HC Deb 13 May 1985 vol 79 cc74-114

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker

We now come to opposed private business. Before calling the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) to speak on behalf of the promoters of the Bill, I should announce to the House that I have selected the instruction in the name of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) to be debated with the Second Reading of the Bill.

7 pm

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds).

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

I have a sense of deja vu because for many years I had to comment on behalf of the Government on various private Bills dealing with transport and ports matters. Now that I find myself on the other side of the water. so to speak, I shall be fascinated to hear what my hon. Friend the Minister has to say when he arrives and is ready to speak.

It is generally acknowledged that Felixstowe has become the most successful port in the United Kingdom, and it has built that success with virtually no need to resort to Government funds. Felixstowe is outside the national dock labour scheme, and it has excellent labour relations. The Bill provides an opportunity to build on the port's success and to enable it to compete on equal terms with rival ports in Europe.

The Bill will allow Felixstowe to expand its container quays by extending the limits of its jurisdiction approximately 1,000 m along the eastern bank of Harwich harbour. At the moment, the Felixstowe Dock and Railways Company is undertaking a .40 million expansion. Once that is completed — when the new Trinity terminal is ready—the port will have no further space to expand within its statutory limits. The promoters estimate that by 1987 the port will be woking to capacity, including the new Trinity terminal. Its customers —British, continental and American—will need to know by then, before committing themselves to any further trade through the port, whether it will be capable of handling their future requirements. If they cannot be so assured, they will go elsewhere. That may well mean that those customers will leave Britain and go to ports outside this country.

Since 1965, cargo passing through Felixstowe has increased tenfold to well over 9 million tonnes. The port's speciality is containers, of which some 3 million per year are handled throughout the United Kingdom. As I am sure my hon. Friend the Minister will agree, containers are the growth element in the ports' business, not just in this country but throughout the world. The OECD predicts a growth of between 3 and 5 per cent. per annum in the production of manufactured goods in years to come., most of which is likely to be traded internationally in containers. It is estimated that 10 million tonnes of cargo in the United Kingdom has still to be containerised.

The container revolution, to which this country came slowly, means that more and more containers are being carried on round the world routes by enormous mother ships which can trade only into ports which have first, the appropriate depth of water and, secondly, but equally important, the facilities for those big ships to be loaded and unloaded and turned around very quickly. If we cannot provide ports with those facilities, this country will be bypassed. Felixstowe offers the opportunity for Britain to stay on the main line of world trade, but if its expansion is thwarted the big ships will not come to this country and our trade, our jobs and our economy will suffer.

It is important to say who supports the Bill. First, there are the promoters, who have explained their proposals very clearly in their note to the House. Secondly, chambers of commerce and industry from the whole of East Anglia and from the east and west midlands unanimously support the expansion. The chairman and all the shop stewards of the Transport and General Workers Union docks section throughout East Anglia are also in favour of the Bill. The Freight Transport Association, incorporating the British Shippers Council, in its statement of 9 May, said: Industry needs port services that are competitive with, and comparable to those available in mainland Europe. Felixstowe docks match these criteria to a very high degree … FTA sees the Felixstowe Bill as a welcome initiative on the part of the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company to ensure that they are able to meet future demand for their services. It is welcomed by FTA in the belief that it will extend and improve the level of port services available to British industry. In fairness, I should also say who is against the Bill.

Sir Anthony Grant (Cambridgeshire, South-West)

Before my hon. Friend leaves the list of those in favour of the Bill, I hope that he will mention Trinity college, Cambridge, as the college meeting voted by 48 to nil in favour of the proposal.

Mr. Griffiths

I am obliged to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-West (Sir A. Grant). He is always diligent in standing up for the interests of Cambridgeshire and of Cambridge university. It has come to my notice, however, that certain graduates of the university and, indeed, my hon. Friend for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James), hope to take part in the debate, so I thought that I would leave Trinity's case to them.

Among those who are against the Bill, there are said to be fears on three main issues locally — safety of navigation in the mouth of the River Orwell, the effect on the port of Ipswich, and care for the environment. I shall deal with the effect on Ipswich first.

Ipswich, a splendid city with an excellent football team, has never opposed the Felixstowe development on commercial grounds. What is good for one port in the haven is good for the other, and our ports have grown together at similar rates. In any case, Felixstowe would be handling ships of a draught which could not navigate the upper reaches of the river. The town of Ipswich has no need to fear job losses as a result of the development. On the contrary, 24 per cent. of the work force at Felixstowe live in Ipswich, and their numbers are increasing all the time. The Bill will provide substantially more jobs for the people of Ipswich.

Concern has also been expressed about the safety of ships trading to and from Ipswich. I am glad to be able to tell the House that that concern has led to a new and very welcome draft agreement between the ports of Harwich and Felixstowe, whereby the navigable waters which under the Bill would have passed to Felixstowe will now go to Harwich. My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich (Sir J. Ridsdale) will be pleased to know that Harwich will be in charge of rights of way in the estuary and will continue to be the pilotage authority for the entire harbour. The dock company has now applied to Parliament to promote the additional provisions in the Bill to give effect to those arrangements.

I am also assured that this development, with its associated dredging work, would double the width of navigable water available between Fagbury point and Shotley spit. I am glad that my hon. Friends the Members for Suffolk, Central (Mr. Lord) and for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer)—are listening carefully. I know of their concern about the river's width. The deepening of this navigable fairway will mean that the large container ships will be able to arrive and depart at virtually all stages of the tide. At present, large ships can move only during a limited high water period. This great improvement will mean that the incidence of delay will be substantially reduced. Ipswich traffic can be given the right of passage over vessels going to and from the new berths on the rare occasions when problems arise. I very much hope that the port of Ipswich will negotiate on the basis of this handsome offer that has been made to it for priority wherever problems might arise.

I turn to the argument on jobs in Ipswich. I was sorry to see the announcement the other day of a loss of jobs in the port of Ipswich. No doubt the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) will wish to comment on that. In Felixstowe, where a large number of Ipswich dockers work, there is an industrial relations record second to none in the British ports industry. The 1,100 members of the TGWU at Felixstowe refused last year to join the second national strike. Felixstowe is, however, a closed shop. All employees belong to the TGWU, and they voted overwhelmingly in favour of this expansion plan at their last mass meeting. The convener of the TGWU at the port said: I support the expansion of the port of Felixstowe for three main reasons: firstly. because it gives the existing members of our work force increased job security; secondly, because it gives the people of East Anglia generally the opportunity to get more work from or through the port of Felixstowe; and finally and perhaps more importantly, this port is vital to our region's growth. I feel very much for the unemployed in Suffolk whose numbers have risen alarmingly. I hope that those remarks will be taken seriously.

I turn to the environmental aspects. Suffolk county council gave careful thought to the Bill and decided not to oppose it. Suffolk district council voted by a narrow majority not to withdraw its petition. The vote was 24 to 22, but I understand that there were several others present who did not vote because they had a direct interest in the port. A small number of other petitioners are concerned with the environment. I want to say to them that, for five years, I was an environment Minister, and I had particular responsibility for coastal and waterway matters. No one can possibly doubt the attractions of the River Orwell and its adjacent mud flats, especially to water fowl and to all those, including myself, who enjoy sailing in the estuary. I understand that the hon. Member for Ipswich is an old sailor in the estuary.

I pledge that I shall not be a party to the Bill's going on to the statute book unless, on balance, the disbenefits it may bring to the overall local environment are outweighed by the environmental benefits that will be required of the promoters by way of widening the river, tree planting and landscaping schemes and other appropriate arrangements. Obviously, it would be up to the Opposed Private Bill Committee to consider how far the commitments that the port has already made to environmental safeguards are adequate, but the facts to date make nonsense of such widely publicised scare headlines as "Environmental catastrophe."

The balance sheet of losses and gains on offer so far is as follows. On the losses side, 140 acres of mud flats and salt marsh would be taken into the new wharfage; but, on the gains side, there would be 87 acres of new woods and tree belts, including no fewer than 500,000 new trees—most of them, I hope, of local varieties—and 20 acres of new wetlands, 10 acres of orchid meadow and 15 acres of extra tree belts, all of which would be subject to discussion with the planning authority. Another loss would be the half-mile of river wall footpath that would disappear, but the gains would be two new footpaths doubling the path length and the 11/2 miles of river wall path which would remain and sections of it which would be upgraded to bridleways for the benefit of riders.

Whether these safeguards are sufficient is up to the Opposed Private Bill Committee, but I want to remind the House of a few points of perspective. First, the shore line of the River Orwell is 22 miles long. The proposed extension covers half a mile of that shoreline—2.5 per cent. only of the total area. It can hardly be described as an "environmental catastrophe" when 97.5 per cent. of the shoreline remains untouched.

Secondly, there is an area of outstanding natural beauty, accounting for 151 square miles of the county of Suffolk. I care deeply for that AONB, but I remind the House that the port extension is just one third of one square mile of the total of 151 square miles.

Thirdly, the area that is earmarked for expansion is environmentally less attractive than the upper reaches of the Orwell. I have walked that area, as have my hon. Friends.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)

I think that the hon. Gentleman will admit that the area that he has described as mud flats is of importance in terms of the international environment and is a site covered by the RAMSAR convention on wetlands of international importance. It is recognised internationally as a site that is of such prime importance for wild fowl that it deserves the protection which we thought areas of outstanding natural beauty received.

Mr. Griffiths

I shall respond to the hon. Gentleman's points shortly.

The upper reaches of the Orwell are really attractive. The Trimley marshes are important, as the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) said, but they are mainly reclaimed land. Upstream, where there is to be no further expansion, as Trinity college has made crystal clear, the banks of the estuary become more undulating, wooded, natural and beautiful, and they must be protected.

Fourthly — I come, though glancingly, to the point made by the hon. Member for Wentworth—Felixstowe recognises, as I do, that the Orwell is a valuable feeding ground for birds, especially waders. The port is, therefore, financing 75 per cent. of the cost of an extensive bird count survey. But the area of the dock extension is crucial for only three of the 30 species of birds that have been studied by the Suffolk Trust for Nature Conservation. Moreover, the trust's report —not not the port company's — shows a considerable movement of the birds within the Rivers Orwell and Stour. That has strengthened the view that Felixstowe's development would displace a relatively small number of birds and would not disrupt the ecological balance of the estuary as a whole. Felixstowe has, nevertheless, offered the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Nature Conservancy Council a 25-acre wetland on the adjoining marshes to provide an alternative habitat. That is very similar to the internationally recognised Minsmere project in Suffolk where the flooding of 25 acres of land has been spectacularly successful.

After some years of service as an environment Minister, I can say that the Orwell land and seascape has largely been moulded by man. That is true of most of Britain's heritage. Therefore, I look to the opportunity of Felixstowe's expansion to take steps to ensure that the overall impact shall ensure as least as much enhancement for the environment as detraction from it.

I come finally to the broader national arguments of those who say that they are against the Bill because, it is said, we already have too much port capacity. Indeed we do, but, sadly, it is in the wrong place. One of the many mistakes that I made as a transport Minister was to put .45 million into the development of Seaforth dock in Liverpool and a further .40 million into the new west dock in Bristol. Although I wish both those ports well, I have to say that, looking back, it was an investment that would have been better placed in those areas of the country that could get a greater share of the large ocean-going trade and the container trade that is so important to the country.

The central point about containers is that, carried as they are, on the big ships, they tend to be distributed within the country no longer by small vessels putting into every individual haven. How I wish that were still true. They are landed in one mother port and then carried round the country on the rail and motorway networks. That is the reality of containers. More and more we find that the great world-girdling container lines seek to stop in only one port in north-west Europe, and that port tends more and more to be Rotterdam. As a consequence, about one fifth of all the containers handled today in Rotterdam are destined for, or originate from, Britain.

Unless we can allow a modern port such as Felixstowe to develop, we shall find more and more that we are adding to the costs of our exports and imports because of the extra charge made for shunting those boxes back and forth across the North sea and then transloading them at considerable expense on to the large ocean-going vessels in Rottendam.

Sir Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)

When my hon. Friend says that ports such as Ipswich should be allowed to develop, I agree with him. But will he couple it with Harwich as well?

Mr. Griffiths

I am sure that Harwich is expanding and will continue to expand. As long as it has my hon. Friend as its Member of Parliament, its success is ensured. It may be that he will wish to tell the House that in the course of the debate.

