Commons Gate

In the House...

Speeches and parliamentary questions in the
House of Commons 2001-02

While speaking in the chamber of the House is a high profile activity for an MP, much other work is done elsewhere, in committee, as well as a large casework load for constituents.

A backbencher speaks for his constituents

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In the House Current Session
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15/10/02 A1
03/07/02 Regional Government Referendum
19/06/02 House of Lords Reform (Joint Committee)
22/05/02 Government Communications
22/05/02 Government Offices for the Regions
21/05/02 Grant Clawback (Newcastle)
15/05/02 Regional Government
13/05/02 House of Lords Reform
13/05/02 City of Culture 2008
09/05/02 Regional Government White Paper
23/04/02 Local Transport
22/04/02 Emmanuel College, Gateshead
10/04/02 Royal Ordnance Factories
05/03/02 Elected Regional Government
08/02/02 Director's Pay
06/02/02 Regional Government White Paper
05/02/02 Ofsted Annual Report
30/01/02 Local Government Finance
29/01/02 Gateshead western bypass - house purchases
08/01/02 Remploy
19/12/01 Corruption
18/12/01 Gateshead western bypass
12/12/01 Remploy
11/12/01 Local Government White Paper
04/12/01 Local Government Finance (England) 2002-03
29/11/01 Rolls-Royce job losses
28/11/01 Government Office for the North East
12/11/01 Training Providers
07/11/01 House of Lords Reform
23/10/01 Regional Government
12/07/01 English Regions
05/07/01 Development Council
03/07/01 Regional Government
20/06/01 Return to back benches


Commons Hansard
15 Oct 2002


Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): May I add my support to those that have been made about the A1 north of Newcastle? There is also a very serious problem on that road around the Tyneside conurbation, and specifically on the Gateshead western bypass. Although I welcome the fact that the proposal to relieve that problem by building another bypass through Gateshead's green belt has now been dropped from the plan, there is still a growing problem on that road - a serious problem, which is getting worse week by week. The road is very often brought to a standstill because of the congestion. I ask my right hon. Friend to look at that as a matter of urgency, and also particularly to look at the imaginative proposals of Gateshead council to relieve congestion on that road.

The Minister for Transport (Mr. John Spellar): My hon. Friend has indeed raised this matter with me before. I undertake to have a further look at the new proposals, which he has just mentioned, and come back to him with a reply.

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Commons Hansard
03 Jul 2002

Regional Government Referendum

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Is my right hon. Friend aware that a recent BBC opinion poll showed that 54 per cent. of people of England and 65 per cent. of people in the North-East want regional government regardless of its effect on local government? Does he agree that the best way to assess public opinion is to have a referendum? Whether people are in favour of or against regional government, they should join forces to call for a referendum and settle the matter once and for all.

The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: I agree very much with my hon. Friend and, indeed, the White Paper is entitled "Your Choice". It is the people's choice. We will have a referendum and the people will make the decision.

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Commons Hansard
19 Jun 2002

House of Lords Reform (Joint Committee)

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Does my right hon. Friend accept that the expedition with which the Public Administration Committee delivered its verdict may not necessarily be a virtue, given that some of us think that it came to the wrong conclusion?

Mr. Cook: The report was never put to the House and my hon. Friend is right to point out that it would not necessarily have commanded the unanimity in the House that it commanded in the Committee. Having said that, I remind him that the first task of the Select Committee is not to recommend a preferred option but to put before the House the options on which the House can vote. Certainly, in the first stage, that will be a simpler task than that undertaken by the Select Committee.

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Commons Hansard
22 May 2002

Government Communications

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how he intends to ensure effective communication between regional assemblies, the devolved institutions of the United Kingdom and central Government. [55945]

Dr. Whitehead: The Government's proposals for ensuring effective working relationships between different tiers of government following the establishment of elected assemblies in the English regions are set out in chapter 8 of the White Paper "Your Region, Your Choice" (Cm 5511), which was published on 9 May.

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Commons Hansard
22 May 2002

Government Offices for the Regions

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Will my hon. Friend expand on the role of Government offices for the regions following the election of regional assemblies? Will the assemblies, for instance, draw the bulk of their administrative staff from the existing regional office staff, as happened to some extent in Wales and Scotland?

Mrs. Roche: Some of the staff of the Government offices will go to the new bodies, but we will still need the Government offices because, as we indicated clearly in the White Paper, some central functions will not go, including certain locally delivered services such as education.

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Commons Hansard
21 May 2002

Grant Clawback (Newcastle)

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress has been made to meet the request by Newcastle city council to identify situations where clawback of grant in relation to past regeneration schemes will be waived; and if he will make a statement. [58820]

Ms Keeble: On 1 May 2001, my right hon. Friend, the then Minister of State for Local Government and the Regions (Hilary Armstrong), announced the signing of a local public service agreement with Newcastle city council, Official Report, column 594.

One of the Government commitments made in that local PSA, in return for a commitment from the council to increase the level of regeneration, was to have discussions about alterations to the arrangements for clawback of regeneration grants on change of use or disposal of an asset.

The council have argued that for some older regeneration schemes, where any clawback which might apply would be small, that the costs of delay - administratively and in terms of starting valuable projects - would be disproportionate to the sums that might be recovered. The Government have concluded that for regeneration schemes that are now closed, in respect of transactions where receipts are relatively low (and thus the maximum potential level of clawback is also low), and where Government can have confidence that any receipt which might have been due to the Government is recycled into further regeneration consistent with the Government's regeneration objectives, it can offer value for money to offer a waiver of clawback.

In view of the council's undertaking to achieve the enhanced regeneration objectives set out in the local PSA, the Government undertook to consider what scope there is to assist and encourage the council to achieve its targets by waiving the council's contingent liability to repay grant under certain discontinued grant regimes.

The council was seeking a waiver of my Department's right to clawback in both situations where a liability to repay grant can arise, namely (1) where there is a change of use of an asset constructed or acquired wholly or partly out of funds paid under a relevant grant scheme; and (2) where there is a disposal of such an asset. It was the Council's intention to use any proceeds that might have arisen from the waiver to further its regeneration objectives in the East End and West End Going for Growth areas of Newcastle.

After careful consideration, I have concluded that my Department can waive its entitlement to claw back grant under the terms of the former Urban Programme and City Challenge grant schemes:

Accordingly, my Department has written to the council today.

