§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the Motion in the name of the Prime Minister, may I announce to the House that I have so far the names of 28 back-benchers who want to take part in this debate? Hon. Members can help the Chair and each other if they make their speeches reasonably brief.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ The Minister of Transport (Mrs. Barbara Castle)
I beg to move:That this House approves the proposals contained in the statement on Transport Policy (Command Paper No. 3057).No one is more pleased than I am that this debate is taking place. It is seven months since the White Paper on Transport Policy was published and I am sorry that there has not been an earlier opportunity of debating it. In the White Paper we outlined the structural, administrative and financial changes needed to match the technological changes in transport that are taking place. It is right that the House should examine and discuss these changes because transport is vital to our national well-being.
The theme of the White Paper is that we need a co-ordinated and integrated transport policy. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) has asked me more than once what I mean by this. The concept is a mystery to him. To us on this side of the House it is self-evident. It means, first and foremost, that we must plan transport developments in relation to other developments and to each other. The Ministry of Transport must become a planning Ministry working closely with all the other planning Ministries. That in itself is revolutionary.
Conservative transport policy had a very different theme; insofar as it had a theme at all. As far as I could make out, the transport philosophy of the right hon. Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples), it was this: transport must obey laissez faire commercial principles and if the growing use of the private car knocks public transport for six, so much the worse. So we have had the shrinkage of our railways, bus and underground ser- 1726 vices running into the red, commuter queues growing, rural areas cut off, mounting traffic congestion in our towns and on our roads.
The philosophy was bad enough in itself, but what made it disastrous was the failure of Conservative Governments even to begin to provide adequately for its consequences. I had hoped that the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) would have done a little better. He set up a study group to give a new look to Conservative transport policy. It has now produced a report, which once again has no coherent theme. It is merely a catalogue of unco-ordinated measures, none of which incidentally is new. Indeed, we in the Ministry had been making progress on the most important of them before the hon. Gentleman's study group was even set up. The Economist has dismissed this report, what it calls thisrag-bag of unrelated suggestionsas a "non-plan".
The truth is, as the Economist has indicated, we need to do some hard thinking and planning if we are to enjoy —rather than be swamped by—the private car. As a Socialist Transport Minister, I would be the last person to belittle the benefits of the private car. I know how much it has enlarged the freedom and enjoyment of millions and I would like to see its pleasures enjoyed by millions more. But the implications of this are pretty terrifying, whether for the use of our national resources, for our environment and the countryside, or for life in our towns.
The very democratisation of the private car—in which I believe—compels us to come to some fundamental decisions about the principles which should govern our transport policy. It is these principles and policies which we outline in the White Paper and on which the detailed plan we are working out ready for legislation is based.
The first is that planning, to be realistic, must be related to the resources available. It is the simplest thing in the world for the Opposition to pledge itself —on paper—to dramatic increases in expenditure on road building—and that is why the hon. Gentleman is going to do it this afternoon. 1727 Hon. Members opposite are very good at building roads: when they are in Opposition. It was a rather different story when they were in Government. They had no roads programme worthy of the name until 1960—nine years after they came to power. And then it merely limped along. In 1961–62 they were spending only £71 million, just about half what we are spending in the current year. Nor was the M1 exactly a monument to Conservative efficiency. It was built in a hurry on the cheap and we are still paying the repairs bill.
We, on the other hand, have been turning Conservative paper programmes into reality. Equally important, we have been concentrating on improving efficiency and output. We have been overhauling the procedures and techniques of road building so as to cut out delays and waste. A big contribution to this will be made by the new Road Construction Units, the first of which will come into operation on 3rd April in the North-West.
These units will give us the greater continuity of work and more rational use of skilled manpower that we must have for an expanding roads programme. All six units will be in operation by spring of next year. We are also improving our contract arrangements and the economy and standardisation of design, and we are extending the use of critical path techniques. All these steps are in keeping with the Lofthouse report.
But, as we all know, it is no use voting money for roads unless the preparations have been made well in advance for spending it. The best way of speeding up road building is to have a "preparation pool" of schemes which are taken through all their planning and design stages in good time for inclusion in the road programme in any given year. That is why I am authorising for preparation now the first instalment of schemes for the period beyond the present forward programme.
As hon. Members will have seen, I announced yesterday some £200 million worth of new inter-urban trunk road improvement schemes to be put into preparation for the early 1970s. Some of these are planned to be built to motorway standards; and others will be all-purpose trunk roads. Later this year I 1728 intend to announce a further batch of schemes for the pool. We intend to keep up the pace of the essential preparatory work, and further instalments will be added until we have a pool of about £1,000 million worth of schemes over and above the present trunk road and motorway programme.
The target for the urban roads pool is the same as for the inter-urban one—a total of schemes in preparation worth £1,000 million in addition to the £650 million in the existing forward programme stretching to around 1971. This urban list will consist of principal roads schemes in London, the major conurbations and the free-standing towns. I shall be publishing the first instalment shortly. This will enable the local authorities to start preparation on a very large volume of work in addition to the schemes already in the forward programme.
There has been disturbing evidence recently that local authorities have not been able to prepare their schemes quickly enough to take advantage of the money that was made available. This is a problem that must be discussed between my Department and the local authority associations. The new procedure will encourage them to press ahead more urgently because the principle on which I shall draw schemes out of the pool will be: first ready, first served.
These steps show with what vigour we are facing up to the country's road needs. But of course someone without the responsibilities of government can always dream up stirring estimates of what the level of road expenditure should be and then trounce us for not reaching it. I see that the Automobile Association has been studying my White Paper and has drawn up a memorandum commenting on it. Mr. Durie was good enough to send me a copy of it. Yes, there it was, as I had expected, an imperious demand for a vast increase in road expenditure. We should increase our spending on urban roads says the A.A., to £450 million a year between 1970 and 1975, rising to £1,000 million a year by 1980. In addition the new target for the motorway programme after the present one has been completed should be 250 miles a year. All this to be "minimal".
I have made some calculations, and I find that this adds up to an expenditure 1729 of between £5,000 million and £6,000 million for the next decade on urban roads alone with a further £2,000 million on new motorways—quite apart from the trunk road programme which is not even mentioned. This sounds wonderful, but unfortunately the Opposition are constantly calling for equally dramatic increases in nearly every other field: housing, hospitals, education, and so on. Not for them the constraints of priorities. But if one asks them where the money is to come from, back comes the slick answer, as no doubt it will this afternoon, "Set up a Roads Board, float Road Bonds, build toll roads, bring in private capital". Of course, if this would solve our problem, no one would hesitate. But the trouble is that we are dealing here not merely with money, but with physical and manpower resources. It is they which dictate what we can do.
But there is another point I would ask the House to consider, since it is crucial to my whole policy. Even if we were able to find the money for which the A.A. asks, it would still be totally inadequate for the need if we were to consider transport simply in terms of catering for the private vehicle. It has been estimated, for instance, that it would cost at least £10.000 million between now and the 1980s merely to provide our towns with a primary road network. And that would still leave nothing for the motorways and for other urgently needed improvements to our trunk road system. Even the highest bidder, the A.A., does not pretend we can find these sums. Yet these are the facts of our transport problem, and we had better face them.
This brings me to the second principle of the White Paper.
The country simply cannot afford to leave public transport to struggle unaided with the incursions of the private vehicle. No one who has seriously studied the problem believes for a moment that we can deal with congestion in our cities without giving a new lease of life to public transport—or that we shall be able to afford the road space needed if everyone tries to move himself or his goods in individual private lots. This means that we must recognise that public transport has a social rÔle to play and must be consciously and vigorously helped to play it. One of the most 1730 astonishing things about the report of the hon. Gentleman's study group is that it has nothing to say about the social rôle of the railways in our transport system. Yet can anyone deny that in the railways we have an existing national asset that can and must be used to relieve our overcrowded roads?
§ Mr. Peter Walker (Worcester)
Perhaps the right hon. Lady will get it right for the rest of her speech. There has been no publication of any policy from the group set up by myself. Perhaps she could tell me where she obtained this information. It is not any policy which has been published by this group.
§ Mrs. Castle
I had this information from a speech which the hon. Gentleman made announcing the outcome of the studies which he and a group of his hon. Friends had been conducting to try to re-create Conservative transport policy. If his speech was misleading, he has only himself to blame, because it misled the Economist as well as myself.
Perhaps his omission from his great transport speech is not so surprising after all, for he would have had to say what he and his Party would do about the 1962 Transport Act on which they once set so much store. This Act embodied the very opposite of the principles needed if the railways are to survive to play their part. First, it cut the railways off from their associated road services, indeed it required them to compete with each other rather than co-operate. It then solemnly instructed the railways to try to "break even" by 1968. Obviously even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wallasey, the author of this Act, did not believe that they could or should completely follow this commercial remit, because even he was forced to reject some of the closures of lines that British Railways were inevitably bound to propose.
So for the past four years British Railways have been living in a twilight world —on the one hand adjured by law to pursue strictly commercial policies, and on the other partially prevented from doing so. As a result we have had a growing sense of demoralisation among railwaymen. They have been attacked for a deficit, some of which they could 1731 not help but incur. The necessary pruning and modernisation of our railway system has been associated in their minds with terms of reference which put no logical end to the process of closures. And management was compelled to spend more of its time on closing down services than on running them efficiently.
In the White Paper we announced a clear break with these Conservative policies; and since last July we have been busy preparing the legislation to implement the new approach. Two things are necessary. First, we must decide the size and shape of the railway network in terms of the needs of our transport system, and not in terms of what is left when strictly commercial principles have been applied. Secondly, we must find a new basis for financing the railways so that we can identify the cost of the services we want them to maintain on social grounds, put those items in a separate social account openly financed by the community, and then give the British Railways Board an efficiency target it can really be expected to meet.
A great deal of progress has been made on both these aspects since the White Paper was published. The Chairman of the Railways Board and I have been discussing with the Regional Economic Planning Councils, with the planning Ministers, and with the railway unions, the basic railway network which we believe must be retained and developed if this country's transport needs are to be met. It is a very different network from that which would have emerged from the logic of the 1962 Transport Act: a stable system of at least 11,000 route miles instead of a network continually contracting down to perhaps 8,000 miles or even less. To take only one example, the South West Region will continue to have a railway spine down to Penzance. On strictly commercial principles, the line would have stopped at Plymouth.
The new railway network map will be published in a few weeks' time. But I want to stress one thing—the lines which we have chosen for development will be those for which the social and economic case is absolutely clear. But that does not mean that the rest will necessarily be closed. It means that the case for their retention must be examined in detail in the light of the normal statutory proce- 1732 dure, including the inquiries into hardship by the Transport Users Consultative Committees.
Here I should like to say a word about these committees. I know that they have put in devoted work, but in this crucial matter of deciding which of these lines the country needs, I feel that we must bring new views to bear—the views of those whose needs have not always been given enough emphasis: the old, the disabled, mothers whose children have to travel to school by train, or who need the services to go shopping and complain that they cannot get a pram on the bus. I am therefore strengthening these committees, and I shall be consulting a wider cross-section of organisations in appointing them in future so that these views can be made known.
§ Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
When the right hon. Lady has strengthened these committees, will she make a practice of taking their advice instead of ignoring it?
§ Mrs. Castle
I think that that comes ill from an hon. Gentleman opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] The answer is, as the hon. Gentleman well knows, that their advice is taken fully into account. This is why so many closure proposals have been rejected by me.
This network will bring to the railway industry the stability which it has so sadly lacked.
Good progress has also been made in preparing the new financial structure. This task, as the House knows, is being carried out by a Joint Steering Group set up jointly by the Chairman of the Railways Board and myself under the chairmanship of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. John Morris).
The Group is reviewing many aspects of railway policy, not only the identification and costing of the unremunerative services but also methods of improving efficiency, new ideas on management structure and the long term financial prospects, all of which are essential if we are to tackle the problem of the deficit.
The Group's recommendations will be a vital element in deciding policy on 1733 both the financial future of the railways and the treatment of their social obligations. This joint enterprise between the Ministry and the British Railways Board, with help from outside industrialists and from a working railwayman, is a unique departure in reviews of this kind.
The Group has tackled its job with a tremendous sense of urgency. The complexity of the ground which it has to cover is very great and it will inevitably he some time before it finishes its work. But I can tell the House that the Group is making good progress and I am very grateful to all its members for the hard work they are doing.
The Opposition has announced that it is voting against the White Paper tonight. In doing so, is it voting against the policy for the railways which I have outlined? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will have the courage to say, because the country has a right to know.
If we are committed to maintaining an extensive railway network, it must be developed technologically to its limit. The worst answer would be to keep it and let it stagnate technically. We are all delighted with the success of the London Midland electrification scheme, and the Board will be putting to me shortly proposals for its extension from Weaver Junction north to Scotland, which I shall consider urgently.
But development must not stop there. As a result of research carried out by B.R. over the past few years, we know that it is technically possible to conceive of speeds of 150 m.p.h. with full automatic communication and control, with better riding and suspension, greater comfort and attractiveness. To exploit these possibilities calls for a research and development effort greater than we have known before.
It is the job of the Ministry of Transport—in co-operation with the Ministry of Technology—to stimulate this research and to relate it to a considered research and development programme for transport as a whole. As indicated in the White Paper, we have been working on that programme and the main outlines of the priorities in this vast field are becoming clear. It is clear, too, that Britain must devote much greater resources of scientific manpower and of 1734 money to transport technology and research than we have done in the past.
But, on the freight side we already have a technological development which the railways are capable of exploiting to the full—and that is the containerisation of general merchandise. The freightliner concept, whose adoption we owe to Lord Beeching, can help to carry the railways into the modern age, but the keynote of containerisation is that it simplifies and unifies movement by road and rail.
This, I would point out to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead, is where integration comes in. It will be quite impossible for our publicly-owned transport system to exploit the freightliner's potentialities to the full, as long as there is the separation of its road and rail freight services dictated by that ideological monster, the 1962 Transport Act——
§ Mrs. Castle
Many other hon. Members are waiting to speak and I do not want to take up too much time. The hon. Member might catch Mr. Speaker's eye later.
This divorce of road from rail services just does not make transport or commercial sense. Integration is not just a shibboleth: there are positive commercial advantages in having one organisation with general sales responsibility across rail general merchandise and road haulage.
I shall, therefore, take steps to reunite our publicly-owned road and rail services through the National Freight Organisation, which will be created by my new transport legislation. A great deal of progress has been made in working out the structure and powers of this organisation. I have given a great deal of thought to the proposal put to me by the T.U.C. that I should re-create a British Transport Commission responsible for integrating road and rail services over the whole field, but, after careful consideration, I have rejected this because I believe that different forms of integration are required for regional and local passenger services and for national freight services. 1735 Moreover, I do not believe that the creation of a large, monolithic body is the best way to promote the integration which I am so anxious to see. The N.F.O. will, therefore, be a separate, publicly-owned corporation, responsible directly to me. It will take over all the road haulage assets of the T.H.C., British Rail's cartage fleet and such of the freightliner assets—depots, equipment, containers and so on—as it needs to enable it to provide a wide range of freight services.
It will, therefore, be able to offer the customer a door-to-door service of great flexibility, a combination of road and rail or throughout by road, as appropriate. It will have a financial stake in the success of the freightliner and work closely with the British Railways Board with the help of a Freight Integration Council whose composition and terms of reference I am now considering.
With my encouragement, the N.F.O. will pursue an expansionist policy. It will actively promote voluntary acquisitions, as the T.H.C. has done, though the road services it acquires will be fully integrated into the N.F.O. If the hon. Member for Worcester calls this "back-door nationalisation", so much the worse for his own theories. Our publicly-owned transport has as much right to expand as any other enterprise—if it can do it by being enterprising. I do not intend to give the N.F.O. a freight monopoly, but I do intend to give it an equal chance.
One of the main purposes of the N.F.O. will be to get more freight from road and on to rail. Without this, we shall never cope with the mounting traffic on our roads. This is why the argument over open terminals is such a tragedy, not least for railwaymen. Yet their suspicions are understandable. They are a hangover from the days when the railways were being sacrificed to the laissez faire polices of a Conservative Government, when "integration" was a dirty word and no railwayman felt secure.
It is my job to unravel those suspicions —and it is certainly hard work. It is my job, also, to remove real anxieties: such as the fear that Tartan Arrow's company train might divert traffic from B.R.s own liner train. But that is a different issue from the open terminal. Railwaymen want integration—and I want to give it to them; but in return I have a 1736 right to insist that the freight-liners are fully used. I shall be hammering this point home when I meet the N.U.R. Executive again next Tuesday at their invitation.
But the point where transport problems make the biggest impact for most people is in our cities. Here, there is no single, simple remedy. But the ingredients of what must be a package answer are surely obvious: yes, we must have better roads and I believe that, in our forward road planning, we must give urban roads a bigger share than they have had before. But, even if we spent astronomical sums on road building, that would not be an enduring answer, to say nothing of its effects on life in our towns and cities.
Traffic management has a vital part to play, too. It can help considerably to keep traffic flowing, and I have made it clear to local authorities that, when they put their road schemes to me, I shall want to be satisfied that they have an effective traffic management plan. In return, I am prepared to give them wider traffic powers.
I see that the hon. Member for Worcester is advocating the creation of traffic commissioners. This is rather ironical in view of the fact that it was his Government which took the traffic management powers for London away from the centralised unit in my Ministry and conferred them on a complex of local authorities. The answer to this problem does not lie in a phrase or a gimmick. It lies in seeing that local authorities have power to act and the trained manpower to carry out the traffic engineering we need. And we are dealing with both of these points.
But traffic management is not just painting more white lines for lane markings, creating one-way streets or banning right-hand turns. To really bite on the problem it has got to serve two objectives; the restraint of traffic to fit the road space available and the revitalisation of public transport. We really must control the use of the private car at peak times and in congested areas and we must be ready to examine any potential method of doing so—from extended parking controls to road pricing.
At the same time, we must restore public transport to its key rôle. Of course, these two interact. Traffic congestion is one of the main causes of unsatisfactory bus services, irregularity, 1737 "bunching" and all the familiar miseries. Real traffic management means giving priority to public transport—urban clearways, "bus only" lanes and so on. And real town planning means planning for traffic movements as well.
The ultimate solution, as the White Paper pointed out, lies in the establishment of single authorities responsible for land use, highways, traffic and public transport policy over an urban area and its hinterland. But fundamental changes of this type raise far wider considerations than transport. They are still being considered by the Royal Commission on Local Government, and in any case would take many years to carry out. I cannot wait till the 1970s. That is why I am proposing to set up conurbation transport authorities as a first step towards the integration which we shall propose in our Transport Bill.
As the House knows, I have visited the main conurbations in the past few months to discuss this proposal and I am glad to say that the response of the local authorities has been most encouraging. On Merseyside and Tyneside, in the Manchester area and the West Midlands they know perfectly well that transport must be planned over a wide area and that road-rail services must be effectively integrated at last. It is because I believe that this integration must be geared to local needs that I prefer to give the job to transportation authorities, controlled by local people, rather than to nationalised area boards; and various alternative ways in which this might be done are outlined in a memorandum to the local authorities concerned, of which I have placed copies in the Vote Office in case hon. Members wish to study it.
The tasks of the conurbation transport authorities will be not merely to reorganise existing bus services on whatever basis of ownership may be required, or to provide such inducements as modern interchange facilities, "park and ride" points, co-ordinated road-rail timetables and all the other urgent needs. They will also be to look ahead to the next 10 or 20 years and to the new types of public transport we shall need new underground or overhead railways, monorails or other forms of rapid transit. They will be helped in this by the new types of Exchequer grant referred to in the White Paper—and, for the first time in our 1738 history, this Government are prepared to pay capital grants for these public transport infrastructures, another revolutionary break-through.
London, of course, is the biggest of all the conurbations and the one where traffic problems are most acute. In one sense, London is already half-way to having a conurbation transport authority since public transport is in the hands of two nationalised bodies—British Railways and London Transport—while local government has been reorganised in the G.L.C. But the vital link between public transport and local control is missing —with results that are not very happy for either side. As we all know only too well, London Transport's difficulties have been intensifying as traffic congestion increases, fares rise and services decline. Yet the decline in public transport adds to the problems of the G.L.C.
I believe that we shall never break out of this vicious circle until public transport in London becomes much more closely linked with the local authority which is also responsible for planning control, highway programmes, traffic management and parking policies. I am able to tell the House that that is what the Government have decided in principle to do. I am delighted that at its meeting in December the G.L.C., on its own initiative, declared that it was prepared to play a leading rôle in the establishment of a conurbation transport authority for London—subject, of course, to satisfactory financial and administrative arrangements being agreed, but recognising that this would fully involve the Council in the finances and policies of the London Transport Board. I am now pursuing discussions with them on these lines urgently in readiness for legislation next Session.
Meanwhile, we are faced with the short-term consequence of the vicious spiral of decline into which London Transport—especially the buses—has fallen in recent years.
In the middle of last year Parliament approved the Transport Finances Act. This enabled us to cover London Transport's expected deficits by Exchequer grants up to £16 million up to the end of next year. This sum was calculated on the best assumptions that could be made about price levels, labour costs, increases in productivity, the possibilities 1739 of improving traffic conditions and the likely levels of fares. In normal circumstances, and on the basis of these estimates, we would have expected the Board to be going to the Transport Tribunal to ask for fares increases about now.
However, the Government do not think it right for the London Transport Board to introduce or apply for fares increases at the present stage of discussions about the future organisation of transport in London, which may provide us with more fundamental solutions.
I have, therefore, asked both the London Transport Board and the British Railways Board to withhold certain minor fares increases which were approved by the Tribunal in July last year but which have still not been brought into operation because of the prices standstill. I have also written to the chairman of the London Transport Board requesting him not to submit an application for further increases to the Tribunal for the time being. I have made a similar request to the chairman of the British Railways Board about the consequential increases which it would also have applied for if London Transport had won an increase.
I have given the two chairmen my assurance that the Government will find means of providing such additional financial support as may now prove to be needed. But this will be on the understanding that our willingness to continue this support will be reviewed in the light of negotiations about the future reorganisation of London Transport.
§ Mr. Simon Wingfield Digby (Dorset, West)
If the right hon. Lady thinks that it is all right to subsidise London Transport, why does she think that it is wrong to subsidise transport in the counties, including Dorset?
§ Mrs. Castle
I suggest that the hon. Gentleman has failed to follow what I have been saying. I agree—and I have stated this in my speech—that responsibility for public transport should be the responsibility of local authorities and local conurbation transport authorities. That is why I am now in discussion with the G.L.C. about its having a closer association with the finances and operations of the London Transport Board. It is in order to put public transport in its 1740 proper context in each case—that is, in the context of other local activities, which can affect its viability so much—that we are now entering into these discussions both on conurbation transport authorities and with the G.L.C.
§ Mr. Daniel Awdry (Chippenham)
Is it the right hon. Lady's intention that the conurbation transport authorities should operate the services?
§ Mrs. Castle
Yes, certainly. If the hon. Gentleman cares to study the memorandum that I have put in the Vote Office he will see that the proposal about which I am now in consultation is for a joint policy board with control held in the hands of the local authorities concerned. It will have general financial and policy control over a professional operating board which it will appoint.
There is one further matter on which I must touch. The French Minister of Equipment, M. Pisani, and I have issued a joint statement inviting private interests which wish to take part in financing or providing for the construction of the Channel Tunnel to get in touch with us. This will enable us to assess the extent and the nature of the interest in participating in this scheme, and it marks a further step forward in this important project. I have placed copies of the statement in the Vote Office in case hon. Members wish to study it.
