§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Oakes (Widnes)
I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 9, leave out subsection (2) and insert:' (2) The said boundary shall start at a point on the western boundary of the new parish of Charlwood north-east of Oaklands Park, and then run in an easterly direction to Russ Hill and Westfield Place in a southerly and then an easterly and then northerly direction round the southern and eastern perimeter of Gatwick Airport until it reaches the line of the proposed link road from the M23 motorway and then easterly along that line to its junction with the eastern boundary of the new parish of Horley.'
§ The Chairman
With this amendment it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 2, to leave out subsection (2) and insert:' (2) The said boundary shall be a line drawn from Upper Prestwood Farm to Ternhill".No. 3, in line 24, leave out'less the excepted area of Charlwood,'.No. 4, in page 2, line 2, leave outtogether with the excepted area of Charlwood '.No. 5, in line 6, leave out subsection (5).
§ Mr. Oakes
This amendment, which is not of my authorship, is designed to include the airport at Gatwick together with the parishes of Charlwood and Horley in the county of Surrey and not in the county of Sussex as was proposed in the Local Government Bill.
I notice that my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks), whose amendment this is, is now present in the Chamber. He knows more of the details of it- However, that is my understanding of its purport.
§ Mr. Michael Cocks (Bristol, South)
Since the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes) does not appear on the amendment paper against this amendment, it may be necessary for me to move it formally——
§ Mr. Cocks
I am grateful for your guidance, Sir Robert.
I must apologise for not being present to move the amendment myself. I was under the impression that the Horticulture (Special Payments) Bill was likely to take a few minutes longer than it did.
The amendment has been a difficult one to draft. As far as I have been able to ascertain, this is the first time that the Government have introduced a hybrid Bill of this nature. In the subsection which I seek to delete we see phrases about Bills being deposited in the Private Bill Office and being available from the clerks to the various county councils.
It is difficult to deal with provisions of this kind. I understand that the hybrid procedure is necessary because the Bill affects private rights in certain respects. My hon. Friend the Member for Widnes, who so ably assisted me earlier, on Second Reading said that a Bill of this nature was most unusual and that it must go to a Select Committee to be rigorously and scrupulously examined before going to a Standing Committee in the ordinary way.
I have been placed in considerable difficulty, because when the Bill went to a Select Committee, although the Chairman at the start of the proceedings announced that nine hours had been allocated for discussion of it, the Committee never really discussed the boundary and where it should be drawn because the locus standi of the petitioners was challenged. The Committee therefore reported back to the House that the locus standi had not been established.
That was most unfortunate. It put us in difficulty as a Committee of the House because the locus standi was challenged by a Queen's Counsel, Mr. Harold Marnham, assisted by a junior, acting on behalf of the Department of the Environment.
1485 The House was persuaded to give the Bill a Second Reading on the assurance that it would be closely scrutinised in the Select Committee. Yet, when it went to the Select Committee, the Minister, through the Department, hired counsel to put the boot into the petitioners so that they could not even be heard. The careful line by line scrutiny, to which my hon. Friend referred, did not take place. Therefore, the points that I wish to make tonight were not closely examined in Committee. That is most unfortunate.
Tonight we are setting a precedent in the consideration of a hybrid Bill of this nature. Therefore, we ought to put on record our grave dissatisfaction about the way that the matter was handled. The petitioners have come away from the Select Committee not having had an opportunity to present their case, and they are being stung for fees for appearance, presentation, and some part of the shorthandwriter's fees. Even counsel's fees will have to be paid through general taxation. This is bad. We ought, therefore, to consider the Bill in greater detail than might otherwise have been necessary.
The preparation of the amendment, which basically deals with Gatwick Airport, was very difficult because of the problem regarding maps. This is not the first time that I have taken part in proceedings where the Minister has been responsible for legislation and there has been difficulty over maps. However, after certain prodding, he has been forthcoming.
On Second Reading the Minister of State, at c. 440, said that maps on a smaller scale than the one deposited in the Private Bill Office were available in the Vote Office. This is a map from the Vote Office showing the territory with which the amendment is concerned. It is of the same scale as, but inferior to, that in the Vote Office.
§ Mr. John Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
Is my hon. Friend aware that when I consulted the map in the preparation of my amendment I found it impossible to read and find village names in certain circumstances, and this could have led me into error?
§ Mr. Cocks
We had the same difficulty in the Committee on the Local 1486 Government Reorganisation Bill. The Minister took the precaution of arming himself with a substantial magnifying glass. The map with which we were provided by the Government in Committee had been reduced so much that the scale was literally invisible to normal eyesight except with the assistance of a hand lens. I take my hon. Friend's very helpful point.
On my copy of the map the centre of Horley is obliterated, almost as if some explosion has taken place there. This map is of the same scale as that in the Vote Office, but it is inferior in a number of other ways. The drafting of the amendment has been made more difficult because the map contains no scale and no key. There are no co-ordinates for reference. It would have been helpful had I been able to give more accurate references in the amendment. There is no date of revision, so we do not know the current situation and whether the map is two, three or four years out of date and so on. It seems rather sloppy. I wonder whether even now all hon. Members present have maps to which they can refer if necessary.
The amendment seeks to return Gatwick Airport into Surrey. This is a matter which has been the subject of a great deal of argument and debate. The Minister has frequently conceded that there are very substantial arguments on both sides. He has had second thoughts regarding the substantially populated areas of Horley and Charlwood. In putting forward the amendment, we want to give him an opportunity once more to consider this matter and. perhaps, to range his mind over the substantial arguments to see whether, even at this stage, we ought not seriously to think about where the airport should be.
Had the Select Committee stage been allowed to proceed to arguments for and against, those would have been deployed in great detail and hon. Members would have been able to study them. We should have been saved the trouble to which we have been put tonight. Gatwick is London oriented. Most hon. Members will know that there is a very fast train service to Victoria, and that will become a more and more important feature be cause the train service gives Gatwick a very substantial advantage over Heathrow.
§ Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend so soon, but I wonder whether he can assist me in trying to follow his argument. There is no indicator of north on the map. Will my hon. Friend tell me whether the runway at Gatwick runs west-east or north-south, so that I have a rough idea of the location?
§ Mr. Cocks
I am obliged to my hon. Friend. I am grateful that he has pointed out at an early stage what President Truman would refer to as obfuscation. As I understand it, the map is based on the convention that north is towards the top. So the airport is the area lying between the proposed county boundary, the boundary proposed in the Bill, and the boundary before the 1972 Act. It lies approximately mid-way between those and is an area delineated by dotted lines covering about lour squares and running approximately west-east. I say "approximately" because it is probably more north-north-east. I am risking my reputation in my specialist field in the interests of not detaining the Committee. If I have erred there I hope that I shall be excused. But that will indicate to my hon. Friend the area about which we are talking.
§ Mr. Golding
On a point of order, Sir Robert. In talking about detaining the Committee, would not it be desirable to reduce the lighting in the Chamber during this Sitting and possibly to make arrangements to send the staff home at an earlier hour than might otherwise be the case, if we have to listen to these long and detailed arguments of my hon. Friend?
§ The Chairman
I do not think that that is within the competence of the Chairman of the Committee. Other authorities deal with that matter.
§ Mr. Cocks
I appreciate my lion. Friend's point but, with respect to him, perhaps he would agree that these maps are so deplorable and so faint that if we were to reduce the lighting any further they would become virtually invisible.
The train service will be familiar to most hon. Members. In normal times it provides a very swift way in which to 1488 get to the heart of London. This is the key to the amendment. There is a tidal flow of people to and from Central London and the whole of this traffic, basically, is oriented towards getting people into London. I am told by my hon. Friends who know a great deal more about the civil aviation industry than I, that 82 per cent. of British airport users come from the South-East. It is ridiculous to shift the centre of gravity towards the south coast, as would undoubtedly happen if Gatwick Airport was to stay in Sussex, because this will exacerbate the development of the South-East, which is already cause for concern. Anything which is likely to give the area additional advantages must be resisted and if the compacting takes place towards London it will do less damage to our attempts to get some sort of regional policy together.
Regional policy is causing great concern and it would be out of order if I were to dwell on the difficulties of obtaining a decent regional policy from the Common Market. However, it is clearly recognised that too much concentration of development in the South-East is not good for the rest of Britain and is disruptive, making it even more difficult to get an even spread of development. Anything which tends to shift the centre of gravity down into the South-East is not good. Furthermore, in view of the future needs of Gatwick airport we must consider that the Surrey County Council has the expertise in airport development and management. Historically, it has seen the airport develop from an area of green fields into what is now recognised as an international airport. It would be a very great gamble to cast aside this expertise. Possibly the Minister will say that there is very close co-operation between the two county authorities, and I accept that there is a very good working arrangement with all the local authorities over this. However, someone must have eventual overall control.
