HC Deb 01 April 1981 vol 2 cc543-63
Mr. Charles R. Morris

I beg to move amendment No. 67, in page 54, line 38, leave out from beginning to end of line 38 on page 56 and insert: The privilege conferred by section 64(1) can be waived by the Post Office with the consent of, or in accordance with a general authority given by, the Secretary of State, and is not infringed by section 3(2) of the 1953 Act.".

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

With this, it will be convenient to take the following amendments:

No. 69 in page 57, line 31, leave out clause 67.

No. 91, in schedule 6, page 125, line 21, column 3 leave out "3" and insert "3(1), 3(3) and 3(4)".

Mr. Morris

This series of amendments deals with delegations from the postal monopoly. Before dealing with the individual amendments as such, it might be helpful if I dealt generally with the breach of the postal monopoly, as envisaged by the Government in the Bill.

It is incumbent on me to remind the House that the postal monopoly has existed for 300 years. Few if any other countries in the world have breached their postal monopolies in the way which is envisaged in the Bill. In breaching the monopoly, the Government are running counter to the advice of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries and to the considered view of the Carter committee, and are in opposition to the views of the board of the Post Office, the Post Office Users' National Council, the Council of Post Office Unions and the House. All those institutions and organisations are on record as being in favour of continuing the present postal monopoly. Because of political ideology or liberalisation—call it what you will—the Government are seeking to open up the postal monopoly. The losers in the long run will be the residents in rural areas, who will be sacrificed so that the postal pirates will survive.

One knows what will happen when the postal monopoly is breached. During the seven-week Post Office strike in 1972, an Old Etonian called Tony Randall established his own postal service, which was called Randall's private postal service. He charged 15s for a letter. What happened to those letters? One needs only to look at the headlines in the newspapers at that time, which emerged once Randall's private postal service got hold of the mail for delivery. The headlines in The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail at that time were: Private Postal Service in Chaos. 12.30 pm

What happened when the strike was over? An unmarked van arrived outside the post office in Bedford and unloaded a number of mailbags containing letters which had been entrusted to Randall's private postal service. The postmen who had been on strike for seven weeks found themselves after the strike having to deal with letters which had been accepted by Randall's private postal service.

Mr. Mikardo

And paid for.

Mr. Morris

And paid for by those who had entrusted their mail to that service.

The Minister may argue that that was an aberration and that the situation was difficult. It is interesting that the Secretary of State is taking powers to breach the Post Office postal monopoly at times of industrial difficulties. I cannot think of anything more calculated to exacerbate industrial relations between Post Office management and staff than for the Secretary of State to breach the postal monopoly.

If the Secretary of State breaches the postal monopoly the public will believe that letters sent via a private postal service will be guaranteed by the Government. That is what may happen as a result of these proposals.

I accept that there were difficulties in the Post Office in 1979. The traditional high standard of "day after" delivery had fallen appreciably. That is a fact. But one is obliged to ask: why did the quality and standard of postal services deteriorate in 1979? One has only to look at the history and the statistics in 1979. The London postal service was short of 10,000 staff. That situation precipitated the difficulties and was the harbinger of these proposals. I submit that there is no justification for any breaching of the postal monopoly as such.

There is one feature of any breach of the monopoly about which I am concerned. The effect of clause 65(1)(d) is to legalise the sending of letters abroad by international couriers. It is not clear why the Government accepted that addition as an amendment to the Bill in Committee.

The Government have already declared that they will use their powers to suspend the monopoly under clause 67 to allow couriers to convey time-sensitive and valuable mail provided that a minimum fee is paid. In Committee the Minister referred to a minimum of £1. I hope that that is maintained. If air courier services contract for a large volume of mail, I hope that they will not be allowed to provide those services for less than the minimum to which I have drawn attention. Derogations from the Post Office to international air couriers might precipitate difficulties with postal administrations in countries where derogations from the postal monopoly are not allowed.

I believe that any breach of the postal monopoly should be authorised by the Post Office and not by the Secretary of State.

My amendments seek to restore that power to the Post Office and deny it to the Secretary of State. This is a major issue relating to the provision of postal services to the community. I hope that the House will accept the amendments.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Rother Valley)

I shall endeavour to be brief. The House will be aware that I am interested in rural areas. Many hon. Members may associate my constituency with steel and coal, but it has within it many small villages, tiny hamlets and isolated dwellings. If my right hon. Friend's wise and sensible amendments are not accepted I fear that the rural areas of England, Scotland and Wales will be grossly disadvantaged.

Many Conservative Members may spend their holidays in Corfu or even more glamorous places, where the sun shines all the time. Some Labour Members, and perhaps even one or two Conservative Members, may prefer to spend their holidays in the sparsely populated areas of the British Isles. If they are familiar with those small communities and sparsely populated districts they will recognise that the postal service is of enormous importance. Everyone knows the postman.

Everyone living in such areas is probably also familiar with the fact that they are subsidised by the densely populated areas where the Post Office does not incur the same cost. I think of friends who live in isolated parts of my constituency, and I can think of other friends who live in the far North of Scotland. Every time the postman calls his visit is being subsidised by perhaps £1, given the distances involved, and that money is provided by the postal services in London and the other conurbations.

It is ridiculous for us to expect that even the least competent entrepreneur in the private sector would eagerly volunteer to take over responsibility for delivering the post in Caithness and Sutherland or even in the less densely populated parts of England. I am sure that even Ministers would not expect a foolish business man to be involved in that traffic. They know very well that the people who wish the Bill to go through in its present form are not concerned with the rural areas of England. They are concerned with the dense, perhaps commercial, traffic that may travel only a quarter of a mile or half a mile in London, or may travel between London and the other metropolitan areas of England.

The Government should show a greater sympathy with the rural areas. After all, in election after election they purport to represent the interests of those areas. They should begin to consider what they have done to them.

In many parts of Britain there is scarcely any public transport. In many parts small shopkeepers have gone out of business because of the bureaucracies and financial impositions imposed upon them by the Government. They now see a prospect not merely of a diminution in the standards of the postal delivery and collection service but of an enormous extra increase in the charges involved.