For transactions in which potential clawback could exceed £100,000, a full analysis of whether any clawback is due will continue to be required from the council, together with a calculation of the amount due, and waivers will be considered on a case by case basis.

The Government are prepared to consider requests for similar treatment from other local authorities who might propose local PSA targets for regeneration, where it is appropriate in the circumstances of the authority.

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Commons Hansard
15 May 2002

Regional Government

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that although communities are important, it is geography that formed them? It is a matter of geography where coal and the major rivers are, which was what formed the communities in the North-East of England. Those communities can be diverse - for example, there are differences between Tyneside and Teesside. However, we recognise that size is important. Some argue that the North-East is too small to have its own regional government. I come from that area, but have some sympathy with that idea. We would like Cumbria to be included and to expand the North-East for reasons of community, as Cumbria has more of a connection with the North-East than the north-west.

Andrew George : The hon. Gentleman makes the point well that the dynamics and geography in different parts of the country operate differently. Many people believe that strategic transport cannot be planned in too small a region anywhere. That assumes that the boundaries between regions are frontiers. I do not believe that they are, nor do the Government intend them to be. Much transport infrastructure - road and rail - goes through the government zone of the south-west. Cornwall may be concerned about the development of the Ilminster bypass over the border in Somerset, but it is equally concerned about the A303 further up the road across Salisbury plain and Hampshire. We cannot assume that boundaries are frontiers, whether we are talking about transport or other matters. There is therefore a need for dialogue and strategic partnerships. The argument about a unilateral declaration of independence and home rule is nonsense. It is deflecting us all in the North-East and elsewhere from pursuing a proper agenda. That does not help us to propose sensible solutions to the problem.

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Commons Hansard
13 May 2002

House of Lords Reform

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): I should like to draw to my right hon. Friend's attention early-day motions 1275 and 1276, which appear on the Order Paper for the first time today.

I welcome my right hon. Friend's assurance that the Joint Committee will be able to consider a fully nominated second Chamber. Does he agree that the revising, scrutinising and deliberative Chamber that he has described would be able to carry out its duties most efficiently if it was made up of people who were experienced and well qualified to do so? Does he also agree that direct elections would not necessarily result in such an outcome?

Mr. Cook: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his endorsement. It will not only be for the Joint Committee to consider the option of a fully appointed second Chamber; my hon. Friend and all his colleagues will also be able to argue and vote for that option when we debate the options in this Chamber. I have only one reservation about what he said. While he is perfectly right to say that any legislature must comprise well-qualified and experienced people who can bring judgement and integrity to their decisions, as Leader of the House I must say that we can find those qualities among elected Members of the House of Commons as well as among those who are appointed to the other place.

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Commons Hansard
13 May 2002

City of Culture 2008

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the North-East has much to offer tourism, from the beauty and history of Northumberland and Durham and the industrial heritage of Tyne and Wear and Teesside to the cultural renaissance on the banks of the Tyne? Does she agree that prospects for tourism in the North-East would be greatly and deservedly enhanced by the awarding of city of culture 2008 to the Newcastle and Gateshead partnership?

Tessa Jowell: I am greatly looking forward to visiting the North-East and meeting everyone associated with the capital of culture bid. I am assured that it is a strong bid, alongside many other strong bids. The Minister for the Arts and I intend to visit as many of the bidding cities as possible, and certainly all those that are shortlisted. However, my hon. Friend makes an important point about the role of culture in regeneration and the way it builds a sense of regional identity and pride. I pay tribute to the efforts of the North-East in doing just that.

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Commons Hansard
09 May 2002

Regional Government White Paper

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Some of us recognise what others will come to recognise in due course: that my right hon. Friend has done a great service to our nation and to democracy in the announcement that he has made today and the work that he has done on this issue over many years. His announcement will be widely welcomed in the North-East of England, although we would like to discuss certain aspects with him further. It gives the people of the region a choice that would apparently be denied to them by the Conservative party.

My right hon. Friend spoke of flexibility. Will the legislation that will introduce assemblies be flexible enough to allow for assemblies' powers and responsibilities to be widened, in consultation with the assemblies, without the need for further primary legislation?

The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: First, I thank my hon. Friend for his kind remarks. It is generally recognised in the House that those in the North-East have been at the forefront of demanding an elected regional assembly. One can reasonably assume that they will be first at the gate.

My hon. Friend says that he will want to discuss some of the details with us. It is no secret that we will be meeting people in the North-East tonight and I shall hear their views. I am sure that it will not be total endorsement and that they will have criticisms to make. There are varying views in the North-East. Some want to see a complete parliament in the North-East, more or less, rather than an assembly. They want to keep all the powers. That is a school of thought in a number of regions, not least Cornwall. However, we must find a balance.

My hon. Friend asks whether we can go further even before we have drafted legislation or entered into consultation, and I have to say no to that at the moment. However, given what is happening in Scotland and Wales, where people are beginning to feel that they can express their views, I am not surprised that people ask for more rather than less.

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Commons Hansard
Apr 2002

Local Transport

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): What influence will regional government have over local and regional transport plans? What will be the division of powers between local and regional government and national Government? Will the forthcoming White Paper spell that out? When can we expect it to be published?

Mr. Byers: As always, my hon. Friend presents a strong argument for involving the regions, in this case in transport. He will have to await the White Paper, which will be published shortly after the local elections on 2 May. When he reads its proposals, he will realise that, for the first time, we have a Government with an active regional policy that provides choice. People can vote for an elected regional assembly if they wish, but, most important, the White Paper will value the regions of England. I am delighted that so many hon. Members are wearing red roses on St. George's day. Perhaps they have been out campaigning for Labour in the local elections. On St. George's day, it is right to celebrate the regions of England, and the White Paper will do that.

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Commons Hansard
22 Apr 2002

Emmanuel College, Gateshead

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many pupils who gained entry to Emmanuel college in Gateshead LCS achieved level (a) 4, (b) 5 and (c) 6 in Key Stage 2 (i) maths, (ii) English and (iii) science SATs at primary school as a percentage of their year 7 intake for each of the years (A) 1999, (B) 2000 and (C) 2001. [48924]

Mr. Timms: The information requested is not readily available. Analyses of this kind will be possible once proposals for a national pupil database are implemented.
I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 28 January 2002, Official Report, columns 109-11W.

