§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. John Lee)
I beg to move,That the draft Royal Ordnance Factories Trading Fund (Revocation and Repeal) Order 1985, which was laid before this House on 3rd May, be approved.The House will recall that the royal ordnance factories operated under a trading fund from 1974 until 2 January 1985. On that date, the assets and liabilities of the fund were passed to the successor company, Royal Ordnance plc, under the terms of a scheme made under the Ordnance Factories and Military Services Act 1984. A copy of the scheme was laid before the House on 9 January 1985.
The new company is now responsible for all the operations previously conducted under the trading fund, including research and development activities, principally on rocket motors for which the ROFs took responsibility in April 1984. The new company owns all the assets previously covered by the trading fund and operates under the Companies Act as a normal trading public limited company. For the time being, it is wholly owned by the Government. The ROF trading fund has, for all practical purposes, ceased. In these circumstances, it becomes necessary to revoke the order which created the ROF trading fund in 1974 and this is the effect of the section headed "Revocation" in the draft order before us.
A further effect of the draft order is to repeal the section of the Government Trading Funds Act 1973 which gave the enabling power to create a trading fund specifically for the royal ordnance factories. With the transfer of responsibility to the company and the consequent wit ding-up of the order which created the trading fund, there is no point in retaining on the statute book an enabling power which has served its purpose and is redundant. The power for this repeal was contained in section 15(1) and (2) of the Ordnance Factories and Military Services Act 1984, subject to affirmative resolution of the House.
There is one residual action still to be completed arid this is the production and audit of the closing accounts of the trading fund. The accounts themselves have been produced and are presently being examined by the national audit office. I understand that it expects to complete its work leading to certification by the Comptroller and Auditor General within a few weeks. A direction for the production of the accounts has been made under the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921 and there is, therefore, no need to await the closing account before making this order and formally winding up the trading fund.
It is not the purpose of this evening's debate to go over again the many issues that were raised during the passage of the Ordnance Factories and Military Services Act last year. Time has moved on. The new company is now finding its feet in a truly commercial environment. The disciplines and opportunities of the market are now available and many of the constraints which inevitably existed during the trading fund period have been removed. The future success of the company must lie in developing its overseas markets. The competitive domestic environment in which it now operates and the removal of the hampering effect of Civil Service procedures and practices 1107 provide the best way of achieving a healthy and successful future, although, sadly, there have been some redundancies.
It remains our intention to remove all the remaining constraints associated with public sector status as soon as we can. We will introduce private capital into the company as soon as practicable and, although no final decisions have been taken on either the timing or the method of privatisation, our preferred course remains, as we have said before, a public flotation of the whole.
I understand that the Public Accounts Committee has this afternoon been considering a report from the Comptroller and Auditor General on the process leading from trading fund status to incorporation of Royal Ordnance plc. I await the outcome of the Committee's deliberations, but, from my point of view, the exercise to date, involving a lot of hard work to unravel many complexities, has been a considerable success. I am sure that the remaining steps to full privatisation will be equally successful and that the company will enjoy a healthy future. As another step on this road, I commend the draft order to the House.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)
This is the penultimate act in the vandalising of a great national institution and an important national asset—the royal ordnance factories — and the winding up of its trading fund for Royal Ordnance plc. The problem for the Government is that all the difficulties that we foresaw when the matter was first introduced, and the fears that we expressed then, are now being realised, to the detriment both of the country and of the ROF employees. These problems are underlined by the Comptroller and Auditor General in his report. He comes to a conclusion that the Labour party has known from the outset. At paragraph 3.17, he says:It would have been possible to introduce most of these measures while continuing to operate as a trading fund".He is saying that this measure is not for the benefit of the country or the industries but to satisfy the ideological qualms of the mistress of No. 10 Downing street, and give the Secretary of State the opportunity of saying that he has got rid of a certain number of civil servants.
The Minister did not refer to the outstanding matters of concern to the employees. For example, he did not speak of industrial relations and the relationship between the new company and the employees.
Despite ministerial assurances that the consultation procedures would bring the new organisation up to date with the Whitley council rules, at company and official level there are not yet agreed procedures between the Royal Ordnance plc and the trade unions. Even though some procedures still exist at factory level — the leftovers of the old Whitley system—six months after this enterprise, there is not yet any agreed solution. The trade union side feels that the new company does not want to give the trade unions any information and that it wants considerably to reduce the amount of consultation.
It is the duty of the Under-Secretary of State—while the Secretary of State still controls 100 per cent. of the shares — to ensure that there is a proper system of industrial relations and negotiated procedures between the 1108 two sides of the industry before anything is sold off. I expect the Under-Secretary of State to give that undertaking when he replies.
It is scandalous that there is still no agreement on pensions. The Government have yet to honour their "no detriment" commitment to their former employees. The Government are asked to give a copper-bottomed guarantee to the transferred employees in the ROFs that, for the purposes of pension arrangements in the new company, they will be treated no less favourably than if they had remained in the Civil Service, especially with respect to the index-linking of their pensions.
The Minister gave that undertaking. Later, in Committee, the Government admitted that there was detriment. They suggested that they would give £2 million to solve the problem. As the Minister knows, that is not acceptable, according to the best legal and other advice to the trade union side. At one time, the MOD hinted darkly that it might have to go to court to solve the matter, and that would incur expenses. The trade unions have said to the Ministry, which has yet to reply, "Let us all take the matter to binding arbitration." If £2 million is too much, the trade unions will accept that decision. If it is not enough, are the Government prepared to accept binding independent arbitration? The Under-Secretary of State does not reply.
§ The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Tom King)
Make your own speech.
§ Mr. McNamara
I am coming in a minute to the right hon. Gentleman. He should stop interrupting now, because he will be in trouble.
§ Mr. McNamara
If the Secretary of State wants to interrupt, let him do so. Stand up if you want to interrupt.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
Order. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) must not address me in that way.
§ Mr. McNamara
I always give way to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the Secretary of State for Employment, who has been very touchy on these matters, wants to interrupt me, let him do so, instead of muttering from a sedentary position. The right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to do so.
Does the Treasury prevent the Under-Secretary of State from advancing the offer of £2 million? Is it the Treasury that refuses to let the amount be increased? If not, will the hon. Gentleman say that he will meet this point?
On competition policy and preferred schemes, we know, from what the Prime Minister said yesterday about the acquisition of TNT from Warsaw sources, what she means about the Department's policy of greater competition. We now understand what she meant when she said:I can do business with Mr. Gorbachev.She means, "I can get TNT from him." On all the ordnance factory gates from Warsaw to Moscow there will be the royal coat of arms, with the legend in the Cyrillic and Roman alphabets emblazoned for all to see: "By appointment. Purveyors of gunpowder, TNT and high explosive to Her Majesty's armed forces. Holders of the Thatcher award for greater competition."
