HC Deb 03 July 1989 vol 156 cc63-87

Lords amendments again considered.

Lords amendment: No. 14, in page 7, line 19, at end insert— —"( ) to ensure that the interests of every such person are further protected as respects benefits that could be secured for them by the application in a particular manner of any of the proceeds of a disposal (whether before, on or after the transfer date) of any of that company's protected land or of any interest or right in or over any of that land;

Read a Second time.

6.15 pm
Dr. Cunningham

I beg to move, as an amendment to the Lords amendment, amendment (a), in line 4, leave out 'any of the proceeds' and insert 'not less than fifty per cent of the proceeds'.

.—(1) The Authority shall not dispose of any of its compulsorily acquired land, or of any interest or right in or over any of the land, except with the consent of, or in accordance with a general authorisation given by, the Secretary of State or the Minister. (2) A company holding an appointment under Chapter I of Part II of this Act shall not dispose of any of its protected land, or of any interest or right in or over any of that land, except with the consent of, or in accordance with a general authorisation given by, the Secretary of State. (3) A consent or authorisation for the purposes of this section shall be set out in a notice served by the Secretary of State or the Minister on the person who is or may be authorised, by virtue of the provision contained in the notice, to dispose of land or of interests or rights in or over land or, as the case may be, on every such person. (4) A consent or authorisation for the purposes of this section may be given on such conditions as the Secretary of State or, as the case may be, the Minister considers appropriate. (5) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (4) above and subject to subsection (6) below, the conditions of a consent or authorisation for the purposes of this section may include—

  1. (a) a requirement that, before there is any disposal, an opportunity of acquiring the land in question, or an interest or right in or over that land, is to be made avaialbe, in such manner and on such terms as may be specified in or determined under provision contained in the notice setting out the consent or authorisation, to such person as may be so specified or determined;
  2. (b) a requirement, in the case of a consent or authorisation for the purposes of subsection (2) above, that the company making the disposal has complied with such of the conditions of its appointment under Chapter I of Part II of this Act as relate to the disposal of its protected land or of any interest or right in or over that land;
  3. (c) a requirement that such a company, before making a disposal in a case in which the land in question is situated in a National Park, in the Broads or in an area of outstanding natural beauty or special scientific interest, should do one or both of the following, that is to say—
    1. (i) consult with the Countryside Commission and, in the case of an area of special scientific interest, with the Nature Conservancy Council; and
    2. (ii) enter into such agreements under section 39 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (management agreements) or such convenants under subsection (7) below as the Secretary of State may determine;
  4. (d) provision requiring determinations under or for the purposes of the consent or authorisation to be made, in such cases as are mentioned in paragraph (c) above, either by the Countryside Commission or only after consultation with that Commission.

(6) A consent or authorisation shall not be given on any such condition as is mentioned in subsection (5)(a) above except where the Secretary of State or the Minister is satisfied that the condition will have effect in relation only to—

  1. (a) land which, or any interest or right in or over which, was acquired by—
    1. (i) The Authority;
    2. (ii) the water undertaker or sewerage undertaker in question; or

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

With this it will be convenient to take amendment (b) to the Lords amendment, in line 4, leave out 'any of the proceeds' and insert 'all of the proceeds'.

Lords amendments Nos. 41 to 43, 151 and 157.

Lords amendment No. 158, after clause 147, to insert the following new clause—restriction on disposals of land

  1. (iii) any predecessor of the Authority or undertaker, either compulsorily or at a time when the Authority, undertaker or predecessor was authorised to acquire it compulsorily; or
    1. (b) land situated in a National Park, in the Broads or in an area of outstanding natural beauty or special scientific interest.

(7) Where a company holding an appointment under Chapter 1 of Part II of this Act is proposing, in such a case as is mentioned in subsection (5)(c) above, to dispose of, or of any interest or right in or over, any of its protected land, it may enter into a covenant with the Secretary of State by virture of which it accepts obligations with respect to—

  1. (a) the freedom of access to the land that is to be afforded to members of the public or to persons of any description; or
  2. (b) the use of management of the land;
and a covenant under this subsection shall bind all persons deriving title from or under that company and shall be enforceable by the Secretary of State accordingly.

(8) Section 8 above shall have effect for the purposes of this section as if every proposal which—

  1. (a) is made by a company holding an appointment as a water undertaker or sewerage undertaker with respect to land in a National Park, in the Broads or in an area of outstanding natural beauty or special scientific interest or with respect to any interest or right in or over any such land; and
  2. (b) is a proposal for which the Secretary of State's consent or authorisation is required under this section,
were a proposal relating to the functions of that undertaker.

(9) In this section "compulsorily acquired land", in relation to the Authority, means any land of the Authority which—

  1. (a) was acquired by the Authority compulsorily under the provisions of section 147 above or of section 150 below;
  2. (b) was acquired by the Authority at a time when it was authorised under those provisions to acquire the land compulsorily;
  3. (c) being land which has been transferred to the Authority in accordance with a scheme under Schedule 2 to this Act, was acquired by a predecessor of the Authority compulsorily under so much of any enactment in force at any time before the transfer date as conferred powers of compulsorily acquisition; or
  4. (d) being land which has been so transferred, was acquired by such a predecessor at a time when it was authorised to acquire the land by virtue of any such powers as are mentioned in paragraph (c) above.)

(10) In this section— area of outstanding natural beauty or special scientific interest" means an area which—

  1. (a) is for the time being designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty for the purposes of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949; or
  2. (b) is an area in relation to which a notification given, or having effect as if given, under section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (areas of special scientific interest) for the time being has effect;
and the reference in subsection (5)(c) above to an area of special scientific interest shall, accordingly, be construed as a reference to an area such as is mentioned in paragraph (b) of this definition; and the Broads" has the same meaning as in the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act 1988.

Amendment (a) to the Lords amendment, in line 14, at end insert— (3A) Before granting any consent or authorisation under this section, the Secretary of State shall undertake public consultation, and for the purposes of such consultation shall—

  1. (a) invite representations from such individuals or organisations as appear to him to be concerned; and
  2. (b) publish a notice of the applications for consent or authorisation in the London Gazette and such local newspapers and other publications as appear to him to be relevant and no period for representations shall be specified which is less than 42 days.'.

Amendment (b) to the Lords amendment, in line 35, in subsection (5)(c), after 'Broads', insert in a designated area'.

Amendment (c) to the Lords amendment, at end of subsection (1). Add— '"designated area" means any area which is for the time being designated by an order made by the Secretary of State by statutory instrument as an area in relation to which this section should apply as if it were in a National Park, the Broads or an area of outstanding beauty.'.

Lords amendments Nos. 171 and 172.

Dr. Cunningham

I shall discuss amendments (a) and (b) to Lords amendment No. 14 and amendments (a), (b) and (c) to Lords amendment No. 158.

Lords amendment No. 14 places a duty on the director general to secure something for water consumers from the profits made from the sale of protected land. Amendments (a) and (b) offer the Government two choices: first. that 50 per cent. of the proceeds should be given to the consumer, which would be in line with a statement made by the Minister for Water and Planning and Ministers in another place but which was not written into the legislation; and, secondly, that 100 per cent. of the proceeds from the sale of such land should be given to the consumer.