The national argument against this Bill simple does not stand up. I put it to the House that there is, on the one side, the merit of allowing the Bill to proceed and, on the other, there are the very real consequences of the House rejecting it.

Let us suppose that the Bill is refused a Second Reading. The best advice that I can obtain suggests a number of consequences. First, half the shippers at present using Felixstowe and planning to expand their trade there have said that they would switch their main trade to continental ports. I have explained why. They need to have access to the large ocean-going vessels.

Secondly, if we reject the Bill, there will be the immediate loss of .30 million or .40 million of new construction work in the Felixstowe port area. There will be the consequential loss of millions of pounds worth of orders for cranes and other port machinery, all of which, since Felixstowe is a "Buy British" company, will mean the loss of British jobs. Beyond that, there will be the loss of another 2,400 jobs which Felixstowe expects to be created indirectly in the Ipswich-Felixstowe area.

It is in that connection that I want to deal with some of the objections that the hon. Member for Ipswich made in the local press. The district officer of the Transport and General Workers Union for Ipswich is Mr. Peter Partridge. He wrote to the hon. Gentleman the other day strongly objecting to his using phrases such as Ipswich becoming a ghost port if Felixstowe was allowed to expand. Mr. Partridge wrote: As Felixstowe has prospered, so has Ipswich, and the two ports are not in competition. The fact that Felixstowe has the capacity to handle large container vessels means that there are more of the feeder-type using the Harwich estuary and of course some of those find Ipswich the more convenient port. The convener continues: Another point that you should be aware of is that about 25 per cent. at present of employees at Felixstowe are living in Ipswich and these are, or were, possible Labour voters. I quote a final comment about Ipswich made by Mr. Brendan Lamb, the chairman of the Transport and General Workers Union shop stewards throughout East Anglia. Referring to Ipswich and its recent number of redundancies, he writes: The news of these redundancies comes against a background in which our local Member of Parliament is effectively attempting to push new trade away from the region's ports by blocking the development of Felixstowe. Yet news of jobs losses at Ipswich shows how badly we require this further development in order to secure extra trade and to guarantee the economic well being of the local economy. I am amazed that a Labour MP should actively oppose expansion at the port of Felixstowe, which will create a very large number of new jobs in a region where unemployment figures have doubled in the past five years. I am sure that that quotation from the statement of Mr. Brendan Lamb of the Transport and General Workers Union will be taken seriously by Opposition Members.

There would be further consequence if the House denied the Bill a Second Reading. We should be sending out a message to the watching world that the British Parliament was not even prepared to consider in detail the expansion of our most successful and profitable port. None of the economic arguments would even get to be considered in detail by the House. None of the navigational safeguards which Felixstowe has offered to Ipswich and to Harwich would even be examined. Nor would the ecological and environmental objections ever be thrashed out, as the Opposed Private Bill Committee would want to thrash them out, so that some balance could be found whereby the environment in that area was enhanced as well as subjected to expansion.

I repeat the undertaking that I gave at the outset of my remarks. The promoters are prepared to meet any reasonable conditions that the Opposed. Private Bill Committee may wish to add to the safeguards for the environment, to the legitimate navigational interests of the ports of Harwich and Ipswich and to the wishes of the local authorities in respect of planning matters. I beg the House not to kill this Bill on Second Reading. It is a good Bill —good for Felixstowe, good for East Anglia and good for the British economy.

7.30 pm
Mr. Ken Weetch (Ipswich)

I thank the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) for a strong and clear statement of the case, which is what I would have expected from him. I oppose the Bill for constituency reasons and for reasons of general principle.

The hon. Member has tried to hit me with everything except the stool on which I sit and has accused me, among other things, of not knowing what my constituency interest is. I invite him to examine my political record in East Anglia, which will show that I know very well what the constituency interest is. I have been the principal objector to the Bill, both inside and outside the House, and this Second Reading debate gives me an opportunity to say why I object to it, and to put my views firmly on record. My first major objection is the potentially lethal effect of the Bill on the performance and commercial prosperity on the port of Ipswich.

Before I deal with the brass tacks, I shall make two preliminary points. First, I am not per se opposed to Felixstowe providing more competition through an expansion in its capacity, because it would be unreasonable for me to be so. That is investment, and the ebb and flow of commerce, and the port of Ipswich and anyone else has to face that fact. Secondly, nor am I objecting to the expansion of Felixstowe as a free enterprise port. I have no ideological objections to that. I am a strong supporter of the mixed economy in the ports industry. I am prepared to put on record the fact that, through managerial efficiency and good industrial relations, the port of Felixstowe has set what is in many ways of an excellent example to others.

I make it clear that I am objecting to the particular expansion brought about by the Bill, for particular reasons. I clear up one point. Ipswich has grown substantially in recent years, not because of the crumbs that have fallen from Felixstowe's table, but for a group of reasons, including our geographical proximity to Europe, our efficiency and the skill with which it serves its economic hinterland. Although it is the case that Ipswich and Felixstowe statistically have expanded together, the relationship between the two sets of figures is not necessarily causal. That is the oldest logical fallacy in the world.

I am willing to admit that in the trade that has occurred in this part of Britain there is a market square effect. Felixstowe has expanded for good reasons, and there has been a spin-off effect in Ipswich, but predominantly it is the case that Ipswich has expanded for a particular group of reasons. However, even if I conceded that Ipswich and its expansion were geared to Felixstowe and the expansion that is taking place there, that would not alter my argument, because the future is different from the past and we are now in a new and critical situation. Ipswich faces the Felixstowe march upstream, and that has altered the situation substantially.

As an operational port, Ipswich is situated at the head of the Orwell estuary and is approached by 9 miles of estuarial channel. It is naturally concerned by any developments that take place at the estuarial mouth, and this is precisely what will happen if the Bill is passed, as it extends the port of Felixstowe further into the Orwell estuary to Fagbury point and into the designated jurisdiction area of Ipswich port authority. This will involve a major extension of quay face and the installation of major cargo handling capacity.

An important point has not been resolved, but I wish that it had been, because then I could leave all this section out of my speech. It would save me a lot of hassle if the matter had been resolved, but I am sorry to say that it has not been. Serious navigational difficulties will arise if the Bill is passed, and I took professional opinion on the point this afternoon as I prepared notes for my speech. Large ships will be engaged in berthing and unberthing manoeuvres, and when these manoeuvres take place the approaches to and the exit from the Orwell will be severely restricted.

To underline the point I shall quote from a document, not because this is the only opinion that I have taken, but because it puts the point better than I could put it. The quotation comes from the Ipswich port authority's observations to the Department of Transport, which says: Admiralty Chart No 2693 has superimposed upon it Felixstowe's proposed quay line from the Bill's deposited plan, and an 1800 feet diameter turning circle, which Felixstowe's management consider to be necessary for manoeuvring the smaller vessels using the proposed quay. Large vessels not capable of being turned without grounding would be turned further down stream and towed to or from the berths. It can be readily seen from the chart that these actions would totally block the approaches to Ipswich whilst the manoeuvre was being carried out. Since all but the smallest vessels leaving Ipswich are unable to turn in the Orwell there would be considerable disruption and delay occasioned to avoid a close quarters situation developing off the proposed berths. In the face of this, Ipswich's defences against what is a potential calamity will disappear. Part VIII of the Ipswich Dock Act 1971—I could quote other dock Acts in support—gives Ipswich clear power to keep our navigation lines clear. This will be amended and cease to give us authority, and thus protection. Such amendments will cause direct damage and may cause serious complications. I could cut down all this complicated argument by saying that if the Bill is passed it will succeed in impeding the access to, and exit from, Ipswich from time to time, causing us considerable difficulty.

I wish that this were not so. If I could negotiate out of that I would, but I cannot, which is why I am making this point. We shall be strangled, and I am the constituency Member responsible. It is my obligation to stand up in the House and say so.

Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)

This is a crucial point. My hon. Friend will recall that I visited the port of Ipswich two or three weeks ago and had conversations with the chief executive of the port. He led me to believe that if he were to get a written guarantee that traffic in the river would not be altered and would not cause problems to the Ipswich port, some of his fears might be allayed. I understand that that indemnification was not forthcoming. Therefore, what my hon. Friend is saying about the problems of navigation in the Orwell estuary is a point which the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) should take seriously.

Mr. Weetch

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. That is so. I do not want to give too much detail on this matter, but my most recent correspondence relating to the amendment to put navigation matters into the hands of the Harwich harbour board shows that it in no way meets our objections. I wish that it did.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Is not the central point this, that at the moment large vessels can get into that part of the estuary only at certain points of the tide, but with the deepening and widening there will be access for large vessels throughout the 24-hour period? Consequently, with the scenario described by the hon. Gentleman, there would not be many blockages compared with the problems that now exist.

Mr. Weetch

I do not accept that, though I wish that I could. I have had protracted and intensive discussions with professional pilotage opinion. The problems will remain. Frankly, they will remain to such an extent that they will threaten our commercial viability.

Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)

My hon. Friend will be aware that the consequences of widening and deepening any estuary can never be guaranteed. In many instances, when there has been deepening and widening, it has had a disastrous effect on other parts of the river. Therefore, there is no way that the argument can be put with any certainty that deepening and widening will not have an effect on the river in other places.

Mr. Weetch

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. It has been said to me that the alteration to the estuary might upset its natural balance. No research has taken place. We have no hard and fast guarantee as to what will happen. It is unpredictable. I cannot accept the possibility of commercial risks for Ipswich, or the unpredictability. We should have reasonable certainty about the matter, but there is no way that we can have it.

Ipswich has expanded considerably. It is the fourth container port in the kingdom. It is the first port in the kingdom for short sea containers. It leads the East Anglian grain trade. We are the first in Britain for wheat, and in the top six for all grains. We are efficient. We turn the ships round fast, and we have an excellent record in industrial relations. All that is now fatally threatened by the Bill. That is why I am opposing it.

The timing of our largest 10,000-tonne grain ships to clear the estuary at maximum permitted draft is critical in tidal terms. In addition, on short sea container movements, our efficiency has given rise to a very fast turn round so that ships can be used on a 24-hour cycle. For port users, that means a considerable economy in the intensive use of ships. That, too, may be irreparably damaged. Traffic will decline and move elsewhere. The Bill will cripple the port and threaten jobs. There is no point in creating jobs in Felixstowe if one destroys them in Ipswich. That is one of the central points in the matter.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds gave the game away when he said in the Ipswich Evening Star 10 November 1984: Ipswich can do well with specialised cargoes. That may be correct, but what the hon. Gentleman was saying was, "Do not worry. Ipswich can always become a jobbing port for odds and ends." I am not willing to face such a future.

The area in which the Bill will allow Felixstowe to expand has been officially declared to be of outstanding natural beauty. It was designated as such in 1970. There is serious concern and abject despondency among the environmental organisations in Suffolk, as well as nationally, which have petitioned against the Bill. They are alarmed by it because they realise how serious it is. A whole range of environmental organisations have petitioned against the Bill, and I have seen just about all of them. Critical and serious consequences stem from the Bill. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Suffolk Trust for Nature Conservation, the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Suffolk Preservation Trust are all against it. Therefore, the matter is important.

The area is also a proposed site of special scientific interest. It is the intention of the Nature Conservancy Council to identify the area as one of special scientific interest. However, the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company objects to that. In his speech, the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds made several environmental points. I wonder how valid they are. I have heard one environmentalist in Suffolk, who is not even a Labour voter, but a Conservative voter, saying that if one has to plant half a million trees to soften the environmental consequences, obviously the effect will be devastating. However, I am anticipating my point, which I shall now reach in small steps.

The area is a feeding and resting ground for certain species of birds of national and international importance. I am told by the RSPB that at least four species occur in internationally important numbers and another seven in nationally important numbers. There will also be a substantial visual intrusion. The hon. Gentleman will admit that those dangers are present, so let us come to the crux of the argument.

Two questions must be asked and answered. The first is whether, despite the development, that precious and irreplaceable asset can be saved and adequately protected. The second question is wider. It is whether the development is consistent with the Government's stated intentions towards areas of outstanding natural beauty, made on 29 July 1982. They said that any commercial development had to be of overriding national interest and there had to be no alternative sites. I should like to examine both propositions.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

The hon. Gentleman mentioned national interest. Perhaps he has overlooked the point that it is a proven national interest. Does he agree that the appropriate time for considering the matters of proof will be before the Opposed Private Bill Committee, to which the Bill will be referred?

Mr. Weetch

I accept the substance of that point. In Committee such points can be argued in detail and contested one by one. We are arguing about the principle. I wish to put certain broad points to the House.

