HC Deb 09 April 1984 vol 58 cc98-112

Amendments made: No. 47, in page 97, line 47, at end insert—

'1970 c. 10 The Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 In section 272(6) the words "the London Transport Executive and".'.

No. 98, line 42, column 3, leave out— 'Section 31(4)(a)'.—[Mrs. Chalker.]

9.14 pm
Mr. Ridley

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

We have reached the end of our journey. It has not been a one-person operation. There has been a driver and a conductor, and I give my warm regards to my hon. Friend the Minister of State who has carried the burden of the debate.

This is a good Bill for London's travellers and ratepayers and for democracy. The British Rail and the London Transport systems will be examined together by the liaison committee, in which I intend to take a special interest in line with the Select Committee's recommendations. The Bill contains new powers to facilitate interchanges, to set up park-and-ride facilities and to look at transport in London as a whole. London Regional Transport will be more responsive and more innovative. It will push forward the work on travel cards, automatic ticketing and the removal of barriers. It will pay special attention to the needs of the old and the disabled.

We have set up a new, stronger, unitary passenger committee for LRT and BR. London Regional Transport will not be run politically. It will be run for the benefit of the passengers, not of the staff. The board will consist of professional managers, not political nominees. The board will not obstruct progress to reduce overmanning. It will not be used as a political pawn for extraneous reasons.

On 29 March I received a letter from an employee of London Transport, in which he said: I am a train driver on London Transport working at Acton Town station. As you will be aware, yesterday we were all on strike in order to save jobs, stop cuts in services, etc. At least these were the reasons offered by the union and carried in the popular press. The real reason for the strike was to save the GLC and for no other reason at all. As for the strike being well supported, as reported in the press, this is sheer rubbish. The reason the strike was well supported was because of the threat of losing one's union card which means no job or the union would not support a member if he got into trouble with LT. The unions were fully aware that had a ballot been taken over 90 per cent. of members would have been against the strike. Indeed, in my 10 years with London Transport I have never known a strike called to cause so much resentment as this one. That is the truth of the way the GLC has run London Transport.

The Bill will provide a better run system for the ratepayer. We shall cut LRT's costs. There will be no spending on propaganda or political advertising. There will be no gimmicks, no "nuclear-free zone" or "Babies against the Bomb" for which the ratepayers must pay.

Already we can see many economies in London Transport's plan. There could be an increase in one-person operations worth £6 million per annum, but that measure is being blocked by the GLC. There could be savings in the underground and bus engineering spheres worth £15 million per annum. London Transport has identified many other examples of cost savings. The ratepayers would have been saved a further £25 million if fares had kept pace with the cost of living. The sum of £10 million will be saved by our system of off-peak concessionary fares while guaranteeing free transport for the elderly and the disabled.

The levy at 67 per cent. is less by a long shot than next year's 78 per cent. With the cost-cutting operations I have described, prospects for the ratepayers will be improved to a far greater extent than Opposition Members have been prepared to concede. London business ratepayers have never been consulted, although they pay two thirds of the rates. So much for the democracy of the GLC.

London Regional Transport will be a nationalised industry and will be run efficiently by managers. It is for politicians, democratically accountable, to set the objectives and settle the annual subsidy. I believe that it is better for Parliament to do that than for the GLC to do it. Parliament is elected too.

Two thirds of the money from the rates comes from those in the business sector, but they have never had a vote; there is no democracy for them in how much money is levied in rates. When did the GLC ever consult business ratepayers about how much it should spend on London Transport or anything else?

All Labour Members' arguments about democracy are sheer humbug. The ratepayers' interests have been ignored. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) started our debates in Committee by saying that we had to strike a balance between the interests of ratepayers and fare payers. He never mentioned ratepayers again in the 103 hours of debate that followed.

A letter from Mr. Colin Smith, published in The Spectator, said: For the record, Mr. Livingstone took over by ousting Andrew McIntosh, his moderate Labour predecessor, in a palace coup 24 hours after the polls had closed in 1981. The economy of effort involved in this transfer of power is widely admired even now, but the proceedings had absolutely nothing to do with London voters having any say in who runs London. There is the democracy to which the GLC pays lip service. It has packed the LT board with political nominees and made one of its employees the chairman of the so-called independent consumer body. In this great and important industry, we must separate politics from management.

