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Column 436

11.48 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Michael Forsyth) : The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) made a somewhat scathing attack on my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) and on his knowledge of the leisure and recreation activities of Glasgow district council. Its most recent publicised activity on the leisure side was to entertain the East German Government to celebrate 40 years in power. Perhaps at least on that occasion it was somewhat misguided. My hon. Friend the Minister for Sport might take note of that.

The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North came up with the astonishing assertion that no parent would want instruction to be in the hands of anybody but the local authority. I know that the hon. Gentleman is not an expert on sport. I do not profess to be one, but at least I am aware, as the hon. Gentleman plainly is not, of the splendid work on instruction carried out by the governing bodies. The hon. Gentleman implied that local authorities would be better at it. It seemed to me that the hon. Gentleman has not read the order and in that sense was sharing the fate of the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould), who started by asserting that the order was damaging to sport. He made a lengthy speech and refused to take any interventions. At no point did he mention the customer. His speech was all about facilities and local authorities and not once did he talk about sportsmen and sportswomen.

Mr. Gould : That is quite wrong.

Mr. Forsyth : The hon. Gentleman says that I am quite wrong, but I listened carefully to his speech. I will give way to the hon. Gentleman if he wishes to correct me.

Mr. Gould : I am glad to see that the Minister is prepared to spend the minutes that remain to him in that way. If he looks at Hansard tomorrow, he will see that I referred frequently and repeatedly to the importance of making facilities available to the local communities whom local authorities serve. The Minister may not recognise local communities as customers, but we certainly do.

Mr. Forsyth : The hon. Gentleman confirms what I have said. He says he talked about making facilities available. He did not talk about the needs of sportsmen and sportswomen, or about the range of local authority facilities that are run for the convenience of local authority staff with opening hours that are not convenient for members of the public. My hon. Friend the Minister for Sport gave an example of how, in the Queen Mother sports centre, bringing in private enterprise extended opening hours and facilities. The hon. Member for Dagenham also spoke about the cost of the exercise and completely ignored the Audit Commission's view that savings of 20 per cent. or more could be obtained. He asked how will private profit takers meet the needs of the disadvantaged. The answer is that the needs of the disadvantaged will be determined by local authorities. They will write the contracts and determine the pricing policy and the range of services to be provided. The hon. Gentleman should know that, and should not oppose the measure if he is unaware of it. He also said that local authorities will determine only the subsidy. That is

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not true. As my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) said, local authorities will determine the pricing policy. Mr. Gould rose --

Mr. Forsyth : The hon. Gentleman would not give way, but I shall give way to him.

Mr. Gould : Where in the order will local authorities find the power to fix prices, admissions, and opening hours?

Mr. Forsyth : If the hon. Gentleman goes to the Library tomorrow and asks for a copy of the Act, I am sure that the staff will give him one. He will find the power in that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) said that the whole point of this exercise is to find out who provides the best deal for the customer. Opposition Members who made speeches extolling the virtues of local authorities have nothing to fear. If they are so confident that local authorities are providing the services that the customer wants and the best possible value, what on earth do they have to fear from competition and the order? Opposition Members speak not for the customer or for the sportsmen and sportswomen, but for the National and Local Government Officers Association, which is terrified that the customer will get a better deal and the ratepayer will get bette value for money.

The hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) asserted that local authorities would be able to delegate their charging policy as part of the contract. That is untrue. The hon. Gentleman also asserted that consultation had been of no worth. If he had gone into the matter he would know that part of the consultation and part of our response was to ensure that local authorities will not be able to delegate their charging policies. I hope that we can expect the support of the hon. Gentleman on that matter.

The hon. Gentleman also made the remarkable statement that this Government had done nothing for or to encourage sport. Under this Government the number of people participating in sport has increased by some 6 million.

The hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) rightly pointed out that what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) said in the Glasgow Herald on 1 December 1989 was a load of nonsense. The hon. Gentleman was concerned that Old Course should not be affected by this order. He, as Member of Parliament for Fife, North-East, is a trustee of the Links Trust that runs Old Course, which is owned by the local authority. The hon. Gentleman said that there was a difference of philosophy, and there certainly is. He is a member of an organisation running a service for a local authority that is providing a service second to none and that he seeks to defend. It is precisely the kind of measure that this order seeks to introduce.

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker-- put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business).

Question put :--

The House divided : Ayes 205, Noes 159.

Division No. 11] [11.55 pm


Aitken, Jonathan

Alexander, Richard

Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Allason, Rupert

Column 438

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Ashby, David

Atkins, Robert

Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)

Baldry, Tony

Banks, Robert (Harrogate)

Batiste, Spencer

Bellingham, Henry

Bendall, Vivian

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Bevan, David Gilroy

Biffen, Rt Hon John

Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Bonsor, Sir Nicholas

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Boswell, Tim

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes

Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard

Brandon-Bravo, Martin

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Browne, John (Winchester)

Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)

Budgen, Nicholas

Burns, Simon

Burt, Alistair

Butcher, John

Butler, Chris

Carlisle, John, (Luton N)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Carttiss, Michael

Channon, Rt Hon Paul

Chapman, Sydney

Chope, Christopher

Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)

Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)

Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)

Colvin, Michael

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Couchman, James

Cran, James

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Dover, Den

Dunn, Bob

Durant, Tony

Dykes, Hugh

Eggar, Tim

Emery, Sir Peter

Evennett, David

Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas

Fallon, Michael

Favell, Tony

Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)

Fishburn, John Dudley

Fookes, Dame Janet

Forman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Franks, Cecil

French, Douglas

Gale, Roger

Gardiner, George

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Goodlad, Alastair

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gorman, Mrs Teresa

Gow, Ian

Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)

Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Gregory, Conal

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Grist, Ian

Hague, William

Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)

Hampson, Dr Keith

Hanley, Jeremy

Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')

Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)

Harris, David

Haselhurst, Alan

Hayward, Robert

Heddle, John

Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.

Hordern, Sir Peter

Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)

Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)

Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)

Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)

Hunt, David (Wirral W)

Hunter, Andrew

Irvine, Michael

Jack, Michael

Jackson, Robert

Janman, Tim

Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)

Jopling, Rt Hon Michael

Key, Robert

King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)

King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)

Knight, Greg (Derby North)

Lightbown, David

Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)

Maclean, David

McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael

Mawhinney, Dr Brian

Miller, Sir Hal

Mills, Iain

Miscampbell, Norman

Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)

Moate, Roger

Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)

Moss, Malcolm

Moynihan, Hon Colin

Mudd, David

Neale, Gerrard

Nelson, Anthony

Neubert, Michael

Nicholls, Patrick

Nicholson, David (Taunton)

Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)

Norris, Steve

Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley

Page, Richard

Paice, James

Patnick, Irvine

Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)

Patten, John (Oxford W)

Pawsey, James

Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth

Porter, David (Waveney)

Portillo, Michael

Raison, Rt Hon Timothy

Renton, Rt Hon Tim

Rhodes James, Robert

Riddick, Graham

Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas

Ridsdale, Sir Julian

Rowe, Andrew

Rumbold, Mrs Angela

Ryder, Richard

Sackville, Hon Tom

Sainsbury, Hon Tim

Sayeed, Jonathan

Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas

Shaw, David (Dover)

Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)

Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')

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