I am only too conscious that there are innumerable aspects of the White Paper on which I have not had the time to touch—our ports, problems of rural transport, road safety, the future of the railway workshops, and many more. On all these we have action to report, and I am asking my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to deal with as many of them as there is time for when he winds up the debate. I hope, however, that I have given the House a grasp of the principles on which we have founded our transport policy, and a clear assurance that we are now well advanced with the preparation of the Transport Bill which will turn those principles into law. I commend the White Paper to the House.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Before my right hon. Friend sits down, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I ask her a question on a point for clarification?
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Walker (Worcester)
The right hon. Lady started by saying that she was very pleased that at last, seven months after the White Paper was published, we had the opportunity to debate it. The cause of that long lapse of time is in the hands of the Government, and it hardly shows any particular enthusiasm on the part of the Government that they have left the White Paper for seven months before deciding to discuss it. But there was, seemingly, at least one advantage in waiting for seven months. It was that the right hon. Lady would have time to provide the details of the suggestions, the vague suggestions, contained in the White Paper.
The House will remember how during her first seven months as Minister all questions were brushed aside by her saying, "You must wait for my White Paper". But there is now the disappointment that, having waited for the White Paper for seven months, the questions are not answered. Today, seven months later, having listened to the right hon. Lady's speech, we find that none of them are answered. We still know nothing of the detail of the National Freight Authority, and we still know nothing of the detail of the conurbation transport authorities. All the real fundamental questions one could have expected would be answered have not been answered.
The first part of the Minister's speech was spent, I thought, not in debating the Motion to approve the White Paper, but in attacking the A.A. and the speech I made at Swindon—and I was very flattered that so much time was spent on that.
In the preamble to the right hon. Lady's speech we got a picture of the terrible deterioration that had taken place, the terrible inheritance she had. We had comments that under the Conservatives the train services were being whittled away, as she said, and all hon. Members opposite cheered and clamoured at the thought.
The fact is that for every seven miles of railway closed during 13 years of Conservative Government the right hon. Lady intends to close 10 more during the 1742 period when she is Minister. So all this pose that the wicked Tories close railways whereas the Socialists retain them is shown by the facts to be completely wrong. In fact, the right hon. Lady is now committed to a policy whereby the route miles of railways to be closed under a Socialist Government are about 40 per cent. more than the amount of route mileage closed during 13 years of Conservative Government. So do not let us again have this pose that the wicked Tories close railways and the Labour Government retain them.
The Minister then moved to the road programme. Here, one felt a certain sensitivity, shown by the way in which statistics of the Tory record were quoted for 1961–62 instead of for the last year of Conservative Government, and by the way in which the right hon. Lady stated the great difficulties confronting her. Let us compare records, and let us see what is happening currently. The truth is that in its arguments with the Treasury the Ministry of Transport has lost all along the line. It has suffered almost more than any other Department by the Government's restrictive measures, and I am sure that the Minister regrets this more than anyone.
In July of last year the Government announced £150 million worth of cuts in public transport, and it was seen that £36 million worth fell on transport——
§ Mr. Walker
Only £14 million fell on the roads. That made her the first Minister of Transport in post-war history to have her road-building programme cut.
But before that we had £55 million worth of road deferments. We were told that they would be for six months. A Labour Party leaflet published this week said there was deferment for only six months, but as a result of our asking various Parliamentary Questions we know that deferments have not been for six months, but on average, for nearly 12 months. The right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss), then "shadow" Minister of Transport, said that the road-building programme laid down by the Tories was inadequate and that the Labour Party would do very much better, but, in the event, we have had £55 million 1743 worth of road deferments and £14 million worth of cuts.
We now have the Estimates for the coming year. Excluding defence, these show an increase in public expenditure of 11 per cent. One would have thought that in view of the tremendous economic effect of road building, if there was to be an increase of 11 per cent. in public expenditure generally the Ministry of Transport would have done rather better for the road building programme. But not a bit of it—the increase for the road-building programme is 6 per cent. This is the real contrast between Tory policy and Socialist policy. When we examine the last five or six years of Tory Government, we find every year that the increase in public expenditure on the roads was at a higher rate than the increase in public expenditure in general. That is no longer the case. Alas, the right hon. Lady, under Treasury pressure, has lost all along the line.
But, undaunted by the adverse effects that this might have on it, the Ministry brings a new solution to the fore. It was announced yesterday—appropriately; one can never complain of the Government's sense of timing there—that we shall have a preparation pool. I can imagine the glee among those in the Ministry yesterday afternoon when they saw in the evening newspapers the great headlines of the enormous new building programme—much of it appropriately situated in marginal G.L.C. seats—with the details of the schemes outlined, and when their gaze fell on headlines about the great jet age in road building.
What does the "preparation pool" mean? It does not mean necessarily that any one of these programmes will be built. This is not a new technique. The right hon. Lady tried the technique first of all at the Kingston-upon-Hull by-election, when she built a non-existent bridge over the river. Yesterday, she built £200 million worth of roads in a pool——
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston-upon-Hull, North)
As the hon. Gentleman was not there, whereas I was, I cannot help feeling that he has misquoted what my right hon. Friend said. She said, "When the planning is completed, you shall have your bridge." The hon. Gentleman 1744 should have quoted my right hon. Friend directly.
§ Mr. Walker
I did not quote directly; I did not quote at all. What I said and what the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) knows better than anyone in the House, is that the electors of Hull thought that they would get a bridge. In exactly the same way, electors all over the country now consider that they will get £200 million worth of roads. They have about as much chance of getting them as the electors of Hull have of getting their bridge.
The only thing which can be certain about the preparation pool is that any project in it is not in the road programme. The pool has been created by the right hon. Lady to give the impression that a great deal of road building is going on. This coming weekend, as local newspapers publish details of this great £200 million programme, their readers will think that this will happen; yet they can know for certain that the only thing that is guaranteed is that it will not start before 1971 and may not start at all.
As regards the road-building programme, that is basic to the whole White Paper. It fails to recognise the importance of the motor car revolution and fails to face up to the problems of the country with the prospect of the number of motor cars doubling by 1980. All that the White Paper does is to endeavour to suggest three major new concepts to tackle the problems. For freight, we have a national freight organisation. For passengers, we have conurbation authorities. For the ports and docks, we have nationalisation. Those are the three pillars, reeking with the desire for public ownership, which form the foundation of the right hon. Lady's transport White Paper.
Let us examine how successful they are likely to be and what are their likely effects on improving transport in the country. First of all, let me take the National Freight Organisation. Who wants it? Do British Railways want it? Has anyone ever heard a speech by the Chairman of British Railways saying that what he wants is a national freight organisation? Can the right hon. Lady quote any speech by the Chairman where he said that? Not a bit of it, for the good reason that he does not want one. 1745 The railways and railway men themselves will be very uphappy at the prospect of a National Freight Organisation, because, as the right hon. Lady admits, they are on the verge of a great technological break-through in the freightliner train. That is a concept which will be able to price a great section of road transport off the roads and on to rail. It is a concept which is economic and cheap, and it is the ideal use for the railway system. It will do a great deal to boost morale on the railways as it has ever-increasing success.
We have had the enormous modernisation programme of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples), with its tremendous change from the old steam train to diesel within a few years, the enormous investment in new equipment, and tribute has been paid to him for the electrification programmes which he commenced. But the most important concept of all was the freightliner train, because that was a concept where goods could be moved long distances at no cost. Instead of that being the symbol of a great improvement in the position of the railways——
§ Mr. Charles Mapp (Oldham, East)
I am loath to interrupt the hon. Gentleman on the subject of freightliner trains, but some of us have very long experience of the railways, and I would remind him that the principle of freightliner trains is one which has been in existence since 1928. There is nothing new about it, except the political jargon used to describe it.
§ Mr. Walker
Of course there have been concepts of it, and we all respect the hon. Gentleman's wide knowledge of railway matters. However, I am sure that he will agree that the new techniques, the new terminals and the whole concept of a container of standard size travelling on regular schedules should and will bring a lot of new business to British Railways. That is my argument.
Let us face the reality of moving goods from road to rail. I know that many hon. Members with an interest in transport know the facts about it. At the present time, apart from the transit of coal, which is a special factor, 90 per cent. of the freight moved in the country goes by road and not rail. The great majority of it travels very short distances, so much so 1746 that 85 per cent. of the freight moved is involved in journeys of less than 50 miles. For nearly all those journeys, the railways are not a practical proposition. It becomes a practical and sensible proposition for the longer hauls. That is a fact of life. What we want to obtain for the railways is as much as possible of the longer hauls.
The way to do that is not to set up a National Freight Organisation, but to say to the railways that they have a first-class technique here to handle this sort of traffic and that they should go out into the country to obtain all the customers they can, persuade the road hauliers to use their service and make it known to them that if they do not they will not be competitive with those who do, and encourage industrialists to use it. In other words, the railways should be told to integrate not with 5 per cent. of the road haulage industry, which is what the right hon. Lady is doing, but 100 per cent. That is the real difference between the two policies.
What is the purpose of creating a National Freight Organisation? It is to link up British Road Services and the Transport Holding Company. The Transport Holding Company's vehicles carry something like 5 per cent. of the freight. That is all that is achieved by that link-up, unless the National Freight Organisation is organised—which is our suspicion and the only possible reason for its being—in such a way that it undercuts the road haulier who wishes to send his goods by rail and road. We suspect that the overall rate of the National Freight Organisation will be so much below the combined rate of a haulier and the railways that he will not be able to compete, and that, as he cannot compete, it will come along and say, "You are having a tough time. We will buy you up." If that is said when he is having a tough time due to unfair competition, it will be possible to buy him up at a much lower cost. If that is not the concept of the National Freight Organisation it will be interesting to hear of any valid argument for its existence.
I now move on to the conurbation authority. Presumably its purpose is to improve the standard and the cost of public transport. But what is one endeavouring to do with a conurbation authority? Is one endeavouring to create a local 1747 body whose powers are still not defined, whose composition is still not defined, whose relationship with elected bodies is still not defined, whose powers to acquire private bus companies are still not defined and, if it does acquire them, the basis of compensation is still not defined? This is what we are supposed to be debating today—a conurbation authority, with none of these details available to the House. What could be the motive—to improve the integration of schedules? The right hon. Lady knows that this is already done efficiently. If it is not done efficiently already, it would be easy to set up an appropriate advisory and coordinating body to do it, without the programme of acquisition seemingly contained in the right hon. Lady's proposals.
If the Government really are concerned about improving the quality of public transport and improving the cost of public transport, they would not have pursued the type of policies they have been pursuing in recent times. For example, they would not have taken away the investment allowance for buses. They would not have imposed the Selective Employment Tax, which resulted in a large interest-free loan to the Government from the bus companies. The Government, by a series of financial measures, have considerably handicapped the cost.
Now, we hear, there is to be relief for Londoners; they are not going to have to pay, before the G.L.C. elections, the increase in fares that they should pay. This is the great announcement of today, that before the conurbation authority is set up and before the G.L.C. elections Londoners will not have to pay the increase in fares that is due. They will be subsidised by the Government. We now have the happy situation that, prior to the G.L.C. elections, the people in the North who are subsidised for their factories will be subsidising Londoners for their transport. People in rural areas, long complaining about the costs of their transport, will be subsidising Londoners.
The right hon. Lady spoke about London Transport going into the red under the Conservatives. It did not. It went into the red after the Labour Government came to power. This pre-G.L.C. election proposal will not in any way deceive Londoners, because they will know that costs have so risen during the 1748 period of this Government that they are, in one way or another, through the rates or through their taxes, or through higher fares, having to meet the extra cost.
The whole tendency of the White Paper is to give the impression that passenger transport can be subsidised. It vaguely refers to the local people doing it. We heard nothing of that in the right hon. Lady's speech. There was no reference by her to how ratepayers will come in to pay for this so-called subsidised public transport. There was no news of that. The Minister has been round all these conurbation authorities. What conclusions has she reached about the degree to which ratepayers of all these cities and areas should subsidise public transport? Or has she not been willing to face that question?
The third proposal is for the nationalisation of our ports and docks. What a wonderful contribution to the efficiency of our ports and docks this will make. What a dynamic programme. What enthusiasm this must put into all those who use our ports and docks, that in 1970, as we are told, they are to be nationalised. Why 1970? If there are any great advantages in the nationalisation of ports and docks, why not nationalise them now? Why not go ahead now, if this is a proposal which has some practical advantage? If it does not have any advantage, why put ports and docks into a state of complete uncertainty for four years as a result of this proposal?
There are the three proposals—the conurbation authority, the National Freight Organisation, and the nationalisation of our ports and docks. These are not the practical proposals that are needed for tackling our transport problems. The right hon. Lady quoted with glee what the Economist said about a remark I made in a speech at Swinton about practical proposals for transport. She quite rightly searched and found the Economist, which was the only newspaper and the only serious weekly that spoke adversely of my speech, unlike the numerous editorials which followed the publication of the White Paper.
What is needed in transport today are not doctrinaire policies of national freight organisations, of conurbation authorities, of nationalising ports and docks. What 1749 are needed are new roads, better traffic techniques, healthy modernisation——
§ Mr. Walker
Thirteen years in which, my word, these things were done. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman, who is well versed in the railways, should examine the investment figures on new plant and new equipment during the years when my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey was Minister and compare them with what is happening since. The hon. Gentleman will then see who were the real modernisers and who got on with the job.
In the same way as the Labour Government have tried to impose upon the economy a rigid, fixed position—freeze of incomes, freeze of wages, and, alas, rather less than a freeze of production—so they are moving into the same position on transport. They wish to see the railways frozen to their 11,000 miles, irrespective of future changes in demand or fluctuations which will certainly happen. They wish to see the whole of our freight movement frozen into a great monopoly, bureaucratic organisation called the National Freight Organisation. They wish to see passenger transport handed over to similar publicly-owned monopolies in the great conurbation areas. They do not want to get on with a transport policy which would bring to transport more enterprise, more initiative, more freedom, and much more consumer choice. This is the division between the two parties.
Because the White Paper contains none of the practical policies which are needed but is full of purely Left-wing doctrine which may please—[HON. MEMBERS: "Really."]—alas, he is not here; but the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) in an article in Tribune said that the right hon. Lady was the only Socialist at work in Whitehall. I am sure that she accepted it as a compliment. It is because the White Paper is much more interested in political doctrine than in practical policies that we shall certainly reject it tonight.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Buchanan (Glasgow, Springburn)
The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) had some fun with the White Paper. He praised 1750 the right hon. Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) for the modernisation programme. I speak as a practical railwayman. Many of us cast some doubts on the sense behind the rush into dieselisation which must have cost the country many millions of £s, though many diesels are lying about awaiting repair. The right hon. Member for Wallasey deserved some credit for the electrification of the line to the Midlands. However, there was another programme up the East Coast of England from London to Newcastle, where the British Railways Board was involved in the cost of heightening bridges and viaducts to cope with electrification. That project was shelved. Much of the expense is still held against British Railways.
I take great encouragement from the White Paper and from my right hon. Friend's speech today. It seems that the thinking at the Ministry of Transport has at last been channelled in the right direction, particularly as the White Paper states that commercial viability is important but secondary. There is also the recognition that all forms of transport must be planned together—road, rail, coastal shipping and air.
Every developed country has a transport crisis at the moment. The United States are turning back to the electric railway. In Toronto and Montreal they are going underground. San Francisco is looking to the monorail. Our cities are being sliced up. My own city of Glasgow is being carved up. Where I reside in the constituency of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) houses are being taken down and parts are being devastated, all in the interests of the motor car. Flyovers are being built—temples in mid-air for the worship of this new god. We have been sacrificed to the new god of the motor car. The White Paper shows some guts in recognising that some form of restriction must be placed on it. The White Paper concludes, as the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Geoffrey Wilson) concluded in his very well written pamphlet some years ago, that there is no competition between road and rail; the competition is really between private and public transport. My right hon. Friend bases her proposals very sensibly and firmly on that, coming down on the side of public transport. 1751 Nevertheless, the White Paper leaves many questions unanswered and many points requiring clarification. It recognises that railway transport offers major advantages in the provision of fast, safe and reliable services for both passenger and freight. One significant point is that the statutory and financial provisions of the Transport Act, 1962, should be amended. Incidentally, the effect of those provisions was not at all helped when the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) in his Budget took 20 per cent. off the tax of motor cars, giving a boost to the motor car when the roads were still inadequate and unable to take them.
The White Paper tells us that the size and shape of the future railway system should be determined, and this will give a firm future to railwaymen and people connected with transport. It tells us also that the Government should assume responsibility for losses on services retained. I have not had an opportunity to study closely what my right hon. Friend has stated in this connection, but I take her to mean this to apply not only in London —the hon. Member for Worcester made some play about that—but in the Highlands and Islands and the rural areas which also need subsidy for their transport. I am glad that there is to be a study of British Railways Board finances and management structure. This has been necessary for years.
Many of the issues to which I have referred are interrelated. Legislative changes are needed, and this is what we look forward to. It is agreed that the provisions of the 1962 Act must be repealed or amended. They certainly require drastic alteration because, so long as they apply, there is no hope of the railways becoming a viable proposition.
Perhaps detailed comment at this stage on the financial structure of the British Railways Board could be thought irrelevant, having regard to what is said in the White Paper implying acceptance of the need for review and revision of financial policy, but, after the comments of the hon. Member for Worcester, I think that some figures would be useful and would substantiate the contention that something must be done to rectify the position of the British Railways Board.
1752 The recurrent deficits cannot be ignored. From 1953, when there was a surplus of £3.7 million, there has been an accumulating deficit now amounting to about £1,345 million. The estimate for 1966 is £130 million overall deficit, approximating very much to the figure in recent years, £150 million in 1962, £134 million in 1963, and £121 million in 1964. These operating results illustrate the fallacy of Conservative policies to resolve the problem. As the full effects of the Tory Act of 1951 were felt, the operating deficits began to increase. Over recent years, covering the era of the Beeching Report and the 1962 Act, the deficits have ranged from £75 million to £72 million.
It would not be reasonable to ignore all the savings from closures. Many of the closures were obviously justifiable, but many of us on this side—there are some hon. Members opposite who agree —have never accepted that curtailment should go to the extent that it has. Even so, the overall savings are not all that tremendous. The figures show that for completed closures since publication of the Beeching Report in 1963, the British Railways Board estimates an annual saving of about £17 million. The major closures have all taken place, so that we cannot expect very much more to be saved from that period. At the same time, there are other aspects which must not be overlooked. There is the additional cost to British Railways of providing and subsidising alternative services, and there is also the terrible cost in road congestion in our cities and elsewhere, estimated by the Road Research Laboratory to amount to £750 million a year—and it will soon reach £1,000 million.
As regards indirect costs, the Board suffered immeasurably from one cause, and I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Tom Fraser) for recognising, when he was Minister of Transport, that British Railways should not pay the annual sum due on British Transport Commission stock because of money invested in railway track. I could never understand why the taxpayer had to pay money for money invested in railway track when he did not have to pay anything for the corresponding investment in roads, and it is to the credit of my right hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton that 1753 this requirement was removed. I am sorry that he did not go a bit further and take away all the other costs which British Railways have to meet. In 1965, for instance, the figure was £179 million £130 million for track and signalling, £3 million for road bridges and level crossings, £6 million for deficiencies in superannuation, plus heavy costs in providing standby public services, commuter services, holiday services and emergency services.
The White Paper speaks of the railways being relieved of the depressing effect of an apparently perpetual deficit but it does not make clear how this relief is to be afforded. Will the British Railways Board start with a clean slate? Will modernisation continue? Will electrification continue, particularly the programme for the East Coast route which was shelved by the right hon. Member for Wallasey? The London-Manchester electrification showed what can be accomplished in this way, resulting, as it did, in reduced B.E.A. flights. There is great need for a continuation of this policy.
It is difficult to comment on the future financial affairs of the railways. Given all that is implied in the White Paper, it is even possible to envisage the railways as simply providing a traction service covering the major trunk routes, and, assuming that road-rail costs are levelled out as a result of the various inquiries which are taking place, there is no reason why what remains of the old railway system should not operate on a profitable margin. Whether this is what we want or not I cannot say at the moment, but it is a question which we must face. The central point to be borne in mind in the proposed study of British Railways Board finances is that everything possible must be done to create an efficient and economic railway system which provides adequate and convenient services at an economic price.
The White Paper shows a determination to fix a definite size and shape for the railway system, implying a recognition of the need to restore stability and confidence to the industry for the future. However, although a larger system is envisaged than would have resulted if the Beeching cuts had been carried to their ultimate conclusion, it is still proposed to withdraw a considerable number of services, as the hon. Member for 1754 Worcester pointed out. My own view, and that of many hon. Members, is that these withdrawals should be suspended pending the result of the studies now taking place and the result of the reviews by the regional Economic Planning Councils. On one day recently, the Secretary of State for Scotland announced a planning group for the Tayside area. The day before, the Minister of Transport announced the closure of an important railway line in that area.
Over the weekend when my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary was in Scotland, there was a programme on Scottish television showing that a steamer taking workers across the loch from Craigendoran left ten minutes too late to get the workers there in time. The workers had to hire a ferry and scramble up over planks to get on to the pier and to get to work in time. To my hon. Friend's credit, he refused the railway's application to take off that service, but a case was obviously building up for the withdrawal of a viable service. It is natural that we should wish to have more information and knowledge of why closures are to be carried out. We also need explanations of why enterprises such as the Southampton-Le Havre steamship service had to be withdrawn and then sold to private enterprise, which proceeded to make it a most viable and profitable operation.
There is also a desire to look carefully into closure proposals to see if improvements can be effected, such as operating on a cheaper basis. During the Beeching era, we tended far too much to promote men who were good at closing lines and not men who were good at making lines pay. In all the closures a tremendous reduction in staff has taken place. Between 1960 and 1966, there has beeen a reduction in staff of 167,240. Yet that vast reduction has not resulted in the railways eliminating their working deficit. It has, in fact, increased, and one cannot say that railwaymen are over-paid. They are anything but. The Guillebaud Committee laid down a pattern of comparability for railwaymen, saying that they should be compared with outside industries. At present railwaymen's wages and salaries are 8 per cent. below those in outside industry.
That brings me to the question of liner trains. I appreciate what my right hon. 1755 Friend said about them. Much criticism has been levelled at railwaymen because of their attitude on liner trains. But I would like the Minister and other hon. Members to remember that, although much of railway union policy comes from the Executive Committee, which has been referred to as faceless men round the boardroom table, the opposition to liner trains does not stem from it.
As a Member representing a railway constituency which contains a goods depot —the Sighthill Condor depot—I felt that the railwaymen were being unreasonable and went to speak to them. I have spoken to the district council and to the branches, and I find that the men are determined that the liner trains should be operated by railwaymen. That attitude stems from the fact of the 167,000 men having been made redundant by British Railways although the railwaymen could have blown the British Railways major modernisation programme skyhigh if they had not co-operated.
When the liner trains were envisaged and the terminals were built the railwaymen said, "Here is a job we can do. We have done it with the Condor freight, and we can do this job very well to earn revenue so that we do not have to go cap in hand to the Treasury every time we get a wage increase." That is why they feel so hurt that the terminals are being thrown open so that that wonderful service will be creamed off by the private haulier.
The growth in traffic is not dependent on the terminals being open. As the hon. Member for Worcester said, it is such an excellent service that it could have brought much revenue to British Railways. I seem to remember that the Labour Party election manifesto praised the efficiency of British Road Services and promised a great increase in the number of its vehicles. With British Road Services, the railwaymen could have made the liner train service second to none.
