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Column 934none have come forward. If they did, they would have to be submitted to the normal planning processes. That has nothing to do with this Bill.
The hon. Member for Bow and Poplar in column 932 raised the important issue --
Sir Geoffrey Finsberg : I was demonstrating what is in the Bill in relation to what was said earlier, which I thought might be acceptable. The Elder gardens issue has been clarified by Tower Hamlets. It has given an undertaking to keep a substantial portion as open space.
I do not want to detain the House long because the principles were decided on Second Reading. The Committee made sensible alterations and the House agreed that the matter should come forward in this way. Therefore, I hope that the House will give the Bill a Third Reading. If necessary, with the leave of the House, I shall seek to reply to any new points that may emerge.
Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney) : I agree that on 12 May when we debated the Second Reading I, along with others, opposed the propositions in the Bill for two main reasons. First, the planning case for transferring the horticultural market in Spitalfields to a new location at Temple Mills in the borough of Waltham Forest had not been made. Secondly, the planned redevelopment of the market site was against the wishes and interests of the great bulk of the residents in the Spitalfields area.
The real case for the Bill--this was not the case argued in the House at the time--is the alternative and lucrative use to which the site of the present Spitalfields market is to be put. The City of London corporation is to receive a capital sum of about £60 million, a new market worth about £35 million and revenues from the old market site of £2.5 million a year--a substantial financial package. Spitalfields development group will be the other great gainer, carrying out a profitable, mainly office, development costing some £500 million.
We are now nine months away from the Second Reading debate. Having read the record of the 11 meetings of the Committee, presided over by the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst), I find no reason to change my original judgment and I shall vote against the Third Reading.
Before proceeding, I wish to place on record my thanks to the Committee. Committee members showed patience and care in their treatment of petitioners and witnesses who appeared before them. I also thank the petitioners who argued their case before the Committee with skill and persistence.
There have been developments and changes since we last debated the matter. Like the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg), I should like to refer to them. First, the Committee considered closely the section 52 agreement between Spitalfields development group, the City corporation and the London borough of Tower Hamlets. The Committee found that agreement inadequate in several respects and sought enhanced undertakings from the promoters.
Column 935The main agreed items, as the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate has told us, were, first, that, Spitalfields Redevelopment Group gave a stronger and more permanent commitment to maintaining Elder gardens and Horner square so long as the City corporation maintained its lease on the old market site. Secondly, the amount set aside for the community trust which will assist a number of organisations in Spitalfields was raised from £2.5 million to £5 million, a welcome increase. Thirdly, finance for the training schemes to be run by THATT was increased from £50,000 to £150,000 per annum. As my hon. Friend the Member for Newham North-East (Mr. Leighton) pointed out in an intervention on Second Reading, £50,000 would have financed the training of only 10 or 12 young people a year. Now we have training finance for 30 to 36 people.
The fourth change was improved compensation for the Market garage at Spital square, which was to be displaced. Outside the section 52 agreement a further change was designed to make more permanent and certain guarantees for the maintenance of the only open space in the area which is Allen gardens. This guarantee hinges on the ongoing policies of Tower Hamlets council. As the Committee accepted, unfortunately a local authority cannot fetter its discretion in advance, so no absolutely binding undertakings can be given. Nevertheless the council gave verbal undertakings from which it would be difficult for it to withdraw.
Another change that I must report to the House is a reduction in the number of petitioners. The intention of the Transport and General Workers Union to withdraw its petition was announced to the House on 12 May in the concluding remarks of the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate. In evidence to the Committee the union made it plain that its anxieties about disturbance costs and possible redundancies of employees in the market had been satisfied by a payment of £300,000 to the union. During the Committee stage Stratford market traders, who had originally felt that they would be disadvantaged by the move to Temple Mills, withdrew their petition in return for compensation totalling £1.8 million to be divided among the 25 or 30 traders. The Committee stage also cast considerable light on how the market tenants association now representing the existing Spitalfields market traders came to accept the move to Temple Mills. It was a considerable change. I told the House on Second Reading of the Greater London council's study of east end London markets in 1985. The GLC questionnaire found that of about 100 market tenants involved, 59 felt that there were real advantages at the site at Spitalfields and 69 had no immediate plans to relocate their business. I said that that did not indicate any great desire among market traders to move and that their consent to do so two years later was probably due to a feeling of resignation in face of the strong pressures from the corporation of London and Spitalfields Development Group. The evidence on day five, 21 June 1988, gives a detailed account of what took place. No doubt many arguments were found to be persuasive, but pride of place must be given to the Spitalfields Redevelopment Group whose offer of £7.5 million in compensation, was, I suspect, conclusive.
