to hold its place but further to strengthen its place as one of the leading financial centres in the world; New York (Wall Street), Tokyo and ourselves in the middle. Therefore it is vital to see that we have the space to trade, and trade profitably. This is what Canary Wharf would do, and its obvious that unless it is connected into the middle of the City, to the Bank, it could not fulfil the hopes of its developers.
When you look at the names of some of the developers—I have no experience in the City but I know one or two things there—and you see the Swiss Bank connected with the development, you can be sure that it is going to be a very profitable development, as long as they get the conditions right. I do not doubt that this is something that will be very good for the City. A point I would make to the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, who speaks with such passion of the needs of Liverpool which all of us see and sympathise with, is that there is a limit to which the Government can divert resources from the South-East to help the North. There is a limit.
The way we have to look at it is this. Before the national cake can be divided, it has to be earned. Because London has such a terrific earning capacity we must do everything we can within the limits of London to see that it has the capacity to expand and to continue to increase its earnings. That will make more money available for all the other needs of the country.
In this context, where the Docklands Corporation has been so outstandingly successful is that, although it has received fairly substantial sums from the Government—not all that much more than the London boroughs and the Greater London Council were receiving before to help this area, which they were not doing very successfully—it used it as a pump priming in order to attract private money. This is where the leadership of Nigel Broackes and the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, was so brilliant. They were successful in attracting private money to the docklands to the tune of something of the ratio of six to one for the public money so as to make possible this dramatic development that we can see there today. It is a sight 732 for sore eyes to go down to the docklands and see this hive of activity in an area which 10 years ago was completely derelict.
In my days gone by, when I was chairman of the London and South-East Planning Conference, I went down there several times and puzzled over it, with all the problems that the London boroughs had, and I know what a desperately depressing sight it was. However, today it is a sight for sore eyes. That has been done because the corporation has been successful in attracting private money. It does not fall on the taxpayer but on public funds. It does not trench into the money which may be available to help the North. What it does is bring in private money to earn more money, so that there will be more revenues, so that we shall be able to do more to help parts of the country which are less able to help themselves.
This is the secret of what is being achieved there. It can only be done if you can get private business to come in. That means making not only areas to build offices, factories and industries but to build private houses so that people can buy them. The local people had a chance to buy them too. They have bought some 40 per cent of them.
We were told on the original Select Committee—I see the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, sitting there—that the local people did not want to buy houses but that they wanted to have a council house to rent. But, my word, when they got the chance about 40 per cent. of the houses went to the local people. Of course it is natural that anyone who can afford a private house would much sooner have it for themselves. But the share out has been pretty reasonable, so that, however you look at it, the Docklands corporation to date has been a great success, and I believe that with this extension it will be an even more spectacular success.
The noble Lord mentioned the further extension of this railway down to the Royal Docks, at present, an absolutely stagnant area. There we see Stolport coming in and this will connect the air services of Europe right into the middle of the City. What a marvellous thing to do to improve the trading of London, connecting it with everywhere in Europe! This is a magical development. And, there again, there are plans for massive development of offices and all kinds of commercial activities, with a huge further increase in employment.
This is a picture which should delight the heart of everybody. In terms of regional planning as far as the South-East is concerned, what a relief it has been. Previously we had an outflow from London at a serious rate, putting pressure on the areas further out beyond the Green Belt and on to the Green Belt for new housing. Here we have houses going up by the thousand, and there are many more to come in this area, which was previously completely derelict.
However one looks at it, this has been a wonderfully successful scheme. I have already spoken for eight minutes and do not propose to speak for longer, considering the large number of noble Lords who are speaking. But I hope that the noble Lord, by the end of the debate, will feel that he has made his point. There is a major national planning problem. But as far as this Bill is concerned, it would look much better without the amendment being moved at all. I hope the noble Lord will be persuaded not to move it.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ Lord Hampton
My Lords, I have listened with interest to the previous speakers' differing views and I shall be brief. The visitor to the Docklands in London today—and the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, has touched on this; and I refer in particular to the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf—cannot fail to get the impression of activity and life. There is some exceptionally beautiful modern architecture going up and an atmosphere of enthusiasm among the staff. A light railway has already been constructed and our task was to decide whether a vital link with the City should be authorised forthwith or delayed while a public inquiry was undertaken into the whole nature and effects of the Canary Wharf complex.
The position is now somewhat changed and I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, is not seeking to prevent a Third Reading to allow construction of the railway extension. I am somewhat surprised now to be speaking before the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. I can only anticipate what he has to say. I do not have great experience of the area in question but I have been excited by what I have seen. I served on the select committee to consider this Bill under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, whom I look forward also to hearing shortly. This was a committee which sat only briefly, unlike the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Nugent in 1981.
Perhaps I might repeat that in due course all petitions against the Bill were withdrawn; it was therefore unopposed and cross-examination was reduced to the minimum. In these circumstances, the committee felt—and the noble Lord, Lord Alport will make this point—that it was difficult to satisfy Lord Sefton's searching Instruction passed by the House on July 30th:To have regard to the consequences of the proposals contained in the Bill on the rest of the South East Region and in particular on the City of London".But now the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, gives chance for some further debate on North/South problems and making the point that, as Canary Wharf is in an enterprise zone, normal planning procedure is waived and no official inquiry necessary.
I have been approached by those arguing both for and against the Canary Wharf development scheme and I seek to consider the case of both sides. The London Churches Group—and I expect the right reverend Prelate to be sympathetic here, while the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, has also touched on these points—state: one, that the effects on the local community seem to be:not regeneration, but further deprivationand, two, that there is increasing polarisation in the community of the Docklands,with luxury housing, often heavily protected, situated next to deplorable public sector accommodation".And it has been pointed out that the land values have rocketed to such an extent that there is very little chance for residents to buy their own houses.
Thirdly, they go on to say that the transport position is very uncertain and, as in the case of the M.25, the very success of the system may mean overloading; and, four, that the huge skyscrapers—and 734 the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, referred to these—are planned with minimum consideration of position. Perhaps I may make the point here that when I saw the model of proposed Canary Wharf building, I thought that the three skyscrapers stood out like sore thumbs.
There is also the sharp division—and again the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, touched on this—about probable job creation. The sponsors of the Bill talk of more than 50,000 new jobs, of which 20,000 would be for local recruitment. The accountants, Peat, Marwick, however, report that only 1,800 would be likely to be for local people. Perhaps somewhere between the two is the truth: but any job creation must be welcomed.
On the other hand, my colleague in the other place, Dr. David Owen, living in London for 21 years, has despaired watching what he describes as its "progressive decline", and he says that only in the past few years has he sensed, in the development of Docklands, signs of hope and a sense of a new beginning. In Inner London there has been a spiral of deprivation, with less money and relatively greater need; the whole quality of life has deteriorated; the general environment and housing have got worse, many have left and there is an urgent need to check the decline. I quote Dr. Owen:Canary Wharf should be the exciting challenge which Britain, with 3½ million unemployed, should back wholeheartedly. It is a project that will create more construction jobs than the British end of the Channel Tunnel. It represents the biggest restructuring of London since the city was rebuilt following the great Fire of London in 1666".I warm to this enthusiasm and optimism.
I have always thought, as did the select committee, that it would be wrong to prevent this Bill getting a third reading but we on these Benches are not blind to the problems and anxieties of the residents of Dockland. We shall, in fact, abstain on the amendment but I think, in any case, that we should issue a caveat to the LDDC. Mr. John Mills, the deputy chairman, says this:The LDDC sees its role in delivering socially acceptable results for the community in Docklands as just as important as economic regeneration.It is absolutely vital that the corporation should at all times keep these admirable aims in mind; for none of the activities at Canary Wharf is subject to the normal rigours of planning control. I trust the corporation not to fail the country—the world will be watching.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
My Lords, before I speak specifically about the Bill, the amendment and Canary Wharf, I apologise to the House for any confusion which I may have created in your Lordships' minds by putting down an amendment and then withdrawing it before it came on to the Order Paper. As Bishop of London, with a pastoral responsibility in the East End, I felt obliged to secure some public discussion of issues which lie behind this Bill, and I was advised that it was the proper, and indeed the only, way in which I could do so. However, I did not feel that it was right to presume on the willingness of the House to allow me to withdraw my amendment when the time came and I therefore 735 decided that the proper course was for me not to ask for it to be placed on the Order Paper.
I fear that I may take a little time this afternoon, for which I ask your Lordships' indulgence but at the outset I make it clear that I do not oppose the Bill or the Canary Wharf development, with which, as the report of the Select Committee makes clear, it is inextricably linked. I believe that we are being quite unrealistic if we think that we can debate this Bill without actually talking about Canary Wharf.
I want to raise certain fundamental questions which lie behind this development. I confess I was a little disturbed and uneasy when I heard the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, suggest that it was not proper for us to raise issues which extended beyond the precise scope of the Bill. Surely when we consider legislation here we must look at its overall impact on the community as a whole, on the country, and so on. We cannot restrict ourselves to the precise wording of the Bill.
In this respect I have a certain sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Sefton. I can share his frustration. He is saying, "Yes, we can debate these things in general terms but when it comes to the crunch how do we actually make our views effective?". I can understand him wanting to add this amendment to the Bill, although I shall not feel able to support it when the time comes. However, I hope there might be some other occasion on which we can seek to initiate action in the way he suggests.
The key questions are what regeneration of a deprived inner-city area means and what it involves. The report of the Select Committee recognises the need for regeneration in the East End. It recognises that that was the purpose of the creation of an urban development area in 1981, of the establishment of the London Docklands Development Corporation and of the enterprise zone. The report says that since 1981 much of the Docklands has been regenerated. In one sense that is true. I welcome, and those whom I represent in one way also welcome, the developments which have taken place. But can it be said that there has been regeneration of the community? As I walk round the East End I find it difficult at times to say that there has. Rather, I find a situation in which deprived areas, with acute problems of housing and unemployment, remain next-door to such developments, admirable though they are. I find these two side by side, with little relationship between them and very often without the trust and co-operation which are essential if any community is to thrive.
I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not question the need for the production of wealth, without which a community cannot prosper. Without such wealth a community is reduced to a parasitic existence, wholly dependent upon external assistance—an existence which is inimical to healthy community life. But the fundamental question is this. How are new resources and the wealth they produce to be related to the community in which they are situated?
The report of the Select Committee recognises that the extension of the railway and the development proposed at Canary Wharf are inextricably linked. Perhaps I may just remind your Lordships that this development will be the largest single one ever 736 undertaken in Europe. It will be bigger than the New York World Trade Centre and it will have more investment in it than the Channel Tunnel. Such is the dimension of the development, and it is not surprising that there should be concern about its effect on the local community.
That concern can be summarised, as is seen in the report of the Select Committee, under four headings. First, there is the fact that the majority of the development, being in an enterprise zone, is not subject to any planning inquiry. The noble Lord, Lord Hampton, has already reminded us of that. As the report says, it was pointed out to the committee that this massive project has so far received less statutory consideration than would the change of use of a small shop just outside the enterprise zone. Thus local opposition to the development, so the report says, cannot be voiced or taken into account.
Secondly, there is the problem of employment. As the noble Lord, Lord Hampton, and other speakers said, there is a dispute about the figures. It was suggested that some 50,000 new jobs would be created. It was suggested during the Second Reading of the Bill that some 21,000 jobs would be available for local people. As your Lordships have heard, these figures have been questioned by independent reports, not only from Peat, Marwick but also from Queen Mary College. It is difficult at this stage to know where the truth lies—which is an argument, I would maintain, for the open discussion of this matter and for consultation. I have some reason to suppose that the developers would see greater opportunities for local employment than some people would suppose.
The figures, as I say, are a matter of dispute: from between 21,000 and 1,800. That is a big difference. I submit that we cannot just leave the matter there and see what comes out in the end. If we do that we are asking the local communtiy to face a great deal of uncertainty, and that would naturally cause much disquiet.
There is the problem of skills mismatch as we have to call it these days. I shall not go into details but perhaps I may give your Lordships one or two examples. In the neighbouring borough of Newham, fewer than 1 per cent. of the residents are qualified professionals and fewer than 1 per cent. go on to further education. It may be asked what effect that would have on the kind of jobs which will be available in a high-technology development. There is again dispute about this. Some people say there will be very few; others say that when you look at the details of the development there will be opportunities for which many people could be well fitted with a comparatively modest degree of training.
Nevertheless, what is happening at the moment, as it is seen by the local community, is that certainly jobs have been lost because of the closure of firms with small workshops—firms like John Lenanton and Son, an old-established timber firm which provided local jobs. Such firms have gone and people ask what is to come. There is distrust and concern because of this situation, and we need to know what is likely to happen and what can be done about it.
Thirdly, there is the housing problem, which is only marginally referred to in the report. The LDDC has 737 recognised this and has tried to pursue a welcome policy of building some affordable housing so that local people can benefit from the opportunity to buy their own homes. But in practice the spiralling increase in the cost of houses has meant that house prices are now well beyond the reach of ordinary people. I am told that a three-bedroomed family house now costs £1,092,000.
§ Lord Mellish
My Lords, will the right reverend Prelate allow me to intervene? His housing figures are really monstrously wrong and I beg of him, whatever else he does, to stay to listen to what I have to say, because it is about time that this myth was exploded.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his intervention. I certainly hope to be here to listen to what he has to say and I shall be very interested to hear what he has to say about the price of houses which are available for people who at the moment are living in very inadequate accommodation in the surrounding borough. I shall not develop the point of housing further, but I merely say that it is a problem, and it is bound to be a problem—and it needs to be faced and dealt with—when you have two different standards of housing cheek by jowl. It may be that this is inevitable, but at least it should be dealt with in a way which is based on consultation and understanding.
