HC Deb 12 February 1985 vol 73 cc288-309 11.55 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Transport (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)

I beg to move, That the draft London Regional Transport (Levy) Order 1985, which was laid before this House on 17 December, be approved. I think I should first explain to the House some of the detail of this draft levy order.

London's ratepayers are being asked to contribute £212 million towards the estimated grants to LRT of £323 million for the financial year 1985–86. Two hundred and twelve million pounds is equivalent to a rate of 10.8p. Of course, those who get a rate rebate also get a rebate on this amount.

The Government's approach is certainly in stark contrast to that of London Transport's old masters. They thought that by taking more and more money from the ratepayer they could conceal from passengers the rising real costs of providing public transport services in London. Between 1970 and 1983, the total grant from taxpayers and ratepayers rose from £6.5 million to £400 million, including the concessionary fare grants. Despite this, fares were over 30 per cent. higher in real terms after the GLC's last fares change in May 1983 than they were at the beginning of 1970, when the GLC was first given responsibility for London Transport.

The first step that we took on taking control of London Regional Transport last summer was to signal an end to the upward spiral of costs and subsidies, and we made an early start. On 20 July, three weeks after LRT came under Government control, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State wrote to the chairman of LRT setting out clear objectives for the next few years. He made it clear that there had to be a limit on the amount of public resources under the transport system but within the total available there should be a substantial shift away from revenue subsidy into productive capital investment, to enable lasting improvements in public transport facilities to be made and to make the system more efficient.

Accordingly, my right hon. Friend set two specific targets for LRT. The first target was to reduce unit costs by at least 2.5 per cent. a year in real terms and, secondly, to reduce the level of revenue support required from £190 million in 1984–85 to £95 million cash in 1987–88. This is less than 40 per cent. of the level of revenue support proposed by the GLC under its plan for 1987–88. At the same time, we made it clear that the Government were prepared to provide for a substantial programme of capital investment to save costs and improve facilities for passengers, including the interchanges between modes.

I am pleased to acknowledge the progress which LRT management has already made under Keith Bright in transforming the outlook for LRT. LRT's annual business plan for 1985–86 makes encouraging reading. I know that some Opposition Members will be disappointed, because they like to claim that efficiency improvements are a pipe dream and that passengers will have to pay a heavy price if subsidies are reduced. However, the annual business plan utterly refutes this defeatist attitude and I recommend it to any hon. Member who wants to know what is now going on.

Instead of the swingeing fares increases which we were accused of plotting, LRT has raised fares by 9 per cent. on average from 6 January. That 9 per cent. puts it back to the same level in real terms as in May 1983 after the GLC's last fares changes. In fact, fares are 10 per cent. lower now than they were in 1981, when the present GLC took office. LRT has introduced the new Capitalcard which extends the benefits of the very popular LT Travelcard to include British Rail's services in the London area.

Hon. Members who have studied the annual business plan will be aware that there are encouraging developments in passenger services. London Regional Transport has improved bus service reliability in 1984–85 and hopes to achieve further improvements in the coming year. As a result, it forecasts that average waiting times will show some improvement in 1985–86 despite a slight reduction in total bus mileage and that service levels will still be substantially above the proposals in LT's 1983 plan.

In his introduction to the business plan, the chairman of LRT states: Total public transport mileage by road in London might, in fact, increase if demand can be stimulated by the development of new routes and different kinds of services, operated by London buses or other operators under contract to LRT. So the future has some bright prospects, with good management.

A slight increase in total operated mileage is forecast for the underground system. The Heathrow terminal 4 extension is scheduled to open towards the end of 1985. There are no proposals for station or line closures and LRT plans to continue with its ambitious programme of station modernisation.

Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow)

The move towards one-person operated buses has been much greater under LRT than under the GLC. Will this not adversely affect the reliability of bus services for passengers, on the ground that these buses take longer to complete their journeys for the obvious reason that there is only one person to handle the operation and not two?

Mrs. Chalker

From the information that I have to hand from different places round the country, some of which already have 100 per cent. one-person operation, I do not find that to be true. I do not have any information to that effect; if I did, I would tell the hon. Member. If I discover any information, I will let him know.

The one-person operated buses, once people are used to the operation, do not have the same hold-ups as are involved in getting both members of the crew to start off or the purely operational problems that sometimes occur with a conductor and a driver as opposed to one person doing the entire job.

LRT's annual business plan shows that it has made a good start towards better services for less subsidy. It has managed to reduce the revenue support requirement from £190 million this year under the GLC to about £130 million for 1985–86, a reduction of nearly one third, but without a large increase in fares or major cuts in services. This achievement is attributable partly to the continuing success of its marketing policies, especially Travelcard. But a key factor is the improving efficiency. LRT now expects to exceed its budgeted unit cost reduction target this year by a wide margin as a result of the initiatives agreed by the new board to improve productivity across the whole range of LRT's operations. In 1985–86, it expects to reduce unit costs by a further 2.8 per cent., which is significantly better than the target of 2.5 per cent. which my right hon. Friend has set.

This progress has enabled LRT to achieve a dramatic switch of resources into worthwhile capital investment, which I believe all hon. Members should welcome. Examples include the modernisation of bus and rail engineering facilities, increasing automation of ticket sales and collection on the underground and progressive conversion of the bus and train fleets to one-person operation, as the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Deakins) mentioned. In addition, nearly one third of underground investment for 1985–86 will be devoted to an expanding station modernisation programme.

In sum, LRT's plan shows that in 1985–86 it will have made a good start on the way towards better services for less subsidy. It is odd then, even if predictable, that the latest message from across the river is that ratepayers will be worse off financially under the new arrangements. It is worth my taking a few minutes to examine the credentials of that claim.

It was of course the GLC's high-spending policies which led to it receiving no block grant in 1984–85, so the only contribution from the taxpayer towards the GLC's grants to London Transport came by way of the transport supplementary grant. On a pro rata apportionment of the transport supplementary grant between the various items of accepted expenditure, the GLC received under £80 million of transport supplementary grant this year towards the total budgeted to London Transport of £340 million. Over three quarters of the GLC's grants, therefore, fell to be met by ratepayers in the financial year 1984–85. By contrast, the levy order before the House for 1985–86, which I ask hon. Members to approve, provides for a rate payers' contribution of less than two thirds, and the total grant has been reduced from £340 million to £323 million. I ask any hon. Member who is good with a pencil and paper or a calculator at this hour: how can two thirds of £323 million be more than three quarters of £340 million? Hon. Members may well ask. The answer is that, from across the river we have had a new form of maths—I dare not call it new maths, because that would be unfair to new maths—by which it seeks to prove its figures.