Central Pupil Database

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills

  1. which organisations and individuals will have access to the personal details of pupils stored on the central pupil database; [29372]
  2. who will have responsibility for approving requests for access to information held on the central pupil database; [29373]
  3. if it is her policy to destroy files on the central pupil database which relate to pupils who leave the state education system. [29370]
Mr. Timms [holding answer 22 January 2002]: The central pupil database will contain statistical profiles of pupils in England, built up over time from the "Pupil Level Annual Schools Census" (PLASC) returns which maintained schools will provide each January from January 2002, plus details of Key Stage assessment and examination results obtained separately from schools, marking agencies or examination boards. In order for these profiles to be accurate pupil names are needed to help ensure that all data relating to the same pupil are collated correctly.

Access to the personal details of pupils

The Department has no interest in the identity of individual pupils as such, and will be using the database solely for statistical purposes, with only technical staff directly engaged in the data collation process having access to pupil names.

Any disclosures of personal data (i.e. data including names or other details that would enable the recipient to determine the identity of individual pupils) will have to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and any other legislation relevant to the particular case. Subject to this proviso, organisations or individuals who may have access to personal data are as follows:

1. the pupil (or their parents or guardians) will be able to request a copy of their own record in order to confirm its accuracy;
2. in the case of a child in local authority care, the local authority social services department will, as the child's "corporate parent", be able to obtain a copy of that child's record;
3. schools and LEAs will be able to obtain information about their own pupils to which they have a statutory entitlement but may be missing (for example as a result of pupil mobility);
4. requests from research organisations will be considered by the Secretary of State if, for a specific research project, pupil names are needed in order to link information from the central database with other information obtained by the research organisation via a separate survey;
5. to minimise burdens on schools, for pupils approaching or above age 13, consideration is being given to the Connexions Service receiving from the central database (rather than from schools):
(a) pupil names and any available contact details (information to which the Connexions Service has a statutory entitlement under section 117(1) of the Learning and Skills Act 2000);
(b) other information held on the database if, and only if, the pupil or their parent (depending on the pupil's age) has not exercised their right under section 117(2) of the Learning and Skills Act to instruct that this information be withheld from the Connexions Service;
(6) where there are legal proceedings to trace a child (for example in an abduction case) the court can require the Department to provide it with any information it has about the whereabouts of that child.

Approval of requests for access to personal data

No disclosures of personal data beyond those listed above are anticipated at this time. Should future developments indicate that further disclosures may be appropriate, these will be considered by the Secretary of State on their merits, subject to the overriding requirement to comply with the Data Protection Act and any other relevant legislation.

With respect to (4) above, requests from research organisations, the precise arrangements for considering whether or not to approve such requests have yet to be decided. However the factors likely to be taken into account are:

  • the bona fides of the research and the organisation undertaking it;
  • a demonstrable need for information including pupil names (in many cases anonymised information may be sufficient);
  • a willingness by the research organisation to take all reasonable steps to inform schools of the research and involve them in it;
  • satisfactory assurances from the research organisation with regard to storing the information securely, using it only for the approved research purpose, disposing of it when that research has been completed, and not passing it on to any other person or organisation.
In cases of doubt on any of these points, the Department would expect to err on the side of caution.

Policy with respect to pupils leaving the state education system

The Department does not intend to delete the records of pupils who leave the maintained schools sector, either at age 16 or 18, or before then. Information for these pupils remains of statistical and research value--for example to analyse young people's progression from school into further education and training, higher education and the labour market. The Department will be using information on past pupils for statistical and research purposes only, and any disclosures will be for those purposes only. On this basis section 33 of the Data Protection Act allows personal data to be retained indefinitely.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


Commons Hansard
10 Apr 2002

Royal Ordnance Factories

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): I apologise to you, Mrs. Roe, and to hon. Members, for the fact that in a few moments I may have to leave to attend a meeting.

The threat to ROF Birtley follows the recent bad news that Vickers Defence Systems in my constituency failed to secure an order from the Greek Government for Challenger 2 tanks. As a result, the future of that company, too, is now in doubt and hangs in the balance, awaiting a decision by the Government on the allocation of an order for Terrier support vehicles. Ironically, the other competitor is BAE Systems. Does my hon. Friend agree that if the Government seriously want to maintain a viable defence manufacturing capability in this country they may have to intervene as well as support through the distribution of orders?

Mr. McWilliam : I agree with my hon. Friend. Many people employed at Vickers are my constituents; it is just across the river from my constituency. Before I return to my original subject, it might be worth noting that BAE Systems is also tendering for the two aircraft carriers. On the one hand, it says, "We are a great British company," but on the other hand it says, "Except for ammunition; we'll make that in South Africa or somewhere else."

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Commons Hansard
5 Mar 2002

Elected Regional Government

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): If voting in the referendum for regional government dictates the end of the county council tier, what implications will that have in any future reorganisation of local government? Would not a further referendum have to be held before a future Government could get rid of county councils?

Mr. Raynsford: As my hon. Friend the Under- Secretary made clear earlier, there is no agenda for the abolition of county councils, but we recognise the need to look at the relationship of local government to elected regional assemblies, where people determine through referendums that they want an elected regional assembly in their area. The precise way in which that will be handled will be spelt out in the White Paper.

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Commons Hansard
08 Feb 2002

Director's Pay

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what were the total amounts paid to (a) executive directors and (b) non-executive directors in (a) 1997-98, (b) 1998-99, (c) 1999-2000 and (d) 2000-01. [20423]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information is in the table.

Financial year Executive directors Non-executive directors
1997-98 855 25
1998-99 819 41
1999-2000 913 59
2000-01 (1)1,192 121
(1) In 1999-2000 the Department decided to designate some existing senior civil service posts as Executive Directors. The costs for 2000-01 reflect these changes.

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Commons Hansard
6 Feb 2002

Regional Government White Paper

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Will my right hon. Friend take this opportunity to deny today's story in Newcastle's The Journal , which says that he, or his office, has personally intervened in the drafting of the forthcoming regional government White Paper to insist that it contain a clause stating that regional government cannot go ahead without the abolition of the county councils?

The Prime Minister: The regional government White Paper will be published in due course and my hon. Friend will be able to see the proposals that are made there.