Column 936It is clear that a number of interests were squared during the Committee stage. It would be churlish not to recognise the helpful role of the Committee in securing changes in the section 52 agreement. But these changes are, after all, only marginal. The local interests of employees and employers directly involved in the Spitalfields market and the interests of other market traders in Stratford have been taken care of and compensation paid. That is something.
The two major objections that I put on 12 May remain unaffected. First, the case for relocating Spitalfields market, and in particular for resiting it at Temple Mills, has not been made. I pointed out on Second Reading that the City of London in its very frank report, "The Future of Spitalfields", acknowledged on 22 October 1987 that there was
"no overriding reason to relocate the market".
Acknowledging certain problems with the present site, the report concluded :
"despite these factors, the market is relatively successful and it has to be said that not all the problems are insurmountable : e.g. with the co- operation of the local authority (Tower Hamlets) and the Metropolitan Police much could be done to alleviate rubbish dumping and traffic congestion respectively. More space could be found in the area for vehicle parking and the corporation could consider taking control of the surrounding streets in order to regulate the whole trading area."
As I also pointed out, no planning study of London's existing markets and their future location has been undertaken. Indeed, there is no body or organisation now in existence that can plan on an all-London basis.
Furthermore, there has been no authoritative study of the Temple Mills site. Mr. Thomerson, one of the long-standing tenants of Spitalfields market and a petitioner against the Bill, argued strongly that the facilities provided by the new market were already out of date and that the traffic problems would be just as serious in Temple Mills as they are in Spitalfields. Mr. Thomerson is sufficiently disturbed by the prospects that he has already presented a further petition in readiness for the Committee stage, should the Bill reach the other place.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which is responsible for markets and whose Minister is not present tonight--I welcome the presence of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment--has adopted a neutral posture towards the Bill and has expressed no view about the desirability of change. Indeed, in a reply of 6 June to Mr. Thomerson, who wrote to the Minister, a MAFF official said :
"We feel that the issues raised on the horticultural side are commercial ones which are best dealt with by those involved commercially. We are very much aware that there is opposition from several different quarters and we are concerned that a petitioner such as yourself should avail himself of the opportunity to present petitions to the Bill in Committee. It is here that detailed consideration can best be given to the point you raised."
With all respect to the Committee, it is not equipped to consider whether the Spitalfields market should be best located in Temple Mills. In his new petition, Mr. Thomerson gives a detailed critique of the desired layout of Temple Mills, concluding that,
"without considerable attention to these items, the new proposed market of Spitalfields is less suitable than its existing premises, in consequence of which the Preamble to the Bill and the reason for the proposed alteration of the site becomes untrue."
As the House will recall, the preamble to the Bill begins :
Column 937"The age and condition of Spitalfields market is such that the market fails to meet modern market needs and practices."
Mr. Thomerson's petition goes on :
"Without some improvement in local access and egress roads, many of which are local residential one-way systems, congestion in the area will become intolerable, certainly until such times as the M11 is extended to the area and could seriously detract from any success if the proposed new market by causing the local traffic problem to be no better than at the existing site therefore defeating the objective of an improved traffic situation".
So much for the planning case for the proposed transfer. But the heart of the objection remains the proposed redevelopment of the vacated Spitafields site with a substantial new office development. I have no prejuduce against office developments, but to devote the greater part of the 11-acre Spitalfields market site to the provision of a further 885,000 sq ft of offices, in a borough which has already provided scores of acres and millions of square feet to office buildings in its dockland area, is a flagrant misuse of scarce building land. It becomes all the more blatant when that is put alongside the fact that Tower Hamlets has the worst housing problem in London, and Spitalfield ward is the most deprived ward, not only in housing but in every other respect, in the whole of Britain. The ward is also the centre of the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets where, for employment purposes, low-cost workshops are the main need of the community. The impact of a massive new office development will be to drive up all land, factory and housing prices in the area, and rents for commercial and industrial premises. Since the Committee has completed its deliberations, it has been announced that there is to be a complete redesign of the redevelopment proposals for Spitalfields market, so that it will include the City's first major shopping centre, incorporating new developments of some 250,000 to 300,000 sq ft. How this additional building is to be fitted into the Spitalfields market site, and how it will square with the proposed new shopping centre in the Whitechapel road I do not know.