One point I should like the Minister to consider seriously is that since this issue began to be debated, since the various battles that took place in the other place, there has been a development of major importance in our airport thinking which should be borne in mind 1489 in connection with Gatwick. Serious doubts have been expressed in this House in recent months about the whole question of the development of Maplin airport. The project, it was said, would give relief to Gatwick and would mean that it was not necessary to develop Gatwick to the same degree. The project is in some dispute for various reasons and we may well be thrown back to using Gatwick and Heathrow——
§ The Chairman
Order. I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member unduly but he will be out of order if he develops arguments about the pros and cons of Maplin, or Gatwick and such things. The Bill is concerned with two parishes. It is not a question of the merits of Maplin, Gatwick and Heathrow
§ Mr Mark Hughes (Durham)
On a point of order. May I humbly suggest that the Bill has a great deal to do with Gatwick because the two parishes involved concern Gatwick. One cannot comprehend the reasons and rationale in dealing with Gatwick without bringing in consideration, however briefly and tagentially, the problems of Maplin, Heathrow and other airports.
§ The Chairman
The hon. Member is correct in so far as he has gone, but the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) was seeking to do more than that and I thought it better to haul him up before he got too involved with the details. He has made this point on that. Perhaps we may now pass to other things.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
I am sorry to return to the question of the map, but I am trying to follow the amendment. I have found Oaklands Park on the bottom left-hand corner of the map, but I cannot follow that through and find Russ Hill and Westfield Place. So that I may follow my hon. Friend's argument more coherently, may I ask him to be kind enough to explain by reference to the squares where I can find Russ Hill and Westfield Place?
§ Mr. Cocks
I am obliged to my hon. Friend, and I shall try to assist him in a moment.
Before I do that I should like, Sir Robert, to respond to what you said about Maplin. I accept what you say, and I 1490 hope that nobody is more zealous than I am in bowing to rulings from the Chair. The only reason I was emboldened even to put down the amendment is that the Long Title says that this is a Bill toTransfer parts of the new parishes of Charlwood and Horley to the new county of Surrey",and I felt that Gatwick Airport was one of the parts that might be transferred.
§ Mr. Golding
If my hon. Friend refers to the Explanatory Memorandum he will see that paragraph 2 refers to the transfer of areas including Gatwick Airport. I should have thought it would be difficult to discuss the Bill without discussing items referred to in the Explanatory Memorandum.
§ Mr. Cocks
I am obliged to my hon. Friend, but I think it is true to say that if the Explanatory Memorandum had the same status as the Short Title of the Bill the amendment would be out of order because it says that Gatwick Airport should stay where it is in the new local government set-up. It is because of the rather slack phrasing of the Long Title that we are giving the House another opportunity to think again about this decision.
I accept, Sir Robert, what you said about Maplin, and I have no intention of rehearsing the arguments about it. The only points that I want the Government to think about are, first, that there is a great deal of doubt whether, in the end, Maplin will be what we thought a few months ago it would be, and, secondly, that as they are imposing severe cuts on public expenditure the substantial amount of money allocated to Maplin may not be forthcoming and therefore Gatwick Airport may well be subject to a great deal more expansion than has been envisaged. I leave the matter there, Sir Robert, and I hope that I have not incurred your displeasure.
The presence of Gatwick Airport as such, a substantial area of hard-surfaced, flat land, increases the flood problem in the Mole Valley. During the proceedings on the Local Government Bill there were frequent references to the flooding that occurred there and the necessity for controlling the head waters of the River Mole. I feel that that is an additional bonus for those who argue that the amendment should be accepted.
The other point that I wish to raise relates to the poll upon which the Bill 1491 is based. I am most interested in what the poll asked. I wonder whether the alternatives were clearly put to the people when they gave what the Minister described so fulsomely as an overwhelming expression of desire. That is the sort of point that should have been scrutinised very closely in the Select Committee. I apologise for wearying the Committee with this point, but it is the result of the Government hiring Queen's Counsel and junior counsel to put the boot into what should have been a proper oarliamentary scrutiny.
§ The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)
I must protest at the hon. Gentleman referring to learned counsel putting the boot into the petitioners. The conduct of the proceedings was under the Chairman of the Select Committee and the points put forward were perfectly within the competence of that committee. It is unfair that professional men who appear in these committees should be accused of putting the boot into petitioners.
§ Mr. Cocks
If I have offended the Minister, I certainly withdraw the phrase against these two men, who were doing the job they had been paid to do. Possibly had the petitioners possessed more resources, those gentlemen might well have been appearing on their behalf instead of on behalf of the Department. But the fact remains that the House was assured that the matter was going to a Select Committee, and then the Department employed people to do their best to discredit the locus standi of the petitioners who appeared.
I have read the report of the proceedings in the Select Committee and I agree that everything was done with perfect professional propriety. When I said that they put the boot in, I was using the phrase metaphorically to describe the behaviour of the Government to make sure that that stage was truncated.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
My hon. Friend is aware that there are a great number of barristers and solicitors on both sides of the Committee, and it is unfair to imply that they would in any way be associated with boots. Would my hon. Friend not prefer to use the term patent leather shoes?
§ Mr. Cocks
I am obliged to my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved), and I take his point. I think it is the sort of point that might be made when the amendment of legislation affecting solicitors comes up for Second Reading. At any rate, I accept the Minister's point and I shall turn briefly to the question of the poll, which is the basis of the Bill.
In the Select Committee proceedings the point was made by counsel that the issue on the question of a poll related to whether Horley should stay in Surrey. My information is that it was not made clear to people that the alternative involved the area being without the airport. In the proceedings on the Local Government Bill on 6th July 1972, the hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) said this in regard to the offer to two parish councils:At a widely advertised parish meeting in Horley, it was decided by 600 votes to 10 that the people wished the whole of the area, including the airport, to stay in Surrey."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July 1972; Vol. 840, c. 1112.]I regard the poll as suspect, and the real wishes of the local inhabitants are that they should have the airport as well. Therefore, the amendment gives the Government the chance to put this matter right. This point should have been examined in the Select Committee.
If we look at the line I have drawn on the map, we see that it follows the county boundary proposed in the Bill, until we get to Westfield Place which is in the square below Charlwood. Then we move in a southerly direction to encompass the perimeter of Gatwick Airport. It leaves only a comparatively small part of these parishes unattached. This is the subject of a later amendment. I submit that Amendment No. 1 is reasonable since it gives the Government a chance to think again.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
My hon. Friend says the new boundary goes along Westfield Place and comes down in a southerly direction. Does it go down as far as the line shown on the plan, that is to say the county boundary before the passing of the 1972 Act, or does it run to the 1493 north of that line? Does it go close to the boundary of Gatwick Airport, and where does it swing down when it reaches the end of the perimeter of Gatwick Airport?
§ Mr. Cocks
My hon. Friend's question shows our difficulty in trying to deal in a Committee of the whole House with matters which are properly Select Committee points. The truthful answer is that I do not know, because my amendment deals with travelling around the southern and eastern perimeter of Gatwick Airport. It is not clear from the map, which I believe is an extract from the one-inch map, or is based on it, where the perimeter runs. Therefore, we are in difficulty.
I cannot hope to be more explicit, because of the difficulty the Government have put us in by the procedure they have forced on us. I should be pleased to give my hon. Friend more substantial guidance, but it is very difficult.
The amendment is an attempt to give the Government a chance to think again. It does not transgress the short title of the Bill. It is possibly open to drafting improvements, but on the information the Government have given us it is the best I can do.
It is not the only example of woolly drafting. If the amendment is not accepted by the Committee, which I find a little unlikely, I hope to draw the attention of the Minister in the debate on the Question, "That the clause stand part of the Bill", to a further inaccuracy in the Bill which has caused great disquiet to people living close to the boundary.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield (Nuneaton)
I apologise for not being present for the whole of my hon. Friend's speech, because I realise that he has been raising matters of great importance. Is it coincidental that the county boundaries proposed in the Bill substantially follow the noise footprint of aeroplanes taking off from the main runway? If it is to be the case that in future we are to alter county boundaries to fit in with aeroplane noise footprints, it is a far-reaching principle, which I know would have direct relevance and application to the constituency of the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) and constituencies 1494 throughout the country. We are dealing with a major matter.
§ Mr. Cocks
I am obliged to my hon. Friend. It is clear that other speakers wish to bring forward different facets of the argument, so I will close by saying that the amendment is reasonable. It gives the Government a chance to think again. It may well be that if this possibility were put to the inhabitants they would embrace it with all the enthusiasm which the Minister described for their exploratory soundings of opinion on the transfer of the mainly populated areas of the parish.
I am obliged for your indulgence, Sir Robert. I hope that the Committee will feel able to support the amendment.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
On a point of order, Sir Robert. Can you help us in respect of the map that has been put in the Vote Office, I assume by the Government, who are promoting the Bill? It is impossible to follow the words in the Bill in relation to the map and the words of the amendment. The map is merely a photostat copy, which is indistinct in places, with chunks omitted. We must seek your guidance, because the House will be brought into disrepute if the Committee is asked to consider boundaries set out in a Bill and an amendment which cannot be traced upon the map put in the Vote Office by the Government.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
Further to that point of order. To me, going back to my second form geography days, the map looks like a photocopy of the Ordnance Survey 2½ in.-to-the-mile. Would not it be possible for the Committee, even at this late stage in its deliberations, to be provided with a proper copy of the relevant part of the map? I am sure you will realise that on a proper copy of the 2½ in. ordnance survey map the roads, trees, water and so on are shown in different colours, whereas on this copy everything is shown in black.
