HC Deb 26 July 1984 vol 64 cc1254-96

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House at its rising on Wednesday 1st August do adjourn till Monday 22nd October, and that the House shall not adjourn on Wednesday 1st August until Mr. Speaker shall have reported the Royal Assent to any Acts which have been agreed upon by both Houses.—[Mr. Biffen.]

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the second amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

4.27 pm
Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney)

I beg to move, as an amendment to the proposed motion, to leave out '22nd October' and insert '13th August'.

The Opposition have taken the unusual course of tabling an amendment proposing that the House does not adjourn on 1 August. Hon. Members will also have seen on the Order Paper an amendment proposing that we return in the week commencing 13 August and thereafter as necessary. We are resolved to vote on the amendment that has been selected.

The amendment reflects our view of the gravity of the interlocking crises that confront us — economic and industrial, social and political—and our belief that those problems will only intensify in the weeks between 1 August and 22 October. Economic crisis is now upon us. The most vivid expression of that is the recent leap in interest rates of no less than 2¾ per cent. in a single week. The markets, which have been lulled and gulled by the Chancellor's Budget, by his tax cuts and his emphatic assurance that the economy was making a strong recovery, suddenly woke up to the fact that it was a pipe dream, that the recovery was not proceeding, that output was fast receding, that the money supply was growing faster than Ministers said it would or should, and that, more generally, the Government looked in almost every area of affairs that they touched just about as incompetent as they actually are.

In the past four months, the whole economic outlook has clouded and darkened. When he wound up the Budget debate on 19 March the Chancellor went out of his way to contrast the critical words and warnings of the Opposition with what he called a better test: the so-called impartial verdict of the market. He proudly pointed out: During the week that has elapsed since the Budget the clearing banks' base rates were cut 0.5 per cent. to their lowest level for six years, the mortgage rate was cut by 1 per cent. and the stock market rose by 5 per cent. Now, just four months later, the minimum lending rate is not 8½ per cent., but 12 per cent.; mortgage interest rate is not 10¼ per cent., but 12¾ per cent.; the share index is not 894, but 770 — a drop of some 14 per cent. The Chancellor himself stressed the enormous importance of interest rates, when he said: Such reductions are of immense benefit to industry, business and the country".—[Official Report, 19 March 1984; Vol. 56, c. 789.] If that is true of a reduction of a half per cent. in March, how much more damage and harm to industry, business and the country does an increase of 3½ per cent. in July entail? There is not much mystery about that. Every 1 per cent. increase in bank minimum lending rates inflicts an increase of about £250 million in the costs of manufacturing industry.

What we have had since the confident presentation of the March Budget is an increase in the cost burdens on manufacturing industry of about £850 million a year. It is not just industry that has been clobbered by steeply rising interest rates. Millions of housebuyers, particularly young people struggling with their first mortgages, now face a sharp cut in their living standards and expectations.

No one should imagine that there are corrective forces at work to counter such trends as the year proceeds. The whole structure of interest rates for months ahead has now been altered, as the latest issues of Government stocks and national savings intruments have clearly revealed. The trade deficit is growing, output—at the very best—is on a plateau and unemployment will leap yet again when the school and college leavers register this autumn. The Prime Minister's claim, on 10 July—two days before interest rates shot up by a further 2 per cent.—that The economy is in good shape"—[Official Report, 10 July 1984; Vol. 63, c. 875.] is there for all to see, in all its absurdity. On present trends, we could be in deep financial difficulty and economic crisis before the summer is out.

I turn now to the mining dispute—in its 20th week. It is our most ardent wish that a resolution will be found —and long before 22 October. But we are far from certain about that. With the House in recess, there will not be the constant probings of the Government's intentions and of the state of play, nor the pressure for constructive action which the Opposition have persistently advocated thoughout the course of the long dispute.

It is all too plain to us that the Government lack the will to find a solution. Throughout the past 20 weeks they have been active and diligent in organising for victory—and inert and negligent in searching for a reasonable solution. The Secretaries of State for Energy and for Employment have washed their hands of the whole dispute. No talks have been arranged. There have been no initiatives, no mention even of inquiry, conciliation, arbitration or any other means by which men of good will and sense seek to achieve solutions to difficult problems. Even the limited, but indispensable, role of listening to and making contact with the parties has been left to my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme), who hopes to intervene later in the debate.

What are the Government's aims? Bluntly, they believe that with the backing of the state—

Mr. Francis Maude (Warwickshire, North)

As the right hon. Gentleman has stepped into the breach, would he like to comment on the remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) last night, when he condemned secondary picketing and called for a ballot? Does he accept that that was the first sign of leadership that has come from the Labour Benches?

Mr. Shore

It is up to my hon. Friend to make his own remarks, and to justify them, as I have no doubt he did when he spoke last night when I was not here.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Perhaps my hon. Friend will recall that when my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) spoke at the parliamentary Labour party meeting about three months ago in a debate on this very matter, he did so in extremely strident tones. Those of us who observed and listened to his speech last night came to the conclusion that he is coming over our way. His speech last night was not half as bad as his one three months ago. We are winning him round.

Mr. Michael Morris (Northampton, South)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it for this House to be told the internal workings of the parliamentary Labour party in its meetings?

Mr. Speaker

If the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) gives way to an hon. Member on either side of the House, that is a matter for him. What that hon. Member says is equally a matter for that hon. Member.

Mr. Shore

I have learnt my lesson about the absurdity of giving way to mischievously motivated Conservative Members with their absurd points of order. Let us keep our eye on the ball.

I was asking what are the Government's aims. Bluntly, they believe that, with the full backing of the state, Mr. MacGregor can win—and they are prepared to pay a very high price to secure that victory. But let us he clear about one thing: the economic crisis that I have already described cannot be blamed upon the mining dispute. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry was emphatic about that only three weeks ago on 4 July. When answering the question whether he would give an estimate of the effect on our trade and current national industrial performance of the present coal dispute, he said: The whole House will be pleased to know that the dispute has had no effect on the output and performance of the vast majority of United Kingdom industries."—[Official Report, 4 July 1984; Vol. 63, c. 303.] But if it will not do as an alibi for the underlying and intensifying economic crisis, there can be no doubt that, as every week goes by, the costs of the dispute mount. Today's figures of the NCB's losses of £800 million for the year ending 31 March 1984 included only three weeks of the miners' strike, although many more weeks of the ban on overtime. But, as the Government well know, the direct and indirect costs of the strike in public expenditure terms must now be running at well over £1,500 million. The costs in terms of social divisiveness, physical confrontation, hardship for mining families and for whole mining communities and damage to police-community relationships cannot be quantified, but they are appallingly high; and, as the dispute continues, attitudes become increasingly hardened and unyielding.

The Government are weak in many areas, but in their understanding of political and human psychology and their reading of the character of the people of this country they are conspicuously defective. The miners and their communities will not be coerced; they will not be brow-beaten; they will not surrender to the whips of privation. Indeed, such tactics only strengthen their resolve. So the Government can put away any idea that, by fining miners' families £15 a week, by withholding tax rebates, by "toughing it out", by tightening the screws of the social security system, they will win. They will not. What will win in the end is not coercion of the miners but persuasion; and that persuasion will succeed only if it meets the separate but linked anxieties of the great majority of the mining communities.

Mr. Richard Hickmet (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Shore

No, I will not.

The Government have to be seen to abandon their original intention of applying to the coal industry and to the sharp question of pit closures the short-term, profit and loss calculations that they insist on applying almost everywhere else in the economy. Second, the Government must show that they are committed to a thriving and expanding coal industry. Third, they must demonstrate that coal has a seriously considered place in an up-to-date, national fuel economy policy.

Although progress was made at the last round of talks, there is no doubt that the gap that remains is wide and deep. It would be foolish and misleading to suggest that all that is now needed is an acceptable alternative to the words "beneficial exploitation". The dispute is about something much larger: it is about the costs — human and social, direct and indirect, as well as financial—that are to be taken into account in deciding pit development and pit closure policies; it is about the way in which, if that agreement on criteria can be reached, it is to be subsequently implemented at local level; and it is about the whole complex area of specialised economics, the husbanding and costing of non-renewable energy resources, which cannot be dealt with by the conventional and simple approach of short-term profit and loss.

Based on the original "Plan for Coal", a new and serious debate on energy needs and policy in the 1980s and 1990s is long overdue, and it may well provide a framework within which more immediate and pressing matters can find a solution and a proper perspective.

Mr. Hickmet

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are now on the summer Adjournment, and I have always understood that this was a day for Back Benchers. Back Benchers find it difficult enough to get any time to speak in the House as it is. But I note that the Front Bench of the Labour party is here in force. Is that in order, on what is essentially Back Benchers' day?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Every hon. Member has the right to speak, and to give good reason why the House should or should not go into recess. I have heard nothing so far which is out of order.

Mr. Shore

As I was saying, the House of Commons can assist in all the matters that I have reviewed. It would be a tragedy if, in some 12 weeks' time, we were to reassemble with none of the problems of the coal strike in any way advanced, and with the cost and damage, in human and economic terms, still further increased.

Mr. Richard Tracey (Surbiton)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Shore

We are very conscious that 1984 has brought us a summer of discontent. There is anger, bitterness and violence in the coal fields; there is frustration and deep discontent at the sight of a democratically-elected Government abdicating their responsibilities, and putting the dead weight of their own negativism on to the backs of uniformed police. There is, indeed, the feeling that we have a Government who are completely insensitive to the needs and feelings of the majority of people in the country.

It is not only in the coal fields, but in the inner areas of our great cities that discontent is simmering this summer. In those urban centres today we have terrifyingly high unemployment, idle and alienated youth, racial tension, environmental decay and a pervasive pessimism about the future. Already they have suffered immense direct damage at the hands of the Government.

Councils have been first denied financial help by the Government, then fined and penalised for overspending, and finally—in the case of the metropolitan counties and the GLC—threatened with complete abolition, with their electors refused the right to vote. Then, only two days ago, the Secretary of State announced his appalling decision for the coming year. With yet another cut in the rate support grant — from 51.9 per cent. to 48.8 per cent. —every council in the land faces a reduction in Government grant. The most that any council can expect is that its position in 1985–86 will be no worse than it was in 1984–85. But most councils, including those of all the major cities, are destined to suffer at least a 4 per cent. cut in real terms in their unchanged monetary grant. Now, on top of that, 18 named authorities are to be rate-capped so that their loss will be 5 per cent. to 10 per cent. in a single year.

What is remarkable about the list is that it includes most of the worst-hit areas of inner London, and both the ILEA and the GLC which serve them. The named councils are virtually a roll-call of the inner city partnership priority boroughs in London, together with many other major metropolitan centres in other parts of the country.

Not only our economy but our society is under strain this year. There is thunder in the air: this is indeed a summer of discontent. The House cannot afford to absent itself, at such a time, for so long a span as the Government have provided for. The nation will not understand if Parliament, which is the lightning conductor of its own anger, concerns and frustrations, absents itself during the critical weeks and months that lie ahead. That is why we shall vote for our amendment this evening.

4.44 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. Giles Shaw)

I apologise to hon. Members on both sides of the House for intervening, albeit briefly, in the debate. But, as the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) has pointed out, this is an unusual Adjournment motion debate, because the Opposition have seen fit to table an amendment and, although the right hon. Gentleman barely referred to the date of 13 August in his remarks, the Opposition amendment is on the Order Paper for all to see.

In my short contribution I shall seek to respond to the right hon. Gentleman's claim that the need to review the crisis in the coal industry is a reason for not adjourning in accordance with the Government's proposals. Let me say that I see no need to accept the right hon. Gentleman's advice on this matter, although my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will wind up in the usual way and will deal with the wide-ranging issues raised in the debate.

The right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that the Government are not interested in the future of the coal industry is a bit rich. He said that he wished that he could believe that the Government were more committed to the future of the coal industry. That was prerequisite. He should know from the discussions and debates that we have had on coal that this Government have done more than any in recent years to provide for the future of the industry.

The Government have done more than any other in providing for an investment of £2 million a day, in securing a further £3 billion investment over the next four years and in improving the wages of miners who have now been offered a basic rate of £144 if the 5.2 per cent. is accepted.

Furthermore, this Government have done more than any other to provide for the right, correct and humane way of dealing with those who see fit to leave the industry, while at the same time guaranteeing a job to every single miner who wishes to remain in the industry. If that is not a convincing demonstration of the Government's commitment to the industry, I do not know what is, and frankly I think that the right hon. Gentleman—

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Shaw

No, I shall not give way, because I seek to optimise the amount of time available for Back Benchers, who rightly wish to participate in the debate.

