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Ms. Gordon : Opting out of the Health Service in the long term. [ Hon. Members :-- "Rubbish."] I have met

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officials who are already talking about providing operations more cheaply than private hospitals. In the long term, that means opting out of the Health Service.

Mr. Hind : Disinformation.

Ms. Gordon : It is not disinformation. We are destined to have a two -tier Health Service. Hospitals such as the London hospital will start by changing their policies, providing heart transplants and glamorous medicine rather than serving the local community and will eventually opt out of the Health Service.

Mr. Hind : They will not be allowed.

Ms. Gordon : Whether they are allowed to or not, in the meantime local people will have to travel far to obtain the services that they need. If the Government's proposals are put into effect, the London hospital will no longer be a community hospital.

The Inner London education authority has been building new schools and extra classrooms, but east end schools cannot attract teachers. When there was council house building, there was also a key worker scheme, but that no longer exists. Doctors and teachers cannot come to the east end because they cannot afford to buy the houses that are being built there by the speculators whom the LDDC has allowed in. The hon. Member for Pembroke spoke of teachers being paid by results. Payment by result was abandoned as an uncivilised method of education in the last century. It is rather surprising to hear the last century's ideas being trotted out again as new ones. The hon. Member suggested that there should be regional agreements on wages. If regional agreements on wages replace national arbitration, teachers will go from areas with poor councils, many problems and deprivation, to the richer areas. Instead of the stability that children need, teachers will be on the move even more than they are now and there will be fewer teachers in Tower Hamlets rather than more. Such policies will damage education in the east end of London.

Again, those policies are designed to create a two-tier system. Just as we shall have a two-tier Health Service with hospitals opting out, so we shall have a two-tier education service, with working-class children given minimum education, as happened before the Education Act 1944. Only a few working-class kids who are more academically able and quicker off the mark will be educated alongside middle-class and rich children. They will have a different kind of education and curriculum. Time will prove me right. That is what the Government's policies are designed to create, when and as they can introduce them. However, they will not be able to do so, because this Government will not last beyond the next election.

In the east end of London, transport is developer-led,which again is not what the east end needs. The docklands light railway was welcome, but it is not safe transport. The doors are not safe, there is nobody at the stations and at the moment it does not even operate at night or during the weekend. I have been told by LDDC officials that the computer system does not work well. The trains still stop at the ghost station of Canary wharf, and no one knows how to prevent them from doing so. Anyone who travels down the A13 will see that transport in the east

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end is a complete mess. There is a constant snarl-up on that road. There are traffic jams at 9 pm and during the weekends.

Just as the inner cities need an integrated health policy with primary, secondary and local community care implementing the Griffiths report's recommendations, which the Government are so carefully ignoring, so they need an integrated transport policy. The GLC's "Fares Fair" policy was right. That was designed to take people out of their cars and on to public transport. Just as we need more affordable housing, so we need more affordable public transport. I cannot finish without talking about the environment, about which the Prime Minister talks so much. It is proposed to run a road through Victoria park, the only large park in the east end. Mile End park will be encroached upon. The Tower Hamlets environmental trust has identified 36 small pieces of land, designated as public open space, which are under threat. Such pieces of land are important to those living in flats. They are needed for taking a walk and for walking the dog, and the lives of children centre around them. They are under threat because everything is becoming market-led and the developers have their greedy eyes upon them.

We wanted local jobs and workshops so that people could use their skills to work at local trades. We could have had a riverside walk. This is an historic area. There are places of interest that could have been developed. Instead, there are expensive flats along the riverside, and the are built right up to the river's edge so there can be no riverside walks. No tourist will be able to walk along there from the tower ; nor will the local people. Even part of Island gardens on the river front is under threat, as is the King Edward memorial park. The interests of the local people and the environment come second to the market.

More money has been poured into the police. There are many new inspectors and other high officials in the police force, but there are not so many extra men in the lower ranks on the streets to prevent crime. Their number has hardly increased at all.

Local people are the experts. They know what they need and want. They express their wishes, desires and demands through the locally-elected authorities, some of which have been abolished and others of which are being rate-capped so that they have no money to improve their areas.

