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Mr. Cryer : I should be grateful if my hon. Friend would ask the hon. Member for Westminster, North why we should be dealing with a Bill which has extensive powers for the variation of night cafe licences. As my hon. Friend knows, the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1982 granted every local authority powers to deal with such establishments. What is different about London late-night cafe s that they need this additonal legislation? I am extremely intrigued to know.
Mr. Skinner : I am not aware of the difference, and I thought my hon. Friend might elaborate on that point ; perhaps the hon. Member for Westminster, North, will be able to tell us.
The main concern of those traders I have met is that they have licences-- some of which are 60 and 70 years old. They have had the tradition of those licences continuing until the traders die or decide to pack up their market stall. They want that to be guaranteed. They say that under the Bill they do not have that guarantee. They also say--this is important--that with regard to registration, they do not want the strong-arm Lady Porter officers coming to places such as Strutton Ground and elsewhere and saying that because there has been a minor infringement--only alleged--the traders will be removed from the market scene.
Those are real fears, and that is why I am sad that this legislation has not been amended to take account of them, to ensure that those street traders, many of whom have
Column 1131been there for generations, have not had the assurances that they demanded from the Tory-controlled Westminster city council. We need those assurances today.
Mr. Redmond : I am grateful for the opportunity to speak at this stage of the Bill because aspects of the measure continue to need clarification. Despite earlier requests by my hon. Friends for assurances about its effect on, for example, street traders, we continue to have fears about such matters. My experience with Bills has led me to be sceptical lest provisions slip through that we would otherwise oppose.
The activities of street traders provide an attraction for tourists. Market stalls are often colourful and have a pleasant atmosphere. We should try to retain their character. Doncaster has wonderful indoor and outdoor markets, with stalls of great charm. Let us be sure that some of London's streets are not denuded of the stalls that provide colour and enjoyment for tourists. In many areas, market day is a time of enjoyment for many.
I was surprised to hear that no objection to the Bill had been voiced by street traders. I would have thought, from the remarks of my hon. Friends, that a question mark must hang over that statement. It would have been appropriate for a special Committee to examine the Bill in detail in relation to such issues.
It would be a pity if the Bill had an adverse effect on street traders. After all, the concrete block buildings that are going up in London, especially in the City, have no charm or character. They appear soulless to me, and although I am not a Londoner, I want the capital city to retain the charm and the warmth that Londoners can generate.
Let us maintain the fine traditions of street traders. I appreciate that there is the odd cowboy among them, but we should question any measure that would make sweeping changes. It may be said that the Bill would alter nothing. If so, why have the legislation at all? If authorities have permission to alter and tidy up, they may do that. I appreciate that nothing can stand still and that change is unstoppable, but let us ensure that, when change takes place, it is for the benefit of the community at large.
My remarks apply equally to fairs and fairground sites. Regrettably, their numbers have dwindled over the years. What impact might the Bill have on the activities of showground people? They, too, provide colour and charm in our lives, and although I do not support the Prime Minister's Victorian values, I wish to retain some of the family charm that existed in Victorian times. Perhaps we need legislation to ensure that we retain the family charm of those days ; I am not sure. One tries to learn a little each day, and if one can do that, the day has not been wasted. Today I have learnt something, if only about the necessity to suspend some of our Standing Orders to enable a Bill to move briskly to its Third Reading.
I agree with those who say that supermarket trolleys can be a hazard. There must be a method, without the need for legislation, to enable local authorities to penalise firms that allow their trolleys to be scattered near and far. A trolley parked on, say, the footpath is a hazard not only for the blind and partially blind but for the elderly, who may not notice it if it is raining and they are walking with
Column 1132their heads down. Althought that problem needs tackling, do we need the sledgehammer of legislation to crack such a little nut? The hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) is not alone in his complaint--I once had five Asda trolleys in my driveway, so anything that stops that sort of dumping would be welcome. I intend to ask the local legal and administration department whether we can institute proceedings because the trolleys contribute to the litter problem. An abandoned trolley could be classed as litter. We can assume that whoever takes the trolley will dump it. Some onus should be put on the supermarket to ensure that that does not take place. Instead of erecting signs saying, "No trolleys beyond this point," the supermarket should employ someone to tell people not to take trolleys past that point. There are many unemployed people in my constituency and in London, so that would help to reduce unemployment. Some legislation brings benefits, but we do not need this type of Bill, which I was led to believe was welcomed by all London boroughs. The hon. Member for Battersea said that all London boroughs welcomed it, but it would appear that the City of London and Camden are not party to the Bill. I understand that Camden refused to participate because of the cost of promoting it. I do not know what costs are involved. I know that they are high, but they are not astronomical. There may be a reason other than expense. It appears that there is a practice of making changes to suit the occasion. Certain tactics for the passing of private Bills seem to alter slightly as some obscure rule or regulation is dug out and dusted off so that Bills can make progress. We need to be extremely careful.
Camden may not have participated in the promotion of the Bill because it disliked certain aspects of it. The fact that all 31 boroughs have a Labour majority is not a valid reason. As with other organisations, there is a splintering-off if certain things do not happen. Money may or may not have been the reason why Camden refused to participate--we cannot say. Camden has made no objections, but nor does it support the Bill--if it did, it would have put its name to it.
Sir John Wheeler : It is my belief that the London borough of Camden might seek to apply the measures contained in the Bill in its own jurisdiction through another measure on another occasion. If that proves to be the case, all 32 London boroughs will be in agreement.
Mr. Redmond : It was said earlier that one reason why Camden refused to take part was the cost. I know that the people who draft the Bills and shove them through this place get a bob or two, but as 31 boroughs are involved, I assume that the total cost will be split 31 ways. That would bring the cost down. I hardly think that Camden, which could have had a share of this marvellous cake that has been described, would have turned its nose up at a way of achieving a nice Bill at a very cheap rate. I do not accept that Camden said, "Get lost," so that it might have the opportunity of promoting the self-same Bill again, with all the costs that that would involve. There must be another reasons, and one wonders what it is.