Then there is the concern about transport and the effect on planning. Again this is a problem which affects not only the immediate borough but other boroughs too, although they have not been consulted. I shall not go into details; I just say that there is good reason for questioning the assumption that when Canary Wharf is completed 80 per cent. of the journeys to and from it will be by public transport. That is the figure for central London, and it is achieved there because there is a dense provision of public transport in all directions. This is a figure which ought to be questioned.
There is the environmental effect, about which English Heritage has expressed its serious concern both at certain aspects of the development and at the failure of the LDDC to consult it in respect of the West Ferry Circus development, which lies outside the enterprise zone, and on the main development itself.
Having said all this, the real question is the relationship between the development and the local community. It is essential that this is right for the sake of those living in the community and if we are not to build in a situation of social conflict. If we create an enterprise zone, we must also create a mechanism for social reconstruction so that the two are related. There appears to be no strategic planning to deal with the effect of such a development on the local community, particularly in such vital aspects as housing, education and employment. There is no strategic planning. That is not the role of the LDDC, but whose role is it?
When the Select Committee on the setting up of the LDDC reported, it said:If a UDC is to be a success, it must work in harmony with the boroughs and give due consideration to the views of the local population as expressed through the forum. Once it is seen that the UDC is operating in this spirit opposition to it will die away".738 It cannot, alas, be said that opposition has died away. Even if we do not use the word "opposition", there is certainly much concern and distress and it will not die away unless there is a much greater degree of consultation. I recognise that the LDDC and the consortium have held numerous presentations, but presentation is not consultation.
Since the passing of the Pastoral Measure in 1964, a Bishop is under a statutory obligation to consult particular parties before making decisions on a wide range of matters, such as the pastoral re-organisation of parishes. When I so consult—and I here try to practise what I preach, though perhaps I cannot always do that—it is essential that I enter the process prepared to change my mind as a result of it. If I am not, it is not consultation; it is simply information and the two things are not the same. One of our concerns is that there has in this whole area been too much presentation and too little consultation.
Part of the development—the West Ferry Circus—is outside the enterprise zone and the Canary Wharf Development Company is seeking full planning permission for this, which is perfectly right and proper. As the LDDC press release states, the application has been sent to the Secretary of State, but with a request that the LDDC itself should determine the application.
Community groups, such as the Docklands Forum, the Association of Island Communities and the Docklands Consultative Committee, are all asking for an inquiry into this development, as are the London boroughs of Newham, Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark. These adjoining boroughs are concerned at the impact of the development on them in terms of traffic, the size and scale of buildings and the effect on land values and existing development. The Secretary of State has not yet given his decision on this application. When a small delegation from the London Churches Group, which represents all the denominations, met with Sir George Young last December, the refusal of a public inquiry had just been announced. The Minister agreed that that meant there would have to be other and public forms of consultation so that the local community could participate and be involved.
As I said, a news release was issued by the LDDC on 3rd November, stating that the West Ferry Circus planning application was to be sent to the Secretary of State with a request that the LDDC itself should determine the application. There is an impressive list of those consulted, which includes a number of groups who are all opposed to that request, but that is not stated. It is set forward in the press release. It is simply stated that a list of people were consulted without any indication of their views. At the bottom of the list is a note that the London boroughs of Newham, Greenwich and Lewisham, as well as English Heritage, were informed but not consulted. I find that quite extraordinary. All these have complained vigorously about the lack of consultation by the LDDC, as have the officers of Tower Hamlets.
For some years, there has been thought and planning between the East London Church leaders about the setting up of an East End trust, which was to be for the benefit of and administered by the local community. Quite by chance they discovered that the 739 LDDC was also planning to set up a trust and had decided to call it the East End Trust. Obviously, consultation was needed. In response to a request, the articles of the trust were sent to Church leaders for comment and a letter was sent back expressing many reservations about the level of Community participation and representation—crucial factors in the operation of any trust of that kind.
It then took eight months to get a response to these comments. A letter had apparently been written by the LDDC, but it did not arrive. When, after many telephone calls and requests, a letter dated January arrived in September, the trust, they were told, had already been set up. I must give credit to the LDDC for recognising the problems that this has caused, and remedial action is now being taken. But the necessity for remedial action could have been avoided, if there had been more effective consultation over such things as relationships with the community.
Various other ways of co-operation have been under discussion, of which I do not think I need weary your Lordships with details—the Master Building Agreement, the Community Benefit Agreement and the Social Contract. All these have great potential in them. But it is not clear what clauses will go into what and what their status will be. Many questions are still outstanding. The response, as so often, to these proposals is in vague terms, such as that every effort is being made to secure this kind of relationship with the community. But against the present background this is not good enough.
All seem agreed that the size of the Canary Wharf proposals is exciting and will do much for the regeneration of the East End, but it is also in some ways frightening, as is clear from the dimension which I spelled out earlier in my speech. Yet the consideration of the implications of this massive development on London and the South-East, not to mention the local community, has been minimal. A high degree of public subsidy is involved and, quite apart from the needs of the local community, that should have meant a greater degree of public involvement in the consideration of the implications.
This House gave very careful consideration to the setting up of the LDDC in 1981 and the Select Committee met for a total of 46 days. This Canary Wharf development is far bigger than anything imagined then, and yet this debate is the main opportunity, if not the only opportunity, for statutory consideration of its effect in strategic and planning terms on London and the South-East. I repeat my request not for a formal inquiry—in a sense, I think the time has probably passed—but for effective and continued consultation with all involved about the social impact of the development of the City into East London, a process already starting, on East London itself and on the South-East region.
§ Lord Hacking
My Lords, before the right reverend Prelate sits down, perhaps he can help the House. Will the noble Lord accept that from the position of the promoters, it is a matter of extreme difficulty to deal with a multitude of complaints on non-consultation during a Third Reading debate when this Bill has been through this House and another place? In those circumstances perhaps the right reverend Prelate 740 would assist your Lordships' House on whether he has made representations to the LDDC and, if he has made representations concerning these matters, when they were made. That information would be helpful to the promoters. Perhaps we may also know why, when the right reverend Prelate himself was filing his petition which was considered in another place, none of these matters was raised? Why have we had to wait through the long journey of this Private Bill to its Third Reading?
§ The Lord Bishop of London
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. First, I agree that it would have been more appropriate if these matters had been aired at Second Reading. However, the time factor was against us. On the question of consultation with the LDDC, all I can say is that the London Churches Group in particular, which is not generally a wild and extravagant group, has made repeated and continuous efforts for this kind of consultation. It has done so precisely because it feels that it makes its points and that there is very little come-back. I therefore felt that it was necessary to raise the points I have made to this House this evening.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, before the right reverend Prelate sits down, following his answer to the last question, ought he not to have kept in mind the importance of parliamentary procedures? He admitted in answering the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, that perhaps the points he made ought to have been made on Second Reading. If we are to enter upon a practice in which Second Reading speeches are made on Third Reading, it may well be that the whole of the parliamentary system, as we attempt to work within it, will not be able to function.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, in the interests of self-discipline, we must keep ourselves in order.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
My Lords, I take the strictures of the noble Lord on the need for self-discipline, as you would expect a humble prelate to do. However, I would remind noble Lords that this whole massive development has come to us only through a Private Bill. This has made it extremely difficult. I cannot at the moment give chapter and verse. But we were certainly given to understand that it was not appropriate to raise most of these issues at Second Reading of a Private Bill. We may well have been wrongly advised, but there have been no other stages, as there are in the ordinary way with a public Bill, when we have been able to comment. Frankly, I do not see how we could have acted in any other way. Another point is the question of where, in public inquiries, could we have made our voice heard? It is precisely because of the legislation about enterprise zones and such matters that we feel that that opportunity is not given and does not arise.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Lord Alport
My Lords, this Third Reading debate on a Bill which authorises the building of 1,000 yards of railway line has so far proceeded in a rather unusual manner. However, it has enabled the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London to carry out his undoubted pastoral responsibilities and the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, to raise before the House the question of the North-South divide.
As chairman of the Select Committee on the London Docklands Railway (City Extension) Bill, to which was added an instruction, I have an obligation to explain (although at this stage of the debate my explanation is only for the record) the manner in which the Committee tackled the task which was given to it. As the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, has said, this is an unopposed Bill. Although, as your Committee records, we were faced with some 15 petitions initially, all these were settled satisfactorily so far as the parties to the hearing were concerned. The petitions were withdrawn by the middle of the second day of the hearing. Thus, the Bill became unopposed. None of the petitions was against the principle of the Bill; all the petitions were concerned to protect the property rights of the petitioners. There were no petitions from any local authority or other organisation which might be interested in the Bill.
It therefore became the sole duty of the Committee to give its views in response to your Lordships' instruction which was,to have regard to the consequences of the proposals contained in the Bill on the rest of the South-East region and in particular the City of London".In relation to this, the Committee thought it right to respond to the request by two Docklands Members of Parliament and the chairman of the Docklands Consultative Committee to present their views. The Select Committee sought and obtained the approval of your Lordships to follow this unusual procedure. In so far as the extension of the railway from Tower Hill to Bank was a prerequisite for the developers of the Canary Wharf project to proceed with its construction, in which they had already invested some £63 million, it soon became clear that the issue being presented to your Committee was not the effect of the Bill on the City of London, either as defined by the square mile or as that complex of banking and financial services in and around it, nor its effect on the South-East of England, covering the whole of the Home Counties and beyond. It was rather its effect on the area of East London where the London Docklands Development Corporation had been entrusted in 1981 to carry out a major programme of regeneration under powers granted by Parliament. As an urban development area and an enterprise zone, the corporation was relieved of the statutory obligation to have its planning proposals vetted by public inquiry at which local objections could be voiced and local representations made.
Your Committee gave full opportunity to the two Members of Parliament and the chairman of the Docklands Consultative Committee to present their views. However, it was the clear opinion of the Committee that it had neither the right constitutionally (nor did your Lordships' instructions require it) to assume the responsibilities of a statutory planning inquiry. It therefore listened sympathetically 742 to the views expressed on behalf of the community of the Docklands, and these are summarised in its report.
In its conclusions, it said:Changes in the way of life of the people living in the immediate vicinity of the Docklands was seen to be inevitable at the time when Parliament approved the creation of an Urban Development Corporation. In the view of the Committee, it is the responsibility of the London Docklands Development Corporation and the local authorities, assisted where necessary by the Government, to ensure that the process of regeneration is carried out with the least possible hardship to those adversely affected.Since the Bill had become unopposed, there remained the Select Committee's responsibility only to provide an answer to the two questions implied in the instruction. First, what would be the effect of the development facilitated by the extension of the Docklands Light Railway to the Bank on the City of London; and secondly, what would be its effect on the South-East of England? The Committee did not, and was not required to, pronounce on the financial viability of the Canary Wharf project or on its architectural merits or demerits, or on those of any of the other developments completed or planned by the corporation. It concluded, on the evidence presented to it, that the provision of substantial additional technologically designed office accommodation for the expansion of the financial services industry of the City of London could and should be of direct advantage to the City in the post-industrial era.
Secondly, the Committee considered that the additional employment which would be provided, both during the period of construction and subsequently, would be of advantage to the South-East of England and to some extent to the present resident population of Docklands. It would, I think, be right to add that the view was held that this would result from the extension of the railway into London's Underground network, irrespective of the eventual materialisation of the Canary Wharf project. I hope that your Lordships will feel that, with the obvious limitations of considering an unopposed Bill, the committee endeavoured to carry out your Lordships' instructions. I can only say that I am extremely grateful to my four colleagues for the wisdom and conscientiousness which they applied to the task in somewhat unusual circumstances.
I listened with great care to the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London who has withdrawn his amendment. As he reminded the House, this Bill was considered at great length by a Select Committee in another place and substantial amendments were made to it. In 1981 a Select Committee of your Lordships' House considered and approved proposals to give the London Docklands Corporation special powers to speed up the regeneration of the London Docklands which had suffered, as we all know, severe social and economic decline. If your Select Commitee had been asked to hear representations from the London Churches Group, it would certainly have sought your Lordships' approval to do so.
I remind your Lordships again that we did hear those parliamentary representatives and the representatives of the local authorities of the area of the docklands. Mr. Mikardo and Mr. Spearing, who are very experienced and distinguished Members of 743 another place, explained the problems of the Docklands community most ably, as did the chairman of the Docklands Consultative Committee. These were, I think, fairly reflected in the Select Committee's report. Nothing that the right reverend Prelate has said this afternoon adds, at any rate as far as I am concerned, to the evidence which the Select Committee heard or, I think, would alter its view that the responsibility for tackling these problems lies with the corporation, the local authorities and the Government.
As far as the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, is concerned, its relevance, as he made quite clear, is to the contrasting situations in the North and South of England. I hope that the noble Lord will acquit me of lacking any interest in this problem. I would make two comments on his remarks. First, it is wrong to suppose that obstructing or limiting the flow of investment to take advantage of available opportunities for expansion in the South of England will ensure that that investment is diverted to the North; secondly, the needs and attractions of the great industrial conurbations of the North for investment must be tackled in a partnership between the Government and local interests to meet the special situations which are different from those of the South of England.