There is not a state of emergency over the mining dispute of a character as would require the adoption of an amendment such as the right hon. Gentleman has seen fit to move. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, electricity supplies will continue well into 1985. CEGB coal stocks are at a high level and consumption is diminishing them by only 1.5 per cent. per week.

Industrial production has not been disrupted, and, despite the massive attempts made by the NUM, steel producers are still producing; indeed, they achieved a higher level of production in the last full week than at any time since the dispute began. Railways and other transport services are not at a standstill and active support from other unions seeking to escalate and widen the dispute — a characteristic of such disputes on past occasions—has not been forthcoming.

The present situation in the coal industry is that part of the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike but a significant part is not. The first and critical determining factor is that the union is widely divided on the issue and that more than 60,000 miners and other persons within the industry have elected to exercise their right to work. The Government have provided for the right to work to remain, despite the massive intimidation and pressure that have been brought to bear on individuals.

If the Labour party had seen fit to pay more attention to the fact that the NUM appears to be most unwilling to ballot its members on the issue, more credence might have been given to its attempt to move the Adjournment of the House and to seek its reassembly on 13 August. But there has been little attempt by the Opposition to come forward officially with proposals in relation to balloting the NUM work force. In that regard I pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme) because he has used his own contacts to provide prospects for discussions. I welcome his achievements but at the end of the day it must be said that after 35 hours of intensive negotiations there has not been a settlement. That is not because the National Coal Board has failed to offer attractive terms but because the NUM has made no attempt to accept that the gut issue in this dispute has been whether pits that offer no economic benefit to the industry should remain open.

The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney should remember that the National Coal Board has offered to re-examine its proposal of 6 March, based upon the 4 million tonnes contraction, and to review the objectives in individual areas. It has offered the continuing operation of the five collieries specifically referred to by the National Union of Mineworkers, providing the union can agree guidelines for future decisions relating to the closure of collieries. The board has offered to establish those guidelines more clearly. It has also offered no compulsory redundancies. In addition, generous redundancy terms are available for those who leave the industry.

Frankly, it defies belief that the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney can dismiss completely all that the NCB has offered and say that no serious attempt to negotiate is being made. It is a massively serious attempt to resolve a major problem.

Mr. Tracey

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Shaw

If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I seek to conclude very shortly.

There is an interesting ray of hope. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the costs within the National Coal Board's finances. The costs today are clearly shown in the accounts for 1983–84. Certainly some £200 million of that was attributed to the needless strike and the needless overtime ban which preceded it. But he will recognise that the loss before deficit grant of £875 million is broadly equivalent to 18 per cent. of the board's turnover. In the last four years the National Coal Board has lost nearly £2 billion. That is the underlying problem facing the industry.

The right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that every possible mine should remain open, whether or not it makes a contribution beneficial to the industry, would undoubtedly increase the degree to which the coal board is basically insolvent and incapable of running its own affairs. It is the taxpayer who will ultimately be required to pick up the bill. In 1983–84 the bill to the taxpayer was a massive £1.3 billion, which was the equivalent of £130 per week for every employee in the coal industry. The Opposition wish to see such bills continue to escalate.

Mr. Skinner

Not as much as the farmers.

Mr. Shaw

Not as much as the farmers. I can tell the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) that the rate of subsidies in the British agriculture industry for the 265,000 members who work within that industry works out at £65 per head. In the mining industry it is £130 per head. The sooner the—

Mr. Skinner


Mr. Shaw

The hon. Gentleman has had his say from his customary sedentary position. That is enough of the matter. If the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues wish that state of affairs to continue the House can make a judgment. It can judge that he will indeed require the House to return so that the bankruptcy of the nation can be continued at a scale that suits him and his friends.

Finally, I refer to the Leader of the Opposition. He is absent from these discussions and I understand that. On 12 April the right hon. Gentleman asked the Prime Minister whether she welcomed the fact that a national ballot of the National Union of Mineworkers was now a clearer and closer prospect. The Leader of the Opposition has written to Labour Members to suggest that it is important to consult the membership, and how right he is. He laid down clear guidance to them, saying that those who oppose the proposal of direct membership voting believe that a great majority of members of the party cannot be trusted to make a judgment. He has won that argument. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that his letter in the Daily Telegraph could, with a change of only four words, if he saw fit to write to the president of the National Union of Mineworkers, be paraphrased thus: "Do those who oppose the proposals of direct membership voting really think that a great majority of union members cannot be trusted to make a judgment? If they do, they had better say so. They had better admit it. They had better tell the people of the NUM that it is their membership that is wanted, not their opinion; that they are a respectful audience, not a union. Those who oppose the change have to explain how, in the name of democracy, they can deny the chance to vote to the people who make up the union."

That is the challenge that the Leader of the Opposition saw fit to make to his own party membership. I only wish that that challenge had been written to the National Union of Mineworkers, asking it to make the contribution that is required—that it should consult its membership on the terms offered so as finally to resolve the dispute.

4.56 pm
Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Devonport)

I wish to support the amendment. My only qualification is that I wonder whether we should be wise to commit ourselves to 13 August. We should ask the Leader of the House, before the House commits itself to going into recess for three months, to state that, if the miners' dispute is still continuing into the third week of August, the House shall be brought back at the start of September, before the party conference season, so that we may have at least a two-day debate on the issue.

Mr. Skinner

Will you turn up next time? You did not turn up for the last one.

Dr. Owen

The hon. Member for Ballsover —[Interruption.] Ballsover or Bolsover, it makes no difference to many hon. Members. The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) cannot take it. He likes handing it out to everyone else—

Mr. Skinner


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Right hon. and hon. Members must resume their seats when I am on my feet. I hope that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) will wait his turn and perhaps make his contribution in the ordinary course of debate.

Dr. Owen

The hon. for Bolsover has already spent five days out of the House. He will have to learn that his constant comments and interjections, usually from a seated position, are getting him nowhere. When he carries the support of the Nottinghamshire miners, and when his brother carries the support of the miners in his own pit, we may listen to him a little more. When I wish to go on a European election — I know that it is difficult for the hon. Member to understand—

Mr. Skinner

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I would not want you to be misled. I wish to put on record that my brother in the Nottinghamshire coalfield has just been re-elected to the political committee by the group known as moderates.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. If the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member have a personal difference, I wish that they would settle it outside the Chamber.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead and Highgate)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is becoming increasingly difficult to hear the right hon. Gentleman who is trying to speak. The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) constantly interrupts him. I submit to you that it is not correct to attribute the blame to the right hon. Gentleman. I ask you to order the hon. Member for Bolsover not to go on making remarks from a sedentary position.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I thought that I had made it clear that I was being equally critical of both right hon. and hon. Gentlemen. Perhaps they will have listened to what has been said both from the Chair and from elsewhere in the House.

Dr. Owen

The debate must now focus on the central issues, the first of which is the miners' dispute. We wish to hear from the Leader of the House the assurance for which I have asked, that if the miners' dispute goes into the third week of August and looks as if it will go into September the House will be recalled so that we may debate it before the party conferences. That is what the House and the country expect, and I do not think that it is asking too much of the right hon. Gentleman.

The other reason why I think that it is prudent for the right hon. Gentleman to make that commitment is that the country's economic state is not such that the House can legitimately be expected not to sit for three months. I put to the right hon. Gentleman the same point that I put to the Prime Minister. A Government public expenditure review is currently taking place. It is not confined to public expenditure for 1985–86 but is considering public expenditure commitments for Government Departments for the current year, and the reason is not difficult to imagine. The fact is that on all the basic parameters on which the Government's economic policy is based they are way off target.

As regards the targets for the public sector borrowing requirement of £7.25 billion which the Government have accepted and have asked us all to worship at its altar, for the first quarter January to March it reached £4.7 billion, or two-thirds of the target. In the first quarter of 1983–84, it overshot by only £2.6 billion. It appears that the Government will have great difficulty in meeting their targets this year. Most people are forecasting an overshoot of £1 billion at least, and perhaps £2 billion. On the money supply figures, sterling M3, the main indicator, rose by 2 per cent. last month, making a rise of an annual rate of 15 per cent. since February, which is way above the Government's target of 6 to 10 per cent., and most City commentators are forecasting an overshoot of 10 to 12 per cent.

As regards local authority overspending—

Mr. Maude


Dr. Owen

No. We must keep speeches reasonably short.

Despite rate-capping procedures, overspending on local authorities' budgets is currently £850 million above the Government's target of £2.5 billion for 1984–85, while capital spending is overrunning by £350 million on an annual basis. That produces a total overshoot of £1.2 billion for 1984–85.

On public sector pay, for which the Government had a target figure of 3 per cent., the outcome following the 6 to 9 per cent. increases announced on 7 June by the five public sector review bodies is that public sector basic pay rates will rise by between 5.5 and 6 per cent.—nearly double the Government's target. That is an overshoot of between 5 and 6 per cent., which adds directly £400 million to the Government's bills.

That is nothing compared with what is in the pipeline. There is a dispute over Civil Service pay. The question of teachers' salaries has gone to arbitration after the deliberations of the Burnham committee, whose reference the Government opposed. If we add the figures—the local authority overspend of £1.2 billion, public sector pay £0.4 billion and the miners' dispute, which has been conservatively estimated at £1 billion—there is already an overshoot of £2.6 billion. That means that the contingency reserve has already been overtaken almost totally for that figure is £2.75 billion.

The Leader of the House, a former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is well aware that there are serious forecasts about the problems that face the Government. My objection is that it now looks as if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not come to the House and make clear what he intends to do about public expenditure and announce cutbacks and be answerable for them, but will eke them out over August while we are on the beaches and we shall hear announcements about increased charges and more cutbacks. That is no way to treat the House or the country on a matter that is of fundamental importance.

I turn to the statement by the Minister who is responsible for the coal industry — and no one would deny that he has shown a great knowledge of that industry. What was missing from his statement was any sign of how the Government will approach the coming month. Will there be a fight between the NCB and the NUM, with no initiative and no new action? As long ago as April we put forward proposals for the NCB actively to involve itself in doing something about creating jobs in areas of high unemployment where there might be pit closures.

We suggested the creation of NCB Industry Ltd., but that proposal has not been acted upon despite constant demands for it. I wrote to Mr. MacGregor in May asking him to consider the suggestion. In June, I went to see him and again put to him the proposal for NCB Industry Ltd. I now hear that there is a possibility of some movement in that direction. Again, any progress should be reported to the House. I hope that we shall be told by the Leader of the House whether NCB Industry Ltd. is to be created. If it is, let us be told what capital is to be put into it and the extent of aid to be given in terms of management and lower interest rates to help create jobs, and of any special arrangements to make NCB Industry Ltd. the success that BSC Industry Ltd. is.

Secondly, what action is to be taken about the continued secondary picketing? To many of us it is unacceptable that the law should have been ignored for 20 weeks. The Government are losing sight of the much wider perspective, and secondary action is being legitimised. If no action is taken, in a few months' time it will not just be claimed that the law has proved to be inadequate and unacceptable, but it will be demonstrated that the Government have effectively accepted secondary action. That is not good enough. Pressure must be put on the NUM, and the House has the right to know what form it takes.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)


Dr. Owen

I shall not give way, as time is very short.

Mr. Skinner

Where are the Liberals?

Dr. Owen

The hon. Member for Bolsover still cannot keep quiet.

The third question which I put to the Leader of the House is what action will be taken about those who have had a charge made against them but have not come before the courts? That causes deep concern with regard to the wider issue of law and order. It is high time that matters were brought out into the open.

Labour Members have made it absolutely clear that they back the NUM completely. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bolsover says, "We are backing the winners", but some of us want the dispute ended, although not at any price. We feel that it is time for pressure to be applied and for the momentum to be maintained. Illegal secondary action should not be tolerated, the intimidation that has gone on in mining communities should not be allowed to continue, and the house of a man who wants to work, and is free to do so, should not be picketed. Again., a policewoman should not be staying at the house of a family whose men are working. It is disgraceful and intolerable that there have been abuses of civil rights and liberties.

Mr. Skinner

On both sides.

Dr. Owen

Yes, there have been occasions when the police have exceeded their powers. Those incidents should be exposed with the same vigour as others have been; indeed, that has happened. But let no right hon. or hon. Member try to equate the actions of the police with those of the pickets. Day after day and week after week, the police have shown incredible control. Of course there have been isolated incidents in respect of which the officers involved should be disciplined; there is a procedure for investigation. If we do not stand up for civil liberties—

Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)

The right hon. Gentleman has not seen what is happening.

Dr. Owen

I have seen it; I have visited Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire.

