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Column 698particularly the byelaws contained in it. I will not consider the part relating to transfer, because I have already dealt with it. I am not quite sure whether the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) sees the LDDC and its work in quite the same way as those of us on the north side of the river. I suspect that that difference is due to environmental considerations, because the Surrey docks have shown examples of what some people have said was needed. The late Lord Cross of Chelsea, who chaired the Select Committee of the Lords when the LDDC was set up, said that what was needed was lots of small houses, all with gardens, to rent at reasonable rates. He said that, unfortunately, we on the north of the river would not get them for a while, but that the LDDC might provide them. I suspect that a high proportion of those that it has provided--few enough--are probably in the constituency of the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey. I therefore forgive him for having what I might regard as a rosy-eyed view of the LDDC's activities.
Mr. Simon Hughes : There may be more of such housing on our side of the river, but we have never said that there is enough. On the contrary, many empty private flats are available for rent, but we could have fully occupied social housing, which is urgently needed and which would be willingly occupied.
Mr. Spearing : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for putting that on the record. It shows just how unsuccessful the LDDC has been, because the Surrey docks, by nature of their size, layout and the fact that most of the docks, apart from the green land on the south dock, has been filled in, offered the maximum opportunities for such development.
The Bill entrenches, if anything, the existence of the LDDC--that temporary statutory body which was hailed, particularly by the former Member for Southwark and Bermondsey, as something akin to a new town corporation. It was the very opposite. New town corporations took lots of parcels of empty private land and put them together for housing and industry, based on a properly planned infrastructure. They created different zones for this, that and the other. The LDDC, however, took over vast areas of publicly owned land--railway land, dock land and gas land--and split it up for private development. It did not ensure that the necessary infrastructure existed. I accept that the area has miles of roads and tunnels. Millions have been spent on roads, but the railways
Mr. Spearing : The DLR was first suggested by the dockland joint committee--the much abused but constructive committee of the Greater London council and the boroughs. In 1978, it published a booklet entitled "Bus, Underground or Tram ?" The supertram was chosen. That option was the first proposal for public transport, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms Gordon) has said, the Beckton extension in Newham will be the last to be opened. We hope that it will be opened next week and that it will work.
Even if the system works, journeys are long. A person first gets on at Beckton, but to get to the Bank--the expensive extension on which Canary Wharf was predicated--he must change at Poplar. He must then change at Canary Wharf. Two changes must be made
Column 699because, in about 10 miles of railway, the electrical system is different. The DLR was the first plan, but it will be the last to be implemented.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar said, many people are employed in small workshops and small industries in docklands. The firms and their proprietors said that the development would fetch a lot of money- -I do not blame them for that. They saw it as a capital gain. They either closed their existing firms or, if they wanted to keep going, they had to take sites a long way away. That meant that firms missed the local connections and local people, particularly those in the Canning Town area. Some of the firms have survived, others have not. Some of the industries that came to docklands have, however, brought their workers with them, particularly those who are left in the print industry.
The LDDC was not entitled by statute to set up a community, but it should have provided schools. In my constituency, the south of Newham, south of the A13, which covers a distance as great as from Earls Court to Blackfriars or from the south of Chelsea embankment to the middle of Hyde park, there is no secondary school. Despite the houses and gardens that have been built in New Beckton--those properties are full not of yuppies, but of hard-working local people--no secondary school exists. In the past five years, the three Members who represent Newham have visited Ministers to try to obtain that school, but the Government will not give us one.
I know that the provision of that school is not the responsibility of the LDDC, but the Government have tried to set up the area as a model. The LDDC has not done in Newham what it has done in other areas. We may not have Canary wharf in Newham, but nor do we have what we want. The LDDC has not achieved the regeneration of the community or the regeneration of families- -that is what it is supposed to be about.
A suitable legal and constitutional structure does not exist. We have not had that under the LDDC and, given the way in which the transfer of responsibilities is envisaged, it does not look as though we will have a satisfactory structure in the future. The Bill is, perforce, an unwelcome necessity, because the LDDC must have some statutory duties to cover itself and those of us who are responsible for the law. If someone drowns in the dock or there is a need for policing, an authority must have some powers to offer some public order.
