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Mr. Ottaway: We agree with the broad thrust of this extensive group of amendments and new clauses. However, I make one observation. If ever evidence were required that the Labour party had lost its soul, spirit and principles, the House need look no further than new clause 32.

For the Labour party, of all parties, to state that the primary objective--the objective that it puts at the top of the list--is wealth creation in Greater London astonishes me. As the Minister moved the clause, I saw the ghosts of the elder statesmen of the Labour party stirring in their graves. What they would make of those priorities, I cannot imagine.

We all know why the Government have done that. This is the Labour party of mood music and focus groups, which tells the public what they want to hear. That is cover for the fact that the Government have introduced compulsory union recognition, signed the social chapter, introduced a minimum wage and accepted the working time directive, all of which do nothing to help wealth creation in Greater London.

Mr. Livingstone rose--

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Mr. Ottaway: Labour is the party of soaring welfare bills and falling police numbers. It is the party that wants to surrender the country's interests to a European superstate.

Mr. Livingstone rose--

Mr. Ottaway: I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment.

We are the party of wealth creation, of the free market economy, of liberalisation and deregulation, of honesty in taxation and of creative solutions. I give way to the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone)--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) should not stand for so long when he is seeking to intervene.

Mr. Livingstone: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was trying to intimidate the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) so that he would let me get in.

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us of any Labour Government who were not in favour of wealth creation? There has been a debate about the proportion of the wealth that should come to the central state for redistribution, but having been around some of the wilder fringes of the Labour movement over the past 30 years, I never came across anyone, apart from one or two complete nutters, who was not in favour of wealth creation. They just wanted some of it for themselves.

Mr. Ottaway: The hon. Gentleman misses my point. I cannot imagine any other Labour Government but the present one who would put wealth creation first. Although they have put it first, and they know that it will run well with the public, they do not know what it means. I gave a list of the measures that they have introduced which will do nothing but destroy wealth creation.

The clause is a facade. The Labour party has no idea how to promote wealth creation. Nevertheless, we look forward to its implementation by a Conservative mayor who knows what the expression means and how to put it into action.

Mr. Simon Hughes: That interlude from the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) suggests that he thinks that the Tory party's policy on these matters needs redefinition. I warn him that the more redefinition we get in the final fortnight before certain elections, the more unhelpful it may be.

There are three substantive matters relating to this group of amendments and new clauses. The first was the subject of my first intervention in the Minister's speech. The Government are regrouping their clauses of old into their new clauses of today. Although they say that the entire London edifice must stand on three pillars, whatever we think of the order in which they are expressed--economic, social and environmental--all of which are fine, there has never been a convincing and logical argument against the addition of sustainability and health as primary purposes.

The pressure from outside the House, and the general view expressed by those who responded to the Green Paper, was that one of the functions of the Greater London Authority should be to promote the health of Londoners.

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It should therefore be a principal purpose. We do notthink that the Government have any justification for downgrading it.

6.30 pm

On the second, sustainability, the Government's argument does not stack up either. Although the Minister is right to say that we need economic, social and environmental sustainability, none the less each of the three principal purposes listed in the new clause is interconnected; and it does not mean to say that we should not have economic development that is not socially or environmentally acceptable.

The Government remain unpersuaded. I am not even sure that the new drafting works much better. New clause 32(2) now lists the three principal purposes to be promoted, (4) adds health and sustainability and has slightly odd wording, and (5) contains another qualification, namely, that any action can be undertaken only if it is reasonably practicable. The draft people have been at work again. I am sure that there is a clearer way, even if the Government did not want to go the whole hog with us and list the five purposes.

The second matter on which the Government said they had responded was consultation. We welcome the fact that new clause 34 includes a list of groups of consultees. In Committee, we had an odd debate about when we should or should not have lists. The truth of the matter is that the Government have lists throughout the Bill, but they did not like it when anyone else wanted to alter them. The new clause is a result of pressure to list bodies that are properly to be consulted. We welcome the fact that the voluntary sector, racial, ethnic and national groups, and religious and business groups in London are to be consulted. We recognise and welcome the fact that the Government have flagged it up that if they were not consulted those groups would have recourse. They want to participate and be involved.

