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Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : I thought that I had better say a word or two about the Bill because, when the Leader of the House introduced what was commonly called the resurrection motion some time ago, I pointed out that some of the street traders that I had spoken to during the 12 months since the Bill had started its passage through Parliament had drawn my attention to its inadequacies. I refer in particular to those in the city of Westminster.
There are many Labour local authorities in London. Many street traders in such areas, including those in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Newham,
Column 1119North-West (Mr. Banks), believe that the local authority will do its level best to protect the street trader and others who are affected by the new provisions in the Bill. I had a discussion to that effect with some of the street traders in Westminster-- Lady Porter's domain. They are worried about the treatment that they will receive.
Mr. Skinner : We can carry on doing the pantomime act for as long as the hon. Gentleman wants. I spoke to a considerable number of market traders, including many on Strutton ground, not far from here, off Victoria Street. They are worried about registration and licensing. They are also worried about some of the points to which the hon. Gentleman referred. Under the present procedure, people who have licences keep them on until they decide to pack up the licence, retire or pass away. They are worried that under the new procedure they will have that right taken away. Some of the traders may be 60-odd years old and have been on Strutton ground or in other places in the vicinity for many years. A family may have traded there for generations.
Under the Bill, someone from Westminster council who had lost his interest in giving away cemeteries might decide to take it out on the street traders. The traders are worried about that and have made representations to Westminster council on several occasions but not got far.
We must question how the Bill has managed to reach this point, with Third Reading and amendments. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) referred to the amendments on Third Reading. This is not the first time that amendments have been brought before the House on Third Reading, although it may not have happened on a private Bill.
In the last parliamentary Session, the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) sponsored a private Member's Bill. It waltzed its way quickly through many of its stages and reached Third Reading. It was suddenly realised that it had gone so fast that the promoters had got the title wrong. They did not simply need amendments : they had to change the title. Some of us who were here on that Friday put a stop to that hanky-panky. The same thing is happening with this Bill. It has come along with amendments on Third Reading, despite the fact that they have not been properly and thoroughly discussed. To add to the confusion, the Bill did not get through in the last parliamentary Session. What is known as a carry-over motion could have been brought in to allow the Bill to be carried over into the next parliamentary Session. The Government have a massive majority, so one would think they would be able to do the job simply. They have a majority of 150 over the Labour party and the rest--the rag, tag and bobtail--of about 100. With all those Members available, one would think that the Government could get it right. They say that they can whip these things, but it is a different story when the heat is on. They did not bring in a carry-over motion, and then came up with another motion after the new parliamentary Session had begun. The Government's motion was to the effect, "Let's imagine that we don't have a new Session. We shall carry the Bills over retrospectively." If a Labour Government or Labour manifesto proposed to introduce retrospective
Column 1120legislation to give an amnesty to all the people who will not pay the poll tax, the Tories would play merry hell. An amnesty would not be a bad idea. I am working on it.
Mr. Skinner : I say this only in passing. I am simply drawing a parallel. The Tories' people in the media would want to hang, draw and quarter those who had the gall to propose retrospective legislation. However, that is what the Government have done. The Bill was carried over retrospectively. The Chairman of Ways and Means is knowledgeable about such affairs, and he knows what I am saying.
Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : Does my hon. Friend recall that, on the Housing (Special Provisions) Bill, which became an Act in 1975, restrospective provision was made to allow civil rights to be restored to several local authority councillors, including 11 Clay Cross councillors, in the same way as they were restored to Scottish councillors and others? On that occasion, many Conservative Members said that retrospective legislation was the top of a slippery slope to Fascism. Two different standards are operating here.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I remind the House that we are debating the question, That the Bill be now read the Third time. The remarks to which we have been listening are wide of that question. I hope that we shall return to the question before the House.
Mr. Skinner : Let me explain simply, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Bill before us is unusual. It has been blocked, and the promoters have now come along with amendments. They did not bring them in the normal fashion but on Third Reading. As the Leader of the House had too many Bills before the House and he ran out of parliamentary time, he said that the London Local Authorities Bill would come before the House and would be carried over retrospectively. As Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you know what I am talking about. We are talking not about an abstract matter but specifically about the Bill.