We have a duty to make our voices heard on these issues. All I ask of the Leader of the House is that he gives some indication of the Government's intentions. If we go through August with no action being taken, it will not be long before we come to winter, when the demands on energy will increase. We are told that it is not possible to import coal but we are entitled to hear why it is not possible.

It is perfectly legitimate for the House to know how the Government intend to handle some of the questions which I ask calmly and carefully. I believe that it is necessary for us to put together a package of measures which will maintain the law in all its aspects and does not accept that we will effectively be starved into submission through a lack of coal in the winter months, which is the tactic of the NUM. As long as it is made clear to the people that the Government do not intend to do that or to apply the law of this country, both criminal and civil, equally and impartially, the NUM will carry a great deal more conviction.

The fact is that the Government lost the initiative in this strike about six to eight weeks ago. They have probably regained it in the past week or so, and that is to be welcomed. The chairman of the NCB went as far as most people would think was reasonable—some would say he went further — to find a form of words which was acceptable. However, we are now deadlocked, so it is reasonable for the House to be told how the Government intend to handle the problem. With the background of economic statistics and loss of target figures that the Government now face, a much wider audience than that in the United Kingdom wants to know how the miners' dispute will be handled, and the House, too, is entitled to know that.

It is not my job to give a definition of an uneconomic pit; that is a matter for negotiation between the NCB and the NUM. I merely say that I would not accept it as possible that the NUM should say that it will never consider the closure of any pit on economic grounds. That appears to be the position adopted by Mr. Scargill. It is Mr. Scargill who has divided the union. It is Mr. Scargill who has ensured that the members of a union which was one of the most united of all trade unions find themselves so severely split. It is Mr. Scargill who has made this a political strike. It is Mr. Scargill who has not been prepared to make any concession or compromise. It is time that an alternative voice was heard loud and clear saying that Mr. Scargill's tactics of intimidation, violence, bullying and distortion are intolerable to the people of this country.

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend (Bexleyheath)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not intolerable that, when the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) was making his speech, a speech in parallel was being made from a sedentary position by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner)? Is not that a total abuse of the traditions of the House?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Sedentary interruptions are to be deprecated from whichever part of the House they come. I agree with the hon. Member that those from below the Gangway were intolerable. However, I believe that the whole House will realise that we are discussing a serious and highly emotional issue, so it would be totally unreasonable to expect the House to behave as though we were discussing a minor matter.

Mr. Hickmet

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Many hon. Members wish to hear what the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport, (Dr. Owen) has to say but he is a most difficult person to hear, precisely because of the sedentary interventions made from below the Gangway on the Opposition Benches.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

No doubt the House will take account of what has been said, but points of order will only delay the opportunities for hon. Members to take part in the debate.

5.14 pm
Mr. Fergus Montgomery (Altrincham and Sale)

The right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) said that he would support the amendment. Therefore, he wants the House to sit in the middle of August, which is perfectly fair. However, later in his speech the right hon. Gentleman warned the Government that statements must not be made by Ministers during August when he would be on a beach somewhere. I cannot help feeling that were my right hon. Friend to accept the amendment a lot of right hon. and hon. Opposition Members would be in a state of shock because they would have to cancel the holidays they have already planned.

I wish to raise three issues with my hon. Friend and hope that he will give the House a statement before we rise for the summer recess. The first issue was mentioned during business questions by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) and my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. Hill) and concerns the Civil Aviation Authority's report on airline competition policy. We are very worried in the north-west of England because there is an international airport at Manchester and we are concerned about its future. Every hon. Member with constituencies in the north-west would say that he is proud of that airport's achievements. If the CAA report is implemented it could be a catastrophe for Manchester international airport. To suggest that British Airways should lose all its European services from Manchester, leaving it with domestic services only and the flight that will operate from April three times a week to New York, could lead to British Airways withdrawing completely from Manchester airport and a consequent loss of jobs. We are not being offered competition but substitution.

Therefore, a statement from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State should be made before the House rises for the summer recess. If he cannot make a statement by then, he should wait until we return in the autumn. It would be unforgivable if a statement were made on such an important issue while the House was in recess when we had not the opportunity to question my right hon. Friend on a matter of vital importance to the north-west.

The inquiry into the third London airport was completed a year ago. The decision taken will be of vital importance to the north-west too. It is ironic that the people in Essex do not want the third London airport at Stansted and the people in greater Manchester would welcome an expansion of Manchester airport. That would mean the provision of more jobs. Rumours are circulating that the inspector is in favour of Stansted—I hope that they are only rumours. I should like an undertaking before we rise for the summer recess that when that report is published a debate will take place in the House before a decision is reached. That would give us a chance to make our case before a decision is taken.

It seems daft that there is any argument about the issue. If the decision is taken in favour of Stansted, the people in that area will be up in arms, as will those in greater Manchester. If Stansted gets the thumbs down, those in that area and in greater Manchester will be delighted.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House should understand that 40 per cent. of United Kingdom international passengers originate outside the south-east of England. They are entitled to some consideration, so I hope that we shall be told before the House rises that a debate will be held before a final decision is reached.

I know that my right hon. Friend would be disappointed if I took part in this debate without mentioning my hobbyhorse—the reform of the rating system. A year ago, I warned my right hon. Friend when I said: I have raised this issue often before. I make no apology for raising it again today and I shall go on raising it until something is done to find a fairer system, and if that does not put the fear of God into my right hon. Friend I do not know what will."—[Official Report, 25 July 1983; Vol. 46, c. 811.] My right hon. Friend must be fearless because he has not taken a blind bit of notice and we are left with the same iniquitous rating system. I admit that the Government have tried to help the hard-pressed ratepayers with a measure called rate capping and the proposed abolition of the metropolitan counties. I am astonished that the Government have taken so much abuse from the Opposition parties when they planned to abolish the same councils. I remind my right hon. Friend of those parties' manifestos. The Labour party manifesto states: Unitary district authorities, in England and Wales, could be responsible for all the functions in this area that they could sensibly undertake. If there are unitary authorities, the metropolitan counties must automatically go.

The alliance went further. Its manifesto states: It would inevitably involve the eventual abolition of the Metropolitan Counties, and the GLC". I remind my right hon. Friend, too, that some weeks ago there was an interesting discussion on Sir Robin Day's programme, "Question Time". Ms. Polly Toynbee, who stood as the SDP/Liberal alliance candidate for Lewisham, East and fortunately was not elected, had a field day attacking the Government for their plans to abolish the metropolitan counties. When she was reminded by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) that she had fought on exactly that programme, she denied it. The poor, bemused lady did not even know what policy she had been fighting on at the last general election.

Mr. Skinner

It is called hypocrisy.

Mr. Montgommery

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I think that my right hon. Friend should point out that what we are seeking to do was being sought by other parties at the last election.

We are still left with the problem of finding a fairer system of raising local authority finance. No one can dispute that the present system is manifestly unfair, because no account is taken of a person's ability to pay. Everyone knows cases of two identical adjacent houses where in one there is an elderly widow and, in the other, three or four wage earners, with both houses paying the same rates bill. I cannot see any justice in that. The unfairness is compounded by the system of water rates, which are based on a hypothetical rental value rather than on consumption. I have never had a satisfactory answer from anyone as to why there are property rate rebates but no water rate rebates. I mention that because I believe that water rates are another burden that bears heavily on the poor and elderly.

We are always being reminded that the Conservative party is pledged to get rid of the rating system. There was a pledge in the October 1974 manifesto, when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was shadow Environment Secretary. The 1979 manifesto gave rating reform a much lower priority because the Conservative party's view at that time was that direct taxation had increased so drastically that a reduction in direct taxation must take precedence.

There are basically three options for changing the rating system. There is, first, the sales tax, which seems to work well in the United States. The United States is a very large country and, in a smaller country such as ours, if there were a substantial variation in shopping patterns it could be very difficult for traders. There is local income tax, which is fairer than the present system because it takes into account a person's ability to pay. The argument was always used that the present system was easy to administer and easy to collect and that if there were a local income tax the administrative cost of collection could be expensive. I should have thought that with the new technology and computers that argument could now be destroyed.

The third alternative is a poll tax, which would spread the burden evenly on everyone on the electoral register. It would be easy and inexpensive to collect. The Green Paper forecast that a £30 poll tax would yield £1,200 million annual revenue. I am beginning to wonder whether a mixture of a poll tax and a much reduced domestic rate is the answer to the ratepayers' problem. If one looks at the back of a rate demand, one will find that education is far and away the biggest spender. Teachers' salaries take the highest percentage of the education budget. I am convinced that teachers do not want to be civil servants. They want to keep the local connection and to be employed by their local education authority. Therefore, those local education authorities must have some financial responsibility. Perhaps we could have a scheme whereby teachers' basic salaries are paid by central Government and any additional payments are shared between central Government and the local education authorities. If that scheme were adopted it would lift an enormous burden from the shoulders of ratepayers. I admit that it would add to the burden of the direct taxpayer. It must not be taken as a signal to spendthrift councils that when the burden for the ratepayer has been reduced they can press on with their wild, extravagant schemes so that the ratepayer will be back to square one.

I have tried to be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I realise the enormous demand that there is to speak in the debate. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will note the points that I have made and that before the House rises I can have some assurances on the three points that I have raised.

5.24 pm
Mr. Jack Dormand (Easington)

I shall be very brief in developing two points which I believe to be crucial in the mining dispute and which the Government have completely failed to comprehend. The first is the utter determination of the miners and their families to stay out. I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) spent so much time and emphasised that so strongly when he made the initial contribution from the Opposition at the Dispatch Box. There was never any doubt about the miners' resolution from the first day of the strike, but I tell the Government that their determination grows stronger every day.

Mr. Maude

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dormand

I always do, but on this occasion I am making a five-minute speech and, in those circumstances, I think that I am justified in not accepting interventions.

If the Government are counting on a break in the miners' resolve, they are making a fundamental error that will have far-reaching effects not only on the coal industry but on the country as a whole—and I refer to social as well as to economic effects. I cannot emphasise too strongly to the Minister and the Government that the reality in the pit villages bears no resemblance whatever to their view of the present situation. I could give many examples, but one from my own area—the north-east—will suffice. Two weeks ago, the northern-eastern area of the National Coal Board sent out personal invitations, every one individually signed by each colliery manager, asking the men to return to work, saying that 200 buses would be laid on to take them to the pits and that anyone restarting work would qualify for pay during the annual July holiday period. Not a single member of the north-east's 22,000 work force attempted to return to work—and that after 18 weeks of strike and all the hardship entailed.

The Government must recognise that determination. They must realise the implications of their mistaken view of the feelings in the mining communities. There is a saying that I hear every weekend when I go home to my mining constituency. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides have heard the miners say, "We are now through the pain barrier. After 19 weeks of this, we can carry on indefinitely", and intend to.

The Government have the responsibility for the pits. We hear almost every day about the deterioration of coal faces and expensive pit machinery. Do the Government wash their hands of all that? If so, it is a criminal abdication of their responsibility for a great industry. The Government had better remove from their balance sheet, if I can so describe it, from their plans, the possibility of breaking the miners' spirit and determination, because it will not happen.

The Government's second major error is one made on their own chosen ground, namely, the economics of the coal industry. From the beginning, the Government have taken a short-term myopic view of the industry. They have not taken into consideration the full financial implications of pit closures — social security payments, redundancy payments, about which the Government are always boasting, the often underrated costs of demolition, raising machinery, transfering machinery, and so on. I can give many other instances.

Some months ago, the National Union of Mineworkers produced a paper arguing that closing a pit produced a net loss to the Exchequer. I do not expect this Government to pay too much attention to an NUM document, but it is significant that they have never attempted to refute that NUM case. I go further. I believe that there is now sufficient evidence to suggest that a net loss does result from closures, and the strike has encouraged a number of investigations into that aspect. For example, several respected academics have produced reports and papers, and if the Government have a genuine desire to bring the dispute to an end, they should establish their own inquiry into the financial situation with an instruction to report within a short period. Sufficient work has been done to ensure that a quick report could be produced.

Any normal, humane Government would realise, of course, that a narrow financial investigation such as I propose is not sufficient. No civilised society should contemplate deliberately throwing a man on the unemployment scrap-heap — because that is what it means—with no alternative work available. Let me give an example from my constituency, where the only major job-finding agency is the new town development corporation. It is the only organisation or institution that is bringing jobs to my area. Nevertheless, the Government propose to abolish it next year, at the same time as proposing to close pits. That is the kind of lunacy that faces us. Shops have already closed in my area, and even professional people — lawyers, doctors, dentists — are feeling the draught. These and other developments are part of the economic decline that results directly from pit closures.