The extra 20p on petrol is but one example of the Government's infliction of hardship on those areas. The national interest and the interests of those who have always voted Conservative but may never do so again suggest that the Government should look at the matter afresh.

There are not many Conservative Members in the Chamber at present. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Labour Benches?"] I accept that at the general election a number of my good friends lost their seats in county and rural areas. The electorate in those districts was perhaps conned into imagining that it would get a better deal from a Conservative Administration than it enjoyed under Labour. Astonishingly, even the farmers may have voted Conservative.

I see my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) expressing approval of what he knows I am about to say. Even the farmers in the United Kingdom were persuaded to vote Conservative at the last general election. A small number of the 256 farmers in my constituency voted for me. Perhaps more will do so next time. Farm incomes have not kept pace with inflation. Farmers in the United Kingdom currently enjoy an income 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. worse than they enjoyed when the Labour Government left office. They are not in a position to pay £1, £1.50 or £2 per postal item. If farmers cannot afford it, farm workers and pensioners living in those districts certainly cannot.

If Conservative Members wish to serve those whom they particularly profess to represent they should look again at the clause and ensure that there is even-handed treatment. It is all very well to offer Londoners the prospect of a one-day service by commercial enterprise if the profits from that commercial enterprise are denied to the Post Office, meaning that extra burdens are imposed on other areas. All the Conservative Members present will at some time have genuflected to the principle of national unity and of accepting that one part of Britain is as good, as important, and as deserving as another. If they have ever done that, I suggest that they look again at this proposal, because if they maintain this policy they will be guilty of the hypocrisy from which my hon. Friend's amendment seeks to save them.

I hope, therefore, that the Government will recognise their traditional links with rural Britain, which are beginning to look very frayed around the edges, and ensure that the Post Office is not placed in a position in which it will have to charge enormously higher costs and allow sharks to intervene to profit out of metropolitan areas, which would inevitably mean the infliction of enormous hardship upon people living in small villages and isolated communities. I hope that the Minister will receive representations from his hon. Friends who have some responsibility for those areas, whereas many Labour Members may bear less.

Mr. Butcher

I wish to take up a very small part of the remarks of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Morris). I refer my hon. Friend to the impact of clause 65(1)(d) and (2) and clause 67(1) on the international air courier services operating from the United Kingdom. I trust that, as on a previous occasion in the earlier hours of this morning, there will be some unanimity on the issue of time-sensitive mail for which a cost per item of more than £1 is levied. I have particularly in mind the position of those air courier services which operate a counter collection service. I should be grateful if my hon. Friend would clarify the position, as he has done on point-to-point collection and delivery from airports, and so on. Perhaps he will clarify the position with regard to those three provisions as they affect counter collection services on the basis of an assumption, which I believe goes some way towards meeting the point raised by the right hon. Member for Openshaw, that each individual item will almost certainly cost more than £1. I am informed that the average is about £5 per item and that it is indeed time-sensitive mail.

12.45 pm
Mr. John Home Robertson (Berwick and East Lothian)

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Morris) for giving the House an opportunity to discuss the proposed breach of the Post Office's monopoly over postal services. I am also grateful to him for having given us an opportunity to vote on this issue.

I was particularly interested in one of my right hon. Friend's points. He explained that the precedent for the postal monopoly dated back about 300 years. The forefathers of our present postal service had the foresight to understand the obvious necessity of a universal postal service that could serve the remotest parts of the United Kingdom in addition to metropolitan areas such as London, Manchester, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.

We often think of the Secretary of State for Industry as an antediluvian man and as someone from the Stone Age. We now have positive proof that he dates back at least 300 years. It stands to reason that if there is to be a universal postal service that will allow messages and parcels to be delivered to all parts of the United Kingdom, the profitable parts of the service in the metropolitan areas should be able to cross-subsidise the less profitable, loss-making services of our remote areas.

I represent a rural area of Scotland. Therefore, I am acutely aware of the need to maintain such an essential form of communication in the remote areas not only of my constituency but of the Highlands and Islands. It is significant that whether a person lives in a remote lighthouse, on an off-shore island, in a remote croft or in a hill farm he can post a letter, and letters and parcels will, in turn, be delivered to him. Indeed, that enables people to write to their Member of Parliament. There are moments when I earnestly wish that they found it a little less easy to get messages to me. However, perhaps I should withdraw that remark in case it is quoted too widely in my constituency.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Hardy) mentioned shopping by mail order. It is becoming increasingly difficult for those in the remote parts of Scotland to get the supplies from shops that others take for granted. They use mail order services. The post enables people to communicate with their friends and relatives both at home and abroad. it enables people to receive Giro cheques for social security benefits, and so on.

I have referred to essential communications to which everyone should have access. There are more than 60 polling stations in my constituency. There will be almost double that number of sub post offices. Indeed, it is a remarkable constituency. I do not think that any other hon. Member could say that he had only one set of traffic lights in his constituency. That gives some indication of how rural it is.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

Did my hon. Friend hear the comments made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Morris)? He referred to the activities of Randall's in 1973. My hon. Friend mentioned the payment of supplementary benefit by Giro. If letters, including cheques and Giro bank payments, were dealt with in the way that they were in the case referred to, what would be the effect on those families who are in dire need in his constituency?

Mr. Home Robertson

It is self-evident that such a development would be extremely alarming. People might have to wait a long time before receiving benefit payments. They might have to pay a great deal for the delivery. The service would also be less reliable. My hon. Friend has raised an extremely important point.

The mention of traffic lights leads me to think of the other place. Perhaps my constituency is unique in that seven peers of the realm live within its boundaries. I am frequently thankful that they are not allowed to vote. It is self-evident that the kind of breach of the postal monopoly proposed by the Government could cause acute difficulty, for all the reasons to which I have referred, to many of my constituents and people living in rural Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I am not talking just about the direct delivery of postal packets and letters by the Post Office. It is important to realise that in remote parts of my constituency the postees, as we affectionately describe them in my part of the world, also deliver items such as prescriptions of medicine to those who live in remote farmsteadings and villages far away from the nearest chemist. That kind of facility is provided by the Post Office. I wonder whether such a facility would be provided by a private contractor. Indeed, I doubt whether any private contractor would contemplate providing a so-called free enterprise postal service in an area such as mine.

