HC Deb 29 October 1985 vol 84 cc855-63

5. — (1) In this paragraph 'the proceedings' means proceedings on any further Message from the Lords on the Bill, on the appointment and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons and the Report of such a Committee.

(2) Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for the consideration forthwith of the Message or, as the case may be, for the appointment and quorum of the Committee.

(3) A Committee appointed to draw up Reasons shall report before the conclusion of the sitting at which they are appointed.

(4) Paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings.

(5) No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, the proceedings shall be made except by a member of the Government, and the Question of any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

(6) If the proceedings are interrupted by a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on the Motion shall be added to the period at the end of which the proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion.

I hope that we shall not spend long debating the motion, and will instead move swiftly to considering the amendments to the Bill that have come from the other place.

The vast majority of the amendments are purely drafting and technical, but a significant number make important and constructive changes, notably the additional provisions to ensure that the interests of elderly and disabled passengers receive due attention. These amendments, and more of the other substantive amendments, were initiated by the Opposition or by Back-Bench Members of the other place. We tried wherever possible to respond positively where we felt that amendments were genuinely seeking to improve the Bill rather than to undermine its fundamental principles. I said before the Second Reading that we wanted to fashion a better Bill, and these amendments go towards achieving that.

Last night, the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) did not know whether to attack the amendments or to welcome them. I can understand her dilemma, because the amendments reinforce the Bill, whereas she simply wishes to wreck it. True to form, the Opposition have tabled a number of amendments, some of which raise again the fundamental issues of policy underlying the Bill. I shall be disappointed if the Opposition choose to waste time today on the motion, rather than getting on with considering the issues.

This is a long and complex Bill, but, despite the guillotine, it has received very thorough consideration by Parliament. In this House alone, the time spent so far amounts to some 174 hours. In the other place, the Bill received some 70 hours of debate, and there were some 20 Divisions. The supplement to the order will ensure that we have a further 4 hours of debate this evening. I know that a large number of amendments have been accepted for debate. It is a bit hard to respond to the Opposition by being flexible and accepting amendments and then to be accused, as I was last night, of not having prepared the Bill properly.

It is time that the Bill was on the statute book. It puts the customer first, by removing unnecessary restrictions over competition between operators. It applies to the bus industry the market approach that is regarded as perfectly normal, and indeed vital, in most other sectors of the economy. Urgent action is needed to stem the sorry pattern of declining patronage, rising costs and escalating subsidy. No Government could sit on their hands and allow the decline to continue. That would not be in the interests of passengers and it would certainly not be in the interests of the industry and those who work in it.

It was in July last year that we set out in the White Paper our reasons for believing that customers on local bus services now deserve the same benefits as passengers on express services have enjoyed since 1980. We consulted widely on the White Paper and we brought forward a Bill, dealing not just with deregulation, but providing for a comprehensive package of measures to enable competition to operate fairly, within a stable framework of safety controls and financial support for socially desirable services. The Bill has now received the fullest possible examination by Parliament over a period of nine months.

Operators and local authorities have much to do between now and deregulation day on 26 October next year to prepare for the new system. The order will ensure that the House has the opportunity to decide at a reasonable hour this evening the last few remaining issues to be resolved. The Bill can then complete its final stages and the industry, and those who work with it, can get on with the task of making the transition to deregulation. The time for arguing is coming to an end, and the time for action is about to begin.

5.58 pm
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

It is instructive to look carefully at the Bill that we are now hurrying on to the statute book with the aid of a timetable motion. It will initiate a revolution not just in local public transport but in parliamentary procedure, and the results of the experiments prove that there should be no repetition of the methods used by the Secretary of State.

The Government have a manifesto commitment to more competition in the bus industry, and that was taken as justification for ignoring the whole of the normal consultation procedures. The White Paper on buses, published in July 1984, was written without any of the normal discussions and in a form that made it difficult for people to respond easily to it. There were 7,000 respondents. They were required to let the Department have their views during the two summer months. That shows the depth of anger that this extraordinary legislation has aroused.