As long ago as the 1560s, the government of Queen Elizabeth I passed legislation to prevent the growth of London. It was, as we know from history, completely ineffective; and the same has happened to attempts by subsequent governments. There are economic, climatic, geographical and communications factors in determining the location of population and industry in all countries and the gradual shift of activity from the North to the South is to some extent inevitable. This does not mean that nothing can be done to help areas such as Merseyside and Sunderland; but it certainly does not mean that the advantages which location in the South present should be frustrated. If that is done, the nation as a whole will suffer. I hope that I have given a clear description of the activities of your Lordships' Select Committee and I trust that your Lordships will give the Bill a deserved Third Reading.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Lord Bellwin
My Lords, perhaps I may begin by declaring an interest in that I am a non-executive director of Taylor Woodrow. Although the company has no interest in the railway extension, it is part of the consortium that would take part in the construction of Canary Wharf, if that proceeds as I hope it will. Having said that, I should like to stress even more that I have another interest. I had the privilege of introducing into your Lordships' House in 1981 the very legislation which created the London Docklands Development Corporation. Therefore I have watched its progress—and I use that word deliberately—with more than usual interest.
I was sad to hear some of the comments made by the right reverend Prelate and I was not so much sad about as expectant of those which the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, made. I suppose that I still find it difficult to get away from the ministerial habit of wanting to comment on what has been said by those who have 744 spoken before me. If noble Lords will bear with me, perhaps I may comment on the remarks which were made by the right reverend Prelate and by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, because they are relevant to what this debate is about.
The right reverend Prelate said that it is important to look at the overall impact of the Canary Wharf proposals. We have just heard from my noble friend Lord Alport that that is precisely what his Select Committee did; and from what I gather the committee did so in detail, depth and extremely well. No one has suggested for a moment that it did otherwise.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
My Lords, how does the noble Lord relate what he has just said to the recognition in the Select Committee report that,most of the reservations expressed about the proposals related to the effect which they would have on the Docklands themselves. The Committee were sympathetic to the disquiet expressed by the local representatives but found much of what was said outside the terms of the Instruction"?Do not those words in the report of the Select Committee indicate that it found itself unable to give concern to the total impact of the development in this respect on the Docklands themselves?
§ Lord Bellwin
Not to me, my Lords. To me the report was in depth and succinct and it satisfied me on what was said.
The right reverend Prelate asked where the new resources will come from and said that the issue is about how the new resources should be directed. But what are these resources? They are coming from the private sector, the very sector which for so long did not come forward with resources. It did not come forward with resources because there were not the incentives that we see here and there was not the government pump priming that we see through the Urban Development Corporation. The right reverend Prelate said that he was concerned about the fact that some talked of 21,000 new local jobs and others talked of 1,800. The noble Lord, Lord Hampton, said the same thing. Is it not nice to be wondering how many thousand new jobs will be created in contrast to the situation which pertained previously not only of new jobs not being created but of jobs being lost at a rate that can only be described as alarming.
The right reverend Prelate referred to the housing problem. I wondered how these new proposals will worsen the present position. For decades we have lived with dereliction in housing and with something that was miserable to everyone concerned. There was no shortage of protest and objection to that, and rightly so. What is now happening is that there are new houses there. They may not all be of the kind that everyone would like to see but you can be sure that as someone goes into a house accommodation will be available for others.
The right reverend Prelate was concerned that there would be two standards of housing. I say, thank goodness, there will be two standards of housing. We saw for years what one standard of council housing meant and the estates to which that led. I hope that there will be more than two different kinds of housing. I want to see houses from housing associations, from the private sector, from councils and from every other possible source.
745 Perhaps I should not speak for too long on the various points made by the right reverend Prelate. He will have gathered by now—and I say this with the greatest possible respect—that we probably differ a great deal on most of his concerns. As for the noble Lord, Lord Sefton—and it is nice to be crossing swords with him again after years and years of doing so in other places—I think he will concede that there is no monopoly in concern about the situation in the North, to which he referred. I come from the same part of the world as he does.
My concern about this amendment is that if it is carried it will cause delay. The noble Lord may well feel that that is not so, but that is not only my view; many others feel the same way. But delay, as I shall mention again in a moment, is what we cannot have. The noble Lord said, and I quote him, that one has to face up to the problems of deciding to do something. But that is exactly what has happened with the Urban Development Corporation and the London Docklands Development Corporation.
One has only to remember—and sometimes it is hard to remember when one thinks back—what it was like before. It was a shambles and it was a disgrace. I do not complain entirely that the local authorities were not able to do what has been done since. The fact is that it is only the kind of body that has been set up which can make such changes. The Government must be given credit for having had the imagination and initiative to set it up. It is comprised of people who have the specialist knowledge, the drive and the energy, and who are single minded, with a single purpose. Such bodies do not have the responsibility of deciding on the apportionment of resources. The elected members of councils have that responsibility. They cannot have the same kind of single purpose and direction that there is in an urban development corporation.
That is a major factor in what can only be called the largest example of urban regeneration in the world. The right reverend Prelate will allow me to say that those words are justified. If anyone doubts that, they should go to the Docklands and ask to see the photographs of what the Docklands were like before; and if that is not urban regeneration, after 25 years or so in the business, if I can call it that, I do not know what is.
I have enormous sympathy with the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton. My noble friend Lord Alport said exactly what I had intended to say when he pointed out that failing to create employment in the South does not help the creation of employment in the North. One has to answer to all the people who are unemployed in the South when they are told that they should not receive resources but that the resources should go to the North. The key point is this: it is not "either/or". It is not, for example, that the people who wish to invest in this project in London will contemplate investing either in the North or the South. The alternatives are either this country and London, or Europe with Paris, Stuttgart and other places. It is not what the noble Lord thinks.
I suggest to him, if I may, that something is being done at last, if you like, by government—although I 746 wish that more could be done by local people. He does not make a good case when he refers to Liverpool; and one has sympathy for that city. I know his great record in Liverpool. If he had been in Liverpool in recent years there would not be the problems there that there are today. There are problems of credibility for people who want to build a factory there or to start a business. Can one really consider what some of the local politicians in Liverpool have done and then deny that that has nothing to do with the fact that people are not as willing to go to Liverpool as they should be? I am sure the noble Lord will not disagree with me on that.
Therefore, I say to the noble Lord that if the new urban development corporations which are to be set up—and they are to be set up now, as announced by government, in Tyne and Wear, Teeside, Trafford and the West Midlands—achieve as much for those areas as has been achieved in the London Docklands and, in its own way, by the Merseyside Development Corporation, the noble Lord will be much more content at what is happening. There are some differences, and I am the first to acknowledge them, but that is not for debate today; perhaps for another time.
The noble Lord, Lord Hacking, put it so well and so clearly that there is not a great deal more to say. He gave statistics for both employment prospects and the amount of investment, but there is one factor he did not mention. It has been given to me and I hope it is correct; namely, £1.5 billion of private money has already been committed to the Docklands and another £7 billion is in prospect. Those are staggering figures by any standards, anywhere. If they are true, as I am told they are, it can only be a triumph for what we all want to see, certainly in London and in the City.
It is true that some people in the City have been anxious about certain aspects, but to paraphrase a famous, or notorious, person, "They would, wouldn't they?", because it actually goes outside their boundaries. Nevertheless, it is my view that there can be no doubt that, given the extension of the railway, the consequent development at Canary Wharf will be a significant factor in enhancing London as a financial services centre. It will enhance British influence in the rapidly growing financial services industry and that means jobs, improvement, prosperity and all that flows from them; and it flows over to local people as well as to everyone else.
I shall bring my remarks to a conclusion. I believe that I feel as strongly about this matter as any noble Lord who has spoken in the debate. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, will decide not to press his amendment. If for any reason it were carried we would lose the momentum that at present exists in the Docklands. There is a magnificent team of officers in the Docklands. It is a model for everywhere. Many people from all over the world, and I know many of them, are coming to see what is being done there and to learn. We should be praising that to the skies. I certainly do. I do not want the Docklands to lose that momentum. There is a great team of people who are single-minded in that respect. I do not want the investors to lose heart; I want them to be encouraged. I hope that the noble Lord will consider his amendment in that sense and, if he does decide to 747 press it, that your Lordships will show resoundingly that they feel as I do and let the Bill go forward unamended.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Lord Mellish
My Lords, the House will know that I have a vested interest to declare: I was the vice-chairman of the London Docklands Development Corporation until July of last year. I do not deny that I have a special prejudice which shines through at all times. If I relate why, perhaps the right reverend Prelate, in particular, will understand how strongly I feel about some of his remarks. They were unfair and, if he will forgive me for saying so, they were almost naïve. He has been the victim of some of the stuff he has been reading, but I doubt whether he has actually seen the Docklands. He could not have done so.
I shall start at the beginning. Over 20 years ago I made a speech pleading that the Docklands should be treated as a matter of urgency and dealt with as one entity. I said then—and I repeat it—that this is the last chance for major regeneration that we shall have in London. Let us deal with it as an entity. The last occasion when such an opportunity occurred was the Great Fire of London in 1666, and we missed it because there were a lot of petty people about then. In fact, the great plans of Sir Christopher Wren were disbanded.
Bringing history up to date, in 1981—which is only five years ago—the London Docklands Development Corporation was created. However, let me say quite clearly that it was brought in against a background of considerable bitter, personal, political recriminations. Before we even started we were told that we were no good. We were the tools of capitalism; we were rotters, Fascists—you name it, my Lords, we were it—and we had not even started. But that was the beginning. That was literally the first day. I remember that Nigel Broackes, who became chairman, and I as deputy chairman, went down there on the first day that we were legalised and I felt utterly and completely depressed. So far as the eye could see there was dereliction—8½ square miles of it. There were cranes overturned and huge mountains of filth and filthy puddles. Nowhere was there any work. We were told that it was our task to regenerate the Docklands.
We started with one very simple thesis; namely, that the first thing one does in order to regenerate anything is to own it. We happen to live in a democracy and unless you own something, developing it becomes confiscation. We wanted no part in that. We bought the land from the PLA, British Gas and others. The spend of the government of the day, through Michael Heseltine, was superb. They gave us £22 million to spend in the first year.
The next thing we had to do was to start converting that awful derelict land into a saleable commodity. We had to put in roads, drains, sewers and ditches. Had we not been there, does anyone in this House believe that what has happened down there would have happened? Is there anyone here who believes that? There was a Docklands Joint Committee in existence for nearly three years and what did it do? It did not build a toilet! All it did was to talk and pass stupid resolutions. As a matter of fact at every one of its meetings the old 748 Docklands Joint Committee included the community groups, and the representatives of the Churches. I was told by many people in authority, "Bob, whatever you do, don't do that, because when you get that lot there, you can't do anything at all. Your meetings are aborted". That is something I have never forgotten.
However, we decided on the strict plan that this land would be developed, and in fact that the drains, sewers, roads and the rest would be such that private enterprise could be brought in. I make the simple point, which I have often made before and which I shall repeat, that we live in a mixed economy. Whether we like it or not, private enterprise has to be encouraged. If you do not encourage private enterprise who is to be encouraged? The state? It could not run a fish and chip shop—and everyone knows it. Therefore, what one does is to bring in private enterprise, and encourage private enterprise to come in. But at that time private enterprise could not be encouraged to come into docklands.
Our best move was to spend £9 million in building a road on the Isle of Dogs. Why did we do that? It was in order to encourage Asda to open a store—and that is what Asda did. That store, with its car park for 400 cars, is one of the most successful stores today in the whole of London. That was the beginning of the story. Everywhere we went we rehabilitated the land.
I say to the right reverend Prelate that it is nonsense not to put into orbit some of the things that we have done on behalf of the local people. One would think that we had treated them with contempt or utterly ignored them and carried on and all the rest of it. Such an idea could not be more wrong. Let me tell him one or two things that we have done. We brought in ITEC—industrial training. Has he ever been down there to see what we are doing? Every single one of those who are under training at this moment—and there are 70 of them—come from the East End. That is one of the problems. How does one define an East Ender? Listening to some people one would think that only those who live on the Isle of Dogs are East Enders. I will not have that. I happen to think that those who live in Barking, Stratford, East Ham or West Ham are also East Enders. We therefore widened our scope and every single person who is being trained at our ITEC centre, which the London Docklands Development Corporation established, aided and abetted by the Manpower Services Commission, are local East Enders. We intend to increase that number to over 1,000.
The point is of course that when these new firms with the new technology come in they cannot obtain the skilled labour they require and have to look further afield. We have said right from the beginning that we must train our youngsters to be skilled workers and able to do the jobs required. There is a reservoir of unskilled labour in that area. I was brought up in the dock industry—my father was a dock worker—and the truth is that when the dockers were once taken away from the loading and discharging of ships they had no other skills to offer. Therefore, the youngsters in particular are being trained to do the particular technical jobs that are required today.
The first point I want to put on record is that at this moment on the Isle of Dogs—and I invite the right 749 reverend Prelate to come down and see for himself—there are hundreds of youngsters now being trained in hi-tech and they are doing a brilliant job. There is another matter about which I am very keen—I am not just one of those who pass resolutions and hope that everything will work out because I prefer to be realistic. I argued from the beginning that these youngsters should not be trained unless there was a job to offer them. Nothing is worse than, having trained someone, having to say to him, "Well done, son, but there is no work for you". So we have guaranteed that end of it.
By the way, did we get any help from the Churches on all that? I do not remember receiving even a letter either criticising, patronising or helping in any way—but I shall let that pass. The fact is that we have done and are doing a first class job in training youngsters for the work that is yet to come in the area. That includes the Canary Wharf development with its enormous schemes and plans for employment—and I shall not argue about the figure, but talk to the 1,000 people who have been under training—because the Canary Wharf will demand that type of work. We are prepared to see that it is provided.