Why does the Under-Secretary of State stop there? Why does he not invite the Russians to invest directly in some 1109 sort of munitions factory? Why not just cut out the Belgian middle man and save on transport costs? Why not do it all? We now know what the Secretary of State means by preferred source arrangements. The preferred source of TNT for our Armed Forces is the Eastern bloc. The Government prefer to give hard currency to, and to build up the economies of, Warsaw pact countries than to preserve jobs in Bridgwater. Capital costs of a new £7 million factory and the jobs of more than 100 workers are to go because of the Ministry's preferred source policy.
§ Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)
How many roubles?
§ Mr. McNamara
The right hon. Gentleman can read it here, in the Comptroller and Auditor General's report.
§ Mr. McNamara
The report says:Although the expected life of the plant was of the order of 30 years, the ROFs have decided that with the cessation MOD's preferred source policy and the introduction of a fully competitive environment, the TNT prices can no longer bear the depreciation charge and remain competitive. The ROFs therefore propose to write off the remaining book value of the plant. This will avoid future depreciation charges for the plant and enable Royal Ordnance plc to quote for MOD and other contracts in line with international prices.
§ Sir Antony Buck (Colchester, North)
That paragraph caused some anxiety, but it is quite different from any suggestion of closure. The factory is being made price-effective.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. There are far too many comments from a sedentary position. We shall get on much better if hon. Members who wish to intervene stand in their place.
§ Sir Antony Buck
I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would deal with my point. There is no suggestion of the factory closing down.
§ Mr. McNamara
It seems to me from what the Comptroller and Auditor-General said that the Government have written off a book value of £7 million because of abolition of the preferred source policy. The factory will not be able to compete and will no longer supply these types of explosives. If I am incorrect, the Minister will be able to say so later.
We also learn from the report that the Government will not go ahead with a 420 gallon propellant mixer. That is 1110 another £2.1 million down the drain. The managing director is now earning £44,600 a year just to watch the writing off of assets and the cutting of the better policies of the Ministry. The Minister's City friends have received £13 million and one lucky firm has won £100,000 from the Government to improve the company's image. It needs half a dozen face lifts.
The greatest criticism of the Government comes from the Comptroller and Auditor General, in paragraphs 4.6 to 4.8 of his report. He states that, although he will have power to examine all the nationalised industries, and all their works, dealings abilities and decisions, he will not have the same power over the 100 per cent. state-owned Royal Ordnance plc. He says that there are no provisions for him to have access to the records of the company. Therefore, he may examine the records of the nationalised industries, ask them the proper questions and meet their officials, but he has not access to the records of a 100 per cent. Government-owned company. The Comptroller and Auditor General, who is appointed with the agreement of the House to protect the public interest, states in his report that he will not be able to do so. In paragraph 4.12 he goes further:until the method and timing of the disposal of the Secretary of State's interest in the Company have been decided and this has taken place, I shall be unable to comment on the arrangements adopted to control the associated costs and to ensure a fair return to the taxpayer overall.In other words he can examine the stable only after the horse has bolted.
That means that the Government, again with the connivance of their City friends, can make the changes, decisions and arrangements that they want, and that the books will be open to merchant bankers and people who may be interested in buying the shares, but not to the Comptroller and Auditor General, or to the House. We shall have no say in what is arranged and done, but that is what we have come to expect of the Government, especially this Department, in dealing with the House. They deal in half-truths, they do not tell us the whole story, they are afraid to give the picture and they behave with considerable equivocation on all matters.
When the Minister replies, is he prepared to come clean with the House and tell us when the decision is to be made by the Government? Will it be this year or next year? He said that the Government still had their major option—to float the lot. Has he had any advances from the firms which are nibbling around about buying up the subsidiaries or assets? Has Sir Frank Cooper in his new position come and said that there are little bits of the ROFs that he would like to buy? The House and the Comptroller and Auditor General are entitled to answers to those questions well before the Government reach their decision to sell. We are entitled to know what is in the interest of taxpayers and if their interests will be protected fully.
This is a sorry day for country, for employers and for the Armed Forces. None of them wants to see those assets sold in the market place. We want to maintain preferred sources, and to ensure that when we are in difficulties the Armed Forces can go to an assured supplier for armaments, and that these companies remain in public control. That is why we shall vote against the order tonight.
§ Mr. Lewis Carter-Jones (Eccles)
Will the Minister at last reply to the question of the pensions rights of the workers in the ordnance factories? There has been a history of questions to him. He visited the royal ordnance factory in my constituency and the matter dominated discussions at managerial, staff and industrial worker levels. He made it clear then that eventually they would know their true position regarding pension rights. On Second Reading, in Committee, on Report and on Third Reading, our questions have not been answered. The Minister promised that he would inform the House before the trading fund ceases. The trading fund will probably cease tonight, or at least when the document is signed. At this late hour, will he clarify once and for all the pension rights of ROF employees? His promises demand that he clarify the matter in the House tonight.
The second worrying matter is that the royal ordnance factories have been in public hands for more than 400 years. It has been unfairly and incorrectly assumed—I am sure that Conservative Members will agree with me on this—that the organisation is concerned only with low technology. In reality, the organisation produces a substantial amount of high technology, although the argument is that private companies will take over the factories and update the low technology operations. The Minister knows as well as anyone else that the royal ordnance factory at Patricroft produces a tremendous amount of high technology material. The skill and research has been developed and paid for by public funds.
Before private companies buy shares in an organisa-tion, they will wish to know something about what it produces. I believed that much of the production at Patricroft was secret, but if companies wish to bid for the shares, someone must tell them what is there. They must be told what they are buying, because they will not buy a pig in a poke.
§ Mr. Carter-Jones
That did not come under the heading of secret documents and weapons, and I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not realise that.
§ Sir Antony Buck
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that for many years private firms have been dealing with highly secret weapons, including Vickers and British Aerospace? Most of us consider that there is nothing different in these proposals from what has happened in private enterprise in the past.
§ Mr. Carter-Jones
Although I respect the hon. and learned Gentleman, I cannot agree with him on that point. Some of the material produced by royal ordnance factories is highly secret. We are talking about secret materials and processes that are owned by the state being handed over to the private sector, and I am worried about it. The Minister knows that many developments at ROF Patricroft should not go to the private sector. They should not even be bidded for.
One could talk about many items, but one is expected to be quiet. I know of many developments at ROF Patricroft which are highly secret— [HON. MEMBERS: "Ssh!"] An hon. Member who has a royal ordnance factory in his constituency must more or less promise that he will 1112 not tell what happens there. I would tell some people, but no one in the House of Commons, because they would go out immediately and pass on the information.
I ask the Minister to remember those two factors. First, the Government should not dismiss royal ordnance factories as being purely places of low technology. Secondly, will he be a very hon. Gentleman tonight and fulfil his promises to clarify the position of the pension rights of the ROF work force?
§ Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil)
It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Carter-Jones), who speaks with a good deal of authority and knowledge on these matters. He touched on the age of the royal ordnance factories, and I shall return to that in a moment.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) on his speech. As he did so many times in Committee, he covered the general areas in a comprehensive fashion, which we all wanted to be outlined in the debate. Therefore, I shall not have to repeat some of the things that he said and detain the House more than is necessary.