Until just over a year ago, the GLC was funding capital investment by LRT on a pay-as-you-go basis. This is a method appropriate for investment which is unlikely to generate sufficient profits to cover even borrowing charges. On this basis, the share of the GLC's budget for London Transport this year, which was not covered by Government grants was £263 million—£50 million, or some 2½p in the pound more than the Government's proposed levy for 1985–86.

Because that shows the GLC's policies in a bad light, the GLC has been desperately trying to demonstrate that it has borrowed to finance LT's capital grants. In order to provide some basis for that claim, the GLC switched an arbitrary £300 million of external debt from housing to public transport in December 1983, when the London Regional Transport Bill was at Second Reading stage in this House. Hon. Members will not be fooled by this ruse; nor will ratepayers. To make it worse, not only does the GLC claim that it has kept its rates down by spreading the costs of its policies over future years; at the same time it seeks to blame the Government for the £70 million of debt charges that are now attributed to public transport as a result of its own transfer of that £300 million from housing to public transport. I am not surprised that that is happening, but we will not have the wool pulled over our eyes or over ratepayers' eyes. I must say, accustomed as I am to the sort of stories which are cooked up in county hall, that that one really takes some beating.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

I want to understand the Minister. I do not want to be a party to dealing in false figures. Will she tell the House whether the debt charges of £69 million are debt charges on previous London Transport borrowing? In cash terms, how many million pounds are being contributed by ratepayers to London Regional Transport?

Mrs. Chalker

The answer to the first question is no, and to the second is the figure that I have already mentioned—£212 million of grant, almost two thirds of the total of £323 million.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

We can become blinded by figures. The Minister could helpfully tell the House what percentage in the coming year of total money spent on LRT will come from the ratepayer, as opposed to the current year, which, subject to certain alterations, is under the control of the GLC. It is always the proportion between rate contribution and central taxpayers' contribution that people can most easily perceive, rather than the figures given by the Minister.

Mrs. Chalker

I shall return to the figures when I reply to the debate, but off the top of my head I believe them to be 65.6 per cent. and 75 per cent.

In closing my remarks, I need do no more than draw the attention of the House to the GLC's policy to increase the revenue subsidy for LT alone to £245 million by 1987–88 — more than two and half times the level proposed by the Government. In contrast, our policies, which have already begun to deliver substantial savings for London ratepayers in the first few months of LRT are beginning to bear fruit. The outlook is that those savings will increase. Furthermore, our approach, with the backing of the LRT management, will bring very substantial benefits for the whole community in terms of improved services and facilities for less money. That is a far cry from the decay and neglect that was predicted by our opponents following the Government's takeover of LRT. The prospects for London's public transport system, those who use the popular Capitalcard and those who pay for it through the rate levy order have never been better. I commend the draft order to the House.

12.14 am
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

It is a disgrace that a major order, which is putting an extra cost on to London ratepayers, should be taken at this hour of the morning. The Government are perfectly well aware that such a measure will be unpopular and they are anxious that it should not receive too much publicity.

It is enlightening that the Secretary of State has not moved the order. I notice that that task has now been downgraded to the province of Minister of State — I have no desire to be rude to the hon. Lady—whereas before the right hon. Gentleman was at least prepared to come here and wave his arms about in an attempt to defend some of the decisions that he has taken.

It is clear that there is a basic inconsistency in the right hon. Gentleman's political ethos. We have just spent one parliamentary day debating the fact that the right hon.

Gentleman wishes to set free the transport system throughout the rest of the United Kingdom, yet now he is operating in a completely different way in relation to London Regional Transport.

The right hon. Gentleman got himself into this situation because he levied an amount on the GLC, which, according to the judge who tried the case, was illegal and irresponsible. He is now anxious that we should push forward this levy tonight because as soon as the London ratepayers suddenly realise how much they have been conned they will add to the voices raised in the House not only against the abolition of the GLC but against the arbitrary way in which the right hon. Gentleman has now taken London transport into his pocket to run like some personal little train set round and round his office table.

I am perfectly prepared to stand here tonight and bandy the most complicated statistics with the Minister of State if she seriously thinks that that will in any way enlighten ratepayers. It is frightening that Conservative Members should come here at the behest of the Secretary of State, who has been found guilty of asking for more money than he legally has a right to, and then talk to us about creative accounting. We are told that the GLC has been fixing the figures because it has used creative accounting to shift through an entire book-keeping operation, money out of one vote and into another and that that is why LRT is faced with such difficulties. That is nonsense and the Minister of State knows that.

The purpose of the order is to levy a 10.8p precept on London boroughs to pay for part of the cost of financing public transport in London. As long as that is realised, and as long as we have a little plain talking so that we do not pretend that somehow or other some magic accounting procedure has left LRT with debts which it did not expect and was not supposed to hold, we shall get somewhere near talking about the reality behind this levy.

We are told by the Minister that the Government are charging far less than happened under the GLC. That is not the way the ratepayers of London will see it. They will see it in a much simpler way. They believe that the 9 per cent. rise in fares that has taken place since the LRT took over is an extra imposition. They believe that not only the increase in the levy but the clear sign that some of the ways in which the payment is operating across the capital are manifestly unfair, since the outer areas are not contributing the proper percentage of the moneys, and are worse than the situation that existed under the previous London Transport. They do not intend to be in some way persuaded that they are getting a much better system and that, although they will have to pay more and have worse services, that is part of some cloud of misunderstanding on their part, a miasma created by the wicked people across the river in the GLC.

The Minister has come here late at night to levy on Londoners a tax for a transport system run not by elected councillors—not by those over whom they have some control — and not even by those who pretend to demonstrate a certain expertise, but by a quango that will decide not only the rate of fares and developments but the effect on staffing and services.

Does the Minister really believe that the people of London do not understand that? They may not be expert at creative accounting. They may not have the right Etonian-type accents when they complain about the removal of services which they desperately need. But one fact they understand clearly. While the Secretary of State says that the rest of the United Kingdom must have competition, he wants London's services to be run by a quango, which he controls from Whitehall. What is worse, he wants to charge the ratepayers of London more for the privilege of having their services run by one of the most ill-informed Secretaries of State for Transport that this country has had or is likely to have.

12.21 am
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

I have sat through many debates at county hall when the budget has been under discussion. Compared with those debates, it is a travesty tonight to witness the way in which matters affecting the services and costs of London transport are being decided.

Throughout our deliberations on the London Regional Transport Bill, we were continually told by Ministers that the democratic accountablility of LRT would be assured through the means of the debate on the levy order. We are now undertaking that exercise, but it is a miserable replacement for the GLC's lengthy debates of all matters concerning London transport.

It was not a question of Tory members of the GLC bandying statistics before the transport committee. Papers were circulated and the figures were worked out. All the necessary information was available for all to see, and, what is more, the opposition could move amendments, whereas we are faced with an unamendable order and we have one and half miserable, rotten, stinking hours in which to debate it at gone midnight.