Of course, office development is the most lucrative form of land use in London today, but while we must cater for our office needs, it is entirely wrong, particularly in hard-pressed inner city areas, to give them an overriding priority over housing and other community needs. Offices do not regenerate inner city areas ; they simply create islands of self-contained activity and prosperity in otherwise rundown areas. I believe that the main focus of inner city regeneration should be meeting the needs of the people in the areas concerned.
The Government's view, by contrast, is that the needs of local residents should be secondary. Believing as they do in the trickle-down theory, their primary aim is to bring into inner city areas islands of office development and high-priced accommodation. That may change the physical aspect, and the social composition of the area immediately concerned, but it does little or nothing to solve the problems of the wider area in which redevelopment has taken place.
For all these reasons, I shall certainly vote against the Third Reading. I invite my right hon. and hon. Friends and perhaps some more open-minded Conservative Members to join me.
Column 9387.46 pm
The Government have considered the content of the Bill and have no objection in principle to the proposals in it. Neither the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which has the responsibility for wholesale markets, as the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) said, nor my Department has any outstanding points on the Bill. In the usual, conventional way, the Government are taking a neutral stance on the Bill.
It is, of course, for the promoters to persuade Parliament that the powers they are seeking are justified. It may be helpful to the House if I say just a few words about the planning issues relating to the development of the existing Spitalfields site. The planning application submitted by the Spitalfields Redevelopment Group to redevelop the site of the existing market was approved by a policy sub-committee of Tower Hamlets council on 7 September 1987. The application was not referred to the Secretary of State for the Environment because the council did not consider that it constituted a departure from the development plan. My Department did not receive any representations asking that the application be called in for public inquiry.
Once planning permission has been granted, the Secretary of State has no further locus. I understand that local people will derive some £20 million-worth of benefits from an agreement that was reached between the developer, the City of London corporation and Tower Hamlets council. In the circumstances, I hope that the Bill will be allowed to proceed.
Mr. Shore : The Minister says that no representations have been made about calling in the application, but I and other people in Tower hamlets wrote, and received a not unusual reply fom the Secretary of State saying that it was not an appropriate matter for his intervention, and that it should be decided locally.
Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar) : No evidence has been produced since Second Reading to show that there is anything wrong with this market that it is not fairly simple to put right. One thousand people are employed in this flourishing market, which is developing new areas of wholesale food sales, so the market is expanding. There are 32 flats above the market and 50 people live there in low-cost dwellings. It will be very hard to find housing for them, as the housing waiting list in Tower Hamlets has 20,000 people on it, and there are many homeless people.
Several groups who have petitioned against the market, as my right hon. Friend says, have been given sweeteners enabling them to withdraw their petitions, but for the ordinary residents of Spitalfields, the contrary is true. There is no benefit whatsoever and if the market is demolished they will lose a source of ethnic food of the kind that they need, and they will have to travel a long way to buy their supplies.
The development that will take its place will produce very great disadvantages. There is nothing in the Committee stage of the Bill to show any guarantees for the
Column 939protection of local industries, which employ local people. Local industries, such as the leather and garment manufacturers, will be put at risk. Increased land and property prices will result in local tenants suffering, as is clear from other areas where similar developments have occurred.
Open space is at threat. I welcome the verbal undertaking by Tower Hamlets that a substantial portion of Allen Gardens will be retained, but who will decide what is "substantial"--in an area where there is need for at least double the amount of open space that exists at present? Losing some of it is regrettable. Even now, a number of pocket handkerchief-sized parks and gardens in Tower Hamlets, previously designated as public open spaces-- which are extremely important in an area in which 85 per cent. of the population lives in apartments--are under threat and in the process of being offered to developers.
Their disappearance would turn the whole area into the type of concrete jungle that exists in New York. Flat-dwellers will have nowhere to walk the dog or take their children to play or find a spot in which to sit in the sun and get a breath of fresh air when they have an hour or two to spare. Any loss of parkland and open space is extremely serious in this part of the world.
The future of this multicultural, multiracial community depends on the Bill being defeated. Three Georgian cottages were listed in the area. Two of them were demolished last year. This arouses fears that the special dwellings that were occupied by the Huguenots, houses with large windows designed to let in the light so the silk weavers could work, the mulberry trees and all the traditional and historic ambience of the area will be destroyed if the development goes ahead.
