HC Deb 22 April 1986 vol 96 cc228-72 7.13 pm
Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)

I beg to move, That this House strongly condemns the Government for the crisis in public transport which is the direct result of de-regulation of bus services, the abolition of the metropolitan councils and the drastic reduction in finance for public transport; and urges the Government to emulate the proven success of Labour transport policies implemented by Labour councils throughout Britain, which are based upon choice, freedom and fairness, to improve the quality of life for the whole community' and particularly for those who depend entirely upon public transport.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Stott

Since 1981, apart from a very brief period when I shadowed information technology, I have been on the Opposition transport team on the Front Bench. During that time I have watched the various Secretaries of State for Transport come and go. Apart from the present Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, every one of them has put through legislation that has seriously weakened and undermined the principles and the concepts of an integrated transport policy. But in my view, and I suspect in the view of many other hon. Members, the Secretary of State who has done most mortally to damage Britain's public transport system is the current one, the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), the Conservative party's original Neanderthal man, someone who takes a great deal of pride in inhabiting the higher astral planes of lunacy and who, by his legislative efforts in the House of Commons, has offered up Britain's public transport system—which involves the carriage of millions and millions of people every day—to the vagaries of the free market and the discredited values of free marketeers.

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Stott

Not yet. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because it is a short debate, that is why.

It is only in the United Kingdom that public transport has been reduced to the status of a political football, to be kicked around the park by Conservative Ministers and councillors in an attempt to reduce revenue support, rate precepts and local accountability. Years of painstaking work by Labour councillors throughout the land, who have worked tirelessly to provide decent, cheap, integrated public transport, has now been sacrificed on the altar of free enterprise.

The whole continent of Europe and practically all the developed world recognise and accept that the provision of a proper public transport system is a prerequisite for the foundations of a decent life for their citizens. Governments of the Left and Governments of the Right all over the developed world have continued to provide resources to build on and to enhance the provision of mass public transport. On the continent of Europe and elsewhere there has been a renaissance in the railway industry, but here in the United Kingdom our railway industry is subject to profit centre accounting, appalling failures in punctuality, the closure of railway workshops and totally unacceptable overcrowding of trains as a consequence of timetable changes.

In 1974, when the Greater London council and the metropolitan counties were formed, the passenger transport executive/passenger transport authority arrangements were agreed. We saw emerging from that structure a genuine attempt to integrate public transport in our large conurbations—the buses with the trains, the trains with the ferries—a strategy to reduce inter-modal competition, to provide travel cards, through-ticketing, concessionary fares for the elderly and schoolchildren, saver tickets, support for section 20 railway lines and the development of timetables after consultation with the general public, and, particularly in Labour-controlled areas, to stabilise and reduce fares, as a consequence of which ridership increased dramatically. We also saw, as a consequence of those policies, fundamental and noticeable improvements in the local environment. During that time, of course, we also saw the development and the coming to fruition of the Tyne and Wear metro—something of which the Opposition, at least, are extremely proud.

Those achievements have been possible because the metropolitan counties, the National Bus Company and the municipal operators have been able to use their expertise and the economies of scale that are available to them to respond flexibly to any given situation. Indeed, all these points were acknowledged—in my view properly—some years ago by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, which had a report on several PTEs and several municipal operators.

So we asked the Secretary of State why he looked into the crystal ball when he could have read the book. Why embark upon a system of deregulation that would undermine years of transportation planning—planning which had the solid backing of the people in the metropolitan areas, as demonstrated time after time through the ballot box?

It was not just a partisan politician such as myself who was saying that. It was every user and every operator of public transport. Such diverse groups as Friends of the Earth, the women's institutes and Rural Voice were saying it. The Secretary of State's manic myopia was, to say the least, grossly insulting to the elected representatives, the professional transport planners and everyone else who opposed this piece of lunacy.

Regrettably, the GLC and the metropolitan counties have now gone out of existence. The joint boards are now having to deal with the provisions of the Transport Act 1985, and deregulation will become a reality in the autumn of this year. Some of the worst fears that I and my hon. Friends told the Secretary of State about during the long hours in Standing Committee are now beginning to be realised. I shall outline some of them and I hope that some of my hon. Friends will catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so that they can tell the House what is happening in their constituencies.

Mr. Adley

I should like to concentrate the hon. Gentleman's mind on the realities of life. Can he tell me which investment schemes British Rail is still awaiting decisions upon from the Government? Can he tell me of any year during which there was a Labour Government when a higher level of public money was invested in British Rail?

Mr. Stott

I acknowledge and respect the hon. Gentleman's interest in the railway industry. He is a stout defender of the industry and has tilted against many conventional windmills on the Government side of the House. I will leave the answer to his question to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes). Perhaps he will answer it when he is winding up. One advantage of coming from Wigan is that one can play rugby well and can get rid of a ball quickly when necessary.

About 70 per cent. of routes have been registered under the Transport Act 1985 by the municipal operators—not the passenger transport executives. It is clear that few services will be provided after 8 pm and virtually no services will be provided on Sundays. In the county of Berkshire only Reading, which is served by its municipal transport company, will have services on Sunday and after 8 pm on weekdays from October. I am advised that in the rest of Berkshire there are no registered routes for those days.

Another example is the municipality of Kingston upon Hull. I am advised that it has registered 67 per cent. of its routes. I am also advised that the Labour council there will have to make some difficult decisions. As a consequence of the 1985 Act, it will have to make redundant 300 of its 810 employees. In addition, the local authority will have to meet the cost of the redundancies from its own resources, thus making it almost impossible to finance tendered services, the almost 40 per cent. of services that have not been registered. If the Government's lunacy comes to fruition, Kingston upon Hull will have fewer bus services in the city and another 300 people on the dole. So much for this brave new world.

From a questionnaire sent to its members by the Federation of Public Passenger Transport Employers about a whole host of issues, it appears that less than half the non-registered routes will not be put out to tender. Yesterday, the Secretary of State answered a question by his hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway). In a question about London the hon. Member asked: Will my right hon. Friend congratulate LRT on the improved services that it has provided since it was established following its removal from the auspices of the GLC? The Secretary of State replied:

I shall certainly pass on my hon. Friend's congratulations to the chairman and board of LRT".—[Official Report, 21 April 1986; Vol. 96, c. 6.] The hon. Member for Ealing, North is not in the House. He made a statement to The Standard which was printed a little time before he put his question. The Standard reported: Harry Greenway, Tory MP for Ealing North, says there are growing protests from people at the long wait at bus stops and at the general decline in service. He said: 'I am getting more and more complaints from people who claim they have to wait sometimes an hour for a bus. Such a delay is inexcusable.' That hon. Member said that to The Standard and then came here and congratulated his right hon. Friend about the way LRT was being run.

I should like to give some interesting figures from the constituency of Derbyshire, West. Today I was given a document produced by Mr. Keith Orford, the adviser and spokesman for the public transport unit at Matlock. He advises me: North of Matlock the service to Bakewell via Winster will operate every hour, but the last departure from Matlock will be at 16.30. Only two buses a day will operate into Elton and Stanton and Birchover will only be served on Mondays by service to/from Bakewell.

The Minister of State, Department of Transport (Mr. David Mitchell)

Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House whether he is talking about services that have been registered, or whether the county council has already taken a decision about exactly what other services it regards as socially necessary and for which it will invite tenders?

Mr. Stott

I am quoting from the document that Mr. Orford sent me this morning. To be fair to the Minister, I imagine that these are registered services and that other services are open to tender. It is that to which I should like to turn my attention. I suspect that the Secretary of State and his Department are proud of the number of services that have been registered to operate commercially from 26 October. They form about three quarters of the number of road service licences that currently exist. The impression is given that this means that 75 per cent. of existing journeys will be operated commercially.

When the Minister was pressed by me and by some of my hon. Friends, following parliamentary questions that we tabled some weeks ago about the current mileage undertaken by those operators and what mileage would be registered, he failed to give us a reply. He said the information was not available, yet every bus company, most local authorities and the traffic commissioners, for fuel duty rebate purposes, hold the necessary sources of information, and those sources could quickly have been processed by his Department. It is a disgrace that the Minister did not answer the question and told my hon. Friends that the information was not available.

Last year, my own council, Greater Manchester, said on page 68 of its TPP submission to the Minister that 72,070,000 miles were being run. That figure could have been made available by Ministers. It is now possible to tell the House the figures for registered services, those services that make a profit. In my area of greater Manchester, 64 per cent. of present service miles have been registered by the Greater Manchester Bus Company. An extra 4 per cent. have been registered by other operators, including National Bus Company subsidiaries, independents and even an occasional taxi driver.

We must bear in mind that, before the Transport Act 1985, some 96 per cent. of all services in greater Manchester were run by the PTE and only 4 per cent. by other operators. I suspect that that applied to every metropolitan authority. No doubt the Secretary of State will say that it is premature to judge what effect there will be on the services and that that cannot be done until the PTEs and the PTAs have gone out to tender and have decided upon services to fill the gaps left by operators promoting services commercially.

This raises the interesting question of how much money will be available to support those services. I shall take again the example of Greater Manchester PTE. Some months ago, it estimated that support to the tendered services would require at least £30 million a year. The best estimate at the moment is that the PTA should bank on having only £15 million from October onwards. Based on that, the director general of the Greater Manchester PTE estimated at a meeting last Friday that it would be possible to support only some 20 per cent. more services.

In other words, that would mean that, in the Greater Manchester area, from October onwards, some 10 to 12 per cent. of those bus services will not run.

There is a human price to pay for all that carnage. In my area—my hon. Friends will tell the House what is happening in theirs—2,000 people in bus garages, administration and elsewhere will be made unemployed by the PTE in order that it should remain viable and profitable.

I hope the House will bear with me if I continue with the theme of financial chaos. I have referred to the problems of finance. Tenders are supposed to be let for supported bus services during the summer to start towards the end of October. It would not be unreasonable for a bus operator to expect a reasonable length of tender in order to cover the costs of establishing the new services, particularly if one of those operators is the new, thrusting, entrepreneurial, dynamic operator that the Secretary of State wants to see. Would not such an operator consider that for tendered services at least there should be some reasonable length of contract? In order to meet that, would it not be reasonable for the PTA to expect that it should have some idea of the likely levels of expenditure over, say, the next two years so that it may decide how many tendered services can go out this year, next year and the year after? Not a bit of it.

The PTA in Greater Manchester has been writing to the Department of Transport since before Christmas in an attempt to find out the likely level of expenditure which it will be allowed by the Secretary of State for 1987–88. On 6 January, one of the Secretary of State's civil servants replied to the effect that he was surprised that the PTA wanted to know that figure. The same civil servant relented somewhat in March because he then accepted that the authority did have a right to know, but he restated the Government's position. The only advice that he could give my authority was that given in 1984—that planning should be on the assumption that revenue support expenditure should be reduced by 25 to 30 per cent. over the next three years. That leaves the PTEs and the PTAs, and no doubt the municipal authorities, still guessing as to what will be the likely levels of expenditure next year and the year after.

Mr. Martin M. Brandon-Bravo (Nottingham, South)

The hon. Gentleman is right to support his case with illustrations from his area, which he knows well, but is it fair that, for example, Lancashire, which I believe is his county, has a transport subsidy per head of population of £13, while Greater Manchester, whose case he is using to illustrate his point, has a subsidy per head of population of £30? That simply does not make sense to the rest of the country.

Mr. Stott

The hon. Gentleman and I shared many happy hours on the Bill in Committee but I think that he has hold of the wrong end of the stick. I was talking about the information coming from the Department of Transport to give PTEs and municipal operators some idea of the likely level of revenue support from that Department and elsewhere.

Let me take the hon. Gentleman a step further. I do not know whether he was here, but a few months ago the Secretary of State pushed through an order setting the maximum precept limit, which he unwisely referred to as putting the stopper on the amount of public money spent on providing public transport in the metropolitan areas. It is some stopper; in every PTA area the precept has gone up because authorities have had to pay for the cost of deregulation and they have had to foot the bill for the nonsensical Government grant policy.

Let me tell the House the cost to authorities such as mine, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and others of deregulation, of the needless expense of making bus workers redundant, of the waste of assets that will be mothballed or sold off below book value, of the bureaucratic exercise involved in forming new companies and transferring assets around the place, of dismantling the existing systems based on co-operation and replacing them with ones where only profits count. As for grant policies, the Secretary of State for Transport sets one limit for expenditure, while the Secretary of State for the Environment, independently and arbitrarily, bases his rate support grant on altogether different and even less meaning full formula. The PTAs are then penalised by the Secretary of State for the Environment because they have the temerity to spend up to the levels that the Secretary of State says they can. That is reflected in a higher rate of precept in all the county council areas.

Let me give some examples. The rate is higher by approximately 40 per cent. in Greater Manchester than it need be. The rate is higher by 82 per cent. in Merseyside, 82 per cent. in South Yorkshire, 17 per cent. in Tyne and Wear, 28 per cent. in the West Midlands and 59 per cent. in West Yorkshire. The result of the Secretary of State's stopper is that the PTAs are forced by the Government to levy higher rates to pay for the Government's own policies, which will mean worse services.