I was pleased to note that officials of the LDDC tabled a new clause for the Bill when it was considered in the Lords to provide it with some obligations. Clause 5(1) states :
"It shall be the duty of the Corporation, in formulating or considering any proposals relating to its functions under this Act, to have regard to the desirability of securing the use of the designated areas for a diversity of purposes which may include sporting, recreational, cultural, commercial, energy-related and navigational purposes."
It is a duty to "have regard" not a duty to do and it "may" meet that obligation. At least the obligation is included in the Bill, which is a good thing.
The designated areas are largely water. On the map that has been provided with the Bill, the land areas are, understandably, of limited size because the great bulk of the area is made up of the docks. Clause 7 says that the corporation, as part of its functions under the Act, should
Column 700"have regard to the desirability of securing and maintaining public access to the waterside."
The clause refers not to the river, but to the docks, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar has already mentioned. The two big remaining docks are the West India docks, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar, and the Royal docks in my constituency. They are 2.5 miles long and probably represent the biggest area of impounded water of its type in the world. They have 15 miles of deep water quays and represent an inestimable potential for London. They are a much underestimated resource. They are, however, expensive to maintain.
One of the good things that the LDDC has done is to re-establish the George V lock. It has also built two new swing bridges and a third is probably to come. It has resuscitated the West India docks lock and built new swing bridges within that system. The wharves are partly the responsibility of the landholders and partly the responsibility of the LDDC. It has told me that, before it is wound up, the wharves will be put into a fit state.
This is a harbour, however, and it is an expensive one to operate. When 10,000 to 15,000 tonne ships were coming into the Royals, lined up on each side--we have all seen the pictures--the costs of maintaining those docks and the West India docks was pooled and was a levy on the cargoes. It was relatively easy to do. However, if the docks are used for recreational purposes, as they will be, the money for them must be collected somehow.
I understand that £1 million a year could be needed for the dock systems. If that money is to be raised solely from the holders of the land around, the choice by the LDDC of the applicants for the local plan, especially in the Royal docks area, will be constrained by the question of who is to pay for those harbour costs. If we still had the Greater London council, which used to manage things such as Crystal Palace sports centre, Kenwood or whatever, it would have been an all-London facility, but, alas, we do not have that agency, which could have taken such administration in its stride.
We have proposals for housing--alas, not a high proportion of the type of homes that my hon. Friends and I wish for. There has been much talk about an urban village, but the housing constraints, debated this very afternoon in the House, mean that it will be difficult to achieve the balance of community that everyone locally wants and the housing that the people in need of housing in east London, from Newham and elsewhere, want.
The Victoria dock is currently used, under the initiative of the Newham borough council, as a magnificent sailing reach, open to the south-west prevailing wind. I do not think that anything should be put in place that would materially affect that magnificent sailing stretch, but there are proposals for bridging and for other crossings of that water.
The rowing course in the Albert Dock is well used, but there may be an opportunity to make extensions, and to create a course to Olympic standards. The course is already used many times a year by the Poplar and Blackwall club on the Thames for youth and national rowing, and it is something of which London can be proud. The pontoon dock could make a small harbour for learning for canoeists and all types of water activity that is not suited to the larger and longer reaches. The LDDC has created an organisation known as the Royal Docks Management Authority--RODMA for short.
Column 701The borough council and I want to know how that organisation will fit in with those recreational demands, and how the money will be raised. I have had no convincing answer to those questions. In docklands we have part of London's maritime heritage--a heritage of which we can be proud. There are possibilities for working areas of dockland as it was. HMS Warrior was built on the River Lea, only a few hundred yards from the Royal docks, at the old Thames ironworks. That water should be used for all types of purposes, as should the surrounding land. For example, there is a possibility of the university of East London setting up an area on the north side of the Albert dock.
However, the Bill will do very little in those respects. It does not give much vision. It fills in the legal vacuum of the byelaws, which is necessary, but, if we are to judge the future on the performance of the past, we shall not build on firm foundations. The Bill may be passed, with or without clause 22. I believe that there are some fundamental constitutional question marks over that clause. We need something much more radical and practical, and something that will provide the people of east London--indeed, the people of Greater London--with a better statutory and financial basis for the future of the Royal docks and the whole of the dockland area. It is the western extremity of the much-trumpeted Thameside corridor, which is, if not a jewel in the crown of the Government, at least something which they claim. Those claims will not be made manifest without more thought and a much better Bill.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Tony Baldry) : It may be helpful if I make clear the Government's approach to the Bill. Our remit is straightforward. It is to ensure that the provisions of the Bill accord with public policy generally. We have considered the Bill. It has been amended in another place--I understand to take account of the concerns of the boroughs--and we are generally content with its proposals.
