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Column 204people come to visit the city of culture they will be amazed and impressed by this development, which opens its doors to the public on 11 May. The development is funded by the Sears group and the Church Commissioners of the Church of England. That shows just how mobile capital can be. It cost £64.5 million to build. The development will house a number of major stores which have not had outlets in Scotland before. The immediate question must be, how can that be an issue in Glasgow, Central, when new stores will mean new jobs? It could not possibly be an issue, so there is no reason for citing it in evidence for an early by-election. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Shopkeepers at the new St. Enoch's development, the world's largest greenhouse, will be able to lease shops at £90 a square foot. However, it costs £140 per square foot to lease shops in Argyle street. That anomaly must be a major issue in the by-election. The new shopping development will have an effect on Argyle street, which is the main shopping street at the moment.
Only one or two units remain to be let in the St. Enoch's development. It is claimed that the development will create 2,500 jobs when it is fully operational. However, a big issue in the by-election will be whether those jobs shift from Argyle street to the new development or whether those jobs will be extra jobs. People will want to know what can be done about the problem facing people with shops in Argyle street who are paying £140 per square foot when there is cheaper, and in many cases better, accommodation elsewhere. I will not weary you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, with more quotes from the constituency profile. The Gear area of Glasgow touches the constituency of Glasgow, Central. That area has an important history and will no doubt be an issue in the by-election. The Gear area covers the east end of Glasgow, and renewal has made a big difference to the dereliction which used to exist there. Many nice houses have been built and there are many advanced factories. The main problem is that the number of jobs expected to be created as a result of that comprehensive attempt to solve some of the problems in that area have not materialised. That is bound to be a substantial issue in the by-election.
Mr. Andrew Welsh : Before my hon. Friend leaves Argyle street, does he accept that the electors of Glasgow, Central will consider the report from the Confederation of British Industry which shows that Scottish businesses have an additional rates burden of around £250 million in comparison with their counterparts in England and Wales? If hon. Members come to Glasgow, Central they will see the effects of that massive extra rates burden, which places an unfair burden on Scottish businesses. Regional businesses are burdened with extra rates bills, and that means closures and fewer jobs. Argyle street is a good example of a bad situation which causes great harm in Scottish cities like Glasgow. Businesses in Oxford street in London have lower rates bills than Princes street in Edinburgh. I am sure that my hon. Friend will accept that the electors of Glasgow, Central will believe that that is a major issue. They want to see jobs created and the widest possible variety of retail and other businesses in the constituency.
Column 205today, because I want to release my hon. Friend the Member for Angus, East on to the streets of Glasgow, Central to campaign on the issues to which he has referred most eloquently. My hon. Friend's parents come from Glasgow. I do not believe that I will change scores of minds today. Hon. Members may not want my hon. Friend to campaign on the streets of Glasgow, Central at an early date. I can understand that, because my hon. Friend had a devastating effect on my election prospects in Glasgow, Govan. I owe him a great deal for the fact that I am in the House now.
I want to give just a glimpse of one or two important local issues and to refer to issues on which people need a Member of Parliament to go in and bat for them. On Friday 21 April 1989, the Glasgow Evening Times reported :
"Special passes hit by muddle. Government red tape is depriving Strathclyde's epilepsy sufferers of cut price travel passes." I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland is listening to me. He is a nice man and I hope that he listens to me carefully. The paper continued :
"Thousands of epileptics in Glasgow and the west of Scotland are by law eligible for half-price rail and bus passes to travel round Glasgow and the west of Scotland, but they say that the Department of Transport is making it almost impossible to apply. They have told epileptics that Strathclyde passenger transport executive cannot accept a doctor's certificate as proof."
That is unbelievable.
The Evening Times is a very accurate paper. It continued : "Instead, they must write to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre in Swansea and formally apply for a driver's licence even though they know that they will be refused."
They can qualify for a pass only when they are armed with a letter of refusal.
The Rev. David Laing, the convenor of Strathclyde regional council's social work committee, said :
"This is red tape for the sake of red tape."
That is the kind of thing that a Member of Parliament must attack. He said :
"The Government are hell bent on making it difficult for people to receive benefits to which they are legally entitled."