Lords amendment No. 158 is a new clause relating to land disposals and introduces new procedures tor land sales in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, sites of special scientific interest and the Norfolk broads. Amendments (a), (b) and (c) introduce an important measure of consultation into the land proposals and reinstate a provision for the Secretary of State to designate other areas as though the categories apply.

It never fails to astonish people here and abroad when they learn that a British Government are offering tracts of our national parks for sale. The idea behind the creation of national parks was to establish areas that should be given the utmost protection in law by the Government. Until the Government introduced the Bill, that was the generally agreed procedure, whatever party was in office.

Mr. Boswell

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Cunningham

In a moment.

Huge areas of our national parks, areas of oustanding natural beauty and other sensitive ecosystems are now up for sale. I readily accept that currently they are not all publicly owned and controlled, but they are strenuously and, in some cases, rigorously controlled. The Bill clears the way for not only the sale of such land but its potential exploitation, about which there is legitimate and widespread concern.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)

That is wrong.

Dr. Cunningham

The Secretary of State says, "That is wrong." If he has read today's newspapers he will be aware that the director general of the National Trust agrees not with him but with us. In a letter that appeared in today's newspapers he said: The Government's retreat from its own measure means that a significant proportion of outstanding fine countryside could be under threat if, as seems likely, the new water companies decide to sell. That is exactly the point that Labour Members are making, and the director general of the National Trust shares our view.

Mr. Howard

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that, far from sharing his view, the director general of the National Trust is seeking an extension to further areas of the protection that the Bill provides for areas of outstanding natural beauty, national parks and sites of special scientific interest? The hon. Gentleman has just suggested that those areas would be up for grabs as a result of the legislation. He does not even understand the letter written by the director general of the National Trust.

Dr. Cunningham

Of course, I understand. I also understand the Council for the Protection of Rural England which has said: Third Reading in the House of Lords saw the Government reneging on previous commitments in a quite remarkable way. Amendments introduced by the Government only two weeks previously at Report Stage were turned on their heads as the Government apparently had second thoughts. These actions cause CPRE to seriously question the Government's commitment to protecting the environmental quality of the water industry's land assets. It is no good the Minister saying that the Labour party does not understand. We have understood from the outset. On Second Reading and during a long Committee stage that same Minister told us that no changes to the Bill were necessary. In Committee he told us that all the amendments were irrelevant. He said that the Bill was perfect as it stood and that there was no question of weakness in respect of safeguarding our national heritage and environment, but then in the House of Lords his right hon. and noble Friends changed their minds. The Government then moved amendments, but subsequently went back on some of those very amendments.

Mr. Howard

The hon. Gentleman is wrong again. Clearly he has a dim recollection of what transpired in Committee, but I invite him to recall that I always said that we would listen to the arguments advanced on this matter and that we would introduce further protections if they were required. Given that the hon. Gentleman has been wrong in the past five minutes, will he now answer the question that I put to him a moment ago on the proper understanding of the letter in today's papers from the director general of the National Trust?

Dr. Cunningham

I understand that letter and I also understand what the CPRE has said. It is not good enough for Ministers always to come to the House, as they did on Second Reading and in Committee, and say that the Opposition always fail to understand. Every time Government legislation is criticised, apparently that criticism is never valid and is never borne out by the evidence. The answer always given is that the Opposition do not understand. The Minister's problem is that we understand only too well. So do the British people; that is his difficulty.

My memory is at least as good as the Minister's and better than that of the hon. Member for Delyn (Mr. Raffan) who was ranting earlier and could not even remember the date of the previous general election. We understood the proceedings in Committee and—

Mr. Howard

Answer the question.

Dr. Cunningham

I have answered the question. If the Minister goes back and reads the record, he will see that all the arguments that he dismissed in Committee were suddenly conceded in the House of Lords.

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman must be made to come to the point instead of flapping and wriggling. Earlier he said that large parts of the national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty would be up for sale to anyone who wished to exploit them. That is not what the director general of the National Trust said. He commended the system of protection in the national parks and he said that he wanted it to be extended to areas other than the specified areas. The hon. Gentleman should withdraw his allegation that large parts of the national parks will be up for grabs. That is not true and he knows it. For once he should make an honest man of himself and withdraw that remark.

Dr. Cunningham

I am well aware, and I think the Secretary of State is, too, that the regional water authorities of England and Wales own about 500,000 acres of land.

Mr. Ridley


Dr. Cunningham

It is not flannel to state a fact. I did not think that anyone would dispute that the regional water authorities own about 500,000 acres of land, much of it in the national parks, in areas of outstanding natural beauty—in sites of special scientific interest and in fragile ecosystems. That is not a Labour party view; it is fact. As a result of the proposals, that land is for sale. Its future well-being is also outwith the direct control of those proposals as that consideration will not be part of the so-called "core activities". That was the argument on Second Reading eight months ago. The Secretary of State cannot run away from the facts. That is why we have argued about those issues since the Bill was published.

Mr. Ridley

indicated dissent.

Dr. Cunningham

No matter how hard the Secretary of State shakes his head that is why almost all environmental groups, including anglers, ramblers, the Open Space Society and the National Trust, have persistently bombarded Parliament and his Department for much tighter controls and safeguards. No matter what he says, the Secretary of State cannot get away from that.

We believe that the Government's amendments are something of a victory for the energetic way in which the issues have been pursued, notably by the Ramblers Association and the CPRE. I read in one newspaper article that the Government's advisers had said that the Bill as it originally stood was not good enough. The Countryside Commission and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds were also at the forefront in pressing for more safeguards. I also suggest that my hon. Friends and our colleagues in the other place deserve a little of the credit for the changes that are being made, although I know that the Secretary of State would not concede that for a moment.

On Second Reading we raised the issue of the land held by the water authorities and we have continued to do so because, from day one, we have said that the land—our national heritage—was in danger and represented a deliberate sweetener in the Bill. We warned that taxpayers were in danger of being ripped off.

During the Bill's proceedings the Government have huffed and puffed and they have insisted that the environment, recreation and conservation duties in the Bill apply to the land even when transferred to a subsidiary. The Ramblers Association has obtained two legal opinions to show that the Minister has simply got it wrong. One legal opinion stated: I can find nothing in the Bill that so provides. The duty does not attach to the land and does not automatically pass with the transfer of the land. We believe that the Government amendments—incidentally, they were not even introduced until the penultimate stage of the Bill's proceedings in the other place—are a limited and belated recognition of the dangers. In that sense, they are welcome. We are also aware, however, that some people in the City believe that restricting the opportunities for potential development will obviously make the assets less attractive as a purchase. Those views were highlighted again in the Harris poll in The Observer which found that more than 80 per cent. of fund managers were concerned that any legislation that curbed the water authorities' ability to make profits from their sizeable land and property portfolios would reduce the investment attractions.

Ministers are in a dilemma. They are trying to grab some vestige of public confidence by seeming to protect the land and the taxpayer, given that the scandal of the Royal Ordnance sale is still fresh in people's minds, while saying to the City and those who see land as the only possible money-spinner, "It is all right. We will not make it too difficult for land assets to be stripped and sold for profit".

