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Mr. George J. Buckley (Hemsworth) : My hon. Friend stressed the necessity of increasing road services to the proposed market. I am not sufficiently local to know whether he is justified in making that point, but if more expenditure is necessary to improve the road services to the site of the market that would generate the need for more car parking to accommodate the increased traffic that will be generated by the establishment of the market. Is my hon. Friend convinced that there is adequate car parking in the locality to accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic?
Mr. Cohen : I am not totally convinced that there will be sufficient car parking space as that will depend on the size of the market. Mr. Price was kind enough to give me a leaflet on Redbridge that refers to the market for Ilford and the Bill. The leaflet states :
"And work has started on a new shopping mall to provide some 100 shops, department store, food court and parking for 1,200 cars. This is due to open in 1991."
I do not know whether 1,200 car parking spaces will be sufficient, but clearly Redbridge has thought about it. The leaflet also talks about the road network and states that :
"the A406--South Woodford to Barking Relief Road--opened in 1987." So Redbridge already has those flash new roads. That emphasises my point that the money has already gone to Redbridge at the expense of Leyton and it would be quite horrendous if it received any more money.
I want to place it clearly on record that if Redbridge gets the market it should not get any more money for roads and that Leyton should be the first priority ahead of Redbridge. That point has to be rammed in, and that is why I object to the Bill.
Mr. Redmond : I do not know whether my hon. Friend had a meeting at the proposed site with the people whom he mentioned. He spoke about the verbal promise that he received. I would be slightly sceptical about accepting such a promise, as we do not know what the future will hold, especially if the market can expand. I am not quite sure where the site is, but perhaps my hon. Friend can inform me whether future expansion could take place by knocking down a few buildings. There is certainly some demolition taking place at Spitalfields market. The Bill talks about 60 or 80 sites, and I am not sure whether that could be increased to 100, 200 or 300. If the market expands, money will be required to ensure that local services meet the increased capacity. However, I do not know the area and would be grateful if my hon. Friend could help.
Mr. Cohen : There is always a danger of expansion. The Bill deals with the market stalls and, as far as I can see, the site appears to be quite limited. However, the enclosed mall and the food court to which I referred could spread and the parking problem could increase as could the pressure for roads to service the area.
Mr. Cryer : Does my hon. Friend accept that assurances are given by all sorts of people at various times as a matter of convenience to them? One certain way in which those assurances can be made hard and fast is by incorporating a clause or an amendment in the Bill. I wonder whether the chief executive would be prepared to say that he would incorporate into the Bill an amendment to make it a cast-iron guarantee which could be changed only by the Bill being amended in Parliament?
Mr. Cohen : I welcome my hon. Friend's intervention. I am always grateful to hon. Members with much greater experience of such procedures, and the private Bill procedure is certainly archaic. I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for that suggestion ; I had not thought of it. I would welcome a clause in the Bill making it clear that the priority for roads money should go not to Redbridge but to Leyton. I hope that the sponsor of the Bill, or even the Minister, will agree to such an amendment because Leyton certainly has had a bad deal.
My hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) said that I should have got a written assurance from the chief executive about no new roads being needed. Mr. Price came to see me only at the end of last week so there has not been an opportunity for that. Mr. Price has served the London borough of Redbridge for a long time and I take him at his word, and he gave me that assurance and I have put it on record tonight. Mr. Price speaks not for himself but for Redbridge and its honour would also be at stake.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : Does my hon. Friend agree that it is an abuse of the private Bill procedure for the promoters not to explore every opportunity to negotiate with anyone who has his name down in a block and to give assurances so that there is no need for a debate in the House? Hon. Members would prefer to debate some of the momentous events happening throughout the world rather than give time to private Bills. The tradition in the House is that, wherever possible, the promoters negotiate to avoid the need for a Second Reading debate, which again takes up hon. Members' time, and the possibility of amendments being moved on Third Reading.
