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Birmingham City Council (No 2) Bill

Volume 160: debated on Monday 13 November 1989

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That the Promoters of the Birmingham City Council (No. 2) Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;
That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House;
That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session;
That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read) and, having been amended by the Committee in the present Session, shall be ordered to lie upon the Table;
That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;
That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.—[The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

7.27 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It has been brought to my attention that a Birmingham evening paper has reported that there have been behind-the-scenes negotiations about the Bill. Would not such a report cast a slur on the Chairman of Ways and Means, who, as I understand it, should adopt a completely neutral view? The report suggested that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) used his influence to bring this motion on the Bill before the House and that if he had not, he would have found it more difficult to obtain support in the House. That implies that the hon. Gentleman has special influence.

I am sure that that must be wrong, because any promoter of a private Bill has the same influence as any other and can obtain the same prominence for his Bill. I am sure that the article is misleading. Will you assure us that it is fallacious and that the hon. Gentleman has not done a deal behind closed doors and thereby trampled on the rights of Parliament?

I shall deal with this point first. I am not sure whether the hon. Member is saying that there might be a prima facie breach of privilege. If so, he knows the procedure and should write to Mr. Speaker. The sooner that we continue with the debate, the sooner all will be revealed.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can you advise the House whether it is in order for one of my hon. Friends to advise all Labour Members to go home and not to participate in the private business, as he did in a loud voice in the Division Lobby just now? I find that action reprehensible.

That is a matter of tactics and has nothing to do with the Chair.

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would you place on record the fact that there is no obligation on hon. Members to attend and listen to debates prior to voting? Moreover, there is never an official view on private business. There is never a view from a Government Whip or an Opposition Whip, so it is left to individual Members to advise their colleagues of the importance to be attached to that business. As I said earlier today, we ought to be debating the changing boundaries of Europe rather than the wasting of ratepayers' money on a road race. The European people will not understand the way in which the British Parliament is conducting its business today.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. At long last the House has shown its willingness to debate a private Bill at a sensible time. As a rule, the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) rages and rants about the rights of the House and private Bills, yet now we find that he is an avid reader of the Birmingham Post all of a sudden. That is a very good thing, because it is a first-class newspaper but I do not know what that publication has to do with Bradford—unless the hon. Gentleman's remarks emanated from some other Birmingham Member.

The Chairman of Ways and Means and the Panel should be applauded for the fact that, at long last, private Bills are given prime time. I do not wish to offend the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) whom I look upon as a friend in a Birmingham sense, but his claim that we should be discussing the problems of Europe—or Cambodia or outer Mongolia or outer space—rather then the problems of Birmingham and his imputation of the motives of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) should bring shame to the hon. Gentleman's eyes and tears to ours.

We are already launched into the debate. It would be far better to conduct it in the regular manner than by means of points of order.

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is not normal for me to intervene at such an early stage, but I must comment on the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer), who alleged that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King)—has used his influence improperly——

I have not finished yet.

The implication was that the hon. Gentleman used his influence to bring the Bill before us tonight. I must rush to the hon. Gentleman's defence. I must tell my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South that, if the hon. Member for Northfield had any influence, he would long since have arrived on the Government Front Bench—a role that he has been seeking with passion since the day he was elected. I cannot really believe that he has any influence.

On the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell), who said that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) had been standing in the Division Lobby urging hon. Members to go home, I can only say, as an ex-Whip, that it strikes me as odd that someone of my hon. Friend's competence should waste his time on such duties, which are extraneous, to say the least. It has always appeared to me that hon. Members do not need too much encouragement to leave this place when they have the opportunity. I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr has done much to change matters.

Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is a point of order.

I have been working. I have been a Teller at the door of the Lobby. I do not know what has been going on in there, but I do know what has been happening for the past few moments. I am a bit surprised that you did not challenge the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark). We are wasting time and we should get on with the business.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am supporting the occupant of the Chair. I am a little surprised that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, did not have a go at the hon. Member for Selly Oak for wasting time. I am always here, but he is hardly ever here. More often than not he is flying around in a jumbo jet somewhere. I am a little surprised that you let him carry on because he was wasting time and he is usually one to complain about waste of time.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) is seeking to catch my eye and I now call him. Mr. Roger King.

7.36 pm

I am somewhat flattered by the accusations concerning my ability to influence the operations of the House. I only wish that that were true, but those who know will know that I have not been party to any negotiations directly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Indirectly?"]—or even indirectly. I have had nothing to do with them. The hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) does me an honour by even suggesting that I have such influence. What the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) said is true to an extent. That is why I sit on the second row—I am but one row from the front.

It is early in my remarks and I do not want to take more than a few moments. Last time we debated the Bill the hon. Lady rightly pointed out that we had taken an awful long time to explain its intricacies and had allowed a large number of interventions, which cost her the opportunity to speak. Nevertheless, I give way to the hon. Lady.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not want to say different things in the House and in the Birmingham press. Will he confirm the report in the Birmingham press which said that delicate negotiations behind the scenes had brought the time forward so that there would be 100 hon. Members present to carry the Bill? Will he confirm that he said:

"I do not anticipate any problems in getting 100 colleagues to support this measure. We are very, very confident."
He should not say different things here and to the press, as that is dishonourable behaviour.

I am confident that the necessary number of hon. Members will be here. There has been a change in the timetable, but I stand by what I said—in terms of negotiations, I have not been involved. That is perfectly fair and honest.

Let us move on to the object of our debate, which is the progress of the Bill. The subject has received considerable debate over the years. The Birmingham City Council (No. 1) Bill, which authorised motor racing in Birmingham, received much debate, with further debate on Second Reading and in Committee. On Second Reading, on Tuesday 18 April 1989, 145 Members voted for the Bill to be read a Second time and 24 voted against. That was a significant majority and reflects the overwhelming desire on the part of the city of Birmingham. Out of 65 councillors who voted, 30 Labour councillors and 31 Conservative councillors were in favour of the Bill. Sixteen Conservative and Labour councillors were against and four members of minority parties registered their disapproval.

At that time there were eight petitioners objecting to the Bill. In the usual manner, the promoters—the city council—have discussed objections with all the petitioners prepared to negotiate. Undertakings were reached with all but three.

The Committee met in May, with seven days of hearings and one site visit. The Committee heard evidence from representatives of the National and Local Government Officers Association, a residents association from the area of the race circuit and a residents association from somewhat further afield. The outcome of the deliberations was a number of amendments to the Bill, accepted by the promoter and to be considered by the House should the Bill be carried over. These are:
"1. An acceptance that four days of racing would only be for Grand Prix racing, and that a three day event would be part of a Bank Holiday.
2. The reinstituting of strict liability for personal injuries or damage to property, except for competitors.
3. Streets being closed from 7.30 am to 7.30 pm, rather than 6.00 am to 8.00 pm"
as originally proposed.
"4. Equipment should be dismantled within 10 days after the event, not 20. Moreover, all work should take place between 8 am and 8 pm.
5. A reinstituting of the agreement to pay all police costs." In addition——

No, I have not.

In addition, the Committee has the agreement of the city council to the following 11 undertakings:
"1. That, for a period of four weeks before the race and two weeks afterwards, the Council sets up a telephone call-line to provide full information to residents in relation to the road race and to record any complaints regarding the road race, so that immediate action may be taken.
2. That there should be an increased provision of security patrols both for local residents and businesses.
3. There should be an increased provision of parking areas for local residents when the circuit streets are closed, to reduce the distance between residents and their cars.
4. That religious worship should take place during the racing period without any undue interference.
5. That the River-Rea subway crossing should be brought into use as a circuit crossing point at the earliest opportunity, and that it should so constructed as to enable disabled persons to cross at this point.
6. That underpass crossings should be made more welcoming, kept clean and well lit, and be clearly marked.
7. That the disabled should not at any point he prejudiced in gaining access to and from the road race area.
8. That in any of its future building projects, or major repair works to existing buildings, within close proximity to the race circuit, the Council should consider installing double glazing.
9. That the Council should strive to introduce permanent, rather than temporary, beautification features on the circuit.
10. That there should be an increased number of manned crossing gates in the circuit area.
11. That noise levels should be measured at various parts of the circuit, and that the records of such measurements should be available for public consultation."
We believe that those amendments and undertakings go a considerable way towards easing the inconvenience of local residents and businesses.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman has finished his list. He was speaking rather quickly and I did not hear anything about stopping the illegal use of ratepayers' money to fund the revenue account. We have had undertakings before. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) is effectively in charge of the Bill. If he has not been involved in the negotiations about the Bill, but he promoted its Second Reading, can he tell us who has been involved in the negotiations, so that we know where to direct our representations?

A few moments ago, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short), the hon. Gentleman said that he had not been involved in any negotiations. He clearly implied that other people or other hon. Members had been involved. The hon. Member for Northfield is the promoters' man on the Floor of the House. He moved the Bill and he is effectively in charge of it. Who has been responsible in this House for the negotiations about the Bill and its timetable?

The city council, as is its right, made representations. I was expecting the Bill to be debated at a different time this week, but was informed that it would be debated this evening. I cannot go into the exact details, because I was not privy to them.

Does not my hon. Friend find the allegations from Opposition Members of some kind of impropriety, almost of dishonesty, quite amazing? Has not the council in our city of Birmingham, through no will of ours, a large Labour majority? Is it right that hon. Members should accuse a Labour council of dishonesty? Is it possible that we should agree with Labour Members that it is dishonest? Is this not a proper Bill for the benefit of Birmingham, and is that why all the Conservative Members representing Birmingham constituencies are doing their best to help it to make progress against the opposition from some of the laggards on the Opposition Benches?

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) heard what I said. Perhaps he has not read Friday's edition of the Birmingham Post. It is clear from that article that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) is claiming full knowledge of the negotiations to bring the time for the Bill forward so that he could—[Interruption] It is obvious from the article that the hon. Member for Northfield is claiming full knowledge of the negotiations and is confident that the Bill will be carried. He has said in the House today that he knows nothing about that. In that case, he was dishonest, either to the Birmingham Post or in the Chamber today.

I should have thought that the best service that anyone could provide in the debate would be to allow it to proceed without examining that particular issue. Nothing will be gained from that, except a loss of time to debate the issues which undoubtedly the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) would like to raise.

All matters relating to private Bills are very provisional. We are all anxious to ascertain when such a measure will come before the House. As a sponsor of the Bill, it would be part of my job to try to determine when the debate will take place. The support and the hon. Members who want to speak must be organised and we must adjust our timetable accordingly. I was given to understand that the Bill would be debated on a different day this week. However, presumably as a result of normal parliamentary procedures that are adopted in relation to any private Bill, the timetable was adjusted to this evening.

Clearly negotiations took place between certain individuals—no doubt supporters of the Bill—who made their voices adequately known. I know that there is no record of any letter from me or any verbal approach to anyone in authority in order to change the timetable. When the timetable has been changed, as it has, that must have happened as a result of negotiations.