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

My hon. Friend may be interested in the answer given to me today by the Minister to a written question which says that all nine water authorities in England have property or estate managers whose responsibilities include the disposal of surplus land. The function of those officers who are studying land disposal to make the profits to which my hon. Friend referred has concerned the Ramblers Association and others.

6.30 pm
Dr. Cunningham

My hon. Friend is right. Had the Government wanted to give safeguards and tough protection, they would have had far more rigorous proposals in the Bill from the outset. We now have a fudge. We had a ministerial statement to tell the public that the Government recognise that much land might be sold, but that if it was consumers would have perhaps 50 per cent. of the proceeds of the sale. However, there is no guarantee of that in the Bill and that is why we have tabled amendments (a) and (b).

There is no guarantee either that the House or the public will know the value of that land. We have fresh in our minds the experience of the sale of Royal Ordnance, which was heavily criticised some months ago by the Public Accounts Committee and more recently by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), who is not in his place at present, said of that experience: Whether a going concern or not, surely the vendor of any business must pay full regard to the potential for appreciation in the value of the land as a result of the granting of planning permission? The taxpayer lost millions of pounds as a result of the Royal Ordnance sale. Taxpayers are in danger of losing hundreds of millions of pounds from this sale, which is a potential scandal. As far as we know, there will be no public statement of the assessment of the value of all this land to the taxpayer, even though we know that the Government have just instructed their advisers, Schroder Wagg, to produce such a land valuation report. Why is that report not before the House? Why cannot the public and Parliament be told the exact value of our assets before they are disposed of? That is a germane question.

The proposals of the Secretary of State would carry a little more force if he were more open and honest about what is at stake. Everyone understands that the 500,000 acres to which we refer were bought, established, maintained and nurtured over decades at public expense and are a huge public asset. People would rightly argue that in many cases they are a priceless public asset. The House and the public are entitled to know exactly what the land is worth. If it is to be sold and if we are to try to safeguard the interests of the taxpayer and the consumer, the legislation should refer specifically to the benefit.

As everyone knows, I and my hon. Friends do not want the land to be sold at all. But if it is to be sold, should not the public have a guarantee about the benefit? As the Bill stands, they have no guarantee. Perhaps the Minister will tell us why it cannot be written into the Bill that a minimum of 50 per cent.—or, better still, 100 per cent. —of the proceeds will go to consumers. After all, it is our land. Why should we not have the proceeds from its sale?

The Government's concession on the land deal has been to introduce a new consent mechanism for land disposal, whereby the Secretary of State has powers to introduce various conditions on land sales including, for some areas, an option for conservation organisations to purchase and for the imposition of management agreements. That is fine as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. In some respects, it obscures rather than illuminates the position and there are some serious defects, to which other people have referred, too.

The powers given to the Secretary of State are powers, not a duty to exercise those powers. He will have no statutory obligation to exercise them. He only has to make conditions on disposals that he "considers appropriate." The Ramblers Association believes that that is court-proof, legally sanitised wording. As the Bill stands, Ministers do not even have to announce that the land is up for sale in the first place. The transactions could go ahead without anyone knowing what is happening. If that were to be challenged, the Secretary of State would fall back on the Act and say that he had made conditions that he considered appropriate. Parliament would not be involved and there would be no proper discussion on the merits or otherwise of what was happening. Everything would be done quietly behind closed doors.

Mr. Boswell

Surely it is at that point that the obligations the Minister assumes under his general duty to protect the environment, among other considerations, would come into play. He could be tested in the exercise of the power of withholding consent to disposal.

Dr. Cunningham

I do not agree with that interpretation. If the hon. Gentleman studies the Bill again, perhaps he will agree with me.

There is no provision for public consultation on or notification of land disposal proceedings at any stage. That is an extraordinary omission and raises the possibilities of everything being done secretly. Our amendments provide for full consultation. If the Government want to be taken seriously on the issue, they should accept the amendments before it is too late.

The Secretary of State will also have discretion to designate areas as sites of special scientific interest or areas of outstanding natural beauty, such as the Broads. However, once again, it is at the discretion of the Secretary of State. Organisations such as the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Countryside Commission consider the power to designate essential for the 200,000 acres of land that will not be covered by the new clause. The Government have tried to make much of the last-minute addition of SSSIs to the clause, which replaces the power to designate, but we and the conservation bodies consider it inadequate. It is an attempt, apparently, to deal with the problem while removing a potentially vital additional power. It is a sleight of hand and our view is widely shared outside the House.

Our discussions on the land issue are affected by a further major reservation. Under any other Secretary of State, and certainly under a Labour Secretary of State, the powers could and almost certainly would be exercised to give far tougher and more meaningful protection to land. I say that now so that no one can be in any doubt about our intentions. However, under the present Secretary of State, who has a laissez-faire attitude not only to these issues but to planning generally, the Government's amendments are simply an attempt to pay lip service to the notion of needing to give more rigorous protection to our land. They introduce, over and above the current flawed planning system, a mechanism for the Secretary of State, if he wishes, to slip through land sales to anyone he wishes, in any circumstances he wishes, without the necessity of public notification, public consultation or a public right of appeal. That is wholly unsatisfactory and that is why we have tabled our amendments.

Mr. Jeremy Hanley (Richmond and Barnes)

I wish to speak to several amendments, but to refer specifically to the fate of Barn Elms reservoir, which is currently under the control of Thames Water.

Barnes itself is only seven miles from Westminster and still possesses a village atmosphere in an ever-more frenetic world. Although it is blighted by incessant aircraft noise, few residents know of a more pleasant urban environment. We fiercely hold on to our metropolitan open land and, despite high-density housing, relief is at hand in the natural environment, with the river Thames on two sides, Barnes common to the south and Barn Elms reservoir to the east.

Barn Elms comprises nearly 70 acres of reservoir, split into four almost equal quarters. There are approximately 80 acres of surrounding land, including filter beds, allotments and recreational open land. One major problem of the site, and the source of its main threat, is that its status as a site of special scientific interest, granted by the Nature Conservancy Council in June 1985, has recently been lifted. Although there is some argument about whether SSSI status has legally been removed when that status is lifted, it is obvious that removing the cast-iron SSSI status poses an additional threat to that part of London. Because of its proximity to the centre of London, the potential value of the land to a developer is exceptionally high. It must be a gleam in the eye of some official at Thames Water.

I ask my hon. and learned Friend the Minister to consider what Barnes might be like if a large housing estate were built on the site at Barn Elms. The only exit from Barnes to the north is Hammersmith bridge, which has a severely restricted weight limit. Two new crossings over the Thames would be needed to deal with what would be a doubling of the size of the population of Barnes. At the moment one has to wait upwards of half an hour to cross Hammersmith bridge in the morning. If the population of Barnes were doubled, the environmental considerations would be absolutely grotesque—

Mr. Mullin

I have considerable sympathy with the case outlined by the hon. Gentleman, but I invite him to raise his horizons slightly and to recognise that we are talking not only about Barn Elms reservoir—important though that may be to his constituents—but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) has said, about 500,000 acres of some of our prime land.