That is Mr. Laing's point of view and I am not entitled in this debate to pass comment on it. However, Mrs. Vivian Carely, the development officer for the Epilepsy Association of Scotland stated that that was a
"ridiculously cumbersome piece of Government legislation. The law has always said that anyone who has suffered an epilepsy attack within two years is not allowed to drive, and we accept that. However, what we cannot understand is why passengers submit this phoney driver's application, complete with a £17 cheque, which is then returned with a letter of refusal even though Swansea already know that they are not eligible to drive. There are around 12,500 epilepsy sufferers in Strathclyde, of whom about 6,500 are eligible for half price travel throughout the region."
That kind of nonsense should be tackled. Hon. Members are doing their best to deal with that matter. However, people in Glasgow, Central are in a catch-22. They cannot get a driver's licence and the doctor's certificate is not acceptable. That kind of local issue deserves an early resolution of the fact that that area needs a Member of Parliament now.
Maternity services will be another issue in the by-election. When I referred to Rotten Row earlier, I believe that the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett)
Column 206laughed. That is understandable, and I will not take too much offence about that because it is a very strange name for a hospital, let alone a maternity hospital. However, Rotten Row is an ancient Glasgow name and the hospital is a worthy institution.
On 23 April this year "Scotland on Sunday" reported :
"Baby hospital faces closure in health review. The Queen Mother's hospital in Glasgow, which deals with more than 3,000 births a year, is facing closure following a health board review of maternity provision. Next month, Greater Glasgow Health Board's maternity and Paediatric management team will present the board with a report recommending a number of ways to streamline the maternity service, two of which are expected to spell the end for the Queen Mother's. The package of options designed to take the service into the 21st century will include a proposal to merge the 25-year- old hospital with Glasgow Royal Maternity, better known as Rotten Row, and Stobhill maternity unit. The three would then be relocated at a custom built unit at the Royal Infirmary site, which would deal with more than 10,000 births a year."
Many people in the constituency and staff in the hospitals will have views about that.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : Maternity facilities are very important for constituents and hon. Members, as those who represent Grampian region are aware. A proposal like the one described by my hon. Friend was brought forward by the health board in my constituency. As a result of pressure from me, councillors and other groups working as a cohesive unit, the Scottish Office had to set up an investigation into the maternity facilities in my constituency. Yesterday, the Scottish Office published a very effective report which has taken account of the views and made clear recommendations for improvement to the Secretary of State for Scotland. It is clear that a Member of Parliament can play a vital role to ensure that the needs of his constituents are met, particularly with regard to maternity services.
Mr. Sillars : You are quite right, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, I can speak about Moray and Nairn. The point that my hon. Friend makes in principle is very sound, and I can dip into my own experience to prove how correct it is, and how important it is that the writ should be moved so that an election can be held and a Member of Parliament elected.
Between 1965 and 1970, before the last hospital reforms, I was a member of the Western regional hospital board. Among the earliest appointments made to that board was the convenor of the maternity services sub-committee. I had to deal with many letters to the official administration from Members of Parliament. There is no question but that when a Member of Parliament writes to a health authority requesting action or raising a point, his letter receives very special attention inside the whole administration. At the end of the day, the chain of responsibility ultimately ends with the Minister responsible.
Column 207I refer next to the poll tax, but not to the poll tax in its whole immorality--although I should not say that, because I am not supposed to pass comment on it--but to the poll tax in its totality. I do not know whether you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, were in the Chair when I spoke about the substantial number of privately rented houses in the Glasgow, Central constituency. I refer again to a report in the Glasgow Evening Times. One wonders what our city would do without that excellent and campaigning newspaper. On 13 April, it carried the banner headline :
"Tenants warned of rents rip-off."
It reported :
"Greedy landlords are cashing in on poll tax regulations. They are charging tenants the same rents as they paid when rates were part of the total rent.
The rent rip-off could be avoided, it was claimed today. Glasgow district deputy housing benefit manager Alan Sinclair said that all private tenants have the right to register their rent. By going to the rent registration officer, they could have the amount they pay fixed for three years at reasonable rate.
Mr. Sinclair said : We are advising all private sector tenants who come to us for help to do this. Landlords are going to make a killing out of the poll tax change. We don't have the power that English authorities do to send tenants to the registration officer. All we can do is advise. Although there are assured tenancies based on market rents. Anyone who moved in before January 2nd this year is still covered by the fair rent legislation. Glasgow district has a special private sector office in its housing benefit section at 11 George Street'."
The report goes on to comment that it is disgraceful and scandalous that people in the private rented sector are being ripped off by their landlords.
