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Queen's recommendation having been signified--

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52(1)(a),

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 145(2)(Liaison Committee),

    That this House agreed with the Report [23rd November] of the Liaison Committee.--[Mr. Pope.]

Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 25 (Periodic adjournments),

Question agreed to.

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    That Maria Eagle be discharged from the Committee of Public Accounts and Mr. Nigel Griffiths and Mr. Jim Murphy be added to the Committee.--[Mr. Pope.]


Madam Speaker: With permission, I shall put together the motions relating to delegated legislation.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),


    That the draft Maximum Number of Stipendiary Magistrates Order 1999, which was laid before this House on 3rd November, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.--[Mr. Pope.]

Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuantto Standing Order No. 119(9) (European Standing Committees),

Taxation and Financial Services

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    eurobonds and other similar instruments; and welcomes the Commission's efforts to develop further the single market in financial services.--[Mr. Pope.]

Question agreed to.


Madam Speaker: With permission, I shall put together the motions relating to Committees.



    That Rosemary McKenna be discharged from the Catering Committee and Mr. Gerald Bermingham be added to the Committee.


    That Mr. John McWilliam be discharged from the Defence Committee and Mr. Mike Gapes be added to the Committee.

    Education and Employment

    That Yvette Cooper, Mr. John Healey, Mrs. Eleanor Laing and Mr. Malcolm Wicks be discharged from the Education and Employment Committee and Mr. Michael Foster (Worcester), Mr. Stephen O'Brien, Mr. Ian Pearson and Mr. Barry Sheerman be added to the Committee.


    That Julia Drown be discharged from the Health Committee and Mrs. Eileen Gordon be added to the Committee.

    Scottish Affairs

    That Mr. John McAllion, Ms Sandra Osborne and Mr. David Stewart be discharged from the Scottish Affairs Committee and Mr. Russell Brown, Mr. Mohammed Sarwar and Mr. Bill Tynan be added to the Committee.

    Social Security

    That Kali Mountford, Mr. Chris Pond and Ms Debra Shipley be discharged from the Social Security Committee and Mr. Andy King and Mr. Gareth Thomas (Clwyd West) be added to the Committee.


    That Jacqui Smith be discharged from the Treasury Committee and Mr. James Plaskitt be added to the Committee.--[Mr. John McWilliam, on behalf of the Committee of Selection.]

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29 Nov 1999 : Column 123

Liverpool (Regeneration)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.--[Mr. Pope.]

10.15 pm

Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside): Liverpool's urban renaissance is under way. It is seen most clearly in the city centre, which has been identified in the north-west economic strategy as the engine of growth for both city and region. That is despite the shadow cast by the speculating and exploitative Walton group plc, which has stifled regeneration by acquiring key city centre sites, securing public sector grant, yet failing to develop.

The Walton group stands guilty of impeding commercial growth, blighting the old post office site, Exchange Flags and now, in bizarre and unacceptable circumstances, Chavasse park, leaving Liverpool without a flagship millennium project and costing the city more than £200 million of committed investment, which has now been withdrawn.

I thank the Minister for authorising an inquiry into the group's questionable acquisition of £4.5 million of public money, paid between 1992 and 1994 to regenerate Exchange Flags. At the end of 1999, that building remains largely empty. The group is increasing its wealth through capital appreciation of its undeveloped properties, while Liverpool has been sold short. The group's activities are against the public interest. It has committed a fraud on the city of Liverpool. I ask for an assurance that the inquiry will be thorough and determined.

Regeneration must address economic, social, physical and environmental aspects of urban decline. Much progress has been made in Liverpool. City centre successes include the £90 million Queen's square Neptune development, including one of Liverpool's new four-star hotels, cultural, retail and office facilities; and the imaginative multi-million pound brownfield regeneration in Everton, led by Hope university college, transforming a derelict area into a place of higher and further education opportunities, linked with housing and shopping.

There has been a significant increase in inner-city housing. Since 1991, there has been nearly a 300 per cent. increase in people living in inner-city Liverpool. Regeneration of the Hope street quarter is under way as one of the city's major cultural areas.

Much has been done to realise the economic potential of Liverpool's thriving arts sector. The Government have given a lifeline to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society and to the theatres in Liverpool. Nationally, the arts are the fastest growing sector producing employment.

Examples of new developments in Liverpool include the imaginative FACT--Foundation for Arts and Cultural Technology--media enterprise project; ACME--Arts, Culture, Media Enterprises--investment; and the Centre for Arts Development Training.

The trail-blazing Merseyside special investment fund has invested more than £65 million of European and private funding in 4,000 Merseyside jobs. It is hailed as a national and European example of good practice.