§ The Chairman
I am on firm ground for which there are many precedents in saying that the Chair has no authority to demand the publication of proper maps or papers. It is entirely a matter for the promoters of the Bill or for the Government, whichever is appropriate.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
On a point of order. Sir Robert. I take it from your ruling that it is within the competence of the Minister to give such orders as he deems necessary to those at his command to produce the necessary documents if he feels they are relevant. I am sure he will realise that we are likely to conclude our discussion of the amendmenet earlier if we can more easily follow the arguments instead of being bewildered by the inadequate facilities which the Government have made available.
§ Mr. Graham Page
Further to that point of order, Sir Robert. The deposited maps have been prepared to comply with the Standing Orders affecting hybrid Bills, and have been accepted by the House Officials as complying with those Standing Orders.
§ Mr. Ted Leadbitter (The Hartlepools)
I compliment those who have been responsible for the selection of amendments in showing by their generous selection their assessment of the importance of the Bill. In a nutshell the amendment seeks to put Gatwick Airport back to Surrey where it belongs. It is as simple as that. I call in evidence what the Minister said during the debate on Second Reading:What makes this case of Charlwood and Horley unique is the fact that a meaningful parish poll could not be held until it was quite clear that Gatwick was going to Sussex, so that the residents were directly faced with the dilemma that they could either stay with Surrey or stay with the airport but not both.The Minister cannot honestly say that the people were confused about whether the parishes were in Surrey or out of Surrey, with or without the airport. From the beginning the isssue was clear. The residents of Charlwood and Horley were thinking in terms of themselves and the airport as a natural geographical entity. There was no confusion.
Secondly, I asked the right hon. Gentleman to explain the conclusion of his remarks on that occasion:The boundary proposed now represents the agreed view of the local authorities in regard to a line, which gives effect to the wishes of local opinion and provides a satisfactory boundary for the provision of local government services."—[Official Report, 13th November 1973; Vol. 864, c. 441.]In one statement, he speaks of confusion of public opinion, then calls in evidence in support of his proposal that local 1496 authorities have expressed public opinion and that he accepts the line to be drawn. That is not even logical and it is certainly contradictory.
Any hon. Member watching the transitional period of local government reorganisation is increasingly perturbed by the administrative difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman has in getting answers in the Department to problems which the Department has created. Lord Garnsworthy said in another place on 11th September:The proposals under the Bill for the alteration of the Surrey boundary along the frontier with West Sussex mean an intrusion into the county of Surrey which shows up on the map like a sore thumb.We have pointed out that we are unable properly to understand the maps, although this House is supposed to deal with legislation in a proper and responsible manner. Lord Garnsworthy has considerable experience of the county and has a high reputation and integrity which are not in question. He describes the intrusion into Surrey as a "sore thumb" He went on:It involves the transfer of the greater part of the parishes of Horley and Charlwood including Gatwick Airport from Surrey to West Sussex. This is a proposal which some 87 per cent. of the 18,000 residents involved have rejected.The Minister has called in aid the second poll. It is not for me to impute that it was carried out in a manner biased in any way in favour of the Minister's preconceived opinion. But he should equally reciprocate and say that another poll, carried out by someone else, would not be biased in any particular direction either. But there is a consistency in both polls, showing that the residents want to stay in Surrey.
We have left the considerable rateable value of the airport, which does not have residents but which has workers who come in, admittedly, from West Sussex and from West Surrey. But every test when looking at the airport has shown that its transfer to West Sussex materially affects the rateable value of Surrey, whereas it does not necessarily increase to the extent that it needs the rateable value of West Sussex. That may seem illogical, but Surrey suffers a lower total rateable value, and it needs the rateable value of its airport.
1497 I again pray in aid the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy. He said:So far as the people of Horley and Charlwood are concerned, their schools are organised on the principles of Surrey's development. Their other services have been maintained at the high levels which obtain in the county of Surrey; and while it may seem somewhat mundane to mention sewerage, nevertheless it is a most essential service, and the effluent from Horley enters the River Mole, which flows through Surrey right out into the Thames. In addition I should like to mention that the whole of the Gatwick area drains into the River Mole, including its surface water drainage."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 11th September 1972; Vol. 335, cc. 137–8.]What is more, the communication systems between Gatwick and Heathrow go through Surrey.
I put it to the Minister that all the evidence, all the experience and all the wishes of the people are in support of the amendment, and the Minister knows that when he calls upon the wishes of the people it cannot be accepted in a Committee of this House that the only proviso shall be that it is amenable to him when it suits Government policy and not when it suits the wishes of the majority of the general public in the area.
The Minister knows that he has no sound arguments for putting Gatwick into West Sussex. Before the Local Government Bill went into Standing Committee, at the time of its Second Reading, and certainly at no time before can the Minister call upon any authority in West Sussex which said that it wanted to take the airport out of Surrey. At no time since Second Reading has mere been any overt militant activity on the part of West Sussex to compare with the activity of Surrey during the Committee stage of the Local Government Bill to hold on to its own airport.
I put a simple question to the Minister. I have called in aid in support of the amendment only a part of the evidence. I want the Minister in turn to have the opportunity to argue out reasons against excluding the airport from the proposals. That is the function of this place. It is not a matter of taking up rigid postures.
Influential pressures are bound to have been brought to bear upon the 1498 Minister to keep Charlwood and Horley in Surrey. Quite rightly, he responded on the basis that half a loaf is better than none at all.
Having conceded the point about Charlwood and Horley and satisfied the residents to that degree, is the Minister in a position to say, "I can give you some economic, social, political, geographical or industrial factors to support keeping Gatwick in West Sussex."? As I said earlier, the function of a Standing Committee is not to be biased, but to respond to a good argument. I should be prepared to give way if the Minister could convince me in that way. But I suggest that he cannot do that. Certainly he did not do so on Second Reading and he failed to do so during the Committee stage of the Local Government Reorganisation Bill, because he rejected an 87 per cent. poll on that occasion. But if he can do so now he will certainly ease the concern felt by my hon. Friends. If not, I suggest that the amendment should go to a Division.
§ Mr. Golding
I am not sure whether I am in order in moving my amendment, in Clause 1, page 1, line 9——
§ Mr. Golding
I should like to speak to my amendment, in page 1, line 9, leave out subsection (2) and insert—' (2) The said boundary shall be a line drawn from Upper Prestwood Farm to Tern-hill '.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
Will my hon. Friend give way? I apologise for interrupting him at so early a stage. The Ordnance Survey one-inch map refers to Fernhill, not Ternhill. I can only suppose that my hon. Friend is referring to Fernhill.
§ Mr. Golding
I may have to make a manuscript amendment. That arose from the unfortunate fact that the boundary, marked on the official map, went through this spot and obliterated the first letter of the name. Obviously it should be Fernhill. It would be helpful if Upper Prestwood Farm could be checked on the superior non-official map so that, if I were wrong about that, it could be corrected.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
May I intrude again? Having checked the official Ordnance Survey map, sheet 182, I am pleased to tell my hon. Friend that there is not only an Upper Prestwood Farm, but a Lower Prestwood Farm.
§ Mr. Golding
I am pleased about that. I should no doubt be straying out of order if I told the Committee that, by making a spelling mistake at a committee of inquiry, I cost the electors of Twickenham a considerable sum of money. But that is another story.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
Before my hon. Friend leaves the explanation of the delineation of his amendment, perhaps I may be allowed to raise one matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) has the advantage of me. I have not yet found Upper Prestwood Farm or Ternhill or Fernhill, whichever it may be. Will he explain, on the map provided by the Vote Office, just where his boundary would run?
§ Mr. Golding
I shall be coming to that matter shortly. I never knew where Fernhill or Upper Prestwood Farm were. I took a piece of paper and placed it on the map along the main runway of Gatwick Airport. Coming to the boundaries indicated on the official map, I discovered that the piece of paper rested on Ternhill and Upper Prestwood Farm. If hon. Members were to do that they would find that Ternhill is by the Gables, south of Royal Oak Farm, just east of Ternhill Farm. Upper Prestwood Farm is by Littlepark Farm. Great Burlandy is to the south-east. It is a very difficult map to read. I shall return to the arguments on the boundary shortly.
I became interested in this matter when I read the special report which was ordered to be printed on 4th December. I read the evidence of Mr. Best. When he appeared before the Select Committee he very modestly stated:May I first declare my strictly amateur status. I represent four concerned citizens. We have no legal help and I would crave your indulgence for not knowing all of the rules. I have been wondering on my way here which biblical parallel might be most appropriate to me. Would it be David versus Goliath? My opponent here is uncomfortably near. Or would it be Daniel in the lion's den? However, as I am secretary of the local Labour Party and as there are Labour Party representatives on the select committee I cannot view the committee as lions.1500 Mr. Best was right not to view the Select Committee as lions, but he was wrong to overlook the counsel employed by the Government to do their level best to destroy the evidence presented by Mr. Best and the four concerned citizens.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) said that the Government had put the boot in. He was referring to the employment of counsel, of very experienced individuals, to try—which they did successfully—to prevent the point of view of the common man being put to the Select Committee. It must be conceded that they were successful. That is the reason for the debate.