When the Leader of the House caught up with the backlog of Bills, he decided not to tell the promoters of this Bill, "Sorry, you will have to start from scratch and bring it in afresh." That is what should have happened. The Leader of the House realised that he might be able to shuffle the Bill through and carry over a whole series of Bills, including this one. It was retrospective legislation. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) was right to draw a parallel with the way in which the Tories, their friends and Lord Hailsham hammered my brothers and their colleagues on Clay Cross council because they had the guts to keep down council house rents in the 1970s. The councillors stopped the Bill's progress. It never reappeared. They did a good service, although they suffered for it.
Mr. Tony Banks : I remember the incident that my hon. Friend describes. I was a member of a council at the time. We refused to put up the rents and were surcharged, although not at the same penal level--
Column 1121should confine our remarks to the Third Reading of the Bill before the House. I hope that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) will do so.
Mr. Skinner : We are here to discuss the Third Reading of an unusual Bill. On a normal Third Reading, it would be right and proper to discuss the content of the Bill. However, we are talking about an unusual Third Reading. Amendments have been brought in at Third Reading which have not been discussed.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The amendments have been put before the House. They have been discussed by the House and decided by the House. That is now water under the bridge and the debate should be confined to the motion, That the Bill be now read the third time.
Mr. Cryer : I am just asking, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I was not in the Chamber at the time, whether all the amendments have been incorporated in the Bill and are now part of the Third Reading debate.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : The hon. Gentleman has heard me say that the amendments were properly considered at the appropriate stage and have now been decided upon by the House. The motion before the House is, That the Bill be now read the third time, and that is what the debate should be confined to.
"That Standing Order 205 be suspended and that the Bill be now read the third time."
That is unusual, because we have a Standing Order that requires notice of Third Reading, but this motion will allow us to do without that. However, we have not yet voted on that proposal, just as we have not yet voted on Third Reading.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : If the hon. Gentleman is seeking to spell out the full motion, he is quite right, but I remind him that the House considered a similar motion last week, which it discussed and approved, so there is nothing unique about what we are doing this evening.
Column 1122new parliamentary Session had begun. That too was unusual, that too applied to this Bill and that too was retrospective legislation, which is why I am referring to it. I am speaking on behalf of some of the street traders to whom I referred earlier, and to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) referred. It was because my hon. Friend also showed proper concern that the sponsor of the Bill had to answer some of my hon. Friend's queries.
I want to put on the record the fact that this is not just an attempt by me to talk on generalities. The people at Strutton ground and throughout other parts of the area of Westminster council are concerned about the way in which they might be treated when the Bill has received its Third Reading. They believe that, unlike many others, they will be subject to a series of changes--and they have already experienced a few.
Mr. Tony Banks : My hon. Friend has said that the Bill has been resurrected. It certainly has, but it is unlikely ever to become an object of worship. The point that I had been about to put to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) before you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, savaged me in a nice and friendly fashion, would not have discussed the difficulties within my hon. Friend's family back in 1974
Mr. Banks : Indeed, the heroism of the Skinner family is well known in this House and throughout Derbyshire. What I had been going to say to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover was that, if we get to the point when we can discuss the various recommendations in the report of the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure, we will not get ourselves into the sort of difficulties that we are in tonight. I know that my hon. Friend is concerned about that because he asked the Leader of the House questions about it recently.
Mr. Skinner : My hon. Friend has made a fair point. What he is really saying is that an additional reason why we are speaking on this matter, and why my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) has spoken about it, is that we are concerned about the way in which the Government are using the private Bill procedure. The Bill is now part of the backlog and, as the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey has already pointed out, it is now being hurried through. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting spoke tonight about a matter that I know he would have liked to speak about on a previous occasion, but did not get the chance. He is concerned about the showmen and the street traders.
This has been a mumbo-jumbo affair. The Bill is being shovelled through the House in the hope that people will not take too much notice of it.
I am also worried because, as a result of this debate, I have discovered that the City of London is not involved in these provisions. Indeed, this is not the first time that we have found out that the people--the yuppies-- in the City of London are not included in legislation relating to the London authorities. I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West has had some previous experience of this.
Column 1123Mr. Tony Banks : Yes, I certainly have, and I certainly go along with what my hon. Friend has just said about the City of London. However, Camden is also missing from the list of participating councils. Of course, Camden does not have the same political outlook--it is not a totally true-blue Tory council--as the City of London. Although the City of London claims to be impartial and non-political, we know that it has been ring-fenced for the Tory party. The hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) has just returned to his place, so I wonder whether my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover can draw him out somewhat more on the question of why Camden is not included in the list.