I have a number of queries concerning freight which I should like to rush through. It is proposed to separate the railway parcels and sundries from the rest of railway freight and establish a sundries division. Will that be similar to the workshops division? In their integration and co-ordination, will they 1756 be concentrated in the National Freight Organisation or under a separate organisation? My own feeling is that such an integrated system, cutting out competition, will be too dependent on decisions which can only be taken by a Government, decisions on matters such as subsidies and investment priorities. For that reason, the national freight organisation should have been part of a national transport authority. I take it that the National Freight Organisation will be a corporation set up by Statute and will have a board appointed by the Minister of Transport which will be responsible for capital structure, financial contracts and commercial operation.
Liner trains are bound to be a key part of the new National Freight Organisation, which will own all the terminals, containers and other equipment. I am in some agreement with the hon. Member for Worcester inasmuch as I detect a touch of deviousness in the operation, as probably a way of getting round the liner train dilemma. A number of points calls for consideration on the proposal in the White Paper.
While there is a measure of approval for the proposed integration of our road and rail public sector into the national freight organisation, it is questionable whether the freight authority on the lines proposed will be enough, bearing in mind that there will continue to be competition between the public and private sector. In its excellent pamphlet, the T.U.C. advocated a set-up similar to that under the former British Transport Commission. Another feature under the set-up suggested in the White Paper is the retention of so much power by the Minister, which could lead to considerable danger should a Conservative Government ever return to power.
There is a recognition in the White Paper that the present licensing position is inadequate. Without adjustment and control it is not possible to obtain nationalised transport; there would be only co-ordination. When he winds up, I would like my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to give a greater assurance that the licensing question will be looked at with particular regard to the C licence, and whether the whole procedure needs overhaul. It appears to me rather futile to have a body with power to curtail or limit traffic and at the same 1757 time have licensing authorities with powers to give decisions which would nullify the former.
It there not a possible danger of over-concentration of general merchandise into too few centralised depô? The relationship of the British Railways Board to the National Freight Organisation would seem to develop with British Railways simply as a power of traction which would have considerable repercussions on the workers and the members of the trade unions concerned. While I accept the probability of secondment of staff, I would like some assurance that if that were necessary British Railways Board employees would suffer no worsening of conditions in a changeover. It is questionable whether British Railways passenger and freight traffic should be separate. I hope that there will be further deep consideration of that point, and the point that far too little regard is paid to the efficiency of the British Railways Board.
There are two railways workshops in my area. One of the omissions on which my right hon. Friend touched and which affects me and my area rather acutely, was the omission of any mention of British Railways workshops in the White Paper. If we are to have a National Freight Organisation, that seems to imply that the motor vehicles and so on will have to be repaired. In the event of the British Railways road motor fleet being taken over, it is logical to assume that that new body would wish to take over the organisation which services it, that is, the road motor repair and overhaul shops. The alternative is that it will die out and that road workshops will take over.
If servicing is still to be carried out by British Railways workshops, the Board will charge the freight authority for the work because both concerns, seemingly. are to be run on commercial lines. I urge that all the restrictions upon British Railways workshops manufacturing for outside industries be removed, and, indeed, that they should be able to manufacture vehicles for other industries and should have the power also to manufacture for export. They are equipped to do so.
The Minister should have additional power to approve decisions made by the Board on all major activities concerning the workshops on maintenance and 1758 repairs as well as on manufacture and production. It would be incumbent upon the Railways Board to ensure that its own workshops were brought up to and maintained in a state of full efficiency. It should be obligatory on the Board to ensure that the workshops are fully occupied and staffed before any work is contracted out to private enterprise. Purchase of materials, components and so forth from outside firms should be resorted to only when it is not practical to produce them in railway workshops, and restrictions imposed on the manufacture of road vehicle bodies, chassis, and so forth, should be removed.
Finally, in the White Paper there is an appreciation that what is required in transport is a "once-for-all" reorganisation. Repeated changes in organisation have plagued the railways. In large measure, these were simply window-dressing with no structural substance. The staffs have been involved in far too many changes in recent years. They need a real incentive to rekindle their interest and co-operation. There must be cooperation and participation by people working in the industry in the decisions taken for the industry—participation at the top level. A concession in these terms was made in the Iron and Steel Bill and a similar assurance must be obtained for the transport industry.
In the White Paper, there appears to be little provision for union representation on the freight authority and certainly not on the Freight Integration Advisory Council, and I ask my right hon. Friend to take another look at that. The White Paper is a step along the road in an attempt to solve the ever-growing problem of the nation's transport, and I welcome it and look forward with some impatience to the Bill.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Sir Robert Cary (Manchester, Withington)
I hope that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan) will not expect me to follow the railway theme of his speech, good though it was, because I want to confine myself to one aspect of the White Paper, concerning the conurbation transport authorities and bus operations. It is an important part of the White Paper, and I deal with this aspect because I am privileged to represent the city of Manchester, which owns 1759 what is one of the largest operating bus groups in the country outside London, while, on the other hand, I have for many years been chairman of the Lancashire united Transport Company, which is the largest single operator of a fleet of buses in the north of England.
I thus approach this as a representative of Manchester, being concerned for the future of that great municipal fleet, and, in my private capacity, as chairman of a large private operating company and obviously I want to see the true interests of the public service vehicle preserved.
I was intrigued by the Minister's speech. It added much to the imaginative embroidery of public transport. It gave us additional castles in Spain—if I might be forgiven the pun. But I saw no practical hope that much that she said could ever possibly be realised in the lifetime of anyone in this Parliament. Let us be frank. So to gild the lily and to promise something that can never be accomplished is a temptaion which confronts every hon. Member. But I was stimulated by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker). It was one of the best and most stimulating debating speeches I heard for a long time, and I know that secretly in her heart the right hon. Lady enjoyed it as much as I did.
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn for one point he made concerning the railways. The most important and most satisfying thing that has happened in transport in my political lifetime is the electrification of the line from Euston to Manchester, and the credit for that wholly belongs to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) and I am sorry that the right hon. Lady did not acknowledge that.
§ Mr. Ronald Atkins (Preston, North)
What the hon. Gentleman is saying is contrary to the truth. The right hon. Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) is particularly associated with Lord Beeching and the Beeching era. In fact, the electrification idea sprang from Lord Robertson's règime of the mid-1950s, and it was Lord Beeching and the right hon. Member for Wallasey who damned those ideas. Indeed, the right hon. Member 1760 for Wallasey tried to hold up electrification, but it had gone so far that it had to be continued. It was this——
§ Sir R. Cary
I think it will be acknowledged on both sides that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey was the Minister of Transport who was tactically responsible for discharging the task of electrification of the Euston-Manchester Line.
As I have made clear to the House, I am naturally cautious about the spending of public money and, equally, I am anxious for the protection of the company's purse. I am glad that the right hon. Lady began her speech with the subject of the motor car, because this will be critically important in relation to the operation of public service vehicles. She referred to the Director-General of the Automobile Association whose final shot was his letter in The Times today, which no doubt the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has read.
The figures are so frightening that I do not see how in this small country we can prepare ourselves for the ratio at which the motor car is increasing in numbers. It is the considered opinion of the A.A. that the number of motor cars will double within ten years. At a meeting of the National Trust two weeks ago, evidence was offered that within 25 years there will be four times as many cars in the country while the population will have increased by about 37 per cent. We cannot prepare our country in terms of motorways for this sort of increase. It is not really viable.
The right hon. Lady made no mention of her investigations in the United States, where they have the greatest possible power to expand in every direction, using clover leaves, express ways, park ways and great parking facilities. But I am not so certain that the traffic blocks and jams in American cities are not greater than ours. Perhaps they are more so.
The late President Kennedy, before his tragic death, was so concerned about the decline in public service transport that he sought appropriations from the United States Congress to the tune of £190 million with which to rehabilitate the public service vehicle. We have not 1761 made the mistake of turning our back completely on the public service vehicle. There is a case to he made out in terms of integration and co-ordination for conurbation authorities. In her speech the right hon. Lady implied that we would have to take steps to restrict motor cars and their impact upon towns.
In answer to a Parliamentary Question that I put to the Parliamentary Secretary a little while ago, he said that a work study programme was going on within the Ministry of Transport which would make recommendations as to how the private motor car ought to be restricted. Would it be a general restriction, which would have its impact upon the motor industry, or would it be a particular restriction relating to cities? No doubt the hon. Gentleman cannot elaborate on that theme, but I hope that he will take note of it and at some time will lay the recommendations of the work study programme before the House.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Stephen Swingler)
Perhaps I might take that point now. The purpose of the programme is to study restrictions on the use of the motor car. The hon. Gentleman implied that it might have some impact on the motor car industry. It is not a study upon restricting ownership of the motor car. My right hon. Friend made it plain that the Government do not wish to restrict ownership of the motor car. This programme is aimed at restricting the use of the motor car in highly congested urban areas.
§ Sir R. Cary
Years ago we had to restrict the public service vehicle, the bus, and we did that by a system of licence plates. The hon. Gentleman and the Ministry are not flirting with this idea at all.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
Is there not a necessity for the Parliamentary Secretary to enlarge upon what the work study group is to do? Bearing in mind what he has just said, I would have thought that my hon. Friend should ask for a greatly expanded explanation as to what he means by the restriction of the motor car.
§ Sir R. Cary
If the hon. Gentleman cares to devote some amount of time to my modest point I shall be pleased. I 1762 would like the right hon. Lady to keep to more practicable and realisable courses over the next few years. There is a case to be made for the conurbation authority. While it may not be easy to see any future for the local operator, be he municipal or private in those conurbation authorities, they could play a useful part in the civic life of the community particularly in regard to the regulation of traffic flow within our towns.
The editor of Modern Transport said recently of the conurbation authorities:It may well be that the easiest way of achieving the desired goals is for the c.t.a. to lay down policy on the area's highways, traffic engineering and public transport facilities within a framework adumbrated by the Government. On the authority there might be representatives from municipal councils, traffic commissioners, operators, unions and public watch-dog bodies, operators would continue to apply their vast experience of operating and enginering knowhow and provide coordinated service to meet c.t.a. requirements. To facilitate the process existing municipal undertakings might be incorporated as companies in which the shares would be owned by the authorities.That may be a solution to some of the great municipal difficulties existing in the operation of a great fleet. The great Manchester municipal authority has a loan indebtedness of £2,500,000 which has to be discharged. Nearby Salford has practically no loan indebtedness at all. If one is to suddenly seize outright ownership, which was a phrase used by the right hon. Lady in answering a supplementary question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), if one is to promote or prompt the conurbation authorities to proceed with the objective of outright ownership, it will be found that those who have no loan debt to discharge will be offended, but one may well entice those who wish to get rid of a colossal loan debt, such as that now being carried by the Manchester Corporation.
In some respects, in spite of what the right hon. Lady implied in her speech, I would say to her: leave well alone. She is talking about things finding their own natural level. This is being done at present. The senior technical officers of my own company work in the closest relationship with the surrounding authorities. How else can we take care of the semi-urban and rural services other than by a cross-subsidisation? All these methods 1763 are well known and well tried, and they are being used by men with the greatest experience of transport.
What we lack, certainly in London, is a great leader in transport, like Lord Ashfield in other days. We are not in the conditions which Lord Ashfield once enjoyed. We have to do this by hard common sense objectivity, and this is what the conurbation authorities will have to get down to. The path that I see is along the lines indicated by the editor of Modern Transport.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
The right hon. Lady said that the conurbation transport authority would operate all the transport in the area that it controlled. As I see it, it would automatically have to buy up any private enterprise transport and incorporate that. From what she has said, there can be no private operator at the same time.
§ Sir R. Cary
This would be public ownership by the back door, on tiptoe. If one is to prompt the conurbation authorities to do that, why not be open and honest about it and do it in the customary way? Those primitive methods which were denounced by the right hon. Lady are still being used by her right hon. Friend the Minister of Power in re-nationalising the steel industry. Therefore they cannot be quite so primitive in Government circles. If the right hon. Lady wants to nationalise this industry, let her make a straightforward, first-class job of it, and let the electors, when the time comes, take a decision upon it. I am very surprised that the Minister should expect a responsible Opposition to support this one line on the Order Paper giving blanket approval to the White Paper issued in July last. I hope that the Opposition and the few who sit below the Gangway will come in the Lobbies with us tonight and vote against the Motion.
I should like to put a proposition to the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary. We know the machinery which the Government have in mind. A Bill is to be produced in about September. It will be mentioned in the Gracious Speech and it will find its place in the opening stages of the next Session. May hon. Members have a more detailed White Paper before that Bill is issued and debated so that we 1764 might have a better debate than we can have on the White Paper before us at present and so that if we disagree with it in any particular we can have the opportunity of putting down a reasoned Amendment which may tempt many hon. Members opposite to vote with us? Let the House have a more detailed study of the White Paper well in advance of the Bill. This would be much more worth while than anything we could ever hope to extract in the generalities of Second Reading debate. We may then not only help the country but help the Government to improve a Bill which I hope one day we shall have the authority and right to issue ourselves.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Harry Howarth (Wellingborough)
The hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary) congratulated the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) on his speech. Of the two speeches, I preferred that of the hon. Member for Withington. Certainly the first half of it was far more realistic and more appropriate to the debate than the speech of his hon. Friend, who seemed to me to do nothing but chide the railways and extol the virtues of road transport as distinct from rail transport. He went on to say that the National Freight Organisation would boost morale on the railways.
§ Mr. David Webster (Weston-super-Mare)
The hon. Gentleman's hearing differed completely from my hearing on that point. Our anxiety on this side of the House is that the National Freight Organisation will take the freightliners from British Railways. We do not want that to happen.
§ Mr. Howarth
I was not writing shorthand, but I wrote down fairly quickly in longhand the hon. Gentleman's words. I apologise to him. I recognise that perhaps one should not comment on the speech of an hon. Member who has left the Chamber without informing him, but I have not had the chance to inform the hon. Gentleman. I am attacking, not the hon. Gentleman, but the Opposition's attitude to rail transport. The hon. Member for Worcester said that the new National Freight Organisation would boost morale on the railways. After the 1953 and 1962 Acts, it is about time that morale on the railways was boosted, even if this is not the reason why the National Freight Organisation is being established. 1765 The hon. Member for Withington referred to his interest in road transport. I should refer to my interest in rail transport. Before becoming a Member of the House, I was employed in the railway service for 30 years. I welcome the publication of the White Paper as a comprehensive appraisal of the problems which face not only the railways but transport as a whole. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the thought and care which has gone into its preparation and production.
I am sure that it is extremely useful that we should be having this debate, even though it comes later than perhaps many of us would have wished. However, everybody who talks about transport, or who should be talking about transport, recognises that one section cannot be considered in isolation. Each form has its part to play in the life of the nation. It is only by a sensible policy and the application of that policy that we can adequately plan our national transport services.
Perhaps the difference between many of us who argue about transport matters is on how much emphasis should be given to each section. Although the railways have continued to develop many of their services, others have declined, particularly in freight carryings. While we have seen roads congested not only because of the increase in the ownership of private cars but by the heavy traffic carried by road services, the railways have not been used to the full. This has been a national tragedy. This is a waste of the facilities which are available. The situation can be corrected only by a review of the road licensing system, with each form of transport carrying the traffic which it is best suited to carry. The National Freight Organisation, in my view, will integrate the freight services of the railways and of British Road Services and the collection and delivery services involved. It is a new approach to freight organisation.
There is only one criticism which I would make. As this is to be a separate body from the Railways Board, I thought that it would have been appropriate to establish an authority such as we had formerly under the British Transport Commission to oversee the operations of these two bodies in the National Freight Organisation. My right hon. Friend indicated that this is not in her thoughts at 1766 present, but I hope that this will happen as a result of experience.
I should like to say a few words about the staff, particularly the staff already in the railway service. I wish to comment on reorganisation schemes in general as they have affected them. I am thinking particularly of the clerical and administrative staff, who have been subjected to reorganisation after reorganisation. Schemes have followed quickly upon each other without there being any idea of what was happening. I am sure that no industry can have been subjected to so many changes over the past 10 to 15 years. The management has spent far too much time in introducing reorganisation schemes rather than in trying to get the traffic which should be carried on the railways.
It is interesting to note that in its report on the pay and conditions of British Railway staff, the Prices and Incomes Board referred to reorganisations following in quick succession as policy changed, leaving staff bewildered and dispirited. It went on to say that difficulties over past years and continued contraction of the industry had led to a lack of sense of direction in the minds of management and to insecurity in the minds of the staff.
In her White Paper, my right hon. Friend refers to the fact that because of these past difficulties the fullest cooperation among all concerned has been inhibited. Therefore, is it surprising that the staff should be cynical about the most far-reaching reorganisation scheme of all, to which the Minister has given approval, which has taken place since the White Paper was published? I refer to the merger of the Eastern and North Eastern Regions of British Railways, which has brought gloom and despondency to thousands of clerical staff. Many of those involved in this change have been concerned in reorganisations in the past, and many hundreds will probably be involved in the transfer from London to York, but who can say now that they will not again be moved in a comparatively short time?
I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend can put forward good reasons why this merger should take place. I would have preferred it to have been held up until the Joint Steering Group, under the chairmanship of my hon. 1767 Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, had reported on what is referred to in the White Paper, under the terms of reference for the joint review, as thesuitability of the board's management structure and procedures for the future operation of the system.I would have thought that that would have been a much better way to deal with the problem than to allow this merger to go through at this time. As a result of the Joint Steering Group it may well be that we shall have further reorganisations in the railway system. Indeed, one might expect it, if the railways are to be improved and used to the benefit of the whole of the community. Therefore, there could be still further reorganisations for this new region and its existing departments.
If what I call the ultra-reorganisation scheme would result in stability for the industry, and if it could be shown that it was the scheme to end all schemes, I feel certain that the staff would accept it. But what they do not accept are the continual changes which have taken place without any apparent advantages either to the industry or to themselves. That is why I wish that this scheme could have been delayed at this stage.
I want to say a few words about closures, because the hon. Member for Worcester referred to the differences in the mileage of line closed under the previous Government and the mileage closed under the present Administration. I will not argue about the mileage of line involved, but far too many of the closures that took place previously were the wrong closures. It may well be that the mileage which my right hon. Friend has in mind will represent what I would call some of the right closures, because surely no one in transport would argue that every branch line must remain open, come what may. We all recognise that there has to be a rationalisation of the system. Provided that the right lines are closed, one would not be critical in that respect.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
As we have similar problems, I am hoping that the hon. Gentleman will plead with his right hon. Friend that under the rationalisation he is calling for she will look with sympathy on the line which connects our two constituencies.
§ Mr. Howarth
The hon. Gentleman has anticipated me. I was going to refer to the Northampton and Peterborough line in which we have so much interest, the line which starts in the constituency of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and finishes in the constituency of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls), passing me on the way. I must say that in railway circles this would be called a "mixed train".
The matter has been ventilated with my right hon. Friend previously, and I know that the hon. Gentleman has himself made representations on this. I do not know how it affects him. I am not really interested in his area—I am interested in my own. In Wellingborough town we are increasing the population by 35,000 from London in an overspill agreement, yet this line has been closed without any apparent consideration of future developments.
§ Sir Harmar Nichollsrose——
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
Hon. Gentlemen representing Scotland have more than their say in some of these debates. I do not think that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel), of all people, should get irritated. We are talking about the middle of England, the part of England which produces the wealth. I want to support the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Harry Howarth) in his plea. If he can keep this line open it will be worth while. Scotland has no complaint at all.
§ Mr. Manuel
Once every seven weeks. My hon. Friend should not give way to the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) again.
§ Mr. Howarth
I do not want to get involved in this argument.
Certainly this is one of the lines which ought not to have been closed—I agree with the hon. Gentleman—but the steps were taken under his Government. Everybody knows that once a track has 1769 been removed, it is more than difficult to get it replaced. While saying that we must certainly watch all the closures very carefully indeed, I hope that my right hon. Friend's suggested closure of further tracks apply to tracks which ought to be closed. If not, I am quite sure she will have criticism from this side of the House on that aspect.
I welcome the section of the White Paper which deals with the part that regional economic planning councils can play in more effective co-ordination of passenger services. In the particular instance referred to by the hon Member for Peterborough the bus service for the journey takes twice as long, which means more inconvenience for those who are using it. If bus services are to replace railway passenger services, they must be properly administered, and all these facts must be taken into consideration.
I apologise for having dealt almost exclusively with the position of the railways in the future transport system. I also apologise for the fact that I am suffering from a cold, which has now become obvious to all who listen to me. My having spoken solely about the railway system does not mean that those of us who express greater interest in this than in road transport do not consider road transport to be important. I began by saying that each has its part to play in a properly co-ordinated transport system, and my right hon. Friend can be assured that my criticism of past events does not in any way prevent me from giving her my support in the task which she has set herself to perform. Many people, not only in the House but also those who work in transport, wish her well in what she is trying to achieve.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith (Glasgow, Hillhead)
I thought the right hon. Lady's speech this afternoon was a great disappointment. There was no sign in it that she had grasped the nature of the problem or the fundamental revolution in transport in which we are now involved. All we got from her was the worst sort of backward-looking reactionary thinking. It was a good enough speech, I have no doubt, from a doctrinaire Socialist, but an utterly unworthy one from a forward-looking Minister of Transport. Indeed, her White Paper, with its airy-fairy 1770 theoretical approach, completely out of touch with reality, might well have been penned by the right hon. Lady when she was still a schoolgirl at Bradford, and, unfortunately, since then, like the Bourbon kings, if she has forgotten nothing she certainly has not learned anything, either.
Her object seems to be to squeeze out natural new development and to freeze the pattern of transport into a mould based upon preconceived and utterly out-of-date notions of what is right. Surely the fate of the National Plan in relation to transport should be enough to show the right hon. Lady that seeking to impose solutions simply does not work. Only 18 months ago we were told in the National Plan that the working deficit of the railways was to be abolished in 1970 by three methods: by making progress in closures, by concentrating on the trunk routes, and by co-operating with the unions. The whole three of them have "gone for a Burton." The railways' accounts are now to be divided into two sections, the economically viable section and the socially useful section. How nice it all sounds on paper! But how will it work in practice? How can the railways be made viable when the Government persit in refusing to honour the Prime Minister's pledge made last July to make the liner trains work fully?
It is an absolute scandal, when public money and the public interest is involved, that the Government should give way to vested interests by consenting to the humiliating purchase of Tartan Arrow. The Prime Minister told us, in reply to a Question only the other day, that the right hon. Lady was making progress with the unions. It seems to me that in regard to the national interest all she has been doing is to make progress backwards, and fairly rapidly, too.
Then what about the socially desirable sector of the railways which is to be maintained? How does the right hon. Lady decide which line is socially useful? She has already closed my line, and I should like to know what she intends to do about a neighbouring line which serves her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.
§ Mr. Galbraith
Is it to be closed, or is it to be kept open? How does she decide what is socially useful and what is not?] 1771 Does she toss a coin, or does she keep the line open for a friend and close it for an enemy?
§ Mr. Galbraith
The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) keeps saying that, but he knows as well as I do that the station is closed and that therefore I cannot use the line. Who is to pay for all this? We like our railways, but do we like them to the extent of paying about 6d. in Income Tax to preserve the railways as a museum for Victorian transport needs?
This leads me to the vexed question of commuters and public transport in cities. I understand that this, too, is to be subsidised. The right hon. Lady does not seem to be able to think further than "S"—"S" for Socialism and "S" for subsidy. Thank goodness we did not have a Socialist Government in the days of the canals, or otherwise they would have been perpetuated by subsidy and, in consequence, more modern forms of transport would never have been developed.