First, in October 1984 the county planning officer of Suffolk submitted a report to the county council, which it subsequently ignored. However, the report was quite devastating about the environmental impact. It made two main points, which I shall summarise. It referred, first, to the landscape impact and, secondly, to the ecological implications. Paragraph 9.2.6 said: The scale and extent of the proposed development is such that it cannot effectively be screened and at the same time enable the Orwell Estuary to retain the quality of landscape worthy of designation as an AONB. That is not an argument of one of the participants in the issue. That is an independent assessment in a high-calibre report.

An additional 500,000 trees would not be able to prevent the vertical intrusion of the additional cranes nor the additional glare of security lighting and the noise of night operations. The ecological implications are even more critical. If most of the inter-tidal mud flats and the salt marsh are lost, the supporting conditions will be lost for much of the ecological life which I have outlined.

It seems that the Government are seeking votes from the environmental lobby. We have seen a distinct green edge on the Government in recent months. We now wish to examine the colour of their environmental money. A statement of policy was made in a written answer on 29 July 1982. It read: Confirmation of an area of outstanding natural beauty designation order confers formal recognition by the Government that the natural beauty of the landscape in the area identified is of national importance: and that we expect this to be reflected by local authorities in the preparation of structure and local plans and exercise of development control. The Government agree with the Countryside Commission's view that, in general, it would be inconsistent with the aims of designation to permit the siting of major industrial and commercial development in AONBs. Only proven national interest and lack of alternative sites can justify any exception. In dealing with areas of outstanding natural beauty the Government gave their continued commitment … to their safeguarding in the years ahead.—[Official Report, 29 July 1982; Vol. 28, c. 709–10.] The written answer stated that any proposal to disturb and invade areas of outstanding natural beauty would receive "rigorous examination". I wonder how rigorous the examination will be in this instance. We are debating the test case for the entire policy.

If these issues are the criteria, the argument of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds falls. There are other port sites where this form of development could take place. There is excess capacity in the docks industry. Expert opinion suggests that there will be excess capacity, especially in the container trades, as far ahead as one can see. There is an alternative across the other side of the river at Bath Side bay. If press comment is reliable, a deep sea container port will be developed at Bath Side bay. That will rival Felixstowe itself. If trade does not increase in the way that is suggested by some, we shall have two massive white elephants facing each other across the estuary. It has yet to be demonstrated to me that the real increase in traffic will be such that it will absorb the present excess capacity and the potential capacity of the ports industry.

I have no doubt that the development will benefit the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company. I can understand a commercial company trying to increase its share of the trade, but to argue that that is in the national interest is another matter. That is an argument which I reject.

Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)

My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) know much more about the issues lying behind the proposed development than I do. However, will my hon. Friend confirm that the Bath Side Bay Development Act 1972 provided for substantial construction works in the nature of port development? Does he recall that as recently as 1980 a Conservative Transport Minister extended the provisions within that measure until 1992 so that the proposed developments could be proceeded with in due course? Are these matters not pertinent to the debate?

Mr. Weetch

Indeed, they are extremely relevant. I thank my hon. Friend for raising them in the course of my speech.

The third section of my speech will be directed to national port considerations. The arguments involved are not simple and the complexities are many. Difficult projections and predictions are entailed. However, it is obvious to everyone concerned that the issues thrown up by the debate are very much wider than those involving the Orwell estuary. The central argument is the contention that there is an overriding national interest that the development should take place. If that is so, we are thrown back to two more questions.

Is the likely growth in deep-sea container traffic likely to justify this increase in dock capacity, bearing in mind that there is surplus capacity in other ports, many of which are capable of further expansion? Is there an advantage in the Felixstowe development from the standpoint of attracting real trade growth, as opposed to taking trade from other ports on the south and east coasts?

We are in complicated statistical and commercial waters. The research that I have done myself and that which I have had done for me highlight the difficulties of predicting future volumes and flows of traffic. The difficulties are by no means inconsiderable. I shall quote from two pieces of independent research. The first quotation comes from a report from the marine transport centre of the University of Liverpool. The second comes from a piece of research that was undertaken for Suffolk county council by the former secretary of the National Ports Council, Mr. K. A. Heathcote.

The conclusions of these two independent assessments are remarkably similar on principle. They state that while traffic in Felixstowe has grown at a rapid rate, this has stemmed largely from a two-pronged process of substitution. Felixstowe has taken a lot of traffic formerly passing through other ports. This in turn has been related to the technical switch to containerisation and the geographical switch to the east coast. This has led to a high rate of growth, but it is largely a once-and-for-all substitution growth and it will not recur because the underlying factors promoting it are losing their intensity.

If we examine commercial statistics for the major cargo groups spread over near, short and deep-sea containers from 1967 until 1984—I choose 1967 because that is roughly when the container deep-sea trades started—certain features are brought sharply into focus. First, Felixstowe is primarily a deep-sea container port, and the Bill aims to extend its deep-sea facilities. From 1967 until 1984 commerce in manufactures has expanded substantially for both exports and imports. However, the deep-sea trade has scarcely participated in that growth. In 1984, the volume of deep-sea exports was above the 1967 level by only about 500,000 tonnes. It was even below the 1976 figures. The trend in the deep-sea container section of manufacturing commerce is downwards. If that continues, the demand for deep-sea container facilities will decline further.

The second most important cargo group is foodstuffs. In 1984 this section had 27 per cent. of deep-sea container traffic. Although the figures are more difficult to interpret, they show a decline from deep-sea areas. The position is similar for basic materials and fuels. Deep-sea containerisation is still only 13 per cent. of the total and is unlikely to grow.

The main conclusion is that in cargo areas which are most likely to grow there has already been a great deal of deep-sea container penetration, which is unlikely to grow much further.

Side by side with that, however, is the fact that the deep-sea container trades of the United Kingdom are not short of port capacity. The present expansion through the Trinity terminal at Felixstowe gives the company a further two berths, while the one before the House into Trimely marshes provides a further three. That will be five extra berths.

It is difficult to see how that can be used to capacity without taking over most of the deep-sea traffic of the United Kingdom. I should not be surprised if that were not the aim. Even if it takes a fraction of the traffic, Felixstowe's expansion will be at the expense of other ports, where there will be a loss of traffic, a decline and redundancies. That is what will happen in East Anglia, and Ipswich will be the first casualty, which is why I am on my feet.

Given the massive efforts that the Government have made, and the substantial financial investment that they have had to make to reduce capacity to the demand, surely it is lunacy to create more capacity at a time of excess. The Felixstowe expansion serves no national need. I challenge the Bill's advocates to demonstrate that it is in the national interest, because they cannot do so. The expansion serves the interests of the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company and Trinity college, which is one of the grasping landlords that we face in East Anglia.

The case will be that it is in the national interest, but some people are involved, not in the national interest, but to make a fast buck for commercial reasons. I oppose the Bill and advise the House to reject it.

8.2 pm

Sir Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)

The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) based his case on three contentions. The first related to environmental disadvantage. I shall not reply to that except to say, as a keen wild fowler in East Anglia, that he exaggerates his case and fears.

Secondly, he contended that the proposed extension of the port would take trade from other United Kingdom ports. He does not appreciate the real reason for the extension of the port facility. In Harwich we hope to have the port facilities extended in exactly the same way. We see the need to try and get the trade which at present goes to Rotterdam into the container ports of Harwich and Felixstowe. That would help our balance of payments. Goods would not have to be offloaded at Rotterdam and brought across the North sea in small ships. This is the reason for the dredging which is taking place in both Harwich and Felixstowe, but I shall not go into the matter in detail because it can be dealt with in Committee.

The Bill serves the national interest. Trade will not be taken from other ports, but we shall compete with the main Continental port of Rotterdam. We wish to save our balance of payments by deepening the harbours on both the Harwich and Felixstowe sides of the river. I am delighted at the spoil from dredging at both Felixstowe and Harwich. and that in Harwich we shall also have more berths. I do not oppose what Felixstowe is doing because it is in the national interest. I know that Felixstowe will not oppose us when we extend our port in Harwich.

The hon. Gentleman spoke of navigational difficulties and the fear of navigation. I have consulted pilots in Harwich, and my information is that navigational difficulties are not great. Obviously, there will be difficulties, but with dredging and the expansion of the facilities, there will constantly be a 24-hour turn round. That will enable the traffic to come to the port of Ipswich. The hon. Gentleman exaggerated the fears about that.

Mr. Loyden

I wish to return to a point I made previously. With all due respect to pilots, they act on the hydrographic surveys that take place on a river, and their information is based on them. Pilots cannot predict the consequences of changes in a port, which alter the meandering of a river or its siltation, or create new banks. No one can foresee that. In a sense that means that our approach to rivers is unscientific. The pilots are not in a position to say that there will be no problems because they cannot know until extremely detailed surveys have been carried out, and, even then, there is no guarantee of the consequences.

Sir Julian Ridsdale

I am sure that the pilots in Harwich and Felixstowe are well aware of the hon. Gentleman's point. Harwich will be the navigational authority and its pilots will decide when and where the turning will happen. Felixstowe has offered priority of passage to and from Ipswich. The point about pilotage has been exaggerated. With the good common sense that prevails in the port of Stour and the Orwell, there will be free passage of ships up the Orwell.

Ever since I became a Member there has been cooperation between the haven ports and we have had good discussions about many matters. I deplore the fact that I must come to the House to argue with the hon. Member for Ipswich. I am sure that with good sense we can find an agreement. I have every confidence that the pilots and the Harwich pilotage authority, which is co-operating with Ispwich, can achieve the objectives.

Opponents of the Bill raised the point about over-investment in capacity. I ask them to look where that over-investment has taken place in Liverpool and Bristol. As the Member for Harwich, I have taken part in many debates about investment policy in Committee on legislation to deal with the nationalisation of the ports. Each time I have said that our investment was in the wrong place. It was a complete waste of money to invest in the west coast, especially as we were to join the European community, where the trade would be. I ask those who oppose the Bill to consider where our trade by sea is. It is in the Thames estuary, the Channel and the North sea.

Mr. Stott

Is the hon. Gentleman denying that there is over-capacity in port facilities in the United Kingdom? I ask him to remember that Southampton, which is a major container port, was almost taken out because of a protracted industrial dispute—hardly anything moved in the port for almost six months — but the enormous capacity that it normally undertakes was absorbed by Tilbury and other British ports. The hon. Gentleman, with his knowledge of the ports industry, cannot say that there is no over-capacity when we all know that there is.

Sir Julian Ridsdale

That is history. We are talking now about reality and the challenge ahead. Harwich and Felixstowe are dredging the river because they wish to take trade from the port of Rotterdam. It will be in the national interest, and we can do it if the Bill gets a Second Reading. That will not only cause Felixstowe to expand, but Felixstowe and the Government I hope, will support an expansion at Bath Side, Harwich, as well.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) on his excellent presentation of the case, and I have no hesitation in supporting the Second Reading of the Bill.

8.11 pm
Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)

I shall speak only briefly, because on such occasions it is a courtesy in the House to recognise that hon. Members more acquainted with the area concerned should have most of the time that is available to make important points on behalf of their constituents.

Private Bills are always matters of significance and are sometimes much more controversial than public Bills. From the outset, they express the determination of special interests; and, because they do so, they impinge immediately on the interests of others in the area. Therefore, there are conflicts, and hon. Members on both sides of the House are often divided because of the interests that are being expressed.

The Bill seeks to extend the limits of the Felixstowe port authority north-west into the Orwell estuary, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ipswich port authority. The latter is understandably worried, because not only will the dock workers' employment scheme not apply under the Bill, but the Felixstowe port authority will have jurisdiction over and responsibility for making regulations for motor traffic on the dock roads and in all places within the limits defined in the Bill. Therefore, if the powers and responsibilities accorded to Ipswich port authority in many Acts and orders between 1852 and 1979 will cease to apply, this Second Reading debate should contain a word of caution. In Standing Committee, we must at least examine the details so that the promoters' case can be seen to be proved.

We all recognise that facet of the business of the House. The Standing Committee stage of a public Bill often presents Second Reading opportunities, but a private Bill does the opposite. Those who are selected to serve on the Standing Committee must operate in an almost quasi-judicial role to ensure that the case is proved. I am the chairman of the departmental transport committee of the parliamentary Labour party, and it worries me that, on such matters of principle, hon. Members who are not affected by the tides of local opinion should advise the House on how best to consider such Bills.

