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Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the Minister, but I wonder whether he could help me. As I understand it, his ministerial colleague in another place said that 8,300 jobs had been created. Does that mean that an extra thousand have been created in the past month or so?
Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, the final report from the consultants indicated that there has been an increase of over 9,000 jobs during the existence of the development corporation, and so I can give the House an updated figure.
Some 561 houses, as my noble friend said, have been built within the urban development area, mainly in the riverside area and on the Hunslet Green development. Hunslet Green has been one of the fastest selling housing developments in the north of England. As well as low-cost houses for sale, the development includes 58 housing association dwellings for rent.
The noble Lord, Lord Williams, asked whether only 0.2 per cent. of expenditure had been of a social nature. The spending on community projects totals £120,000, but the 58 housing association dwellings for rent represent a social benefit. That is an important part of the scheme.
Other key outputs include the reclamation of 68 hectares of land; the completion of 11.4 kilometres of highways and footpaths; and the creation of 366,000 square metres of non-housing floorspace, with planning consent granted for a further 170,000 square metres. Those are impressive achievements and ones of which the corporation can be proud.
Now that the Leeds Development Corporation has so successfully fulfilled its remit we are able to wind it up. Our aim now is to secure an orderly exit of all 12 UDCs in England over the next three years. In that respect, the
The noble Lord, Lord Williams, said that there was a National Audit Office report in 1993 which was critical of UDCs. I shall read out the press notice of 25th August 1993 relating to that NAO report. It says:
In drawing this debate to a close perhaps I may once again commend the achievements of the Leeds Development Corporation in bringing new development and economic vitality to the city. I should like to express particular gratitude to the corporation's chairman, Peter Hartley, and his fellow board members, including, as my noble friend said, the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, and to its chief executive, Martin Eagland, and his dedicated staff. They have undertaken their task with considerable dedication. I know that they have worked hard and successfully met the objectives that we set them.
Although the Leeds Development Corporation is coming to its end, regeneration of the city will go on. Leeds has a great deal to offer and I trust that the public and private sectors will continue working in partnership to build upon the corporation's successes. But we must now see through the process of winding up the Leeds Development Corporation. To that end, I commend this order to the House.
The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I begin by thanking the Boundary Commission for Wales for completing on time its difficult, complex and demanding task. Since the report was completed and submitted to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary the commission's Deputy Chairman, Mr. Justice Pill, has been promoted to the Court of Appeal. This means that under the terms of the Act he will no longer be able to serve as deputy chairman. I am sure
The order is intended to give effect without modification to the final recommendations for new parliamentary constituencies contained in the fourth periodical report of the Boundary Commission for Wales. Article 2 of the order substitutes the 40 constituencies described in the schedule for the present 38 constituencies in Wales. The draft order has already been approved in another place and, if it is approved by your Lordships today, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will submit it to Her Majesty in Council to be made. The order will come into operation on the fourteenth day after the day on which it is made but will not affect the existing boundaries until the first general election held thereafter.
The four parliamentary boundary commissions are constituted under the first schedule to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986. Under the 1986 Act, they were required to carry out a general review of parliamentary constituency boundaries not less than 10 or more than 15 years from the date of the submission of their last report. In 1992, Parliament decided to increase the frequency of general reviews and the Boundary Commission Act 1992 provides that a general review should be carried out not less than eight or more than 12 years after the submission of the previous report.
The Boundary Commission for Scotland has also submitted its report, which will be debated by your Lordships as the next item of business. The Boundary Commission for England has not yet submitted its report to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary and I understand that it is unlikely to do so before April. Nor has the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland yet submitted its report.
The Boundary Commission for Wales began the present review on 9th November 1993 and completed its work in December 1994. The process by which the commission arrived at its recommendations is governed by a set of rules for the redistribution of seats. Those rules are set out in Schedule 2 to the 1986 Act. The rules give the commission a wide discretion in fulfilling its statutory obligations while taking account of local ties, administrative boundaries and geographical considerations.
