HC Deb 08 November 1973 vol 863 cc1185-247

Order for Second Reading read.

3.57 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Keith Speed)

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

The House had a very full debate on the principle of the Channel Tunnel when it approved the White Paper less than two weeks ago. We shall have further opportunities over the next few months to debate the detailed arrangements for the financing, construction and operation of the tunnel which will be set out in a major hybrid Bill which we hope to present to Parliament later this month. I do not want today to traverse all the ground which has been or will be covered in these debates.

This Bill has a limited purpose—to enable the project to go forward to the next stage, referred to in the Bill as the "initial period", but more generally as phase 2. This will be inaugurated by the signature of an Anglo-French Treaty and a main agreement, Agreement No. 2, which will govern the project as a whole, and will cover final design and preliminary works including the construction of sloping access tunnels leading to the sites in Britain and France from which the tunnels will be bored, and the boring of about two kilometres of the service tunnel from each side.

This will enable us not only to take the project to the point where full-scale work could start early in phase 3 but also to confirm the conditions to be encountered underground and such key matters as the rate of progress of the tunnelling machines in practice, and hence the forecast cost of the project, before final commitment to the main works. During this phase, the traffic and revenue forecasts will be kept under study. Towards the end of the period it will be necessary to review the terms on which the main capital has to be raised, as was explained in Chapter 11 of the White Paper, and phase 2 will conclude with the signature of a supplementary agreement No. 3, after which—assuming all goes well—the bulk of the money will be raised and the main construction started.

The Bill provides the financial powers needed to enable British Ministers to carry out the obligations in respect of phase 2 which they would incur on the signature of Agreement No. 2. These are within the general framework of the arrangements for the dual partnerships between Britain and France and between the Governments and the private interests represented by the British and French Channel Tunnel companies, which are described in Chapter 11 of the White Paper. They are, however, limited in scale and time, and differ in certain respects from the arrangements proposed for the main works.

The key features of the arrangements for financing the project during phase 2, which are reflected in Clause 1 of the Bill, are as follows.

Firstly, the work to be undertaken during the initial period is expected to cost some £30 million. The private interests expect to raise £8 million of this as risk capital, and the rest with Government guarantees. Since £2.6 million of the £5.4 million forecast cost of phase 1 was raised as risk capital, this means that by the end of phase 2, 30 per cent. of the total expenditure on the project to that point should have been met by risk capital. It will be necessary also during this period to refinance the guaranteed funds raised during phase 1.

Second, there may be some expense to be incurred by the Secretary of State himself for any further studies. It may prove desirable for certain further studies to be carried out about aspects of the project, or from points of view which, while of direct concern to the British Government, could not legitimately be considered to be the responsibility of the project as a whole. Examples of such studies carried out during phase 1 are the United Kingdom transport cost-benefit study, the study of the economic and social implications for Kent, and the current assessments of the noise which might be generated by the tunnel installations combined with the M20 motorway. These latter will certainly require review as the design of protective works and the installations as a whole progress.

Third, there could be obligations arising if the project were abandoned during phase 2. The extent of these would depend on the circumstances of the abandonment. If this were by mutual agreement or following notice by the private interests, the only obligations resting on the Governments would be to meet their guarantees, coupled with certain buy-back provisions should they wish to proceed with the project separately. If, however, the Governments wish to opt out or are unable to go ahead for any reason, while the companies are willing to proceed with the project, then provisions broadly reproducing those of Agreement No. 1 would operate. The effect would be that the Governments would be obliged to purchase the companies' interests at a price in excess of their cost, on a basis which takes account of the length of time the companies have had their money at risk and their loss of expectation of future profits.

In addition, as paragraph 11.21 of the White Paper explains, certain provisions have been agreed which would have the effect of partially compensating the private investors if it proved impossible to agree in 1975 on the terms for raising the main capital because the Governments and companies could not agree on the forecasts of future revenues.

Fourth—a point which is implicit but not explicit in the Bill—all the obligations arising under the guarantees, whether given by one Government or jointly, will be shared 50—50.[...] So will any costs arising from an abandonment, however caused. This will be enshrined in the treaty and, to cover the period before that can be ratified, in an exchange of letters which will be signed at that time.

Those are the obligations which may be incurred during the initial period. I turn now to Clause 1. Subsection (1) provides the power to provide the guarantees and make the payments which are necessary to meet them. Subsection (2) sets a limit of £30 million on the guarantees which may be given, with a power to raise the limit to £35 million by order, which, under subsection (7), would be subject to affirmative resolution of this House.

Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne)

I am not sure that I have read the relevant passage correctly, and I should like to be clear. Is it only the excess of £5 million over the £30 million for which the order is required?

Mr. Speed

That is correct. The limit to which I have referred is high enough to cover the obligations of both the Governments, as it may well be most appropriate for some or all of the money to be guaranteed by both jointly. However, as I have already explained, all obligations will be shared jointly by the two Governments. Therefore, if Her Majesty's Government paid out less than half the total sum due, we should have to reimburse the French Government, and provision for this is made in subsection (3). Conversely, if we had paid out more than half, we should be reimbursed by the French, and the sums received would, under subsection (4), be paid into the Consolidated Fund.

There is one other provision to which I shall draw the attention of the House. Under Clause 2(1) "the initial period"—these powers relate only to that period—is defined as running to 1st July 1975. I expect that well before that date the Hybrid Bill providing the full powers required for the project will have been passed and by that date Agreement No. 3 will have been signed and the project will have passed into phase 3. In case all our expectations are falsified, however, provision is being made for the period to be extended. Hon. Members will, no doubt, have noticed that the date is different from that in the draft clauses published in the White Paper. This is because the timetable has been reassessed following the deferment of the start of phase 2 to mid-November.

The Bill will enable us to make progress with this major project. In itself, however, it is a limited if important measure. Its passage is now urgent. As my right hon. Friend explained on 25th October, it was deferred to the new Session because we felt that it would be for the convenience of the House if consideration of it were separated from the debate on the general principle. I am sure that that was right. If it is not passed, the project as now conceived may well collapse. The passing of it, however, is not an irrevocable step, as Chapter 12 of the White Paper makes clear.

It has taken us seven years to reach this point on the basis of the agreements reached by the Labour Government in 1966. I hesitate to think how long it would take to put together a new scheme. Indeed, I suspect that our grandchildren could well be continuing to debate it 30 years hence, and that is not a prospect which I find attractive.

I commend this limited but important Bill to the House.

4.7 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)

As the Minister said, today's debate follows naturally and directly from our debate on 25th October, when we considered the White Paper and the full details of the scheme proposed by the Government, and I accept that, to give effect to the next stage as set out in the White Paper, the Government are bound to ask the House for the Bill now before us.

However, for the reasons which were so cogently put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) on 25th October—hon. Members will be glad to know that I shall not spell them out at length now—the Opposition do not completely go along with the scheme in the White Paper, and the House will not, therefore, be surprised to learn that we are not able to agree to the passing of the Bill, which, in effect, would give a second endorsement to the decision to which we objected on that occasion.

Our objections, in essence, are two. The first arises sharply on this Bill. We do not see the need for the generous provision proposed by way of guarantee and division of profits as they accrue to the private sector as distinct from the public sector. I shall not quote from the various financial columns of the newspapers commenting on the White Paper and the Government's estimates of how the scheme should work out, but I remind the House that with one voice they said that the projected returns were amazingly high, and in almost every case they said that, if the scheme is to produce that level of results, there should be no need for private capital to seek the kind of guarantees and terms which the Government are offering.

That being the case, we are in a dilemma. Either the Government estimates are wrong and the Government do not believe they will be borne out or the private capital will have a quite unreasonable share of the benefits and revenues that are expected to accrue. The Government cannot have it both ways. The difficult question to which they have not yet given an answer is whether, as may well be the case, they can get the participation of private capital only on these terms and with these guarantees. We have been given very little information and we have had very little time to discuss these issues in the House. If the people with whom the discussions and negotiations have taken place, the hard-headed business syndicates and the banks that they have gone to for the capital, are suspicious of the Government's figures and are doubtful that the results will be as the White Paper suggests, why should we accept what the Government tell us? That is the question that has not been answered.

Maybe in the calm of today we shall get an answer to this question. Are we to accept the estimates put forward as adequate forecasts—at least as much as any estimates can be adequate—or should we share the reservations of the private capital that has been involved in the negotiations. The people behind the capital say that the project is so risky, the prospect of return so doubtful, that they can go ahead only if, on the one hand, a great part of the money is guaranteed by the Government and, on the other, if the actual breakdown of surplus and revenue is in accordance with the White Paper.

The Bill is completely central to this argument because without the guarantees, as I understand it, at this stage in phase 2 the whole complicated structure of the financing of the tunnel would collapse. We are therefore entitled to know the Government's view about that and whether, as the scheme and the further studies go forward and the Government eventually convince themselves about the validity of their estimates and are satisfied that there will be a lot of profit in the scheme, there is the prospect of an adjustment in favour of the taxpayer and against those who contribute the private capital.

The second fundamental doubt we have about the tunnel is the difference between the ministerial speeches commending it and the small print of the White Paper. That is the difference between the benefit for British Railways on the one hand and whether, as the White Paper says, it will be, in effect, a rolling motorway with the railway content, apart from the actual conveyance of vehicles through the tunnel, not materially significant in the total volume of passenger or freight traffic.

I asked two questions in this connection in the last debate and no answers were given. Again, perhaps in the relative calm of today we might have those answers. They are very important for many of us in assessing what we see as the main attraction of the tunnel—the benefit it will bring to British Railways as distinct from the enormous congestion and environmental damage caused by the mounting level of road traffic, both private and commercial. So we want to know first, whether the Government are to provide funds for the new line, which they have approved, from the tunnel to London in the same way as funds are being provided for other aspects of the project, or whether British Railways will have to find the money themselves. If so, will it be deducted from the total investment programme that British Railways need in any event if they are to remain viable and efficient?

It could be that the question will be answered when we at last see, as we are assured from week to week that we shall, the Government's proposals for the future of the railways. We get little snippets of information. It is becoming like a serial story. The Under-Secretary was flapping his skirts again this week saying that all would be revealed by his right hon. Friend towards the end of the month. I think that is what he said. But we have been hearing that kind of message for a year. I hope there is some substance to this theatrical performance and that we shall get to Act 1 and find out what is going on. However, the hard fact is that the value of the project to British Railways is a most important aspect in our current discussions. British Railways are not in an attractive position when they have to raise money themselves for new investment. Will the Government treat this as a special case and pay for the new route?

The other aspect which for many of us is extremely attractive is the possibility of direct passenger and freight trains from all parts of the United Kingdom without the need, as in the case of freightliners, for a changeover because of gauge problems. It is an attractive prospect that goods loaded on the railways at Sheffield can go direct to any part of Europe. I realise that substantial expenditure will be incurred by British Railways if continental trains are to be able to use these lines.

The Minister for Transport Industries (Mr. John Peyton)

I have already made clear in the previous debate that the £120 million investment required for the link between the Channel coast and London will be provided separately by the Government and not out of ordinary railway investment. Secondly, it is already clear that British Rail traffic will be free to go all over the Continent. There is no question about that. It will be able to come back here. There will be certain difficulties for continental traffic going beyond London, and that is understood by the European railways.

Mr. Mulley

That is most illuminating. I am only sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not tell us that when he replied to our last debate. He did not mention securing the understanding of European railways that they would be unable to go beyond London, and he did not say that they would be content for their traffic to travel, for example, from Italy to Sheffield carried by British Rail. Obviously, the great attraction of the scheme would be removed if freight had to be unloaded in London and transferred from one railway system to another, as I imagined would need to be the case.

We must get this absolutely clear. In the fulness of time it may be desirable for some railway tunnels to be improved, for some permanent way to be replaced and for bridges to be widened and signals removed in order to accommodate continental rail traffic. British Railways cannot be expected to do this in addition to their normal enormous commitments necessary to maintain an efficient and viable system. Now we have the Government's assurance that all the necessary railway investment consequent upon the tunnel will be met by the Exchequer.