The Transport Act 1985 removes passenger transport from the long-held status of a strategic national industry and relegates it to a use-it-or-lose-it activity. If current Government thinking is correct, the rest of the developed world is incorrect. No other Government in the developed world are prepared to subject the business of moving millions of people every day of the week to the inconsistencies of market forces.

Mr. Rob Hayward (Kingswood)

I believe that I heard the hon. Gentleman say that no other country in the developed world would do that. What is happening in Japan, which is privatising the whole railway system and has already privatised the underground system?

Mr. Stott

Privatisation is different. We are talking about deregulation. No other country in the world is embarking upon leaving the mass movement of people to the vagaries of the free market. They all recognise the sense of a regulated transport system.

Until the Transport Act 1985, the United Kingdom was beginning to catch up with the rest of the world in the provision of mass transit systems. Unfortunately, some areas of Britain had a woefully inadequate transport provision, but overall we were beginning to get it right. We were beginning to set in hand plans for mass transit systems that would take us into the next century, building on the successes of the Tyne and Wear metro and the many and varied innovations that have been pioneered by the GLC, the NBC and the PTAs.

But along came old Nick, dragging the rotting corpse of Adam Smith behind him and eulogising those burnt-out ideas whose time has been and gone. The Secretary of State has been tearing down the safety net of social provision and replacing it with the vagaries of the free market.

One of the most emancipating elements in the lives of ordinary people is the ability to be mobile. The provision of a regulated, integrated, inexpensive public transport system has the support of millions of British people. They may not be completely wedded to Socialism, but the vast majority of them care about and will vote for and demand fairness for all, not a free-for-all. That is where the Government have made their biggest mistake. Public transport cannot be auctioned off in the market place. Public transport is an integral and necessary part of the nation's social provision.

For most of the country, Sunday 26 October will be the day that the clocks are put back one hour. For the bus industry and its passengers it will be the day that the Secretary of State turns back the clock 56 years. British summer time ends on 26 October. The public transport winter replaces it. [Laughter.] If hon. Gentlemen opposite are laughing about that, I have to tell them that on 8 May this year the people of the United Kingdom, when they vote in the municipal elections, will give the Secretary of State the biggest trampling that he has ever had.

7.40 pm
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:

`congratulates the Government on its radical approach to the long standing problems of public transport, its determination to obtain value for money and its introduction of policies of competition and deregulation for the benefit of the passenger which are based upon choice, freedom and fairness to improve the quality of life for the whole community and particularly for those who depend entirely upon public transport.'. That was an extraordinary outburst from the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott). I suppose that it is part of the new caring initiative that we have read about in the Financial Times. If so, I advise the hon. Gentleman to try again. It was not very good. His motion speaks of the crisis in public transport. I agree with the Opposition that there has indeed been a crisis with a reduction in services and higher fares, and subsidies spiralling out of control. Subsidies rose from £269 million in 1974 to £558 million in 1984, at constant 1984 prices, and over the same period services fell by 12 per cent. The crisis was the result of years of regulation, restriction, integration and socialism, and what I can now only call Stottism.

We are putting in place the solution of deregulation, competition and privatisation. We are setting operators free to provide the services that customers want. Competition makes operators efficient and makes them provide passengers with the quality of service they want. So I am glad to be able to tell the House that the crisis is ending.

Let us look at what has happened. First, London Regional Transport. There is no crisis here. The improvement in efficiency and in service to the public is truly remarkable. I remember that when the London Regional Transport Bill was being debated, the Bill's critics went on about fares rising 20 per cent. above the rate of inflation, 33 tube stations closing, 34 bus routes being withdrawn—remember the advertisement "Come in No. 9, your time is up"?—and concessionary fares coming to an end. I wonder how they dare return to this subject this evening. The hon. Members for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) and for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) do not dare come to the House. They are not here, and I do not wonder about that either.

Fares have not gone above inflation, no tube stations have been shut, and bus mileage was trimmed by a tiny 2 per cent. to match supply with demand. The No. 9 still runs. The present level of service will be maintained, as the decline in bus patronage has now been arrested. Londoners still enjoy concessionary fares.

Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)

Will the Secretary of State explain to the House why, when the London Regional Transport Bill was in Committee, he included a clause providing concessionary passes for pensioners in London, but refused to put a similar section in the Transport Act 1985 which would have safeguarded concessionary passes for pensioners throughout the country?

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman now knows that that clause was not necessary, because the boroughs have since come together to provide slightly better schemes than were provided by the GLC.

My predictions of possible cost savings, which were pooh-poohed by the Opposition, were, I fear, wrong. The late unlamented GLC proposed to increase revenue subsidy for London Transport from the £190 million that it had planned for 1984–85 to £245 million by 1987–88. These enormous sums would have had to be found by the ratepayers and taxpayers on top of the cost of capital, which is provided as a grant to London Regional Transport, not a loan. The House will want to hear these figures.

LRT's performance has shown that subsidies at these levels are not necessary. I set Dr. Bright and his colleagues tough managerial objectives. Unit costs were to be reduced each year by at least 2.5 per cent. in real terms, fares were to be stable in real terms, investment in the system was to be increased, and revenue subsidies were to be halved in three years so that they would be no more than £95 million by 1987–88. In every respect LRT has hit or beaten my targets. LRT has published an estimate of its revenue deficit for 1985–86. At £109 million it is a remarkable £81 million less than the GLC's plans for the previous year—an enormous saving. For the present financial year, 1986–87, the estimated deficit falls still further to £79 million, which is about £150 million less revenue for ratepayers and taxpayers to find.

These figures are not the product of creative accounting, a concept which I prefer to leave to the GLC. They result from a continuing and relentless attack on waste and inefficiency. That will continue to lift the burden from the shoulders of ratepayers and taxpayers. We may soon see the total elimination of revenue subsidy in London, if London Regional Transport continues as it has begun. This would mean a saving of £245 million a year for Londoners compared to the GLC's plans. Those are dramatic figures, and they demonstrate the total hollowness of the Opposition's arguments against the London Regional Transport Act 1984.

The grant for capital investment has increased from £150 million for 1984–85 to £216 million in the current year. We invest in the future; the GLC subsidised the past. We are seeing the rapid development of an efficient and attractive public transport system in London. I stress the word "attractive". Patronage is booming, the Underground had its busiest year ever last year and services are being increased by 3 per cent. The long-run decline in bus travel is halting. Contrary to what was alleged yesterday at Question Time, the waiting times and the speed and performance of London's buses are the same as they have been for the last three years. No cuts overall are planned in the service but London Regional Transport is quite rightly systematically changing the pattern of services to meet what people actually want. To speak of a crisis in London's public transport is to turn the English language on its head. The fact that LRT is doing so well shows what a determined management can do when faced with a challenge. The next step is for London buses to face the rigours, and the stimulus, of bus deregulation in London. That is the best way to ensure lasting reductions in subsidy and improvements in services.

Next, long-distance coaches. Again, there is no crisis here. Hundreds of new services have started—over 900 have started and 700 of those are still in business—since the deregulation of long-distance express coaches. The number of passengers carried on the NBC's national express services has increased by about 50 per cent.

Fares have been reduced in real terms. On some important routes, notably London to Exeter and London to Newcastle, they are lower in cash terms now than they were six years ago.

Equally striking is the improved quality of coach services—the national express rapide services and the numerous luxury commuter services bear elegant witness to that. Passengers have made it clear that they want quality and are prepared to pay for it—in a deregulated industry, operators provide the kind of service that passengers want.

Then railways. For the longer distance there is now competition between rail, air, coach and car. Inter-city is gradually "getting there". We have worked to ensure that it becomes both unsubsidised and competitive. The impact of competition has already brought benefits to rail travellers. Attractive cheap fare offers have been developed. High quality executive Pullman services are offering new standards of service. Contracting out is going to lead to higher standards of catering and cleaning. Intercity is able to plan for new rolling stock within its financial resources. Electrification of services to Norwich will soon be completed. The east coast main line electrification, the biggest railway investment project for 25 years, is now under way.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Many of us agree that inter-city services are excellent, but what about those clapped-out diesel engines that are often used on inter-city services from various stations, such as York, Peterborough and Edinburgh? Those of us who use inter-city services a lot know that British Rail has a heck of a problem with those diesels that are rather ancient. Can the Secretary of State say anything about investment plans?

Mr. Ridley

I am happy to assure the hon. Gentleman that we are catching up with the appalling neglect and backlog of under-investment under the last Labour Administration. In a moment I shall have something to say about investment in railways, when I shall come back to the hon. Gentleman's point.

I admit that there are many railway services that will always run at a loss and require Government support. The public service obligation grant for this year is about £830 million. Even here there has been a remarkable turnround in value for money. Over the past three years British Rail has been able to reduce its dependence on PSO grant by 25 per cent. Over £250 million at today's prices has been cut off the bill to the taxpayers. That has not been done by closures, which would deprive communities of rail services, as Opposition scaremongers are always trying to make out. It has been done by effective management to improve efficiency.

I pay tribute, as I hope Opposition Members will, to Sir Robert Reid and his board for what they have achieved. Contrary to the popular myth, this success has not led to a fall in the standard of the services offered. The chairman told the Select Committee on Transport two weeks ago that the financial targets need not undermine, and have not undermined, the quality of service on the railway.

Mr. Stott

If that is the case, can the Minister explain what I know from personal experience? I get the train from Wigan to London every week. This year, apart from two occasions, that train has been woefully bad at time keeping. If the Secretary of State were to catch a train and to walk into a second-class compartment, he would find it heaving with people. People have to stand almost all the way from Wigan to Westminster. That is a consequence of British Rail policy. That is what people have to put up with.

Mr. Ridley

One of the worst features of some hon. Gentlemen, including the hon. Member for Wigan, is the use of their personal travelling experiences to make a general case.

Mr. Stott

When does the Secretary of State travel? What is his experience?

Mr. Ridley

As a frequent train traveller, I have had experiences which have been just as unfortunate as those of other hon. Gentlemen. I keep them to myself and do not direct them into public complaints, as the hon. Gentleman has sought to do.

I accept that there are areas where the board is not yet achieving its quality targets. That concedes the hon. Gentleman's point to some extent. We shall ask British Rail to look for improvements for the travelling public. For example, punctuality still needs to be improved. Improvements in quality are important. I shall be discussing with the chairman of the board what needs to be done as we work towards agreeing objectives for the next few years.

Mr. Adley

Is my right hon. Friend not pleased to note that we have now reached a situation where he, as a Conservative Minister, is congratulating a nationalised industry, and the Labour party, which is supposed to support nationalised industry, can do nothing but knock it?

Mr. Ridley

I hope that Opposition Members soon will be pressing for the privatisation of the railways.

Improved efficiency on the railways has made it possible to authorise an increasing level of investment, which is the answer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell). British Rail plans to spend over £2 billion over the next five years, more than half of which is already authorised. What better demonstration could there be that improved costs and efficiency are the way to the high-quality, modern railway that we want? So there is no crisis there either.

The hon. Member for Wigan was less than fair to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) in passing to him the poisoned chalice. The hon. Member for Aberdeen will not be able to answer. If he likes, I shall give him a note of the answer.

Next, buses, where Opposition hopes of a crisis are looking dimmer every day. The first of the benefits of deregulation and competition, which the Transport Act has brought, are already to be seen in many towns where the National Bus Company has introduced minibuses. At the beginning of 1984, as a response to the new policy, the NBC introduced a fleet of minibuses into Exeter to provide a flexible, high frequency service. In the first year alone it reported a 60 per cent. increase in passenger traffic on the same routes, with the minibuses carrying some people who had previously used cars. Loss was turned to profit and more people were employed. Now I believe that patronage has increased by nearly three times.

Minibuses for Exeter led the way. There are now about 1,000 in Worcester, Cheltenham, Oxford, Norwich, Leicester and many other towns, and I understand that they are coming into London soon. The list is growing all the time as more and more NBC subsidiaries see the scope for serving passengers and turning losses into profit.

Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

I was told today that there will be an estimated 19,000 redundancies in the National Bus Company. Is that fact or fiction?

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman has got it wrong. There have been 20,000 redundancies in the National Bus Company over the past 10 years. That is what the hon. Gentleman must be thinking of. That is the problem with which we seek to deal.

The success of minibuses shows the scope for the bus industry to operate profitably and to expand. It proves that there is room for innovation and that passengers can be tempted away from other forms of transport. The Transport Act gives all operators, not just the NBC, the incentive to examine their services, to find out what passengers want and to provide it. If they do not, a competitor will.

The implementation of the Act has started well, despite the hopes of Opposition Members. Alarmists and irresponsible people like the hon. Member for Wigan have been up to their usual scaremongering tactics. In the last few weeks they have put about claims that bus services will be drastically reduced because they have not all been registered. The hon. Gentleman was at it again this evening. In fact, by the end of February, some 15,000 commercial services had been registered, representing about 75 per cent. of the existing network. The hon. Gentleman said it was 68 per cent. for Manchester. It is a revelation that 75 per cent. of the services have been registered, because nearly all those services were being subsidised previously. Now it turns out that those services did not need subsidy. Is that not another astonishing result that has come already from the Transport Act?

The most irresponsible lie is that those registered commercial services are the end of the story. The hon. Gentleman was trying to say so again this evening. When he was challenged by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, he admitted that that was not what he had meant. He had left out the vital part which makes it clear that other services will run after deregulation. Local authorities have both the power and the money to subsidise those additional services which they believe will be necessary to meet local needs. This scare, too, is typical of the Labour party. We saw it with coaches, with LRT and with concessionary fares.