The Bill is of a comparatively short compass. It acknowledges that the docks can still hold dangers for the general public and that in those circumstances there is a need for an effective regime to regulate the conduct of people in and around the dock estate, to ensure public health and safety, to prevent pollution and to secure the reasonable and quiet enjoyment of the dock environment. That is what the corporation's Bill seeks to achieve. It is a thoroughly sensible Bill and it is slightly disappointing that Opposition Members have chosen to impair the speedy progress of the Bill, especially given its primary aim of ensuring the safety of the public in and around the dock estate.
Mr. Dobson : Can the Minister tell us in what way we have impaired the speedy progress of the Bill ? All that we have done is to ask questions and raise points and get the promoters of the Bill to accept an amendment that the Government should have sought when they were consulted in the first place.
Mr. Baldry : Absolutely. If the hon. Member looks at his point of order and the points that he made earlier, it seems strange that he is now indicating that he wishes the Bill to have a speedy passage. The hon. Gentleman sought to raise an issue suggesting
Mr. Dobson : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should like the hon. Member to identify any point at which I have said anything in the Chamber about this being a hybrid Bill. The only matter that has been challenged is whether it was appropriate to have what would be better in a public general Act in this private Bill.
Mr. Baldry : Mr. Deputy Speaker, if that is not arguing that the Bill is a hybrid Bill, I am not sure what the hon. Gentleman's definition of a hybrid Bill might be. It was clear what the hon. Gentleman's point of order was this afternoon. It was to seek to prevent debate on the Bill. That was the reason why he got to his feet and that was the sole reason why he came to the House. He sought to do two things this evening ; one was to pursue that point and the other was to make an election address which doubtless will be used by his party in Millwall. Apart from that, he has not added much to the sum of human knowledge.
However, the hon. Gentleman did raise a point, to which I am seeking to respond, that clause 22 sought to create a new power. I shall deal with that point from the perspective of the Government and it is a matter that the sponsors of the Bill may wish to take on board in Committee. As far as I am concerned, clause 22 does not create a new power. Under section 165 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980, as amended by section 180 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, urban development corporations' undertakings can be transferred to any local authority, statutory undertakers or any other body by agreement between the parties with the approval of the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State can, by order, transfer urban development corporations' property rights and liabilities to himself. It could therefore be argued quite strongly--indeed, I would argue it if I were on the Committee--that clause 22 may be unnecessary as transfer of the powers to make byelaws for which it seeks to provide could be dealt with under the 1980 Act. As I have said, the Bill's sponsors may wish to take up that point in Committee.
I am saddened by the general tone of the debate. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) introduced it in a measured, responsible, positive and constructive way ; subsequently, however, we have heard rather negative and destructive speeches. Labour Members have queued up to denounce the work of the LDDC : none could bring himself or herself to say a single decent thing about any of its achievements since its inception.
Column 703Let me explain why I find that sad. There are 12 urban development corporations in the country, all of which I have visited--as have my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing, Inner Cities and Construction and many other Ministers. All the corporations are now in cities and the areas involved are not under the political control of the Conservative party ; they are often controlled by Labour. I am bound to say that in every other area Labour has managed to develop a strong sense of partnership with the development corporations. As my right hon. Friend and I embark each year on the review of the corporate plans of the various corporations, the point made to us in many other areas is not, "This development corporation is imposing terrible things on our area", but, "We welcome what the corporation is doing for our city : we appreciate the opportunities that it offers. We would like its life to be extended, because we see that the whole partnership approach is bringing enormous benefits to our area." It is sad that Labour Members do not appreciate the benefits that the LDDC has brought to their areas and constituents.
Ms Gordon : The Minister seems to be unaware that a fascist was elected to the council in the enterprise zone--the very area over which the LDDC has control, into which it has put so much money and work. The area is seething with discontent. Even if the LDDC's main aim was to promote business, businesses would run a mile from an area of racial violence and constant trouble.