Local people need affordable rents, affordable transport and local democracy. They do not want the form of dictatorship that is being imposed on them because it is not acting in their interest but in the interest of the profit makers. It has brought no benefits to the local community and it is driving many of them out of the inner cities.

6.20 pm

Mr. Tony Baldry (Banbury) : The hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon) spoke for over 20 minutes in this comparatively short debate and throughout her speech she presented no new ideas and displayed no vision for the future. Her speech showed that there is no leadership in the Labour party in London or in the inner cities.

I apologise in advance to the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser) who I know is keen to make his electioneering speech for the Vauxhall by- election. In view of the amount of time that his hon. Friend the Member for

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Bow and Poplar occupied, it will not be possible for me to permit him to do that and at the same time make a reasonable speech myself. In his opening remarks, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley)--I do not think the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar could have been listening to him--said that one way to improve education in the inner cities would be to introduce regional pay variations and give financial incentives to people to teach in the inner cities. Perhaps it is another failing of Labour Members that they do not listen to the comments of their colleagues. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook painted a picture which had little relationship to reality, so I shall cover some of the background that we should have in mind in this important debate. Unemployment is now at its lowest for 18 years, with a fall of 1 million in the unemployment register since the 1987 election campaign. There has also been a record fall--of 500,000 in the last two years--in the number of long-term unemployed. Indeed, long-term unemployment has fallen faster than total unemployment, and that has been reflected in inner-city areas, where unemployment generally fell by 22 per cent. in the year to March 1989, and in the same year, long-term unemployment in inner-city areas fell by 22 per cent. During the week, I live in the inner-city area of Lambeth--in the parliamentary constituency of Vauxhall--and I suspect that my hon. Friends and I have done more to represent the people there than has the erstwhile hon. Member for Vauxhall who is set to go elsewhere. In the inner-city areas we have seen a new enterprise culture, with self-employment on the increase. On average, 500 small firms have set up each week since 1979, many of them in inner-city areas. Unlike the depressing future projected by the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar, the prosperity of the inner cities will turn on competitive businesses earning commercial returns. The entrepreneurs and members of the business community whom she decries because they are coming into inner-city areas are the very people who will generate the prosperity which will provide the jobs for her constituents and those of other hon. Members.

We must continue to encourage private sector development and work to enable inner-city residents to benefit fully from the regeneration of their own neighbourhoods. Since the beginning of March this year, the Government have announced 10 new schools-industry compacts, five new safer cities programmes, three new inner-city task forces and four new initiatives to help inner-city residents to take part in employment training. Compare that with the lack of new ideas in the speeches of Opposition Members.

At last in our inner cities we are beginning to get a grip on ensuring good education in our schools, with a national curriculum, testing assessments and a new academic rigour which is raising standards and encouraging parental input. My young son goes to an inner-city school in Lambeth. It is an indictment of ILEA that vast numbers of black children attending that and other schools in inner-city areas go to supplementary schools on Saturdays. Up till

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now, it has been felt that the standard of education they received in inner-London schools has been insufficient to meet their needs. Only now is the Labour party beginning to recognise that black and other parents in inner-city areas want their children to achieve proper standards of literacy and numeracy so that they can compete in the world outside. We are providing the resources to enable them to do that. Spending per pupil increased by 30 per cent. in real terms between 1979-80 and now, the pupil-teacher ratio has improved from 18.9 in 1979 to 17 today, and average class sizes have been falling. That is all good news.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook gave a litany of figures about inner- city crime, but his figures did not reflect the facts. There were falls in recorded crime in practically every metropolitan area last year, and in London, recorded crime was down by 5 per cent. in the 12 months to September 1988. The strength of the metropolitan police force has been increased by 5,550 officers in recent years and a further 300 posts have been approved for 1988-89.

Whatever yardstick one wishes to use--be it developing enterprise culture, improving education and facilities or increasing resources for the police and tackling crime--in all spheres the Conservatives have introduced and are introducing positive, realistic and worthwhile initiatives.