I know from my own experience in the city of Glasgow--as do other right hon. and hon. Members--that the public very often do not know their rights. We live in a very complex society and it is difficult for people to find their way around all the regulations that affect them.
In that respect, a Member of Parliament's surgery is very important. I pay tribute to the Labour Members representing constituencies adjoining Glasgow, Central. I read in The Glaswegian that a number of the late Bob McTaggart's colleagues have been holding surgeries in his area. I admire them for that and pay tribute to them for it. However, everyone knows that those hon. Members already carry a heavy surgery case load, and no one would pretend for a moment that the efforts of the hon. Members concerned are a substitute for a Member of Parliament who is plugged into the local community on a day-to-day basis and able to tackle issues such as fair rents.
I refer to another local issue that will cause a lot of trouble. If there is only one reason for holding the by-election at a very early date, it is that which I am about to describe to the House. The Glaswegian is a free sheet set up by Robert Maxwell. He is a member of the Labour party but The Glaswegian does not pretend to be a Labour party newspaper. It is delivered to every home in the area. The headline in its issue of 29 April was :
"A concrete jungle. Row over £2 million car park plan for the Green."
It reported :
"A £2 million plan to improve Glasgow Green has been slammed by local residents, and proposals to construct a £ million car park on the historic and well-loved Green have been tagged a disgrace, with demands to district council to reject the idea."
The green is right in the middle of Glasgow, Central. Locals complain of lack of consultation, but their wishes
Column 208are being ignored and there is to be a concrete jungle in place of Britain's oldest park. The newspaper report continues :
"Betty McAllister, chairman of the Community Council said : This is not on'."
We tend to speak very bluntly in Glasgow. That is something that English Members will find when they take their charter flight and land at Glasgow airport. When they arrive, they will find that the people there are very blunt speakers. There is no beating about the bush with Glasgow people.
The report states :
"Betty McAllister said : This is not on. The consultants say that we won't see the cars because they will landscape the area with flower boxes. How on earth can you camouflage 150 cars?' she asks. The Glaswegian can exclusively reveal that the entrance to the car park will be at the Green Dyke entrance to the Green, with access through Monteith Road. The council hope to begin construction by July,"--
that is why it is so important to elect a new Member of Parliament soon--
"with the work being completed for the City of Culture 1990." That is a real-life issue and one that must be resolved. It is one in which the constituency's Member of Parliament must be involved. The East End management committee also want to block that plan : "Ken Hamilton the deputy manager of the committee, said : We are geared towards promoting the east end of the city, and I can't see how having a large expanse of concrete in the middle of the Green can help our cause.' Councillor Crawford, convenor of the council's Parks Committee, said : The alternatives put to us regarding the problem of parking in this area of the city are not feasible. The plans for the future of Glasgow Green are still in the planning stages and the people who have objections to them will have the chance to make their objections known'."
However, the plan is to start work in July.
Glasgow Green is an historical area in the Glasgow, Central constituency that has incredible connotations for the Scottish working class movement. I remember the great demonstrations that were held there in 1971 against the Heath Government's Industrial Relations Bill. I remember 15,000 Transport and General Workers Union members, together with members of the Boilermakers' Union and of other unions, marching through the centre of Glasgow. Glasgow Green is a traditional place of assembly. They marched to Glasgow Green to be addressed by Alex Ferry of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers ; Jimmy Jack of the Scottish Trades Union Congress ; a previous Member of Parliament for Glasgow, Central, wee Tommy Macmillan, who was a National Union of Railwaymen member ; and myself.
I make the point that it is not just a matter of a few cars being parked on green grass. Glasgow Green belongs to the people. It is part of our tradition and history. It is critical that there is a Member of Parliament for Glasgow, Central who can take on that issue and fight to ensure that the matter is resolved. My hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West knows that very well.
Column 209--although there are very few in the Chamber --that Glasgow is known as the "dear, green place." That being so, that historical part of Glasgow's environment will surely play a great part in any election campaign. As my hon. Friend rightly says, Glasgow people care deeply about the history of Glagow Green which is very much part of the city's folk culture as well as of the environment. That "dear, green place" must remain an asset, despite the city's industrial development. Glasgow's environment must be well to the fore in the minds of the electorate of Glasgow, Central.