I believe that in a constituency such as mine the measure could rapidly lead to a massive price increase in the postal service. It would lead to serious reductions in the quality of the postal service, if not its total destruction; and that in due course would mean that many o f my constituents and others in rural parts of the United Kingdom would become completely cut off and would no longer be able to get messages and parcels from one part of the country to another.

The Government have meted out some exceptionally harsh treatment to rural areas of the United Kingdom. My hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley has already illustrated the list of damaging things that the Government have done which are doing great harm to rural society throughout the Kingdom. The present measure will add insult to injury. I hope that the House will accept and support the amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw.

Mr. Richard Page (Hertfordshire, South-West)

I propose to be brief. I want my hon. Friend to clarify two questions when he replies. They concern the doubts facing the people operating in the time-sensitive mail area. It is only fair to tell the House that 3,000 people are employed in that operation. The air courier services are major purchasers of air tickets and cargo space. We should bear that in mind. From their point of view we do not want there to be any misunderstandings in the interpretation of the Bill.

When I moved an amendment in Committee—the amendment is now subsection (1)(d)—I wished to exernpt air courier services from collections within the United Kingdom for delivery abroad and, in turn, to rely upon the suspension allowances under clause 67. That was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West (Mr. Butcher). The operation, by its nature, does not make it comparable or competitive with the Post Office, accounting for less than 1 per cent. of its whole operation. I am anxious that the question of exemption shall apply if a messenger picks up a number of time-sensitive items from within the United Kingdom from a number—in both cases I emphasise the word "number"—of different people and delivers them to an aircraft.

I shall be grateful if my hon. Friend will confirm that the effect of subsection (2) would not preclude air courier companies from picking up items of mail and taking them to an aircraft if requested. Will he similarly confirm that under subsection (1)(d) a messenger collecting from different people on request will be acting within those same exemption terms?

Mr. Stoddart

I support the sensible amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Morris). Like my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson), I noted that my right hon. Friend said that the Post Office monopoly had existed for over 300 years.

The Secretary of State has prehistoric ideas not only about the Post Office monopoly but about economic, financial and political matters. My right hon. Friend the Member for Openshaw said that the proposal to break the monopoly was counter to all expert advice, which again is in line with the right hon. Gentleman's thinking. He never takes decent expert advice. He is ignoring advice from 364 economists. The right hon. Gentleman has a closed mind, which is particularly regrettable on this issue, because the consequences for the Post Office and its customers will be serious.

Many of my hon. Friends have mentioned rural areas. I do not represent a rural areas I represent the thoroughly good and forward-looking area of Swindon, but we have much countryside around us. People from rural areas consistently write to me about the problems that they have, for instance, over rural transport, which are being exacerbated by the Government. Some have a bus service that runs only once a week, and some have no service at all. The massive increase in petrol tax is also a problem. Another worry concerns the future of rural post offices. People fear that sub-post offices will lose business and close because of the Government's actions and that the rural community will be deprived of good and efficient services that it has enjoyed for many years.

Mr. Skinner

Rural post offices have taken a hard knock from the Government, although they had a last-minute escape from some of the harsher consequences of the Rayner report. These proposals will further diminish their services and their ability to carry on. I do not doubt that that is as important to many areas around Swindon as it is to Bolsover.

Mr. Stoddart

Yes, indeed. People in rural areas are grateful to hon. Members for the fight put up on both sides of the House against the Government's proposals, which would have led to the diminution of services and the closure of sub-post offices, which are vital to rural communities.

These new measures will further put at risk the public and social services that rural post offices perform. People are sensitive about their post offices. They go to the postmaster not only to buy stamps, and so on, but to get advice about a wide range of matters, such as social security and unemployment benefit.

1 pm

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) was right to refer to the sub-post offices that are being closed in urban areas, including the area that I represent. Over a period I have made representations about a number of closures that have caused problems to my constituents, particularly old people. If the Post Office is to suffer a further reduction in revenue and a greater degree of unprofitability, pressure will grow for the closure of sub-post offices and for a reduction in the quality of the postal delivery service. At one time we believed that the bus would come so many times a day in rural areas. We believed that we would always be able to get a bus into town. The service was taken for granted. We have since learnt that it should never have been taken for granted. In many areas rural bus services have disappeared or have been drastically reduced.

A similar development could happen in the postal service. The Post Office might decide to deliver every other day instead of every day. I do not want to frighten people, or to worry them. It is, however, a possibility. Another possibility is that the Post Office, because of unprofitability due to the loss of the monopoly, will decide to deliver not to the door but to certain points in the area, which would be a worsening of the service. Those are the dangers of ending the Post Office monopoly.

The Government continue to be fond of handing over profitable parts of publicly owned industry for exploitation by privateers. It is happening in the Bill. In the Post Office, the profitable services will be creamed off. The privateers will take the cream off the business and leave the Post Office with the skimmed milk—and, of course, the customer will have to pay. If my reading of the Bill is right, I believe that the situation is even worse. The privateers will be able to post into the Post Office system at any point and therefore get the use of the infrastructure of the Post Office, which has been built up, with public money, over a long period. They will get that, I understand, for nothing.

The public, the taxpayer and the person who sends a letter will be subsidising the profits of the privateers. That is bad. I believe that the Bill, as a whole, is a bad one. This clause is especially pernicious and will undermine the great Post Office, known to us all our lives, known to our forefathers, and trusted by the public.

Trust is important. It is the trust of a person who sends mail to a destination knowing that it will be delivered to the right address. The undermining of trust will be bad for the Post Office and bad for the country. I believe that the amendments proposed by my right hon. Friend are excellent. I hope that when it divides, as I am sure it will, the House will agree to the amendments.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

During the past 24 hours the Government may have had the fact brought home to them that when several thousands of our constituents descended upon London to put their case in a national lobby, they should listen to the wisdom of the Members of Parliament who have pressed the case that has been pressed upon them in the lobby. If Parliament does not respond to the needs of the people, Parliament has failed.