When Labour Members have approached the LDDC asking for help for certain projects and explaining what the community wants, their requests have been largely ignored. Tricks have been pulled like the one involving the docklands light railway : our proposal for a community trust was rejected and we were told that our compensation would be an underground station at Island Gardens. But it has become clear that, with a stroke of the pen, the projected station is to be abandoned. That is our experience--a bad one. Perhaps other areas have had better experiences of urban development corporations.
Mr. Baldry : With respect, I consider that completely fanciful. First, all the local authorities concerned are represented on the development corporation. I am not a stranger to the boroughs concerned ; I visit them frequently and meet borough leaders. I am sure that if they had the concerns to which the hon. Lady refers, they would make them clear to Ministers--but they do not. This kind of rhetoric, vocabulary and syntax in references to the LDDC is confined to Labour Members. I do not know whether that is because they feel that, as the development corporations were established by a Conservative Government, they cannot bring themselves to say a decent word about them ; but I suspect that that is the only possible reason.
The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) expressed anxiety about the future of the area once the LDDC's life ended. It has always been accepted that the corporation's existence was finite : it was always part of the agreement with Parliament that, because of the scale of the regeneration that was needed, the corporations would need to take certain powers, but that in due course they would cease to exist and those powers-- planning powers, for example--would have to be returned to the boroughs.
My right hon. Friend and I would be more than willing--certainly, I would-- to meet hon. Members who
Column 704represent constituencies within the LDDC area to discuss a succession strategy. The development corporation is already beginning to work on such a strategy. It knows how much money it has to invest during the remaining period of its existence, and it is engaging in constructive, positive discussions with the boroughs concerned. I am more than willing to discuss the future of the docklands area with Labour Members : I am determined to drag them into the real world and to discuss the achievements and potential of the area for their benefit and that of their constituents.
Mr. Spearing : That invitation illustrates the vacuum that exists : if the debate does nothing else, it will have done that. Let me assure the Minister that visits from successive Ministers--including the Minister for Housing, Inner Cities and Construction--have been cordial, on a personal level ; but the resources have been available to the wrong people, in the wrong places, in the wrong way. The Minister said that no appreciation had been expressed. I think that, in my speech, I thanked board members and staff who are constrained by instructions from the Secretary of State and by existing laws ; I also said that the LDDC had done a good job in regard to locks, swing bridges and docksides--thanks to a chairman whom I will not name, but who is now being appointed to yet another quango. I hope that he will do well, but I fear that he will not.
The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said that he could not find the figures showing how much public money had been invested in docklands. During the 13 years of its existence, the LDDC has invested some £1.6 billion of public money, but it has used that money to lever in substantial sums of private money--£6 billion. Every penny spent by the corporation is accounted for. Each year, it publishes its corporate plan and discusses it with local authorities.
The LDDC's deputy chairman, Lord Cocks, is a former Labour Member : indeed, I seem to recall his being a Labour Chief Whip. There is ample cross-party involvement. Everyone seeks to ensure that the money being invested is put to the best possible use for local people. Indeed, throughout its existence, the LDDC--like every other development corporation--has sought to work in partnership with the three local authorities, with private developers, with housing associations and with other statutory bodies.
Mr. Dobson : If the hon. Gentleman is committing himself to a burst of open government, will he tell us the cost of capital allowances for individual enterprise zones and for individual developments within them ?
Mr. Baldry : I shall gladly answer any parliamentary question that the hon. Gentleman cares to table, provided that it has been deemed to be in order. He will not expect me to be able to answer off the top of my head specific questions such as the one he has just put to me.
The thrust of the hon. Gentleman's earlier remarks was that there was something covert and unspecified about the way in which development corporations operate. That is not true. Development corporations have money voted by Parliament. This is part of the inner cities vote of my
Column 705Department. It is perfectly transparent and perfectly accounted for each year in the corporations' plans. Indeed, it is in the interests of everyone that the expenditure of these bodies be revealed, as it can then be demonstrated clearly that, through the partnership approach that we advocate and promote, it has been possible to lever in substantial sums of private money for every pound of public money that is provided. The public-private partnership has been very much to the benefit of docklands and the rest of that part of London. It has enabled us to provide new roads, railways, tunnels and other facilities.