Mr. Hanley

I readily accept that. However, it is up to each hon. Member to address those general problems in any way that he or she chooses. This matter is of urgent consideration to the people of Barnes and is symptomatic of the general position. Therefore, in choosing this particular area of difficulty caused by the legislation, I am addressing the more general points—

Mr. Mullin


Mr. Hanley

No, I shall not give way again because this is only a short debate.

Mr. Mullin


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)


Mr. Hanley

I do not want to give way because this is a short debate—

Mr. Mullin

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way again. I suspect that this is an example of the phenomenon. known as "not in my back yard". It is distasteful to those of us who oppose the Bill root and branch to see special pleading from hon. Members who represent constituencies that are a good deal more leafy than those that many Opposition Members represent.

Mr. Hanley

In a strange way I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's intervention. I can now point out to my constituents that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) believes that hon. Members should not fight fiercely for the interests of their constituents. The hon. Gentleman is saying that I should not care about my own back yard. That is disgraceful—

Mr. Mullin

No, I am not saying that.

Mr. Hanky

I hope that Labour party supporters in my constituency will regret the hon. Gentleman's words.

Mr. Mullin

I have said that I was not saying that.

6.45 pm
Mr. Hanley

In a debate on Barn Elms reservoir on 29 July 1988, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley), stated, on her very first day as a Minister: I assure him"— that is, me— that that is a very premature fear at this stage, although it is entirely understandable and right that people living in or near areas of wildlife interest wish those areas to be properly protected and looked after. That is especially true in urban areas, where opportunities to see and enjoy wildlife are greatly valued … If the water authority decides that Barn Elms reservoir is no longer required for operational purposes, it could still be managed positively for wildlife benefit by the local authority or a conservation group. The NCC is well able to assist with such arrangements as a result of its expertise and professionalism.… Whatever the future ownership of the site, any proposals for a change in its current use would have to be considered in accordance with the guidance given in circular 27/87 entitled `Nature Conservation'. That reinforces the advice given to local authorities that they should take full account of the needs of nature conservation not only in determining individual planning applications but in formulating general planning policies. An awareness of conservation should be built into the whole range of their activities affecting the use of land. I hope that I have been able to reassure my hon. Friend that, even if the site should eventually be de-notified as an SSSI, there are a number of other ways of protecting its wildlife interest".—[Official Report, 29 July 1988; Vol. 138, c. 860–63.] That view was reinforced by my hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Water and Planning who, in a letter to me dated 8 June 1989, stated that the amendments that we are discussing will ensure that the conservation and recreation duties will apply to the management of all land owned by water companies even if they no longer need it for their statutory functions. If such land is disposed of in areas of environmental importance the Secretary of State will have wide powers under the Bill to impose, as a condition of sale, any measures necessary to ensure continued protection of special conservation and amenity features of the land. These will include an obligation that the land be first offered to a conservation body, or that it is indefinitely protected by covenants or management agreements with National Parks authorities or local authorities. These provisions have been warmly welcomed by the Council for the Protection of Rural England. Towards the end of the letter he stated: It is worth stressing that local authorities which prepare up to date local plans in line with regional guidance can decide where development shall and shall not take place. We have made it clear that we will be guided by them on appeal if developers ignore such plans. That last sentence is crucial because it shows that, contrary to some of the rumours circulating in my area, it is up to the local authorities to decide whether metropolitan open land is used for building. I am asking my hon. Friend to give an assurance to my constituents that if the local authority decides that the metropolitan open land should remain as such, the Department of the Environment will not try to maximise any benefit for the consumers of Thames Water and decide to overturn the local authority's decision. In the various guidelines that it has issued, the Department has said that it wants to protect metropolitan open land even more stringently than that land has been protected in the past. The draft guidance further protects such property.

There are two major reasons why the rumours of the dangers to this site have been given credence. The first is that Thames Water has apparently said to Richmond upon Thames council that its plans for the disposal of Thames Water, by giving it to the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge, have had to be abandoned because of these amendments. The money allocated by the Metropolitan water board for the establishment of a wildfowl trust in the area can no longer be used for that purpose; it must now be used for the benefit of the consumer. In other words, Thames Water was providing cash to set up a wildfowl trust but now believes that it cannot do so because the money must be given to Thames Water consumers. That is a wrong interpretation of the current position and I call on my hon. Friend to give an assurance on that point.

The other main reason why the rumour has been circulating is as follows. The Minister for Water and Planning said in his letter: The Government has also asked Debenham Tewson and Chinnocks to conduct a thorough valuation of water authority land. Sites which are surplus to requirement or likely to become so within the next 5 years have been identified. Few of these have planning permission for alternative use which could, if secured, significantly increase their present open market value. This exercise will ensure that the valuation of the companies contained in individual prospectuses includes a reasonable amount for land holdings. A valuation of Barn Elms has produced a high hope value, as it is known. That must imply a strong possibility that the land will be used for housing, and that high hope value will affect the value of Thames Water in the prospectus. If my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State says that there is a great likelihood that metropolitan open land will remain as metropolitan open land and will not be used for high-density housing, the high hope value for Barn Elms is inaccurate and the value to be given to Thames Water in the prospectus will therefore be exaggerated.

I seek an assurance that the Government will carefully consider the amenity value of the area and the unique nature of the wildlife, which includes more than 40 different types of bird, in an area that would otherwise be entirely built-up urban environment. I ask the Government to continue to ensure that such areas are valued and protected, for the benefit of our constituents and local residents and the population of London in general.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the House that we have a lot of ground to cover in a very short time.

Mr. Richard Livsey (Brecon and Radnor)

I support the amendments. Amendments (a) and (b) would ensure that half the proceeds and 100 per cent. of the proceeds of land sales, respectively, would go to the consumer. There is no doubt that that is right, although it is regrettable that it has been necessary to table such amendments. We are witnessing the land sale of the century. Unfortunately, in the other place, the Government reneged on their previous commitments by removing the discretionary powers of the Secretary of State and thus made a mockery of their previous promises.

I am especially concerned about what will happen in Wales. My constituency contains two thirds of the land holdings of Welsh Water—21,000 acres in the Brecon Beacons national park and 45,000 acres in the Elan valley. Both locally and nationally it is feared that that land will be sold off. The Council for the Protection of Rural England has said that at least 15 per cent. of the Elan valley—7,000 acres—is in danger as a result of the exclusion of a number of exceptional landscape areas from possible protection. Those areas need to be protected, but it is feared that they will be exploited and farmers in the Elan valley already see signs to suggest that their rents will escalate.

The land should be properly valued. Amendments were tabled in Committee to involve district valuers in the valuation of the land and to prevent the involvement of too many commercial interests. We can only hope for a fair valuation and that we shall all know what the valuation is and when and where land is to be sold. The process should not take place behind closed doors.

