|Previous Section||Home Page|
Column 548skills and poor patterns of behaviour, as well as talk about the property-based schemes that often leave local people behind.
Mr. Baldry : I am sure that I have made it clear to the House that all those issues are entwined. One cannot have new jobs and opportunities with derelict land. One must bring in private sector investment. I thought that I had just made it clear--I shall say it again, as it is important-- that the future prosperity of our cities depends on local people having the skills needed to take on the rest of the world and win. It is vital to the nation's future that we raise the skill level of our work force.
The training and enterprise councils are taking the lead to ensure that as many local people as possible acquire the skills that they need. Youth training for 16 and 17-year-olds, training for work for the long-term unemployed and increasingly tailored training packages for local employers are some of the schemes.
To respond to the intervention by the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser) a good example of such investment is the fact that the Tyne and Wear development corporation has built, with investment, new office premises which it has let to a Chinese company inwardly investing here to manufacture televisions for export. The company purchased training from the local TEC for local people, to enable them to work for it. The majority of the people being recruited have been unemployed long-term.
New businesses, new premises, inward investment, tailored training and higher skills all go together to ensure the revival of our inner cities.
Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South) : Does my hon. Friend agree that the problems of Lambeth and other inner-London boroughs are a function of very poor school results ? The TECs are handicapped by the fact that schools in inner London are characterised by high truancy rates, poor GCSE pass rates and poor A-level results.
Mr. Marshall : The hon. Lady asks why. Is my hon. Friend aware that, in Lambeth, 21.1 per cent. of pupils get five or more GCSE passes at grade A to C, compared with 28.1 per cent. in Wandsworth and 45.4 per cent. in Barnet ? Does that not emphasise the poor results of Lambeth schools ? Is it not high time that Lambeth council, instead of practising socialism, went after standards ?
The budgets of the TECs are substantial. Let me give an impression of scale, because it is sometimes difficult to put that into perspective.
One TEC, Wearside TEC, has a budget of £14.5 million for this year alone, and is helping projects such as youth training, training for work, business enterprise support, employment investment in people, and in education more generally. That is £14.5 million being invested by just one TEC in one year in one part of the country. Similar sums--millions of pounds--are being invested by 81 other TECs such as Wearside throughout the country, all similarly involved in ensuring prosperity tomorrow through developing new skills today.
This year, TECs will introduce the prototypes of new modern apprenticeships, which, in subsequent years, should increase to more than 40,000 each year the number
Column 549of young people in England who achieve NVQ level 3 qualification through work-based training. We are determined to continue to raise the academic and skills levels of people in this country. It is imperative that we do so if we are to compete in global markets. It is not only through the TECs that we are encouraging people--young people especially--to update skills and acquire new ones. In response to the comment of the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser), I point out that many of our urban initiatives such as the task force and city challenge partnerships have been pioneering innovative ways of encouraging people-- often young people--who have been alienated by their experience of formal education, to have a second chance and obtain good basic education and training skills on which they can build.
For example, Wirral city challenge's "neighbourhood colleges" have provided what they describe as "just down the road" training locations, to make it easier and more accessible for local people to reach training opportunities. The Granby Toxteth task force in Liverpool has helped to develop open learning opportunities whereby people can study at home. I am sure that if the hon. Member for Norwood visits the Brixton city challenge, he will find that it is involved in training opportunities. It is important that we promote training in our inner cities right across the board.
Mr. Henderson : The Minister will no doubt receive support from the industrial community when he announces different training initiatives. How does he explain to the industrial community that we spend less on training than important industrial competitors such as Germany, and that the skill levels of people who have to work in manufacturing industry are considerably lower than those of their counterparts in Germany, after 15 years of a Conservative Government ?
Mr. Baldry : I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that, when he has finished speaking or has an opportunity later this morning, he goes to the Library and gets out some publications such as "Competence and Competition", published by the National Economic Development Office, which clearly show that state spending--taxpayers' spending--in this country compares well with that of any other country in European Community. The difference is the amount of money that employers have been prepared to invest in training. That is why we have set up TECs, which are local employer-led initiatives to ensure that they have every incentive to continue to invest in training.