In the Minutes of Speeches Delivered Before the Select Committee on the Charlwood and Horley Bill, one of the submissions, on page 12, is:To allow private individuals to offer any reasons against the principle of the bill would be inconsistent with what Sir Erskine May describes as the ' general principle of legislation ' that ' a public bill, being of national interest, should be debated in Parliament upon the grounds of public expediency; and that the arguments on either side should be restricted to Members of the House.' It would, in fact, be allowing persons who were not Members to participate in the performance of duties which Members alone are appointed to perform and for the performance of which they alone are responsible.11.15 p.m.
Mr. Best had earlier stated as one of his grounds of objection that the rateable value of Gatwick Airport was £½ million, that it was to go into West Sussex, that in five months' time he was to become an old-age pensioner, and that the loss of Gatwick Airport to the county in which he lived would raise the rates considerably.
It having been ruled that the Select Committee could not entertain the representations of Mr. Best and the common men whom he represented, we Members of the House of Commons will have to put his point of view for him. I was very pleased tonight to hear the way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South put what I believe to be the extreme point of view—that of Mr. Best. I say "extreme" deliberately, because when I came to read the evidence and to listen to the points of principle raised by my hon. Friends I decided that there were two sides to this question: both West Sussex—I do not know 1501 whether that is Sussex by the sea—and Surrey have possibly a claim upon this important airport.
Therefore, I decided that only one solution was possible. I drew my inspiration from Kings 3, 16, because I thought that in poetical terms at least both West Sussex and Surrey are harlots. I do not think that hon. Members on this side would deny that. So I was faced with these two harlots arguing about the ownership of one thing.
I turned to Kings 3, 16 and I read:Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king "—that was King Solomon—and stood before him.
- 17. And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
- 18. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
- 19. And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.
- 20. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
- 21. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
- 22. And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son ".
§ The Second Deputy Chairman (Mr. Oscar Murton)
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman in his flow of oratory from the Old Testament, but I think that he is becoming slightly irrelevant. I ask him to come back to the point quickly or go through his argument more succinctly so that the Chair may understand.
§ Mr. Golding
I think, Mr. Chairman, that perhaps you are in either the fortunate or the unfortunate circumstance of having only recently entered this debate. What I was trying to say was that faced with this problem where there are these two warring factions wanting the possession of one thing, I turned to the Old Testament for inspiration to find a possible solution to the problem. I am sorry to have to continue with the explanation, because I had almost finished. I came 1502 across this story of the two women who both claimed ownership of a child—you may have heard the story, Mr. Deputy Speaker—and who went before King Solomon for judgment. The point I was getting to was that the king said—see verses 24 and 25—Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.I did not have a sword, a spade, or a fence. But I had a pencil. I also had a piece of paper. What I decided to do "was to propose an amendment—that one half of the airport should go to Charlwood and Horley and the other to Salfords. Earlier I was explaining how I did that.
§ Mr. Graham Page
That does not necessarily follow the hon. Gentleman's quotation from the Book of Kings: as he knows, the judgment of Solomon was never carried out.
§ The Second Deputy Chairman
As we are talking about King Solomon, may I say that I am neither "Mr. Chairman" nor "Mr. Deputy Speaker". While in this seat I am Mr. Murton.
§ Mr. Mark Hughes
On a point of order, Mr. Murton. We have been considering this stage of the Bill for slightly more than 60 minutes. It seems perfectly clear that further progress is likely to be somewhat protracted. Li view of the somewhat tenuous state of public transport and the need to conserve electricity and so on. through you may I ask the Minister in charge of the Bill to consider whether the time has come to postpone further consideration? It is clear that there are still weighty matters to discuss on other amendments. In the interests of the staff of the House of Commons and hon. Members, would the Minister consider how to proceed?
§ Mr. Leadbitter
Is it possible to put to the Minister a consideration of some importance to see whether he will respond?
§ Mr. Golding
I am sorry about the manner in which I addressed you, Mr. Murton. The Bill reminds me of the old Accles and Pollok advertisement when the names were confused. There is a good case for the division of the airport between the various authorities. This stems partly from what was said in evidence to the Select Committee:It is contended that the wording of the Poll did not fully and properly state the choice which was that Horley (minus the North Ward known as Salfords) be either included with Gatwick Airport in the new County of West Sussex, or that it be included, without Gatwick Airport, in the new County of Surrey. It is furthermore contended that if the choice had been properly stated there would have been a positive opportunity to show a preference for West Sussex and that it is reasonable to assume that this would have resulted in a vote more evenly distributed between Yes and No.That may well be an argument in support of my hon. Friend's contention. At this time, however, when there is a continual demand for conciliation, compromise and unity, I should have thought that in this circumstance those who would deny the rate relief in Horley and Charlwood would not press their case to the full and that they would be satisfied with a division of the airport. It is important, however, that they get something, because they feel very sore about it.
The one point which has to be made is that the giving of the airport in its entirety to West Sussex is obviously undesirable from an economic point of view. It would be straying too far into the past to go into detail, but when considering the airport and the situation one sees that it would have been better for the Redcliffe-Maud solution to have been adopted by the Government. That commission advised that, because of their close association, Horley, Gatwick and Crawley New Town should be taken together for the purposes of planning.
The OFFICIAL REPORT of 6th July 1972 records a speech by the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, addressing 1504 the House on behalf of the Government, in which he referred to a letter received from Mr. Epson, Chairman of the Horley and Charlwood Protest Committee and also of the Charlwood Parish Council. The hon. Gentleman said thatthe parishes of Horley and Charlwood are so dominated by and inextricably mixed with the airport that it would be a planning disaster to separate the two."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July 1972; Vol. 840, c. 1137.]The letter went on to say thatBy a large majority Horley Parish Council voted in favour of remaining in the same county as Gatwick Airport. Horley Chamber of Commerce has also voted in favour of remaining with the airport. The majority of Horley electors, despite a circular letter sent by the Chairman of Horley Parish Council urging them to vote either Yes or No at the Poll, did not vote in favour of being in Surrey.It says thatHorley is as much affected by Gatwick Airport as Crawley. It is therefore logical that it should be in the same area of local government. It is only right that the inhabitants of these areas should have an equal say in the affairs of the Airport and an equal share of the rates collected from the Airport. Horley town centre is less than two miles from the Airport buildings, which means that there are close business connections. The town necessarily houses many Gatwick employees and will, in future, house still more.The further one reads, the further one is led to believe that the people of Charlwood and Horley have been deceived. It is important that we put that point of view tonight, because the implications of the decisions will become more and more serious.
We cannot discuss Maplin, but we can postulate what will happen at Gatwick if Maplin is not created. It is said—I quote from the British Airports Authority annual report for 1972–73—thatPassengers could increase five times from today's 5m to around 25m in the mid-80s and thence perhaps to 35m by the end of the decade. Air transport movements could double from today's 70,000 to about 140,000 and perhaps thence to around 160,000 at which point the capacity of the Gatwick runway would probably be exhausted. Further land and extra terminal facilities would be required.11.30 p.m.
It is obvious that Mr. Best's pension would not be drained quite so much later on were he able to get the rate advantage which might flow from this extended Gatwick.
1505 I close only out of respect for the servants of the House—not because I want to let the Government off the hook.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Mark Carlisle)
§ Mr. Golding
The Minister who says, "Quite right" should be aware that this is Government business. If the Government had conducted their business properly and had not stuck a knife into the common man—[Interruption.] The Minister does well to apologise for intervening in another Minister's brief, because he knows what a terrible thing has been done.
It seems to me to be wrong that Mr. Best and his fellow members of the Labour Party in Surrey should suffer the noise from Gatwick Airport, the inconvenience of Gatwick Airport, the road and rail traffic from London to Gatwick Airport, and unfair that Mr. Best will not be able to benefit financially in terms of his rates at the same time that he suffers inconvenience.
I conclude by saying that I am sorry that I have had to speak in this debate. I have had to speak because Mr. Best and the common man is prevented from putting his point of view to the House of Commons during the initial stages of the Bill.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
I feel that I must echo some of the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) about the late and inconvenient hour at which the House is being presented with the Bill. I am sure that the Minister for Local Government and Development realises that this is not any old private Bill with a little Government backing; it is an extremely contentious measure. I should have thought it was ill advised of the Government to put such a contentious measure on the Floor of the House at this time of night, knowing full well the interest that there is in a contentious measure like this among hon. Members on both sides.
I say that particularly because, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Opposition have tried to keep to some kind of undertaking during the present emergency We have done our best to let the staff of the House get home while public 1506 transport is still running. Those of us who are in the habit of catching the No. 159, the No. 13, the No. 113, or some other bus which goes in a northerly direction, know that we have missed our last bus already. Those who are in the habit of travelling by the Circle, District, Northern or Bakerloo Line know that very shortly our last train will be going. That is why we feel that it is very ill advised of the Government to bring the Bill before the House at this very late stage, in these days of crisis—and it is the Government who say that these are days of crisis; it is not the Opposition. It does not show much respect for the kind of people that the Goverment purport to represent in bringing forward the Bill.
I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman speaks he will bear in mind that the Opposition feel, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme has said, that we have to do our bit to protect the interests of the common man. The Minister may think that the Government can ride roughshod over the interests of the common man by putting forward this contentious proposal at this time, hoping to get it through quickly under the guise of the emergency situation, but we feel that it is a poor and mean way to run the country. I certainly hope that the interests which we represent in the areas which are under discussion have taken note of the way in which the Bill has been brought before the House at such a time.