Mr. Sillars : I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. It would do English Conservative Members who come up to Scotland canvassing, such as the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman), the world of good to come up against our working-class cultures and traditions. Glasgow is a great city which has produced many great people. Sunday shopping is an important local issue. Glasgow, Central constituency contains many small shops which are owned and operated by the Pakistani community which makes a significant contribution to the area. The Glasgow Herald on Friday 28 April claimed that Sunday shopping is eroding family life. That is some claim. The article went on :
"Sunday trading in Scotland is on the increase, leading to further erosion of family life, the exploitation of shopworkers and increased pressure on small traders, it was claimed yesterday. The criticisms of Sabbath shopping expeditions came at a news conference in Glasgow yesterday called the Keep Sunday Special Campaign, Scotland' to launch a booklet which claims that more than two thirds of Scots see no need for the shops to open on Sunday other than what we have at the present time."
That is quite an important issue because Glasgow, Central contains all the large stores and the St. Enoch's development, which I have mentioned, and Sunday trading would transform the lives of citizens in Glasgow, Central. Many people in that constituency live near the major shopping centres, so from Monday to Saturday life can be pretty rough in that there are many people and many cars and much hassle is attached to living there, so Sunday is a very relaxing day when people can enjoy the beauty of the city. If Sunday became like any other weekday it would have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of the electorate in Glasgow, Central.
A further issue requires the attention of a Member of Parliament. Robert Maxwell's paper, The Glaswegian, the paper for the people of Greater Glasgow, for the week ending Saturday 22 April 1989, stated :
"Gas Under Glasgow. Oilmen set to sink wells. Exclusive story." That possibility has implications for Glasgow's economy and the folk in Glasgow, Central. I shall read out just a wee bit, not the whole story, unless the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) would like me to read it all. The article states that an international oil company is to spend more than £1 million drilling for natural gas 1,000 metres under the streets of Glasgow. London-based Marinex Petroleum will sink a well near Bargeddie in the city's east end later this year. But this week a top engineer with the company said that the gas pocket they hoped to find ran under the city centre. That is a major issue, if it is true.
Column 210In the centre of Glasgow, in the middle of the constituency, there is some of the most beautiful architecture and architectural layout one could imagine. I am not boasting simply because I represent part of the city of Glasgow. Everyone in Scotland is very proud of our architectural heritage. George square, the city buildings and the City Chambers are among the most beautiful buildings that anyone can imagine. Glasgow is full of classical buildings, and people are talking about gas underneath the city. Do they want to put gas belts in George square and Clyde street? The possibility has to be examined extremely closely and very carefully. It would be vandalism. In addition, a new prestige building is being built in Glasgow, Central. We need an early writ and an early by-election because Glasgow district council is building a new concert hall. I shall tell the House a wee story that is relevant to why the writ should be moved. Glasgow district council is very proud of the fact that Glasgow is to be the European city of culture in 1990, but what if the city of culture of Europe in 1990 did not have a major concert hall? That could be an enormous problem. How could the city of culture lack such prestige? I pay respect to the Labour group which controls the city. It met and decided that Glasgow could not be the European city of culture unless it had a modern concert hall. It is being constructed just north of Queen street station. What will happen if in the middle of building the concert hall someone discovers gas underneath it? There will be an argument about the mineral rights. Such matters require the attention of a Member of Parliament who can raise them with the Scottish Office Ministers and try to resolve the major economic benefits, if they exist, without damaging the cultural centre of our city. That is why we badly need a by-election.
I have mentioned Scottish housing. Scottish Homes has been operating since 1 April, so no one really knows the score. I have mentioned housing associations, but one of the great problems of the new housing legislation is that housing associations receive smaller grants, as a means of attracting private money into housing, and that will affect rents. The private sector also creates major problems as 20,000 houses are below tolerable standards.
Another city-wide matter is of important local concern. One of the reasons why I wish to persuade the House to accept the writ and have an early by- election which would bring focus to bear on Glasgow, Central ouside the European arena is Mayfest. It is not so much a local issue as a local delight. It is city-wide, but the central part of Glasgow in which the constituency lies plays a major part in providing the necessary facilities for that cultural feast in Glasgow. I should like to persuade hon. Members of the need to focus on Glasgow because the by-election will attract many visiting journalists, not only those from south of the border who come up occasionally to find out what the natives are doing, but a much wider media because of what happened in Govan and elsewhere. People will come from France and Germany. Only this morning I received a telephone call from Finland where people are interested in what is happening politically in Scotland.