In this debate it is hard to identify any people, apart from profiteers, who want the clauses. They, of course, will make money out of the measure. But many of us believe that money should not be made too easily in this area by private operators who are not subject to the same social pressures as are the publicly owned utilities.

In my conversations with the people who were involved in the lobby—perhaps I attracted certain types—it was interesting to find that this was the part of the Bill that was causing the greatest concern. Post Office workers clearly wanted the Government to make a change but said that a future Labour Administration, too, would need to change the clauses in the Bill. It is not for me, a humble Back Bencher, to make pledges on behalf of future Labour Administrations, but it is clear that a future Labour Government will respond to that demand and dismantle what can be seen only as a particularly foolish provision. Indeed, that Government may even reverse much of the legislation that we are considering today.

There was the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries in 1967, and then the Carter committee, under the chairmanship of Mr. Charles Carter, the vice-chancellor of Lancaster university, which was appointed to conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the structure and operations of the Post Office, published recommendations in 1977. Clearly, the committee did not recommend what is proposed in the Bill. I get my information, as I invariably do, from yet another campaign guide for the Conservative research department—always a useful source of information. That guide drew my attention to what I regard as a mighty inconsistency on the part of the Government in this debate.

I speak as a modest new Member of the House, but I feel that the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries has an important part to play in the proceedings of this House and, certainly, in the deliberations of government. When the Select Committee was widened and set up, I listened in the Tea Room to people who told me of the great benefits that the new system was about to bestow, and I listened intently to the debates in this Chamber about the value of the Select Committees.

I was told that hon. Members, collectively, representing both sides of the House and reflecting opinions across the party political spectrum, would be able, by means of the new arrangements, to sit in Committees and make not so much decisions as recommendations that would have a direct bearing on future Government strategy and policy.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) shakes his head but he has always been cynical about such matters, as was my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when I was a candidate awaiting my arrival in this place.

Hon. Members have fought for many years for the Select Committees. They believed that the Government would take note of what they said. It was thought that the collective wisdom of hon. Members would be regarded as more important than the collective so-called wisdom of civil servants.

The Committees give the House the right to inquire, investigate, probe and recommend, and sometimes to call upon the richness of the knowledge and experience of civil servants in whatever recommendations they make. In this case they made a recommendation and the collective wisdom of Members was that their recommendation should not be accepted and put in legislation. The Government seek to ignore that.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Morris) said that the postal monopoly had existed for about 300 years. The people are justified in asking why it should be changed after all that time. What has gone wrong? We do not know what has gone wrong because we do not receive complaints. In my 21 months in the House I have not received a letter from any constituent questioning the ability of the Post Office to provide an effective service.

It is not a question of negligence by the Post Office; it is clearly something else. My hon. Friends are united in their belief. Perhaps Government Members say in private that pure dogma determines the Government's attitude towards releasing sectors of the public utilities to private enterprise.

Mr. Michael Marshall

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that he has received no complaints about increased postal charges? I should be surprised if he were the sole exception.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

The Minister exaggerates. I have received no such letters. The Minister suggests that constituents are complaining. I have received no complaints. I wonder whether the Minister can say truthfully that he has received complaints in his personal capacity.

Mr. Michael Marshall

I have had many.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Why has the Minister had complaints when we have not?

Mr. Michael Marshall

Perhaps constituents think that it is a waste of time to complain to the hon. Member and that they have a better chance of success by complaining to me.

Mr. Stoddart

Perhaps people are writing to the Minister because they know that the Government is at fault. They expect redress from the Government. That is why people are writing to the Minister rather than Back Bench Members of the Opposition.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Perhaps our constituents do not write to us because they understand the Government's inflexibility. Traditionally it might have been possible to communicate in correspondence with my right hon. and hon. Friends on many issues, but people are beginning to recognise that it is a waste of time. The Government show no flexibility. I look forward to the day when people can write to me about a great number of issues in the knowledge that when we put our case the Government will show flexibility. The hon. Gentleman knows better than any other that there is one issue on which the Government have shown totally indefensible inflexibility.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I draw the attention of he hon. Member to the fact that we are dealing with an amendment, and that has not come into his speech for some time.

1.15 pm
Mr. Campbell-Savours

We are dealing with a series of amendments, as I understand it, that have the effect of breaking the Post Office monopoly, and I am trying to argue a general case around that problem and the fact that the Government should not seek to take such a position and bring it forward in the form of legislation.

My hon. Friends referred to the problems that may arise in the rural areas. I always take great pleasue in reading the campaign guides of the Conservative Party—I have three with me this morning—and it is very strange that they always seem to imply that Conservative Governments respond to the individual. At the heart of it, they tell us, is the individual. Whatever section it may be—industry, trade, employment, training, transport—it is somehow wrapped up in the rights of the individual.

The rights of the individual are indeed paramount" but it might be interesting to learn from the Government to what extent they have consulted individuals, perhaps collectively. In the case of my constituency, was there any consultation with the Allerdale district authority about the impact that the breaking of this monopoly might have on a rural constituency such as my own? Was there any correspondence outside in my constituency—because the question also covers the constituency of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Of course, he could not intervene, but I should have thought that he, too, would hope that the Government would endeavour to consult the Allerdale authority or the county council of Cumbria on what it thought about the introduction of this piece of legislation.

What we have been noticing over the period of the last few months is that the Government are increasingly producing legislation based on dogma, without any consultation. Why has the hon. Gentleman not consulted? Perhaps he would like to intervene again and tell me why he did not ask my local authority what they thought would be the impact of this legislation on the 94,000 people who live in my constituency.

Rural areas such as my own will be affected; the small towns, as my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart) said, will be affected. They will all be affected because of the loss of the cross-subsidisation facilities which have traditionally existed within the Post Office in the supply of these services.

There is no better way to look at the principles of cross-subsidisation and the effect of the loss of profitable business through cross-subsidisation than to look at the air industry. I quote it as an example of what happens when Governments take foolhardy action by allocating business to private enterprise in such a way that it damages the essential services.