I draw the attention of the House to the fact that on 23 March 12 merchant bankers were helicoptered around Wales to look at the real estate for sale. Obviously, they did not know where the land was, so they decided to take a look at it. I think that some of them want to get their hands on it, although according to a report about the attractions of the sale for the City, which appeared in The Observer yesterday, some of them are not so keen as they were before. I believe that there is skulduggery afoot.

An interesting advertisement appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 1 June. A managing director of Welsh Water Enterprises was sought, at an annual salary of £40,000 plus bonus, car and benefit, the location to be Cardiff or Brecon. The advertisement said: Welsh Water is looking for a Managing Director for Welsh Water Enterprises, intended to be one of four subsidiary companies of the proposed new group. We do not know what the four subsidiary companies will do, but I bet my bottom dollar that some of them will be involved in the sale and exploitation of land. That is what this part of the Bill is all about, and that is why I support the amendments.

Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

I wish to refer to land sales and the way in which they will be conducted. I share other hon. Members' concern that, although the Lords amendment would extend the arrangements for the protection of land and in that sense is welcome, the protection needs to be taken very much further. In particular, we should deal with extensions of notification of sites of special scientific interest and the potential damage that might be done to them. We should also incorporate the code of environmental practice in the water undertakers' licence. Those important issues were not dealt with adequately in the other place. They are not especially controversial, and I hope that the Minister will deal with them when he winds up the debate.

Amendment (b) would require the transfer of 100 per cent. of the assets from land sales to the water companies for reinvestment in infrastructure. That is both sound and sensible. If the Government are convinced of the need for more money to be raised to provide for investment in infrastructure, they should accept our amendment. If they do not, they will be acknowledging the fact that they are handing over the proceeds of land sales to private speculators. If that happens, the benefits of the sales will not go to consumers or—more important—to improve the infrastructure to the necessary standard.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Colin Moynihan)

I shall deal first with Lords amendments Nos. 14, 41, 43, 157, 158, 171 and 172, and then with the Opposition amendments. I shall be brief because I know that hon. Members on both sides wish to speak in this short debate. The Lords amendments achieve two purposes—to ensure that the special environment quality of much of the land in water authority ownership can be indefinitely protected, and to ensure that the customers of the appointed water and sewerage undertakers share the benefit of any disposals of surplus land.

It is a distinctive feature of this privatisation that the water authorities have very extensive landholdings—more than 430,000 acres—the majority of which lie in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and sites of special scientific interest. The amendments meet various concerns about the future of this land. The Government listened carefully to all that was said, in this House and in another place, and by conservation and other bodies outside this House. That is reflected in the amendments which now come for the approval of the House, and which we believe provide a full answer to the concerns that have been expressed.

Amendment No. 14 would impose an additional duty on the Secretary of State and the Director General of Water Services to ensure that the interests of customers are protected in the application of proceeds from disposals of protected land. Protected land is defined in amendment No. 172. Amendments Nos. 41, 42 and 43 make it possible to entrench certain conditions of appointment relating to disposals of land.

The new clause is the centrepiece of this group of proposals. Water and sewerage companies will be able to dispose of their protected land and interests in that land only with the consent of the Secretary of State, or in accordance with a general authorisation given by him. There is a consent requirement for the National Rivers Authority as well. but that applies only to compulsorily acquired land.

The consent mechanism serves three important purposes. First, it will enable the Secretary of State to require that the Crichel Down rules are observed when there are disposals of land which was compulsory acquired. The rules are designed to protect the interests of the former owners of land. They require that when any land which was acquired by compulsory purchase is to be sold, it should be offered first to the person from whom it was acquired. Disposals to former owners under these arrangements will be at a price reflecting current market value, as determined by the district valuer.

The second purpose of the consent provisions relates to the new duty concerning the proceeds from land disposals in amendment No. 14. The intention is to enable customers to benefit from the net receipts from future disposals or land, while preserving incentives for land to be released or developed. It is essential that the arrangements ensure that customers are not prejudiced by two-stage disposals via sister companies, with the sister company realising all of the development gains. This is where the consent mechanism in amendment No. 158 plays a part.

7 pm

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State intends to give the Director General of Water Services a role in disposals through a consent procedure which will be constructed to allow as much self-policing as possible. There will in effect be three categories of disposal. In the first, directors of appointed companies will be able to provide the director with a certificate that the disposal is an arm's length disposal, with no continuing interest in the land by the appointed company or any related company, and that the best price reasonably obtainable has been obtained.

Where such a certificate cannot be provided, but the disposal is below a certain threshold fixed in relation to the value or area of the land concerned, the company will need a certificate from an independent valuer approved by the director general that the best price has been obtained. The independent valuers will report in particular on any prospect that the value of the land may be enhanced by a future planning permission.

In the third category involving disposals above the threshold which are not arm's length disposals, a specific consent will be needed. As a last resort, the director would be able to block inappropriate disposals at less than the best consideration reasonably obtainable, especially where sister companies are involved.

The consent requirements are designed to make sure that the best price is realised by the appointed company. There will be conditions of appointment determining how that value is to be taken into account in price control, so that customers share the benefit of proceeds. The intention is to set a target allowance for disposals when the RPI plus K price control formula is first set. This will be discussed with each authority and company, but it is proposed that it should reflect 100 per cent. of the open market value of identified surplus sites. Where actual receipts vary from the forecast amount a further adjustment of K will be made reflecting 50 per cent. of the excess or shortfall.

Companies will therefore have an incentive to dispose of their surplus land, and to the extent that they can improve on the value of land by obtaining planning permission or selling with clawback conditions that operate in the event of a future planning permission, the improvements of value will be shared 50–50 between customer and shareholder.

Mr. Wigley

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Moynihan

If I do not answer the point that the hon. Gentleman wishes to make, I will give way in a minute.

The third purpose of the consent mechanism is to enable the Secretary of State to impose special requirements when there are disposals of land of particular environmental quality. The essential elements are as follows Within the national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, the broads, and sites of special scientific interest, special environmental controls will apply to any disposal of land. For any such disposal the Secretary of State's consent will be required, and in deciding whether to give that consent he is to be bound by the clause 8 duties, to further conservation, and to have regard to access.

Within those areas, there is to be a range of special conditions which the Secretary of State can impose on any disposal. He can require that the land be offered m the first instance to a conservation body approved for this purpose by the Countryside Commission—a proposal originally put forward by the National Trust and other conservation bodies. He can also require, as a condition of any disposal, that management agreements can be entered with the relevant park authority or local authority, to the satisfaction of the commission. Finally, he can require covenants for the protection of particular features of the land.

The consent procedures will give the Secretary of State a means of ensuring that the special environmental quality of water authority land can be protected indefinitely. That is in addition to the powerful framework of environmental duties already provided for in clauses 8 to 10.

Mr. Wigley

What concerns me and what may concern other hon. Members who listened carefully to the Minister a few moments ago is that the Minister described the structure as one which can encourage holders of land to dispose of land. Surely the whole thrust of what we were looking for in Committee and in the House of Lords was to avoid any encouragement towards disposal, no matter what conditions apply, and to impose conditions only when disposal is for some reason inevitable. Are the Government now claiming that disposal is a mechanism whereby funds may be raised to make up for the shortfall which might otherwise occur?