Mr. Skinner : I noticed that the hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) had gone to speak to some of the people who might have an interest in this matter. Perhaps he has found out why Camden is not included, and perhaps he will tell us. Does the hon. Gentleman have any information to offer us? If he is proposing the Bill, he should be able to tell us why.
We all know why the City of London has been left out. It is because the street traders in the City of London are a different kind of street trader. When we talk about traders in the City of London, we are talking about those in the stock exchange and all the rest of it. They would not like to be described as "street traders", but that is what they are. Many's the time that I have heard on the wireless, "Dealing closed on the stock exchange at 3 o'clock"--that is not a bad time to finish, is it?--"but they are still trading on the pavement." Apparently, that is a metaphorical way of describing it, but it is true. Traders used to leave the stock exchange and deal in shares outside. That was before big bang, which has been a right old carve-up, because the Japs have taken it over now and there have been job losses.
So, there are street traders in the stock exchange and in the stock exchange and in the insurance market at Lloyd's. We should remember that 50 Tory Members are members of Lloyd's--
Mr. Skinner : Yes, that is right--they are names, but I think that they are members as well. There have been one or two swindles there, including the almighty swindle recently involving £40-odd million and the PCW syndicate but of course, nobody has had their collar felt. Those involved are street traders, yet they are not covered by the Bill's provisions. I find it odd that those people who represent the Tory party and who have picked up something like £26 billion in tax cuts along with their friends in the course of the past 10 years are not having a fence put round them as well. Why are the street traders of the City of London not being treated exactly the same
Sir John Wheeler rose --
Sir John Wheeler : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to intervene in his extremely interesting discourse about the nature of trading in the corporation of the City of London. I am sure that he recalls that the House has approved other measures dealing with those people in the City of London to whom he has just referred. It might help him to know that the Labour-controlled London borough of Camden was not able to participate in
Column 1124the Bill because, as I understand it, it did not want to subscribe to the costs of promoting the Bill. That is all I can offer the hon. Gentleman.
Mr. Skinner : Well, that is an answer as far as Camden is concerned, and I suppose that it has satisfied my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West, but it does not alter the facts about those in the City of London. I want to be able to tell the street traders down at the Cut and the others who are not a hop, step or a jump from this building why the street traders of the City of London and Lloyd's will not be subjected to the licensing arrangements, but I do not suppose that I shall get an answer. Just imagine somebody telling those street traders, "Sorry, your licence is finished." Yet that is what might happen to some of the street traders in the city of Westminster and some of the other Tory-controlled authorities. I want to know why those people are being treated differently.
Mr. Simon Hughes : This is an important point, because there will be a difference in treatment for the street traders in two London authorities. Perhaps Camden's reason is that it would not pay, but the result is that street trading in Camden and in the City will be different. My street traders will want to know whether their colleagues in other boroughs and in the City will be better or worse off. I hope that that question will be answered before the end of the debate, because as the hon. Gentleman has rightly pointed out, we will not have a Londonwide common standard. There will be two or three different standards--one for 31 boroughs, plus different ones, and it is important that we know whether they are better or worse.
Mr. Skinner : That is a fair point. This is what the debate has revealed, although these points should have been discussed earlier, when we might have remedied some of the anomalies. We are now beginning to find out that the City of London and its people are not to be included. We now find that Camden is not included, and perhaps we may find some other anomalies. That only arises out of a debate that was started by, among others, my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley and my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting. They had what I was going to call the audacity--they felt it necessary--to question some of the contents of this Bill.
Mr. Redmond : At the start of this debate, I asked for clarification about the amendments. I said that, if someone had jumped up and explained the amendments, one could either accept them or reject them. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) got up and, among other things, the question of street traders emerged, whether they would be affected and so on. We were given an assurance that there were no objections whatever. Yet we find that there are objections. We find that not all the London boroughs are involved. I am not a Londoner. Perhaps my hon. Friend ought to continue to draw information out. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing out the points that he has, and perhaps if he continues we can elicit more information.