I am always anxious to help the hon. Gentleman, as he knows. As the hon. Gentleman so wisely said, perhaps he did not put anything down on paper. However, perhaps he would agree that a conversation took place, perhaps with Mr. Nigel Hastilow, the esteemed reporter from the Birmingham Post, during which the hon. Gentleman might have verballed Mr. Hastilow that perhaps his influence was so great in this place that the business had been changed. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that that might not be an unreal version of what happened last Thursday?

I wish that I could confirm that I have that kind of power and authority. Alas, I have not. I was not a party to negotiations. I remained deliberately on one side because I did not want to have these aspersions cast upon me. Negotiations have presumably taken place between some individuals, and perhaps some people here today, were part and parcel of them, but I cannot say who they are.

As someone who is disinterested, but not uninterested, in the progress of the Bill, does the city council of Birmingham with its Labour majority supported by a Conservative minority want this Bill? Do the majority of Birmingham Members want the Bill? If that is so, I might be one of the 100 hon. Members required to see it through the Lobby at 10 pm. No one has asked me about it, but if that is the case, I do not believe that Birmingham Members are doing their great city much good by these childish exchanges.

That is exactly the case. It is a city of Birmingham Bill. It has all-party support, and the city leader, Sir Richard Knowles, is 100 per cent. behind it, as are all other city leaders and the Conservative opposition group. The reasons for that support are self-evident, having regard to the four events that have taken place so far and what they have brought to the city. They have indirectly made the city a centre of attraction. There has been wide international media coverage. Investment in the city of Birmingham is now about £1·5 billion—a substantial investment—entirely due to the city council's attitude to attracting business and investment from all over the globe. The council is to be congratulated.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) referred to the financial arrangements of the Bill. They were not discussed in Committee. In the hon. Gentleman's opinion, that matter must be debated further. The carry-over motion will allow us to do just that next year. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be as keen as ever to introduce the necessary amendments and give us his ideas on how the Bill should be changed for the better. He will not serve the House by delaying the Bill's passage if he wants to debate its financial aspects.

There is an excellent case for starting the Bill again and for not agreeing the carry-over motion. The questions that Opposition Members have asked about finance have been asked by senior Birmingham Tories. The hon. Gentleman owes it to his hon. Friends to raise the same doubts about financial arrangements as the Opposition have raised. Those doubts were raised also by Conservative members of the council. Labour Members opposed the Bill in the first place by a free vote. The matter is not neat and tidy. The Bill would benefit from our starting it again.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the carry-over motion. Will he explain the different paragraphs, particularly the last one, and tell us how much has been spent to get the Bill this far? As that is a necessary detail of the carry-over motion, an explanation should be put on the record.

I do not have the exact figures to hand, but I will try to obtain them before the end of the debate and let the hon. Gentleman know, if he is successful in catching your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not doubt that the costs are considerable, which is why the city of Birmingham would not relish starting the passage of the Bill again. The hon. Gentleman's tactics would not be warmly applauded by the ratepayers or community charge payers. The hon. Gentleman is correct to say that the Conservative group on the city of Birmingham council will not necessarily give the Labour council a blank cheque. They have their own interests in ensuring accountability and are of the opinion that the motor race must continue to develop and produce a profit for the city. The motor race has been successful in terms of investment in the city.

I do not dispute that the Conservative opposition on the council are not happy about certain financial aspects. However, they are 100 per cent. behind continuing the event and see no reason why their detailed financial concerns should cause the measure to be dropped and the motor race not allowed to continue.

The hon. Gentleman was saying that he is unaware of the allocation of fees for the passage of both Bills. I understand that the figure agreed by the city council was £100,000. There has been no subsequent discussion or decision on whether extra moneys must be allocated.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) for those figures. I hope that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr has duly noted them.

The city of Birmingham believes that it is worth continuing this event and that, as the Bill wends its way through Parliament, all aspects of the motor race will be discussed. Many worthwhile amendments have already been undertaken or promised by the local authority to make the event more relevant and more responsive to the local community.

The hon. Gentleman listed several decisions that were made in Committee. It would have been helpful if copies of those decisions were available. Certain points arise from the council's minutes of 21 June. Obviously, changes occurred as the Committee proceeded. There is a list of 12 points, but the hon. Gentleman mentioned only 11. A change occurred later. There is no published list. We have had only a verbal presentation, and that seems to be a general problem with private Bills.

The hon. Gentleman's most important point about the Birmingham (No. 2) Bill is the possibility of a grand prix being held in Birmingham. He mentioned a four-day race ending on a Sunday. That matter was decided by a majority in Committee, whereas the other decisions were unanimous.

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's intervention. We are not debating the Committee's report. That will occur in due course if consideration of the Bill is allowed to be carried over into the next Session. The list that I read out is the list to which the city has undertaken to commit itself as a result of the Committee's deliberations. Of course, it is subject to amendment and ratification by the House. I have been trying to say that real progress has been made.

If the House agrees that consideration of the Birmingham (No. 2) Bill should be carried over to the next Session, all requirements and other items in respect of the grand prix and the Committee's decision by casting vote will be fully discussed.

The hon. Gentleman is effectively in charge of the Bill, but he has no list of possible changes. Opposition Members have received no communication from the council about the Bill since Second Reading, other than a brief exchange of letters. There has been nothing of substance. The hon. Gentleman has said that certain matters will be debated. Would the hon. Gentleman prefer to debate changes rather than allow the Bill to pass without further debate? Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to say that he would rather do that? The hon. Gentleman knows, as does everyone else, that the only way in which the changes can be debated is for us to object procedurally each time the Bill comes before the House so that we can create space in the parliamentary programme. However, whenever my hon. Friends and I do that, we are pilloried by prejudiced and spiteful media and by senior Tory councillors in Birmingham for simply carrying out our parliamentary duties.

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's last point. The press can look after themselves, but the comments and criticisms made by the Conservatives on Birmingham city council have been most discreet. They could have been much more vociferous if they had had a mind. The supporters of the Bill are ever mindful that, even at this late stage, we could all move together, as Birmingham Members of Parliament. We are mindful of the changes that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) introduced to ensure that the Bill received a long stint of examination in the Select Committee. Indeed, the Bill is all the better for that. The recommendations that have been made were put forward after a lengthy period of deliberation and if there are any further changes that the hon. Gentleman would like to introduce, I am sure that he will have the opportunity of making his views known.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will remember that he has made that statement once before. When the previous Bill passed through the House and ultimately became an Act of Parliament, the hon. Gentleman said that it had been much improved as a result of the opposition of my hon. Friends and myself. He said that the amendment that was introduced by Sir Reginald Eyre, on behalf of the city council, which stated that the race would stop if it had not made a cumulative profit after five years, much improved the Bill, yet he has connived at sidestepping that Act.

I do not accept that. I know that we have faced a contradiction or a difficulty in the meeting of minds about the financial structure of the motor race. The hon. Gentleman voiced his grave concern about that on Second Reading, and the city has obviously taken note of the points that he made. No doubt if the House is agreeable to the carry-over motion, he will have the opportunity at a later stage to continue to voice his points of view and to seek to make changes wherever and whenever he can. I understand and fully appreciate his right so to do.,

My point is that the city has tried to reach accommodation with all the people who have petitioned for change, and we may wait and see——

Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, will he tell the House that the amendments pressed on the Bill are to be welcomed because they improve it? The hon. Gentleman made the same sort of statement four years ago and is now party to sidestepping that provision. Indeed, "sidestepping" is the word used by the city solicitor.

The hon. Gentleman knows why this No. 2 Bill is before the House this evening. When the original Bill was approved by the House, we were not aware of the change in the rules that the international motor racing body, FISA, was to introduce into the form of motor racing staged by the city. I refer to the necessity of having two days for practice and one day for the actual race when, at the moment, all that we can have is one day of practice and one day for the race. It is for that reason and that reason alone that this Bill has come before the House.

At the same time, we are taking the opportunity of reviewing the circuit and making some alterations to it. It is also a good opportunity for petitioners and for those who have experienced problems with the motor race to come forward and to ask the city council to agree to a number of amendments. Indeed, the city has accepted such amendments. That is the way in which the Bill has been improved. As a result, it is a better Bill and more responsive to the citizens of Birmingham as a whole.

On the narrow point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), which is effectively the only business before the House tonight, we are considering whether the Bill, which has now had its Second Reading and Committee stages should—because of the difficulties of the parliamentary timetable—be carried over. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if the Bill were carried over, the rights of hon. Members to move amendments and to make objections would properly continue, so that all that hon. Members are doing by objecting to the Bill this evening is frustrating the normal parliamentary procedures of democracy? They are stopping the Bill from being argued on its merits, although I accept that that is what my hon. Friends say that they wish to do, but the end of that process will be to cost the city of Birmingham and its ratepayers another £100,000 if we start again—and that is both parliamentary and economic nonsense.

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) is perfectly right. One difficulty that I face at the moment is asking for a carry-over motion when we are only halfway through the Bill's progress. Of course, there are questions still to be asked and points still to be raised—I do not doubt that for one moment—and that is precisely why we need the carry-over motion. It will mean that those points can be debated during our remaining sittings on the Bill——

Yes, again, because this is an important matter. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) is making one of his rare appearances in the Chamber, but I want to press his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King), who has been here throughout our debates. The hon. Member for Northfield has said that he is proposing the carry-over motion to allow my hon. Friends and me to put forward our amendments and objections to the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman is so anxious for the Bill to be thoroughly debated, why did he move the closure motion to prevent my hon. Friends from taking part in the last debate?

At the end of our Second Reading debate, it was clear that that debate was centring on the financial aspects——

Obviously, those financial aspects caused concern to some hon. Members. During that debate we had an element of disruption because of the number of questions asked although I was happy to seek to address those questions because the Bill is contentious and Opposition Members had every right to intervene to ask their many and varied questions during my description of the Bill——

The hon. Gentleman is well aware that I waited in the Chamber throughout the whole of his hour-long speech and that I was the only hon. Member seeking to speak through whose constituency the race runs. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that my constituents have strong feelings about this. Yet he was a party to preventing me from speaking and to preventing the House from hearing what my constituents had to say.

The record will show that there were about 24 interventions in my speech when I presented the No. 2 Bill. The hon. Lady made several interventions on a variety of matters and I was delighted to assist her in every way that I could. It is not for me to comment on the Chair and who is called, but other hon. Members were called on that occasion. Personally, I am sorry that the hon. Lady was not called, but it is not within my power to seek to have her called. Nevertheless, if the opportunity presents itself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I very much hope that the hon. Lady will catch your eye later this evening.

The measure having come all this way, the best course that anyone could adopt would be to allow the No. 2 Bill to be carried over into the next Session so that the many points still at issue will receive due and careful consideration. To abandon the Bill now would be disappointing for the city of Birmingham and its citizens, who in the last four events of the super prix have seen the benefits that it can bring. One accepts that this matter is not without controversy, but I believe that the measures taken by the city and those already laid down in the Bill—which, of course, need to be ratified and confirmed—show that the city wants to stage the event with the willing support and agreement of its citizens.

8.9 pm

It is my strong view that the House should not give permission for the Bill to be carried over into the next Session, because it is deeply flawed. The power already exists for a two-day road race to be held in Birmingham, but that power requires the road race to break even in five years. I shall describe later how that requirement of the House has been disregarded. The flawed Bill before us gives the power necessary to hold a four-day road race, with no requirement to break even. That is a disgrace, and it is one major reason why the Bill should not be carried over.

