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Mr. Couchman: In whose constituency is Chalk Farm? Is it in the constituency of the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson)?

Mr. Shaw: My hon. Friend makes an interesting intervention. Although it is in the constituency of the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, the boundary commission attempted to attach that ward to the constituency of the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate. That would have meant that she had more Labour voters, and that was behind the gerrymandering.

The Labour party was not just worried about the ward remaining in Holborn and St. Pancras, but thought that it would go to Hampstead and Highgate under the boundary commission recommendation, and that they had better build some social housing quickly to increase the Labour majority in Hampstead and Highgate.

Ms Glenda Jackson: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman deliberately to misinform the House? The boundary commission proposed to add Chalk Farm ward to Hampstead and Highgate, but my constituents countered that proposal; the boundary commission found in their favour, and the commission gave my constituency another ward.

Madam Deputy Speaker: I have explained to the House and to the hon. Lady before that the occupant of

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the Chair cannot be responsible for the accuracy or otherwise of hon. Members' words. Normally, there is an opportunity for hon. Members either to intervene to challenge what they regard as an inaccuracy or to make a point later in their own speech, if they catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair.

Mr. Shaw: I am grateful to the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate for her helpful intervention. She has confirmed what I have said: the ward was possibly going to go into her constituency, and the Labour party was at work gerrymandering it before it went in. It wanted to ensure that, if the Boundary Commission had gone along with the proposal to put it in her constituency, it would have been gerrymandered. That is precisely the point that I was trying to make.

The other point that I am making is that a Labour councillor on Westminster council was acting for Safeway in the gerrymandering process. I hope that, if any of my hon. Friends are going shopping in Safeway--if they ever do after my speech--they will consider that Safeway's directors are paying tens of thousands of pounds to a Westminster Labour councillor, who has no professional qualifications and no known skills that enable him to do the job, other than the fact that he mixes in Labour party circles.

Councillor Peter Bradley, the Westminster councillor, has one other extremely dubious achievement in property circles. In Richmond upon Thames, he has succeeded in helping London and Edinburgh Trust to get out of--

Mr. Grocott: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Shaw: I will in a minute. May I make just this point? [Hon. Members: "He has just walked in."] I know.

Councillor Peter Bradley has acted on behalf of the London and Edinburgh Trust to get it out of a £20 million commitment to Richmond upon Thames's residents. That is what a Westminster councillor is up to in his spare time. He got the trust out of that commitment and, mysteriously, the council lowered the trust's commitment to £2.5 million. The trust saved £17.5 million, and Richmond upon Thames's residents lost on the deal that they were expecting from developers in the region. How was the money for that shady deal reduced from £20 million to £2.5 million, and how much was Councillor Peter Bradley, a man who had no professional qualifications, paid?

Mr. Grocott: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Shaw: The hon. Gentleman has just come into the Chamber. He must listen to the whole of a speech.

Mr. Grocott: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I have just walked into the Chamber and heard the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw) make all sorts of accusations about an individual who is not, of course, in a position to respond. May we have guidance from you on whether it is an abuse of hon. Members' privileges to attack individuals who cannot reply? More specifically, may we have a ruling from you on whether the hon. Member for Dover, who will not be with us much longer, is prepared to repeat verbatim, outside the House, what he has just said? Will he please answer that question?

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Mr. Shaw rose--

Madam Deputy Speaker: Before the hon. Member for Dover continues, may I say that, in the view of the occupant of the Chair, each Member for Parliament is responsible for what he or she says.

Mr. Grocott: Will the hon. Member for Dover answer the second question, then?

Mr. Shaw: First, if he had any courtesy or any feeling for the House of Commons and its procedures, the hon. Gentleman would have been here for the debate. Secondly, if he had been here, he would have heard Conservative members of Westminster council accused of being serial killers, crooks and other things. What I am calling some of these people is mild in comparison.

Mr. Grocott rose--

Mr. Shaw: Sit down. You have had a little bit too much outside in the places where you should not be.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I remind the hon. Member for Dover for the second time that he is addressing me.