From Opposition Members we hear only a counsel of despair, often unrelated to the facts. For example, in the last week Labour Members have tried to suggest that many of our inner cities are gripped by deep poverty. In fact, the Government are spending almost £50 billion this year, about one third of all Government spending on social security. Real take-home pay for a family on average earnings with two children has gone up by 27 per cent. under Conservative rule. It barely rose under Labour. Tax thresholds have come down, taking large numbers of people out of tax, and people at all levels are better off than they were in 1979.

Those are all facts that the electors of Vauxhall and other inner city constituencies will have good cause to remember. Indeed, I suspect that it will be hard for Labour campaigners to find people in Vauxhall who can say with honesty that they are worse off now in real terms than they were in 1979.

Mr. John Fraser (Norwood) : The hon. Gentleman has been quoting general figures. Lambeth borough council commissioned independent consultants to produce a survey of incomes to show what has happened to earnings in Lambeth over the last 10 years or so. That survey made it clear that the bottom 25 per cent. of the population have suffered a continuing reduction in their real standard of living. Those are incontrovertible figures, produced, as I say, not by the council but by independent consultants. In other words, the poor have got poorer and the rich have got richer, and that is the real truth of the inner cities.

Mr. Baldry : I categorically and emphatically deny that the people of Lambeth or anywhere else in Britain have got poorer in real terms in the last 10 years. The safety net below which nobody can fall has improved dramatically during those years, and that is why the poor of Lambeth as of any other area, are better off.

The hon. Gentleman confuses the position by comparing the standard of living of one section of people with that of another section. We must see that poor people

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have a level below which they cannot fall. On that basis, Conservative policies have ensured that everyone in the community--single-parent families, pensioners, the long-term disabled--are all better off in real terms than they were in 1979. Inner-city recovery is on the way. The cycle of decline has been broken. Eight years of continued economic growth have created a climate in which enterprise can flourish. This year, nearly £3.5 billion of Government measures will help to carry that enterprise and prosperity into inner cities. Those Opposition Members whose response to every problem is the phrase "more money" should take on board that figure of £3.5 billion. Investment is strong. Unemployment is falling. New education and training policies are in place. Recorded crime is down. Our cities are developing a new and positive image. The simple and straightforward truth is that the inner cities are safe in the hands of a Conservative Government.

6.30 pm

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) : I agree with members on the Government Front Bench on only two points. First, I agree with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that inner-city problems did not begin with a Conservative Government. However, my argument is that those problems became worse under the Conservatives. Secondly, I agree that unemployment has fallen--but it is equally true to say that, in the first five or six years of Conservative Government, unemployment was at a much higher level than under Labour. In shoving so-called facts across the Chamber at each other, we often risk missing the whole point, which is that we live in a society in which unemployment is liable to increase and decrease at certain times ; in which there will be relative poverty and real poverty, and in which people will be much better off at other times. We have not addressed the real problems of the inner cities and the people who live there.

Not all inner-city housing is bad. It is nonsense to say that every inner- city area is full of poor housing. But it does exist, and in some cases there is no housing provision at all. That is true also of city outskirts. Some people living in the inner cities suffer real poverty and from other problems that developed over the years. One of them is high unemployment, which affects not only the ethnic minorities. Problems are also faced by young people of 15 or 16 years of age who have never known a wage packet at the end of the week. They have no idea of the dignity of being employed. It is vital that people have jobs.

The difficulty of solving those problems is that there are two distinct approaches to doing so. The Government believe that they can all be solved by private enterprise, and that if one can only secure private investment and encourage the involvement of business men, that will be sufficient to deal with the situation.

Mrs. Maureen Hicks indicated dissent.

Mr. Heffer : The hon. Lady disagrees, but I remember what happened in Liverpool after the riots that took place not only in Toxteth but other cities. The Heseltine proposals involved a combination of private and public enterprise and private and public investment. We all know

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what happened to that scheme. The majority of the Cabinet turned it down because it did not want public involvement or problems solved partly by public effort.

