HC Deb 10 February 1986 vol 91 cc684-732
Mr. Speaker

Before I call the Secretary of State for Transport, I should announce that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

As a long list of right hon. and hon. Members wish to participate in the debate, I intend to give priority to those who were not called when we last debated this important matter on 9 December.

7 pm

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

I beg to move, That this House approves the Government's White Paper on the Channel Fixed Link (Cmnd. 9735).

I am delighted, but surprised, that the Opposition want this debate on the Channel tunnel. I am delighted because many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have important points to raise, and surprised because I do not understand what the Opposition seek to gain. Perhaps they want to embarrass the Liberals, as the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) is in favour of our decision, but the Liberal candidates in east Kent are all against it. That is strange. The Liberal manifesto for the 1984 Euro-elections advocated Community Investment in major transport links, including a Channel Tunnel". I wonder whether the Kent Liberal candidates dissociated themselves from the manifesto at the time of the campaign.

Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

I continue to support our manifesto, and the Secretary of State congratulated me on that recently during Question Time. I suspect that some Conservative Back-Bench Members are not keen on the scheme.

Mr. Ridley

I am not criticising the hon. Gentleman. I was merely wondering whether he could have a word with some of his candidates.

The Labour party also has its problems. Some Labour Members are in favour of our decision, and some are against it. So why choose to debate it? It puts the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) in a terribly embarrassing position. He must steer between the Scylla of the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) who represents the National Union of Railwaymen, and the Charybdis of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), who represents the National Union of Seamen. It is beastly of the Labour party to make him run the gauntlet again between those two political rocks. Surely he found it unpleasant enough the first time.

But the Labour party has a worse failure to answer for. Labour Members keep demanding more infrastructure spending. They have debate after debate about the need for spending, and more jobs. Indeed, there is another one this week. Yet here is a massive infrastructure project, which will create a great number of jobs—we estimate about 40,000 man-years of employment. The jobs will by no means all be in the south-east. There could be orders of £700 million to £800 million for railway equipment alone which can be fulfilled only by midlands and northern firms. There are also great opportunities for more employment on railway operations. The tunnel will bring benefits to all regions of the kingdom by providing quicker, cheaper, more reliable means of transport to the Continent, thus helping employment. But what does the Labour party do? It voted against the tunnel before Christmas, and it has a three-line whip to vote for its amendment tonight. Does it want jobs, and infrastructure, and investment, or not?

When I announced the invitation to promoters last year the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), who was then Labour's transport spokesman, said: We welcome any suggestion of considerable investment in the infrastructure. Indeed, we have been asking the Government for many years for precisely this sort of infrastructure development, with its impact on jobs and industry."—[Official Report, 2 April 1985; Vol. 76 c. 1078-79.]. How can the Opposition say that with one transport spokesman, and with another ask the House to vote against the project that they welcomed? The Labour party's inconsistency is extraordinary, although some individual hon. Members hold different views.

Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne)

The main point is that the infrastructure development will assist the south-east. Many of us are worried that the White Paper pays no regard to transport links with the north. The bottlenecks around London will become more constricted, not less, as a result of the link. Expenditure is needed on the road network to the north, but that will be even harder as a result of the Channel link. The right hon. Gentleman should be providing better links to the north, not to London.

Mr. Ridley

I know that the right hon. Gentleman is in favour of the link and sees the importance of connecting it to all areas, and I entirely agree. For that reason we are building the M40 as a relief to the Ml. It is as quick to go from London to Birmingham up the M6 via Oxford as it is via the Ml. There is massive infrastructure development taking traffic from the south-east to all quarters. There is a huge road programme to the south-west. Wherever we can, we are investing in roads to improve the position. Moreover, there are great opportunities for the railways to run through services from the north to the Continent. The right hon. Gentleman must welcome our decision and encourage all concerned to grasp the opportunities.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

What evidence prompted my right hon. Friend to make the statement that the Channel tunnel could offer a "cheaper" means of transport across the Channel? Does he accept that the more British people hear about the tunnel, the less they like it? That is clear from a recent opinion poll which shows that more than half the population do not want the tunnel, and that only one third are in favour of it.

Mr. Ridley

First, the magic has worked even quicker than I believed because the ferries are now saying that they will cut the cost of the journey by 30 per cent. That is even before the tunnel is built. Therefore, my hon. Friend must concede that the tunnel route is cheaper. That shows what a little competition can do. Secondly, if my hon. Friend intends to steer a course according to every favourable opinion poll, I do not know what he will do when they are unfavourable. That is not a sound basis for forming opinions.

There is another dilemma. The Labour party complains that all the benefits of the tunnel will go to east Kent, and not to the north of England. But my right hon. and hon. Friends from Kent have expressed the opposite concern, that the tunnel will have unfortunate employment effects on the county. Let me tell the House my view of the truth, which is also contained in the White Paper.

For the next eight years, during the construction period, there will be growing employment in Kent, both because of the increasing ferry business, and the construction work on the tunnel, roads, railways and so on. There could even be a shortage of labour during that period. In the long term, after the tunnel is open, a great deal depends upon the extent to which it attracts traffic which would otherwise be carried by the ferries, and also upon the extent to which local authorities in Kent can use, imaginatively, the opportunities created by the link to generate new employment in the county. When the link opens, employment on the ferries will certainly fall. On the basis of the promoters' estimates of traffic, the Government judge that the total direct employment on cross-Channel transport operations will be some 1,500 less than it is now. But thereafter, employment will rise again, both on the link and the ferries. Moreover, there will be jobs from associated developments, so I suggest that the truth is that the long-term employment effects are fairly neutral.

Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent)

My right hon. Friend will be aware that there is anxiety in the Medway towns that the very considerable infrastructure improvements to cope with the direct effects of the fixed link may militate against the essential project which the Medway towns are proposing to improve what is almost the blackest unemployment spot in Kent. Will my right hon. Friend reassure the Medway towns that he will look with considerable sympathy upon their proposals for a third Medway crossing?

Mr. Ridley

The M20 is the main road to the Channel ports and will be the main road to the Channel tunnel. That road will be developed to three lane motorway standard irrespective of whether there is a Channel link. Traffic going to the Channel ports will be so great that it will demand that upgrading in any case. Building the link does not add to the road programme in respect of that road as that road is already allowed for in the programme. In no sense is money being taken from other parts of the road programme because of the decision on the fixed link.

I have already said that we shall look extremely sympathetically at any other roads needs which arise in Kent because of the link, and the discussions are already planned to start such an investigation.

Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, South)

Before my right hon. Friend leaves the employment consequences which he said would amount to a loss of only 1,500 jobs at the ferry ports, I draw his attention to the fact that that figure is based on what, by the White Paper's own admission, is a most misleading basis. The White Paper bases that calculation on two ferry ports only, Dover and Folkestone. My right hon. Friend must know that there are well founded fears in at least 15 ports up and down the country, including the second largest Channel port, Ramsgate, which is not mentioned in the White Paper. One would not base a calculation on test cricket on the basis of what happened at Lords or the Oval and make no mention of Old Trafford, Headingley, Trent Bridge, and so on.

Mr. Ridley

I was a little confused about the last part of my hon. Friend's intervention and I confess I do not see the relevance of that, but the figure I gave was based on the estimates of tunnel traffic made by the Channel Tunnel Group. That includes the whole of the ferry industry, not just the two ports that my hon. Friend mentioned. We believe that some ferry ports will increase employment as the link opens rather than reduce their employment. I cannot give my hon. Friend detailed figures for every port. I would have to have the wisdom of Solomon to say what will happen, but my hon. Friend knows my views about the future of Ramsgate.

Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)

I recently wrote to the right hon. Gentleman to ask if his Department had estimated the effect which the Channel tunnel would have on the container ports. He replied that that information was confidential. How is it possible for container ports to plan for the future if they do not know what the tunnel's effect will be on their trade?

Mr. Ridley

That is true of all industrial enterprises at all times. When the west coast ports lost business to the east coast, nobody was able to warn them or provide any precise estimates. That is normal business risk. It is quite impossible to make a detailed forecast of the effect on every port.

The White Paper sets out the reasons for our choice of the Channel Tunnel Group's scheme. This was the joint choice of the British and French Governments. Both Governments would have liked to see a drive-through scheme, but the uncertainties and risks of all three drive-through alternatives led us to believe that there was a risk that they might prove too expensive to finance. I repeat that no Government funds or guarantees will be available. The CTG scheme appeared to the Governments to offer the best prospect of proceeding to completion. It has other advantages as well and these are set out in detail in annexe B of the White Paper.

The main purpose of the White Paper is to look forward. It is not the job of the Government to set out the virtues of the CTG scheme and its potential attractiveness to customers and therefore to investors. That is for the promoters to do over the next few months as they set about raising the capital. We believe the Channel tunnel will greatly enhance the choice for travellers between Britain and France by adding to the existing air and ferry options a shuttle service for road vehicles and an efficient city-centre to city-centre rail link. For road travellers, the shuttle link will reduce the crossing time, with all stops included, by well over half compared with the ferries.

The rail link from London to Paris and Brussels will be very competitive with air transport. These are great benefits. Already, there is talk of reducing fares in order to compete. That, too, is excellent news. The Government's task is solely to consider the impacts of the scheme upon the transport network, and the environment.

Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

Surely the Government's task is to consider the impact on employment. Paragraph 39 of the White Paper states: Firms in the East and West Midlands will be well placed to compete for contracts to build the shuttle trains, and there are firms in Scotland and the North-East able to supply construction materials.

As the Minister knows full well, I believe that the Channel tunnel will have a negative effect on jobs in the north-east. We shall lose jobs as a consequence. It might help the situation if the Minister can give me a guarantee that the construction materials that firms in the north-east are able to supply will be the ones which the tunnel builders will order or will the Minister say that it is a free for all where the construction firms can shop around the Continent and the world and get their goods at the cheapest price?

Mr. Ridley

I have already dealt with the employment aspects. If the hon. Gentleman did not hear what I said, he can read it in Hansard. I made it clear what the employment consequences are likely to be. I said that in my opinion the jobs which will go to the midlands, the north and Scotland were considerable as there were £700 million to £800 million worth of railway orders alone to go, as well as the building material orders to which the hon. Gentleman referred. He knows full well that I cannot promise that those orders would go to any particular firm. His constituents have the opportunity to gain employment if they can win these contracts. I am certain that they have a very good chance of doing so.

I was about to describe the effects on the transport network. British Rail is to invest between £290 million and £390 million in rolling stock, the Waterloo terminal and certain other limited improvements between Folkestone and London. The impact upon the roads programme in the foreseeable future is not large. The Government's proposals for the M20 from London to Folkestone are already in the programme and would be necessary whether a fixed link were built or not. We shall also press ahead as fast as possible with the replacement of the A20 between Folkestone and Dover. We shall also consider with Kent county council what improvements to local roads may be necessary.

The environmental impacts of the Channel Tunnel Group's scheme are set out in some detail in the appraisal by Land Use Consultants and their associates of the promoters' environmental impact assessments. That is a valuable independent report. It does not necessarily represent the Government's views on all points, but it forms the basis of the Government's assessment of the environmental aspects of the further work that needs to be done. It quite deliberately looks far into the future.

It is not surprising that if one looks 30, 40 or 50 years ahead, the M20 may need to be widened to four lanes in each direction. It will not, by any means, be the only motorway requiring such treatment by then. It would be for our successors to deal with these problems. In the short term, however, our concern is to make the scheme environmentally as acceptable as possible, in matters such as the arrangements for the disposal of spoil, the workings at the foot of the Shakespeare cliff, the landscaping of the Cheriton site, and the arrangements for the construction of the tunnels under Holywell Coombe.

Mr. David Howell (Guildford)

Does my right hon. Friend accept that one of the important impacts could be the attraction of freight away from the roads and back to rail when the Continental freight network is linked with the British network and substantial savings are achieved? Has he received any more recent estimates of the impact of that change, and does he recall that an earlier estimate was that only about 250,000 tonnes of road freight would go to rail? Will he comment on whether that is rather an underestimate? Does he agree that it might be considerably more than that, with great benefit for the environment generally and a reduction in the number of heavy lorries rolling through villages?

