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(ii) notices so given for a day in respect of which such intention is subsequently declared,

shall be treated as having been given for the first Monday on which the House shall sit after the Budget is opened, and may be proceeded with on that day as though it were a Tuesday or a Wednesday. That this Order be a Standing Order of the House.

Mr. Speaker : Motion No. 5? Not moved.


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Redbridge London Borough Council Bill

Order for consideration, as amended, read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill, as amended, be now considered.

7.13 pm

Sir Nicholas Bonsor (Upminster) : The motion on the Order Paper is "That the Bill be considered upon this day six months."

If my hon. Friends and I are to be honest we will admit that our reason for tabling that motion is that we do not want the Bill to be considered further. It is our contention that the House should not be considering it at all. Hon. Members may recall that it was given its Second Reading on 6 June 1989 and that on that occasion all the comments were undoubtedly to the effect that it should not be allowed to make any further progress. Unfortunately, as always, the vote that followed a lengthy and well- informed debate was carried largely by those who had neither listened to the debate nor knew anything whatsoever about the subject.

It is a matter for great regret that we are back in the House considering the Bill further. As a piece of legislation it is fundamentally flawed. It tramples on ancient and well-established rights. It attempts to take from Havering borough council rights which were established by royal writ and which it has enjoyed, uninterrupted, for over 700 years. I understand that the charter markets in the constituencies of 284 hon. Members may be similarly affected if the Bill is successful. It will undoubtedly set a precedent for the challenging of ancient market rights through the private Bill procedure. I submit that that should not be allowed or encouraged.

I want to draw attention to a statement, copies of which I understand the promoters of the Bill sent to all hon. Members. I want to go through the statement paragraph by paragraph and explain why I consider that it is misleading in respect of a number of issues. Of course, I accept that it was not the promoters' intention to mislead hon. Members.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley) : The hon. Gentleman has referred to the concern of many authorities in whose areas there are charter markets. Does the document to which he is referring really deal with that matter? I am sure that everyone recognises that that is the particular concern about the procedure that has been used throughout. It is my impression that the document avoids that issue. Certainly it does not deal with it in great detail.

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. As I go through the document it will be clear that that whole issue is not mentioned. Anyone reading the document would get the impression that this was a simple matter between Redbridge and Havering councils alone, with no deeper meaning, and capable of no wider

interpretation.

In paragraph 1 the promoters say :

"The Bill is promoted by the Council of the London Borough of Redbridge It would authorise the establishment of a market on a site near the town centre of Ilford."

Paragraph 2 says :

"The council in 1980 adopted, following a long public local inquiry, a Local Plan for the Ilford Town Centre entitled the Ilford Town Centre Action Area plan'. In accordance with the proposals contained in that Plan the Council has brought about the revitalisation of the Ilford Town Centre by


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the construction of a relief road diverting the A118 around the Town Centre, providing service roads and the pedestrianisation of part of the High Road."

No doubt hon. Members will wish to join me in congratulating the Ilford council on doing so and will wish it every success in its endeavours to create a pleasant environment and a good shopping centre. It is, however, my experience of shopping centres around the country that they are not made very much more environmentally attractive if market stalls are placed right in the centre of them. But, so far as any planning permission application is concerned, that may be a matter for Ilford borough council to decide.

In paragraph 3 the promoters continue :

"A pleasant environment for residents, workers and shoppers has been created in the Ilford Town Centre. This has led to considerable investment in the Town Centre and the Prudential Corporation and the Norwich Union Insurance Group are currently creating a £100 million retail development, known as the Exchange at Ilford', which will provide 51,000 square metres of new shopping floorspace together with a 1,200-space car park."

Again I say to the hon. Members for that area that that is marvellous, but, with this wonderful shopping centre, I cannot believe that the addition of about 80 market stalls will make or break the Ilford plan.

Then we come to more contentious matters. In paragraph 4 Ilford borough council says :

"The Plan proposed the development of one site in the Ilford Town Centre for substantial shopping development, combined with an expanded and more attractive covered retail market which could be a vital feature of the improved shopping centre'. Since the adoption of the Plan some 250 persons have indicated a desire to trade as stallholders in the Ilford Town Centre. The Council are of the opinion that a market established on the proposed site which it owns at the Ilford Town Centre would provide an additional and attractive facility for shoppers which will complement the Exchange at Ilford' development. The Council has the support in this matter of the Redbridge Chamber of Trade and Commerce, the Ilford Trader Association and both the Prudential Corporation and the Norwich Union Insurance Group."