Why should the public pay for commuters and why should it pay for public transport when plenty of people never even use it? What is the justification for the subsidy? It makes absolute nonsense of the Government's location of industry plans, their desire to get people away from London and the South-East, when they are actually to encourage more commuting and to make it easier for people to commute by having a public transport subsidy.
I must admit that I am thoroughly alarmed by the suggestion that some of the money from parking meters should go to subsidise public transport. Why should it not go to provide betters roads? After all, it is the motorists who are providing the money. One of the great needs is to get a closer relationship between the use a man makes of the road and what he pays for it. What he pays should be used to provide more and better roads instead of having to pass through the greasy hand of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am afraid that we will never get away from that with the present method of road financing.
It is remarkable that in every single sphere in which the State is trying to 1772 provide a service through taxation there are shortages—shortages in housing, shortages in schools, shortages in hospitals and, of course, shortages in roads—whereas there are no shortages where the customer himself pays directly.
I wonder whether it was for some such purpose as this more direct financing of the roads that the right hon. Lady was so keen on her black box. I wish that she had said a little about that, because what we gleaned from her transatlantic leaks was not very encouraging. She always seems to get into the posture of being anti-motorist. Perhaps she cannot help it. Perhaps it comes from the basic sense of envy which seems to inspire most Socialist thought. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] Yes. Envy is at the basis of all Socialist thought. Because she does not drive a car herself, she does not see why other people should, and yet we do not find her going about her business by public transport. She uses a Ministerial car every time. Surely she must realise that if she likes personal transport, other people like it, too. To try to resist the desire for personal transport is to be as stupid as was King Canute in trying to resist the incoming tide. People want cars and people are going to get cars and people are going to use them.
A far more constructive approach than trying to prevent cars from coming into the cities, which is where the problem lies, would be to consider the layout of our cities and our habits of work. There is nothing predetermined about either of those. A couple of hundred years ago there were no large cities and people worked in their cottages spread all over the country. What brought them into tight city units was a technical revolution in the invention of steam power and the growth of factories, but today to a large extent that is all done and finished and is unnecessary. A factory based on electricity can be placed anywhere and increasingly, with the growth of telecommunications, private teleprinters and television circuits, it may be possible for many city workers to work, if not in their own homes, certainly in much smaller units than now, placed throughout the country.
After all, transport is only one facet of the problem of communications, and as methods of communications become 1773 more sophisticated it is less and less necessary to move people about. In the old days, if one wanted to give somebody a message, one had to take it oneself, or get a messenger to take it. Now one picks up a telephone. I would have liked the White Paper to show a proper recognition of the new situation and of the revolution in transport as a facet of communications in general which the new technology now makes possible, but all we have had are further out-moded administrative complications such as the national freight authority.
What on earth is the purpose of this body? To a large extent, transport in this country is already nationalised. There is the Railways Board, which is nationalised, and there is the Transport Holding Company, which is nationalised. Are these nationalised bodies not capable of acting in the public interest? What do they think of the idea? The right hon. Lady did not tell us, but perhaps the Joint Parliamentary Secretary will tell us what the chairmen of the various boards think of the idea of a national freight authority. It seems most odd that the right hon. Lady should be splitting the operations of the railways into the economically viable sector and the socially useful sector, so that we may know the cost of each, and yet she is to superimpose this new authority so that the country will be quite unable to tell whether the road or the railway section is the more efficient. Furthermore, how does all this tie up with the idea of Geddes which decided most strongly in favour of a free-for-all on the roads?
In none of this does the right hon. Lady pay nearly enough attention to people's desires. She thinks that she knows the answer, and she is jolly well going to impose it, cost what it may in terms of personal convenience, or in terms of economic development. Naturally, to the right hon. Lady, as a Socialist, freedom is a dirty word. [Interruption.] Yes, it is. There is no indication that she has grasped at all the burning desire for freedom for people to use their own cars and freedom for traders to use the method of transport best suited to their business needs and, most important, freedom to develop a new concept of communications which cannot flourish under her totalitarian rod of iron rule and règime.
1774 As has been said many times, the price of freedom and progress is eternal vigilance. After her speech this afternoon, I can assure the right hon. Lady that she has certainly alerted the country to the need for vigilance and she has alerted us in the House to the need to fight her plans every inch of the way. This is something which we will do with great relish.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Bradley (Leicester, North-East)
The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) made a characteristically entertaining and vigorous speech but it was wholly negative in its approach to the White Paper. That is little wonder, because he is such a fervent admirer of Lord Beeching. I have not had the advantage of reading the famous Swindon speech, but I hope that it contained more constructive thought than we heard from the hon. Gentleman this afternoon. However, I took the trouble to look up some of the hon. Gentleman's remarks in May last year when in a discussion on further financial assistance for British Railways he said:… if the railways are ever to become an efficient machine they have got to follow the general principles and lines laid down by Lord Beeching."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th May, 1966; Vol. 728, c. 1371.]We all know that those methods led to restrictions and closures. The future success of British Railways and their deficits has never lain in the creation of restrictions and closures, but much more in the positive development of rationalisation.
I welcome the White Paper proposals. They represent a carefully prepared and honest attempt to achieve a rational use of our transport resources. I remind the hon. Member for Worcester that our transport problems today are so complex and difficult that they are not capable of solution by a single dramatic move or by a gimmick. We had quite enough of that kind of approach from my right hon. Friend's penultimate predecessor. I am particularly pleased with the way in which the White Paper defines the future rôle of railways in a modern transport system. The Minister, of course, faces a situation which requires urgent attention. On the one hand, we have appalling congestion on the roads and on the other a great deal of spare capacity on the railways, and all the time there is a persistent drift of traffic from rail to road. 1775 Over 35 years ago a Royal Commission on transport said that it was not in the national interest to encourage further diversion of heavy goods traffic from railways to roads, and it went on to advocate a system of control. Surely we have learned something in the intervening years, but the party opposite has learned nothing. Indeed, it is because of their activities that the situation today is very much worse than when the Labour Government attempted to deal with it in 1947. Although the 1947 Transport Act is today remembered more for what it failed to do than for what it did—I refer to C licences—it did try to get sense into the transport complex. But the Conservative 1962 and 1953 Acts struck deadly blows at the prospects of any sensible transport planning.
With the breaking up of the British Transport Commission we lost the potential for co-ordination. What has been the result? We have publicly-owned vehicles taken into private ownership, the breaking up of the Commission and the isolation of the railways. There is a great deal of ill-informed criticism of the British Railways Board and of railway men who have sought to carry out the uncompromising commercial principles of the 1962 Act and yet at the same time try to provide an adequate service for the public. Those are two mutually contradictory aims. Providing an adequate service to the public necessarily means operating unremunerative stopping-passenger services, standby services and surburban services. In the 1965 Annual Report of the Railways Board it was stated that suburban and stopping-passenger services alone were accountable for £70 million out of £132 million, and £60 million was due to payment of interest on central charges on capital.
Therefore, I welcome the appointment of the Joint Steering Group under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to look into aspects of railway finance. The group, I hope, will identify some of these costs and either take them out of the balance sheet in a conventional way or attach a public subsidy to them, leaving the railways with a realistic financial target which they can properly meet. This is in line with the suggestion of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries which 1776 examined British Railways many years ago. Then the railways will become respectable in the eyes of the public and the morale of the staff will be uplifted by the removal of this weight of deficit.
The railwayman feels that he is regarded as a minus quantity in society and he resents this very much indeed. There is a great deal of truth in the 1965 Annual Report of the British Railways Board, which says on page 9:It is not reasonable that the solid achievements of British Rail should be obscured by depressingly adverse financial results which do not reflect the efforts of management and staff.I cannot improve on that.
Next, I welcome the White Paper decision to stop well short of the Beeching minimum of 8,000 route miles. The Minister announced this afternoon that she is shortly to publish a map showing the lines definitely to be retained and indicating others over which there still hangs a question mark. I am quite certain that there will be many individual complaints about some of the lines which are still receiving consideration but none of us should lose sight of the fact that if the map is to indicate lines which are definitely being retained on the basis of 11,000 or 12,000 miles of network, which would represent a 40 per cent. or 50 per cent. increase on Dr. Beeching's proposal in 1963, we should be grateful for that.
I ask my right hon. Friend to look very closely at some of the lines which are still left in doubt, because I want her always to keep a feminine suspicion of the Railways Board's methods of accountancy and presentation of facts. I mention an example which has come to my notice recently. I refer to the East Suffolk railway line from Lowestoft to Ipswich. The Eastern Region has just discovered that this line which it originally proposed to close—and my right hon. Friend very properly refused her consent—can now have £90,000 per annum saved on it by revising costs, particularly costs of ticket issuing and collection. Ninety thousand pounds is a lot of money. If the Eastern Region knows that this can be done now why did it not ascertain these facts before listing the line for closure? We know that it was because of the restricted terms of reference of transport users' consultative committees and that they cannot challenge costs but can deal only with hardship. 1777 I welcomed what my right hon. Friend said about enlarging the composition of transport users' consultative committees, but I hope that she will also look at the terms of reference because it is only proper that if the committees are to be retained as an instrument for examining line closure proposals they should be able to challenge the statistics which British Railways put before them. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Geoffrey Wilson) present. The Truro to Falmouth line is under threat. It costs £20,000 a year to keep it open. Why is only the Eastern Region carrying out a survey to see how far it can achieve economies? This should be done by British Railways nationally, not by one region. In the West Country many lines could be made to pay if an honest endeavour was made towards that end.
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Exeter)
On the Falmouth line, if British Rail had not deliberately altered the timing of trains so that dockers who consistently used the line to get to work found that the times were unsuitable, there would have been a higher return. This is an indication of the sort of action of British Rail in the West Region.
§ Mr. Bradley
My hon. Friend has reinforced the point I was making. Before leaving this aspect of British Railways' working I remind the House that a few years ago the Southampton-Le Havre cross-Channel service was abandoned as being uneconomic. Then a Norwegian firm came in and it is running the service at a profit.
§ Mr. Galbraith
We have great interest in the hon. Member's speech, but is not this a complete condemnation of the way in which a nationalised industry runs itself?
§ Mr. Bradley
Not at all. I am making some remarks about the domestic management of certain regions of British Railways. I am not talking about the broad policy of Railways Board management or nationalisation. The network which my right hon. Friend is proposing of 11,000 to 12,000 miles will bring stability to the industry. The new shape and size will be substantial, and it will end the uncertainty which has been hanging over thousands of railwaymen.
But, having decided to have a substantial system, it would be stupid not to 1778 use it. How will it be supported? The passenger considerations have been discussed here this afternoon. Obviously there is a future for fast, clean, and frequent inter-city services on the railways. The London—Crewe—Manchester —Liverpool electrification proves that, as it is yielding a handsome return. When will we have a decision about the extension of this electrification to Glasgow? The present service to Glasgow involves changing engines at Crewe. A full economic utilisation of both engines and manpower needs a through run to Glasgow, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will press this electrification forward if she has now received a request from the Railways Board to go ahead.
I do not particularly quarrel with some of the points which have been raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite about the proposal that local authorities should make a financial contribution to the maintenance of rural lines in their areas. This is done in America, and I think, although it may have to be preceded by a measure of reform in respect of local government finance, it is only right to expect local authorities who have been very vociferous in demanding the retention of their branch line to meet some of the cost if that is to happen.
I have some very serious doubts about the position with regard to freight traffic. I wish to refer to the proposal for a national freight authority which is clearly to be the instrument for co-ordination in the public sector. I hope that its terms of reference will include a rail bias with regard to heavy traffic. The railways are not anxious to keep their sundries traffic. It is a £24 million loss maker, and already my right hon. Friend has initiated discussions between the road and rail parts of the publicly-owned transport industry to see how far they can integrate their sundries services, and I welcome this. There is, of course, a gross over-provision of transport facilities for the sundries type of traffic.
What are the implications of the national freight authority for railway management? I ask this seriously, because I wish to remind my right hon. Friend that in the last 10 years railway management has spent a lot of time creating a traffic management structure involving operating, commercial, and 1779 maintenance sections so that it is securing traffic knowing that it will be moved by services and power which are available.
What is to be the future of all the railway commercial departments under this proposal? Are they to he taken over by the national freight authority? Are they to be isolated or absorbed? I remind my right hon. Friend again that British Railways freight movements have to be planned well in advance to dovetail in with passenger operations. The occupation of predetermined lines of a limited nature means that these railway conveyances must be closely planned well in advance. Who is to decide priorities for the occupation of railway lines—the national freight authority, the conurbation authorities interested in passenger traffic, or British Railways?
It means that there will have to be a careful planning of timetables with cognisance of what is required and what power is available to move traffic which the national freight authority will offer to the railways. This is particularly important since Dr. Beeching many years ago laid down a new concept, which is now well established, that the 20th century unit of rail movement is the train and not the individual wagon. Therefore, British Railways, if they are to be left as passenger operators over long distances, must have perfect co-ordination with the national freight authority, or they will soon be in conflict with it with regard to conveying traffic in view of the timetable planning difficulty.
All this reinforces and adds strength to the B.T.C. structure argument which we have been pressing on my right hon. Friend. It means that we ought to have a controlling body superimposed on the national freight authority and British Railways to ensure proper co-ordination and close working in the interests of real planning.
What is to be the future of the Transport Holding Company? I believe that its present activities call for action now in advance of the legislation. Is it to be absorbed by the national freight authority? If not, action will definitely be needed in another direction. The Transport Holding Company has been making acquisitions of privately-owned road haulage businesses in much the same way as the British Road Services have 1780 been doing for some time, but these acquisitions have not been taken within the ambit of the British Road Services but are being operated under a freight association set up within the Transport Holding Company. The real point is that they are actually competing with each other and in opposition to the B.R.S., who in turn compete with British Railways. Could there be a more absurd situation?
§ Mr. J. E. B. Hill (Norfolk, South)rose——
§ Mr. Bradley
I am sorry, but I cannot give way, I have spoken for longer than I intended, and I am coming to the end of my speech.
The situation which I have described is really absurd, and I questioned my right hon. Friend about this on 16th December. I was told that planning machinery had been set up by the Transport Holding Company to promote cooperation in the commercial and operational spheres, and she did not think any direction was necessary. Direction is very clearly necessary in this connection.
My right hon. Friend has already taken the initiative to secure a planned merger of sundries traffic between British Road Services and British Railways. This is a much bigger question which ought to be tackled in the interests of the good name of public ownership, and to put an end to a good deal of the ridiculous waste that is going on because of this unnecessary duplication of activities within the public sector.
Will the national freight authority, which is to replace the Holding Company, I hope, be given a free hand to take over as many private firms as possible? I hope so, because my right hon. Friend must remember that there is more transport outside the Transport Holding Company than within it, and I can see a number of dangers if we leave too large a private sector, because the issue today is not road versus rail, but public versus private transport.
Whatever the outcome of the proposals in the White Paper, I recognise that it will mean yet further changes in the pattern of railway administration, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Harry Howarth) said, railway staffs have become very 1781 well used to incessant change as one re-organisation has overtaken another before any settled pattern could develop, and as managements have struggled to effect economies at the expense of their commercial responsibilities. In the last four years the number of railway staff has been reduced by 150,000. The railway industry has already had its shake out, and the fact that it has proceeded so smoothly with so little rancour and bitterness, unlike what we have found in other industries, is a tribute to the trade unions concerned and to their negotiating and consultative machinery.
On behalf of railwaymen—and I speak as the president of one of the railway unions—I should like to say that I feel that railwaymen will accept further changes in the knowledge that we are to have a substantial railway system, that it will be modernised, that it will be used, and that it will be given a period of stability to show what it can do.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Marcus Kimball (Gainsborough)
The hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley) said that this is an argument of private transport versus public. In fact, it is an argument of modern economic forms of transport against the traditional forms. The hon. Member was disparaging about the Transport Holding Company, but it has made a profit over the last five years of £70 million, thanks to good commercial management.
The depressing thing about the debate so far—apart from the brilliant speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker)—is the dirge of speeches from the back benches opposite. The hon. Member for Leicester, North-East was the third back bencher from the opposite side of the House to speak on a Transport White Paper entirely about the railways. We know the responsible position which he holds, but he himself regularly finds the industry a little inconvenient, and I think that he will find that that is the view of most of his constituents. Unless one is a commuter or travels on business, the railways have priced themselves out of the reach of the average person, compared with the economics of running and using a car for oneself and one's family.
1782 In any average business, no one talks about the practicality of putting freight on the railways. They have grave doubts about goods being delivered on time, let alone arriving unbroken. That is the practical and the pressing situation. I was glad that the right hon. Lady at least began by saying something about the road programme and that section of the White Paper. I was disappointed particularly that the section dealing with the road programme was contained in nine paragraphs—Nos. 33 to 42—whereas there are only eight on inland waterways, for which the right hon. Lady has decided there is not much use. In a Socialist White Paper, the subject which interests most people is given no more than nine paragraphs.
I want to look at these eight paragraphs on road and road construction. We have already heard about the movement of industry and population, by encouraging industries to move out and population to move through overspill and other agreements. What do these new industries and new centres of population want? They do not want a new railway service, but an adequate trunk road and motorway links and this is the economic system of transport which the new areas of population must be given.
After all, in these areas, as elsewhere in the country, 90 per cent. of the people will want to go on the roads and 80 per cent. of the freight generated to and fro wants the same thing. They do not want to go on the railways. Perhaps my speech is surprising, as I represent a county where motoring is still a pleasure, but Lincolnshire is now faced with large overspill agreements with Greater London and we want to ensure that the super and excellent road system given us by the Romans and which we are still able to enjoy is modernised to meet new developments of population.
There is in the White Paper an admission that the Socialist Government have inflicted on the road programme a serious standstill and a cut. The right hon. Lady admitted that, in 1964, the Conservative Government spent £180 million on the road programme. In 1965–66, that programme was cut by £2 million. Paragraph 34 of the White Paper makes great play with the fact that the Government will construct 700 miles of motorway by 1970, which is the figure 1783 they give for the necessary mileage, and 350 miles of new trunk road. This falls a long way behind the mileage of motorways which a Conservative Government would have given to the road haulage industry if they had continued—1,000 miles by 1973.
The most depressing facts about the road programme were given in a Written Answer on 14th December last about the anticipated mileage of new motorways under the right hon. Lady's Ministry. These figures were, for 1966, 49 miles; for 1967, 68 miles; for 1968, 39 miles—a really declining scale. This does not make a noise like a dividend to anyone interested in new motorways or improving our transport.
What should the motorway programme be? My hon. Friend the Member for Worcester has said that, by 1970, we should have embarked on a further 1,700 miles of new motorway. This is the figure supported by the county surveyors. Look at the current revenue that motor taxation raises, unlike the loss sustained by British Railways. The motor car and motor taxation bring into the Treasury £1,200 million a year, and the right hon. Lady is spending exactly one-quarter of this on new motorways and new trunk roads.
We should consider the forecast of congestion and the number of vehicles on the roads over the next 10 years and the amount of money which will come into the Treasury. I know that the Treasury is against any form of taxation designated for a specific project, but it is good business for the Treasury if it encourages more motorways and encourages people to use road transport more, as it will make a profit on its expenditure.
The depressing thing about the expenditure is that, the Conservative Government having spent so much on getting the motorways going, we will not get the benefit until the system is completed. The system is inadequate now, because we do not have the proper links. It is all very well swishing down the motorway to Slough, but it is not much good if there is a bottleneck in Berkshire, because one cannot get on.
The British Road Federation has made a careful study of roads and resources, which shows clearly that, within the next 10 years, the road and motorway programme could be trebled without calling 1784 for a larger share of scarce national resources. It emphasises something which is mentioned in the White Paper—I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will confirm that these points are being urgently considered—that of the improvement importance of contractors' being given longer contracts, in time and length of road works that they are asked to do and the importance of continuity of work, and simplicity of design to keep costs down. This will make considerable savings in construction costs.
We must face the fact that, in the road construction industry, the turnover on capital is much slower than in the building industry. We must ensure that road contractors get a proper return on their capital, because what we want to see in the industry now is a greater use of specialist sub-contractors. We must try —and the right hon. Lady must try—to give those specialist sub-contractors the confidence to buy the new equipment which will help them to keep down construction costs.
Of course, the road contractors are suffering from the general economic climate created by the present Government. Of course there is a reluctance to buy the new type of equipment which they need, and I hope that something will be said in winding-up to give these people that confidence to buy this desperately needed equipment.
If we are to believe paragraph 39 of the White Paper and that the right hon. Lady is to go ahead with speeding up road construction, and having a proper road building programme, and is not just making bogus announcements of further steps to postpone having to spend any money and getting on with building some roads—if we are to believe that she means to build some roads, I should like something categorically said about speeding up the statutory proceedings once a road begins to be built.
I think that hon. Gentlemen are aware that these are known at the moment as the "31 steps", although it is 32 now, when the right hon. Lady cuts the string at the beginning of the road and thus delays the opening for three or four days. I should have thought that the Government could look immediately at the diversion and side-road procedure which the county councils are obliged to go through. 1785 This procedure creates delays of between six weeks and two months in the starting of a project.
One way to speed up the process would be to pay reasonable prices and to prevent objection being created. When considering the building of a new motorway one must think not only of the price of land but also of a fair price to compensate people for their property being ruined or its amenity value being seriously slashed. A case arose in my constituency and I longed to persuade people to object to a project by a nationalised industry. However, that industry has since shown the colour of its money and any objections that there might have been have faded away. If a realistic price is paid for motorway land, that too, will speed up the provision of a proper system of roads.
The right hon. Lady the Minister had such a bad case that she obviously had to persuade her right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to make sure that this debate came on on a day when it is foreshortened because of our morning sittings procedure. The right hon. Lady has, therefore, run for the shelter of a short Parliamentary day, which only goes to show that she is not very genuine in her desire to give this country the trunk road and motorway system it demands.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
I agreed with much of the speech of the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Kimball). It is obvious that he has given a great deal of thought to the subject and that he has considerable knowledge of the country's transport problems. It was a pity that he attacked my right hon. Friend and so departed in the last sentences of his remarks from the high standard which he had otherwise maintained.
We are used to the knock-about speeches which are made by the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), although the contributions which they make to a debate of this sort do not advance the subject very far. I hope that they treat their lady friends a little less roughly than they treated my right hon. Friend. I suggest that the 11½ per cent. lead which the Socialists have over the Tories, as revealed in the Gallup Poll published 1786 in the Daily Telegraph the other day, results from the sort of speeches which those two hon. Gentleman made today.
I welcomed the publication of the White Paper on Transport Policy last July. It is the most enlightened and forward-looking statement on transport we have yet received, for it recognises that all forms of transport must be considered and planned together. Because we had no overall planning previously—apart from such documents as "The Reshaping of British Railways", which attempted to solve the problems of railway transport in isolation—we were bound to come to unsatisfactory and unacceptable conclusions.
The White Paper on Transport Policy represents, in two important aspects, a big advance on previous policy. It is now accepted that some services, though they do not pay their way as required by the 1962 Act, should, nevertheless, be retained on social grounds. This is an important point to accept, particularly since the Ministry is now carrying out research into the relative costs of carrying goods by road and by rail.