The decision about which local services to subsidise is, as the House knows, for local authorities. We have increased the provision for local public transport support outside London from £247 million in the last financial year to £273 million in 1986–87. That is an increase of 10 per cent.—substantially more than the rate of inflation. So there is more money than there was last year. The consequences are reflected in the local authority rate support grant totals.

The Opposition keep suggesting that the new passenger transport authorities will not have adequate resources for public transport subsidies. The hon. Member for Wigan was at it again today. Let me give him some figures. Let us take South Yorkshire as an example. Public transport subsidy in 1986–87, after redetermination, will still be about £40 per head. That may be a reduction of one third on last year's figures, but it is still far in excess of the amounts of subsidy paid in the shires, which averaged about £5 per head last year, and were below £2 in Somerset. Are we seriously asked to believe that an authority spending £40 for every man, woman and child in its area, cannot fill the gaps in its public transport operation? If authorities cannot provide the necessary socially desirable services with that kind of money, something is wrong with them. Talk of massive cuts in local services is, quite frankly, rubbish.

Public transport subsidy—excluding redundancy payments—in the metropolitan districts next year is likely to average about £30 per head compared to a figure of about £5 in the shires. That suggests that there is considerable scope for further cuts in future, reducing the heavy burden on ratepayers, which I am conscious still remains, and to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Finally, on the question of concessionary fares, we were told when the Bill was going through that it would be the end of concessionary fares as we know them, passes would be replaced by tokens, and authorities would find it impossible to administer schemes applying to all the operators who would be providing the services once deregulation had set them free. This further campaign of scaremongering was intended to play upon the fears of the most vulnerable people in the community—the old and the handicapped.

In fact, many county councils have announced plans for schemes applying to the whole of their area. They include Essex, Kent and Lancashire—three of the largest counties in the country. I understand that in Lancashire the scheme will cover all the eight districts in the county which have their own transport companies. Similarly Derbyshire, where considerable doubts were expressed about the effects of deregulation on concessionary fares, has now announced a scheme for half-fare passes covering the whole of the county area. We said that the Bill would give authorities flexibility to make suitable arrangements, and we have been proved right. We have also made allowances for the changes introduced by the Act by the increase of 13 per cent. in provision for expenditure on this item.

In the metropolitan counties, we were told that existing schemes would collapse with abolition. But we took full account of the cost of existing concessionary fare schemes in setting maximum precept levels. In the event, five out of the six joint boards in England have maintained their schemes for elderly and disabled people practically unchanged. The sixth—South Yorkshire—has decided to introduce a small standing fare of 5p per journey.

In London, as I predicted, the boroughs have agreed to continue the existing arrangements for concessionary travel in 1986–87 without resort to the statutory reserve scheme. I think that the scares about travel concessions were particularly mean and many old people have been unnecessarily worried. These fears were groundless, deliberate and mischievous, and I hope that the Opposition will suffer grievously from peddling such rubbish.

To sum all this up, service has improved on coach, rail, underground and bus. Fares have been held at their real value, and in some cases reduced. Concessionary fare schemes have been maintained. The annual savings to the public purse from reduced revenue subsidies to London Regional Transport and BR are already about £350 million—with more to come in the future, including a contribution from buses. This has enabled increased investment to take place in the public transport industries. I am proud of this record.

The only crisis that we witness today is the crisis of a Labour party which has no new ideas, as the hon. Gentleman amply demonstrated in his speech.

I regard the Opposition motion as impertinent, and I ask the House to pass the amendment and to reject the motion with contumely.

8.4 pm

Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

I think that the Secretary of State has some justification for his remarks on British Rail. He was however, pretty selective in his statistics relating to London Regional Transport, to which I shall return later.

It is a tragedy for the country that our public transport policies have become so politically controversial. It is therefore important that the Select Committee on Transport—I note that at least two, and perhaps three members of the Committee, of which I am a member, are present in the Chamber—should try to find some common ground as it undertakes its current investigation into the financing of the public transport services. So far we have been examining the railways and interrogating members of the British Railways Board and departmental officials. We are also looking at new developments, including the so-called Pacer and Sprinter trains, tomorrow morning.

My current view is that, slowly and surely, the railways are getting themselves out of the mire. The coal strike was of course a major setback. Permission for new capital programmes such as the east coast main line, Bournemouth-Weymouth, East Anglia, and Hastings has been forthcoming, and we have to say that correctly and truthfully.

Many of our stations, particularly the London terminals are becoming what they always should have been, busy, clean and quite exciting places providing some excellent facilities. One has only to look at Victoria or Waterloo to see what changes have taken place. I think that it is absolutely tragic that that lovely station at Great Malvern, which has just been done up, should have been damaged by fire the other day. British Rail is looking at some of its masterpieces, and that is one of them.

A promise has also been given in the House that extra capital resources will be made available to the railways to take proper advantage of the Channel tunnel development. This should provide a massive stimulus for the railway network if enthusiastically pursued.

I was in Fort William the other day and had the wonderful experience of seeing the integrated system whereby the Wiggins Teape mill is sending its paper by rail from Fort William to arrive south of London next morning. Wiggins Teape exports to the Common Market and it could take advantage of the arrangement by sending its paper to Italy or to Austria. But it is when we compare our standards with those of our Common Market neighbours that we realise how far still our railways have to go. New rolling stock is desperately needed, particularly on the southern region. What will happen—perhaps the Minister will deal with this—if British Rail Engineering Ltd. abandons Eastleigh, as is now rumoured? Surely we need to sustain a major railway workshop in the south.

Sir Robert Reid's article in The House Magazine, and his evidence to the Select Committee, were optimistic. Despite the continuing high levels of investment that is needed, he feels he can keep within the tough PSO limits. It is true that productivity has risen, as has passenger volume, and for this achievement I bow to management and unions. I think that both are to be congratulated. They have shown common sense, the results of which are now beginning to be revealed.

I should like to see a moratorium on all closures for at least three years, and a continuing exploitation of the capital assets of the railways. With regard to the stations, for instance, much more can be done and more thought could be given to streamlining ticketing. It is at that point that delays occur which lead to people occasionally missing trains.

I oppose the possible loss of the Settle-Carlisle line, England's most dramatic railway. British Rail itself has shown that it is possible to make a line profitable if one exploits the scenic beauty. In this case, it has made a profit of £1 million. There is surely a case for a heritage grant to restore and maintain the line.

I would want reconsideration of the closure of Marylebone station, which is now regularly used for steam excursions to Stratford-on-Avon and elsewhere. We urgently require a new coach station in north London, but why must it Marylebone?

Much improved rail links are needed to our principal airports. This comes high on my list. More and faster inter-city cross-country trains are also needed. There is a need for the link between the Midland and Southern via Snow hill to be rapidly built. I want to see the docklands light railway integrated with the Waterloo and City line.

I would like to see a moving belt for heavy luggage at certain stations. Why cannot we do what the Danes do? I saw such a belt when the Select Committee visited Ejsborg recently. At Portsmouth harbour, moving belts on the platform to take luggage down on to the boats would help elderly people with their cases. Such facilities would improve people's travelling.

We also want a more forthcoming and helpful work force. That is happening. Trains on the Portsmouth line do not now shut their buffet cars at Haslemere; they are open all the way to Portsmouth, which is encouraging. People are talking to us and saying nice things over the radio. Things are beginning to happen, so let us keep that up, but we also want flexibility from the Government.

However, I do not take the same rosy view of the bus industry as does the Secretary of State—to me its future is bleak. It is clear that a substantial number of rural routes may disappear or require high subsidies if they are to remain open. Surely this exercise, which has totally missed out, was to encourage the entrepreneurs to register routes. Where are they? They have not appeared.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Oh yes they have.

Mr. Ross

There are three in my constituency, and I can tell the House exactly who they are.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

The Wyre borough has a very imaginative scheme, including school buses and taxis. It will work very well in the rural areas.

Mr. Ross

We have heard that in Manchester the figure is 4 per cent. outside of the National Bus Company. It is less than that in my constituency. Two of the routes registered are exactly what we expected—one a taxi company that will run hourly on the most profitable routes, and the other a coach company that will run its coaches two minutes before the NBC runs its buses.

One scheme that I very much welcome is from a hotel that will run a minibus service to a railway station. For years I have been trying to persuade the bus company to do that, and it is now thinking of doing so. However, that is the only good thing to have come out of the exercise.

We have been given some statistics already. I understand that in Clwyd 65 per cent. of routes have been registered, while in Gwynedd the figure is 60 per cent. In my part of the world 85 per cent. have been registered, but there is little competition. Where is it? I do not want to tread on the ground of the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott), but I understand that Manchester will have a shortfall of at least £10 million, and perhaps even £15 million, to cover the services that will now have to be subsidised due to other expenses falling upon it. It will also have some competition on the Glossop-Manchester line, where a bus service has been registered. In Ryedale and West Derby some rural services may disappear.

I have to tell the Secretary of State that many of the minibuses appeared not after the 1985 Act, but before it—largely because of the withdrawal of the bus grants. That is why, at long last, other methods of transporting people are being considered, and I welcome that. It is too early to say with any certainty how it will all pan out in the end. The traffic commissioners are inundated with work, and some of the documentation is faulty. It is becoming obvious that there will be future problems with the Act.

The Secretary of State gave certain assurances that management-worker buy-out schemes would be given priority, but it now appears that they may not have that opportunity. I want to question the right hon. Gentleman on that issue while I have the opportunity. Will he give management-work force bids priority? In early press releases he said that he was hoping that such bids would come forward, and indicated that they would he considered sympathetically. Do they now have to compete with open market bids?

We have suffered under Sealink, and I do not want the bus company in the Isle of Wight bought by the same gentleman because that would be an absolute disaster. There would be a total monopoly. I know that the management and work force have put in a bid, and I hope that they will be given every opportunity to succeed. After all, the Secretary of State has strongly indicated that such bids would be sympathetically considered, but it now appears that they will have to compete with bids from the private sector. It could be that some will miss out, which would be disastrous for constituencies such as mine.

If bus subsidiaries fall into the wrong hands, that could create monopolies, and the Secretary of State must protect us against that. It is tragic that by his total commitment to market forces, fine systems like the Tyne and Wear metro are put at risk—

Mr. Ridley

No, it is not.

Mr. Ross

Of course it is put at risk.

Cross-country timetabling on buses will become almost impossible. I can go into my local inquiry office and find out how to go to Bournemouth and then on to Dorchester on a bus. That will not happen in future because no one will know what services are running. Travel cards and through ticketing will be highly unlikely. I have experience of that—I am still arguing with British Rail and Sealink. They withdrew the concessions for the disabled, the forces and students. They have returned the concession to the disabled, but not to the others. That hurts in my constituency. At the end of the day, the local authorities will take all the blame if the routes do not run. That is what always happens.

The Secretary of State has a great deal of personal responsibility in London. I travel by bus every day, and frequently travel on the underground. Returns may be marginally higher, but the service has certainly deteriorated. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a 30p ticket on the 507 bus has risen to 40p—a 30 per cent. increase? That is far more than the rate of inflation. Some underground lines are no longer running as far as they used to run—for example, those to Uxbridge in peak periods. The Bakerloo line is cutting back all the time.

The only good news of late is that Westminster city council has decided to keep most of its bus lanes, despite all the criticism from another place. I am sure that it is right to do so. All the buses seem to be for sightseeing tours; too few of them pick up passengers at the bus stops, so there are long queues. Quite frankly, the criticisms of the bus lanes are wholly wrong.

I find it difficult to support either the motion or the amendment. I cannot support the Labour motion, but then I cannot support the Government amendment either. I tabled an amendment but it was not called. However, I believe that my amendment is nearer right than wrong, and that it will be proved right at the end of the day.

8.16 pm
Mr. Rob Hayward (Kingswood)

I have listened to the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) during other debates. I had the fortune, or perhaps misfortune, to listen to him on many occasions during the debates on the Telecommunications Bill, so his scaremongering this evening came as no surprise to me. During the proceedings on that Bill we were told that it would lead to no public telephone boxes, no rural services, no services for the disabled, no directory facilities, and so on. Wat has happened? Two years after the Bill was enacted, we have all those services, and most of them have improved. It therefore came as no surprise to listen to yet another torrent of scaremongering tonight—it has happened over and over again in transport debates.

It was significant that the hon. Member for Wigan made reference to no other form of transport than buses. He made no reference to coaches, to railways, or to any modern developments such as the docklands railway. Why not? It is because during the past two, three or four years, Opposition Members have persistently set about using scaremongering tactics. As each piece of legislation has passed through the House, we have been told that services would disappear. At every Third Reading we are told that either long-distance coaches, London transport, or any service one chooses to mention will disappear. What is the truth? Anyone travelling on the M4 knows that he can hardly move in the inside or second lanes because of the number of coaches. Such services take a fair amount of time to develop. The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) may say that they are not there now, but people have to develop the expertise. The entrepreneurs do not spring up immediately; it takes time. That is precisely what has happened to the coach services.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State quoted costs for the ordinary passenger. People now have an alternative. It is no longer a case of take British Rail or leave it and do not come to London. People regularly use coach services because they prefer them. That pressure is applied to British Rail, and I welcome the improvement in its services as a result. It is now recognising that passengers have an alternative.