My first objection to the carry-over motion, however, relates to the way in which the Bill has been handled in the House. It was introduced by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King). He spoke for more than an hour, and I sat through his speech waiting to make my own. It is not good enough for that hon. Gentleman to talk about the number of interventions in his speech—in fact there were far more interventions in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell), who spoke for a shorter time.

I counted the number of interventions that my hon. Friend made in my speech. In my 30 years in the House, I have never had so many interventions in such a short speech. I am glad, however, that my hon. Friend has had the opportunity to speak tonight.

My right hon. Friend is obviously not listening. I said that there were far more interventions in his speech—I agree that I made many of them—than in the speech of the hon. Member for Northfield.

The hon. Member for Northfield spoke at enormous length, and a large part of his speech was irrelevant to the Bill. He went on and on about the convention centre and the failed olympic bid—I do not want to trample on the feelings of my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath—and said how everything was hunky-dory in Birmingham. That was before the publication of the document on poverty in Birmingham, which shows that half the people in that city live in serious poverty. The hon. Gentleman, however, went on and on with his glorious picture of Birmingham, which was absolutely irrelevant to the road race. The hon. Gentleman took up too much time in that debate, and he was largely responsible for the views of my constituents not being put to the House before the Bill went into Committee.

In that debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis) spoke about the finances behind the Bill, which are an important part of our objection to it. After my hon. Friend the Member for Hodge Hill spoke, my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath and the Minister made brief speeches. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) then got up and was just getting into his stride when who came into the Chamber but the Government Chief Whip. He walked up to the hon. Member for Yardley, whose speech came to an abrupt halt. The hon. Gentleman nearly fell on the floor the instant the Chief Whip went up to him. The hon. Gentleman was obviously instructed to bring his speech to a rapid conclusion, which he did with total obedience——

I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman intended to make a long speech, but when the Chief Whip appeared and started to walk up the steps towards him he brought his remarks to a close instantly. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perr Barr (Mr. Rooker) then stood up to speak, but he did not get much of a chance to do so before the closure was moved.

I do not wish to embarrass the Chair in any way, but it had been intimated—if I may put it like that—that, because the hon. Member for Northfield had spoken at such length and because the views of the people who live in the area where the road race takes place had not been put before the House, it was unlikely that the closure would be granted. The Chief Whip then arrived, however, went up to the hon. Member for Yardley and then appeared to have words with the people who make decisions about whether a closure can be given. Shortly afterwards, that closure was given.

The procedural way in which the Bill has been handled has been unacceptable. It is obvious that the Government Chief Whip organised the votes for the closure to get the Bill through the Chamber. The husband of the Prime Minister has a financial interest in Halfords, which is a major sponsor of the road race. He has been to Birmingham to show his support for the road race, and he enjoyed the hospitality, of which there is plenty, given to prestigious visitors to the road race. I believe that there has been improper interference with the procedures of this House. There has not been proper consideration of the interests of the people of Birmingham, who are opposed to the passage of the Bill.

Is my hon. Friend telling the House that Burmah Oil is short for Birmingham Oil?

No, I am not. I was just saying that the Prime Minister's husband has a financial interest in the company that sponsors the road race. It is obvious from the proceedings in the previous debate that the Chief Whip organised to abbreviate the debate to ensure that there was a closure, which was overwhelmingly carried by Conservative Members.

I appreciate the complaints that my hon. Friend makes about the way in which the House handles such matters. My hon. Friend should go back a step, however, to recall that the Bill was approved on a free vote by the majority of elected councillors of the city of Birmingham. Is my hon. Friend saying that those councillors, irrespective of party, totally ignored the wishes of the people they represent?

No, I am not. I do not know how much detailed information some councillors had when they voted in favour of the Bill. I doubt that they have had as much detailed information about the finances and about some of the undertakings given in the House when the first Bill was passed as is available to hon. Members because of procedures relating to the passage of the Bill.

Through my hon. Friend, perhaps I can ask my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett), who is my Member of Parliament if he has forgotten, that he voted against the closure on Second Reading.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that it is not Birmingham city council that decides whether to have a Bill, but the House, and only after a discussion of the representations made to it? Hon. Members discuss the ins and outs and they make their decision.

My hon. Friend is right. If it was in the power of Birmingham city council to run a road race, it could do so and it would be accountable to its voters. We have the power to vote for or against the Bill, and therefore we have a duty to do our best by the people of Birmingham. We must protect their interests to ensure that some of the truth is told, as opposed to the hype and the fibs about the profitability deriving from the Bill. I consider that it is my duty to use my platform in the Chamber to put the truth on record because so many misleading statements have been made.

Let me make it clear that, although I support the Bill, I voted against the closure because I thought that it had been inadequately discussed. I am all in favour of adequate discussion.

As I recollect, my hon. Friend thought it was important that I should have the opportunity to speak. Whether I spoke was not important: what was important was that I was the only person who had been in touch with people living on the circuit of that race. They feel passionately about the Bill, but there was no chance to put their views on record. My hon. Friend voted against the closure, because he agreed that their views should be known.

I am always fascinated to hear Socialists talking about Socialists. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) has spelt out the majority held by the Labour party on Birmingham city council. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) has used such words as "untruths" and "lies" and has said, "If only the truth could be told." Does she think that the Labour leadership of our great city has told untruths? We have said so more than once, but she has always said that we were wrong. Why should she be believed on this one issue?

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the Bill has cross-party support as well as cross-party opposition in Birmingham——

Perhaps there is no opposition to it on the Conservative Benches. We all know how craven they are in the face of their Chief Whip. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that Conservative councillors from Selly Oak voted against the Bill at the area sub-committee meeting shortly before the debate in April——

I think that the hon. Member for Selly Oak has enjoyed himself too much earlier today——

The hon. Gentleman is not listening as seriously as he might to what I am saying. The Bill is not about Conservative or Labour support—it has cross-party support. From reading press reports, however, it seems to me that the support of senior Conservative councillors in Birmingham for the Bill and the race is eroding. They are making more and more qualified statements about how worried they are about money and whether the race should go on as it is because they recognise that it is becoming increasingly unpopular. We must deal with what is best for the people of Birmingham, rather than cheap points misleading people about where the support comes from. There is support and opposition from both Labour and Conservative councillors.

It was a pity that the hon. Lady was not called in the former debate, and I am glad that you called her this evening, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

It is important that, when we discuss these matters with the eyes of our city upon us, we are absolutely accurate in what we say. I have received a number of letters from my constituents who are also on the route. I have been impressed with the way that every complaint that I have received, whether it concerns access, noise or drunkenness on the day of the race, has been properly investigated and all my constituents have been seen. If there were to be the erosion of support about which the hon. Lady speaks, we would all have received letters. I have had no such letters suggesting any erosion of support.

I have no wish to be impolite to the hon. Lady, but I have had meetings with the residents associations which have come together over the Bill. They have complained about the number of requests they have made to meet the hon. Lady and her refusal to meet them.

That has been put to me by a significant number of people from various residents associations.

My first objection to the Bill going any further concerns the way that it has been handled. Before it went into Committee, the people of Ladywood and those living around the circuit did not have a chance to have their views put before the House. Procedurally, that was wrong. For that reason alone, we should start again and do things properly.

Secondly, there has been improper pressure from the Conservative Chief Whip to get the Bill through. That is an improper interference in the fair-minded consideration of the Bill and the interests of the people of Birmingham. For those two procedural reasons it is my strong view that the Bill should not be carried over and that we should, if necessary, and if it is not possible to persuade the city council to think again, start properly in the next Session and consider the Bill in a better way with less party political interference for reasons which might be improper.

The people of Ladywood feel strongly about the Bill, and I shall attempt to put some of their views on record. That is difficult, as I have with me a large number of letters—just some of the many I have received. My judgment is that about 50 per cent. are opposed to the whole road race. The majority of people say that it could be better run and that they are worried about money. They do not say that the two-day road race should be abolished. However, there is no doubt that the overwhelming opinion of people living near the circuit is that the Bill dealing with the four-day road race should not be passed.

I will not read out all the letters, as that would detain the House for too long, but I shall read a letter from a headmaster at a local school. I will not name him.

I do not know whether to name him or not. I am afraid that a matter of privilege has been put before the House because of the treatment by the city council of one individual who was brave enough to try to put information before the House about the operation of the Bill. The overwhelming and disproportionate support for the Bill among senior figures in the city council means that they might use their powers to damage the interests of individuals who dare to tell the truth about the Bill.

The headmaster wrote to me saying that he wanted to enlist my support against any extension of the road race. He said:
"This disruption of our school environment is without precedent in the United Kingdom. It would never get any sort of acceptance in Edgbaston, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield or around the streets of Dulwich. It is a grotesque example of how people who lack political clout are treated with contempt and are walked over for the sake of commercial interest and/or vainglory. It has very little to do with genuine civic pride. For a city whose educational provision is £10 per pupil below the national average and also whose teacher-pupil ratios are amongst the worst in England, there are clearly more important ways for the city to raise its self-esteem.
On behalf of the parents and Governors of this school, I urge you to speak most strongly against the Bill coming soon before Parliament."
That was in April, and I attempted to do as he asked.

The letter went on to say that that school and others in the area are currently
"fighting for our survival as inner-city secondary schools. The main problem causing the demise of falling rolls is the perception parents have of this inner-city environment ie, it is one to be moved away from as soon as possible. Is it any wonder that so many parents believe they must seek a 'better' social-educational environment for their 11-plus age children.".

Let me finish the letter.

It goes on:
"The superprix and/or its extension only reinforces the perception that local parents have of this area—it is one on which they are treated with contempt—even that which they have is taken away ie, the right to some peace and quiet and not to be exploited by others.".

The hon. Lady explained in that letter exactly what the motor race is all about. She says that people cannot wait to leave the rundown inner city, because nothing happens. The city is trying to develop something that is exciting for the inner city, which involves the local community and which identifies the area as one having attractions. Some of the commitments—the repair of underpasses, the landscaping of areas and the improvement of the housing stock in the environment of the motor race circuit—are exactly the things about which the headmaster is complaining. The city is doing those things thanks to the Birmingham City Council (No. 2) Bill.

The hon. Gentleman is welcome to have the race in Northfield. He can say as much as he likes about the purposes behind the Bill, but I know better and meet more frequently the people who live there. They do not see it as he does. The hon. Gentleman can make his own speech, but I can tell him, the House and the Government that, if there is any chance of moving the road race to Northfield, the people of Ladywood will vote for it overwhelmingly. [Interruption.] Does my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath wish to intervene?

Yes, since I have been invited. Every public opinion poll taken in the vicinity of the road race has produced a majority in favour of it.

If my right hon. Friend checked more carefully, he would see that the city council claims that only just half those living in the locality support the extension to four days. If one looks at the way the question was asked, one will see it was asked misleadingly. Anyone who knows anything about opinion polling—I presume everyone in the House takes some interest in it—will know that, if a question is asked in a distorted way, one can receive different answers.