I hope the Minister will agree that, in this brief contribution, I have tried to be constructive. I am pleased to have his assent to that.

Many other aspects of the dispute cry out for comment, but if the Government do not recognise the importance of the two issues that I have raised I fear that we shall not make much progress. They are vital to a sector of society which, for decades, has contributed to the nation's well-being. Coal mining, in spite of all the improvements that have been made, remains a dirty, disagreeable and dangerous job. I go down the pits regularly, so I know. Nevertheless, miners and their families accept it, provided they feel that they have the security that such an occupation deserves.

The Government have shirked their responsibility in this dispute, but I hope that the arguments from this side of the House — except, if I may say so, those of the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) —will lead them to a fundamental change of policy. Their intervention is both necessary and urgent.

5.31 pm
Mr. James Kilfedder (North Down)

A simple and cogent reason why the House should not adjourn on Wednesday 1 August, which has not been mentioned so far, is the grim situation in Northern Ireland. Unless there is an emergency recall of Parliament, the House will not meet again until 22 October. During the long summer recess, when the people of England, Scotland and Wales will enjoy a relatively peaceful and contented time, the people of Ulster will continue to live under the frightful shadow of the terrorist thug and murderer.

In moving the amendment, the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) gave a number of reasons why the House should not adjourn. He spoke of a summer of discontent. I wish indeed that the only problem facing Northern Ireland was that of the mining industry that is now facing this country. I have the greatest sympathy with that problem, because I regret to see miner confronting miner and miner confronting the police, but I ask my parliamentary colleagues to ponder the plight of the decent, law-abiding people of Northern Ireland, who have been subjected to 15 years of horror and bloodshed by a vile group of evil beings. These obscene thugs show no compassion or mercy to their innocent or helpless victims, but when they are arrested they demand —loudly and clearly, as always—the full protection of the British legal system, which they are intent on destroying. When they are arrested, these terrorist thugs protest vehemently about any alleged rough handling on arrest or in detention.

It is sad that those criminals will continue to mutilate, murder and commit appalling atrocities during the three months of the summer recess. Sadder still is the fact that the police, the Army and the Ulster Defence Regiment —which have shown great courage and dedication, and deserve the thanks of the entire nation — do not yet receive full, unequivocal support from everyone in the Province, especially not from all the clergy, even though all are prepared to condemn terrorists whenever a singularly violent and shocking crime is committed. There is little use in expressing sympathy to the bereaved or attending victims' funerals unless all the clergy and elected representatives who reject violence are prepared to take an implacable and unequivocal stand against terrorists.

Terrorists are the enemies of all decent people in Northern Ireland. They stop the political progress and peace which would bring prosperity and create a future for the young who live against the background of such a nightmare. The terrorists are like the Mafia of old, who obtained a rich and easy living by terrorising everyone and killing without compunction.

As everyone in the House knows, or should know, Northern Ireland is one of the finest places in the world. Its success in the past depended on its diversity. I believe that the future success of the Province depends on the diversity of its people. Protestant and Roman Catholic can each act as a catalyst and help each other to make a worthwhile future for their children. No one will have a future if terrorists are allowed to keep their boot on the neck of those living in the Province.

There could yet be a magnificent flowering of culture and learning in the best tradition of Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Dean Swift, Goldsmith and other great figures—the hosts of the past who brought great credit to the Province and to the rest of Ireland. All the ingenuity possessed by the people of Northern Ireland could recreate the spirit that would make Ulster peaceful and prosperous once again.

That is why the Northern Ireland Assembly—which has just completed its second year of existence, despite political predictions that it would not last two days or two weeks — has such an important role to play in the Province's future. If the elected representatives of different political and religious hues get together in the Assembly to exchange ideas and humour, confidence can be restored in the Province. With the creation of confidence, all things are possible.

I pay tribute to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who has held that office for nearly three years. As I have said before, he is a man of integrity; he is caring and compassionate and epitomises what is best in English political life. The good wishes of the Ulster people will go with him and his wife in whatever career he may follow.

Finally, before the debate returns to the mining industry and miners' representatives recreate an explosive situation in the Chamber, I close with a personal comment. Before the House resumes on 22 October I shall have attained the 20th anniversary of my first election to Parliament.

I am proud to have had the opportunity of representing the people of Northern Ireland. I wish to pay a tribute to the Ulster people who, despite the defamation that has been spread about them by Republican terrorists, have great qualities and traits. They have great heart, charity, and humour and they are to be admired. I am proud to have represented them in the House over a considerable period. I pray to God that over the summer months nothing will happen in the Province that will create bloodshed. I hope that before long the people of Northern Ireland will be able to enjoy once again the peace to which they are entitled.

5.40 pm
Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

As the hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder) suggests, I will return to one of the most important aspects of the debate. I notice that the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) has left the Chamber. Not one representative of the alliance party remains to say why we should not adjourn.

We have heard many comments on the mining dispute over the past few weeks and one of the most inflammatory was that made by the Prime Minister and some of her colleagues at the weekend. They said that the leader of the mineworkers was like Galtieri and that the miners were like the enemy within. I remind the House that it was the sons and brothers of "the enemy within" who fought in the Prime Minister's Falklands war, and we should never forget that. My constituents were insulted by the remarks, and the Prime Minister and her Ministers owe my constituents an apology.

The first mistake was the appointment of Ian MacGregor. When he was appointed after his butchery of the steelworkers, the miners knew what to expect. It was then that they decided that the battlelines were drawn. It was the closure of Cortonwood that set it off, but I shall not go through that again. When people ask about the closure of Cortonwood, I always say to them that one never throws a match into a gas-filled room. That is what the Government did by allowing Cortonwood to close.

During the many years that I worked for the board, I closed collieries. There was no problem. The way to do it is to follow the agreed procedures. There is a review procedure. I do not know one person at Cortonwood who did not expect the pits to last for more than two years. It would not last for more than five or seven years, as was suggested. The men knew that the pit would be in jeopardy after two years. However, the closure was premature, unnecessary, unprecedented and caused the problems.

It is said that people are screaming out for a ballot. However, Yorkshire had a ballot in 1981 and 84 per cent. of Yorkshire miners said that if there were closures on economic grounds industrial action would be taken. The miners' conference, mandated by its members, said exactly the same thing—that there would be a strike if there were economic closures. The evidence was there. Cortonwood was an explosive situation and its closure was all that was needed to set off the dispute. Therefore, there was a strike in Yorkshire, agreed to by ballot, and the pickets from Yorkshire and elsewhere went to bring their colleagues out with them.

We should consider what is meant by a promise of a job for everyone and why workers in my area regard that with suspicion. My constituents went from Elsecar to Cortonwood because there was no other place to go and then Cortonwood closed. They did not want to go to Cortonwood in the first place but had to because there was no alternative. Electricians, fitters and some of the men were found jobs, not as underground electricians or mechanics, but as surface electricians and mechanics because no other jobs were available. Some people had to go in to the workshops. They did not want to go to those jobs some 20 miles away, but nothing else was available.

Therefore, when the Secretary of State and the Minister say that there is a job for everyone, we must ask "Where, how far and for how long?" In happier times I brought miners down from Scotland and Durham to Yorkshire but the heartbreak of having to leave home has to be believed.

How do the Government expect a man to leave home when his children are taking O and A-levels? How can they expect 20,000 people to move? That is what is asked when we are told that there are 20,000 jobs available elsewhere. What arrangements will be made for housing and schools? That is not an easy task—it is a planned task over many years. Those are the things that the Government and the board have failed to consult the men about. One cannot say "I will close that pit" and expect everything to work out. That was tried in the 1960s when Schumacher decided that he would put collieries into three categories. That is what the Government and the board are trying to do now, to put collieries into categories A, B and C—the ones that make a profit, those on the border line and those that are unprofitable. Therefore, the C pits are closed. However, what was forgotten in those days, and what is forgotten now, is that a man can be asked to move and he can say, "I ain't going." What happened was that the B pits became unprofitable because the C pits were closed and the men did not move. Therefore, we run in a spiral. It is wrong to deal with the problem in the coal fields in such a way.

Mr. MacGregor brought an American system into English industrial relations and made a hash of it. It did not work. As has been said about the strike, there is no going back. That is sad and a bad reflection. The men and women in my area have lost everything except their pride, dignity and integrity. There is no going back and the Government and the board should realise that fact. All that is left to these people is their pride, dignity and integrity. Everything else has been taken from them — cars, videos, and so on—and they are in debt. However, they will be fed because those who are in work will feed them. Schools will feed the children and they will have a roof over their heads. People in the area will see to that. There will be no one starving and there will be no going back.

However, an honourable settlement can be achieved, if not easily, and the House should not adjourn until the miners strike is settled and the miners in the coalfields are back at work, where they should be.

5.48 pm
Sir Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead and Highgate)

I want to concentrate on House of Commons matters because by tradition this debate has never before been hijacked by the Opposition Front Bench. I believe that that is wholly wrong. I will make passing reference to the speech of the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). He revelled in Britain's economic problems. His speeches have become increasingly waspish, which is a clear indication of his reselection problems. I can only suggest that his priorities are wholly wrong and that when he ceased to be a Minister he should have given up reading his speech. That is what he did this afternoon.

Although the debate may have moments of emotion, that does not excuse the behaviour we experienced while the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) was speaking. The rules of the House should be observed whether or not the debate is emotional. If we allow that tradition to go, we allow the procedures of the House to degenerate into what goes on behind the Iron Curtain. I would defend the right of the right hon. Gentleman to make his speeches, and he should be heard in the same silence as anyone else in the House. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) mentioned earlier the absence of the right hon. Member for Devonport. His absence is preferable to the presence of the hon. Member for Bolsover.

The House of Commons eighth report from the Committee of Public Accounts was published on 12 December 1983. It referred to the National Audit Office, and the Exchequer and the Audit Department. On page viii, referring to the new headquarters for the C & AG and the National Audit Office, it states: We recommend that authority to proceed be granted by the Public Accounts Commission at the earliest possible date. We trust that every effort will be made by the NAO to keep the cost of moving to a new building as low as possible. When I read that, I cast around for a way of questioning on this matter. After consultation through the usual channels, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House was good enough to arrange a five-minute slot every few weeks for the hon. Member who answers for the Public Accounts Commission. So far, so good. Therefore, on 22 May I was able to ask my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), as Chairman of the PAC, for the detailed reasons why it is not intended to locate the headquarters of the National Audit Office outside London. I had a long, helpful reply from him. As former Ministers, we both know that certain answers are drafted so as not to give the maximum amount of information. As a Minister one is taught to give only bare information in order to answer the question. I agree with that. It is good, as it teaches people to ask questions properly.

However, then I thought that it would be useful to hold an Adjournment debate on the National Audit Office. For example, I wanted to ask why it had to be looking for accommodation in central London, which is very expensive, when it could have gone to the London Docklands area which is being developed and which has substantially cheaper accommodation. I was not able to do that because I was informed by the Principal Clerk in the Table Office, when I applied for a balloted Adjournment, that in view of the fact that the present rule regarding Ministerial responsibility for Adjournment debates has been adhered to ever since the war, the Clerk of the House has concluded that we would have to advise the Speaker that he should not, on his own authority, change the rulings of the House so as to permit an Adjournment debate on a subject for which a Minister has no responsibility, or a debate to be answered by a Member other than a Minister. We are able to question the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission at Question Time, but we cannot question him in an Adjournment debate. I am informed that those responsible for the National Audit Office have no Minister responsible to them in such a way that it is possible to question a Minister on the Floor of the House in an Adjournment debate on this subject.

That is an important issue. The new National Audit Office is producing some useful and informative reports. It is true that one can question the departmental Minister on his particular subject, but one cannot question the philosophy behind that body or the rulings and decisions of the Commission.

I ask my right hon. Friend a very simple question. He knows me of old; I do not ask him difficult questions. Before the House rises for the summer recess—I trust that he will not advise the House to accept the amendment —will he make it possible for an Adjournment debate to be held on the subject without changing the rules? If not, then I ask him to arrange for the matter to be considered by the Procedure Committee at a very early date, preferably at its first sitting after October 22.

Finally, can my right hon. Friend tell us before the House rises that, in the light of the nonsensical farce which has resulted from the general election in the State of Israel, the Government will in no circumstances tolerate any form of proportional representation?

5.56 pm
Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)

I am pleased to participate in the debate, because, like my right hon. Friend who moved the amendment, I believe that the House should not adjourn until it has seriously considered the miners' strike.