The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson) obviously was not listening. We, the state--taxpayers collectively--are investing £14.5 million in only one TEC in one year, and there are 81 TECs such as that throughout the country, investing similar sums of money. I know from visiting Tyne and Wear--which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, I now do regularly--that local employers are investing ever-increasing sums of money in local training, working with the TECs, because they can clearly see the benefit of having a work force with the best possible skills.
For many people, child care is an important element in enabling them to take up work or training. I am glad to say that there are many more child care places available than there were a few years ago. As the House will recall, the November Budget announced the introduction of a child care disregard for parents claiming family credit and other
Column 550in-work benefits such as housing benefit. That will help many low-income families to get back into the world of work.
We have done a tremendous amount to ensure the right framework in which our cities can thrive and develop. We seek to provide resources for those people and places most affected by the structural changes that have affected the world in the past few decades.
In the 1960s, investment was modest and operated largely through the public sector. In the late 1970s, we introduced a more formal approach, with initiatives targeted on more clearly defined areas of need. In the 1980s, we increased the investment and expanded our initiatives. I have mentioned many of those--urban development corporations, derelict land grant, city grant and task force. Nevertheless, we refuse to stand still. We are always seeking to build on experience. So we introduced our very successful city challenge schemes, based on partnerships with local authorities, local people and local businesses. The local authorities were encouraged to provide a lead and a co-ordinating role. In much of what we do in the inner cities, we expect and wish that local authorities will provide a lead and a co-ordinating role, and city challenge is testament to that approach. As a result of two competitions, there are now 31 city challenge partnerships in England.
The successful partnerships are all different, but they have all developed a five-year programme of initiatives that they consider best tackle the physical and economic regeneration of their areas. Each partnership receives £37.5 million of public money over the five years, but they are all succeeding in levering in substantial extra sums of private investment as a consequence of that public spending. The city challenge partnerships are proving a great success. Thirty-one partnerships are now feeling the benefit of those invigorating plans. This year, 11 partnerships will reach the halfway point in their five-year plans. In just their first year, those 11 city challenge partnerships built more than 3,000 homes, created or preserved more than 2,500 jobs, and helped nearly 270 businesses to start up.
During the full five years of their programmes, the Government expect to contribute more than £1 billion to the 31 partnerships, and expect more than £3 billion of private money to be invested in those inner- city areas--areas where investment had previously been all but impossible to attract.
Importantly, in addition to achieving new homes, creating new businesses and preserving jobs, many of the city challenge initiatives have been able to reduce crime in their areas. For example, in Sunderland, Bradford and Newcastle, when local people were consulted, it was discovered that they identified fear of crime as the biggest local concern. I am glad to say that, in all those three regions there have, as a consequence of city challenge, been reductions of between 10 and 25 per cent. in recorded crime. For example, it is the first time for many years that there has been a decrease in crime in the relevant part of Newcastle.
It is often believed that a continuing increase in crime in our cities is inevitable. That is obviously not the case, as the work being done by city challenge shows. We want our cities to be safe. We want people to feel safe at home and to feel that their offices will not be burgled or their car vandalised.
Column 551The Prime Minister recently launched a planning guidance on "Planning Out Crime", so that crime can be given early consideration in all development. There is a partnership in planning between local authorities, developers and police.
Local initiatives, too, can tackle and are tackling crime. In an increasing number of inner cities, we are seeing the introduction of closed circuit television, to the advantage of those areas. We want cities to be safe, but also attractive for those who live and work there. Parks, trees, fine buildings, sports facilities and cultural events all have an important part to play. We a doing a lot to help make our cities attractive. We are providing funding to protect our buildings through English Heritage, encouraging arts and culture through the Department of National Heritage, and the arts through the Arts Council. We are creating green spaces with derelict land grant and city challenge money.