A Bill, or a statement, came before the House a couple of months ago. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer), who will no doubt follow me, will comment on that, because his memory for that sort of thing is better than mine. The Government will recall that it came to this House for additional moneys to fund British Airways, and one of the reasons given was that they lost routes—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) will relate his remarks more closely to the amendment.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I find it difficult to argue my case in favour of cross-subsidisation if I am denied the right to use parallel examples of where it has worked traditionally and where its removal will damage future prospects, in this instance the prospects of the Post Office monopoly. Unless you insist, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I be not allowed to use this example, I feel that I must proceed.

It appears that Laker Airways took business from British Airways—I have never objected to the Laker operations—and British Airways were forced into a position whereby it was losing money on a number of routes. Surely there is a parallel in that example. Surely we can learn something from that. If we take away certain types of business from the Post Office it is clear that in other areas there will losses and that others will be required to pick up the bill.

I can tell the House who will have to pay the bill. My constituents in rural areas will pay. Those in Keswick, Cockermouth and all the towns in the Lake District who are the constituents of the Government Chief Whip and the Secretary of State for the Home Department will pay higher charges or, alternatively lose the type of rural delivery service that they now enjoy. I ask the hon. Gentleman to do what I asked the Under-Secretary of State for Transport to do on Second Reading of the Transport Bill—namely, to tell us that our constituents will not suffer. Let us have an assurance from the Dispatch Box. We received one from the Under-Secretary of State for Transport. The hon. and learned Gentleman now has to preside over a refusal by the traffic commissioners to award a route. If he moves the wrong way he may have to undermine the reply that he gave me on Second Reading of the Transport Bill. On this occasion the Under-Secretary of State should say clearly that our constituents will be fully protected and insulated against higher prices that stem directly from the changes in the monopoly of the Post Office.

This is not the first difficult piece of legislation that has passed through the House in the past few months that I group under incomes policy measures. This is an attempt to remove the Post Office monopoly in conditions where there is industrial action. We are bypassing the circuit that normally exists to provide a facility or a service. About five or six months ago changes were introduced for the issuing of heavy goods vehicle licences to Army personnel. Some months ago we were required to accept a measure affecting prison officers and introducing changes in the light of the lack of accomodation for prisoners. That object of such measures is to bypass the Government's difficulties with trade unions in areas of wage bargaining. In some respects the Bill before us is part of an incomes policy. I refer to the section that was dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Member for Openshaw.

In the Conservative Party's 1974 campaign guide there is an interesting comment on rural mails. We are discussing the breaking of the Post Office monopoly and the effect that that will have on rural mails in my constituency and in other constituencies that are fundamentally rural with perhaps industrial population centres.

I shall quote the paragraph on page 112, under the section "Government and Industry". My hon. Friends will already be convinced on that point. Conservative Members may take the point. It states: Conservatives recognise the importance of the nationalised industries to the economy. They currently account for some 16 per cent. of gross national product … Unlike Labour, Conservatives have never believed that the issue of nationalisation or denationalisation is a matter to be decided on doctrinaire grounds. Naturally, Conservatives much prefer private enterprise to run a high proportion of the economy but it is simply not feasible to sell off all the nationalised industries regardless of price or consequences. In many instances, the industries are natural monopolies and must remain subject to public control. We should all learn from that admission. Conservative Members need reminding of it from time to time, as they will be on Tuesday and Thursday next week, when the Steel Bill will be discussed.

Under the section "Financial Results", it states: There is no clear measure of the "cost" of nationalised industries—many have made a lower return on capital than would have been the case had they been privately owned. On the other hand the nation has obtained certain financially unquantifiable benefits. The public utilities are largely natural monopolies that as state industries have been able to serve the public more extensively than a purely profit-oriented approach would justify—rural mails, for example. That is what we are arguing. Our case is in the Conservative policy document of 1974.

Mr. Matthew Parris (Derbyshire, West)

I am glad that the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) quoted the extract from the campaign guide. I stand by that. Nothing in that extract is inconsistent with the Bill or with Government policy. I represent a rural area that depends heavily on what is no doubt a fairly unprofitable postal service, although it serves us well.

The principal point made by Opposition Members is true. It is unexceptionable, and does not necessarily lead us into the Division Lobby behind this series of amendments. The principal point made by Opposition Members is that if the profitable parts of the postal service are creamed off by private enterprise the inherently unprofitable parts will become more expensive than before and the cost to the Government will be greater. I accept that.

When my hon. Friend the Minister replies it will be necessary for him to say only that he realises that the apparent cost to the Government of maintaining rural postal services may become higher if the profitable parts of the postal service are creamed off. It will be necessary for him to say only that, and that the Government are prepared to meet those costs because they accept that we need a rural postal service that is within the means of those who live in rural areas. Any objections to those provisions in the Bill are swept away.

The increased costs that will fall upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer in subsidising rural postal services will to some extent be met by taxation from the profits of private operators who go into the urban postal services. That seems a commonsense matter to me, and I do not understand why such heat has been generated on the subject.

1.30 pm
Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Brent, South)

I rejoice in the naivety of the the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) in hoping that when the profitable parts of both the postal and telecomminications services are hived off the Government will produce money out of public expenditure to spread the cost of services between rural and urban areas—for example, to make it equitable to deliver a letter to the Outer Hebrides once the City of London postal area has gone to a private contractor.

I want to refer to Cable and Wireless. What I have to say will be in keeping with most of the comments that have so far been made on the Bill.

For many years the Post Office research station was based at Dollis Hill, in my area. It has recently moved elsewhere. One of the fantastic public ownership achievements of Post Office research was the transatlantic cable. That was pioneered and organised by the Post Office. It sold licences to other countries and made a huge profit, especially from sales to the United States. I am concerned that if we hive off these facilities those with the expertise will find that they are not consulted about their efforts and achievements.

The House knows that I speak more on health matters than on telecommunications. The Post Office pioneered the first hearing aid for the Medical Research Council. The research was carried out at the Dollis Hill research station, and the instrument was called Medresco. We are talking about hiving off the results of years of public expenditure on research into projects such as the Medresco hearing aid. If that part goes to private enterprise those who put in the effort on such projects will see their work go to other areas for the private profit of commercial concerns.