I listened attentively to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary. Some of his statements rather amazed me. From all the rhetoric to which we have listened over the past 20 weeks, it appears that the Government do not get the message. I shall repeat the messages that have been delivered in the House in the past 20 weeks and particularly the past 10 weeks: in no way will the Government win this issue. The miners, their wives and families are now more determined than ever that they will win.

Mr. Marlow

They want to get back to work.

Mr. Powell

If the hon. Gentleman shuts up, listens and learns something, he may try to put pressure on his own party to settle a dispute that needs to be considered very seriously, in his own interests in particular, because he probably has shares stocked up somewhere bringing in capital. I shall come to that in a minute, because the issue is affecting not only the miners, their wives and families, whose televisions, cars and holidays have gone, which they are quite prepared to suffer.

We have heard over the weeks about the number of collieries that were closed under the last Labour Government and under Labour Governments before that. There are not many collieries left now because of those closures. But in Ogmore since the Tory Government took office the Caerau colliery was closed—in 1979—and in 1981 the Coegnant colliery was closed. The miners had to find jobs elsewhere. There were no redundancy agreements. They had to move out of their areas to find jobs five, 10 and 15 miles away.

On January 7 this year, without the normal negotiations with the NCB and the NUM in south Wales, the Wyndham Western colliery, the last colliery in the Ogmore valley, was closed, with a loss of 550 jobs. The last colliery in the Llynfi valley, which employs 824 miners and for us is at the top of the hit list, will be closed unless the miners win the battle. To the Llynfi valley and to Maesteg it will mean that male unemployment in that area which is now 24 per cent. will escalate to 45 per cent., with no chance of other jobs in the Ogmore area. That is what the fight is all about.

There is an abundance of coal in the Llynfi and Ogmore valleys. There is now talk of sinking a new pit in Black Mill which is only three miles from the colliery which was closed on January 7.

Since I was elected in 1979, I have constantly advocated a new mine at Margam, and that was being sympathetically considered until the Government appointed Ian MacGregor—that geriatric with one foot in the crematorium—

Mr. Marlow

He has done very well for a geriatric.

Mr. Powell

We do not think that he is doing very well. He was responsible for the fact that in my constituency the number of unemployed steelworkers escalated from 1,000 to 7,000 during the two years that he was chairman of the British Steel Corporation.

The right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) should drive, walk or catch a train to some of the areas where pickets are on duty and witness, as I have witnessed, some of the police brutality—

Mr. Hickmet


Mr. Powell

Has the hon. Gentleman been to those areas?

Mr. Hickmet

My constituency has been on the receiving end of considerable violence from pickets, both at Orgreave and in Scunthorpe itself. Were it not for the actions of the police, the steel works would have been in great difficulty, if not closed. The consequences of that for a town of 66,000 people would be far more horrendous than anything of which the hon. Gentleman is speaking.

Mr. Powell

I shall not take long to reply to those remarks, other than to suggest that the hon. Gentleman reads last week's publication of Police, which is issued to every hon. Member, takes note of what it said about Orgreave and studies the photographs that it has published. He should read other documents about Orgreave, which show how brutally the police have behaved.

I have visited the steel works in Margam and Llanwern. I saw lorry loads of coking coal and iron ore being transported from one place to another, sometimes using 150 lorries at a time. The miners tried to stop the lorries, and I saw the police deliberately provoking them to take action to keep the lorries out of the works. I have seen lorries run over people—

Mr. Hickmet


Mr. Powell

It is not rubbish. I have witnessed all that. If Conservative Members want to speak with authority, they should witness it for themselves.

Today's edition of The Standard announced National Coal Board losses of £875 million for last year—£390 million more than in 1982–83. That is undoubtedly due to the industrial dispute. Why are not the Government taking that fact into consideration? An early-day motion was tabled this week signed by 50 Opposition Members, and stating that the cost of the dispute was £10 billion. Yet it was tabled not by Opposition Members, but by the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, North (Mr. Skeet), who is chairman of the all-party minerals group. If the dispute is costing the nation £10 billion, surely the Government should take action. We want to know why they are not seriously considering taking action to resolve the dispute.

When Ian MacGregor was appointed chairman of the NCB, a number of Opposition Members objected strongly. Mr. MacGregor has been in office for less than 12 months but has created more disruption in the industry than anyone anticipated, although some Opposition Members warned the Government of the dangers of a dispute such as this, which I believe the Government have deliberately provoked. I will not develop that because a number of my hon. Friends wish to speak in the debate.

Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)

The alliance Bench is empty.

Mr. Powell

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for making that point. Members of the alliance are called more frequently to speak than are some of the 206 Labour Members. The right hon. Member for Devonport addressed the House and then made a quick exit. You should not do that in this House.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman did not intend to reflect adversely on the Chair.

Mr. Powell

I apologise for using the word "you," Mr. Deputy Speaker. I would not dream of criticising the Chair. After all, I am hoping to be called to speak in future debates. I was simply pointing out that alliance Members tend to turn up, make a contribution and, within no time, depart.

It is a disgrace that the right hon. Member for Devonport is no longer in his place. I wanted to comment on his remarks about the actions of the Government and the NCB in trying to whip up propaganda to get some of the striking miners to return to work. Silver Birch, who is said to be visiting certain areas, is a mythical figure; or, if he exists, I suggest that he has contracted Dutch elm disease. He will not persuade miners in Wales to return to work.

Since 1979, we in Wales have endured not only mass de-manning in the steel industry, but today we have heard about a shortage of water. Hon. Members have said that they never imagined that Wales would be short of water. That shortage has come about because of the planning, or lack of it, by the Government. We have even had earthquakes since the Conservatives came to power. It is a wonder that they have not tried to blame Arthur Scargill for those.

I assure the Government that 80 per cent. of the miners who are on strike support Mr. Scargill. He has the support of Opposition Members because his fight is not for money but for jobs, and the miners know that if the pits close there will be no jobs for them. I appeal to the Government not to rise for the summer until the dispute is settled.

Yesterday afternoon in Committee Room 9, NUM-sponsored hon. Members and others addressed Civil Service staff members of the House. At the conclusion of the meeting the staff made a donation of £30 to the strikers' fund and held a raffle in support of the miners. It is significant, therefore, that the staff of Parliament join Opposition Members in demanding a settlement of the dispute and in appealing for support for those who are on strike fighting for their jobs.


Mr. Tim Yeo (Suffolk, South)

I am sorry that the debate was introduced with a 17-minute reselection speech by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). As he took that much time, it was a pity that he did not mention Labour's discovery yesterday of democracy, because if that discovery were passed on to the NUM the strike would be over before the date on which it is suggested that we should reassemble.

I agreed with part of the speech of right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen), who has left the Chamber. No doubt he has gone to the beaches to which he referred. However, it was ridiculous that the right hon. Gentleman should suggest that the House would need to be recalled in September. What would there be for us to debate, except a compromise or some fudging?

The right hon. Gentleman made unfounded comments about spending cuts and suggested that they will be introduced in a hidden way during August. If he wishes to battle against those cuts, I suggest that he fights that battle on the beaches.

I regret that the first 50 minutes of the debate, which is usually allocated mainly to Back Benchers, was taken up by party spokesmen.

I wish to discuss the provision of neonatal intensive care, a subject which is of greater long-term interest than the coal strike, which will no doubt be settled shortly. The Select Committee on Social Services produced an excellent report last month on the general issue of perinatal and neonatal mortality. The report correctly identified the progress made in recent years. There has been a sharp fall in the perinatal mortality rate over the past five years from 15.5 per thousand births to 11.3. There has been a similar fall in the neonatal mortality rate.

The Select Committee, when it reported on the subject in 1980, and the Spastics Society pointed out that there was scope for a reduction of up to 5,000 a year in the number of baby deaths. The Government dismissed that suggestion as unrealistic, yet, only four years later, we are halfway to achieving that target, with a reduction of about 2,500 baby deaths. I hope that, as the Select Committee and the Spastics Society were proved right on that occasion and that the Government were proved wrong, Ministers will pay more attention to the recommendations in the Select Committee's latest report on the subject.

Our perinatal mortality rate is still higher than that in many countries, and there are still wide regional variations within Britain and wide divergencies between the perinatal mortality rate in different social classes. It is particularly worrying that that divergence is showing signs of increasing.

After more than 35 years of the NHS, a mother's risk of having a severely handicapped baby still depends partly on where she lives. The risk is much higher for families in social classes four and five and for mothers born in Pakistan.

If we are to redress the imbalance in the NHS between prevention and reactive and curative treatment, what better starting point could there be than the prevention of baby deaths and handicaps? For those who prefer not to be swayed by emotional considerations, there are powerful financial arguments. The cost of caring for a severely handicapped person is borne not by that person's family, but largely by central and local Government expenditure.

The success of neonatal intensive care in reducing the incidence of handicap has resulted in a great increase in the demand for resources and skills that remain limited.

There has been controversy about whether neonatal intensive care results in the survival of a larger number of handicapped babies. On this issue, I can do no better than quote the views of Professor Osmund Reynolds of University College hospital, one of the country's leading authorities. He has said that: The development of a proper national structure for neonatal intensive care must not be impeded by unwarranted concern about the possibility of handicap in survivors. A much more likely cause of handicap is inadequate provision of facilities for intensive care, because the partial treatment of vulnerable infants may allow avoidable damage to occur. In the light of those views, I believe that a number of the recommendations of the Social Services Select Committee, which reflect the views expressed at a conference organised by the Spastics Society last September, are worthy of serious consideration. In the interests of brevity, I will not enumerate them now.

Closely related to the whole issue of neonatal intensive care is the lack of any minimum standards for obstetric and neonatal care in this country. In October 1981, my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, East (Sir G. Vaughan) promised that the Government would ask the maternity services advisory committee, which was then being set up, to consider this question. In January 1983 my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) announced, through a parliamentary answer, that the advisory committee had recommended that discussion of minimum standards be absorbed into its second report on intrapartum care. However, when the report was published a year later, though excellent in many respects, it lacked any reference to the maintenance of minimum standards, with the aid of checklists, for staffing and equipment levels, as the Government and the advisory committee had originally promised. We should be given an explanation of that omission.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

If the hon. Gentleman is calling on the Government to make a statement on neonatal care before the House rises, is he prepared also to call on them to reconsider their attitude to the Black report? The hon. Gentleman has made a strong case for the reconsideration by Ministers of their attitude to that report.

Mr. Yeo

I endorse what the right hon. Gentleman says about the need to reconsider the conclusions of the Black report. That is an increasingly urgent issue. However, I shall not suggest to my right hon. Friend that he should make time available for a Government statement on the matter in the next four or five days. I could not, in all honesty, expect such a request to be granted. We should devote some time to the issue as early as possible in the autumn, because it is of considerable national importance.

I welcome the Government's initiatives and the considerable progress that has been made since the publication in 1980 of the original Social Services Select Committee report. The perinatal mortality rate has fallen and is continuing to fall. The work of the maternity services advisory committee has been significant in changing attitudes within the maternity services. However, I urge the Government to pay more attention to this issue. I believe that neonatal intensive care is a fruitful area for further Government action, although I do not hold this view so strongly that I believe that the House should do other than adjourn on 1 August and return on 22 October.

6.18 pm
Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

I rise to support the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition. I represent a mining constituency, and at present all the communities in my constituency are suffering great hardship because of the need to fight against job losses in the area. The House ought to recognise that miners in the Yorkshire coalfield are on strike because we foresee that a further rundown in the British coalmining industry will mean even higher unemployment and even greater poverty. Unemployment levels in my constituency are far above the national average, some being twice that level. If one discounts the youth training scheme — which, in my view, is a fraudulent scheme—about 70 per cent. of people under the age of 20 in my constituency are unemployed. Any further job losses in collieries in my area will mean greater suffering. The House and the country should realise that the strike is about job losses, not individuals or politics. My constituents have to stave off unemployment and poverty.

I have a special problem in my constituency—the Orgreave coking works. I am sure that all right hon. and hon. Members have seen it in the past few months. Today, coal is being taken into Orgreave. Presumably it will be coked and brought out again. I understand that some of the coal comes from Poland. I take great exception to that. Opposition Members have made representations to the Polish embassy to stop the coal coming in. I hope that those representations are effective. Orgreave has been supplied with coal from my constituency since it was built. I understand that the coal has been sweetened occasionally by coal from Staffordshire. Since the strike began, coal has been supplied to Orgreave to keep it going and many of my constituents in work.