Mr. Moynihan

I totally reject that analysis. I f the hon. Gentleman looked at the small print, he would realise that, no matter who owns national parks land now or the water authorities if they wanted to dispose of land in the national parks, there have never been such rigorous controls as those that will be applied now as a result of this measure. There have never been such rigorous controls on the sale of any land in national parks, let alone on private land which may be held after privatisation. Those rigorous controls are welcomed, as the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) stated, as a victory for conservation and recreation. They are a victory because they go further in the protection and enhancement of land for conservation and recreation than anything ever produced before.

Mr. Christopher Hawkins (High Peak)

It is crucial that we get this point clear because, as the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) said, some bodies concerned with the environment and access to the countryside are confused about this part of the Bill. It has changed so often that I am not surprised that they are confused. I am confused as well.

Is the Minister saying that voluntary access agreements which exist only in the Peak District national park in my constituency will definitely be protected on the sale of land even to a company other than that which buys from the water board even on transfer of that land to a subsidiary? Or does the Secretary of State have discretionary powers to protect that access? I should like to know that those access agreements will definitely be protected. If they are to be protected, I do not need to speak again on this amendment and I welcome the changes wholeheartedly.

Mr. Moynihan

For the first time with regard to the sale of any land in national parks, the Secretary of State will have the power to protect access to that land—

Mr. Hawkins

Discretionary power?

Mr. Moynihan

It is important that the Secretary of State ensures that any change in the use of that land is taken into account and that he considers the options that I have outlined to the House today when he exercises his powers. In clause 8, the Secretary of State has a duty to enhance and protect conservation and recreation. There is an important backcloth to that discretionary power, which goes further than any measure with regard to private land sales inside or outside national parks. The Government have also recognised the importance of bringing SSSIs into the category. That will include a large amount of land. The House should welcome that and it should be celebrated as a victory by hon. Members on both sides.

Mr. Hawkins

There are 70 square miles of voluntary access agreements in the Peak District national park. My constituents and I want to know whether that land will be protected by the Bill. I cannot see why we cannot have it on the face of the Bill that the voluntary access agreements will be protected. Some of those agreements run out very soon, in 1991. It is not enough to say that the Secretary of State has discretion to protect them. I do not like discretionary powers of that kind. I want to know that those agreements are definitely protected.

Mr. Moynihan

I give my hon. Friend a clear assurance that those rights of access are protected by the Bill. I have also outlined to the House the precise position that would occur on the sale of any of that land in future. It is very important for me to repeat what I said at the Dispatch Box a few months ago and to reinforce this point. Voluntary rights of access and the right to roam are continued and are protected by the Bill. The safeguards that I discussed when arguing in support of the major environmental safeguards which have been proposed and debated in the House of Lords and which we are considering today—they have been welcomed by the Opposition as a victory for conservation and recreation—apply also to the sale of land.

Dr. Cunningham

Before the Minister slips into the error of saying that the Opposition welcome what has happened in the House of Lords, I remind him that I said that it was a victory in so far as it went, but that the amendments did not go far enough. What would be the circumstances if the Secretary of State—whoever that may be—elects not to use his discretionary powers in those matters? They are, after all, discretionary powers.

Mr. Moynihan

As I have outlined, if the Secretary of State is at odds with the clause 8 duties to which he is subject, he would be clearly out of order in respect of the duties—they are not discretionary—which are outlined in the Bill and are potentially subject to judicial review. That is not a discretion to ignore clause 8 duties. That is right at the heart of the debate and empowers the enhancement of conservation and recreation and the protection of conservation and recreation duties under clause 8.

I have outlined the safeguards for the sales that are being proposed. The hon. Member for Copeland conveniently and completely ignored the clause 8 duties, which are rigorous and were the subject of comprehensive debate. They are absolutely central to what we are debating as the backbone of protection for the land under consideration.

Mr. Churchill (Davyhulme)

Will my hon. Friend the Minister confirm that when land is offered for sale at the Secretary of State's direction an opportunity will first be given to a conservation group to buy it? Will he confirm also that it will be at the undeveloped site value?

Mr. Moynihan

It will be at market value. That is obviously important in ensuring that the sale of plc land is at market value. That is recognised to be in the interests of customers and of the company. It is important that there is protection on the 50–50 arrangements that we propose to make sure that customers gain if more than 50 per cent. of the actual value of the land is realised after privatisation. It does not become 100 per cent. It is protection to ensure that we never see the problems that we have sometimes seen in the past with potential windfall profits after privatisation. That cannot happen because of the protection in the Bill. Money will be adjudged, reported on and audited in prospectuses. It is nonsense to say that there will be no knowledge of the value of the land. Of course land must be valued, audited and put before potential investors when it comes to privatisation proceeds and the sale of the water plcs.

The hon. Member for Copeland made a point about the letter of the director general of the National Trust in the press today. According to the hon. Gentleman, as a result of our proposals large areas of what have been described as jewels in the crown will be bereft of protection. The Countryside Commission identified 15 such jewels. Because of the important measures that we have taken today in supporting the Lords amendments, 12 of them are fully covered, one is a proposed area of outstanding natural beauty and another is covered as to 80 per cent. of the total—and most of the remaining one is covered. It would therefore be more accurate to say that the vast majority of land in those jewels in the crown is covered, and that is because of the extension and inclusion of SSSIs.

Finally, it has been suggested that 7,000 acres of the Elan valley will not qualify for environmental safeguards. That is contrary to what the Government stated in the House of Lords and is not correct. Lord Hesketh stated that inclusion in SSSIs would bring in almost all of the Elan valley. It will bring in about 80 to 90 per cent. My noble Friend's statement was perfectly fair.

7.15 pm
Ms. Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North)

These amendments do not give full protection. The Minister may suggest that there is a victory, but the safeguards that are being offered are hollow. Opposition Members believe that our land—our national heritage—remains in danger. The Government must decide where their priorities lie. They should ask any of the 2,000 people who follow the activities of the National Trust each day in June what their priorities are. They should ask members of the Ramblers Association and of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds what price they put on that outstanding land—land that is our natural and national heritage. What is most important—the commitment to conservation and environmental inprovement which is shared by the overwhelming majority of the population, or the commitment to shareholders?

If there is to be a sell-off of any of the land that is presently owned by the water undertakers, why cannot the House know how much it is worth? If it is to be sold, why cannot the full proceeds be passed on to consumers? Those issues are important.

For Opposition Members—certainly those who were on the Committee—there is a sense of déjà vu about the debate. We are paying and will continue to pay the price of the Minister's error in Committee on the arrangements for the disposal of land. It was not clear in Committee and it is not clear now—it will not be clear after the Bill has gone through Parliament—exactly what will happen about access to the countryside and the disposal of land.

Despite what the Minister has told us, there still remains a gaping loophole in the Bill. At the heart of it is our access to the countryside. Currently, water authorities have recreational duties for the land. The weakness is that that land can be transferred and, on doing so, a subsidiary company can evade recreational duties. We pressed the Minister on that matter time and again in Committee. All that he could do was to give incorrect answers. The Minister and counsel said two different things about the disposal of land. We have the Ramblers Association and other organisations to thank for counsel's opinion. The Minister was wrong then; the loophole existed. The Lords amendment attempts to plug that loopnole. We criticise it because it gives the Secretary of State great power to which the Minister has referred, but that power is discretionary. There is no duty on the Secretary of State to exercise it.