The explanatory note thoughtfully provided on the statutory instrument makes the subject of the debate perfectly clear. It says that the orderrepeals the reference to the Royal Ordnance Factories as a Crown service".This is therefore, a historical moment, a moment in which 400 years of service will be removed by the stroke of the Government's privatisation policy, a moment in which we see the penultimate act in the ending of 400 years' service of a group of organisations that have served the British Crown and the British forces in an exemplary fashion—
§ Mr. Ashdown
Perhaps they will if they are given the chance. However, as I shall seek to show, they may not be given that chance.
Even Henry VIII, that last great privatiser, the man who flogged off public institutions to his friends, would not have sought to privatise the royal ordnance factories. Indeed, it was he who created them as a Crown service. From that point until now, they have served our armed forces and the Crown superbly—from the Armada right through to the Falklands campaign, when the Government and the Minister congratulated them on that service.
Why are we seeking to break that ancient tradition? Is there any reason for it, apart from the Government's own blind ideology? That is shown more clearly in the order and the series of actions that have gone before it and those that will follow than in anything else that the Government have done. It is a clear case of the Government's ideology being superior to common sense and the security of the nation.
§ Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent)
There are always dangers in praying in aid 400 years or more of history. It is worth saying that the assets that Henry VIII sold off had not been in the state's hands until he, by arbitrary action, made them so. Their sale created the conditions in which Elizabethan England was able to prosper in a way that otherwise would not have been possible. Therefore, I cannot see why the hon. Gentleman thinks that what he has just said in any way assists his case.
§ Mr. Ashdown
I take the hon. Gentleman's point. We are talking about ordnance factories, not monasteries. However, I believe that most people would regard that flogging off to Henry VIII's friends as less than totally honourable at the time, as many of us regard the current flogging off of public assets to people whom many regard as the Government's friends in the City as not totally honourable at present.
The burden of my case will not be along that line. My case is that this policy is folly. By this statutory instrument, together with the other actions that the Government have proposed and will undertake, the Government will endanger a fine organisation and a fine record. They will diminish job security and endanger the pension rights of the vast majority of the work force that has served the Crown so well in this and previous generations. They will, as has already happened, cause the destruction of a number of jobs. But, above all, they will diminish and therefore undermine the effectiveness of our armed forces. They will undermine the integrity of that organisation. Of this let there be no doubt. It is this Government, not some pacifist Left winger in the Labour party, who, by moving this statutory instrument and the others that go with it, are damaging Britain's security. One is entitled to ask, for what?
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)
A great deal of criticism has been made, quite rightly, about pensions. The hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Carter-Jones) mentioned that. But nobody has produced a solution that he believes is the right solution for the future of pension rights.
§ Mr. Ashdown
With great respect, we have constantly called for the kind of statement called for by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). Such a statement from the Government would do much to reassure the work force. In the last analysis, the key is arbitration. If the Minister will agree to go to arbitration, the matter can be solved in a way that will reassure many people. I can see no harm in that. It is certainly fairer and more honest.
Why are the Government taking this action, which will undoubtedly undermine the integrity of our defence forces?
§ Mrs. Anna McCurley (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)
Why does the hon. Gentleman think that the integrity of our defences would be damaged? After all, if a state of emergency prevailed in this country, we would requisition and do whatever was necessary. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] The hon. Gentleman is talking absolute nonsense.
§ Mr. Ashdown
I hope that anyone thinking of buying the royal ordnance factories will take careful note of the hon. Lady's comments about requisitioning. If she will he patient for a moment, she will discover how the Government's action will undermine our defence forces.
Is the Government's motive to introduce greater competition? The answer to that question must be no because the factories and production facilities will be bought by firms like Vickers which are already in the market, so there will be less rather than more competition and there will he more domination by the larger private firms.
§ Mr. Ashdown
The Minister says that that is the most likely, but he has been less than clear about it and he changed his mind several times in the debates in Committee on this. Is he now saying that it will definitely be privatised as a single organisation?
§ Mr. Lee
I have not changed my mind at all. As the many hon. Members present who were on that Standing Committee know, Ministers repeatedly made it clear that the most likely form of privatisation was the flotation of the ROFs as a whole. I hope that the hon. Gentleman, as a man of some integrity, will acknowledge that fact.
§ Mr. Ashdown
I shall acknowledge what the Minister has now said if he will give an undertaking that it will in fact happen. At present, it is merely conditional. He has said that it is the most likely outcome. Is he now making a clear, unequivocal statement that that is the way in which the flotation will take place?
§ Mr. Ashdown
The Minister seeks to reassure the House, but in the last analysis he will give no clear undertaking about the way in which this great institution is to be carved up and hived off.
Is the Government's aim to ensure security of supply for our armed services? The answer to that is also no, as the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull has shown. We know that 11,000 medium artillery shells for the British services are now to be manufactured abroad. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State for Employment laughs, but the Prime Minister herself admitted yesterday that those shells are to be produced not by the royal ordnance factories but by the Belgian armaments organisation PRB—a state-owned concern, incidentally —which was required to put in the cheapest possible quotation. The cheapest possible quote required it to use not — [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) may well intervene from a sedentary position— let it be noted— because a royal ordnance factory in his own constituency would have produced the TNT or the RDX to fill the shells. But that is not what happened. Because the Government chose to adopt the cheapest option, the TNT has been purchased from the cheapest producer, Poland, which is a Warsaw Pact country. Next time it could be—and perhaps it will be — purchased from the Soviet Union or Romania because they are flooding the market with cheap TNT.
Is it not ludicrous that 11,000 medium artillery shells to be supplied to the British Army rely for their effectiveness upon a Warsaw pact explosive? The Prime Minister said yesterday that this was the fault of PRB, but that is not so. The Government have called for the cheapest supply, from whatever source. This meant that PRB had to go to the Warsaw pact for its supply. That is not surprising because the Government's policy is to encourage the cheapest possible quote. It will be music in Moscow's ears to hear that our capacity to supply our own ammunition has been diminished by this act and the Royal ordnance factory in Bridgwater has announced today that 140 of its skilled workers are to be made redundant. Our armaments industry and the service provided to our armed forces is therefore weaker.
1115 We are dependent not upon our in-house supplies but upon supplies from our potential enemies. Is it not ludicrous that we are about to spend £10 billion upon the purchase of the trident missile in an attempt to achieve nuclear independence from our NATO friends, while the result of this will be that we shall be dependent upon our potential enemies in the Warsaw pact for even the explosives to be used in the shells suppplied to our armed forces?
§ Mr. Lee
I had expected better of the hon. Gentleman. A £16,000 order for TNT indirectly went to Poland, because the order was given from Belgium. The shells do not have a war role; they have a training role. Can the hon. Gentleman explain how a £16,000 order that has gone elsewhere will result in the loss of about 150 jobs at Bridgwater?