Having studied some of the implications of the Bill I must conclude that not only is the Bill difficult to understand but the map is even more difficult to understand. I cannot claim to know the highways and byways around the airport very well, but I am familiar with the airport itself, yet on the map the airport is only just recognisable. The 1-in. Ordnance Survey map provided by my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) shows the airport a little more clearly simply because it shows green trees and we know that that could not be the airport. I presume that the other map is a 2½-in. map.
§ Mr. Michael Cocks
I believe that they are both 1-in. maps, but does it not show the deplorable situation we face when we are in doubt about the scale?
§ Mr. Huckfield
I was relying upon the geography I learned in my O level studies and I took this to be a 2½ in. map. My hon. Friend has reminded me that the Ordnance Survey are discontinuing many of their maps and it may be that this is one which is to remain.
The boundary proposed in the Bill must have been influenced by the predominant type of aircraft using the airport. The boundary eastward and westward certainly approximates to the kind of noise footprint created by the BAC 111, the Trident 1, 2 and 3, the 707 and the DC8. However, in future these aircraft will be superseded by DC10s, Tri-Stars and 747s which have a different noise footprint. The 747 requires a longer takeoff, for example. If the residents of Charlwood and Horley think that they are getting rid of aircraft noise by adopting this boundary, they will have to think again, in view of the new types of aircraft coming into service. Even if the purpose of the Bill is to get rid of the aircraft and of the airport, I do not think that this is a wisely drawn boundary line, and the good people of Charlwood and Horley who have put some money into these proposals would be well advised to think again.
I am reminded of various chapters in Arthur Hailey's book "Airport", which I am sure the Minister has read. A rather well-heeled lawyer comes upon a cluster of residents who live in close proximity to the airport in question and makes a lot of money out of giving them wrong advice about how to change flight paths and noise patterns, knowing full well that many of the people moved into the area after the airport was built and consequently ought to have recognised that there would be a certain amount of inconvenience to them.
I wonder who has been giving advice on legal or noise matters to the people of Charlwood and Horley who have drawn the boundary in this way. Although the boundary line, supported by the eminent biblical quotations read by my hon. Friend the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme, from Upper Prest-wood Farm to Fern Hill may seem geographically, logistically, sociologically and even economically not to have a good basis, it has rather more basis than some of the bases that have been advanced for the boundary line proposed in the Bill.
1508 At least the boundary line put forward by my hon. Friend has some relevance to the boundary as it will be in future, but because of the changes that we shall see in noise footprints and patterns I cannot see that the boundary line proposed in the Bill will have much relevance.
There is another factor that comes to mind, and that is that anybody who knows anything about the operation of Gatwick knows that it is predominantly a charter airport. It is true that British Caledonian, which by foul means or fair, is now the nation's second flag carrier, has its headquarters at Gatwick, and that scheduled flights are going in and out of Gatwick. British Caledonian has regular flights to all parts of the globe, including the Continent, South America and North America.
But apart from that, the bulk of the aircraft using Gatwick are on charter flights—advanced booking charters, affinity group charters, inclusive tours and various types of packages put forward by the tour operators. I say that because many of these operating companies have offices in Charlwood and Horley. How is it that we have an airport that is dependent upon these charter operators, yet the airlines and the people who use the airport but have their offices in Charlwood and Horley want to shuffle off their problems on to somebody else? I do not think that is fair. If people with business accommodation in Charlwood and Horley make their money out of Gatwick Airport, they ought to be prepared to put up with some of the problems generated by the airport.
I understand that a great deal of the raison d'être of the 1972 Local Government Act was to encompass the journey-to-work area of large conurbations and many provincial cities. That being so, I should have thought that the journey-to-work area of Gatwick Airport would encompass Charlwood and Horley because, as many of these tour operating companies have their offices at Charlwood and Horley, there is bound to be a lot of commuting traffic between those parishes and the airport. Consequently, how can we divorce the business accommodation addresses of those who use the airport from the airport itself? For the better functioning of the community, for the better functioning of the airport, and 1509 as Gatwick is now the nation's second airport, I think that the whole thing should be administered by one local authority.
If Heathrow was largely in one GLC borough and the people who worked there were in another—which of course is not the case because Heathrow and the people working there come from several GLC boroughs and counties—then if Heathrow got to the stage where the airport was in one county and the people who worked at the airport were in another county, that would not make for the best functioning of Heathrow. The same argument applies to Gatwick. If we are to reform local government, then there is far more logic if we follow the proposals enunciated by the Government and put in the same county the airport and the catchment area where most of the people in the airport work.
The line suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) goes straight down the main runway. It may well be that Gatwick will have a second runway. The Conservative Government tend to make a lot of noise saying that they will never allow a second runway to be built at Gatwick. I have heard stories like that before, and we know how Governments change their minds. Let us not forget that several Governments ago it was said that the third London airport would be built at Stansted, then it was to be built at Cublington, and then at Maplin—and, after what we heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer today, I am not sure whether the third London airport will now be built at Maplin. Therefore, instead of one runway at Gatwick, in future, there may be two. If there are to be two runways, we shall require a larger extension of the terminal area at present proposed.
If the Minister looks at Gatwick Airport on the map, he will see the finger of the passenger terminal area stretching out. He probably knows that slightly to the north there is another biock of passenger accommodation now completed—and about time too, because at certain times in the summer Gatwick bears a close resemblance to a knacker's yard
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
I am sorry to intervene in my hon. Friend's expert and; welcome speech, but he refers to a finger I stretching out. Could he tell me where on the map I will find the block being "built to the north so that I may follow his argument the more closely?
§ Mr. Huckfield
I have referred to the finger of the passenger terminal. There is another finger that already exists at the airport, but it is not shown on the map. If my hon. Friend follows the railway line coming south from Horley, he will see it then passes across the boundary line proposed in the Bill. If one were to look out of the train window, one would see the new terminal building. It would appear that the new line ' proposed in tie Bill is already out of date, because we already have the situation that the new block of passenger accommodation may not be on the side of the boundary line where the proponents of the Bill want it to be. The terminal accommodation a Gatwick may already be very close to, or even straddling, the boundary line proposed in the Bill. As we may still have a second runway at Gatwick, as the passenger terminal accommodation will have to; expand, and as, with the M23 coming into the airport, we shall have to have more car parking accommodation, I can-; not understand why the boundary line ' should have been drawn in that position.
In the south-east of the airport, where there is a great deal of the present cargo accommodation, there is some very restricted space. I very much doubt whether the operators in that area, which include Laker Airways, British Caledonian, British Islands, British European Airways and Air Tours, think that they can expand further south-east. The present congestion there may well generate a desire to push out to the northeast, in which case the boundary line proposed will be even more irrelevant.
It is most unsatisfactory to have to go to the Library for an Ordnance Survey map dated 1st August, 1970, which is already out of date, because it does not show the extension of terminal accommodation. We have flimsy foundations on which to construct strong arguments. The whole reasoning behing the Bill is wrong. We cannot in future have airports 1511 under one local authority and the people working in them under a different local authority. That is against the line of reasoning adopted by the Government over and over again in their Local Government Act.
The proponents of the Bill may have thought that they were on to a good thing by drawing the boundary line in that shape, because of the present layout of the terminal accommodation. They have failed to take into account that it is the terminal accommodation and ground handling facilities, and even perhaps the runways, that will have to expand at Gatwick. They may have thought that they were doing a good job. keeping the airport one side of the fence and themselves the other, but I do not think that they have done a good job.
This side of the Committee has put arguments which should already have set the Minister thinking again. We put them, despite the lateness of the hour, because we feel that it is wrong in many ways for a Government to try to rush through a contentious measure of this kind at a late hour of night, saying that they must have it quickly because of the emergency situation—a great deal of which they have themselves caused. I am proud to represent Warwickshire miners in the House. I should hate to think that they were blamed for generating a crisis which was then used as an excuse for getting through such a Bill as this, which does not have much good reasoning behind it.
Bearing in mind the lateness of the hour, the good sense in the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks)—he has always advanced good arguments on aviation matters, and they were particularly good tonight, the wealth of biblical experience of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, and the even greater depth of perception which my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) will bring to bear, I cannot understand why the Government must railroad the Bill through tonight and why they must go flagrantly and even dangerously over the heads of the people they claim to represent. If the Government think that democracy is in danger and that Parliament is falling into disrepute, the right hon. Gentleman is helping that process 1512 by railroading through this measure at this late hour.
§ Mr. James Wellbeloved
The Committee has been treated to a speech of such clarity and understanding of the problems attached to Gatwick Airport, that I must begin by paying tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) for participating in the debate. I join him in his remarks about the Government's responsibility for keeping the Committee sitting on this measure.
I am fully conscious, as are my hon. Friends, of the difficulties that members of the staff will experience in trying to get home when the Committee eventually rises. It is not enough for us to rest upon the knowledge that the Lord President has made available transport facilities for most, if not all, of the staff, because difficulties may be experienced if sufficient petrol and diesel oil for that transport has not been obtained by the drivers during the day. Nor is it sufficient for us to rely upon the knowledge that most, if not all, of the staff receive night allowances. It is completely unreasonable that the Minister should proceed with the Bill.