But let me say something to the right reverend Prelate about housing, which is the political world I came from. Housing has always been my first priority. One figure will interest him. When we first took over in 1981, 85 per cent. of the entire housing stock on the Isle of Dogs was owned by the local authority—and what a state some of those houses were in, too. Talk about slums—by God! The local authority owned 85 per cent.; 10 per cent was owned by housing associations and 5 per cent. was owned by the people themselves. I happen to believe in a genuine property-owning democracy. There is nothing wrong in that. I own my own house—or I am trying to own it. I do not see why other people should not be given the same chance. So when I came in my policy was to ensure that the people in this area would be given the chance to buy their own homes. We stipulated the price and laid down at that time that no property would be over £40,000. When we built our first houses in Beckton most of the prices were around that figure from £35,000 to £40,000 which was the top price to which we went. Where the figure of £300,000 for the special flats is obtained comes from the fact—and this is where the right reverend Prelate may have been misled—that a great deal of property in Docklands has nothing whatever to do with the Development Corporation. The Development Corporation never owned it from the beginning and they were not able to purchase it when they came in. It is owned by the private entrepreneurs.
For example, some of the warehouses were owned by private entrepreneurs. They put capital into the enterprise and made the warehouses into luxury flats. There was nothing that I could do about it. We do not live in the sort of country in which you tell people that they cannot do such things, and they were able to sell them. So only a tiny percentage of the houses actually built are in that category.
But what can we say about the 7,000 to 9,000 houses that we built for the London Docklands Development Corporation? Who have they gone to? 750 Over 70 per cent. of them have gone to the people who live in the borough, and they have been sold for prices of £40,000 and just over. Has anyone said anything for example about the scheme where in fact we plough something back and give a chance to the tenants? If a house is now worth £60,000 we say that they can buy it for £40,000 and that the other £20,000 is not repayable until they resell the property. We have given them that money out of our pockets because I was determined that housing should be made the social requirement that it always was.
So I say to the right reverend Prelate that he is quite wrong to throw up the idea as he did in the general debate that somehow we were building a great rich society with these vast hundreds of flats at exorbitant prices—because that is the tale that is told by the opponents and enemies of the Docklands, and I have seen enough of them in practice. I took that job in 1981 and we have met professional groups and people who had no other purpose in life but to destroy us—and I am the wrong bloke for that, because I am not taking that from any of them. My objective is right—and my one objective is to regenerate Docklands and put it in such a position that when I pass from the scene people will say, "That was not a bad job. It was pretty well done". I have no interest in Canary Wharf, I do not know any of the people, I know nothing of them, I have no financial interest. I do not know any of the directors, they mean nothing to me as such. But their proposals will be the biggest scheme in the whole of Europe. It is the ultimate of what I have always dreamed of in the dockyards, private enterprise coming in there in an enormous way and spending of millions of pounds of their money. That is what they are proposing to do.
The railway link, which we started long before these people came on the scene, going to the east of London, is now to be extended into the City. My Lords, what is so wrong about that? Is it not a natural consequence? Is it not right that the City should be involved, the City which had strong objections to London dockyards and was very jealous, but now suddenly realises there is nothing it can do about us? We are there to stay and doing pretty well. The City has now swung over to us, and I am all for it. It is about time that it did—it has suddenly become realistic.
There is no doubt that what is being proposed at Canary Wharf is a great fillip for the City and will make it stronger, better and more flexible. I welcome that. For me it is the ultimate in what was the adventure in Docklands. From deprivation, filth, rubbish of the worse kind, after six years of control by a docklands joint committee, that is what we inherited.
The noble Lord, Lord Sefton, made a point of talking about the North versus the South. No one can feel more about that than I do. I believe that the divide between North and South is the biggest problem for the Government. It is not right for me living in the South to be better off than someone living in the North. The people of the North are not my kith and kin, but they are my fellow countrymen.
The biggest problem that this or any government have to face is how we can apply the success stories of the South and implement them in the North. There is 751 some handicap in Merseyside with the crowd there—let us get that on the record. Merseyside happens to be a big city and, I should have thought, is not unimportant. It has to be understood that, if private enterprise is to be attracted there, the conditions have to be laid on to make private enterprise come in.
I say to the critics of the London Docklands Development Corporation: come down and find out for yourselves. A total of 75 Peers visited the Docklands at my request and have seen the place. I did not tell them what to look for, they saw it for themselves. I invite any other Lord who wants to come to make a visit. He is welcome. Let us see what has been done.
I say to the right reverend Prelate, if he wants to know the prices of houses, please come and find out—do not talk from bits of paper. He should not believe some of the stuff that he has been told. He had better come down and find out for himself. If he asks the people in the houses where they come from, who they are, how much they paid for the houses, then he is qualified to talk; but he is not qualified to talk if all that he has done is to be told things by some of the kinds of groups that I have met since I have been down there. Where he has been getting his information from terrifies me. They are so "anti-us" that, no matter what we do, we are wrong. The media have given us headlines about a £300,000 flat. Who the heck believes that anyone in docklands built a flat for £300,000? It certainly was not us—although there are some, I do not deny it.
I hope that the Bill will be given a Third Reading automatically. I ask my noble friend Lord Sefton—and he is a friend—not to push his amendment. If he does, I shall vote against it, and there is no doubt that it will be swept out of the House. I do not want him to see this indignity take place, because I know that his heart is in the right place. I do not believe that the amendment is effective or worthwhile, but I believe that the Third Reading of the Bill is an absolute must.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may say two things. First, I do not propose to defend myself against the strictures of the noble Lord, Lord Mellish. I have been down there, I have visited people in their houses and the people to whom I talked are people who respect the corporation and acknowledge what it has done. It is precisely because of what they have done that we are concerned that community relations there and all that members of the community have done may not be harmed in any way.
The second point that I wish to make concerns the noble Lord's remark about how Church people have taken no part, for example, in retraining and so on. On behalf of many good Christian people, particularly in the East End, I really must say that a person is not a Christian only if he has a collar round his neck. I know many of the people who work for the community in the East End: they are good Christians and they come from Churches. I know at first hand what the Churches have tried to do in helping regeneration in the East End.
§ Lord Mellish
My Lords, the right reverend Prelate will remember that in his remarks he referred to the price of housing. He conveyed the impression, at least to me, that somehow we were building a type of housing ouside the reach of ordinary working people. That is why I wanted to correct what was said. That is untrue and unfair. That is why I wanted to get it on the record.
Secondly, with regard to what the Church is, I do not deny that the individuals down there are absolutely superb. I have been proud to meet some of the finest East Enders. They are first class. As to the Church—all the people with the collars—I cannot remember ever being approached by them and being told: this is the right way to do it, this is how to do it and we will help you to do it.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, I do not intend to follow the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, in seeking, as he did, to go back in history to denigrate democracy and—in my view wickedly—to malign some very good people who had worked not as successfully as the corporation in latter years but had worked very hard to try to do what the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, I accept, has wanted to see happen over the past 20 years. No good will come out of the debate if the opportunity is given over to using the kind of emotive and, I believe, unworthy language that the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, has chosen to use against some very good locally, democratically elected—unlike the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, and me in your Lordships' House—councillors and their supporters in the docklands area.
I wish to begin, as I believe everyone in the debate has sought to do, by separating the issues of the railway and Canary Wharf, at the same time recognising that it is not possible to separate one from the other. I have always viewed the endeavours of the LDDC to regenerate the area under its control and to breathe new life into the docklands not only as a worthy objective but as something in which in general it has been very successful.
It was the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, who said that this was the biggest scheme of its kind in Europe. I want to ask the House to stop and allow me to use that as my text. It is the biggest scheme of its kind in Europe that will not be subject to a public inquiry, a public scrutiny. This is the gravamen of my criticism of the present situation.
I am perhaps the only Member of your Lordships' House who served as a member of the committee in another place that dealt with the Local Government, Planning and Land Bill. It started off as three separate Bills which the Government in their wisdom decided to role into one—local government, planning and land. In the course of the Bill, two further Bills were added—a new towns Bill and an enterprise zones Bill. Those of us who served on the committee—the date has been given more than once, 1981—recognised that the government of the day took a decision of enormous significance, and not just for London or for Merseyside. As the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, has pointed out, there will be lessons to be learnt, procedures to be followed and public inquiries to be 753 held in other places beyond London and Merseyside. The significance of the debate goes far wider than that.
I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, did the House a service by making his remarks not only scrupulously fair, as they always are, but strictly in accordance with the terms of the Bill. He made a very good case for the extension. He also made it quite plain that, without the Canary Wharf development, there would be no need for the extension and, without the extension, there would not be the Canary Wharf development.
I want to ask members of the House who are trying to separate the conflicting arguments to realise that all those who have spoken in favour of Canary Wharf—and it is not the railway but Canary Wharf that is under debate tonight—have trotted out before us all the benefits, the entrepreneurial skills and the financial packaging and advantages for the City.
I believe that it was the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, who said that the scheme will be good for the City. I did not detect that he said much about it being good for the people who currently live in the area. It may be good for the people who will come to live in the area in future.
§ Lord Nugent of Guildford
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. He cannot have listened to the rest of my speech. I made it clear that 40 per cent. of the new housing was being taken up by the local residents who have never before had a chance to buy a house. That is the first point of interest for local people. I also referred to the number of new jobs that would go to local people.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, I assure the noble Lord that I have not left the Chamber during the debate. I heard every word that he said. I shall read with care in the Official Report tomorrow what he said.
Reference has been made to those who will live in the new housing. I also shall refer to that point. The difficulty of reconciling the conflicting figures of the jobs that will be created and the number of local people who will benefit from those jobs has been mentioned. They are all part of the argument.
I do not quibble over the railway but we are talking about a development which we are told is the biggest in Europe. The noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, said that about £7 billion of private capital could be generated. I can understand those who contribute private capital not being too interested in a public inquiry or a scrutiny, but what about the £1 billion of public money? Are we entitled to have the way in which £1 billion of public money is to be spent scrutinised by a public inquiry?
I live in the borough of Edmonton and Enfield. It is far removed from the docklands. However if a development of this size was being proposed at Cheshunt, Chingford, Potters Bar or in the Lea Valley I should want to know not just that some committee had invited members of the local council or the local Member of Parliament to discuss the matter with it; I and hundreds, if not thousands, of other people would want to know that the £1 billion of public money which was to be spent on a kind of new town—this is a kind of new town—was being scrutinised fully.
754 It is monstrous that so few people in the debate are paying so little attention to something which the House and the country have held dear. We have been told that there is no time and that we cannot delay the matter. We are being invited to accept that time is of the essence. Over the centuries, many people have argued that there was not time to do certain things. That has been regretted later. The procedures are not the responsibility of the LDDC or the local councils; they are the responsibility of the Government and Parliament. Parliament, because of the way in which it is now structured, has accepted that it is proper to have such procedures.
I have been to docklands with the noble Lord, Lord Underhill. I stood on the 18th floor of a tower block in Greenwich. We looked at where the new housing and new development would be built. I must accept that it is possible for the tenants of the 18th floor of some of those blocks to sell their flats. With whatever money they obtain they can then pay the kind of money that they must pay elsewhere.
We are fortunately served by the London Standard. Last night on its commercial property page it stated:Rich pickings in the Docklands".That is how it describes the Canary Wharf development. I quote selectively, as we all do. One paragraph that struck me statedLast month a block of flats at West Ferry Road, with prices from £100,000 for the smallest, saw its first phase completely sold out in half a day—from plans—before the marketing even began.I am expected to believe that about 40 per cent. of the local people may have been in that queue!
I have received, as other people have, the documentation about the economic profile of the people who live in the docklands area. I do not have the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, and others who have lived, worked and represented those people, but I cannot believe that what I read in the London Standard is likely to be to their benefit.
The same article continues:Developers are now finding the authorities not only less bureaucratic but also the legal framework of the LDDC itself and more especially of the Enterprise Zone, conducive to their own enterprise.The developers will find the present planning structure more conducive to their own enterprise. Tonight's London Standard states:An orgy of property development is under way which could totally transform the appearance of London by the late 1990s… 'The scheme is now 95 per cent. certain to go ahead', says Docklands Development Corporation supremo Reg Ward, though last-minute political problems cannot be ruled out.I wonder what he has in mind when he talks about last-minute political problems? Mr. Ward knows, as does every Member of this House, that the Bill will receive its Third Reading tonight because, as I understand it, the Third Reading will not be opposed; that the developers' plans will be furthered, and there will be a transformation of the area. However, as I understand it, and I am not as expert as other people, there is a sourness among locally elected people on the councils and many other bodies.
I am enormously grateful to the right reverend Prelate for telling us how the LDDC, perhaps not malignly, has sought to put forward the view that it has consulted although it has not told us the result of those 755 consultations. I am greatly worried that there has been a charade and that too little attention has been paid to try to bridge the gap. If the Swiss bank and others have to wait, although we have been told that we must get in quickly after the Big Bang, and in order to ensure that local democracy is served as well as financial enterprise rewarded there must be a little more time, what is wrong with that?
Although the Minister is entitled to say that it has nothing to do with him, I beg him to contemplate the possibility that part of the Canary Wharf development could be called in by the Minister so that those who live and work locally and those who represent local people get what they want. I am of course referring to the West Ferry Circus development. When one looks at this area outside the enterprise zone the size is 1.8 million square feet. It is only a small part, 20 per cent., of the total. But it is of that size. Given the opportunity, which still exists, to have a better scrutiny in the future than we have had in the past, is the Minister going to tell us that he and his colleagues will respond to the approach by the LDDC and say, "Leave it to us"? I cannot say a bad word about any member of the LDDC because I do not know them well. I would accept that they are honourable men and women. I also accept that they have a mandate and an authority. The wicked Bill which brought them into being, in my view, gives them that authority. If it means the local people will be satisfied in future that they have had a fair crack of the whip, that the roads, sewers and housing and all the other matters have been well looked at, this is surely a small price to pay. It may not be a public inquiry, but a better means of resolving this matter ought to be at hand.
