HL Deb 14 June 1994 vol 555 cc1586-8

3.8 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill)

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a third time.—(The Chairman of Committees.)

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, one of the advantages of the constitution of this place is that it enables the proceedings on Private Bills to receive their final approval in the whole House. Before we give the Bill a Third Reading, there are a number of questions, which are not very long, to which I would like a reply from the Minister.

If noble Lords read the text of the Bill they will see that it is: An Act to make further provision for the control of unlicensed sex establishments in the City of Westminster and to relieve the Westminster City Council of their statutory duty to establish a new county primary school at Moxon Street in the City of Westminster". I hasten to assure the House that as regards the first part, and particularly in view of the recent proceedings of the district auditor, I am strongly in favour of encouraging the Westminster City Council down the path of virtue. I most sincerely support any provision that it deems necessary for the control of these rather undesirable establishments.

What rather concerns me is that in the same Bill powers are taken to relieve the Westminster City Council of its statutory duty to establish a new county primary school in Moxon Street in the City of Westminster. Your Lordships will understand that I am entirely innocent of those matters and I have not been present during the proceedings on that Private Bill. But on the face of it, the matters do not seem to be connected. In other words, the desire of the Westminster City Council to be rid of its statutory obligation to establish a new county primary school at Moxon Street does not appear to be closely connected with the powers which it seeks in relation to the control of unlicensed sex establishments.

The council wishes to rid itself of its statutory duty. We know that the Government are very careful about the statutory obligations which they lay upon local authorities; that is, when they are not replacing them by quangos. But I should like some assurance that the Westminster City Council's desire to rid itself of its statutory duty to establish, a county primary school at Moxon Street is in no way connected with the removal from the City of Westminster of politically undesirable inhabitants who are unlikely to vote Conservative in succeeding elections and their replacement by what we should call more politically correct characters.

Are the two connected? The district auditors have already made their comments to which I shall not add. But are the two matters connected? Why was there a need at one time—and there must have been—for the establishment of a new county primary school at Moxon Street which has now, without any explanation to the House at any rate, apparently disappeared?

As your Lordships know, I raise those matters in a spirit of complete innocence. I merely seek an assurance that everything is in order and that when the district auditor makes his final report on all those matters, he will have no cause, even a superficial cause, to refer to the proposal that the council should rid itself of that particular statutory responsibility.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I can only hope that I shall be able to reassure the noble Lord, regardless of his protestations of innocence, that there is absolutely no connection whatever between the two parts of the Bill. The main part of the Bill is devoted to the matters to which the noble Lord referred in his opening remarks when he quoted from the Title of the Bill.

Private Bills do not come before the House without some difficulty. This Bill provided an opportunity to tidy up a situation which needed tidying up. Therefore, the other provision was tacked on to the end of the Bill. The House is acquainted with other Bills which have come before us this Session which included matters that were not directly relevant to the other parts of those Bills. This is one of those occasions.

I was grateful for the noble Lord's support for what is a very necessary measure in order that Westminster City Council can deal with the unlawful premises which are being used. It has managed to control those which receive a licence, but it is having considerable difficulties in relation to those which have no licence. I am sure that this provision will receive the support of the whole House.

I promise the noble Lord that the other matter is a technicality which needed to be dealt with. Quite obviously the two matters bear no relation, the one to the other.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, will the noble Lord assure me that there is nothing in this Bill which will prevent tugs of war taking place within the City of Westminster in view of the great success both of your Lordships and the secretarial staff in the annual tug of war last night?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I am not quite sure how the noble Lord managed to introduce what took place across the road last night into a sex establishments provision. His imagination is obviously working very well this afternoon, and I give him the assurance that he seeks.

On Question, Bill read a third time.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.