Mr. Oliver Heald (Hertfordshire, North) : Does my hon. Friend agree that for a very long time after the war vast parts of London constituting what is now the docklands development area were left derelict despite administration by Labour Governments and Labour councils ? It was in response to that waste that, in the late 1970s, people like Lord Mellish, with Conservative support, argued passionately for this approach, which was put in train by the Conservative Government. In Salter road in Bermondsey, one can now see a transformation that is heart-warming by any standards.
Mr. Baldry : My hon. Friend is right. Everyone recognised that the rundown of the docks and the urban decay, compounded by poor housing and inadequate community facilities, presented an enormous challenge. But the challenge was matched by the potential. The opportunities that were provided were unmatched anywhere in Europe. The London Docklands development corporation has helped to meet the challenge and secure realisation of much of the potential.
Mr. Dobson : The hon. Gentleman talks about a public-private partnership. Will he tell us the cost of the capital allowances for the Isle of Dogs enterprise zone ? One of his predecessors--the right hon. Gentleman who is now Secretary of State for Wales--simply refused to give this information. Is the hon. Gentleman saying that such information will be available ?
Mr. Baldry : I thought that I had already answered that question. I have told the hon. Gentleman that I am more than willing to provide him with as much information as possible and that I shall certainly answer any parliamentary question that is considered by the Table Office to be in order. I have made it clear several times this evening that it is in the interests of everyone that the fullest possible information about what is happening in docklands be provided.
It is desirable that we demonstrate clearly to the House and to the world at large the success of the partnership approach. It is very sad that the Labour party still has difficulty grasping the concept of partnership between the public and private sectors. What has come through clearly in the speeches of Opposition Members is that the only government they consider worth while is that which they control. It appears that they still regard public-private partnership as total anathema.
Opposition Members have complained of the insufficiency of new housing in docklands. It is clear that they have been walking around with their eyes closed. In docklands, more than 16,000 new homes have been completed. A good 20 per cent. of them are for low-income families. The development corporation has worked with 11 housing projects--some of them for shared ownership and
Column 706some of them for local authority homes. Environmental improvements have been made to 3,500 homes in 40 housing estates. The corporation has supported a whole range of initiatives right across the boroughs involved. Substantial sums of public and private money have gone into new office and other developments.
The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras made scathing comments about jobs. The fact is that the number of jobs has increased from 27,000 in 1981 to 55,000 today. That is a very substantial increase and all the projections indicate that the number will quadruple to well over 200,000 by the year 2001. The docklands development corporation has also been investing substantially in skills of and for local people, again working in partnership with local authorities and other agencies. It has invested about £76 million to assist docklands schools and post-16 colleges ; it supports training schemes and more than 5,000 training places have been sponsored in a range of occupational skills ; and schools have been helped in a variety of ways. I am glad that boroughs such as Newham and Tower Hamlets have worked closely with the development corporation on memoranda of agreement and the Accord programme and on a range of community projects such as the recently opened North Woolwich children's centre in Newham and the health centre for family care in Wapping. Currently, 84 voluntary and community groups receive funding support from the corporation.
Mr. Dobson rose
I could go on almost all night explaining the achievements in docklands : new jobs, new housing and a substantial number of small businesses and work spaces. I could talk about the extension of the Jubilee line to docklands and of the docklands light railway to Lewisham, which is another private finance initiative levering in money from the private sector to add to money raised in the public sector. I could talk until dawn, but that would still not impress Opposition Members, who are convinced that nothing good could ever come of the development corporation. They are determined for theological reasons never willingly to acknowledge that the corporation can do anything good. People who live in the area Mr. Dobson rose
Mr. Baldry : I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman several times. People who live in the area have seen the new offices, the new housing and the new businesses and jobs that have come to docklands as a result of the Government's substantial investment in the LDDC which has been supported by the private sector. I only hope that in time Opposition Members will understand that the solid foundations laid by the LDDC will continue for many years to come, to be built on for the benefit of docklands and, more important, for the people who live there.
The Bill is a sensible measure. I am saddened that its progress through the House has not been speedier. It is intended to add to the safety of those who live and work in the docklands area, and the Government wish it a speedy passage.