The Minister of State, Home Office, from a seated position made an uncomplimentary remark during a previous speech, but it does not lie with him to express phoney indignation on behalf of staff who are being inconvenienced by the decision of his Government's business managers to proceed with the Bill.
According to the Order Paper not only are all the amendments to be debated tonight, but the remaining stages may also be taken. That means that there are seven groups of amendments, including the one we are discussing now, and "clause stand part" debates on each clause yet to be taken.
I hope, even at this late stage, that the Ministers will be prevailed upon to give up their private conversations, come to their senses and move that the proceedings on the Bill be adjourned. By doing that they would recognise the serious situation that faces the nation and be fair to members of the staff. If they are not prepared to respond, it does not lie on my hon. Friends who are opposed to the measure to surrender their responsibilities to protect the rights 1513 of individual citizens because of the insensitivity of Ministers.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
In view of the urgency of the energy situation and the sacrifices that the rest of the nation is being exhorted to make, would it not be more sensible if we gave up debating this measure, using energy and artificial light at this time of night? I am finding it difficult, even with spectacles, to study the map because we have not got full lighting. Should we not set an example to the nation by stopping these deliberations now, and save power?
§ The Second Deputy Chairman
Order. We are not on the motion for the Adjournment, but on Amendment No. i. I hope that the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) will keep more closely to the point.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
I have been addressing myself, with my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton assisting me, to convincing the Government that they are more likely to get reasonable progress on the Bill if they take a certain course of action. Apparently that is not their intention, so we are left with the more costly and painful process of Parliamentary democracy in ensuring that the Government do not ride roughshod over the people who do not wish the Bill to pass.
The amendment concedes the argument that Horley and Charlwood should come out of Sussex and rejoin Surrey. But it would go further than the Government and put Gatwick back into Surrey as well. As I understand this inadequate map, before the Local Government Act all three lay within Surrey. Under the Act, all three went into West Sussex. My difficulty in following the argument is to be able to see the line of the new boundary on this inadequate map, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton has pointed out, is not up to date; nor is sheet 182 which we have got from the Library.
The amendment suggests that the boundary should start at a new point on the western boundary of the new parish of Charlwood, north-east of Oak-lands Park, and proceed along to Russ Hill and then to Westfield Place. I find myself in difficulty as to where precisely 1514 the boundary proposed in the amendment would then go. My hon. Friend's amendment says:… round the … perimeter of Gatwick Airport".Neither on the inadequate map supplied by the Government nor on Ordnance Sheet 182 can I see the perimeter of the airport adequately depicted. So we are in the difficulty that it is not possible to take fully into account my hon. Friend's intention in the absence of adequate maps upon which to base our judgment.
It may be that the perimeter of Gatwick airport stretches down to the presumably unclassified highway shown on Ordnance Sheet 182 in yellow marking and shown in the legend at the bottom of the sheet as being a 14-foot highway, metalled and tarmacked. If that be the case, I am unable to decide whether that is a boundary which goes wider than the original boundary of the old Surrey County Council with the old Sussex County Council, and whether what my hon. Friend proposes is radical and very different from all that has gone before.
If I am correct, and I know not because of the inadequacy of the documentation before the Committee, that 14-foot highway eventually joins the A23, and the A23 passes the easterly end of the airport. Therefore I assume that what my hon. Friend means is that we should take that unclassified road shown in yellow on the map and its junction with the A23 up to what my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton describes as the terminal building as being the boundary proposed in the amendment.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) looks slightly puzzled, I understand his difficulty. But if that is what he is proposing, I am afraid that it does not have my support because I do not believe it to be an adequate boundary. It would be better if my hon. Friend reverted to the original county boundary prior to the passing of the Local Government Act 1972.
§ Mr. Michael Cocks
My understanding was that had I adopted my hon. Friend's suggestion my amendment would have been out of order since it would have been outside the Long Title of the Bill which refers to transferring… parts of the new parishes of Charlwood and Horley to the new county of Surrey….
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
I accept that explanation, and I regret that the Government's drafting of this very difficult Bill failed to make proper provision which would have allowed hon. Members to put forward more adequate and sensible amendments.
The maps are so difficult to follow that I was prompted earlier, Mr. Murton, to put a point of order to your predecessor in the Chair about the availability of documents. But I understand that it is not within the competence of the Chair in Committee to force the Government to do their duty and make available to hon. Members documents which allow for proper debate. That is not a new feature of this Government. It has happened on previous occasions. Opposition Members cannot be heard complaining overmuch at what has become a commonplace occurrence under this administration.
Fortunately, in my youth, I was a boy scout. Therefore, when I look at a map and am advised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South, that it is the normal custom for a map to be printed with north at the top, I am able to work out where east, west and south lie because, as a boy scout, I was taught that it is easy to remember in which direction the other three points of the compass lie from north by the simple slogan, "Never eat sausages Wednesday".
Having that little matter tucked away in my mind, I was able to sort out the western and eastern boundaries of Gat-wick Airport and in which direction we were moving during the discussion on these matters. But that was a rudimentary matter because, even with that aid, it was still difficult to follow precisely the intention of my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South.
I turn now to the amendment put down by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) who has obviously taken himself off to refresh his voice for later speeches on other amendments. His amendment is to move the said boundary to a line drawn between Upper Prestwood Farm to Fern-hill. But, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton has pointed out, there is no such place on the map as Fernhill; it is Ternhill. That is an understandable mistake.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
I am delighted that my hon. Friend has such an eagle eye. I can appreciate the error made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme and by the Clerks at the table in accepting an amendment which was not geographically accurate because it referred to a place which did not exist on the map supplied by the Government. I suppose that the blame is universal, but the greater share must fall upon those small men who occupy the Treasury Bench.
My hon. Friend's amendment, though he quoted the Gospel and the judgment of Solomon, does not meet with my approval either. His suggestion would cut Gatwick Airport in half by imposing the boundary between the two county authorities down the main runway. I cannot conceive of any proposition more likely to cause terrible trouble and difficulty in future years than the acceptance of my hon. Friend's amendment. Should he push his amendment to the vote, it would be my intention to vote against it. I should do that on the basis that, having had moderate experience on a local authority, I know of some of the problems that can arise when there is a split responsibility in an area of such importance as Gatwick.
In the London Borough of Bexley a massive new development—Thamesmead—is taking place. It is artificially divided by the boundary between the London Boroughs of Greenwich and of Bexley. I know of the serious administrative problems that are already occurring because of this division of responsibility between two authorities for what is, to all intents and purposes, designed to be a whole.
I do not want anyone to take it from those remarks that I am advocating that I should lose my part of the Thamesmead development. I would welcome the part that has fallen within Greenwich coming within my area. If I continue on that matter, I know that you, Mr. Mallalieu, will bring mc back to more detailed discussion on the amendment, so I leave the parallel there.
What are the problem which will befall Gatwick and the two county authorities 1517 if my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme were successful in getting his amendment carried? The first thing would be the serious competition that would take place in respect of the grant of planning permission for development at the airport. The competition would be between the two authorities. Whichever authority was fortunate enough to be the authority for the particular part of the airport upon which application for planning permission had been made, for development of offices, storage accommodation, or whatever it may be, would be the recipient of substantial gain in rateable value.
The Committee may imagine what would happen. The Gatwick Airport Authority could almost bargain with the two county authorities for all sorts of facilities, indeed, perhaps for some cash grant towards the development, in the sure knowledge that whichever county authority gave it the best bargain would in the long run receive a fairly substantial increase in its rateable values and, therefore, a fairly substantial advantage for its ratepayers.
Then there would be the question which arises from the very important point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton, that much of the office accommodation lies in Horley and in Charlwood. I accept my hon. Friend's word for that. I do not know the area in detail and in depth, as does my hon. Friend. But if that be so, and some of the office accommodation which exists or may exist under future planning permissions is outside the administrative county of Surrey, there would be the question of what happens when some of that accommodation is occupied by a caretaker, by a manager or by some other member of the staff, which makes it a mixed hereditament in respect of rates and the domestic element of the rates.
The Minister is very familiar with this matter. He has served, in an absolutely non-party sense, in a most distinguished capacity on the Local Government Bill. I regret very much that we have not debated this week the Report stage of that Bill, because it deals with finance and with the point which I am now adducing to the Committee. The Minister will understand more fully than I the reasons; why that Bill, despite the fact 1518 that we were told that it had to be galloped through before the end of this week in order that local authorities could be paid their rate support grant, is not now to be dealt with finally until after the Christmas Recess.
Once again, however, I return to the amendment, before your eagle eye, Mr. Mallalieu, and your acute hearing detect that I have strayed marginally away from the subject before the Committee. I return to the serious problem of the mixed hereditament. If part of Gatwick Airport, as suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton, is in a separate county authority, there will be two rating authorities dealing with the apportionment of the mixed hereditaments.
The rating authority for Surrey might allot a different proportion of the floor area to business from that apportioned in identical buildings in West Sussex. That would be most unfair to the unfortunate person who happened to live in the next dwelling, because he would have to bear a higher proportion of the rate demand applicable to the dwelling than perhaps his counterpart would in the next county.