Mr. Cohen : I made my objections to the Bill clear at the beginning of the Session, but I do not oppose it as strongly as I opposed the City of London (Various Powers) Bill whereby forest land was stolen and not replaced. I could have gone on all night protesting about that. I am concerned about how the road network will affect Leyton.
Mr. Cryer : Does my hon. Friend accept that sometimes people of integrity give assurances but that one chief executive can be replaced by another? The only way in which an assurance given in perfect faith and utmost honesty will stand the test of time is for it to be written on the face of the Bill. A new chief executive could legitimately say, "Nothing said by a previous office holder can bind me." The promoters should redraw the Bill so that an assurance can appear on the face of it.
Mr. Cohen : I hope that the promoters will take my hon. Friend's point on board. Given the limited time that was available, I could only assume that the chief executive was a man of honour and that he spoke for Redbridge. My only purpose in speaking is to place on record the fact that the chief executive gave me a cast-iron assurance.
Any money for roads should not be given to build a market. There are already prior claims on that money in Leyton, which has been done down by the Government, especially by the husband of the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment. She should be concerned about the environment and should kick him out of bed one evening and say "Leyton should be given the money ahead of Redbridge."
Column 92executive, who no doubt is an honourable man whose word is his bond. However, chief executives come and go. In a short period, Doncaster has had two chief executives. A new chief executive may argue, "My predecessor should have said this or that." Hon. Members have experience of officers saying things that bind the passage of a Bill. An authority should include in the Bill any undertaking that it gives to an hon. Member.
Mr. Cohen : I bow to my hon. Friend's experience. Under the appalling private Bill procedure, I was consulted very late, but I look to the promoters to include on Third Reading the assurance that was given to me.
Mr. Cryer : Redrafting this part of the Bill would be the best way to proceed. It occurred to me while my hon. Friend was making his useful comments that under local government reorganisation--which can occur at any time under this Government, who are reorganising everything in sight to make it more difficult for ordinary people--if something is included in the Bill, which then becomes an Act, any successor organisation is obliged to take over the responsibility of the previous local government authority. An assurance from a chief executive of an authority that has disappeared or merged into another local authority is worthless, no matter how decent or honest the man or woman was who gave it. I urge my hon. Friend to consider the possibility of redrafting this part of the Bill to incorporate the assurance that he was given, because that is the only way it will stand the test of time.
Mr. Cohen : I take my hon. Friend's point, which has thrown me into a dilemma. I was given an assurance in good faith and I am prepared to believe it. Mr. Price is clearly an honourable man, and I merely wanted to get the assurance on the record.
Mr. Illsley : I should like my hon. Friend to bear in mind the example about which Labour Members have been speaking. In 1986, the Government abolished South Yorkshire county council, and any assurances given by it were made worthless. Local authority powers devolved to the district authorities of Doncaster, Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley. If that were to happen in London, the district authority might disagree with the policy of the previous authority, thereby scuppering any assurance given to my hon. Friend. Parliament is being asked to approve a Bill to give power to a local authority, but it should incorporate concrete assurances in the Bill.
While my hon. Friend was speaking, I thought of a way round the problem. It would be best if the Minister said, "I am pleased to say to the hon. Member for Leyton that the Government can get round the problem and Parliament can get on and discuss the important issues of the day. We shall give Leyton all the money that it needs for its roads and environment as a result of the M11 link road to prevent any squabbling." After all, we need to improve the environment on that link road. Leyton needs more parks, forests and open space. The Department of
Column 93Transport sold some that we had. Many people along that route are about to be made homeless and they deserve to be treated well by the Government.
The way out of the problem would be for Conservatives to help each other. The Government can help Redbridge to get the Bill through without incorporating a new clause if they put up the money for Leyton.
Mr. Skinner : I am a bit worried now. My hon. Friend has been making the point at length that he is a bit worried about undertakings given in a short meeting that he had last week, telling us, I think, that he had serious reservations about the market proposed in the Bill. Is my hon. Friend now saying that if he can get for Leyton what he did not get on the City of London (Various Powers) Bill he is prepared to have another look at the matter? I hope that he will clear up that important matter.