When I first entered the House, there were scaremongering stories about the Serpell report. There have been three speeches in the debate so far, but no reference to the Serpell report, yet in 1983 it was the talk of the Opposition Benches. It was another general election scare.

I also disagree with the hon. Member for Isle of Wight about services in London. If they are deteriorating as he suggests, why are more and more people using the underground and buses? That is happening, despite the fact that inner London has a progressively declining—and in some areas a rapidly declining—population. All the population statistics show that there should be a progressively diminishing use of bus and underground services. However, the long-term decline on the buses has been halted and the number of people using the underground has risen.

Is it not significant that there is only one London Member in the Chamber this evening? Surely, if, as has been predicted so often in debates, this Government's schemes would be a disaster for London Regional Transport, Labour Members would be lining up to cite examples of complaints about the No. 12 bus, the underground services to Cockfosters or the west end of London, or services anywhere else. Instead, such examples are notably absent.

It is really amazing that the scaremongering tactics continue. This evening we have heard that the next case will be that of buses. People genuinely fear the future and change, but change need not necessarily be revolutionary: it can be evolutionary.

Reference has been made to minibus services.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

I represent a constituency in South Yorkshire, as the hon. Gentleman knows. Earlier, we heard the Minister talking nonsense. After the introduction of our policy, which he criticised, the votes increased at every election. I ask the hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward) about private ownership. Hon. Members talk about private ownership of transport as though it is new. The municipalisation of transport came about because of the total failure of private ownership of the railways, buses, trams and so on. Therefore, there is nothing new about privatisation; it is an old idea and it has failed.

Mr. Hayward

I am pleased to say that I am not aware that any hon. Member's children were educated by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), because he has an interesting interpretation of history. The decision to nationalise British Rail and municipalise the bus services immediately after the war stems from a political viewpoint with which I happen to disagree and with which he agrees. The decision resulted not from complete failure one way or the other, but from a difference of political viewpoint and should not be interpreted otherwise.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Wigan has left the Chamber, because I wish to refer to developments in Avon, an area he knows well. Reference has already been made to minibus services. There were previously extremely few minibus services around the country; they could almost be counted on the fingers of one hand. Under the catalyst of the recently passed Transport Act, we have seen the blossoming of such services throughout the country.

Mr. Flannery


Mr. Hayward

In Bristol, in the county of Avon—to the extent that the evening newspaper the other day carried a full page article under the headline, "Bullseye! Bus is on target". What a change for a headline to say that a bus service is on time. The reason is that minibuses have been introduced throughout Bristol.

The article states: The fleet started operating in February and the City Line bus company soon declared them a success, with a 20 per cent. increase in passengers recorded. That has happened in only two months. The buses are serving roads which in my constituency have never had a bus service. Pensioners, who were being frightened by Labour party spokesmen, can now get on and off buses outside their own doors. Previously they had to walk a quarter of a mile or half a mile to get on a large, almost immovable, double decker service, which could not go down the side streets. Now pensioners are lauding the service over and over again. The sub-heading to the article is: "Have a good day? We certainly did". The article is written not by bus operators or Tory Central Office but by the reporters from the Bristol Evening Post who travelled on the buses.

Another such article states: As we got off the bus, three people refused to get on as it would have meant standing. But they were happy to wait on the stop, confident in the knowledge that another would be along in a minute. When was something like that last written by a reporter about any municipal bus service or rail service? That is the sort of change that has taken place in my area and other areas of the country.

Mr. Ridley

I was told by the National Bus Company that it was the prospect of the ending of network subsidy that made it conclude that it was necessary in the first place to try minibuses.

Mr. Hayward

I thank my right hon. Friend for that information. I referred to it as a catalyst. There is no doubt that it acted as a substantial catalyst to move bus companies to provide a service that people want to and do use.

What I also find depressing about the speech of the hon. Member for Wigan is that he did not refer to future investment. He said nothing about the docklands light railway or developments in terms of future services, electrification or improvement in rolling stock on British Rail. I support very strongly the development of the docklands light railway, as it is a long-overdue innovation. It will afford the opportunity for large numbers of jobs to be created in an area of London that currently has high unemployment. I want to put on record my hope that the City of London corporation does not oppose the light railway to the point where it becomes impossible to develop. Such a development will be to the benefit of the people in that area, in terms not only of employment but of transport.

I believe that the public transport services in this country are not adequate at present but they are improving. Over the past few years, substantial changes haze taken place. I welcome them, as I believe that the public generally welcome them, which is why people increasingly use these services.

8.26 pm
Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

Last year, according to Ministers and supporters, the 1985 Transport Act would lead to lower fares, better services and many more jobs being created. Many Labour Members took a vastly different view. In fairness, at this time, it is still as difficult as ever to state with absolute certainty what the final outcome of the Act w ill be. However, I believe that some chickens have come home to roost when it comes to jobs.

I accept that in the short term in many areas there will be lower fares and better services, but only in the short term. That situation will not last long. After the initial battles have been fought and won there will he a return to the present fares level, and perhaps even higher fares. Many services will disappear or will be drastically curtailed, and frequencies will be substantially reduced so that the companies will be able to stay in business.

I declare an interest as a sponsored member of the Transport and General Workers' Union. I will confine most of what I say to the Scottish situation, with special emphasis on the Strathclyde region and Glasgow.

Earlier this month my hon. Friends the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) and myself met the directors of Strathclyde passenger transport executive to discuss the transport situation in the region and in the city of Glasgow. It is perfectly clear that tremendous problems confront the PTE as a result of the 1985 Act. Because of this the travelling public of Strathclyde, which has half of Scotland's population, will also face tremendous problems.

Present financial support from Strathclyde regional council for bus services operated by the PTE is about £8 million per annum, yet the 1985 Act requires the newly formed company to be viable year by year and only allows for the company to be funded on one occasion after reconstitution, with approval having to be given by the Secretary of State. Any further loss in any given year could give rise to the company being put into receivership. Presumably if that ever happened it would be swallowed up for a song by some asset-stripping entrepreneur. Even more restrictive is the fact that any proposal to the Secretary of State showing a predicted loss will be rejected out of hand, and the new company will not be allowed to commence trading.

The tremendous problem facing the PTE as a result of all this is perhaps best illustrated by stating that £1 million represents the average wage of approximately 100 employees or 2 million passengers carried for a 50p fare. If those figures are multiplied by eight, one can see the full horror of the scenario now facing Strathclyde PTE. Given the short amount of time available for the submission of a business plan, the end result has been the submission of a plan that means the closure of two garages—leaving only four garages in Glasgow—and the prospect of 574 redundancies in August and September. That is just for starters in an area that already has unacceptably high unemployment.

A breakdown of those redundancies shows that 113 redundancies will be made in management and administration, 18 among engineering supervisors, 30 among inspectors, 171 among traffic staff, 125 among craftsmen, 84 among manual workers and 33 others. That represents a reduction in the number of employees from 3,247 to 2,673. Thus, 574 jobs are being thrown down the drain for no good reason. Where are most of those good people going to find jobs, particularly in Scotland? There is nowhere for them to go and there are no jobs for them to find. They have just been thrown on the scrapheap.

One of the most objectionable aspects of the Act is that Strathclyde PTE and the other municipal operators in Scotland—in Grampian, Lothian and Tayside—are apparently being set up with a substantial compulsory form of debt, in order to prevent unfair competition with small operators. But as far as I am aware no such strictures are being imposed on the Scottish Bus Group. Yet compared with it, the PTE and others are very small. The PTE will operate about 560 peak-hour buses as against about 3,000 operated by the Scottish Bus Group. The bus group is really 11 separate companies, yet it is collectively one operator as far as competitive legislation is concerned. It will be able to have common ticketing, co-ordinated fares and other things that other companies will not be able to have. In addition, it has the tremendous advantage of having built up very substantial resources over the years, which it will be able to use to wage a low fares policy in an attempt to eliminate or take over its competitors' services.

It is significant that the National Bus Company in England has not been given similar advantages, as far as I am aware, over its competitors. Why has the Scottish Bus Group been treated so favourably compared with every other operator in Scotland and England? The intention is simple. It is that the bus group should be able to gobble up as much as it can of Scotland's bus services. In a year or two it will then be privatised and sold off by the Government.

Another nauseous aspect of the Act is its affect on employees, and in particular on their pensions. It is true, as Ministers said at the time, that existing employees may have their pensions protected. For example, Strathclyde PTE has made an application for admission to the local government superannuation scheme. But the business plan that has been prepared and submitted states that the preferred option for new employees is for a new superannuation scheme, which is extremely unlikely to be capable of providing similar benefits. What a way to treat workers who will be doing the same job of work side by side, but who will be subject to two different types of pension scheme.

In order to remain in business, many companies will be tempted to pay lower wages and to attack bus workers' wages and conditions. The Act could well have been devised to facilitate greater exploitation of workers by their employers. Perhaps that was the motive for it.

I understand that 75 per cent. of existing services in Scotland have been registered and that the Scottish Bus Group has registered 81 per cent. of its services.

That is an indication of how it intends to operate. But in the Highland region only 20 per cent. of existing services have been registered. How does the Minister explain that away? How will Highland region be able to subsidise the tendered services necessary to maintain a semblance of its existing services?

Mr. David Mitchell

Where has the money been coming from to provide services on loss-making routes in that area?

Mr. Marshall

I assume that the local authority has taken a positive decision to subsidise socially desirable and essential services. There is nothing wrong with that. It is both acceptable and desirable. But it will be impossible to do that to anything like the same extent in future, because the money will not be available.

I do not know whether my next observation will prove true of other cities, but as a result of the Act, there will be utter chaos in Glasgow city centre. Is the Minister aware that in peak hours the number of buses using Argyll street, one of the busiest in Glasgow, will increase from 100 to 168 per hour? In Union street, the number will increase from 120 to 295 per hour, and in Hope street it will increase from 180 to a massive 309 per hour. That is only for the services that are already registered. As those three streets link up in the centre of the city, hon. Members can imagine the traffic jams that there will be. The city centre will come to a standstill. Timetables will mean nothing and utter chaos will result. The city will not be able to cope.

The sad thing is that there will be no overall benefit to the bus operators, because there just are not enough passengers to fill those buses, or even to half-fill them. Many of the people will not be prepared to sit and wait for the amount of time that it will take to make even a short journey. It just will not work.

There is great cause for concern about the position of British Rail in Strathclyde. It cannot plan ahead or estimate what effect bus deregulation will have on its income. A catastrophic drop in income, which could happen almost overnight, would mean many hundreds of extra redundancies. As Robbie Burns, the Scottish bard, once said: Forward tho' I cannae see, I dread and fear. That admirably sums up the public transport situation.

What is the Minister's assessment of the Act's effect on ferry services? He has now had enough time to assess the position. I can foresee many of the services that at present feed into the ferry services no longer operating. If the ferries become non-viable, will they be withdrawn, and will the islands be left with much more restricted services?

Deregulation day may be 26 October, but 26 January 1987 is an even more important day. We will then see just how many registered services are withdrawn after the initial three-month registration period. We will then see the full extent of the crisis in our public transport services as a result of the Act. As I have said, some chickens have already come home to roost. Thousands of jobs have been sacrificed on the altar of Tory party ideology. In the long term, no great benefit will accrue to the travelling public, although there may be short-term benefits. Yet again, the victims will be the most needy members of our society: the unemployed, the elderly, the young, the handicapped, the disabled, the non-drivers and the non-car owners. The Act must be committed to the wastebin by the next Labour Government.

8.37 pm
Mr. Martin M. Brandon-Bravo (Nottingham, South)

One becomes accustomed to the hyperbole of motions, but I must comment on two aspects of today's motion. I could not help but smile at the reference to the abolition of the metropolitan councils. The Labour party has a cheek to insert that into the motion, as I believe that it is now in favour of their abolition and has no intention of reversing the clock. But I was also surprised to read of the proven success of Labour transport policy". For most of the years between 1964 and 1979, a Labour Government had full responsibility, and the Opposition now have no right to lecture this Government on the problems of public transport.

I wish to comment first on investment in road construction; secondly, on the disturbance from noise, vibration and other environmental disadvantages as a direct result of decisions taken by transport Ministers and, thirdly, on the impact of bus deregulation. I welcome the current substantial programme of road building and maintenance. It has been unfairly and unjustly under-played and unsung. It deserves all the praise that the House can give it.

At the risk of being marginally parochial, I should like to comment on the current ministerial plans for the M42. Although this route may be primarily concerned with commercial transport, it has a direct impact on the motion because of the volume of public transport using the motorway. I understand that that motorway plans to deal with traffic flowing from the west midlands to the east and east coast ports. The perceived wisdom is that the M42 should join the M1 at exit 24. If one steps back a few paces and looks at the map of Britain, one sees clearly that there is no justification for that decision. If the traffic flows from the west midlands to the east coast ports on the Humber, it does not matter whether it joins the M1 at exits 23, 26 or even 27—the traffic would be moving north up the M1 and then to the Humberside ports. Traffic flowing to the growing ports on the East Anglian coast would wish to use exit 23 or lower exits because it would be travelling south of my home city of Nottingham. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will look again at his plans for the M42 and exit 24.