Irrespective of political differences, we are trying to raise the international prestige of Glasgow and make it internationally attractive so that people will come to live there and invest there, so that we can build up the social and economic infrastructure and create manufacturing and new service industries. There will be important
Column 211economic benefits for the community of central Glasgow if there is wider knowledge of the city's regeneration, its new vitality and the incredible pride running through the city. I should like Glasgow to attract people from abroad as well as those from south of the border so that they can talk to ordinary Glaswegians in Glasgow, Central, where taxi drivers say how proud they are of the city and ordinary men and women, despite their housing problems, say that the city is on the move and how proud they are of it. If we bring those folk to Glasgow we can dispel the old myths about the city, and about our quality and worth that still pertain in some parts of the world. I shall give hon. Members an example of what the Mayfest involves. The Glaswegian said of the Mayfest :
"This is what it is all about. It just keeps growing. The spectacular Glasgow Mayfest begins again next week and it is brighter, bigger and more vibrant than before. The festival started six years ago when a group of trade union officials, Wildcat theatre members and members of Equity decided to extend the traditional May Day celebrations. This year is the biggest Mayfest ever. There is sponsorship of over £700,000, with money coming from district and regional councils, the Scottish Arts Councils, the visiting arts organisations and Scottish and Newcastle brewers."
We are pleased that Scottish and Newcastle Breweries was saved from a take- over by Elders.
The article continues :
"More than 200,000 people are expected to attend over 100 venues to see more than 200 companies or individuals. Glasgow can only reap the financial benefits. Hotels, bars and shops will be flooded with tourists from other cities and other countries, all anxious to spend their money in Glasgow. Jackie Westbrook, organiser of the event summed it all up. The people of Glasgow take Mayfest to their hearts and treat it with wonderful affection.' That may sound over the top, but it is true and it is great."
We would like people to see "Borderlines, Glasvegas". It writer, Morag Fullerton, said :
"It captures the humour, spirit and character of Glasgow." We want to attract people to Glasgow so that they can see the quality, spirit and character of Glaswegians. Once the visiting media people have attended their press conferences and made their reports they will want to go to the pubs, clubs and bars. A number of arty-crafty people will want to go--
I have an article that says :
"You will not get more Glaswegians shown "Borderlines, Glasvegas". They take the song Looking for Linda' and rename it Searching for senga.'"
That sums up the irreverent Glaswegian attitude to life, which makes Glasgow and its people extremely attractive.
Mr. Andrew Welsh : My hon. Friend is considering in detail the constituency's problems and why it is important to have an early by- election. He has mentioned ecology, housing and other important topics that the electors will want to discuss in detail, but amazingly, he has not mentioned a subject that is of interest to the electors. He must surely recognise that football is important to the electors of Glasgow, Central, given the success of our national team. I am sure that the electors will want to discuss the team's future prospects against Norway and
Column 212Yugoslavia. As the Government are about to introduce identity cards in England and, we hope, not in Scotland, I am sure that this will be a hot issue on the doorsteps of Glasgow, Central. Is there a football club--I suspect that there is--within the constituency? I am sure that football spectators, who are also electors, regard football as an issue important to a by-election.
Mr. Sillars : The national stadium of Hampden park lies just outside the constituency's boundaries. That will be of relief to the Chair, never mind anyone else. There is no doubt that many people in Glasgow, Central are fanatical football supporters, like most Scottish people. We shall be queueing up to see our team qualify, for the fifth time running, for the World Cup in Italy. It would be wrong for me to try to shift Hampden park over the constituency boundary line just for the sake of argument.
National issues will be as important as local issues in the by-election. Rarely can electors in one constituency have had so many crucial national issues to consider. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, were not in the Chair at the time, but I reminded Mr. Speaker that earlier this year he pointed out that this is the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and added, long may it remain so. Whatever the political differences we may have, I accept that this is the system.
Mr. Sillars : I was not about to repeat that argument, but I am happy that I do not need to elaborate on it. I am especially pleased that it registered first time, given the confusion that I have caused once or twice.
The views of the electors are vital and must be known as soon as possible. Once I have set out the issues--I do not intend this arrogantly--I will have convinced even the most sceptical Tory Member that the writ should be moved and that we should have an early by-election.
It is not for me to comment on Government policy, but it is bound to play a large part in the by-election. The Budget, which unfortunately I was unable to hear for a variety of reasons, will be a big issue. On the day after the Budget, The Times --not the Evening Times ; hon. Members from Glasgow tend to talk of the Evening Times as The Times --said :
"Battle against inflation fuels hope of future tax cuts. Cautious but clever Lawson."