Mr. Hawkins

The danger is that we will again confuse the public. The hon. Lady's speech was clearly written before the debate. The Minister has said that there is a duty on the Secretary of State in clause 8. I should be delighted if the hon. Lady would clarify that duty for my constituents. To assert that there is no duty is contrary to what the Minister said.

Ms. Walley

As usual, we are restrained by lack of time in this debate. The hon. Gentleman made a point about whether the power is discretionary and whether there is a duty. One depends upon the other. The Secretary of State, the Ramblers Association and other voluntary associations may have to consult further. Matters relating to the disposal of and access to land are not clear at this stage when Parliament is discussing it. I ask the Minister where that duty is.

Mr. Morley

Will my hon. Friend explore clause 8, because it is not enforceable in law and also contains the words "take notice of"? Will she explore, too, whether clause 8 will apply to the holding companies into which the water authorities will put the land?

Ms. Walley

As always, I thank my hon. Friend for bringing those points so well to the attention of the House. They are on record and will be continuously mentioned.

Sir Nicholas Bonsor (Upminster)

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms. Walley

No, because time is short.

Our amendment recognises that the Government were wrong. The Lords amendment is nowhere near good enough and does not put matters right, despite what the Minister has said. It is true that the Secretary of State will be given a vast power, but how is it intended that he should use it? What criteria should he be required to use when determining requests for land disposal? Our concern, too, is that no one will know when or whether the Secretary of State is using that power. Will the Minister tell us whether the Secretary of State is under any requirement to consult the public, the local authorities or the organisations which have done so much to make access to the countryside a key issue in the opposition to the sell-off of the water industry? Are we really going to see secret land deals? How shall we know what conditions the Secretary of State has imposed before land is sold off'? Will the Minister say why he has confused the issue by referring to protected and designated land, and why in his comments earlier he did not make the situation abundantly clear, as he was requested to do in the letter of the director general of the National Trust to The Independent?

What signposts are the Government following? They say that they are following the conservation signpost, hut, in effect, they are following the one marked "shareholders' profits". Is that not why there are no requirements for public consultation when it comes to the sell-off of land transferred to the subsidiary bodies? Is it not the case that that is precisely the place where the Government lost their way before? We have heard much about the general duties that exist to protect the SSSIs. How can we even believe what the Government say when the Minister responsible for water and planning in another place said no substantial damage has been done to SSSIs in the past three years? However, the plain facts are that, in the four years to 1988, 700 have been damaged and 200 substantially damaged.

The sell-off of the water industry is one more example of the Government's complete disregard for our national heritage. Will the Minister give us a commitment now to effective public participation over this issue of the disposal of our national heritage? If not, the millions of us who care about the threats facing our countryside and access to the land will have to wait until we have the opportunity to vote with our feet on this matter.

Mr. Pike

I must say to the hon. Members for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) and for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley) that I believe that the Minister has dodged very skilfully through the minefield that has been set by his hon. Friends, but he has not answered any of the questions put to him. His words will not give the type of guarantee that those hon. Gentlemen are seeking on the disposal of land, or the protection of access to land and the existing concessions. If those hon. Gentlemen want to ensure that such protection is safeguarded, they must vote with us for some of our amendments.

I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) will try to withdraw amendment (a), so that we can vote on amendment (b). It is important that amendment (b) is put to the vote because there will be no reason—

Mr. Moynihan

I should have liked to respond to all the points, and not only those made by my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley) to whom I shall reply in full, for example, in drawing out the critical point that it will be an irrelevant consideration to take account of financial benefits towards consumers when determining a planning appeal. There were many other points such as that to which I wanted to respond to my hon. Friend, but I shall do so in writing. I am sure that the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) will appreciate that the reason why I did not do so was to allow the hon. Gentleman and others to contribute to the debate.

Mr. Pike

I also appreciate that the Minister voted for the guillotine that the Government imposed, which prevented us from having sufficient time to debate the issues. If there had not been a guillotine, we would all have had time to make our points to which the Minister could have replied. Once again he is leading us astray.

I was making the point that clearly, if there was no financial incentive in selling land, there would be no reason for water authorities wanting to dispose of land. The Minister has said that there have been concessions, and we welcome the fact that the other place has moved in the right direction. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland made clear that those concessions do not go far enough in protecting the land and access to the land that the Opposition would wish to see.

Mr Livsey

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Minister's points have been specifically addressed to the national parks? He has said very little about the areas outside national parks, except perhaps those in the constituency of the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley). That gives us great cause for concern, because there are large tracts of land outside the national parks and SSSIs but about which he has given us little guarantee.

Mr Pike

The hon. Gentleman has made an important point. I accept that we are concerned about land both outside and inside national parks. As with the hon. Gentleman's constituency, the moorland around Burnley and in north-east Lancashire would not be protected by the type of concession that was made in the other place.

Mrs. Mahon

Twenty per cent. of the land in my area will be up for grabs. Far from it being the sale of the century, we are referring to it as the great land robbery.

Mr. Pike

My hon. Friend's constituency is, of course, on the other side of the Pennines from mine and has identical problems to those of Burnley.

We are concerned about how the phrase "surplus land" will be interpreted. I wanted to mention specifically amendment (a), which concerns consultation. If we wrote into the Bill that consultation would be required, that would be a major step forward. The Opposition believe that local authorities and bodies such as the Ramblers Association and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who have given admirable advice to both sides of the House, should be consulted. It must be remembered that those organisations have fought for many of the things that have been achieved.

Much of the access to the lands owned by the water authorities was not conceded readily but has had to be fought for over many years by such organisations as the Ramblers Association. Such organisations fear that, if the Bill goes through in its present form, even with the concessions made in the other House—despite what the Minister has said—those things will be in jeopardy. The Minister knows that he cannot assure us that none of our land will be disposed of and that existing accesses will be maintained. He knows that wherever possible the value of the land will be realised, because that is the way that privatisation will proceed. The Minister knows that the only reason for that being put into the Bill now is that moving the industry from the public to the private sector has introduced a new factor—making a profit. It is only when one needs to make a profit that one starts to look at the sale of land. I hope that the amendment is carried.

Dr. Cunningham

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed: (b), in line 4, leave out 'any of the proceeds' and insert 'all of the proceeds'.—[Dr. Cunningham.]

Question put, That the amendment to the Lords amendment be made:

The House divided: Ayes 193, Noes 302.