Liverpool's expanding universities provide educational opportunities, together with an economic spin-off, for example, through technology transfer. The CIMS--Centre

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of Intelligence Monitoring Systems--project at the university of Liverpool is spinning out technology into new and exciting projects. For example, new means of monitoring premature babies are being used at Liverpool Women's hospital.

Major waterfront development in Liverpool is bringing hotels, housing and tourism and the growing trade in the port of Liverpool brings jobs. The north-west and Irish trade group is identifying investment opportunities for business with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Government's new deal for communities has started its work in Kensington and Smithdown.

All those initiatives rest on the imaginative use of funding attracted from a wide variety of sources, but the focus needed to effect major and visible change in Liverpool city centre is absent. That is why I welcome Liverpool Vision, which is the first urban regeneration company in the country to be set up following Lord Rogers' report, "Towards an Urban Renaissance". It brings together the North-West development agency, Liverpool city council, English Partnerships and the private sector to produce strategy and design for the city centre. International competition has produced a shortlist to conduct the design. Public consultation will follow.

I call on Liverpool Vision, its partners and the local community to show that they can act decisively and collectively. The Government must consider whether additional powers are necessary to bring about the swift action that is needed. I urge Liverpool Vision to use imagination and determination to secure a prosperous city centre, which, with its internationally renowned waterfront and fine architecture, will be the pride of country and continent.

Liverpool's economy is improving. Unemployment in my constituency has reduced by more than 26 per cent. in two years, but there are still more than 5,000 people out of work. Liverpool still ranks number one in the national index of local deprivation. The recent CACI report found that nine of the 20 poorest postcodes in the country were to be found in Liverpool.

What is the way forward? It is for local knowledge, commitment and determination to ensure that European, national, regional and local initiatives support all people in Liverpool, including all its ethnic and racial groups, and that those initiatives attract private investment. Examples of good practice, such as the community-led Eldonian co-operative housing, leisure, employment and environmental regeneration in Vauxhall, should be replicated. The North-West development agency must keep Liverpool as its priority, backing local partners. The local authority must show initiative and leadership. Strategies must be turned into action.

I should like an assurance that the Government will co-operate in identifying matching funding to enable the £840 million second phase of European objective 1 funding for Merseyside to be fully utilised as additional spending. I call on the Government to review regulations that impede the most effective co-ordinated use of funds from the diverse sources available.

There is much more to achieve. Major companies must remain in the city centre and others should be encouraged to join them. Small and medium-sized enterprises and microbusinesses must be backed. I welcome the proposed new regional and local enterprise funds. The new deal must be used imaginatively. It has already brought great

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benefit to Liverpool and it should be used together with funds for small businesses, training, retraining and skilling to bring new opportunities to all the people of Liverpool. Intermediate labour market schemes must be supported. Education, training and retraining must be accessible. Local people must have the opportunity to take jobs in Liverpool. Universities, which are already making a great contribution to the city, must promote the information society and back the local economy, spinning out more of their knowledge and expertise for the people of Liverpool.

All housing tenures should be encouraged, particularly as part of regeneration schemes looking at environment and employment at the same time as housing provision. The proposed cuts by the Housing Corporation because of the new formula being applied must be reconsidered. Cuts in Housing Corporation funding of around 13 per cent. for Merseyside are simply unacceptable at a time when we are trying to support and encourage the regeneration of the inner city.

The Daresbury laboratory must continue to benefit Liverpool and the north-west with its fine research capacity. Integrated infrastructure investment in air, rail, sea and road must be increased. Regeneration cannot take place simply in the place where it is being experienced. Wider investment is necessary, too. Urban spaces and parks must be valued, and investors in Liverpool must continue to be welcomed.

I call on Liverpool Vision to take up the challenge of restoring Chavasse park as a flagship project and to address the blight left elsewhere in Liverpool by the Walton group's dereliction of duty. It is not good enough for Liverpool city council simply to wring its hands because of problems that may well have been created by others.

As things stand, Liverpool will be one of perhaps only two cities in the country not to have a flagship millennium project within its precincts. That is simply not acceptable. If the millennium project has collapsed mainly becauseof the Walton group, and because of the bizarre circumstances surrounding it--and possibly also because of inaction by Liverpool city council--it must be up to Liverpool city council, together with Liverpool Vision, to restore what has been lost and to find new ways forward.

Lord Rogers, in his urban task force report, concludes:

Liverpool is already changing both image and reality. We must all rise to the challenge of making Liverpool the prime city of the future.

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