It will be interesting to see whether that is the judgment of the people of Glasgow, Central.
People who think that it was a cautious but clever Budget should have an early opportunity to test opinion in Scotland. As the National Health Service is the main issue in the Vale of Glamorgan by-election, perhaps opinion on the Budget will not be tested. I should not be surprised to see Ministers on television tomorrow night or on Friday morning explaining that it was a one-issue campaign and that folk did not understand. If that is so, the Government should allow the people of Glasgow, Central the opportunity of a major debate on the Budget, which is central to our economic policy. A very good letter appeared in the Financial Times from a member of the Labour party. Leaving aside the training figures and the weakness of manufacturing industry, many people are concerned about manufacturing and believe that we cannot take in each other's washing. This Labour Member should be let loose on the streets of Glasgow so
Column 213that he can have debates with Tory Members. I tell the Leader of the House that this campaign will be fought on the streets. We expect debates to be held not only in halls but on street corners. The people can argue with the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson) about the weakness or strength of our manufacturing industry.
Like everyone else, a number of folk in Glasgow, Central have borrowed. I have heard them described as yuppies in the Merchant city--I object to that. I am a resident of the Merchant city and am not a yuppie, certainly not at 51. My neighbours across the landing from me are not yuppies either ; they are ordinary folk who have bought flats using a mortgage. On 9 March, The Times --the London Times --stated :
"Mr. Robin Leigh-Pemberton, Governor of the Bank of England, has warned that the number of personal borrowers defaulting on their debts is likely to rise this year as higher interest rates take their toll The Governor said that between 1976 and 1978, personal borrowing had risen sevenfold, while the ratio of debt to personal income had grown from 50 per cent to more than 100 per cent." My hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West is a trained economist. I look forward to slipping into the back of the halls to listen to him deal with the monetarist aspects of this policy. We are told that borrowing has risen sevenfold during those years under a monetarist Government.
Central to the political debate in the British political system is the question whether a monetarist policy operates--where did it begin, does it still operate, has it stopped and, if so, what operates in its place? Those are major issues which will excite a number of Conservative Members, those ideologues, six of whom the Leader of the House put on the Committee dealing with the so-called Self-Governing (Scotland) Bill.
We want those folk to go before and be interrogated by the electors of Glasgow, Central. I hope that the English Tory Members who come up to Glasgow on their charter planes make no mistake : they should not think the folk in the constituency do not know about monetary policy. When Tory Members enter the city of Glasgow, particularly Glasgow, Central, they will meet a well-educated political electorate. In some respects, I am sorry for Conservative Members, because they will be subjected at their public meetings to severe interrogation at a theoretical level on monetarism, added value and the mode and means of production.
This will be an interesting election for the Government. One of the benefits of holding an early election and focusing on this issue separately from the European elections will be that it will educate the Government, who think that they are the only ideologues. There are a fair number of ideologues in Glasgow, Central. I have heard them at my public meetings, and they subject people to telling scrutiny.
Property is another item of the national economy that is relevant to the issue of the writ. About 35 per cent. of people in Glasgow, Central are owner-occupiers. The Daily Telegraph is a Tory newspaper and, although it does
Column 214not sell much in that constituency, one of the things that I like about it is that it distinguishes between its news coverage and its editorial policy. It is one of those newspapers that most politicians use as a resource. [Interruption.] Does my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West want to intervene? No? We all understand his difficulty.
On 14 March this year, The Daily Telegraph, under the headline "Property seen as safe refuge",
"Nothing the Chancellor of the Exchequer does or says today is likely to divert the big money from property, believes Bob Bowden, Conrad Ritblat's investment partner."
The article quoted Mr. Bowden as saying :
"It may be premature to talk of a return to the situation in the late 70s when the average institutional holding in property was as high as 19 per cent. but already, after a spell in the doldrums--down to 8 per cent. in 1986--the percentage is edging into double figures. It does not take too much imagination to visualise a scenario where the funds will take refuge in property for anything up to 15-18 per cent. of their investment cash reserves.
Certainly, they are still good buying opportunities, particularly in the strong market sectors such as offices and industrial. Strong rental and capital growth is under-pinned by demand and there is currently a high level of investment cash from overseas to bolster this sector."
That pressure on industrial and commercial property is bound to have an effect on property overall, but in Glasgow, Central, commercial and industrial property forms a big part of the capital. That issue will be important.
The other day, the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) made a remarkable speech.