I entirely accept the policy outlined in paragraph 19 of the White Paper, which first considers the problem of the size and shape of the basic system and then states that the system should include:(a) a network of main trunk routes selected for special development linking the main centres of population, industry and commerce;(b) secondary lines feeding the trunk network, including some to be developed to carry particularly heavy flows of freight;(c) certain commuter routes in and around the main cities and conurbations;(d) certain lines essential to the life of remote areas.I am sure that we all accept that those are the basic principles. The following paragraph states:The result will be a considerably larger system than seemed likely with the previous policy of widespread closure.That refers to closures under the 1962 Act. If we do not delay for too long we could create, if we bring these changes about, a new spirit among railwaymen and give them the incentive they need of an assured and worth-while future in the railways.
What is my right hon. Friend's policy on railway workshops? These enterprises are bound up with the social 1787 welfare of many large communities, but the workers in them are becoming disappointed. Many workshops are losing work to outside firms. Others are being closed down while others are not being given the opportunity to tender for outside work. We cannot allow the position to decline further and we cannot wait for full transport legislation to be introduced before dealing with the present position.
I am convinced—and I am in close touch with this problem in my constituency and elsewhere—that the railway workshops could achieve major successes if they were modernised, and introduced shift working over a 24 hour day where necessary. The Labour Party has a pledge to redeem in this matter and I hope that my right hon. Friend recognises that an interim measure freeing the railway workshops from their present shackles is vital if the workers in them are to have a worthwhile future.
I welcome the financial provisions outlined in the White Paper, particularly those applying to unremunerative but socially necessary railway services which, until now, the railway boards have had to maintain. I hope that the size of the deficit resulting from the operation of such services will be made known as soon as possible. The making public of this information will be good not only for the boards but for the railwaymen and the public generally.
Another important financial consideration is dealt with in paragraph 27 of the White Paper, which states:The Government is considering the possibility that local communities might, as part of the long-term arrangements assume some, at any rate, of the financial responsibility for passenger services whose retention is required for local reasons, if they should decide that the line ought to be preserved as part of the local transport system".Paragraph 29 states:The establishment of the new financial framework will require the identification and costing of those services and facilities whose cost should properly be borne and aided by the community".Paragraph 79 deals with the same problem, and states:In the Government's view, if help from public funds is to be made available to secure that rural services are provided or continued, the local community should take 1788 its part in determining what services are to be considered as essential and should contribute to the cost".I can understand what these paragraphs mean, but they raise many questions and reservations in my mind.
can understand national taxation being used to meet transport deficits, but if local communities are to be asked to take on financial burdens because of the geography of their area, or because of sparse population, or because they are island communities, I would most strongly disagree with that policy——
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody
Would my hon. Friend not accept that this policy will mean that in some rural communities we shall lose all forms of transport? In some rural communities we have no money to pay for these services, and unless this Government are prepared to subsidise them from the Treasury, we shall lose all forms of transport.
§ Mr. Manuel
Those rural communities with which I am in touch are already spending more on transport than are some of the more lucrative areas.
In Scotland we already meet such transport deficits from national taxation. I do not suppose that the Minister of Transport knows anything about that. David McBrayne Ltd., which operates passenger and freight road services and coastal shipping services on the West Coast of Scotland, receives substantial subsidies each year from the Government to enable those services to be operated over a very wide area. These subsidies have been given ever since 1920–21. In 1929–30 the subsidy was £22,000 and for this year it is estimated at £393,500.
Is it now intended that our Highland communities shall meet the substantial part of this expenditure? I ask my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to say quite clearly whether that is the intention. If it is, there will be massive opposition, led by the Secretary of State for Scotland and, I think, every Scottish Member——
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)rose——
§ Mr. Manuel
I at once exclude the hon. Gentleman from that remark.
I agree that the present fragmentation and lack of central control of urban 1789 transport militates against rational coordination of transport——
§ Sir Harmar Nichollsrose——
§ Mr. Manuel
The hon. Member has interrupted every speech so far, and I will not give way further. He is taking up too much of our time. I usually do give way.
I support the policy that in these urban areas we should have authorities with overall responsibility for transport. We cannot await the results of the Royal Commission on Local Government. This will need at least five years, and the problem is too urgent for that. I welcome the decision that in these areas the Government will promote interim machinery to deal with some of the present defects.
What is perhaps the important part of my thoughts relates to traffic control in the conurbations. All that the White Paper seems to deal with is the unified control of passenger transport services, but we have to realise that we have a terrific volume of freight services within the conurbations themselves. Within them, thousands of small manufacturing industries and businesses are being supplied with raw materials and then sending the finished products by road, either on short haul to rail heads or on long haul right to the customer or to a port for export.
In my opinion, it is quite wrong to unify passenger services without regulating the movement of freight vehicles to the times most suitable for them. I do not think that the daytime, when our streets are full of the normal passenger services plus the multiplying numbers of private cars, is the right time for the intensive movement of freight vehicles. I may meet opposition in many quarters but I believe that the services connected with these businesses and industries should take place in a regulated way during the night, when public passenger services are reduced to a skeleton night service and the private car is almost completely absent from the streets.
In this suggestion I see the only real long-term solution, and I hope that thought will be given to ways and means of bringing it into operation. It would be an immense step forward. Why should not many of the industries presently working during the night take de- 1790 livery of their materials and send out their manufactures during the hours when the streets are clear?
Much has been said about the freightliner service, which has my full support. The more of the long haul freight services we can remove from the roads the better will conditions be for the other road services. I am sure that the great majority of railwaymen realise this, and I hope that the present difficulties will be speedily removed.
Paragraph 82 of the White Paper seems to dismiss coastal shipping altogether from consideration. It says:The Government sees no reason at present for suggesting any change in the general arrangements under which coastal shipping operates.Have the Government examined the problem? Have they given it the intensive examination it deserves?
I do not agree with the contention in that paragraph. Our home-based coastal shipping is declining. Far too much is being undertaken by foreign-owned ships. These vessels have freedom to ply between our ports, but our ships are not allowed to ply between ports on the Continent. I should like the Ministry to take action to build up our own coastal shipping. This has repercussions on the smaller dockyards for the building of coastal vessels and for their repair, because the foreign ships go back to ports in their own countries for shipbuilding and repair work.
§ Mr. McNamara
On that subject, would not my hon. Friend agree that the chartering by United Kingdom shipowners and some nationalised industries of foreign-owned vessels has meant a serious deficit on our balance of payments?
§ Mr. Manuel
That is true. It is an important aspect, and I entirely agree with my hon. Friend's very valuable interjection. At the very least our own home-based coastal shipping should be able to expect the protection afforded to their foreign competitors in cargo-carrying between our own home ports.
I fully support the main principles in the White Paper, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will have the very full support of her colleagues in the Government in bringing in the necessary legislation as soon as possible.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, may I ask whether he is aware that he began by saying that this was a brilliant White Paper, and then proceeded to make a speech which was in full and direct criticism of it? There is a contradiction there which he ought to explain.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Portsmouth, Langstone)
I hope that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) will not regard it as discourteous if I do not follow him in his flights to the north. Such journeys engage my emotions but do not antagonise my intellect. However, I wish to refer briefly to one point which he made about the effect on Britain's balance of payments of chartering foreign vessels. It cannot be denied that that has an effect on our balance of payments, but it cannot be condemned out of hand without a careful analysis of the balance of payments effect of all the feasible alternatives of bringing in the same commodities. That might lead him to conclude that the first alternative is the right one, not only from the narrow point of view but also from the national interest.
I turn now to a point which was made by the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley). He said that this was a debate about public versus private enterprise. I want to deal with that in passing because, in this context, as in many others, it can become and is becoming this evening one of the most massive and sterile irrelevancies which afflict the House of Commons.
Within the last few months, I have visited three institutions, which I choose at random to illustrate my point. The first is the Port of Gothenburg, the second is the Port of Rotterdam, and the third is the new Italian project known as the Rivalta Scriva. Those are all outstanding examples of enterprise. Gothenburg is a port authority, so it is in a sense a public enterprise. Rotterdam is a municipality and that, in a sense, is a municipal enterprise. The Rivalta Scriva project, on the plains of Genoa, is wholly a private enterprise. All three projects are enterprising.
Can we not extract the essential noun "enterprise", and ignore the adjectives "private", "public" and "municipal" when considering this and many other 1792 subjects? They close the mind to thought, in much the same way as a bad television programme switches off the minds of people all over the country.
I want now to refer to three principal topics. The first is the docks—an important subject in this White Paper—and their relationship to the national economy. The second is the decision to build a new grain terminal at Tilbury rather than on the Isle of Grain. The third is the relationship between transport efficiency and documentation. In that context, as I shall probably not have sufficient time, I would refer in passing to the very serious failure of this country to implement the T.I.R. Convention to which we are a signatory. That will have serious effects on everything which is common to the interests of both sides of the House in implementing the flow of unit loads.
On the subject of docks, of no country is it more true to say that every road and railway line begins or ends in the docks. As a people, we may consume four-fifths of our gross national product, but the whole operation of the consumption of that four-fifths is made possible by the one-fifth which moves across the quays of this country. To bring us up to date, I might say that which moves across the roll-on, roll-off quays, and, looking to the future, those goods may not move across quays at all, because we have recently seen an experiment in which containers were lifted off a sea-going vessel and taken right inland by helicopter. I understand that the United States Army is using this technique to supply troops in Vietnam.
The vast bulk of the one-fifth to which I have referred is essentially a private enterprise operation. The majority of ships serving our ports are private enterprise operated and owned.
I have no interest in the oil industry, but I defy any hon. Member to contradict me when I assert that little can match the superb efficiency with which the world's oil industry has supplied the energy needs of the country. Nothing is transported more efficiently or more cheaply, and in no field of activity have costs been kept more stable than that of transporting oil. That, by and large, is probably the world's most significant private enterprise operation. The House should not lose sight of it. 1793 The outstanding feature of all these low-cost operations, of which oil is probably the most significant and to which I would add bulk grain, bulk sugar and many others, is the fully integrated control which the industries concerned exercise over the transport of their products. The majority of what might be termed the non-bulk industries and some of the bulk industries are in the same position today as the oil industry was 60 years ago, when most of its products were transported in 44-gallon drums. Today, a whole new series of products is crossing or about to cross the threshold of bulk operation.
To stress my impartiality on the question of public versus private, I refer to the public enterprise of methane. At the same time, I refer to the enterprises of molasses, acids, cement and wines, and to the fact that as many private enterprises are involved as public enterprises, if not more. They now justify special vessels, and soon they will justify special facilities.
Essential to this position is the common feature of unified control of the transport facilities which these operations will demand in terms of ships, dock installations and the delivery systems at each end. The outstanding example of this is the so-called container revolution. I am delighted that the Minister has learnt something about containers, and I confess to knowing a little about them. They provide an outstanding example, and I will refer to them again.
Nothing would be more likely to inhibit the enterprise or the transport technology required than an undue degree of public control at either end, in one country or the other. Certainly until helicopters become a common feature of our transport existence, the one segment in the transport chain which is essential is the docks.
What questions should we ask? I have suggested one with which we should not be concerning ourselves greatly, and that is whether they should be nationalised. May I suggest the questions about which we should be thinking? They fall into two main groups. What is the likely effect on the docks and shipping of this country of the following questions.
The first is the increasing specialisation of ship operations The second is the 1794 increasing scale of ship operations. The third is the foreseeable changes in the technology of ship operations and not all are foreseeable. The fourth is the foreseeable but again not always foreseeable but desirable increase in economic integration about which we all talk so frequently in the House. The fifth, which has been almost completely neglected in the White Paper, is the effect of air freight which may account for 5 or 6 per cent. of the total traffic in and out of this country at the moment, but the growth rate of which is something like 11 or 12 per cent. per annum. That is something which can have significant results.
One question with which I should like to deal so as to get it out of the way is whether it is still possible for us in Great Britain acting alone, as it was possible for us to do in the 19th century, appreciably to affect the pace of this development. It seems to me that the answer is an unequivocal "No". Not only is our fleet a small fraction of the world fleet, but our economy is a small fraction of the world maritime trading economy, which was not so in the 19th century. We either keep up or fall behind in this as in many other spheres of activity.
The second group of questions which we should consider is, first, how much in percentage terms of our national investment should be put into docks and ships? I have not seen this sort of alternative carefully considered, and it is the type of decision which we should weigh and consider with all the available evidence. Do we as a nation adapt or rebuild existing docks, or do we resite them? I have not seen much reference to that in the White Paper, or anywhere else.
Thirdly, once we have decided what proportion of the national income we invest, and whether we adapt or rebuild, do we build to last? That again affects materially the whole character of our dock and port investment. Fourthly, do we decide as a nation to compete with Europe all along the line, or do we merely select which areas we are to compete in? If so, what are these areas to be?
I will deal now with the first series of questions in more detail. I referred to the increasing specialisation of ship operations. This will definitely continue. It is a function of both tonnages and of technology and is utterly inescapable. 1795 Next there is the question of the increasing scale of ship operations. This tends to follow specialisation. The first tanker which supplied this country was a ship of some 6,000 tons. Towards the end of last year I.H.I. in Japan launched a tanker of 210,000 tons. This presents considerable problems of draught, as we all know. I want to refer to the problem of draught in the context of the type of decision which this nation should be considering. The United States Bureau of Engineers recently did some calculations on the cost of improving the access to the port of New Orleans, which happens to be a long channel—I think about 26 miles long. The cost of increasing the draught of this channel by 1 ft. was, in round terms, 300 million dollars. This is the type of question we should be considering in relation to such problems as I hope to come to later in connection with the Isle of Grain.
I turn to changes in the technology of ship operations. The most dramatic illustration of this is the container, but the Minister must not suggest that this can be developed only by laying on it the pallid and palsied hand of public control. I will not accept this. We must not forget the origins of this operation. We know and admire the experiment of British Railways. We know and admire the Irish Sea operations, which were brought to a stop by the outbreak of the Second World War. Nevertheless, the country where this development has got off the ground is the United States of America. The two main operators who have brought it to fruition are two important American private enterprise shipping companies—Sealand and Matson. This in the last few years has been where the dramatic growth in containerisation has taken place. Let us not forget it for a moment.
The question of economic integration is important, because we know now that there are no E.F.T.A. customs barriers. We hope—some of us more fervently than others—that there will be in due course no E.E.C. customs barriers. This brings me back to the question: what is the effect of this type of change in the flows of trade on the type of documentation which will or will not be required, and of this on the siting of our ports and the structure of our port systems?
1796 I referred, finally, to the question of the effect of air freight. I was most interested to discover that the Sealand Corporation in New York, in assessing the impact of various forms of competition on its initial container operation through New York and Puerto Rico, came to the conclusion that by far the most serious threat was, not from other forms of shipping or containerisation at all, but from air freight between those two points. This is the type of thing we should be considering in relation to the traffic supplying this island, certainly within Western Europe and even across the Atlantic.
I turn now to my second series of questions. How much national investment should we be making? I notice that the White Paper refers to some sums. They are quite encouraging sums—£234 million over the years 1965–70. This is more than has been spent in the past. We should bear in mind that in the three areas which I mentioned earlier—Skandiahamn, Europoort and Rivalta Scriva—the total capital involved is about £150–£200 million. Therefore, though we can be much encouraged by projects such as Tilbury in the broad sense, though I have one reservation about it, the point must be made that there is no room for complacency in this field. But let us not start going across the Atlantic and looking at the vast sums which the United States are investing in their port facilities.
Do we adapt or rebuild? The answer must be a function of the most complex kind—a function of road-rail access costs and alternative use value. In almost every single instance, this type of problem has to be worked out in very great detail. We can only reach the conclusion that no docks development whatever should be considered in isolation. What struck me most forcibly during the prolonged visit which I recently paid to most of the major European ports was the tremendous emphasis which all the authorities concerned, be they public or private, are paying to the question of road access to their existing ports and to their new port developments. The first thing one is shown on being taken into the planning room is, not the docks, but the road system, because unless the capacity of the road system increases proportionately, 1797 an increase in capacity of the port system is rather pointless.
Do we build to last? Here we should take into very careful consideration the significance of the pace of development of offshore supply systems of various kinds. This has developed to a considerable extent in oil, in such a fashion that mammoth tankers can lie well out to sea and discharge. We have seen this development in a comparable way in Canada with bulk coal. There is a rather interesting development of the "lash" system which has been developed by a New Orleans firm of naval architects and which has been taken up by a large number of American firms recently.
A conclusion we must draw is that transport flows, like water, into the lowest unit-cost channels. This is a point which we must look to all the time. Where are these low unit-cost channels? Are they here? Are they abroad? If they are abroad, what are their common characteristics and do we apply them here?
Do we compete with Europe? The answer is that, in the main trades—by these, I mean the main bulk flows on which our livelihood depends—if we cannot berth maximum-draught vessels in general use they will go elsewhere. Before we make up our minds on this problem we must assess the cost per ton of transhipment and relate it to the cost of deepening channels and to the cost of all the other highly specialised and highly expensive facilities which the deep draught vessels require.
This exercise should be conducted. The result needs to be made much more public than it has been. I hope that the National Ports Council or its successor, the National Ports Authority, will let us have a much more detailed view of its thinking on such questions so that, when we debate them in the House, we shall talk less about public and private enterprise and more about the real policy decisions and policy alternatives.
The United Kingdom requires at least one world standard terminal for bulk oil, one world standard terminal for bulk grain, and one world standard terminal for bulk ore. This I regard as the absolute minimum. If we do not have these three world standard terminals, we shall be supplied by trans-shipment and the 1798 whole of our basic industrial cost structure will be affected. This is what national incomes means. This is what national production means. This is what national growth means. We must get away from vague, futile political concepts and get down to the real alternatives facing us.
The other factor which comes so much to the fore is the question of the dispersal of initiative and the capacity for response. This is an essential prerequisite, if in this sphere alone—the sphere of ports—we are to make the rapid progress which is required. Overall, integrated, State-controlled port systems do not seem to me to be in the forefront of any of these developments. I am thinking particularly of the French. I had a look at a number of French ports. Although they are doing some interesting things and spending a lot of money, on the whole they compare unfavourably with the other ports I saw in Europe. There is too much bureaucratic restraint, too many committees, too many political interferences. Had McLean, the founder and initiator of the sealand container operations, attempted to start sealand in the United Kingdom, he would never have got past the first-line defences of the Ministry of Transport.
It seems that we must come on to the question of what I call the National Plan domination of port thinking. This is illustrated particularly in the White Paper. This is a most dangerous philosophy, because it damns any foresight not its own. It damns any foresight with consequences embarrassing to the National Plan. Whitehall says, "If I think you should have this sort of dock, that is perfectly all right, but if you think you should have something which does not fit into the overall planning concept, it is not all right". The whole powerful and influential apparatus of State decision and State rejection will be brought to work, and it will work effectively against the project concerned.
§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
Already, the port autthorities are being overloaded with some of the bureaucratic controls brought in by this Government. There is a great need for the Government to make haste slowly in any plans they have, is there not?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend. That is perfectly true, and I now come to a specific example to illustrate the point further, the Isle of Grain terminal decision. This was a project brought before the Government and the National Ports Council some months ago. I have been into it very carefully and into all the arguments, and I received a series of Answers about it from the Parliamentary Secretary. I shall refer to those Answers because they show in a convincing fashion how dangerous superficial and rapid thinking on a subject like this can be.
I put a series of Questions on draughts and tonnages of bulk carriers likely to use the Tilbury grain terminal. I asked about the tonnage of bulk carriers likely to be in operation and carrying bulk supplies to Europe and the United Kingdom in 1967, 1975 and in 1985. On the whole, the Answers were completely misleading, and I shall produce figures to show that that is so. The essential point here—I take the figures from Lloyd's Register—is that 10 years ago there were no bulk carriers in existence of over 25,000 tons. In the next five years, seven such vessels appeared. In the last four years, 114 vessels appeared on the Register of which no fewer than 22 are over 40,000 tons.
These vessels are all built specifically for bulk solids, but, as all those of us concerned with the industry know well, tankers have made continuing incursions into the grain trade. How many of these are there now of over 30,000 tons, the limiting factor for the Tilbury grain terminal?—495 vessels of over 30,000 tons, of which 405 are under four years old. A distinguished shipping economist, Mr. Cuffley, has estimated that by the end of 1967 650 bulk carriers of over 30,000 tons, of which 120 will be over 50,000 tons dead weight, and some will be of 100,000 tons dead weight, will be carrying grain and other bulk goods required by Western Europe.
This touches closely an even more fundamental aspect of our national life than one might imagine from reference simply to ships and tonnages. I refer to the cost of the nation's bread. To give an illustration of what this means, I quote from a series of authoritative estimates. Supplying grain with a 10,000- tonner over a 10,000 mile voyage gives a cost of about 32s. a ton. Taking the 1800 tonnage up to 50,000, which is in immediate prospect, brings it down to 14s. a ton, less than half. Taking it to 100,000 tons the cost falls to 10.9s. per ton, and taking it to what one might regard as the ultimate limit in prospect at the moment, 300,000 tons, brings the cost down to 6.8s. a ton, that is, one-fifth of the first figure.
At the moment, in all our thinking about Tilbury, we are completely precluded from envisaging a fall in the cost of grain supply of this order, and I regard this as a most serious matter.
It could be said, perhaps, that these are world statistics and figures of world tonnage which do not necessarily apply for the United Kingdom. But what are the United Kingdom's own orders for tonnage to use our own ports? In the United Kingdom, there are on order now 26 bulk carriers of over 30,000 tons, of which 12 are over 50,000 and seven are over 70,000 tons. In the world as a whole, 55 vessels of over 70,000 tons are now on order. Yet we are at present completely excluded from contemplating supply to this country of the bulk goods which this type of vessel will carry.
I could refer to the dramatic efforts made by Holland to attract this trade to Europoort. The Dutch boast of the "westward" flow from Euraport. They say that it is growing. This is something which we must watch very carefully because, if we do not, we shall inevitably find ourselves on a far greater scale than we at present imagine an outport of Europe.
To sum up, docks make a vital contribution, or can make a vital contribution to the nation's balance of payments. There is no doubt that deep draught access is fundamental to our basic industrial cost structure. It is fundamental to the competitiveness of the United Kingdom's exports and, in a sense, to the acceptability of the United Kingdom in the E.E.C. The contribution of this factor alone, properly handled, can, in my view, be of the order of £100 million per annum on the balance of payments. The best way to subside exports is to get them there more cheaply by sheer economic efficiency. I hope that this debate will concentrate far more on these fundamental aspects of economic efficiency than on the vague concepts which have been floating about.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Alldritt (Liverpool, Scotland)
I hope that what I have to say will be complementary to what has just been said by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, Langstone (Mr. Ian Lloyd). I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman turned the course of this debate and drew attention to the way in which in it we have so far neglected our ports. They are of vital importance, and I am glad that the White Paper and the reports to which it refers define the cause, the effect and the cure of our ailments at the ports.
I was particularly pleased in reading the reports to see it made clear that it was not the labour force which had been the dark cloud over the industry but the lack of investment at the right time and in the right place. This has been shown by the hon. Member for Lang-stone, too.
Naturally, I was greatly interested in the references in the White Paper to the port of Liverpool, and I shall devote my speech mainly to that area. I am a little disturbed that the name Liverpool is still used. Although in the past this name has had great historical significance, our port complex is now the Mersey Docks. A number of local authorities are involved in the estates comprising our port. I hope, therefore, that any future report will use the name Mersey rather than Liverpool. I am a proud Liverpudlian, but I am prepared to say that because I want there to be co-operation in what we aim to achieve.