That is very good news, and if the right hon. Gentleman had told us that a fortnight ago we should have been much happier. He did not say anything like that, that all British Rail expenditure arising from and in connection with the tunnel would be found for it by the Exchequer by way of grant. That is important. I congratulate the Government on having done it. It removes part of our difficulty about British Rail, which still worried us, because the whole financial structure set out in the White Paper is based on the major revenues coming from rail traffic.

In the Opposition's view, the White Paper, which the House has accepted, makes excessive provision for the private capital participating in the proposed scheme. We are in rather unusual company in sharing the view of many financial commentators, including the Economist, that there should be no need in the circumstances for the kind of guarantees proposed in the White Paper, the first of which is before the House. For those reasons I advise my right hon. Friends to vote against the Bill.

4.21 p.m.

Sir Richard Thompson (Croydon, South)

As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State reminded us, the Bill is about money. I think he hopes that the subsequent discussion can be restricted purely to that aspect of the matter, but it is an old principle of the House that we must have redress of grievance before grant of supply, and if we are to provide the £30 million that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport Industries wants in order to carry out the next stage of his preparations for the tunnel, certain questions that have not so far been answered must be answered.

There is no doubt that although theoretically, after we have spent the money on the trial borings and all the rest, we can still think again and decide not to go ahead with the tunnel, in practice the fact that we embark on the spending of those funds will pre-empt the rest of the programme. As time goes on we shall increasingly hear the argument, "We have spent all this money on the preliminary arrangements, the test borings, and so on. We must not spoil the ship for a ha'porth"—some ha'porth?—"of tar. We must now go ahead to the end."

Some hon Members are very familiar with such accumulator processes. Some of us who sit on the Public Accounts Committee will remember, for example, examining the situation that arose over the financing of Concorde. We were told that that we were on the frontiers of tech- nology, and nobody knew what Concorde would cost. Nobody could challenge the figures. The Channel Tunnel is not a parallel case. It is not on the frontiers of technology but is nineteenth-century technology, boring a tunnel and running trains through it. Therefore, perhaps we shall not fall into the same error.

But if we pass the Bill tonight we shall have committed ourselves effectively to the whole of the expenditure and all the environmental upset and everything else that the tunnel entails. If that is what the House wants, we should have an answer to one or two questions I have already raised, which are very important to my constituents and other people affected by the proposed high-speed railway.

When my right hon. Friend wound up the previous debate on the tunnel, I asked him to answer certain points that had not been raised in the debate by other hon. Members. He was unable to do so. When the line leaves London, it emerges in South Croydon and runs in the open for some miles before re-entering a tunnel at Woldingham. Some of my constituents have a number of houses and properties along that route which are now wholly blighted. They could not sell them in the market for what those properties should command, or for anything like it.

I know perfectly well that with the effluxion of time British Rail will in due course produce a Bill, and notices to treat will be served. I dare say that fair compensation will be agreed. But it is a long process. In the meantime, my unfortunate constituents see the value of their principal investment in life, their house and home, blighted at a time when everything is very expensive.

Not all of them will be alive at the end of the process. Some will have died, and it will have been found that the value of the principal asset in their estate has been cut to ribbons. Some may wish to sell their properties, or may have to sell. What will happen to them? Will proper regard be paid to the value of their property at the time when the proposals became known? Anything else would be grossly unfair. Their properties have been depreciated because of the threat, and they should be compensated for it. That is only fair.

Compared with all the fuss about running a motorway through London, the fuss that will be created in South Croydon if the route is carved through it without proper arrangements in advance is fearful to contemplate. I ask my right hon. Friend to say now that British Rail will be human and understanding and will make a statement on the matter so that my constituents' minds may be set at rest.

What will British Rail do in places where it is not possible to build a tunnel—through the countryside, near villages, small towns and settlements, where the trains will scream through at 150 mph at frequent intervals in both directions—to shield people from the effects of the noise and blast? In the White Paper there are cosy references to landscaping, screening, the building of rail embankments and so on. It all sounds fine, but it will need to be spelt out in detail before people who now live in peace and reasonable quiet in the countryside can contemplate what is proposed. They will not be comforted by the thought that a generous Government might offer to double-glaze their windows at no charge to them.

My local authority in Croydon made a very sensible suggestion to the Department of the Environment, that the line should be continued in a tunnel until Woldingham, well clear of the built-up area. I am assured that that is technically feasible. It would be expensive, but if the Department balances against that expense the cost of compensating not only those whose houses are destroyed but those whose houses are rendered uninhabitable by injurious affection, I am sure that it will give serious consideration to the proposal, which is environmentally sensible in view of the duty of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State to protect the physical fabric of the country in which we live.

Have any detailed technical studies been made of the effect of driving trains at 150 mph through a very long tunnel? There are no prototypes in existence. Here in London we are standing on the longest rail tunnel in the world, but it is occupied by underground trains that stop at every station and never go more than 40 mph, and there is frequent ventilation. Imagine the effect of projecting a successsion of trains at 150 mph through the proposed pipes. Has that technical matter been given all the attention that it deserves? If it has not, all the economic forecasts geared to the speed, and therefore the structure, of the trains, are at risk.

Equally, I hope that my hon. Friend will pay some attention to the rapid loading of the ferry trains. A rate of loading of one every three minutes, or something unbelievable, has been quoted. I do not believe, with the best will in the world, that trains can be loaded at that rate. If that cannot be done, once again the forecasts of profitability are seriously at risk.

Nothing like enough time has teen allowed, in the technical studies which I have read, for the servicing of the tunnels. The tunnels will have to be shut down for approximately six hours every 24 hours so that essential daily maintenance can be carried out. We can take no chances with the servicing and maintenance when we are to commit enormous numbers of people at high speed into the tunnels. The standard of servicing required will not be out of line with what goes on in conventional tunnels throughout the world. The Simplon Tunnel through the Alps is a good example.

I shall not go through all my reservations. Those matters have been covered in previous debates. They are serious matters. There is a great problem for my constituents. While we may agree that we need better links with the Continent and that we must move with the times, the fact remains that a great deal of suffering will be caused unless we can assure people well in advance that they will not lose their homes or be paid a fraction of their real value. We want an assurance now to deal with the special case of people who have to sell their houses or who die before British Rail finally makes an offer for their houses. My reservations have been stated before, and I hope that on this occasion my right hon. Friend will make it easier for those who have serious reservations to consider his proposals favourably.

4.33 p.m.

Mr. Frank Tomney (Hammersmith, North)

This is a classic example of the Treasury draftsman's short Bill. It is designed to lull us all into a sense of agreement. In every clause there is contained a potential liability for the nation which the nation should not be asked to undertake.

If all the financial pundits, the financial forecasters and the financial journalists are right in their assessments, the tunnel will be one of the biggest money spinners of all time. It is said that the tunnel will be a bonanza. If that is so, what is the necessity for public finance? Straight away, the Government are in at the deep end with both feet. Initially there is to be provided £30 million, with £22 million coming from public finance.

Those hon. Members who have sat on various specialist committees—I was a member of the Select Committee which investigated the aircraft industry in 1954—will realise how easy it is to become involved without realising it.

There are two projects on which the nation has badly burnt its fingers. One is the development of nuclear power. Design studies have been undertaken, and to no end, for 20 years. We have not produced one nuclear power station after 20 years. We have poured millions of pounds into research and design studies. Concorde is still costing £2 million a day. That product is still in the design study stage.

It is with those examples in mind that hon. Members become anxious when they read Bills of this character. We must be cautious. The project involves £30 million for design studies, traffic studies and revenue studies. There is not one word about the matters which the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson) mentioned—namely, compensation for the displacement of people who will be affected.

The problem facing my constituents is greater than that facing the constituents of Croydon, South. The Government, with the blessing of the Opposition, have concurred that the terminal shall be at White City. That is one of the most congested boroughs in the whole of London. Housing land is at a premium in that area. The only thing which we do not make more of in Britain is housing land or land of any kind. The land which will be used will be a further permanent loss. That land could be claimed justifiably for housing.

British Rail is said to own the land which is available in the White City area. What compensation will be offered to the hundreds of householders who will have to be displaced? The first study should have been about compensation for the displacement, dislocation and uprooting of people who will be troubled for many years following the construction of the tunnel.

The issue goes further than that. The hon. Member for Croydon, South is right. We are committed from the start. However, there is a difference in philosophy between the two Front Benches. The Opposition Front Bench has said that there shall be a rail tunnel only. What will happen if in 12 months there is a change of Government? What shall we be committed to then? Shall we be committed to taking over the plans in toto? Shall we be committed to compensate the French Government, the French financiers, the British financiers and the Channel Tunnel Company for a tunnel which may never be built?

That is the kind of mess into which we are getting ourselves. Never mind the forecasts of profit. We should have first considered capital engineering costs. It is true, as the hon. Gentleman said, that the tunnel is a nineteenth century concept in engineering. It is not a project which takes us to the frontiers of technology. I fail to see the need for a figure of such magnitude for design studies. We have built tunnels all over the world from Hong Kong to San Francisco. Britain has been involved with the development of tunnels and has been a large investor and exporter throughout the world. The technique is known. A subterranean design study may be required, but that need not cost £30 million. At any stage the tunnel may have to be abandoned.

The Bill before the House is short. The hybrid Bill, when it arrives, should deal with the matters and the fears which have been mentioned. The Government draftsmen should consider the issue not strictly from the terms of the financial arrangements. They should consider how those arrangements will affect the people concerned by the Bill. That is not what they have done but that is what they should do.

When the hullabaloo starts, once the die is cast, there may well be endless legislation. We cannot determine compensation on the basis of house to house, shop to shop or factory to factory. Properties will become due for compensation at different times. Some will become the subject of compensation within the first two or three years of the scheme. Some may become involved 20 years or 30 years later. What will be the coherent standard for compensation? Will compensation be payable over "X" number of years? Will there be taken into account the changing value of property and money? Such matters have not been considered, and for that reason I shall be joining my right hon. and hon. Friends in Lobby.

4.40 p.m.

Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State emphasised that the Bill did not represent a final and irrevocable step, but none of us is under any illusion about what we are debating. If the Bill is passed, from this moment forward the rolling motorway beings to roll. If the House wished to take a contrary decision on subsequent legislation, I cannot imagine that the Government would accept that it was right to do so. They would say that the House was committed in principle and that on the basis of this legislation they had signed a treaty and had encouraged people to put in risk capital. If the Bill is passed as it stands, the House and the country are committed to going forward, right to completion, with this Channel Tunnel. I do not suppose that my right hon. Friend will disagree that that is the intention, and the House should be under no illusion about it.

Mr. Peyton

My hon. Friend should not take my agreement to such a proposition for granted. Had he listened to the speech by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, he would have heard him say clearly that the Bill was a step further forward. If it were a final commitment, why would we introduce a major Bill later in the Session?

Mr. Moate

With respect to my right hon. Friend, I quoted my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State as saying that the Bill was not a final and irrevocable step, but in practice we recognise this to be the decisive moment. I think that is self-evident, although there are, in theory, options by which we can extricate ourselves later.

We have been told that the final cost will be £846 million at 1981 prices, plus the cost of the railway, but when the tunnel project was first approved—the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) gave it her blessing originally in 1966—the cost was estimated at between £160 million and £170 million. That represents quite an escalation in seven years. These figures are important because the British taxpayer will guarantee that the out-turn price will not be much more than £850 million and we want to be sure that we are not backing another white elephant.

If the project is delayed even by one year—and a project of this size is not likely to be delayed only by a year—the extra interest charges will be £80 million plus. If the project is delayed by much more than a year, as it obviously could be, the increase in the final cost and the subsequent interest burden will be massive.

Mr. Adam Butler (Bosworth)

The purpose of this initial period is to establish the approach road and some of the service tunnel. This will give an indication whether we are likely to be on time if the main project goes ahead.