The House may be interested to know that we have recently appointed a special adviser, Mr. Liam O'Connor, to help advise on good design in our environment. The principles on which city challenge is based are being further developed through the new initiatives that we announced last November : the setting up of integrated regional offices, the creation of English partnerships, the introduction of the single regeneration budget and the launch of city pride. That package was widely welcomed not only in Parliament but by local government, community and business organisations and many expert commentators on inner-city issues.
Despite my best efforts, Opposition Members still seem to misunderstand what the integrated regional office will do. The integration of the Government's regional offices will ensure that all our programmes pull together as effectively as possible, and that local communities and businesses have a single point of contact for Government services. That will result in a better co-ordinated and more local service for the benefit of everyone.
We are locating together the regional staff of the Departments of Trade and Industry, Employment, Transport and the Environment, appointing a senior civil servant accountable to Ministers, as Ministers are accountable to the House, and thus introducing a much better, co-ordinated approach. I thought that that approach was also the Labour party's policy, so it is surprising that Labour Members find the concept so difficult to understand.
Ms Abbott : The Minister referred earlier to the Government's activities in relation to crime. Will he enlighten the House on why the Government still refuse to back the private Member's legislation on racial harassment, which is a serious problem in inner cities ?
Mr. Baldry : The hon. Lady can rest assured that every Conservative Member and every member of the Government is determined to combat racial harassment. The proposal on racial harassment would make it more difficult to combat racial attacks, because, if the Crown brought a prosecution, one would have to prove not only assault or some other aggravating factors but demonstrate, so that the court could be sure, that the attack had been motivated by racial reasons.
Column 552The legislation would make it more difficult to combat racial attacks and harassment. There is no shortage of commitment on the Government side of the House to bear down on racial harassment, but introducing further legislation as the hon. Lady suggests would not help. It would make it more difficult to ensure that those who perpetrate racial attacks are brought to justice and convicted. I was trying to explain the approach of the integrated regional offices. It is common ground throughout the House that those are a sensible move forward.
Mr. Spearing : I am grateful to the Minister for his courtesy in allowing me to intervene. My reason for doing so is that he has told us only half the truth. We understand the first-stop shop, but we do not agree with the fact that there is to be a bidding match, not just by a locally elected persons, local authorities and boroughs but by all sorts of other people. The Minister has not said that he is putting in place a senior civil servant to conduct that bidding match. As the senior regional director for London will take post a week today, will the Minister now say who he or she is ?
Mr. Baldry : I am more than pleased to tell the hon. Gentleman the whole story, if he will stop interrupting me. I was about to come to the single regeneration budget and the position of London. We have launched city pride for our three largest cities--Birmingham, Manchester and London- -which challenges those cities to produce their vision for the future, alongside which we could align our programmes and resources. Obviously, the position of London is vital. It is a great national asset, full of life and excitement, with a great diversity of people, culture, activities and interests.
The Secretary of State for the Environment recently invited Londoners and all those with an interest to offer views on London's future. The full outcome of that exercise will be published soon. But the responses make it clear that Londoners have great pride in their city and that visitors think highly of London as well. We shall take full account of all the views received when deciding future priorities for London.
Meanwhile, as a further important step, we announced yesterday the new senior regional director for London. He is Mr. Robin Young, appointed at deputy secretary level, demonstrating the importance we attach to London's needs. He will serve the people of London extremely well, and bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to that vital job.
The introduction of the single regeneration budget, which brings together 20 existing programmes, has been widely welcomed. It has certainly been welcomed by those local authority leaders whom I and my ministerial colleagues have met. Local authorities and local businesses recognise that the new budget will provide the flexibility to focus assistance on areas facing multiple problems and allow local communities to get more involved in local decisions, as the budget will fund initiatives supported by partnerships whose proposals have the support of the local community.