§ Mr. Ashdown
The Under-Secretary of State asks a very good question. No doubt ROF Bridgwater has looked ahead and seen that it will be required to exist in precisely the same commercial climate as caused that order to be filled with TNT from Poland. Consequently it has reached the conlusion that it cannot survive at its present level and that therefore it will have to reduce its capacity and ability to meet orders of that kind.
§ Mr. John Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
Would not the hon. Gentleman be on stronger ground, following the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, if he said that the abolition of the preferred source policy of the Ministry of Defence and the introduction of a fully competitive environment has undermined ROF Bridgwater? That is the strength of the attack that can be made against the Government. The Secretary of State for Employment is here tonight because he is frightened stiff by what the Government have done to his constituency. He knows that it is that, not the single order, which is putting the fear of God into his electors in Bridgwater—because of the effect upon employment.
§ Mr. Ashdown
The hon. Gentleman has made the case very well, but all I am saying is that this single order is the harbinger of precisely that policy, the policy which has caused the situation in Bridgwater.
For that reason, it should be understood that this Government, by this act and others associated with it, are weakening the United Kingdom's defence capacity. What Bridgwater suffers today no doubt other ROFS will suffer in future. In consequence, the nation's security is further weakened.
I leave aside the swingeing criticisms made in the report. They are telling enough and no doubt the Under-Secretary will answer them when he replies. I shall also leave aside job losses—if that is what had to happen to make our defences stronger, so be it. But those jobs are sacrificed and others are placed in jeopardy, while workers are having their pensions and conditions placed in danger —not to make Britain stronger, but to diminish our security. That is the charge that we level at the Government—a charge on which they stand indicted by the events leading to the Polish TNT, the job losses in Bridgwater and the further job losses and insecurity that will arise from this order. That is why we shall vote against it tonight.
§ Mr. Peter Pike (Burnley)
I was surprised to hear the Under-Secretary say that the most favoured method of disposal was a public flotation. In Committee a year ago we tabled an amendment that would have ensured that the assets had to be sold as an entity, but the Government were not prepared to accept that. The Under-Secretary might say that this is the favoured approach, but no one will believe that until it is in black and white. The Bill has now passed, but I reiterate that the Under-Secretary was not prepared to say that that was the method to be used; all he would say was that it was the most favoured method.
The future of pensions also caused great controversy in Committee last year. I am not in the least surprised that, one year later, that item has still not been resolved. Whether or not the Government like it, if they honoured their public commitment about no detriment to pensions, the cost would be more than they would realise from the sale of the assets.
In Committee last year the Under-Secretary outlined the Government's position. At the following sitting the Minister of State had to give his interpretation of what the Under-Secretary had said. If the Under-Secretary's words had been taken literally, it would have cost the Government a great deal of money. That is why they are not prepared to state their commitment clearly and firmly. It is right that the unions should pursue that point to obtain the safeguard to which they are entitled. They are entitled to full protection of pension rights earned in the past and the same conditions for the future.
Even if the Government met the more modest commitment with which they are now trying to get away, they would have to pay into the pension fund £240 million —yet the disposal of the assets will bring in little more than that. There will be no benefit to the country. In Committee last year we said time and again that on profitability, improvements in productivity, quality and the reliability of the ROFS over many years, there was no case for the industry to be privatised. Redundancies were announced almost as soon as the Act received its Royal Assent last year. There will be more redundancies because of the way that the Government intend to treat the ROFS.
I am aware of a situation in which the royal ordnance factories submitted a figure for doing a particular job. The Ministry of Defence told Huntley Engineering, which was willing to make the same product, the price at which the ROFS were prepared to make the product. Then, surprise, surprise, Huntley Engineering got the contract because it tendered at a lower price. If the Minister says that that is the proper way of conducting business and of guaranteeing the future for ROFs, it does not satisfy me.
I do not acccept the Government's case that this will introduce more competition. I believe that it was right to have a base of competition from the state-controlled side of the industry. Removal of the state side of the industry will not improve competition.
I believe that the Government have made a mistake in the legislation. I hope that they will not invite in private capital, but will continue to hold all the shares in the ROF parent company. I believe that that is the best way forward. It will allow the country to control what is an important part of our defence. It will be a tragedy if we allow this to go out of the public sector and into the private sector.
§ 11.1 pm
§ Mr. John McWilliam (Blaydon)
I was disappointed in the glancing reference in the Minister's speech to the fact that there would be some redundancies. There have been many hundreds of redundancies in my constituency and in the constituencies of many hon. Members merely to clean up the trading fund before it was wound up and went to the auditors. I believe that this was done deliberately. Hundreds of redundancies occurred, and this happened not only because the Government, in a cavalier manner, decided to give a shell order to the Belgians, who happen to use some eastern European TNT. I do not know how many zlotys or roubles that cost the Government, nor do I care particularly about the protestations of Conservative Members that it was just a little bit. The Government resisted the amendments that we tabled in Committee to stop the Politburo using a front organisation to take over the ordnance factories. The Government deliberately blocked those amendments, and there is now nothing in law to stop the Politburo acquiring the ROFS.
§ Mr. Lee
This seems to be an evening of exaggeration by the Opposition. We made it clear in earlier proceedings that foreign ownership would not be allowed to exceed in total 15 per cent. of the share capital, and a special share will be issued to the Secretary of State which will enable him to block any possible foreign ownership of the ROFS.
§ Mr. McWilliam
While I am grateful to the Minister for raising that point, why then did he block the amendment that we tabled in Committee on the basis of a rather weak provision that could be subverted by a Minister who might not be as patriotic as the present Minister is? He has the power to ignore it or to use his golden share. Our amendment said that there had to be a limit on foreign shares, and it was resisted by the Government. It is not good enough for Conservative Members to mutter about this.
§ Sir Antony Buck
I did not have the privilege of serving on the Standing Committee,. The Minister seemed to answer the point in full when he said that there could not be more than a 15 per cent. share under foreign control. The hon. Gentleman is an internationalist and should appreciate that that means that there will be British control all the way through.
§ Mr. McWilliam
Had the hon. and learned Gentleman been a member of the Committee, he would have heard the case that we adduced on this issue at that stage and the weak reply of the Government, who, because of their majority, carried the day.
The way in which the Minister dismissed the question of redundancies did not deal with the circumstances at Birtley and the FH70 ammunition order. That order has been given to Rheinmetall, some employees of which are awaiting trial for sending ammunition to Argentina with end user certificates for Spain—ammunition that was used against our forces in the Falklands.
§ Mr. Atkins
The hon. Gentleman should know what he is talking about. I say that because in the past he has given evidence that he knows what he is talking about. He should know that the FH70 deal is a tripartite deal in respect of which we did more than our share of the work, and, according to the terms of that contract, the work share had to return to Germany and Italy. He distorts the matter 1118 by suggesting that a deal has been struck by which something has been given to the Germans at the expense of our workers, and he knows it.