Mr. Cohen : I would not have objected to the Bill if I had thought that Leyton would not be adversely affected. If the money is put up for Leyton's roads and environment, I have no objection if, in a few years' time, a bit more money goes to Redbridge's roads. We shall have had ours in Leyton. I hope that my hon. Friend understands that point.
Mr. Cohen : I can be a bit mercenary when I am fighting for my constituents, especially when they are being done down day after day by the Government. They have to rely on their markets to buy suits for £5, cheap food and towels from the Londonderry hotel. There are towels from the Londonderry hotel in markets throughout Britain and no doubt they will be found in this market.
Mr. Cryer : Many Opposition Members feel that the Government have abused the private Bill procedure by putting forward what is essentially Government legislation in the form of private Bills. For the Minister to intervene and say that a grant will be made to my hon. Friend's constituency, as my hon. Friend is suggesting, would be a further abuse of the private Bill procedure. I hope that my hon. Friend will re-examine the position. The best way to proceed would be to incorporate in the Bill the sort of assurance that he has sought and obtained from the chief executive rather than to rely on the Government intervening with offers of money. As my hon. Friend knows, Goverment money can carry many conditions and difficulties and he might find himself wishing that the Bill had been altered instead.
Mr. Cohen : My hon. Friend is doing a good job in persuading me, but I would take the money for my constituents. If the Minister said that we could have the money for parks and open spaces and for the families who would be made homeless, I would take it, even though my hon. Friend makes excellent constitutional points. The private Bill procedure is bankrupt anyway, and community profits do not go to the community, so I would take the money.
Mr. Cohen : Yes, because we have an excellent Member of the European Parliament, Alf Lomas, who might well be able to get them changed on his trips to the Common Market. He does great work in the local area. However, I shall not go further along that route.
Column 94I said that I would not speak for long, and I want to start to conclude.
Sir Nicholas Bonsor : Before the hon. Gentleman does so, I may be able to assist him on the procedure that we shall be going through later. I fear that my hon. Friend the Minister is unlikely to give the hon. Gentleman the money that he wants and there is a faint possibility that when we divide later we may fail to throw the Bill out at this stage, regrettable though that will be. However, the private Bill procedure allows Leyton to make representations to the private Bill Committee, when the point that the hon. Gentleman has made so forcefully could be put. At that stage, four of our colleagues will have the right to write that condition into the Bill. Should they do so, Redbridge council will be bound by it. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman should consider inviting his local authority to make representations to the Committee should it be necessary.
Mr. Cohen : I thank the hon. Gentleman for that helpful advice. I shall take it on board and ask my local authority to make those representations. Nevertheless, the Minister should put up the money for Leyton, because it is such a good cause and has been done down so often, and it would ease the Bill's passage.
Another area of concern was that when the M11 link road goes through Leytonstone high road should have the opportunity to be pedestrianised. The Bill relates to part of Redbridge being pedestrianised. Again, Redbridge is getting that first, or rather being the only one to get it, taking priority over Leyton which really needs it.
When the M11 goes through, Leytonstone high road could be pedestrianised, enhancing Leytonstone's shopping opportunities. We do not want Redbridge to have built up its market to such an extent that it stifles Leytonstone at birth and ruins its opportunities for pedestrianisation and the environmental improvements that would flow from that.
Mr. Price and Mr. Bassett of Redbridge referred to the theory of concentric shopping circles. I do not know whether my hon. Friends know about that. Basically, it boils down to some planner drawing a circle around one market and then around another further down the road. Anyone who lives in between the two circles or in the area where the circles overlap might go to either market--
I am not an expert on that new-fangled theory, but I should like Leytonstone to have its shopping facilities improved and to be pedestrianised so that we can draw a nice big circle around Leytonstone and improve the prosperity of my constituency. I would be worried if Redbridge took away that opportunity and ruined Leytonstone's prospects.