Column 553The practical, positive partnership approach that is important in city challenge, in bringing forward proposals for the single regeneration budget, is also the approach that we are adopting for winning funds from European programmes. European structural funds have an important role to play in helping urban regeneration. In England, we have secured £632 million in objective 1 money for Merseyside, and £2.8 billion objective 2 funding for eligible parts of England. Those areas are well placed to use such funds very effectively alongside the single regeneration budget and other national funding. In doing so, the Government will be working in partnership with local authorities, TECs and others.
As the House knows European regional development fund money does not cover the whole cost of projects ; there must be matching funding. Confusion seems to persist about where such funding can come from. Let me make the position crystal clear. Matching funding can come from Government Departments including the single regeneration budget ; local authorities ; other public agencies such as English Partnerships ; and the private and voluntary sectors. So money spent on, for example, infrastructure projects, certain environmental improvements, business support measures and training schemes can qualify as matching funding for the purposes of ERDF, and no area should have difficulty in maximising the available ERDF resources. I have mentioned English Partnerships several times. Let me describe its role. Successful though long-standing initiatives such as city grant have been, there is scope for a more proactive, flexible and entrepreneurial approach. That is why, from next Friday, we are bringing together the work of city grant, derelict land grant and English Estates in English Partnerships, under the chairmanship of Lord Walker. That will allow maximum flexibility and greatest synergy to the benefit of local people.
English Partnerships is getting off to a cracking start. It has already announced its first significant investment of £25 million to some 25 projects, and it expects this to lever in a further £75 million from the private sector, possibly creating more than 1,000 jobs for these new projects alone, which include a private housing scheme in Liverpool, in partnership with Wimpey Homes and offices, workshops and retail development in Salford in partnership with Manchester Property Venture Fund ; and bring back to life a grade 2 listed building, St. Nicholas in Newcastle, to make an attractive office development.
However much this Government and other public sector bodies do, cities will not work unless there is active private sector investment and community enterprise. We are doing much to help increase investment opportunities for the private sector. As well as the initiatives that I have already mentioned, we are also encouraging greater private sector activity through the private finance initiative.
The purpose of the private finance initiative is simple. It is to bring an extension in the role of the private sector in managing and financing capital investment and services which have traditionally been the responsibility of Government. We want to ensure that every £1 of public spending can be maximised. We start from a sound base. This year, my Department alone expects to raise more than £4 billion of private sector finance in support of departmental programmes. Of course, money and fresh investment are important, but so are people, who are the most important ingredient. We are determined to involve local people and, wherever
Column 554possible, to empower them to enable them to help determine their future. We are determined to bring on board the vast resources that the hundreds and thousands of city communities have to offer, as individuals and as voluntary groups. That is very much in the spirit of the Prime Minister's vision of active citizenship and the "You can make a difference" initiative recently launched by the Home Secretary to highlight practical ways in which to promote volunteering. Some of the most vivid examples of the energy that communities can bring are seen in the tenant management organisations that are springing up across the country, often in the teeth of opposition from some of their local authorities. All over the country, tenants' groups are being organised. They are preparing to manage their estates.
We already support more than 200 groups in that preparatory phase. There are now 76 fully operational tenant management organisations up and running. From next Friday, the new right-to-manage scheme will give all properly constituted council tenants' organisations the right to take over the management of their estates, even if the local community is unwilling.
Of course, there are enormous challenges. City life presents challenges the world over, but phenomenal opportunities exist to continue to make our cities economically vibrant, safe and attractive places in which people will want to live and work, and will be proud to bring up their children. The Government are making a full contribution, by ensuring that policies mutually support inner-city regeneration and economic revival, in providing substantial financial resources, and in acting as a prime partner with local councils, local people and the many other partners who together can and will continue to transform our cities.
Our inner-city initiatives are working well. They are policies of which we can be proud. They will continue to help regenerate, revive and transform our cities for the better as we enter the 21st century.
Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North) : The Minister spoke for an hour and six minutes and I was beginning to wonder whether his advisers had told him that Friday mornings were notoriously difficult for Ministers, and if he did not want to be left on his own, he had better have enough to say to keep the House occupied for a good part of the debate. But I should have thought that the Minister would become aware early in his speech that some of his colleagues were present and that, to some extent, their interventions have been helpful to him. I knew that that could not have been the reason for the length of the Minister's speech. I know that the Minister likes cricket. I thought that he was obviously one of those batsmen who like to take a long time to get their eye in. I thought that, if we hung about long enough, we would see some strokes from the Minister, but I got that wrong as well. It suddenly dawned on me that the Minister's speech mirrored the Government's urban policy in the past 15 years. They believe that if they talk about it long enough and have enough gimmicks and micro-suggestions, people will forget that the Government have no strategy and have cut resources and that the position is worse now than when the policy began. We were waiting for a strategy from the Minister. The Opposition are here to debate the single
Column 555regeneration budget and the integrated regional offices. The Opposition welcome some of the new structures ; indeed, we have been calling for them for a long time. We are waiting to hear the Governments's strategy on those new structures and how they will fit in place. We have not heard about that.
We welcome the debate. The issue of urban decay is important. We must try to resolve it with determination if we are to have a strong nation, with a strong economy and with people living together cohesively and in peace. It is important that we represent our constituents' interests on those important matters and I am pleased that, even on a Friday morning, a significant number of hon. Members want to take part in the debate.
Urban decay is not confined to one or two, or even half a dozen, cities around the country. As I see when I tour the country, it is a growing problem. It does not exist only in Liverpool and Newcastle. It is now becoming apparent in parts of Liverpool and Newcastle where hitherto it has not been apparent. It is also apparent in southern England--in Portsmouth, Southampton, Reading and Gillingham today one can begin to see some of the features that were apparent in Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow 15 years ago. That shows that Government policies have not taken account of the way in which urban decay has begun to spread. That is why the Government's urban policies have not been a success. They have been a fraud and a shambles. The policies have been a fraud because Government claims have never been realised. The policies are a shambles because the lessons that should have been learned from the mistakes have not been learned.
The Minister's speech was completely devoid of a strategy because he recognised that, in the past, the Government's policies have not been successful. The Government have been found out, not by the House of Commons, but by the people who live in inner-city communities throughout the country. If the Government are to convince people that they have a strategy that can work, it will have to be much more cogent than the Government's previous strategies.
Why has the Government's strategy failed ? The failure is due to three false assumptions. The first was that urban decay was a sore in an otherwise successful economy. People who live in Britain recognise that there has been no economic miracle in the past 15 years, that the problems of the British economy are as serious as, if not more serious than, they were 15 years ago, and that urban decay is not a sore in this otherwise healthy earth.
I have already alluded to the Government's second false assumption. Urban decay is not a limited problem which can be solved by sending in a task force. Urban decay is endemic to our cities and is beginning to spread, and therefore any measures introduced to tackle it must challenge that assumption.
The Government's third assumption involves the fact that they have never been prepared to accept that general economic policy should have as much to do with urban regeneration as do other specific measures included in urban programmes or schemes. The failure to recognise that fact lies behind the Government's failure to take up the issue of the regeneration of our urban areas. Everyone in the country knows that. I do not understand why the Government have never accepted that.
Column 556People in east London know that Canary wharf, however nice a building it is, can never play an important part in the economy of the east end of London unless that economy is part of a prosperous economy in London and the south-east of the country generally. The factory units, which have been built and are welcome, will never be utilised unless there are people who want to make and sell things. When the economy is in recession and the country is patently suffering from economic failure, those living in urban areas cannot be given the hope that they are entitled to expect.
Dr. Hampson : No one could dispute the hon. Gentleman's interesting remarks, but I expected him to say that, in a recession, there should be extra investment in infrastructure, which has occurred under the Government's initiatives. That is surely what the Labour party used to believe. I am amazed that it no longer does.