Mr. Robin Squire (Hornchurch) : Does my hon. Friend have any information about the support that the proposal has within the council itself? Is the council united on it?

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : I am afraid that I cannot help my hon. Friend on that matter. However, an intervention from one of the hon. Members for Ilford might assist us. If either of them gets an opportunity to speak in this debate perhaps he will be able to deal with the point. The question that I should particularly like to ask my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne), because I asked it on Second Reading and have not yet had a reply, is whether he or his council know how many of the 250 persons who have stated their desire to trade at Ilford already trade at Havering. That seems an extremely pertinent point. If all that the Bill succeeds in doing is to remove some 250 stallholders--or thereabouts--from Havering five and a half miles across to Redbridge, I cannot believe that it will be vastly in the interests of the population of either of our two boroughs, or of anybody else who lives anywhere near the vicinity.

With the ease of travel that we have today, there can be no doubt that many Redbridge residents shop in Romford and enjoy the facilities of the Romford market, which has been established for so long. Hon. Members who were present on Second Reading will recall that I said that ease of travel must go against the promoters of the Bill, whereas


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they were praying it in aid as a reason for allowing a proliferation of markets. In fact, it does nothing of the kind. The fact that people can now travel with substantial ease for considerable distances to do their shopping must be an argument against allowing too many market centres to spring up.

The whole pattern of trading in this country is moving towards people shopping in one place for everything that they wish to buy--at one time and in one place. Indeed, they often drive substantial distances to do so. My constituency has been suffering for some time because of some of the out-of -town supermarkets that are now being developed all around the country. People get into their cars and often drive happily for 10 or 15 miles to get to one of those places to do their shopping, and then return home. Our shopping centres and the centres of our towns are already under substantial threat. In my opinion, a proliferation of market centres, as proposed by the Bill, would undermine the security of the shopping centres in middle-of -town developments and would not be at all helpful. If Ilford manages to get the House's permission to proceed with the Bill, it may well live to regret it.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South catches your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, I should be grateful if he would deal with my point about where the 250 traders who have been applying to him and to his council for a place in the new proposed development come from. I very much hope that the sponsors have taken the trouble to do that research because they will be doing Havering borough council and the House less than justice if, seven months after that point was first raised, they still cannot give us an answer.

I continue with the promoters' letter. Paragraph 5 states : "Planning permission will be sought for the establishment of the market if the Bill is enacted."

I ask the House to pay particular attention to paragraph 6 because it is wholly misleading and gives an impression that is quite different from that reflected by the facts, and probably quite different from that which the promoters intended to give. I shall read it before commenting. It states :

"The law of markets provides a protection for any existing market franchise against another, competing, market being established within 6iles. The London Borough Council of Havering has, it is understood, two markets at Romford which are within that distance, and it would be in contravention of the protection to establish the proposed market at Ilford. The London Borough Council of Havering also has a third market at Romford operated by them in the exercise of their powers under Part III of the Food Act 1984. If the Council established a market pursuant to that power it would not be in contravention of the protection afforded by that Act although it would not be immune from challenge, under common law, from a franchise market. The Romford Markets contain approximately 600 pitches each and they are held on different days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday)."

That is not an accurate reflection of the position in Havering at Romford market. There is one market site in Romford. It does, indeed, have 600 or so pitches, but to give or attempt to give the impression that there are three separate market sites is wholly misleading and has certainly misled some of my hon. Friends to whom I have been speaking. One of my hon. Friends, to whom I was speaking a couple of moments ago, and who I had hoped would support my motion, said that he had read the document and, having seen paragraph 6, felt that Ilford borough council had a good point. He suggested that Havering was being extremely mean, having three existing


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markets, to wish to deny Ilford a smaller one five and half miles away. But that is not true. Romford has one marketplace. It holds three markets in that one marketplace on three different days. That is not at all the same thing as the impression that has been given in the document.

Mr. William O'Brien (Normanton) : May I ask for further clarification on that point? Do I take it that the three days on which the market is held in Ilford are referred to in the document submitted to support the Bill as three markets? Furthermore, do I take it that the market at Ilford, with its 600 stalls, is an open market?

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : In answer to the hon. Gentleman's second point, yes, it is an open market. In answer to his first point, again yes, there is one position of 600 pitches, but the three markets referred to are the three different days on which a market is held on that site. My understanding is that quite a lot of those pitches are occupied by the same stallholders over the three days. To refer to that as three separate markets and to give the distinct impression that there are three markets in different places, each with 600 pitches, is wholly misleading. If my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South would like to intervene, I am sure that he would agree that that statement does not reflect the true position and I hope that it did not intend to convey the impression that it undoubtedly does.