Who is here to discuss it? At the GLC there was a great deal of press interest in the lively debates about the future levels of London Transport services and fares. In the Chamber tonight we have perhaps a dozen hon. Members who represent London constituencies. I am not suggesting that this side of the House is any better than the Government side in that respect.

It is clear that hon. Members have become so fed up to the back teeth with being dragged into the day-to-day running of local government that they are voting with their feet, staying in the bars and disappearing into the night, leaving a few of us to debate issues for which we should have no responsibility and about which few of us have real knowledge.

There is no point in quoting many statistics, and I assure the Minister that I am not trying to score cheap points, but when she replies to the debate, will she explain how my information is incorrect, if it is? My figures, coming from county hall, do not accord with her statistics, coming from her advisers. I understand that this precept represents a 35 per cent. increase for London ratepayers. I will explain how I have arrived at that figure, and perhaps she will explain how I have got it wrong, if I have. Let us compare the 1984–85 transport budget with LRT's budget for 1985–86.

First, there was revenue support direct to London Transport of £190 million. Added to that were debt charges of £59 million, paid from the GLC precept, giving a sub-total of £249 million. To be deducted from that sub-total was £41 million received in the transport supplementary grant from central Government. Therefore, in 1984–85 the total burden on the London ratepayers was £208 million. I can gladly provide those figures; they are not secret. They were produced by the advisers to the GLC transport committee.

As the Minister correctly says, the total subsidy to London Regional Transport is £323 million. The hon. Lady also correctly says that the ratepayers will contribute £212 million of that through the LRT levy. That is already more than the £208 million that they paid last year, but one must add to it another £69 million for debt charges on previous London Transport borrowing, paid for through the GLC precept. Therefore, in 1985–86 the total burden on the ratepayers will be £281 million compared with £208 million in 1984–85, an increase of 35 per cent. Will the Minister please tell me, and the House, where my figures disagree with hers?

Why are the ratepayers of London being asked to pay that larger precept? The main reason is that Ministers have changed the way in which London Regional Transport pays for its capital spending. London Transport used to pay for capital expenditure by borrowing. That method was perfectly reasonable. It spread the cost of improvements over a number of years. London Regional Transport, on the other hand, is now required by Ministers to load the whole cost of capital equipment on to the year in which it is purchased. In 1985–86 there is a large hike in the cost to ratepayers consequent upon that change in policy.

The new policy makes neither good financial sense nor good economic sense. As in the case of water provision, the Government have asked for increased capital expenditure and they have also asked that all the expenditure should be financed in the year in which is incurred. That is a complete change from the way in which local authorities and nationalised industries have normally dealt with their own capital expenditure.

The new policy makes no sense, because future Governments might want substantially to increase the capital spending of London Regional Transport. If the present accounting system is maintained, London ratepayers will pay dearly for capital investment that will benefit subsequent generations of ratepayers as well as themselves.

Mr. Deakins

In the case of both water and public transport in London, is not the Government's aim to make a profit for themselves rather than to relieve the burden on the ratepayers?

Mr. Banks

The Government certainly appear now to be using charging in nationalised industries as a way of increasing indirect taxation. That is a dishonest and behind-the-scenes way of doing things.

One of the benefits to the, Government is that few people realise that the sleight of hand has taken place. When one is faced with a whole range of precepts and bills, it is difficult to work out what is going on. The Government are seeking to throw sand in the eyes of the ratepayers and taxpayers. In doing so they hope to get away with a massive switch from direct to indirect taxation. The ratepayers of London are being asked to pay more for a much worse service.

The Secretary of State has set several targets that will lead to a deterioration of services in London. There has been a proposed reduction in the level of revenue support from a budgeted £190 million by the GLC in 1984–85, to £95 million in cash terms by 1987–88, which is £82 million in 1984–85 prices, assuming 5 per cent. inflation. There is a proposed reduction of 2.5 per cent. in unit costs in real terms each year during the next few years and the Secretary of State has confirmed the setting up of separate bus and rail subsidiaries to be operational by 1 April 1985. He has also given LRT responsibility for people with disabilities. That is fine, but we need to know the costs involved.

We have witnessed fare changes which, as the Minister rightly said, rose by an average of 9 per cent. on 6 January 1985. I welcome the fact that she also said that fare levels now are still 10 per cent. in real terms below what they were in 1981. The GLC can be thanked for that. It was that part of the GLC's policy which proved popular with ratepayers in 1981 and, were we to have an election in 1985, would prove so again. There will be no election, of course, so we shall never be able to put the matter to the test. No doubt the Government are greatly relieved at that.

The fare increases from January hide several factors that the Minister did not bother to touch on. The biggest increases were for short distances. The short hop fare, which accounts for 30 per cent. of all fares, rose by 25 per cent., from 20p to 25p. The two-zone travel card increased by 17 per cent. and children's fares rose by 50 per cent., from 10p to 15p. The Minister should not try to throw sand in our eyes as well by trying to suggest that this modest 9 per cent. increase, which is double the rate of inflation at the moment, does not hide a far more serious series of larger increases that affect certain groups of people.

I notice that the fares to Heathrow remained unchanged or were reduced. Why? Can the Minister give a reason? Those are the types of question that the transport chair at the GLC would have had to answer. He would not have been able to get away with it by trekking through a summing up, hoping that we would all go away satisfied. The chair would have been held to account by the committee and the opposition.

The Minister made great play of the success of Capitalcard. I think that she is anticipating something. Capitalcard, despite its fetching jingle that we hear every morning on Capital radio and LBC, has been operating for only a short time. I think that she has got it confused with Travelcard, which was the major reason for the GLC ensuring that LT produced a £35 million operating surplus last year. Capitalcard has only just started and will not be as successful as Travelcard. Let me tell the Minister why. First, it is different from the GLC's scheme, for which £5 million was provided in the London Transport Executive budget for 1984–85. The GLC's proposal was to extend Travelcard to British Rail users at no extra cost.

Mrs. Chalker

At no extra cost to whom?

Mr. Banks

At no extra cost to those who bought the travel card.

Mrs. Chalker


Mr. Banks

Of course. There is no such thing as a free lunch, even for Conservative Members. I understand that, and an awful lot of free lunches are eaten in this place. At least the ratepayers of London were able to decide through their elected representatives and the ballot box whether their rates should be used to subsidise cheap travel in London. The Minister knows that it was electorally popular and successful. All the records show that. I admit that it was not free, because there is no such thing as something free in this world. I am sure that if the Government could tax the air they would do it.

In contrast to Travelcard, Capitalcard prices are set at a premium. — [Interruption.] I am delighted that the invisible man has paid us a visit. The Secretary of State may be interested to know that I was trying to explain to the Minister the difference between Capitalcard and Travelcard as she seems to get them confused. He has probably not heard of either.