On Thursday we debated the many forms of consultation. We can add to those my accountability in the House to hon. Members who wish to put their point of view. We have a Bill which offers far more democracy in the conduct of London's transport than the GLC has ever attained. This is a good Bill; it will be good for travellers, ratepayers and democracy.

9.22 pm
Mr. Prescott

The Secretary of State's speech reflected his attitude to the Bill. It is an anti-democratic view. The Secretary of State tried to show, by quoting from The Spectator and from letters pulled out of a bag, that he believes that the Bill is a democratic advance. We believe that it is exactly the opposite.

We have considered various parts of the Bill in Committee and on Report and we believe that we have exposed the fallacy of the claim that the Bill is supposed to meet the needs of London's transport. The statutory obligation to meet those needs has been changed into a requirement that LRT should take due regard of the need to do so, and that is another example of the lessening of the duty to provide proper and adequate transport to meet the needs of Londoners.

The Bill will also prevent ratepayers from taking action through the courts, as in the Bromley case, if they disagree with the Secretary of State's judgment.

The Bill looks to privatisation of transport, financed from the public purse, to undermine the integration of London's public transport service. It centralises the provision of transport in London by direction from Whitehall, providing a bureaucracy in the name of nationalisation, with the Secretary of State becoming the dictator of the provision of services to meet London's needs—and that from a Secretary of State who, before becoming a Minister, built his reputation on doing everything possible to prove that Whitehall and its bureaucracy did not know best. Yet the first Bill that the right hon. Gentleman brings to the House as Secretary of State gives Whitehall the authority to determine how the needs of transport in London will be met. We believe that it will reduce services in the London area and reduce the facilities now available to Londoners.

The Secretary of State's press release of 4 April is headed, A watertight guarantee for pensioners concessionary fares". That is an example of the promises offered by the Secretary of State to Londoners. Under the present free pass service, pensioners can travel from 9.30 am for the rest of the day to any part of London on a free pass. What does the Tory concessionary pass amount to? Pensioners will no longer be able to travel between 4.30 pm and 6.30 pm. They will be able to travel from midnight to I am. That is to make up for the loss of the earlier two hours. Does any hon. Member believe that that will be an advantage to the pensioners of London? There is also the possibility of the pensioners being charged for the pass. That will be money out of the pocket of the pensioners, whether it is for a pass or for the provision of a free service. Pensioners will get considerably less than they do now, and there will be no guarantee that even that minimum service will be retained.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) brought in his Bill for disabled people, we heard from the Conservative party that that was not the right vehicle to do certain things for them. As the Minister of State is aware, the amendments that we moved in the Committee on this Bill were drawn up by the disabled themselves. We made that clear at the time, and the amendments had been discussed with the Minister of State and the Secretary of State. The reason why the Secretary of State was given an angry reception at the meeting with the disabled was nothing to do with the rigging. The reason was that the disabled people were sadly disappointed and angry because the Government had led them to believe that they were sympathetic to their needs, but had voted against every one of their amendments. The disabled people had found the right Bill for the amendments, but the Government rejected them.

The Bill has one real intention, and that intention is to cut the cost to the Treasury and, one might argue, to the non-domestic payer. The Secretary of State refers to the non-domestic payer. We are only a small step away from the non-domestic payer being given two votes. That is what could happen as we move into the Tory form of local democracy.

The Consumers Association had thought that its minimal amendments would be accepted. However, the door was not as open as wide as had been thought. Consumers have not been given what they thought had been promised, which was a major advance in consumers' rights.

The Government are cutting the cost to the Treasury of the transport provision at the expense of a shift of the burden to the ratepayers who, as we have shown, will be paying more. Secondly, thousands of people will be made unemployed by the Secretary of State in the name of efficiency. There will be greater redundancy in the London transport system. Thirdly, high fares and cuts in the services, as we have seen in other areas where such policies have been pursued, will hit hardest those who depend on the public services. Women in particular are dependent upon public transport. It is women who tend not to have access to a private motor car.

The Bill will lead to the establishment of a minimum system which will meet the minimum needs of London. The Secretary of State talks about the Bill as an advance in democracy. That flies in the face of my understanding of that word. People of London will be denied the right to determine their local transport services. Everywhere else in the country transport is determined by local people, but that will not be so in London. For Londoners, there will be a debate in he House of Commons lasting one and a half hours about the level of rate support and of the services to be provided.