The real reason for doing away with the market is to make room for this development, which will be mostly office space. There will also be shops and a shopping centre which will compete with other shopping centres in the area and which the local community does not need. Clearly, the Bill will provide an opportunity for a lot of profit to be made, and to hell with the local community.
Although I oppose the Bill, I would support proposals which put Government money into the area. I accept that much improvement could be made, but that improvement must involve the local workshops and the provision of affordable dwellings and training for local people, so upgrading the area and improving the health of the people and their living conditions. The Bill will do none of that. It will blight the local community.
Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East) : We are tonight dealing with the important issue of the redevelopment of a large part of the east end of London, an area in which some of us live and represent in the House. This should have been dealt with by way of a proper public inquiry and not by the private Bill procedure. Indeed, it is an abuse of that procedure. This is happening too frequently and we must register our protest about it.
On Second Reading, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) said, I referred to the pitiful sum of £50,000 that was being
Column 940earmarked for training. At least that has been trebled. It will be spread over a five-year period, with an extra £500,000 being made available. It would be churlish of me not to welcome that additional money, even though it is still not enough.
I want to consider the community gain--the "public gain" as it is called in the United States--which should be obtained from this type of development. It is clear that the gain to the community in the area is not enough. I chaired a Select Committee which went to America to examine developments of this kind there, the home of free enterprise and capitalism. I shall compare the practice there with the way in which this development is planned for in the east end of London.
The market will go and something will be put in its place. Who will benefit from that? Megabucks--hundreds of millions, if not billions, of pounds-- will be made out of this development. How much of that will go to the local residential community of about 8,000 people? Many others live in the surrounding neighbourhood. A proper public inquiry should have examined the impact on the area. There has been no proper examination of all the issues involved.
Across the border is Canary wharf, which is now a mini-Manhattan. It is a £3 billion to £4 billion project. But again, there was no proper inquiry. The same is happening at Spitalfields.
The fact that Spitalfields is a market acts as a depressant on the price of land. With this development, the value of the land will rocket. Across the border is Wapping, where land is now worth £20 million an acre--simply because this development is
Land let for workshops fetches about £3 a square foot. Land let as offices in London fetches about £50 a square foot. That is the sort of money about which we are speaking. Land used for industrial purposes is worth between £3,000 and £4,000 an acre. In this area, the land will fetch perhaps £20 million an acre if it is devoted to offices and luxury housing, as it surely will.
That results in small businesses being squeezed out. Indeed, we will tonight decide whether the small people, the small businesses, shall be squeezed out by rising land values. Because small businesses are on leases, their properties will go to the developers. That will eliminate the local community.
Many of them are Bangladeshis. Prince Charles recently visited the area and met the Bangladeshis in their small workshops. All of those workshops will be priced out of the market and they will have to go. But where will they go? The development will house banks, finance houses and insurance companies. The City of London will expand and incorporate the area.
Does anybody imagine that the Bangladeshis will get jobs in the banks and insurance houses? It is nonsense to suggest that they will. And considering the pitiful sums being made available for training, it is nonsense to suggest that local people will be trained to take up jobs in finance houses.
I question the theory that just any development is good. Some seem to think that local people benefit automatically from it. That is not so. It has not happened in, say, docklands, where the local population has certainly not benefited. Indeed, local people have lost out. There has been a growth of employment in the docklands area, but
Column 941it has not gone to the local population. In fact, the number of unemployed in that area is higher now than before the UDC was set up. The reason for that is--
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman will not go into reasons for that. We are discussing the City of London (Spitalfields Market) Bill ; I hope that the hon. Gentleman will confine his remarks to that.
Mr. Leighton : What I am trying to explain is what will happen if we pass this Bill ; an economic process will be set in train where land values are forced up, traditional industries and traditional occupations employing local people will be forced out. New sorts of firms and industries, all office-based, and service industries will come in which will bring in their own labour, and this will cause unemployment in the Spitalfields area. I am suggesting that if we pass this Bill tonight, instead of the residential community benefiting, it will suffer.
I would like to quote, if I may, a witness, Dr. Robin Hambleton. He is a senior research fellow at the school of advanced urban studies in Bristol and he was asked about the idea that any sort of development is bound to benefit the local people. He was asked : "Does regeneration inevitably improve prospects for the local residents?"