Mr. Moate

Of course that is so and I recognise the logic and common sense of that trial period, but with most construction jobs of this nature many delays occur during the contract period and during construction, and would not be evident in the initial stages.

The basic question which has not been answered by the Government has been put to my right hon. Friend many times. If the project is likely to be so profitable, why does it need a Government guarantee? It is incumbent upon the Government to explain this. If the prospects are so good, why cannot private operators raise the capital required in the City? It has been done before for other projects. The extraction of North Sea oil, for example, involves far more money than does the Channel Tunnel. I ask my right hon. Friend to explain, if the figures are so good and the risk is so safe for the taxpayer, why the Government need to offer a guarantee.

When we debated the White Paper I abstained from voting because I am attracted by the idea of a Channel Tunnel, but one based on a railway link. When one reads the White Paper and hears my right hon. Friend speak on this subject one sees the enormous opportunity and the attractions of establishing a fast connection between the railway systems of Britain and Europe. I want British Rail to have this opportunity to switch freight from road to rail. It makes sense. Those advantages would accrue from a railway-only tunnel, from a tunnel which does not have a Cheriton terminal and which is based on passengers, freight and motor vehicles boarding at many regional termini throughout Britain.

I would further request the Government to put in hand during the next phase a serious study of the advantages and disadvantages of and the economic case for and against a railway-only tunnel, and to report back to the House. There are figures which show that it would cost 30 per cent. less to construct such a tunnel and that the operating costs would be very much less. There could be a handsome profit by 1990 from such a railway-only tunnel.

The figures for the operating costs for a railway-only tunnel are startling. One report submitted, I understand by the Channel Tunnel Company states that with a railway-only tunnel—with no rolling motorway and no terminal—the operating costs in 1990 would be £5 million a year. The operating costs for the vehicle ferry type tunnel will be £34 million per annum. The same chart shows that the railway-only tunnel could still make a profit by 1990 of £54 million after servicing all debt, compared with the £163 million profit estimated from the vehicle ferry system. These figures are impressive. In view of the environmental advantages of a railway-only tunnel, the Government should institute a serious inquiry about it, or at least try to answer the case that has been made Out by a large number of bodies outside the House who have given a great deal of attention to it.

On the question of the projected profits to be made, are not we being complacent in thinking that a Government-backed project would be allowed by the British public to make a profit of nearly two-thirds of its gross receipts? If we reached a stage where the gross receipts were £286 million with a pre-tax profit after interest charges of £163 million, there would be an enormous outcry in the country and great pressure for the rates to be brought down.

I should like an amendment to be made to the Bill providing that before we proceed there shall be a proper public inquiry. In the last year or two we have heard a great deal from my hon. and right hon. Friends—and I know they mean this sincerely—about encouraging greater public participation in all these great planning projects. I readily pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport Industries, who has been to great lengths in discussing the project in Kent with many bodies and others who wanted to discuss it with him. That has been immensely helpful, but there is a difference, which I know he will recognise, between full and frank discussions and a full public inquiry at which the public can put their case formally and where the results are analysed and considered by an impartial and objective body. We need a public inquiry particularly because of the tremendous environmental considerations that apply, certainly to Kent.

Mr. Mulley

The Opposition attempted to provide for a public inquiry in the terms of an amendment we moved on the last occasion. I do not think that we had the support of the hon. Gentleman then.

Mr. Moate

As I said, I abstained on that occasion because, if the Opposition had been successful in carrying the amendment, the project would probably have been killed stone dead, whereas many of us wish to have the railway-only principle analysed further. That would mean that the Bill could proceed but with amendments in which could be incorporated some of the arguments put forward by the right hon. Gentleman in that debate. I hope that before we consider the Bill in Committee we shall be able to put down constructive amendments on these points—first, a study of the railway-only link, and secondly, the holding of a public inquiry before we proceed further.

I believe that the environmental damage to Kent has been underestimated. Admittedly, whatever happens, there will be an increase in the number of lorries and cars on the roads. Much of this traffic will go along the present roads to the Channel ports. If the tunnel is built with the terminus in Kent it will attract many cars and lorries from all the other ports on the South Coast, and from the airports to the Kent coast. Although there will be motor rail facilities. My right hon. Friend's Department told me recently in a letter that it recognised that because of cost only a small proportion of the traffic will go on the motor rail services. Therefore, most of it will go on the roads.

The four million cars—the figure which has been projected for 1990—will be spread over a great area of Kent.

My right hon. Friends believe that this traffic will be contained on the M20, but the motor car does not behave like that, and the situation will not develop that way. There will still be heavy traffic going to Folkestone and Dover, as well as to Cheriton. If a railway-only tunnel is built, then British Rail should be backed so that it can have a fare structure designed to attract goods and vehicles off the roads on to the railway. It would be a great opportunity to protect the environment to a large degree.

Mr. Peter Rees (Dover)

I am concerned with what my hon. Friend said, and I was interested to hear his development of this point. Can he suggest where the motor car would go if there were not a Channel Tunnel?

Mr. Moate

That is a very important point. The point is, simply, as everyone agrees, that the motor car will be driven through Kent. This has been stated categorically by both supporters and opponents of the tunnel. The motor car will go through Dover or Folkestone or other ports, such as Southampton, or the hoverports, or through Cheriton. It is now suggested that Cheriton should be added to these other ports. This would give a positive attraction to motorists to drive through Kent.

British Rail should be given every encouragement to offer cheap charter trips which would persuade people to leave their cars at home and travel by train, from the many regional centres, on their way to their holiday or business destinations and hire a motor car at the other end. This is the solution we should be looking to. It is ironical that at a time when people are at last beginning to question the absolute right of the motor car and lorry to travel freely across the country, a project is being initiated which is designed to give one of the biggest boosts we have ever had to road travel.

Mr. John Sutcliffe (Middlesbrough, West)

My hon. Friend has been talking about the extra traffic which will be attracted into Kent because of the tunnel. Would he agree that many juggernauts at present travelling to East Coast ports would be attracted by the existence of the tunnel on to the roads of Kent and through the tunnel?

Mr. Moate

It is probable that that would be one result. It should be a railway-only tunnel, based on a railway-only philosophy, and if necessary paid for by the French and British Governments. We must face the fact that if private enterprise does not want to do it, then it should be a Government-owned tunnel like all other railway tunnels. The scheme should be based on a positive policy, once and for all, to get vehicles off the road and on to rail.

4.55 p.m.

Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne)

The hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate) has posed one of the most important of all the questions likely to arise in the debate. If the tunnel is to be so profitable, why has it to be guaranteed by the Government? It is a question to which we have never had an answer, and we are never likely to have an answer. I will explain why.

The Government are not in the position of insisting on their 90 per cent. involvement. They have this degree of involvement because there is no alternative. They did not think that it was such a profitable venture that they could say to private interests "Stand aside while we cash in on such a profitable venture." What they are saying in fact is that it is such a risky scheme, and so unlikely to have a high degree of profitability, that it needs to be underwritten by the Government. This means that the profits will depend upon Government action, and in such a situation one is able to get private interests involved.

The Government are going to influence the competition. They are influencing it now. I remind the House of the investigation being undertaken by the Monopolies Commission into the ferry services. When the commission finally deigns to report after all this time and the Minister involved has to reach a decision, clearly he must be influenced by the amount of money which is going to be made by the Channel Tunnel itself.

Clearly, in such a situation, if the Channel Tunnel's finances look a bit shaky, the Minister will look less fiercely upon such a monopolistic arrangement as that undertaken by the ferries. On the other hand, if he sees that the profits from the Channel Tunnel are likely to be very high indeed, clearly he will be prepared more readily to allow a greater element of competition. So the essential profitability of the Channel Tunnel will be very largely determined by the Government. They will have full power to act on the toll charges on vehicles and people going through the tunnel. These will largely be decided by Government intervention as well.

So if the Government, by this means and others, are going to determine the minimum profitability, what the private investor is gambling on is not a Channel Tunnel in the absence of anything else. He is deciding on what the Government will effectively allow, and since the Government themselves stand behind this scheme it is clear that his position becomes more favourable than it might otherwise be.

Why are the Government entering into an undertaking of this kind? It is because if something goes wrong they will have the ability to blame somebody—that is, the private interests. They will be able to blame the private interests for anything that might go less well than they might have expected. I put it in another and more kindly way to the Government. The Government believe that private interests will give an element of objectivity to the scheme.

But in this the Government are mistaken, because the 10 per cent. involvement of private interests must be only a reflection of how those private interests consider the importance of Government involvement. As a result, there will never be that objectivity which the Government are seeking. The Government have to make the decision themselves, and if they have to make it themselves there is no point in having these private interests, which serve no function except possibly as an excuse whereby, when things go wrong, the Government will be able to point to people other than themselves as having made errors.

I would accept these risks in the scheme if I regarded the basic scheme itself as sound. The difficulty I am in is that I am very attracted to the whole principle of a cross-Channel link. At some time in future we must come to a decision as to what should be the proper form of such a fixed link across the Channel. The trouble in this case is that Governments right back to 1963 and before decided on the kind of scheme they wanted and have pursued it ever since. Their minds were closed from the beginning.

What is at fault is the planning organisation within the Department itself. Three Governments have been involved, with five or six Ministers. Not one of them has been able to re-open the project to look at it afresh during these past 10 years. The engineering structure was posed at least 15 years ago—indeed, some would say that it was posed as long ago as the last century. The failure over such a long period to re-examine that structure must be the failure of the Department itself.

In a re-examination, the Government should have looked at the widest aspects of the cross-Channel link and, as they proceeded to the investigation, zeroed in on the final scheme which offered the best hopes. But that has not happened, as I know only too well because I tried to get the matter re-opened and was appalled by the ignorance of other matters which should have been a common place of discussion within the Department. The Department had a limited vision and retained it.

There is a similar case—that of Stansted airport. The Department then took a blinkered view, based on the movement of air traffic, and held Stansted to be the one airport which would meet the situation. But on that occasion my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland), who was then the Minister responsible, had the courage and determination to re-open the case. I regret that successive Ministers of Transport have fallen short of that example in considering this Channel Tunnel.

So we have the situation in which no one can feel happy about the arrangement before us. Engineering science is moving at a rapid rate but we are taking none of it into account. The only consolation I find in the Bill is that some of the dreamy and rosy pictures which were before the eyes of some Ministers have now been replaced. This is shown in Clause 1(1)(c)(ii), by which the Secretary of State will have power to pay out money in order to wind up the project. I suggest that at any time during the last few years had such a Bill been presented to the House it would almost certainly not have contained a provision of that kind. That is one element of realism at least. If the Government find themselves with one or two dud companies on their hands in the event of there being a winding-up, they will be able to make changes. What is the position of the private interests in the Channel Tunnel Company at the present time? What are the Government's intentions?

The hon. Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson) spoke about the slippery slope, and how right he was. All these projects, once begun, have some of the functions and disadvantages of the slippery slope, but this one has more than most. There are two main reasons.

First, the Government are setting a limit of £35 million, which we know will be spent almost come what may. No one is going to say "We have spent £20 million and it is not going very well, so let us call it a day." That will not happen because when such projects are started they are difficult to stop. Secondly, they are even more difficult to stop when one is in partnership with rather different interests from those of oneself.

We thus have the situation in which the Government might decide that they have made a mistake but in order to bring the project to a conclusion they would need the French Government simultaneously to come to the same conclusion. The difficulty there is that there are always phases in such matters, as we have learned with the Concorde. At a time when one Government are blowing hot, the other tend to be blowing cold. To have a coincidence when both Governments are blowing roughly the same temperature, other than rosy optimism, is not easy.

Mr. Peyton

The hon. Gentleman is misleading the House and himself. It has been made clear that it is open to any party to abandon the project at any time, and the residuary loss to the Governments would in the circumstances be divided 50–50. He cannot say that it would take the agreement of the two Governments.