Mr. Ridley

My right hon. Friend is entirely right. I speak without having a figure before me, but I think that the latest estimate is that there may be a fivefold increase in the amount of freight that the railways carry across the Channel as a result of the project. If I have misremembered the figure, I shall correct myself in writing to my right hon. Friend. There will be a considerable increase.

We have retained the right to require the promoters to investigate and then implement the most acceptable arrangements, and the promoters accept this. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and I intend to work closely together on this and my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Transport will be consulting locally in Kent about it. If he is fortunate enough to catch your eye later, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will describe the plans for consultation.

With the tunnel becoming nearer to a reality, the natural conservatism of the British people is coming to the fore. Will rabies come? Will the Russians invade along the tunnel? Should Britain not remain an island? I sympathise with these emotional arguments, but I do not believe that they are rational. I shall conclude by answering the most frequently asked question, which is "Do we really need a tunnel?" Those who do not want to use it need not do so. Nor will they be asked to pay for it. But if millions want to use it and pay for using it, whether they be tourists, businessmen, importers or exporters, what right have we to stop them? It is for the Channel Tunnel Group to persuade the investors that we need a tunnel. If it considers that it should be built and is ready to pay for it, I do not think that the House would want to stop it.

Mr. Jim Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)


Mr. Ridley

I shall not give way. I must bring my remarks to an end.

It is remarkable that the two Governments were in the invidious position of having to choose between four schemes. All were well prepared and those behind them were prepared to raise the money and to take the risks. What a transformation this is from the drab, centrally planned, Socialist concept of soak the taxpayers and ram it down their throats because the gentleman in Whitehall knows best. It is a sign of the virility of our entrepreneurs, our economy and our engineers that we can give the Channel tunnel the green light.

7.24 pm
Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'whilst accepting that the Channel Tunnel Group-France Manche scheme may have the potential to encourage the development of modern British Rail network and bring benefit to some parts of the country, declines to approve the White Paper "The Channel Fixed Link", Cmnd. 9735, without full knowledge of the terms of the Treaty and its Protocols, without any Government commitment to necessary financial assistance to British Rail, without any Government plans to maximise the opportunities for industry and communities away from the immediate location of the Fixed Link, and without the Government accepting responsibility for and safeguarding against the damaging employment implications of the scheme, or providing adequately for the rights of those affected by the decision to have their views taken into account; and recognises that the proposals present a threat to consumer choice in crossing the Channel with the creation of a private monopoly with its implications for prices and charges, without the guaranteed continuation of port and ferry facilities.'.

Three hours to debate what has been described as a historic decision is far too short a time. I apologise to the House in advance if I do not give way to interventions as frequently as I might have done. There are a lot of issues to be covered, many of which were not covered by the Secretary of State.

In the speeches and statements and in the White Paper, the Secretary of State repeats that the Charnel tunnel is an imaginative and exciting project. He has waxed eloquent about the job creation factors of the scheme and the benefits that he hopes will accrue. When he has been asked pertinent and penetrating questions, he has replied, "All will be revealed in the White Paper." We have the White Paper now and there is little in it, if anything, which could not have been put before us a fortnight ago. There is nothing in it which could have delayed its publication for a few days, as the right hon. Gentleman said, but which became a fortnight.

We accept that the CTG-FM scheme is the best of the schemes that the Government examined. In our view, it suits our transport needs and provides opportunities for British Rail. We believe that it could allow the benefits for some parts of the country to be distributed more evenly. If we were starting afresh to consider job creation schemes, we might well not start from where we are now. However, we are starting with the Government's decision, and we have a responsibility to ensure that the best outcome is achieved. We have tabled a positive amendment, and we are not defensive about it.

The problem is that the Secretary of State, having made a decision—or having had it made for him—wishes to cut and run. He wishes to avoid responsibility for developments that are damaging to the economies of various parts of the country and for the necessary planning to maximise potential benefits. He has prepared his alibi well in advance. In page 2 of the White Paper there is an all-embracing disclaimer which appears as a footnote:

* The Government expressly asserts that it makes no representation, either express or implied, as to the viability of the project with any intention or desire that such representation be relied upon by any investor. It should be noted that, in this White Paper, estimates of CTG-FM's financing needs are their own, and the impacts of the CTG-FM scheme — on employment, the environment, the merchant fleet etc.—are all based upon the promoters' estimates of traffic.

I cannot recall seeing such a massive cop-out in any other White Paper. We shall press the Secretary of State to accept the figures and to take the action appropriate to them.

The treaty is due to be signed on Wednesday. It is unfortunate that the White Paper gives us only the broadest outline of what the treaty contains. We are merely told in paragraph 50 that the treaty will also enshrine the private sector nature of the link and the concessionaire's right to compensation in the event of political interference or cancellation by either Government. Can we not be told, less than two days before the treaty is signed, what the financial penalties are that the Government have negotiated? Why are we being asked, in effect, to buy a pig in a poke? Surely the Prime Minister will not sign a blank piece of paper in Canterbury in less than 48 hours from now? Paragraphs 53 to 60 tell us that negotiations will continue on the concession agreement and that the final package will contain the freedom to set tariffs, subject only to the European Community's and the Government's rules on competition. These and many other issues need to be clarified.

I was disappointed when the Secretary of State told us that he would leave the consultation arrangements to be dealt with by his hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Transport when he replies to the debate. The White Paper suggests what will happen. The Secretary of State from the beginning ruled out a formal public inquiry. In earlier debates he has asserted that the hybrid Bill procedure gave better opportunities for those affected to canvas their concerns, and it is clear in the White Paper that he has conceded his failure to convince a wide section of opinion in the House. Equally, he has failed to satisfy the doubts of many interests in Kent, for example. In paragraphs 46 to 48 he attempts to present a more convincing case and to answer the many representations that have been made on consultation.

I shall deal with paragraph 48 in some detail. It seems that an extra statutory authority of planning machinery is to be established between the Government, the Kent county council and the other local authorities concerned. We understand that the committee will be chaired by the Minister of State and that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold), will be involved in discussions. I note that the hon. Lady is in her place.

We are told in paragraph 48 that there will be widespread consultations. It adds: Among the subjects to be considered by the committee will be the adequacy of the road system in Kent to cope with the traffic flows expected to follow the building of the link, and specific local economic and environmental problems that may be caused by the development of the link. As one of its first tasks the committee is expected to commission a more detailed study of the potential impact on Kent of the CTG-FM scheme both during and after construction. This is to be carried out with the widest possible consultation of relevant interest groups in the county. So far so good, but what will be the result of the consultation? Everyone knows that there will be economic dislocation of the local economy. That appears not to be in doubt.

Paragraph 41 makes it clear that 7,000 jobs will go in the ports and ferries if the promoters' forecasts are accurate. Several questions follow from paragraph 48. To whom will the consultative committee report? When will it report? Who will carry out the detailed study of the potential impact on Kent? A responsible Government would have carried out those studies before, not after, taking a decision in principle.

Further questions will have to be posed. Will the consultation group make recommendations? There would seem to be no point in having such a formal machinery, nor in commissioning these studies, unless the schemes are drawn up and acted upon. Will the findings of the consultative group be finalised and incorporated into the drafting of the hybrid Bill? What will be the effect of the consultations on those who may wish to petition the Select Committees which are due to be set up under the hybrid Bill procedure? If any of those affected by the scheme take part in the consultations, will they be prevented from gaining access to the Select Committees?

Paragraph 62 of the White Paper sets out the hybrid Bill procedure and attempts to define the term locus standi. In paragraph 62, the Minister, trying to assuage the feelings of his Back Benchers, says: However, the Government, as sponsor of the Bill, will not seek to oppose the right of anyone to appear before the Committees on a petition to secure protection, either for their personal interests, or for the proper interests of any organisation or group which they may have been appointed to represent.

The use of the word "proper" seems to be a heavy qualification on who will go before the Select Committees. Will the Secretary of State give a categorical guarantee that appearance before the consultation group or submission of objections to it will neither prejudice the right of petitioners to appear before the Select Committees nor extinguish those rights? Unless these questions are answered fully, the consultative machinery will be seen as nothing more than a gigantic public relations exercise and a hoax on the public.

At the heart of our concern is what will happen not just to the south-east, but to the rest of the country. If the economic benefit is to be distributed about the country, British Rail must be given the opportunity to develop its services and to have its infrastructure, its motive power and rolling stock ready for the opening of the tunnel. Therefore, I welcome the British Rail press statement, issued on 4 February, in which it explains how it intends to run through-trains from different parts of the country and hopes that there will be discussions with immigration and customs officials to have these facilities carried out on the train, although there seems to be some doubt as to whether those bodies will co-operate.

British Rail, in its press statement, appears to be thinking ahead, even if the Secretary of State is not. If the required investment is made available, it will give a boost to British Rail's estimates of both freight and passenger services; and if the money is spent in the United Kingdom, jobs will be created. However, I dispute the Secretary of State's assessment of when the investment needs to be made available and whether his policy towards British Rail is adequate to match its requirements.

At Question Time on Monday 3 February, in column 6, I asked the Minister to give an assurance that British Rail's external financing limit would be expanded to accommodate Channel tunnel-related expenditure and that other BR expenditure would not suffer. It astonished me when I was given such an unequivocal "Yes" to that question. However, in a subsequent answer in the same column, he back-pedalled very fast and said that BR's EFL would be smaller during the period 1990–93 in any event. If that means that the investment and infrastructure will be in place before that time, we might accept it. However, I suspect that the opposite is the case. I believe that investment in BR must be expanded, even if the Channel tunnel is not to go ahead. If passengers and freight traffic are to be encouraged back to the railways, then BR's customer image needs to be enhanced throughout the entire network, and not just that part that is related to the Channel tunnel service.

The Government must put money into BR. The White Paper concedes that there will be public spending associated with the tunnel. That much is evident from paragraphs 29, 30 and 31. There is a little hedging in paragraph 31, which says: The Government will give sympathetic consideration to supporting with Transport Supplementary Grant proposals from the County Council arising directly as a result of the fixed link project.

We know with certainty that public money will be going into roads development. Why, then, will the Government not do the same for British Rail? Paragraph 27 makes it clear beyond any doubt: It will be for BR to raise the money for this"— that is all the investment about which we have spoken— as for all its investment programmes, out of its own resources or borrowing, and not by way of Government grant. Nothing can be more clear that the Government will not put any money in.

In paragraph 66, the Minister expresses his hopes in this way: The Government has high hopes of seeing the link built and of it becoming a valuable national asset serving the interests of the nation for many years to come. I should like to see those high hopes come to fruition, but they will remain just pious hopes unless there is positive Government intervention.

I commend to the House the latest issue of Town and Country Planning. In an article called "Where have all the planners gone?", Andrew Thorburn says: So far, no one has sketched out the consequences for Britain of the funnelling of traffic through this small corner, and the extra traffic likely to be stimulated … Never has the need for proper regional planning been more apparent. Some have felt that we can get by without this in times of recession when little is changing, but the construction of the largest infrastructure provision in Britain's history will require the rethinking of many development and investment policies, and rural conserveration policies, as well as a review of the transportation services throughout the south east. Where is our machinery for this?

I concede that that was written about the south-east of England, but it is of equal relevance to the country as a whole. The Secretary of State will have nothing to do with this. His view is that if everything goes well, the scheme will be a success; and, if it does not, he is simply abrogating his responsibility in advance. He is like an old lag in a Scottish court pleading the special defence of "incrimination" or "impeachment". He is saying, "It wasn't me who did it; it was someone else. It was market forces that did it."

Without proper planning, investment and regional development, the nation will come to regret the decision and wonder what went wrong. The Opposition have a duty and a responsibility to the nation to seek to remedy the failings of the Minister and of the Government. We shall press the Government for as long as we are in opposition, and we shall discharge our responsibilities and duties to the nation when we become the Government. I commend our amendment to the House and invite right hon. and hon. Members from both sides of the House to join us in the Lobby tonight.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

I point out the obvious—that a large number of right hon. and hon. Members want to take part in the debate. The shorter the speeches, the fewer will be disappointed.