We must ask whether there is an alternative. I referred earlier in a short intervention to the Bath Side Bay Development Act 1972. The Committee which dealt with that Bill examined in detail areas for possible redevelopment and reconstruction in the Orwell area. That examination persuaded the Secretary of State for Transport, who must have considered the matter with great care, that the period for possible extensions and port developments should be increased to 1992. Therefore, the Government intended this to be a site for port development that would not adversely affect the jurisdictional responsibilities of the Ipswich port authority. It that is the case, the Standing Committee should consider that aspect of the problem carefully. If there is an alternative site for development that will avoid placing Ipswich in the position which the Bill seems to place it—of providing a buffer zone between itself and the open sea because of the proposed development at Felixstowe — and Felixstowe can still have the same trading advantages, the Standing Committee will have a great opportunity to decide whether the case for the Bill is proven.

When a local authority such as Ipswich borough council, working in close harmony with its port authority, believes—

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

It does not oppose the Bill.

Mr. Leadbitter

I stand to be corrected, because I do not come from the area, but if Ipswich borough council is working in close conjunction with the Ipswich port authority in their common interest to preserve their jurisdiction rights, we must consider how best to judge their position. As I understand it, the Ipswich port authority has discharged its responsibilities with considerable efficiency.

Mr. Weetch

Perhaps I could clarify that point for my hon. Friend. Ipswich borough council and the Ipswich port authority are petitioners against the Bill. The entire council—Conservative and Labour—opposes the Bill, so this is not a party political matter.

Mr. Leadbitter

That is the great advantage of hon. Members from the area doing their work—

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I have just taken advice, and I can tell the House that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) is incorrect. Ipswich borough council and the port authority are not petitioners against the Bill.

Mr. Leadbitter

This is an occasion when those of us who have been in the House for a long time can sit back and allow a matter to be corrected in the interests of comprehension. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and to my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich. I cannot lose, and am trying to be helpful from a distance.

I am informed that the Ipswich port authority has carried out its responsibilities under the Acts and orders that have prevailed for more than a century, in that it has provided good safety provisions, excellent navigation and, above all, an understanding of a developing social consideration—leisure pursuits on the river. There are some 1,700 pleasure craft on the river. The port authority has been able to combine commercial and leisure activities in such a way as to avoid conflict.

The records of Ipswich and the Felixstowe port authority are good. No one quarrels with their reputations, but my advice to the House is that as one, in its exuberance, wants to extend into the jurisdiction of the other, it is the responsibility of the House of Commons not to be satisfied merely by good Second Reading speeches. It must add a small caveat that if the Bill goes to Standing Committee, the Committee must ask itself whether the Bill's promoters have proved their case. That is what we should demand of the Standing Committee.

8.21 pm
Mr. Robert Rhodes James (Cambridge)

It is a curious experience for me as a former Clerk of the House to hear a member of the Chairman's Panel inform the House that a private Bill, if it receives a Second Reading, will go to a Standing Committee. It will not. It will go to an Opposed Private Bill Committee.

Mr. Leadbitter

It was merely a slip of the tongue. It is not a great debating point.

Mr. Rhodes James

The hon. Gentleman repeated the remark several times.

The debate is of personal interest to me and to many hon. Members on both sides of the House, because Felixstowe is linked in our memory with our late colleague, Keith Wickenden, who was a special and remarkable Member of the House who spoke seldom, but when he did it was with great impact. His early death was a great loss to the House and the country.

I have to declare a direct constituency interest. When the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) referred to Trinity college going for a quick buck, I thought that he was referring to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Sir A. Buck). However, I then realised that the hon. Gentleman was making an observation about the college and my constituency, with which I should like to deal immediately. Trinity college is the owner of the land. If the Bill were to be passed, the income would be substantial, but no individual fellow of Trinity or the college will benefit because the college is a major benefactor of poorer colleges, the university as a whole and, above all, foreign students, in particular from Third-world countries. Any revenue derived from the Bill will be directly and entirely devoted to the cause of higher education in Cambridge and East Anglia. I hope that that deals with that nonsense.

I should like to refer to a book by Segal Quince and Partners called "The Cambridge Phenomenon." It is not, I hasten to add, the long and eagerly awaited biography of myself. It relates to what has happened in Cambridge over the past eight years, which happens to be the period during which I have represented Cambridge. In Cambridge, ten years ago, there were 100 technology and scientific companies, and now there are 150. Trinity college's science park has been very much the result of the investment in Felixstowe, which the hon. Member for Ipswich so derides. When I was elected to represent Cambridge eight years ago, the park had one firm employing fewer than 40 people. Today, there are more than 40 firms employing over 1,400 people.

Last year, three new companies were formed in the city of Cambridge every month. Segal Quince and Partners, analysing why that was so, said that a major factor was communications to increase the accessibility of Cambridge to most parts of the country, London and the east coast port of Felixstowe being probably the most valuable connections. The authors further stated: The Cambridge phenomenon now has firm foundations and substantial potential for sustained future development … it represents one of the very few spontaneous growth centres in a national economy that has been depressed for all of a decade — and certainly the only one where growth is being led by high technology industry, and indigenous and small companies at that. In that process—communications and exports for old as well as new industries—East Anglia has been crucial. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) has emphasised, Felixstowe is a success story. The proposals before the House will directly create 3,000 new jobs in port and ancillary services.

The hon. Member for Ipswich talked about the environment. As the House will be aware, for several years I was a senior consultant on the environment for the United Nations. I am a conservationist. I have studied the proposals made by Trinity college and the Bill, and they are remarkable—500,000 trees, careful landscaping, and the skilful use of the river frontage.

The hon. Member for Ipswich may not be aware of the fact that I know the river well. I have sailed on it since I was a child. It is one for which I feel strongly. I also feel strongly about the local environment. To go as far as he did about a scheme which covers one third of a square mile and only half a mile of 22 miles of rather grotty shoreline is carrying his argument too far.

I believe in the Bill not merely because of my constituency interest but because of my East Anglian interest. It is an area which needs further opportunities for exports, initiative and inventiveness. We in Cambridge and East Anglia have proved, as Felixstowe has proved, that if other parts of the country were to follow our example, it would be greatly in the national interest.

If the Bill were to be denied a Second Reading, it would be an act of cynical hostility to people who have demonstrated what they can do, what they have done and what they will do in future.

8.27 pm
Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)

Those hon. Members who have so far spoken are directly involved and almost all politically based in the East Anglian region and I am not. I hesitated therefore before I decided to speak, but I do so for a number of reasons. It is fashionable nowadays to declare a non-pecuniary interest as well as a pecuniary one. I do so as a member of the council of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and one who is deeply worried about the environment.

I can well understand the anxieties of Members who are interested in generating economic activities in their areas. I have a great deal of sympathy for that approach because we desperately need to stimulate economic activity in my area as well.

I am slightly familiar with the locality. I served in that part of the country in the Air Force a long time ago. I was there on holiday last summer when I visited Minsmere and Havergate Island. I realised what a tremendous tourist attraction exists in that delightful part of Britain. I am as anxious as anyone in Suffolk, and perhaps more than some Conservative Members, that the tourist potential of that attractive area shall not be destroyed for short-term economic advantage.

One point which has not yet been made in the debate is that this port development may be embarrassed by the establishment of the Channel tunnel. When the Under-Secretary of State for Transport replies to the debate I hope that he will refer to the very substantial surplus of port capacity in Britain. One imagines that Conservatives in the Southampton area would expect the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Chope) to participate in the debate. I make that point not merely in order to refer to the existing surplus of port capacity but to reflect upon the effect on Felixstowe, Harwich, Ipswich and many other ports when the cross-channel link is established. It surprises me that this point has not been made because every Conservative Member would vote for the establishment of a Channel link. If Conservative Members are prepared to vote for a Channel link today, one imagines that they recognise the impact that it would have and that therefore such a massive expansion as is suggested at Felixstowe may not be necessary.

I must also emphasise that conservation bodies would describe the area which is to be destroyed as an area which is rather more important than an area of unattractive mud flats, which seems to be the accepted description of Conservative Members. Other parts of East Anglia may be more attractive and deserving of concern, but those mud flats are absolutely vital. Mud flats are becoming more vital to wildfowl as each year passes because of the scale of the destruction of wetlands in western Europe. The British Isles have made a real contribution to the destruction of those wetlands.

Conservation bodies in Britain are very pleased indeed that in recent years the Government have made repeated and emphatic claims to be the party which deserves the support of those who are interested in green issues. During the last 12 months there have been repeated claims in the media that the conservationist must associate himself with the Conservative party. It will be interesting to hear how the Under-Secretary of State for Transport defends, if he is to defend, this further destruction of the habitat. The Conservative party claims that it is concerned about green issues, the ecology and the environment, but it has done very little indeed to assist such issues and on occasion after occasion it has absolutely blocked the advancement of the conservation causes which the green lobby has espoused.

The Ramblers Association wrote to me last week about this matter. It pointed out that almost every conservation body in Britain—certainly the conservation bodies in East Anglia—is very much opposed to this development. It points out in a splendid paragraph that the Government's policy on major developments in such areas was set out by the Secretary of State for the Environment in July 1982 and that it would be inconsistent with the aims of designating such areas to permit such development unless there is a proven national need and a lack of alternative sites. That policy has always been thought to command comprehensive and all-party support. If there is to be a departure from that policy, I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will devote sufficient time to defending any departure from that policy. If there is to be such a departure, the Under-Secretary must understand that the irritation and anger that has been generated in the ranks of conservation bodies by the Government's approach and attitude in recent years will become even greater.

Since a substantial number of Conservative Members are listening to the debate, many of whom may still be seeking to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I think it would be wrong if I did not express my deep regret, which I hope all hon. Members who are listening to the debate share, that, despite their so-called concern for green issues which are frequently expressed by the Liberal party and the Social Democratic party, not a single member of those parties is present for the debate. It suggests to me that when the voters of Suffolk decide that they have had enough of the party of the hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) my hon. Friend who now so ably represents Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) will be leading an army back to the House after the next general election. The absence of the alliance parties and their negligence is utterly deplorable. I should have liked them to be in the Chamber to witness the embarrassment of Conservative Member after Conservative Member seeking to defend the destruction of a vitally important international wetland on the grounds that it comprises only a few acres of mudflats and that it does not really matter and seeking to ignore the reality of the prospects for investment if the Channel tunnel is proceeded with.

I am also reminded that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds commissioned Dr. Gilman, an eminent and highly qualified person, of the marine transport centre to look at this matter in a fair and unbiased way. I know that the hon. Member for Harwich (Sir J. Ridsdale) assured the House, because of his own interest in wildfowl, that the Bill would not damage wildfowl. The RSPB is a very important, large and highly regarded organisation. No hon. Member would deny that the staff of the RSPB are dedicated and very able people. The evidence that has been given by the society either to the House or to Committees in recent years has always been of the highest quality. Therefore, I trust that no Conservative Member will seek to diminish the powerful argument that is presented in the report provided for the society by Dr. Gilman. His case is formidable.

I do not wish to delay the House — as a Yorkshireman it would be wrong of me to delay the House on an East Anglian matter—but may I summarise what is said by Dr. Gilman: I do not believe that the expansion of deep sea container port facilities at Felixstowe will serve any important national need, whilst if it creates any local benefits this will be only at the expense of other areas. This will be at the expense not of Rotterdam but of other areas in this country where investment may already have taken place. Dr. Gilman points out on the other side of the equation that there would be the irreplaceable loss of an area of outstanding natural beauty. In his highly qualified, highly professional assessment, Dr. Gilman finds no evidence to support the conclusions advanced by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) and other Conservative Members.

After studying the evidence presented by Dr. Gilman, which is available to hon. Members and to members of the RSPB, the RSPB made the following points. It has co-petitioned against the Bill, together with the Suffolk Trust for Nature Conservation and a number of other bodies opposing the Bill on nature and landscape conservation grounds, for the following major reasons: The Nature Conservancy Council intends to notify a large part of the river Orwell and its foreshore as a Site of Special Scientific Interest under section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981"— an Act which my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark), who has so far sat through the debate and who I hope will catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, has been seeking to improve. He would have welcomed greater improvement than this Government were prepared to allow. That is to be a site of special scientific interest and the Government have pledged themselves to protect it.

The development site envisaged by the Bill includes a very large part—

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

There seems to be great enthusiasm on the part of Conservative Members to protect sites of special scientific interest in general but when a specific site of special scientific interest is considered, they seem to be very happy to let it go.