Inevitably, in any area considered by the commission there are a range of possible options for the drawing of parliamentary constituency boundaries. Often a compromise has to be found. Local opinion may be strongly divided, even on occasions along party political lines. During the review the commission held local inquiries in every county except Mid-Glamorgan, where only one objection to its provisional recommendations was received. Your Lordships will appreciate therefore that there has been a great deal of public consultation before the formulation of the commission's final recommendations and one has only to read the report to appreciate the care which it has taken in conducting the review.
The commission looked very hard at alternative options that would have avoided an increase in the number of Welsh seats. One way of avoiding an increase might have been to adopt schemes which straddled county boundaries and the commission gave careful considerations to such possibilities. However, it rejected them upon an application of Rules 6 and 7 together with Rule 4. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that Rule 4, in its application to Wales, requires that so far as is practicable county boundaries should not be crossed. Rule 5 permits a departure from the "strict application of Rule 4" in the two circumstances there specified but these do not allow the commission complete freedom to depart from Rule 4 to achieve electoral equality.
In that respect, there is an important difference between the rules as they apply to England and to Wales on the one hand and to Scotland on the other. In its application to Scotland, Rule 4 merely required that regard be had to the boundaries of local authority areas. That provided the Boundary Commission for Scotland with a good deal more freedom in drawing up constituencies.
The additional seats in Clwyd and Dyfed have necessitated substantial boundary changes in those counties. Elsewhere in Wales, the commission has recommended no change to the boundaries of 27 constituencies. Apart from the changes in Clwyd and Dyfed, therefore, the only changes recommended by the commission are to two constituencies in South Glamorgan to reflect a small change in local government ward boundaries. The commission has also recommended that the name of one constituency in Powys should be changed. Modest though these changes may be, they caused considerable local debate. The issues were fully aired at local inquiries following which the commission decided to recommend the adoption of its final recommendations.
The commission considers that, once the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 comes into force, it may be appropriate in parts of Wales to hold interim reviews to consider possible realignments of the constituency boundaries it is now recommending. However, following consultations, it has said that it does not expect this to be appropriate before the next general election.
As I said, it is clear that the commission has approached the tasks given to it by Parliament with meticulous care and attention. That was recognised in the debate on the report in another place. Such conduct is only what we would have expected from a totally impartial body of this kind. I therefore have no hesitation in commending the commission's final recommendations to your Lordships.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate for clearly setting out the details of the order. Indeed, it was helpful because in many cases he was able to use exactly the same words as his colleagues in the Commons. Therefore, I was able to read his speech before he actually made it.
We on these Benches accept the way in which the boundary commissions have been set up. We also accept the way in which the determination of constituency boundaries has been separated from government and, largely, from Parliament. Clearly, the approval of the orders is almost a formality. It is right that the commissions should be so independent and that the Government should have recommended to Parliament that the orders be accepted without modification. We certainly shall not oppose them.
However, I must point out that the orders before the House are somewhat fragile. The considerations of the boundary commission have taken place at the same time as the reorganisation of local government in Wales. As a result, Rules 4 and 5, referred to by the noble and learned Lordwhich prohibit, except in exceptional circumstances, the crossing of county boundaries in setting parliamentary boundariesrefer to county boundaries which, in a very short time, will no longer exist. Therefore, we have new boundaries set for a certain number of counties in WalesClwyd and Dyfed are the two that I have in mindwhich have been distorted to some extent by existing county boundaries which will no longer exist. That has perhaps resulted in one more seat in North Wales than might otherwise have been justified by the numbers. I can see that the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, will not be pleased with that conclusion, but that is certainly the effect of this peculiar, fragile, and short-lived boundary commission report which is before the House.
Of course, it is welcome that 27 of the seats will not be changed in any way. I do not suppose that anyone will worry about the change of the name from Montgomery to Montgomeryshire. But, even so, it seems strange that we must have such boundary commissions with that degree of formality when we all know that there will have to be interim reviews very soon. With that very minor caveat, we welcome the order.
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