As the hon. Lady claims that the question was posed in such a way as to show bias, can she tell us what the question said?

Unfortunately, I do not have—[Laughter.] I have an enormous pile of papers and if the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) waited for the answer, he might be able to laugh. Surely it is only polite to wait. I have a stack of papers in the Library including that particular set of questions and answers, which I looked at half an hour ago. However, I cannot, without that piece of paper, tell the hon. Gentleman the exact words of the question. When I looked at them, I thought again what I had thought when I first looked at them, which was that the question was inviting a certain answer. The question was something like: given that this road race is so good for Birmingham, do you not agree that it should be extended to three days? It is not quite that, but that sort of question.

I am anxious to proceed——

I have one of the questions here. A number of different questionnaires were available and I have an example of one question which states:

"If Birmingham were to be offered a different sort of event, a Grand Prix, we should like the flexibility to move the dates if necessary, i.e. not on a bank holiday. Would you object to a change in the date?"
There were 33 per cent. in support of the suggestion and 67 per cent. against.

My hon. Friend is right: that was one of the questions.

I do not have time to read all the letters in the pile in front of me, but they include representations from Volvo—a major employer and a major firm on the circuit of the race—which writes about how deeply disruptive the race is to its business and states that it does not want it extended. A local vicar from Balsall Heath church centre wrote asking that we should oppose the four-day event. The church lies in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), who also opposed the Bill on Second Reading. His constituent and my constituents are disrupted by the race.

The letter states:
"Beside the general disruption for weeks before and after the race, as this residential area is turned into a motor-racing track, the worst experience for the residents is the exceedingly high level of noise. For many the two day event is only just bearable: four days will be intolerable. Some people in the area work nights, even over the Bank Holiday period, and need to sleep in the day. Many are elderly and infirm. There are mothers with babies who cannot begin to understand what all the noise is about. There are many people on tranquillisers. People have complained to me about suffering from headaches for weeks afterwards because of the noise. I am sure a four-day event will considerably increase discomfort and ill-health in the area. Most of the people of this area are poor. They cannot afford to go away on holiday to avoid the noise and disruption in the life of their neighbourhood. They need the protection of their elected representatives. I urge you, with other Birmingham MPs"—
the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) may wish to hear this—
"to oppose any Parliamentary Bill to extend the times allowed for the Birmingham super-prix."

I have received other letters from Express Polythene, Frank Starkey Ltd., an old-age pensioner who cannot sleep at night, Smith Francis Tools Ltd., Alfred J. Parker Ltd., several other old-age pensioners, another firm, Aston and Taylor (News) Ltd., Birmingham Fellowship of Handicapped and many other employers. I have also heard from the Federation of Fruit and Potato Trades Ltd. because the race disrupts access to the markets in Birmingham. All the letters claim that these people can just about cope with two days, although the disruption is terrible, but four days would be unbearable for us as human beings and for our businesses.

I know that we are time-limited, and I am keen to listen to other hon. Members, and even participate myself. However, I hope that my hon. Friend will not gloss over the employers which she has just mentioned. There is obviously a difference of balance between those employers who provide income to the city and support the city and want the race, and those who do not want it. There is evidence of enormous numbers of traditional employers, and consequently employees, who are badly affected by the Bill. On the plus side, all we are given is a couple of hotels, a few pubs and a night club. That is not even as straightforward as one might suppose, according to the representations which I have received. Therefore, I hope that my hon. Friend will not gloss over this matter, because she possesses something which no other hon. Member has: experience as the constituency Member of Parliament who represents employers on and inside the circuit whose businesses are badly affected.

There is no doubt that many major businesses and employers are affected. Volvo on Bristol road, which employs about 100 people and has a massive turnover, is totally opposed. Some misleading propaganda has been put out by the press department of the city council. There is absolutely no doubt that major employers think that it is disruptive for the city and businesses. Two days is disruptive, four days is massively worse.

I have mentioned two reasons why this motion should not be carried: the way in which the Bill has been wrongly handled in procedural terms, and the overwhelming and passionate feeling of my constituents, local residents and businesses that four days is intolerable. The third reason for my opposition to the Bill is a matter touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Hodge Hill on Second Reading. It relates to the deeply dishonourable behaviour of the city council in relation to the Bill which has already been passed.

When the Bill to grant the two-day road race was first proposed, I faced a dilemma. I think that racing should be done on purpose-built tracks. I am not against racing, but it is dangerous, disruptive and noisy. People who want it should go to purpose-built tracks to enjoy road racing because that makes it safer and less disruptive for other people. In my original speech, as my hon. Friends may remember, I said that I faced a dilemma because although I was against the Bill I did not feel that I had the right to overturn the view of Birmingham city council which put the proposal before the House.

When Birmingham city council put it before us, it gave us lots of documents suggesting that the race would make masses of money for the people of Birmingham and create lots of jobs. I have one of the road race fact packs which we were given. It states:
"The race will make money for the City Council, so the ratepayer will not lose out. We will not be taking decisions on whether to repair leaking roofs or support the road race. The road race will bring more cash into the authority's kitty."
I was deeply sceptical about whether the road race would make money. I was deeply worried that, instead, money which the ratepayers had paid and which was desperately needed to fix up some of the tower blocks and maisonettes which surround the circuit and are riddled with black mould would be used for the road race.

A proper insulation programme could massively improve the quality of life for the people who live in those homes. I feared that money would be used for the road race which could be spent on giving decent housing to those families. As hon. Members probably know, black mould is not just uncomfortable and smelly, but seriously damages children's lungs. A large number of children in my constituency who live in those black mould infested flats are in and out of hospital with serious asthma and bronchitis problems.

How on earth can the hon. Lady say that the HIP allowance for housing and the specific allowances for housing within the block grant are adversely affected by the finances of the motor race?

Obviously, the hon. Gentleman was not listening. I do not know what goes on in this Chamber. I have read out some of the propaganda which the city council issued for the first road race in which it gives an assurance that it will not have to choose between the road race and leaking roofs because the race will bring money into the city. [An hon. Member: "It does."]. The hon. Gentleman seems not to be listening. The city council said that the race would be profitable and money would not have to be spent on it which would otherwise be used for repairing houses.

I doubted that the race would make money, but I thought that the best thing we could do would be to amend the Bill to hold the city council to its promise. It was promising that it would not cost the ratepayers anything and that a choice would not have to be made between the quality of other public services and the road roace. Therefore, my hon. Friends the Members for Perry Barr and Hodge Hill and I moved an amendment suggesting the following framework: that the power to run the road race should cease if it could not cover its costs in five years.

We did not state that it would have to meet its cost in the first year because we understand that it might have to build up its finances, and might take a little time to do so.

My hon. Friend understates the case. We were told that the race would make a profit in three years. We suggested that the city council should be allowed five years so that there would be no possibility of it just missing the target in the third year. We were generous enough to give it an extra two years. Now we feel that we have been taken for a ride.

My hon. Friend is right. We gave more than was asked. We thought that things could go wrong, it could rain—it certainly rained horrendously in the first year. We did not ask for the race to make a profit, but to break even in five years. We negotiated with the leader of the city council and it was agreed that this was a useful and helpful suggestion for the people of Birmingham and would be incorporated in the Bill. Sir Reginald Eyre, the then Member for Hall Green, sponsored the Bill on behalf of the city council. He said that our amendment proposal was wholly acceptable and that the city council would not want to run the race if it cost the ratepayers money. We were pleased and thought that, with this reasonable compromise, we had protected the interests of the people of Birmingham, and the leadership of the city council was happy with our amendment. Our proposal meant that the race could not cost money which should be spent on children's books, leaking roofs, black mould in flats, and so on.

The road race did less well than expected, and the accounts looked bad. The council was worried that the power to run the race would lapse because it could not cover its costs, so it took legal advice from Price Waterhouse and went back more than once on that advice.

I have questioned the legality of all this with Price Waterhouse, and the company informs me that legal advice was taken on several occasions before what follows was done. It was decided that the running of the road race was worth £500,000 a year in advertising to the city of Birmingham, in terms of tourism promotion. It was further decided that that amount could be attributed to the value of the race in the accounts, thus converting a loss-making race into one that covered its costs.

This might be legal, but it is dishonourable, representing as it did a breach of the agreement that we had reached and of the words of Sir Reginald Eyre, who had said that the city council did not want to run the race if it cost the ratepayers money.

Does my hon. Friend recognise that the form of accountancy in which the city is called upon by auditors, Price Waterhouse, to put in the accounts the amount by which the city is estimated to have benefited was imposed on the city and the Bill by my hon. Friends, who were thus hoist with their own petard? As a result, the council had to call in outside experts, specialists in international propaganda, who told it that the value of the race to Birmingham was £600,000. Price Waterhouse then had to insist that the city paid the £600,000 into the account to cover the requirement imposed by my hon. Friend.

May I further tell my hon. Friend——

It is important that she gets the facts right.

The race made an operational loss of £173,000 in 1986, an operational profit of £76,500 in 1987, and last year, 1988, an operational profit of £536,000—more than half a million pounds. That must be good business for Birmingham.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way to me.

The figures that my right hon. Friend quoted take into account the notional value of £600,000 for promoting Birmingham. That is a false profit, derived from promoting what is, in the eyes of the world, a potty little road race in Birmingham, at the expense of my constituents—and still the race cannot cover its costs.

My right hon. Friend's first point was also 100 per cent. wrong. We put it to the city council that the road race should be required to recover its costs, and that if it could not, the power to run it would lapse after five years. The council went away to its legal advisers and asked our co-operation in framing the amendment in the way that the council wanted.

We know that the accounting procedures for the road race are different from normal local authority accounting, but let us not allow that technical point to get in the way of what I consider the city council's deeply dishonourable behaviour in misleading the people of Birmingham. The council promised that the power to run the road race would cease if it cost the ratepayers money; it was then found that the race could not cover its costs; legal advice was taken and a way around the provision was found.

It is dishonourable to pretend that the race is worth £500,000 in promotion, but that was done to square the books and return the legal power to run the race. That still makes me angry when I think about it, and most people in Birmingham are unaware of how badly they have been misled by the sort of figures given my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath——

Does my hon. Friend remember that the subsidy from the rates was charged to a promotion of tourism account that was already in deficit, so that the true effect of what the council did was to reclassify a loss?

My hon. Friend is an expert in these matters. An attempt was made to mislead people about the road race covering its costs—it cannot. If a race that causes all this disruption cannot cover its costs, it is a waste of time——

I did not think that the hon. Gentleman believed in public services. I do; priorities are caring for people and spending money on those who are in great need. The hon. Gentleman believes in subsidising an unprofitable road race out of the rates—and out of what is to be the poll tax—for the pleasure of his racing friends. They should pay for their own pleasures.

Has public money been taken out of the housing, education or social services budgets in the city accounts to subsidise this race? I do not think that the hon. Lady can find a penny piece that has been.

More importantly, the accusation that the hon. Lady has just levelled at the city is astounding. She has called city officers dishonest—and, by implication, the city leader and the leader of the council——

She has. It is eveident to me that the word "misleading" could he interpreted as dishonest—a serious charge to level at our city's officers and leaders.