There have recently been terrible scenes outside the coke works. I hope to get down to the reasons for the disgraceful action of the police, and sometimes pickets, outside that plant. On 10 April 1984, a meeting was convened at the British Steel Corporation plant at Scunthorpe. Those who attended included the head of marketing in the Yorkshire area of the NCB, the head of administration for the south Yorkshire area of the NCB —who is one of my constituents—a team from British Rail management, a management team from the BSC at Scunthorpe, and officials of the NUM Yorkshire area, and it was chaired by the director of the Scunthorpe BSC, Mr. Danny Ward. It was decided to supply Scunthorpe steelworks with 15,700 tonnes of coal a week. The vice president of the Yorkshire area of the NUM, Mr. Sammy Thompson, asked, "Do you want any coke?" BSC management replied, "No. We do not want any." Coal came from the Yorkshire coalfield from 10 April until 23 May. Cortonwood colliery supplied 1,000 tons of that coal a week. That is the colliery which was told that it had five weeks' work left because of the lack of markets for coal. It started the strike that has now been going for 20 weeks. It is the one that could never sell its coal. Members of Cortonwood NUM have loaded coal to be sent to BSC Scunthorpe for wages of £1 a day and what they would have earned has been given to charity. The House and the country should know what has happened in regard to Scunthorpe. Until 23 May, the coal was supplied by contractors or mineworkers who worked for £1 a day.

On 22 May, the NUM, which was party to the agreement that I have described, received a telephone call from a trade union — not the management — in Scunthorpe steelworks. The union said that it had been told that 5,000 tonnes of coke were to be taken into the steelworks. It asked when that was likely to happen and was told, "Tomorrow." That is what led to the dispute in and around the Orgreave coke works. To find the culprit, one need look no further than the man who chaired the meeting on 9 April and who said that he did not need coke for Scunthorpe steelworks — the director of BSC Scunthorpe.

On 23 May lorries, some of them marked "Bulk Grain" and driven not by BSC drivers but by people who had never moved coke before, and with police protection back and front, have been run in and out of the coke works. It is to the credit of the people at the coke works that on every occasion they have walked out of the plant because they disagree with the behaviour of the BSC management. They know that the BSC's taking stupid, unilateral action of that kind instead of discussing the matter with the people who could have supplied the coal and then allowed the coke to go out has prejudiced the position of the coke works. We hear a great deal from Conservative Members about parts of the BSC having to close, but if that coke works closes—I certainly hope that it will not close—the Yorkshire NUM will be in no way to blame.

When I asked officers of the Yorkshire NUM whether they would be prepared to attend a reconvened meeting if BSC said that it needed 5,000 tonnes of coke per week from Orgreave to save a blast furnace —that was the phrase used in the media to justify the unilateral action —they said that they would be prepared to attend such a meeting, to decide whether the coke was needed to save a blast furnace and, if so, to allow it to go from Orgreave coke works. That coke would then have gone by rail, just as the coal was going to BSC by rail, with the agreement of the rail unions and the British Railways Board in a sensible manner to keep jobs at BSC Scunthorpe instead of prejudicing the position. In the circumstances, the south Yorkshire NUM did all that it could for the BSC, so criticism from Conservative Members is completely unjustified.

The other aspect of the situation at Orgreave concerns the actions of police and pickets. On previous occasions in the House I have condemned people who throw stones and use violence against the police and I shall continue to do so, but I must put on record what I have seen with my own eyes and on tape. I note that the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) has left the Chamber. He referred to actions by police and pickets causing problems. I have told the Home Secretary about what has been happening. I have seen police run up to people cowering on their knees to protect themselves and baton them to the ground. People have had their limbs broken by truncheons at Orgreave. They have had their legs ripped open by the dogs let loose on them.

There are regulations providing that dogs, truncheons and other police actions must be used in a proper manner under legislation passed by this House, but on numerous occasions at Orgreave the police have ignored the regulations. I condemn that and the Home Secretary should also condemn it instead of sitting in the Chamber smiling and talking about law and order. Law and order means working together. It is not just for the people. The police must also ensure that law and order is dealt out properly and fairly. That is affecting many of the communities in my constituency. I believe that the effects of the police action in and around my constituency will be felt for a long time to come. I say to the Government that we cannot replace industrial relations and sensible industrial relations policies by police action and by attacks on people's state benefits. That is what is being attempted at present. By stopping state benefits to miners, it is hoped to make things more difficult for them and to make them afraid to go out on strike, as happened during the strike in my constitutency. Industrial relations cannot be replaced by such methods. The British people will make this clear. If the Government do not get the message soon, the British people will tell them at the next general election.

The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg,) who has just left the Chamber, I understand was a coal miner during the last war, one of the so-called Bevin boys. While he was working down the mines to help fight a world war for the country by supplying coal for the armaments race so that we could stave off Naziism. I wonder whether he thought that he would ever be described as the enemy within for wanting to defend his community. We should remember the loyalty of the coal miners and how they kept the country's economy running not for one or two years but for generations in order to maintain electricity supplies and to keep industry going. It is an utter disgrace to question that loyalty.

I deal next with the utter contempt that the Prime Minister showed in her utterance last Thursday at the 1922 Committee. It is not, as she keeps telling us, a sign of strength. The right hon. Lady talks about leading the country from a position of strength. It is a position of weakness and cowardice to use the law and to try to abuse people and families in this way. It will not work.

I hope that hon. Members will support the amendment. The House should discuss even further what is now happening in the country.

6.31 pm
Mr. Michael Morris (Northampton, South)

The enemy within is certainly not the mining communities. I was at the meeting of the 1922 Committee, and no reference was made to the mining communities. I hope that the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) will accept that from me.

The amendment is a highly mischievous and irrelevant one, and I believe that it is also irresponsible. It reflects all too clearly the Walter Mitty world of the shadow Leader of the House, the Leader of the Opposition and, I am sorry to say, the right hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme), whom I imagine will catch your eye soon, Mr. Speaker.

The shadow Leader of the House suggested that the only man in Britain who had tried to bring the two sides together was the right hon. Member for Salford, East—and a lot of success he has had in 26 weeks in getting Mr. Scargill along to negotiate sensibly in any meeting that we have had. As every hon. Member knows, the chairman of the National Coal Board and the NCB itself have been willing to negotiate sensibly from the beginning, but the truth is that Mr. Scargill and his militants have ignored anything that has been put on the table except that, if they see something that they like, they take that bit, say that they will consider it, and then discuss something different. Mr. Scargill believes that he should ignore the NCB, and that he should ignore his members' interests. Above all, he shows that he totally ignores the Labour party.

Although it has been said many times in the House, it is worth repeating that the miners have been given a good pay offer. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Salford, East agreed that the miners had had a good pay offer. There is no compulsory redundancy for miners. That needs to be re-emphasised. The 34,000 people who went out of the shoe industry were never offered compulsory redundancy or alternative jobs, and some of them are still employed.

Criticism was made of the investment programme by two Opposition Members. The £7.6 billion investment programme envisaged for the period of the Conservative Government which was completed two years early is a major success. It is a commitment to the coal industry, and the shadow Leader of the House ought to acknowledge that fact.

The argument between the two sides revolves around the word "beneficially". It is worth reminding the House of the words discussed between the NCB and the NUM. They agreed that where a comprehensive and in-depth investigation by their respective mining engineers shows that a colliery has no further mineable reserves that are workable or which can be beneficially developed, there will be a joint agreement between the board and the union that such a colliery shall be deemed exhausted. With the exception of the word "beneficially" those words were written by the NUM.

Reference has been made by Opposition Members to the losses announced this morning—about £800 million last year and £2 billion over the last four years. Opposition Members who have had power in the past, and may wish to have it again, suggest that the country can continue to mine from coalmines that are not capable of beneficial output. They cannot honourably suggest that any Government would contemplate that.

The right hon. Member for Salford, East is genuine in his attempts to find a settlement. If he really wants to make a helpful contribution he should have some guts, go out into the field and spell out the benefits of the existing offer the the mining communities. He and all Oppossition Members know that this is the best offer that any miners have had anywhere in westen Europe. It is as good an offer as any Government would make. It is a better offer than the right hon. Gentleman's Government ever made.

Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent)

I represent a constituency in which a high proportion of those in work have moved several times in their careers and expect to move several more times in the future. That is a natural part of being employed.

Mr. Morris

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) who makes an important point.

The right hon. Member for Salford, East could also disown Mr. Scargill and the statement that he made on Channel 4, which has been repeated so often, that he has no intention of abiding by civil or criminal laws which restrict the ability of trade unions to fight for the rights of their members. The right hon. Gentleman would do much for the Labour party if he stood up and said that Mr. Scargill, any other militant, and everyone, must obey the law of the land and that the new kangaroo courts are unacceptable to working people of all opinions.

The right hon. Gentleman could also chivvy the Leader of the Opposition—he needs some chivvying. He could tell him that he should stop paying homage to Mr. Scargill and stop licking his boots at miners' rallies. The right hon. Gentleman should stand up for the rights of ordinary miners who want a ballot, the right to vote and the right to say what they believe in. If the right hon. Gentleman did that he would do a lot of good for his own party, for himself and, more importantly, for the mining communities.

The mining communities are suffering needlessly. Every hon. Member knows that the offer is good. The industry has a good future and the miners are being sadly misled. I am confident that the Government can sit out the difficulty, but I wish that they did not have to. I wish that the leadership in the mining community would put the genuine facts to the ordinary miner and show to them that there are prospects for the future.

If the right hon. Member for Salford, East really wants to do something to improve the position, he should hurry from here to the mining community and spell out the benefits of the offer on the table.

6.40 pm
Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

Before the House rises for the summer recess I believe that further attention should be given to what must be done to deal with the still serious security situation in Northern Ireland. It would be wrong of me not to recognise that the death toll has decreased since the mid-1970s, but equally wrong of the House to believe that that is due to a drop in politically motivated murders.

There have been two distinct types of murders in Northern Ireland over the past 15 years, especially following the prorogation of the Stormont Parliament in 1972. At that time people felt that their elected representatives had been denigrated. They turned, by and large, to community leaders from both sides who sprang up from street to street, and who led them into community violence. The IRA capitalised on that fully. The death roll in those years was from 400 to 500 people.

The community of Northern Ireland does not desire that type of violence. It gradually reasserted itself and drove out from its midst those false leaders. The death toll has gradually declined, until now we can count, sadly, on 80 to 100 deaths each year.

These deaths are caused almost exclusively by the IRA and by the so-called Irish National Liberation Army, for political reasons. That is why the House should consider what is happening along the only land frontier that the United Kingdom has with another country. There, the vast majority of these murders take place. Across that frontier, the weapons of war—the guns and the explosives for bombs—are being carried. Indeed, from the other side of that very frontier, terrorists at times make attacks from the safety of the Irish Republic on members of our security forces. In the past two weeks an attack was launched from within the Irish Republic on members of the security forces in Northern Ireland. The attack led to the death of two UDR soldiers—one a young man, and the other a young woman aged 20.

We know that the IRA is not only attacking security forces, who are locally based, but also members of the regular Army who come from constituencies represented by English, Scottish and Welsh Members of Parliament.

The IRA also kills isolated farmers living close to the frontier who are not connected with the security forces in any way. The IRA chooses to kill members of the community that it claims to protect and represent: members of the minority Roman Catholic community. Today, indeed, a body is lying on a road close to the frontier with the Irish Republic. It is the body of a man who had been missing from his house for several days. I do not know his name, but I am fairly certain that when his name is released we shall find that he is a member of the Roman Catholic community who has been murdered by the IRA because he did not obey some of its directions.

Other Catholic members of the community have been murdered over the past few weeks because they refused to pay money to sustain the IRA. Therefore, we must realise that not just the majority community but the entire community, or at least all those who want to live normal lives within the United Kingdom, is suffering at the hands of the IRA.

During August, when the House is in recess, we shall have an invasion of Irish-American agitators, members of Noraid, and for their benefit the IRA will put on displays of armed strength. The IRA will execute a few people, as they call it, and display the ferocity that they have displayed each August for the past 10 or 15 years.

Unfortunately, we shall allow those American agitators into our country. We will not impose any restrictions upon them. The House should consider that and the Government should attempt to do something about it. It is folly. We are already committing one folly when we allow on to our television screens members of the IRA such as Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison. On television, they advocate, without the law taking action against them, violence against the community, and urge people to go to the ballot box with a rifle in one hand while casting their vote with the other. We have not learnt to deal with that. Those are the indigenous terrorists. We should not commit the double folly of importing Noraid representatives from America.