The House will know that the telephones behind the Chair and in the Members' Lobby are specially equipped with transistorised handsets. Again, the Post Office was responsible for that equipment. If such sectors are hived off, those who created these aids will not be adequately consulted and the results of their enterprise will not be for the benefit of those who paid for them—the taxpayers.

British Telecom is carrying out reseach into a new electro-magnetic device for telephones. The House is one of the few public buildings to have what is called a loop. It took eight years to get it, but eventually we did. The other place has not yet got it. Running through all the Benches in this Chamber is a loop. Similar research has been carried out and installed by the Post Office in public buildings. In the next 10 years this will have a tremendous commercial impact.

The National Theatre has already agreed that this experiment shall be carried out on some of the seats in all three of its theatres. Public buildings, cinemas and other places will need to be fitted with this device to help those with a hearing impairment. The Post Office has been of tremendous help in this respect. This device could be a great social asset. Therefore, it is important that those involved—for example, Cable and Wireless employees who use the transatlantic cables—should be involved in consultations on these matters.

I have been selected as one of the guinea pigs for the new telephone device. In this House we have had experiments on the electro-magnetic handset. The pressure is on to have these devices in all Crown post offices, air terminals and major railway terminals. Someone might see a profit in this development. It would be unjust if that research, which has attracted public money to develop that device, were creamed off to the profit-making sector.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

I am extremely interested in what the hon. Gentleman is saying, because it concerns the disabled. Would it be possible to patent that device?

Mr. Pavitt

It is not possible at present, although a clause in the Bill will make licensing possible. At present, no telephone device for the hard of hearing may be installed without the permission of the telecommunications centre.

Discussions are taking place on the possibility of obtaining a British Standards Institution certificate of decibel audibility. I apologise for wearying the House with technicalities, but that is part and parcel of the discussions that should be taking place with the people who have produced the devices that are of use to the community. That would be of benefit in equalising the amounts needed to pay for the postal and telephone services. Those people should have the maximum amount of impact both on telecommunications and on the Minister, in order to ensure that justice is done.

Thanks to the research carried out at the Dollis Hill research station, a whole range of devices is now available. I very much regret that the public industry has never received credit for the huge amount of profit that it has made. For example, the transatlantic cable was invented under public ownership. Cable and Wireless was able to use that device, and the Post Office received profits from America. I believe that Cable and Wireless employees, as well as all other employees, should have the right to meaningful consultation.

I remind the House of the way in which research is carried out under public enterprise and the way in which it can be transferred elsewhere. Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming. It was patented, but it was given to America, and the profits went to America. Therefore, when Cable and Wireless uses the research carried out at Dollis Hill on the transatlantic cable and other devices, the advantage should accrue to the taxpayer who has financed the research. Such research should not be hived off to private industry so that it can make profits. The people who have devoted their lives and service to the business should be brought into the consultations to the maximum amount possible.

Mr. Michael Marshall

We have had an interesting debate on the derogation of the postal monopoly. The hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Pavitt) was listened to with great interest, as the House is aware of his great knowledge of the matters to which he referred. However, I hope that he will forgive me if I do not follow him down that route. He made some interesting comments, and on another occasion I hope to reply to some of them. I very much took on board what he said about the effectiveness of the Post Office research station at Dollis Hill, and in this, our twenty-third hour of debate, the Post Office has received much praise for the research that it has carried out.

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Morris) seeks not only to remove some of the exemptions to the monopoly currently envisaged in the Bill, but proposes an alternative system. He deserves a detailed answer, as he attempted to put forward a constructive package.

It is quite clear that in his amendments the right hon. Gentleman is intent on removing from the Bill all the new statutory exemptions from the monopoly contained in clause 65. He is also seeking to remove the Secretary of State's power to make any further derogations from the monopoly through the use of his power of suspension in clause 67.

Instead, it is suggested that the Post Office should be given power to waive its exclusive privilege with the consent of, or in accordance with a general authority given by, the Secretary of State". These are separate items, and I think that it would be best to treat them as such.

With regard to the statutory exemptions from the monopoly, the right hon. Gentleman seeks, in effect, to revert to the position under the 1953 Act. I must tell him straight away, as indeed he knows from our discussions in Committee, that I cannot agree to that. It is important for us to look at this matter in perspective from the outset. There has been a great deal of talk about creaming off and derogation from the monopoly. I emphasise from the outset that the derogations in the Bill and those which the Government have in mind amount at most to between about 1 and 2 per cent. of total postal traffic. That is the scale that we are discussing.

Let us consider the five new exemptions. One of them—in clause 65(1)(h)—was the result of a recommendation of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on the inner London letter post. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) asked about consultation. One of the main processes of consultation was to use the very substantial example available of the inner London letter post and the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. It was as a result of the commission's report that one of the five exemptions has already been brought in as a derogation. Three others—in clause 65(1)(d), (j) and (k)—simply reflect activities that are carried on now. The football pool companies and, perhaps more importantly, the banks are large-scale operations vital to the business of the organisations concerned. I should have thought that there was probably little quarrel about those derogations.

The fifth derogation clarifies the legal position regarding delivery by companies of their own letters and extends exemption in accordance with the stated intentions of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State following extensive discussions undertaken by my Department during the review of the monopoly. All of these exemptions are important and I feel that it would be a retrograde step to do as the right hon. Gentleman suggeats and effectively return to the 1953 position.

The Opposition also suggest that the Post Office should be allowed to waive its exclusive privilege in accordance with the terms of a general authorisation given by the Secretary of State. In that situation there would be no guarantee that the Post Office would waive its monopoly in respect of activities which we believe should be exempted by statute.