I have heard that men of a certain age acquire hearing problems. Three or four instances of that seem to be present this evening. Whenever I say something, an hon. Gentleman gets up and appears not to have heard it. I said that I believed that getting around the provisions of the Act in which it was agreed that the race should break even or be discontinued after five years was deeply dishonourable. That is what I said and that is what I meant.

At school we told each other to wash out our ears if we could not hear properly. The word that I meant and used was "dishonourable".

I am upset and surprised that the city council of Birmingham, with the agreement of all parties and of its senior officers, is willing to behave so dishonourably——

I have said it outside, and I have corresponded with those who objected to my doing so. We have all explained to each other why I used the term——

My hon. Friend was being charitable; would she term this activity creative accounting?

It would be charitable to call it that. It is a legal breach of an agreement. The council found a technical and legal way to break its word and the spirit of an amendment to a Bill that was passed in this House.

Yes, and when we reached the agreement, there was good faith on both sides.

Other parts of the legislation and other agreements have also been breached. We felt strongly that, if the people of Birmingham were to subsidise the race even for five years, they should have better access to it than others. We thought it fair and right that the people of Birmingham should have access to cheaper tickets than people from other parts of the country. That was accepted and it was on the face of the Bill, but it has been breached and ignored.

I do not know why the House bothers to pass legislation for Birmingham, because Birmingham does not seem to take any notice. The council looked at our suggestion about tickets and thought that it was inconvenient and difficult to provide them for the people of Birmingham, so instead they provided cheaper tickets for those who bought them in advance of the race, and that is a breach of the law. If some people who did not get cheap tickets were richer, they would probably take legal action on the matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis) spoke about cigarette advertising. I know that undertakings were given. Were they incorporated in the Bill?

I have looked into the matter and I think that the verbal undertakings have been kept to the letter. Tobacco is advertised on a car that takes part in the race, but I would not accuse the city council of having broken that undertaking. The undertaking was worded in such a way that the council has kept it.

That is interesting. It is a matter that interests my hon. Friend rather than me, but I thought that there was an agreement that there would be no promotion of South African people or of cigarettes. I went to the road race last time. I did not go to the stands, nor did I partake of the hospitality. I visited the houses and gardens of some of my constituents. There is an unbearable noise when the cars pass and I saw a car advertising, I think, Marlboro cigarettes. I seem to remember an undertaking about not advertising cigarettes. When we met senior figures in the council in the early stages of the Bill, the undertaking that cigarettes would not be advertised was repeated.

My hon. Friend's recollection is correct. I sought undertakings from the city council on two matters: that there should not be sponsorship by any company well known as being involved in South Africa, and that the race should not advertise tobacco and particularly cigarettes. I have checked the file and the letter that I subsequently received from the city council. I think that the city council has honoured that undertaking. I believe in approaching the Bill and the whole question of the road race objectively. We should not accuse anyone of bad faith in respect of those two undertakings.

I am pleased to hear that, because it restores my faith a little. I have never taken a major interest in that point, but I was shocked when I saw the Marlboro car go rushing by. The legislation lays down strict times about when the barriers can be erected and taken down. Those rules are unquestionably breached and anyone who lives in any of the streets will say they are erected earlier and taken down later, sometimes in the middle of the night when there is supposed to be no noise.

I am glad to hear that the hon. Member for Selly Oak is shocked. This year, when I went to the road race, tenant after tenant in houses next to the circuit complained about the unbearable noise. It is an incredible noise, which hurts one's ears. I met the leader of the city council, and he said, "What do you think?" I said that I did not like it very much. He said "It is terribly noisy—unbearable isn't it?" He said that as he left the circuit after the major race of the day. The noise is uncomfortable, especially for elderly people and children. If readings were taken of the noise levels I am sure that they would be found to be above the danger to health level.

I see that the council has undertaken to monitor future noise levels. I understand that the council monitored the levels this year but will not publish the results. Last year or in previous years it handed out free ear plugs.

Not to everybody. I was there, and as I walked up and down people said to me, "We got free ear plugs last year but we have not all got them this year." I know that the people in the hospitality tent gave them out. As I was leaving, the leader of the city council gave me his, and I still have them on my desk in Birmingham. However, they were not given to all the people who live in the area and who need them more than the visitors, because they are in the area all the time.

Leaving aside the matter of tobacco—I accept the correction of my hon. Friend the Member for Hodge Hill on that—there are other serious breaches of the agreement. The big one is the breach of the undertaking to break even in five years or stop. There are also breaches about the times of erecting the barriers and cheaper tickets for the people of Birmingham, an agreement that was on the face of the Bill and which has been breached.

The hon. Member for Northfield recited a list of undertakings about what the city council will do. Second time around, I am afraid that I do not believe that. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman gave the undertakings in good faith. However, I am sure that, when Sir Reginald Eyre said that it would not be the wish of any hon. Member or of anyone on the city council to run the race if it cost the ratepayers money, he did so with an absolute commitment. However, we have seen breaches of the undertakings.

Undertakings are welcome as far as they go, but they are not necessarily honoured. They are only undertakings, and were not even on the face of the Bill. Leaving aside the continuing argument about money, the undertaking about cheap tickets for the people of Birmingham has been ignored. It was also said that religious worship would be respected. People in the churches on the circuit cannot hear themselves praying when a race is on, and to say that they will be able to continue with religious worship is a joke. They will not, because it will be impossible. I am afraid that I do not believe the undertakings given by the hon. Member for Northfield.

There is another matter relating to accounts. People in Ladywood are sceptical about what is included and what is excluded in the accounts. Some extraordinary things are going on. This is a neglected area with terrible problems of black mould in the houses. People come along just before the race and paint the houses fronting the circuit. Houses round the corner do not get painted. Curtains are put up in empty flats so that, when television cameras pan the area, viewers will not see empty windows.

People who live in the area and whose real needs and those of their children and local schools are neglected get very angry and cynical about such behaviour. I do not believe for one minute that the accounts reflect the real cost of the race, because we know that they take account only of staff who are almost wholly employed in organising the race. All the people who clean up the area, put out the flowers, do the painting and so on are not included in the accounts.

The people who live there are extremely cynical. I have had many letters and complaints, some of which I have sent on. People say, "Just because I live off the circuit, my house has not been painted. Houses round the corner that are on the circuit have been painted twice, but mine has not been touched because the television camera will not pan across it." Those that are painted are painted only in the front and not at the back.

One of the undertakings given today was that double glazing would be fitted to houses near the circuit. Imagine the cost of that.

If people are to be subjected to horrendous noise, they should have double glazing, but it would be much better to put the race on a purpose-built circuit so that they are not subjected to such noise.

I have some experience of this, and I know that secondary glazing should be provided, not double glazing. Secondary glazing to cut down noise is well known in my constituency because of the nuisance from Birmingham airport. The problem with secondary glazing is that it is effective only if one keeps the windows closed. This race takes place on August bank holiday—the very time when people like to have their windows open.

I take my hon. Friend's point, and I know that his constituency suffers because of the noise from the airport. However, the airport is a different problem. Races should be put on a track, so that the noise does not affect people so much. Instead of the money being spent on double glazing, it should be used to tackle the black mould. I feel strongly about that, because it is a serious problem that can be dealt with, and the money has not been found to do so.

The Bill should not be carried over, because of the sheer intolerable disruption that it causes to people's lives. When the race was on this year, I visited a number of my constituents whose houses are on the circuit and I heard the noise, which is unbearable. It is fine if one goes to a road race because one chooses to go, is excited to go and is happy to subject one's ears to this unbearable noise. However, if one lives on the circuit, one is subjected to it whether or not one wants to be. When people complain, they are told to go away, but when they go away, their houses are broken into and their gardens are used as urinals. People feel that they need to stay in their houses to look after them when crowds are coming to the area.

There is also enormous disruption to traffic in the period leading up to the race, caused by the erection of barriers. I imagine that the hon. Members for Northfield and for Selly Oak know about that. Taxi drivers and others complain about it.

Furthermore, once the barriers are up, buses are diverted. This is a poorer area with relatively low car ownership and people who have to use buses to go into town to do their shopping cannot get on them. They object to that.

I do not know whether hon. Members know, but when the armco kerb is erected, mothers with children and pensioners cannot get out of their houses properly, so little ramps are built to help such people. Unfortunately, a number of elderly people fell off the ramp over the armco kerb so that they could get out of their houses to do their shopping. This is all for a two-day race.

I have a letter here from one of my constituents, Mr. O'Donnell, of 21, Hodnet grove, who sent for a doctor because he was ill. The doctor came at 11.30 am, was not allowed in, went away and did not come back till 5 pm, although the organisers said that they would provide access. Happily, although he was in pain, my constituent did not suffer from a worse illness because of this lack of treatment.

Church services are enormously disrupted, and that is greatly objected to.

I made it clear at the beginning of my speech, and I make it clear again, that the city of Birmingham already has legal powers to run a two-day road race. It should concentrate on running it efficiently, covering costs and not disrupting the lives of local people. A four-day race will be unbearable, because of the disruption and costs. Contradictory things are said about this four-day race. Sometimes we are told that it will become a grand prix, which will mean that there will be four days of racing, which will be unbearable for local people. Sometimes, we are told that it will be only a three-day race, but in that case why does the Bill take powers for four days?

The Bill has been wrongly handled. It would be better to start again. It is intolerable to suggest that powers should be granted for a four-day race with no constraint on expenditure. For that reason alone, it would be better to lose the Bill and start again next Session. It is in the interests of the people of Birmingham that this road race ceases. I think that if hon. Members met and knew my constituents, they would agree with me, and would not vote for a four-day race. It has been ridiculously hyped up. Screaming noisy cars should not go round where people live.

When I saw the race, I was interviewed by a man, whose name I have forgotten, who produces a motor racing programme. He said that it was a rotten track and that at hardly any point could one see what was going on. It may be exciting to have a race where people live, but it is a bad track. It is not a good shape for road racing. It is rubbish on every level. I appeal to the House not to carry the Bill over to the next Session.

9.4 pm

I shall intervene only briefly—the motion is strictly procedural—to advise the House of the Government's view. My hon. Friends may rest assured that I am not the Government Chief Whip. They need have no fear that my words will in any sense cause them to worry.

The House knows that traditionally the Government stand neutral on private Bills, and this Bill is no exception to that rule. It was made clear to the House when my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley), who was then the Minister responsible, intervened on Second Reading that the issues raised by the Bill are essentially of local concern. Accordingly, there is no reason for the Government to intervene. It would be consistent with that approach for the Government to support the carry-over motion.

9.5 pm

I have been referred to in the debate, it having been said that on a previous occasion my speech was short. I acknowledge that. I spoke for only a short time because I wished to allow another two Labour Members to contribute to the debate. I regret that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) did not speak on that occasion, but she certainly had her fill this evening. We listened to 55 minutes of innuendo, accusations and distortions of quotations. That did little honour to Birmingham, to the level of the debate and to the great majority of the people of Birmingham, who want the debate and want the car race. That being so, they want the carry-over motion to be agreed to.