This does not concern merely the docklands, as other Members have mentioned. It is not merely East London. It is those who are proud to call themselves East Londoners. It goes beyond the neighbouring boroughs of Southwark, Greenwich and the others. It also involves a great many people. But more important—and I close on this point—I believe that there is a vital principle at stake. If the Government allow matters of stupendous importance to millions of people to follow the present procedures without allowing the local people to feel that they have been satisfied it will be a very sad day.
A lady rang me at home last night. I have never met her. She said that her name was Kate Heron. She lives at 607 Manchester Road, E.14. She says that it is sometimes called Glen Terrace and she mentioned the term "Dollar Bay" which is an area in which she works. She told me that for the past two or three years there has been some kind of what she called consultation, because they had been told that their area was in what was called a "sensitive sub-zone"—I had not come across the phrase in planning matters. Until recently they had been led to believe that their area was going to be landscaped and open. But now they have been told that at the bottom of this lady's garden, about 60 feet away, there will be a depot for a firm called Ladkarn, which deals in plant hire and refuse lorries; and they have no opportunity of protesting.
The right reverend Prelate pointed out the ludicrous nature of the present situation. Outside the enterprise 756 zone one cannot put up an extension or change a use without there being the possibility of a public inquiry. I hope that when this Bill is passed the Minister will reflect that even now something can be salvaged from the tawdry mess of consultation and democracy into which I believe the Bill has sunk.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Lord Teviot
My Lords, following other noble Lords who have spoken at great length I feel that on this occasion I can be appallingly brief. I rightly remind your Lordships that we are discussing the London Docklands Railway (City Extension) Bill. Your Lordships have already agreed to the London Docklands Railway Bill. We are now discussing the extension from the Minories to the Bank station. I shall devote my remarks entirely to that aim.
It is totally wrong to think that anybody can expect any successful future of this enterprise, with which London Transport is associated, to terminate at the Minories. I shall explain the present situation at Minories station. There will be a few years before Bank station comes into operation. One has to go from Tower Hill, cross over the road and climb up a mountain to get on to this railway. That might be all right for a year or two until this Bill—which I hope will be passed this afternoon—comes into force.
Having said that, I can explain my own interest very briefly. About two or three years ago I was asked to go down and look at that area. This track follows the old London Blackwall railway line. I had the privilege one sunny day of going down to Island Gardens. I must mention to the noble Lord, Lord Hacking—I did not challenge him at the time—that I think he was slightly wrong. The railway is going from the Minories, or Tower Gate (as he referred to it), to Island Gardens, and from Island Gardens to Stratford, and not from Tower Gate to Stratford.
§ Lord Teviot
My Lords, this is the right time to correct that, and not in the flow of the speech of the noble Lord.
However, I spent the afternoon walking along a track of the railway, along the Limehouse Reach. The right reverend Prelate is not in his seat to listen. But this track of the London Blackwall railway has been overgrown by a horticultural noble friend—who is again not in his place—called buddleia alternifolia, which has completely taken over this. One walked along by this auspicious church and watched people fishing along Limehouse Reach. It was a very pleasant experience. One is sorry to hear about the buddleia, but the tracks are now in its place. Next July this railway will re-open from the Minories to Island Gardens, and from Island Gardens to Stratford. We are asking this afternoon for this to be extended to the Bank station. No developer or anybody can be the slightest bit interested in putting any money into this area if it is not extended to a suitable place. That is the Bank, where all the connections go.
The Government have seen fit to do that. I gather that investors have too. All credit to them. What will 757 follow is also very interesting. Your Lordships will have a very interesting experience this afternoon. We are to hear the maiden speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones! It is rare that Lord Chancellors sit on Back Benches. I was amazed to see his name lower than mine. I realise that it is a rare experience to have a speech from him from the Back Bench. It has not happened for a very long time.
I hope that we shall see this railway extended to Beckton in East Ham, which again will give regeneration to the area. In the absence of the right reverend Prelate, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford, I say this, because one pops out of Poplar straight into the Diocese of Chelmsford. This area will be revitalised by public transport. (I apologise to the Official Report writer. I am talking very fast.) This area will not succeed unless there is a link. It is very important. We should very much put this forward and bring our minds to it.
I think that I shall now bring my remarks to a suitable close, having listened to 13 or 14 minutes each from about the last six speakers, and just say that I fully approve of this Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Sefton, is not in his seat. Everybody flies away when I get up to speak. However, I believe that the amendment is obstructive and destructive. I wish every success to this Bill.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Lord Walston
My Lords, first, I must declare an interest in that I am a resident of the Isle of Dogs, not, I may say, occupying one of the £300,000 flats about which we have heard so much. Therefore, the rail link, although not the area which we are discussing, is of some particular interest to me. The rail link from the Isle of Dogs to the Tower of London is well under way at the moment.
I want to make it quite clear that I am speaking purely personally and not in any way on behalf either of the Alliance or of the Social Democrats although I do not think that many of my colleagues would disagree with the general line that I propose to take. I am a great supporter of what has been achieved in the Docklands by the development corporation. It has had fantastic success in converting a down-at-heel, depressed and almost deserted area into one of the most booming areas not only of this country but of Europe.
I quite understand the criticisms that have been levelled, against the development corporation, for example, by the noble Lord, Lord Graham. It is not democratic in it workings; that is absolutely true. However, one has only to cast one's eyes around such contiguous areas as Bow and Stepney. which are democratic, and ask why they have not succeeded where the docklands corporation is succeeding at the present time? The answer, I am afraid, is that one can get quick decisions from the docklands corporation instead of going through planning procedures.
The other day we heard from the noble Earl, Lord Perth, about an American benefactor who wished to acquire the lease of a house in Regent's Park. Because of planning delays extending over years, he eventually lost patience and an exciting project is no longer going 758 to take place. I am afraid that had all normal planning procedures been necessary in Docklands we would not see what we see today. This extension of the railway is I believe, a necessary part of still further development.
I do not wish to go into the merits or demerits of the Canary Wharf scheme. Personally, I think it is exciting, although there are certain aspects about which I have reservations. Undoubtedly, the Docklands will provide more employment. How much more, no-one knows, not even Peat Marwick or the Henley experts, whoever they may be. There is no doubt that more employment will be created and more wealth and rateable value brought to the area, and that the boom now taking place will accelerate.
All of us accept that the contribution that the City of London makes to the national wellbeing, to invisible exports, is of enormous importance. London is situated geographically, by chance, midway between Tokyo and New York. Therefore, it has a crucial role to play because of the time zone, and it is building on its old tradition to do that. However, it needs more space. It cannot provide it in the square mile. To provide in an area such as the Isle of Dogs is surely good for the City of London and for the country as a whole.
I do not support some of the things that the right reverend Prelate said. I am sorry that he is not here because I would say to his face that he has, I believe, perhaps exaggerated some of the difficulties. He has certainly dwelt too long on the difficulties and has ignored the benefits. There is no doubt in my mind—I speak as a part-time resident of the Isle of Dogs—that there is friction, not unnaturally, between old-established residents and the newcomers, the new industries and the new activities that are taking place.
I accept what the development corporation says. Again, I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, is not here because I give the noble Lord and his colleagues much credit for what they have done and what they have attempted to do. However, there is still more that they can and must do, in order to create a harmonious melding together of these many different people—the old inhabitants, the newcomers, the rich, the poor, the skilled, the unskilled, the white collar and the blue collar. There is an enormous diversity there, and the problems are very real and very great. I believe that they will be overcome but the greater the consciousness we have of it, the greater the efforts made by the Church and the social workers on the one side and the development corporation on the other, and the more concentration there is, without delays, in granting permissions and carrying on with the job, the quicker those problems will be overcome and the less serious they will be.
Perhaps I may turn briefly to the noble Lord, Lord Sefton. I have very great sympathy for his attitude, as I think most noble Lords have. However, I must say that the way he presented it diminished somewhat my sympathy. Perhaps that is because I do not come from the North. As a former regional planning council chairman, I feel strongly that we must have far more consciousness of the needs and requirements of different regions. The disparities between North and South are too obvious to need any further description by myself. Your Lordships know the facts very well.
759 I believe that we are failing in our regional planning. While I do not see this particular Bill as the most appropriate hook on which to hang the coat of regional planning, I hope that the noble Lord will pursue his desire for, if you like, a really serious Royal Commission. I do not know what would be appropriate. But it should be some body that will accept that this is one of the most pressing problems facing this country and that will go on from there to propose methods by which the disparities between North and South can be overcome. I should like to echo what I think the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, said. Probably, the docklands corporation can give an example of how these needs can be met with a combination of the working together of private enterprise risk capital, and a development corporation. If there were more development corporations in the North, I believe we would at least have taken some steps towards redressing that balance.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Lord Elwyn-Jones
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, for welcoming me to the Back Benches. In fact, I spoke from the Back Benches of this House 40 years ago. Of course, then it was in the occupation of another place and we were, curiously enough, another place for a short time, which is only capable of achievement in this remarkable institution and in this remarkable House.
I intervene, but alas the right reverend Prelate is not here to hear it, to say amen to what he has said. I think it is right and proper that the London Church leaders and those on the Churches group should be saying that there ought to be some social audit about what is going on. I speak as one who represented Newham, or parts of it, for 29 years. There is deep and real concern there as to what is happening.
As far as the people there are concerned, they have no sense of a regeneration of their community. At the present time the degree of unemployment is appalling—30 per cent. of the adult males in the area are unemployed; 60 per cent. of the young people are unemployed. I feel that they cannot see the prospect of betterment in the job scene, resulting in particular from this massive development of office accommodation, 10 to 12 million square feet of it, in three enormous blocks, which will dominate the scene. They cannot see job prospects for themselves out of what is arising. Indeed, I understand that the original estimates were that as many as 75,000 jobs would be created (50,000 direct and 25,000 indirect), with no fewer than 20,000 for local residents. The present estimate is that there could be 1,800 jobs for local residents. I hope that when the noble Lord comes to reply, rather than intervening at this stage, as he has done more than once—if he insists I shall give way—I shall have his comment as to whether the figures which they started with or the figures which are given now are correct.
As regards the housing scene, with a number of noble Lords I was present when we received a delegation from the Docklands Consultative Committee and the Docklands Forum. They expressed their grave concern as to the state of play. First, they found it astonishing that this enormous 760 Canary Wharf development received less planning consideration than would the change of use of a chip shop situated outside the zone, because of its good fortune and that of the developers that it is in an enterprise zone. Therefore, that has not given them a great deal of comfort or reassurance.
With regard to the prospects in the housing field, I am bound to say that the information that has been given by the Docklands Forum, which as far as I know is not an irresponsible body, is that:House prices will increase way beyond the reach of local people. Few houses in the Isle of Dogs can be afforded by Docklands residents at the moment. For instance, a 1 bedroomed flat will cost in the region of £51,000-78,000. A 3 bedroomed family house will cost a minimum of £92,000 and up to £175,000. This must be compared with the fact that 75% of Tower Hamlets residents earn below £8,000 p.a., enough to support a mortgage of £25,000".Those are the realities which I am informed exist.
§ Lord Simon of Glaisdale
My Lords, if the noble and learned Lord will allow me, I have merely visited this area in the company of the noble Lord, Lord Mellish. However, is not the noble and learned Lord giving figures of houses and flats which magnificently overlook the river, like Venetian palaces overlooking the Grand Canal?
§ Lord Elwyn-Jones
No, my Lords. I can tell my noble and learned friend that I am not saying anything of the kind. I am quoting figures that were given to my colleagues and myself by the Docklands Forum on what house prices will be for the people of the area as the development takes place. Perhaps when the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, replies to the debate he may be able to give us some firm guidance as to his sources.
§ Lord Nugent of Guildford
My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the noble and learned Lord for a moment, as he is so generous with his time. He may be interested to know that I visited the area when it had been 12 months under the corporation and saw the first tranche of houses which were built in Beckton and which were selling for £23,500. A number of local people were buying them. Since then the prices of those houses have gone up, but I am informed that the local people have been buying them for £40,000 and less. There is no doubt that the local people have had first pick at very reasonable prices.
§ Lord Elwyn-Jones
My Lords, in the times when house prices were about £20,000 it was a different scene, but I have quoted the figures. A one-bedroomed flat will cost between £51,000 and £78,000 and a three-bedroomed house will cost from £92,000 upwards. It is put to me that those prices are well outside the range of local inhabitants and that is one reason why, as a former Member of Parliament for the area, I believe that these fears should be met by positive assurances from reliable sources.
Therefore, I believe that the House would be wrongly advised to dismiss the criticisms and the points of concern that have been expressed as grossly exaggerated and unrealistic. There is real concern and it is right that this House of all Houses should ventilate those concerns so that what may happen as a serious tragedy for people who have suffered so much is not repeated.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Lord Geddes
My Lords, sandwiched as I am between two such eminent and learned Lords as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. I think that my remarks must and will be very short. The debate has been somewhat of a pot-pourri around the subject of the Bill itself. I was privileged to speak on the Second Reading of that Bill and nothing that I have heard or seen since has in any way changed my mind in favour of the particular Bill which is under debate on Third Reading. I shall not repeat what I said on that occasion, but I shall try to highlight one or two points which have either been made this evening or which perhaps may usefully be made.