Mr. Vivian Bendall (Ilford, North) : Is it true to say that the same stallholders are involved on each of the three days? Does none of the stalls vary?

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : My hon. Friend must have misheard me. I did not say that. I said that the market is held on one site of 600 pitches. There are three markets. The reason for the confusion is that the markets are set up under different rights. I believe that one was originally set up under the writ, one under an Act and one because of long practice. Therefore, it is technically correct to say that they constitute three different markets--I do not argue with that--but the impression given in the document that three separate markets are operating is wrong. There is one marketplace at which the same 600 pitches are used three times a week, to constitute three markets.

In specific answer to my hon. Friend's question, although the market is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Mr. Neubert) as I understand it, some stallholders are there two days a week and others are there three days a week. Many are there only one day a week. Therefore, it is a balance and a mix. I am not saying that the same people are there every day ; I am saying that we cannot multiply 600 by three and come to 1,800 traders using the market, because that would be equally misleading.

Mr. Bendall : Will my hon. Friend further clarify the number of people who hold licences in the market?

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : I am sorry ; my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Squire) was whispering in my ear and I could not quite catch my hon. Friend's question. Will he repeat it?

Mr. Bendall : Yes. I wondered how many people actually hold licences at Romford market.


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Sir Nicholas Bonsor : I am afraid that I cannot answer that question because I do not know. However, I can probably find out before the end of the evening if my hon. Friend wishes me to. My hon. Friend the Member for Romford is present in the Chamber, but unfortunately is barred from taking part in the debate because he is a Minister. I know that the fact that he is barred is as much a matter of regret to him as it is to me and, I am sure, to the rest of the House, because what he would have said, had he been allowed to say it, would have proved invaluable to the debate. I am afraid that I shall have to do my poor best to fill in the gaps that he cannot fill himself.

Paragraph 7 of the document states :

"Havering Borough Council petitioned against the Bill, and the issues between the two Councils were dealt with by a Committee of your Honourable House. Evidence was brought by the two parties and the Committee decided on a compromise, whereby the Bill was allowed to proceed but certain amendments were made for the benefit of Havering Borough Council, including special provision for compensation."

That is true and I do not dispute that that is exactly what happened. However, I make two points on it. First, although Havering borough council was pleased to be able to get some concessions out of Ilford council, which have certainly assisted our position as I shall show a little later, it did not accept that the Bill should be proceeded with at all ; nor did it ever give the impression that it was supportive of it. The fact is that Havering borough council will be damaged by the passing of the Bill, as will the 284 other constituencies that I have already mentioned. The principle that charter markets have a right to operate unchallenged will be grievously breached if the Bill proceeds through the House. That would not be a good thing.

The impression given by paragraph 7, as I read it, is that Havering borough council and Ilford have now made friends and are happy to proceed with the Bill as it is now constituted. That is not true. Havering borough council is happier with the terms than it was but it is not happy with the way in which the Bill is proceeding or that it should proceed at all.

My second point on paragraph 7 is extremely relevant to our proceedings tonight. The Chair will correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that the House is by no means bound by any agreement reached in Committee and that any decisions reached by the Committee are subject to the approval of the House and to Parliament as a whole. Therefore, we are not bound to accept any compromise that may have been reached in Committee. I do not argue with the decisions made by the Committee. They improve the Bill rather than damage it and improve the position of Havering borough council. But it is important to stress that if people differ from the view of the Committee, they are entitled to make their point and, if necessary, force the matter to a Division.

I have dealt with the promoters' outline of the case. I believe that it was misleading. I hope that my hon. Friends who have read it will also have taken the trouble to read the Second Reading debate where they will find a much truer account of what is behind the Bill and its implications. I know that they probably have not done so, and I regret that it is unlikely that we shall obtain the support that we should have been obtained if they fully understood the matter.


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Having read the promoters' letter, some of my hon. Friends must wonder why Havering borough council persists in opposing the Bill. Before I deal with that, I should like to give the promoters credit for the concessions that they have made. Specifically, I draw the attention of the House to the concession on compensation. On Second Reading I and other hon. Members spoke about compensation. The original proposal was outrageously inadequate. I should not do justice to the subject if I did not refer to the original clause to enable us better to understand the changes that have been made in Committee.

Originally, compensation was dealt with in clause 4(2) and (3). It read :

"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.