7.38 pm
Mr. Peter Rees (Dover)

I shall endeavour to obey your injunction, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I hope that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) will forgive me if I do not follow all the interesting points that he made. I admire the delicacy with which he has tried to reconcile the interests of various regions of the kingdom and, in particular, the interests of the National Union of Railwaymen and the National Union of Seamen. My hon. Friends may wish to explore that further.

I was interested to notice that the hon. Gentleman said that, of the four schemes, this is the one that he would prefer. I am ready to admit to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that of all the four schemes, this is likely to do the least damage to the economy and environment of east Kent. I was reassured that the environmental point had been made by the Countryside Commission and the Nature Conservancy Council. However, I must emphasise to my right hon. Friend the deep and continuing concern of Dover and east Kent about the project, even though matters have moved on since 9 December.

I appreciate and am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his sensitive response to the points made by me and by some of my hon. Friends who represent Kentish constituencies relating to consultation. I appreciate the setting up of a consultative committee which is to be chaired by my hon. Friend the Minister of State. I note that it will be sited at Maidstone. That is appropriate in the first instance, because Maidstone is the seat of the county council. However, I hope that this will not rule out meetings at Dover and Folkestone, which I am sure would be welcomed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) who, ever assiduous in his championship of his constituents' interests, is sitting in his seat tonight. We are sorry that the conventions of Government deprive him of the opportunity to make a direct contribution to the debate. I hope also that the consultative committee will not rule out direct, bilateral contact between the Dover and Shepway district councils and the Department of Transport upon matters that are of prime concern to them.

The point is well made in paragraph 64 of the White Paper that this is the largest civil engineering contract for many years. This may be a matter of congratulation to some, but naturally it is a matter of concern to those who will be most directly and immediately affected by the project. It is important that complaints by local people should be quickly and impartially assessed and remedied. I warmly associate myself with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe, who feels that these complaints should be assessed by an independent person, possibly from the Department of Transport—a local ombudsman, if you will, who would be on the spot for the purpose. When my hon. Friend the Minister of State winds up the debate, I hope that he will say that he is giving careful thought to this possibility.

The main environmental impact will be felt at Cheriton, in my hon. and learned Friend's constituency. I have no doubt that he has been and that he will continue to be assiduous in taking up the points that concern those who live in the area. However, there is a little friendly rivalry between my hon. and learned Friend and me. There will be a considerable impact on Dover. I refer in particular to the working platform that is to be set up beneath the Shakespeare cliff and to the disposal of soil there and at other places. I am glad, therefore, that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has referred back to the consortium the problem of soil disposal. I hope that this important and sensitive matter will be discussed either by the consultative committee or bilaterally with the Dover and Shepway councils.

I do not wish to carp, but competition is dealt with all too briefly in paragraphs 2 and 4 of the White Paper. It merely states that there will be fair competition and that the matter will be governed by English and European Community law. I seek, therefore, three assurances from my hon. Friend the Minister of State, although I appreciate that some of them do not lie exclusively within his responsibility. First, I seek an assurance that predatory pricing under these legal systems will be ruled out. Secondly, I seek an assurance that he is satisfied that the United Kingdom Government and the European Commission would be able to move quickly enough if unfair competition were to develop in the Channel. Thirdly, I seek an assurance that he feels that there will be a continuing place for ferries operating in the Channel from Dover and Folkestone. I believe that there is both a national and a Kentish interest in the continuance of their operations.

The economic and employment impacts upon east Kent were touched upon, perhaps too lightly, by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North. This is where there is the greatest uncertainty for the people of east Kent, and it is the largest gap in the White Paper. Paragraph 41 admits frankly that there will be fewer direct jobs in east Kent with the link than without it, but there is no consideration of alternative sources of employment, except rather briefly in paragraph 41, which refers to new jobs in ancillary industries. This may be a matter primarily for other Departments, but it is important that there should be evidence of deep thinking taking place on this subject now. It cannot be left for six, seven or eight years. Evidence is needed that thought has been given to the possibility of setting up enterprise zones, to the granting of assisted area status, and to the provision of a free port, or free ports, in east Kent. I should like thought to be given to the future of the port of Dover as a container terminal so that it can be built up to compete with Rotterdam. It tells heavily against previous Governments that Rotterdam has managed to catch, in fair competition, so much of the business that should have come to United Kingdom ports.

According to all accounts, the French are pouring money, as they are quite entitled to do, into the Pas de Calais and the surrounding département. I am the first to recognise the constraints upon public expenditure, but I should like to know what positive steps the Government are considering to assist east Kent to maintain its position against the competing attractions of north-west France.

I am sure that the House will not feel that I have dealt in too summary a fashion with this important issue. I hope that my constituents will not feel that I have done so. However, they will recognise that many other right hon. and hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I have tonight voiced, I hope articulately, the legitimate concerns of my constituents.

I must also point out to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North that the Opposition's amendment is rather bogus. It attempts to reconcile too many disparate interests. I recognise the difficulty of the hon. Gentleman's position, but I am sure that he will not expect me to support the Opposition amendment in the Lobby. It does very little, either explicitly or by implication, for my constituents or for the neighbouring constituencies in east Kent.

As for the motion in the name of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, unless and until the concerns that I have voiced are properly met I am bound to maintain the reservations that I expressed about the project in our debate on 9 December. My position in the Division Lobby tonight must reflect those reservations.

7.46 pm
Mr. John Silkin (Lewisham, Deptford)

When the Secretary of State rejected instituting an inquiry. he owed a moral duty both to this House and to the country to provide us with a White Paper that fully set out the Government's point of view. In fact, the White Paper is a very slim volume which skims over the important points. The most important question was put by the Select Committee on Transport in paragraph 128 of its first report. It said: The one question which has persistently hung over the committee's inquiry is 'Is there a need for a fixed link?' The committee has not received any very satisfactory answers to this question. If it is trying to find the answer in the White Paper, the Select Committee can whistle for it. The nearest to an answer is to be found in paragraph 2, which says: The Government's policy for international transport is to increase consumer choice and promote efficiency by encouraging competition and innovation. That is a splendid collection of words, but they mean exactly nothing. They do not explain why a fixed link does all these things or what the benefits will be. The White Paper, therefore, does not answer the question.

Then we thought to ourselves that if the White Paper does not contain the answer, perhaps the Secretary of State for Transport knows the answer. What did he say? I took down his words as he spoke them. He said that he was often asked whether we needed a tunnel, but he did not answer that question. He merely said, "If we do not like it, we need not use it." That is perfectly true. It is like a justification for murder. If we do not like it, we need not use it. That justifies it. That was the right hon. Gentleman's only contribution to the alleged need for a fixed link between Britain and France.

The Secretary of State dealt superficially, as does the White Paper, with the major points that are still at issue. First, there is the environment. During the debate on 9 December I deplored the fact that there had been no input from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. I have to say that I was wrong. There slipped through the House of Commons, without anybody knowing it or being deeply aware of it, a rather important order. That order came into effect on 1 January 1986. It was a Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food order which reflected the licensing provisions under the Dumping at Sea Act 1974.

Heretofore under that Act if one was going to bore a tunnel a licence had to be applied for which might or might not be granted by the Ministry. The order in question says that no licence is required to bore a tunnel under the seabed. When I looked at the Channel Tunnel Group's prospectus, it did not seem that it would be economically possible to do the job that it was talking about on the figure quoted if they were going to dump the spoil — which, you will remember, Mr. Deputy Speaker, comes to 1 million cubic metres — onshore. But if that is to be dumped at sea, a different situation arises. That is the cheapest and easiest way of doing it, and that, incidentally, kills all the spawning herring, sole and plaice in the English Channel. We heard—I do not want to go too far into it at the moment — the employment difficulties for Kent which the right hon. and learned Member for Dover (Mr. Rees) reiterated a moment ago. He is tolerant in thinking that he will get an answer. I doubt that he will. However, those of my hon. Friends who come from the north-east, Wales or Scotland who are worried about the effect of a fixed link across the Channel believe that Kent and the rest of the south-east will benefit at the expense of their parts of the country. I do not believe that any of them will benefit.

The truth is that, as the White Paper hints, there will be a permanent drop in employment in Kent and there will probably be a drop in employment in the rest of the country. The White Paper says that there may be some increased employment in ancillary industries. But, like the right hon. and learned Member for Dover, I too wait for an answer on that. Where are those ancillary industries? What will they produce? What employment will they have? I do not believe it.

There are many points that I could make, but other hon. Members want to speak and there will no doubt be plenty of time on other occasions to do so. However, I want to finish with one small but important aspect—security. In paragraph 2 the White Paper says: Historically, Britain's island status has often been an advantage. Today it is a practical and economic hindrance to closer links with Europe. Some of us would dispute that concept anyway, but Historically, Britain's island status has often been an advantage is rather an understatement. The plain fact is that that island status has protected this island over the past 1,000 years. It is worth at least a thought or two.

We have seen the Government virtually destroy our fishing industry and cut down on our merchant shipping and they are now talking about a sufficient number of ferries for our defence requirements. No doubt they have a 1914 concept of taking soldiers across the English Channel to some vast trench system in France. By destroying the number of ferries that operate, they are doing the same as destroying our merchant shipping and fishing fleets—they are destroying Britain's capability to produce, as we have over the centuries, the finest sailors in the world. I hope that, if that were all that there were against the provision of a fixed link, it would be sufficient for the House to think again.

7.54 pm
Mr. Roger Gale (Thanet, North)

On 9 December the House took a decision in favour of a fixed link. Those of us who represent north-east Kent did not endorse that decision, but I have no wish to go over that again. It is left to us, representing our constituents, to make the best of what I have described as the least worse solution. In that context—

Mr. Robert Hughes

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but the House did not take a decision in principle the last time we debated this subject. We divided on a motion for the Adjournment of the House, nothing more. The hon. Gentleman is entitled to do what he wants tonight.

Mr. Gale

If I may say so, the House might regard that as a bogus point. The matter under discussion and the vote were plain and properly interpreted.

In the context of the decision that has been announced, I am pleased that, of the four that were on offer, the Channel Tunnel Group has obtained the contract because, in its make-up that company represents some of the finest engineering skills in the world. I hope and believe that that company will pay considerable attention to the environmental effect that any construction will have on the beautiful countryside of Kent.

I have one small voice to raise from the heart of Kent, and I hope that it will not be a voice crying in the wilderness. On Wednesday my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is to visit Canterbury. Were she to go a few miles further down the appalling Thanet Way, she would arrive in the Thanet towns, where we endure 27 per cent. male unemployment. That may be an inconvenient fact for my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench to acknowledge and it may be an inconvenient fact for the Government to acknowledge. It makes the political map look untidy. There should not be such unemployment in the prosperous south-east, but the fact is that there is.

My hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken) and I have been working hard for a considerable time to try to turn that situation round. We are faced with a declining agriculture industry, which was labour-intensive and is becoming less so, and, with a decline in the bucket and spade holiday, we need to provide facilities that the modern tourist requires so that we can regenerate our tourist industry. That is in hand.

The greatest asset that the Isle of Thanet has is the development of the port of Ramsgate which, in the past few years, as a result of vigorous marketing and tremendous courage on the part of the developer and the district council, has been attracting large numbers of tourists to the region. The demise of that port, not mentioned anywhere in the White Paper by name or in any other form, would be not only damaging but devastating to north-east Kent.

Thanet has created an enterprise agency and built up the East Kent Development Association, but we look to the Kent county council and the Government to provide us with the thing which we cannot provide in any way, shape or form—the infrastructure that we need if the port of Ramsgate is to develop.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was good enough to visit Thanet early in December and, having experienced just a little of what we had to tell him, said that he would be willing to take the key road in the area—the Thanet Way—and trunk it. He told us, and has reaffirmed, that his Department would be willing to do that fairly swiftly. I understand that that decision is dependent upon Kent county council.