Mr. Illsley : My hon. Friend refers to the theory of concentric circles which involves a circle being drawn around one market and then another, leaving an area in between. Does not the royal charter put a protective circle around the market to prevent another market from being placed there? Therefore, is not the concentric circle argument a little confusing?
Column 95thought to involve a third of the day getting there, a third of the day shopping and a third of the day getting home, and I suppose that that comes into the 6ile measurement.
We do not want markets springing up in close proximity to each other, with authorities competing unnecessarily and wastefully. The result will be markets going broke. We have seen that happen in other spheres, where local authorities have spent loads of money on advertising simply to compete with each other.
Sir Nicholas Bonsor : I am intrigued by the concentric circle argument. Did Mr. Price tell the hon. Gentleman what he thought about the idea of having concentric circles within one circle? It is proposed that the Ilford circle should occur within the Romford circle. That does not seem to make economic sense.
Mr. Cohen : I agree, and it cannot make sense to have the concentric circles on top of each other. That brings me back to the need for a strategic planning authority, and it brings me to my final point, which is to oppose the idea of having markets virtually on top of each other. In that situation more markets will spring up and they will all go broke.
Mr. Cryer : Does my hon. Friend agree that the original example, dating from 1247, provides an argument for having proper strategic planning? Will my hon. Friend develop the concept of strategic planning, which is essential if we are to make the best use of resources?
Mr. Cohen : I do not want to delay the House by going down that path, remembering that I have been careful strictly to address the issues concerning the market. My hon. Friend makes an important point about strategic planning because it must make sense to optimise resources, otherwise waste results. We do not want many markets in certain areas and none in rural and semi-rural areas, with those living in distant areas having to travel for miles to get their Londonderry hotel towels.
Mr. Barron : If my hon. Friend agrees that the 13th century example mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) represented one of the earliest forms of strategic planning, may I ask him to develop the point that it represented wide-ranging foresight on the part of those concerned in relation to housing?
Mr. Cohen : My hon. Friend is right, and the point he makes proves how important it is to have strategic planning in London and elsewhere, including Bradford. Any plan involving shopping areas must have housing in mind. Indeed, transport--not forgetting public transport--roads and all other forms of planning must be taken into account at the same time.
The trouble with the policies of the Government, including their use of the private Bill procedure, is that all of those considerations are the subject of chaos. They are left to market forces. They plan nothing in a co- ordinated way, and that leads to enormous waste.
Mr. Cryer : My hon. Friend might care to reflect on the way in which some authorities will spend large sums of money establishing markets, with good facilities and so on, while others will spend less. If this is left to market forces,
Column 96some local authorities will find that their markets become less successful as competitor markets become more profitable. Ratepayers' money will have been spent on facilities, for stallholders and the public, which serve no useful purpose. Indeed, councillors might face being surcharged because of that waste of ratepayers' money.
Mr. Cohen : My hon. Friend makes the point so well that I need not enlarge on it, except to remind the House that part of that expenditure will be on advertising. Once markets are so close--such as Romford and Ilford--that competition is enormous, but local authorities will spend ratepayers' money on advertising, competing against each other, in a chaotic way. The money will, no doubt, go to Saatchi and Saatchi, who will laugh all the way to the bank
Mr. Illsley : I will not delay my hon. Friend because a number of hon. Members wish to take part in the debate, and I hope to have an opportunity later to comment on the royal charter that was awarded to my constituency. The document to which my hon. Friend referred showed that Ilford town centre will have a new shopping mall in addition to a new market. He pointed out that ratepayers' money will be spent on advertising if the market becomes run down.
In my constituency, part of a market was moved to become part of a market complex and shopping centre. The result was that the market competed with the shopping precinct, and the profits of both declined. Eventually the local authority was involved in heavy expense to improve the shopping mall and the market centre simply to re-establish the position that existed prior to the amalgamation. Does my hon. Friend agree that, in the case we are discussing, competition between the market and the shopping complex will lead the authorities into incurring considerable expense?