Mr. Skinner : My hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley has a valid point. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will appreciate this as well because, like the hon. Member, you represent a market town. It is not called a market town for nothing ; Doncaster has some of the best and biggest markets in the whole of Britain--as many as three or four, I gather. I have been to several. So my hon. Friend the
Column 1125Member for Don Valley is knowledgeable about such things. I bet he will want a guarantee for the street traders here equivalent to those given to the traders who come under the aegis of the
Labour-controlled Doncaster authority of which he was a member. That is what we are talking about here : if it is right for those people in the City of London--the moneylenders--to be able to escape from any controls and any licensing, why should these people who have to live under the threat of Lady Porter and her Tory friends be subject to the possibility of losing their licences next week for little or no reason, when one of the local officers comes along and tells them that their licences are up? That is what they worry about. They have asked me to put these questions.
Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central) : My hon. Friend may recall that, until a few years ago, my constituency had the largest open-air market in the country. He may also recall that only a few months ago in this House we discussed the Redbridge London Borough Council Bill, which sought to implement a market in contravention of a royal charter. My hon. Friend may also recall that Barnsley has a market founded by royal charter- -
Mr. Illsley : I appreciate that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I wanted to explain this point about street traders. The Bill will give extra powers to London local authorities and will again circumvent powers which have been granted to certain authorities under royal charter to hold markets and allow street trading. Perhaps my hon. Friend for Bolsover would care to consider that.
Mr. Skinner : My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) is absolutely right. We were present on that occasion, when it was apparent that hon. Members on both sides of the House were in competition with one another about the very thing that he points out. It would be absolutely true, as my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central has said, that if these powers go through without some of us studying them very carefully, it could well mean, if the Third Reading is agreed, that some of those street traders in authorities other than Westminster will suffer as a result. It is important that we raise these matters. I know that it is late in the day, but that is not our fault. The whole procedure was, as it were, concertina-ed. Normally, a Bill that goes through the House, whether it is a private or a public Bill or a Private Members' Bill, will take a fairly lengthy time and be discussed, but this Bill has been scuttled through in clandestine fashion, mainly because the Government got all their private Bills piled up and did not know what to do with them. The result is that these promoters, who make a tidy sum out of them, are not too unhappy.
They should have gone back to the street traders to whom I have spoken in the Westminster council area and asked if they could discuss these matters. Some of the traders have been to the council and asked if they could discuss them. I bet the hon. Member for Westminster, North did not know that. He did not know at the beginning of the debate, because he almost suggested that I was not telling the truth ; but I have discussed it with these people, and they are very concerned about it.
Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield) : My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover is on the right lines. Not many days ago, we had a meeting in the House with the Market Traders Association. Because of what my hon. Friend is saying and the kind of information that he is dragging out, I wonder if there was any consultation at all with the Market Traders Association. It is a national organisation which takes in this area.
Mr. Skinner : Apart from the content of what my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) has said, the most delightful thing about his intervention is that he was standing there with his hand on the Dispatch Box. It would be wrong if that were not recorded in Hansard --the fact that he really did look the part. Although he is not standing at the next election, in the next two years before we take control, my hon. Friend may grace that Dispatch Box on some other ocasion--perhaps not when a Bill is going through its very late stages but right from the very beginning.
Mr. Cryer : My hon. Friend has raised the question of market traders and street traders and the question of Lloyd's. He may recall that, in 1981, a private Bill was brought here by Lloyd's to give it, among other things, additional powers and complete immunity for the council of Lloyd's from any action in law for whatever disciplinary action it carried out, on the basis that Lloyd's could manage its own affairs. In view of scandal after scandal, it is clear that Lloyd's cannot manage its own affairs. That is a very good reason why Lloyd's should have been incorporated into the section on street trading in the Bill, even though its members are called by a posh name in order to avoid offending Lloyd's.
Mr. Skinner : My hon. Friend has hit the nail on the head again ; he is talking about the spivs in Lloyds, who make millions and regulate themselves. What would be wrong even at this late stage in telling the street traders that they can operate on a co-operative basis and regulate themselves? We could tell them that they could have an umbrella organisation to make sure that nothing could be regarded as affecting the environment, but that, when it came to control, licensing and regulation of the markets, they could form local co-operatives. If it is good enough for Lloyd's and the moneychangers, why is it not good enough for them? That is the point.
Mr. Simon Hughes : I have had the opportunity while the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) has been speaking to make inquiries about the absence of the City of London from the authorities in the Bill. I understand that the consequence, if the Bill gets a Third Reading tonight, is that the position of market traders, strictly defined, in the City will be relatively worse than in the other authorities which are participants in the Bill, so the logic of the argument holds good.