Division No. 273] [7.29 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Caborn, Richard
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Callaghan, Jim
Allen, Graham Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Anderson, Donald Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Canavan, Dennis
Armstrong, Hilary Cartwright, John
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Ashton, Joe Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Clay, Bob
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Clelland, David
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Battle, John Cohen, Harry
Beckett, Margaret Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Beith, A. J. Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Cousins, Jim
Bermingham, Gerald Cox, Tom
Bidwell, Sydney Crowther, Stan
Blunkett, David Cryer, Bob
Boateng, Paul Cunningham, Dr John
Boyes, Roland Dalyell, Tam
Bradley, Keith Darling, Alistair
Bray, Dr Jeremy Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Dewar, Donald
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Dixon, Don
Buckley, George J. Dobson, Frank
Doran, Frank Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Dunnachie, Jimmy Moonie, Dr Lewis
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Morgan, Rhodri
Evans, John (St Helens N) Morley, Elliott
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Fisher, Mark Mowlam, Marjorie
Flannery, Martin Mullin, Chris
Flynn, Paul Murphy, Paul
Foster, Derek Nellist, Dave
Foulkes, George Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Fraser, John O'Brien, William
Fyfe, Maria O'Neill, Martin
Galloway, George Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Pendry, Tom
Godman, Dr Norman A. Pike, Peter L.
Golding, Mrs Llin Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Gordon, Mildred Prescott, John
Gould, Bryan Quin, Ms Joyce
Graham, Thomas Radice, Giles
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Randall, Stuart
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Reid, Dr John
Grocott, Bruce Richardson, Jo
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Heffer, Eric S. Robertson, George
Henderson, Doug Rogers, Allan
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Rooker, Jeff
Hood, Jimmy Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Rowlands, Ted
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Ruddock, Joan
Howells, Geraint Sedgemore, Brian
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Sheerman, Barry
Hoyle, Doug Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Ingram, Adam Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Janner, Greville Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Snape, Peter
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Soley, Clive
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Spearing, Nigel
Kennedy, Charles Steel, Rt Hon David
Kirkwood, Archy Steinberg, Gerry
Leadbitter, Ted Stott, Roger
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Strang, Gavin
Livingstone, Ken Straw, Jack
Livsey, Richard Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Lloyd, Tony (Strettord) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Turner, Dennis
McAllion, John Vaz, Keith
McAvoy, Thomas Wall, Pat
McCartney, Ian Wallace, James
McFall, John Walley, Joan
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Warden, Gareth (Gower)
McKelvey, William Wareing, Robert N.
McLeish, Henry Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
McWilliam, John Wigley, Dafydd
Madden, Max Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Mahon, Mrs Alice Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Marek, Dr John Wilson, Brian
Marshall, David (Shettieston) Winnick, David
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Worthington, Tony
Martlew, Eric Wray, Jimmy
Maxton, John Young, David (Bolton SE)
Meacher, Michael
Meale, Alan Tellers for the Ayes:
Michael, Alun Mr. Frank Haynes and
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Mr. Ken Eastham
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Adley, Robert Amos, Alan
Aitken, Jonathan Arbuthnot, James
Alexander, Richard Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Ashby, David
Amess, David Aspinwall, Jack
Atkins, Robert Fry, Peter
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Gardiner, George
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Gill, Christopher
Baldry, Tony Glyn, Dr Alan
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Batiste, Spencer Goodlad, Alastair
Bellingham, Henry Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bendall, Vivian Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Gorst, John
Bevan, David Gilroy Gow, Ian
Blackburn, Dr John G. Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Body, Sir Richard Gregory, Conal
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Grist, Ian
Boswell, Tim Ground, Patrick
Bottomley, Peter Grylls, Michael
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Hague, William
Bowis, John Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Hanley, Jeremy
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Hannam, John
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Brazier, Julian Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Bright, Graham Haselhurst, Alan
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hawkins, Christopher
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hayes, Jerry
Browne, John (Winchester) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hayward, Robert
Buck, Sir Antony Heathcoat-Amory, David
Budgen, Nicholas Heddle, John
Burns, Simon Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Burt, Alistair Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Butler, Chris Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Butterfill, John Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hind, Kenneth
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Carrington, Matthew Holt, Richard
Carttiss, Michael Hordern, Sir Peter
Cash, William Howard, Michael
Chapman, Sydney Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Churchill, Mr Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Colvin, Michael Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Conway, Derek Hunter, Andrew
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Irvine, Michael
Cope, Rt Hon John Jack, Michael
Couchman, James Janman, Tim
Cran, James Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Critchley, Julian Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Curry, David Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Key, Robert
Davis, David (Boothferry) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Day, Stephen Kirkhope, Timothy
Devlin, Tim Knapman, Roger
Dicks, Terry Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Dorrell, Stephen Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knowles, Michael
Dover, Den Knox, David
Dunn, Bob Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Dykes, Hugh Lang, Ian
Eggar, Tim Latham, Michael
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Lawrence, Ivan
Evennett, David Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lee, John (Pendle)
Fallon, Michael Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Favell, Tony Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Fishbum, John Dudley Lightbown, David
Forman, Nigel Lilley, Peter
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Forth, Eric Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Fox, Sir Marcus Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Franks, Cecil MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Freeman, Roger Maclean, David
French, Douglas McLoughlin, Patrick
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Madel, David Shaw, David (Dover)
Major, Rt Hon John Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Malins, Humfrey Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Mans, Keith Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Maples, John Shersby, Michael
Marland, Paul Skeet, Sir Trevor
Marlow, Tony Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Speller, Tony
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Mates, Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Maude, Hon Francis Squire, Robin
May hew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Stanbrook, Ivor
Mellor, David Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Miller, Sir Hal Steen, Anthony
Mills, Iain Stern, Michael
Miscampbell, Norman Stevens, Lewis
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stokes, Sir John
Mitchell, Sir David Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Moate, Roger Sumberg, David
Monro, Sir Hector Summerson, Hugo
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Tapsell, Sir Peter
Moore, Rt Hon John Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Morrison, Sir Charles Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Moss, Malcolm Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Moynihan, Hon Colin Temple-Morris, Peter
Mudd, David Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Neale, Gerrard Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Nelson, Anthony Thorne, Neil
Neubert, Michael Thornton, Malcolm
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Thurnham, Peter
Nicholls, Patrick Townend, John (Bridlington)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Norris, Steve Tredinnick, David
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Trotter, Neville
Oppenheim, Phillip Twinn, Dr Ian
Page, Richard Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Paice, James Waddington, Rt Hon David
Patnick, Irvine Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Patten, John (Oxford W) Waldegrave, Hon William
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Walden, George
Pawsey, James Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Waller, Gary
Porter, David (Waveney) Walters, Sir Dennis
Portillo, Michael Ward, John
Powell, William (Corby) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Price, Sir David Warren, Kenneth
Raffan, Keith Watts, John
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Wells, Bowen
Rathbone, Tim Wheeler, John
Redwood, John Whitney, Ray
Renton, Tim Widdecombe, Ann
Rhodes James, Robert Wiggin, Jerry
Riddick, Graham Wilshire, David
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Wolfson, Mark
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wood, Timothy
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Roe, Mrs Marion Yeo, Tim
Rossi, Sir Hugh Young, Sir George (Acton)
Rost, Peter Younger, Rt Hon George
Rowe, Andrew
Ryder, Richard Tellers for the Noes:
Sackville, Hon Tom Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Sayeed, Jonathan Mr. Tony Durant.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after half-past Seven o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to order this day, to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Lords amendment No. 14 agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 55 agreed to.—[Special entry.]

Lords amendments Nos. 15 to 43 agreed to.

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