He said :
"Thanks to the major research initiative involving studies of several British cities carried out by the Economic and Social Research Council in recent years we know that a general rise in local economic activity does not necessarily result in a trickle down' of employment benefit to disadvantaged groups".
He referred to American research and concluded :
"The key finding is that disadvantaged residents have great difficulty benefiting from economic regeneration. Indeed, low and moderate income people tend not to benefit."
That is the result of impartial research, and this is what is going to happen in Spitalfields. Planning permission will be given without any prior inquiry to this new development, and it will push up land values, or perhaps I should say land prices. What I am asking tonight is, who will benefit from that? Certainly the developers will benefit ; certainly the financiers, many of whom will come from North America and Japan, will benefit. In other words, people from outside, and often people from outside this country, will benefit, but not the residential community ; they will be squeezed out. The local community will be destroyed and will be worse off. I think that that is fundamentally wrong.
I would like to mention very briefly to the House the result of what the Select Committee saw when it looked at this sort of development in the United States.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I do not think that I can allow the hon. Gentleman to do that. That would lead us into a discussion of a much broader nature than that which is the subject of the Bill before the House. The hon. Gentleman must confine his remarks to the Third Reading of the City of London (Spitalfields Market) Bill rather than to urban regeneration or job creation in the United States.
Mr. Leighton : I defer to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as ever. It is just a fact that we are dealing with the urban regeneration of this part of east London. We spent a great deal of taxpayers' money trying to find out about these things ; how does one share the benefit? The hon. Member, the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, who is
Column 942present, might wonder how we share our knowledge with the House when we have an occasion like this if it is not in order. If it is not in order, I will not persist.
I shall just say this about the firm which is developing Canary wharf-- Olympia York. We visited its project in New York, which is the same as its project at Canary wharf and it is paying a community gain of $1 billion to New York City--and I am glad the Minister is paying attention to this. He might like to look at The New York Times of December 27--I will only give one sentence of this--which said : "Battery Park City plans to contribute $1 billion to develop housing in New York City."
The same is true in Boston, where we found--
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. We will have Baltimore, Hong Kong and everywhere else if we are not careful. If the hon. Gentleman pursues this line, I will have to allow others to put a contrary view. I think we must get back to Spitalfields.
Mr. Leighton : I stand rebuked, and extremely humbled and crestfallen. I must not persist in that line of argument, and I shall not. I will just say that we are so backward in this country that when this development takes place a fair proportion does not go to the local people, as in virtually every other country that I have visited and studied and I do hope that I will find an occasion when it will be legitimate and in order to give the benefit of this experience to the House. That is why, unless I am convinced of the community gain, I will vote against this Bill.
We are changing the nature of this area, and we are giving the benefits to financiers from outside this country, let alone outside this area, and to the developers, and we are not giving fair do's and an equitable distribution of the benefits to the people who live in that area, many of whom were born there. They are getting the rough end of the stick all the time. Their area is going to be developed ; they will be spectators standing on the sidelines, watching the fruits of this development go to others. It is not good enough. This should be dealt with by proper planning procedures, not by an abuse of the private Bill procedure. This is not how we should do our business, and therefore, unless I am convinced by the hon. Member, I shall vote against this Bill tonight.
Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley) : I seek clarification, because if this Bill is to receive its Third Reading this evening, I would like to ask the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) some questions in relation to the Bill. Contrary to what he has said--and I listened very, very, carefully--there have only been some minor financial concessions but the Bill itself has not been altered, and the report by the Committee indicates that all the clauses contained within the Bill have been allowed. That obviously causes great concern.
The first point which has been referred to by hon. Members from this side of the House concerns the age and condition of Spitalfields market. I suggest that perhaps the promoters of the Bill should not have rushed in to demolish and transfer this market, but should have sought to develop the site. They should spend some of the millions of pounds in which the area is apparently awash and that the financial people in the City will make from the Bill if it is allowed its Third Reading.
Column 943I say that the present market should stay on this site. One can look around the City of London and see many famous landmarks disappearing because the money market is building monstrosities which are neither beautiful to look at nor pleasing on the feet as one walks the concrete corridors within them.
You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, come from a town which has a famous market, the Doncaster market, which Doncaster council has spent a considerable sum of money upgrading to ensure that the market town meets the requirements of the people who live there. The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) referred to the financial benefits to some residents from the Bill. A hell of a lot more money could have been obtained for them. If the people who are to be affected were to gain the most financially, I could support the Bill, but the local people will not benefit as much as those who make a killing from the redevelopment.