There has been talk in the Chamber of 6:1 being in favour of the Bill and the car race—[Interruption.] I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Ladywood is leaving the Chamber after the accusations that she made. In Birmingham, however, there was a clear majority in favour of the Bill. There was no bias in the question that was put to the people of Birmingham—that was made clear when it was read out to us—and there has been no dishonour.

Birmingham and the midlands are benefiting from tourism by about £1,000 million a year, and it is imperative that the city is associated with the motor car. The motor car is one of its earliest manufactures and it is something for which the city is historically well known. The car race offers a showroom window to the world.

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) and my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) were, like me, members of Birmingham city council for a long time before coming to this place. My hon. Friend the Member for Selly Oak and I were members of the council for far longer than we have been members of the House. I served on the council for 21 years and I know that my hon. Friend served on it for longer than that. The right hon. Member for Small Heath served between 1946 and 1954.

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for correcting me. I should like to be accurate in every respect during my speech, unlike some of those who have spoken before me.

The right hon. Member for Small Heath knows, as we all do—he, my hon. Friend the Member for Selly Oak and I are the only three people present who served on the city council—that Birmingham has wanted the Bill for a long time. My hon. Friend the Member for Selly Oak and I voted for such a measure as long ago as 1973 when the issue first arose. I am pleased to say that the Bill is now unstoppable unless some Opposition Members—a small minority—are successful in their determination to block the measure by introducing every disruptive practice that they can.

The prime motive behind the Bill is safety, which is of paramount importance in motor racing. The international governing body, FISA, is responsible for the safety of drivers and tracks. Its rules become stricter year by year. We must applaud FISA and ensure that its rules are abided by. One of the greatest racing drivers in history has recently learnt that safety rules must be abided by, probably at the cost of losing a world championship. Therefore, I remind the House that the principal purpose of the Bill is to improve safety in the pits and on the track. Without the legislation, the international licence of the Birmingham circuit is in jeopardy. A vote against the Bill is a vote not only against the promoters' ambitious plans to extend the event, but against the race itself.

In my view, the hon. Member for Ladywood committed political suicide when she announced her real intention in the last minutes of her speech. Unlike that of most other people, her real intention is to stop the Bill and to delay or jeopardise the future of the race. Other cities, in Britain and abroad, would be very anxious to take up the challenge if Birmingham were to lose it. The longer the race is established, the safer it is and the safer Birmingham's lead in world terms.

One of my portfolios on the Back Benches is tourism, so I know that the figures are right. Hoteliers are reporting greater use of hotels and the value to tourism of activities such as motor racing is accelerating in Birmingham. It means more jobs in the inner city, in Ladywood, in Sparkbrook, in parts of Hodge Hill and certainly in parts of Yardley. It would be madness to object to those economic gains.

The debate has been characterised by continual interventions and I should be obliged if the hon. Gentleman would allow me to make my case as quickly as I can so that he can question my speech in the context of his own.

The race has been one of the contributory factors to £1·5 billion investment in the city and an endorsement of the enterprise for which Birmingham is so famous. That is an all-party endorsement because Birmingham is not divided on this matter. The only divisions are the few that have been so vocally expressed tonight. All the great things that exist in Birmingham—the national exhibition centre, the convention centre which is almost finished and the Birmingham international airport and station—were all carried through on an all-party basis, as is our tradition.

I have been privileged and honoured to be part of that process. To suggest, under the protection of this Chamber, that our officials have behaved dishonourably is an absolute iniquity. On behalf of those officials I must stress that they have committed no malfeasance whatsoever and the case has been put fairly and honourably, as it deserves. Tonight an attempt has been made to perpetrate a moral defeat by using procedural means to defeat a Bill which has almost, the wholehearted support of those on the council, in the city and in the country.

I am certain that hon. Members who object to the Bill are sincere, but why do they always object to measures that, given time, will not only be profitable for the city's coffers and underwrite matters of greater social importance but will give people pleasure? I cannot and will not understand that attitude.

We want to support industry, and what better way of showing that than by supporting the industry that has been the heart of the midlands—the car industry? The race does not deprive Birmingham of money, but it adds to the spectrum of the city and to the quality of leisure in it. It is of much value to the Rover Group and other manufacturers and all the component manufacturers who employ Brummies.

Although the race may occasionally be noisy, and although occasionally it might be the cause of verbal abrasiveness in the House or outside, it is welcome. Birmingham is a warm and welcoming and exciting place, and once experienced it is not easily left or forgotten. I invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to agree to the carry-over motion and to continue to give the city its car birthright.

9.16 pm

Although I feel strongly about the Bill, about which I have spoken previously, you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will be glad to hear that I shall attempt to put my succinct points succinctly.

Some important points must be made. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) has left the Chamber—I am sure for good reasons—but I am sure that she will not object to my replying to some of the points that she made. My hon. Friend let the cat out of the bag in the last two minutes of her speech. For 55 minutes, she urged us not to pass the carry-over motion but to introduce a new Bill and to reconsider financial and other matters. Having urged that on us, she said that we should kill the road race. It was quite clear to hon. Members that whatever the city council did she would not support a Bill for a road race in any circumstances. Therefore, her plea——

I accept that amendment. Her plea to introduce a new Bill for the race, which is located in her constituency, would therefore never receive her support.

I need not remind you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that we are debating the carry-over motion. We should not be debating the merits of the road race——

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) says that we are not. In that case, I must have misunderstood the lengthy speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood.

The Bill has properly gone through its parliamentary procedures, but hon. Members voting against the carry-over motion are voting not to continue parliamentary discussion of the Bill.

In this next Session. The carry-over motion is to allow us to continue discussion in the next Session. Some of my hon. Friends do not want to debate the merits of the Bill in the next Session, which is why they oppose the carry-over motion. I do not approve of that extraordinary parliamentary procedure. I have strong views about the private Bill procedure, which has got out of hand, but they are probably not so strong as yours, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You have my sympathy in dealing with that dilemma. When the public are required to bring a private Bill before the House to get parliamentary authority for their actions, they are entitled to have the procedures on the Bill followed in the ways laid down by Parliament. My hon. Friends are objecting to that.

There is no doubt that many Birmingham citizens support the Bill. Even those living close to the race supported it in a poll. My hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood conceded that just over 50 per cent. voted for it. That is a majority among the people most likely to be affected. The Bill certainly has the support of a majority of the members of the city council, and I am glad to say that it has the support of at least eight of the 12 Birmingham Members of Parliament. That should not be lightly forgotten.

I should like to deal with a financial point. I gave some figures in an intervention, so I shall not go over them again. In 1988, the last year for which we have published accounts for the race, there was an operational profit of about £582,000—a tremendous profit. Before my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Bar intervenes, may I say that I agree that that includes the £600,000. My hon. Friend has a big responsibility for that sum, to which he will not admit. After taking account of that £600,000, the deficit this year was about £17,000 overall. The cost to the ratepayer this year was about £17,000.

My hon. Friend does not understand the figures. The operational profit was £582,000. As my hon. Friend said, the cost to the city of promoting the race was £600,000. If my hon. Friend does a little mathematics, he will see that subtracting £582,616 from £600,000 leaves the cost to the ratepayer—£17,384. That was the actual cost.

I am coming to what we got for that. Did the city council get value for that money? I want to comment on the £600,000 about which my hon. Friends feel so strongly. It was imposed on the city council by my hon. Friends because of their representations that every penny possible should be put into the accounts in accordance with proper accounting procedures.

That is what my hon. Friends were asking for. Because of that pressure, it was proposed in an amendment, to which my hon. Friends did not object, that the accounts must be made on the basis of what was technically termed a "true and fair view" basis. That was the form of words imposed on the city council.

It was drafted by the city council, but at the insistence of my hon. Friends.

Of course I will give way, when I have finished my point. I do not want to stop my hon. Friend from making his point. I remember the "true and fair view" basis in the amendment drafted by the city council to meet the pressures put on it by my hon. Friends to have proper accounting.

I was closely involved in discussions with Sir Reginald Eyre on the city council's behalf. The discussions took place in the presence of parliamentary agents on behalf of the city council. I was pressing Sir Reginald Eyre, on behalf of my hon. Friends, to accept the inclusion in the Bill of the principle that there would not be any charge to the rates and the proposal that if the race did not make a cumulative profit after five years—the council was actually offering three years—it would be stopped.

The wording of the amendment was provided by Sir Reginald Eyre and I believe that it was drafted for him by parliamentary agents to give effect to his and the city council's assurances. We were simply asking the city council to include in the Bill what it said it wanted to do in any case. It is not correct for my right hon. Friend to accuse me and my hon. Friends of having drafted the amendment or of being in any way responsible for any defective wording in the city council's effort to give legal effect to what it had offered and we had accepted.

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. Everything that he says supports my contention. I certainly never said that my hon. Friends drafted the amendment—I said that they pressed for this form of accountancy.

My right hon. Friend was not there; I was. Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Sit down. I know that my hon. Friend was there, but I was the recipient of the Bill when it came back here. The wording that I have read out to the House was designed to meet the pressure that the city council thought was being put on it. Perhaps the council was wrong, but it took advice and the amendment was drafted. To the best of my knowledge, no hon. Member objected to that form of accountancy when we discussed the Birmingham City Council Bill.

Let me explain. I must say that I do not want the £600,000 to be included. However, the wording having been accepted, Price Waterhouse said that if we had to have true and meaningful accountancy, the accounts must include the value that the city received from advertising itself worldwide as a result of the race. That is the history of the matter.

Yes, it is. We must consider next whether we have had good value for the money.

I do not think that I am. I accept my hon. Friend's account of what happened, but my interpretation of what he said happened is that it resulted in the drafting of the amendment.

I support the race not only because it is a major sporting event, and I have spent all my life trying to bring major sporting events to Birmingham, but because the most important aim in inner cities——

I repeat to my right hon. Friend that he is mistaken. I accept that he is misinformed, but the account that I gave—and he has accepted—of the discussion that took place with Sir Reginald Eyre did not suggest any particular form of words for the amendment or for the type of accountancy to take place. That all came from Sir Reginald Eyre, the city council and the parliamentary agents. It is wrong for my right hon. Friend to suggest that we were in any way involved in the drafting.

Sir Reginald Eyre gave an assurance to the House that the amendment proposed by the city council met our points. If it is defective, responsibility rests with the city council.

That may be so, and it may be the common ground between us, but I must stress that the amendment was drafted by parliamentary agents and lawyers in an attempt to meet the points that were urged on them about the need for proper constructive accountancy. As a result, my hon. Friends have what they did not expect and what I do not want either. Price Waterhouse—the auditors imposed by the Government, not by the city—told us that in that case we must include the value of the race to the city in promotional terms. That amount is estimated by other consultants and experts to be £600,000. That is not disputed.