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Commons Hansard
5 Feb 2002

Ofsted Annual Report

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): The Secretary of State and the Government deserve our congratulations, as well as our thanks for the continued success of the Government's education policies, for their recognition that more needs to be done and for their commitment to do it. Is my right hon. Friend aware that Dunston Hill community primary school in my constituency has been singled out in the report as being particularly successful? Will she join me in congratulating the teachers and, in particular, the pupils on their hard work in achieving that? Does she agree that the school thoroughly deserves to be awarded beacon status?
May I also draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the hard work being done in Hadrian special school in Newcastle, which is a model of how to help and assist young people with special educational needs?

Estelle Morris: I am happy to do that. If I heard my hon. Friend rightly, that sounded like a bid for beacon status. I am sure that the school stands a good chance and that it will be considered in due course. I also hope that those schools gain recognition locally. The media in my hon. Friend's area give education good and positive support. During the next few weeks, I hope that the performance of schools that have been nominated as outstanding will truly be recognised and rewarded.
It is important to remember that some of the schools in that list serve the most challenging areas of the country. They have the most difficult job - breaking the historical link between poverty and under-achievement. That is what lies behind the words in the report. My hon. Friend's constituency includes many such areas and I am delighted to join him in his tribute.

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Commons Hansard
30 Jan 2002

Local Government Finance

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Despite the generosity of this year's settlement when compared with those of the previous Conservative Government, several points have been made about the general settlement. Reference was made to the crisis in social services, but we should also remember the unfairness of the population-based calculation, anomalies in education grants and the rules governing them, and late changes to the area cost adjustment, all of which impact heavily not only on metropolitan authorities in general, but on Gateshead council in particular. Has my right hon. Friend any good news to impart in that regard?

Mr. Raynsford: I have a number of items of good news to impart, including the future review of the SSA formula, to which I have already referred. I recognise that areas with declining populations have particular problems, and that savings cannot always immediately be made to take account of such decline. There is a difficulty, in that areas that face extra pressures because of population increases naturally feel such pressures immediately, and want compensation as soon as possible. Given that the impact of such population increases is immediate, devising a system that allows a time-lag before the consequences of population decline are felt clearly involves a funding gap, which must be filled by some means or other. We understand the problem and we will address it in the review, but there is no instant and easy solution to it.
On the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland ) on the area cost adjustment, in that and every other aspect of the settlement we are committed to using the most up-to-date and accurate information. Last autumn, it became clear to us that figures published by the Office for National Statistics in July, which were based on data from the new earnings survey, did not give an accurate picture of the changes, because a significant proportion of the sample was omitted by mistake. When, late in the process, the error came to light, we felt it only right and proper that the figures be adjusted to take account of the correct data. Otherwise, we would have knowingly proceeded on an incorrect basis. We have made similar late adjustments in relation to a number of other factors, and as part of the settlement it is always our policy to implement the most recent, up-to-date and accurate data that we can.


Mr. Clelland: I, too, take issue with the Minister on some of the points he made about the 7.3 per cent. average increase, because local authorities such as Gateshead are receiving only 5 per cent. which will cause them difficulty. However, does the hon. Member for North-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Moss) realise that during the first three years of the Labour Government the average increase in grant to Gateshead council was about 4.5 per cent? In the last three years of the Conservative Government, the increase was 0.7 per cent. In those circumstances, who does he recommend that the people of Gateshead vote for?

Mr. Moss: If the people of Gateshead are prepared to tolerate yearly council tax increases of three times the rate of inflation, I suggest that they may not be voting for the wrong party.

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Commons Hansard
29 Jan 2002

Gateshead western bypass - house purchases

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): In 1996, after four years of protest and the blighting of many homes, a proposed outlying route to ease congestion on the Gateshead western bypass was abandoned. Is the Minister aware that residents whose homes had been purchased by the Highways Agency in preparation for the building of that road were offered the chance to repurchase? They were given a written assurance that they could do so safe in the knowledge that the road proposal would not be revived. Can my right hon. Friend explain why that proposal is back on the agenda and why those who accepted the Department's word back in 1996 are having their lives blighted all over again?

Mr. Spellar: My hon. Friend has to accept that, given that those studies are independent and will put options to us, it would be slightly odd if we pre-determined all outcomes before the work had been undertaken. I am however fully aware of the controversy that arose in the Newcastle area when the western bypass was last proposed. I am aware of other proposals for work in that area to deal with what is widely recognised as a bottleneck on the A1 around Newcastle, and with considerable local traffic too. I undertake to give my hon. Friend's points consideration. I hope that he will also write to me on behalf of his constituents, outlining the concerns, so that that can be taken into account when we are evaluating the multimodal study with a view to taking action.

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Commons Hansard
8 Jan 2002


Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what were the total non-disabled staff costs in Remploy in (a) 1997-98, (b) 1998-99, (c) 1999-2000 and (d) 2000-01. [20429]

Maria Eagle: Total non-disabled staff costs in Remploy were as follows:

Year £ million
1997-98 30.7
1998-99 30.1
1999-2000 28.4
2000-01 28.5

These figures include costs of disabled staff who are not employed under the Workstep programmes.

Mr. Clelland: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) lower, (b) middle and (c) senior management in Remploy there were in (i) 1997-98, (ii) 1998-99, (iii) 1999-2000 and (iv) 2000-01; and what was the total expenditure on each of (a), (b) and (c) for those years. [20430]

Maria Eagle: Remploy does not categorise its work force in the groups detailed in the question.

Mr. Clelland: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many non-disabled workers were employed by Remploy in (a) 1997-98, (b) 1998-99, (c) 1999-2000 and (d) 2000-01. [20431]

Maria Eagle: The numbers of non-disabled people employed by Remploy are in the table.

Year Number
1997-98 1,457
1998-99 1,402
1999-2000 1,260
2000-01 1,149

In Remploy the term "non-disabled employees" includes disabled people not supported by the Workstep programme.

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Commons Hansard
19 Dec 2001


Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her Department's priorities are for tackling corruption. [21909]

Clare Short: The priorities of our bilateral programmes are to support national strategies which address both enforcement action against corruption, such as strong and effective anti-corruption agencies, and preventive measures, such as strengthening capacity for public sector budgetary and financial management, procurement, accounting and audit; reforming civil service management, enhancing public oversight through strengthened parliamentary committees, developing measures to reduce judicial corruption and supporting civil society to promote transparency and accountability in public life.
At the multilateral level, negotiations for a United Nations Convention Against Corruption commence in January. This is a major opportunity to develop global standards for tackling corruption and improving international co-operation. We will be playing an active role in these discussions.
We attach importance also to strengthening collaboration with other bilateral development agencies and multilateral partners, in particular through supporting the implementation conventions against bribery in international trade and strengthening regional anti-money- laundering mechanisms.