The Government believe that there has been a transformation in, for example, the inner-city areas of Leeds during the recession. The urban development corporations have created about 8 million jobs. Without that catalyst, the royal armouries would not have been transferred from the Tower of London to Leeds, which will have a huge knock-on effect and will turn Leeds, interestingly, into a tourist centre. That has happened during a recession--Government programmes are helping to overcome the recession.
Mr. Henderson : I accept the economic point made by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson). In a recession, it is right to take counter-cyclical action, first, to try to minimise the effects of the recession and, secondly, to prepare the economy to come out of the recession. It is right that there should be counter-cyclical action both on the capital account and on training to improve the efficiency of labour.
The Government's problem in dealing with the economy generally and urban policy is that for so many of the years since 1979, the economy has been in recession. When it has come out of recession, it has popped out for a short time, it has been overheated and it has had immediately to be dampened again, as happened in 1987-88. That is the failure of the economy. I accept the economic point made by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West ; I wish that he and his colleagues would make that point more forcefully--I know that some of them have--to Ministers.
I have some sympathy with the Government on inner-city policy. It must be difficult for them to gauge how effective their policies are in changing life in our inner cities. Conservatives are not even sparse on the ground now in terms of political representation in our inner-city areas. A colleague said to me the other day that to find a Conservative representative in an inner-city borough is about as common as finding an English batsman appearing on the fifth day of a test in the West Indies.
I have some sympathy for Conservative Members and I especially have sympathy for them in relation to the London borough of Newham, on which the attention of the British people will be focused in the near future. I am pleased to tell the House that the Government have begun to prepare for their activities in the London borough of Newham ; they have put advertisements in the local paper. An advertisement appeared on 16 February in the Newham Recorder under the heading :
Column 557"There's a job to be done."
When I first read that, I thought that the Conservative party had finally recognised that everything was not right in our inner cities and that there was something that could be done to improve the lot of the people who live there.
I read on a bit further. The advertisement said :
"There's a job to be done . . .
And you can help us to do it."
The advertisement was published, incidentally, by the Newham Conservatives administrative centre, PO box 1014, London E7 0LZ. It continued :
"We are looking for people who live or work in Newham and are interested in standing as Conservative Candidates in the May Borough Elections. If you want to see your money well spent, a Borough that is run efficiently . . . and you believe in the Conservative cause, contact us for more details of what being a Conservative Councillor means."
I knew that the Government were keen on bids for inner-city resources, but I did not realise that they had started to put the post of a Conservative candidate in the local elections out to tender. That is taking competitive tendering a little too far. I believed that this debate would be about the single regeneration budget and the integrated regional office. The Opposition support those initiatives in structural terms, but we and those involved in the urban aid programme want further assurances. We hope that the announcements will be accompanied by assurances that there will be genuine local determination of priorities, assurances that projects will be supported when they demonstrably have the support of local communities, assurances that local authorities will play an important role in guaranteeing democracy and local involvement and assurances on many of the mechanisms of the bidding process. The wider community will be convinced that there is a new direction only when the urban aid programmes are set in the context of a changed approach to economic policy generally.
Mr. Henderson : I am grateful for the Minister's broad response to some of those points. I assure him that the debate looks as if it will not be long enough. I shall write to him on a number of specific points that have been raised by some of the organisations involved. The people know that even with all the aid programmes that Whitehall has conjured up, if there are acute problems in other parts of the economy, the problems of the inner-city areas will be critical. The test of whether the programmes will be effective in tackling the problems of decay will be whether they are part of a wider policy framework to lead us back to full employment and social cohesion.
There is another condition for the success of our inner-city policies. There needs to be an acceptance by all parties in our inner-city areas, such as Tower Hamlets, that Britain is a multiracial society and that solutions to inner-city regeneration must be rooted in a multiracial approach. If political parties pander to racial sectarianism, not only will tension be created, which will lead to the breakdown of democracy, but that tension will in itself be a major obstacle in the drive to regenerate inner -city areas. Selecting council candidates on the basis of racial grouping is wholly alien to the Labour party and to any multiracial road to the development of those areas and social cohesion.