We should remember that in Northern Ireland one month of the school holidays has already gone. The children are beginning to get restless. The time has not been wasted by the terrorist godfathers, however. They have been stamping their influence on schoolchildren for four weeks now. They have been telling them to get their petrol bombs primed and to wait for August because at that time, as they say, "We shall have a go at the police, and it will all be good fun." The House must be aware of that. Sadly, in the next few weeks some of those young people will be misled by their godfathers. I make no apology for saying that they will be misled by Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison. When they are hit by a rubber bullet fired by policemen, who must have some means of defending themselves, and when one of them dies we shall hear a great outcry about police violence.

The debate has been mostly about the miners' strike rather than what I believe should have been discussed. It is significant that the hon. Member for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo) and myself have chosen to discuss subjects where lives are at stake, matters of life and death. Those who, on behalf of some of the miners, point a finger at the police and criticise them and who try to run down and undermine the authority of the forces of law and order, could do well to look carefully at what happened 15 years ago in Northern Ireland when certain people tried to run down the efforts of the police to maintain law and order. Now the vast majority of them are sad to find that they have placed themselves under the control of men of violence and men who exploit the weaknesses and injustices which are bound to occur from time to time in any society. Weaknesses and injustices can be put right, but if we undermine the real institutions of Government, and undermine law and order in the way that I have heard it advocated that we should, we are likely to plunge our nation into a greater tragedy than we can envisage.

To return to the IRA, if we allow American agitators to come in, if we allow the incursions from the Irish Republic across the border, and if we allow the godfathers to exploit the young people who are now on school holidays, we shall be committing a great crime ourselves.

I implore the Government—not only the Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office but the Secretary of State for Defence and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces—to consider very carefully what may well happen within the next few weeks in Northern Ireland. The Government must take steps to ensure that it does not occur.

Why do I emphasise the need to have the security forces increased along the frontier with the Irish Republic? Anybody who reads today's Official Report will see that yesterday I asked two questions. One was addressed to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. I asked him how many formal protests he had made during 1984 about incursions from across the frontier with the Irish Republic. His answer was: None. We are satisfied with the excellent co-operation that we receive from the Government of the Irish Republic in countering terrorism. I asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applications for extradition of persons wanted in connection with scheduled offences had been made to the Irish Republic in the last three and a half years. His answer was: Since 1 January 1980, 53 warrants … have been forwarded by the Royal Ulster Constabulary … in relation to terrorist-type offences. Of these, one application has been granted. That is less than 2 per cent. Some co-operation! That is one reason why I ask this House to increase the security forces available, so that I do not have to come back here—whether it is earlier or in October—and recount a series of murders which have taken place in Northern Ireland constituencies.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels (Leicester, East)

One of the important facts is the morale of the British forces serving in Northern Ireland. Will not the news that an additional allowance is to be given to them help to maintain security in Northern Ireland, and help to stop the very things that we are worried about in regard to the IRA?

Mr. Maginnis

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's interest in the welfare of the security forces in relation to the Northern Ireland allowance. His was a helpful effort, and I am happy to say that the conclusion was correct. Our security forces operate under the most arduous conditions which affect not only the soldiers but their families. The members of the security forces appreciate the efforts made on their behalf by hon. Members.

It is apt that in conclusion I should mention the young men who are detained in prison on the Secretary of State's pleasure. I had hoped to raise this matter on an Adjournment debate, but I realise that it is difficult for the House to find time to allow each hon. Member who applies to have an Adjournment debate. However, I shall be trying again in the new Session. Some men aged about 26 or 27 who are now in prison were induced to commit serious crimes from 1972 onwards. They were induced in the same way as I predict young people will be induced into commiting crimes this August. I hope that the House will find time to consider what has happened to those young men 10, 11 and 12 years later. They have known nothing but the prison system. If the House could find time to debate their position, that would be a constructive way of remedying one of the tragedies. With the request that we look to the future with both strength and compassion, I shall now sit down.

6.57 pm
Mr. Greg Knight (Derby, North)

I shall introduce a new matter into the debate. It is a subject of national importance that must be aired before the summer recess —the scandal of at least sharp practice and, some would say, fraud carried out by some motor vehicle garages and quick-fit centres. There is a dual problem: the first part concerns Ministry of Transport testing—[Interruption.] I would rather continue without interruptions from the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron). I listened in silence to his speech, which contained much vigour but precious little else, and I hope that he will do me the courtesy of listening to my speech in silence. I fear that he wishes to become the understudy of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner).

The problem with MOT testing by garages arises from the fact that garages can charge up to a maximum fee, but there is not a minimum fee. Some garages, believing that this may be a way to attract extra business, have decided to discount the fees that they charge for MOT testing by offering half-price tests or, in some cases, free tests. Hon. Members may ask, "Why does it matter? Does it not mean that the customer gets a good deal?" But the problem is that if a garage undertakes an MOT test at half price or for no fee, it will make a loss, unless it is asked to carry out other work.

I have evidence that many garages which, on the face of it, may seem to be giving a good service to the customer are failing vehicles that should receive a certificate. They then offer to carry out relatively minor work, such as adjusting the headlights or replacing brake pipes, and say that they can do the work the same day at a fairly small cost. They are therefore making a profit because that vehicle should have been passed and not failed. The public think that they are getting a good deal but in reality they are being ripped off.

I am grateful to Mr. Ken Reeves of the Market Bosworth service station in Leicestershire and also to Sitwell garage at Spondon in my constituency, who have brought these matters to my attention. The matter has received some publicity in the east midlands and I have received a large postbag on this subject. However, as I am aware of the lack of time, I shall read only briefly from two of the letters that I have received, which highlight the problems. One letter comes from a gentleman in Derby. He refers to the occasion on which he took his car for an MOT test and says: It failed on what the testing examiner said was perished front flexible brake hose pipes and corroded steel pipes across the rear axle … Not being prepared or in the position to afford astronomical garage fees … After taking the relevant brake pipes off my car I went to my Lada specialist to obtain … new pipes". He took the pipe to be sure that the correct size was obtained. He continued: My Lada specialist asked me what was wrong with my old brake pipes. The motorist told him that they had caused the car to fail the MOT test. The specialist was amazed and said that the pipes were in good order, and that the car should not have failed the test.

Mr. Hart, who is the proprietor of the Sitwell garage, wrote to me in the following terms: As a proprietor of a well known garage business in Derby and personally carrying out between seventy and ninety M.O.T. tests every week, I am naturally most concerned. I can also confirm that there are many cowboy garages … carrying out M.O.T. tests. He then referred to a comment that I had made in the local press. He also said: On the matter you have mentioned, I am aware that this is a disgraceful episode and I would like you to draw the matter to the attention of the public. The other matter that I wish to raise briefly concerns the so-called quick-fit centres, which we have all seen. They offer new exhaust systems and shock absorber systems at attractive prices, often saying that the work will be done while the customer waits. However, the customer does not know that in many of these cases the employee is on a commission on the number of new parts that he can sell. Therefore, there is a temptation that, when a car is brought in for checking over, and part of the exhaust system is defective, the fitter says that the whole system needs replacing.

The Sitwell garage says about this matter: I would also like to bring to your attention unscrupulous practices which are being carried out by apparently reputable national companies from impressive premises and which are all labelled as garages. There are four of these outlets in Derby, all owned by either component, tyre or exhaust manufacturers, but not, of course, in the main, using the main manufacturers trading title. I have been approached on many, many occasions by customers"—

Mr. Speaker

Order. 'There are a number of hon. Gentlemen who wish to speak in this debate. It is a little unfair to go into detail about these matters. The hon. Gentleman must convince us of his case as to why the House should not adjourn.

Mr. Knight

I accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I thought perhaps that a similar comment might have been made about another hon. Member's speech.

This is a matter of national importance, and only the tip of the iceberg is emerging. It is clear that members of the public are being taken in by offers of cheap garage servicing and of cheap repairs to motor vehicles. This subject should receive the widest possible publicity before the House adjourns. I accept that garages have a right to make a living, but they do not have a right to make money from members of the public by deception and by an abuse of their position.

7.4 pm

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, East)

I intervene briefly to support my right hon. and hon. Friends who have concentrated on the mining dispute. We make no apology for that. The House should not go into recess with this major dispute now in its 20th week, because another three months could spell disaster for the industry and the economy and cause further problems of law and order.

I listened carefully to the speech of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy. He is normally a fair man and concentrates on the subject, but he did not deal with the arguments advanced by my hon. Friends or about how the dispute can be resolved. That is the key issue facing the country.

This dispute is about jobs and about saving areas of the country from lasting unemployment.

Mr. Maude


Mr. Orme

I am sorry, but I have very little time.

This disputes takes place at a time of mass unemployment. The unemployed figure is now 3 million, and much of that unemployment has been created by the Government's run-down of industry. We need look only at steel, shipbuilding, motor vehicles, heavy engineering and textiles—to name but a few—to know that that is so. The miners have said, "Enough is enough." They will stand up and fight for their jobs as well as for the future jobs of young people. That has led to great hardship, but, as some of my hon. Friends have said, the pain barrier has been passed and the miners will continue to fight.

Unfortunately, the Government have thrown their full weight behind the political and financial fight against the miners. This dispute has already cost the nation more than £2 billion, including lost coal production, lost taxes, social security payments and a massive bill for policing the strike.

We were told that there was an excess of 4 million tonnes a year which Mr. MacGregor wanted to remove. Since this dispute began, we have already lost 48 million tonnes, or 12 years of excess. The Government may say that some of this is uneconomic in that it is deep-mine coal which costs too much, but coal is an asset which is precious beyond what simple profit and loss accounting methods would have us believe. The value of our supplies goes way beyond the balance sheet.

The closure of pits will not release other valuable resources that are of benefit to the nation. These pits can be put to no other use, and there is little likelihood of redundant miners finding alternative work. Coal left in the ground means a net loss to the nation now and in the future.

In The Guardian on Tuesday, Lord Kaldor said in a letter: But even this ignores that uneconomic pits, though they cause financial losses, bring a net benefit in the form of an additional supply of exhaustible resources which otherwise would not be retrievable. The gross national product, now and in the future, will therefore certainly be higher if they are kept working than if they are closed down. That is the answer to the uneconomic pit argument.

Some Conservative Members have criticised my role. It has been said that I have achieved nothing in 20 weeks. My achievement has been to bring both sides together—[Interruption.] I do not find the issue funny. People are suffering in mining communities and we are endeavouring to bring about negotiations.

The last negotiations did not break down when they ended last Wednesday evening—they were adjourned, and we must attempt to restart them. I have spoken to Mr. Scargill, Mr. Heathfield and Mr. MacGregor about resuming talks, while acknowledging the difficulty about the word "beneficial". However, that is a big word which deals with the uneconomic pits. It is an important division that must be bridged, and I believe that it can be bridged.

The Government are wasting money when they should be putting that money into the areas that need it. We shall need the coal from those pits in a few years' time, but we cannot reopen any pits that are closed. We might need that coal sooner rather than later if there is another oil crisis in the middle east. We are already importing too much coal.

There is a different way to deal with the issue, which requires a vision of the coal industry and energy generally. It should be based on "Plan for Coal" — which, incidentally, the Government endorsed in 1981. I see a smile on the Under-Secretary's face. It is not, as the Prime Minister said, that the Government endorsed the 1974 document — they endorsed the 1977 document, from which the word "uneconomic" was removed.

It would be absolutely wrong for the House to go into recess during such a major dispute. The Government must intervene to resolve it—not to extend it. We do not want to hear any nonsense about the Government agreeing to close pits and make redundancy payments as a way to split the mining communities. We are past the stage where the mining communities can be split. Those working will probably continue to work, but those who are not working will remain on strike, and they form some 80 per cent. of the mining industry's workforce.

Conservative Members should apply their minds to the question of how the dispute can be resolved. The Leader of the House, as a senior member of the Government, has a responsibility to answer our points. This dispute can and must be resolved by negotiation, but any agreement must be acceptable both to the unions and to the NCB. I believe that that can be achieved, but it needs a Government who believe in the mining industry. The Government must approach both sides in the dispute to bring them together. They must use their role—which they are entitled to do —on the tripartite basis of "Plan for Coal". It is on that basis that we move the amendment. The Government have a case to answer. They should—indeed, they must—intervene. We believe that this dispute can be resolved.

7.15 pm
The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)

I begin by commending to the House the motion which stands in my name and invite the House to reject the amendment.

On a previous occasion—doubtless it is apocryphal—the late Iain Macleod was confronted by an amendment broadly similar to that which has been tabled on this occasion by the Opposition Front Bench, and he threatened to accept it, with more dire consequences than almost anything else that had happened in the previous weeks.