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Commons Hansard
18 Dec 2001

Gateshead western bypass

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Will the plans (Integrated Transport Network) include proposals to help relieve congestion on the Gateshead western bypass? Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Government office of the North-East recently announced proposals that revived the prospect of a bypass to the bypass--a proposal rejected under the previous Government, after a huge protest from local people, MPs and the council? Millions of pounds of public money were wasted when properties that had been bought had to be sold back to the sellers, or sold on. Will my right hon. Friend look at the matter urgently, and make it clear that the proposal will not receive the Government's support?

Mr. Spellar: I shall certainly undertake to look at the matter, and to take into account my hon. Friend remarks, as well as the views of the local authorities involved, and of the local passenger transport executive.

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Commons Hansard
12 Dec 2001


Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many employees of Remploy have been dismissed in the past 12 months; and how many of these were trainees. [20424]

Maria Eagle: During the 12 months from December 2000 to November 2001, 2,315 people left Remploy's employment, for a variety of reasons.
The number of trainees leaving the WorkStep programme without employment during this period was 189. Reasons for leaving included poor conduct, resigning for personal reasons, and medical reasons.
During the same period, Remploy took on 344 trainees into permanent positions in Remploy sites and progressed another 121 trainees into external employment.

Mr. Clelland: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many non-disabled workers have been recruited through agencies who are employed by Remploy. [20425]

Maria Eagle: Remploy rarely recruits employees through the use of employment agencies relying mostly on the Employment Service to refer candidates for employment.
Remploy does use agency labour (not employed by Remploy) from time to time to address temporary work load fluctuations, or the need for specialist skills. These individuals are supplied by an agency, often on a week- to-week, short-term, temporary basis, to meet customer demands while avoiding incurring long-term costs and liabilities.
Currently, Remploy is using around 30 agency employees in this capacity.

Mr. Clelland: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what was the total cost of administration in Remploy in (a) 1997-98, (b) 1998-99, (c) 1999-2000 and (d) 2000-01. [20426]

Maria Eagle: The total costs of administration in Remploy were:

Year£ million

These totals cover all salary and bought-in costs for everything except direct labour, factory overheads, sales and marketing, distribution and financial charges.

Mr. Clelland: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the individual annual remuneration was to (a) the Chairman and (b) executive directors of Remploy in (i) 1997-98, (ii) 1998-99, (iii) 1999-2000 and (iv)2000-01. [20427]

Maria Eagle: Individual annual remunerations were as follows.

Chairman (D. G. Heywood)14,00013,00010,400 --
Chairman (A. E. Pedder--appointed 1 January 2000)-- -- 10,80072,500
Chief Executive (A. G. H. Withey)110,000115,000114,50047,700
Chief Executive (R. Paffard--appointed 1.11.00)-- -- -- 58,000
Finance Director78,00080,00084,10087,800
Personnel Director76,00078,00083,00086,200
Operations Director76,00079,00084,20097,200
Sales and Marketing Director (appointed 1 November 1998 to 31 December 2000)--31,00076,400 --
Mr. Pedder's involvement was increased to provide cover until the new chief executive was appointed, and to develop the new strategies for the company.

Mr. Clelland: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what were the average weekly hours worked by Remploy employees in (a) 1997-98, (b) 1998-99, (c) 1999-2000 and (d) 2000-01. [20432]

Maria Eagle: Remploy does not record average weekly hours of work for its employees.
However, in this period the standard contracted hours of work for employees have reduced.
In 1997-98, standard hours were 37 per week. On 31 May 1999 they were reduced to 36.5 hours per week and on 5 June 2000 they were further reduced to 36 hours per week.

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Commons Hansard
11 Dec 2001

Local Government White Paper

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Does my right hon. Friend agree that all that was missing from the comments of the hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) was a candid recognition that the need to restore local government is due entirely to the damage done to it by her party during its too many years in office?
I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement, and his commitment to re-empower local authorities. I look forward to further debate on the detail in due course. Does my right hon. Friend accept, however, that there are many examples of good local government throughout the country, not least on Tyneside? The Gateshead and Newcastle authorities have jointly launched a Newcastle-Gateshead initiative, which will work for the revitalisation of the area to the benefit--and with the support--of local people. Following the completion of his duties here, will my right hon. Friend join me downstairs in Terrace Dining Room B, where the two authorities are launching their joint bid to become European capital of culture in 2008?

Mr. Byers: I receive a number of attractive invitations from my hon. Friend, of which that is one, but I cannot say too much about the European capital of culture, as I will be involved in deciding who might be successful. He makes an important point. We have spoken about local councils' limited freedoms, but Members should consider what has been achieved not only on Tyneside, particularly in Gateshead, but by Gateshead and Newcastle working closely together.
The massive improvements along the river have been achieved because we have a good example of local authorities supporting innovation, being adventurous and being ambitious for their communities. What has been achieved on the banks of the Tyne, particularly, if I may say so, in recent times on the south bank and in Gateshead, has made a real difference, and the authorities are to be congratulated on what they have been able to do.
Through the White Paper, I want greater freedoms to be given to good local councils such as Newcastle, Gateshead and many others up and down the country, so that the improvements taking place on Tyneside can be reflected in many other parts of the country.

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Commons Hansard
4 Dec 2001

Local Government Finance (England) 2002-03

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): If we are looking for someone to fight the cause of local government, as the hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) put it, we certainly would not be looking in her direction. In the many years in which they were in power, the Conservative Government did nothing but undermine and undervalue local government.
I, too, welcome my right hon. Friend's statement, particularly his promise to reform local government finance. May I, however, caution him to watch his civil servants very carefully? Every re-organisation of local government finance that I have experienced has promised to be fairer and more open and to make more resources available; if he manages to pull it off this time, he will deserve the gratitude of us all.
I suspect that, as in all such statements, the devil is in the detail. As I have not yet had an opportunity to study the detail, will my right hon. Friend tell us whether the very serious problems that have been raised with him by social security authorities in North-East England are dealt with by today's statement, and whether the very serious difficulties facing them will be avoided?