However, I am a little worried because there is no mention whatever of north-east Kent in the White Paper. Paragraph 31, headed "The UK Road Network", says: Kent County Council are studying improvements which may be needed to some County roads in the area as a result of the building of the fixed link; and they will be dealing with them under their normal procedures. The Government will give sympathetic consideration to supporting with Transport Supplementary Grant proposals from the County Council arising directly as a result of the fixed link project. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will state firmly to Kent county council his belief that the Department should make that road a trunk route.

Kent county council should recognise the needs. In "Channel Fixed Link: Issues for Discussion by Kent County Council", which was published in November 1985, Mr. W. H. Deakin, the county planning officer, wrote: The County Council's role is to identify the consequences of proposals for Kent, and to maximise the balance of advantage to the County. He said that the council's objective should be to give East Kent the best chance of compensating economic activity and employment, by way of securing Government commitment to development incentives; this is especially important, considering the economic advantages possessed by the Region Nord-Pas de Calais in northern France, an area which already enjoys substantial national and European assistance, and which is planning to capitalise to the full on any economic potential of a Fixed Link, and against which Kent would be competing on very unequal terms.

Two weeks ago, I paid a visit to Nord-Pas de Calais when I had the opportunity to discuss the effects of the link with M. Dupilet, the Member of Parliament for Boulogne. He kindly gave me a document which, roughly translated, is entitled "Channel Fixed Link." That document was available to all those who attended a ceremony held in France on 20 January. It sets out, chapter and verse, exactly what the French Government are doing in Nord-Pas de Calais, how much they are spending and on what they are spending it in terms of ports with the development of Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne, in terms of roads with the Boulogne-Dunkirk coast road and many others, and in terms of rail links from existing ports, not some new Chunnel terminal. We have no equal document available to us, because this point has not been considered.

I should like to ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State a few questions. I do not believe in pork barrel politics, but the Government cannot have it both ways. Either we create jobs or we are in the business of destruction. With respect, I do not think that my hon. Friend can ask turkeys to vote for Christmas. Does my hon. Friend recognise the need of north-east Kent. especially the Thanet towns? Does he acknowledge that the Chunnel will have a profound effect on those towns? Does he recognise the need for improved infrastructure, especially of the Thanet Way, the Thanet-Dover coast road and the Thanet-Ashford link? Does he have plans for the establishment of a regional council at ministerial, or at least Civil Service, level to ensure the development of the Thanet, Canterbury, Dover, Ashford and Swale districts, which together make up a region roughly the size of Nord-Pas de Calais? Unless the answer to all those questions is yes, I have a feeling that the fine words which no doubt will be uttered in Canterbury on Wednesday will have a ring as hollow as the Trojan horse.

8.2 pm

Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

The hon. Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale) has done well to remind us that all is not gold in the south-east. His figure of 27 per cent. male unemployment is on a par with the figure in my constituency in the Isle of Wight.

I welcomed the Government's decision when the Secretary of State made his announcement on 20 January. I said then, and I endorse now, that, after various rumours and leaks to the contrary—when we thought we might get a road tunnel—the French and British Governments have chosen the scheme that has the best chance of succeeding. Certainly, if either of the two bridge projects had been favoured there would have been an even greater outcry from Kent citizens than at present, and it would have been fully justified.

I welcome what definitely appears to be an easing of the purse strings for British Rail. That comment appears in the White Paper, covering the years 1990–93, when it is accepted that British Rail's EFL will be exceeded—

Mr. Robert Hughes


Mr. Ross

It is in there. That was also acknowledged last Monday by the Secretary of State when the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) asked him a direct question which I followed up. I hope that some common sense prevails. I hope that the Minister of State, who, I am glad, is keeping his portfolio to look after BR, will continue to press BR's claims for extra capital to carry out the programmes that are desperately needed. There is now a great opportunity for the Channel tunnel link to improve our railways.

Some people have queried with me BR's ability to run through freight services to the continent from various parts of the United Kingdom because of the differences in the loading gauge. The Sunday newspapers wrote a lot about this, including about the argument the other way around—that is, from France to Britain. British Rail's press release of 4 February is clear on this point. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North quoted from it, but I shall quote from the last page, which states: Freight customers in the North, Midlands, Wales and Scotland stand to gain particularly from the link. Freight will be cleared at inland customs depots round the country. Fast and frequent services through the link will cut transit times significantly and rail's natural economic advantage with long haul traffic will help exporters to be competitive in reaching the markets in Europe. It states: Twenty trains a day of containers and freight wagons in each direction will help to keep heavy vehicles off the crowded roads of the South East. I assume that there are not insurmountable difficulties in dealing with the Berne gauge. That is the assurance. I suspect that there must be considerably more capital investment if we are to take full advantage of the opportunities to provide through freight services for Scotland, the north and the west of England.

I give notice that the alliance will consistently press that point. I hope that the Minister of State will ensure that more financial incentives for private rail sidings throughout Britain will be forthcoming. That would be a great help.

This is a marvellous opportunity to get substantial quantities of freight back on to rail and off our already overcrowded roads. We must take full advantage of it. What is more, construction of the link provides substantial job opportunities at British Rail Engineering Ltd., Metro Cammell and GEC, especially at the BREL factories at Derby, York and Crewe. Swindon will not get in on the act. I bitterly regret that as a long-time supporter of the old Great Western Railway.

Like many hon. Members, I have been lobbied consistently on the question of a public inquiry. In our earlier debate, I put forward a proposal, which was made to the Select Committee on Transport, for a strictly limited 20-day hearing on the vital issues as they affected Kent. I do not intend to press that again because I accept that it has deficiencies. On the whole, I think that the White Paper gives substantial reassurances.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman is dropping that proposal. The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel) issued a press statement the day the decision was announced saying he would push that proposition forcefully. What has changed?

Mr. Ross

I have argued the point with the leader of my party. I was sure that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North would pick that up. I told my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel) exactly what I thought. One cannot conduct just a 20-day hearing because every party, including Friends of the Earth and other environmentalists, will want to get in on it. I do not think that the hearing can be cut short. I believe that a 20-day hearing will leave everyone dissatisfied. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North is correct—there is an internal argument on this proposal.

On the whole, I think that the White Paper gives substantial reassurances on the issue of consultation and the right to petition. Paragraphs 48 and 62 are especially significant. I am grateful to my colleagues on the Select Committee on Transport, especially the Chairman, the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier), for supporting my suggestion to the Committee some weeks ago that we should offer to take evidence in Kent. Last Wednesday, we went to Maidstone to take evidence from Kent county council. All three main political parties were represented and had their chance to make their point. Regrettably, that is not the case—I think that I take the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North with me on this—with the consultative committee which the Minister of State is to chair. The consultative committee is to comprise the seven districts and the county council, all of which are Tory controlled. That is a mistake which should be rectified. Surely the other party leaders on the county council and on Dover and Shepway councils—I am sure that we should say the lot—could be included without making the committee top heavy.

I personally accept the arguments against a full-scale public inquiry, but the hybrid Bill Committees must also be prepared to travel to take evidence in Kent. I remind the Labour party that, in 1974, the late Anthony Crosland reintroduced the Channel Tunnel Bill in its original form so that the petitioners would avoid abortive costs. Moreover, he made it clear that he did not think that a rail—only link without the shuttle was economically feasible. That was said in an answer to me on 3 April 1974.

As we have heard, Kent Members have been making clear the need for substantial expenditure on road infrastructure. An undertaking has already been given about the Maidstone bypass becoming a three-lane road, but Kent county council wants to see four lanes. The third Dartford tunnel will have to be constructed. The M25-M26 junction at Chevening needs attention. They are rightly anxious about the substantial loading facilities at Cheriton and the access thereto. The environmental problems have already been mentioned. There is a need to make much greater use of industrial land at Ashford. There is the problem of subsoil disposal. I understand that the material is no use for road construction.

I wish to make a brief constituency point. One of my constituents, Brigadier Hopthrow—he knows what he is talking about because he has been involved in water matters and gravel extraction for many years—has said that there is a rumour that the gravel required for the Channel tunnel is likely to be dredged from the Channel east of the Nab tower. That would have a substantial effect on littoral drift and erosion on the Isle of Wight. We suspect that we have suffered a great deal from gravel extraction along the south coast and in the Solent. I make the plea that gravel should not be taken from my part of the world to construct the Channel tunnel.

A park-and-ride facility at a suitable spot on the M25 has much to commend it. Commuters from the Ashford area will need reassurance about their future services into London. I shall quote from the second leader in the Daily Telegraph last week. It is not a paper that I normally read, but I found this comment and I fully support it: If the Channel Tunnel Group, to whom time means money, want to get moving and keep moving, they would be well advised to set aside a substantial sum for damage limitation. If the county's defenders think that the money offered is not enough, it is up to them to demand more. If they want more landscaping, it is for them to demand it. The Government may be able to stay aloof from the finances of the Chunnel; they cannot dissociate themselves from the mess it makes. Usually it is the fate of those seeking to defend their patch to find themselves up against hard-faced bureaucrats in Government employ. In this instance, the bureaucrats are more likely to be on their side against the entrepreneurs. It is not a gift-horse to look in the mouth. Preservationist in East Kent should cheer up, limber up and prepare to make tough terms.

I could not put it better myself. We shall be supporting the Government tonight.

8.11 pm
Mr. Peter Fry (Wellingborough)

The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) is a fellow member of the Select Committee. I am pleased that he mentioned the M25 because one of the results of the White Paper on the Channel link will be tremendous pressure upon the roads around London. The M25 is overloaded before it has been completed. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister realises that considerably more improvements will be needed in future for the many motorists who will be attracted to driving through the Channel link.

The right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin) gave a somewhat selective quotation from the Select Committee's reports. He also made great play of the fact that a case for the Channel tunnel did not appear to be made out. At great length, the Opposition have tried to make it clear that they are not against the Channel link. They want to give the impression that they are vaguely against it so that all those who are opposed to any kind of link with the continent will think that they are doing a good job. In their long amendment, they have been exceedingly careful not to say that they are against the link. There is a degree of ambivalence in the Labour party's attitude.

Mr. Silkin

Perhaps I may reassure the hon. Gentleman that I am completely against the link.

Mr. Fry

I accept that.

I shall refer to the Select Committee's reports. Of the present Committee membership, only three were members of the Committee when we first embarked upon our lengthy inquiry in 1981. Despite the right hon. Gentleman's quotation, it is interesting to note that the reports in 1981 and just before Christmas came to the same conclusion. Even more surprisingly, the Committee came to the conclusion contained in the White Paper. The Select Committee agreed to the idea of a Channel link. It disagreed with the idea of a public inquiry and it recommended the scheme that the Secretary of State and the Government have chosen. It must be unique at the moment for a Select Committee to chime in so thoroughly with Government policy.

Our fourth recommendation was that there should be a definitive vote of the House before the scheme proceeded. I should like to thank my right hon. and hon. Friends for giving the House that opportunity this evening.

It is interesting to know that it emerged from the Select Committee's investigations that those who are opposed to the Government's proposal can be divided into roughly three groups: first, those who are against any link; secondly, those who do not like the timing or the Government's method of approach; and, thirdly, those who do not like the scheme that has been put forward.

On the first point, it is ironic that some of the people who are against the Channel link are those who write to me saying how they object to so much of our freight being carried on the roads and not on British Rail. The Channel link has always been seen by British Rail as a major opportunity for it to take advantage of the length of carriage which this country lacks. That has always put British Rail at a disadvantage compared with many of its continental cousins.

The link will mean that for the first time British Rail can compete equally. It should have the opportunity to take many of the tonnes of freight that many of our constituents complain about because it obstructs our roads. British Rail has always been firmly in favour of the Channel link. For that reason alone, the link should be considered sympathetically.