The Secretary of State is replacing democracy with a quango of people appointed by himself as chairman, paid by him and subject to dismissal by him. As an alternative to democratic accountability, that is a farce. Ratepayers will pay taxation without the normal local representation that is found in the rest of the country. Moreover, the GLC is to be abolished and replaced by a central bureaucracy.

The Bill is ideological and will undoubtedly produce a transport service that costs more, is inferior and does not meet the needs of London. Moreover, it will be paid for by those who are least able to bear the cost and by the unemployed. The burden will be put on those who are in desperate need of a proper and adequate public transport service which, when we are returned to power, we shall see returned to London.

9.30 pm
Mr. Maples

The emotional style of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) shows the emotional and irrational way in which the Opposition have examined the Bill. It is an old record that is full of long and well-held prejudices which make no attempt to understand what the Bill attempts to do.

I welcome the Bill for two main reasons. First, it will introduce some competition into the provision of transport services in London and, secondly, as a result, London's transport will be better managed. It will be able to act more commercially and will therefore provide a better service at lower cost. LT is essentially a commercial enterprise and it is only in the past eight to 10 years that it has received substantial subsidy. Conservative Members would like that subsidy to be reduced, but not at the expense of increasing fares. To achieve that, LT must attract more traffic by providing a service at lower cost. Those are commercial matters which involve better marketing and cost control. That is what professional managers are good at, what they are trained to do and what they must be left free to do. We must remove from LT the dead hand of political control that has been so evident. Opposition Members laugh, but the dead hand of political control has resulted too often in public enterprises being run for the benefit of the staff and the votes that politicians can attract rather than for the benefit of users and the taxpayers who subsidise them.

We need to strike a balance between efficiency and social or public need as running LT entirely as a public service is the road to less service and higher costs. The London Transport Board has not been composed of people with a deep knowledge of how to run a complicated and large enterprise. It needs people who know about marketing, operational management, financial control and vehicle servicing. It has had people who know and care only about political considerations. That is a recipe for bad management, the result of which is that tough decisions are postponed, new ideas are discouraged and efficiency is sacrificed. We need a board with a deep knowledge and which will back a strong management and allow it to run the operation efficiently and progressively.

The introduction of competition will go some way to remedying the monopolistic character of LT Most monopolies are bad as they become self-satisfied and maximise their own convenience rather than that of their customers. Competition stimulates such good management. Opposition Members who do not believe that should reflect on what has happened to airlines on the north Atlantic route and in the United States since deregulation..

Mr. Prescott

What about Laker?

Mr. Maples

Laker has done wonders for people who want to travel to the United States. He collapsed the cartel and broke the monopoly. That is why we now have much cheaper air fares.

Mr. Prescott

And he owed hundreds of millions of pounds.

Mr. Maples

Ask the passengers, who like it. On that route, marketing and efficiency have been stimulated, with the result that choice has been widened and costs reduced. It is a fallacy to assume that a monopoly is the right way in which to run any enterprise.

There are areas in which no one will be able to compete with LRT and others in which no one should be able to compete with LRT but there will be many in which private operators who are licensed by LRT or the Commissioners will be able to provide a better and cheaper service. The criticism that we hear is that it involves creaming off profits. We should examine what that means. It usually means that profitable routes which people want to use and for which they are prepared to pay the economic price subsidise other routes, or that the ratepayers subsidise loss-making routes. Profitable routes are usually those which people use to get to and from work and the loss-making routes are usually in the outer-London suburbs.

Mr. Snape

That is not true either.

Mr. Maples

What I have described is usually termed the creaming off of profits. If socially necessary services must be provided and financed from public funds, they should be so financed and money should be earmarked for that purpose. It should not be lost in a web of cross subsidies.

We have heard much about democratic control. That is a fine sounding phrase, but it is simply a recipe for inefficiency coupled with high costs. Do Opposition Members believe that Marks and Spencer would provide a better service if its board were appointed by the Greater London council, and it had to consult 33 local authorities before it made decisions? If London Regional Transport ever provides half as good a service to the public as Marks and Spencer it will deserve to be the toast of this town.