Mr. Sheldon

I am aware of that. The right hon. Gentleman has made the point before. But the fact is that when it came to the crunch that kind of decision would not be taken, even if with such an exemption clause. It would not be taken for the same reason as it has not been taken in the case of the Concorde. All sorts of ramifications are involved and the Government would be bound to take them into account. When one is talking of having spent £20 million and there is the question of spending another £5 million or another £10 million, then I assure the House that the extra money will be spent. I would settle for that now. What worries me is that the right hon. Gentleman or his successor may be coming to this House saying that £30 million to £35 million is not enough. Then we would have to introduce another Bill for a further £10 million or £15 million. Once we start on the slippery slope there is no telling where we might end.

I should be happy to accept those large risks if I felt sure that we had the right project. It is because I am so dissatisfied with the project that I am dissatisfied with the kind of risk that we are taking.

The main purpose of the Bill is to give the power to guarantee the interests concerned. We know that the agreement which is to be guaranteed has not yet been made. I find that unsatisfactory, too.

Clause 1(5) says that the Government—I give them credit because they are doing more than previous Governments have done—are to lay before the House a statement of the guarantee, but that will be done immediately after the moneys are guaranteed. I cannot see why the Government, having gone so far, should not have gone that step further and said that the statement of guarantee should come before those moneys are guaranteed. I hope to table an amendment to that end. It is the only way in which we would be able to control the project. We all know the difficulties of controlling a project and of supervising it. It is a problem, as with all kinds of ventures that must be solved. If there is to be some measure of control the House of Commons should acquire it.

5.7 p.m.

Sir Robin Turton (Thirsk and Malton)

I have certain misgivings over the Bill. I realise that my right hon. Friend will apply an excuse, rather like that for the unexpected baby—that "It is only a little one." Unfortunately, once we have taken this step, a large amount of public expenditure must inevitably follow. The project will happen at a time when, quite rightly, the Government are moderating the growth of public expenditure and are postponing many important projects for communications because the economy is overheated.

My first question and complaint about the Bill is directed towards its wrong timing. Is it the right time to put forward this expenditure of £30 million to £35 million when important road programmes are of necessity delayed by the Government because of the overheated economy? How many road projects that would otherwise be carried out next year and in the following years will have to be delayed because of the Government's commitment to this measure?

I listened with sympathy and attention to what was said by my hon. Friends the Members for Kent and Surrey, but I am thinking more of the North-East, where road communications important to exports have been held up for six or seven years so that we cannot get our exports to Europe from our own Teesside ports. Will the project in question hold up communications in the North-East? I hope that my right hon. Friend will give us some assurance that, whatever the effect of the Bill and its financial implications, he will put greater dynamism into improving communications between the West Riding of Yorkshire and Teesside than his precedessors have done.

The right hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) said that it was good news that all the additional rail expenditure would be given in grant. That gave me a shock. We are embarking here on a project which will cost not £30 million but £1,000 million, all of which will be directed into a narrow corridor through Surrey and Kent in order to get to France. I have often wondered—I should like the economists to make some estimate—what has been the cost of the infrastructure in the South-East compared with that in the regions. I believe that the figures would show that successive Governments have neglected the regions in favour of the South-East.

Mr. Peyton

I should be happy to provide my right hon. Friend with some such figures, but if he were to compare the roads of either the North-East or the North-West with those of the South-East he would find the comparison overwhelmingly favourable to the North. The roads of Kent have been shockingly neglected for many years; I am trying at long last to restore the balance.

Sir Robin Turton

I am very grateful. I was talking not just of the road programme but of the whole of the infrastructure, which includes projects like the Victoria Line and other capital expenditure which has gone into the South-East. If that is balanced against the regional policies of successive Governments, I believe that it will be seen that the South-East has been unduly favoured. That is why there has been the drift to the South-East and away from the regions.

We should also consider what is happening across the Channel; I should be grateful for some details. The emphasis in the Community will probably be found to be centred on the Rhine-Danube Canal rather than on any route through France. If that is so, it is wrong to think merely of this "Chunnel" link with France rather than of ferry services to Europe and steamer services north to Scandinavia.

I cannot understand Chapter 11.21 of the White Paper. I appreciate that, now that the Government are backing this risk, it is right that, if the scheme is wound up, they should compensate the private enterprise for a part of its commitment. But it seems doubtful to me whether we have any obligation to guarantee compensation of 50 per cent. of the money invested before the Government had backed the risk.

Would my right hon. Friend go in greater detail into Clause 1(1)(c)(ii) which I gather gives him the statutory authority for this generous provision over compensation. I should have thought that there was a good case for saying that, if the scheme proved abortive, the Government should guarantee some return to those who were encouraged for having undertaken to back it.

Sixty years ago, when I was young, I remember people talking about a Channel tunnel and saying then that it would have been better done 50 years before and that at that time it was out of date. With what is happening now in engineering and with the tendency for trade to radiate to all areas in England, especially when we have been pressing on all sides for greater attention to regional policy, this scheme seems sadly out of date. The Bill should be given the conventional parliamentary treatment of being considered again in six months' time.

5.16 p.m.

Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)

The Minister seems to have no friends in the House tonight. He certainly has none on this side, and all his hon. Friends who have spoken so far have shown clearly that they do not like the Bill's proposals.

The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) asked a very important question—why is this scheme brought forward at this particular time? The hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate) and my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney) have mentioned the severe social, as well as economic, costs of this scheme. The cut-back in the road building programme that the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton mentioned is only part of the difficulties which make this scheme utterly incomprehensible.

I am amazed that the Minister, who is generally regarded as intelligent, in contrast to a large number of his colleagues on the Front Bench, should have persisted with this scheme instead of doing as my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) suggested and throwing the whole thing back, telling his civil servants to bring themselves up to date. If we must have a Channel crossing, let us consider something more up-to-date than a proposal that is over 100 years old.

I will not go into the history of the ideas about the building of the Channel Tunnel because I did that in the debate on the White Paper, when the Minister was present.

I am concerned about the social costs of this scheme and its effect on the building industry which will have to provide the necessary men and materials. We are in enormous difficulty. Many other Ministers are in acute difficulty and embarrassment. As a result, the local authority house-building programmes, for example, have been held back. The Secretary of State for Education and Science recently announced cuts of £100 million in local authority school-building programmes. My own authority, for example, has lost nine projects which range from nursery projects to the polytechnic—all because we are in an over-heated situation. The Secretary of State for Social Services has cut back on hospital building for the same reason, and the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton mentioned the road-building programme.

Therefore, this is the worst possible moment to bring forward a scheme which is expensive in terms both of money and of the demands that it will make on men and materials. The Minister would be well advised to think again and to withdraw the Bill.

If we look at the demand this project will make not only upon money but upon materials it will be seen that problems may arise because of the long delays in the supply of materials to builders large and small. What will the Minister do if he finds that his project cannot start because there is no timber, or no aggregates with which to make concrete? He will be in difficulties. What sort of material will be used to build this tunnel?

There is chaos in the aggregates industry, where good material is being wasted and not much use is being made of artificial materials. The steel industry cannot supply the steel which the construction industry needs, either reinforcing steel or pre-stressed steel. This will be needed in enormous quantities for the tunnel, even in the initial stages. When the project gets going there will be this open-ended commitment and a continuing demand on scarce building resources which the country needs for other purposes.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

I am interested in the hon. Lady's observations about aggregates. Does she think that the boring of the tunnel will require great use of these? Is it not a fact that the tunnel is to be steel-lined?

Mrs. Short

Concrete will be needed in large quantities to build a tunnel. It is not a completely steel construction. Perhaps the Minister would like to go into the technical details when he replies. I think the hon. Member can be assured that large quantities of this material will be needed as well as steel. The Government are not prepared to expand the steel industry. There will be a continuing drain by the tunnel on scarce resources needed for other, more important, social purposes.

If this was put to the people I am sure they would say without hesitation "Leave the Channel Tunnel; we are not interested in it. We do not want it, but we do want schools, houses, hospitals and roads." This is what the right hon. Gentleman should be concerning himself about, not his wretched tunnel. In the debate on the White Paper, the right hon. Gentleman attempted to make fun of what I said about steamers. He said that I had said "stick to steamers." Presumably the right hon. Gentleman does not intend to drop the steamers to the bottom of the Channel. There will still be the steamers. The ferries will presumably still be plying to and fro. I do not believe that he has ever done a proper analysis of the cost and the way in which custom will be removed from existing ferry and air links in favour of the tunnel.

If the hon. Gentleman makes the profit out of his tunnel that he expects, and that private enterprise is absolutely certain it will make, then unless there is a tremendous increase in the number of people wanting to cross the Channel, and we are by no means certain that that will happen, the established means of crossing the Channel will suffer. The right hon. Gentleman should tell us more about this. He ought to look, as the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton said, at some of the areas where road links are needed which would serve other crossings to the Continent, both for trade and for passenger travel.

I repeat what I have said during the debate on the White Paper. The road links between the Midlands, where my constituency is, and where an enormous number of engineering projects are made, to the East Coast are non-existent. The right hon. Gentleman ought to look at these projects to see what can be done before he embarks on this white elephant of a Channel Tunnel. This open-ended commitment is likely to lead to the expenditure of £100 million or more before it is completed. It is a scandalous project for the Government to be bringing forward.

5.25 p.m.

Mr. Adam Butler (Bosworth)

The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) said that she was looking for something more modern, but she then reverted to her famous steamers. I suggest that if she does want something more modern it is likely to cost much more than the tunnel, while the risks will be very much greater than those attending upon the tunnel.

Mrs. Renée Short

Can the hon. Gentleman point to any cost-benefit schemes or alternative plans that have been worked out and costed? None exists in the Department.

Mr. Butler

I was coming to the point of the cost and how certain we can be. If the hon. Lady will listen to the brief speech I hope to make I trust that I shall deal with the point.

I hesitated slightly to enter the debate because my constituents are not directly affected in the same way as so many of those of my hon. Friends. I sympathise with the worries expressed on behalf of his constituents by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson). Those are justifiable worries. When I look more closely I see that my constituents do have a real interest because running through Bosworth is the M1, as well as other trunk roads. Further, my constituents are interested in getting to the Continent by the most agreeable and shortest route, for business or holiday. They are also interested in getting their products there if they are exporters. I therefore find that they are very much affected.

I mention roads because this is surely the greatest attraction of the tunnel. In my view, it is the main justification for it because it provides an opportunity to switch so much of our freight and passenger traffic from the roads to the rail system. I would like my right hon. Friend to give an assurance that of this money we are debating today, and on which we hope to vote shortly, an adequate amount will be devoted to preparing the necessary surveys to ensure not only that the most effective rail link is devised but that there are no delays in putting it into effect.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) is rightly concerned about the export opportunities for the North-East and so many of the industrial peripheries of our country. If the export business can be put on to rail and guaranteed a through route to the Continent, the expenditure which I understood him to be looking for on roads becomes less necessary. It is because those industrial areas will be so much better served as a result of the tunnel that I support it.

Reference has been made to motorail. This ties in with one of the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate) in his request for a rail-only tunnel and the suggestion that the Cheriton terminal should be abandoned. Quite understandably, he hoped that traffic, passenger or freight, would be loaded at regional terminals. There is nothing to prevent that happening, and I believe that the cost of motorail will become much more attractive over the next few years as fuel costs escalate. We shall experience this rise shortly. I also see this continuing demand for a rail-only tunnel by the Opposition as being an attempt to retain that insularity which they have displayed over many years on this and other projects.

This again is where my constituents come in. Those who are now in favour of the European Community and those who are coming to accept it see this tunnel as an essential link between the Continent and this island of ours. Again the rail-only tunnel ignores the basic fact of life as far as the motor car is concerned; namely, that people like to take their motor cars with them. However one might encourage the use of rail and the hiring of rented cars at one's destination, there is no doubt that, particularly for family travel, people will want to take their cars to the Continent. They will have my encouragement to do so, and they will be able to do so by the use of the tunnel as proposed by the Government.