Mr. Byers: When my hon. Friend has an opportunity to look at the settlement, he will see not only the extra £5.8 million for Gateshead, but that increases across the north generally will help to meet the pressures that are coming from social services authorities. With the constraints of the current funding formula, we have not been as generous as I perhaps should have liked and there will be some disappointment in some quarters. However, with the minimum level that we have been able to introduce, we have been able to ensure that there will be a reasonable increase for all social services authorities not only in the North-East but across the country. That will make a real difference. Additionally, the £100 million that has been provided to social services to help with bed blocking for the remainder of this year will increase next year to £200 million. Authorities in the North-East will also benefit from that proposal.
I am mindful of the caution expressed by my hon. Friend about the review. All I can say to him is that I will be more than happy to be judged by him and my colleagues on whether the system is fair and just.

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Commons Hansard
29 Nov 2001

Rolls-Royce job losses

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): My right hon. Friend will know that Rolls-Royce today announced further job losses across the United Kingdom, many of which are in the North-East. Our region can ill afford to lose those skilled jobs. He will also be aware that the North-East continues to have the highest unemployment in the UK and too often comes bottom of important social and economic indices. We cannot afford to wait for regional government to begin tackling those issues, so can we have an early statement from the Government on when and how they are going to tackle regional disparities, which have gone on for too long and are too great?

Mr. Cook: I share my hon. Friend's concern about the impact on his constituents and others of job losses in the present circumstances. I understand why he wants to press for an opportunity to ensure that it is raised in the House, and I will convey his comments to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

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Commons Hansard
28 Nov 2001

Government Office for the North East

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): When he last met representatives of the Government office for the north east. [15978]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Mrs. Barbara Roche): My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister visited the Government office for the north east on 13 August, and I visited Government offices on 22 November.

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): During the discussions, was mention made of the forthcoming White Paper on regional government, in particular the role of the regional development agencies? Does my hon. Friend agree that regional government without economic development powers would be a timid beast indeed; will she resist those forces in the Department of Trade and Industry who would retain powers over RDAs even after regional government is introduced; and will she assure me that RDAs will form an integral part of regional government?

Mrs. Roche: There have been discussions on regional governance. As for what that will be, my hon. Friend will have to wait until the White Paper is published.

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Commons Hansard
12 Nov 2001

Training Providers

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what was the average length of time taken by his Department to release funds to training providers following audit in the latest six-month period for which figures are available. [11716]

Malcolm Wicks: Audits are carried out by the Department, as part of its normal commercial relationships with external providers. Departmental auditors are not empowered to withhold funds which are payable to providers. They will advise on any irregularities that may have been identified during the course of the audit. Contracting teams will decide on any appropriate action in these circumstances.
In the last six months, there are no instances of the Department withholding payment to training providers as a result of audit activities.

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Commons Hansard
7 Nov 2001

House of Lords Reform

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): I welcome my right hon. Friend's comments about the disadvantages of a wholly elected second Chamber, but I regret that I cannot give him a pass mark. His announcement today represents the worst of all worlds: part patronage, part appointment by a committee that will doubtless choose people who resemble its members, and part election, with the danger of the clash of mandates to which he referred. Will he consider an indirectly elected Chamber, with representatives from business, trade unions, regional and local government and religious organisations? It would contain the expertise and experience to scrutinise and improve legislation.

Mr. Cook: I recognise the force of the case for indirect elections, although, from listening to hon. Members, I am not sure whether my hon. Friend struck the note of consensus for which we are searching. So far, only a minority of the United Kingdom is covered by an elected regional body. Many inside and outside the House would be reluctant to support indirect election by unelected bodies.

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Commons Hansard
23 Oct 2001

Regional Government

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Government have not ruled out the possibility of one or more of the English regions having an elected assembly by the end of this Parliament?

Mr. Byers: I can confirm that progress is being made on the White Paper that the Deputy Prime Minister and I will publish in the new year. Regional elected assemblies could be voted on by the time of the next general election, depending on when it is called. We are making progress. I share my hon. Friend's desire for effective regionally elected bodies, and we are putting in place the measures that will see that in action.

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Commons Hansard
12 Jul 2001

English Regions

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): May we have an early debate on the implications of the Government's devolution policies on the structure of government in Whitehall? Surely it is no longer justifiable for Scotland and Wales to continue to have Secretaries of State representing their interests in the Cabinet, given that they have their own Parliament and Assembly. Does not that further disadvantage the English regions, which do not yet have an assembly, let alone a Cabinet member, to represent their interests?

Mr. Cook: It is very important that the House and the Government should ensure that they have proper channels of communication to the devolved bodies. I have often found my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales to be of great value in ensuring that we work in partnership with the devolved organisations that represent the people of those two countries. I fully share my hon. Friend's concern to ensure that the North-East is fairly represented. That is why the Government have created the prospect of a regional assembly for the North-East and any other region that wishes to have one. That is the best way forward to ensure that the people of the North-East and other regions can have a direct say in who runs the local services that are directly relevant to them.

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Commons Hansard
5 Jul 2001

Development Council

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the outcome was of the Development Council held on 31 May; and if she will make a statement. [1942]

Clare Short: At its meeting on the 31 May, the Development Council:

We will be reporting separately on the outcome of the Council to the Chairs of the House of Lords European Union Committee, the Clerks of the International Development Committee and the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee.

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Commons Hansard
3 Jul 2001

Regional Government

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the question from the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady) is typical of an Opposition who want to know the cost of everything, but understand the value of very little indeed? Will he confirm that the Government's continuation of the devolution process will be based on its value to good government and our democracy, and that regional government is the natural next step along that road?

Mr. Raynsford: My hon. Friend makes an extremely valid point. The Government have a proud record over the past four years of developing a devolution agenda and extending to the people of the United Kingdom greater opportunities to play an effective role in the government of their nations and regions. We do not see that as a process that has ended; we shall continue to explore options to improve the quality of our democracy and extend opportunities along the lines indicated by my hon. Friend. Of course, we are concerned with value, rather than just cost.