Let us assume that the proposal is cast in tablets of stone and that the link will be at exit 24. I ask my hon. Friend the Minister to consider on commercial and public transport grounds the six-mile stretch from junction 24 to the Nottingham boundary. That single track, six-mile stretch passes the largest solid fuel power station in Europe, and horrendous accidents occur on it. If there is to be a dual carriageway, I plead for dualling from junction 24 to the city boundary.

Whether or not my hon. Friend duals that six-mile stretch, he is committed to a major trunk road improvement on the A453 just outside and within the Nottingham city boundaries. The decision affects the public transport provision. If the improvements on the A453 result in a dual carriageway through or around the large estate of Clifton, it will have an impact on what is almost a small town, because 30,000 people live in the Clifton-Wilford-Silverdale area of Nottingham.

I thank my hon. Friend the Minister for the extra time he has allowed to consider the matter and to look carefully at the competing alternatives. I thank him also for acknowledging clearly from day one the need for a public inquiry. I ask him to assure those 30,000 people that the inquiry will be open and conducted without prejudice.

We cannot separate the disturbance caused by commercial traffic and heavy public transport traffic in Greater Nottingham with an urban population of 550,000. I understand the problems—they concern the statute of limitations, or whatever the phrase is—caused by roads being built before a certain date when the affected population receives no help. It is clear that, if new improvements, widening or reconstruction affect people living nearby, they have redress in law to obtain soundproofing and the like.

What is the position of people who live near a main road that carries much commercial and public transport traffic? What happens if that road existed before the Act provided protection? I draw the attention of the House to decisions made some miles away by Ministers of Transport which have a direct bearing on the environment and against which people have no protection. I draw attention to another parochial case concerning the Silverdale and Wilford estates in my constituency through which a dual carriageway passes. Only a few years ago, a decision was made to build a bypass loop road to the east of the city deliberately to bring large volumes of traffic on to the dual carriageway. The homes of people on the estates shake, even on Sunday morning, yet they are told that they have no protection in law because the road existed before the bypass. The bypass is five miles away and they therefore receive no compensation. I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to consider this matter again.

I turn to the main part of the debate—the impact of deregulation. Reference has already been made to deregulation of motorway coaches, and I should like to refer to buses. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pointed out, rightly, that it would appear from initial registration that we are dealing with 75 per cent. commercially viable, free, stand-alone, unsubsidised public transport services. I am delighted, because that 75 per cent. is better than we had hoped. In Nottingham, despite the horror stories and scare tactics which hon. Members on both sides of the House have noted month after month, 97 per cent. of existing services have been registered by Nottingham City Transport plc—so much for the so-called decimation of public transport under the legislation.

Mr. Richard Caborn (Sheffield, Central)

Now let us see it work.

Mr. Brandon-Bravo

Nottingham will make it work. In addition to the 97 per cent. registered by Nottingham City Transport plc, one of the subsidiaries of the National Bus Company, Trent, has said that it, too, will take the opportunity to provide services into the city. The previous regulations did not allow it to do so.

I again thank my hon. Friend the Minister for his treatment of concessionary fares. We have all heard the scare stories. My postbag is full of letters from elderly people who are terrified about what will happen when the legislation "stops" them from being given concessionary fares. It is clear that the concessionary fares scheme in Greater Nottingham will remain. Because other operators will be involved, the scheme will be even better. Unfortunately, that will be quickly forgotten. It is up to Conservative Members constantly to remind people of the shameful way in which the Opposition use every possible device—no matter how much anguish it causes the elderly—to peddle abuses.

It is true that we have heard of loss of jobs. On paper—I say on paper—our undertaking will employ 100 fewer people than before. I stress that that is on paper because the staffing levels were something in excess of 1,100 persons. Of that so-called loss of 100 it transpires that 40 were unfilled vacancies and of the other 60, half have already been absorbed and the city will take the others, if necessary, into other jobs within the city council's employment. There is not the slightest risk of anybody being made redundant or the slightest difficulty in ensuring that everybody is employed. The 100 people that the new plc will not employ will mean lower costs.

On the matter of socially desirable routes, it sounds as if there is only 3 per cent. to subsidise. To be fair, some of the 97 per cent. of registered routes may have a lower frequency. [Interruption.] I do not wish to mislead the House and the hon. Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) should not be so juvenile. Within the existing budget of a city as large as Nottingham was £750,000 of blanket subsidy from the rates. All that will happen now is that that £750,000 will be used by careful, well targeted and specially allocated subsidies to tendered socially desirable routes. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Clay) laughs. I challenge him to question me because that is the truth.

The scare campaigns go on. The citizens in our area were told that the wicked Transport Bill would cost the poor ratepayer £2.6 million extra on the rates. The Minister already has the details. Every single item on the list is phoney, because it is there already. Whether that Bill had become law or not the expenditure would have been part of the city's expenses on such things as pensions, administration, concessionary fares, debt charges, holiday pay, children's fares, concessions to the blind and disabled and so on. Every one of those items was a legitimate charge before the Bill and it is a perfectly legitimate charge afterwards. Nothing has changed. That is the way the scare stories go on.

I hope that when the population look at the way in which the Transport Act 1985 will work out, certainly in my area, they will realise what a con game was carried out by the Labour county council and the Labour city council and will realise that the Act is good for them because it puts the customer first, not the local authority.

8.52 pm
Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

The hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo) and the Secretary of State have alluded to what they claim to be a fictitious agitation and fear for the retention of free off-peak transport for old people in London and concessionary fares elsewhere. It was a legitimate fear. In fact, it was the most powerful lobby that London Members have experienced.

For a long time, no assurances were given that the Government would seek to persuade local authorities to retain those concessions. If they were retained, it was as a result of a great deal of agitation and lobbying, mainly from the Labour movement and the Labour party. Those are the facts and most old people understand that in London and elsewhere. Therefore, the indignation we have heard is artificial.

I bring to the debate a background, many years ago, as a railway worker. I am now sponsored by the Transport and General Workers Union and am currently the chairman of the TGWU group in Parliament, which is 31-strong. I speak with some authority on the feeling of the organised workers in the bus industry, other sectors of the transport industry and members of the TGWU. We organise over 90 per cent. of road traffic workers in public transport.

I agree with the hon. Member for Nottingham, South about motorways and other major highways and about the safety of the transport sector which intertwines with the management and Government policies towards the nation's transport. Road haulage workers in the TGWU are responsible for the bulk of freight carried by road. They work by day and night. Their alertness at all times is vital to road safety, including passenger road safety. That is why the House must look with deep sympathy at their worry about the weakening of rest period provisions, which, although customary in the United Kingdom, are threatened from September by EEC regulations. Perhaps the Minister will mention that worry.

The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) basically agrees with the Opposition's motion. He has agreed with members of the Select Committee on Transport on most of our criticisms of the Government's approach to transport especially with regard to the Transport Act, 1985, which has been freely alluded to in the debate. I understand that he cannot support us because he would have to bless Labour party policy. I imagine that is why he is prevented from joining us in the Lobby tonight.

However, most of what the hon. Gentleman had to say underscores the agreement of the bulk of the members of the Select Committee. I say "the bulk", because the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King), who is sitting on the Conservative Benches, did not agree with the majority of us on that Committee. Nonetheless, some of his hon. Friends and one Liberal Member joined us to spray considerable doubt and criticism on the Transport Act 1985. In fact, the Select Committee's painstaking report gave a great deal of ammunition to our spokesmen on the Bill. The report was authoritative and based on experience.

Both the Opposition motions tonight disown the free-for-all basis of the Government's doctrinaire policies on transport. Years of experience, argument and discussion called for integration and co-ordination of all forms of movement on wheels and in the air. In other words, there is a call for planning. Although "no real co-ordination" is the Minister's watchword, the reverse is called for by so many transport experts. That claim is supported by common sense and history.

Some hon. Members, unfortunately not too many, will remember the pirate buses that operated in London. Experiences of that sub-standard system led to the creation of London Transport. Transport which puts people first requires public control for public purposes. That is the firm belief of the Transport and General Workers Union. It would be hard to find a member of that union with great experience of these matters who would come close to the Government's position on transport, although some must have voted for the Conservatives at the last general election. However, they must have been convinced by the Government acting under false pretences, but they would never dream of doing that now, when they consider the future for public transport.

The full impact of the Government's policies on bus deregulation has yet to be felt, but the changes in subsidy are causing sharp increases in fares. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall) who was a fellow member of the Select Committee. He takes the same view as I, that although the initial impact of deregulation, privatisation or the innovative services, may produce extra public services, in the long run they will not work. In the long run, they do not reduce car traffic, they will cause congestion.

That is the simple logic of demand, needs and prices. The terraced streets of our major cities are being choked with cars, large and small. Ambulance and fire services cannot carry out their duties quickly. The congested roads mean more late arrivals at work, unpunctuality and less transport efficiency. Congestion wastes fuel and causes more wear and tear on those who require transport in their daily lives, especially those who work all hours of the night and day.

Since I have had the honour of being sponsored by the TGWU, I have been proud to specialise in matters concerning road passenger industry workers. The bus and coach workers who are an important group, are very worried about pay, reasonable hours, and their pensions. Those matters have not been settled in the National Bus Company.

I have already alluded to the massive redundancies that face those workers. They are worried about retaining their hard-won rights and they wish to be treated like decent human beings. They may not be so treated if the scale of privatisation envisaged by the Secretary of State goes ahead. The workers are worried about bus services, deregulation and the lowering of standards.

I have been told today that it is important to consider the standard of the vehicles which will be used by the privatised companies. Those vehicles must be up to the mark to gain the necessary licence and the traffic commissioners' blessing. We must look carefully at the conditions in which some of these vehicles are kept. I ask the Secretary of State carefully to consider the way in which many of these privatised vehicles will be kept. That will have a bearing on the overheads of private enterprises which are in competition with public ownership, as the public sector must, under the existing regulations, ensure that vehicles are kept in decent garages and are properly maintained.

It is too early to judge the results of innovations. That was apparent when we visited the Worcester-Hereford trial area. Conservative Members should consult the leader of the Hereford Tory group on the Conservative-controlled Hereford county council to discover what the council thinks after its experience of bus deregulation. The Opposition have ventilated those points sufficiently in a previous debate.

The Select Committee on Transport revealed wider opposition to the full aspects of the Transport Act 1985. With their fetish for privatisation, the Government have done nothing so far—not all Tory Members support that view, but it is certainly the belief of the guru who holds the office of Secretary of State for Transport—to allay the fears of transport workers. As the Opposition said, the Secretary of State has helped to bring about the defeat of the Tories at the coming municipal elections and at the next general election. The Labour party will provide transport for people and not simply for private profit. We believe that the latter weakens the trade union movement and the conditions of organised transport workers. Transport will be an issue at the general election as it has not been before to any profound degree. The issue will help us win a Labour victory, sanity for the people and justice for the transport workers.

9.5 pm

Mr. Roger King (Birmingham, Northfield)

The motion says: That this House strongly condemns the Government for the crisis in public transport which is the direct result of de-regulation of bus services". However, total deregulation has not yet occurred. One cannot but think that the Opposition are trying to strike while there is much indecision and concern about the future prospects of public transport because after deregulation, when it is seen that all the fears were unfounded, it will be too late to present such a motion to the House.

As we have heard, the Select Committee on Transport, of which I am a member, visited Hereford among other places to see the experiment of deregulation. Many lessons were learnt there, some good and some bad. One thing that we learnt was that people in that area were for once in their lives being treated as customers rather than as passengers. We saw what a difference that made to them and what elation there was. At long last they were wanted by the bus undertakings that were providing the service. It was a miracle.

I shall never forget what was said by one Hereford lady. I think that she was a Liberal. Tut-tutting away, she said, "It really is a disgrace. The centre of Hereford is full of buses these days. We shall have to move the parking meters to make room for them." A Liberal—a person who I would have thought would be strongly in favour of a public transport system—was criticising the fact that car-parking space would have to be lost to accommodate the expanded bus service.

Deregulation will cause some problems as experiments in the new way of providing passenger transport in our conurbations develop. However, I am convinced that the formula is correct both for our cities and for our rural areas. My hon. Friends have mentioned a number of successful experiments. Another one is taking place in Luton—well away from my constituency. It was described recently in The Sunday Times in an article entitled "Fast lane for buses". It highlights a gentleman by the name of Bob Dudley, who runs a small minibus undertaking in that area. He is now making about £1,000 a week

from six smart blue and white vehicles. Mr. Dudley started his deregulated service earlier than most. According to the article: Dudley is convinced that the change will bring more jobs to the bus industry. 'There is so much opportunity here and in other towns that for any coach operator to say that unemployment will result is a load of nonsense. An improved service will lead to more people using buses and more jobs.' This is happening in Luton. Dudley's six minibuses run every five or six minutes between the town centre and estates for a flat 20p fare (10p for children and pensioners) against the 45p municipal fare. The result is not surprising: In two years the number of full-time drivers has increased from two to five, with four to five part-timers as back-up. Mr. Dudley says that if he could raise £100,000 capital he could operate another 20 buses profitably in the Luton area.

