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Ms Abbott: I do not want my hon. Friend to lose his thread but does he agree that the exclusions are even more glaring and byzantine when we consider who is included? The biggest single employer in the City of London is Merrill Lyncha US-owned company. Lloyd's of London is also included. That company was a very cesspit of corruption in the '80s. The starving widows and orphans of former Lloyd's names can tell the tale, although I do not want to get into a discussion of what happened at Lloyd's in the '80s.
Another organisation that would be included under the new clause is Bloomberg, so a financial institution owned by the mayor of New York would have more say in the governance of the City than our own Eddie George who is as British as roast beef.
John McDonnell: The issue is well rehearsed. We are disputing those exclusions. Labour Members consider that there are established bodiescorporate or unincorporatedthat exercise Government functions and have thus been excluded. There is an element of confusion among Opposition Members. May I suggest that the way forward would be for the Bill's promoters to produce a legal opinion that can be tested by the House and by independent legal advice? The amendment has put us in a quagmire of confusion.
Mr. Dismore: In relation to London Underground, there is a problem arising from the removal of the word "hereditament" and the reinsertion of the word "premises". We are probably on common ground if we say that a tube tunnel is not a hereditament but it is certainly a premises. Will tube drivers be included for part of the timewhile they are in tunnelsbecause they would be working in premises in the City?
I have another serious example. A number of my constituents pass my way only once a yearthey are travellers. They operate as a business. Will they qualify under the provision on a particular day if they are in a particular area? It is bizarre.
Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the reason that many foreign firms are in the City is precisely because the City is such a successful international financial centre? Many of those firms own British companies; for example, Merrill Lynch bought Mercury Asset Managementa well-known British firm. Such firms are in the City because of its success and because of the contribution that it makes to the UK economy. We are lucky to have so many of them in this country.
John McDonnell: The hon. Gentleman has fallen into the same trap that caught many Members when we first considered the Bill in 1998. I do not blame him for that. There is conflation between the City of London corporation and the City. One is a group of masonic diners; the other is a group of organisations and companies that earn much of the wealth of this country in a particular field of activity. I hope that the hon. Gentleman can make that distinction in
Mr. Mark Field: Just as it would be crass to suggest that the City of London and the corporation are intertwined and are one and the samean argument that no Conservative Member would makeso it is unfair to suggest that the corporation has no part to play. Some of the corporation's leading lights play a large role on the international stage. They travel worldwide; for example, Judith Mayhew, who is head of policy and resources, spends much of her time abroad. The Lord Mayor has an enormously busy diary, representing the City of London and the corporation abroad where he tries to get as much business as possible. Indeed, several of the common council men
John McDonnell: I understand the point that the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) was making. Most of us have much respect for individual members of the corporation, especially progressive members such as Judith Mayhew. Indeed, a couple of years ago, in this place, I invited her to join the Labour party because of the progressive work that she was doing at the corporation. Unfortunately, she cannot constrain the freemason backwoodsmen who currently populate most of the City of London corporation. That is why we need definite reform.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): Will my hon. Friend confirm what I believe to be the case from the intervention made by the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) that the City corporation is the only the local government body anywhere in Europe that has direct business representation on it and proposes to extend the franchise to business? No other successful or unsuccessful city in the world has that kind of curious relationship with a limited number of financial institutions.
John McDonnell: I confirm that that is true, but it would have been incredibly helpful and reassuring if the City corporation had accepted an amendment that my hon. Friend tabled previously, under which there would have been a declaration of interest involving the membership of freemasonry lodges by City corporation members.
Ms Abbott: With reference to an earlier point, it is significant that, when an hon. Member has to cast his mind about for a singularly intelligent and forward- thinking member of the City government, the first name that comes to mind is that of a woman who was born in the antipodes. The fact is that 99 per cent. of the City corporation's role is as a freemasons' diner.
Mr. Field: I rise only to say that the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) makes my point for me in a way. In any other council in the country, Judith Mayhew would be commonly called the leader of the council, so it was obvious that I would refer to her involvement and her great contribution to corporation and City affairs.
John McDonnell: I want to finish my last point on new clause 1 before moving on to the amendments that I have tabled. I want to put on the record very clearly the fact that we need wider instruction, debate and legal advice on the matter because new clause 1 would muddy the waters about what is excluded and what is not excluded. It does not relate to modern government.
I shall briefly explain the history of the problem. In earlier times, Crown property was excluded because it was owned by Departments, and Departments were the only bodies that exercised Crown functions. Before the second world war, several boards were established, which confused matters, so the definition of Crown exclusion was extended to those boards. After the second world war, the waters were muddied even further by the introduction of nationalised industries, so Crown exclusion was extended to them. But that has all changed now.
Under the Thatcher Government, privatisation, devolution, the establishment of agencies, the proliferation of quangos and the development of semi-autonomous bodies, the definition of Crown exclusion had not kept pace with government. That is the problem with new clause 1. In the 1980s, that delegation of functions was so vast that a proper debate on Crown exclusion needed to take place, and I am afraid that the Bill has been hoist on that petard. New clause 1 is confused and does not relate to the modern world of the delivery of government.
Mr. Dismore: No doubt my hon. Friend will recall the continuous line of cases in which it was decided that the national health service is a Crown body, so all the NHS workers in the City would be excluded, but those who work in private hospitals presumably would not. Is that equitable?
Ms Abbott: To illustrate that point, the workers at Moorfields eye hospitalall 900 of whom are hard- working and devoted City workerswould not have a say, but employees, such as stock jobbers and those of foreign-owned banks would.
Mr. Hopkins: This point was made a few minutes ago, and I have wanted to intervene since then, so I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. The hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) seemed to suggest that, because the Mayor of London does good ambassadorial work for the City of London elsewhere, we should accept an essentially undemocratic form of governance in the City of London. All over the world in democratic countries, mayors are generally elected by democratic, universal suffrage. Why should the City of London be an exception?