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Commons Hansard
20 Jun 2001

Return to back benches

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): I rise in my place with some trepidation, having just emerged from the murky shadows of the Government Whips Office. Therefore, I have some sympathy for those with a maiden speech to make. The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) need have no such fears, however; he gave a confident and a competent parliamentary performance. He did not entirely follow the expected convention of being uncontroversial, but he need not be too concerned about that as exactly the same criticism was levelled at me by Sir Giles Shaw from the Dispatch Box 15 years ago. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has a difficult act to follow, as he observed--following a party leader who is still a prominent national figure--but he shows all the signs of being a credit to his predecessor and I am sure that he will also be a credit to his constituency.
I welcome the Loyal Address and in particular the stated intention to improve further our health and education services, as well as public services in general. There is much in the speech to celebrate, but there are also some omissions, not least of which is regional government, a subject to which I will return.
First, I must mention some specifics to which I hope the new Government will pay urgent attention when they introduce legislation. I hope that a system of licensing and regulation of the private rented housing sector will be introduced. Too many people have their daily lives disrupted, their environment damaged and scarred and their quality of life destroyed because of the antisocial behaviour of a minority of tenants. Councils have some remedy for that and take action from time to time to deal with the problem, but I hope that the Government will find ways to help councils to deal even more effectively with such people. Similarly, housing associations try--not too hard, I often find--to influence matters under their control. If the Government can do more to encourage effective intervention by those organisations, I am sure that thousands of tenants will be grateful.
Private absentee landlords are a different matter, however. Some of them are fine and they try to run their properties responsibly, but too many are content to sit back and count the rent that is coming in--often from housing benefit--and do not care two jots about the behaviour of their tenants, the condition of the property and the effects on the local community.
I hope to see the introduction of properly regulated tenancy agreements, which all private landlords must provide when letting and which they must be responsible for enforcing. I want agreements that would oblige tenants to act reasonably towards their neighbours and to keep the surroundings of the property in reasonable condition--agreements to prohibit the dumping of rubbish in gardens or the curtilages of the property and the putting out of waste in unsuitable containers that dogs and cats can tear open and scatter about the neighbourhood. I also want local authorities to be empowered and resourced to ensure that rented property is kept in reasonable condition--inside and out--and that landlords are meeting their obligations under the regulations and in accordance with the tenancy agreement.
Local government was another glaring omission from the Gracious Speech. Incidentally, I am not saying anything here that I have not said inside the tent, as it were, which may go some way towards explaining why I am now outside it. Sometimes, attitudes to local government in this place are appalling. When some people are elected to Parliament--often with little experience of much outside their own limited spheres--they seem to think that they have been elected because they possess a superior intellect or have suddenly become fountains of knowledge and wisdom. They bleat on about democracy and yet they seem to think that, even though councillors are also democratically elected, the Member of Parliament's mandate is somehow the only legitimate one.
Although the general structure, duties, responsibilities and overall expenditure of councils are, of course, legitimate areas for Parliament and the Government to decide, the extent of interference by Whitehall in what should be local matters and the patronising finger wagging by Ministers--of all Governments--are sickening. Ministers would do well to be a little more humble in their dealings with people who are also elected and who know their area, their duties and their responsibilities.
I suspect that hon. Members on both sides of the House will have found, as I did, during the recent election campaign that local councillors were the people on whom we most relied to organise and to help. We would do well to remember that and to appreciate the vital contribution that local government makes to our democracy and to the standard and quality of life of our fellow citizens on a daily basis. I also hope that we will soon take a new look at how local government is financed. I regret that the Loyal Address made no mention of that.
The current system of standard spending assessments--another Tory brainwave--is discredited and unfair. The population basis of calculations is too simplistic and fails properly to take into account the different needs and demography of an area. We have to look at new ways of financing local authorities, which will give them the flexibility to respond to local needs and demands and which properly recognise the values of locally based and accountable services.
I well remember my days as leader of Gateshead council--a position that I was proud to hold. I remember the relationship between the council and the private sector. There is nothing new in councils engaging private sector companies to do sometimes major works. Local authority relationships with private companies led to many problems in the past, but the way in which the relationship is being dictated by the Government now is undermining morale among councillors and public sector workers. It seems to some that the old adage "Public sector good, private sector bad" is being turned on its head by the Government. The Government should gan canny on this, to use a familiar Tyneside expression. Efficiency must not mean cheapness or cuts in wages for low earners, which is all too often the result of private sector involvement in the delivery of services, as opposed to capital investment.
With the proper safeguards, there can be a healthy relationship between the public and private sectors, but the Government have yet to show that they fully appreciate the strength of feeling on the matter, let alone the dangers to the public services involved. Public services will not improve if staff and local representatives are undervalued and demoralised. Regional government was touched on by my right hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Joyce Quin). I much regret the absence of any reference in the Queen's Speech to devolution, save for the curious statement:
"My Government maintains its commitment to devolution in Scotland and Wales."
I was not aware that there was any doubt about the Government's maintaining their commitment to devolution in Scotland and Wales. Why is it necessary to leave out any reference to England? That is a mystery that I hope will be cleared up soon. Is there any significance in the fact that no references are made to the Government's commitment to London or Northern Ireland? The inclusion of that sentence in the Gracious Speech leaves many questions unanswered.
It is the case, of course, that the Gracious Speech does not contain the entirety of the Government's intentions over the whole Parliament or even the whole Session, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pointed out. Other speeches will be forthcoming and, as Her Majesty put it:
"Other measures will be laid before you."
However, some of us believe that there is now some urgency on the issue of regional government. Devolution is a process, not an event, and we will be pressing for clarification of the Government's intention on the continuation of the process.
Indeed, there is a need for much clarification on regional policy--not least the division of responsibilities between Ministers and Departments. If, as I hope, regional government remains on the Government's agenda, who will be in overall charge of taking it forward? Which Department will be responsible for which aspects of policy and policy development? We need early answers to those questions. The issue will not go away, and the regions of England will not be sidelined, and certainly will not be ignored.
All Governments have recognised the administrative advantages of dividing England up into regions. For example, regional structures were put in place during the first and second world wars, and regional economic planning councils were put in place by the Wilson Government in 1964. The Kilbrandon report in 1973 recommended the creation of regional co-ordinating and advisory councils, part-elected and part-nominated. A previous Conservative Government set up regional offices to co-ordinate the activities of the regional arms of Government Departments, headed by a single civil servant with considerable power and influence. Labour has, of course, retained regional offices and supplemented them with regional development agencies, and encouraged regional chambers made up of community leaders to provide a quasi-democratic element.