Sadly, Camden's market traders will also be in a poorer position. When will the City of London make sure that its market traders get the same standards as the Bill would give anyone else in London, and why has it not been willing to give them those same standards at the same time?
Column 1127Tory side and in government. If a body has the support of 50 hon. Members who are Lloyd's names--there are 50 in the Register of Members' Interests ; I do not know whether there are any who are not in it--it has real power. It has the power then to say, "Can we be assured that the City of London is not included in the London Local Authorities Bill? We don't want it in. We can look after ourselves." We hear the arguments about ballots for trade unionists, but not for the Tory party. If the Tory party has a ballot, it does not have a polling booth. The Tory party has double standards. Tory Members have one rule for ordinary, run-of-the-mill street traders who, by and large, are working class, but when it comes to the street traders and the money lenders in the City of London, they have a different set of values.
Mr. Tony Banks : My hon. Friend is a great defender of parliamentary democracy. Indeed, parliamentary democracy owes him a great debt this evening for having drawn some of these important matters to our attention. He has raised something that I had not thought about until now. If the City of London is excluded, and if the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) is correct in saying that the traders in the City of London are relatively worse off in comparison with traders in other boroughs, how does my hon. Friend think that the Bill will affect traders in other parts of London? He will be aware that the City of London is a market authority. It controls not just traders in the one square mile of the City of London, but has responsibility, as a market authority, for markets all over London. Will those markets be affected by the Bill?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I must draw to the attention of hon. Members the fact that it is the practice on Third Reading to discuss what is in the Bill and not what might have been in the Bill. The appropriate stage to consider omissions from the Bill is earlier than Third Reading.
Mr. Skinner : That is not the point I am arguing, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My point is not that the City of London is not in the Bill. I would be out of order if I were to argue that it ought to be in the Bill. I have not made that point. What I say is that the 31 authorities in the Bill may be affected by the absence of the City of London. The point has to be made over and over again. I would be out of order if I were to say that I wanted the City of London in the Bill. I am not likely to say that, but because it is not in, it means that street traders in this area and elsewhere will be affected in many ways.
Some people may ask how we know that the city of Westminster and Lady Porter would deal with the street traders in a way that was disadvantageous to them. I will tell hon. Members why I take that view. It is not because it is a Tory authority, which is bad enough, because of the track record of Lady Porter's administration on cemeteries and other matters ; it is because the city of Westminster has already put forward another proposal on Strutton ground. Half the street has already been dug up. I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West is listening, because he is interested in the arts.
Column 1128Westminster city council proposed to change that quaint little street, which has been there for centuries, into a piazza--not a pizza. The council wanted yuppie stones, coloured stones. The fruit merchants and all the others who have had stalls there for years organised a giant petition to stop the proposal. One thing is certain ; there would have been different street traders there after the development. That was the plan. The street traders were told that they would be moved three quarters of a mile away while the work was going on. They would have lost all their trade, and then the yuppie traders would have moved in.
I hope the hon. Member for Westminster, North is listening, because this is important. That was the plan last year. It was thwarted, perhaps only temporarily, because of the petition. I want assurances, because Westminster city council might bring forward a similar proposal. It has already dug up half the street, and some of the traders have been shunted into side streets.
Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda) : My hon. Friend has mentioned proposals for yuppie stalls somewhere in London, very close to here, I understand. As he well knows, in most developments these days there must be a marina and a parking place for yachts. Were there any such proposals in the plan that he is talking about?
Mr. Skinner : No. However, the Bill is so comprehensive, covering 31 authorities, that it covers much of the Thames and the Embankment. Some Tory Members were tittering when my hon. Friend made that point, but let me make it clear that there is scope in the Bill to do that. If Westminster's plan is carried out, markets that have existed for generations may be changed in character. My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) knows what it is like to live in a stable community ; he does not knock it. Other hon. Members come from communities where there is not the same mobility. Let us remember that, under this comprehensive Bill, there could be massive changes. Many people who have had stalls for years might find themselves literally on the coloured stones.
Mr. Bowis : I accept that the hon. Gentleman is expressing concerns which should be expressed in the House, but can he explain why the leaderships of the Labour party in Newham, in Barking, in Lambeth, in Southwark and all the other Labour councils who are promoting the Bill have got it wrong?