The solution proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme would create so many problems, difficulties and opportunities for misunderstanding between the various authorities because of this division of responsibility that I would be absolutely opposed to it, and I hope that my hon. Friend will not press his amendment to a Division.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South began by referring to the difficulties which were experienced by petitioners to the Bill when they appeared before the Select Committee. I share my hon. Friend's view that it is unfortunate that in matters of this nature ordinary citizens who are unrepresented by learned counsel, perhaps because of the burden of costs involved, should so be so sat upon by learned counsel. I know from experience that the Chairman of a Select Committee will always attempt to protect the unrepresented petitioner. I know not whether this was the case on this Committee, because I have not yet had the advantage of reading the report of the Committee in such detail as my hon. Friend has. It is a requirement that we should ensure that people who are unrepresented get a fair crack of the whip. 1519 I am therefore delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South has tabled the amendment in an effort to redress any shortfall that he feels may have occurred when this clause was before the Committee.
I cannot see any great reason for supporting either the clause as it stands or any of the amendments which have so far been propounded. I believe that it would be wrong for us to change the law as regards this boundary. Parliament has decided that Charlwood, Horley and Gatwick should be in West Sussex. I have not yet heard an argument from either side that convinces me that we should change that, either by accepting the clause unamended or as it is proposed to be amended.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South said that a poll had been held in the Horley area which was 600 to 60, if I heard his figures correctly, in favour of a change.
§ Mr. Michael Cocks
They were figures given by the hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair). It was not a poll. It was a vote at a parish meeting. The figures were 600 to 10.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
I am obliged to my hon. Friend.
There are many areas which would have liked to have had the opportunity to receive this very favourable and privileged treatment, and I hope that the Minister will say why he has decided to keep the House up till this unreasonable hour debating a matter which is designed to confer a privilege upon this one small section of England and Wales which was subject to the reorganisation under the Local Government Act 1972.
It is scandalous that we should have to discuss an amendment such as that proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South, arising directly as a result of the privilege that the Government are conferring on this one section of the community. I am certain that any small community throughout the country would have gone on bended knees and kissed the feet of the Minister—that would have been rather distasteful, but I know how passionately people hold to their parochial ties and they would have gladly suffered that indignity—if doing so would have conferred on them the privilege that the Minister seems bent on 1520 would be taken by the Government to and Horley.
What is the motivation? Is there a little gerrymandering of boundaries? I recall that when the Local Government Act was going through the House there was a great deal of anguish about the borders touching on Surrey, and many things were done to accommodate that select area. My hon. Friend wishes to intervene.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
My hon. Friend has deployed an argument inviting intervention. He suggests that the Government's proposal is unacceptable and that the amendment would not be a suitable answer, although it has been explained that it has been so drafted because of the terminology of the Bill. Would not my hon. Friend say that in such circumstances the Minister would be wise to consider whether the best solution might not be to await the review of local government boundaries for which Section 48 of the Local Government Act provides?
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
That might well have been a more sensible course, but the Government have decided not to follow it.
Tonight we are defending the desire of some people to uphold the present law, a desire which I should have thought would be dear to the Minister's heart. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) mentioned the Book and quoted the judgment of Solomon. Hon. Members have taken on the duty of representing the views of the citizens of Charlwood and Horley. The correct quotation would have been from St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians:For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness …
§ 12.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Graham Page
The hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) complained about the slack drafting, as he called it, of the Long Title, but he was complaining only because it allowed him to put the amendment. I have never heard that argument before, and it seems extraordinary.
I am sorry that the maps lost sharpness in copying. They are, however, in accordance with standing orders and the 1521 officially deposited map is in the Private Bill Office, as right hon. and hon. Members can see from the last words of Clause 1(2). The map is depositedin the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Private Bill Office of the House of Commons.Therefore, the maps in the Vote Office could easily be checked against the official map.
As has been clearly explained, the effect of the amendments would be to return Gatwick Airport to Surrey. The argument of the hon. Member for Bristol, South in support of this at one stage was that Gatwick was London-oriented. Gatwick, of course, is an aerodrome for the whole of the South-East. It is not an airport for London alone.
The hon. Member also complained that learned counsel before the Select Committee endeavoured to discredit the locus standi of the petitioners there. It is interesting to note, however, that all those who have supported the amendment and complained that the petitioners failed to get a fair hearing before the Select Committee are proposing an amendment exactly contrary to what the petitioners were asking should be done before the Select Committee. It is an astonishing argument to use on the Floor of the House of Commons that the supporters wish to protect the petitioners before the Select Committee upstairs and then put exactly the contrary case.
The petitioners were asking that Charlwood and Horley should go into West Sussex. The amendment leaves Charlwood and Horley in Surrey and tries to move Gatwick into Surrey. To that extent, I would have thought, the amendment would be entirely unacceptable to the petitioners before the Select Committee and certainly is contrary to the petitioners' case.
The hon. Member for Bristol, South said that he wanted to give the Government an opportunity to think again on this subject. This has been, and is, a major issue of principle which was thrashed out in the course of the debates on the Local Government Bill, when the Government made it clear that in their view it was essential that Gatwick should go into West Sussex with Crawley.
1522 As regards Charlwood and Horley there was not a matter of principle involved. Therefore, the undertaking was given during the stages of the Local Government Bill, which became the Local Government Act 1972, that, if those areas showed that they wished to remain in Surrey, no principle was involved and they could so remain.
There are, of course, strong planning arguments in favour of linking the airport with the urban growth of Crawley, far stronger than for linking it with the comparatively small residential areas to the north, the Horley and Charlwood area. I say "comparatively small"; it is small compared with the development of Crawley to the south. This brings the growth area and the airport, as we have done in the Local Government Act, under a single strategic planning authority—West Sussex. That was the basis on which the decision was made during the course of the Bill which became the Local Government Act 1972.
I know that for a long time the issue was that Charlwood and Horley wished to remain with Gatwick whether Gatwick was in West Sussex or in Surrey. They argued that case throughout the process of the Bill until it reached another place and finally their argument was beaten there. It was then that the parish meetings were held to show the wish of the people in Horley and Charlwood to remain in Surrey even though Gatwick was to go to West Sussex.
If one chose the line proposed by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding), one would have a county boundary down the middle of Gatwick runway. I cannot think that the hon. Member meant that, and I do not intend to treat the amendment seriously. I do not think he would wish me to do so.
Some points of substance were made by the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) when he spoke about the area which Gatwick drains. When considering local government services one looks to see where the combination of the areas can be. But this, as the hon. Member knows, will not be a local government service after 1st April next. It will be in the hands of the regional water authority, which will not be affected by county boundaries. That argument 1523 for putting Gatwick into Surrey falls to the ground.
Part of the argument put forward by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) was that there were a few offices of travel agents over the boundary and that they took bookings for charter flights at Gatwick. I should have thought that most bookings were taken in London, and we could hardly include London in West Sussex.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
The Minister probably knows that many American supplemental airlines have West End offices, but their big administrative centres and main telecommunications links with the States are not in London; they happen to be in Horley. I am not talking merely about package tours; I am talking about airline operators. A fair number have their main administrative offices in Horley and not in the West End.
§ Mr. Page
I would balance that against the argument of the growth area in Crawley and the necessity to keep Gatwick in Crawley, to the south. There can be both residential and office arguments based on the fact that people live in Horley and Charlwood and work across the county boundary, at Gatwick. There may be commercial offices in Horley and Charlwood which have business to do at Gatwick. That must happen in the case of every county boundary throughout the land.
We must balance one argument against the other. The argument chosen by the Government—I believe rightly—and passed through the House in the Local Government Bill, was that Gatwick should be with West Sussex.
Some hon. Members put forward rather exaggerated arguments about democracy and the common man, and about considering the wishes of the people. This is just what we have done, and we have made it plain throughout that we were doing so. There is no question of our changing our minds after the measure has received the Royal Assent. During the passage of the Bill we gave a firm undertaking to the House that if Horley and Charlwood wished to be in Surrey we would do what was necessary to put them there. I do not wish to blame them unnecessarily, but they delayed coming to a decision until a week after the Royal Assent. Nevertheless, I thought 1524 it right that we should carry out our undertaking.
I am surprised that hon. Members should put forward the argument that we are not democratic or are not following the wishes of the people. That is just what we are doing. We are carrying out a Government undertaking. On those grounds, I must ask the Committee to resist the amendment.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
The Minister will not find that his arguments are acceptable to many Opposition Members. He says that in this measure the Government are following the democratic process and taking into account the will of the people. I want to hear from the Minister—he has not yet made it clear to the House—why the Government gave the undertaking to which he has referred during the passage of the Local Government Bill.
I seem to recall that there were a great many pleas by many local authorities which then existed. There were long and protracted debates in Committee and on Report on the rights of local people to have an opportunity of exercising self-determination. Why, when the Government turned a deaf ear to all the pleas from authorities which wanted to maintain their existing traditional ties, have only little Charlwood and Horley, which used to be in Surrey, had thrown behind them, in their desire for democratic expresion of will, the whole panoply of Government in the form of the Bill? I do not believe that it is acceptable for the Minister to make the plea that he has made that he is responding to the democratic wish of the people of that area when he has turned a stony heart to every other plea.