Now that major constitutional reforms are in place, with the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly and a new Assembly for Greater London, it is time to move on. The new Government must complete the work. The reconstitution of the Standing Committee for the English Regions is welcome, but by no means a substitute for regional government. We shall have to wait to see how often the Committee is to meet and to what extent it is able to influence regional issues. Perhaps an all-party group on regional government, independent of the Executive, would be better placed to give vent to Back-Bench contributions on the subject. I shall discuss that with colleagues, but in the meantime we should give the Standing Committee a reasonable chance to prove its usefulness.
The new Government must take early action to correct the anomaly that devolution has created. There can surely be no justification now for Scotland and Wales having their own Secretary of State sitting in the Cabinet, influencing things on their behalf, when they have their own assemblies. One Cabinet Minister for the nations and regions would suffice and I hope that that will be forthcoming soon. As long as the current system remains, the English regions, especially regions such as the north, are further disadvantaged.
I do not intend today to call for the immediate abolition of the Barnett formula, although I believe that in due course the system of financing the nations and regions will have to be reformed. Some of those who call for the abolition of the Barnett formula, or the provision of a Barnett formula for the north, are joining those who make the rather simplistic assumption that abolishing the formula would somehow benefit the north or that the Government are likely to extend it to one region and not the rest. I want what is right for the north, not what is right for Scotland, Wales or London. That must be based on a proper assessment of needs and resources, not on petty jealousy of what some other area gets.
I have no doubt that such an assessment would benefit the North-East, but the general quality of life is good in our region. We have a lot to offer and to be proud of and, given the resources and the flexibility to use them to our best advantage, we can go a long way to resolving our own problems and extending quality living to all our citizens. The Labour party in the north has long campaigned for regional government in England. The proposal from some that there should be an English Parliament flies in the face of cultural and historical development and would leave northern regions dominated once again by the more wealthy and highly populated south.
Governments past and present have accepted the wisdom of creating and maintaining a regional structure in England that recognises the cultural and economic development of distinctive areas of the country. The time is right for that to manifest itself in properly accountable regional government that will not take powers away from local government nor be conditional on the restructuring of local government within its area. However, after the regional structure has become established, there could be a duty on the new regional government to report to Parliament within a specific time scale on the structure of local government within the region. It must be government with teeth, with the powers and resources to make a real impact on the economic and structural problems that the region faces.
Regional government in the north would give us direct influence in Europe and a strong, collective voice to promote our virtues and enhance our image in a way that central Government and local authorities cannot. It would give us the ability to pursue regional priorities that fit with regional aspirations, not the priorities as they are perceived in Whitehall.
What will a regional assembly look like? It will be democratically elected by the people of the region. Its members should think regionally and not consider themselves representatives of a specific or geographical area. The system of election to the assembly should therefore reflect that principle. It will be small enough to be efficient yet large enough to be properly representative. That will form the directly accountable, decision-making assembly. However, its structures should be inclusive and encompass local government, regional business, the regional TUC, further and higher education, the voluntary sector and so on. It will be financed by central Government grant and the taking over of central Government's functions in the region. It will not have direct tax-raising powers.
Those who oppose regional government often say that it will be yet another tier of government, that it will be costly or that it will provide more jobs for the boys. I refute all those arguments. We are the most under-represented country in Europe. The 1974 local government changes cut the numbers of elected councillors by half. The previous Tory Government abolished metropolitan counties and the Greater London council. The introduction of regional government--a common form of government in the rest of Europe and throughout the world--will go some small way to redressing the cuts in democratic representation.
The truth is that our people are now ruled by quango--small groups appointed by and accountable to the centre. Regional government can replace much of that, so it need not place substantial additional financial costs on the taxpayer. Indeed, there are real opportunities for cost savings through regional government. Furthermore, as much of the responsibility of the regional tier will be transferred from existing central Government responsibilities, there should be no additional costs arising there either.
The "jobs for the boys" point should be directed at quangocracy, the little huddles of the great and the good who sort out who will be chairman of this or member of that--posts that often bring generous salaries for very little work. Such people are completely unaccountable to the local people whom they are supposed to serve.
We are proposing a big change; these are matters that deserve detailed debate and discussion on both sides of the House. The time is right for us to move forward to the next phase of devolution. English regional government is at least part of the answer to the West Lothian question. It will promote innovation and variety in the governance of our country. It is right for the UK and it is certainly right for the north.
Devolution is a process for the whole of the United Kingdom. It cannot be implemented in part or in a piecemeal fashion if it is to work efficiently and to full advantage. That is why regional government is a natural and necessary next step, but it can be only part of a holistic approach to modern government. It should be complemented by and associated with another constitutional change that will also be crucial to the development of efficient and modern government in the United Kingdom: the completion of reform of the House of Lords. Thankfully, that was mentioned in the Gracious Speech.
The House of Commons is directly elected by the people and so must reign supreme. The second Chamber must be accountable and representative yet remain a "second" Chamber. For that reason, I oppose a directly elected second Chamber. Direct elections would confer the same legitimacy to Members of the second Chamber as to MPs, possibly resulting in opposing mandates and bad government.
How then can we create a second Chamber with legitimacy and authority that would contribute to good government? How can we create a second Chamber that would have weight, would command respect and would have the confidence to challenge Government but, in the final analysis, not be able to frustrate the mandate on which the Government were elected? Just as the House of Commons represents the people, by direct elections, the second Chamber should represent the structure of society, by indirect elections. To the second Chamber, or perhaps the "House of Representatives", would come the representatives of business, trade unions, religious organisations, the voluntary sector, regional assemblies, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, local government and other appropriate sections of society.
Such a structure would create a House of representatives with wide experience and expertise--an assembly of men and women from a broad cross-section of society, accountable to their sponsoring organisations, and who could properly scrutinise legislation without pursuing an overtly party political agenda. Such a House would complement and enhance the policy of devolution. It would be a House finally free of the hereditary principle and of prime ministerial patronage. A second Chamber so constituted would command the confidence and respect of the British people; it would have a proper, useful role and would be an efficient and welcome addition to our constitution.
I have already gone on longer than I intended. No doubt that is a result of four years of purdah in the Whips Office. I spent six years in all in the Whips Office and that taught me about the frustrations of hon. Members when one Member drones on ad nauseam--I think I am getting close to that point. However, I hope to return to these and other issues in due course. In the meantime, I welcome the opportunity to return to the Back Benches.

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