I strongly support the argument that, to use a rather nasty pun, by robbing the South one does not necessarily pay the North. There seems to be a growing misconception, that, if the money being invested as a result of this particular Bill and the Canary Wharf development itself was not so invested, it would go elsewhere. I do not think that there is any logical connection whatever between those two.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
My Lords, if the noble Lord will give way, he said that he was dealing with points that were raised in the Bill. Will the noble Lord indicate which Member of this House said that money invested in Canary Wharf should he diverted elsewhere?
§ Lord Geddes
My Lords, I think that it would be invidious for me even to try to do that because I do not think that that has been said. I said that I do not believe that if money was not put into Canary Wharf, it would therefore go further north, and I said that I do not think there is any logical connection between those two. That is not quite the same thing as the noble Lord has just said.
§ Lord Geddes
My Lords, perhaps I may continue, because this debate has gone on for a very long time. I do not wish to dwell at any great length on the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, but my attention was drawn to an article which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph magazine two days ago and which spoke of extensive developments, as it happens, in docklands—in Liverpool in the Albert Dock complex, in Bristol, with 200 acres of dockland being converted to housing, in Middlesbrough, where they want to acquire the old town docks, and in Hull, where the Humber Dock has become a 270-berth marina. Money is being invested there. I do not at all deny the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton—I think that it is an extremely valid one—but I think that it is misplaced in the context of this particular debate and therefore perhaps ill-conceived.
On the question of job creation, I shall certainly not enter the contest of one set of figures against another, but I have had a certain amount of experience in this area and I just instance to your Lordships that there are very real possibilities of job creation. I am not being facetious when I mention such activities as 762 baking, window cleaning, the electrical industry, plumbers, joiners, manufacturers of furniture, let alone the enormous number of varied job possibilities within leisure pursuits. A very large amount of development is being made in leisure in docklands, and I for one am very glad to see it.
I believe I am right in saying that the heritage was raised during the debate, I think by the right reverend Prelate, but I beg his pardon if I am wrong. There is one not-so-minor benefit of this particular extension which is that it will enable a through passage, albeit with a change at the Bank, not only to the Stolport, which I mentioned on Second Reading, but to the southern end of the London Docklands light railway, which in turn connects with Brunel's very little used pedestrian tunnel under the Thames, which goes direct to the Palace of Greenwich. For the first time there will be easy and fast access to that magnificent complex, if I may call it that, at Greenwich. At the moment the Tower of London is statistically the largest single tourist attraction in the country. I am willing to lay a certain amount of money outside this Chamber that Greenwich will rapidly catch it up once one can get to Greenwich easily and quickly.
I started by saying that perhaps we had gone slightly off the main track of the Bill. May I say bluntly to your Lordships that I would have supported this particular Bill as a major improvement to the facilities of London and the South-East even if it had not been funded as to between one-third and one-half? I hope that I am not giving the developers a chance to back away, but given the situation that they are funding, and have said that they will fund, to that extent, are we really going to throw out such a benefit in that it is also going to be subsidised to a large extent by the private sector?
I am sure that your Lordships will approve the Bill and give it a Third Reading. The amendment itself seems to be misplaced and therefore ill-conceived, and not least—and here I would support the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, and I am sorry he is not in his place—because I have had occasion, if you like on the other side of the table, to have discussions with the LDDC. I can assure your Lordships that they are the most stringent body of people I have ever had to deal with.
The fears that have been expressed that perhaps the enterprise zone situation and therefore the lack of formal planning consent are disadvantageous overall are themselves misplaced. I can assure your Lordships that the LDDC really watch exactly what is going on and are tough negotiators. I warmly endorse this Bill.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Lord Simon of Glaisdale
My Lords, I have no hesitation in supporting the Third Reading of this Bill, the case for which has been made out in a great number of notable speeches following that of my noble friend Lord Hacking. Nevertheless, I entirely agree with what the right reverend Prelate said, that we have to consider this Bill in its overall impact.
Although the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, gave us a salutory example of parliamentary austerity, the rest of your Lordships—and I follow your Lordships in this respect—have gone from the extension of the railway 763 to the railway itself, to the Docklands development area, to the contiguous areas of the City of London and the east and south-east of London, and then embracing the whole of the South-East of England, with the problem of the North-South, to which the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, referred, and whose thrust of argument I venture to follow.
Although I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, I hope that he will not divide the House. I cannot think that it would be advantageous to have a Select Committee. What we want are government decisions. A Select Committee is inappropriate and will cause delay.
I want to make three points. The first follows up what I ventured to say in the economic and employment debate on the Queen's Speech. This, in my respectful submission, answers the point made by the noble Lords, Lord Alport, Lord Bellwin and Lord Geddes; namely, that if you inhibit investment in the South you do not necessarily divert it to the North.
That is true if one stops there. But what happens at the moment is that it is apparently government policy positively to attract investment by beneficial rewards to the South-East. During the debate on the Address I asked the noble Lord, Lord Young of Graffham—and he agreed with my interpretation— whether it was his policy, and obviously the government policy, to ease planning permissions in the South-East.
If you ease planning consents in the South-East comparatively, you make planning consents comparatively more difficult in the North, in the distressed and depressed manufacturing areas. It is not only what the noble Lord has admitted, but I have had the strong impression—and I hope that the Minister will deal with this—that when planning consent is refused in the South-East the Secretary of State calls the case in.
That is discrimination in favour of development—particularly high tech development—in the South-East to the detriment of where we so sadly need it, namely, in the depressed manufacturing centres. I do not speak of the environmental consequences, although I think that they too are deplorable. I speak mainly in the context, as the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, put it, of the economic consequences.
My second comment is that even the most non-interventionist governments intervene powerfully in the economy. I do not think only of the enormous defence contracts, but the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, and the right reverend Prelate both mentioned the Channel Tunnel. One can think of the enormous investment even in ancillary services that will be involved on the part of the Government in the decision to build a Channel Tunnel.
When we discussed the Channel Tunnel the noble Lord, Lord Elliott of Morpeth, was so impressed by that consideration that he seemed to be suggesting that it should start off from the North-East of England. But it is a matter that the Government must consider in their regional policy. It is a consideration which far outweighs any regional grant.
My third point is merely a summing up of that. With these distortions in planning consents and in government commitment willy-nilly in the economy in favour, as I think, of the South-East, it demands 764 positive encouragement to countervail that; positive encouragement in the depressed manufacturing areas. To have countervailing power of that sort, countervailing expenditure and procedures, seems entirely consistent on ultimate analysis with the economic thinking of the Government.
I have ventured to follow the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, because it does not seem to me that this issue, which has been so acutely and finely examined in your Lordships' House, can properly be left without its total national repercussions being considered.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Lord Marshall of Leeds
My Lords, I shall try to avoid any repetition of the very many points made by so many eloquent previous speakers, not least by the noble Lord, Lord Mellish. One has to admit at this time of the evening that most of the points have been made already. The original instruction initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, required the Select Committee, on which I served as a member, to consider the consequences of the Bill on the South-East region and on the City of London in particular. After the House had agreed that the Select Committee might hear evidence from sources other than the promoters, we were offered no evidence which related to that instruction, or no evidence which I can remember.
On the contrary, such evidence as was proffered related to the effect the proposals would have on Docklands themselves. This evidence would have been of greater relevance to the amendment subsequently moved by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London and now withdrawn. But the evidence of local representatives, although clearly outside the terms of the instruction, was given sympathetic consideration. The result, however, was that, in default of relevant evidence, the Select Committee members had to draw upon their own background knowledge of the subject when they considered the terms of the instruction.
As the Bill became unopposed during its consideration by the Select Committee, we concluded that the proposals would benefit the City of London and would certainly not materially harm the south-eastern region, either. Indeed, they would be of very great benefit. We were also aware that a Select Committee on a Private Bill is not the most appropriate forum to decide major planning issues or regional development strategy either.
But the fact still remains that the noble Lord who originally moved the instruction would have been at liberty to give evidence, either himself or through others, to the committee touching upon his concerns which prompted either his instruction or today's amendment, which anyway is in totally different terms and which raises quite a different argument. He would have been wiser—would he not?—to have incorporated the substance of his amendment within the terms of the instruction. But for his own reasons he chose not to do so, and we cannot argue about that.
Having dealt with the instruction to the best of our ability and having concluded our work—if I may so, under the expert and incisive direction of the noble Lord, Lord Alport—the House is now being asked to 765 blow the whistle on this Bill until yet another Select Committee has been set up and has reported. That is what is asked for.
§ Lord Marshall of Leeds
Yes, my Lords, it is. I speak with some experience of inner-city problems both in the North and the North-East of England. I also have not a little experience of the problems of the eight-and-a-half square miles of London's Docklands.
During the course of an inquiry into the government of Greater London which I conducted during 1977 and 1978, when evidence was given to us by the director of the Docklands Development Team, I used these words:In common with other parts of Inner London, the Docklands Area has suffered from the inability to compete for new development on equal terms with other parts of the country with which its problems are comparable".No question there of the effect of the regeneration of Docklands on the rest of London! Indeed, it was the other way round. It highlighted how far behind the startline Docklands was when compared with parts of the country which had comparable problems.
I concluded in that inquiry that the implementation of any action to regenerate the Docklands might founder:because conflict and friction between the constituent members of the Docklands Joint Committee (that is, the five Docklands Boroughs) can so easily lead to indecision, compromise or simply no action at all".Those were my views in 1978 and I have to tell your Lordships that they have not changed since.
My report continued in this vein—and I am sorry to be tedious about it:My view is that the successful regeneration of the Dockland Area is so vital to the future prosperity of the whole of the inner city that a more positive form of direction is needed than the present arrangements can provide. This could perhaps be given by an independent body on the lines of a new town development corporation. My recommended solution is the introduction of a new, comprehensive development area or areas to cover the territory of Docklands".These were my recommendations of 1978, an imposed solution. The time for talking had gone even in 1978. I think that my recommendations happen to be in line with the subsequent views of the 1981 Select Committee, when the London Docklands Development Corporation and, later, the development zones, were set out.
Speed is essential if the opportunity is not to be missed. If this amendment were to be accepted it would adjourn sine die the possibility of the major regeneration of docklands. It would put back the clock 20 years or more; and in this respect I agree with the views expressed by my noble friend Lord Bellwin. Yet another exhaustive inquiry by yet another Select Committee would consume invaluable lead time which can never be and which will never be made up; for the world will have moved on.
The recommendations of any future Select Committee will by then be too late to be of any more use than the gathering of a great deal of dust. By then the opportunity would have passed us by perhaps, and probably forever. My noble friend Lord Teviot said that Canary Wharf would not succeed without this 766 link. The sobbering and melancholy fact is that without this link Canary Wharf will not be developed at all, ever. For all these reasons I hope that the amendment will be rejected, that the report of the Select Committee will be accepted and that this Bill will be given a Third Reading.
§ 7 p.m.
§ Lord Montagu of Beaulieu
My Lords, I intervene very briefly just to express a few views on behalf of the Historic Buildings Commission, of which I am chairman. We have no doubt that the effects of the Canary Wharf development on London as a whole and on the regeneration of the East End in particular will be indeed profound, particularly on the historic buildings, of which there are so many in that area. However, my commission does not take an indiscriminate objection to new development; nor does it make a blanket objection to redevelopment. Indeed I was the chairman of a committee, and that led to the report on new users for old buildings. Certainly many old buildings are finding new users down there.
Although my commission's primary responsibility is to seek to preserve our ancient monuments and historic buildings and to promote conservation areas, we are very conscious of the importance of the development and conservation schemes which can produce jobs and in turn help to regenerate the area. I therefore approach this debate constructively and with the hope that development of the docklands will bring new life and vigour.
However, I should like to record our concern on two issues. First, we are concerned about the impact of the extremely tall towers on the London skyline and on the glories of the superb baroque architecture across the river at Greenwich. In the right setting, tall towers can add enormous strength to the area, but it must be in the right area. The impact of the proposed enormously high towers would go far beyond the area of Canary Wharf itself.
Secondly, we consider that the development of Canary Wharf ought to take place within a firmly established strategy which recognises the great architectual and historical importance of the area. We are seeking some satisfaction on these concerns, which will be taken into account in the Canary Wharf development. Indeed, we should be very hesitant in wrecking a Bill, but I believe we should seek to ensure that the conservation of the past, respect for present communities and the enhancement of a great city are central considerations in any future development of the docklands.
I must confess that in the early stages the commission was less than happy with the consultation that had taken place between the corporation and the commission. However, in recent times we have established close relations, and I am sure that that will pay good dividends in the future. With regard to the railway itself, it is certainly vital. Perhaps I may end by quoting the words of the great poet Rudyard Kipling when he said, "Transportation is civilisation". I think this railway will prove to be a very civilised thing indeed.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
My Lords, anyone who did not know the procedure of your Lordships' House, walking in today, will have been surprised that a transport Bill (which is what this is, actually) has gone on as long and has gone down as many by-ways as it has. But of course as everyone has said, and particularly the right reverend Prelate, it would be unrealistic to discuss this Bill only in relation to Canary Wharf, because the whole question of the Docklands Light Railway, although it was originally seen as an aid to local regeneration, is now clearly being seen as a developer's railway and for that purpose primarily.
I personally accept that exceptional problems frequently require that corners have to be cut, and particularly bureaucratic corners. They can be very time-consuming and very frustrating: questions of planning, building control and such things. However, I would suggest with great humility that the London docklands Bill of 1981 perhaps went a bit too far and made rather too big an enterprise zone for local people to feel that they had any involvement in it whatsoever.