It is interesting to note that only a handful of the 7,000 who responded supported the Government's plans. One of their supporters, from the Adam Smith Institute, was a bankrupt bus operator. That there were 7,000 replies shows the depth of anger aroused by the Bill. When it was published in February 1985 it was found that bus substitution had been added to the original legislation, yet this had been discussed only in a Green Paper that applied to Wales. This was to become law on the basis of no real examination of its implications for the whole of the United Kingdom.

The Government showed how much interest they have in informed discussion through their choice of Committee members. Many Tory Members of Parliament who are known to have an interest in transport were deliberately excluded. Committee membership was top heavy with Parliamentary Private Secretaries and the most junior Members of the House. The Government's fear of open debate went even further. They refused to wait until the Select Committee report on buses was published, although they were aware that it was a detailed and useful examination of an enormous lacuna in this legislation. The Government went further still by making personal attacks on the Chairman of the Select Committee, a most valued and highly independent Member of Parliament whom we shall miss very much indeed.

The Committee stage began on 21 February. By April fool's day—94 debating hours and one non-Government amendment later—the Government asked, for the first time, for the imposition of the guillotine. Only 11 clauses had been debated. The only non-Government amendment made at that stage was the reduction in the retirement age for traffic commissioners from 70 to 65. By 7 May the Committee stage was completed, after another 55 hours of debate—a total of 150 hours of discussion. During that time the Government allowed two non-Conservative amendments—

Mr. Eric Forth (Mid-Worcestershire)

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Dunwoody

They allowed rail and ferry travel to remain within the concessionary fares rules, including the change to which I have already referred.

Then the Government allowed Tory Back Benchers to stage probably the most phoney rebellion that one has ever seen in a Committee. To say that it was ill rehearsed is to put it mildly. Suddenly we were told that no longer would the public be allowed to object to the issue of public service vehicle licences when operators were thought to be unsuitable by the customer. Later the Government repented and introduced a very much amended and weaker version which still excludes the general public and includes only local authorities and the police. The Government were clearly terrified of allowing the general public to have a say. Therefore, they decided to remove that aspect from the legislation. By that stage the Government had amended their Bill no fewer than 122 times.

Mr. Forth


Mrs. Dunwoody

The Report stage on 22 May made the new parliamentary procedure much clearer. During the two days of debate the Government blocked all 17 amendments from Opposition Members, but 138 Government amendments and 13 new clauses were passed. The Government used the House as a departmental drafting body. Although hon. Members were allowed to vent their anger, they were outvoted. The tidying up of the Government's unformed schemes went ahead unaffected. The result was that 13 hours of debate produced more change than the 150 hours of detailed discussion. The Government could not have shown more clearly their deep contempt for the House of Commons as a place of debate and enlightenment.

Mr. Forth


Mrs. Dunwoody

In July the Government proved that they could go one better. The other place debated the Bill in Committee for six days. Well over 300 amendments were discussed—mainly Government amendments. The same drafting method was applied in another place. On Report in another place between 14 and 17 October the drafting system was used to deal with over 400 amendments—again, tabled mainly by the Government. Finally, on 24 October, on Third Reading in another place, there were still 86 amendments to be dealt with. The Government made 420 amendments to their Bill during its passage in another place, but only one non-Government amendment was accepted. It watered down the effect of the Tory rebellion in Committee in this place.

Mr. Forth

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I shall give way in a moment.

During the nine months in which the Bill has been debated in Parliament, the Government have amended it 680 times and added over 30 new clauses. However, they have not made the slightest gesture in the direction of the views of the general public, of anybody involved in the transport industry or of the local authorities which will most directly involved.

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

Does the hon. Lady accept that many of the Government amendments were tabled in response to points raised either in Committee or after consultation with local authorities, bus operators and others in the industry?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I do not. If one looks at the number of amendments that the Government are still trying to write into the Bill, one finds that many of them arise not from changes of principle — certainly not from consultations, which this Secretary of State does not understand in any practical way—but from the fact that the Bill was badly drafted and ill conceived. It should not have been introduced in this Session of Parliament. There should have been consultation on a Green Paper.