9.35 pm
Mr. Cohen

The Government are driving in the wrong direction. The Bill will bring about a deterioration in public transport in London and will set the pace for such a deterioration in public transport in the rest of the country.

On Wednesday we debated concessionary fares. The old-age pensioners forced the Government to introduce a uniform scheme, but that scheme is worse than the present scheme. It will operate only at off-peak hours. The Secretary of State will be able to alter terms, limitations and conditions, and so make it worse in future. There will be an annual charge for pensioners, and private operators, by their own service licence scheme, need not accept pensioners' passes. The scheme will deteriorate and there will be an extinction of local democratic control and accountability for public transport. All powers will be taken away from the elected Greater London council and given to the Secretary of State. He will have tight financial control, and the ability to hire, fire and control the board of London Regional Transport and the LRPC. A quango will be set up, based on the Secretary of State's patronage, consisting of business managers, ex-Tory Members of Parliament and part-timers, who will be paid huge salaries at public expense. There is even provision for chauffeur-driven cars and large expense accounts. People responsible for public transport services should travel on bus passes.

Privatisation will cream off the best routes—the lines to Heathrow and the Victoria line — and money from those profitable routes will not be available for local lines. Even on the break-even routes, the public will become reliant on private operators, who will receive increasing handouts from the public purse. Services will be unreliable. Buses will be turned round to meet the needs of a football crowd rather than to continue on an established route. Privatisation means lower wages and worse working conditions for public transport employees.

The Government claim the the Bill supports the integration of the buses, tube and railways, but it does precious little in that respect. With private operators and separate companies for buses and the tubes, it is a recipe for disintegration. The stated aim is subsidy reduction. The Bill alters the authority's duty to meet that end instead of the needs of the travelling public.

The Secretary of State made it clear that financial criteria come first. The programme will reduce the subsidy. It may not be reduced immediately, but it will be reduced, and with it will come a dramatic reduction in services. The frequency of services, routes, and reliability will deteriorate, and station improvements and facilities for the disabled will be curtailed. Jobs will disappear. I forecast that 1,000 jobs a year will disappear during the next five years, and those people will be added to the dole queue.

The Bill will be remembered as heralding the death knell of the cheap fares policy, which has been not only popular but of enormous benefit to the public, to businesses and to London Transport, since more passengers mean more revenue. The policy has meant less congestion and fewer accidents. However, the Bill will mean a return to the old, vicious circle of decline with higher fares and poorer services. In addition, it is a bad Bill for ratepayers, who will have to make a higher contribution than they do now. Although businesses may gain because of a cut in the overall subsidy, they will also suffer because of higher fares and increased transport costs.

For those reasons, the Bill is a running sore for Londoners and will have to be repealed sooner rather than later.

9.40 pm
Mr. Hanley

I must take this opportunity to mention what, for me, will be the abiding memory of the Bill: the unparalleled propaganda campaign by the GLC during the past three months. I have received more than 400 letters from constituents who are frightened by the posters and leaflets produced by the GLC. Our debates on the Bill have provided an opportunity to lay to rest some of those fears. Conservative Members have not had money to waste on propaganda. The poster campaign was aimed at those least able to defend themselves, especially the elderly, the disabled and the blind, but when one considers that for the first time this Bill has enshrined in statute fare concessions for those people, one realises how cynical and sad some of the publicity was.

The campaign that affected my constituents was "Come in No. 9, your time is up." The No. 9 bus route is used by the poorest in the old borough of Mortlake, which is in my constituency. I assure the House that that route is healthy. When Hammersmith bridge was closed recently, London Transport provided a shuttle service to the south side of the bridge, and passengers could walk across it and catch a No. 9 bus on the other side. That could have been London Transport's opportunity to axe the route, but it did not do so. It had confidence in the service and in my constituents. When I asked the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) why the GLC had chosen the No. 9 route, he replied, "We had to pick some number. It was not meant to be taken literally." It was taken literally by my constituents. I wish that GLC representatives would visit my constituency and say, "We are sorry that we picked your bus route. It could have been any one." The GLC picked a bus route at random without considering the facts or the finance for the purpose of spreading fear and despondency among those who cannot defend themselves.