We had a situation long before 1981 in Glasgow, where we had great deprivation. An organisation was set up which was known as GEAR, that is, the Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal. The difference between that and the docklands corporation is that the Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal was composed of the local authority, the Scottish Office and the Scottish Development Authority, acting as a unit, and not needing to go and get votes, and so on. Many of the things they did were not very popular but at least there was a channel through which ordinary people could go to see their local council and complain about certain things. That is becoming even stronger now that people realise there is a channel and that they have a say in things. This has obviously been a good thing.
There is a great deal of resentment—and I am from the very far north, from the docklands point of view—among many people (not just the usual cranks that we always get) that this huge development is going on and they have no say at all. As I saw enterprise zones originally, they were meant to be relatively small areas where relatively small industries would be able to get on with their jobs without meeting too many problems. But here we are to have the biggest single development in Europe, if not in the world—far bigger than the New York World Trade Centre—with no restrictions and no local people being able to object or even to comment.
One noble Lord said that the London Docks Group were very tough in their examination of things; but, with great respect, that is not enough. They have perhaps a different purpose from that of the local people and so I think there has been possibly a slight slip-up and that just a little too much power has been given to this enterprise zone. In Glasgow we do not have billions of pounds on our doorstep looking for a place to go, as is the case in London, and so our development is a bit slower. Also of course our bootstraps are somewhat shorter than those of the LDDC. I cannot really believe that Parliament had actually expected quite the amount of development 768 and the power to go to one single body, as has happened in this case.
However, we are discussing the special report of the Select Committee, and looking at the map it would be quite crazy for the House not to give the go-ahead to this extension. I think it would be just a nonsense not to go ahead. In pure transport terms permission must be given, but I think a number of points are worth raising. It may be lowering the general standard of the debate if I descend from the heights, where we have been discussing the big principles of population dispersal and regeneration, and go to the mundane question of the transport itself and who is actually going to pay for this extension.
Originally, I understand the Minister said this was going to be privately funded and I should like to have that point cleared up by the Minister in his reply, or if not then at a later stage. But during the Second Reading in another place the Minister reserved his position and said that the Government would be paying for part of the extension. My latest information is that the Government are now about to pay half the cost—in other words, approximately £45 million. The total will be something in the region of £90 million. I should like to know whether that is the case, and if so why the change has been made.
The other important point about the Government's part in this is that it seems as if the Government, through London Regional Transport, will be liable particularly for the tunnelling part of the operation—which of course is the hazardous part. I wonder whether the Minister can say if the total cost will be divided and that London Regional Transport will not have any additional costs added to them because of ground failures or anything else that goes wrong with the tunnelling, with the result that they will be left with a much bigger bill and the public purse will therefore have to pay a great deal more than the original amount. I think that liability for this part of the route should at the very least be met in some way other than by London Regional Tansport alone, and that claims for such things as damage to buildings overhead should be looked at as well. That is therefore another point to which I hope the Minister will be able to reply.
My third point is on the question of the eastern extension to the railway. Speaking in purely transport terms, it seems crazy, if one is going so far as this, not to take advantage of vacant land and carry on with an eastern extension of the route. I understand that this is well into the planning stage. But there is, again, doubt as to who will be paying for it. Yesterday in another place the responsible Minister, Mr. Mitchell, said:The Government have been assured by the London Docklands development corporation that, in its view, the project could go ahead without any expectation of Government contribution to capital or running costs."—[Official Report, Commons, 1/12/86; col. 61].But I have been given another quotation from Mr. Ward, who is the chief executive of the LDDC. He said:The financial and economic evaluation of the railway which we have just completed underlines the obvious fact that a project of this dimension simply cannot be sustained wholly by the private sector, because it is unlikely to develop the required rate of return in the end.769 So it has to be a partnership between the public and private sectors. There are fairly large sums of money involved and those are two statements made within 21 days of each other. I hope that the Minister is able to give us his opinion on them.
Lastly, I am afraid that I must disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Marshall, about the amendment of my noble friend Lord Sefton. I cannot see any contradiction between this amendment and his suggestion that he wants the Bill to go ahead. After the Motion, That the Bill be now read a third time, the amendment reads:but this House considers that the Canary Wharf development will highlight the problems of high costs and congestion in the South-East and that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into the matter.My reading of it, and I have spoken to others with more knowledge of procedure than I have—
§ Lord Simon of Glaisdale
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord will forgive me for intervening. While I entirely agree with his reading of the amendment and its effect, nevertheless does it not contain the implication that the best way to deal with regional unemployment problems is a Select Committee?
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
My Lords, I agree that that is perhaps a flaw in the wording; but since the amendment is down, and since practically everyone who has spoken today has expressed sorrow at the state of the North, as it is called, and has said that something should be done, it would be churlish of us to reject the amendment when we are wishing the Bill god-speed. That would be wrong for anyone from the North and certainly for me. I could not go back to Glasgow, and would not want to, and say: Yes, we gave Canary Wharf the go-ahead and, though everyone in the House said that we have to do something about the North, a simple amendment like this was rejected.
So if my noble friend feels that he has to push the matter to a vote, then in a purely personal capacity I would want to support him. But that does not detract from the fact that, in purely transport terms, I believe that this Bill is something which must be given the approval of the House tonight.
§ Lord Marshall of Leeds
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, does he not agree that what I was saying was that the terms of the instruction initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton of Garston, were completely different from the terms of his amendment which is before the House today?
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
No, my Lords, I listened very carefully to my noble friend Lord Sefton, partly because I knew that there would be this dilemma. He said very early on that he would not oppose the Third Reading of the Bill. He merely wanted to take an opportunity, which, fortunately, our democracy gives us the chance to do, to raise once again the disparity between the North and the South. In view of the way that the House has gone today, I find it difficult to believe that anyone would not sympathise with this amendment.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
My Lords, it may be helpful at this stage if I intervene to give a brief indication of the Government's view on the Bill and on the amendment to the Motion for the Third Reading. The Government are fully committed to the regeneration of London Docklands. This railway scheme would be a valuable aid in the process of regeneration and for that reason the Government support this Bill. It is an essential preparation for the Canary Wharf development which would create major new job opportunities in Docklands. It would also increase the benefits provided by the railway already under construction.
That is not to say that we are prepared to provide unlimited supplies of public money to pay for the railway: the negotiations that LRT is conducting with the Canary Wharf Consortium are designed to secure a significant private sector contribution to the costs of the City extension to ensure that it will generate the required rate of return on any public investment which is made. At the end of the day, London Regional Transport will have to satisfy itself and the Government that the deal to be struck meets this requirement. But this afternoon's debate has gone very wide of the railway Bill itself and it might be helpful to give a word of background to the situation on the Isle of Dogs.
The creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation in 1981 signalled the start of a period of rapid economic development across the eight square miles of its area. The corporation has successfully replaced decline and dereliction by innovation and activity. The £289 million of government grant provided to the corporation since 1981 has already attracted private sector investment commitments of nearly £1.5 billion. Over 7 million square feet of new commercial industrial and office floor space have been constructed. Over 300 companies have moved into the corporation's area and 8,000 jobs have been created. There is also an average of 1,500 construction jobs in the Docklands at any one time. Progress on this scale would not have been thought possible in 1981.
Local people have shared in the corporation's success. Mention has been made, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, of the 6,000 new private homes that have been built and about 40 per cent. of those on the corporation's land have been sold to local tenants under the LDDC's Affordable Homes policy. Bus services have been improved; voluntary organisations and local projects supported; housing estates renovated; and a wide range of environmental projects undertaken. The area has been transformed in just five years. Perhaps the most obvious of all the London Docklands Development Corporation's achievements in support of local people has been its insistence on rail connections for previously isolated communities. Without the corporation there would be no Docklands railway.
The City extension is an essential pre-requisite for the proposed £1.5 billion development of Canary Wharf. This development prepresents an exciting opportunity to attract large numbers of new jobs and substantial amounts of private investment to a depressed area of London. If the House fails to support 771 this Bill, it will be denying the people of East London the major job opportunities that the scheme would bring. It would also be rejecting the chance to lay the foundations of long-term prosperity in an area where it is badly needed.
Complex negotiations are currently in progress on the Canary Wharf development. The site is also subject to a number of statutory planning processes which I must not prejudge. I cannot, therefore, comment on the details of the scheme or on the prospect of an inquiry. The Corporation's decisions on Canary Wharf are, however, being taken with the benefit of wide consultation. It has been in very close contact with Tower Hamlets from the outset of the negotiations and has given presentations to other interested local authorities and MPs. It has also held over 50 meetings with local community groups, including the Docklands Forum, the Association of Island Communities and the Limehouse Development Group.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London criticised the inadequate quality of the consultation, but the corporation and the developers have shown themselves very ready to respond to issues raised by their extensive consultations. For example, the Canary Wharf towers were moved to the end of the wharf out of the Greenwich axis as a result of comments from the Royal Fine Arts Commission and Greenwich council. As another example, when the LDDC asked the Docklands Forum to produce a list of the demands of local people, it produced 18 requests, 11 of which have been accepted and a further four accepted in part.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, has the Minister taken on board the point that it is still possible for the Secretary of State to call in the application for planning permission for the circus and to say to the LDDC that that is what they intend to do? Is that still an option?
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
My Lords, I was going to come to that point later, but I shall deal with it now, since reference has also been made by the right reverend Prelate to the fact that part of the proposed Canary Wharf development lies outside the enterprise Zone and therefore comes within the normal development control processes. These provide that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment may call in planning applications for his own determination. I understand that a planning application in respect of the part of the Canary Wharf scheme outside the enterprise zone will shortly be referred to him as a departure from the development plan. It will then be for him to decide whether or not he should call in the application for his own determination and, if it were called in, whether there should be an inquiry. It would not be proper for me to anticipate my right honourable friend's decision or even to comment on the merits of the application lest I prejudice his decision.
The Government are of course concerned with problems elsewhere in the country, and particularly in the North. As my noble friend Lord Bellwin said, there is no monopoly in this concern on the other side of the House. The Government are drawing on their experience of regeneration in London's Docklands to support urban areas outside the capital.
772 In 1981 we set up a development corporation for the docklands of Merseyside, just as we did for London. These two corporations have demonstrated that urban development corporations are a powerful and effective stimulus for urban regeneration. As a result my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has recently announced his intention to create four new urban development corporations in the North. The first of these will be in the North-West, based in Trafford Park in Greater Manchester. Subject to discussions with the local authorities concerned, the orders designating that urban development corporation should be laid before Christmas. The other areas selected for designation are in the Black Country, on Teesside and in Tyne and Wear. I should expect the designation orders to be laid in the spring. Each of these urban development corporations is expected to spend more than £100 million over the next six or seven years.
In addition to the Merseyside Development Corporation, a range of other initiatives have been developed for Merseyside and the North-West; we have given assisted area status to much of the region. We have provided extra cash for deprived inner-city areas through the inner-city partnership and programme schemes. We have created a free port in Liverpool. We have created enterprise zones at Speke, at Salford and in Cumbria. We have funded derelict land reclamation on a massive scale. The North-West already has a motorway network which is second to none. Over £1,000 million of government money is going into Merseyside alone every year. But as my noble friend Lord Nugent so wisely said, the money has to be made somewhere before it can be spent.
Your Lordships accepted the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, at Second Reading, to instruct the Select Committee on the Bill to have regard to the consequences of the proposals contained in the Bill on the rest of the South-East region and in particular on the City of London. The Select Committee has done this, and very thoroughly too, producing a special report that concludes that the creation of new jobs at a time of high unemployment, even in the South-East, must be welcomed. It went on to state that change in the character and appearance of the Docklands would no more arise as a result of Canary Wharf than any other scheme of regeneration and that such changes in the way of life must be seen as inevitable when Parliament approved the creation of the LDDC.
The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, actually asked me some questions concerning the Bill itself, which was fairly rare during this afternoon's debate. He asked about the funding of the western extension. Strictly speaking, negotiations are a matter for LRT and agreement will be between LRT and the consortium. However, any investment by LRT in this project requires the approval of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport. He will have to be satisfied that, taking into account the contribution to be made by the consortium, the project meets the Government's criteria for public sector investment. Negotiations with the consortium on the financial contribution are being conducted with this requirement in mind.
The noble Lord also asked about the possibility of the Eastern extension to Beckton. As he will be aware, 773 a Bill has now been deposited and the Government have been assured by the London Docklands Development Corporation that in its view the project could go ahead with no expectation of Government contribution to capital or running costs. However, the Government will want to see, before the Bill proceeds to Second Reading, the specific arrangement which the LDDC can make to secure that there shall be no signifiicant risk that any of the costs shall fall as a burden upon LRT. We shall also want to see the full financial and economic appraisal of the railways project from London Regional Transport.
I should now like to turn to the precise terms of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, for the appointment of a Select Committee of your Lordships' House to inquire into the problems of high costs and congestion in the South-East. I listened carefully to the arguments of the noble Lord, but I am not convinced that there is a case for a Select Commitee to be appointed at this time. The Government do not agree with his arguments, nor with the evidence which he advanced. Nor do I think that it would be appropriate for the House to decide such an important matter as the setting up of what would be a major Select Committee of your Lordships' House on a Motion relating to the Third Reading of a Private Bill.
The Government's view on this Bill is clear. We believe that the regeneration of London's Docklands is a desirable and worthwhile aim and that this railway proposal will contribute to achieving that aim. Third Reading of the Private Bill ought to concentrate on the consideration given to the Bill by your Lordships' Select Committee. When it went into committee there were 15 petitions against the Bill; they have all been withdrawn. We have heard today from the noble Lord, Lord Alport, who was chairman of that committee and we have before us the committee's special report on the Bill and on the instruction given to the committee at Second Reading, following the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, to the House on that occasion.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister whether he can confirm that, even if the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, were to be carried, it would have no effect on the Bill itself? Even if that amendment were carried, the Bill would still go through. Can the Minister confirm that?