We are dealing with one of the greatest changes in public transport in 50 years, yet the Secretary of State has followed no real consultation procedure. He has rejected the normal parliamentary procedures. Instead of legislation being introduced with a view to considering the reaction of hon. Members, the legislative procedure has been turned into a sham in a ruthless attempt to save time. The only real discussion that was allowed took place in the Department. The House has been regarded as a very minor step in the presentation of the Secretary of State's views —or perhaps I should say his prejudices. He knows that he has been found wanting by the courts of this land. I shall not refer to his theft of £50 million from the Greater London council for London Regional Transport. Consultation is an important aspect when framing legislation. I remind the Secretary of State—

Mr. Ridley


Mrs. Dunwoody

I shall give way in a moment to the Secretary of State.

I remind the Secretary of State of a point made by the judge when one case was brought before the courts. It was pointed out to the Secretary of State that consultation means more than simply telling people what will be done. When he consults the House, he must be willing to listen to the arguments. The fact that 680 amendments were made, only two of which were Opposition amendments, shows how little the Secretary of State has learnt. About: 1,700 amendments were tabled. The Secretary of State can congratulate himself upon the fact that no real account has been taken of the views of the general public or of anybody who recognises how vital public transport is to the people of this country. I congratulate him upon having acted in an unacceptable way. He has behaved in an even more arrogant fashion than is his wont.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 263, Noes 186.