I shall resume my seat, having spoken about the road network and the need for the money about which we are speaking not to be spent on a market but to come to Leyton for the benefit of the people of the area.
Sir Nicholas Bonsor (Upminster) : The hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) will forgive me if I do not follow him down the roads of Leyton. I am grateful for the modest and short intervention that he made in the debate, in which he concisely made important points in favour of his constituency. I have no doubt that those matters will be pursued further if the Bill proceeds to another stage. I have known my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) for a long time. We have served together on various Select Committees on Defence, and it is sad for me to be against him on this measure. He will forgive me for not being able to vote with him, in the light of the appalling shortcomings of the Bill which he has had
Column 97the misfortune to present to the House. I say that because the measure is full of flaws in terms of detail and construction. On the face of it, it is a simple little Bill which appears to be harmless in asking for a market in Ilford. That would be the case if it were something that was taken in a vacuum, but in order to judge the merits of this Bill we have to do two things. First, we have to recognise the background against which it is being brought forward. The Romford market has been operating for something like 742 years and this Bill is in direct abrogation of the rights which the Romford market traders have enjoyed for the whole of that period. Secondly, we have to look at the detail of the Bill to see if in its construction it is a fair Bill and puts its case across adequately. The key to that can be found in paragraph (2) on page 1, which reads :
"It would be of public and local advantage to provide for the establishment of a further market in the part of the borough known as Ilford notwithstanding the infringement or non-compliance thereby with any rule of law or enactment".
It cannot be very often that a Bill comes before the House announcing at the outset that it intends to flout existing laws and go against existing enactments to the detriment of people other than those for whom the Bill is being promoted. I therefore, to a degree, commend the honesty of the Bill in admitting at the outset that that is its purpose.
Not content with doing that, the Bill is even more explicit in clause 3, which sets out what the Bill is attempting to achieve. It reads :
"The Council may--
(1) establish a market within a distance of one mile from the town hall ; and
(2) authorise, on such terms (whether financial or otherwise) as they think fit the establishment by others of a market within a distance of one mile from the town hall ;".
So immediately we have a difference between what the Bill is seeking to achieve and that which perhaps its promoters would imagine people to perceive. They are not asking for one market in Ilford ; they are asking for the right to set up two markets in competition with the one which exists in Romford.
The Bill goes on in that same clause to say :
"notwithstanding that the holding of such a market would interfere with any rights, powers or privileges enjoyed in respect of a market held by any other person."
That really is extraordinary and it is even more extraordinary because one has to take into account that it is couched in terms which beg the question whether it would interfere with any such rights. And the fact is that it demonstrably and on the face of the Bill is in direct conflict with such rights. I will come back to that point when I examine the terms of the Bill a little more closely. I would like to take the House through the remaining clauses so that we have a complete picture of what is being put forward tonight.
Mr. Barron : Subsection (2) of clause 3 in fact says that it is asking for the right not to set up other markets owned by a London borough council but to set up markets owned by other people, who normally, as I understand the private Bill procedure, would have to do exactly what this council is doing at the present time--that is, make direct representations to set up a market within the area.
Column 98borough council should be trying to take upon itself the right to make such appointments not merely to itself, but to others, for their own financial gain, which would normally not be feasible without coming back to the House.
Mr. Barron : Not only that, but they are doing exactly as the hon. Member says without anybody having to come back to the House in future in terms of further developments in that area. It is the House that is losing out and not just the borough council.
Sir Nicholas Bonsor : That is quite right and it is a very important point. The House has to be very careful when allowing powers to be taken from it and delegated to others. I do not believe in delegating such powers without keeping a residual authority within the House to look at again and amend whatever we may see being done under the provisions that we have approved. In this instance we would not have any further power as the House of Commons to take another look at a Redbridge market being set up by that council in a way of which we might thoroughly disapprove, nor would we have any say in who was adminstering such a market.