§ Mr. McWilliam
The hon. Gentleman does not deny that the order went to Rheinmetall or that employees of that organisation are awaiting trial for sending arms with end user certificates to Argentina, South Africa and Chile. Nor are we getting our fair share of the Tornado, but I will not deal with that now. In the balance of expenditure in tripartite deals between ourselves, Germany and Italy, including the FH70, the Tornado and all the other systems, we are worse off than we should be.
§ Mr. McWilliam
The hon. Member for South Ribble (Mr. Atkins) can protest all he likes, but the figures, as stated in written answers, bear out what I say.
§ Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)
A number of my constituents work in the Birtley factory, which is in my hon. Friend's constituency, and we appreciate the efforts that he has made to protect the jobs of the employees there. Does he agree that one of the most ludicrous aspects of this whole affair is the fact that the pension rights of those who will continue to work at the factory have not been safeguarded before this stage and, therefore, before the order will come into operation?
The Comptroller and Auditor General's report on this matter is based on a series of assumptions. For example, the report refers in paragraph 3.15 to what might happen "should the estimate" and "should the economic assumptions" prove correct, in which case, it says, the exact sum "will be decided later." Is my hon. Friend as concerned as I am over the fact that many people who have given valuable service to the nation and the royal ordnance factories will find themselves disadvantaged by the Government's activities tonight?
§ Mr. McWilliam
I am grateful for my hon. Friend's intervention. Many people who work at Birtley live in his constituency. Clearly they are as concerned about their pensions as they are about the loss of their jobs. The constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) is equally affected by the same factory. I cannot understand why the Government have not agreed to go to arbitration. We argued the point for quite a long time in Committee. The Government were not prepared to accept the weight of the argument that we put. They are now faced with the reality of the reduced pensions that people will get as against what they are entitled to.
It is inexplicable that the Minister will not come to the Dispatch Box and say that he agrees to arbitration. Why will he not do so? The staff would like him to do so. We would like him to do so and no doubt many of his hon. Friends who have royal ordnance factories in their constituencies would like him to do so. But he will not do it because he is constrained by the Treasury. Indeed, he is so constrained that he has decided to reduce the pension entitlement of people who work in the royal ordnance factories.
The Minister said that the auditor will close the accounts. A matter of great concern to the House and to the royal ordnance factories arises from the accounts. I have raised in questions to the Minister the new information technology computer system that is to be 1119 installed in the royal ordnance factories. Before they were privatised I asked the Minister why they had advertised for a systems controller whose expertise was in system network architecture and IBM when the system in the factories was ICL. The fact that Mr. Fred Clarke, the present director of the royal ordnance factories, is ex-IBM must lead me to conclude that something is wrong somewhere. It should have been advertised properly, but it was not. That should not have happened while the royal ordnance factories were still part of the industrial Civil Service. The excuse that they were subsequently to be privatised is not enough for me. It was wrong that the whole system should be changed. I want to be sure that when the auditor produces the final accounts he also produces the accounting to explain why it was reasonable to change a whole computer system because of the uncertain future of the royal ordnance factories.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Paisley, South)
Is it not the case that privatisation adds to unemployment in constituencies such as mine, where the Bishopton factory is? Unemployment is already high because of the closure of Linwood and the collapse of the textile industry. Important as the profound effect upon the telecommunications aspect is, redundancy—
§ Mr. Buchan
There are semicolons towards the end of the sentence. The effect of the unemployment does not seem to have been realised by the Conservative party in Scotland.
§ Mr. McWilliam
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention. Bishopton has employees from his constituency and from the constituency of the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mrs. McCurley). They have suffered job losses because of the FH70 order among other things. I have explained why I consider the FH70 order to be unnecessary.
§ Mr. Boyes
The excellent contributions from Opposition Members are demonstrating more than adequately that the debate is about jobs, pension rights, national security, Britain's future and buying TNT from other countries. Is my hon. Friend as curious as I am to know why the Government have stopped their Back Benchers from participating in the debate? Has he any theories about that?
§ Mr. McWilliam
I have my views, but I leave my colleagues to draw their own conclusions. I am still concerned that Mr. Fred Clarke, ex-deputy managing director of IBM, United Kingdom division and managing director of the royal ordnance factories, has run an IBM system into the factories. That needs investigating. I have drawn the matter to the Minister's attention and he has done nothing about it. That will do nothing to solve the unnecessary redundancy problems which Ministers are causing. The introduction of the IBM system needs investigating and we need an answer very soon if not tonight. If the Minister does not deal with the matter tonight, the Public Accounts Committee should.
§ Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South)
It is rather unfortunate that at this important stage in the history of the 1120 ordnance factories, and having consigned with a lot of noise, public transport to the free enterprise rubbish heap, they are not being given the benefit of one speech from a Conservative Back Bencher before they are packaged ready for sale to the private sector. We have only whining and screaming from Conservative Members in response to serious argument. Perhaps the comments that have been made by my hon. Friends in the past few minutes will sting the Trappist monks on the Government Benches into some form of speechifying. However, those of us who were members of the Committee which considered the Ordnance Factories and Military Services Bill feel that we have been here before. Throughout the 25 sittings in Committee there was barely a speech from Conservative Members.
§ Mr. Golding
Does my hon. Friend realise that his remarks have provoked a Trappist nun on the Conservative Benches, the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mrs. McCurley) to seek the advice of the Minister? Perhaps the hon. Lady wants to know what one point she can make in defence of the order.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I remind the House that the debate will finish at 11.43 pm and that we are hoping to hear the Minister's reply.
§ Mr. George
I am saddened by the air of jocularity that is prevailing in what should be an austere debate. As the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) has said, we are witnessing the passing into limbo of an organisation that has served the state for hundreds of years. For those of us who were on the Committee—
§ Mr. George
I would rather carry on because, despite the humour from the Tory Benches, I have some serious points to make.
Those of us who were on the Committee a year ago were conscious of the fact that the Bill was ill-thought-out, and that the Government were making it up as they were going along. In the Defence Committee hearing on the White Paper a few weeks ago, the Secretary of State said—and this is almost a management principle of the Government—that one does not make a decision until one has to. That is the mind of a man who cannot see a parapet without ducking behind it, and this has been translated into a management principle. One would have thought that, 18 months after the Bill was introduced, and a number of years since the perverse idea was first concocted, the Government would have had to make decisions. One can understand how a uniquely inept Government might not have made up their mind when the Bill was passing through Parliament, despite the long Committee stage, but, 18 months after the end of the Committee, many questions need to be answered.
One would have hoped that at this late stage some of the questions put time and again would be answered. They are questions on pension rights and on how the company will be sold off. The Minister has told us that it may be possible that it will be sold off as a single entity, but by now we should know for sure.
The Government are honour bound to their former employees and the tax-paying public to give some answers. I am not making frivolous points. I am not joining those who have condemned the use of TNT. I think that it is a brilliant idea, because our troops will be training 1121 under the realistic conditions of having Warsaw pact shells exploding over their heads. I am surprised that no Tory Member has brought up that argument; it has been left to me. However, my hon. Friends may deprecate my attempts to get the Government off the hook.