Our debates in Committee produced some useful amendments, for which I thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Minister of State. The Bill is unique in another respect: for the first time, ratepayers will know how much they must spend on public transport. In the past they have not known until after the event. There has been one percentage for one year and another for the next. This time there is an absolute limit, and we know how much the ratepayers must pay.

I warn the people of my constituency and of London that, now that this political football has gone, they had better watch out for the next one. It will probably be roads, with the GLC suggesting that some roads will be turned into motorways. It will stop at nothing to spread fear. After tonight, London Transport will be safe, but mark my words: there will be something else.

9.44 pm
Mr. Ernie Roberts

We discussed the Bill in Committee for many weeks, yet the Government have conceded very few amendments.

This is a bad Bill because it takes London Transport out of democratic control. It is a bad Bill because it imposes financial burden on ratepayers without their authority. It is a bad Bill because it disintegrates London Transport, British Rail, the underground and bus services. It is a bad Bill because it worsens the conditions for free bus pass users. It is a bad Bill because it will permit the sale of parts of London Transport to private profiteers. It is a bad Bill because it will lead to cuts in services and increased fares. It is a bad Bill because, under the slogan of efficiency, thousands of transport staff will lose their jobs. It is a bad Bill because it will hold back all the improvements that London Transport needs. It is a bad Bill because it is antidemocratic and destructive, and fares will be more expensive. That is my opinion.

9.45 pm
Mr. Stephen Ross

We should, I suppose, at least congratulate the Secretary of State and his able Minister of State on getting the Bill this far. I repeat my total opposition to the whole philosophy behind it. The Bill was conceived to meet a situation which all of us who believe in local democracy must abhor. As the Secretary of State clearly said in his speech, it is a total anti-Livingstone Bill.

In Committee I asked the Secretary of State whether he had ever served in local government, and he said that he had served on a rural district council. Three or four years ago I decided that there was no point in my trying to get concessions for my constituents in this House, so I deliberately fought a county council election. The only person on the register whose name I recognised was the Conservative agent, and I thought that I would not win. However, I did and I led the county council for the next two years. There is one statistic of which I am proud. In 1980, our income from industrial premises owned by the county council was £9,000. Today it is £84,000. That is no thanks to the Government, because we received no concessions or financial assistance from them. However, it shows what can be done as a local government initiative, and the same applies to transport.

For the Secretary of State to infer that transport will be better run by a quango that he will set up is appalling. Equally, I cannot understand how the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley) can claim that his constituents will be better off, given that they are losing their democratic rights.

While very little was conceded in Committee we must be thankful for small gestures. There has been the cynical concession on concessionary fares, but that had to be given to Conservative Members representing London constituencies, most of whom fought the last election on the pledge that they would not yield that. What about the rest of the country? What about my constituents and others who do not enjoy such concessions? They, too, have rights, and they, too, should be written into statute for the first time.

It is true that there has been some widening, of the responsibilities for regional transport boards, but I shall await developments because I believe that the Secretary of State will have to eat his words in relation to cutting costs. I only hope that the other place will have more influence than this House has had. It is extraordinary that the House of Lords, which no one elected, has become the conscience of the nation.

It is particularly tragic, at a time when London Transport is showing signs of considerable improvement, that we should be taking this step. The rights of individuals are being swept aside. They cannot even challenge decisions in the courts—like Bromley—and they can make only limited representations on services through the relevant appointed passenger committee.

For God's sake, let us consider the experiences of other countries. Let us look at what happened in America— the greatest supporter of private enterprise. Why was America forced to nationalise its railways? Why did it bring in Amtrac? Why can we not follow the French and have good public transport services, railways and underground systems? Why do we not follow the example of the Germans and Swiss? Why must we put the bloody clock back—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I withdraw that remark. Why must we go back to the chaotic times of the 1920s and 1930s? I realised how old I am getting when I listened to Mr. Kenneth Baker on the "Start of the Week" programme this morning, when the outbreak of war in 1939 was discussed.

I remember the chaotic competition in transport in London and elsewhere in the late 1920s and early 1930s. We do not want to go back to that. We want an efficient public transport system in London and throughout the country, and the Bill is not the way to get it. It will be a costly process and one that is not worth taking. The Secretary of State is living in cloud-cuckoo-land, as he has shown by his remarks. I reject the Bill and bitterly resent what is happening.