§ Mr. Graham Page
Does the hon. Member think that he is responding to the wish of the people when he is acting entirely contrary to the petitioner who said that he was representing a number of people and when the amendment he is supporting tonight is entirely contrary to that?
Had the Minister done me the courtesy of listening he would know that I am opposed to both amendments.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
I should not want the Minister to proceed upon an unreasonable course because he had failed to understand my case. In view of the Minister's abysmal ignorance of the debate, it would no doubt be appropriate if I recalled the main point of his argument.
I entirely share the Minister's view that the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) would be a completely unacceptable alternative and would create for the people of the area a ridiculous situation. I am equally opposed to the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) because it accepts in principle the Government proposition that Charlwood and Horley should go back into Surrey. The only difference between my hon. Friend and the Minister is that my hon. Friend wants Gatwick airport to go into Surrey as well.
I take a completely opposite view, for the reasons I have given to the Minister. It would be a negation of the Government's responsibility to other areas which during the passage of the Local Government Bill made equally good cases but were never given the opportunity of having polls to ascertain the views of the local people. My whole argument is based upon the premise that it is wrong for the Government to invoke all the power at their disposal to give what they see as a response to democracy in these two small areas, however important that may be—I understand how important it is to the people who live there, and I do not detract from their arguments—but it is undemocratic—indeed, it is disgraceful—when the Government and the Minister turn a deaf ear to all the other pleas that have been made, while they confer this privilege upon one small section of the country, ignoring all the others.
I do not understand from what the Minister said why he came to this decision. 1526 I gather that the Government were almost defeated on this issue when the Bill was going through the House, and I think that that is the more likely reason for the Government's action tonight. This is a response not to democracy but to blackmail. They are conferring this privilege upon these two areas because they were blackmailed into doing so by their near defeat.
If that is the basis upon which the Government pursue their duty to all the people of this country, it is little wonder that they invoke so small a response at this time of grave economic crisis.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
The Minister was kind enough to take up my reference to the drainage of the catchment area concerned into the River Mole. He did so not as a debating point but as a point of fact and addressed himself to the new position of the river authorities.
I accept that, having made the point, the Minister can rightly assume that the domestic responsibility of Surrey as it was compared with that of the West Sussex area is materially changed, and that is a matter with which I now wish to deal in a more specific manner.
The River Mole runs through Surrey into the Thames. On its journey through West Sussex, it does not cover as much of the country as it does the county of Surrey when it goes through there. There is now a new water authority that will be responsible for the drainage and conservation areas of the waterways concerned- The non-metropolitan county boroughs will each have one representative on this body, which is different from metropolitan county boroughs which have two. West Sussex and Surrey, being non-metropolitan counties, will have equal representation, and the other representatives on the authority will be chosen in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act.
The fact remains that as the greater part of the River Mole runs through Surrey, this will be a pertinent point to be considered by the inhabitants of that county. The Minister said he hoped that we would not be vexed on this matter in terms of the will of the people. But it is the people of Surrey who will be affected by what happens to the River Mole. It is not sufficient to invoke the responsibilities of the new water board 1527 in such a way as to sweep aside important points made in this House, and in another place by Lord Garnsworthy.
We have considered the social consequences, economic considerations, and political representation in terms of electoral divisions into districts and wards all on the basis of consultation with people. It is important all the time to consider the needs and desires of the people. The considerations of the people who live in an area and who carry out their leisure activities in the area and all the rest of it must be upheld as they are upheld in any other county—on the basis not of total rateable value but of rateable value per head of population.
It has been argued that the rateable value in Surrey is larger than that in West Sussex. A number of cold planning projections have been made in the Strategic Plan for the South-East. The plan has taken little consideration of people but has taken in all the views of pseudo-experts and people with other interests. One noble Lady in another place spent some time describing a visit to her daughter within the area of Gatwick airport as if that were a relevant point. But the strategic plan disregarded vital questions of rateable values.
The population of Surrey is about 1 million and obviously a larger population will have a larger total rateable value. West Sussex has a smaller population, but the rateable value per head in Surrey is smaller than that per head of population in West Sussex. In considering the planning of schools, housing and the general infrastructure in terms of the planning powers of the new authorities, we must take account of the financial capacity per head and examine how this affects the individual in meeting the demands of social and amenity developments. Therefore, the argument for taking Gatwick Airport away from Surrey falls to the ground.
When there was a controversy similar in intensity, though not in kind, in the Cleveland area, the Minister said that the non-metropolitan county status was likely to be changed, and the metropolitan condition come about in about 10 years. That satisfied many people, because in local government reorganisation a 10-year period is reasonable. He could have called upon Section 48 of the Act 1528 and done much the same thing for Gatwick.
The Minister's point about drainage falls to the ground, for the reasons I have given. A matter that concerns individuals is the rateable value, particularly as the Government are pushing up the rates as hard as they can and, worse than that, are foisting the blame on the local authorities. I feel that the claim of Surrey was stronger in that sense.
The Minister could have got the matter off his back by telling the people of West Sussex and Surrey that the position could be resolved with Charlwood, Horley and Gatwick remaining in their natural county, by review under the provisions of Section 48.
§ Mr. Michael Cocks
I thank the Minister for his reply. I shall resist the temptation to answer some of his points, because I feel that there is still time for him to think again and perhaps introduce a similar amendment or amendments in another place. I therefore seek leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
§ 1.0 a.m.
§ Mr. Michael Cocks
I was approached by someone who lives right on the boundary of the area, who suggested that I could put down an amendment to meet his case and that of his neighbours. But he told me that the drafting of the clause gave him some hope, becauseThe Bill states that the border shall run eastwards ' on or near the general line ' of the Charlwood-Hookwood road. A small adjustment to the border in a northerly direction would place our houses, which are situated a short distance to the west of Povey Cross crossroads, in Sussex.I telephoned him to ask about his problem, and he told me that there is a small area of about a dozen houses several of whose residents feel that they should be in Sussex because they are virtually disfranchised. They have no direct control over airport development. He says that if 1529 there is a second runway at Gatwick, which some people in Crawley are pressing for, their houses will be virtually on top of it. There will be many kinds of ancillary development there, which would render the properties virtually uninhabitabel and greatly reduce their value.
If I were to forward the correspondence to the Minister, perhaps he would consider it seriously, because even within the clause as now drafted he could meet the arguments put forward by this small group of people who otherwise would have in mind a petition to the other place.
§ Mr. Graham Page
I am looking into that point. When one adjusts boundaries in a small way I think it is called "mereing" the boundaries. I am sure that we could meet it if it is a point of that sort. If the hon. Gentleman will put it in writing we will consider it.
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
The debate has been so unsatisfactory and the documentation so inadequate that I hope that my hon. Friends will join me in dividing the Committee on the clause. We cannot allow this occasion to pass without expressing a strong protest, not only at the denial of democracy enshrined in the clause but at the denial of justice for people with similar claims. We have also been forced by the Government to sit for three hours, keeping staff here and causing them to suffer great inconvenience. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Mr. Haselhurst) wishes to intervene, perhaps he will have the courtesy to use the normal parliamentary method of standing and asking the hon. Member who has the floor to give way, instead of sitting behind his Minister and making snide remarks, when he knows that it is the responsibility of his own Front Bench——
§ The First Deputy Chairman
Order. I think the hon. Member will agree that it is for the Chair to keep order in the Committee and not for him to lecture at length.
|Division No. 26.1||AYES||[1.6 a.m.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Fox, Marcus||Jopllng, Michael|
|Bray, Ronald||Gray, Hamish||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Carlisle, Mark||Haselhurst, Alan||Money, Ernie|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hawkins, Paul||Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)|
|Clegg, Walter||Hicks, Robert||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Sinclair, Sir George|
§ Mr. Wellbeloved
I entirely agree. I am sure it is no fault of yours, Mr. Mallalieu. There must have been a reduction in the voltage in the microphone that caused you not to hear the remark and so fail to protect me from such undignified behaviour. I therefore had to protect myself, and apologise for having done so.
The Government Front Bench is responsible for the inconvenience that has been caused to staff and for the wastage of scarce energy in the form of electricity for lighting and heating—all because of the Government's determination to get through this miserable little measure almost behind the parliamentary scenes.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
My hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) has just reason for wanting to divide the Committee. The arguments that have been advanced in favour of the amendment are positive.
According to comments made in another place by those who know the area well, there are proposals for considerable development at Horley. Much of the argument in the other place was concerned with the Strategic Plan for the South-East from which it appears that expansion is likely to occur in the Crawley area.
Because of the green belt in Surrey, and if the development in Crawley and the pressures in the area are what they are, and the conclusions in the Strategic Plan persuade the Government to leave Gatwick in West Sussex, it is pertinent to put it to the right hon. Gentleman that the House has not had the full potential development proposals put before it for consideration. That is an added argument for a more generous response from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill:
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 23, Noes 0.
|Speed, Keith||Trafford, Dr. Anthony||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Spence, John||Weatherill, Bernard||Mr. Alfred Hall-Davis and|
|Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)||Mr. David Walder|
|TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Ted Leadbitter and|
|Mr. James Wellbeloved|
§ It appearing on the report of the Division that forty Members were not present, the FIRST DEPUTY CHAIRMAN declared that the Question was not decided, and the business under consideration stood over until the next Sitting of the House.