Mr. Hardy

My hon. Friend is justified in making that remark. I became quite distressed about the Government's lack of enthusiasm. In February or March 1984 I tabled a Bill with all-party support which would have protected sites of special scientific interest. I had hoped that that Bill would go through on the nod in July, but two or three days before that was due to happen I was told that it was technically deficient, although I had not drafted it. An experienced draftsman had been employed and to this day I have never found out what that technical deficiency was. All I know is that since I tabled that Bill in the late winter, early spring 1984 a substantial number of SSSIs have been destroyed and now we are to see another so badly disfigured as to be made useless for conservation purposes.

That site is included in the SSSI that is proposed here. But the reason for the proposition is that that site is of great importance, particularly as an over-wintering area and a migration stop-over for a substantial number of significant species of wading birds and wildfowl. The hon. Member for Harwich (Sir J. Ridsdale) may imagine that the more common prey species among the wildfowl would not be affected by the Bill, but it is reasonable to assure the House that substantial damage would be done to some important wildfowl species and would mean that we would be failing in our international commitment, a commitment which the Government are supposed to have vigorously and enthusiastically espoused. Six species would be seriously affected.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds assured the House that money will be provided for a bird count. If that is going to be done one would imagine that it would precede the destruction, otherwise one would only be counting the birds and then destroying their habitat. Would people then be prepared to pay for a bird count to see exactly how much havoc they had wrought? Far too much havoc has been wrought on British wetlands, sometimes to provide the extra port capacity that is now lying underused elsewhere.

The estuary is important because, as the Minister will know, the Government recognise the area as a wetland that fulfils the criteria for wetlands of international importance, recognised by parties to the RAMSAR convention. That is important in conservation terms and covers wetlands which are especially relevant as a wild water fowl habitat. The United Kingdom is a signatory to that convention As Britain already seems to be somewhat sluggardly in its response to that international commitment, we must extract from the Minister whether he, with his colleagues, is prepared to allow Britain to disregard yet another international commitment. He must be aware that Britain is a signatory to that convention.

The proposed development would cause serious damage to the feeding and resting grounds of birds which use this important area. I recognise that birds cannot directly provide the sort of funds that Trinity college may be able to give overseas students. That role of Trinity college is a welcome one, although it is a role which the Government should be fulfilling. If the Government will not do so, I welcome, endorse and applaud Trinity college's record. But it is a record that has become necessary because of the Government's attitude towards education.

I went to Suffolk on holiday last year and it is, as I said, very attractive. It is a splendid area to which many more people in Britain should go instead of perhaps joining in rather congested package tours on the Costa Brava, which hold no appeal for me. As the years pass and sense dawns, so more people in Britain may' wish to visit birds on Havergate island rather than queue for sausage and mash in Benidorm.

If Conservative Members are seriously worried about the economy and the prospects of enhancing commercial activity in Suffolk, they will share my recognition that one of the principal employment creators in Britain is tourism. One of the principal aspects of British tourism, which gives us grounds for confidence, is that our ecology, our natural heritage, our areas of outstanding natural beauty, are important. It may well be that Conservative Members and Trinity college will be happy to make some fairly short-term profit from this development, but in doing so they will probably destroy tourist potential and a much larger number of long-term jobs.

Therefore, this is not just a matter for the birds or for a few people who go out to watch wildlife. Hon. Members should understand that the RSPB has more members than the Conservative party. It probably has more members than all the parties represented in the House now, including the alliance and Nationalist parties. The number of people concerned with conservation, substantial though they are, deserve as much consideration as the profits that might accrue whether they be indirectly to overseas students financed by Trinity college rather than the Government, or to the people who feel that they might get a little job which will last as long as it takes the Channel tunnel to be built.

The Government have an obligation of real importance. They have an obligation to the other areas which could be used rather than see duplication of investment. They have an obligation to the international community and to a convention of importance. They have an obligation to their own legislation which re-established the principle of conservation through the site of special scientific interest. Therefore, they have no alternative but to speak up for the long-term interests of Britain, for the environment, for our natural ecology and for the very case which my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich has so powerfully and cogently argued this evening. In view of all that evidence, despite the effective pleading of Suffolk Members, the House cannot possibly afford a Second Reading to the Bill tonight.

8.46 pm
Mr. Tim Yeo (Suffolk, South)

The hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) made an important point when he drew attention to the complete absence from the House today of any representative of either the Liberal party or the Social Democratic party. It sits in a curious fashion with their increasingly frantic espousal of the green vote that they have not even managed to have one of their Members present today. That is deplorable, particularly in the light of the great play that their local representatives have made in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) of their concern about Felixstowe. That is not displayed here in Parliament. I dare say that it is the prospect of having to make up their minds on an issue that has prevented them from being here, or perhaps it is a reflection of their prospect of gaining further ground in Suffolk. I hardly think that the county council election results two weeks ago will be of much hope to the hon. Member for Wentworth or his hon. Friends in the hope that he expressed of a revival of Labour prospects in Suffolk.

The hon. Member for Wentworth said something that I found puzzling. He said that the Conservative party did not seem to be in favour of creating new wetlands. If he had read the press over the weekend he would have seen that we are the party that is spawning wetlands left and right. Whether that will lead to the country being transformed into the land of the wets remains to be seen.

I listened in vain to the speech of the hon. Member for Wentworth for anything that would offer comfort to those who are unemployed and seeking jobs in Suffolk. I listened in vain to the speeches of the hon. Members for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter) and for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) for any comfort that could be offered to prospective employees at Felixstowe. Although I readily acknowledge the work which the hon. Member for Ipswich does in his constituency—a neighbouring constituency to mine with which I am familiar—despite his clear knowledge of the views of most of his constituents on most issues, he did not tonight reflect the views or interests of the people of Ipswich. If he were representing any interests tonight, it was the interests of a narrow section of his trade union.

I speak from the viewpoint of someone with a very keen interest in conservation. I have been active in taking up environmental issues, both in the House and elsewhere, and I am strongly opposed to the pursuit of private profit at the expense of conservation and, in particular, of countryside interests. But I also speak from the viewpoint of someone who is passionately concerned about unemployment, and I am particularly anxious to prevent even more jobs from going overseas.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that the number of jobs involved in this development may be just about balanced, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) has said, by the number of those lost from, for example, the tourist trade if such features are destroyed?

Mr. Yeo

I do not know how familiar the hon. Gentleman is with the region. I happen to live a few miles away, just the other side of the Orwell estuary. Consequently, I know that there is no prospect of the tourist trade being adversely affected. Happily, that trade is growing in East Anglia, but I should certainly like to see it expand still further. I live in the village of East Bergholt, which is already very popular, and I know that the tourist trade is attracted to all sorts of beautiful areas in East Anglia. However, I do not believe that the proposed area of expansion draws tourists to Suffolk, or, indeed, to East Anglia.

Many of my constituents have made representations to me about the Bill, as many of them live in a place which overlooks the site of the proposed expansion. They have expressed concern about several things, such as navigation, possible damage to the scenic environment, bird life and the possibility that the expansion of Felixstowe is not really needed. I shall touch briefly on each of those four points in turn. I readily understand the anxieties of local yachting enthusiasts, but I think that their fears have been greatly exaggerated. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) has already ably made points that should cover the navigation anxieties of those concerned with leisure craft and access to the port of Ipswich.

Concern about the scenic environment is very much to the fore among those living on the Shotley peninsula. Of course it is a serious matter, because we are talking about an area of outstanding natural beauty. However, I applaud the considerable efforts made by the Felixstowe company to meet the anxieties of local residents about the possible deterioration of their view. I also pay a warm tribute to Geoffrey Parker, the chairman, to the senior staff of the company and to their professional advisers. My contact with them has convinced me that they will take every reasonable step to mitigate any possible damage to the environment. Therefore, I publicly urge my constituents and the residents on the Shotley peninsula to contact the company and to express their anxieties to it. I shall certainly take up these issues on their behalf and will contact the company to ask for a sympathetic consideration of their views. Particular care needs to be taken over the question of the erosion of saltings.

The hon. Member for Ipswich quoted the report of the Suffolk county planning officer, but Suffolk county council had a far more extensive opportunity to consider the report than the House will have. After detailed consideration, the council came down in favour of the Bill.

The third issue, which was mentioned at some length by the hon. Member for Wentworth, concerns bird life and the loss of feeding grounds and wet lands. I understand that there is already a considerable interchange between the Orwell and the Stour. The company's offer to provide additional acreage for habitat on adjacent marshes is a real and important concession.

The fourth issue concerns the need for this expansion. It would seem that Felixstowe embodies just what anyone who favours the mixed economy should be working hard to support. It is a real private enterprise success story. It offers something which the customers clearly want. If the port of Ipswich is as successful, well managed and so on as the hon. Member for Ipswich has said—I accept that it has expanded considerably at a time when Felixstowe has expanded — what does it have to fear from continuing to compete? Is there really an anxiety that the greater efficiency of Felixstowe might in the long term undermine its prospects? If the hon. Gentleman is genuine in his support of the mixed economy, it is hard to understand why he should be anxious at the prospect of further open competition between the ports.

As hon. Members have said, there is a danger that trade will go overseas. The absence of additional facilities at Felixstowe would not help British exporters, and the House should be particularly concerned about them. Last year we had a clear reminder of the strategic importance to this country of the non-scheme ports. The role that Felixstowe played last summer was very important and could be important again if similar circumstances prevailed. Thus, the need for such expansion is well established.

I am also concerned about the possibility of additional lorry traffic. We already have a good link across on the A45, but there is an urgent need for the Al/M1 link to be built. I very much hope that that project will not be delayed unnecessarily in the planning process. That would be most unfortunate. I am also concerned about the Al2, which is now the main link between Felixstowe and London or the south-east. There will be a considerable growth in the amount of traffic going down the Al2 and on to the M25. The road is not by any means adequate, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will convey to his colleagues in the Department of Transport our concern about the Al2. Not all the right turns have yet been eliminated, and we need more grade-separated junctions on the Al2, a central crash barrier, and so on. All those issues will become more urgent as a result of the expansion at Felixstowe.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the Felixstowe dock company should take responsibility for that charge instead of leaving it with the national Exchequer? Many other parts of the country could make claims for improved roads, yet they already have adequate dock facilities and are not asking for two lots of money.

Mr. Yeo

The point is that this tremendous investment in Felixstowe is not costing the public purse a penny. Indeed, £100 million of private capital is about to be invested, with the benefit of creating jobs at Felixstowe. It is a little curious to argue that we should be touching the company for a contribution to public investment. Those problems on our roads exist today, and I mention them only because they will become more urgent in future. Even if the extension does not take place, I shall press the Department of Transport for improvements to the Al2. Indeed, I may well have the support of the hon. Member for Ipswich in that. I am also concerned about the possibility of lorries straying off the main roads and into the small villages. At some stage we may need to consider having designated lorry routes.

Those areas of concern are far outweighed by the job-creating potential of the scheme. At a time of high unemployment, we cannot afford to neglect the opportunity over the medium term to create 1,000 or more jobs in addition to the employment that will be created during the expansion and construction stage. The additional jobs which the scheme could create is almost the same as that provided by the largest employer in my constituency. That company is highly profitable and has excellent industrial relations. If it proposed to close because it was worried about the effects of its business on some birds nearby, there would be a massive outcry, and rightly, because we cannot afford to allow such considerations to weigh so heavily that we ignore opportunities for jobs. Some of the opponents of the Bill appear to suggest that course.

Felixstowe has an excellent record, a superb labour force and a fine history of harmonious industrial relations. I pay tribute to Brendan Lamb, the chief shop steward at Felixstowe, who gave up a considerable amount of lime to discuss his colleagues' anxieties with me. I hope that I do not damn him by mentioning that, but his action is symptomatic of the healthy labour relations there.

Felixstowe is the right place for the development. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) said, the development is in the interests of the work force—existing and potential—of Suffolk and of Britain.

9 pm

Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)

My hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) said that, as a Yorkshirernan, he did not wish to delay the House. As a Lancastrian, I do not wish to delay the House, but it is important to explore the wider port policy issues over which the Minister and I have had some difficulties in the past few weeks. The proposal by the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company for an expansion of its boundaries is based on the expectation that traffic will tend to grow. It is in the local and national interest to cater for that growth.