There will be some people—I suspect they include one or two of my hon. Friends—who feel that we should not be linked to the continent in any circumstances. We all have constituents who have made that point. It is clear that the least disadvantageous of all the proposals is the one that has been put forward by the Government. The train tunnel can provide a link with the continent, but, what is more important, it will not destroy the ferry services. Not much has been said about that in the debate.

If any of the other schemes had been adopted, there would soon have been no ferry services between this country and the continent. That would have been against our national interest. It is all very well for the ferry companies now to say that they could be even more efficient and could cut fares in real terms by up to 30 per cent. but it has taken the threat of competition to bring them to that point.

The link will provide competition. There will be a choice. One can fly from Heathrow or Gatwick. The STOL port in London's docklands will soon be open and will provide another means of travel to the continent. Some ferries will undoubtedly still operate and we shall have trains going through the Channel link. The Government are providing a genuine choice for the travelling public.

The second group of people who object to the link is comprised of those who feel that there should be a public inquiry. A referendum has even been suggested. When I answered a radio phone-in programme the other day, I discovered that many of the people who object and want a referendum were under the impression that they had the choice of the money being spent on hospitals, schools or new roads. They were completely unaware of the fact that the capital for the scheme is to come from the private market. If we are to have a referendum on the subject, the public should be aware of the argument and know the facts which, at the moment, I am afraid they do not.

People object because they feel that the public inquiry system is the only way in which to deal with the many concerns and reservations which have been expressed. I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had the courage not to have a public inquiry. I have for many years said that it takes an interminable time to take major decisions. For example, the A 1-M1 link has rolled on for 12 years, and we are still awaiting the inspector's report. I believe that major projects should he settled by decisions of the House, questions of side roads and perhaps compulsory purchase being left to public inquiry. I believe that in that respect the Government are absolutely right.

The third group consists of those who object to the scheme put forward. When the Select Committee examined the four proposals, to my mind there was really only one solution. If one accepted that the decision had to be taken in January 1986, all the other proposals had serious defects: environmental and technical in the case of Eurobridge and Euro Route and many questions about the viability of the Channel expressway.

In the case of the two bridges, the enormous cost was not the least of the problems. In Committee I asked Sir Nigel Broackes whether he agreed that the English Channel was one of the most expensive pieces of water to cross. He agreed. I asked him if he agreed that if EuroRoute were built, it would remain one of the most expensive pieces of water to cross. He said that he thought so. Therefore, I believe that if the Government or the House had put forward a scheme which would be so expensive that no consideration was given to the travelling public, it would have been a major mistake.

In relation to the Channel expressway, I give full marks to the public relations campaign behind that proposal because it became a serious runner. However, when one investigated it, one came across many serious questions which had not been answered. For example, there is nowhere in the world where anybody has driven for 32 miles in a tunnel. The question of cost was vital. As the White Paper points out, two tunnels of over 11 metres were to be bored which would somehow be cheaper to bore than the 7 metre tunnels of the Channel Tunnel Group. There are too many unanswered questions on the Channel expressway.

The Government have come to the right and wise decision. Therefore, they deserve support in the Lobby tonight.

8.22 pm
Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

En recognition of the many others with strong claims to speak in the debate, from both sides of the House, my intervention will be studiedly brief. As a Member of Parliament for the north-west of England, I want to underline the importance of that part of the amendment which refers to the serious employment implications of the Government's proposals for communities outside the south-east. The word "damaging" is well chosen.

The Government's keenness to forge a fixed link with France contrasts sharply with their seeming unconcern about the deep and dangerous divide which now separates the north from the south in this country. In linking Britain to another country, they appear content to countenance even graver divisions in Britain itself.

In the debate about Stansted I put it to the House that Manchester international airport—together with other airports outside the south-east of England—had a much stronger claim than Stansted to the huge investment which the Government were contemplating there. The same argument applies in this debate. To commit billions of pounds to the south-east, already the wealthiest region, at a time when other regions are starved of investment and devasted by unemployment will deepen and still further embitter the divide between north and south. In trying to link Britain to France, the Government risk tearing north and south in this country even more grievously apart.

It will be argued that many new jobs will be created by the channel fixed link; but they will not be jobs for the north, where any increase will be small and short term. Most of the new jobs will go to the south-east, and northern France will unquestionably do much better out of the deal than northern Britain. There will be substantial new investment to improve still further the infrastructure of the south-east. It will be investment from British taxpayers as a whole, from the north-west as well as the south-east, and that excites not just disquiet but downright anger in the region I represent.

The same money cannot be spent twice and, if it is spent in the south-east, it will not be available to reduce unemployment and the deprivation it causes in the north. That is the essence of our case against these proposals. When the Minister replies, is he prepared to concede that the White Paper must, at the very least, lead to an urgent revision of the Government's regional policy to take account of the implications of its proposals on the regions outside the south-east?

In many parts of Manchester today unemployment is three times higher than the national average. We heard earlier in the debate about unemployment in Kent. In Manchester we now have localities, in what used to be the heart of industrial England, where male unemployment is over 60 per cent., and others, including parts of my constituency, where more than two thirds of the under-25s are out of work. Is it not there and elsewhere in the north that new investment should now most urgently be concentrated?

It is much to their honour that 30 Conservative Members from the south-east have said publicly that new investment should now be directed outside their region. Ministers were also told by many of their party's leading young activists, in their conference at Blackpool yesterday, that the Government's critics on the north-south divide are not confined to the Labour party.

Opposition to the White Paper is utterly all-party in the north of England. There is strong insistence that the north's claims to more investment must now be the priority of priorities and, as the Minister must know, all comparative statistics justify that insistence.

There has been totally inadequate consultation about these proposals. Even the North of England Regional Consortium of local authorities has yet to meet a Minister to discuss its views. Many other important interests have been brushed aside in the Government's haste to do the wrong thing.

I reject the White Paper and hope to be joined in the Lobby by right hon. and hon. Members from both sides of the House in opposing its proposals. It would be the merest hypocrisy to go on complaining about the north-south divide tomorrow if we approve these proposals tonight. Action to repair and renew the links between north and south in this country must surely be a much more urgent priority than linking south-east England to northern France.

8.28 pm
Mr. Mark Wolfson (Sevenoaks)

I welcome the White Paper because I believe that the proposals outlined and the particular choice made by the Government for the fixed link are practical, technically sound and financially viable. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin) suggested that the first sentence of paragraph 2 where the Government set out their policy to increase consumer choice and promote efficiency meant absolutely nothing. He will not be surprised to hear that I cannot agree with him on that. However, on another matter, I was pleased to hear him—he was wearing his naval reserve tie, the ensign that I am always pleased to see—air his concern about the problems and the future of Britain's merchant fleet. On that issue, I join him.

I believe that the scheme gives the best chance for the ferries to survive, while, at the same time, it introduces the powerful stimulus of competition into what has, until now, been one of the most expensive sea crossings in the world. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Rees) has said that more detail is needed on how that competition will be maintained in future, but tonight the Secretary of State spelt out the fact that already we have seen a drop in ferry tariffs as a result of the decision to build a fixed link. The speed of decision was welcome. It is noticeable that that rapid programme was also acceptable to the French. I do not believe that Britain can, year after year, and decade after decade, take the length of time that we have to decide major projects through the system of public inquiry. That puts us way behind the rest of Europe on this issue.

The project is historic. It is obviously vast and also exciting. It is one for which the Government should take credit and in which this country, ultimately, will be able to take pride. It is also, a measure of increased confidence in Britain and in what Britain can achieve that four competing schemes were researched, put together as a package, and submitted.

I should like to deal with three aspects arising from the fixed link decision—the development of the railway, the development of the road network, and the effects on the environment. Many hon. Members have already spoken about the railway. I agree that not for 100 years has such an opportunity for the development of freight and passenger services been opened up to our rail system. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on the support that his negotiations with the French have already given British Rail, the most important being an equal partnership for the development of the through trains from London to Paris and from London to Brussels, and for the building of the locomotives and rolling stock. It is crucial to obtain the best opportunities for British industry, particularly in the midlands and the north, which many hon. Members have mentioned, particularly Opposition Members. I also welcome my right hon. Friend's commitment to an extension of British Rail's external financing limit to take full account of the opportunity that the Channel fixed link offers British Rail and the demand that it puts upon it. I can assure my right hon. Friend that I, for one, will be coming back on that issue in future because the fact is that, for many years, the French have given a higher priority to public investment in the railways that we have in Britain. In this new situation, we must rethink that issue.

Mr. Rowe

Does my hon. Friend agree, coming from a not dissimilar constituency, that one would have greater confidence in British Rail's capacity to take advantage of this undoubted good opportunity if it had shown itself to be more capable of cutting fares to compete with other forms of transport?

Mr. Wolfson

I accept my hon. Friend's point, that British Rail will have to ensure that its fares are competitive so that it can continue to compete. However, I shall not be diverted from my point, which is this. Down the years, the French Government have been readier to subsidise their rail network in terms of capital investment in it and running costs than we have been in this country. It is important, in achieving a balance between sensible support for British Rail and unnecessary pump priming, that British Rail is not limited in the opportunity that it is given to build a competitive system with the French railways in the wake of the Channel fixed link. Let me give two examples—the success of the grande vitesse trains in France and the new improved commuter routes round Paris, which put British Rail to shame, particularly the commuter routes.

Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the investment being made in the SNCF in Paris puts successive British Governments, particularly this one, to shame anyway?

Mr. Wolfson

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman on that. I am merely making the point that, in the new situation, British Rail's external financing limit needs to be extended, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State says he will do.

It is essential that customs and immigration procedures are done on train if the new through trains are to operate effectively, particularly from Scotland and the north of England. I appreciate that that will require a fundamental change in outlook from our officials in both those services, but I argue that that is exactly what the Channel fixed link is all about—just such a change in outlook by the nation as a whole. Of course, safeguards against smuggling, disease and illegal immigration must be built into altered systems, but it is simply not on to make no fundamental change to our control system in the face of the dramatic change in travel convenience that through rail offers. Today, many hon. Members have spoken out about the advantages that the fixed link offers, with the growth of rail traffic, to passengers and freight. Decanting passengers for a customs check on long-distance trains through Britain will be a major disincentive to train travel and will have to be changed.

Before leaving the subject of the railways, I should like to comment on the effect that the fixed link through trains might have on existing commuter services, particularly through my constituency of Sevenoaks. I welcome an assurance that I have already had from British Rail, that it is well aware of the importance of maintaining a proper balance between maximising the opportunity for international business and achieving a proper service for captive commuters, for which, as it is well aware, it receives a subsidy from the taxpayer. I welcome its commitment to consultation with local people as the situation develops.

I should like to make particular reference to the M25 and the Dartford tunnel. It is essential that the third bore of the Dartford tunnel is built as rapidly as possible. We have a private enterprise solution to that. It is essential to move with great rapidity to get that work done. The traffic forecasts by the Department of Transport have consistently been grossly underestimated. I heard my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State struggling manfully the other day on the radio when dealing with the problems that already exist in the south-west section of the M25. He made the point, reasonably and honestly enough, that decisions on the size of that motorway were made 12 or 15 years ago. Now that he is in the decision-making seat, will he ensure that he gets it right on the Dartford tunnel, and does so quickly?

I shall confine my remarks on the environment to the concerns of my constituents. Other hon. Members will speak and have spoken powerfully for theirs. The consultative process in Kent must be genuine. I welcome the commitments given on that matter and we shall hold my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench to them. My first concern is the danger of urban sprawl eating into the green belt, especially in terms of warehousing development. The second is the increased pressure for major housing developments in west Kent and elsewhere. The third is the insidious squeeze to enlarge towns and villages on an ad hoc basis.

I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister believes that that development can be left to local authorities at district and county level: if they want development, they can allow it, but if they do not, they should not allow it. However, it is not good enough to leave it there, because the appeal procedure, the position taken by inspectors on those appeals in their advice to the Secretary of State and his decision bring us up against central Government policy.

I believe that an overall strategy is essential. Parts of the Opposition amendment on that issue have considerable relevance and that is something to which we should pay attention.