I am not denying that some good things have been done in Liverpool. I would be damn silly to deny something worth while which offers employment to a few of my constituents. Even minimal employment is better than no employment at all. The garden festival was very nice while it lasted, but the number of real jobs it created was very small. I refer also to the new dock developments. There is a new shopping complex, and the new Liverpool Tate gallery--of which I am much in favour, but some Liverpool people who have seen the exhibits there did not think they were much, and I agree. There is also a new yuppie housing estate. What is really needed are all those developments plus new jobs.

Creating jobs means establishing new industry. How is that to be done? There used to be a system of regional assistance. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) claimed that Birmingham had suffered because of Labour incentive schemes that encouraged new business ventures in areas of high unemployment, but that type of incentive is still needed. I go further : there is a need for public ownership and developments so that we can stipulate the location of new industry.

The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Hicks) referred to bed- and-breakfast accommodation. Liverpool has practically solved the problem of bed-and-breakfast families, and was slaughtered for it. Liverpool's Labour councillors were called all the names one could think of for building houses--nice, lovely, semi-detached houses for ordinary people. I am sure that some Conservative Members think that those houses are too good for the working class. The money to build them came not from the Government, because they made massive cuts in local authority grants. Instead, Liverpool council borrowed money from private enterprise at higher rates. Nevertheless, it had an obligation to provide decent accommodation. That policy is being continued under the new Labour administration.

Liverpool has also new sports centres and parks, to provide the city with new lungs. However, much more needs to be done. The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) claims that we have no new ideas. I can tell him of one new idea that I hope will be adopted when a Labour Government are elected. The first thing that a Labour Government should do is bring together all the local authorities and trade unions in the area--and I do not mind if the employers' organisations and Government Departments are represented as well. They should sit down and decide immediately what is required and how much the Government can provide to help to overcome the problem. I should have liked to say much more, but I shall conclude by making one more point to the Government. Some of my hon. Friends do not seem to understand why all those wonderful houses were being built in parts of London. Well, I understand it ; I understand why they have been built along the line of the docks in Liverpool as well. The Government want to create a yuppie area where they hope that people will vote Tory and get rid of Labour Members of Parliament : their objective is as simple and as silly as that. What they should be doing is acting to meet the real needs of the people in such areas, and my party, if it were in government, would have the policies to do that.

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6.40 pm

Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden) : It is a well-known fact that the inner cities were discovered by the Conservative party during the last election campaign. That has been thoroughly chronicled. In next to no time the Prime Minister, with sensible shoes and handbag, was standing on a piece of waste ground in--if I remember correctly--Stockton, announcing its imminent colonisation. I am afraid that I must tell the Government what they are likely to know already--that those who live in those areas are unmoved and probably sceptical.

We learned very little from the Chancellor of the Duchy's speech, except that he has a deep admiration for the politics of Mr. Keva Coombes--which shows a certain breadth of vision--and that he reads the trade supplements thoroughly, albeit with a rather naive enthusiasm. I want to say a few words about the problems in Scotland, where the scene is perhaps a little different but will nevertheless, I suspect, be familiar to many of my colleagues from south of the border. When the Secretary of State for Scotland makes his speech, I expect that we shall hear a good deal about GEAR--the Glasgow eastern area renewal scheme--and, no doubt, about the merchant city. Those things are, of course, worthy of comment. The GEAR scheme involved public investment of £300 million over nearly a decade. As the Secretary of State knows, the Government have been criticised a good deal for cutting short before its time a scheme started by the Labour Government, but I welcome what was achieved, and what has happened in the merchant city. The partnership between the public and private sectors reflects credit on all who were involved, including the city council. I hope that we shall not encounter something that has become very familiar in Scottish politics--the somewhat cynical opportunism with which Scottish Office Ministers have dealt with such matters. Double standards are well to the fore. In Scotland, if one brick is laid upon another or if a sod is turned in any part of the country, particularly in an inner city, a junior Minister from the Scottish Office will be there, appropriately enough, to take the plaudits and the credit.

Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton) : And the photographs.

Mr. Dewar : Indeed.

Ministers tend to boast about the services provided in inner-city areas, such as education and housing. We are led to believe that all the phenomenal progress is due to the good heartedness and deep belief in high public spending of such unlikely figures as the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth).

Mr. Hind rose --

Mr. Dewar : No, I will not give way as I have only a short time in which to speak.