I should like my hon. Friend to clarify further the question of the amount of money for which the Bill makes provision. There is a limit of £35 million. As I understand it, we are hoping for and expecting a cost for the initial period of £30 million, of which £8 million is to be found from private risk capital and the balance of £22 million by Government guarantee. Half of this amount will be taken by the French.

According to my mathematics, that leaves £11 million, and I cannot see the justification for putting in this figure of £30 million, which can be raised to £35 million. Clearly, there will be fluctuations, so I can see that there could be some requirements over and above the mean figure in the short period, to be recovered, perhaps, from the French. However, I do not understand why we have to write in that amount, and I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to explain.

I welcome the prudent approach that has been adopted by the Government. The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) talked about the slippery slope, but that is absolute nonsense. If in a sophisticated society we are not prepared to move a step forward from this order of magnitude, which in today's terms is not big spending, and are not prepared to withdraw, we should be ashamed of the society that we have set up.

It is no good trying to compare this venture with Concorde and indicating that we might well be considering withdrawal from that, because the dissimilarity and difference in price are colossal.

Mr. Sheldon

The hon. Gentleman seems to assume that Governments have changed over the past few years. Surely he is aware of the whole history of escalation of costs and the reluctance of Governments to cancel once they find themselves embarked on any project.

Mr. Butler

I recollect that the Labour Government chose to cancel the TSR2 at a very advanced stage, and that was a decision taken with a cost far greater than this. My right hon. Friend's Government will still be in power in 1975, and they will be able to take the decision if it is necessary.

The prudent approach is to be welcomed, because it will tell us more about the technologies that will have to be used in boring, giving us the experience that we need. However, as these are mostly known technologies, we should look for a speeding up of the final operation, particularly in view of the rapid progress with the Victoria tunnel, admittedly a slightly smaller project, but involving not dissimilar tunnelling techniques.

When I first considered this project, I had one reservation only. The hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East made the point when she said that we should not be committing money, materials or men to a project of this magnitude at a time when these commodities appeared to be in short supply or when we should be restricting Government expenditure.

A point of omission from the beginning of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary was that he did not emphasise once again the stages in which the money is to be spent and the insignificant sums of money which are to be paid out over the next two or three years. The demand on men and materials, too, will be relatively small in the same period. As that is the case, I have no hesitation in supporting this initial expenditure and hope that the project can go ahead.

5.35 p.m.

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)

We are admittedly dealing only with a money Bill today, but the Bill includes the moneys for preliminary work to be done on further studies, particularly regarding the construction of the Channel Tunnel project.

It has been made clear by a number of speakers that, although the amount of money involved at this stage may be considered insignificant compared to the global cost of such a project, it is nevertheless the first step. The Minister may say that it can be cancelled and that this is written into the contract. However, it is like a helter-skelter in that once the first yard or two is covered it is impossible to stop. The escalations of the costs involved bring to mind the consideration of the Concorde project.

It must be remembered that this project is always advanced on the basis of commercial justification—that is, that it will pay. This reason is always put forward, rather than that of extending our transportation system from this country to the Continent. It is advanced on the basis that this project is viable, that it can pay, that it is profitable and, therefore, a good investment for us to consider guaranteeing the money that will go into this project.

I agree that the private sector has made absolutely clear what it thinks of the future of such a project, certainly the dubiousness of it, in that there has to be a Government guarantee for this money. Many reasons have been given about the difficulty of raising this sort of capital, but many greater amounts of money are raised regularly on the money markets for North Sea investment projects without any guarantee. That is a good indication of what the private sector thinks about this project.

I have to admit that the previous Government thought of the idea of mixing industry and the Civil Service as some kind of check on the latter in this situation. I accept that as a disagreeable fact. But if that is so, having got the private sector to do the studies and provide the answers, and even if that group is still saying that it is a viable project to be undertaken, why not take notice of the greater commercial sense in the market—the people who provide the money, who are giving it the thumbs down signal? It would be far better to take that latter point rather than the mix of private and public we have on this project.

What is essential to it is the studies. We cannot be precise in this type of study, but we have to be sure that the assumptions are nearly correct, to justify the commercial basis of the profitability of this project.

A massive amount of data has been made available about the Channel Tunnel. If I may make a "plug", if we had research assistants or even a full-time secretary we might be better able to make an assessment as Members of Parliament about this sort of project. But we do not have that, and I have no job outside the House to assist.

The importance of the consultants in this arrangement is that the consultants make assumptions and give figures and details of their subjects. But it is not without significance that they are consultants both to those building the tunnel and to those involved with the company. It is rather like going to Hawker-Siddeley about the Concorde project and asking for a feasibility study on it.

I am not impugning the honesty of the consultants, but they are deeply immersed in their assumptions and we should be able to have a check. In a massive project such as this, a check is essential.

At the same time, the Achilles heel in this project is the Channel shipping interests. If their commercial predictions are correct, the Channel Tunnel will not be a commercial proposition. They dispute the evidence given to the consultants and its interpretation by the consultants.

If there is a serious dispute between these two parties, we should look extremely closely at the assumptions and be careful about how we assess our information. I will not go over the details again, but it is plain that the importance of this project depends upon how much share of traffic the tunnel can get.

It boils down to the fact that the tunnel w ill be able to get 80 per cent. of the holiday traffic, with fares 40 per cent. higher than shipping fares. It is a dubious project, and I would be the last to accept the word of the shipowners, having spent a great deal of time contesting their views, but we need a more independent judgment.

We have been told of a wealth of data. We have been told how high this data would stand if they were stood on the deck and their height and weight measured. But we have not analysed the quality of the data, nor of data that may have been missed.

I want to comment on a sector in which we all have an interest and responsibility—the investment by British Rail. This is a nationalised industry and is very much caught up in the project. It is required to deal with an investment outside the investment requirements of the Channel Tunnel and amounting to £168 million, plus possibly £100 million for interest payments and inflation during the period of the project.

So we are talking of a British Rail investment in rail facilities alone of about £268 million. Clearly, we need to look at our justification for British Railways alone making that investment, quite apart from whether they will be allowed Government resources to invest in the regions where rail investment is needed, probably on a much greater scale than in the South-East for the tunnel.

I want to consider the British Rail argument about investment. In this sphere we have to rely upon the consultants, as British Rail has given little evidence to the House for us to be able to make an assessment of the situation.

I can only presume that more detailed information has been passed to the Minister. The only pamphlets we have seen have been glossy pamphlets about how one gets to a destination, the type of accommodation available, and so on; but very little hard data. That is what we need to make a judgment. Nevertheless, the assessment is made and quoted by British Rail. It is shown to be the view of the consultants that the return to British Rail would be about 14 to 17 per cent. I assume that a separate account will be kept of British Rail's investment, and that when its return is assessed, it will be assessed on the return on the investment for the Channel Tunnel.

A nationalised industry such as this has other responsibiliies and has to consider developments resulting from participating in the Channel Tunnel. Being responsible for the public purse, we must take that into account because of the State invesment in a nationalised industry.

As I said, it is assumed that there will be a return of 14 to 17 per cent. on the investment. The studies take into account an assessment of a capital saving as a State investment by comparing the estimated number of ships required if there were a tunnel with the number needed without a tunnel. The difference between those two figures would represent the net saving to the community or to a nationalised industry.

The study could also estimate, as consultants do in such studies, the cost if fewer ships or ports were operated and there was, therefore, less activity. It could estimate, too, the cost of operating transport systems and the amount of money that is used. In fact, an estimate of that has been made by the consultants and taken into account.

The important point to remember is that in assessing some of the social consequences of this capital investment one lumps together the estimated saving in ships and in the operating costs of the ports—I am talking mainly about British Railways' activities, because they are a prime investor in both ships and ports—and says that it is a plus which has to be taken into the profitability account because the Government would save that amount of money on capital investments and operating costs by using the tunnel. If that is taken into consideration, the assumptions become absolutely crucial in deciding whether it is a profitable estimate.

Let us look briefly at the ports. I am dealing solely with capital investment and the money that it would involve. According to the Channel Tunnel United Kingdom Transport and Cost Benefit Study, which deals primarily with ports and ship investment, there would be a saving of capital investment of £76 million by 1990. That is something to be added to the computation that the community saves £76 million. It is the community, because the State owns port facilities in Great Britain and, therefore, the public are the net investors.

The assumption made is that a lot of traffic would be diverted to the Channel Tunnel and 25 per cent. of that would be to Dover on roll-on containers. What it does not assess is that if 25 per cent. of the traffic is diverted from one part, such as Hull—I am not making a constituency point—the throughput cost of traffic will rise. The Government's policy is that ports must pay, and if they do not then must close down. We have had an example of this policy in my constituency.

To an operator like British Rail the costs would rise and the ports become more expensive, and one would be left with fixed assets such as a dock which cannot be moved no longer profitable. It involves a lot of capital investment, about £4 million, and has no further use. It is too dirty to use as a swimming pool, and, therefore, has no other value.

One has to bear in mind the massive investment that has already gone into making a port, especially by the Labour Government, who, after the Rochdale Report put millions of pounds into that industry. So we must take into account what has already been invested in the port and not what might be saved. Balancing in that way produces a deficit rather than profit.

The pro-Marketeers—I am not one—should bear in mind that it is Community policy that ports should be used as a regional development point and that ports are expanded perhaps not on a profitable basis but as part of that regional development. There is much sense in that argument.

Mr. S. James A. Hill (Southampton, Test)

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the Community is actually asking that ports should not be subsidised? Consequently, does that not answer his point?

Mr. Prescott

I am glad the hon. Gentleman has mentioned that point. I do not think he has looked deeply into what the Community has said concerning ports. EEC countries, having spent millions of pounds subsidising their ports, such as Le Havre—and the hon. Member should know the ports which are in competition with Southampton—now saying "We want to end subsidies;" when for years we have said that the ports should be profitable and not subsidised. All the modern investment in the continental ports will eventually be to the disadvantage of this country, which will have a deficiency of modern investment in its ports and will have to accept the new European policy of no subsidies for the ports.

The consultants' reports says that there will be a capital saving on shipping alone of about £100 million. When one goes into the detail of what that means the assumptions again become all-important. The consultants estimate that 46 more ships will be required by 1980 if there is no tunnel. The shipping industry estimates that we shall need 25 more ships but of a larger type. That number can be disputed, but the important point is that the more ships estimated as being needed by 1980 which will be saved by building the tunnel, the more that can be put down as the capital cost that will be saved on the profit and loss account. That is something which needs more substantial investigation than has been done b' the consultants.

The capital savings would not be so great. The cost of the 63 ships that apparently would be saved by 1990 represents a saving of capital cost with operating costs of about £150 million. That sounds fine; but why is no wider investigation made into it?

Ships are built, in the main, in shipyards in the underdeveloped areas, and the consequence of denying a shipyard the opportunity to build a ship denies work not only to the shipyard but to the regions and the areas supplying the shipping industry.

That is the multiplying effect, in the phraseology of the economists.

The consultants say that there is no maintenance cost with a tunnel, so that again is a saving. But that maintenance cost, interpreted in terms of jobs, money, work, or regional development, is an important factor which would avoid the necessity of pouring money into the regions—and the Government are always proudly telling us how much money is being poured into the regions.

The point I hope I have made is that the social consequences of investment of this kind need greater analysis than has been done so far. The British Rail argument that £268 million will give a return of 14 per cent. has not been supported by any sound evidence from Members who profess to have strong railway interests.

Shipping, ports and hovercraft form 5 per cent. of British Rail's assets, 5 per cent. of its turnover and 13 per cent. of its profits. The profitable sector will be cut out by this development. We must consider—and I think the consultants have not done so—the effects of cutting out the profitable Channel shipping. British Rail does not make profits on Irish Sea traffic because of the troubles and other reasons. Ferries have to be maintained in unprofitable areas. At the moment there is cross-subsidisation. If the British Rail channel sector is to be ended, the State, or British Rail, will have to step in and subsidise the other areas—which is another deficit cost which should be added to the total.