Mr. Bowis : Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman. Certainly Camden was involved in the early discussions on the Bill. It agreed with the principles of what was being done but decided that it did not want to contribute to the cost. Every London borough has an absolute right to
Column 1133promote a Bill or to combine with others in doing so. That is provided for in legislation. As hon. Members know, there are two or three London Bills going through the House at the moment. The fact that one of them includes Camden shows that that borough has seen the wisdom of the hon. Gentleman's point about costs being reduced if everyone pulls together.
Mr. Redmond : I accept that Camden was given the opportunity and may have drawn back, but it is still not clear why it took that decision. Given the astronomical costs involved in going it alone, it cannot be the money factor ; there must be some other reason. One or two other things have come out during the debate on this Bill, so it is useful. There has been reference to street traders and fairs. One could talk also about markets. Why did not Redbridge lump together its private Bill with this one? Many other strange things have taken place. Combining with those promoting this Bill would have made the process extremely cheap for the Redbridge ratepayers. Hon. Members have said that people outside London are taking an interest in the Bill. As Members of Parliament we live in London while Parliament is sitting, so we have some interest in this matter. Obviously we are anxious that there is no sharp practice in the passage of Bills, and that they should be scrutinised fully so that we may, as near as damn it, say, "That is okay and can go on its way." But a Bill should depend for its success on its merits, not on the payroll vote that the Government commands --and uses--in respect of these private Bills.
The Minister for Aviation and Shipping (Mr. Patrick McLoughlin) : Shame.
Mr. Redmond : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for intervening from a sedentary position.
If one examined the Bill a little more closely, one would probably find matters about which its promoters, should be informing us. During the passage of the Bill, no one seems to have been anxious to jump up to defend its merits. Only after I had asked for an explanation of some of the amendments did that happen. If the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin) had been in the House earlier, he could have jumped to his feet and explained all the amendments in detail. He could have told us why the amendments were necessary and how they would affect the Bill. I do not think that there was sufficient discussion of the amendments, but they have been made, and that will have a bearing on whether the Bill receives its Third Reading. If we had had an early explanation, we might have been home tucked up in bed by now.
Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North) : My hon. Friend referred to the role of Members of Parliament from outside London in scrutinising legislation that applies basically to London authorities. I want to reinforce my hon. Friend's point. The Bill refers to the licensing of street traders and markets, and Redbridge is one of the authorities that is a party to the Bill. Last year, my hon. Friend and I took part in a debate on legislation through which the Redbridge authority sought powers to establish markets in its area. The secretary of the National Market Traders Federation has had considerable correspondence with me about London markets and markets outside London. My hon. Friend should emphasise the
Column 1134involvement of Members of Parliament from outside the capital. We receive much correspondence and are lobbied by many people who may be affected if a Bill such as this is extended to other authorities.
Mr. Redmond : My hon. Friend makes an important point. Barnsley and other markets will be affected by this Bill and by the Redbridge London Borough Council Bill. Doncaster has a royal charter and I have had representations from my street traders and market traders--as you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will have had--as a result of the Redbridge London Borough Council Bill.
The Bill could affect such markets. I am no lawyer, but the Bill may contain a small clause that opens the pearly gates and allows markets to spring up all over the country in inappropriate places. We must be careful. Doncaster market is not in my constituency, but in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, Central (Mr. Walker). However, I have a market in the fine town of Mexborough and I want to ensure that the traders there are protected and that nothing in the Bill would bring about the demise of that market.
We have found to our cost that legislation, once enacted, can create many problems and become a lawyer's paradise. I am not a lawyer and I do not have the background to enable me to vet Bills. We need qualified people to explain the impact of the amendments that we have accepted tonight. In the past, several Ministers have had to come back to the House to rectify errors in legislation that the Government have pushed through. If they, with all their lawyers and civil servants, can make mistakes, it is important that laymen such as me should have the opportunity to examine the Bills and ask questions about them. The importance of that is underlined by my experience of private Bills over the past two years. The Bill should not be allowed to pass unchallenged. We should at least register our concern about its effects.
Mr. Rogers : My hon. Friend referred to the need to ensure that land is made available for fairs. Will he elaborate on the implications of the Bill for fairs?
Mr. Redmond : My hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) spoke with great feeling about the worries of fairground people. London's green patches are diminishing. The Evening Standard carries articles about angry ratepayers and tenants objecting to motorways being built near their properties, reducing still further the green belt. The number of places where fairs can be held is decreasing. If a block of flats is built on a parcel of land that has been used for centuries for fairs, they go for ever. It would be impracticable for a fair to be held on the roof garden of a block of flats, especially in windy weather such as we have experienced today.
Question put : --
The House divided : Ayes 104, Noes 25.
Division No. 51] [9.22 pm
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Body, Sir Richard
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Buck, Sir Antony
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Cope, Rt Hon John
Column 1135Couchman, James
Fenner, Dame Peggy
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Fox, Sir Marcus
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Meyer, Sir Anthony
Mitchell, Sir David
Monro, Sir Hector
Moynihan, Hon Colin
Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Shaw, David (Dover)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Skeet, Sir Trevor
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Wheeler, Sir John
Winterton, Mrs Ann
Tellers for the Ayes :
Mr. John Bowis and
Mr. Andrew Rowe.
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Godman, Dr Norman A.
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Mo n)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Pike, Peter L.
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Wareing, Robert N.
Wise, Mrs Audrey
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Eric Illsley and
Mr. Martin Redmond.
Question accordingly agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.
Read a Second time and committed.