Merseyside is the greatest export complex in the country. It is now the most progressive as well. The justification for this can be seen if one looks at the recent major works of modernisation or the work in hand to modernise and increase berth capacity. They include our South Victoria Dock for exports, our South Alexander Dock for exports, our roll-on-roll-off berth, our cross-Channel container berth, our mechanised berth for meat, our fruit berth at East Harrington, our new berths at King's and our North Canada berth for the new timber packaging trade. These are just a few examples of what we have been doing on Merseyside.
Something else which we have done, to which sufficient attention has not been paid, has been to supply information. I believe that our service is unique. The 1802 Mersey Docks and Harbour Board has an open telex system, and it also has what is called the "Freefone" system. This is a system which enables anyone, importer or exporter, who wants to know what is going on at a particular quay to ring Freefone 667—I mention this deliberately, because of what I want to say in a minute—and know immediately whether it will be a waste of time sending his vehicles on that day, or whether his goods can be dealt with expeditiously and efficiently. It is my experience that, rather tragically, those who complain most about our dock services and dock labour are the very people who neglect the use of that kind of scheme. Yet they are the people who should be using it. Therefore, when we criticise we should remember that faults exist on all sides.
In spite of all that we are trying to do we cannot hope to deal with the new thinking aimed at putting dry goods into containers for through-shipment from origin to destination, nor can we compete with the Continent if we go on as we are. The remedy for Merseyside is obvious. We require deep-water berths and larger berths. We have too few of them at the moment.
When one remembers the comments about containerisation, which means that instead of handling 100,000 tons of goods a year a berth will be able to handle 1 million tons a year, it can be seen that a much larger area of land will be required behind each berth. Taking the three factors together, and the age of our port complex, we must provide new berths if we are to continue to serve the nation well—let us remember that Merseyside has done that—and serve the needs of those who use our port complex and are employed in it.
The Merseyside Docks and Harbour Board has submitted plans to my right hon. Friend for authority to build 10 new berths. They are deep-water berths and are much larger than the old berths which exist in Liverpool. I think that they will meet the criteria which I have already outlined and to which the hon. Gentleman pointed. The special aspect of the plans which are being submitted by the Board is that they will give flexibility, so that we shall be able to change the berth usage more quickly if there is a change in the traffic during the next 10 to 15 years. 1803 The investment is large, but it seems to me common sense to build on a foundation which already exists. I do not believe that the answer is a completely new port. There is a solid foundation with communications already established, and therefore it seems that it would be in the nation's interest that Merseyside should have its 10 new berths. Merseyside is already the second largest port in Britain for dry goods and the largest for exports, and it is the chief port for deep-sea trade. No one can excel us in that.
I should like my right hon. Friend to say at once that we can proceed with the project, because it will do a number of things. It will be an investment that will make a valuable contribution to our economy and to solving the problem of unemployment on Merseyside. We shall not tolerate our present unemployment situation for much longer. If consent to the project is not forthcoming, it is inevitable that dock charges will rise, because traffic will fall. We shall not be able to service our loans, and that will make further unemployment on Merseyside. We are determined to do everything possible, as we have in the past, for our nation, but in so doing we shall also ensure the welfare of our people. I therefore hope that the Minister will be expeditious about the decision on the new port complex at Liverpool.
Many hon. Members are waiting to speak and therefore I wish to conclude with just a passing reference to inland waterways, and particularly to paragraphs 172 and 173 of the White Paper. I was delighted when I read them. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary knows of my interest and the reason for it. But I am a little disappointed, arising out of some previous references by him and by my right hon. Friend to the regional planning board, that as yet we have no decision on what will happen to that section of the Liverpool-Leeds Canal which runs through my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon). It has neither a commercial nor an amenity use, it is a plain, open cesspool. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will continue to use their best offices to ensure an early decision on that matter.
§ The Second Clerk Assistant at the Table informed the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. SPEAKER from the remainder of this day's Sitting.
§ Whereupon Sir ERIC FLETCHER, the CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS, took the Chair as DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Bessell (Bodmin)
I have great sympathy for the Minister of Transport. I have always believed that the task of the Minister of Transport is one of the most difficult that any Minister can be called upon to carry out. In many ways the right hon. Lady occupies the hottest seat in the Government, and in all my remarks no criticism is directed at her personally. All of us on both sides of the House appreciate the courtesy with which she always receives us and tries to assist us, particularly in our constituency problems.
Out of office, the Labour Party proclaimed many good intentions about transport in all its various forms. It is said that whilst they roared like a lion out of office their actions since taking office have been a good deal less than we were led to expect. During the last Parliament we were promised again and again that we should receive the White Paper on the co-ordination of British transport. In answer to a Question which I put to the right hon. Lady's predecessor, in November, 1965, I was promised that the White Paper would be produced before the Christmas Recess that year. We had to wait for it until last July, and then we had to wait another seven months for the debate.
The Labour Party roared like a lion out of office, and I am sad that today we are debating a White Paper which is little better than the whimper of a rather timid mouse. Nevertheless, there are things in it which must be welcomed. I also welcome the right hon. Lady's announcement that the Government intend to ensure the preservation of the main railway line through Cornwall to Penzance. By that statement she will put at rest the minds of many people who have been anxious about the future of that stretch of line since the publication of the second phase of the Beeching Report, in which the line was shown as a branch and was clearly indicated as one of the lines which 1805 would eventually be axed. When the right hon. Lady says that the line will be preserved, may we also assume that the passenger service on it will be preserved? This is an important distinction, and we should be glad of clarification on it.
My colleagues and I particularly welcome the point made on British Railways' new policy at paragraph 14 that:Commercial viability is important but secondary.That important distinction will be welcomed by all of us who represent rural constituencies, where rail transport is so vital.
It also said, in paragraph 18, thatThere are other services, however,"—referring to railways—which have little or no prospect of becoming directly remunerative, in a commercial sense, on the basis of revenue from users, at least until a more sensible framework for urban transport can be established; yet their value to the community outweighs their accounting cost to the railways. These socially necessary services include many commuter services in conurbations, whose closure would add to road congestion costs, and some services in remote areas where reasonable alternatives are impracticable or excessively costly.I am grateful to the right hon Lady for making that important distinction.
Yet the Minister still gives her assent to closure orders. For example, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe), we have recently had the closure of the Padstow-Bodmin line, although over 130 schoolchildren used it daily during term time. In West Wales, closures are taking place which grievously affect people living in the area. These closures continue even before the right hon. Lady has had an opportunity to put her Bill for the coordination of transport before the House.
Worse still, there is a suggestion in the White Paper that if some of the rural train services are to remain in operation, the local authorities will be required to shoulder some part of the cost. This is not a reasonable proposition. There must be a cerain amount of subsidy and it should come from the central Exchequer and not from local ratepayers in areas where incomes are, in any case, inevitably much lower than in the prosperous urban districts.
The right hon. Lady should give serious consideration to the proposal being made in many quarters that she should cry 1806 "Halt" to all rail closures pending legislation to replace the 1962 Act. The figures given to the House indicate that the saving by closures is nothing like as great as was expected by the last Government when the Beeching Plan was introduced. There have been about 300 closures since 1963 and the Railways Board claim savings of about £17 million. But these figures do not stand up to examination.
In 1962 there were no closures; in 1963 there were 21; and in 1964 we had the lowest deficit since 1960. But 1964 and 1965, when there was a total of 170 closures, resulted in the worst working deficit, for it increased by over £2 million in 1965. A further increase of £1 million is expected on last year. I beg the right hon. Lady not to be brainwashed by these cooked-up figures and accounts produced by British Railways.
In the White Paper, there is an extraordinary absence of detailed proposals about roads. I recognise that the right hon. Lady is to produce further proposals and these will be examined carefully and objectively, at any rate by those of us on this bench. The proposals in the White Paper are inadequate. There is a very strong economic argument for increased Treasury spending but I realise that, in the present economic difficulties, it is hard to provide additional money for any form of Government spending. Nevertheless, in the long term, this is an investment on which the country depends for future prosperity, and any failure by the Government to provide money now for additional road construction will gravely affect the future long-term economy of the country.
The right hon. Lady indicated that money was not the whole answer, and I do not suggest that it is. But it there is a labour problem, then surely this should be resolved if the Government's prices and incomes policy means anything, for we have been promised a "shake-out" in industry to provide people for essential jobs—and there can be no more essential job than building new roads.
The right hon. Lady expected that someone would say something about road loans, but no one has done so so far. I shall remedy this because it is part of established Liberal policy. We believe that this proposal is simple and that the right means of raising money for 1807 additional motorways beyond those already planned by the Ministry is to fl[...]t a Government loan, guaranteed by the Government, to build roads with the money obtained and to charge a toll for their use. When the capital sum was finally repaid, the toll would be removed entirely and the Ministry would take over the responsibility of maintenance.
There would be no obligation upon the road user to use the toll road if he did not wish to. He could use the slower, alternative road. But in fact—and this has been proved conclusively, although I shall not weary the House with figures —it is cheaper and more economical in terms of time, fuel consumption and vehicle wear to pay a toll than to use antiquated outmoded roads such as those we have today. Wherever toll roads have been built in other countries and this system adopted it has been proved not only workable but highly acceptable to the road user once he has become accustomed to the idea.
I should like to have said a word or two about rural bus services but this has already been touched upon by other hon. Members and I am anxious to keep my speech short because, at the outset, Mr. Speaker asked that we should speak briefly. Unfortunately, very few hon. Members have obeyed as we would have liked them to do, and I want to give time to other hon. Members who wish to speak. However, the point has been made that serious hardship has been caused to many bus operators by the removal of the investment grant, and I hope that the Government will look at this again even though nothing is said about it in the White Paper.
I have never believed that a coordinated transport service is "on", that it is a practical proposition. I do not believe that a co-ordinated transport service is outlined in the White Paper or that we shall have such a service when the Bill is published.
The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) made a speech which was a remarkable performance, for I noted that he did not use a single note and he quoted many figures, all of which I am sure were accurate. He referred to the "preparation pool". It seems that the Government have decided that, as we 1808 cannot have roads, we shall have preparations instead. But we have had preparations for many years and now people would like some roads for a change.
The White Paper is a disappointment. At last, after two and a half years, the trumpets have sounded and the walls remain unshaken. The right hon. Lady asked the Opposition parties whether we intended to vote against her proposals in respect of rail closures and a new deal for British Railways. We in the Liberal Party will not vote against the retention of urban and rural rail services which are essential and which many hon. Members on the Conservative benches have had second thoughts about since the 1962 Act.
But it is impossible for the Liberal Party to vote for the MotionThat this House approves the proposals contained in the statement on Transport Policy …because those proposals are totally inadequate and a bitter disappointment to people who expected that a radical Government would produce a radical programme for roads, rail and all forms of transport. I am afraid that I can only ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to join me in the Lobby in voting against this White Paper.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
By a slip of the tongue the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) referred to the Minister as the "white lady". I am glad to say that so far as this debate is concerned, she remains a "red" lady. She made what I thought. was an admirable Socialist speech, defending the White Paper with which I heartily agree.
If I speak only about railways, and mainly about railway workshops it is not because the voters of Swindon are not interested in roads and many other matters, particularly the M4, but it is in the interests of other hon. Members, who may wish to speak. If I strike what my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary may think is a gloomy note, it is because there is considerable gloom among those of my constituents working on the railways.
I would start by asking my hon. Friend to remind my right hon. Friend of her promise before the 1965 election, which 1809 he confirmed the other day, that she intended to visit the railway workshop in Swindon. We feel that this visit is overdue. When she comes she will find that, despite the cuts and closures and dismantling, some of it totally indefensible, like the wicked dismantling of our very fine points and crossing shop not long ago. Swindon railway workshops, like workshops in other parts of the country, still has great resources of skill and experience which are a precious national asset.
Unfortunately she will also find a great deal of impatience, anxiety and frustration among railway shopmen for the following three reasons. The first is because of the long delay in implementing a clear and categorical election pledge made in 1964, and repeated in 1965, that a Labour Government would legislate to free the railway workshops to take on any outside work in fair competition with private firms. There is impatience among railway shopmen and among my hon. Friends representing railway constituencies because of the unjustifiable delay in implementing this pledge. I am sorry to say that the Government's excuses and justifications for the delay—that there is not much extra work to be had anyway, that legislation would have no practical effect—merely increases the suspicions of the shopmen that the Government and the Board are not sincere now, as they have not been sincere in the past, and that they do not want the workshops to compete fairly with private firms.
If my right hon. Friend thinks that this matter has been happily settled with the railway unions, will she please see to it that the happy settlement is explained to the shopmen, because they are far from happy? Delegates from all the main railway workshops came only a few days ago to the House to protest most strongly to our Parliamentary Transport Group and they were very disappointed that the Minister was not able to see them.
The second reason for the shopmen's anxiety, which I believe is shared by many other railwaymen, is the uncertainty about their future wages structure. Here again, if the railway unions and the Confederation are happy with their talks with the Minister of Labour, will they or the Minister make sure that the shop- 1810 men, who at the moment are being exposed to all kinds of alarmist predictions that their wages are to be slashed, are fully and speedily informed of the true position? The present uncertainty is imposing a very severe strain upon them.
The third reason for the anxiety and frustration among the shopmen is because, although Lord Beeching has left for two other places, I.C.I. and the institution on the other side of the Central Lobby, and although the "Marples Must Go" campaign was successful in 1964 —I am sorry to see that the right hon. Gentleman has gone—the shopmen do not detect any fundamental change of attitude toward them either in their own management or among senior officials at the Ministry of Transport.
Although some new ad hoc decisions have been taken, and there have been a number of very encouraging speeches from the Minister, and we have had one of these this afternoon, the basic approach from those in charge of the railways and the railway workshops seems, at least to the shopmen, to be exactly what it was previously. If I were to continue to criticise the management of British Railways my hon. Friend might comment that it is not right for a Member of the House to attack public servants. I will not pursue those criticisms except to point out what I believe to be a very real and serious difficulty.
Public servants in Government Departments, and in the Post Office at present, are directly responsible to Ministers who can answer for them and can be criticised and questioned in this House about their work. But other public servants, working for nationalised industries, are shielded and isolated from Parliamentary scrutiny because Ministers refuse to accept responsibility for so-called matters of day-to-day management and will not answer Parliamentary Questions about them. In practice it is impossible to draw a satisfactory frontier between questions of policy and of day-to-day management.
The effect of the present rule is to make the public nationalised industries less accessible to Parliament and less subject to Parliamentary criticism than many private firms. My own experience in my constituency has often been information I can get better and more rapid Information from, and can more easily discuss public 1811 and local matters with, private managements such as those at the Plessey Factory or Pressed Steel, than is the case with the Ministry of Transport and the Railways Board.
§ Mr. McNamara
Would my hon. Friend agree that the situation is that if we refer a matter to the Minister we are told that it is a matter of day-to-day policy, and that the Minister cannot interfere, but if we refer a matter to the Railways Board we are told that it is Ministerial policy and therefore it cannot account for it?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I believe that on both sides of the House there is deep concern about the impossibility of getting satisfactory answers in the House about the operations of nationalised industries, or for that matter from the Board. I should like to cite the experience of my right hon. Friend and parent, the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker). During the war, my right hon. Friend answered Parliamentary Questions about all aspects of the railways, day-to-day management and all the details, and all other transport Questions. After the war, when he was Minister of Fuel and Power, he tells me that he accepted every Question that came to him about so-called day-to-day management for all of the nationalised industries for which he was responsible. My right hon. Friend says that far from impeding their work, these Parliamentary Questions stimulated and helped the publicly-owned industries concerned.
I appeal to my right hon. Friend to remove this unnecessary restriction on the rights of Parliament and hon. Members over the railways and over other parts of the public sector of industry which she controls. I should have liked to have pursued the burning topic of the removal of the planned coal concentration centre from Swindon to Bristol, and the very grave problems which this will cause for the road system in the vicinity of my constituency. I hope that the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry), who may follow me, will take this matter up. It concerns him, too.
I believe that the Minister of Transport has a crucial rôle to play in determining 1812 the environment in which future generations will live. I was in the United States during her visit there, and it seemed to me that parts of California, round Los Angeles, were the nearest to hell on earth to which I ever hope to get. The private motor car dominates every aspect of human life; human beings have become the slaves of it. Public transport has vanished. Walking is physically impossible and very nearly a criminal offence in many of the United States conurbations. I was told by a leading diplomat that when he walked with his wife in the evening in one of the main American cities he was stopped by the police and asked what had happened to his car and why was he walking?
For goodness sake let us not follow the American way of life in transport. It is very nearly too late and only drastic restrictions on the use of all private cars in towns, and perhaps outside them, can save this small island from paralysis and suffocation. The railways have a vital rôle to play in future, a greatly expanded rôle and I hope that it will be the deliberate policy of the Government to attract, and if necessary to drive large numbers of long distance travellers, and the bulk of our long distance freight from the roads and on to the railway system. Transport is one area in which private enterprise, the profit motive and free competition have totally failed to meet modern needs. Only a bold long-term Socialist planning solution can succeed.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Daniel Awdry (Chippenham)
I am very pleased to follow in debate a fellow Wiltshire Member and representative of a neighbouring constituency, the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker). I hope that he will forgive me if I do not take up his argument on railways. I agreed with a certain amount of what he said. Nor will I be tempted to take up his remarks on coal depôts. I want particularly to talk about roads in this debate. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman referred to the construction of the M4, which is being very much delayed. I hope that we can join forces in bringing some pressure to bear on the Minister to accelerate the construction of this road, which we need so desperately in Wiltshire.
We on this side of the House have been looking forward to this debate for a long 1813 time. I must tell the Minister quite frankly—I am sorry that she is not here —that we are bitterly disappointed with her speech. There were many points in the White Paper which needed clarification. A great deal of it was drawn in very general terms. We hoped that she would fill in some of the gaps. But she has told us practically nothing new.
The Minister always has been, and always will be, a very political lady. Today she made a highly partisan and very political speech. I know that that pleased the hon. Member for Swindon, but it was a pity. During the first five minutes of her speech we might have been at an election meeting. Good transport policy and party politics do not mix, and if one tries to mix them transport policy will suffer.
I am one of those Members who believe in 10-minute speeches. I shall not exceed that time, although it is difficult not to do so in a wide debate of this kind. I shall resist the temptation on this occasion to tell the Minister about the awful traffic problems which we have in my constituency. I wish to talk about two main issues: first, freight traffic, and, secondly, urban public transport.
The basic facts about freight were set out at page 129 of the National Plan. It is unfashionable these days to refer to the National Plan, but I should like to quote paragraph 14 of it:The bulk of goods traffic within the country must continue to move by road, since a large proportion of the total traffic is over short distances. Of the total tonnage moving by road, approximately 70 per cent. moves over distances under 25 miles and some 85 per cent. under 50 miles. At distances over 100 miles road transport accounts for about two-fifths of total freight ton-mileage; rail and coastal shipping share the other three-fifths equally".That is a perfectly fair statement, and it emphasises that only a limited amount of traffic can be attracted back to the railways.
Paragraph 90 of the White Paper reads:One of the causes of this imbalance between road and rail has been the determination of successive Conservative Governments to destroy the machinery for integrating road and rail transport.That is playing party politics with a vengeance. It contradicts the argument clearly set out in the National Plan. I 1814 make this point only because if one starts with prejudice when approaching these problems one tends to get the wrong answers. Further on, paragraph 90 reads:Under the Transport Act, 1962, the Railways Board and the Holding Company operate not only independently but in competition with each other.Quite right, too. The hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley) seemed to deride competition, but I take exactly the opposite view, and that is why I am a Conservative. I cannot see anything wrong in competition.
I believe that a sensible policy for freight involves three simple ingredients. First, it should preserve freedom of choice to users. Secondly, it should produce fair and genuine competition between different forms of transport. Thirdly, it should encourage voluntary co-operation between road and rail. These are the principles on which a freight policy should operate. The creation of the national freight authority will achieve none of these things. In particular, I am sure that it will prevent fair competition between the authority and private hauliers.
I know from my personal knowledge that the haulage industry, which is highly competitive and efficient, is deeply worried about this aspect. I am sure that the Minister's speech today will in no way allay its fears. If those in the haulage industry had heard the tone of some of her speech, they might have been even more worried. I listened very carefully for details about the national freight authority. The right hon. Lady told us very little, but she referred to yet another authority called the freight integration council. This seems to me typical Socialist planning, creating even more authorities and even more jobs for the boys. The hon. Member for Leicester, North-East, in his excellent speech, revealed that the railways, too, have serious doubts about the national freight authority.
I turn to the question of public transport in towns. The Minister puts her faith in conurbation transport authorities —a most ghastly name to call any authority. The White Paper gives very little detail about their functions. The Minister's speech gave practically no guidance 1815 as to how these authorities would function. She was kind enough to give way to me towards the end of her speech and I asked whether they would operate buses. I understood her to say that they would. She referred me to a Memorandum available in the Vote Office, paragraph 12 of which states:What seems to be needed is an authority which combines the independence of management characteristic of a professional board with the broad democratic oversight characteristic of a local authority and, at the same time, provides for an appropriate division of financial responsibilities between central and local government. Such an authority would have to be constituted so as to separate formally the functions of management and of democratic oversight.What on earth does that mean? We shall study it and try to make sense of it in the coming months.
Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us how the authorities will work. They seem to me to be entirely unworkable and I am certain that they will do nothing to make buses more efficient. Bus operators want to know the Minister's intentions. They have very justifiable fears that her intention is to nationalise them. Is the right hon. Lady saying that the management of bus companies is inefficient? The Parliamentary Secretary might comment on that. Does she think that a board of worthy people who do not understand the technical business of running buses will do better? Does she think that these large authorities will produce better services and lower fares?
What is needed is not nationalisation, but better co-operation between local authority highway and planning departments so that measures can be taken urgently to enable buses to move properly. That is the way in which the Minister should be tackling the problem, not by back door or front door nationalisation.
As I have said, we have waited a long time—too long—for the White Paper. We have waited too long for this debate. The Minister's speech really was a bitter disappointment.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Test)
It has been very interesting to watch the tactics of members of the Opposition Front Bench in this debate. They have attempted to turn what could and should have been a very constructive debate into a political exercise.
1816 The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) made a lively speech. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. It should set him on the road—or should I say "rail"—to being the next but one leader of the Conservative Party. However, when one analyses it, there is not a constructive idea or statement in it. It was a purely destructive speech. If we want to find out what Conservative thinking is, we should look at the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith). He clearly revealed Conservative thinking on transport problems. He showed that Conservative Party thinking has not changed since hon. Members opposite were in Government. His speech showed their semi-pathological dislike of public enterprise. The whole speech was an attack on the public sector of transport. This is a continuation of the tactics which the Opposition adopted when they were in Government.
A couple of references have been made to the closing of the Southampton to Le Havre ferry. When the history of that is written, I suspect that it will be shown that British Railways were under considerable political pressure from the Government of the day to close that service because they disliked public enterprise. The whole policy was to crimp, restrict and to do everything possible to hamper and even to sabotage the public sector of transport. We saw this in the refusal to allow the railway workshops to compete in the outside market.
§ Mr. McNamara
Is not my hon. Friend being unkind to British Railways? Would he not put it down to gross mismanagement on their part in that they failed to consider shipping interests as opposed to their railway interests and did not properly examine traffic flows? We have had the same situation arising in the Fishguard to Waterford line and the failure to take the opportunities available to publicly-owned shipping generally.
§ Mr. Mitchell
There may be an element of truth in what my hon. Friend said. I am still convinced, as are many of my colleagues, that political pressure was brought on British Railways to close this and some other services.