Capitalcard prices are set at a premium above both Travelcard and the British Rail season ticket rate. Obviously that limits its application to passengers who previously used LRT and BR. Capitalcard is up to 37 per cent. more expensive than the GLC's proposals. It is unlikely to attract many takers because of the premium, and is likely to achieve only limited operating improvements and efficiencies. The Minister must acknowledge those facts. It is no good claiming that Capitalcard will be or is a great success when it has not been operating long enough to be evaluated. She must also accept that it is considerably more expensive than Travelcard, and therefore likely to prove that much more unpopular.

I realise that I am going into great detail, but this is how we used to conduct debates about London transport at county hall. I admit that we had only five minutes in which to put points, but we could return to the subject. Moreover, large numbers of people could make points, and we had a transport committee. Now we have no way of questioning officers and members about policies because our time has been reduced to an hour and a half's debate late on an evening that the Government choose.

There have been many service changes since July 1984. There have been changes to 38 bus routes, and some improvements to the night bus network, which are welcomed. However, major bus service changes are planned for February, and service reductions of 2 per cent. have been announced in LRT's business plan for 1985–86, despite an increase in patronage of 10 per cent. Why on earth LRT plans reductions of 2 per cent. when patronage is increasing, I cannot fathom. Perhaps the Minister will explain when she replies.

The GLC plan for bus mileage in 1985–86 was to be 168 million, but LRT's business plan for 1985–86 envisaged only 164 million. If the GLC had been allowed to continue, bus mileage in the 1987–88 would have increased to 170 million, but LRT's business plan envisages only 159 million. Therefore, there will be a constant reduction in bus mileage in London. That cannot be good news for London's ratepayers. They are faced with a 35 per cent. increase in charges for transport next year, and can look forward to fares increasing by what the Minister called a modest 9 per cent. No doubt it will be a modest 15 per cent. later and a modest 20 per cent. after that—and all the time bus mileages are decreasing.

Finally, when we had a transport Committee where we could discuss such matters, we could also get details of the day-to-day running of London transport. How can we find that out now? The Minister refuses to answer questions about it because it is normal practice for nationalised industries. How is that good for ratepayers and hon. Members? How can we possibly have the democratic accountability that the Secretary of State promised us during discussions on the London Regional Transport Act 1984 if we cannot ask about the day-to-day services of LRT?

Our constituents ask us about bus frequencies—about what has happened to the number 25 or the night service —and we cannot answer their questions, because the Secretary of State and London Regional Transport refuse to answer such questions. The press and the public used to be able to attend the GLC transport committee's meetings. They could listen to what was said and questions could be asked. Will London Regional Transport let the press and the ratepayers attend its meetings? Of course not. In Committee on the London Regional Transport Bill, the Secretary of State would not accept an amendment to allow the press and the public to attend LRT's meetings.

The Minister should not try to kid us that this miserable, squalid one-and-a-half-hour debate that the Government have so generously provided is any substitute for the democratic accountability of London Transport as it used to be run under the wisdom, the good guidance and the economic efficiency of the Greater London council.

12.40 am
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

This is a funny business indeed. When one considers the figures—I have examined the Minister's contributions in Committee on the London Regional Transport Act—one discovers that, last year, the Minister said that the ratepayers' contribution to the subsidy to London Transport was about 70 per cent. This year, under this order, the ratepayers' contribution will decrease to 65.63 per cent. Those percentages are directly comparable. However, to a great extent, the ratepayer is the user, and the fares will increase by 9 per cent. We are always being told that the total budget of London Regional Transport is decreasing, yet we are told that the service of London Regional Transport is increasing and that the contribution is producing a better return. The figures do not make sense.

This is another example of the House not being told clearly what the position is, and of the Minister and her Department adding another sorry chapter to the saga of their muddled dealings with London Regional Transport. My party and I have opposed from the beginning the concept of taking London Transport, uniquely in Britain, out of local democratic accountability into the hands of the Government, thus making a nationalised industry out of a local transport system. We opposed the Bill in Committee. We did not defend uncritically the position of London Transport, but at least it was run by people who were elected to run the service. We could have sacked the transport authority if we did not like what it was doing. In 1981, when the elections for the GLC were last held, transport was a major issue and the cheap fares policy was a determining factor in the success of the present administration.

Under the new situation, I am one of the people who reside in London boroughs whose rate will be levied by the Secretary of State, not by a group of councillors whom I can elect. I have no power to elect or to sack the Secretary of State. Therefore, I will be taxed, as will other hon. Members who are London ratepayers, by the Secretary of State. He will add to my burden as a ratepayer. I already have one such burden because of an historical anomaly —I must pay money for the Metropolitan police through an official on its behalf. Again, I have no say in that. I pay my rates to other authorities after democratic decision and, inasmuch as the Government have not inhibited it, democratic debate.

There are no other ways than this debate in which we can express our views. We cannot amend the proposals.

We either take them or leave them. There is no option. The problem over that is that there is no real accountability or any real responsiveness to the needs of the consumer and the ratepayers. But what is far worse is that we are being asked to decide on the budget for the next financial year before the Secretary of State has sorted out his budget for this year. Next week we were to debate the London Regional Transport (Amendment) Bill, yet the Secretary of State is still sorting out, because of a mistake he made, the budget for this year. How one can calculate, plan and organise the budget for next year when one does not know what this year's budget is may strike some hon. Members as somewhat bizarre. Even most creative accountants might find that difficult to comprehend.

The reality is that the Secretary of State went to court, where the judge declared that he had acted illegally and had exceeded his powers. He did things that he could have avoided doing if he had taken our advice in Committee, but he chose not to do so because he and his colleagues knew best. Even though the Secretary of State gave notice that he was going to appeal against that decision, eventually he backed down. It is an important constitutional principle that the Secretary of State should not come before this House to request it to pass this order assuming, when he has no constitutional right to do so, that the London Regional Transport (Amendment) Bill will be passed.

I seem to remember that the same Secretary of State introduced the Civil Aviation Bill. It did not appear to get very far. It failed on take-off. It might just be that his little London Regional Transport (Amendment) Bill does not get through this House and the other place unamended. It could be that hon. Members do not like the idea of retrospective legislation—to correct mistakes that only the Secretary of State and his Department have made. If that is the case, we shall tonight be deciding on a budget for next year when no budget has been finalised for this year. As has been said, this is unconstitutional and, in London Transport terms, without precedent. In the past we went through a democratic procedure. We were able to look at figures and to listen to debate which has been open to the public. We did not have a little draft order which provided no explanation and no relevant figures. We are being asked to give a blank cheque to the Secretary of State without knowing the state of his current account.