We share the Government's view that being over-prescriptive about the format in which the groups should be consulted would be wrong. Therefore, a provision that states that we should consult with these people is better than something called a civic forum, or some other definition of what may be a changing kaleidoscope of London organisations.

The only amendment to the Government's new clause that your predecessor in the Chair confirmed had been selected, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is the simple amendment (a) to new clause 32, to which I referred, and which was tabled by my hon. Friends and me. It would provide that the encouragement of equal opportunities should be expressly included in the power of the authority. I hope that the hon. Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Mr. Fitzpatrick) will understand me when I say that there would be a deficit in the Bill if the amendment were not included.

The Minister said that we believe in different solutions for different parts of the United Kingdom, and I understand the argument. It is a reasonable proposition. However, there is no reason why legislation that will set up regional or citywide government for London--whatever one likes to call it--where there is a wider racial and ethnic mix and a more diverse community than any other place in Britain, should not contain legislative guarantees that the Government agency for this part

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of the world should promote equal opportunities. The Government in Scotland will have certain powers in that regard. The Assembly in Wales will have fewer powers than the Government of Scotland, but the provision is written in there. The Northern Ireland Assembly will not have the full legislative remit, but it is written in there too.

London government will have powers that go beyond the local boroughs. It will act across that whole range of activity. I hope that the Government will reconsider and decide that it will be in their interest but, more important in the interests of the communities of London that the equal opportunities power be included in the legislation.

Stonewall has written to me in the past few days specifically commending the Bill. In the light of the incidents of the past two weeks, when two of our racial communities and one area of London that is popular with another of our communities have been under attack by whatever sort of person for whatever motive, organisations such as Stonewall, which are entirely credible and reputable, have been reminded that to have an equal society in London we need to ensure that legislation for London reflects that equality.

I hope that the Government will accept that proposition and the amendment. If they do not do so, we will force a Division to flag up the fact that the matter is of the highest importance. I hope that the provision will not have to go to the other place before it is changed. If the House does not accept the amendment, I have no doubt that the other place will want to reconsider the matter and change the Bill.

Mr. Wilkinson: Like my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) I generally welcome new clauses 32, 33 and 34, which supersede clauses 25, 26 and 27. It is always heartening when Ministers listen to representations made in Committee and come back on Report with enhancements to the drafting and improvements to the Bill. I am convinced that the three new clauses would achieve those aims.

On the principal powers that the authority is to pursue, I, like my hon. Friend, wholeheartedly applaud the unequivocal statement that the promotion of economic development and wealth creation is to be an objective of the authority. It is sad that Labour policy under this Government to date has militated against this objective. It is to be hoped that the mayoralty, under another colour--a Conservative colour--may genuinely and wholeheartedly pursue and succeed in achieving the objective of wealth creation.

I am never clear what social development means, but I have an idea of what the Government have in mind. Of course, improvement of the environment is important. However, the key is the reasonable balance stipulated in new clause 32(3)(b). Pursuing economic development at the expense of the environment has done much damage in London, as has the neglect of social development in the pursuit of economic objectives. That balance must be at the heart of the authority's powers, which it is. I hope that, in the execution of those powers, the authority will genuinely secure reasonable equilibrium between those three main objectives.

The beneficial side effects will be the promotion of the health of persons in London, which is well and good, and contribution towards the achievement of sustainable

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development. I confess to still being somewhat at a loss as to what sustainable development entails in a London context. I can only presume that it is a consequence of that balance which is mentioned earlier in the new clause.

The limits are equally important. They are heartening and they are part of the reason why I applaud the new clauses. New clause 33 states unequivocally that

the general powers--

    "incur expenditure in providing . . . any housing".

The old-fashioned Greater London council housing estates were some of the most damaging housing developments for the environment in London and they brought about a division in housing provision that has had adverse social consequences to this day. [Interruption.]

I welcome the statement that the authority shall not incur expenditure on "any education services". The Inner London education authority is not a body which we would want to be resurrected in any shape or form and it cannot be under new clause 33.

Likewise, social services are obviously best provided at the most local level possible, which is the borough. As for health services, although provision is inadequate in London--I know that the Liberal Democrats have concerns about it and believe that the authority should have a fuller role--health is a professional matter which is best dealt with by professionals. I do not believe that the authority would have such skills.

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