9.50 pm
Dr. Ian Twinn (Edmonton)

I welcome the Third Reading because it is a good Bill. Throughout the 103 hours of debate and sometimes heated rhetoric — but little more than heated rhetoric from the Opposition—we have improved the Bill through various amendments. The people of London will welcome the Bill because it will take day-to-day political control of their transport from the small clique of Left-wingers in county hall.

I am not objecting to political control of transport as such, for where there is public subsidy elected politicians must have a say. I am concerned about Left-wing Labour party members on the board putting their fingers into the day-to-day organisation of London transport. That is patently not the way to run transport in the capital city. The right course is to go for increased efficiency, and that is the goal behind the Bill. We can cut the cost by using professional management. We must have cost-effective provisions in the running of London Regional Transport.

London Transport is heavily subsidised by national taxpayers. As London Members of Parliament, we must not forget that we have a certain privileged position in London. Some of our colleagues outside look rather enviously at public transport in London and wonder why we are so cushioned. It is because we are the capital city and we have an important role to play. It is right that the national taxpayer should contribute, but it is also right that the Secretary of State should have a strong say in the running of London Transport.

I am particularly pleased that the amendment dealing with the disabled was accepted. It is right that the advances that have been made for them should not be thrown out simply because we are having a change in the system of control of London's transport. The protection for the disabled should be institutionalised. The annual reporting should do much to highlight what is being done, as well as acting as an effective pressure for improvements. I hope that improvements will continue to be made.

I am very pleased that the principle of consultation has been kept in balance. I have sat through the 103 hours of debate and been astonished at the rhetoric from the Opposition Benches with regard to consultation. They seem to want to fossilise transport in London by overdoing the consultation. Consultation is of use only if it is genuine, and if there is time within the year to have it.

I am sure that if Labour Members took the opportunity to talk to their colleagues in local government—which often they appear not to do, except at County hall— they would find that their colleagues do not want too much consultation. They want to be able to give clear views to LRT and to have those views taken into account. They do not want the process of consultation to be overdone.

I support the Bill and recommend it to hon. Members.

9.53 pm
Mr. Tony Banks

The Secretary of State let slip the mask of cultivated indifference that he managed to maintain through most of the Committee stage when he made clear why the Bill is before us today. It has nothing whatever to do with transport policy, with the interests of Londoners or with strategic planning in London; it has everything to do with the abolition of the GLC. When his hon. Friends supported him we could see, with all the venom flowing from their lips, what the Bill is really about. As the Tories see it, it is intended to prepare the way for the abolition of the GLC.

In economic and social terms, the GLC's control of London Transport has been a story of social and economic success. In the economic sphere, one can point to the operating surplus of £35 million this year. Londoners overwhelmingly want control of their transport system through a democratically elected and accountable body. All the opinion polls say so and all the good sense supports that wish. Instead, London is being offered a sawn-off transport authority, an unelected quango, as my hon. Friends have rightly said, entirely under the diktat of the Secretary of State, the new commissar for London Transport. One realises now what LRT stands for—leave it to Ridley transport. Londoners will have no say and the Secretary of State will tell us what will be done.

It is clear that the Bill is part of the Government's vindictive campaign against the GLC because they do not like the present political control of county hall. This is a shabby, squalid and basically dishonest Bill.

9.55 pm
Mr. Snape

The House has been entertained, if that is the word, by a series of speeches from Conservative Members which have moved from the predictably squalid from the Secretary of State to the predictably snivelling from the Back Benches. The only reason for the Bill is that we have a Secretary of State riddled with political prejudice, who was determined to prove, during the debates on the Bill, that the Greater London council is unfit to run London Transport. He failed to prove that at an early stage and disappeared from the Committee to leave the bulk of the work, the detail, the nitty gritty, to the Minister of State.

If, after five months of the Bill, I have to listen again to speeches about business practices and professional management by people such as the hon. Member for Edmonton (Dr. Twinn), a lecturer, or the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley), a lecturer—he should have stuck to winning baby competitions, because it has been downhill ever since for him—or a lawyer like the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Maples), or the other whipped-in puppet, the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey), who in Committee moved amendments at the Secretary of State's behest——

Mr. Terry Dicks (Hayes and Harlington)

What about me?