I ask the Secretary of State, or his Minister of State, whether they might not accept that in law, order and constitutional propriety they should withdraw this draft order until they have been able to get through Parliament other legislation relating to this year's budget. If they get that legislation through the House—I hope they do not —then let them come back with the order that we are considering tonight.

I have already made the point that this is taxation without representation, which as a matter of principle, is unsatisfactory. It is also pretty high taxation. It will increase the amount that ratepayers will be contributing to London Regional Transport. On the other hand, we are being asked to pay more in fares. The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) and other hon. Members will be aware that the figures do not add up. By this order, the Secretary of State will levy £212 million from ratepayers. He is also going to add the £69 million, as the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) said, that the GLC will have to find to cover their outstanding debt resulting from capital projects, debt which the Government would not take over, although they wanted to nationalise London Transport. They would take over the advantages but they would not take over the disadvantages.

Therefore the bill, as has been said, will be £281 million. This is higher than the bill would have been if the Greater London Council were running London Transport. It had a three-year plan and announced its figures. Therefore the Secretary of State is planning to outspend the council that he decided to replace. Unless the Secretary of State intends to practise more creative accounting, the cost is increasing, even though in Committee day after day, week after week, month after month he kept saying that the Government were going to make London Regional Transport more cost-effective. All I can say is that, if that is the way London Regional Transport is to go on, it does not say much for its accounting or for its level of service.

The future of London Regional Transport is shrouded in the normal mist that surrounds all the activities of the Department of Transport under this Administration. The business plan for London Regional Transport is good as far as it goes. I might remind the Secretary of State that if it had not been for pressure from Opposition Members in Committee there would not have been a business plan, because we were not to have such a series of documents with figures when the matter was originally proposed in Committee. There was to be no accountability in advance.

We are also entitled to know what sort of budget is planned for future years. Is it to be a slippery slope downwards with fewer services, more costs and higher fares, or is there to be a turning of one of the corners that the Government seem to reply upon to fulfil their best expectations? [Interruption.] Yes, indeed, they may have to rely on the exchange rate to enable them to do something.

The plan in the business document envisages a cut in revenue support over the next few years from about £190 million to £95 million or £85 million—a substantial cut. Yet we are being told that there will be minimal service reductions and fares increases consistent only with inflation. Nobody has been able to show how that equation can be made, and where the efficiency savings will be found remains fundamentally unclear. It looks as if the Secretary of State and his Department will claim that they will be able to square the circle, but they are not willing to come up with the evidence to support that claim.

London Transport, particularly in the area that I represent, is grossly under-funded. It does not need cuts or higher fares. People need to be charged less so that more people can use the services to generate more revenue so that we can have more capital investment for better public transport, fewer cars, less clogging of our capital city, a better service and generally a city that works.

The signs are that this doubly incompetent start by the Department has no good news for Londoners, whether ratepayers or passengers, and that there is no secure longterm plan for London Transport. If the Secretary of State is determined to go on with this half budget and creative accounting, I must place on record the fact that he does so against all constitutional standards of decency and propriety and without even coming to the House to tell us his reasons.

Unless we hear his reasons before the end of the debate, not only will we have to vote against the order tonight but we will be required to point out to the public that the arguments advanced last year were a con and that the Secretary of State has not done any of the things that he maintained he would achieve in his stewardship for London Transport and its users.

12.53 am
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) explained vividly the difference between the review of London Transport's activities and its future prospects that one might expect in a debate in county hall and in this brief debate. What he did not mention—I make no complaint about it—is that the supervisory function has passed from professionals responsible to councillors at county hall to civil servants in Whitehall accountable to the Secretary of State, who is accountable to the House.

I recall asking a question when the London Regional Transport Act 1984 was being debated about the number of people additional to those already in the Department of Transport who would be needed to administer the affairs of London Regional Transport. If I recollect correctly, the answer was in excess of 20 and perhaps up to 50. Perhaps the Minister will tell us the number. I think the answer was that the equivalent of at least 20 full-time people would be required in Marsham street.

I wish to emphasise the point made by my hon. Friend about the effect of the capital arrangements. He said that the Minister is requiring London Transport to get its capital requirements out of money levied by rates. If that is true, and the Minister must either deny it or agree to it, it means that there is a tax on transport in London paid by the ratepayers because they are paying more than they would under alternative methods of paying for that capital. If I have it wrong, I am sure that the Minister will correct me, but is she cannot, and if the Secretary of State for Transport is doing what the Secretary of State for the Environment is doing to sewerage and water supply, we are having to pay more for transport than we should be doing. This is the Government who say that they wish to reduce rates. Therefore the Government are being double-faced, if that is their position.

The Minister mentioned improvements to interchange. I warn her that if London Regional Transport or others trumpet the improvements for interchange such as that trumpeted in a recent article in the Sunday press, saying that there will be through-running between, for example, Paddington and the City, they should bear in mind that when that railway was built well over 100 years ago, it was built with through-running in mind. Such improvements are not improving absolutely, but only reverting to services of yesteryear. Any puffed-up, jumped-up exaggerations such as this will be viewed for what they are worth.

London Regional Transport and the Minister will have to face a major problem in the next few years, which hitherto has not received the attention that it deserves. That is the trend of employment in central London, and the effect that that will have on London transport, its finances and the quality of life in London. Some time ago, I asked the Department of the Environment to estimate the amount of empty office space in the Cities of London and Westminster, and in the rest of the GLC area. It did not reply because it said that such figures were not collected, and it would not collect them.

Another Bill, which we are considering in Committee, will destroy the strategic planning responsibility of the GLC, and put in its place an advisory planning commission to the Department of the Environment. I invite the Minister, the Secretary of State for Transport, and the Secretary of State for the Environment to have a look around the City and the West End to see the number of boards up saying, "To Let" and "For Sale". They are extraordinary and unnerving in number. There have not been such hoards in the City of London in living memory, and they are now sprouting in every back and main street in the City and the West End. There is a rapid emptying of office space, which means that the numbers of people working there, and the numbers of people travelling to work, are going down, quite apart from the electronic revolution, about which we have all heard, and the effects that that will have. This will mean that there will be much less use of work journeys on London Transport in the coming years. All this will make a great difference, as it will change the income that LRT derives from this important source. Inadequate machinery will have to face this challenge. In wishing to break up the GLC—the Secretary of State may not achieve this aim — its strategic planning function and the interlocked relationship with the administration of London Transport, we shall be in great difficulty. I am not convinced that the Government's plans, as instanced by Capitalcard, will help. We could have had a good scheme with the Capitalcard, because London's railways operate for between 15 and 18 hours a day, irrespective of demand. It would have been beneficial to have costed that card in a way that would have enabled the transport system to be used to its maximum capacity. I believe that the Minister of State and the Secretary of State should at least modify their structural plans so that the flight of work from central London and the West End is reversed, so that it is worth while for people to work in and sometimes to live in central London, and so that our capital resources are used to the maximum extent. Unless the Ministers do this, they will not use the existing resources to their maximum and will not encourage all aspects of London — be it shopping, entertainment, leisure or visits to friends and relations—to the maximum extent. We shall, therefore, not use the facilities that were available in pre-1914 London to the maximum extent. The relationship between transport and social use makes public transport what it should be.