Have we had value for money? The second reason why I support the race—if my hon. Friends agree that this is the case, they will agree that it is desirable—is that we must bring jobs into Birmingham. All the inner-city constituencies which I and my hon. Friends represent have an unemployment level of about 30 per cent. I hope that hon. Members supporting the Bill will not mind my saying that our unemployment problems in Birmingham will not be solved by the Government, but by us. [HON. MEMBERS "That is true.] I agree with that, too. It is all part and parcel of the promotion of the city internationally through the olympic campaign, which I had the privilege to lead, the international exhibition centre, for which there was all-party support, the international convention centre, which promises to be an outstanding success, and the international indoor sports arena. I used some influence to have the arena built in Birmingham with great effect, and it is now being built. It will be the only international indoor sports arena in the country. All such projects are vital. With the grand prix road race, they result in £1·5 billion being invested in Birmingham.

In the few minutes at the end of Second Reading I separated out all the examples that my right hon. Friend has just given. They are all solid capital assets for our city which will be of undoubted benefit to future generations. However, one cannot by any stretch of the imagination equate the road race with such solid capital assets. It is simply a revenue plughole.

The accumulation of public relations and the projection of the city combine to produce the result. No one can deny that the grand prix road race is part of the accumulation aimed at presenting the modern face of Birmingham. This year, 100,000 people watched the road race. Birmingham citizens and others voted with their feet by turning up to watch.

One hundred thousand people turned up to watch the race and at least 10 million watched it on television. No sports event in the history of this country has been televised by Independent Television, Central Television and the BBC all at once. It is the only time that a weekend sporting event has been televised simultaneously by every channel available.

I do not know whether my right hon. Friend attended the race this year, but I have been to it in previous years. It was notable that many of the stands were empty. The people who live nearby say that the numbers were undoubtedly down this year, perhaps because it was beautiful weather. Is my right hon. Friend saying that 100,000 tickets were sold?

Let me answer the point. There were 88,000 people who paid to watch the race. This year, the city council, in its wisdom, decided to allow people to bring their children free. There were 88,000 adults at the race and 12,000 children accompanied them. My hon. Friend should welcome that because she has been urging that people in Birmingham should be given concessionary tickets.

As research into attendance at the race last year shows, two out of three people who paid to watch the road race were from outside Birmingham. Is that not important because, but for the road race, that money would be unlikely to come to Birmingham?

My hon. Friend is quite right. The road race is part of our attempt to promote the city, and I do not know how it could be done better. It cost us about £17,000 in 1988. Where else in the country could one achieve as much for £17,000? The race has been projected to about 30 different countries worldwide; 11 million people watched it in this country and 100,000 people turned up and paid to watch it. That is fantastic——

No, I did not go because I was having a heart attack at the time. If I had heard my hon. Friend's speech before my heart attack I might not have survived, but due to the care of the National Health Service I am in more robust form than before.

We are all extremely glad that my right hon. Friend survived. He spent some of the time in Dudley Road hospital in my constituency, and I am sure he received superb care there. We are all very pleased to see him looking so well.

My survival was due to the co-operation of Dudley Road hospital in Birmingham and the National Heart hospital in London and I am glad to say that all is well.

I intend to take it easy, but my hon. Friend must not provoke me. If my surgeons were here, they would be getting upset.

Almost every country in Europe and countries world-wide broadcast the road race, which appeared not only in its own right but on all the news bulletins. It was very good value for Birmingham. That is why we should carry the Bill over.

I do not want to stop my hon. Friends objecting to the Bill. They have every right to do so, and I do not complain about that for one moment. But the time for them to voice their objections will come on Report and Third Reading. If we pass the motion to carry the Bill over, my hon. Friends will have every right to object in those debates. If we do not carry the motion, we shall kill the Bill and prevent ourselves from taking advantage of the merits of the race. That would be unacceptable from the point of view of the House and of the city of Birmingham. I urge the House to support the motion.

9.36 pm

This has been an interesting debate in which Conservative Members' views have been almost peripheral to the argument taking place on the Opposition Benches —which would be a cause for satisfaction were the Bill not so important to the city of Birmingham and its long-term plans.

I have some sympathy with the proper point made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) that people's lives are regularly interrupted by developments such as this. When I was a young councillor—as will be obvious, that was many years ago—I secured a bus stop that someone very much wanted. In fact, I did so well that the bus stop was outside the person's house. He never ceased to complain because he wanted the bus stop in his road but outside someone else's house. The same can happen with airports. We all know that Birmingham international airport is of huge importance to the city, but we do not want the flight path over our homes.

No, I shall not give way. I want to complete my point for the sake of Birmingham people.

Of course we need airports, but they disturb people's lives. The same is true of the national exhibition centre. I was a founder director and signed the contract on behalf of the city. That, too, interrupted many people's lives—as does the convention centre. One can make a good argument against nearly every development on the ground that it will inconvenience someone.

The hon. Member for Ladywood argued that many of her constituents would be put out, and I do not doubt for one moment that that is a proper argument. Cars, like motor bikes, are noisy things. But we must look further than that. As my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) pointed out, I served on Birmingham city council for 23 years with many splendid Socialist as well as Conservative councillors. We spoke for Birmingham. Labour Ministers often used to say that Labour Members from Birmingham gave them a harder time than Conservative Members. Indeed, Conservative Members also said that Conservative Members from Birmingham gave them a harder time than the Socialists. We all spoke for Birmingham.

On behalf of the city of Birmingham, I resent some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Ladywood. In her excitement and her desire to serve her constituents, she said that we were talking about a potty little road race. It is not potty to try to bring considerable publicity and hope to one's people.

If the hon. Gentleman has the race in his constituency, he will lose his seat.

It is always the easiest argument in the world to say, "Have it near you." For 30 years as a councillor and as a Member of this place I have argued in favour of issues which I believed were for the wider good of Birmingham. The people of Ladywood need prosperity as much as any and more than many. They need things like the Olympics—a glorious £2 million failure, but which still bought us a lot of publicity—a motor race, the convention centre, the city of Birmingham symphony orchestra or even the Birmingham royal ballet. Those things help to give people a vision of Birmingham.

Labour colleagues of the hon. Member for Ladywood must resent the fact that time after time she mentioned the phrases, "deeply dishonourable", "misleading" or "if the truth was told." As far as I can tell, the only good point that the hon. Member for Ladywood would make about her colleagues is that they were deeply dishonourable, but with good intent. I have never known anyone be deeply dishonourable with good intent. There is either good intent about what the city council, on behalf of the people wished to do, or there is not. It cannot be deeply dishonourable to tell the truth if it could be told or to tell people that they deliberately mislead and then try to say, "I know that they do it with the best intentions." On sober reflection, I hope that the hon. Member for Ladywood will withdraw what she said.

If a proposal produces a vast amount of advertising, that is not fraudulent. Why do people want their names on racing cars? Why do they want to have the Barclays Football League? Why should Marlboro appear on racing cars or Kelloggs' symbols on children's television programmes? Such names subliminally and properly make people believe that that is good advertising. Advertising is not something that is handed out like lollipops on street corners or with "Kiss me Quick, Clare" hats at election time. It is all part of an overall strategy.

The city council is not dishonourable, not even with good intent. It is honourable with the good intent of trying to round off what some of us have spent 30 years of our lives doing: making people worldwide look on Birmingham not as a narrow provincial city, but as a place with vision.

Alderman Harry Whatton was a great Labour leader of the city of Birmingham. When he signed the £23 million contract all those years ago for the national exhibition centre, I remember telling him that we would either end up in prison or as heroes. Happily, we did not end up in prison.

I believe that the hon. Gentleman meant to use the word "publicity" instead of "advertising". My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) stated that the reporting of the road race by ITV through Central and by the BBC in this country and in 30 other countries round the world was not space that we could have bought even if we had wanted to.

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I meant to include publicity.

Ever since 1956, when I was elected as a councillor for the local division of my hon. Friend the Member for Yardley, the council has had vision. The road race is part of that continuing vision. I sympathise with people whose lives are interrupted—for example, taxi drivers who moan because they cannot get their taxis through, and people from the vegetable market who moan about the race day—but we all need a prosperous Birmingham. Business may be interrupted one day to give prosperity the next day. I hope that Birmingham Members of Parliament can look further than being eight against four. I should like to think that, for the future of our city, whatever the inconvenience, we are 12 for all.

9.45 pm

It is a pity that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) was not present to support the city council on Second Reading. He was not in the House to speak or to vote. He was conspicuous by his absence. Judging by his speech today, one would think that the hon. Gentleman was present that day. The same applies to other Conservative Members from the city of Birmingham. It is not the cosy arrangement that one would suppose. Some hon. Members are conscious of finances. We are well aware that, during next year's local election, Conservative Members will attack the Labour-controlled city council for its record over the past six years—the longest period that Labour has been in power since the war. The council will go on for at least 10 years. Conservative Members will attack the council for whatever poll tax is set—whether it is £240 or £340. However, included in the poll tax will be a subvention for the road race.

Underlying all our debates, our primary objection has been the way in which finances have been handled. It was never intended that ratepayers' or poll tax payers' money should be used to subsidise the road race. It was clearly and explicitly stated that that would not happen, and arrangements were made to make sure that it would not happen. I disregard debates about whether it will take three or five years to break even. Leaving aside revenue costs, we even thought that we had an arrangement for capital costs. We thought that capital costs had been so arranged that it would be possible, as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) said in her press release, to spend money on roofs, gutters and eliminating black mould. We know now that that is not the case. That is our central objection.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) said that, this year, the race will cost ratepayers £17,000, as though, for a city with a budget of £1 billion, £17,000 does not matter. Birmingham city council is so strapped for cash that 150 disabled people have not been granted bus passes. The council was unable to find the £15,000 to fund their bus passes. That gives an idea of what a council can do with £17,000.

Birmingham city council is not a high-spending authority. Anyone who knows Birmingham would say that it spends too little in some areas. It is £96 a head below average metropolitan districts, as was shown by last week's statement by the Secretary of State for the Environment. It is a question of priorities. We should leave aside the benefits that might accrue from the road race—the publicity and advertising—which I separate in revenue terms from the other issues raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath, such as the NEC and the international convention centre, which are wholly different. Those issues are on different planets from the road race.

We must consider the financial arrangements and the overall benefits to the city. I am the first to make the point that one must be careful when painting the whole picture of our urban areas. On the one hand, we want new and better investment in our great cities from the public and private sectors. That is crucial across the country. But on the other hand, the dilemma for those of us who represent the arguments of the people who are downtrodden and ignored, who get second best, who have had a bad start, who end up in rotten housing or with rotten or no jobs and who are involved in a cycle of deprivation, is that if we highlight those facts to fight for something better, we are told that we are doing our city down. We have to strike a balance.

So far, to its credit, Birmingham has never put a homeless person or family into a bed-and-breakfast hotel. Never. That is a massive plus for Birmingham city council, but the housing crisis in our city is now so great that within a couple of years—by the time that the five-star Hyatt hotel opens, with its £2 million of ratepayers' money; at the very time the international convention centre opens; and the fifth or sixth year of the road race—there will be a cardboard city in Birmingham. There is no question about that. Under the present financial arrangements we cannot cope with our housing crisis. That means that we must look at the full cost of an enterprise such as the road race.