I do not accept the description of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) 1817 that the White Paper is a "timid mouse". I believe the White Paper has some very constructive ideas and that it is the first real attempt to bring forward a coordinated transport policy.
Having said that, I now want to make a few criticisms of the White Paper. They are criticisms of omissions. There is insufficient in the White Paper about coastal and even deep sea shipping. There is also insufficient emphasis on both inland freight and passenger air traffic. We cannot have a really co-ordinated transport system without taking seriously into consideration, at the same time as rail and road, air traffic and coastal shipping. This is vitally important for certain parts of the country especially the West Country, which should have a proper air service.
I realise that there is a different Departmental responsibility here, and that civil aviation and shipping come under different Ministerial responsibility. Nevertheless, if we really mean to have a co-ordinated transport policy, this must be included in it.
§ Mr. Mitchell
I have not given way to the hon. Gentleman. I want to give a chance to somebody else to get into the debate. There is also a need—it is not mentioned in the White Paper even briefly—for a national policy for the siting of airports. This is very important.
I go on to my main theme, which is that section of the White Paper dealing with ports. In the past the ports of this country have been subjected to considerable criticism. The ports have been seriously neglected by previous Governments. It was not until 1961, when the Rochdale Committee was set up, that any real attempt was made to introduce a co-ordinated national ports policy. That Committee reported in 1962.
There has been no genuine attempt to improve industrial relations in our ports. I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Portsmouth, Lang-stone (Mr. Ian Lloyd) in which he analysed many of the problems of our ports, but he did not refer to the question of industrial and labour relations 1818 inside those ports. Until the Labour Party came to power there had been no real attempt to provide decent working conditions for those working in the dock industries, as provided by the Docks and Harbours Act, although much more remains to be done—let us not close our eyes to that.
The White Paper recognises the need for greater capital investment in our ports. There is need for new machinery to bring up to date our handling techniques for cargo. In many respects we are a long way behind our European competitors in the use of modern equipment. The introduction of modern equipment means that there will be new skills from those working inside the industry, and we need better and more training schemes than we have at the moment.
The third major essential is the replacement of the present system of casual employment, which has bedevilled the docks for so many years, by a proper and regular employment system with a proper career structure inside it. All this points to the overwhelming need for public ownership of our ports.
As my colleagues on this side of the House know, I am not generally regarded as being a nationaliser. I have never believed that nationalisation and public ownership was the answer to all our problems. The question whether a thing should be in public ownership or private ownership should be considered on the merits of the case. I will make a horrible confession. I had some doubts about a recent Measure that was passed through the Chamber, but I have no doubt whatever that the only real solution for the future of our ports is a system of public ownership.
I turn now to that section in the White Paper, paragraphs 118 and 119, dealing with reorganisation. It has not been mentioned so far this evening. Although it is important to take something under public ownership, it does not stop there. It is what we do afterwards that is of vital importance.
I should like to see set up a national ports authority, a fairly small body comprising five or six men—not as many. as recommended by the Rochdale Committee, as I do not want to see representatives of all the various interests in the industry, for I believe that one of 1819 the problems with our ports has been the over-emphasis on user interests. This body should consist of about four or five men, chosen not necessarily for their experience inside the industry, because we could well use people from outside. I should like to see half a dozen people on this body who would be well paid. We would have to pay them well. It is no good hon. Members on my side of the House complaining when we have to pay a reasonable salary in order to get the right people and in order to compete with private industry. We have to do this.
What do we mean by a regional port authority? What do we mean by a "region"? It is quite clear what we mean by "region" if we are talking about gas or electricity supplies. It means a continuous geographical area. But there is no such thing as a continuous geographical area when we are dealing with ports.
To talk of a regional port authority is meaningless. One or two suggestions have been put forward already. One is that there should be half a dozen groupings, such as the Humber, the Thames, the Severn, Merseyside, Scotland, and perhaps one other. The second suggestion is that there should be 12 or 14 smaller estuarial authorities.
I do not want either of these. I should like to put forward seriously at this stage —because if I do not do so now it might be too late—a third suggestion. There should be three groupings under the overall direction of the National Ports Authority. The first should be concerned with London and perhaps the Medway and based on the experience of the present London Port Authority. The second would contain Merseyside—Liverpool and Manchester. The rest of the ports would be in one group. Obviously the body which has had great experience of running a variety of ports of different size is the British Transport Docks Board. It is not sufficiently realised what great work has been done since the Board has been in operation. Many of the most efficient ports in this country are those owned by the Docks Board.
If there were such a division into three groups, they would be big enough to offer a managerial career structure and to 1820 undertake investment and research which would be co-ordinated from above. We are here discussing an industry with a capital of just over £100 million and employing about 130,000 men, so in that respect it is not a very large industry. These groups would be far preferable to any attempt to divide the country into regions, which would be meaningless in the context of ports.
I have been asked to be short. I have taken nine minutes so far. My voice is just about going and at this stage I shall sit down and allow someone else a chance to speak.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
It was very kind of the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. R. C. Mitchell) to make a brief speech and I hope that the small contribution which I intend to make will make him feel that his generosity was worth while.
I want to make some comments about the railways, and two of them coincide with the points which were so ably made by the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel). My first question is where, on the basis of the White Paper, do the Government feel that we are going with the totality of railway financing. The railways have substantial losses of about £130 million. Judging from what we have heard from the Government and from some hon. Members opposite, the only answer which the Government have to this totality of financing is to consider changing the methods of accounting. I accept that some of the losses which the railways have to bear are quite unavoidable and that if only commercial considerations were taken into account, the losses would be much smaller. But losses in public expenditure must be matters of priority and if substantial sums are being spent on the railways, they have to be socially and politically justified.
On the subject of accountancy; one of the most alarming parts of the White Paper, mentioned by the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire, is paragraph 27 which says that consideration should be given to local communities accepting responsibility for passenger services. The White Paper goes into this in much greater detail later. Previous speakers have rightly said that this could impose 1821 a considerable burden on some rural and remote areas. I am not very knowledgeable about rural and outlying areas, but I know what a burden this could be for some cities.
I was amazed when only a few weeks ago I found that the excellent services in Glasgow, the fully modernised Blue Train electric services, were operating at a loss of about £500,000 a year. That seems to be a substantial sum, but if those services had not been modernised and electrified, the loss would probably have been in excess of £1 million. To suggest that a local authority such as Glasgow, which has about the highest rate burden in the country and from which business and industry are being driven by the rate burden, could bear this extra burden is unreasonable and unrealistic. If there is a loss, there is no question but that someone has to pay it. It is always easy to say that the Government should accept responsibility. We do not think of the Government in the same way that we think of local authorities when we discuss direct contributions. But this idea is a non-starter, because the burden would be impossible, certainly for areas where wages are low and profits are low and populations are not very great, but also in the cities where there is already a major financial problem.
I would like the Government to give more details about precisely what they mean by paragraph 27. What specific proposals do they have in mind, or on what general principles do they believe that this paragraph can be operated? This is not a matter which concerns only Glasgow, or Ayrshire, or even Scotland. Local authorities throughout the country will be concerned. I appreciate that the Government may not be able to give details at the moment, but perhaps they can give some idea of what principles they believe should be taken into account and what proportions of cost they think that local authorities and others should bear.
I want secondly to refer to the totality of the deficit. Those of us with a small interest in railways were very interested to read what the Government said in the National Plan. On page 129 of the National Plan it is said:The elimination of the working deficit and the increased productivity, and the associated 1822 lower costs and lower manpower requirements, would be a significant contribution to the nation's economic growth objectives.That, of course, is a fact. If we could save £130 million by means of increased productivity and lower costs and lower manpower requirements, we would have a lot more money to spend in other directions.
But the implication of that passage was that the Government were working towards those objectives and had in mind eliminating the deficit by 1970. The more direct reference to this in the National Plan saidBritish Railways' working deficit on railway operations before payment of interest was £67 million in 1964.… They estimate that they should be able to eliminate the working deficit by 1970 …"—subject to certain provisions.
We should know precisely what the Government have in mind to deal with this deficit. When questioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) on 25th January, the Minister's answer was not nearly so direct as that passage in the National Plan. The right hon. Lady said:They may be referred to in the National Plan but … my Ministry and the Railways Board £ set up joint machinery to study the financial implications of new policies for the railways."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th January, 1967; Vol. 739, c. 1482.]We do not know precisely how the Government believe that the finances of the railways should go, and we are entitled to that information.
Throughout the debate, most hon. Members have accepted that the railways are in a rather special position. Everyone has a soft spot for them. But the real breakthrough for the railways came with Lord Beeching and with my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples). For the first time, it became generally accepted that it could be argued that the railways would not just wither away, but that they had a lively future as a speedy and efficient modern industry. In the past, it was only a matter of asking what support we had to give and what subsidies were required and what lines have to be kept open for social reasons, but not many people felt that the railways had a future as an efficient, modern and profitable industry.
Beeching changed all that. Certainly some of his proposals were extremely 1823 unpopular and some of the social implications of the measures which he began were great, but he gave hope and optimism. The Minister of Transport should be judged only by the extent to which her policies can bring about this transition to a speedy, efficient, competitive and modern railway system. This should be the aim of both parties in the House and of everyone in the country, and it is certainly not encouraging to those who believe in the railways.
§ Mr. Taylor
Not only am I aware of the Liberals, but I appreciate the contribution made by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell). It is also only fair to point out that there is a Welsh Nationalist hon. Member. I am sure that he is equally interested in the railways and their development.
It did not please those interested in the future of the railways to hear that their capital programme is being cut severely and to find the lack of progress in obtaining open access to liner train terminals. This has become a lively issue. We on this side of the House mention it so often because we know that the question of open access is vital if we are to ensure that capital spent on the railways is fully utilised. We owe a real duty to the taxpayer and those who use these services to make sure that the money is used effectively. If we do not ensure that we get full benefit from the railways we shall not be doing a proper job for the country and repaying our debt to the taxpayer.
Another matter I raise concerns the extent to which capital is employed on the railways. One of the main problems has been that while the amount of freight declined considerably from 1900, when it was 420 million miles, to 1965, when it was about 225 million miles, the number of passenger miles also declined by about one-third. The decline in passenger miles has been from 1,025 million miles to 825 million miles. The amount of actual lines has declined only marginally. This involves considerable cost and adds to overheads.
In these circumstances it is absolutely essential that we should make the fullest possible use of the railways which remain. 1824 It is interesting to note that the accounts of British Railways show that about £130 million a year has to be spent on maintaining the lines. It is completely essential that the electrification programme of British Railways should be encouraged and speeded very considerably. The great advantages of this are obvious, and will be made more obvious when the South Clydeside line is operating. It means that better and more frequent services can be run and we can have the advantage of using such lines as are available more speedily and economically. There might be a marginal difference in cost between electric and diesel services. Diesels can be justified in certain circumstances, but we should remember that on most railway journeys up to about 250 miles electric trains can compete in the quality of service, speed and efficiency with the air and any alternative form of transport.
Looking to the future in relation to the country's balance of payments and the enormous contribution to the balance 01 payments which can be made by British contract abroad, it is interesting to note that in the last few years 1,700 miles of electric track have been laid down by British engineers in India alone. For these reasons electrification is completely vital.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I have been following with great attention and agreement what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) has said. Was he going on to say that, while the capital cost of electrification is a great deal less than it is often represented to be, the working costs, as has been proved in France, Italy, Japan and Russia, of electrifying trains are less than two-thirds of the costs of diesels and our diesels today involve the purchase of imported oil amounting to £64 million a year?
§ Mr. Taylor
The right hon. Gentleman is quite right, but when we are considering the two systems we have to take capital costs into account. The point I make, fully in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman, is that it is not only a question of comparison of costs, but also a question of the great contribution to the balance of payments which British engineers abroad make by laying down these tracks abroad. We are also less vulnerable if we rely on electricity rather than on oil.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. David Webster (Weston-super-Mare)
May I, as a Scot but representing an English constituency, congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) on proving beyond doubt that a Scotsman can speak with brevity? I agree with many points which he has made. This has been a debate in which we have had to speak with brevity because there has been a half-hour reduction in the time for it. It is unfortunate that this has happened.
I notice that the first four speakers from the benches opposite were hon. Members who not only spoke about regional problems but spoke from personal experience, because they are union officials or union members of various unions connected with the railway industry. The anxiety which we on this side of the House have is that this great opportunity which has been created by the introduction of freightliner trains, an opportunity which perhaps for the first time since the 1923–24 regrouping gives the railways a chance to break through—an overworn word—and begin to tear into its deficit and abolish it, is to be taken away from the railways and given to an anonymous, amorphous body known as the National Freight Organisation. This is a matter of great anxiety to me, because I share the anxieties of the four hon. Members to whom I have referred. They want the deficit reduced, and the morale of railwaymen improved. I see this imaginative concept being taken out of their hands and being put into the hands of this anonymous body.
The first paragraph of the White Paper is to an extent symbolic of the Minister's whole attitude to the motor car. In the first quarter of this paragraph she says that the motor car is a good thing. The remaining 75 per cent. of the paragraph outlines all its disadvantages. We all remember that when the motor car was invented it had to be preceded by a man carrying a red flag. To me the Minister is a woman carrying a red flag in this respect—the right hon. Lady can take that either way—and it appears that she has not adapted herself or her Department to the motor age. We regret this.
I believe that the function of Government is not simply to find methods of controlling every aspect of the citizen's 1826 life. It is to create the conditions under which men and women can fulfil themselves thoroughly. The motor car is one of the greatest inventions of our time, and it is the job of government to adapt things in the country so that the motor car can be our servant and not that we should be its slave.
The right hon. Lady and I often go to the same public function. She is very charming, and makes extremely good speeches. People go away charmed and say that she is not as bad as they thought she was going to be. I have no complaint about the right hon. Lady's speeches. People who hear the right hon. Lady speak go away convinced that she intends private enterprise to continue, and that she means the motor car well. I thought that the best example of her real mentality occurred when, in the autumn, she got stuck in a traffic jam in her big Ministerial car. She went on to address a girls' school and said that the motor car was an abomination and had to be controlled, and that motorists had to be taught a lesson once and for all. I have not heard the Minister deny that she said that.
It appears to me that this mentality fitted in with the preconceived notions which the Minister had when she went to her present Department, and this, I think, is one of the sorrows overhanging the Ministry of Transport. Instead of accelerating the road programme, instead of realising that road transport is one of the arteries of British life, both economically and socially, and must be looked after if we are to be prosperous, the right hon. Lady takes every opportunity to harangue the motorist and to harass him. I deplore, as do hon. Gentlemen opposite, the fact that the Minister takes this attitude.
§ Mr. Webster
The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) is still shunting his little train.
When the Minister went at great expense to New York, we thought that she was going to learn something, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) did some years ago. She talked to Mr. Hank Barnes, the very successful traffic commissioner, first of Baltimore and then of New York. But this Minister did not go to learn. 1827 She went to harangue him. We regret this public expense; this is probably one of the most costly lessons which the Americans have had at our expense.
This denotes the Minister's attitude to the motor car and the motorist and those people who try to design our cities and inter-urban traffic to deal with the motorist——
§ Mrs. Castleindicated dissent.
§ Mr. Webster
The Minister does not seem to like this particularly, but she must be reminded of the attitude which she is showing to the country and which the country notes. She should be reminded that it is her function to do something to create better conditions for the motorist and for the user of public transport and not simply to create, on every possible occasion, a new authority.
For every problem, there is to be a new authority— the conurbation authority, the National Freight Organisation, the port rationalisation scheme—and the road hauliers are to be gradually nationalised and eroded away. This is not planning transport but planning Socialism. [Laughter.] The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire may laugh, but he and I know of the great tribute to the Minister of Transport paid by her hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) who understands these things and appreciated the fact that he had at least one active Socialist Member in the Cabinet. We know this. This is the practice of Socialism through the whole economy —not to better the citizen's life but to get control of every aspect of our affairs. It is usual, at this stage of a debate, for the Government, bereft of any ideas themselves, to say to us, "What would you do?" and occasionally they take our advice. We advised them last May to take the steam out of the economy. Belatedly, they took our advice, and on 20th July the Prime Minister said that there was a financial crisis and that he would have to take steps. The Minister is aware that as a result she had to postpone her own White Paper on transport policy for a week.
If we are asked for advice on this occasion, the advice which we would give is that there are certain characteristics of each type of transport and that they can be dovetailed together and must be 1828 used to the greatest advantage. Although four railway union officials have done their job thoroughly and conscientiously here today, I regret that nobody except the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker)—part of whose speech I missed—spoke up for the motorist, asking tor work on the M4 to be accelerated. Apart from his speech—and I have sat through practically the whole debate—I do not remember much pressure from Government supporters for greater efforts to improve the roads either in the cities or between them.
The country notes that the Labour Party is still opposed to the motorist and those who use the roads. [Laughter.] Well, we judge by their words and their actions. They must be reminded, therefore, that, although the railways have great advantages in high speed, high density and high safety of their traffic, the roads have the advantage of flexibility, which is so useful in achieving the necessary manoeuvrability.
One knows that the right hon. Lady has presided over reductions in the road programme. She frequently says that the road programme which she is operating is the biggest that it has ever been. Of course it is—[Interruption.] I accept the Joint Parliamentary Secretary's tribute, it is the programme which we left them, the planning which we put through. I accept the hon. Gentleman's tribute to the work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey, who did so much to increase the road programme 26-fold in those 13 allegedly wasted years.
§ Mr. Webster
I will tell the right hon. Lady. It rose from the abysmal level of £6 million, which we inherited in 1951, by 26-fold. I regret that the Minister does not know the figure. We were well aware that in the pre-election period the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) wanted to do something to solve the problem. We gathered that from what he said about the programme at that time not being sufficient. He said that he, as Minister of Transport, would increase it. But he was not made Minister of Transport, something which I regret because I believe that he would have done rather better.
§ Mr. Webster
My right hon. Friend has been here for a great deal of the day. I understand that he left during one of the hon. Gentleman's many interruptions.
§ Mr. Manuel
The hon. Gentleman has been putting his right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey on such a high pedestal that I wondered whether he knew where his right hon. Friend was today. After all, his right hon. Friend has been thrown out of the Conservative Central Office.
§ Mr. Webster
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for explaining the point he was trying to make. I repeat that my right hon. Friend was here, listening to the debate, for a great deal of the day. He has a great interest in these matters and I believe that he left the Chamber when the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire was on his feet.
We then come to the problem of city roads. The White Paper, as usual, poses a number of questions. It poses them but it never gives any answers. In urban areas we must have traffic managers or commissioners—all the names are duplicated—who should be responsible for accelerating the flow of traffic; and the Minister was good enough to give my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester one of the best commercials he has had for a long time when she referred to the brilliant speech which he made at Swindon.
All this could be done by traffic engineering—accelerating the flow of traffic, more one-way streets, no right-hand turns where there are not one-way streets and by the process of tidal flow. Many of these things could be done on the worst roads in and out of our towns, and there arc many other aspects which my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey started, such as the process of one-way streets over the bridges in London during the peak periods.
All that we get from the Minister is another authority, but nothing is said about how it will accelerate the flow of traffic. It is simply to be another body to assess, as far as one can see, what rate burden will have to be carried to subsidise more transport that is not necessarily being used efficiently. How much injustice will take place in the case of multiple conurbations, in the way in 1830 which this rate burden will be spread? It is no great wonder to me that immediately before the Greater London Council election and other municipal elections the conurbation authority, with its rate burden, was not pressed very far by the right hon. Lady.
My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythington (Sir R. Cary), in an extremely helpful speech, talked about the problems of the buses and, with great prescience, referred to this backdoor method of nationalisation on which the Minister is embarked. He also talked about the investment allowance which was taken away from the buses and about Selective Employment Tax, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester. All these are heavy burdens on bus operators. If there is to be a subsidy put on the buses, let us remember that already a very great deal indeed has been taken from them. The Minister spoke of the necessity to provide adequate bus and other public services, but the penalties which she has imposed on those who provide these facilities have been very considerable indeed.
Next one must consider the road haulier. He is the biggest of all the black sheep as far as the right hon. Lady is concerned. We know that hon. Gentlemen opposite hate the pioneering spirit of private enterprise—of people who are willing to place their own savings at risk. We know how much this section of private enterprise has satisfied the demand of people to have their goods moved in the way that they wish. We remember the Prime Minister's statement in America five years ago, when he said that it was the Labour Party's determination to squeeze them out not by overt and honest nationalisation by legislation but simply by placing crippling taxation on them, and then purchasing them.
§ Mr. George H. Perry (Nottingham, South)
The last Tory Government put 2.4d. fuel tax on public transport.
§ Mr. Webster
I thank the hon. Member for that remark, but could we also remember what has happened to public transport services since 1964? We have had an increase in fuel duty on two occasions. We have had an increase in Excise Duty. We have had the taking away of the investment allowances. We have had the Selective Employment Tax. 1831 Is there anything else the hon. Gentleman wants?
Let us now talk about the railways. I have always had the greatest and deepest desire that the railways should be rendered more profitable. or less unprofitable. They have had the great burden for many years of maintaining miles of track built in an age of no competing form of transport. We know that the railways, with their high speed, high density and great safety, can be used to convey passengers in express trains highly profitably, and they have very good and regular, sometimes hourly, services between our great cities. As a result they have increased their passenger income.
But passenger income is only one-third of the revenue side of British Railways. There is also the freight side. There is no other form of transport by which a whole train-load of mineral can be conveyed with just a driver and guard, of a drive, his mate and a guard. This is a most efficient method of transport. This development is being brought into the liner train. Here a good deal has to be done to secure speed, mancœuvreability and interchangeability between road and rail. This has been experimented with for many years. I remember that the first time I ever spoke in the House on transport we were discussing the problem of road-rail systems and experiments.
A third important factor is our ports. These have been referred to latterly in interesting speeches by my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, Langstone (Mr. Ian Lloyd) and by the hon. Members for Liverpool, Scotland (Mr. Alldritt) and Southampton, Test (Mr. R. C. Mitchell). They have talked of the various characteristics of our ports. My hon. Friend pointed out that the Europoort in Rotterdam is a civic port, and I would say to hon. Members on both sides that there is room for civic ports in this country. We in the West Country take great pride in the achievements of Bristol as a civic port. It is a civic port which understands the needs of the city. The Minister talked of the catchment area of the port being limited to a motorway with a radius of 40 miles, and civic authorities will know whether this assessment is correct. Bristol and Rotterdam are civic ports and are amongst the 1832 greatest successes we have seen in recent years. This is the age of the supertanker going further up the river to Tilbury and the Isle of Grain, and further into the estuaries of our great rivers.
Another development is the container vessel. The container is the greatest revolutionary achievement in transport, equivalent to the exploitation by Henry Ford of the assembly line. To the country that uses this development to the greatest commercial advantage goes the biggest prize. I do not think that I am overstating the case when I put it as strongly as that. As has already been said, there have been containers since the 'twenties and 'thirties, but they have now been made at an economic size of about 2,000 sq. ft. They can be interchangeable from road to rail to ship.
This conception is colossal. A product can go straight from Birmingham by container either by rail or road to the port, on to the vessel, and into the heart of the market. The whole of our exporting practice will have to change to keep in line with this development. In fact, the title of this White Paper should be "Transport Policy in a Container Age". We must create the infrastructure and the social and mental situation in which containers are used to the greatest advantage. Yet we have the National Union of Railwaymen by a small majority voting against free access to the freightliner depots. As a result, the railways are starved of a very large section of their potential market. I would say to the National Union of Railwaymen that it is not in the interests of the railways' efforts to get as many customers as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. Buchanan
The hon. Gentleman makes a mistake in thinking that it is a very small majority of railwaymen who are against the freightliner depots being open terminals. The great majority are in favour of closed terminals, because they feel that, in the container age, any extra business should be kept within the orbit of British Railways and British Road Services, thus going some way to eliminating the existing deficit.