Mr. Shaw rose--

Mr. Ken Livingstone (Brent, East): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The House definitely just heard the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw) say that my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Grocott) had had a little bit too much outside. I understand that that is contrary to the rules of the House.

Madam Deputy Speaker: It was not clear what it was.

Mr. Shaw: Absolutely. Obviously, the hon. Members for The Wrekin (Mr. Grocott) and for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), who have just come into the Chamber, should be less sensitive and less worried about what is going on.

Mr. Grocott: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Shaw: I am not going to give way, because I want to finish my concluding points.

I want the House to consider these people.

Mr. Grocott: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman knows the rules of the House well enough. If an hon. Member does not give way, the other hon. Member must resume his seat.

Mr. Grocott: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. What protection is there for people outside the House who are being libelled by the hon. Member for Dover, who, even now, will not answer a simple question: will he repeat outside the precise statements that he has made? If he will not, clearly he is using the protection of parliamentary privilege to abuse and libel other people.

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Madam Deputy Speaker: The fact is that parliamentary privilege exists.

Mr. Shaw: I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The consultants whom I have spoken about, Councillor Peter Bradley, former councillor Neale Coleman, and Stephen Hilditch, have a strange way of conducting their business. They do not advertise for business. They do not appear in any directory of consultants that trade in local authority work or any other work. The House of Commons Library has been unable to find any reference to their consultancy businesses other than in the telephone directory. They are not in any local government directory, they do not have professional qualifications, and they do not issue publicity material. It is strange how such people can get business; it appears that the only way in which they can do so is through their Labour party connections. In the past five years, that has given them £1 million-worth of business.

I refer briefly to the fourth objector, Dr. Richard Stone, a company director on Pensioners Link Ltd., the Mangrove Trust, Charta Mede Ltd. and the Foundation for the Care of Victims of Apartheid. Dr. Richard Stone also comes from a traditional Labour family. His father was personal physician to Harold Wilson. He appears regularly on television as a neutral political doctor. He is supposed to be neutral, as he claimed in 1992 on Independent Television News, but he was wrong on two counts. First, he had retired as a doctor and therefore should not have been giving medical views on television at the time; secondly, he was a Labour party member and had been one throughout his active life. I believe that ITN was severely unimpressed about being misled by Dr. Richard Stone.

Those are the four objectors: a misleading doctor who has been in the Labour party all his life and whose family has always been in the Labour party, and three odd consultancy operators who get £1 million-worth of fees in a few years from Labour party connections.

Three firms of accountants have disagreed with the district auditor's figures. I have considered his figures, and, although I have my doubts, I not going to say whether I agree or disagree with them today. Unfortunately, however, the district auditor has a problem of a conflict of interest, which I do not believe has been reported.

The district auditor's company, Touche Ross, has a connected company, Braxton Associates. One of its employees is a former Labour Westminster councillor, Mr. David Pitt-Watson. He is a close political friend of the main objector, Mr. Neale Coleman, because they shared a ward, so the district auditor's connected individual, who works in the group of companies that the district auditor is involved in, is a friend of the main objector.

Mr. Pitt-Watson a still active in the Labour party in Westminster. He was a Labour candidate at the council elections in 1994. He would have had a Labour constituency recently, but he was defeated by an all-woman short list--my colleagues will be upset for Mr. David Pitt-Watson on that basis. The district auditor's conflict in this instance is that the more Mr. Pitt-Watson's friend, Mr. Neale Coleman, objects to the accounts, the more Mr. Pitt-Watson's employing partnership profits through more work for the district auditor. The more Labour objects

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to the accounts of Westminster through the friend of one of the employees of a subsidiary of Touche Ross, the more the district auditor's income goes up. As one chartered accountant to another, I must tell Mr. Magill that he has an impossible and appalling conflict of interest.

The four objectors left out of the original 13 are Labour activists. The district auditor has a conflict of interest. The objections are all political and are not founded on a sound or solid legal basis. Three out of the four Labour objectors are earning money through Labour party and Labour council connections. That is appalling. This is not the way to run an audit of any council.

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