This perhaps raises a further and wider point. The right hon. Member for Openshaw and a number of his hon. Friends suggest that the power in clause 67 to suspend the monopoly should be replaced by the proposed power of waiver for the Post Office. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said that he wishes to be able to make derogations from the monopoly, either generally or in respect of specific categories of mail in situations in which the Post Office is not providing a satisfactory service. For the benefit of hon. Members who were not with us in Committee I can say that we debated very thoroughly the situations which could arise in the event of industrial action—problems in one particular area or throughout the country, resulting in a cessation or a serious decline in service, or if, after warning, the Post Office's performance had been unsatisfactory for reasons within its control, or, indeed, simply because it failed to meet the demand for a particular letter service.

It is clear that if the Secretary of State did not have the power in clause 67, and the power in clause 66 which I believe that the right hon. Gentleman by implication seeks also to remove, he would be unable to carry out his stated policy and thus ensure the best service to the customer. It is worth emphasising that in about 22 hours of debate very little time has been spent on talking about the customer. I believe that this is an aspect worth bringing in even at this late stage. I accept that this was raised in the context of rural services, and I shall return to that in a moment. In the wider context, what is proposed through derogation is very much intended to be part of the improved service for customers.

The hon. Member for Workington made a fair point about various delegations. During the past 24 hours most of us have seen people who expressed similar views. Indeed, some of us have seen quite a few people in recent weeks. I detected that most of the delegations raised two points. Those with rural interests raised the points that have been reflected in today's debate. Others raised the subject of pensions, which we discussed earlier.

It was interesting to note that several of those who came not only put their case fairly and well but went out of their way to admit that in a number of cases the monopoly had made life cosy. They felt that things had slipped and that they needed a better commercial edge. They thought that things were beginning to move a little more in that direction. Many freely admitted that that was due to some extent to the feeling that various moves were being made and that the monopoly was being considered. Most welcomed that. That is an important aspect to the representations that have been made.

As I said in Committee, the Government do not seek to use these powers arbitrarily. We recognise the limitations, some of which have been spelt out—in terms of the balance between the rural areas and those with heavy traffic loads. I accept the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris). Naturally, if there were a creaming-off operation and if the cost of rural services increased, it would represent a major problem and would act as a disincentive. That is one reason why we have not proposed to move in that direction. I shall mention the project that we have in mind, which is all we have in view by way of derogation at present.

These powers will not be used frequently. As I have said, the postal services are under critical consideration and it is recognised that there are opportunities for derogation. That is having an internal effect on improving efficiency. I hope and expect that the existence of this power and that contained in clause 66 will act as an incentive to the Post Office to provide an adequate service and thus obviate the need for their use. Powers in that sense, both when they are used and even when they are not, should thus help to achieve our prime aim, namely, the provision of the best possible postal service to the customer.

We plan to use this power in respect of one important new category of mail as soon as the Bill is enacted. This has already been announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. We intend to suspend the monopoly in respect of time-sensitive, valuable—that is to say, express—mail. This is a matter that my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West (Mr. Butcher) was particularly interested in from the point of view of counter collection services. I reiterate that we intend to use the power under clause 67 to suspend the postal monopoly in respect of such time-sensitive, valuable mail.

That means that any person who operates such a service will be able to perform in respect of such mail any of the acts that would otherwise fall within the monopoly. Those are listed in clause 64(1). Hon. Members will note that they include collecting. However, they will have to comply with the conditions that will be attached to the suspension order under clause 67(2). As hon. Members know, we intend look for about £1 for each item, thus putting the business on a fair basis and providing incentive for the existing postal service to operate in that field should it choose to do so.

The hon. Members for Rother Valley (Mr. Hardy) and for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) raised several points about rural areas and they were supported by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West. I represent a rural constituency and I well understand the points that they made. I stress that the creaming-off argument must be taken seriously in terms of the provision of rural services.

In the wider context, the creaming-off argument is one that we have already heard in relation to some of the discussions on sub-post offices, where the Government have already made plain, for example, in any change of the loading of Government business to sub-post offices, that alternative business will have to be provided. I cite that as an example of the way in which the Government are fully conscious of the need to keep the network active and operating because we know that it gives an important public service.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Page) asked me for further information about the position of air couriers. I confirm that under clause 65(2)—formerly clause 64(2)—exemption under clause 65(1)(d) would not permit the making of a collection. While it would be for the courts to decide details of an individual case, I am advised that air couriers would not be precluded from going to pick up letters and taking them to an aircraft if specifically requested to pick them up. Similarly, I am advised that if a messenger sent for the purpose under clause 65(1)(d) were to pick up on request a number of letters from different people and take them straight to the aircraft, he would be acting under the terms of the exemption.

I am sorry that I have had to give some detail on a number of the points raised, but they reflect important queries which came up on a number of occasions in Committee. On Report, a number of hon. Gentlemen have been anxious to be quite clear about what is envisaged. I have tried to meet a number of the points that have been put to me.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I asked the Under-Secretary for two undertakings on rural mails. Will he give them? He suggested that he would do so.

Mr. Marshall

The hon. Gentleman was asking for the kind of blanket assurance that no one can give from the Dispatch Box. I have made it clear that we take seriously the creaming-off argument on rural mails. Therefore, any suggestion that we should see rural services dissipated on the creaming-off basis is a matter about which we shall have to think very seriously. I mentioned the derogation that has been encompassed in the Bill. I give the assurance that at this time we have no other derogation in mind. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can reasonably expect me to go beyond that.

The amendment would not help the cause that the right hon. Member for Openshaw is seeking to serve. I hope that he will feel able to withdraw it.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 151, Noes 260.