8.40 pm
Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Govan)

I spoke during the debate on 9 December and I do not intend to repeat the points that I made then. However, I made it clear that I was completely opposed to a Channel fixed link for reasons very much on the lines explained by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris).

Since our earlier debate, the choice has been made. For those of us who opposed the Channel fixed link the Government's choice is the least damaging from almost every point of view, including the regional view. Obviously, regional considerations are what I have in mind.

One must acknowledge that the scheme presents British Rail with some opportunities, but there is precious little sign of spreading those opportunities over the whole of the United Kingdom or that the Government will make the necessary finance available, if the White Paper is any guide. In several respects, I consider the opportinities to be marginal for the railways.

It is the least damaging choice from the regional point of view, but it is the least popular among those in favour of the fixed link who have been considering a drive-through facility. That has not been chosen, and any prospect of it has been put into the dim and distant future.

In terms of pricing, everyone has said that it is important, for several reasons, including consumer choice and defence and strategic reasons, that the ferries should not be completely destroyed when the Channel tunnel goes ahead. Obviously, it is impossible to guarantee that position unless a view is taken on pricing. Paragraph 4 of the White Paper states: the promoter would enjoy full commercial freedom to determine his commercial policy including the setting of tariffs for users of the link"— that sounds absolute, but it is qualified, subject to domestic and Community competition law, which contain essential safeguards against anti-competitive behaviour including abuse of a dominant market position. What does that mean? We have had no explanation from the Minister. It is gobbledegook. I defy anyone to explain rationally or sensibly what it means. There has been much talk of predatory pricing, but who are the predators and who are the prey? No one has explained that to us. According to paragraph 21 CTG-FM envisage that their tariffs will be around 10 per cent. less, in real terms, than today's level of ferry fares.

That is the basis on which it is going ahead, yet the Minister told us this evening that the existing ferry operators are already proposing to reduce fares by 30 percent. in real terms. Who are the predators? From where does the anti-competitive behaviour that is mentioned in paragraph 4 come? What is the dominant market position? Will it belong to the ferry operators or to the tunnel operator?

It is nonsense to believe that it will be possible, except in the most fortuitious circumstances, to allow ordinary competitive forces to operate pricing across the Channel. If the Government are serious about maintaining ferry services, there must be price regulation in some form.

We have not heard from the Minister any sensible explanation of the White Paper, which in other respects is a completely inadequate document.

We have heard the argument about jobs during the construction of the tunnel. With unemployment in Britain at the present time, no one should disparage additional employment in any part of the country. However, the claims made were entirely exaggerated. The original summary of the project put forward by the CTG stated that Total employment created during construction will exceed 40,000 in the two countries. That suggests that 40,000 people from the two countries would be employed on the tunnel, but from the White Paper we get a different interpretation of what 40,000 means. It turns out to be 40,000 man years spread over six years in the United Kingdom. That is an entirely different proposition from 40,000 people being employed. The distribution of the jobs involved realises our worst fears, especially in Scotland and the North.

We are told that almost half the United Kingdom jobs will be in Kent, which is not one of the most underdeveloped areas in the country. There will be good opportunities in the east and west Midlands. We are lamely told at the end of paragraph 39 that there are firms in Scotland and the North-East able to supply construction materials.

All sorts of extravagant claims were made in the early stages that the jobs would go to the north of England and to Scotland. That is absurd and many of us made that point in the debate on 9 December. The Government's White Paper has confirmed it.

It has been said that work will go to British Rail workshops. Some of us are seeing the Minister of State, Department of Transport tomorrow about the obliteration of the British Rail workshop at Springburn. There are no opportunities for additional work there. If the Minister tells us tomorrow that, in view of the White Paper, Springburn will be kept going at a sensible level, I shall be delighted, but I do not believe that we will receive that answer.

The short-term aspect of jobs during the construction period is important, but the longer-term aspect worries the regions. The long-term advantage will go to the south-east of England. Paragraph 41 explains the difficulties about the reduction in employment on the ferry services on the assumption that the ferry services survive, but we are not allowed to know the basis of that assumption. The Government say that they will not publish their economic assessment, but on the basis of the Government's assumptions there will be a loss of employment on the ferry services but they hope that that will be made up as the years go by. They also mention generating new jobs in ancillary industry, again in the south-east.

The regional considerations are not dealt with, despite the fact that they were a major element in the debate on 9 December. The Government have no regional policy and there is no indication in the White Paper of what effect the fixed link will have on the regions of the United Kingdom.

In the long term, the economic development, the jobs and so on will come to the south-east. It would be impossible to prevent that from happening, even if we had a Government who were determined to try. It is futile to argue that jobs will be evenly spread throughout the United Kingdom.

Even if we were providing additional road and rail links—and the White Paper sets out only developments connected directly with the south-east—the main advantage would still come to the south-east. The argument that the advantages will be spread throughout the United Kingdom recalls the view of those who said that, if there were good links between Aberdeen and the rest of the United Kingdom, North sea oil jobs would be spread throughout the country. Of course, it did not happen like that. I am glad that, for good geographical and physical reasons, the Aberdeen area had the main benefit from North sea oil development. No Government could have prevented that from happening, even if they had wished to do so.

The argument that if a proper road network were developed between Aberdeen and Devon and Cornwall there would be as many jobs going to the west country as there would be in Aberdeen was a manifest absurdity, as is the claim that the Channel tunnel development will result in job opportunities being spread throughout the United Kingdom. Those opportunities will arise in the most overcrowded area—

Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Millan

I hope that my hon. Friend will not mind if I do not give way; I promised to speak briefly.

The economic advantages of the project will come overwhelmingly to the south-east of England, which is precisely the part of the country where we should not be spending money to provide such opportunities when there is devastating unemployment in Scotland. [HON. MEMBERS: "What money?"] Any sort of money, whether private or public.

Mr. Stuart Holland (Vauxhall)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that British Rail is to build or make extensions to six platforms at Waterloo station and to viaducts and other systems? That is happening at just one station. Will not that be paid for with public money?

Mr. Millan

Of course it will be public money. I dealt in my speech on 9 December with the whole question of public and private money and I have no intention of going over that argument.

The concentration of expenditure, whether of public or private money, and the ultimate concentration of activity will be in the south-east of England. That is incontrovertible and it will be against the interests of the rest of the United Kingdom. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe said, that will emphasise the north-south divide.

Stories have appeared in the Scottish newspapers over the past few days—I presume that they are valid—that the Secretary of State for Scotland is engaged in a tremendous battle to prevent the Treasury from clawing back £6 million from the Scottish Development Agency. A great political battle is going on within the Government about a comparative trivial sum for development in Scotland, yet we are being asked to approve a White Paper which sets out the expenditure of billions of pounds of public and private money for the benefit of one of the richest areas in the United Kingdom. Those of us who represent Scotland are absolutely against the project, and we shall carry our opposition to the limit.

8.54 pm
Mr. David Couch (Canterbury)

As befits a former Secretary of State for Scotland, the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Millan) made a Scottish speech and argued strongly, as he is entitled to do, for more industry and activity in Scotland.

I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman for adopting that approach. He said the same things on 9 December, and I followed him on that occasion, too. I was somewhat parochial then, and I shall be somewhat parochial today, because I wish to speak about the problems of what the right hon. Gentleman called the rich area of the south-east of England.

We in Kent are relatively rich and we have a lower rate of unemployment than the national average, but I remind the House that we are debating a White Paper which is in two parts. We are asked to approve the Government's choice from the four options, and we have to consider the consequences of approving a fixed link. The consequences that worry me most are the environmental consequences in Kent.

Paragraph 28 of annex B to the White Paper says: Local opinion in Kent generally has been against a link. I would describe opinion in east Kent in rather stronger terms. I believe in the link and have said so in the House and on many occasions over many years. I am not popular in my constituency for having taken the national view.

Many of my constituents believe that I have let them down by taking a national, not a parochial, view. Those of us who support the link may be wrong, but I believe that we are right. However, I wish to outline the view of local people who will be directly affected by this major engineering event.

I have received many letters against the project and quite a few in favour of it. A distinguished engineer, who is a member of the Royal Society and was a promoter of the Channel bridge, suggested that the best solution for me would have been a bridge across the Channel and a tunnel under Kent. Perhaps that would have made life easier for me, but it is too late to ask for that now.

On Wednesday I shall be welcoming the Prime Minister and the President of France when they come to my constituency to sign the treaty. Every Prime Minister whom I have served under has been to my constituency—and even the Pope has been there. I think that it is appropriate that the treaty should be signed in a part of the county where there is grave anxiety about the project and dissension about whether the link should be provided. The Prime Minister was brave to choose to sign the treaty in the county where there are many critics.

Many people are against the link, for many reasons. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin) said that many people are against the link for its own sake: we should have no link with the continent; let us keep Britain an island with a 22-mile moat between us and our enemies. That is what our people have been taught in school for the past 200 to 300 years—and in three wars during the past 200 years, they have been proved right.

I have tried to tell people that today the nations of Europe are not our enemies, but our allies and partners. Perhaps those thoughts of Russians with snow on their boots—memories of the first world war—are still in people's minds. I simply remind them that military historians often say that we must not try to fight the next war on the lessons of the past, but rather to think ahead.

Tonight I wish to speak only about the environmental consequences for Kent. The tunnel will be a magnet for traffic, and many people say that Kent already has too much traffic. The price that Kent will pay will be very high. I agree with those who fear the effect on the environment. There is a real danger that damage will be done to a beautiful part of England. Indeed, the While Paper states that many times, as does the environmental appraisal by the land use consultants.

The challenge to the Government and the Channel Tunnel Group is that they must limit damage to the environment. I remind the Government that we are debating not only the choice of link, but their response to the challenge to safeguard the environment in Kent. Paragraph 15 of the White Paper refers to the choice that has an environmental impact that can be contained and limited. In paragraph 32, it states that the environmental damage will be kept to a minimum. Therefore, the White Paper acknowledges in those and many other paragraphs that there will be environmental damage.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that the Government recognised that there would be problems in Kent, and that they were concerned about that. Paragraph 45 of the White Paper states that the Government would now be concentrating upon making the chosen scheme as acceptable as possible.".

From now on, there must be good public relations where there has been none before. Indeed, there must be much more than good public relations—there must be consultation. I am glad that we have been promised a consultation committee.

The project will need explanation because there has been little to date. It will also need participation. The Government should not be afraid of that. Let them not only listen to the people of Kent, but invite them to have a say in the final decisions about the environment. The Government must clearly explain the meaning of a hybrid Bill and how it works. Such a Bill must be sold to the public.

There is an understandable clamour for a public inquiry. Without one, people will want to know the meaning of the hybrid Bill. It may be that they will have a better hearing with a hybrid Bill. The Government must explain what such a Bill does and how it works.

The Government must take positive steps to safeguard the environment. I do not simply mean engineering, building, road works and rail investment. Let us hear about limiting the intrusion of those developments into the environment. Let us hear about landscaping—artificial hills that can screen unsightly engineering and industrial developments. That has already happened in other parts of the country. For example, at Torness in Scotland an artificial hill now screens a nuclear power station. The sight of a nuclear power station on the way to Edinburgh is hardly attractive. The Government should tell the public how they intend to reduce the adverse effects of this great tunnel development.

I counsel not only the Government, but the Channel Tunnel Group, because in this private sector activity that group has a great responsibility to show that it is concerned about protecting the environment. It should strive for a new image—not only as an engineering company, but, in this modern age, as a company concerned about the public and about the impact on the environment.

I reiterate what my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Wolfson) said about roads. The M20 is to be a three-lane dual carriage motorway connecting with the M25. We daily read about the crowded three lanes of the M25. Would it not be better to build the route to Europe as a four-lane motorway so that we will not have to install the fourth lane in 10 years?

As mentioned in the environmental appraisal, there has to be traffic direction. It will be better to funnel the traffic to the Channel tunnel on the M20, when it is properly built, than for people to seek the best way they can to avoid the crowded M20, as I think it will become, and to use what the environmental appraisal describes as the "rat runs" of minor roads. That would create danger and havoc across Kent.