There is not sufficient detailed data on the points I have mentioned. The social consequences have not been fully taken into account, and I hope that something will be done to remedy the situation before the next stage is reached.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris

There is not very much time left and quite a number of hon. Members wish to speak. Therefore, I hope speeches will be as short as possible.

5.55 p.m.

Sir John Rodgers (Sevenoaks)

I hope I shall not be accused of insularity if I say that I have the greatest misgivings about both the Bill and the project. It is not the magnitude of the project that worries me. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said, we are a country that should, and can, look at big projects such as Maplin, Concorde and the Channel Tunnel. It is the scheme that worries me.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Adam Butler) said, the main justification for the tunnel would be if it would switch freight and passenger traffic from the road to rail. My hon. Friend went on to say that British Railways are likely to benefit from a tunnel because it would give them a through route to the continental railway network, not just to Paris.

Speaking as a Kent Member, I want a rail through-route for Kent for this traffic. My criticism of the Bill is that the Cheriton project will attract more cars; more lorries will come through to Cheriton on the way to the Continent. When they come from the Continent to England they will disgorge at Cheriton and come tearing through the roads of Kent. The traffic will use not just the M20 and the A2 but all the small roads, looking for less crowded roads. Already the villages in Kent are suffering enormous social damage through these juggernauts chasing up and down, causing danger and hazarding life itself.

In view of the last debate we had on this subject, I had hoped that my right hon. Friend the Minister and his colleague would have given consideration to the doubts that were expressed about the social cost of the project. That is what worries us, not the money so much as why the Government feel they must produce the Bill just a few days after it was debated in the House when there were few speeches in favour of it.

I do not believe that the Minister's heart is in the Bill. I believe he has been pressured into going ahead with it. Promises were made to the French Government a long time ago that we would go ahead with it without any debate here. He now has to carry the can and produce a Bill which has not been properly thought out.

Earlier in the debate one of my hon. Friends said that the people of Kent were right to ask for a public inquiry. Why is it that the Government in this viable proposition—they say that it will be profitable—will not allow private enterprise to undertake the financing of the project, as in the search for and production of North Sea oil and gas? I see no reason why the Government should put the taxpayers' money into this.

I query the Minister's remark in an intervention that at any time the project can be abandoned. I may be wrong, but I thought that the abandonment could take place only up to the end of 1975. If we went beyond that point we could not revoke. I may be wrong and would like clarification

I should like an itemised budget to be drawn up showing what the £35 million covers. I know that it covers studies, surveys, trials, experimental work, and so on. I should like to see all that itemised so that we could see how the £35 million is made up.

1 have doubts about the Channel Tunnel, although I am not opposed to it. I have doubts about the siting of Cheriton. I should have liked to see detailed plans by British Railways before we went ahead with the project. I should have liked more time to be given to the social consequences and to allow more detailed studies to be made.

I shall have great difficulty in supporting the Government later this evening.

5.59 p.m.

Mr. David Stoddart (Swindon)

I am generally in favour of a Channel Tunnel, albeit a rail tunnel. I intended only to listen to the debate. However, I have been impressed by the arguments of my hon. Friends who cast doubts on the ability of the construction industry and the materials industry to do many things at one time.

This project is being brought forward by the Department of the Environment. That Department also brought forward the Maplin project, which may never go ahead, although if the Government have their way it will. On Tuesday last we debated another service administered by the Department of the Environment, namely, housing. During that debate it became obvious that in many parts of the country there was a shortage not only of money for housing but of manpower and materials

The Department of the Environment is responsible for environmental questions and housing and for building tunnels and airports, yet there seems to be no coordination. I wonder whether the Department and the Government have set out their priorities properly. Clearly, we have neither the physical nor the monetary capacity to do all these projects at the same time. The people will have to decide whether we should solve the housing problem or whether we should develop Maplin or the Channel Tunnel. That is an important matter which I hope the Department and the Government will take into account.

I am well aware, because I represent a railway constituency, that the British Railways Board is in general in favour of the present proposals. It would support the rolling road. But I am not sure that it is right. British Rail has an inferiority complex which it has had for a long time. It says that if it cannot get the best, which is a rail-only tunnel carrying goods from centre to centre, then it will make do with second best. Because it thinks it will get some spin-off from the operation of a Channel Tunnel it will support it.

That is the key to British Rail's attitude. In the interests of British Rail, and of the environment of the South-East, it should say, "We believe that we can carry this traffic. We do not need a large terminal at Cheriton. We can do the job from centre to centre if you will only give us the opportunity to do it", but because of its inferiority complex, and because it has been hammered round the ring for so many year, it does not come forward with its solution.

We are told that the terminal at Cheriton will not have any big impact on the region. But it is bound to have an impact on the region from the point of view not only of motor traffic but of services and industry which will be attracted to the area. Once the pressure is on it will be irresistible. No business will operate in the North or the South-West, with the consequential transport costs, if it can operate near the terminal. There will be pressure for a further build-up of population in the South-East; make no mistake about that. I am against it because it will affect my constituency, and I do not want it to affect my constituency. It will draw to Cheriton firms which would otherwise go to Swindon. I do not want that.

I have a further reason for supporting a rail-only tunnel, namely, that in Swindon we repair, and manufacture a certain number of, wagons, and have facilities for the manufacture of railway engines. Until recently it was almost certain that Swindon railway workshops would close. Now they have been saved, at least for the time being. I believe that if we have a rail-only tunnel British Rail have the potential to provide the wagons, carriages and locomotives necessary to afford a good service which would be beneficial in financial and comfort terms to passengers and from the environment point of view as well. We have that capacity, and I want it used.

That is why I support the tunnel. But I hope that the Government will take into account all the questions raised—the financial aspect, the ability of the country to carry on so many projects at the same time, the effect on the housing situation, and all the other aspects mentioned—before they proceed further. That is why I shall support my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Lobby this evening.

6.6 p.m.

Mr. Richard Hornby (Tonbridge)

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary took pains at the start of the debate to make it clear that this did not represent the final decision on the Channel Tunnel, but rather an opportunity for providing funds for further study of its operation and construction. Nevertheless, we should not be tempted into taking this step too lightly. Experience on many other matters suggests that, although proper research is necessary in any pro- ject of this size, with each step taken it becomes that much more likely that the stage is reached at which people say "We cannot turn back at this stage." Although there is much to recommend the tunnel, at this stage there are aspects of the Government's case as represented in the White Paper which still need a great deal of further study.

However it is done, this project will cause a great deal of damage to the environment of certain parts of Kent. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson) said at the beginning of the debate that it is one of the key functions of the House that grievances must be remedied before Supply is granted.

Nothing that has been said by the county council or by hon. Members representing county constituencies denies the fact that Kent recognises that it cannot escape, nor does it seek to escape, from its own geographical situation. But cross-Channel traffic through the county is increasing, and will continue to increase, and that, in addition to profit and advantage for certain commercial interests, and so on, means damage to the environment of the county from the motor car, the tourist trade and the juggernaut lorry, whether or not the tunnel plan goes forward.

The question is how that traffic can grow in such a way as best to serve the national economic interest and at the same time do the least damage to the environment of the county through which so much of it will pass. On a number of aspects the Government's existing proposals require further study, and I ask my right hon. Friend that the funds made available through the Bill should be devoted to further study of the matters I shall now raise.

The prospect for Kent, unless changes are made, is of an excessive expansion of road traffic in addition to the damage that will be caused by the tunnel if it is constructed. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers) said, Cheriton, under present arrangements, will generate its own traffic. The tourist trade is not sufficient reason for the destruction of the garden of England, and the livelihood and homes of a great many people in the area. The tourist trade can be a great benefit to Britain, but unless properly controlled it can also be a monster. It deserves to be seen in this way.

The first point I wish to make—and I hope that there will be further studies—is that there should be an examination of the rail-only link. This would go a long way to deal with the point in regard to Cheriton. The British Road Federation argues that consumer preference for the motor car would make a rail-only link less commercially viable. Consumer preference, although important, is not necessarily the dominant interest in an issue of this kind. Studies have not gone far enough to suggest what either consumer reaction or British Rail arrangements would be. We shall receive this sort of information only if the rail-only link study is further pursued.

Secondly, for environmental reasons, I wholeheartedly support the case for positive tariff discrimination in favour of rail as opposed to road traffic.

Thirdly, I believe there should be more detailed studies by British Railways, and they need to be examined in terms of British Railways' proposals in seeking to attract additional freight traffic. British Railways' commercial record on freight has not been sufficiently good for them to be taken at their face value without a great many additional questions about whether they are doing their job properly. This must be seen against the background of juggernauts and similar heavy traffic whose volume we want to see limited.

Fourthly, we need—this applies particularly to my constituency—more information about the methods proposed for dealing with the noise generated by high-speed trains. Tonbridge as a town stands on the route of this railway line, and we need much more information on this aspect.

Fifthly, if road traffic should increase as a result of the Cheriton terminal, Kent will need substantial additional grants from central funds to cope with the additional road programme which will be required in surrounding areas. It is not good enough to say that in the national interest the citizens of Kent must see their landscape despoiled and that at the same time they should be required to pay the rate bill for the despoliation. So far, too little has been done by central Government to give any indication to the Kent County Council that the Government care a rap about this matter. The face of economic progress is beginning to look just a little ugly to many people in Kent. Rightly they will ask "Is it worth it—is the cost justifiable in environmental terms?" Unless a satisfactory answer can be given to those people and to the House, we shall need to think again on this project.

6.13 p.m.

Mr. S. James A. Hill (Southampton, Test)

We are all agreed that there is a great amount of sympathy for those who are affected by the plan to build a Channel Tunnel. However, I must say to all those hon. Members now present—at least those who have bothered to attend; and one does not see many Liberals present, although they have been making a furore in the Kent area on this issue—that we are tonight dealing with one of the most important transport policy decisions on which this House will ever have to vote.

This legislation is all part of the transport infrastructure of Europe. It does not stop on the French coast but goes right through the Community. Indeed, in future it will reach into Asia Minor and even right the way through to India. These are the sort of policy decisions which face us tonight. We have all heard about the bridge over the Bosphorus, which has become an accepted achievement. Surveys have been, and are being, undertaken throughout the Community on the great traffic barriers of Europe. I refer to the Straits of Denmark, the Messina Straits, and others. We know that there are tunnels running between Denmark and Sweden and now, at long last, we are about to make a decision tonight which will lead to the establishment of a Channel Tunnel.

We must regard the Channel as a dangerous traffic barrier economically and socially. If we do not make the right decision, we shall put at a disadvantage our exporters, our freight hauliers, our nationalised railways, and everybody who wants to take an interest in the Community. This is what will happen if hon. Members take a wrong decision this evening.

One important question that has been asked in this debate is whether this is the right time to spend this amount of money. With a project of this size, there is never a right time at which to spend money. If we are to spend our money in the right way and to cut our cloth accordingly, perhaps we should look again at Maplin. That is my personal view, but probably it will go unheeded.

The Commission in Brussels is most concerned about the Channel Tunnel. The latest report emanating from the Community dated 24th October, suggests that more consultation is needed on this important part of Europe's transport infrastructure. We see from the White Paper that in 1980, 28 per cent. of the containers that would have passed through Southampton will go via the Channel Tunnel. It might be said that this will be an event which will go against the interests of my constituency, but we are at our wit's end at present to deal with the container traffic from the Midlands and the North which goes across the Channel through Southampton or on to the international steamship lines. Consequently, we look forward to the fact that the Channel Tunnel will take some of the pressure off my constituency, whose roads are ill-prepared for any increase in container traffic. This matter can be reviewed under the next Conservative Government, so that the Minister will be able to take the right decision in terms of motorways from the Midlands.

Before hon. Members embark on this vital decision I wish to draw the attention of the House to paragraph 13.6 of the White Paper, which says this in terms of the next step we must take: Britain cannot be economically and socially isolated from the Continent. We must bear this in mind when we vote this evening.

6.18 p.m.