If old age and poor condition are the criteria for demolition, the churches should be looking for safeguards. Many churches in London are old and require money. Are we to demolish those and allow high rise flats and offices to take their place for the lads who are making a killing in the City's money markets? Certainly the poor people will not be able to afford the accommodation that will rise from the ashes if the Bill goes through.
We should consider the character of the City of London. If the market is demolished, no matter what replaces it, some of the City's character and flavour will disappear. Character and flavour are important ingredients in London's finances. People who live and work in London depend upon tourists, and an old place full of character and charm will attract tourists a damn sight more than a modern clean market.
Even at this late stage, the promoters should consider spending the money that they intend to spend on the promotion of offices and high-rent accommodation on improving the poor quality facilities about which the Bill talks.
Doncaster, as you know Mr. Deputy Speaker, has an excellent market. We would hate to think that that market was to be shifted to Bolton. Doncaster would lose its character as a market town. One could draw a similar conclusion from the Bill. If Spitalfields market moves four miles as the crow flies, it will lose some of its charm.
I had a look at the map in the Private Bill Office because I was interested to see where the new site would be. The map did not show exactly where the old site was in relation to the new site, but looking at the new site I was filled with apprehension. The Bill contains none of the safeguards that I would want to see if the Bill related to my area.
On one side there are some marshalling yards. We all know that railways attract children. Mams and dads take their children to the market. It is suggested that there will be only one entrance to the proposed site compared with the many roads leading into the present market. If, as the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate would have us believe, the market is crowded on market day, there will be children. Will an adequate fence be maintained to ensure that those children do not wander onto those marshalling yards with the resulting problems and even fatalities?
Column 944What financial provisions are there to compensate any child or adult who is injured as a result of the proposed market being so close to the marshalling yards?
On another side of the proposed site is the river, which also means danger. How many deaths will occur if there is not adequate finance for a fence to protect children from the river? Given my anxiety about that, which I hope the hon. Gentleman shares, why is there no provision in the Bill for adequate fencing of the market's perimeter?
The single entrance into the market is also a matter for anxiety. Will there be adequate car parking? I see nothing in the Bill about the provision of such a car park. Will cars be parked on the roads in the immediate vicinity? Again, we come back to the dangers of the marshalling yards and the river. There is nothing in the Bill about the number of cars that will have to be provided for if the new site takes off in the way that is expected.
Such matters will not affect the Bill's promoters. Having moved the site and passed the market to another council, their obligation is finished. They will then proceed to build the office blocks and the high rent or high price flats. Is that in line with the thinking of a certain gentleman who lives down the road, who has passed a number of comments on the way in which architects are spoiling the character of London?
I thought that the Minister might have expressed some anxiety about the lack of details in the Bill about what will happen to the new site. The gentleman down the road is obviously concerned, as I know the Minister is. However, he made no reference to that in his short contribution at the Dispatch Box.
The demolition of two Georgian cottages has been referred to. Not all Labour Members are philistines. We welcome the old charm and love that the craftsmen of old gave us, which is obviously part of our heritage that we should be seeking to protect. The Prime Minister herself talks about protecting our heritage and I look forward to hearing her oppose the Bill.
Clause 5 says :
"accommodation within the new site will so far as reasonably practicable".
Who decides what is practicable? Is it the owners of the site? If so, they will say, obviously, that it is reasonably practical, that they have met the terms of the Bill and that, therefore, it can go to the other place. Anyone who disagrees is left to make a decision about whether to go to the courts, which will decide whether the owners are correct in making that assumption. However, how many owners or tenants of market stalls can afford to take on the local authority or the people with big business interests? They do not have the money to take people to court, given the high costs of taking a case through the legal system. The Bill should have provided that if a dispute occurred, the method of taking it to arbitration was one that was fair for both sides. That would have cost far less than seeking redress through the courts of the land, as the Bill provides.
Other hon. Members have referred to compensation. Far more compensation could have been offered by the promoters of the Bill. Although one talks of millions of pounds of compensation, the people who live in the area will suffer the monstrosities that seem to be the norm. The promoters of the Bill received some bumf from the parliamentary agents this morning that made everything about the Third Reading of the Bill appear rosy. There are many other points in it, but I do not wish to delay the House too long.