Private operators are already successfully in the field in Exeter, the Isle of Wight, Worcester, Shrewsbury, and other places. Some of them are subsidiaries of the National Bus Company. They are proving successful in providing the services that the community requires. They are very different from the old monolothic undertakings with their fixed systems.

Jobs have been provided in the bus industry in other ways. There is the manufacture of buses. Freight Rover in Birmingham is currently the subject of a takeover bid or management buy-out. I rang the management today and found that Freight Rover has 500 minibuses on order. It is working flat out to provide a new product for an expanding market. That is the future.

The motion also discusses the future of the railway industry. The Opposition have criticised the railway for being rundown and neglected. I often wonder whether the Opposition ever bother to read any of the information that is published. Railnews is a testament to the achievement of management and unions and their acceptance and understanding of the future for the industry. The paper is full of good news. Line after line deals with expanding services and new products being introduced.

Mr. Flannery

My train was an hour late yesterday.

Mr. King

In 1979, when Labour went out of office, the Cambrian railway system, which runs from Shrewsbury to Machynlleth, Aberystwyth and Pwllheli was down and out. The speed limits were set at walking pace and there was old rolling stock. There was a total air of neglect and closure was threatening. What has happened after seven years of Tory Government?

The line has been expanded and developed—there is new rolling stock, new equipment, new sprinter trains and the reintroduction, for the first time in many years, of a through service from Pwllheli along the old Cambrian coast express. That is one example of a rural railway which has been totally revitalised as a result of the Government's policies of investment and the encouragement of investment in the railways.

It is good news all the way. Journey times from Lincolnshire, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, the east and west midlands and north Wales will be as much as 20 minutes quicker as a result of new rolling stock. There has been an improvement of 40 minutes in the journey time of one Cambrian coast line train. There are new trains to Nottingham and Sheffield, and there will be a two-hourly sprinter service. Thanks to the Government's support, help is on the way for the hon. Member for Sheffield. Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). The hon. Gentleman's train may have been late today, but, starting soon, it will be on time thanks to the investment that the Government are bringing to the railways.

The policy of the Government is simple—the passenger is no longer just the passenger, but has become the customer. He has the freedom of choice to decide how he will travel. The customer will dictate the level of services and where those services go. The response from the railway and the bus industries—sometimes lethargic—is that they have awakened to the fact that competition means a revitalised industry and many new opportunities. Management buy-outs are thrusting their way forward to obtain the bus industry from its present management. That augurs well for the future of public transport in this country.

9.12 pm
Mr. Bob Clay (Sunderland, North)

I served on the Standing Committee which dealt with the Transport Act 1985. I have had some difficulty in trying to work out how the Government will answer for the rubbish that was discussed in Committee, given the reality of the situation.

I have found this evening's debate staggering, although I must confess that the Government have been ingenious. There have been few times when Government predictions have become so unstuck so quickly, yet they talk as though nothing had happened.

I do not think that The Economist is a Marxist journal or even a Labour party journal. Last week's edition discussed deregulation and, in contrast to this evening's speeches, it said: Unavoidably, there will be some muddle on the roads. That's competition. Some unprofitable services will end. That's Government policy. But already there is avoidable muddle in preparing for deregulation, and more services may collapse than even the Government intends. That's Whitehall. That contrasts strongly with the nonsense and the pure mythology which we have heard from the Government this evening.

I make no apology for speaking for my own area because I think that the Tyne and Wear transport system is a system of which not everyone in Tyne and Wear can be proud, but the Labour party and the Labour movement can be proud. In my area fares have increased by 20 per cent.—a 20 per cent. increase on a low fare policy. Yet the Government claim that they are bringing in policies to reduce fares. There have been hundreds of redundancies and the misery and confusion of deregulation. Mr. Martin Ballinger, the general manager of Northern General Transport, who is not a great friend of the Labour party so far as I am aware, said recently in public that from the point of view of bus management, deregulation is like playing darts in the dark.

It is disgraceful that tonight the Secretary of State and many of his supporters have tried to give the impression that on average 75 per cent. of all existing services have been registered commercially. That is not so. It is possible that 75 per cent. of the routes have been registered. I shall pass on with interest and malicious pleasure to the people living on estates in my constituency and to other people living on estates in the Sunderland and Tyne and Wear area, who do not have the benefit of any registered bus services and who have enjoyed until now a bus frequency of up to eight buses an hour, the fact that the Secretary of State has said that 75 per cent. of the services have been registered commercially. Their services have not been registered commercially. No buses have been running on a Sunday, or on weekdays after 7 o'clock at night.

In some cases the existing route has been registered, but where there used to be a bus every 10, seven, or even three minutes an hour on some of the busiest corridors, only two or, at the very most, four buses an hour are now running. That has to be contrasted with the nonsense that we have heard from Conservative Members about minibuses. If the orders from one of the major manufacturers of minibuses in this country have increased by only 500 as a result of the Government's policies, Conservative Members ought to be worried. They have no conception of the number of vehicles that are required to carry public transport passengers in urban areas that enjoy good public transport policies.

Mr. Caborn

I served on the Standing Committee with my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Clay). Does he realise that, since we served on that Committee, the Secretary of State has taken a great delight in ripping the centre out of the South Yorkshire passenger transport authority, that since 1 April fares have increased between 250 and 300 per cent., that use of the buses has fallen by 35 per cent. and that this has had a profound effect upon the community in south Yorkshire? We have been told by the committee that is running the transport service that the works services are not being registered. The price increase now being paid by each family is between £7 and £10 a week. That throws into disarray the argument that the Secretary of State lodged against the South Yorkshire passenger transport authority.

Mr. Clay

I agree with my hon. Friend. I was a great admirer of the south Yorkshire system. As a bus worker I watched the success of that system and argued successfully for the introduction of a similar system in my area. It breaks my heart to hear those figures about south Yorkshire. It also breaks my heart that although in my area, which enjoyed the second lowest fares in the country after south Yorkshire, the overall fare increase so far has been only—I say "only" because of the comparison with south Yorkshire—20 per cent., the 5p flat fare for children has already been doubled from 5p to 10p. Conservative Members may say, "What is a 5p increase?" If a family with two children makes one return journey a day for five days a week, that fare increase alone will cost the family £2 more each week. That is before taking into account the increase in adult fares.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North referred to the fact that no works journeys have been registered in south Yorkshire. That also applies to the Sunderland area of Tyne and Wear. Nobody has registered the existing works journeys that carry people to and from the shipyards, the pits and Rolls-Royce. They will not be registered because they are not regarded as commercially viable.

It is a myth to say that 75 per cent. of the existing services have been registered. The bus mileage will be way below the previous figure. It is not the people who see public transport as a profit-making operation, but the people who depend on it in the evenings, on Sundays, very early in the morning, when it is the only way that they can get to work, who will suffer as a result of this—unless, of course, the passenger transport authority can put more money into providing a massive range of subsidies because it cannot have the cross-subsidy that it has depended on until now.

Mr. Caborn

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Not again.

Mr. Caborn

Have you finished?

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

There are other hon. Members who want to speak.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Order. Hon. Members should address the Chair.

Mr. Caborn

Does my hon. Friend know that in south Yorkshire where 64 per cent. of the routes have been registered, only 31.6 per cent. of the total registered mileage is included in that 64 per cent? I think that underlines the point that has been made.

Mr. Clay

That is one of the most revealing statistics that has been given tonight, and it gives the lie to the empty propaganda that we have heard from the Government Benches.

Mr. Flannery

Sheer lies.

Mr. Clay

My hon. Friend, from a sedentary position, has used an unparliamentary expression which I would be extremely tempted to use myself, but I want to move on.

It is hypocritical of the Government to make the point that even those parts of the services that are not registered—they claim that it is only 25 per cent., but we argue that it is more—can be subsidised by the local authority.

Tyne and Wear has had a 17 per cent. increase in its precept for public transport. That is very interesting given that the Government argued—this is another matter that we have been debating tonight—that the abolition of the metropolitan counties would save rates. We have a situation in which the passenger transport authority in my own area has already had to increase its precept for public transport by 17 per cent., despite the fact that the abolished county council had held the overall precept, including that for public transport, steady for two years. That precept will have to be increased even more in the future when the full reality of what will need to be subsidised dawns on people later this year.

The whole theme of what we have heard from the Government tonight has been minibuses, and this sums up the argument. I ask myself what this country would look like—it is laughable if one thinks about it—if we were seriously to consider running public transport systems on the basis of minibuses. I have nothing against minibuses. I wrote a pamphlet with some mild criticisms of my own much admired and respected PTE some years ago suggesting that it might buy a few minibuses. I wish that it had, and no doubt it now will.

It was not the Government who thought up minibuses; they came in long before the Act. Minibuses are very good for an estate which has not a large number of people using public transport, and in rural areas in some cases, but the idea that the cities of this country—London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Sunderland, Edinburgh, Glasgow—can have a public transport system in which minibuses play anything more than a very peripheral part is an absolute absurdity.

The tragedy is that, because of the abolition of the metropolitan counties, the withdrawal of subsidy, deregulation, the chaos that is being created, the demoralisation, and the way passengers are being driven away from public transport, in those areas such as Tyne and Wear and south Yorkshire, where ridership had gone up, we may end with third or fourth-rate public transport systems in which the Government have achieved their objective and the only public transport is minibuses because hardly anybody else is in a position to provide or use public transport. That seems to me to be the final irony of the Government's obsession with minibuses.

It is a mini-policy for public transport and I hope that my hon. Friends will not only support the Opposition motion tonight but be determined to carry out its sentiments and rebuild, when we have a Labour Government, on the lines of the inspiring example of areas such as Tyne and Wear and south Yorkshire.

9.25 pm
Mr. Tom Sackville (Bolton, West)

I should like to speak about Greater Manchester, of which my constituency forms a part. There has been a spate of inaccurate information aimed at scaring the public, especially the elderly, about cuts in bus routes. It is a malicious campaign and those responsible for it should be ashamed of themselves. My local newspaper, the Bolton Evening News, said on 9 April under the headline: Going, going, gone! More than one tenth of the bus services now running in Greater Manchester will disappear on Oct 25". The paper tells us that out of 600 routes now operating, 439 have been registered, and on the same page there is a quote from an executive of the PTA who says: 100 communities … stand to lose all public transport". When we look to see how those figures are arrived at, it becomes clear that there is a suggestion that because a service has not been registered the people in the area will lose public transport. That is a mischievously inaccurate suggestion that is designed purely to scare the most vulnerable members of the public.

It is said in slightly more rational statements by Labour politicians that a subsidy of £15.5 million is available for the remaining routes, and that even with an 11 per cent. increase in fares there will be an £8 million shortfall. We are told that only by cutting 10 per cent. of the routes can that shortfall be made up. We are asked to believe that no possible savings can be made in operating costs. That is plainly nonsense.

Greater Manchester PTE bus unit costs are some 25 per cent. higher than average bus costs in other metropolitan areas. The assumption by the Opposition and apparently by officers of the PTE is that, in spite of this clear evidence of extravagant and wasteful management, there is no scope for major savings. Clearly, savings are possible in labour costs. There are absurd and unnecessary overtime agreements in some depots, and savings can be made in servicing and in repairs and maintenance. During the debate we heard how immense savings have been made by London Regional Transport with only a minuscule reduction in passenger mileage. Is it seriously suggested that it is not possible to make savings in Greater Manchester transport?

To make up the alleged £8 million shortfall would require only a 5 per cent reduction in costs. This does not even take into account the operating surpluses on many of the routes already registered to be operated by Greater Manchester buses. Is there a business in Britain that cannot make a 5 per cent. saving on costs? In the last few years, British industry has found cost savings of 10, 20 or 30 per cent., yet in the case of a top-heavy municipal transport undertaking we are asked to believe that it cannot even find 5 per cent.

Why have local politicians, especially the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) bought this claptrap from the officers of the PTE? It is because in most municipal enterprises, the political masters have no commercial experience. When the politicians are told by managers who do not want to upset their own comfortable existence that they are running a lean and efficient operation and can make no savings, they do not have the ability or the will to disagree with them, even though the absurdity of the argument is staring them in the face. What do they do? They give up before they even start and resort to playing politics in the press, scaring local people, especially the elderly and the less well off, about withdrawals, first, of concessionary fares—which turned out to be nonsense—and now about necessary services.

I am not saying that there will be no withdrawal of services in Greater Manchester. The Greater Manchester PTE has not been particularly successful in the past in matching services to demand and it may well be that services which should have been reduced in the past now will be. But there is no reason why any socially necessary routes should be cut. If they are, it is thanks to the failure of locally elected members and local management to do their job, to come up to date and to provide an efficient transport enterprise for the bus users of Greater Manchester.

9.29 pm
Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

This has been a debate with two halves. Conservative Members have loyally supported the Minister although here and there an occasional apprehension of what might happen has crept through even some of their laudatory speeches. On the other hand, my hon. Friends have spoken with deep feeling about the realities of the situation, as they are advised, not by politicians, as the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Sackville) said, but by professionals with years of experience in running municipal transport. The facts have been given to us by those who know the business. An American once said to me: "You are entitled to your own opinions but you are not entitled to your own facts." The facts of the matter are quite clear.