Clause 4 deals with compensation. My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South has been good enough to admit that this clause is inadequate. None the less, it would be doing the problems less than justice if the House did not look closely at what is proposed. We are not looking here at a draft, a Green Paper, something that has been put to the House for consideration in outline ; we are looking at detailed proposals that are being put forward with the recommendation that they should pass into law.
If we pass this now, on Second Reading, we shall have no further powers under the private Bill procedure, unless amendments are made in the private Bill Committee, to look at this again on Report. That is something which is unique to the private Bill procedure, which makes it all the more important that matters are not lightly glossed over. Notwithstanding the undertaking that my hon. Friend has given that this can be looked at later, it may well be that it will not be and that we shall not be able to find an acceptable compromise solution later. There is a danger that if we failed to find such a solution by compromise or by procedures within the private Bill Committee this House, constituted as it is tonight, would not have a further chance of looking at the Bill.
Mr. Barron : The hon. Member makes a very good point. He will know that a private Bill is going through Parliament at the present time which has not just local but national importance because of this very point. The Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill came back to the House unamended and dozens of hon. Members were very concerned indeed about its implications, yet we do not have the right to amend that Bill.
Sir Nicholas Bonsor : I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I restrict my remarks to what we are considering tonight. Certainly in regard to this Bill there is a danger that this could happen and that gives me grounds for concern.
Under clause 4 it is proposed that :
"If by virtue of the enactment of this Act, the value of the right conferred by statute or by Royal Charter to hold an existing market is diminished, the person in whom that right is vested shall be entitled to compensation from the Council as set out in subsection (2) below or as otherwise agreed with
Column 99the Council save that a local authority within the meaning of section 72 of the Act of 1984 shall not be entitled to any compensation in respect of any rights, powers or privileges which they enjoy by reason only of the fact that they have established a market within their own district in the circumstances set out in subsection (3) of section 50 of the Act of 1984."
That is deeply significant in the context of this discussion because, as I will explain a little later, that clause does not cover the circumstances in which Romford market operates. Therefore it does not offer compensation to Romford borough council under its present terms.
Mr. Redmond : What has been said about the Bill being unamended in Committee is very important. The clause to which the hon. Member has referred talks about the local authority within the meaning of section 72 of the 1984 Act. I am sure that the hon. Member is aware that local government is going through tremendous changes and I do not see that stopping within the next couple of years. So any Acts affecting local government can be deleted, amended or whatever, and this will have a direct impact on what is stated in this section.
Sir Nicholas Bonsor : The hon. Gentleman is quite right to be concerned about that. There are procedures whereby such new Bills try to amend or take into account existing legislation to which they refer. One of my more arduous and less enjoyable jobs in the House is to serve on the Committee considering the consolidation of Bills. As the hon. Gentleman knows, that involves looking very closely at new Bills which take into account old legislation and consolidate it. We have to be extremely careful that when that is done no change of law takes place inadvertently through the new wording.
There are procedures whereby the danger that the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) fears can be averted, but it is a danger that needs to be watched for whenever new legislation is brought forward. The meaning of "the Council" under section 72 of the Food Act 1984, which I confess that I have not read, may or may not be too narrow in terms of those who have the powers to hold local markets. That is another matter to which we should turn our attention if further opportunity arises.
Subsections 4(2) and 4(3) deal with the measure of compensation. Again, I ask the House to pay attention to this because I have strong objections to it. They say :
"(a) The measure of compensation shall be the capitalised value of the estimated loss of income to the claimant from persons trading at his market resulting from the continuance or establishment of a market under this Act.
(b) Compensation under this section shall carry interest from the expiry of six weeks from the date on which the claim is received by the Council.
3. Except as otherwise be agreed by the Council, compensation under this section shall not be payable except upon a claim made in writing to the Council within three months of the commencement of this Act."
I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South has admitted that that is an appallingly inadequate time in which compensation can be assessed, but I ask the House to consider how anybody could bring such a proposal before the House in the first place. It shows an appalling lack of regard for those who trade in Romford market and an almost arrogant disregard for the need to give adequate compensation when old, established rights are being taken away. That is certainly not in line with