Skip to main content

London Local Authorities and Transport for London (No. 2) Bill [Lords]

Volume 571: debated on Tuesday 26 November 2013

Third Reading

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Third time.

I do not wish to detain the House for too long because the Bill has been subject to very detailed scrutiny at all its stages in this House and in the other place. I hope that, like the two previous London Local Authorities and Transport for London Bills, this Bill will be passed this afternoon, giving the councils and Transport for London very useful powers that I am sure will be welcomed by everyone who lives in London.

London councils and boroughs bring forward proposals for Bills, and this one started out in May 2007. At that time, I was sitting as deputy leader of Brent council, where we gave the Bill some detailed scrutiny. After the proposals were refined in summer 2007, the Bill was finally lodged in November 2007. It can therefore be said that it has had a long gestation period of some six years.

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) and his colleagues, my hon. Friends the Members for Shipley (Philip Davies) and for Bury North (Mr Nuttall) and others, who have subjected the Bill to very detailed scrutiny. It is fair to say that it has been a long process. My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch has sought tirelessly, not only on this private Bill but on others promoted by London local authorities and, indeed, authorities throughout the land, to ensure that such Bills are given detailed scrutiny, as is entirely appropriate. It may be said that they get far more scrutiny than legislation proposed by the Government that is much more important, if that is possible. I am sure that his constituents will rest easy knowing that his assiduous work on this Bill on their behalf means that when they next visit this great city there will be less clutter on the streets, apart from electricity charging points, safer skips and cleaner air as a result of the increase in the use of electric vehicles that will no doubt arise.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his generous remarks. This Bill started off with 39 clauses and now has 20. Does he accept that other legislation we pass in this House would invariably be much better if it were similarly truncated?

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. Before the Bill started, 15 clauses were removed by the Lords Select Committee that considered it, 10 of which formed one part of the Bill, and three were dropped by the promoters in agreement with people who objected. Detailed elements of the Bill have been subjected to tidying up and making sure that they are appropriate to the times we live in.

I thank the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond), and the hon. Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood) for their contributions to this debate.

Finally, I would like to mention something that will no doubt cause great distress to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and his colleagues and perhaps some joy and relief to others, including our Whips. I have been told that apart from a short four-month period in 1991, ever since the first London local authorities Bill was deposited in November 1988 there has been at least one such Bill before Parliament. When this Bill obtains Royal Assent, as I trust it now will, that continuous record will end. The torch is being carried on to some extent by TfL with a Bill that is currently in the Lords, but for the London boroughs, for the moment, that is it. As it happens, tomorrow is the day by which private Bills must be deposited in Parliament. I have it on very good authority that a London local authorities Bill will not be deposited.

With that, Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank you and your colleagues for your forbearance and hope that the House will shortly see fit to give this worthy Bill a Third Reading.

Order. I might be able to help the hon. Gentleman. As we all know, Third Readings never drag on for that long, and I would be tempted to put the Question way before then, so he ought to get his points in and not detain the House for too long. I know that he is desperate to get on to the Second Reading of the next Bill.

As always, you anticipate my remarks, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The whole process of private legislation should perhaps by revisited by the Procedure Committee, because this Bill shows that too often Bills are brought to this House and presented without being sufficiently thought through in advance. Great chunks of the Bill have been removed as a result of the scrutiny that this House has given to it. I know, Mr Deputy Speaker, that on Third Reading we do not talk about what is not in a Bill but only what is left in it. However, it is important to put it on record that all the provisions relating to pedicabs, for example, which were very controversial, have been completely removed. As I indicated in my intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman), a Bill that originally had 39 clauses now has only 20, so it is much tighter.

There have also been a significant number of amendments. I commend my hon. Friend for the constructive way in which he has dealt with the points that have been raised. Obviously he and I have not agreed about everything, but where we have been able to agree we have amended the Bill accordingly.

Has my hon. Friend not rather destroyed his own argument? If the Bill has been improved in the process of scrutiny that already exists, surely there is no need for the Procedure Committee to look at our procedures.

As my right hon. Friend is a former distinguished Chairman of the Procedure Committee, his intervention will probably carry considerable weight. I can understand why the Committee might not want to get involved in looking at private legislation. However, quite a lot of right hon. and hon. Members’ time has been taken up with this legislation, and the implication of my remarks was that some of that time could have been spared if the contents of the Bill had been thought through more carefully in advance before it was presented. I have noticed a distinct drying up of the number of private Bills being brought before the House. I hope that the thorough scrutiny to which they have been subject has become part of a deterrent process whereby people realise that one cannot just dream up some idea, put it in the form of legislation, present it, and hope that it will go through the House without anybody taking too much notice of it. If the Procedure Committee wants to look at the issue, then obviously it will do so.

The next Bill we are debating deals with filming on the highways in one particular locality. It is often asked why we need Bills dealing with a particular locality that could have a more general application through an enabling Bill passed by the Government that would enable local authorities, if they so wished, to opt into certain legislation. However, that is a debate for another day.

Having had such constructive engagement with my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East, it would not be appropriate to seek to divide the House on Third Reading. As I have I said all along, there are parts of this Bill that I support. I merely wanted to ensure that it was a better Bill when it left this House than when it arrived. I think that anybody looking at this objectively will agree with me and with you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that it is a better Bill that is worthy of a Third Reading.

I am glad to be able to speak in this debate, if a little surprised at how soon I am doing so. No doubt hon. Members on both sides of the House will be glad that six years after this Bill was deposited in the House we have finally reached its Third Reading.

Many Members have worked to improve the Bill, of whom many are in their places today, as have many in the other place, and not least in Committee. I want to take this opportunity to place on record my thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick), who spoke on behalf of the Opposition on Report. It should be recognised that the main promoter of the Bill, Westminster city council, has shown a willingness to compromise on a number of points. Thanks to that work, this is, overall, a sensible package of measures and I hope the House will give the Bill a Third Reading.

I am delighted that we have reached Third Reading and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) on his efforts in promoting the Bill. He and many other Members present have sought to make changes to, and contribute to extensive scrutiny of, the Bill during its passage through Parliament. The debate has been healthy and constructive, and the Bill has undoubtedly been improved as a result. The Government have made it clear throughout that we support the principle of the Bill. I thank my hon. Friend for his work in steering it through the House and Third Reading, and I hope it will receive Royal Assent. With that, I reiterate the Government’s position.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.