Within days, the same figures are usually being paraded in a slightly different context to illustrate the profligacy and irresponsibility of the same councils. I am glad to see the Minister nodding in cheerful agreement- -clearly he has enjoyed some recent examples. The merchant city is certainly an example of inner-city development in Glasgow, but one has only to walk a few hundred yards to

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find oneself in a very different environment. For reasons that my Scottish colleagues will understand, I have been spending quite a bit of time there recently.

As every hon. Member knows, unemployment in Scotland is far higher than it is in Great Britain as a whole. Seasonally adjusted figures published only a few days ago showed a Scottish unemployment rate of 9.7 per cent. However, much as we may argue about the basis on which those figures are compiled, one fact remains clear--that the Scottish unemployment rate is about 50 per cent. above the national average. In whole wards, not just collections of streets, in the inner cities of Glasgow, and also in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee, unemployment is as high as 25 or 30 per cent.

I make no apology for mentioning Glasgow, Central, which is very much in the minds of everyone in Scottish politics at present. It is relevant, as it has the fifth highest unemployment rate of all the parliamentary constituencies of Great Britain and the worst in Scotland. It is a classic deprived inner-city area, where such problems are very real, and it has taken its share of the collapse of employment in Scotland. Regional employment changes mean that the number of employed and self-employed people has fallen by 118,000 in the past decade, and many instances have been in the inner cities. There are more homeless people and more social problems--for instance, the problem of simply maintaining housing stock-- and no Government can be complacent about the facts. In 1979, 450,000 claimants and their dependants were in receipt of supplementary benefit. About 830,000 now receive income support. That represents the growth of poverty, and anyone with any knowledge of the demography and social shape of Scotland will know that much of that poverty is concentrated in inner cities, as are the problems of peripheral housing schemes.

If the Minister wishes to see the impact on the health and social life of the population, he should look at "Glasgow : Healthy Cities Project", a position statement published recently by a weighty committee chaired by Dr. Thomson of the Greater Glasgow health board and including--to their credit- -a number of the Minister's political friends. There is no doubt that the problem exists and can be seen. What is disappointing is the Scottish response. We have had "New Life for Urban Scotland", a typical new-style Scottish Office glossy. I can reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) by telling him that it has the merit of containing only one picture of the Secretary of State for Scotland. It dealt largely with the peripheral schemes in Wester Hailes, Castlemilk, Whitfield and Ferguslie park. I make no complaint about that--they have real problems-- but there was no mention of the inner cities.

It would be hard to say where the cash is for the inner-cities programme in Scotland--the equivalent of what the Government are claiming to be providing south of the border. Scottish Enterprise is to retain its existing budget--the Housing Corporation budget combined with the Scottish Development Agency budget. There is little evidence that even the substantial £350 million budget of Scottish Homes has not been largely carved out of money that would otherwise have been available for housing in any event.

I cannot go into detail, but I should say that I have looked long and hard for this new money. I have consulted

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people who are not in politics, the technicians and practical men who administer such matters, and they have to concede that they cannot point to where it is--not, I believe, because they are blind or lack expertise, but because the new money is simply not there. The damage to the inner cities is being done by the Government's general policies--for instance, the housing policy that has allowed the figure that can be taken into the housing revenue account to fall from £125 million to £3 million, has allowed the contribution for every local authority house in Scotland to be cut from £238 to around £60 and has taken a cumulative total of billions from the rate support grant settlement.

The inner-city areas will be particularly hit by the poll tax, because they are exactly the kind of poverty-stricken areas that will be left to pay a significantly higher percentage of local revenue raised than they did under the previous system. I challenge the Secretary of State to deny that. We have seen the murder of regional policy and regional incentives.

I cannot resist a small competition to which hon. Members might like, in 15 seconds, to produce the answer. I ask the House what Julius Caesar would say if he landed on our shores today. I have the answer, because the Prime Minister told a doubtless astonished Conservative party conference at Perth that he would have no hesitation in saying, "I came, I saw, I invested." I must confess that my only regret is that the Secretary of State did not manage it in Latin.