This debate is an instrument to deal with the finances of, and matters involved in London Transport. I have sketched out the strategic problem only briefly. I believe that the Minister of State should examine these aspects, because, although we deplore the Government's policies, at least, with a bit of warning, we should be able to examine this matter so that when we consider the next levy order in a year's time, we shall not only comment on and oppose the order but examine how well Ministers are discharging their trust and responsibility for the type of methods that I have outlined.

1.1 am

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

I should like to endorse the comments of my hon. Friends the Members for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) and for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) that it is undemocratic for London's transport matters to be decided in an hour-and-a-half debate when Conservative Members do not represent London constituencies and chatter their way through the debate. If they wish to continue their discussions, the bars are still open, and I am sure that the bars would welcome the trade. The issue of democracy in London transport deserves far greater attention in the House that it is likely to receive tonight or at any other time.

I refer to the points that many hon. Members made day after day, week after week, during the Committee stage of the London Regional Transport Bill. We pointed out that about 55 per cent. of households in London owned cars. In the poorer areas of London, which are represented by the Opposition the rate of car ownership falls to 40 per cent., 30 per cent. and, in some cases, to less than 25 per cent. That means that often 75 per cent. of all households rely on public transport for their transport needs. In those households that have access to a car, usually one person —a man—has access to the car. Women are, therefore, reliant entirely on public transport. Those arguments washed completely over the Secretary of State. He did not seem to comprehend what we were talking about.

We suggested to the Secretary of State that membership of the London Regional Transport Authority should reflect the high percentage of women users of transport, and the needs of the disabled, the minority ethnic communities and the elderly. The right hon. Gentleman dismissed those ideas out of hand. On taking over London Regional Transport, the right hon. Gentleman's first act was to sack most members of the board, especially those who had been appointed by the GLC because they represented specifically those types of interests. At one stroke he showed his contempt for the majority of the people of London who are users of London Regional Transport Authority services.

There is a further inadequacy about this type of debate. While we are discussing the London regional transport levy for the forthcoming financial year we ought to be discussing the Secretary of State's other plans for transport in London. It is inextricably linked with road planning, lorry bands, ring ways, motorways and airport development. But, no, we are restricted to discussing the London Regional Transport Authority levy while the same Secretary of State has cast a pall and a blight over a very large part of London by his proposals for studies for new road building schemes through east London, north London, south London and other places. These issues ought to be debated along with the levy.

We are going down a ludicrous path in London, contrary to the movements in transport thinking in every other city in the world. We seem to be blessed with a Secretary of State—

Mr. Tony Banks


Mr. Corbyn

My hon. Friend says "cursed" and he is quite right. We are cursed with a Secretary of State who has no vision whatsoever of how most people live and work in London; who has not the slightest understanding of how people get around and, judging by his various idiotic remarks about one-way systems which should be abolished, traffic lights which should all be permanently on green and parking meters which should all be taken away, seems to think that one can continue to encourage commuter motoring in and out of central London and then be surprised that there are traffic jams and when people suggest to him that it is not such a good idea to demolish homes and businesses to make way for roads but is much more efficient to put people on buses and trains at a price they can afford, as was happening when the Greater London council had control of London's transport but is not happening now.

There was a short period after the Fares Fair scheme was introduced when the use of buses in London increased for the first time for many years, the number of people travelling on the underground increased and the number of people interchanging on to British Rail increased. But the Secretary of State could not stomach that, so he passed his nasty little Bill, which brought great danger to the streets of London and encouraged more cars and more lorries to come on to the streets of London. So we end up with the sort of ludicrous position that we are in tonight.

I hope that when the Minister replies—if he or she can be bothered to listen to some of the questions that are being put, because their attitude shows that they hold a lot of Londoners in great contempt—he or she will answer some specific questions.

First, how many bus routes will be cut during the next year from the London Regional Transport Authority's timetable? Secondly, how many miles of bus route will be lost in the forthcoming year? Thirdly, will they give us an undertaking as to what the fare increases will be in the forthcoming year and the year after? Will they also tell us what estimate they have made of the cost to the public purse of bringing in one-person-operated buses? With his rather curious ideas of efficiency, the Secretary of State seems to believe that it is more efficient to sack the bus conductors in order to make the buses slower, thereby creating a greater traffic jam and also making the buses considerably more dangerous, particularly for women passengers at night. It is something that he might not understand because I do not suppose that he or the hon. Lady travels on the buses late at night or at any other time. I suggest, however, that they consider the fear that is going through the minds of many people who are employed by the London Regional Transport Authority at the moment: those conductors who are about to lose their jobs—550 in the next month; the 3,800 jobs on London Transport that are due to go by the end of 1987; and the threat of privatisation that hangs over the London Regional Transport workshops, the maintenance gangs, the building department and all the other departments that have loyally served London Transport and given us a very good and potentially extremely efficient transport system throughout London.

But the Secretary of State flies in the face of all logic about London's transport needs, road planning requirements and the future needs of Londoners. He seems hell bent on driving more roads and motorways through London, taking buses off the roads and taking trains off the rails. He wants to cease to give the support that is needed to British Rail and to London Transport trains.

The elderly suffer who cannot find a bus to travel on while they still have a bus pass. The Government might tell us what plans they have for the bus pass for the elderly and whether they intend to extend the concession to British Rail trains. Another group which suffers are those who live in inner city areas who have no possibility of being able to buy a car or of being able to travel on any form of public transport other than buses. They have to rely on LRT and they are being treated to every-decreasing services, ever-lengthening bus queues and an ever-more expensive service. In the end it is not the Secretary of State or other Ministers who suffer, for they ride around in chauffeur-driven cars—[Interruption.] This is an example of the sort of debate that ensues when a group of public school hooligans, who find that they have nothing else to do, wander into the Chamber in the middle of the night merely to demonstrate their contempt for those who cannot afford to buy and run a car and who need a bus service to allow them to travel in London.

The evil days of this Tory Government are numbered. When the Government have been removed from office, a democratically elected Government will take their place. A Government will be elected who are determined to provide for the needs of all the people in London and our other major cities by establishing a decent, cheap and safe public transport system. The Secretary of State and his sidekick have shown themselves completely unfitted, unsuited and incapable of providing such a system.

1.12 am
Mrs. Chalker

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall reply to the debate. I have rarely heard such a lot of clap-trap as that which came from the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn). In that respect he even put the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) in the shade.