Mr. Skinner : No, they have not got it wrong. I said at the outset that the Bill deals with many local authorities controlled by the Labour party. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West told me many months ago that the local authorities felt that they would be able to use their democratic strength to ensure democracy ; I am sure the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey would take the same view.
The Labour authorities are worried about the Tory authorities, where the same democratic control might not exist. It is no use someone saying that I have plucked that out of thin air. Hon. Members need only look at the track record of Westminster city council over the past three or four years. There is plenty of evidence of democratic rights being trampled on--even the rights of people who have buried their dead. When peple like that are running local
Column 1129authorities, is it any wonder that street traders think that they cannot have the same protection as street traders in Newham? That is why there is a difference.
Mr. Bowis : I think the hon. Gentleman misses the point--that Labour authorities in London, together with non-Conservative authorities, happen to make up the majority of the authorities sponsoring the Bill. They are sponsoring it on behalf of all London boroughs, including the Conservative boroughs. Yet they do not have the concerns that the hon. Gentleman seems to have.
Mr. Skinner : That is right. They feel that they are making an advance and that they will have democratic control. The Labour groups in Hackney and elsewhere may think that there is only a tiny majority in Westminster and that they will be able to control it. That is not bad thinking ; it is fairly progressive. It is on the cards, but as Members of Parliament, we have to consider the long term as well. That is why I am pleased to see my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) come into the Chamber, because there are street markets in Leicester as well. If the proposal was for Leicester, he and his two Labour colleagues in Leicester would not take long to stand up for the rights of street traders there. That is what is significant about this debate : those participating- -apart from the hon. Member for Westminster, North--all represent Labour authorities and are Labour Members. They are interested in democratic control and believe in the idea of co-operative movements.
Mr. George J. Buckley (Hemsworth) : My hon. Friend is making a valid point. Earlier, he talked about the self-regulation of Lloyd's and the legislation for that. Why is it right for Lloyd's in the City of London to have self-regulation in these matters, but not the traders association? Why are we not giving some responsibility and authority in these matters to the traders association--as has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes)--so that the street traders would be self-regulating and have some influence on their own destiny?
Mr. Skinner : There is a good reason. The people behind the Bill include, as I said earlier, Labour-controlled authorities, which feel relatively happy about the matter, and the minority in the Tory-held areas that we are speaking up for today. We are trying to say to the hon. Member for Westminster, North, who is acting on behalf of the promoters, that we want some guarantees. A few Labour Members expressed fears about the consequences in Westminster, which is why I raised these important matters.
Mr. Illsley : I appreciate the point which my hon. Friend makes about Westminster city council. Before he leaves that point, will he bear in mind the tourist trade within London and surrounding areas? Is it not a fact that Westminster has the vast majority of tourist attractions in London, so its street traders benefit from tourism? If regulations were imposed in Westminster that were not imposed in other Labour-controlled authorities, it could be to the detriment of the tourist industry in and around the capital.
Column 1130up and make a point or two about what seems to be an innocuous measure and then, suddenly, the truth is revealed. My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) has spotted another factor : tourism in Westminster and other areas.
Mr. Tony Banks : I do not wish to disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley). However, although many tourists are attracted to Westminster, there are many other delights for them in other parts of London. A walk along the northern sewer outfall in Newham is an interesting treat--wonderful rural life can be experienced.
Mr. Skinner : I am not going to talk about the northern outfall sewer--that may be where my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West got his inspiration the other day when he was on about Ratty, Toad and the rest.
I want to reflect on what my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central said about tourism. He made a decent point, but we must remember that, notwithstanding the efforts of the streets traders and their attractive qualities to tourists, tourism receipts in Britain under this Prime Minister have fallen dramatically. Invisible exports--overall tourism in Britain--are down to about £100 million a month, from about £700 million. That is another matter with which we shall have to deal another day.
I did not intend to speak for long, because my hon. Friends have important measures on which they wish to speak later tonight. I have made all the points which need to be made. Will the hon. Member for Westminster, North answer the questions that I have raised to give safeguards to those traders operating in the area of Westminster city council? Will they be given those guarantees that I have demanded? Why has the City of London been removed from the measure? We need those answers. I know that the hon. Gentleman may need the leave of the House to speak again, but we shall probably allow him to do that.