The Felixstowe development has grown over the years and Felixstowe provides welcome employment opportunities. The company is effective and go-ahead, but some of the growth and some of the potential growth is the result of a takeover by Felixstowe of traffic which previously passed through other ports. There can be no doubt about that.

Two processes of substitution have been at work in United Kingdom ports in the past 17 years — the takeover of conventional cargoes by containers and unit load systems and a tendency to concentrate in the south-east on Felixstowe and Southampton.

Although that process has created a high growth rate during a period of substitution, it will inevitably level off once the transition is completed. There are therefore two important questions to answer when considering the need for new facilities at Felixstowe. First, what is the underlying rate of growth in national traffic and port services? Secondly, how far has the process of substitution gone?

Felixstowe is predominantly a deep-sea container port. The port has a special reputation for deep-sea container traffic and it proposes to extend that traffic. My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) in his cogent speech, and my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth mentioned Dr. Gilman of the marine transport centre at Liverpool university. I am grateful to Dr. Gilman for supplying an analysis of cargo movement.

Containerisation was started in 1967 and since then a substantial growth of manufactures has taken place. Imports have increased from just over 13 million tonnes to nearly 36 million tonnes and exports from just under 13 million tonnes to nearly 20 million tonnes. However, deep-sea trades taken as a whole scarcely participated in that growth. In 1984, the volume of deep-sea exports at 4,747,000 tonnes was about 500,000 tonnes above the 1967 level and had declined when compared with 1976 levels. Deep-sea imports, while being slightly above the 1967 level at about 7,200,000 tonnes were nevertheless substantially down on the 1976 and 1979 levels. About 39 per cent. of manufactured imports and 49 per cent. of exports were containerised in 1984.

The figures show that, while there has been a steady growth in containerisation, the deep-sea cargo part of the containerisation programme has not grown in the way in which some have tried to demonstrate. The figures supplied by Liverpool university confirm what I already believed.

Mr. William Powell (Corby)

As this is crucial to the argument, can the hon. Gentleman give the comparable figures for the port of Rotterdam?

Mr. Stott

I do not have those figures. We are concerned about the volume and level of imports and exports in United Kingdom ports, and we must look at the proposed development at Felixstowe in that light. It cannot act in isolation from other ports in the United Kingdom. What happens there, and its potential for development, are bound to have knock-on spin-off effects on other ports. Those points were made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich. My hon. Friend also drew attention to the fact that Ipswich is an important port for the export of grain.

The figures show that there has been relatively little growth in container potential in the deep sea sector. They also show that there is already a high container penetration in the sectors that generate most of the container traffic, and little is to be expected in the way of increases. Given the fact that the container revolution began 17 years ago, that is only to be expected. There appears to be a high degree of agreement about that in the industry.

Currently, the deep sea container trade does not appear to be seriously short of port capacity. There is no evidence of serious congestion at ports, and at some of them there is under-used capacity. For example, Southampton is at least as well suited geographically as Felixstowe to take up any slack in the trade at any particular time.

I have to tell the hon. Member for Harwich (Sir J. Ridsdale), who is no longer in his place, that he thoroughly misunderstood my earlier intervention when I was talking about over-capacity in the industry. It was only last year —it is not history—that there was a major dispute at Southampton and the port was virtually taken out for six months. Other ports coped with Southampton's capacity. There is indisputable evidence that there is over-capacity in our ports, and that any capacity developed is bound to be at the expense of the other ports in the United Kingdom. We have continued to make that point.

I was interested to listen to the hon. Member for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo), who made a fair constituency point about ensuring that the infrastructure is provided if the port facility goes ahead. That is in marked contrast to what his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Stern) said during the debate on the Ports (Finance) Bill two weeks ago about giving financial assistance to, among other places, Merseyside and London. He represents a municipally owned port, and he said that if Falmouth went ahead—that is another port that could develop in the Channel and become the mother port—he was not prepared to support the provision of massive amounts of public money to provide the infrastructure to service it. He has a more marginal constituency than the hon. Member for Suffolk, South. There is a difference of opinion.

I do not believe that it is right and proper that the taxpayer should facilitate that infrastructure when there are adequate port facilities to meet demand. Southampton has been developed and a great deal of money has been poured into it. It is privatised, and enjoys infrastructure expenditure from the taxpayer. We should not continue to provide port facilities and spend public money to provide the infrastructure to get the goods to such ports at the expense of other ports.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) made an interesting speech. I understand that at one time he was a director of Euro-Canadian Shipholdings. A subsidiary of that company is a company called CAST, which operates out of Ipswich. I understand that when he was a director of that company, the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds took some credit for getting that firm to locate in Ipswich.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

indicated assent.

Mr. Stott

I have with me a letter written to the chief executive to the Port of Ipswich by Mr. Gill, the managing director for the United Kingdom of CAST, in which he says, amongst other things: I know that you are aware of our concern should the `Felixstowe Bill' be implemented … The investment which CAST, and the Ipswich Port Authority, have made in the Port of Ipswich's new West Bank Terminal runs into many millions of pounds. The reclamation of land, the construction of our Terminal, the purchase of heavy container handling equipment, as well as the office and communications infrastructure, can be counted in high, hard numbers … The major investment in people and equipment was only made after an extensive search for the most suitable port to act as the UK distribution centre for CAST's transatlantic traffic. With experience we discovered that we could supplement this nucleus of traffic, and over the past three years our Ipswich Terminal has grown to include a strong Short-Sea service, as well as the handling of container traffic for other regular lines. Our volume in the current 12 months is likely to be in the region of 60,000 tonnes. Mr. Gill goes on: CAST is most unwilling to accept a situation in which the control of ship traffic in and out of Ipswich is effectively in the hands of a competing port. Nor are we satisfied, from a safety viewpoint, with the seeming encroachment of Felixstowe's berths into the mouth of the Orwell river. The letter continues: CAST's Ipswich decision was a good one— the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds was associated with that decision— for our customers, our people and the IPA. We hope it will remain that way, and that you will do everything possible to protect our mutual interests. Thus, the company that the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds brought, or said he brought, to Ipswich, is now saying that it is fearful about the proposals in the Bill that the hon. Gentleman is now promulgating.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I have no further connection whatever with CAST. Perhaps I should have, but I do not. The point that the hon. Gentleman is missing is that the haven ports grow and prosper together; Felixstowe has benefited Ipswich, and Ipswich has benefited Felixstowe. With an offer from Felixstowe, if Ipswich is concerned about its traffic or navigation, it should discuss the matter because together they can reach agreement.

Mr. Stott

I accept the first point that the hon. Gentleman makes, about them growing together, but there comes a time when one outgrows the other to the other's detriment, and to the national detriment. That is the overriding point that I am making, the point that my party believes to be of great contention.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds spoke of navigation, which is an important issue. In particular, it concerns my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch). The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds and his hon. Friend the Member for Harwich (Sir J. Ridsdale) should be aware that I am not entirely satisfied on that matter.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds says that the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company can get together with the Port of Ipswich Authority and that they can agree on some mutually beneficial scheme. I understand from my visit to Ipswich that that port would dearly love to have that in writing — would like some indemnification against its traffic being impeded—because Ipswich has a RORO system that is finely tuned to tidal waters. That involves vessels getting in and out on time. Any delay would upset the balance of that finely tuned system. I have with me a letter sent by Captain Wiechmann, master of the Cast Salmon, on charter to the CAST line, calling regularly at Ipswich. In that letter, dated 11 February, he said: From time to time the Cast Salmon has been advised by Harwich radio of large vessels docking or undocking at the Felixstowe Berths. The warnings have been such that a reduction in speed and or liaison with Harwich Radio has overcome a need to come to a dead stop. No entry in the ship's log has been necessary for these manoeuvres. The width of the channel off the present Felixstowe berths has allowed room for my ship to pass up or down stream safely whilst larger vessels are mooring or unmooring thus reducing the incidence of delays. I must express my concern that if the proposed extension of the Felixstowe quays takes place into the narrower section of the River Orwell, then the reduced channel will effectively prevent any possibility of passing whilst vessels are berthing or unberthing at the new quays. The priority presently given to large ships is reluctantly conceded, but in a reduced channel it is evident that severe restrictions on movement will take place. A sea-going captain who uses the Orwell estuary regularly has written to his employer in those terms setting out the serious difficulties that he foresees if the Bill goes ahead.

I oppose the Bill for the reasons that I have given to the Under-Secretary of State on various occasions. I believe that it flies in the face of any sensible ports policy. The Minister will doubtless claim that he has such a policy, but I rebut that claim because I do not believe that he has any such policy. In my view, any extension of Felixstowe will be damaging to the nation's ports as a whole and especially to Ipswich, it will disrupt the natural waterway for ship movements in the river Orwell and it will be detrimental to the wildlife which enjoys that habitat. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friends will prevent the Bill from being read a Second time.

9.16 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Mitchell)

It may help the House if I intervene at this point to give the Government's view on the Bill. We have had an interesting debate on an important private Bill which affects the interests of my Department in relation to the ports industry and matters of navigational safety. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has an interest in the environmental and conservation issues.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) introduced the Bill in a speech which demonstrated the importance of the Bill to the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company and the economic benefits that the promoters foresee for Felixstowe and for jobs in the area.

First, I will set out the Government's view on port development projects in general. It has long been our view that ports should be free to compete for traffic on price and on the services that they offer. We see that as the main way in which they can contribute to our competitiveness as a nation. Jobs throughout much of United Kingdom industry depend on competitiveness; and transport costs are significant to exporters' ability to compete successfully.

Traditionally, the Government stand neutral in relation to private Bills and today will be no exception. That is why the Paymaster General, my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal, (Mr. Gummer), in whose constituency Felixstowe lies, is unable to participate in the debate.

Several hon. Members have suggested that the Bill should be opposed on what might be described as "national" grounds. They have argued that such a significant development ought to be the concern of the Government because it affects the national interest. In our judgment, however, there are no grounds of national transport policy on which the Government believe that the Bill should be rejected.

Dr. David Clark (South Shields)

I concede that on ports grounds the Minister may be right, but he emphasised that it was also a matter for the Secretary of State for the Environment. Is he not aware that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has said: Confirmation of an AONB designation order confers formal recognition by the Government that the natural beauty of the landscape in the area identified is of national importance. —[Official Report, 29 July 1982; Vol. 28, c. 708.] Is one Department unaware of what the other is doing?

Mr. Mitchell

I referred to national ports policy. I did not deal with the environmental issues, but, if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to proceed, I shall do so.

Our ports will have to continue to adapt to changing patterns of trade, and Bills of this type may well continue to be required, but that is not to say that the case for this Bill is a wholly good one or that it is satisfactory in all respects.

I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading so that the issues can be debated in more detail in Committee and a closer examination can be made of the various concessions and proposals offered by the promoters to meet the objections put forward, many of which have been mentioned tonight.

I do not think that it is productive to pursue the line of argument that Felixstowe should be prevented from expansion because capacity exists elsewhere. What matters is that capacity should be in the right place, where shippers and ship users want to use it. It is little help to have spare capacity which is inconvenient or too expensive to use. The hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) and I have crossed swords on this issue in other contexts, and I do not propose to repeat the cogent arguments that I made on that occasion. In the past, criticism has been made that Britain did not have its "Rotterdam" and that container facilities were spread too thinly between too many ports. Now that Felixstowe is emerging as Britain's leading container port, it would be illogical to stem its growth and prevent shippers and ship lines from exercising that choice: Rotterdam is doing a huge business in trans-shipment of containers for sending to the United Kingdom by smaller vessels. One point that the Committee will want to consider is whether more of that trade could come direct to the United Kingdom.

It may be helpful to say a few words about infrastructure. This point was raised by a couple of my hon. Friends. The A45 from Ipswich and beyond runs down to the entrance of the Felixstowe dock. During the past five years it has been improved as far as the Al at Huntingdon via the A604 from Cambridge. It is now a high-standard, all-purpose, dual carriageway trunk road. A public inquiry is still in progress on the A1/M1 link to Birmingham and the midlands. Subject to the inquiry's outcome, the link will be completed by the end of the decade providing a route connecting Felixstowe with the midlands and beyond. No further improvements to road infrastructure will be needed to cater for any increase in traffic arising from the proposed development.