§ Mr. Webster
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for contributing to this discussion. He will remember that the voting of the union last time was 13 to 1833 11 in favour of closed terminals, and that is a very narrow margin. [Interruption.] No doubt the Executive of the N.U.R. represents the feelings of its members. If it does not, its members ought to do something about it. It is for the National Union of Railwaymen to make sure that its Executive is elected democratically. [Interruption.] I have just been told that it did not represent the views of its members, or under-represented those views.
The point is that we have this wonderful innovation. No one in the House has denied that it is one of the greatest developments of our railways, ports, and the whole transport system, and it is essential to the commercial survival of the country. Yet we find closed depots and the denial of freedom of access. That has gone on for years, and it is getting near to industrial blackmail.
§ Mr. Leslie Spriggs (St. Helens)
Will the hon. Gentleman take the first opportunity of putting in writing what he has just said about the election of members of the Executive of the National Union of Railwaymen and sending it to the General Secretary for him to deal with?
§ Mr. Webster
I am always glad to circulate my speeches, but the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Spriggs) knows how to apply for copies of HANSARD, and he can help himself.
The Prime Minister has said repeatedly in his gritty speeches up and down the country that he was not going to have Luddism and industrial revanchism holding up our commercial development. There was a railway dispute some time ago, and he summoned the railwaymen when he thought that there were prospects of a settlement. In the case of one trade union, I believe that he did not even know that its representatives had arrived, and they were ignored. It was a thoroughly ham-handed performance, and the settlement was pushed through quickly that night.
On 20th July the Prime Minister said that the great thing which we were going to do in getting the economic position of this country put right was to get open terminals for the freightliner trains. By saying that, he acknowledged that this is the key to the development of our trans- 1834 port system. We have had industrial blackmail ever since, and the critical case is that of Tartan Arrow, which we saw a fortnight ago. That is the kind of pernicious form of industrial blackmail which we have seen. I cannot understand why the Minister of Transport cannot or will not do anything about it.
The Prime Minister has said that he would settle the problem at once and settle it urgently. That was said over six months ago, but nothing has been achieved, and we feel that the Minister is either conniving at this or is incapable of doing anything about it.
Tartan Arrow run a private enterprise built freightliner service. It was absolutely first-class and was doing very well. It was, to the extent of 75 per cent., taken over by the British Transport Holding Company. The Holding Company brought the management with it by letting it retain 25 per cent. of the shares. When the union heard about this and thought that there was the slightest chance of private enterprise having some contribution in the development of the freightliner service, the union declared it black. Within two days it was taken over by this Minister. On what authority? We would very much like to know.
If this is the attitude that prevails throughout this Government, it is not one which is good for freedom of enterprise in this country. The blackmailing practices of unions must be made to stop. The Government are not able to do it.
I recommend to my hon. Friends that we deplore a White Paper which does nothing to accelerate the road programme, does nothing to improve the rôle of the railways and give service to the customer, does nothing to modernise the docks and speed our exports; but, instead, sets up three or four different authorities achieving no purpose, planning nothing usefully, and simply developing Socialism by underground and tortuous methods.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Stephen Swingler)
It would be generally agreed that we have had a wide-ranging and, on the whole, well-informed debate on transport policy and that, apart from the few sounds of fury which we expect on such occasions, generally the atmosphere has been significantly one of non-censure. 1835 We in the Ministry will study the detailed points made by hon. Members with which I am not able to deal tonight and will reply, as we normally do, to hon. Members on the particular local and constituency details.
I do not think that it was wise for the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Webster) to try to make up in spleen for what he lacked in policy. The House is a bit sick and tired of personal attacks on and misrepresentation of my right hon. Friend, but I appreciate that some may have to indulge in these if they are lacking in other material to contribute.
One would not, on the whole, have guessed from the Opposition's speeches that theirs is the responsibility for failing to make the Ministry of Transport a planning department. They were the people who disintegrated the publicly-owned transport industries and services, culminating in the 1962 Statute. Theirs was the drift whilst car ownership increased from 3 million to over 8 million, and only belatedly was a road programme adopted commensurate with that growth. Theirs was the entirely inadequate capital investment in ports and docks, to the facts of which I shall come later. They are the gentlemen who should persistently appear in sackcloth and ashes, though even then they would not atone for all the sins that we inherited.
I turn to one or two facts. The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) presented himself in the guise of a practical man who was not interested in all these theories and in new organisations and machinery: he was interested in practical facts. In the process of his exposition, the fluency of which we all admired. we noticed that his respect for facts left something to be desired. Let me put it on record that the annual total expenditure, under the heading of roads, on major improvements and new roads for the last four years of Tory rule was £88 million. Last year it was £182 million. That is a fact.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
Instead of giving the average, let us have the last year or the year before under the Conservative Government.
§ Mr. Swingler
I am taking the record of the party opposite because the hon. 1836 Member for Worcester made various—[HON. MEMBERS: "Cheating."]—it is not cheating at all. I shall be only to glad to do what I have done before at this Box and lay out the year-by-year figures of road expenditure. I just want to put on record now the fact that highway expenditure in 1965–66 was £182 million. It is also a fact that we have today under my right hon. Friend the biggest roads programme the country has ever had.
In Britain at present there are schemes to a capital value of over £600 million in course of construction. That is an indisputable fact, just as it is an indisputable fact that for England alone the value of schemes under construction programmed by my right hon. Friend and in the preparation pool of schemes committed amounts today to £4,000 million.
The hon. Member for Worcester might, perhaps, listen to his hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Kimball), who made such a plea for more forward programming in the preparation of road schemes in order to give contractors a better chance of continuity in their work. This is precisely what my right hon. Friend is now doing in making the preparation pool of schemes on which the hon. Member for Worcester pours such cold water. He is not interested in such things.
The hon. Gentleman made another misstatement of fact—I call it only that—when he implied that my right hon. Friend was presiding over a reduction of road programme expenditure and that this was the first time it had happened. I draw his attention to the fact that in 1959–60 Exchequer expenditure on new road construction was £59 million and in 1960–61, under his right hon. Friend's Administration, it fell to £57 million. So there is another of his misstatements.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
The hon. Gentleman has just accused me of misstatement. So far, he has not quoted one misstatement in what I said. I said that there was never a time during the 13 years of Conservative Government when the road building programme as a programme was cut. There was never a time when the Treasury actually cut the programme.
§ Mr. Swingler
The figures I have given—the hon. Gentleman can check on them 1837 himself—for 1959–60 and 1960–61 show that Exchequer expenditure, national expenditure, on the road construction programme fell during those two years.
The hon. Gentleman asserted in his speech that this is the first time it has happened. He made a statement also about die 1967–68 Estimates, saying that, while public expenditure generally was rising by 11 per cent., road expenditure was to rise by only 6 per cent. The hon. Gentleman's reading of the Vote on Account figures is not accurate. He has overlooked the grants transferred to the rate support grant. The actual increase in Exchequer expenditure on major improvements for which my right hon. Friend is responsible, as shown by those Estimates, is 30 per cent.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
In a Written Answer given by the hon. Gentleman himself to a Question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hill-head (Mr. Galbraith), on 18th July last, we were told that the total amount of money spent on new construction and major improvements in 1959–60 was £72 million and in 1960–61. the year when, according to the hon. Gentleman, there was a cut, it was £75 million. Taking the figure for maintenance and minor improvements, the total in 1959–60 was £85 million and in 1960–61 it was £90 million.
§ Mr. Swingler
I have nothing to withdraw. I gave quite correctly—in fact, the figure came to nearly £90 million—the average figure of Exchequer expenditure for four years. That was the figure I quoted. The hon. Gentleman now quotes a figure of £90 million. All right. Let us take that figure. The fact is that the expenditure for 1965–66 is over £180 million. That demonstrates that, whatever aspersions the hon. Gentleman makes, my right hon. Friend is carrying out the biggest roads programme at the highest rate of national expenditure on roads the country has ever had, and I do not withdraw one word from that.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] It is no good hon. Members opposite making so much noise, when the hon. Gentleman made misstatements to try to suggest that my right hon. Friend was in some way diminishing road expenditure. She is en 1838 larging it. He suggested that she has diminished preparations. She has enormously enlarged them.
Judged by the rate of expenditure, the capital value of construction schemes, or the numbers committed for preparation—by all those tests my right hon. Friend is promoting the biggest road programme the country has ever had. We know that all the problems cannot be solved by road expenditure alone, and that is precisely why we need to set up conurbation transport authorities as urgently as we can pass the laws, and I take to heart the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary). Hon. Members ask what is the point of conurbation transport authorities. The whole point is to bring together round the table the highway planners, the traffic managers and the transport operators so that they plan together.
That is the essence of tackling the problem of congestion in the cities, which we have inherited and which will be one of the most complex problems the country faces for a long time to come. because 80 per cent. of the people live in towns which occupy about one-tenth of the land area. That is the problem of developing car ownership, and that is why we must bring together the road planners, traffic engineers and transport operators to plan jointly how they will make the most economical use of road space in urban areas, planning highway schemes to get the greatest value from them, and planning how we shall arrest the decline of public transport and revive it, because that is the most economical way to use the road space.
That is also the reason why, as many of my hon. Friends said, we want to make maximum use of the railways. We are very grateful for the speeches of my hon. Friends the Members for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel), Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley), Glasgow, Spring-burn (Mr. Buchanan) and Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker), who made important contributions on the railway policy put forward by my right hon. Friend in her White Paper. Taking up a point from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon, I should like to say a word about the use of the manufacturing capacities of the nationalised transport 1839 industries. I assure my hon. Friends that we intend to free the nationalised transport industries to engage in commercial activities on the widest basis and to get rid of the statutory restrictions artificially imposed on them, so that the maximum use can be made of their assets and they can make a contribution to the country's export endeavours.
§ Mr. Swingler
As I have said, they will be doing so on a commercial basis. We have had discussions about this and we are quite clear that the manufacturing workshops and so on of the nationalised transport industries will be freed of artificial restrictions and will be able to compete for orders and develop the use of their assets on the widest possible basis.
My right hon. Friend has put forward a scheme for the stabilisation of the railway network. All that has been said in the debate only underlines the need for getting a settlement as quickly as possible on the basis of which the managers of the railways can concentrate on the development of new technology, on the most efficient running of the railways and on the improvement of productivity and getting the highest possible level of usage of the railways in order to relieve congestion on the roads. It is clear that, in that process—and this is how my right hon. Friend views the problem of the closure of services—we must take into account the balance of social costs and social benefits.
It is the essence of the policy and approach of my right hon. Friend to judge the question of the services of British Railways not on the basis of a narrow balance of revenue against costs but on the kind of social benefits and significance which the network can have. This factor was missing in the days of the Beeching Plan and it is one that we are determined to take into account.
That is why we are determined to develop British Railways in conjunction with this new and integrated service, the national freight organisation. Some hon. Members have suggested that there might be some conflict of interest between these 1840 organisations. So far as we are concerned, these organisations will have identical interests in running the railways in conjunction with road services under public ownership to offer the best service to the customer and make the most economic use of the assets at their disposal.
I want to turn now to the subject of ports. A number of hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Portsmouth Langstone (Mr. Ian Lloyd), my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. R. C. Mitchell) and my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Scotland (Mr. Alldritt) have raised questions about modernisation and reorganisation of ports. I put these figures again on the record. Port investment between 1952 and 1964 averaged about £18 million a year. Since the present Government took office, it has been rising rapidly, to £26½ million in 1965 and about £38 million in 1966. We hope this year to raise the level of annual capital investment to some £45 million, to be spent on vitally needed modernisation in Britain's port service so that it can play the key part that it has to play in the export drive.
In so doing, we are at the same time ensuring that there is a flexible approach to the planning of the ports so that full account can be taken of the rapid changes in techniques which are appearing, especially the container revolution. To help speed this process, my right hon. Friend announced last week that the Government have decided to increase the amount of grant available in the next two financial years by accelerating the payment of grants to the port authorities by six months between now and April, 1969, to assist them to get on with the job.
We have in this country a ports system which is in every sense mixed. Virtually all our major ports are in some form of public ownership, some under the British Transport Docks Board, which is one of the most outstandingly successful nationalised undertakings in the country. Others are run by public trusts, many of them under forward-looking managements, but their full efficiency may be hampered in some cases by their outdated constitutions which often are determined by the users. The public trust does not carry the same measure of 1841 accountability to the public as applies in the nationally-owned ports. We also have municipally-owned ports, some of which are often prosperous examples of local authority enterprise.
This diversity of function makes it impossible to operate a policy of unified construction and control unless we integrate the ports as a whole with the rest of the transport system and the economic structure of the country. Unless and until this is done we shall not get the full value needed from this immense capital investment. The National Ports Council as doing a great deal to help us achieve this objective of establishing an integrated structure, and in carrying out new schemes. We hope to announce a decision very shortly on the Council's scheme for reorganising the ports of the Forth. An inquiry will be held into the Humber scheme and the scheme for Southampton Water reorganisation has just been published.
What the Government have now to do is to achieve the right balance between central policy control, in the form of a national ports authority, and local responsibility. We want to preserve as much local autonomy as we can. Very soon we shall be putting our ideas to the many interests involved, as part of the process of consultation leading to legislation. This will be one of the biggest issues confronting this Parliament.
I wish to say something further about public passenger transport. As my right hon. Friend said, we intend to make a start with the integration of public transport in the conurbations through conurbation transport authorities. These are the places where the problem of congestion is most acute, and we want to gain experience there before we introduce far-reaching structural changes through the rest of the country. May I say to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Withington that the question of the pattern of ownership in the conurbations in the future is something to be determined by technical considerations, when we get these authorities established. We are providing new machinery for the whole of the country.
My right hon. Friend has taken the important step of launching regional passenger transport co-ordinating committees, about which announcements have been made. To these bodies we are giving 1842 the practical task of bringing about relatively simple reforms, which we believe can contribute a great deal to the convenience and comfort of travellers They will be concerned with matching up bus and rail timetables, and persuading local authorities to undertake traffic schemes designed to give buses a better chance in crowded streets and to promote the introduction of improved interchange facilities.
One would think from some of the speeches made from the other side of the House, notably by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Worcester, that there was nothing to lie done in this area. I wish that they could see the postbag of my right hon. Friend from all over the country, complaining about the lack of co-ordination on such simple things as timetabling, the organisation of traffic controls in relation to public transport operations, and other things.
§ Mr. John Page
The hon. Gentleman mentioned technical considerations which will determine whether there shall be private enterprise undertakings running alongside State undertakings in the conurbation areas. What are these technical considerations?
§ Mr. Swingler
The hon. Gentleman knows very well. I do not know if he was here When I was talking about the constitution of conurbation transport authorities as a means of bringing together the road planners, the traffic controllers and the public transport operators. We know that there is a variety of schemes of ownership—national, municipal and private—in these conurbations. Having set up these authorities, the question then is how to bring about the best possible co-ordination and integration of the services, and what, as a result of technical considerations, is the best pattern of ownership and control? My right hon. Friend has been having consultations with local authorities about this.
We have given the transport co-ordinating committees the task of promoting the objectives of immediate co-ordination. They will be a means of investigating the related matters, especially the need to restore public transport in the rural areas. Our Tory predecessors had the Jack Report which as long ago as 1961 analysed this problem and proposed a solution, but they did nothing about it. 1843 The White Paper announced our intention to bring in a system of joint grants between the local authorities and central Government to subsidise essential rural bus services which operators can no longer finance at a loss out of their own resources. We have decided that these grants should be on a 50–50 basis—50 per cent. from the Exchequer and 50 per cent. from the local authorities. The plan is based on the principle that the initiative is local. It should come from the local authorities. They should decide which services are essential for the benefit of their rural community and put plans to my right hon. Friend. We shall want to be satisfied that there is a genuine social need to be met and that this can be done at reasonable cost. This, together with the capital grants being introduced by the Minister for the improvement of equipment and infrastructure, will provide an opportunity to prevent the decline of rural bus services to a level where they are negligible.
§ Mr. Bessell
The Minister referred to the continued existence of the railway lines through Cornwall. I asked a specific question about whether the rail passenger service would be equally guaranteed.
§ Mr. Swingler
There is a reference to that in the White Paper, but as my time is short I shall take further means
§ of informing the hon. Gentleman on this subject.
§ My right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General has introduced, in Montgomeryshire, in Wales, the rural mail bus as the first experiment in this respect. He intends that it should be the first of a series of six experiments at places to be chosen in consultation between the Departments. The second is likely to be in Devon or Cornwall. This is a further example of our flexible approach in trying to tackle the problem of the decline of services in rural districts.
§ Integration does not only mean the big things in transport—the national freight organisation and public ownership of the ports. It is intimately connected with the work of these co-ordinating committees —trains, buses and other developments. My right hon. Friend and I have tried to show today that we are administering a Ministry which is determined to make an overall plan and to plan far-sightedly for the future. We have tried to show that the integration of transport is not a vague phrase meaning all things to all men. It is a practical policy in the form of the solutions which we are putting forward to plan the system at local, regional and national level. We ask the House to endorse it.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 320, Noes 233.1847
|Division No. 276.]||AYES||[9.28 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Bradley, Tom||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Albu, Austen||Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Davies, Ifor (Gower)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Brooks, Edwin||Davies, Robert (Cambridge)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey|
|Anderson, Donald||Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Delargy, Hugh|
|Archer, Peter||Buchan, Norman||Dell, Edmund|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Dempsey, James|
|Ashley, Jack||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Dewar, Donald|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Cant, R. B.||Dickens, James|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Carmichael, Neil||Dobson, Ray|
|Bagler, Gordon A. T.||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Doig, Peter|
|Barnett, Joel||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Donnelly, Desmond|
|Baxter, William||Chapman, Donald||Driberg, Tom|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Coe, Denis||Dunn, James A.|
|Bence, Cyril||Coleman, Donald||Dunnett, Jack|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Concannon, J. D.||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Conlan, Bernard||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Eadie, Alex|
|Binns, John||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Nees (Caerphilly)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Crawshaw, Richard||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Blackburn, F.||Cronin, John||Edwards, William (Merioneth)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Ellis, John|
|Boardman, H.||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||English, Michael|
|Booth, Albert||Dalyell, Tam||Ennals, David|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Ensor, David|
|Boyden, James||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Braddosk, Mrs. E. M.||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Fernyhough,E.||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Randall, Harry|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Rankin, John|
|Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Redhead, Edward|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lipton, Marcus||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lomas, Kenneth||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Floud, Bernard||Loughlin, Charles||Richard, Ivor|
|Foley, Maurice||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Ford, Ben||McBride, Neil||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Forrester, John||McCann, John||Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)|
|Fowler, Gerry||MacColl, James||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||MacDermot, Niall||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Macdonald, A. H.||Roebuck, Roy|
|Freeson, Reginald||McGuire, Michael||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Rose, Paul|
|Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Gardner, Tony||Mackie, John||Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Mackintosh, John P.||Ryan, John|
|Ginsburg, David||McNamara, J. Kevin||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm||Sheldon, Robert|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Gregory, Arnold||Manuel, Archie||Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mapp, Charles||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Marquand, David||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mason, Roy||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mayhew, Christopher||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mellish, Robert||Slater, Joseph|
|Hamling, William||Mendelson, J. J.||Small, William|
|Harper, Joseph||Millan, Bruce||Snow, Julian|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Steele,Thomas(Dunbartonshire,W.)|
|Haseldine, Norman||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Hattersley, Roy||Molloy, William||Stonehouse, John|
|Hazell, Bert||Moonman, Eric||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Swain, Thomas|
|Henig, Stanley||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Symonds, J. B.|
|Hobden, Dennis (Brighten, K'town)||Moyle, Roland||Taverns, Dick|
|Hooley, Frank||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Horner, John||Murrary, Albert||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Neal, Harold||Thornton, Ernest|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Newens, Stan||Tinn, James|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Tomney, Frank|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Howie, W.||Norwood, Christopher||Urwin, T. W.|
|Hoy, James||Oakes, Gordon||Varley, Eric G.|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Ogden, Eric||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||O'Malley, Brian||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oram, Albert E.||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Orbach, Maurice||Wallace, George|
|Hunter, Adam||Orme, Stanley||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Hynd, John||Oswald, Thomas||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se Spenb'gh)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Padley, Walter||Whitaker, Ben|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Paget, R. T.||Whitlock, William|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Palmer, Arthur||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Park, Trevor||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pavitt, Laurence||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Winnick, David|
|Judd, Frank||Pentland, Norman||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Kelley, Richard||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Woof, Robert|
|Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Yates, Victor|
|Ledger, Ron||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Price, William (Rugby)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Probers, Arthur||Mr. Lawson and Mr. Grey.|
|Lestor, Miss Joan|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Balniel, Lord|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Awdry, Daniel||Batsford, Brian|
|Astor, John||Baker, W. H. K.||Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Neave, Airey|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Bessell, Peter||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Nott, John|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Onslow, Cranley|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hastings, Stephen||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Blaker, Peter||Hawkins, Paul||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Body, Richard||Hay, John||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Llonel||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Pardoe, John|
|Braine, Bernard||Heseltine, Michael||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Brewis, John||Higgins, Terence L.||Peel, John|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hiley, Joseph||Percival, Ian|
|Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter||Hill, J. E. B.||Peyton, John|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Bryan, Paul||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Buchanan-Smith,Alick(Angus,N&M)||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Pounder, Rafton|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Holland, Philip||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Hooson, Emlyn||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Burden, F. A.||Hordern, Peter||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Campbell, Gordon||Hornby, Richard||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Carlisle, Mark||Horner, John||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Howell, David (Guildford)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hunt, John||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Iremonger, T. L.||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Clark, Henry||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Cooke, Robert||Jerkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Cordle, John||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Roots, William|
|Corfield, F. V.||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Costain, A. P.||Jopling, Michael||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Kaberry, Sir Donald||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Crouch, David||Kershaw, Anthony||Scott, Nicholas|
|Crowder, F. P.||Kimball, Marcus||Sharples, Richard|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kirk, Peter||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kitson, Timothy||Smith, John|
|Dance, James||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Stainton, Keith|
|Davidson,James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Lambton, Viscount||Stodart, Anthony|
|d'Avidgor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lancaster, col. C. G.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Tapsell, Peter|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)||Taylor, Edwart M.(G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Doughty, Charles||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Teeling, Sir William|
|Eden, Sir John||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Temple, John M.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Longden, Gilbert||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Loveys, W. H.||Tilney, John|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Lubbock, Eric||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Eyre, Reginald||McAdden, Sir Stephen||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Farr, John||MacArthur, Ian||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Fisher, Nigel||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Fortescue, Tim||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Foster, Sir John||McMaster, Stanley||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Madden, Martin||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||Maginnis, John E.||Wall, Patrick|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Walters, Dennis|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Marten, Neil||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Maude, Angus||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Mawby, Ray||Webster, David|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Maydon, Lt.Cmdr. S. L. C.||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Gower, Raymond||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Grant, Anthony||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Gresham-Cooke, R.||Monro, Hector||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Grieve, Percy||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Gurden, Harold||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Wylie, N. R.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Monro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Younger, Hn. George|
|Hall-Davies, A. G. F.||Murton, Oscar|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Pym and Mr. More.|
|That this House approves the proposals contained in the statement on Transport Policy (Command Paper No. 3057).|