As for the device which has been adopted today, the House of Commons is an innovative and adaptive organisation, and I have no hostility to this debate proceeding within the framework of an Opposition Front Bench amendment. However, I am entitled to place on record that when we moved to a timed debate for the recess motion we did it on the assumption that that was of merit to Back Benchers, and the original Procedure Committee recommendation of 90 minutes was set aside by the House and a three-hour debate placed in its stead. This has been described as exceptional. I do not mind, so long as the exception does not become the Front Bench rule. Back-Bench interests are secured by our eternal vigilance, and, although I am perfectly happy with the procedure that has been adopted today, I suggest that every Front Bencher should have a Back-Bench instinct within him and should wish this debate to remain in its normal form.

Reasoned objection to the motion was argued by the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen). I confess to a growing affection for the right hon. Gentleman and the arguments that he puts. [Interruption.] In their content, fashion and persuasiveness they increasingly become like a Daily Telegraph editorial, and that is marking out for him and for us an interesting future.

Having paid my fee by way of those compliments, I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that under the Standing Orders there is every provision for the recall of Parliament should circumstances so determine. No Government could contemplate a deteriorating situation of the character that has been portrayed by some hon. Members today without being conscious of the possible need for such a recall. As our history is studded with such precedents, there is hardly any need for me to dwell on that.

The right hon. Member for Devonport harmed his proposition by making it not into a rather open offer but into a conditional and mechanistic one related to certain times and dates. The only circumstances of which I might have been persuaded would have been a formula which enabled me to avoid the orgy of standing ovations at the Conservative party conference. What the right hon. Gentleman had devised was a quite different formula. It was one which would enable him to attend and receive a standing ovation. I do not want to anticipate Tuesday's debate, but I imagine that the right hon. Gentleman will not be giving up his spot to the leader of the Liberal party on that occasion.

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)


Mr. Biffen

No, I will not give way.

The economy is not quite in such a disastrous condition as the right hon. Member for Devonport suggested. Any economy which is growing at the rate of 2.75 per cent. in gross domestic product per year and which has the supporting good evidence of industrial, investment and export output—

Mr. Budgen


Mr. Biffen

I will not give way. I appreciate that my hon. Friend has not got into today's debate and I am sorry for him, but that was not my fault. I am taking up much less time answering the debate than many Back Benchers took up in contributing to it.

I hope that the right hon. Member for Devonport will understand when I say that, even on the ground of merit, I was not persuaded by his argument.

My hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Montgomery) emphasised his anxiety about the rating system and said that until it was reformed he would continue speaking in these debates. One normally says after a maiden speech that we hope to hear from the hon. Member again, and my hon. Friend has fulfilled that criterion.

My hon. Friend is also worried about the Civil Aviation Authority report and its considerable impact on airline policy and airports policy. I note what he said and will pass it on to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. However, so that there is no misunderstanding, I must say that I cannot go beyond what I said at business questions today.

The hon. Members for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder) and for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) spoke of the continuing security difficulties in the Province. We have an obligation to them, because they reminded us that all our problems, which are serious, and go to the heart of social and economic policies, do not have the fundamental seriousness of the conflict and problems of Northern Ireland. Familiarity over the past few years has perhaps disarmed our realisation of the threat that exists in the Province.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) mentioned the National Audit Office. I will see how the matter can best come before the Procedure Committee and perhaps I might have the chance to discuss the subject with my hon. Friend before the recess. He is crusading effectively on an important House of Commons matter.

My hon. Friend also invited me to comment on the outcome of Israel's general election. As I am trying to build bridges with the alliance, I thought that the outcome of that election needed no commentary from anyone interested in stable government and that the lesson could stand on its own.

My hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo) helpfully reminded the House of the importance of neonatal intensive care and the great interest that the House has properly shown in that subject, not least through the report of the Select Committee on Social Services. I look forward to hearing from my hon. Friend in the autumn when, no doubt, he will be trying to secure parliamentary time to have the matter considered further.

My hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight) mentioned the problems of the motor industry. The best way for me to help him is to draw his speech to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. It seemed to me that my hon. Friend raised matters that could be dealt with by the Office of Fair Trading.

The remaining speeches in the debate were devoted to the mining dispute. The hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand) spoke about the determination of the mining community. I accept that. One of the great challenges in the debate is not to live by the caricatures that are created of both sides. I have no doubt that there is a powerful will and determination in the mining community, where it is felt that justice lies with its cause. However, I suspect that that is also true of those in the mining communities that are at work and feel that their motives have been cruelly and viciously misrepresented and that they have as much right to the concern and judgment of the House as has any other section of the industry.

The hon. Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. McKay) made a measured and effective speech. I realise that I am about to damage irreparably his reputation and status in the Labour party, but I could not help thinking that if there has to be a dialogue and an attempt to get a better understanding—and perhaps, eventually, an agreement in the dispute—they can be achieved only through the voice represented by the hon. Gentleman. I could not help but contrast that voice with another voice frequently mentioned in the debate today—that of Mr. Scargill—and I realise that there is a distance of light years between the hon. Gentleman and Mr. Scargill in terms of temperament and approach. Temperament and approach are matters of real significance in such issues.

The hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) again rehearsed his hostility to the police and his charge of police brutality. I do not believe for a moment that the resolution of this industrial dispute will be brought any closer by speeches such as that we heard today from the hon. Gentleman. I am convinced that the overwhelming belief is that the police are being used for a legitimate end—enabling those who wish to go to work to do so—and that the violence that has been engendered derives entirely from that point. If the moral authority of the dispute was so overwhelming, there would be no need for pickets other than a token number to inform people of the nature of the dispute.

The hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) made a persuasive speech. He talked about the need to stave off unemployment. Unemployment must of course be a factor which governs all those who operate in industry and commerce, but one cannot fight unemployment by taking refuge in economic unrealities. There is no future for the coal industry now or next year unless it is grouped around its lowest-cost productive outlets.

My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Moms) advanced a stout and well argued defence of Government policy, and particularly the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on this matter. In my view, the Prime Minister is quite right to identify the unwholesome elements in this dispute — violence and extra-parliamentary ambitions — and to contrast them with the legitimate interests and traditions of the mining work force.

It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. SPEAKER put the Question, That the amendment be made, pursuant to Standing Order No. 12 (Periodic adjournments).

The House divided: Ayes 155, Noes 261.

Division No. 436] [7.27 pm
Abse, Leo Douglas, Dick
Alton, David Dubs, Alfred
Anderson, Donald Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Eastham, Ken
Ashdown, Paddy Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Ashton, Joe Ewing, Harry
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Fatchett, Derek
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Barnett, Guy Fisher, Mark
Barron, Kevin Flannery, Martin
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Beith, A. J. Forrester, John
Benn, Tony Foulkes, George
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Bermingham, Gerald Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Bidwell, Sydney Freud, Clement
Blair, Anthony Garrett, W. E.
Boothroyd, Miss Betty George, Bruce
Boyes, Roland Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Gould, Bryan
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Hancock, Mr. Michael
Bruce, Malcolm Hardy, Peter
Caborn, Richard Harman, Ms Harriet
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Campbell-Savours, Dale Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Carter-Jones, Lewis Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Heffer, Eric S.
Clarke, Thomas Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Cohen, Harry Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Coleman, Donald Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. John, Brynmor
Conlan, Bernard Johnston, Russell
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Corbyn, Jeremy Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cowans, Harry Kilfedder, James A.
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Craigen, J. M. Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Crowther, Stan Kirkwood, Archy
Cunningham, Dr John Lamond, James
Dalyell, Tam Leadbitter, Ted
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Leighton, Ronald
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Litherland, Robert
Dewar, Donald Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dickens, Geoffrey Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Dixon, Donald Loyden, Edward
Dormand, Jack McDonald, Dr Oonagh
McGuire, Michael Rowlands, Ted
McNamara, Kevin Sheerman, Barry
Madden, Max Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Marek, Dr John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Meacher, Michael Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Michie, William Skinner, Dennis
Mikardo, Ian Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Snape, Peter
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Soley, Clive
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Spearing, Nigel
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Steel, Rt Hon David
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Straw, Jack
O'Brien, William Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Tinn, James
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Torney, Tom
Park, George Wainwright, R.
Parry, Robert Wallace, James
Patchett, Terry Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Pavitt, Laurie Wareing, Robert
Pendry, Tom Weetch, Ken
Penhaligon, David Welsh, Michael
Pike, Peter Winnick, David
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Woodall, Alec
Prescott, John Young, David (Bolton SE)
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW) Tellers for the Ayes:
Rogers, Allan Mr. Allen McKay and Mr. Robin Corbett.
Rooker, J. W,
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Aitken, Jonathan Chope, Christopher
Alexander, Richard Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Amess, David Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Ancram, Michael Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Arnold, Tom Cockeram, Eric
Ashby, David Colvin, Michael
Aspinwall, Jack Conway, Derek
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Coombs, Simon
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Cope, John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Cormack, Patrick
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Corrie, John
Baldry, Tony Cranborne, Viscount
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Crouch, David
Batiste, Spencer Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bendall, Vivian Dicks, Terry
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Dorrell, Stephen
Benyon, William Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Berry, Sir Anthony Dover, Den
Bevan, David Gilroy Durant, Tony
Biffen, Rt Hon John Dykes, Hugh
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Eggar, Tim
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Evennett, David
Body, Richard Eyre, Sir Reginald
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, Nicholas
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fallon, Michael
Bottomley, Peter Farr, Sir John
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Fookes, Miss Janet
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Forman, Nigel
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Braine, Sir Bernard Fox, Marcus
Bright, Graham Freeman, Roger
Brinton, Tim Fry, Peter
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Gale, Roger
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Browne, John Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Bruinvels, Peter Glyn, Dr Alan
Buck, Sir Antony Goodlad, Alastair
Budgen, Nick Gorst, John
Bulmer, Esmond Gow, Ian
Burt, Alistair Grant, Sir Anthony
Butcher, John Greenway, Harry
Butterfill, John Gregory, Conal
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Carttiss, Michael Grist, Ian
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Chapman, Sydney Haselhurst, Alan
Hayes, J. Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hayhoe, Barney Merchant, Piers
Heddle, John Meyer, Sir Anthony
Henderson, Barry Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hickmet, Richard Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Miscampbell, Norman
Hill, James Moate, Roger
Hordern, Peter Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Howard, Michael Montgomery, Fergus
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Moore, John
Hunt, David (Wirral) Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Hunter, Andrew Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Murphy, Christopher
Jessel, Toby Needham, Richard
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Nelson, Anthony
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Neubert, Michael
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Newton, Tony
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Nicholls, Patrick
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Norris, Steven
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Onslow, Cranley
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Oppenheim, Phillip
Lamont, Norman Osborn, Sir John
Lawrence, Ivan Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Lester, Jim Parris, Matthew
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Patten, John (Oxford)
Lightbown, David Pattie, Geoffrey
Lilley, Peter Pawsey, James
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)
Lord, Michael Powell, William (Corby)
Luce, Richard Powley, John
Lyell, Nicholas Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
McCrindle, Robert Price, Sir David
McCurley, Mrs Anna Proctor, K. Harvey
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Maclean, David John Raffan, Keith
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Maginnis, Ken Rathbone, Tim
Major, John Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Marland, Paul Rhodes James, Robert
Marlow, Antony Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Mather, Carol Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Maude, Hon Francis Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Roe, Mrs Marion Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Ross, Wm. (Londonderry) Thorne, Neil (IIford S)
Rossi, Sir Hugh Thurnham, Peter
Rowe, Andrew Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Tracey, Richard
Ryder, Richard Trippier, David
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Trotter, Neville
Sayeed, Jonathan Twinn, Dr Ian
Scott, Nicholas van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Viggers, Peter
Shelton, William (Streatham) Waddington, David
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Silvester, Fred Waldegrave, Hon William
Sims, Roger Walden, George
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Waller, Gary
Soames, Hon Nicholas Ward, John
Speed, Keith Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Speller, Tony Warren, Kenneth
Spencer, Derek Watson, John
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Watts, John
Squire, Robin Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Stanbrook, Ivor Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Steen, Anthony Wheeler, John
Stern, Michael Whitfield, John
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Whitney, Raymond
Stevens, Martin (Fulham) Wolfson, Mark
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wood, Timothy
Stokes, John Woodcock, Michael
Stradling Thomas, J. Yeo, Tim
Sumberg, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Tellers for the Noes:
Temple-Morris, Peter Mr. Ian Lang and Mr. Douglas Hogg.
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Thompson, Donald (Calder V)

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House at its rising on Wednesday 1st August do adjourn till Monday 22nd October, and that the House shall not adjourn on Wednesday 1st August until Mr. Speaker shall have reported the Royal Assent to any Acts which have been agreed upon by both Houses.

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