Column 7079.6 pm
I wish first to pick up on one or two of the Minister's comments, for which some of us are grateful. The Minister cannot complain that progress has been slow. So far, today's debate has lasted two hours and seven minutes. Since the Bill received a First Reading, there has been no delay other than that which was necessary while the Bill went to the Examiners, and it has won the first slot available for private Bills since then. We are all seeking to make good progress. As the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) said, we welcome the fundamentals of the Bill regarding the making of byelaws and the governing of water in the area, and the Minister has heard no criticism about them.
If I were to divide the debate between the two sides of the House, I should say that on the Minister's side the argument is that everything in the docklands garden is rosy and that on this side people are saying that everything is not. The objective evidence tends to support the views expressed by those on this side. Of course, there are good things in docklands and the Minister was fair enough not to criticise me for saying otherwise. However, the most telling point from this side of the House is that, despite all the money being invested, there will never be a satisfactory result unless the people themselves are allowed much more opportunity to decide about that money. People will never be happy if they are told how their money is to be spent and if an undemocratic committee makes the planning decisions. The people themselves have a view. In the east end, in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, people have very strong views and are perfectly able to express them given half the chance.
Mr. Dobson : As the Minister would not give way, I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I wanted to urge the Minister to urge the LDDC to agree to produce and to publish figures that showed how many of the remaining jobs in docklands, how many of the jobs transferred to docklands and how many new jobs in docklands had gone to people living in docklands. Until the development corporation does that, it will not be trusted in terms of jobs by local people. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman agrees.
Mr. Hughes : I agree entirely. One of the points with which we must deal is how we reconcile European legislation and local labour agreements. It is no good the LDDC making general points when all the results of its efforts do not go to the local community. Speaking for my constituency--the position is not dissimilar in Tower Hamlets--I point out that we have some of the highest unemployment in the country. When people see work being done and new jobs being created on their doorsteps, and when they cannot have those jobs, there is bound to be discontent.
I now turn to the central technical and drafting point of the debate-- clause 22 and "the undertaking" referred to there. If we look at the definition clause, clause 2, we find a definition--perhaps I should say an only slightly illuminating definition--of "the undertaking". The amended definition reads as follows :
" the undertaking' means the undertaking of the Corporation in connection with the designated areas, as from time to time authorised, or any part thereof and includes any functions conferred on the Corporation by or under this Act".
Column 708It is probably the case, as the Minister said, that the Local Government, Land and Planning Act 1980 gives the Government the power to hand over undertakings to whomsoever they will under various proceedings. The Bill seeks to deal specifically with the byelaw provisions and to decide where they go. That is my understanding, which seems to be consistent.
None the less, if we are giving byelaw powers to the LDDC, it is logical for us to want to know where those powers and the other substrata powers will go in future. We can have that debate in Committee. If the Committee is satisfied that there is no need to have different legislation and if we are happy with the substantive Act, we shall be happy with the Bill. None the less, that is a proper matter for debate. The crucial issue is where the powers, whether byelaws or substantive powers, will go.
Mr. Dobson : Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if, in his wisdom, the Minister had decided that clause 22 is unnecessary, it might have been sensible if he or his officials had given that view to the LDDC ? Most of our debate tonight would then have been quite unnecessary and the Minister might have been able go to his supper rather earlier.
Mr. Hughes : We shall never know why that did not happen. The Minister accepted that there has been consultation. Private Bills are sent to the Government so that they can give their views on it. The Government might have spotted that point earlier. Perhaps no one grasped the issue at an early stage.
Mr. Spearing : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for pointing out that the definition clause was amended. However, it is still ambiguous. The undertakings established by the Bill are undertakings of obligation rather than undertakings of business. The definition clause says :
" the undertaking' means the undertaking of the Corporation in connection with the designated areas, as from time to time authorised, or any part thereof and includes any functions conferred on the Corporation by or under under this Act."
The word used is "includes". That does not mean that the clause excludes everything else. The clause includes the words "in connection with". Land within, say, a few hundred metres of the dock could well come within that definition. All this needs tidying up in a big way.
Mr. Hughes : Not only the hon. Gentleman, but I and others share that view. In terms of explicit, clear drafting, the definition clause does not get us much further than it would have done if it had not been included. There is a little exercise for us all to do. The moral of the story is that we must all go away with two tasks in terms of drafting. First, we could all try to make a better hash of what we are trying to do in clause 22 and try to ensure that things say what they are meant to say. Under clause 5 we have an addition, by amendment, giving a general duty as to designated areas. It may be, now that the promoters have accepted the principle of the general duty and been more specific, we could make an improvement on that, too, to make sure that we meet the needs of the people for whom the Bill is being promoted.