The Department of Transport has been one of the most prolific, if not the most prolific, in begetting of legislation. Since the Government came to power, 33 Acts of Parliament have been put on the statute book by the Department of Transport, 16 of which have a direct effect on public transport. Ministers from the Department of Transport are the perpetual stars of the television programme, "It will be all right on the night", that famous programme of goofy clips. Here we are, 33 takes later, and their performance is getting worse not better.

The Government's response to the Opposition's motion is curious because it begins, "Leave out from 'House'". But if one reads the Government's amendment one finds that they have reinstated many of the words in the original motion. They have reinstated the words: which are based upon choice, freedom and fairness to improve the quality of life for the whole community and particularly for those who depend entirely upon public transport. In other words, the Government are wholly converted to Labout party policies and have adopted them as their own. The Emperor of Marsham street is now fully clothed. One hopes that he will now venture out into the cold real world of transport which he has created, and perhaps look at his transport legislation, repeal it and make a fresh beginning.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) spent most of his speech discussing bus passenger transport, and I want to spend a few minutes on British Rail, not least because some challenges have been made about investment figures. The Government have boasted about their investment in British Rail. The Minister said that the Government have given British Rail all the cash it wanted. Indeed, they have boasted again tonight about their investment programme.

The Minister challenged me to find the figures to prove otherwise. I always like to respond to a challenge but when I do so I like to look at the facts. I do not want to quote facts from any Labour party handouts but from the Secretary of State himself. I am sure that he will accept the accuracy of those figures. In 1984 he replied to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) about investment in British Rail, giving figures for each year since 1979 at 1983 prices—in other words, at constant prices, giving a true comparison, like for like. He said that total investment in British Rail in 1979 was £539 million; in 1980 it was £525 million; in 1981 £451 million, and in 1982 £345 million. Certainly 1983 was projected at £380 million. Where has the great increase in investment come from? Those figures show a continual decline in the four years since the Government took office. Those are the facts. They are the Secretary of State's own figures which he cannot challenge, unless he has been lying in Hansard, and, of course, he would not do that, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Moreover, figures in British Rail's latest corporate plan show, again at constant prices, that when the Government came to office in 1979 there was a large reduction in investment in British Rail from 1979 until 1982. It is true that investment is due to rise for the next few years, but the fact is that averaged over the period between 1979 and 1986 during this Government's period of office, average investment in British Rail has been lower than the amount invested in British Rail by the Labour Government between 1974 and 1979. Indeed, investment averaged out at a lower rate during the Labour Government's period. Actually, investment went up and remained relatively stable until we left office. There is the true comparison, like with like. The Secretary of State has been seeking to give misleading figures.

From 1985–86, a bit of upturn is projected. That is supposed to peak in 1987–88, and to fall again between 1990 and 1991 to below the figure which the Labour Government achieved between 1974 and 1979.

Far from my hon. Friend from Wigan passing me a poisoned chalice, what he has passed me, being a good rugby man, is the ball, so that I can score a try.

If we go further into these investments, what we have to look at as well, is what British Rail in 1981 projected as its investment programme after the Government announced that there was to be a 25 per cent. reduction in support for British Rail.

The 1981 projection for 1983 was £495 million. The 1983 projection for the same year was £279 million. The 1984 projection was £525 million, as compared to £357 million. For 1985, it was supposed to be £535 million. It was reduced to £430 million. In 1986 British Rail said that it wanted £564 million, and under the 1981 projection, the 1983 projection was £406 million. In 1987 it was supposed to be £573 million. The 1983 projection was £400 million. In 1988 it projected that in 1981 it would want £565 million. In 1983, the revised projection was £350 million. In every one of these cases the projection was substantially lower than the projection in 1981.

That is the true measure of how British Rail has had to respond to Government cuts in investment plans. We spend only 0.32 per cent. of GNP as compared with other railway countries, such as Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Holland, Switzerland and West Germany, which spend 0.76 per cent.

If people want to look for mitigating factors, I have no doubt that Ministers would say, "Well, of course, it is all right to reduce these projections, because there would have been a reappraisal of needs. British Rail performance exceeded expectations, and there was no need for investment." I need quote only one document to show the utter fallacy of that excuse. The transport users' consultative committee for the north-east of England, published a document in February 1986 which, in the introduction by Mr. James Towler the chairman, says: I derive no satisfaction in reporting a big increase (33 per cent.) in the number of complaints we received regarding British Rail services during 1985; nor in reflecting on the many examples of unimaginative timetabling, incomprehensible fares and poor information relating to trains that were often overcrowded, dirty and late. It gives me no satisfaction either to quote this sort of thing. The document goes on: Sadly, this represents a continuing trend which has accelerated during the last three years and is a matter of great concern. It coincides with a measure of success on the part of British Rail towards meeting their objective of a 25 per cent. cut in the Passenger Service Obligation by 1987. This suggests that rail users are bearing the brunt of economies as British Rail managers strive to meet their cost reduction targets. My overriding concern is whether British Rail, in its eagerness to achieve financial targets agreed with central Government, can also meet its commitment to provide a reasonable service for its passengers". So say all of us.

Of course, it is not only the passenger who will have to pay the price. Other people who have paid the price for British Rail are the railwaymen who have lost their jobs because of cuts in the work force. There were 182,000 employed in British Rail in 1979; that is down to 144,000. We have all heard from the Government that the object of the exercise is to slim down the work force so that British Rail can be leaner and fitter. The truth is that the patient is suffering from anorexia.

On the bus passenger side, the Secretary of State answered not a single charge made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan. The Secretary of State spoke in blissful ignorance of the facts. He cannot deny that. Sadly, many of my hon. Friends could not speak in the debate, but when they have put down questions asking for information about specific areas, the answer they have got is, "I do not know." The Secretary of State has said that he does not know the facts, yet he has the nerve to give the House today a rosy picture of how everything will turn out.

Hon. Members have described how difficult things will be. The Highland region of Scotland has been quoted. Only 20 per cent. of its services have been registered. The Secretary of State is in blissful ignorance not only of what is happening in the localities but also about what the Secretary of State for the Environment is doing; he has cut the money available to local authorities. They have been rate-capped. They have been savaged by local authority auditors and taken to court.

All the professional advice we have is that services will be cut, fares will increase, and there will be more redundancies. I am told that the National Bus Company is sitting on over 7,000 redundancies, in addition to the 20,000 which have been mentioned by the Secretary of State. Enormous costs will be involved. We have been told that the Secretary of State will bale out new companies which will take over NBC subsidiaries; the Government will subsidise the redundancy payments. It is a disgrace if new companies are to be given such a start.

The Secretary of State may have a point when he says that we cannot know what will happen. That is true, because October is some time away. All the evidence is that the position will be much worse than the Secretary of State has suggested. There is not a large number of new companies coming forward. At night, on Sundays and in the early mornings there will not be services. Where companies were operating in competition with one another to provide hourly services, the services will run within five minutes of each other at peak times, but at off-peak times there will be no buses. Where services previously operating between A and B have gone off the main road into villages to pick up passengers, that will cease; the services will run directly from A to B.

Private bus operators have told me that they believe the competition will be so cut-throat that safety standards will be threatened. They have told me that they would rather go out of business than run on that basis. The Secretary of State has brought forward a cowboys' charter.

In his amendment, the Secretary of State has apparently adopted Labour party policy objectives, but it is a smokescreen for his true philosophy. He expounded that philosophy with great frankness and candour, for which I pay him credit, when he went to the annual dinner of the Bus and Coach Council. Having gone through the different legislative measures, he said to bus operators, "You are now free to operate without the constraints of the social conscience." That means that the elderly, women and children are going to suffer. We know that the Secretary of State has no social conscience. That is why he will be condemned, and that is why the House should support the motion.

9.44 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Transport (Mr. David Mitchell)

When the Conservatives introduced choice and competition on the long-distance coach services, the Opposition proclaimed disaster, and, in the transition from the old to the new system, they endlessly prophesied crises. They were wrong, and now everybody can see that they were wrong.

There has been more investment in long-distance coaches, not less. There are more long distance services, not fewer. There are more jobs and more coaches, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward) demonstrated. There are more passengers and there are lower fares. All these benefits have come from choice and from competition.

Mr. Flannery

It is not true.

Mr. Mitchell

The hon. Gentleman may say that it is not true. I shall write to him with the facts and figures so that he can see that what I have said to the House is absolutely accurate.

It is extraordinary that the Opposition have learnt absolutely nothing. They are back on the same proclamations of disaster and the same prophecies of crises as we start to introduce choice and competition for local bus services.

The background to the debate is twofold. First, there is the local election campaign and the Opposition's intended use of today as an opportunity of further misrepresentation and scandalmongering designed to frighten people into believing that they will lose bus services. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Sackville) gave a good example of that from his local newspaper.

I should perhaps remind the House that we are in the middle of transition from the old system of monopoly to a system of choice and competition. The transition involves two separate stages. The first was the registration of the profitable commercial viable routes by 28 February, and they were published on 1 April by the traffic commissioners. What Opposition Members have been doing is pretending that that is the end of the story and that what is registered as a commercial route represents all the services that will be run. They know perfectly well that there is a second phase to transition. This is the phase when substantial sums are made available to the councils and local authorities concerned, and the joint boards, to buy in services on the socially necessary routes that have not been registered, and the people on those routes will have the certitude of a service and a contract with their county council or PTE.

Against that background, I deplore the deliberate misrepresentations of the facts by the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott). Every Member in the Chamber heard him refer to west Derbyshire. I had to drag out of him the fact that the list of services that he read out with such relish, implying a huge cutback, was only of registered services. The hon. Gentleman ought to be ashamed of himself for behaving in that way. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman went on to say, "We were beginning to get it right." I suppose that that refers to the chronic decline in bus services, with more subsidies, higher fares, and fewer passengers in recent years.

Mr. Stott

Can the hon. Gentleman tell me where there has been any chronic decline in the PTE areas in the last 12 years? The chronic decline in public transport has been in the rural areas, where Conservative-controlled councils have put no money into public transport.

Mr. Mitchell

I shall be happy to deal with that shortly, because an important point comes out of what the hon. Gentleman has said.

The inefficiencies bred by the monopoly system have meant higher fares in the shire counties, and the bill has been passed on to the ratepayers in the metropolitan counties in a scandalous fashion.

When the hon. Gentleman says, "We were beginning to get it right," I do not think anybody seeing the decline that has taken place—certainly not the 20,000 National Bus Company employees who have lost their jobs in the last decade—would say that the hon. Gentleman was beginning to get it right.

The hon. Gentleman made a rather cheap reference to my alleged failure to answer a parliamentary question. He suggested that I had wilfully withheld information from the House. We could have given the vehicle mile figure from the fuel duty rebate statistics, but that was not the question that I was asked. I was asked for the route miles, which is quite different—

Mr. Stott


Mr. Mitchell

There is a great deal of difference between route miles and the amount of miles run by vehicles on the routes. We do not have the figures for which the hon. Gentleman asked—[Interruption.] We do not have them.

The hon. Gentleman claimed that disaster faces the Greater Manchester council area and the PTE in tackling deregulation. Perhaps he knows—but perhaps he does not—that Mr. Hickman, the chairman of the Greater Manchester council transport committee last year told a conference that 90 per cent. of routes needed subsidy—that is, only 10 per cent. were commercial. Now, so great is the improvement in efficiency that has already been wrought by the approach of competition that 56 per cent. of routes have been registered—not 10 per cent., but 56 per cent. Truly the galvanising effect of competition is even greater than I had hoped.

Another example is West Yorkshire, where last year 55 per cent. of routes were in need of subsidy. Now, 70 per cent. of bus mileage has been registered as commercial network. That is not conclusive, but it has meant a remarkable reduction in cost to make those routes competitive.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) referred to investment in British Rail. He made an unintended mistake. He said that he was scoring a try, but he will have to try harder. He quoted the level of investment on the ground, but if he looks at the figures for approval for investment, which is what comes to the Government and some time later appears on the ground as actual investment, he will see a different picture from that which he described.

The real question is how many applications for investment Ministers have turned down. It is for British Rail to propose and for Ministers to dispose. I have turned down only one application from British Rail—for electrification between Royston and Cambridge. In giving the go-ahead to the electrification of the east coast main line, we have given the go-ahead to the largest single electrification investment in British Rail for 25 years. The hon. Gentleman should take that into the score.

The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) asked whether the NBC managements would have preference with buy-outs. I am glad of the opportunity to clarify the position. Where bids from employees and third parties are broadly comparable, preference will be given to employee bids. I hope that a large number of them will be successful.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the Tyne and Wear system as an integrated system that would come to an end—

Mr. Stephen Ross


Mr. Mitchell

I may have misunderstood. I shall make the position clear.

The integrated system on Tyne and Wear depends upon the metro and the feeder routes coming into it. If those feeder routes are not provided commercially, they can be provided by the PTE under the tendering system. Either way, the integrity of the system—that is the feeder routes and the metro—can remain intact while people want it. The implication of the hon. Gentleman's remarks is the exceedingly illiberal thought that people should not be allowed to use other services and other means of transport, even if that is what they would prefer.