I am making a Kentish parochial speech. The people of Kent are lucky to live in one of the most beautiful corners of England. Dover and Kent have always been the gateway to the continent. We should not blame the people of Kent for standing up and trying to preserve their heritage. The Government must remember that, because it is important.

9.5 pm

Mr. Stuart Holland (Vauxhall)

I certainly hope that when the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) meets the President of France in a few days time he will be more diplomatic about the nature of Socialism than the Secretary of State for Transport in his concluding remarks.

The right hon. Gentleman tried to downgrade the policies of the Left in relation to the public sector, but it is interesting to consider what we have learned tonight from the debate. The French Socialist Government and their publicly owned railway system was the first to offer lower fares and put a specific mark on how much lower they would be. French trains on the link will travel faster than ours—160 miles per hour rather than 100 miles per hour—which is of significance in the length of time for crossing the Channel. There is freer information from the French Government.

The hon. Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale) told us that the French Socialist Government have published far more information on this issue and its direct and indirect effects than the British Government have. That was a point made by Conservative Members. The French Government's plans were prepared earlier and were more publicised than the Government's. The French Government have also offered something which is favoured by our Government, wider choice. There is a choice once one has crossed the Channel about where one can go. The striking thing about the French proposals is that one could take the train from Britain either to Paris or Brussels.

That is relevant in relation to the dispersal argument—the dispersal of the traffic after it has come through the chunnel. It is relevant to my constituents since the outlet terminus, the sole outlet terminus scheduled by the Government, for all the rail fixed link traffic is Waterloo. The dispersal argument is a very strong one. If we are to make effective use of this link we need to be able to bypass London, via Euston to the north-east, or via the new Snow hill tunnel when it is completed. For that traffic which has its destination in London there should have been serious consideration in the White Paper—there is no reference to the issue—of the night sleeper traffic going to White City or Olympia, for freight going to the docklands, and for passengers going to either Waterloo or Victoria. It will be possible to take a train for Paris or Brussels. Similarly it should be possible—I can see even now the indicator board flashing at the Gare du Nord—for one to learn that the next train will go either to Victoria or to Waterloo, or that it will go from Kings Cross through the new Snow hill tunnel to Birmingham, Durham and then Newcastle or from Kings Cross to Birmingham, Crewe and Glasgow.

If there is not this dispersal of traffic, and if the international rail traffic—as anticipated in a throwaway sentence in the White Paper—will outlet only at Waterloo, the commercial viability of the project, on which the Government pride themselves, will be profoundly qualified. The real advantage of rail over air is time and convenience. We all know from experience of the inconvenience of commuting to Paris or Brussels. We have to take a train, the tube or the car to Heathrow, where we have to wait before taking the aeroplane, and, on arrival, we have to take more transport to our final destination. A minimum of three legs is necessary in a journey from central London to central Paris. We have heard much about rail versus sea, but if there is a real commercial advantage in rail versus air it will be as a result of being able to rest or work on a train without interruption, and to get off the train at the other end and leave the station immediately. But that is not what is proposed. What I have said about Waterloo are not local issues concerning the use of one station, but issues that concern the viability of the project.

What is the sense of taking three and a quarter hours on the train and then having to go through Customs as at an airport? That would profoundly undermine the attraction of the scheme. There are proposals, which I have here, for six new rail platforms and their extensions at Waterloo and for an entire new international terminal. It will be a double-decker arrangement over the concourse. However, it does not make sense. Its aesthetic attractiveness is one issue. but we must consider whether it will be any use to the millions of consumers, including those who go to the City via Waterloo, who use the station as a commuter station. They will find that part of the station is allocated exclusively to international trains—that part closest to the exit to Shell house, the City and the Bank link.

There will be congestion because passenger trains from Paris will arrive in the early morning and in the late evening. The Minister is indicating by facial expression—perhaps it is something else—that he is not sure. I am not sure of him because I have got no information on these matters from him, although I tabled a written parliamentary question. All of the signs are that the overnight sleeper link will arrive in the morning, and thus increase congestion. Congestion is of some relevance to the House. This is not an entirely facetious argument. Those who get on the train at Paris at the end of a normal working day will arrive in London at about 9.30 pm. Perhaps by the time that passengers have got out of the station and into other traffic, assuming that they do not have to go through Customs, as Customs formalities could be completed on the train, it will be 9.50 pm. Perhaps the Minister will assure us that the times will be different. Nevertheless, if the project is a success and there are many trains arriving in London in the late evening, there will be a problem.

Many hon. Members enjoy telling me that they are my constituents, and that they live in the Division Bell area. If the trains arrive at about 9.45 pm. the Division Bell area and property values in it might shrink. There are only two bridges for road traffic from Waterloo. Anybody who has gone across Waterloo bridge from Waterloo station knows that there is one underpass going north, but that to go to the west end down the Strand is a positive nightmare.

In practice, traffic leaving Waterloo turns left, goes around the traffic island next to County hall and comes over Westminster bridge. That is not an insignificant factor if we are to have road traffic links and bus services. The Minister has said nothing about buses. Will private contractors be able to pick up traffic at Waterloo? Such considerations must be examined.

Many of my constituents and I believe that those matters should be considered by a tried and tested means—a public inquiry. I have great sympathy for hon. Members with constituency interests, such as the hon. Member for Thanet, North and the hon. Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe), who have been steamrolled by the Government to agree the decision in principle.

Mr. Ridley

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Waterloo station was built through the private hybrid Bill procedure?

Mr. Holland

The Secretary of State must do better than that. Is he aware that at: the great event to take place in four days' time the President of France and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will sign an agreement for traffic and French tourists to outlet exclusively at a station in London called Waterloo? What a victory for the entente cordiale. For the sake of common sense, give them the choice of going either to Victoria or Waterloo. But there are more important points to be made than on hybrid Bills.

The Government have not undertaken to set up a public inquiry. Although hon. Members who represent Kent have been steamrolled to get the principle of a Channel link passed so that construction work can start, there is plenty of time for proper public inquiry procedures to be undertaken into where traffic should outlet in London and elsewhere.

Environmental factors should also be considered. I have received extensive submissions from constituents that the local area could not sustain the traffic or take the strain. I hope to speak on Second Reading to take those points further.

9.16 pm
Sir John Osborn (Sheffield, Hallam)

New capital projects, including the Channel tunnel, are surely what the construction and engineering industries, the north, and the Confederation of British Industry have been asking for to provide employment. Listening to the debate, it is clear that there is some truth in the observation that whenever a Government make a decision, the British people are good at providing every reason why its implementation is, at best, difficult, and, at worst, impossible. I have even received a letter from Sealink stressing the opinion poll view that once the road link had been abandoned, the public turned against the concept of a Channel tunnel at all.

I welcome the White Paper, and particularly the Government's choice. As joint chairman of the all-party Channel tunnel group, certainly at the December exhibition and conference at Lille, I have supported the fixed link, or ligne fixe. Despite the speeches of the right hon. Members for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Millan) and for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), I am convinced that the decision is good for Britain as a whole. It is, or could be, good for our industry, the midlands and the north. It is a challenge and an opportunity that I hope the country will grasp.

My hon. Friends who represent constituencies in Kent, including my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Couch), have given contradictory views about whether the link will take jobs from the area, especially from Dover and Folkestone, or bring new industries to its rural areas, ruining the environment and despoiling the countryside which, as a northerner, I have come to know and appreciate. From what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, I am convinced that the decision need not despoil Kent, or bring unwanted industries into the towns, alongside the main roads, the railway lines and motorways between the centre of Britain and the coast of Kent. As a northerner, I see no reason why Kent need have any more new industries than it wants. I want to see those industries come to the midlands and the north, and I want political and industrial leaders to take this opportunity to make sure that that happens. After all, there will be new industries stemming from creation of the tunnel, but already it is a fact that 60 per cent. of our exports go to the Community anyhow.

The British Rail-SNCF link could provide the opportunity for long-distance freight—I admit that that may be container traffic—to travel from Manchester to Milan on a regular basis. The EEC freight network—which is somewhat larger than ours because of the longer distances involved—could undoubtedly bring the midlands and northern industries nearer to their customers and markets. That will be a vital step forward, and it is an opportunity which must be welcomed and grasped.

During the debate in December 1985 the Euroroute and expressway were considered to have advantages. In reply to the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lewis), I said that I supported the solution put forward by the Channel Tunnel Group because that would do least harm to the Channel ports and I hoped that 50 per cent. of cross-Channel traffic would still be carried by sea. It would be least costly, take a lower volume of traffic to provide a return and give a faster passage.

In the debate inspired by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) on the dangers of the expressway drive-through, I supported the concept of drive-through but was alarmed about safety, ventilation and the technology to achieve that. On the other hand, if the expressway could modify its original proposal from two to four tunnels, it occurred to me that there was no reason why the CTG should not start with rail and, if traffic demand increased to justify it, supplement the original two rail tunnels with an additional road tunnel. I believe it is better to start with known technology and to "walk before you run". A drive-through could be provided later.

Subsequently I was in favour of the drive-through being limited to cars, not heavy road vehicles. A 50-kilometre stretch of road does not strike me as being a good place for a mixture of heavy road vehicles and cars. The larger tunnel, having three lanes and perhaps a reserve or certainly laybys for heavy vehicles as well as cars, could be too wide for the narrow width of chalk for the tunnelling operation. Paragraph 16 of the White Paper deals with that. In the long term, I favour a drive-through for cars only. I hope that heavy vehicles will continue to use the shuttle or the ferries. That decision can be made when the first step has been taken.

As other hon. Members wish to speak, I shall withdraw my other comments, except to stress one final point. The Sheffield chamber of commerce has asked me to explain what orders are likely to come to the north of England over the next few years. The engineering requirements amount to £700 million. The need for pre-cast linings means that £130 million will go to the midlands and north of England. Cast-iron tunnel equipment will mean £30 million to the midlands and north-east England. Rolling stock would bring £120 million to the midlands and the north-west and electric locomotives would bring another £40 million. There are orders for the north in the short term, and the north and midlands could be brought nearer to their customers by a railway network which is proving itself elsewhere in Europe. I therefore welcome the decision taken by my right hon. Friend.

9.24 pm
Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)

I also welcome the Government's decision and regard the Channel tunnel as potentially the biggest boost for railways in Britain this century, following decades of neglect.

British Rail predicts that cross-Channel passenger traffic will jump from the present figure of 3 million a year to 9 million in the first year of the tunnel's operation as a result of self-generated traffic and as the reliability and price competitiveness of rail services divert passengers from air travel. These figures are based on conventional train speeds. By the year 2003, when new high-speed rail services will be open to Brussels and Paris, passenger traffic is expected to rise to an annual total of 11 million.

The Channel tunnel also gives British Rail enormous new potential in the international freight market. At present, international freight traffic represents only 2 per cent. of British Rail's freight business by comparison with 22 per cent. on German railways and 21 per cent. on French railways. Present cross-Channel carryings of freight are only about 2 million tonnes. British Rail estimates that 6 million tonnes of cross-Channel freight will be rail-borne at the end of the first year of operation at the end of 1993, rising to 7 million tonnes by the year 2003.

There is no doubt about these projected increases in rail passenger and freight carryings. The result will be faster and more frequent services to European destinations and this will appeal to the travelling public and British industry alike. The business man in Manchester will be able to load his freight on to wagons in Manchester and they can be offloaded at Duisberg, for example, without any difficulties stemming from crossing the Channel.

More services, the new build for freight and passenger trains, new terminals and additional maintenance requirements will mean more jobs in the railway industry. The Government must do two things to enable British Rail to seize this opportunity. First, they must ensure that the appropriate levels of capital investment are available to British Rail to carry out the necessary new build of rolling stock and infrastructure development. At the very least, there must be no constraints on British Rail's external financing limits for this work. The capital investment must be made in the United Kingdom.