The hon. Member for Yeovil had to fulfil an important engagement elsewhere and explained that that is why he would not be here now. He asked why the Government were so intent on selling off the ordnance factories. He gave some ideas. Partly it is to do with their ideology that if an enterprise is in the public sector it must be sold off as quickly as possible, however efficient it is. This knee-jerk response to public enterprise is hardly laudable, and one day the boot may be on the other foot.
Despite this response, the Government are privatising the ROFS for another reason—and this will not be music to the ears of Tory Members. The Minister knows that he and his colleagues have been given an impossible task by the Prime Minister—to maintain existing defence commitments, and even increase them by such things as Fortress Falklands and a small rapid deployment force, when the Government know that resources to meet those commitments will diminish.
When Conservative Members face the electors at the next election, they will be in a more invidious position than Labour Members—although we have some problems on the defence front, and deservedly so—because the Conservative party is ostensibly the party of defence. Ten years ago, in an article in the "NATO Journal" the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley), who is not present—he is probably holding a press conference—said:The Tory party shouts a lot about defence. It does not think much about defence.The silence from Conservative Members is testimony to the 10 years since that article was written. Those words are as valid today as they were in 1976.
This is the Government's dilemma. It is not simply a matter of the Government rewarding their mates in the City or showing an ideological knee-jerk. This is an impossible attempt to square the circle that the Government created for themselves—the problem of how to increase commitments with diminished resources. Any Secretary of State who can do that will be deified, but there is no likelihood of the present Secretary of State being deified. If the Government cannot increase resources to meet increasing commitments, the only way out is for them to cut commitments surreptitiously, while not admitting it—for example, by reducing the fuel and ammunition available. The Government try, through a fictional concept of privatisation, to squeeze greater efficiency out of the system to pay for the commitments which they are unable to meet. Therefore, they resort to 19th century philosophies of industry, harking back to the Victorian age—ostensibly one of great efficiency—and trying to squeeze efficiency out of the system through competition to meet their commitments. The Government will not be able to achieve that aim, because not only will the free market not be more efficient than the public sector but in future it will be much less efficient.
I can put the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mrs. McCurley) wise on this point: the free market will lead to a number of companies going bankrupt. The defence sector cannot be treated in the same 1122 way as the manufacture of washing powder or other consumer goods. Defence is too important to be left solely to the free market.
We cannot create 1914 or 1939 conditions, build up the necessary industries almost from scratch and hope that the Channel and the slow build-up of hostilities will allow us to achieve our objective. In a conflict involving this nation's future, we will not be able to recreate those companies which will soon no longer exist. We will be in desperate straits if we think that Britain can go to the Soviet Union or Belgium or to a country that decided not to participate in a conflict in which we are engaged.
The order may appear to be technical and unimportant to the outsider. The Under-Secretary of State said that this was a technical matter and we should not rake over past arguments. He does not want to hear those arguments that were adduced in the past.
I note that the hon. Member for Yeovil has returned from his engagement. He willingly—I was going to say "manfully", but I do not want to be accused of sexism—sat through the proceedings of the Standing Committee and made a great contribution. It is unfair for hon. Members to criticise the hon. Gentleman's brief absence from debate.
The Government will be in a profoundly embarrassing position. They rely on a free market which will fail to deliver the goods.
Hon. Members who think that they have done a wonderful day's work, having passed the Transport Bill and, after passing the order, having kicked into touch an important manufacturing entity, will rue this evening. The order might not seem momentous, but it is an example of the inevitable transition of a public enterprise that has served the country well into the private sector, where many of the companies will wither and die in the face of the competition to which they will be exposed.
§ Mr. John Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
My speech will be brief because of the length of Conservative Members' speeches. Is it not a disgrace that, when so many jobs, pensions and livelihoods are at stake, Conservative Members who represent ordnance workers do nothing to put the point of view of those workers? Does that not show once again that workers need trade unionists in the House to put their case in Parliament?
Pensions are one of the most important matters that affect workers in ordnance factories. They were for many years paid worse than workers in comparable jobs in outside industries. They suffered low pay because they believed that, serving the state, they had security of employment and secure pensions. This legislation has threatened both. Such people will have worked for low rates of pay and, having served the state well, be privatised and find that the Government are too mean to underwrite and guarantee their pensions.
I do not agree with those of my hon. Friends who say that the Government should go to arbitration. The Government should give way now. Ordnance factory workers are asking for what the Government were prepared to give the workers I represent in British Telecom—a guarantee that existing staff will have index-linked pensions. They have said that they cannot give such a guarantee to ROF workers. Where is the justice in that? 1123 The Minister should get to his feet and tell the country, "I have at last responded to my conscience and I am now prepared to underwrite the pensions of ROF workers."
§ Mr. Lee
The House has had many debates on privatisation, but I do not think that I have heard so many gross exaggerations and near-untruths as today. Opposition Members have given an appalling list of exaggerations. I shall attempt to deal with some of them.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) asked what access the Comptroller and Auditor General would have to the books of Royal Ordnance plc. Access will be precisely the same as for any nationalised industry, including other Government-owned companies such as British Leyland and Rolls-Royce. The company's accounts will be published and the Comptroller and Auditor General will have access to all the information which the Ministry of Defence has for its monitoring of the company.
§ Mr. McNamara
Why then did the Comptroller and Auditor General find it necessary to point out in his report that he would not be able at any time to make observations about the Government's decisions to sell and the terms and conditions of that sale until after the sale had taken place?
§ Mr. Lee
That is not the hon. Gentleman's original point. His point was that the Comptroller and Auditor General would not have access and that we were protecting Royal Ordnance plc artificially. That is not so. The position is the same as for nationalised industries.
The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) raised questions about Huntley Engineering, and made a particular allegation. If he would care to write to me about it, I shall certainly have it investigated. I am not aware of that particular case. I confess that I find such an allegation surprising, as on at least two major projects Huntley Engineering and Royal Ordnance plc have forged extremely good working relationships to their mutual benefit, each contributing their particular and separate expertise.
The hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Carter-Jones), who is not present, talked specifically about secrets at ROF Patricroft. I did not understand what he was getting at, nor did my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Sir A. Buck). Obviously, the ROFs have commercial and national secrets in areas of advanced technology, but the same is true of the privatised British Aerospace, Plessey and a range of our defence contractors. I do not see any logic in the hon. Gentleman's point.
The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) made many allegations, the most serious and personal of which may have been of an impropriety by Fred Clarke, the chairman—not the managing director—of Royal Ordnance plc. I am not sure whether he would be willing to repeat those allegations and insinuations outside the House. The hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman), who has a substantial IBM plant in his constituency, did not intervene to defend that company.
§ Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)
I suspect that the hon. Gentleman was persuaded to bring me into the debate by his hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mrs. 1124 McCurley). He should have a care with such advice. The hon. Lady put down an early-day motion congratulating Trafalgar House on promoting employment prospects for Scott Lithgow on precisely the day when Scott Lithgow announced 615 redundancies.
Regarding the Minister's comments, I confirm that IBM plays a major role in my constituency. I hope that my constituents who are employed at ROF Bishopston can have the same confidence in their future as IBM employees. The Minister should underwrite the pension rights of my constituents.
§ Mr. McWilliam
The Minister challenged me to repeat outside the House the allegation I made. I draw his attention to the fact that it has been well trailed in the computer press outside the House, and not challenged by the people involved. I am at a loss to know why he is not aware of the matter.
§ Mr. Lee
It means precisely what it says.
Recently, and as a result of a competition which included the royal ordnance factory at Bridgwater, an order for 11,000 25-pound shells for training purposes was placed with the Belgian firm PRB. I should stress that there is no war role for the ammunition; therefore, it makes sense to opt for the cheapest source of supply. The shell is filled with explosive TNT, for which there are many sources in Europe, and in this case it is conceded that PRB obtained the supply from Poland. However, of the total cost of the shell, only 3 per cent. is accounted for by TNT. On a total contract value of less than £750,000, the value of TNT was about £16,000. To put that in perspective, it represents only a small part—perhaps 3 per cent. —of Bridgwater's current output of that basic explosive, and represents less than one man's job for one year. To imply that that order caused about 150 redundancies is a wild exaggeration. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, the hon. Member for Bridgwater, has been watching the position closely, and is just as worried as the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), if not more so. But my right hon. Friend understands the reality of the position.
§ Mr. Ashdown
Will the Minister give the House a clear undertaking that this error—or whatever it was—to give the supply of the British Army's TNT to the Warsaw pact will not occur again? If he cannot give that undertaking, we must assume that it could and will occur again, and that this is the model to be followed in the future. Therefore, our capacity to produce TNT for our services will be diminished. Will he give an undertaking that the Warsaw pact will never again supply British forces with explosives for their weapons?
§ Mr. Lee
Again, the hon. Gentleman is grossly exaggerating. I will not and cannot give that specific assurance.
Bridgwater is expected to be the production centre for rocket propellants to power LAW 80, Skyflash and ALARM, and there are also prospects of collaborative work which the Ministry of Defence is helping considerably.
1125 During the passage of the Ordnance Factories and Military Services Act 1984, much time was spent discussing the future pension provisions of many ROF and Ministry of Defence personnel transferred to the new Royal Ordnance plc. The transferees could not remain in the Civil Service pension scheme, because they would no longer be civil servants, but we gave a commitment that the new arrangements would not be detrimental to their interests. An independent firm of consulting actuaries was brought in to advise, and an index-linked scheme was drawn up. We accepted that the employers' contributions ceiling should be set at such a level as to cover the more pessimistic economic assumptions identified by the actuaries. We also accepted that there was— It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question pursuant to Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business).
§ The House divided: Ayes 210, Noes 1431105
|Division No. 221]||[10 pm|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Alexander, Richard||Hayward, Robert|
|Amess, David||Henderson, Barry|
|Ancram, Michael||Hickmet, Richard|
|Arnold, Tom||Hicks, Robert|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Hind, Kenneth|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Hirst, Michael|
|Bellingham, Henry||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Benyon, William||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Best, Keith||Holt, Richard|
|Body, Richard||Hordern, Peter|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.||Irving, Charles|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Jackson, Robert|
|Burt, Alistair||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Butcher, John||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (Wton S)||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Carttiss, Michael||Jones, Robert (W Herts)|
|Cash, William||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith|
|Chope, Christopher||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Kershaw, Sir Anthony|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Key, Robert|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||King, Roger (B'ham N'field)|
|Coombs, Simon||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Cope, John||Knight, Gregory (Derby N)|
|Crouch, David||Knowles, Michael|
|Dicks, Terry||Knox, David|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Lamont, Norman|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Lang, Ian|
|Dunn, Robert||Latham, Michael|
|Durant, Tony||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Dykes, Hugh||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Fallon, Michael||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Farr, Sir John||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Favell, Anthony||Lester, Jim|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)|
|Fletcher, Alexander||Lightbown, David|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Lilley, Peter|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)|
|Forth, Eric||Lord, Michael|
|Fox, Marcus||Luce, Richard|
|Franks, Cecil||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Freeman, Roger||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Gale, Roger||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)||Maclean, David John|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Madel, David|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Malins, Humfrey|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Malone, Gerald|
|Gow, Ian||Maples, John|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Marland, Paul|
|Greenway, Harry||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Gregory, Conal||Mather, Carol|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Grist, Ian||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Grylls, Michael||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Gummer, John Selwyn||Mayhew, Sir Patrick|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Mellor, David|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Merchant, Piers|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Hannam, John||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Harris, David||Mills, lain (Mariden)|
|Harvey, Robert||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Mitchell, David (NW Hants)|
|Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Moate, Roger|
|Hawksley, Warren||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Hayes, J.||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Speller, Tony|
|Moore, John||Spencer, Derek|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Squire, Robin|
|Murphy, Christopher||Steen, Anthony|
|Neale, Gerrard||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Needham, Richard||Stevens, Martin (Fulham)|
|Nelson, Anthony||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Neubert, Michael||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Sumberg, David|
|Norris, Steven||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Osborn, Sir John||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Parris, Matthew||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Pawsey, James||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Thurnham, Peter|
|Pollock, Alexander||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Porter, Barry||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Portillo, Michael||Tracey, Richard|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Powell, William (Corby)||van Straubenzee, SirW.|
|Powley, John||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Viggers, Peter|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Waddington, David|
|Rathbone, Tim||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Renton, Tim||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Walden, George|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Waller, Gary|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Ward, John|
|Robinson, Mark (N'port W)||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Roe, Mrs Marion||Watson, John|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||Watts, John|
|Rowe, Andrew||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Rumbold, Mrs Angela||Wheeler, John|
|Ryder, Richard||Whitfield, John|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Whitney, Raymond|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Wolfson, Mark|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Wood, Timothy|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Yeo, Tim|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Silvester, Fred||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Soames, Hon Nicholas||Mr. John Major and|
|Speed, Keith||Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd.|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Campbell, Ian|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Campbell-Savours, Dale|
|Ashton, Joe||Canavan, Dennis|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Cartwright, John|
|Beith, A. J.||Clark, Dr David (S Shields)|
|Bell, Stuart||Clarke, Thomas|
|Benn, Tony||Clay, Robert|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Clwyd, Mrs Ann|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Cohen, Harry|
|Blair, Anthony||Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.|