Mr. Snape

No, I am saving the intellectual wing of the Tory party for later.

The Government have proved only one thing—the incompetence of the Secretary of State. He started off in a predictably cheap manner by talking about the leadership of the GLC and saying that the people of London voted for the present Lord McIntosh, rather than Ken Livingstone, the leader of the GLC. Mr. Livingstone was elected by his colleagues shortly after the last general election. If there is a squalid appointment to be talked about in London Transport, it is the appointment of the right hon. Gentleman. Nobody voted for him as Secretary of State for Transport. In the private opinion of some of some his colleagues, he is the worst of the pretty poor bunch that. they have had since 1979. If he wants to lecture us about democracy, he should concede for once that the only reason he is doing that job is that he is a tame, neutered torn cat who will vote for the Prime Minister's policies in Cabinet—that is his only qualification.

The intellectual quality of the Conservative party's argument has been put forward best of all by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks) and that is a suitable comment on his colleagues in the Committee.

The Bill is squalid, to say the least. It will be the top priority of the next Labour Government to repeal it. I hope that in the short time left for the right hon. Gentleman in his office of state the damage done to the transport of the capital can be minimised.

9.59 pm
Mrs. Chalker

It must be said at the outset that the Government would have introduced the Bill whoever controlled the Greater London council. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for his support during Committee. It is crucial that we get a better deal for travellers, and that is the prime objective of the exercise. It is also important to bring together the British Rail and London Transport Executive systems to serve Londoners. For the first time, they will be looked at together, as was recommended by the Select Committee. I am confident that consumers will shortly see a considerable improvement, with more to follow formally in consumer legislation which is on the stocks.

I am also quite certain that a better-run system will cut the cost to ratepayers. We have a clear picture of exactly what the ratepayer will be paying for, which is quite different from the bundled-up budget of the GLC. I am also confident not only that travellers will see a steadily improving system in London but that that will be accompanied by a reduction in their rate bill.

I commend the Bill to the House and I hope that shortly we shall see the real reason why the GLC has fought it so hard.

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

The House divided: Ayes 254, Noes 168.