On the question of the railway line, my Department has recently received an application for grant under section 8 of the Railways Act 1974 for the Felixstowe link line and terminal expansion at a total capital cost of 4.377 million to build up railway capacity from the current 140,000 containers per annum to 265,000. The railway is required for the opening of the new Trinity terminal, for which approval has already been given. The House may recall that section 8 grants are the way in which Government contribute to environmental protection by encouraging movement of goods off the roads and principally by rail. The water, gas, electricity and telecommunications undertakings have said that they do not expect the proposed development to cause them insuperable problems.

I turn to the navigational issues. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) and other hon. Members have made the point that vessels using the new docks could be a danger to navigation at the mouth of the Orwell and could damage the interests of the port of Ipswich by delaying its traffic. This is a problem of traffic control and the allocation of priorities. It must be examined in detail. I have been to see the problem on the ground and the water. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) says that there is no problem, but the hon. Member for Ipswich envisages significant problems, delays and obstruction. Interestingly enough, I note that my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich (Sir J. Ridsdale) believes that agreement can be reached locally. I hope that all parties can agree on a solution, but this is very much a matter for examination in Committee.

Many hon. Members have expressed concern about the environmental impact of the Bill's proposals. I know that the Secretary of State for the Environment is similarly concerned about the effect that the development may have upon the environment and conservation issues.

We have here a highly successful commercial enterprise whose continued success, with all the employment and wealth creation that that implies, is seen to require an extension of the docks. The proposed expansion is over land and an area of outstanding natural beauty. The plans are objected to on environmental and conservation grounds by a number of organisations covering different interests.

The relevant Suffolk county structure plan approved by the Secretary of State for the Environment in August 1974 contains the following statement: The exceptional landscape and wildlife quality of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be safeguarded through the strict control of development and through positive measures of management and enhancement … The expansion of Felixstowe dock and associated industrial area will be limited in a westerly direction to those areas which do not conflict with the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the Felixstowe town map, which was approved in 1972, the area of outstanding natural beauty is shown as extending over the western part of the site. The House will be aware that areas of outstanding natural beauty are designated by the Countryside Commission, subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State for the Environment.

The Government's policy towards areas of outstanding natural beauty was oulined in a statement by the former Secretary of State on 29 July 1982. I confirm that in our view the natural beauty of the landscape in these areas is of national importance and that in general it would not be consistent with the aims of designation to permit the siting of major industrial And commercial development in areas of outstanding natural beauty. Only national interests and lack of appropriate alternative sites can justify an exception. But each case must be determined on its merits, including consideration of the environmental effects.

In that respect the House will wish to know that the Countryside Commission is firmly of the opinion that the proposed development at Felixstowe would contribute a major intrusion into the area of outstanding natural beauty whose landscape the commission considers to be still the same high quality as when it was originally designated in 1969. The commission has visited the site and discussed the proposals with fie Bill's promoters. It recognises that there are arguments in favour of the Bill. None the less, it is not satisfied that the present evidence demonstrates conclusively that there is no alternative site elsewhere.

The commission has, however, determined not to object formally to the Bill, because it is not in a position itself to suggest an alternative site with any degree of authority. The factors involved are in fact complex. None the less, it is believed that Parliament should thoroughly satisfy itself on this point before permitting the proposals to proceed.

If the House votes in favour of giving the Bill a Second Reading, the commission will submit detailed advice to that effect. The commission's advice will form part of the Department's report to be put before the Committee.

The site of the proposed development is also an area of considerable nature conservation interest which has been identified by the Nature Conservancy Council as a site of special scientific interest. That, too, has been referred to during the debate. The inter-tidal mud flats and the salt marshes provide a feeding and roosting area for large numbers of wintering wildfowl and waders. The Nature Conservancy Council estimates that about 10 per cent. of the Orwell estuary site will be affected by the proposed development and has formally advised the Department of the Environment of its objection to the passage of the Bill.

If the House decides to give the Bill a Second Reading, the Nature Conservancy Council's detailed evidence will also be annexed to the Department's report to be put before the Committee.

As to the attitude of the planning authorities concerned, as the House knows, Suffolk county council has withdrawn its petition against the Bill following its reaching a provisional agreement with the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company and Trinity college Cambridge, the landowners, on a number of safeguarding measures, including landscaping, nature conservation, public rights of way, highway improvements, lighting, rail traffic, lorry parking, noise, development control, height of buildings, future expansion of the docks, public access and providing wetland for bird life.

On the other hand, the Suffolk coastal district council, which is the local planning authority for the area, is continuing to pursue its petition against the Bill. It, and other petitioners, w ill have a chance to present their objections to the Select Committee, where the issues can be examined in detail.

With regard to tae environment, it is clear that the proposed development will detract from the amenity of a small part of the Suffolk coast and heath area of outstanding natural beauty. It would intrude over the ridge that separates the areas of outstanding natural beauty from the port and, as I have seen for myself, would enter the extensive flat river valley that forms the major part of the area of outstanding natural beauty. It would also damage the wildlife interest on part of the proposed site of special scientific interest, which is nationally important for certain bird species.

Against this has to be set the prospect of up to 1,100 new jobs which will be created directly, plus the 1.800 or so jobs which should follow in port-related businesses, and of the associated wealth that expansion would bring to the area. The Bill contains no environmental safeguard as it stands. It is understandable that those with a particular interest in the environment and amenity should expect the development to be justified in terms of national need and wish to satisfy themselves that there is no suitable alternative before accepting a development of this kind.

If the Bill were passed as it stands, the company would not require planning permission from local planning authorities and would be free to erect a number of buildings and structures outside normal development control, although it has agreed to some control in the agreement reached with the county council. The Bill does not contain information that would normally be incorporated into a planning application. If it were to be approved, some additional safeguard might therefore be prudent in view of the sensitivity of the location. On the other hand, the House may consider that the expansion of Felixstowe port as proposed is so important to the national economy and to the creation of jobs as to justify allowing the Bill to proceed even without such safeguards.

It is for the House to judge the arguments. but most of the matters spoken of so far can be decided only in Committee, when the detailed evidence on either side can be presented, examined and evaluated, together with reports from the Departments concerned. 'Therefore, I recommend to the House that the Bill be given a Second Reading and allowed to proceed in the usal way to Committee, where its provisions can be considered in proper detail.

9.33 pm
Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)

I congratulate my hon. Friends the Members for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) and for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) on their speeches giving compelling arguments against the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich spoke about locality and constituency interests, which we all understand, and then about the broader-based effects of the development of Felixstowe not only on his port, but on every other port in the United Kingdom. My hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth's ecological argument was so good that if the House were to decide on the Bill only on that argument it would vote against Second Reading. I shall deal with a different argument, but I give my clear support to the arguments used by my hon. Friends.

I was not surprised to hear the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) in his parliamentary confessional box saying that on reflection he would not have given the .45 million to support the port of Liverpool. I am sure that on Merseyside the people will consider that a further reason why they should never again elect a Tory Member of Parliament for the area.

Tory Members have advanced a narrow argument. I know of their hostility towards the national dock labour scheme and registered dock workers. That has been shown on every occasion when the docks industry or the port transport industry has been debated in the House. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds has confirmed my view that the Government adopt a narrow attitude. Because of his obsessional hostility towards the national dock labour scheme and registered dock workers, he does not take into account the effects that the decline of the northern region ports has had on the hinterland of Merseyside and, indeed, of the whole north-west area. The population of the hinterland is about 19 million, and the decline of the port has had a direct effect on the people and the industry on that scale.

There has been no attempt by the Government to compensate for the decline of the port, which has been an act of deliberate policy on the part of the Government. In effect the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds has said that the port of Liverpool should die. His argument today has sentenced to death the northern region ports. We cannot view Felixstowe in isolation from other United Kingdom ports. There is an effect not just on the adjacent ports in the area but on all United Kingdom ports. My hon. Friends have explained that there is already surplus capacity in the United Kingdom ports industry.

Infrastructure is important. Not only are the northern region ports being sentenced to death, but the whole region's socio-economic position is being threatened. If we are being asked to accept that in future the south-east and south-west ports will be the basis for the port transport industry, any revival of the manufacturing industry in the northern region will be written off by the Tory party. If ports developed in that part of the country and if there were a revival of the manufacturing industry in the northern region—it certainly will not be under this Government —road and rail transport would be overburdened by all the traffic flowing to one or two points in Britain. One can draw that conclusion from the arguments put forward by Tory Members.

I spent most of my working life in the port of Liverpool. Before that I was a seaman.

Mr. James Prior (Waveney)

I apologise for not having been in the Chamber earlier, but what the hon. Gentleman has said causes me to get to my feet. Is it not true that the workings of the national dock labour scheme, however well intentioned, have resulted in the decline of the port of Liverpool? That is probably why Felixstowe has done so well and now needs to expand. Would not the hon. Gentleman be doing a greater service to the hinterland of Liverpool and Merseyside as a whole if he recognised that fact? In recent years there have been restrictive practices and everything else that has gone with that, for reasons which we understand but are outdated in a modern society.

Mr. Loyden

I do not accept the right hon. Gentleman's analysis. The port of Liverpool was much affected by Britain's entry into the EEC, which was a political decision. I was not a registered dock worker but I was employed in the hydrographic section of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company as it then was. I know that, before a new dock was built at Liverpool, there was a four-year feasibility study. I understand that there has been no such study on the Orwell. Unless one is carried out, there will be much uncertainty about navigation and no certainty about the natural meanderings of the river once construction takes place that bears on the flow.

It is astounding that we should be considering the Bill's Second Reading when there is no evidence that the important issues which have been highlighted have been examined by the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company. A feasibility study should have been presented and navigation and ecology problems should have been considered before the House was asked even to entertain the Bill.

Opposition Members are not saying that Felixstowe workers are not entitled to jobs. I shall support any job creation programme at Felixstowe. However, jobs at Felixstowe should not be created at the expense of jobs in other ports. I am not prepared to accept job creation in one area that exports unemployment elsewhere.

The trade coming into and out of the United Kingdom is finite and this means that the strategic dispersal of the ports is of considerable importance. To suggest that we are out to overtake the port of Rotterdam is to whistle in the wind. The development of Felixstowe cannot endanger such a well-established port.

There has been a sad decline in coastal trade and the use of our inland waterways. There is increasing concern about the growth of the traffic on our roads that passes through towns and the countryside generally. Our coastal waters offer the best possible highways, but the Government have failed to revive and encourage what was once a flourishing industry. I was a seaman in the late 1930s and I know that coastal vessels ran from port to port around the British Isles carrying cargo. That was acceptable environmentally. If that coastal traffic is not redeveloped, the environmental consequences will be severe.

Ipswich may suffer the same consequences as Merseyside. Merseyside has lost 100,000 jobs since 1979, mainly because of the loss of a port. Although a port remains, all the port-related industries have faded and disappeared. The tremendous problems that exist with more than 21 per cent. unemployment show what has been happening. The Government have done nothing to deal with the problems which are the consequence of decisions based purely on market economic forces. With one or two honourable exceptions, we have heard only about how the market forces should dominate and influence the decisions. Those who support the Bill have not seriously questioned the consequences for jobs in other areas, the environmental consequences and the ecological consequences of those decisions.

The House would do itself a service if it did not agree to give the Bill a Second Reading. An appropriate strategy is needed for British ports such as Liverpool and the ports of the northern region. Throughout two world wars, they provided the best port facilities that we had, and now they are going into decline because of a deliberate act of policy. The thinking behind port strategy is short-term, and there are no signs of a long-term strategy. The technology of the dock industry can change, and in the not-too-distant future we may recognise that containerisation and palletisation have merely transferred the cost from the port to other areas. If there is a revival of industry in the northern regions, that may make us realise the importance of the northern region ports. We are debating an extremely serious issue and we should not give a Second Reading to the Bill.

9.47 pm
Sir Paul Bryan (Boothferry)

I must declare an interest as the deputy chairman of Furness Withy, which owns the Walton terminal at Felixstowe, and an interest in associate companies, whose ships use the port. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) presented the Bill with a well informed and balanced speech; the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) in turn, made an admirable constituency speech. I am glad that it does not fall to myself to answer his environmental arguments. He is hard to please. If one plants 500,000 trees that is wrong; and if one does not it is more wrong.

During the evening, while we listened to the opinions of about 20 hon. Members, I wondered what the views of the people of Rotterdam would be. They are going ahead with great conviction with plans to enlarge both Zeebrugge and Rotterdam. They do not have the doubts that have been voiced tonight.