Division No. 144] [1.52 pm
Adams, Allen Dubs, Alfred
Anderson, Donald Duffy, A. E. P.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Ashton, Joe Eadie, Alex
Benn, Rt Hon A. Wedgwood Eastham, Ken
Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N) Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty English, Michael
Bray, Dr Jeremy Ennals, Rt Hon David
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Evans, John (Newton)
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S) Fitt, Gerard
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Flannery, Martin
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Campbell, Ian Ford, Ben
Campbell-Savours, Dale Forrester, John
Carmichael, Neil Foster, Derek
Carter-Jones, Lewis Foulkes, George
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Coleman, Donald Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)
Cook, Robin F. George, Bruce
Cowans, Harry Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Golding, John
Crowther, J. S. Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)
Cryer, Bob Hardy, Peter
Cunliffe, Lawrence Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Dalyell, Tam Haynes, Frank
Davidson, Arthur Heffer, Eric S.
Dempsey, James Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)
Dewar, Donald Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)
Dixon, Donald Home Robertson, John
Dormand, Jack Homewood, William
Douglas, Dick Hudson Davies, Gwilym E.
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Race, Reg
Janner, Hon Greville Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
John, Brynmor Robertson, George
Johnson, James (Hull West) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Rooker, J. W.
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Kerr, Russell Sever, John
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Sheerman, Barry
Leighton, Ronald Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Litherland, Robert Silverman, Julius
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Skinner, Dennis
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Soley, Clive
McCartney, Hugh Spearing, Nigel
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Stallard, A. W.
McElhone, Frank Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Stoddart, David
McKelvey, William Stott, Roger
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
McNally, Thomas Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
McNamara, Kevin Tilley, John
McTaggart, Robert Tinn, James
McWilliam, John Urwin, Rt Hon Tom
Magee, Bryan Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
Martin, M (G'gow S'burn) Watkins, David
Maxton, John Welsh, Michael
Meacher, Michael White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Mikardo, Ian Wigley, Dafydd
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W)
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Morton, George Winnick, David
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Woodall, Alec
O'Halloran, Michael Woolmer, Kenneth
O'Neill, Martin Young, David (Bolton E)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Pavitt, Laurie Tellers for the Ayes:
Pendry, Tom Mr. Joseph Dean and Mr. Allen McKay.
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Adley, Robert Buck, Antony
Aitken, Jonathan Budgen, Nick
Alexander, Richard Bulmer, Esmond
Alison, Michael Burden, Sir Frederick
Alton, David Butcher, John
Ancram, Michael Cadbury, Jocelyn
Arnold, Tom Carlisle, John (Luton West)
Aspinwall, Jack Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Chapman, Sydney
Atkinson, David (B'm'th, E) Churchill, W. S.
Baker, Kenneth (St.M'bone) Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Banks, Robert Cockeram, Eric
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Cope, John
Beith, A. J. Corrie, John
Bell, Sir Ronald Costain, Sir Albert
Bendall, Vivian Cranborne, Viscount
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Crawshaw, Richard
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Critchley, Julian
Bevan, David Gilroy Crouch, David
Biffen, Rt Hon John Dean, Paul (North Somerset)
Biggs-Davison, John Dorrell, Stephen
Blackburn, John Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Dover, Denshore
Boscawen, Hon Robert du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Bowden, Andrew Durant, Tony
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Bright, Graham Eggar, Tim
Brinton, Tim Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Brittan, Leon Fairbairn, Nicholas
Brooke, Hon Peter Faith, Mrs Sheila
Brotherton, Michael Farr, John
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Bryan, Sir Paul Finsberg, Geoffrey
Fisher, Sir Nigel Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N) Mawby, Ray
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Fookes, Miss Janet Mayhew, Patrick
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Meyer, Sir Anthony
Fox, Marcus Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Freud, Clement Mills, Peter (West Devon)
Fry, Peter Miscampbell, Norman
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Moate, Roger
Garel-Jones, Tristan Monro, Hector
Glyn, Dr Alan Montgomery, Fergus
Goodlad, Alastair Moore, John
Gorst, John Morgan, Geraint
Gow, Ian Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Gower, Sir Raymond Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mudd, David
Gray, Hamish Murphy, Christopher
Greenway, Harry Neale, Gerrard
Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds) Needham, Richard
Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N) Nelson, Anthony
Grist, Ian Neubert, Michael
Grylls, Michael Newton, Tony
Gummer, John Selwyn Onslow, Cranley
Hamilton, Hon A. Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Osborn, John
Hampson, Dr Keith Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby)
Hannam, John Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Haselhurst, Alan Parris, Matthew
Hastings, Stephen Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Hawkins, Paul Pawsey, James
Hawksley, Warren Penhaligon, David
Heddle, John Pink, R. Bonner
Henderson, Barry Pollock, Alexander
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Porter, Barry
Hicks, Robert Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)
Hill, James Proctor, K. Harvey
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Hooson, Tom Raison, Timothy
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Rathbone, Tim
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Hunt, David (Wirral) Rhodes James, Robert
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Jessel, Toby Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rifkind, Malcolm
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Kaberry, Sir Donald Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rossi, Hugh
Kershaw, Anthony Rost, Peter
Kilfedder, James A. Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
King, Rt Hon Tom Scott, Nicholas
Knight, Mrs Jill Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Knox, David Shelton, William (Streatham)
Lamont, Norman Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lang, Ian Shepherd, Richard
Langford-Holt, Sir John Shersby, Michael
Latham, Michael Silvester, Fred
Lawrence, Ivan Sims, Roger
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Skeet, T. H. H.
Lee, John Smith, Dudley
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Speed, Keith
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Speller, Tony
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Loveridge, John Sproat, Iain
Luce, Richard Squire, Robin
McCrindle, Robert Stanbrook, Ivor
MacGregor, John Stanley, John
MacKay, John (Argyll) Steen, Anthony
Maclennan, Robert Stevens, Martin
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Stokes, John
McQuarrie, Albert Stradling Thomas, J.
Madel, David Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Major, John Temple-Morris, Peter
Marland, Paul Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Marlow, Tony Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Thompson, Donald
Mates, Michael Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Thornton, Malcolm Wells, John (Maidstone)
Townend, John (Bridlington) Wells, Bowen
Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath) Wheeler, John
Trippier, David Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Trotter, Neville Whitney, Raymond
van Straubenzee, W. R. Wickenden, Keith
Vaughan, Dr Gerard Wiggin, Jerry
Viggers, Peter Wilkinson, John
Waddington, David Williams, D. (Montgomery)
Wakeham, John Winterton, Nicholas
Waldegrave, Hon William Wolfson, Mark
Walker, B. (Perth) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D. Younger, Rt Hon George
Waller, Gary
Ward, John Tellers for the Noes:
Warren, Kenneth Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and Mr. Carol Mather.
Watsoo, John

Question accordingly negatived.

Forward to