A number of false remarks have been made, as one would expect in this debate. I exclude the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) from that remark, because he made an important contribution on future strategic planning. He asked me to consider what he said, which, as he knows, I shall do most carefully. He knows as well as I do, however, that no one can look into a crystal ball to ascertain the form of future transport planning. Instead, we can examine the developments that are taking place and put resources and capital investment into schemes such as the docklands light railway, which is being undertaken by LRT with the London Docklands Development Corporation. We can provide for those areas that are to be expanded in future. That is exactly what LRT is required to do and is doing. Indeed, it is progressing ahead of its schedule.

I shall not go wider than that because on this order—the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich seemed to believe that it was part of a Bill which is to be brought before the House next week—there is a good deal to be said. I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. Lady that the order is complicated. However, it is important to get the basis of fact absolutely right, and that I shall seek to do in my answers to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks).

First, I ask the House to remember something that I said in my opening remarks. Between 1970—when the GLC first became responsible for the running of London Transport — and 1985, total grant from taxpayers and ratepayers rose from £6.5 million to £400 million. That is where the problem had to be tackled. We were faced with a problem of upward spiralling costs with no great improvement in the service for those who needed to travel. We must also understand in this difficult calculation what figures we are considering. I shall try to follow through on the same figures that the hon. Member for Newham, North-West used, and explain where and why we differ.

First, he was busy claiming that the precept by the GLC for London Transport for 1984–85 was a total of £208 million, which was lower than the Government's proposed levy of £212 million from the ratepayers for the coming financial year. Let me explain why the GLC's calculation is different from the Government's in two important respects. The hon. Gentleman claimed that 35 per cent. more would be paid by ratepayers in the following year, but this is wrong. The GLC has assumed debt financing for capital investment rather than the pay-as-you-go financing that LRT will use. The GLC has also allocated a disproportionate amount of transport supplementary grant to London Transport as compared with other transport services. The effect of doing that is to use debt financing to spread the costs of capital investments over a longer period. The charge on the ratepayer is reduced in the current year when the GLC is responsible for the precept, but in the long run the large debt charges incurred are met in future when the levy is raised by the Government on the London ratepayer through the London Regional Transport legislation. In the longer term, the borrowing thus becomes more costly.

The GLC this year has claimed the credit for keeping down the transport precept. How has it done this? It switched that £300 million of external debt from housing to transport in December 1983. Now it seeks to blame the Government for the debt charges that have resulted from the policy.

The GLC cannot have it both ways. If it says that it borrowed to finance LRT, it has to bear full responsibility for landing ratepayers with debt charges to finance unprofitable investment. That is in marked contrast to the debt-free condition in which London Transport was transferred to the GLC in 1970.

Mr. Tony Banks

I am grateful to the Minister for taking time to explain the difference. She has not said that the GLC's figures are wrong, but that there is a difference. The big difference is the way in which the Government now want to finance capital borrowing. It is normal, in local government she must accept for one to spread capital costs over a period of years rather than to pay for them all in the one year. Who would buy a house and pay for it in one year? Some Conservative Members might be able to afford to do so, but the majority of ordinary people do not finance their borrowing in that way.

Mrs. Chalker

The hon. Gentleman can argue as hard as he likes about this, but what the GLC would do by its manner of financing is to put up the overall cost of borrowing, and that is an additional cost that would have to be paid for by the ratepayers of London in the years ahead.

In addition, the GLC has also attributed £100 million of the total transport supplementary grant of £142 million in the current year to London Transport. That is disproportionate, given its responsibilities. That is why I said earlier that, on a pro rata basis of allocation of transport supplementary grant between LT and the other services, the GLC received roughly £76 million towards its total budgeted grants to LT of £339 million. The remaining £263 million fell to be funded by the ratepayers. That is about £50 million more than the proposed levy for the 1985–86 equivalent of a 2.5p rate.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West went on to ask about the £69 million to service the historic debt for London Transport in addition to the new Government levy. This is all part of the GLC's total historic debt. It is that which the GLC has recently chosen conveniently to call public transport. That is the £300 million of which I spoke a moment ago. It is the only institution of which I can think that could possibly seek to hold someone else responsible for the debts that it has incurred.

The hon. Gentleman then claimed that because there was a £208 million rate precept in 1984–85 that meant there was a 35 per cent. increase in the coming year. Since the new board of LRT took over we have managed to allow the capital grant provision to be increased by about £45 million at a time when the revenue support has been reduced by the productivity and efficiency of LRT. That has brought the total grant down by more than 15 million. On a comparable basis, that is why I have said before and say again tonight that the proposed levy is £50 million less than the GLC's budgeted grant to LRT in 1984–85, which fell to the London ratepayers to finance.

The hon. Gentleman made a number of remarks—and attributed things to me that I have not said, but that is not unusual — about Capitalcard. He sought to say that the fare changes in January were unreasonable. I said that Capitalcard is better and cheaper than the alternative—

Mr. Tony Banks

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not wish to draw any unfavourable comparisons, but in a debate on London Transport in county hall the chairman of the council would have drawn to order members who were shouting so that one could not hear the speaker.

Mrs. Chalker

Capitalcard is cheaper than the alternative British Rail point-to-point season combined with LRT's Travelcard. I have never said, on a one-for-one basis, that the Travelcard was not a good idea. Of course, it gives good value. The point is that the Capitalcard, which gives good value for money, is already proving popular and will, I am sure, continue to be a great success. It preserves the element of public choice and ensures that the costs are borne by those who benefit. The new card was introduced as an additional facility for the benefit of travellers at no additional cost to the ratepayers and taxpayers, which was unlike the proposal that the GLC was considering.

A number of hon. Members have made other claims about fares. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) did not agree with the figures that I gave in response to his intervention. Those figures were correct. The percentage contributed by the ratepayers through the GLC grants to LRT was 75 per cent. out of a total of £340 million. In the next year, 1985–86, London ratepayers will contribute 65.6 per cent. out of a total of £323 million. When the hon. Gentleman reads the record he will see why and how my earlier figures were correct.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West commented on short hops on buses being more expensive than the 9 per cent. overall increase. Where there is fare staging in 5p and 10 stages, obviously some increases will be greater than the specific 9 per cent. That is why I have always said an average of 9 per cent. Some will increase by more than others, some will remain steady, while some will increase by less than the average. The Government have asked LRT—and I am confident that it can maintain this—to keep peak fares broadly in line with prices generally and with fares on British Rail's London services. It shows every sign of doing that and giving the passenger a good return.