I recognise that there has been a remarkable change in the Government's approach to Scottish matters over the past few years. It used to be fashionable to abuse the Scots, to tell them that their story was a cautionary tale of the dependency culture and that all their faults were their own fault, but there has been an about-turn. We have invented the economic miracle. We are told that Scotland is the birthplace of Adam Smith, a perfect enterprise economy of which we can all be proud.

It is unfair perhaps to dwell on conference speeches and I have some sympathy with the Secretary of State because it cannot be easy to know what to say to Scottish Tories gathered in Perth. I did not greatly admire his suggestion that my constituents were building frigates like fury or the hopeful suggestion that together we shall climb mountains. That is not in my immediate plans.

What I welcome--I make a serious point here--is the rather tentative suggestion that the Secretary of State is interested in putting peace on the agenda in Scottish politics and building bridges between the Government and the people of Scotland. I do not want to overstate what he said. He described a case for a modest period of consolidation, but against the general background of argument, even that is of some significance. The tragedy was that the next day the Prime Minister arrived and stamped on the Secretary of State, making it clear that any bridges that he might build would quickly be torn down.

Looking at the situation in the inner cities and in the Scottish economy generally, I hope that the Secretary of State did not make that speech simply to deceive. I hope that he meant what he said because it is important to Scotland and to the inner cities and areas of deprivation that we have a change of direction and that there are signs of a change of heart on the part of the Government. The right hon. and learned Gentleman would be doing us a signal service if he showed a certain independence today

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and indicated that that change of heart will come and that some of the Government's damaging policies will be abandoned.

6.52 pm

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind) : The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), when he explained to the House why he could not remain throughout the debate, might have undertaken to read the speeches that we have heard this evening because he would have heard not only from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster but also from four of my hon. Friends a devastating response which must have made the Opposition wonder why they had chosen this subject for debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan), who knows Birmingham better even that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, pointed to the massive improvements in the inner city of Birmingham. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Hicks), in an effective fighting speech, pointed to the priorities for urban policy and the inadequacies of the Opposition. My hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) pointed out that those localities which have had Labour-controlled local authorities for years, which are the highest spending local authorities, are those which seem still to have the most difficult problems, perhaps because of the control that has been exercised on them during those years. My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) correctly emphasised that only by encouraging the business community to help create prosperity in those localities can one achieve the desired results.

The most interesting and extraordinary remark by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook was his reference to enterprise zones. He suggested that it was only inner-city landlords who had benefited from enterprise zones. I suspect that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) would not agree with that, as his right hon. Friend has clearly not visited Clydebank, which was made an enterprise zone in 1981. Had he done so, he would know that in the first six years after its designation it was not inner-city landlords who benefited--400 new businesses with more than 4,000 new jobs were created in that enterprise zone.

Mr. Dewar : We welcome the progress made in the Clydebank enterprise zone, one third of which falls within my constituency, but does the Secretary of State agree that the main basis for that success has been the work of the Scottish Development Agency and the heavy public investment that has gone into the area?

Mr. Rifkind : It was the work of the Scottish Development Agency with the funds provided by the Government. I am happy to acknowledge that.

I was interested to note that the hon. Member for Garscadden had attached his name to the Opposition motion. At this point, I wish to do something unusual, Madam Deputy Speaker, and refer to the terms of the Opposition motion as judged against the speech by the hon. Gentleman and what has been achieved. The hon. Gentleman may care to read the motion--he has probably not done so up to now, so it would be useful for him to be reminded of it.

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The motion refers to

"total neglect of the inner city areas."

Presumably that includes the city of Glasgow. The hon. Gentleman referred to the GEAR project in the east end of Glasgow. The motion that he has signed says that it has led to a "reduction in investment" over the past nine years. The hon. Gentleman confirms that. Does he regard £300 million of Government investment and £200 million of private sector investment in the GEAR area as a reduction in investment?

The Opposition motion refers to

"a decline in the quality of housing."