Column 558Over the years, the Government have trumpeted their claims to try to demonstrate their commitment to urban renewal. We all remember--the Minister alluded to this--Baroness Thatcher on the staircase of Conservative central office on the night of the 1987 general election saying that something must be done about the inner cities. The 1992 Conservative manifesto stated :
"We take pride in our cities . . . The best way to restore the spirit of enterprise which first made our cities great is for local people, the private sector, the voluntary sector and local and central government, to work together in partnership."
Some of my ancestors came from the inner-city areas of Edinburgh. I doubt whether those who lived in the 19th century would have recognised the greatness of the parts of Edinburgh in which they lived. Even if they recognised that other parts of Edinburgh were great, that greatness would not necessarily have been motivated by a spirit of enterprise. At least it is encouraging to see that the Government have recognised that there is a problem in the cities which must be tackled.
Mr. Spearing : I may be able to inform my hon. Friend about this point of major political significance. He may recall the declaration on the stairs of central office, and the surprise and pleasure of some and the concern of others, including Sir Leon Brittan. When asked, he said that if that was the policy, Ministers would of course do it. Does my hon. Friend realise that the question was asked in the context of the advances that the Conservative party had made in the election ? Baroness Thatcher was asked, "What about the inner cities ?" In replying, "Yes, we must do something about that too", she meant the elimination of Labour party representation in those areas, not their regeneration. Her remark has been widely misunderstood ever since.
Mr. Henderson : I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) for his definitive interpretation of Baroness Thatcher's comments. I did not realise that I was being unduly generous ; I am tempted to withdraw my remarks. Even if I had to withdraw them, there would still be sufficient evidence that the Government, at least on the face of it, are committed to doing something about our cities.
The Minister's boss, the Secretary of State for the Environment, found time away from his religious journeying a couple of weeks ago to issue a press release. It said that the right hon. Gentleman "today pledged to help people achieve the quality of traditional town centres which they value and put heart back into the cities." The hon. Member for Leeds, North-West mentioned the Government's apparent change of policy. All I can ask is why the Government had to wait 15 years. Why has the country had to wait 15 years for the Government to wake up to the fact that if the urban policy on industrial and commercial development is to plunder the green belt and to build new centres, the inevitable impact is that whereas some activities used to take place in the inner cities, craters devoid of economic activity are created? When it is devoid of economic activity it will soon be devoid of people activity, which is exactly what has happened in many of our cities.
There have been many Government schemes, some of which were proudly proclaimed by the Minister. It is interesting to remember how many there have been. We have had the urban programme, designated districts, city grant, derelict land grant, urban development corporations, enterprise zones, estate action, city action teams, city
Column 559challenge, inner-city task forces, regional assistance, regional enterprise grants, the enterprise initiative, English Estates, enterprise zones, simplified planning zones and training and enterprise councils.
Those schemes bear some resemblance to Graham Taylor's team sheets. As the country has found out, their success bears some comparison with the success of the English football team in recent years.
Mr. Henderson : The hon. Gentleman has been wise enough to copy it in his own handwriting. I am afraid that central office researchers are increasingly missing the boat. I shall give one example that I intended to refer to later in my speech. However, the House may as well have it now. Great claims have been made about job creation in the London Docklands development corporation area. Some 13,000 new jobs were created from 1986 to 1993, but I enter the caveat that many of them were moved in from areas outside the development area. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that, even within the area, 15,000 jobs have been lost in the same period, so that the net effect is a loss of 2, 000 jobs.
I know what is happening in my area of Tyne and Wear. There is the same pattern. Some jobs have been created, although very few of them have been in manufacturing. The factory to which the Minister referred in Jarrow is one exception, and it is a welcome exception. However, it is not characteristic of job creation in the Tyne and Wear development corporation area. They have been mainly commercial jobs and many of them have been moved from other parts of Newcastle and Sunderland. The damning of the policy is that there are so many other manufacturing and service jobs linked to the previous manufacturing industries that have gone from that same area. That is the error of the Government's policy.