Compensation under this Section shall carry interest from the expiry of six weeks from the date on which the claim was received by the Council.

Except as otherwise 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." It was most unfortunate that the Bill was allowed to reach Second Reading containing such a clause. I do not want to labour the point that I made on Second Reading but the compensation provision was absurd. People would have had to put in a claim for compensation before the market at Ilford had opened. The idea that a proper assessment of the resulting loss could have been made at that stage was absurd. It was wrong to ask the House to consider the Bill in that form.

I am glad to say that the position is now better. Compensation under clause 4 has been substantially improved. Clause 4(2)(a) says :

"The measure of compensation shall be--

(i) in the case of the Council of the London Borough of Havering or the owner from time to time of the right to hold Romford Market, in each year ten per cent. of the net profit accruing to any person holding a market under this Act ( the market operator') from that market measured by deducting from the market operator's turnover relating to the market (exclusive of Value Added Tax) any expenses defrayed by the market operator which are wholly and exclusively attributable to the market and not being--

(A) any payment (whether by way of rent or otherwise) made by the market operator to the Council for the right to hold the market ; or (

(B) in the nature of capital expenses written off to revenue ; or (

(C) any payment in respect of the compensation or interest payable under this section ; or

(D) taxation ; or

(ii) in any other case the capitalised value of the estimated loss of income to the claimant from persons trading at his market." To summarise the difference, Havering council, which previously was not to be compensated, will now receive a 10 per cent. return from the revenue gained by traders who open their market stalls at Ilford. That is of substantial assistance to Havering borough council. I applaud the inclusion of that compensation in the Bill.

The compensation available to those who trade at Romford has also been improved. It is in much the same form as in the original Bill except that it will now be payable under clause 4(3)(b) :


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"Except as may otherwise be agreed by the Council, compensation under subsection (2)(a)(ii) above shall not be payable except upon a claim made in writing to the Council within 24 months from the market commencement date".

That is much more satisfactory. First, we have a two-year period in which to assess the damage and, secondly, and more important, it will not commence until after the market is opened. At least now we shall have a period during which properly to assess the loss to those trading at Romford.

I do not know--perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Bendall) can assist the House--how the assessment can be made while people are trading both at Romford and Ilford. Perhaps consideration should be given to that. There must be a computation to assess the changes made in those circumstances or, indeed, if someone moves his stall from Romford to Ilford. No doubt that will come up again later in the debate.

Havering borough council objects to the Bill for two reasons. I have already mentioned the first. The second is that the Bill goes against the way in which legislation should be amended. It is wrong that the position of charter markets, which exist not only in my constituency but at 284 other sites, should be eaten away piecemeal by private Bills.

On only one previous occasion has the position been changed. That was at Bexley and in that case it was done by agreement between two councils. There was no conflict or dispute. No one came to the House and attempted to take away the rights enjoyed by a borough without that borough's consent. I can see no objection to a private Bill if both parties agree to it, even when ancient rights are being subjugated by Acts of Parliament. But when there is a conflict, when the borough that is to be penalised does not consent, and when there is a substantial difference between the two parties, as in this case, it is wrong for the private Bill procedure to be used to make a fundamental change in the application of the law of the land. A Royal Commission looked at the position of charter markets 98 years ago. It concluded that they should be altered. It said that it should be possible to create more markets within areas covered by the charter market rights. It said that the whole system should be considered and changed by Parliament. That was 98 years ago and nothing has been done.

If successive Governments believed that charter markets should be abolished and that a change should be made, it should have been done by Parliament. A Bill should have been brought before the House and debated. We could have gone to the root of the matter and decided whether it was right that ancient rights such as those enjoyed by Havering council should be abolished and whether we should operate a different system. That would be quite legitimate. But to accept the system and not to act on the proposals of the Royal Commission for nearly a century and then to come to the House again and again to erode the position of the charter markets that each borough has enjoyed is not the way in which private Bills should be used. They should not be used to further the interests of one borough or another. For that reason, I hope that the House will join us in wishing to defer consideration of the Bill for a further six months.


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7.39 pm

Mr. Neil Thorne (Ilford, South) : I listened with interest to my hon. Friend the Member for Upminster (Sir N. Bonsor). I have read the Second Reading debate in Hansard , but my hon. Friend will not be surprised to hear that my interpretation of it is different from his. On that occasion, the Division truly reflected the arguments that had been advanced.

My hon. Friend has made a number of points and I shall not detain the House by re-reading the statement because he has done so for me. I shall attempt to address some of the points that he has made and, if there are further questions, I shall do my best, with the leave of the House, to answer those later.