|Boyes, Roland||Cook, Frank (Stockton North)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Corbett, Robin|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Craigen, J. M.|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Crowther, Stan|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Cunningham, Dr John|
|Buchan, Norman||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)|
|Caborn, Richard||Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J.||Deakins, Eric|
|Dixorr Donald||Madden, Max|
|Dobson, Frank||Marek, Dr John|
|Dormand, Jack||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Dubs, Alfred||Martin, Michael|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Eadie, Alex||Michie, William|
|Eastham, Ken||Mikardo, Ian|
|Ellis, Raymond||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Fatchett, Derek||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Nellist, David|
|Fisher, Mark||O'Brien, William|
|Flannery, Martin||O'Neill, Martin|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Forrester, John||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Foster, Derek||Park, George|
|Foulkes, George||Patchett, Terry|
|Fraser, J. (Norwood)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Penhaligon, David|
|Freud, Clement||Pike, Peter|
|Fry, Peter||Prescott, John|
|George, Bruce||Radice, Giles|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Randall, Stuart|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Redmond, M.|
|Golding, John||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Gould, Bryan||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Gourlay, Harry||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Hamilton, W. W, (Central Fife)||Robertson, George|
|Hancock, Mr. Michael||Rooker, J. W.|
|Harmaa Ms Harriet||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Rowlands, Ted|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Sheerman, Barry|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Home Robertson, John||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Howells, Geraint||Short, Mrs R. (W'hampt'n NE)|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Smith, C.(lsl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport East)||Soley, Clive|
|Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Stott, Roger|
|John, Brynmor||Strang, Gavin|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Thome, Stan (Preston)|
|Lamond, James||Tinn, James|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Torney, Tom|
|Leighton, Ronald||Wainwright, R.|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Wallace, James|
|Lewis, Terence (Worsley)||Wareing, Robert|
|Litherland, Robert||Welsh, Michael|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||White, James|
|Loyden, Edward||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|McCartney, Hugh||Wilson, Gordon|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Winnick, David|
|McKay, Allen (Penistone)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|McNamara, Kevin||Tellers for the Noes:|
|McTaggart, Robert||Mr. Frank Haynes and|
|McWilliam, John||Dr. Roger Thomas.|
|Division No. 222]||[11.43 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Harris, David|
|Amess, David||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Ancram, Michael||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Hawksley, Warren|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Hayes, J.|
|Bellingham, Henry||Hayward, Robert|
|Benyon, William||Henderson, Barry|
|Best, Keith||Hickmet, Richard|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hind, Kenneth|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Hirst, Michael|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Holt, Richard|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Hordern, Peter|
|Burt, Alistair||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Butcher, John||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Carttiss, Michael||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Cash, William||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Chope, Christopher||Jackson, Robert|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Coombs, Simon||Jones, Robert (W Herts)|
|Cope, John||Kershaw, Sir Anthony|
|Crouch, David||Key, Robert|
|Dicks, Terry||King, Roger (B'ham N'field)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Knight, Gregory (Derby N)|
|Dunn, Robert||Knowles, Michael|
|Durant, Tony||Knox, David|
|Dykes, Hugh||Lamont, Norman|
|Fallon, Michael||Latham, Michael|
|Farr, Sir John||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Favell, Anthony||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Fletcher, Alexander||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Forth, Eric||Lester, Jim|
|Fox, Marcus||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)|
|Franks, Cecil||Lightbown, David|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||Lilley, Peter|
|Freeman, Roger||Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)|
|Fry, Peter||Lord, Michael|
|Gale, Roger||Luce, Richard|
|Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Goodlad, Alastair||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Gow, Ian||Maclean, David John|
|Greenway, Harry||Major, John|
|Gregory, Conal||Malins, Humfrey|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Malone, Gerald|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Maples, John|
|Hannam, John||Marland, Paul|
|Mates, Michael||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Mather, Carol||Silvester, Fred|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Sims, Roger|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Speed, Keith|
|Mellor, David||Spencer, Derek|
|Merchant, Piers||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Squire, Robin|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Mills, lain (Meriden)||Stevens, Martin (Fulham)|
|Mitchell, David (NW Hants)||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Moate, Roger||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Sumberg, David|
|Moore, John||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Murphy, Christopher||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Neale, Gerrard||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Needham, Richard||Thurnham, Peter|
|Nelson, Anthony||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Townsend, Cyril D (B'heath)|
|Norris, Steven||Tracey, Richard|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Osborn, Sir John||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Parris, Matthew||Viggers, Peter|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Waddington, David|
|Pawsey, James||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Pollock, Alexander||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Porter, Barry||Walden, George|
|Portillo, Michael||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Powley, John||Waller, Gary|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Ward, John|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Rathbone, Tim||Watson, John|
|Renton, Tim||Watts, John|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Wheeler, John|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Whitfield, John|
|Roe, Mrs Marion||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Rowe, Andrew||Wolfson, Mark|
|Rumbold, Mrs Angela||Wood, Timothy|
|Ryder, Richard||Yeo, Tim|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarf)||Mr. Ian Lang and|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Mr. Michael Neubert.|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Clarke, Thomas|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Clay, Robert|
|Ashton, Joe||Clwyd, Mrs Ann|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Cohen, Harry|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)|
|Beith, A. J.||Corbett, Robin|
|Bell, Stuart||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Benn, Tony||Cowans, Harry|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Craigen, J. M.|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Crowther, Stan|
|Blair, Anthony||Cunningham, Dr John|
|Boyes, Roland||Dalyell, Tarn|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge HI)|
|Brown, Hugh D (Provan)||Deakins, Eric|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Dixon, Donald|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Dobson, Frank|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Dormand, Jack|
|Buchan, Norman||Dubs, Alfred|
|Caborn, Richard||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.|
|Canavan, Dennis||Eadie, Alex|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Eastham, Ken|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Ellis, Raymond|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Fatchett, Derek||Martin, Michael|
|Field, Frank (Birkenheadj)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Fisher, Mark||Michie, William|
|Flannery, Martin||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Forrester, John||Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon)|
|Foster, Derek||Nellist, David|
|Foulkes, George||O'Brien, William|
|Fraser, J. (Norwood)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Park, George|
|George, Bruce||Patchett, Terry|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Golding, John||Penhaligon, David|
|Gould, Bryan||Pike, Peter|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Prescott, John|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Radice, Giles|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Randall, Stuart|
|Haynes, Frank||Redmond, M.|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Robertson, George|
|Home Robertson, John||Rowlands, Ted|
|Howells, Geraint||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Sheerman, Barry|
|Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport East)||Short, Mrs H (Whampfn NE)|
|Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Smith, C. (lsl'ton S & F'bury)|
|John, Brynmor||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Soley, Clive|
|Lamond, James||Stott, Roger|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Strang, Gavin|
|Leighton, Ronald||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Thome, Stan (Preston)|
|Lewis, Terence (Worsley)||Tinn, James|
|Litherland, Robert||Wareing, Robert|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Weetch, Ken|
|Loyden, Edward||Welsh, Michael|
|McCartney, Hugh||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Winnick, David|
|McNamara, Kevin||Tellers for the Noes:|
|McTaggart, Robert||Mr. John McWilliam and|
|Madden, Max||Dr. Norman A. Godman.|
|Marek, Dr John|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.