The demand for bus services is expected to decline, not because of the short-term effect of the fares increase but because of the long-term changes in the market. There are shifts in car ownership and population. Wherever a service seeks to meet the demands on the ground there will be changes.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West asked about specific bus changes. A maximum 2 per cent. in service levels for 1985–86 will reflect the decline in demand but the encouragement for new types of services and the bidding for provision of services under the London Regional Transport Act is encouraging. We shall see total public transport mileage by road increase provided that demand is stimulated by flexibility and the development of new routes as well as new kinds of services.

Measures to improve service reliability are important. That means that we must get rid of the lost mileage and LRT says that it can reduce lost mileage from 5.1 to 4.8 per cent. Therefore, there will be an improvement in the average waiting times, which is much wanted. The hon. Gentleman also compared the three-year plan and LRT's annual business plan. The provision of information, both through the annual plan and the other methods, is plentiful. In addition, plenty of information is available through the London regional passenger committee.

We have sought, in presenting the levy to the House, to be fair to ratepayers in London because it represents good value for money and LRT's management is now on course to giving passengers and ratepayers better value in the future. That is in sharp contrast to what has occurred. The GLC's policies would have meant presenting London ratepayers with a bill for £245 million for revenue support alone in 1987–88 before any grant for capital had been allowed for.

I know that hon. Members are concerned about the interests of those who use LRT's services and those who help to finance them. We need to see a balance between those who are paying the fares and those who are paying the rates and taxes. I commend the draft order to the House.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 198, Noes 138.

Division No. 103] [1.27 am
Alexander, Richard Butler, Hon Adam
Amess, David Butterifill, John
Ancram, Michael Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Arnold, Tom Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Ashby, David Carttiss, Michael
Aspinwall, Jack Cash, William
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Chapman, Sydney
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Chope, Christopher
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Beggs, Roy Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Bellingham, Henry Cockeram, Eric
Bendall, Vivian Colvin, Michael
Benyon, William Conway, Derek
Best, Keith Coombs, Simon
Bevan, David Gilroy Cope, John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Cranborne, Viscount
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Crouch, David
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bright, Graham Dickens, Geoffrey
Brooke, Hon Peter Dicks, Terry
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Dorrell, Stephen
Buck, Sir Antony Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Budgen, Nick Dover, Den
Bulmer, Esmond Dunn, Robert
Burt, Alistair Durant, Tony
Eggar, Tim Merchant, Piers
Evennett, David Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Favell, Anthony Neale, Gerrard
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Needham, Richard
Forman, Nigel Nelson, Anthony
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Neubert, Michael
Forth, Eric Newton, Tony
Fox, Marcus Nicholls, Patrick
Franks, Cecil Norris, Steven
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Onslow, Cranley
Freeman, Roger Ottaway, Richard
Galley, Roy Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Patten, John (Oxford)
Gorst, John Pollock, Alexander
Gow, Ian Powley, John
Grant, Sir Anthony Renton, Tim
Greenway, Harry Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Gregory, Conal Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Ground, Patrick Roe, Mrs Marion
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hampson, Dr Keith Rowe, Andrew
Hannam, John Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Hargreaves, Kenneth Ryder, Richard
Harris, David Sayeed, Jonathan
Harvey, Robert Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hawksley, Warren Shelton, William (Streatham)
Hayes, J. Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hayward, Robert Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Hickmet, Richard Silvester, Fred
Hind, Kenneth Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Holt, Richard Speed, Keith
Howard, Michael Spencer, Derek
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Squire, Robin
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Stanbrook, Ivor
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Stern, Michael
Hunt, David (Wirral) Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Hunter, Andrew Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Jackson, Robert Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Jessel, Toby Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Stokes, John
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Stradling Thomas, J.
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Sumberg, David
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Taylor, John (Solihull)
Key, Robert Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Temple-Morris, Peter
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Thornton, Malcolm
Knowles, Michael Tracey, Richard
Knox, David Trippier, David
Lamont, Norman Twinn, Dr Ian
Lang, Ian Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Latham, Michael Waldegrave, Hon William
Lawler, Geoffrey Wall, Sir Patrick
Lawrence, Ivan Waller, Gary
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Warren, Kenneth
Lilley, Peter Watts, John
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Whitfield, John
Luce, Richard Whitney, Raymond
McCrindle, Robert Wilkinson, John
McCurley, Mrs Anna Wolfson, Mark
MacGregor, John Wood, Timothy
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Woodcock, Michael
Maclean, David John Yeo, Tim
Maginnis, Ken Young, Sir George (Acton)
Major, John Younger, Rt Hon George
Malone, Gerald
Mather, Carol Tellers for the Ayes:
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Mr. Archie Hamilton and
Mellor, David Mr. Tim Sainsbury.
Alton, David Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Anderson, Donald Barnett, Guy
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Barron, Kevin
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Leighton, Ronald
Beith, A. J. Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Litherland, Robert
Bidwell, Sydney Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Blair, Anthony Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Boyes, Roland Loyden, Edward
Bray, Dr Jeremy McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) McGuire, Michael
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Bruce, Malcolm McKelvey, William
Buchan, Norman McNamara, Kevin
Caborn, Richard McTaggart, Robert
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) McWilliam, John
Campbell-Savours, Dale Madden, Max
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Marek, Dr John
Clarke, Thomas Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Clay, Robert Maxton, John
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Maynard, Miss Joan
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Meacher, Michael
Cohen, Harry Meadowcroft, Michael
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Michie, William
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Mikardo, Ian
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Corbyn, Jeremy Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Cowans, Harry Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Nellist, David
Cunliffe, Lawrence O'Brien, William
Cunningham, Dr John O'Neill, Martin
Dalyell, Tam Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Park, George
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Parry, Robert
Deakins, Eric Patchett, Terry
Dormand, Jack Pike, Peter
Dubs, Alfred Prescott, John
Dunwoody, Hpn Mrs G. Randall, Stuart
Eadie, Alex Redmond, M.
Eastham, Ken Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Richardson, Ms Jo
Ewing, Harry Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Fatchett, Derek Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Robertson, George
Fisher, Mark Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Rogers, Allan
Forrester, John Rowlands, Ted
Foster, Derek Sheerman, Barry
Foulkes, George Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Skinner, Dennis
George, Bruce Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Godman, Dr Norman Snape, Peter
Golding, John Soley, Clive
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Spearing, Nigel
Hardy, Peter Steel, Rt Hon David
Harman, Ms Harriet Stott, Roger
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Strang, Gavin
Haynes, Frank Straw, Jack
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Home Robertson, John Wareing, Robert
Howells, Geraint Welsh, Michael
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Williams, Rt Hon A.
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Winnick, David
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Woodall, Alec
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Young, David (Bolton SE)
Kennedy, Charles
Kirkwood, Archy Tellers for the Noes:
Lamond, James Mr. Don Dixon and
Leadbitter, Ted Dr. Roger Thomas.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft London Regional Transport (Levy) Order 1985, which was laid before this House on 17th December, be approved.

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