My hon. Friend asked about the 250 applicants for the 80 spaces in the proposed Redbridge market. He cannot have much experience of market traders or he would appreciate that they are anxious to retain some sense of anonymity and they do not always want to disclose exactly what business interests they have elsewhere. When they apply for a stall they are, as a rule, unwilling to say what other stalls they have and where they are located. Therefore, keeping accurate statistics of how many stalls each trader has is not practical. If my hon. Friend consults his local authority, he will find that it does not have an accurate record of the 600 stallholders in its market.

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : I shall check to see whether my local authority has such information. However, the situation is slightly different in a market that has been established for a long time compared with one that is being established now. Presumably, Ilford council will license the market holders and apply some sort of criteria to determine whether somebody is a fit and proper person to have a stall. What criteria is the local authority to apply other than whether people have been trading elsewhere, whether they have a criminal past and other necessary information?

Mr. Thorne : The local authority will make inquiries about the desirability of each applicant, but it will not necessarily be able to discover the business interests in other markets of other members of an applicant's family. My hon. Friend will find that Romford market has many more than 600 stallholders as it meets three days a week and, by his own admission, some stallholders have more than one stall and some go only once a week. It will not be possible to discover exactly what other business interests those stallholders have.

Mr. Bendall : Is my hon. Friend aware that many stallholders go to many markets around London? They could be at Bexley on Monday, Bromley on Tuesday and Romford on Wednesday.

Mr. Thorne : Indeed. My hon. Friend the Member for Upminster does himself and my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Mr. Neubert) an injustice in suggesting that Romford market is likely to empty out into Ilford. I have no such fear. Redbridge is asking for an 80-stall market and there is no way that that could absorb the 600-stall market that is enjoyed at Havering.

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : I do not want to give the impression that Redbridge will empty Romford of stalls. It will do nothing of the kind. The limit of 80 stalls has been heavily negotiated and it was not present on Second


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Reading. But even though it will not empty Romford, it will damage it. If I am right that many stallholders who will attend Redbridge come from Romford and so will move, that will undoubtedly have an impact on Romford market, quite apart from taking a lot of the clientele.

Mr. Thorne : My hon. Friend is taking a pessimistic view. These markets are popular and there is no reason why Romford should suffer any great loss. I have patronised Romford market for many years. I have visited it since I was a schoolboy and my impression is one of a vibrant market. In days gone by one of its main purposes, if not the main purpose, was as a cattle market. That is the reason for the limit of six and two thirds miles. That was considered to be one third of the distance that cattle could be driven in a working day. That allowed them one third of the day to get the cattle to the market, one third of the day for them to be at the market on sale, and another third of the day for them to be driven back. That is rather out of date and in this day and age one should be working on an entirely different basis.

Mr. O'Brien : Has there been any contact with the National Market Traders Federation which has a code of practice for establishing markets and deciding who shall operate in them? The point about 250 applicants is relevant. Does Redbridge intend to obtain permission for the market and then hand it on to a third party who will operate it as a private market?

Mr. Thorne : As far as I am aware, Redbridge has not yet decided whether it wants to operate the market itself or to pass responsibility for it to a private operator. That decision will be taken if Redbridge attains an Act of Parliament to implement it. The National Market Traders Federation has been in touch with all Members of Parliament and I understand that it has also been in touch with the local authority. How far the discussions have gone, I do not know. However, it is not a regulatory body, rather a membership body, so it does not have any rights of control or nomination as to which traders are suitable. There is a significant difference. On that basis, the advice that it can give is somewhat limited.

Mr. Squire : My hon. Friend accurately said that the limit of six and two thirds miles went back to Roman times but that we had come a long way since then and were due for a change. That may or may not be so. We may be due for a change but, if anything, there would be less loyalty to a particular market today because of the speed of communications. Therefore, it could be argued that the limit needs to be tightened, not loosened.

Mr. Thorne : If we went down that road we would argue that no new supermarkets or any other form of trade should be opened. That is not the line that I would take. There should be the maximum possible choice for shoppers to shop as and when they wish, where they wish. The figure of six and two thirds is out of date. Another figure would be more appropriate in this day and age. As has been said, it would be quite appropriate for people to complete their shopping in one area. If there is a good shopping centre in Romford and shopping is not confined to the street market, the people who go there to shop will be loyal to that particular shopping area. They can do their market shopping and also their under-cover shopping in


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department stores and elsewhere. That is what other people would like to do in other areas. It is right and proper that they should be able to do so. If people wanted to go for keenly priced goods, clearly they would want to go to a market with a large number of stalls. One with 600 stalls would be much more attractive than one with 80. An 80-stall market should not and cannot be a threat.