Mr. Guy Barnett (Greenwich)

On one point at least I can agree with the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. S. James A. Hill)—that the House has before it a major transport decision. There are several things we have to learn—and it looks as though they have not yet been learned by the Government in taking this decision.

The first lesson to be learned is that transport projects inevitably create their own demand. If this project is to include roll-on roll-off arrangements, we can be certain that this will lead to a vast increase in tourist traffic in South-East England and also in the number of juggernauts coming into Britain via the South-East. Apart from that, we have to be prepared for a considerable increase in the building of warehouses for goods brought in by the juggernauts which will use the Channel Tunnel. I am very concerned about this matter, because in my constituency a number of warehouses have already been acquired to cater for the goods coming in via juggernaut lorries and, as one of the consequences of building this tunnel and the provision of roll-on roll-off facilities, I foresee a considerable increase in the number of warehouses that will appear in South-East London. I am further concerned about this matter, because the exit for lorries from the tunnel will be by the M20, which will bring a lot of lorries towards South-East London where, inevitably, large warehousing facilities will be required. South-East London is a large residential area, and the environment is polluted enough by the traffic which affects people in their daily lives, but it seems to me that in the plans which the Minister has put before us there is little or no provision for dealing with these environmental problems. In any decision we take we must bear in mind the fact that the consequences will go far beyond the immediate region in which the project is sited.

Other hon. Members, representing Swindon, the Midlands and Hull, have referred to the consequences for their constituencies. I do not see any overall appreciation of the consequences of this proposal for the economy of the country as a whole, and this gives me great cause for concern. After years of motorway building, and after the consequences which we have seen arise—some of them unexpected—I should have thought that the Department of the Environment would at least be seized of the fact that a major transport decision of this kind is bound to have considerable consequences some distance away from the project itself. I foresee grave environmental damage both to Kent and to residential constituencies in South London, and I am exceedingly worried about it.

I echo the words uttered by the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby). I know his constituency well and I understand the reasons why he must be concerned about the consequences of this decision for his constituency. Although analyses and a rather sketchy study have been made about the environment and about the economic consequences for the county of Kent, there appears to be no appreciation of the effects of this project on the country as a whole. Above all, the tunnel does not appear to be seen as part of a transport plan for Britain, including road and rail. The time for such a plan is surely overdue.

Other speakers have been right to emphasise the degree to which the resources of South-East England are likely to be affected as a consequence of the building of the tunnel. In constituencies such as my own, with grave housing shortages and inadequate roads, there seems to be a need for an overall plan to measure the degree to which it is sensible to commit resources to this project. I am almost certain that any such analysis would suggest the need to postpone this project until much more socially desirable schemes have been undertaken. I am therefore opposed to this project as it stands, and strongly opposed to the roll-on, roll-off facilities, because of the damage that is likely to be done to the environment of South-East England and South-East London.

6.25 p.m.

Mr. Peter Rees (Dover)

Because of the short time available to me, I hope that the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Guy Barnett) will forgive me if I do not follow all of what he said, and limit myself to one point which is of importance to my constituency. If we give this Bill a Second Reading tonight it is likely that work will start quite soon in my constituency and in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain). If the Government proceed to the next and final stages it is likely that work will continue for five or six years. The work will be carried out at the Shakespeare Cliff, next to Dover, and at Cheriton, but however well organised it is—and I have no doubt that it will be very well organised—there are bound to be some unattractive side effects for those who live nearby. There will be the movement of men, machinery and materials, the problem of housing people who are working on the site and, finally and inevitably, the problem of noise. All of these side effects will be felt primarily by residents in my constituency, on the Aycliffe estate and around Cheriton.

My right hon. Friend the Minister who will make the concluding speech, has been very sensitive to the needs of those of us who represent Kentish constituencies, but, inevitably with a long project, there will be all sorts of both small and large points of irritation and hardship to those living around. I therefore put it to him as a modest proposal that if an ad hoc committee could be formed, on which his Department, local authorities, local interests and the contractors were represented, it would be possible to deal expeditiously with points as they arise and even to anticipate the kind of problems that might arise. This is a very modest and practical proposal, which I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to accept tonight, and it will reassure my constituents that their interests will be safeguarded while this great project proceeds.

6.28 p.m.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

I do not want to repeat anything that I have already said, and I shall speak with great delicacy because of the kindness shown to me by my right hon. Friend when I spoke in the last debate. When I went back to my constituency the following day, I was not exactly welcomed as a hero who had spoken up for Kent. I had spoken up for Kent because I was concerned, as all Kent Members are, with the attack on our environment. I am still concerned that there will be a great environmental impact on Kent, even in the first stage, when there is limited expenditure on tunnel exploration. The only point I want to make today is that I hope the Government will go out of their way to take such steps as are necessary to protect against the impact of this initial stage on the people of Kent. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Peter Rees) did not mention the question of spoil, which will be a very serious matter. Although the White Paper speaks of using the spoil to level out the ground at Cheriton, I hope that we can be given some assurances about the effects of this. When a quarry is being excavated there are problems of long lanes and roads. I hope that this very important detail will not be overlooked.

There is one other matter which I must mention, because it does not seem to be properly covered in the Bill. There is nothing in the Bill to say what the Government, their contractors, and all those involved in the building of the first stage, will do if the project does not go ahead. I do not want it to be left as an eyesore which may cause people to say, "That is where they began to dig the Channel Tunnel in 1974. Come and see it. Is it not interesting?" I should not like a folly like that to be left—not that I think the tunnel itself is a folly, but I should like a positive assurance that money will be provided for tidying up if the project should be abandoned.

In checking back in the White Paper, I see that it is suggested that, depending on the materials available and the studies which are to be made by the engineers concerned, the tunnel will be lined with steel, cast iron or concrete. I hope it will not be concrete, because concrete will require aggregate and, to be economic, aggregate cannot be brought a great distance—usually not more than 25 miles. That means that aggregate would have to be dug from new quarries in Kent. This would be an absolutely horrific addition to the problem of building the tunnel. Therefore, I hope my right hon. Friend will bear in mind that it would be preferable to line the tunnel not with concrete but with steel or cast iron.

6.31 p.m.

Mr. Ernest G. Perry (Battersea, South)

I thank you for calling me, Mr. Speaker. I hope that the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) will excuse me for not following his remarks, but I have one constituency point to raise.

As hon. Members know, I represent Battersea, South, in which is situated the main railway link from Clapham Junction to East Croydon. In view of the pressure now put on Wandsworth Common for a certain purpose, I should like the Minister to tell me whether the land at the side of the present track will be adequate for the two extra tracks. It seems to me that there is enough room for two extra tracks if they are put on either side of the present four tracks. If the right hon. Gentleman can assure me that he will look into this point thoroughly before he allows the British Railways Board to make a decision I shall be happy, and so will my constituents.

6.32 p.m.

The Minister for Transport Industries (Mr. John Peyton)

Before I attempt to answer the detailed points which have been raised in this debate I should like to make four or five points by way of introduction.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) is not here at the moment. She dubbed this as my tunnel. With due humility, I must admit that it is not my tunnel. Quite a lot of people have had a part in the parentage of this project. Among them are many members of the previous administration. The right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) was herself largely responsible for many of the arrangements which underlie the project today. Those for which I am responsible can be said to have been developed directly from what she very wisely did with, I may say, all the help and encouragement that could be given to her by the right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the Opposition. As a Minister, I do not find it necessary to look for reasons for overturning everything that our predecessors did, but what I find slightly strange is that they should so readily disavow any responsibility for the arrangements.

We have been frequently questioned on the need for guarantees. The reasons are the same as when hon. Members opposite were in office, namely, that very large sums are involved. It would be cheaper to raise the money backed by Government guarantee and, of course, as a result of the guarantees the Government are given a very large share in the profits, and end up as the eventual owners. That seems to be a not unsound idea.

I say to the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) that if all the ideas of his administration were on that level hon. Members opposite might still be in office, because they seem to me to be redolent of common sense and perception. These are not always virtues which we associate with Labour Governments.

Sir John Rodgers

Will my right hon. Friend tell us exactly how this project differs from North Sea oil and gas?

Mr. Peyton

I do not think it would be particularly helpful if I were to go into a long dissertation distinguishing the Channel Tunnel from North Sea exploration. What I have done is to set out the history of what seemed to me to be very good reasons for the guarantee, and I hope my hon. Friend will accept, with me, that for once the party opposite was not wholly misguided when in government.

I suggest that in considering this major project hon. Members might have in mind the fact that it is not always possible to go back to the beginning and make a fresh start. Certainly this is endemic in many speeches which we have heard on the project, and it seems to be very much a feature of life in this country today to want to go back and have another look at things. It makes the business of decision almost impossible, and it makes a habit of putting off decisions indefinitely with, I think, little profit or gain to our country.

Those who have opposed the Channel Tunnel have made very little, if any, reference to the growing traffic in the South-East which has to be dealt with. Some hon. Members would prefer to deal with it in other ways, but no one should ignore the fact that this traffic has grown at a horrifying rate and will continue to do so, and we have got to make arrangements to cope with it. What we are seeking to do, and what the Government, along with those who are responsible for the project, believe we should do, is to adopt the most efficient and convenient and the least damaging means.

May I say particularly to the hon. Member for Wolverhamption, North-East—I mention this aspect last, although it is not the least important—that this project has the prospect of being very profitable. Surely that has some advantages, even from her point of view. Without profitable projects, how can the other desirable things to which she referred so eloquently be financed? I also hope the House will bear in mind what one or two hon. Members have mentioned, namely, that this scheme should be a source of substantial benefit to British Railways.

I hope I have answered the point raised by the right hon. Member for Sheffield Park, about guarantees. I was under the impression that I had dealt with this in the previous debate; I apologise if I did not do so. Let me make it clear that the £120 million for financing the new link from the coast to London will be provided by means of a loan from the National Loans Fund to British Railways, and I stress that it will not be part of British Railways' normal investment programme at all. It will be quite separate from it and in addition to it.

Mr. Mulley

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for making that clear. I must, however, modify a little my enthusiasm for it, because I had hoped and understood that it might have been a grant. I understand now that it will be an additional debt for British Railways to service, and this is worrying. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to reconsider this aspect of the matter.

Mr. Peyton

I think the right hon. Gentleman would have been exceedingly surprised if it had been a grant. It would have been a new break in customs under any administration. I am sure that I would have to search history very hard to find any record of such generosity under the previous Government.

The right hon. Gentleman also asked about rolling stock. Detailed arrangements are being made with railways all over the Continent for British rolling stock to have free access. On the return journey continental rolling stock, which is of different loading gauge from our own facilities, will be provided, by means of a new link, with free and unimpeded access to White City. After that it will have to comply with the physical conditions of the British system. There is no question of British Rail's being obliged, at huge financial cost, to undertake works to accommodate continental rolling stock all over our system.

I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson) has cogent reasons for disliking the tunnel. I am writing to him about many of the detailed points he raised. He said that this is a case of nineteenth century technology. I challenge him on that. It is, in fact, updated and not outdated technology.

My hon. Friend said that we were committed by this Bill to the whole expenditure, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate). We are not committed any further than we say. I accept that there will be added commitments the further we go down the road. At any time—and this is the answer to one question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers)—any party to the project is free to abandon it. The terms of abandonment have been arranged so that the loss is divided equally between the two Governments.

My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South went on to express concern about the railway line going through his constituency. I accept what he says and sympathise with him about the danger of planning blight, but it would have been wrong, and greatly resented by the House, for British Rail to have undertaken extensive examination works at least until Parliament had approved the project in principle. We have this approval, and I have been engaged in discussions with British Rail. British Rail will undertake urgent examination of alternative routes and make its plans public as early as possible, with a view to having them enshrined in an Act of Parliament. A great deal more detail is needed both by British Rail and, I accept, by my hon. Friend's constituents. He asked about the speed at which trains could be driven underground. The answer is that there will be a 100 m.p.h. maximum speed limit in the tunnel. I recognise that the railway line is a great problem for his constituents and for those of other hon. Members whose constituencies it will pass through, but I assure the House and my hon. Friend that these matters will be considered with care and sympathy.

The hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Tomney) asked about compensation. Now that the 1973 Act is available, much more generous terms can be offered. I assure him that the greatest care will be taken by British Rail, my Department and me to see that inconvenience and hardship are avoided wherever possible.

My hon. Friend the Member for Faversham referred to the cost. The esti- mates are the best and most up-to-date ones that we can make. They take account of both interest charges during the construction period and inflation. He, like others, argued for a railway-only tunnel. British Rail, which has not canvassed a rail-only tunnel, recognises that there are great advantages to it from the proposed project. A railway-only tunnel would cost 30 per cent. less and the operating costs would be less, but, so, too, would the traffic and the profits be very much less and would start later. Worst of all, we should still be left with the problem of having to cater for the immense growth of traffic. As my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham admitted to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Peter Rees), there is still an acute and growing traffic problem in Dover and Folkestone.

If the Government were to make a lot of money, as my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham suggested, my only answer is that it would be very agreeable, and I have no doubt that many hon. Members, and even right hon. Members, would have an agreeable time deciding what to do with it. When my hon. Friend advocated a Government-owned railway-only tunnel I thought the sound of his voice must be coming to me by echo from the other side of the House.

The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) is to be congratulated on being remarkably consistent. He has been an implacable opponent of a bored rail tunnel under the Channel during the period of both administrations and, as such, he has been unique. Most of the opponents of the tunnel have been gained with a change of Government. Labour Members who were willing to support it before have conveniently forgotten that fact. I was not sure whether the hon. Gentleman was complaining that the tunnel would be under Government influence, if not Government control, but with a project of this importance it is almost inevitable that the Government should have a major influence.

The intention is that the tunnel should be commercially operated. The hon. Gentleman has frequently suggested that there should be not a bored tunnel but a bridge.

Mr. Sheldon


Mr. Peyton

I am sorry if I have misinterpreted the hon. Gentleman. He has said that insufficient examination has been made of alternatives. Such detailed examination is enormously expensive and is a long drawn-out process. All those who are engaged in the present project are united in believing that it is the best, the most efficient and the most economic.

Before too many condemnatory opinions are expressed about engineering capabilities and techniques, we might all recognise that RTZ is not unknown in this field. It has a distinguished record and its judgment is entitled to be respected by the House. That such a firm is involved in the project is a source of confidence to me.

I repeat to my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) what I have said previously—that expenditure on the infrastructure in the North-East compares very favourably with that in any other part of the country, and I will be glad to give any supporting figures he asks for.

In the time of the previous Conservative Government, Lord Hailsham went to the North-East and laid the foundations for a considerable road programme, which has brought in its wake a magnificent increase in industrial development. I am sure that my right hon. Friend would not wish to ignore that. I can give him at least one figure now. Taking together trunk and motorway schemes which have been opened since 1970, those currently under construction and those in planning, the total investment in the Northern Region will amount to £234 million—a very substantial sum.

Sir Robin Turton

Although that road programme was started under Lord Hailsham, the motorway from Teesside to the A1 link has not yet been completed, and we have been waiting for it for seven years.

Mr. Peyton

My right hon. Friend must know that great progress has been made in the North-East, and that it will continue to be made. He knows what the plans are, and if he is anxious for further information I shall be happy to supply it.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley (Middlesbrough, East)

On three occasions I have listened to the Minister saying how well the North-East has been treated. Does not he agree that under successive Gov- ernments the North-East has been neglected and that although it is now doing better, it is not doing as well as it should be doing?

Mr. Peyton

No area, in the eyes of those who represent it, is ever doing as well as it should be doing. I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman says about past arrears regarding development in the North-East, but great progress is now being made there.

I turn now to some of the points made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East. At the beginning of my speech, I pointed out that this project can hardly be described as "my" tunnel. I would be very happy if anyone gave the tunnel to me as a present, but I do not believe that the bounty of even the hon. Lady is capable of such munificent action.

Mrs. Renée Short

It is Peyton's tunnel.

Mr. Peyton

The hon. Lady also commented on the inadequacy of road links between the Midlands and East Coast ports. The A45 is currently being comprehensively improved. Only when this Government came into office was there a firm commitment to and a recognition of the need to provide adequate roads connecting the ports with the industrial areas, and we are making substantial progress in this respect

The point that the hon. Lady raised about aggregate is genuine and important. A large part of the tunnel would be lined with concrete. This point is dealt with in paragraph 9.9 of die White Paper, which the hon. Lady has doubtless read, and that is why she so wisely made the point.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Adam Butler) made a speech with which I totally agree. I hope my remarks do not embarrass him, but he made an excellent, sensible speech. He alone made the point that the costs of alternative schemes would be higher, as would the risk. He asked whether some of the money with which we are now concerned would be devoted to thorough surveys. Whatever else the project may have suffered from, it has not suffered from a lack of thorough and lengthy surveys. I can assure my hon. Friend that the surveys which are now needed, covering, for instance, the marketing of railway services, could not have been done until now. I am grateful for his acknowledgement that the railways stand to gain from improved communications.

I also entirely agree with my hon. Friend's view that the advocates of a rail-only tunnel ignore the facts of life. He reminded the House—and this needs to be said from time to time—that people who own cars have, oddly enough, a strong wish to use them.

My hon. Friend also asked about the speeding up of the final operation. The more thorough the preparatory work, the more reliable will be the programme of construction, if and when it is undertaken.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) advocated, with his customary eloquence, that we should check up on the consultants. That is a very good recipe for doing nothing, because we checkup on the checkers-up, and the process is endless.

I have already dealt with the abandonment point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks. The details of the budget of phase 2 will in due course be published.

I understand the anxieties expressed by the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Guy Barnett), which seem to be general throughout the country, but he did not apply his considerable intelligence to the question of what he would do with the existing traffic problem in the South-East, which is becoming terrible.

I do not think that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover will challenge the fact that I have always been conscious that many points of irritation are likely to arise in the course of so complicated and long drawn out a project. I hope I can convince him that I will spare no pains to see that these points of irritation are dealt with promptly and removed.

My hon. and learned Friend suggested that some sort of committee should be set up. I would prefer to avoid any too formal arrangement. I have already got

satisfactory informal arrangements with Kent and Surrey county councils from the point of view of the railways and I have also undertaken to go down there at regular intervals and hold a special meeting, at part of which at any rate members of the public could perhaps be admitted and anyone would be free to ask questions. I am determined to establish as well as I can arrangements which make sure that people's grievances and causes of anxiety are removed as quickly as possible wherever possible.

The answer to the question put by the hon. Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Ernest G. Perry) is, "Yes". I am assured by the railways that there is enough land but I would like to confirm it more formally when the railways take a detailed look at the matter. I can certainly assure him that the railways will study the matter very carefully, although quickly.

I am dreadfully sorry that when my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury went home after his splendid speech last time he was not welcomed as a hero. This fate, unhappily, befalls Members of Parliament from time to time. They are not always as well and generously reminded as they wish of the good deeds they perform. It is the errors and omissions of which our constituents are so disagreeably conscious all too often, and I am sorry that my hon. Friend, who is so distinguished a man, should have been treated like them on this occasion.

But if I may say so, my hon. Friend has really been looking backward. Here he has found himself tortured with the nightmare that at the end of the day, when the project had all fallen to pieces, somebody would leave the relics on the South Coast and no-one would go down there with a dustpan and brush to clear them up. I assure him that if no one else will, I will.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes, 176, Noes, 125.

Division No. 4.] AYES 7.0 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Awdry, Daniel Biggs-Davison, John
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Blaker, Peter
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Boscawen, Hn. Robert
Astor, John Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Braine, Sir Bernard
Atkins, Humphrey Benyon, W. Bray, Ronald
Bryan, Sir Paul Havers, Sir Michael Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M) Hicks, Robert Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Higgins, Terence L. Raison, Timothy
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn) Hill, S. James A. (Southampton, Test) Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Carlisle, Mark Holland, Philip Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Hordern, Peter Ridsdale, Julian
Channon, Paul Hornby, Richard Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Chapman, Sydney Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Howell, David (Guildford) Rost, Peter
Chichester-Clark, R. Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Royle, Anthony
Churchill, W. S. Hunt, John St. John-Stevas, Norman
Clegg, Walter Jenkin, Rt. Hn. Patrick (Woodford) Scott, Nicholas
Cooke, Robert Johnson Smith G. (E. Grinstead) Scott-Hopkins, James
Coombs, Derek Joplin, Michael Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Cooper, A. E. Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Shelton, William (Clapham)
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Kershaw, Anthony Simeons, Charles
Costain, A. P. Kimball, Marcus Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Critchley, Julian King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Speed, Keith
Crouch, David Kinsey, J. R. Sproat, Iain
Dean, Paul Kirk, Peter Stainton, Keith
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Lamont, Norman Stanbrook, Ivor
Digby, Simon Wingfield Langford-Holt, Sir John Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Le Marchant, Spencer Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Drayson, G. B. Longden, Sir Gilbert Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Loveridge, John Tapsell, Peter
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Luce, R. N. Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) McCrindle, R. A. Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) McLaren, Martin Tebbit, Norman
Emery, Peter Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham) Temple, John M.
Eyre, Reginald McNair-Wilson, Michael Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Fell, Anthony McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Mather, Carol Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Fidler, Michael Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Tugendhat, Christopher
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. van Straubenzee, W. R.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Meyer, Sir Anthony Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Fookes, Miss Janet Miscampbell, Norman Waddington, David
Foster, Sir John Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Fowler, Norman Money, Ernle Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Gardner, Edward Monro, Hector Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Gibson-Watt, David Montgomery, Fergus Ward, Dame Irene
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Warren, Kenneth
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Neave, Airey Weatherill, Bernard
Goodhart, Philip Normanton, Tom White, Roger (Gravesend)
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Nott, John Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Gray, Hamish Onslow, Cranley Wilkinson, John
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Winterton, Nicholas
Grylls, Michael Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Gummer, J. Selwyn Osborn, John Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Gurden, Harold Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Younger, Hn. George
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Peel, Sir John
Hannam, John (Exeter) Percival, Ian TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Haselhurst, Alan Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Mr. Paul Hawkins and
Hastings, Stephen Price, David (Eastleigh) Mr. Marcus Fox.
Abse, Leo Dunn, James A. Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Ellis, Tom Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Kaufman, Gerald
Ashton, Joe Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood) Kelley, Richard
Atkinson, Norman Fraser, John (Norwood) Kerr, Russell
Austick, David Freud, Clement Kinnock, Neil
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Gilbert, Dr. John Lamborn, Harry
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Lawson, George
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Golding, John Leonard, Dick
Bishop, E. S. Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Lestor, Miss Joan
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Lipton, Marcus
Booth, Albert Hamling, William Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Hardy, Peter McBride, Neil
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Harper, Joseph Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mayhew, Christopher
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Hatton, F. Meacher, Michael
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Heffer, Eric S. Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Coleman, Donald Hooson, Emlyn Mikardo, Ian
Concannon, J. D. Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Milne, Edward
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Janner, Greville Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mudd, David
Davidson, Arthur Jeger, Mrs. Lena Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Oakes, Gordon
Deakins, Eric John, Brynmor Oram, Bert
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Orbach, Maurice
Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Orme, Stanley Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Torney, Tom
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.) Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Padley, Walter Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Urwin, T. W.
Paget, R. T. Silverman, Julius Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Pavitt, Laurie Skinner, Dennis Wallace, George
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Stallard, A. W. Watkins, David
Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Steel, David Weitzman, David
Prescott, John Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham) Whitlock, William
Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Stoddart, David (Swindon) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Richard, Ivor Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Brc'n & R'dnor) Sutcliffe, John Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Taverne, Dick
Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Roper, John Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy Mr. James Hamilton and
Rose, Paul B. Tomney, Frank Mr. Ernest G. Perry.
Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) Tope, Graham

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Clegg.]

Committee tomorrow.