Division No. 305] [6.10 pm
Adley, Robert Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Alexander, Richard Fletcher, Alexander
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Forman, Nigel
Amess, David Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Ancram, Michael Forth, Eric
Ashby, David Franks, Cecil
Aspinwall, Jack Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Fry, Peter
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Galley, Roy
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Baldry, Tony Glyn, Dr Alan
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Gower, Sir Raymond
Batiste, Spencer Grant, Sir Anthony
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gregory, Conal
Bellingham, Henry Griffiths, Sir Eldon
Bendall, Vivian Grist, Ian
Benyon, William Ground, Patrick
Bevan, David Gilroy Grylls, Michael
Biffen, Rt Hon John Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Hampson, Dr Keith
Blackburn, John Hannam,John
Body, Richard Harris, David
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Harvey, Robert
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Bottomley, Peter Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Hayward, Robert
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Heddle, John
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Henderson, Barry
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Hickmet, Richard
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Bright, Graham Hind, Kenneth
Brinton, Tim Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Browne, John Holt, Richard
Bruinvels, Peter Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Buck, Sir Antony Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Bulmer, Esmond Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Burt, Alistair Irving, Charles
Butler, Hon Adam Jessel, Toby
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Carttiss, Michael King, Rt Hon Tom
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Lamont, Norman
Chapman, Sydney Lang, Ian
Chope, Christopher Lawler, Geoffrey
Churchill, W. S. Lawrence, Ivan
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Cockeram, Eric Lightbown, David
Colvin, Michael Lloyd, Ian (Havant)
Conway, Derek Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Cope, John Lord, Michael
Cormack, Patrick Lyell, Nicholas
Corrie, John McCurley, Mrs Anna
Couchman, James MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Critchley, Julian MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Currie, Mrs Edwina MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Dickens, Geoffrey Maclean, David John
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Dover, Den McQuarrie, Albert
du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward Madel, David
Dunn, Robert Major, John
Durant, Tony Malins, Humfrey
Emery, Sir Peter Malone, Gerald
Evennett, David Marland, Paul
Eyre, Sir Reginald Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Fallon, Michael Mates, Michael
Mather, Carol Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Maude, Hon Francis Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Shelton, William (Streatham)
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Mellor, David Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Shersby, Michael
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Silvester, Fred
Miscampbell, Norman Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mitchell, David (NW Hants) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Moate, Roger Speed, Keith
Monro, Sir Hector Speller, Tony
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Spence, John
Moore, John Spencer, Derek
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S) Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Squire, Robin
Moynihan, Hon C. Stanbrook, Ivor
Murphy, Christopher Stern, Michael
Neale, Gerrard Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Nelson, Anthony Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Neubert, Michael Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Newton, Tony Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Nicholls, Patrick Sumberg, David
Onslow, Cranley Tapsell, Sir Peter
Oppenheim, Phillip Taylor, John (Solihull)
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Ottaway, Richard Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Page, Sir John (Harrow W) Temple-Morris, Peter
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Terlezki, Stefan
Parris, Matthew Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M,
Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Pawsey, James Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Pollock, Alexander Thurnham, Peter
Portillo, Michael Townend, John (Bridlington)
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down) Tracey, Richard
Powell, William (Corby) Trippier, David
Powley, John Twinn, Dr Ian
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Price, Sir David Viggers, Peter
Proctor, K. Harvey Waddington, David
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Raffan, Keith Waldegrave, Hon William
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Walden, George
Rathbone, Tim Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Rhodes James, Robert Waller, Gary
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Ward, John
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Watson, John
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Watts, John
Rifkind, Malcolm Wheeler, John
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Whitfield, John
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Whitney, Raymond
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Wiggin, Jerry
Roe, Mrs Marion Winterton, Mrs Ann
Rossi, Sir Hugh Wolfson, Mark
Rost, Peter Wood, Timothy
Rowe, Andrew Yeo, Tim
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Young, Sir George (Acton)
Ryder, Richard
Sackville, Hon Thomas Tellers for the Ayes:
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and Mr. Archie Hamilton.
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Sayeed, Jonathan
Abse, Leo Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Bermingham, Gerald
Alton, David Bidwell, Sydney
Anderson, Donald Bray, Dr Jeremy
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)
Ashdown, Paddy Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)
Ashton, Joe Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Bruce, Malcolm
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Buchan, Norman
Barnett, Guy Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)
Barron, Kevin Campbell, Ian
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Campbell-Savours, Dale
Beith, A. J. Canavan, Dennis
Bell, Stuart Carter-Jones, Lewis
Benn, Tony Cartwright, John
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Loyden, Edward
Clarke, Thomas McCartney, Hugh
Clay, Robert McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Cohen, Harry McKelvey, William
Coleman, Donald MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) McNamara, Kevin
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) McTaggart, Robert
Corbyn, Jeremy Madden, Max
Craigen, J. M. Marek, Dr John
Cunliffe, Lawrence Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Cunningham, Dr John Martin, Michael
Dalyell, Tam Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Maxton, John
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Maynard, Miss Joan
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Meacher, Michael
Deakins, Eric Michie, William
Dewar, Donald Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Dixon, Donald Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Dobson, Frank Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Dormand, Jack Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Douglas, Dick Nellist, David
Dubs, Alfred Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. O'Brien, William
Eadie, Alex O'Neill, Martin
Eastham, Ken Park, George
Ellis, Raymond Patchett, Terry
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Pavitt, Laurie
Ewing, Harry Penhaligon, David
Fatchett, Derek Pike, Peter
Faulds, Andrew Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Prescott, John
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Radice, Giles
Fisher, Mark Randall, Stuart
Forrester, John Redmond, M.
Foster, Derek Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Foulkes, George Richardson, Ms Jo
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Robertson, George
George, Bruce Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Godman, Dr Norman Rogers, Allan
Golding, John Rooker, J. W.
Gourlay, Harry Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Rowlands, Ted
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Sedgemore, Brian
Hancock, Mr. Michael Sheerman, Barry
Hardy, Peter Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Harman, Ms Harriet Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Skinner, Dennis
Haynes, Frank Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Snape, Peter
Heffer, Eric S. Soley, Clive
Home Robertson, John Steel, Rt Hon David
Howells, Geraint Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham) Stott, Roger
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Strang, Gavin
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Straw, Jack
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Janner, Hon Greville Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd) Tinn, James
John, Brynmor Torney, Tom
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Wallace, James
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Weetch, Ken
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Welsh, Michael
Kirkwood, Archy White, James
Lambie, David Wigley, Dafydd
Lamond, James Williams, Rt Hon A.
Leadbitter, Ted Wilson, Gordon
Leighton, Ronald Winnick, David
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Woodall, Alec
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Litherland, Robert
Livsey, Richard Tellers for the Noes:
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Mr. Robin Corbett and Mr. John McWilliam.
Lofthouse, Geoffrey

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the Order of the House [1st April] be supplemented as follows:

  1. Lords Amendments 376 words
  2. c862
  3. Stages subsequent to first consideration of Lards Amendments 177 words
  4. cc862-3
  5. Supplemental 212 words