Let me now deal with the more factual questions that have been raised. The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), both in his speech and in interventions, dealt with the provision of services for docklands-- housing, job creation, infrastructure and investment. We have dealt with figures setting out how
Column 709much money has been spent in docklands and there is a perfectly acceptable and agreed breakdown there. It is correct to say that the £1.6 billion includes only £155 million for social housing, so social housing has not been the core commitment. In single subject heading terms, the core commitment has been roads and transport. All dockland Members of Parliament would say that we need more housing investment and in particular more such investment to meet the needs of those who are either inadequately or badly housed or not housed at all. An inspection of the Isle of Dogs figures or the Bermondsey figures shows that the nature of houses built is such that there is a significant mix. This was done for social mix purposes. In the Isle of Dogs, the owner- occupied figure is 30.1 per cent., private rented housing is 11.3 per cent., housing association housing is 10.9 per cent. and council housing is 47.7 per cent. The need is clearly for significantly more social housing.
It is quite possible to talk about demand for private housing until one is blue in the face, but it is true to say that there has not been that demand recently. Using the test of need, it is plain that we need more social housing at rents that people can afford. There is a need for more shared ownership and for cheap owner-occupied housing. What we do not need is a lot of luxury housing that lies empty year after year because no one can afford it.
Mr. Dobson : Does the hon. Member have any figures showing how much of the money spent on social housing encompasses new spending for entirely new housing or for rehabilitating existing dwellings and how much was spent on houses to replace those knocked down for other purposes by the development corporation ?
Mr. Hughes : The short answer is no. But it is a good question. Not very much housing has been knocked down. The only significant estate that I am aware of that was knocked down was for the purposes of the Limehouse link. Otherwise, there have been some that were knocked down as part of general improvement schemes, including south of the river, that were much less controversial.
I urge all hon. Members who have an interest in this issue to appreciate that if there are any unsatisfactory or unresolved issues, now is the time to tackle them. There are two reasons for this. The first is that we have the Bill before us and, therefore, have the corporation a bit more by the short and curlies than is usually the case. Secondly, de-designation will start soon and after that it will be too late. I invite them all to compile their lists. I will make my list, we can aggregate them and we will go to see the Minister, his right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing, Inner Cities and Construction and the corporation officials to get what we can. I say specifically to the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms Gordon) that I include in that list what seems a perfectly reasonable request to make a bid for a station on the docklands light railway at Island Gardens. I had to battle for three years to get underground stations in Bermondsey and Southwark on the Jubilee line and eventually we got them. We need to join the hon. Lady's battle.
There are also small but important matters to consider, such as the need to ensure that we do not price local community groups such as the docklands sailing club out of using facilities because unreasonable rents are charged
Column 710for the use of the slipway or for the car park. All those are perfectly reasonable requests, for which we have to go into bat. Mr. Heald rose
I profoundly agree with the hon. Lady on the question of access to the waterfront. I have a pair of cutters ready sto cut open a gate which is meant to be open, but is locked. I will do so. I do not mind who arrests me for it because it is meant to be open space, it was promised to be so, there is no planning permission to stipulate that it be shut off and we must ensure that the LDDC delivers that promise. In my case, this involves King and Queen wharf and the hon. Lady also has good examples. We must ensure that the advantages to the public, not only of the steps to the river which they always had, but of the new opportunities, are theirs for the taking. It is no good losing all the business and all the docks and still not being able to get to the river. Let us take advantage.
Mr. Heald rose--
Mr. Heald : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way and I am quite willing to concede that he thrashed me on that occasion. When he talks of property left idle because it is luxury property, does he agree that what has happened in the Dockyard ward in his constituency is a huge transformation and is, generally speaking, for the good ? Does he agree that the mix of housing and industrial and retail use in that ward is well balanced and that the LDDC has achieved a great deal ?
Mr. Hughes : I agree that there are many good things. There has been support for community groups, a lot of new-build housing, refurbishment in the Old Amos estate which was falling down and new road building. Unlike the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), we have had new schools built in areas which needed them.