Division No. 238] [10 pm
Alexander, Richard Churchill, W. S.
Amess, David Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Ancram, Michael Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Arnold, Tom Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Ashby, David Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Aspinwall, Jack Cockeram, Eric
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Colvin, Michael
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Conway, Derek
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Coombs, Simon
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Cope, John
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Couchman, James
Baldry, Anthony Crouch, David
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Dickens, Geoffrey
Batiste, Spencer Dicks, Terry
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Dorrell, Stephen
Bellingham, Henry Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Bendall, Vivian Dover, Den
Benyon, William du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Berry, Sir Anthony Dunn, Robert
Best, Keith Durant, Tony
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Emery, Sir Peter
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Evennett, David
Boscawen, Hon Robert Eyre, Sir Reginald
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Fallon, Michael
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Farr, John
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Fookes, Miss Janet
Braine, Sir Bernard Forman, Nigel
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bright, Graham Forth, Eric
Brinton, Tim Fox, Marcus
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Franks, Cecil
Brooke, Hon Peter Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Browne, John Glyn, Dr Alan
Bruinvels, Peter Goodlad, Alastair
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Gower, Sir Raymond
Budgen, Nick Gregory, Conal
Bulmer, Esmond Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Butcher, John Grist, Ian
Butterfill, John Grylls, Michael
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Gummer, John Selwyn
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hanley, Jeremy
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Carttiss, Michael Hayes, J.
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hayward, Robert
Chapman, Sydney Henderson, Barry
Chope, Christopher Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Raffan, Keith
Hirst, Michael Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Rathbone, Tim
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Renton, Tim
Holt, Richard Rhodes James, Robert
Howard, Michael Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Rifkind, Malcolm
Jackson, Robert Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
King, Rt Hon Tom Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lamont, Norman Roe, Mrs Marion
Lang, Ian Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
Latham, Michael Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lawler, Geoffrey Rost, Peter
Lester, Jim Rowe, Andrew
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lightbown, David Ryder, Richard
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Sayeed, Jonathan
Lord, Michael Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Luce, Richard Shelton, William (Streatham)
Lyell, Nicholas Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
McCrindle, Robert Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Macfarlane, Neil Shersby, Michael
MacGregor, John Silvester, Fred
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Skeet, T. H. H.
Maclean, David John Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Soames, Hon Nicholas
McQuarrie, Albert Speed, Keith
Madel, David Spencer, Derek
Major, John Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Malins, Humfrey Squire, Robin
Malone, Gerald Stanbrook, Ivor
Maples, John Stanley, John
Marland, Paul Stern, Michael
Marlow, Antony Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Mates, Michael Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mather, Carol Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Maude, Hon Francis Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stokes, John
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Stradling Thomas, J.
Mellor, David Sumberg, David
Merchant, Piers Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Temple-Morris, Peter
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Terlezki, Stefan
Miscampbell, Norman Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Mitchell, David (NW Hants) Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Moate, Roger Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Thorne, Neil (llford S)
Monro, Sir Hector Thornton, Malcolm
Montgomery, Fergus Thurnham, Peter
Moore, John Townend, John (Bridlington)
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Tracey, Richard
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Twinn, Dr Ian
Moynihan, Hon C. van Straubenzee, Sir W,
Mudd, David Waddington, David
Neubert, Michael Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Newton, Tony Waldegrave, Hon William
Nicholls, Patrick Walden, George
Nicholson, J. Waller, Gary
Onslow, Cranley Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Oppenheim, Philip Watson, John
Ottaway, Richard Watts, John
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Parris, Matthew Wells, John (Maidstone)
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Wheeler, John
Pawsey, James Whitfield, John
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Whitney, Raymond
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Wiggin, Jerry
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Powell, William (Corby) Winterton, Nicholas
Powley, John Wolfson, Mark
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Wood, Timothy
Price, Sir David Woodcock, Michael
Proctor, K. Harvey Yeo, Tim
Young, Sir George (Acton) Mr. David Hunt and
Mr. Archie Hamilton.
Tellers for the Ayes:
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Ashdown, Paddy Deakins, Eric
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dewar, Donald
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Dixon, Donald
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Dormand, Jack
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Dubs, Alfred
Barron, Kevin Duffy, A. E. P.
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Beith, A. J. Eadie, Alex
Bell, Stuart Eastham, Ken
Benn, Tony Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Ellis, Raymond
Bermingham, Gerald Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Bidwell, Sydney Ewing, Harry
Blair, Anthony Fatchett, Derek
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Boyes, Roland Fisher, Mark
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Flannery, Martin
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Foster, Derek
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Buchan, Norman Garrett, W. E.
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) George, Bruce
Campbell, Ian Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Campbell-Savours, Dale Godman, Dr Norman
Canavan, Dennis Golding, John
Carter-Jones, Lewis Gould, Bryan
Cartwright, John Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Clarke, Thomas Harman, Ms Harriet
Clay, Robert Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Cohen, Harry Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Coleman, Donald Heffer, Eric S.
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Corbett, Robin Howells, Geraint
Corbyn, Jeremy Hoyle, Douglas
Craigen, J. M. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Crowther, Stan Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Dalyell, Tam Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) John, Brynmor
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Kennedy, Charles Randall, Stuart
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Redmond, M.
Kirkwood, Archibald Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Leadbitter, Ted Richardson, Ms Jo
Leighton, Ronald Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Robertson, George
Litherland, Robert Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
McCartney, Hugh Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
McGuire, Michael Rowlands, Ted
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Sedgemore, Brian
McKelvey, William Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
McNamara, Kevin Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McTaggart, Robert Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
McWilliam, John Skinner, Dennis
Marek, Dr John Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Martin, Michael Snape, Peter
Maxton, John Soley, Clive
Maynard, Miss Joan Spearing, Nigel
Meacher, Michael Stott, Roger
Meadowcroft, Michael Strang, Gavin
Michie, William Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Mikardo, Ian Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Tinn, James
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Torney, Tom
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Nellist, David Wareing, Robert
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Weetch, Ken
O'Brien, William Welsh, Michael
O'Neill, Martin White, James
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Wigley, Dafydd
Parry, Robert Williams, Rt Hon A.
Patchett, Terry Winnick, David
Pavitt, Laurie Woodall, Alec
Pendry, Tom Wrigglesworth, Ian
Penhaligon, David
Pike, Peter Tellers for the Noes:
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Mr. James Hamilton and
Prescott, John Mr. Frank Haynes.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.