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : In their preamble, which I covered at some length, the promoters described Romford market as three markets. As I understand the Bill, in the same equation, my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) is asking for six markets. He is not asking for 80 stalls but six times 80 because, under the terms of the proposed Act, they are able to open six days a week.

Mr. Thorne : I do not think that my hon. Friend is right. The description of Romford market as three markets reflects the fact that there are three entirely different markets. One was set up by ancient charter, one by a lost prescription of grant and one by the Food Act 1984. That is how the three separate markets were created. They may be on the same site, but anything done in Redbridge would come under the Food Act and would, therefore, be one market.

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : I am sorry to intervene again but I must pursue that. Is not my hon. Friend merely being semantic? He says that there will be three separate markets on three days. I accept that, technically, they are three separate markets because they were set up under three separate Acts. However, in reality, the stalls are open three days a week. If my hon. Friend succeeds, in his area 80 stalls will be open six days a week. There will not be 80 stalls but 80 times six and, therefore, the threat to Romford is much greater than the impression that my hon. Friend seeks to give.

Mr. Thorne : My hon. Friend has not really researched his local authority's decisions on this matter. Otherwise, he would appreciate that it could apply for markets to be opened on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday as well and could therefore have the other three days under the Food Act if it so wished.

If Romford market were open only under the Food Act, it would have been referred to as one market and would not have had the protection of the six and two thirds miles. Therefore, Redbridge borough council need not have applied to the House for this Act. There is no inconsistency in my argument. The likelihood of 80 stallholders turning up in Redbridge on Monday and Tuesday but not wanting to turn up in Havering is remote.

Mr. Bendall : Will my hon. Friend clarify this point? As I understand it, the six and two thirds miles relates to the charter that granted the cattle market. Is there still a cattle market at Romford?

Mr. Thorne : No, the cattle markets at Romford and Stratford were phased out many years ago. There have not been cattle markets there, to my knowledge, for perhaps 15 or 20 years, or even longer. That is another reason why the figure of six and two thirds is irrelevant.

Sir Nicholas Bonsor : It is important to clarify this matter, as it is deeply significant. If the Bill goes through in its present form, Redbridge borough council will have the right to open 80 stalls, six days a week with 80 different


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stallholders on each day. In other words, 480 stallholders will be able to operate in Redbridge from Monday to Saturday. Am I right or wrong?

Mr. Thorne : My hon. Friend is absolutely right, but, in practice, it is no more likely that 80 stallholders will apply to have a stall in Redbridge on a Monday than would wish to have a stall in Romford on Monday. Stallholders in Romford have not found it profitable to do so on a Monday. Therefore, there is no likelihood that Redbridge market will be open every day of the week. If it were likely to be profitable for a stallholder to do that, Havering authority, on behalf of Romford, would want to hold markets on other days of the week, in addition to the one day a week on which it is allowed to do so at present under the Food Act.

My hon. Friend the Member for Upminster made two other points which I shall deal with. First, he said that 284 charter markets in the country could be under threat. I entirely disagree. It has been necessary for the London borough of Redbridge to come to the House to ask for a special Act for a market within six and two thirds miles. Where those charter markets are a long way from the next town the problem does not arise and there is no threat. Where there are other major towns nearer than six and two thirds miles, quite rightly those other authorities wishing to open a market would have to come to the House for such authority. Clearly it would be wrong and misleading to give the impression that there was any threat to 284 charter markets.

My hon. Friend also talked about compensation. Naturally, this was revised during the passage of the legislation through the Opposed Private Bill Committee which, in its wisdom, decided how compensation could be calculated. The figure of 10 per cent. of the profit was generous bearing in mind, as my hon. Friend has accepted, that there is a conflict on only two days a week. Therefore, 10 per cent. of the total profit seems extremely generous.

The way in which the calculation was made was put into the original Bill, and it went before the Opposed Private Bill Committee which listened to counsel on both sides at great length over many days. My hon. Friend the Member for Upminster criticised colleagues and suggested that if only they had listened to all of the Second Reading debate they would clearly have voted in his favour. I do not agree. But by the same logic, had our colleagues listened for many days to arguments put by counsel, instructed by the two local authorities, surely the House would wish to consider the Bill further. I believe that we should do so tonight.

7.57 pm


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