I shall not give way to the hon. Lady—[Interruption.] No, I shall not. I was cut short with only seven minutes and had a closure motion moved on me in our previous debate on this and I am sure that it will happen again before 10 o'clock this evening. Although I have a lot to say, I shall not because there will be time later on. I simply want to make a few preliminary points. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Dame J. Knight) is on one of her rare visits to our Birmingham road race debates. She is an assiduous attender of the House, but not at these debates.

I turn first to the true overall cost. The point that my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath so robustly made was that, because of the demands that we made under section 14 of the Birmingham City Council Act 1985, our chickens are coming home to roost. But the fact is that not all the social costs of the road race are put into the accounts. The auditors, lawyers and accountants have found it convenient to include some of the pluses, such as the £600,000 worth of promotion, but they are not willing to include the social costs of the road race. I shall mention just one of those costs—delays. The cost of publicity may be something on which one cannot easily put a figure, but I understand that the sum of £600,000 has been arrived at by looking at all the references to Birmingham in the newspapers and on television and trying to put some value on them. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath concedes that it must he a value judgment.

Let us consider the cost of traffic delays. I shall use the Department of Transport's own figures because we do not build roads willy-nilly in this country: all our roads are subject to a cost-benefit analysis to decide whether they should be single, dual or have three carriageways. We also consider the cost of bridges. The Department of Transport's assessment of the cost of delays caused to what is termed a "working car"—a car containing people travelling to work—is £9·124 per hour. If we take only the periods before and after the racing weekend, and accepting that at rush-hour times most vehicles are working cars with, say, a 15-minute delay per vehicle, for 1,000 cars, the cost is £2,281.

As the full traffic flow figures are not known for the entire circuit, I am using the traffic flow figures for the A38 from the Department of Transport. If we estimate that 1,500 cars were held up for 15 minutes, twice daily, for 20 working days between July to September, excluding the race weekend, the delay would cost, at 1988 figures, £136,860. The estimate does not include lorries. That dislocation to travel and transport in Birmingham is the social cost of the road race. No one has bothered to put that on the other side of the account which suggests that £600,000 could be derived from promotions. That cost should be investigated.

I am happy to accept the closure when the time comes, but I hope that I shall get the four and a half minutes left to me. I received a letter from the licensee of a brand new restaurant and bar complex in the city centre. He told me that most of his customers on the racing weekend were other licensees who were checking how many customers he had. The bar and restaurant is just outside the racing circuit on the canal, but it is close to the city on the Gas street basin.

It is also important to consider the shift in opinion among Tories on Birmingham city council. The other day, Councillor Zissman, the deputy leader of the Tory group, spoke of the
"spite, narrow-mindedness and obvious prejudice"
of my hon. Friends the Members for Ladywood, for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis) and myself. Is this the same Councillor Zissman who said on 14 September that there was
"great concern over the way the accounts were worked out"?
He also said that he wanted to end the subsidisation of the event by ratepayers and he questioned the financial basis of the race.

Those are the very points that have been made by my hon. Friends and myself since the end of 1988 when we found out how the accounts were being set out—because of a change in the interpretation of the preamble to the 1985 Act rather than a section of it. We realised that creative accounting was afoot. Conservative Members should ask themselves questions about their friends on Birmingham city council. It is crucial that the full cost is investigated.

I know that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) must do his bit to shut me up—that is his job—but before he does it is important to consider the latest annual report for Birmingham which says that the Bill
"could pave the way for a Formula 1 Grand Prix to be held in Birmingham"

We all know that the costs of Formula one grand prix are outside the scope of the Bill. They belong to another planet compared with the money we have spoken about. Hon. Members should be aware, however, that this year the British grand prix attracted 500,000 people over three days. There were 1,000 helicopter movements in and out of the circuit and 25 acres of hospitality tents. Is someone suggesting that the circuit round the inner city of Birmingham is a precursor for a grand prix? The figures that I have just given show that that is absolutely crazy. Such a claim is all part of the hype to try to sell a dud product. It is a dud product, because it is sucking up £600,000 of ratepayers' money. The money could be used to repair school playgrounds and to replace the bus passes given to disabled people. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath shares my belief that those passes should not have been removed. The money could be spent on a host of worthwhile activities.

The race should be made to pay for itself—that was the promise given to our fellow citizens of Birmingham. If such arrangements could be made, I would support the race——

Qustion put, That the question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 153, Noes 35.

Division No. 404]

[9.59 pm


Alexander, RichardHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Amess, DavidHunt, David (Wirral W)
Arbuthnot, JamesHunter, Andrew
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Irvine, Michael
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Jack, Michael
Atkins, RobertJanman, Tim
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Johnston, Sir Russell
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Bermingham, GeraldJones, Robert B (Herts W)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterKey, Robert
Boswell, TimKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Boyes, RolandKirkhope, Timothy
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardKirkwood, Archy
Brazier, JulianKnapman, Roger
Bright, GrahamKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Browne, John (Winchester)Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Buck, Sir AntonyKnox, David
Burns, SimonLatham, Michael
Butterfill, JohnLawrence, Ivan
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Lightbown, David
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Lilley, Peter
Carrington, MatthewLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs LyndaLofthouse, Geoffrey
Chapman, SydneyLord, Michael
Chope, ChristopherMcKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Colvin, MichaelMaclean, David
Conway, DerekMcLoughlin, Patrick
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Mans, Keith
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Corbett, RobinMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Cormack, PatrickMeyer, Sir Anthony
Couchman, JamesMichael, Alun
Cox, TomMills, Iain
Cran, JamesMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaMoate, Roger
Dalyell, TamMonro, Sir Hector
Davis, David (Boothferry)Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Dorrell, StephenMoynihan, Hon Colin
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesNeubert, Michael
Duffy, A. E. P.Nicholls, Patrick
Durant, TonyNicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Dykes, HughOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Eggar, TimOppenheim, Phillip
Emery, Sir PeterPaice, James
Fallon, MichaelPatnick, Irvine
Fenner, Dame PeggyPawsey, James
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Pendry, Tom
Fookes, Dame JanetPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Forman, NigelPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Forth, EricSackville, Hon Tom
Freeman, RogerShaw, David (Dover)
Gale, RogerShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Gardiner, GeorgeShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Garel-Jones, TristanShersby, Michael
Golding, Mrs LlinSkeet, Sir Trevor
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Snape, Peter
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Speller, Tony
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)Stern, Michael
Hampson, Dr KeithStevens, Lewis
Harris, DavidStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyStradling Thomas, Sir John
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidSummerson, Hugo
Hind, KennethTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Howard, MichaelTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)Thorne, Neil
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Thornton, Malcolm
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Thurnham, Peter
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Trippier, David

Trotter, NevilleWinterton, Mrs Ann
Vaughan, Sir GerardWood, Timothy
Waller, Gary
Watts, JohnTellers for the Ayes:
Wheeler, JohnMr Andrew Hargreaves and Mr. David Gilroy-Bevan.
Widdecombe, Ann
Wiggin, Jerry


Callaghan, JimMorley, Elliot
Clay, BobMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Cousins, JimMullin, Chris
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Nellist, Dave
Dixon, DonPatchett, Terry
Dunnachie, JimmyPike, Peter L.
Eastham, KenPrimarolo, Dawn
Flynn, PaulRedmond, Martin
Hardy, PeterRooker, Jeff
Haynes, FrankShort, Clare
Hinchliffe, DavidSkinner, Dennis
Hood, JimmySmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Illsley, EricSpearing, Nigel
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)Vaz, Keith
Lamond, JamesWise, Mrs Audrey
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Lewis, TerryTellers for the Noes:
Mahon, Mrs AliceMr. Bob Cryer and Mr. Harry Barnes.
Marek, Dr John
Morgan, Rhodri

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly:—

The House divided: Ayes 152, Noes 26.

Division No. 405]

[10.11 pm


Alexander, RichardDurant, Tony
Amess, DavidDykes, Hugh
Arbuthnot, JamesEggar, Tim
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Emery, Sir Peter
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Fallon, Michael
Atkins, RobertFenner, Dame Peggy
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Forman, Nigel
Batiste, SpencerForth, Eric
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyFreeman, Roger
Bermingham, GeraldGale, Roger
Boswell, TimGardiner, George
Boyes, RolandGarel-Jones, Tristan
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGolding, Mrs Llin
Brazier, JulianGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bright, GrahamGriffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Browne, John (Winchester)Hampson, Dr Keith
Buck, Sir AntonyHardy, Peter
Burns, SimonHarris, David
Butterfill, JohnHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Haynes, Frank
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carrington, MatthewHind, Kenneth
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs LyndaHome Robertson, John
Chapman, SydneyHoward, Michael
Chope, ChristopherHowarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Colvin, MichaelHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Conway, DerekHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Corbett, RobinHunt, David (Wirral W)
Cormack, PatrickHunter, Andrew
Couchman, JamesIrvine, Michael
Cox, TomJack, Michael
Cran, JamesJanman, Tim
Currie, Mrs EdwinaJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dalyell, TamJohnston, Sir Russell
Davis, David (Boothferry)Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Day, StephenJones, Robert B (Herts W)
Dixon, DonKey, Robert
Dorrell, StephenKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesKirkhope, Timothy
Duffy, A. E. P.Kirkwood, Archy

Knapman, RogerPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Sackville, Hon Tom
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Shaw, David (Dover)
Knox, DavidShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Latham, MichaelShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lawrence, IvanShersby, Michael
Lightbown, DavidSkeet, Sir Trevor
Lilley, PeterSnape, Peter
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Stern, Michael
Lofthouse, GeoffreyStevens, Lewis
Lord, MichaelStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Maclean, DavidSummerson, Hugo
McLoughlin, PatrickTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Mans, KeithTaylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir PatrickThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Meale, AlanThorne, Neil
Michael, AlunThornton, Malcolm
Mills, IainThurnham, Peter
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Trippier, David
Moate, RogerTrotter, Neville
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesVaughan, Sir Gerard
Monro, Sir HectorWaller, Gary
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Watts, John
Moynihan, Hon ColinWheeler, John
Neubert, MichaelWiddecombe, Ann
Nicholls, PatrickWiggin, Jerry
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)Winterton, Mrs Ann
Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyWood, Timothy
Oppenheim, Phillip
Paice, JamesTellers for the Ayes:
Patnick, IrvineMr. Andrew Hargreaves and Mr. David Gilroy-Bevan.
Pawsey, James
Pendry, Tom


Callaghan, JimNellist, Dave
Clay, BobPatchett, Terry
Cousins, JimPike, Peter L.
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Primarolo, Dawn
Eastham, KenRedmond, Martin
Flynn, PaulRooker, Jeff
Hinchliffe, DavidShort, Clare
Illsley, EricSkinner, Dennis
Lamond, JamesSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Lewis, TerrySpearing, Nigel
Mahon, Mrs AliceWise, Mrs Audrey
Marek, Dr John
Morgan, RhodriTellers for the Noes:
Morley, ElliotMr. Bob Cryer and Mr. Harry Barnes.
Morris, M (N'hampton S)

Question agreed to.


That the Promoters of the Birmingham City Council (No. 2) Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid.


That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House.


That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session.


That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read) and, having been amended by the Committee in the present session, shall be ordered to lie upon the Table.


That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session.


That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.