Does that apply to the GEAR area where 6,000 houses have been either built or improved as a result of the Government's inner urban policy? The motion to which the hon. Gentleman has put his name also refers to the decline in schools. We know that the most controversial issue in Strathclyde at the moment is the attempt of the Labour-controlled authority to close schools, not to keep them open. When the motion that the hon. Gentleman has signed refers to what is described as

"a deterioration in adequate health care",

does he have in mind Glasgow--the best-funded health authority in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Dewar : The right hon. and learned Gentleman used to have a reputation for being laid back and rather composed. Now tantrums at the Dispatch Box are the order of the day. His intemperate remarks about the closure of schools show that he has not read his own Department's circulars about how he expects education authorities to bring school accommodation into line with the fall in school rolls. I welcome the right hon. and learned Gentleman's praise for the GEAR project, which was planned and started by the Labour Government. Does he not accept that the impact of the community charge or poll tax, on housing benefit and other benefit changes mean a growth in poverty? Does he not accept that industrial investment in Scotland is now running at a lower rate than in 1979?

Mr. Rifkind : The hon. Gentleman carefully avoided the terms of the motion to which his name is attached. We are not talking about industrial investment in Scotland but about investment in the inner city areas. The hon. Gentleman knows that in GEAR, which is the biggest example of inner- urban investment in the United Kingdom, not only has investment been dramatic, not only has housing been restored and renovated, not only has health care been the most generous in any part of the United Kingdom but, as his own Labour-controlled district council has said, the urban regeneration there is the best example in the United Kingdom of what inner- city regeneration can do. Let us consider the attitude of the Opposition with regard to inner-urban policy. The hon. Gentleman concentrated his remarks on the city of Glasgow. We all know that there is a great deal of very proper pride in what has been achieved in Glasgow over the past 10 years. I paid a tribute to all those who have been involved, including Glasgow district council, Strathclyde regional council, local residents and the Scottish Office. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would also like to acknowledge that.

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If we wish to see who has given the lead in achieving these objectives, the hon. Gentleman might care to mention the fact that the present Conservative Government and the Scottish Office provided the funding for Glasgow's conference and exhibition centres, 50 per cent. of the funding for the Burrell gallery, and all the funding for the Glasgow garden festival as well as designating Glasgow a city of culture for 1990. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to give credit where credit is due, he should bear that in mind.

My hon. Friends have demolished the argument advanced by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, and the hon. Member for Garscadden does not need me to demolish his argument--he has only to read the Opposition motion to realise how inadequate his speech was. On that basis, I invite the House to vote for the Government amendment and to reject the Opposition motion.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question :

The House divided : Ayes 194, Noes 288.

Division No. 209] [7 pm


Adams, Allen (Paisley N)

Allen, Graham

Anderson, Donald

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashley, Rt Hon Jack

Ashton, Joe

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)

Barron, Kevin

Battle, John

Beckett, Margaret

Beith, A. J.

Bell, Stuart

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)

Bermingham, Gerald

Bidwell, Sydney

Boateng, Paul

Boyes, Roland

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)

Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Buckley, George J.

Caborn, Richard

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Canavan, Dennis

Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)

Cartwright, John

Clark, Dr David (S Shields)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clay, Bob

Clelland, David

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Cohen, Harry

Coleman, Donald

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cousins, Jim

Crowther, Stan

Cummings, John

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Dalyell, Tam

Darling, Alistair

Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Douglas, Dick

Duffy, A. E. P.

Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth

Eadie, Alexander

Evans, John (St Helens N)

Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)

Fatchett, Derek

Faulds, Andrew

Fearn, Ronald

Field, Frank (Birkenhead)

Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)

Fisher, Mark

Flannery, Martin

Flynn, Paul

Foot, Rt Hon Michael

Foster, Derek

Foulkes, George

Fraser, John

Garrett, John (Norwich South)

George, Bruce

Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John

Golding, Mrs Llin

Gordon, Mildred

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Grocott, Bruce

Hardy, Peter

Harman, Ms Harriet

Haynes, Frank

Healey, Rt Hon Denis

Heffer, Eric S.

Henderson, Doug

Hinchliffe, David

Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)

Home Robertson, John

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Howells, Geraint

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hughes, John (Coventry NE)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Illsley, Eric

Ingram, Adam

Janner, Greville

Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)

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