The hon. Gentleman asked what would happen to Eastleigh, and said that British Rail would need a major works in the South. I have no information to suggest that British Rail does not intend to maintain a major works at Eastleigh. I met a deputation yesterday led by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) and including a large number of people from the works. I undertook to convey some very sensible points that they put to me to the management of British Rail, and a letter doing so will be on its way tomorrow.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the Settle-Carlisle line and tourism. My noble Friend the Secretary of State for Employment has recently been drawing attention to the valuable opportunities for exploiting the railway system as a means of enabling tourists to see the scenic beauty of parts of the country.

Mr. Dalyell


Mr. Mitchell

I assure the hon. Gentleman that when we receive the transport users consultative committee's two reports we will consider the hardship matters to which tey draw attention, as well as the wider areas such as tourism and other matters raised in questions in the House yesterday.

My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham. South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo) raised important matters affecting roads in that area. I shall ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State—the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley)—who deals with that matter to write to my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend also referred to terrified elderly people who were led to believe that concessionary fares would disappear. I join him in his condemnation of the way in which the Labour party has used—in the worst sense of the word—elderly people and frightened them into believing that they would lose their concessionary fares. I believe that the Labour party will live to regret its misrepresentation, because there will be a boomerang effect. Many people who have been frightened will know that the Labour party misled them and will not forget that when they cast their votes.

The latest scare campaign in Nottingham involves the suggestion of a huge increase in financial liabilities. In circumstances such as that an accountant is needed as chairman of the transportation committee, and I can only imagine that in Nottingham there is a turf accountant.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall) referred to increases in the number of bus services causing congestion in Glasgow. Those services are registered because operators believe that they can fill the buses, and that will mean fewer cars and less congestion.

Finally, I refer to the central point of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North. The most extraordinary feature of the debate is the Opposition motion, which refers to Labour's transport policy as being based on choice, freedom and fairness. The Labour party must be joking. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that. The fact is that the Labour party has carried out extensive market and survey research to discover what the voters want, and has found that they want choice, freedom and fairness, but which party would produce it?

Let us consider which party's policy gives more choice. The Government's policy is for competing services, but this has often been attacked as wasteful duplication. Many leaflets were distributed showing a queue of buses and people trying to decide which one to catch. Does that or the Labour policy give the better choice? The Labour party supports local monopoly and a regulated system, with one operator on the route. Under that policy there is no choice for the operator or for the passenger. How can the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North say that that is a policy of choice?

Let us consider fairness. Where was the fairness in a system that denied those who paid, either as passengers or ratepayers, the improvement in efficiency that competition brings? Where was the fairness in a system in which the cost falling on ratepayers in the shire counties averaged £5.20 a head? In the metropolitan counties the cost to ratepayers averaged £36.60 a head, and in South Yorkshire it was £60 a head for every man, woman and child in the county. Where was the fairness in a system that imposed so great a burden on the rates in some parts of the country that businesses were scared away, with consequent higher unemployment and an increased burden for everyone?

Mr. Allen Adams (Paisley, North)

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

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 162, Noes 251.

Division No. 152] [10.00 pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)
Anderson, Donald Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Buchan, Norman
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Caborn, Richard
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Callaghan, Rt Hon J.
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Campbell, Ian
Barnett, Guy Campbell-Savours, Dale
Barron, Kevin Canavan, Dennis
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Carter-Jones, Lewis
Bell, Stuart Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Clarke, Thomas
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Clay, Robert
Bermingham, Gerald Clelland, David Gordon
Bidwell, Sydney Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Blair, Anthony Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Cook, Frank (Stockton North)
Boyes, Roland Corbett, Robin
Bray, Dr Jeremy Corbyn, Jeremy
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Craigen, J. M.
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Crowther, Stan
Cunliffe, Lawrence Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dalyell, Tam Martin, Michael
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Maxton, John
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Maynard, Miss Joan
Deakins, Eric Meacher, Michael
Dixon, Donald Michie, William
Dobson, Frank Mikardo, Ian
Dormand, Jack Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Douglas, Dick Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Dubs, Alfred Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Duffy, A. E. P. Nellist, David
Eadie, Alex O'Brien, William
Eastham, Ken O'Neill, Martin
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Ewing, Harry Park, George
Faulds, Andrew Patchett, Terry
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Pavitt, Laurie
Fisher, Mark Pendry, Tom
Flannery, Martin Pike, Peter
Forrester, John Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Foster, Derek Prescott, John
Foulkes, George Radice, Giles
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Randall, Stuart
George, Bruce Raynsford, Nick
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Redmond, Martin
Godman, Dr Norman Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Gould, Bryan Richardson, Ms Jo
Gourlay, Harry Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Harman, Ms Harriet Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Rooker, J. W.
Haynes, Frank Sedgemore, Brian
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Sheerman, Barry
Heffer, Eric S. Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Home Robertson, John Short, Mrs R. (W'hampt'n NE)
Hoyle, Douglas Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham) Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Stott, Roger
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Strang, Gavin
Janner, Hon Greville Straw, Jack
John, Brynmor Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Lambie, David Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Lamond, James Tinn, James
Leadbitter, Ted Torney, Tom
Leighton, Ronald Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Wareing, Robert
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Weetch, Ken
Lofthouse, Geoffrey White, James
McCartney, Hugh Wigley, Dafydd
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Williams, Rt Hon A.
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Winnick, David
McKelvey, William Young, David (Bolton SE)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
McTaggart, Robert Tellers for the Ayes:
Madden, Max Mr. Chris Smith and
Marek, Dr John Mr. John McWilliam
Adley, Robert Benyon, William
Aitken, Jonathan Biffen, Rt Hon John
Alexander, Richard Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Amess, David Blackburn, John
Ancram, Michael Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Arnold, Tom Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Ashby, David Boscawen, Hon Robert
Aspinwall, Jack Bottomley, Peter
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Bright, Graham
Bellingham, Henry Brinton, Tim
Bendall, Vivian Brittan, Rt Hon Leon
Brooke, Hon Peter Heddle, John
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Henderson, Barry
Browne, John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Buck, Sir Antony Hickmet, Richard
Budgen, Nick Hicks, Robert
Bulmer, Esmond Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Burt, Alistair Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Butcher, John Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Holt, Richard
Butterfill, John Hordern, Sir Peter
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Howard, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Carttiss, Michael Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Cash, William Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)
Chapman, Sydney Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Chope, Christopher Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Churchill, W. S. Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Hunter, Andrew
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Cockeram, Eric Jones, Robert (Herts W)
Colvin, Michael Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Conway, Derek Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Coombs, Simon King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Cope, John Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Couchman, James Knowles, Michael
Cranborne, Viscount Knox, David
Crouch, David Lang, Ian
Currie, Mrs Edwina Latham, Michael
Dickens, Geoffrey Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Dicks, Terry Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Lilley, Peter
Dover, Den Lloyd, Ian (Havant)
du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Dunn, Robert McCurley, Mrs Anna
Eggar, Tim MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Emery, Sir Peter MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Evennett, David McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Eyre, Sir Reginald McQuarrie, Albert
Fairbairn, Nicholas Major, John
Fallon, Michael Malone, Gerald
Farr, Sir John Marland, Paul
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Marlow, Antony
Fletcher, Alexander Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Fookes, Miss Janet Mather, Carol
Forman, Nigel Maude, Hon Francis
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Forth, Eric Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Franks, Cecil Merchant, Piers
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Freeman, Roger Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Fry, Peter Moate, Roger
Galley, Roy Monro, Sir Hector
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde) Moynihan, Hon C.
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Neale, Gerrard
Goodhart, Sir Philip Neubert, Michael
Goodlad, Alastair Newton, Tony
Gow, Ian Norris, Steven
Gower, Sir Raymond Onslow, Cranley
Greenway, Harry Pattie, Geoffrey
Griffiths, Sir Eldon Pawsey, James
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Grist, Ian Pollock, Alexander
Grylls, Michael Porter, Barry
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Portillo, Michael
Hampson, Dr Keith Powley, John
Hanley, Jeremy Proctor, K. Harvey
Hannam, John Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Hargreaves, Kenneth Raffan, Keith
Harris, David Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Haselhurst, Alan Renton, Tim
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Hawksley, Warren Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Hayes, J. Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Hayward, Robert Roe, Mrs Marion
Heathcoat-Amory, David Rost, Peter
Rowe, Andrew Townend, John (Bridlington)
Ryder, Richard Trippier, David
Sackville, Hon Thomas Trotter, Neville
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Twinn, Dr Ian
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Sayeed, Jonathan Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shelton, William (Streatham) Viggers, Peter
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Waddington, David
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shersby, Michael Waldegrave, Hon William
Silvester, Fred Walden, George
Sims, Roger Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Skeet, Sir Trevor Waller, Gary
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Speed, Keith Warren, Kenneth
Speller, Tony Watson, John
Spencer, Derek Watts, John
Squire, Robin Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Stanbrook, Ivor Wheeler, John
Steen, Anthony Whitfield, John
Stern, Michael Whitney, Raymond
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wolfson, Mark
Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N) Wood, Timothy
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Woodcock, Michael
Sumberg, David Yeo, Tim
Taylor, John (Solihull) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Younger, Rt Hon George
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Tellers for the Noes:
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S) Mr. Tony Durant and
Thornton, Malcolm Mr. Archie Hamilton.
Thurnham, Peter

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Questions on amendments):—

The House divided: Ayes 226, Noes 17.

Division No. 153] [10.12 pm
Adley, Robert Carlisle, John (Luton N)
Aitken, Jonathan Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Alexander, Richard Carttiss, Michael
Amess, David Cash, William
Ancram, Michael Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Arnold, Tom Chapman, Sydney
Ashby, David Chope, Christopher
Aspinwall, Jack Churchill, W. S.
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Cockeram, Eric
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Colvin, Michael
Bellingham, Henry Conway, Derek
Benyon, William Coombs, Simon
Biffen, Rt Hon John Cope, John
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Couchman, James
Blackburn, John Cranborne, Viscount
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Crouch, David
Boscawen, Hon Robert Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bottomley, Peter Dickens, Geoffrey
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Dicks, Terry
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Dover, Den
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Dunn, Robert
Bright, Graham Eggar, Tim
Brinton, Tim Emery, Sir Peter
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Evennett, David
Brooke, Hon Peter Eyre, Sir Reginald
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Fairbairn, Nicholas
Browne, John Fallon, Michael
Buck, Sir Antony Farr, Sir John
Bulmer, Esmond Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Burt, Alistair Fookes, Miss Janet
Butcher, John Forman, Nigel
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Butterfill, John Forth, Eric
Franks, Cecil Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Lilley, Peter
Freeman, Roger Lloyd, Ian (Havant)
Galley, Roy Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) McCurley, Mrs Anna
Goodhart, Sir Philip MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Goodlad, Alastair McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Gow, Ian McQuarrie, Albert
Gower, Sir Raymond Major, John
Greenway, Harry Malone, Gerald
Griffiths, Sir Eldon Marland, Paul
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Ground, Patrick Mather, Carol
Grylls, Michael Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Merchant, Piers
Hampson, Dr Keith Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Hanley, Jeremy Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hannam, John Moate, Roger
Hargreaves, Kenneth Monro, Sir Hector
Harris, David Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Haselhurst, Alan Moynihan, Hon C.
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Neale, Gerrard
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Neubert, Michael
Hawksley, Warren Newton, Tony
Hayes, J. Norris, Steven
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney Pattie, Geoffrey
Hayward, Robert Pawsey, James
Heddle, John Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Pollock, Alexander
Hickmet, Richard Porter, Barry
Hicks, Robert Portillo, Michael
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Powley, John
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Proctor, K. Harvey
Holt, Richard Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Howard, Michael Raffan, Keith
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Renton, Tim
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hunter, Andrew Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Roe, Mrs Marion
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Rowe, Andrew
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Ryder, Richard
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Sackville, Hon Thomas
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Knowles, Michael St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Knox, David Sayeed, Jonathan
Lang, Ian Shelton, William (Streatham)
Latham, Michael Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shersby, Michael
Silvester, Fred Twinn, Dr Ian
Sims, Roger van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Skeet, Sir Trevor Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Soames, Hon Nicholas Viggers, Peter
Speed, Keith Waddington, David
Speller, Tony Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Spencer, Derek Waldegrave, Hon William
Squire, Robin Walden, George
Stanbrook, Ivor Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Steen, Anthony Waller, Gary
Stern, Michael Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Warren, Kenneth
Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N) Watson, John
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Watts, John
Sumberg, David Wheeler, John
Taylor, John (Solihull) Whitfield, John
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Whitney, Raymond
Temple-Morris, Peter Wood, Timothy
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Yeo, Tim
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Thornton, Malcolm Younger, Rt Hon George
Thurnham, Peter
Townend, John (Bridlington) Tellers for the Ayes:
Trippier, David Mr. Tony Durant and
Trotter, Neville Mr. Francis Maude.
Alton, David Penhaligon, David
Beith, A. J. Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Clay, Robert Wigley, Dafydd
Godman, Dr Norman Wrigglesworth, Ian
Hancock, Michael
Howells, Geraint Tellers for the Noes:
Kennedy, Charles Mr. Michael Meadowcroft and
Kirkwood, Archy Mr. Paddy Ashdown.
Lewis, Terence (Worsley)

Question accordingly agree to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House congratulates the Government on its radical approach to the long standing problems of public transport, its determination to obtain value for money and its introduction of policies of competition and deregulation for the benefit of the passenger which are based upon choice, freedom and fairness to improve the quality of life for the whole community and particularly for those who depend entirely upon public transport.

Back to
Forward to