There have been many new buildings. I am not one of those with an interest in urban policy who say that we should not spend money on new buildings or that there should be minimal spend. I recognise that if there are to be new activities, whether industrial, commercial or community, we want to see them taking place in new property. We do not want industry and commerce and voluntary organisations using run-down old property. We want new property, but we want it in a context of community development and regeneration. That is the key test of whether an urban policy has been successful.
The test is not whether we can put up buildings, because if there is sufficient subsidy any developer or building contractor will tap into it, put up the buildings and say, "Thanks very much." It is all very well to make claims about construction jobs being created in the interim period, but the test is what happens next. Will we get value for public money from that investment ? We can get such value only if that property development is part of a regeneration of a complete area.
Column 560As the chairman of Tyne and Wear development corporation said on the radio this morning--if I heard him correctly--the test of successful development, including urban development corporations, is whether jobs have been created. I take that to mean a net creation of jobs because if it is not, there will be an ever downward spiral of economic difficulty. I agree with the chairman, Sir Paul Nicholson, that there must be that jobs test. In addition, there needs to be a test on the health of the people and on the homes that are made available for them.
In preparation for the debate, I asked the Library to take four examples of areas outside London that have received urban aid and three examples of areas in London where there will be a political contest in the near future. The Library has prepared figures for me on Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Wolverhampton. I hope that the Minister accepts that that is a reasonably fair representation of areas where there is an urban problem and which have received urban aid in one way or another. I hope that the Minister will also accept that Newham, Barking and Dagenham are reasonably representative of what has been happening to London's economy over the past 15 years and a reasonable test of whether Government policies have been successful. The by-elections in those areas should also be a test of what the people there believe about the Government's economic policy.
Despite all the schemes, unemployment figures, which are all for February, show that unemployment in Wolverhampton from 1979 to 1992 increased from 6 to 12.7 per cent. of the work force. In Liverpool, it increased from 12.4 to 14.6 per cent. In Manchester, it has risen from 5.8 to 10.1 per cent. and in Newcastle, it increased from 7.8 per cent.--which is a north Tyne statistic--in 1979 to 12.8 per cent. in 1994.
The figures from the three London jobcentres further demonstrate the failure of Conservative urban policies in London. In Barking, unemployment trebled between 1979 and 1994. In the East Ham jobcentre area, which covers the constituency of Newham, North-East, unemployment is now five time higher than in 1979. In Dagenham, unemployment has increased by three times since 1979.
Death rates are reasonably indicative of the health of all ages in the community. They have increased in the past 15 years in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and in the London borough of Newham. Between 1979 and 1994, homelessness has risen by a fifth in Newcastle, by more than a quarter in Liverpool, by two and a half times in Wolverhampton and by more than six times in Manchester. In Barking, homelessness has more than doubled over the past 15 years while in Newham it has doubled. That is the record of 15 years of Conservative policies in four northern cities and three London boroughs.
Mr. Tony Banks : As my hon. Friend well knows, we in Newham have city challenge in Stratford. It is useful, good and big money and it is coming in, but what is done with it emphasises my hon. Friend's point because it is providing us with buildings--they are good buildings and we now have the best bingo hall in the country--but it is not providing us with jobs. The sort of thing that would improve the possibility of getting jobs in north-east and north-west Newham and, indeed, in the whole of the east end, would be for the Government to announce that there will be an international railway station at Stratford. That
Column 561would really bring in jobs. If that happened, all the good buildings, including the bingo hall, would be stuffed with international visitors.
Mr. Henderson : I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reinforcing the point that I was attempting to establish by giving his experience of what is happening in Newham. I had intended to be tempted into speaking about transport because it has an important part to play in urban regeneration. However, given the time that it has taken me to get to where I am and in view of the matters that I should like to address, I may leave that to some of my colleagues who may wish to emphasise it in their contributions.