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
My Lords, the Bill would still go through, but it might put doubt on the project which the Bill is intended to put forward. The noble Lord, Lord Hacking, has already made that point; I am sure he will wish to mention it again shortly.
This Bill has been very thoroughly considered. For all the reasons I have given, I very much hope that the House will reject the amendment and go on to give the Bill a Third Reading.
§ Lord Sefton
My Lords, before the Minister sits down, may I ask a question, since it will affect whether or not I shall want to divide the House? He stated that this is not the appropriate time or place to suggest a body to examine the question of regional policy. Can he tell the House when he considers that a reasonable time and place will occur?
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
My Lords, I do not think it is in my power to say when a reasonable time and place will occur. It is for the House to decide. I am merely giving my advice.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Lord Hacking
My Lords, it seems a long time ago that I was telling your Lordships about a short extension to a light Docklands railway which was to run only 1.1 miles from the Minories to the Bank of England. The case for the promoters remains as I tried to put it in my introductory speech. The promoters say that there is a need for this railway and that all of those who may be adversely affected have had their views fully considered. Indeed they have had more than that; they have been satisfied because all 15 petitioners who presented petitions to your Lordships' House withdrew them.
I did suggest to your Lordships at the beginning of this long debate that that should be sufficient for you to give this Bill a Third Reading and allow it to pass without impediment through the House. However, because a number of matters which are quite outside the control of the promoters have been raised during the course of this debate and because I, who have been asked by the promoters to introduce this Bill at Third Reading, wish to be helpful, I shall do my best to deal with some of the points that have been raised.
It is clear to me, and I think it was clear before I came into this debate this afternoon, that the English have a great love for certain traditions and habits. One of those great traditions and habits since the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 has been the public inquiry. I have been the beneficiary of long public inquiries. When I was at the Bar, these long tedious public inquiries with large piles of papers kept my family in bread and butter. I had some doubt whether public inquiries produced the result that they were meant to. They certainly produced delay. Perhaps the inspector did not understand my client's case. I have always had some doubt about the validity and efficacy of public inquiries.
But that is not the issue here. In 1981 Parliament in its wisdom passed certain legislation. The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, drew our attention to it. At the same time Parliament paid attention to the incorporation of urban development corporations and enterprise zones. Parliament did that with its eyes open. Parliament knew when it was doing so that it would cut back or curb the institution of the public inquiry. It did so for solid reasons, the solid reasons that the noble Lords, Lord Bellwin and Lord Walston, have put to the House. The noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, said that councils cannot have the same single direction as urban development corporations.
Referring to the London docklands areas, the noble Lord, Lord Walston, said, if I noted his words correctly, that if normal planning procedures had been followed we would not be where we are now. Therefore, when your Lordships bemoan, and are distressed about, the absence of public inquiries—I understand the emotion behind those feelings—you should he reminded of the decision of Parliament in regard to the Docklands not to go for the public inquiry route. But not going for the public inquiry route does not mean that there is going to be no 775 consultation or no influence. During the passage of this Bill, the Select Committee of another place allowed a body called the Docklands Forum, which was not represented by parliamentary agents and was not represented by counsel, to make representations. The Select Committee of another place was influenced, and as a result, an undertaking was extracted from the promoters that they should consult with the Docklands Forum concerning the building of the railway. That is a precise example of how influence can be achieved without going for the public inquiry.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. He places great reliance upon the sanctity of parliamentary approval for what the LDDC can do. Would he care to square that with the conflict that exists with the Greater London development plan which has a statutory basis and yet is in conflict with what has been proposed?
§ Lord Hacking
My Lords, the debate has gone wide enough. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, will forgive me if I do not follow that hare.
Perhaps I may go back to the premise that I was putting to your Lordships. Even without public inquiries, there is an opportunity for influence. For that reason I was concerned that, at a fairly late stage of the proceedings, the right reverend Prelate should be raising so many questions and indeed complaints about non-consultation. I was mindful that the Bill was drawn to his attention in a way sufficient to cause the right reverend Prelate and other clerics in the City of London to file a petition on 6th February before the Select Committee of another place. If he will forgive me for saying so, when the right reverend Prelate filed the petition he appeared to be concentrating more on property than on souls.
I should not wish to discourage any Member of this House from moving to consider matters of how people are affected but in doing so those who are concerned about the lack of consultation should take active steps. This is what worried me when the right reverend Prelate spoke. I have before me a list of consultations carried out by the LDDC. There have been 15 meetings with a variety of bodies—the Docklands Forum, the Canary Wharf working party and the London Borough of Greenwich. There were 15 meetings between September 1985 and the end of that year. In January of this year there were 12 more meetings with other bodies. I have another list of 13 meetings which took place with the Docklands Forum and the Canary Wharf working party. I have another list of 12 meetings with the Limehouse Development, and so forth.
§ Lord Hacking
And the public meetings, my Lords. With great respect to the right reverend Prelate, the consultation process has been going on for some time. I draw it again to his attention in the hope that from now on, those who have approached him and who are concerned about the area will make use of these consultations. Such consultations are not without influence. The noble Lord the Minister has drawn your 776 Lordships' attention to the re-positioning of the whole Canary Wharf consortium because of representations made by Greenwich council, the Greenwich Society and others. As a result of those consultations—showing that the influence does exist and that it can be effective—a major change of decision was made. I quote that example but I am sure that many others could be quoted. I therefore ask your Lordships to look in fairness at the Bill and to look in fairness upon those from Canary Wharf and the LDDC who have been using their best endeavours to carry out consultations.
I wish briefly to tackle one or two other points. With great self-restraint, I did not attempt to intervene in the speech of the noble and learned Lord. I knew that I was being reproved as he was standing there waving the palm of his hand at me. I showed great restraint and did not join in the debate on the employment figures. The truth is that there have been several studies about prospective employment. There was the Henley report, the Peat, Marwick report and one from Queen Mary College which the right reverend Prelate mentioned. All the reports have come out with different emphasis and different figures. I do not know whether the noble and learned Lord knew it but I think he was quoting from the Peat, Marwick researches when he mentioned that only 1,800 local people may expect jobs. In fact, the Peat, Marwick report went higher on the overall employment prospects of Canary Wharf and produced the figure of 76,000. The figure came down to 1,800 by a curious route. I shall not take your Lordships through the mathematics in detail, but the report showed that 9,000 jobs would go to local people. When divided by the five boroughs, that produces, according to the person who has done the arithmetic for me, a figure of 1,800.
At the present time, there is serious unemployment in the area. There are no jobs available for the reasons that I described to your Lordships when I quoted from Mr. John Mills. Whatever amount of employment may come for the local people—and it will probably come on the upper level rather than the lower level—the fact is that this means new work and new jobs. That fact is undeniable.
There is new work from the Canary Wharf development, from the Heron quay of 1.5 million square feet and from the harbour exchange scheme of 1 million square feet. The Canary Wharf development may be the biggest but it is one of several schemes. The more such schemes come in, the more substantial employment will be created. This will help those who have suffered appallingly high unemployment and appallingly low wages. A figure of £8,000 was quoted by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones.
That brings me to housing. If wages are low, and if house prices are driven up by people of higher wages coming to the area from outside, local people will be at a disadvantage. The immediate answer, and the answer striven for by the LDDC, is to provide and keep control over as much publicly owned housing as possible. According to those who have given me information, that is exactly what the LDDC is doing. The longer term answer is to regenerate the area and bring up wages closer to the level of house prices in the area.
777 I think that deals with the matter of housing. Therefore, I return to the Bill and to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton. More than once during the debate the noble Lord stated that he had no wish or intention either to stop or delay the Bill. Although he may think that his amendment will do neither of those things, I am advised that it will. It will obviously cause uncertainty over the Canary Wharf development. That uncertainty will cause delay—delay in negotiations on the positioning of the station, and other matters. That is how it has been put to me and how I put it now to your Lordships. It will cause delay and uncertainty.
If your Lordships were minded to accept the amendment, and even though the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, as he puts it, would not wish it so, there would be problems for the promoters in the execution of the works. For that reason, and many noble Lords have urged this upon the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, I hope that he will not press the amendment to a Division. If he does, I hope that your Lordships will vote against it.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
My Lords, some Members of this House will be blaming me for the fact that they are not about their social duties at this hour of the day; but that is not my fault. A number of speeches today, and even the Government brief, were useless. Who is opposing this Bill? The last speech took 12 minutes in which the noble Lord defended the Bill. I should like to see anyone in this Chamber who is opposing it. I am not, but I seem to be the troublemaker.
The noble Lord, Lord Marshall, tried to get out of what he said when replying to my noble friend Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove. He said that if the amendment were passed there would be another inquiry and then said, "which would subsume"—a lovely word that—"the lead time taken already by the London Dockland Development Corporation in regard to Canary Wharf." That is not true. The promoter of the Bill tried to tell this House that if a chap from Liverpool named Sefton came down here and moved an amendment which merely sought to establish a Select Committee to look at what a lot of Members in this House believe is a serious problem it would stop or delay the developers at Canary Wharf. I only wish that that were true and that the developers would take notice of what this House decides.
I do not know why, for 11 minutes, the Government brief had to deal with supporting the Bill. Someone should tell the Government that no one is opposing the Bill. It seems to me that the only item of contention is that somone from the North had the cheek to come down here and draw attention to a problem that is vexing this nation. The problem can be highlighted by referring to British Rail in the London area not being able to recruit 7,000 members of staff who do not need training. The 7,000 members of staff could not be recruited because no one in the South-East wanted the jobs.
One hundred people from the North of England responded to an advertisement for four jobs as waiters in the South of England. In the end one chap from Liverpool and three Northerners were given the jobs because no one in the South applied. Do not talk to me 778 about the unemployment problem in the South—it does not exist. The black economy exists. So I am not in great sympathy with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London when he pleads for East London. I am not in very great sympathy with him because measured against the privation in the other parts of this country people in that area are on to a good thing.
I was pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Walston, say that he considered the question of a proper regional policy was a serious matter and that it should perhaps be given consideration by another body. I was hoping that the noble Lord speaking for the Government would have given me some indication that the Government would look sympathetically at the question of setting up an investigation into the affluent South-East and the deprived areas of the North. I did not get such an indication because the Government are entirely satisfied that these problems will be worked out by market forces. It is a political credence which they will, of course, continue to support. I cannot do anything to stop them.
The noble Lord, Lord Marshall, also said that someone was trying to "blow the whistle" on the Bill. All I can say to that is that the noble Lord, Lord Marshall, has not been listening to the debate and has not read about the issues. He evidently got everything wrong. Some noble Lords agreed that the problem was there, but felt that carrying the amendment would delay the Bill. I think it has been perfectly well shown that the Bill would not be delayed by the carrying of this amendment. It will not be delayed, it will not be hindered and it will not be obstructed. I think that that is accepted by the House and if anyone disagrees let them interrupt now and tell me how.
§ Lord Bellwin
My Lords, I can tell the noble Lord exactly that. So far as I am concerned, there is no doubt whatever that the Bill will be delayed, and I suggest that that is the view of most noble Lords.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
My Lords, that tells me how—"It is the view of most noble Lords"! Am I seriously being told that Swiss banks and American banks will take note? As I said before, I should be very glad to think that they would take notice of your Lordships' House setting up a committee. Some Members of this House suggested that if I adopted a different course and introduced this subject in a different manner the House might agree to set up an inquiry. Would the developers then back out? Of course they would not. Too much money is involved.
Let me say this about the developers. I wish them speed. I hope they are successful, but I hope the LDDC has not been conned, because it is still only in the process of development. Now it has a challenge. Nobody is stopping it. This amendment will not delay the corporation, so it can go ahead. But when these developers who are speaking on behalf of all these international financiers come along to the LDDC and say that perhaps the wonderful schemes are not going to come to full fruition, just remember that someone introduced a note of caution about trusting developers too much.
I have had some experience. I have seen them flow into Merseyside. Of course they would have had an opportunity of seeing the wonderful schemes they 779 produce, and I have seen them disappear into thin air like a mist disappearing with the sun. I hope it does not happen here, because I have already explained the reasons why I believe we should encourage the private sector, particularly in the financial world, to come into London.
Let me conclude on this note. Several noble Lords have spoken in the debate about the necessity to provide space for the expansion of the commercial and financial worlds in London. I agree. The future of the country depends on it. It is vitally important. But I suggest to those same noble Lords that when speaking about space in London they should first of all walk down Whitehall, then down Victoria Street and Tothill Street, and Nine Elms Lane, and see what is going up there; because the greatest users of space in the capital city of London are the Government and Government-sponsored organisations. There is not the faintest reason why HMSO should be at Nine Elms Lane. There is not the faintest reason why the Department of Health and Social Security should be in the Elephant and Castle when most of its customers are north of the Wash. And why on earth we should have the head office of the unemployment services in Victoria Street beats me, because it would do its job much better and more cheaply if it were sited in Manchester. I am simply saying: let the Bill go through.
I have been asked more questions today than I have ever before been asked in my life and they always boil down to one simple question: Are you going to divide the House? Until now I have not told anybody. I would divide the House—but I forgive you, and I shall not do so. I shall not do so for one reason. Let it be to the undying glory of all those people who really worry about the North-South divide that, on the first occasion when they had a chance of registering a vote about the importance of cutting the South-East down to size and allowing a comparative development to take place in the North, I could not ask this House to divide because I am not too sure that I would obtain a teller.
With those few words—and I am prolonging this speech a little—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment standing in my name.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, Bill read a third time, and passed.