I warn the hon. Members for Wigan (Mr. Stott) and for Ipswich of the dangers of using academics to forecast the future of ports. They are always wrong. If an academic of one's choice had been asked in 1955 to forecast what was likely to happen at Felixstowe, he would certainly not have said that it would become a great port. It was a very small one then. However, even had that been forecast, the Opposition, on tonight's form, would have said, "On no account must it be expanded because that would harm Liverpool and Bristol."

Some years ago the Rochdale report was published, in which the greatest or the most informed in the land foretold the future of the ports. They got it hopelessly wrong. The then biggest ports would remain the biggest ports and would become even bigger. The main ports then were Liverpool, London, Manchester, the Clyde and Bristol, and they had half the trade in the country; now they have a quarter. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds discovered, Governments cannot decide which will be the biggest ports. The people who use the ports will decide that.

There was a great movement to the east from the western ports, partly for structural reasons, because the shipowners had to deal with Europe and wished to use the eastern ports. But they also declined to use some eastern ports because the service there was so bad. For example, there is no finer port than Southampton. It is a more natural port by far than Felixstowe, and everyone would wish to use it, but, as the hon. Member for Wigan said, for six months last year it was closed. Shipowners cannot afford that sort of treatment.

Shipowners could not afford such treatment even when ships were small. I do not know whether hon. Members realise how they have increased in size. I was in Lima three or four weeks ago and visited one of our ships, which carries 2,000 containers. It is not an exceptionally large ship by today's standards, but when one stands beside it, it looks colossal. My first thought was how vulnerable it would be in war. Larger container ships use Felixstowe; they are loaded and unloaded at astonishing speed. In 30 hours, at least 1,000 boxes can be dealt with. By "dealt with" I do not mean simply loaded. The boxes are put on the ship in a place handy for unloading at a particular port. The ship may have another 16 ports to visit, and everything must be packed in order. It is a highly technical operation.

Shipowners cannot afford to have expensive ships hanging round. To stand idle for even a day could cost about .60,000. Delayed ships not only lose cash and customers, but get behind on the timetables with which all conference ships must comply.

The position that I have just described will be out of date almost before I have finished speaking. Just as in the 1970s there was a revolution in oil tankers, with enormous ships being built — finally reaching a size of half a million tonnes — exactly the same is happening with container ships. I mentioned a ship with about 2,000 containers, the new ships are more than twice that size. The number of such ships being built is phenomenal. In two or three years, United States Line will have produced 14 of those vast ships, which will operate, as never before, a round-the-world service. They are being followed by Evergreen, with ships not quite so large, and by two or three other groups. This revolution once again puts in doubt every forecast that every 'academic and, indeed, every business man has been making during the past few years.

The hon. Member for Ipswich need not worry about the container port on the other side of the river becoming a white elephant. That is the worry of the people who put their money into the venture. They are much more likely to be right than the hon. Member for Ipswich, Professor Gilman or any of the other people who have been quoted, because they have something at risk. We should let them take the risk. If they do as well as Felixstowe has done, God bless them.

I cannot resist making one more point which has nothing to do with the Bill, but which is relevant to the use of ports. My hon. Friend the Minister said the other day: For deep-sea containerised cargo UK port costs are significantly, indeed on average, half as dear again as continental levels…. It is an on-cost which increases the cost of imports and loses us export orders. However efficient people and ports are, we must get the issue of light duties right.

Ships can enter Rotterdam without payment, whereas the big ships that I have been describing would have to pay .20,000 to enter our ports. That is a penalty which they cannot be expected to endure for long. It is doubly unjust, in that merchant ships pay dues, whereas fishing boats and the Navy do not. As merchant ships become more sophisticated, they need less help from lights or pilots, but they still have to pay these enormous sums. I am aware that an inquiry has been set up to go into this matter. It is important that we get it right.

As the Merchant Navy declines, this country is getting into a humiliating position, as more and more of the trade of this famous seafaring nation is having to be carried in foreign ships. If our ports are not allowed to keep up to date, more and more of that trade will not be carried in our ships or landed in our ports. In future the biggest ships may ignore this country and deliver their cargoes across the ocean. We shall have to collect our goods in small ships. This is unacceptable. Every help should be given to those who are willing to provide up-to-date ports, and for that reason I support the Bill.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 201, Noes 54.

Division No. 204] [9.58 pm
Adley, Robert Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Aitken, Jonathan Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Alexander, Richard Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Alton, David Howells, Geraint
Amess, David Hunt, David (Wirral)
Ancram, Michael Jackson, Robert
Arnold, Tom Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Ashdown, Paddy Key, Robert
Aspinwall, Jack King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) King, Rt Hon Tom
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Kirkwood, Archy
Baldry, Tony Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)
Batiste, Spencer Lang, Ian
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Lawrence, Ivan
Beith, A. J. Lee, John (Pendle)
Bellingham, Henry Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Benyon, William Lester, Jim
Best, Keith Lightbown, David
Biffen, Rt Hon John Lilley, Peter
Biggs-Davison, Sir John. Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Blackburn, John Lord, Michael
Boscawen, Hon Robert Lyell, Nicholas
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia McCurley, Mrs Anna
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Maclean, David John
Brandon-Bravo, Martin McQuarrie, Albert
Bright, Graham Madel, David
Brinton, Tim Major, John
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Malone, Gerald
Browne, John Maples, John
Bruce, Malcolm Marlow, Antony
Bruinvels, Peter Mates, Michael
Bryan, Sir Paul Mather, Carol
Buck, Sir Antony Maude, Hon Francis
Budgen, Nick Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Butcher, John Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Butler, Hon Adam Meadowcroft, Michael
Butterfill, John Mellor, David
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Merchant, Piers
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Cash, William Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Chapman, Sydney Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Chope, Christopher Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Conway, Derek Moynihan, Hon C.
Coombs, Simon Neale, Gerrard
Cope, John Neubert, Michael
Cormack, Patrick Newton, Tony
Couchman, James Nicholls, Patrick
Currie, Mrs Edwina Normanton, Tom
Dickens, Geoffrey Norris, Steven
Dorrell, Stephen Oppenheim, Phillip
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Osborn, Sir John
Dover, Den Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Dunn, Robert Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Durant, Tony Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)
Eggar, Tim Penhaligon, David
Emery, Sir Peter Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Evennett, David Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)
Eyre, Sir Reginald Powley, John
Fallon, Michael Price, Sir David
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Prior, Rt Hon James
Fookes, Miss Janet Raffan, Keith
Forman, Nigel Rhodes James, Robert
Forth, Eric Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Fox, Marcus Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Garel-Jones, Tristan Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Goodhart, Sir Philip Rifkind, Malcolm
Grant, Sir Anthony Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Greenway, Harry Roe, Mrs Marion
Gummer, John Selwyn Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Rowe, Andrew
Hargreaves, Kenneth Ryder, Richard
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Sackville, Hon Thomas
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk) Sayeed, Jonathan
Hayhoe, Barney Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hayward, Robert Shelton, William (Streatham)
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Waddington, David
Silvester, Fred Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Sims, Roger Walden, George
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wall, Sir Patrick
Soames, Hon Nicholas Waller, Gary
Speed, Keith Ward, John
Spence, John Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Spencer, Derek Watson, John
Stanbrook, Ivor Watts, John
Steel, Rt Hon David Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Stern, Michael Wheeler, John
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Whitney, Raymond
Stevens, Martin (Fulham) Wiggin, Jerry
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Stradling Thomas, J. Winterton, Nicholas
Taylor, John (Solihull) Wolfson, Mark
Terlezki, Stefan Wood, Timothy
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Woodcock, Michael
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Yeo, Tim
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Thornton, Malcolm Tellers for the Ayes:
Thurnham, Peter Mr. Eldon Griffiths and
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Mr. William Powell.
van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Litherland, Robert
Bermingham, Gerald Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Bidwell, Sydney Loyden, Edward
Boyes, Roland McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) McNamara, Kevin
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) McWilliam, John
Buchan, Norman Madden, Max
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Maxton, John
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Patchett, Terry
Corbyn, Jeremy Pavitt, Laurie
Cowans, Harry Pendry, Tom
Dixon, Donald Pike, Peter
Dormand, Jack Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Eadie, Alex Richardson, Ms Jo
Eastham, Ken Robertson, George
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Hardy, Peter Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Heffer, Eric S. Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Soley, Clive
Janner, Hon Greville Spearing, Nigel
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Stott, Roger
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Weetch, Ken
Lambie, David
Lamond, James Tellers for the Noes:
Leadbitter, Ted Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody and
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Mr. Andrew F. Bennett.

Question accordingly agreed to.

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

The House divided: Ayes 195, Noes 59.

Division No 205] [10.12pm
Adley, Robert Beith, A. J.
Aitken, Jonathan Bellingham, Henry
Alexander, Richard Benyon, William
Amess, David Best, Keith
Ancram, Michael Biffen, Rt Hon John
Arnold, Tom Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Ashdown, Paddy Blackburn, John
Aspinwall, Jack Boscawen, Hon Robert
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Baldry, Tony Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Batiste, Spencer Bright, Graham
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Brinton, Tim
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Lyell, Nicholas
Browne, John McCurley, Mrs Anna
Bruce, Malcolm MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Bruinvels, Peter Maclean, David John
Bryan, Sir Paul McQuarrie, Albert
Buck, Sir Antony Madel, David
Butcher, John Major, John
Butler, Hon Adam Malone, Gerald
Butterfill, John Maples, John
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Mates, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Mather, Carol
Cash, William Maude, Hon Francis
Chapman, Sydney Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Meadowcroft, Michael
Conway, Derek Mellor, David
Coombs, Simon Merchant, Piers
Cope, John Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Couchman, James Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Dickens, Geoffrey Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Dorrell, Stephen Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Dover, Den Moynihan, Hon C.
Dunn, Robert Neale, Gerrard
Durant, Tony Neubert, Michael
Eggar, Tim Newton, Tony
Emery, Sir Peter Nicholls, Patrick
Evennett, David Normanton, Tom
Eyre, Sir Reginald Norris, Steven
Fallon, Michael Oppenheim, Phillip
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Osborn, Sir John
Fookes, Miss Janet Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Forman, Nigel Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Forth, Eric Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)
Fox, Marcus Penhaligon, David
Garel-Jones, Tristan Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Goodhart, Sir Philip Portillo, Michael
Grant, Sir Anthony Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)
Greenway, Harry Powley, John
Gummer, John Selwyn Price, Sir David
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Prior, Rt Hon James
Hargreaves, Kenneth Raffan, Keith
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Hayhoe, Barney Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Hayward, Robert Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Rifkind, Malcolm
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Roe, Mrs Marion
Howells, Geraint Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hunt, David (Wirral) Rowe, Andrew
Jackson, Robert Ryder, Richard
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Sayeed, Jonathan
Key, Robert Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Kirkwood, Archy Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Silvester, Fred
Lang, Ian Sims, Roger
Lawrence, Ivan Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lee, John (Pendle) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Speed, Keith
Lester, Jim Spence, John
Lightbown, David Spencer, Derek
Lilley, Peter Stanbrook, Ivor
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Steel, Rt Hon David
Lord, Michael Stern, Michael
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Watson, John
Stradling Thomas, J. Watts, John
Taylor, John (Solihull) Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Terlezki, Stefan Wheeler, John
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Whitney, Raymond
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Wiggin, Jerry
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S) Winterton, Nicholas
Thornton, Malcolm Wolfson, Mark
Thurnham, Peter Wood, Timothy
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Woodcock, Michael
van Straubenzee, Sir W. Yeo, Tim
Waddington, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Walden, George Tellers for the Ayes:
Wall, Sir Patrick Mr. Eldon Griffiths and
Waller, Gary Mr. William Powell.
Ward, John
Alton, David Litherland, Robert
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Bermingham, Gerald McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Bidwell, Sydney McNamara, Kevin
Boyes, Roland McWilliam, John
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Madden, Max
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Buchan, Norman Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Maxton, John
Campbell-Savours, Dale Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Patchett, Terry
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Pavitt, Laurie
Corbyn, Jeremy Pendry, Tom
Cowans, Harry Pike, Peter
Dixon, Donald Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Dormand, Jack Richardson, Ms Jo
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Robertson, George
Eadie, Alex Rogers, Allan
Eastham, Ken Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Gould, Bryan Skinner, Dennis
Hardy, Peter Snape, Peter
Heffer, Eric S. Soley, Clive
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Spearing, Nigel
Janner, Hon Greville Stott, Roger
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Weetch, Ken
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Lambie, David Tellers for the Noes:
Lamond, James Mr. Andrew F. Bennett and
Leadbitter, Ted Mr. Eddie Loyden.
Lewis, Terence (Worsley)

Question agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.