Secondly, the Government must ensure that agreements are reached as speedily as possible with the Home Office and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise to permit on train Customs and immigration facilities. I hope that when my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) replies he will assure us that he will do his best to ensure that those who are shadow Home Office Ministers will make certain that this is done if the Government cannot give us an assurance tonight.

What will the benefits be for employment? Combined British Rail and Channel Tunnel Group expenditure in the United Kingdom on equipment, materials and labour in the construction phase of the tunnel will be over £1 billion. This is an enormous opportunity for British industry. As the expenditure will be primarily on engineering and construction works, the traditional industrial regions can benefit the most. There is no reason to believe that the orders will be placed to any large extent outside the United Kingdom. In practice, British Rail will buy British, unless tenders are improbably low from abroad. The Government must help British industry, and an assurance from the Minister of State on this score when he replies would be extremely welcome.

We want none of the dumping which has so often led British manufacturers to lose out on rail export contracts. For the CTG contracts, EEC competitive tendering rules will apply. Again, there is no reason to believe that British industry will be unable to compete effectively.

The CTG has maintained consistently that its expenditure in the construction phase will generate about 40,000 man years of direct employment in the United Kingdom. If we add to that figure the indirect employment that will be generated, there will perhaps be about 70,000 man years of employment. In addition, we shall have British Rail investment, which will provide many jobs and opportunities, mainly outside the south-east. It is clear that in the construction phase there are enormous benefits available to the north of England, Scotland and Wales, with Government help and if the Government wish.

I must disagree with the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Millan) about a parallel with Aberdeen and the oil industry. Aberdeen benefited from the oil industry, but so did the rest of the country when the oil came aboard. Unfortunately. the Governments economic mismanagement meant that all the oil revenue was spent on paying unemployment benefit, but that is another matter. If we have a Channel tunnel, it will benefit the south-east and the rest of the country.

If the economy were buoyant, we would not be talking in these terms. Unfortunately, the economy is not buoyant and we have problems and apprehensions about jobs. If the Government will it, we can benefit as a united country from the Channel tunnel project. I hope that it goes ahead without any impediment.

9.28 pm
Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

I am delighted to have the opportunity briefly to express my welcome for the scheme for the Channel tunnel. I am disappointed that the rail-only option has been taken, especially in view of the excitement and attractions of the Channel expressway, which was very much a latecomer to the scheme as a whole. If the lead time between the tender date and the date for a decision was too short to enable the Channel expressway to be assessed properly, the date for decision should have been extended. We may have been forced into this historic decision in something of a hurry to satisfy the electoral needs of the French Government.

There is no incentive for CTG ever to build the road link, and if every possible contender finds it difficult, because it has to wait to the year 2020, to put in the road scheme, that will not happen within the foreseeable future. It will be a bonus to Kent, and my constituency in the Medway towns, which has an unemployment rate of 17 per cent. I have sympathy for those hon. Members from the north and from Scotland who say that the scheme will siphon the employment from elsewhere down into Kent, but the Medway towns and other industrial parts of Kent are prepared and able to exploit this potential, which will be of advantage.

The M2 will be equally as important as the M20 as a route to the tunnel. The M2 will become so busy that it will cease to be the local bypass for the Medway towns and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) suggested, will make it imperative that a northern relief road for the Medway towns and a third crossing over the Medway be built soon.

9.30 pm
Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)

Although this has been a truncated debate, it has illustrated not only the depth of the cross-party support for the scheme but the depth of the cross-party opposition to it. I shall have some difficulty in reconciling all the views that have been expressed in the debate, but I think that I can take a majority of the House with me fairly early on when I refer to the contribution of the Secretary of State. If anybody was careful not to say anything about the consequences of the Channel link, it was the Secretary of State. He had his usual go at the Labour party and used the example of myself and my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), who is sponsored by the National Union of Seamen. We have never made any secret about the fact that we have disagreed over the desirability of such a link.

The Secretary of State had a go at the Liberal party arid saw contradictions there. I cannot answer for it, and none of its members is present. I thought that the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) set out as honestly as he could what he felt, but who knows about the rest of the Liberal party—then again, who cares?

When the Secretary of State makes such attacks, he overlooks a major point about which we had to tick him off at Question Time only last week. We all know, because he has said so on several occasions, that the right hon. Gentleman opposes all schemes for a Channel tunnel link. He shakes his head, but for years he has opposed all such links. The Prime Minister took him to Lille the other week:, and then sent him home like the old-fashioned post office telegram boy to tell the House of Commons what she had decided. The right hon. Gentleman had to do his duty. He arrived without having had his lunch and delivered the, for him, unwelcome message that the Channel Tunnel Group scheme had been chosen and it was up to him, as the Secretary of State, to find enough excuses to justify the choice and the public resources to cater for the demand that such a choice would make on British Rail.

The Secretary of State had some sport—I make no complaint about that—with the Opposition's amendment. I concede that it is fairly detailed, but we feel, or at least those of us who have the slightest glimmer of hope on the Channel link feel, that the detailed nature of our amendment amply illustrates the fears expressed from both sides of the House about the likely economic consequences of a Channel tunnel link and its impact not only on the south-east but on all other regions.

I said earlier that it lies beyond my abilities as an orator., poor though they may be, to convince right hon. and hon. Members who are completely against the fixed link. My prospects of convincing my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Millan) are about equal to the prospects of Berwick Rangers winning the Scottish cup. He said that the scheme will have an impact upon the economic imbalance between the south-east of England and the rest of the United Kingdom, but acceptance of the Channel Tunnel Group scheme or any other scheme is irrelevant to the economic imbalance. Those who are opposed to the fixed link have an obligation to tell the House how the economic imbalance will be improved without the scheme. I sympathise with and understand the view that a better use could be found for the £1 billion that is to be put into this scheme.

I served upon the Standing Committee that considered the last Channel tunnel Bill.

Mr. Boyes

That was in 1926.

Mr. Snape

No, it was not in 1926. My hon. Friend must get it right. It was in 1975.

The objection of many of my hon. Friends then was that better use could be made of public money than by spending it upon a Channel tunnel. I did not agree at that time with my hon. Friends and I do not agree with them now, but I understand their point of view. However, the House is aware that this fixed link will not involve public money. Therefore, my hon. Friends presumably wish the £1 billion of private sector capital to be spent in other directions. However, that choice is not open to us. We have no control over the expenditure of private sector capital. I fear that if it were not to be spent upon the fixed link, it would not be spent upon the deprived regions of the United Kingdom.

We have to decide, therefore, whether the scheme that has been chosen by the Prime Minister can remotely be defended. The Government have missed an opportunity. They should have set out the economic advantages of the scheme for the rest of the United Kingdom. The hon. Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale) let the cat out of the bag when he referred to the amount of information that is available to electors on the other side of the Channel. The French Government have set out in detail the impact of the scheme on the French economy, particularly upon that part of France which most closely abuts the entrance and the exit to the new Channel link. Why have our Government not done the same? This Government do not believe in the kind of planning that the French Government have long since embraced.

The Secretary of State had the cheek to tell us that this will be a wonderful, capitalist tunnel. It was a somewhat exotic phrase, even for him. Presumably the tunnel changes halfway under the Channel and becomes a wonderful Socialist tunnel, although I do not suppose the fact that President Mitterrand is a Socialist has ever entered his head.

The right hon. Gentleman referred earlier to what he called the inherent conservatism of the British people which he said was already being shown by the fact that they are writing letters objecting to the proposals. Again, he rather condemns himself from his own lips, because if there were a typical Conservative it would be the right hon. Gentleman. It is not his fault that he is the second son of Viscount Ridley and was educated at Eton and Balliol, but there are comparatively few Left-wing Socialists with such a background.

Mr. Ridley


Mr. Snape

I have not finished yet. I am not in a position to know about the right hon. Gentleman's friends, but I have not met too many Left-wing Socialists who are so educated, so if ever there were a typical Conservative it is the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Ridley

I only want to remind the hon. Gentleman that the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) was my fag at Eton.

Mr. Snape

All I can say is that it must have been that experience that drove my hon. Friend into the Campaign Group. I cannot think of a better reason.

The fact that our amendment is couched in the way that it is is also due to the fact that the Government have transparently failed to show how the so-called economic benefits can be fairly spread throughout the country. Indeed, according to the White Paper, there is no compulsion, there is not even an attempt at persuasion, to ensure that the large amount of capital expenditure to which the Channel Tunnel Group is committed will be spent within the United Kingdom. Yet a great deal of capital expenditure could, should and, one would hope, will be spent within the United Kingdom. I hope that when he replies the Minister will give us some definite assurances that that will happen. After all, the Channel Tunnel Group is talking about an expenditure of about £300 million on rolling stock.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Govan and others have talked about the plight of British Rail Engineering Limited and my right hon. Friend specifically referred to the future of Springburn. Nothing in the White Paper or the Government's proposals gives a shred of assurance for Springburn. They do nothing for the future of Swindon or Doncaster. The British Rail engineering workshops are being divided before privatisation and it is the Government's intention, with typical cynicism, to dispose of many employees of British Rail Engineering Limited before the orders for the work on this scheme are laid.

We are seeing the Government's usual cynicism. The redundancy payments for those who work in British Rail Engineering Limited will be picked up by the public sector. The taxpayer will be responsible for paying off skilled craftsmen throughout the country. Yet we know from the details that can be gleaned from the White Paper that the hundreds of millions of pounds worth of orders which will result from the Channel Tunnel Group scheme will go to a privatised British Rail Engineering Limited and those orders will benefit the private sector while the public sector will be left to pick up the bill. That is the reason for the cynicism that is being expressed by Labour Members. I hope that even at this late hour the Minister will say something about the future of those thousands of men and women within British Rail Engineering Limited who, regardless of the scheme, are facing redundancy.

The aspects on which the Government have failed to reassure any of us extend to substantial orders for BR. Where in the White Paper are there any details of the places from which rolling stock orders will emerge? There is talk about the Government's pricing policy and there are well-meaning hints about potential, but a Government who are prepared to tolerate the enormous decline in manufacturing industry that this Government have positively encouraged since 1979 are surely not to be trusted without specific details on BR's ordering policies.

Who is to build the 20 high-speed trains, the 400 freightliner wagons and the extra freight locomotives, wagons and coaches and who is to provide the electrics for the electrification schemes and the steel needed to meet the commitment for the large marshalling yard at Ashford? Who will construct—I refer to the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland)—the new international terminal at Waterloo? What guarantee do we have that the scheme will benefit British railways and engineering nationwide? We seek reassurance. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have referred to the benefits to British Rail freight that link will bring about. Will the Minister of State give assurances on the extension of section 8 grants?

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

Just give me the time.

Mr. Snape

The hon. Gentleman was the first to throw away the time available. He wants to say as little as possible. Whatever he says, it will probably be more than the Secretary of State, but I do not know whether he will say it as elegantly as his colleague. Is there to be an extension of section 8 grants to enable British Rail freight to take advantage of the long-haul and through freight trains that the CTG scheme should in all conscience bring?

In some ways, the debate has crossed party lines. One does not often hear encouragement such as we heard from the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Wolfson) in demanding much greater investment in BR. We hope that he will join us in two weeks at Transport Question Time when he can put these matters to the Secretary of State. He can bring his colleague the hon. Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe), who spoke of the failure of BR management to reduce fares and therefore fill trains. It is difficult—I shall say this slowly because I can say it only once and I hope that the hon. Member for Mid-Kent will understand me—to reduce fares and fill trains when faced with a Government who have been anxious for years to reduce the amount of money available to BR, especially under a Secretary of State who took £200 million out of BR's investment base. I hope that Conservative Members will turn up a little more often at Transport Question Time to put these points fairly and squarely.

The Opposition have tabled their amendment because they want assurances. We need better assurances on the future of British manufacturing industry, especially from the Secretary of State. I am not knocking the Minister of State, but I know that, if the assurances are not written down on his papers, we shall not get them. If we do not get assurances, I urge my colleagues to go into the Lobby to support the Opposition's amendment.

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

We have had a valuable debate in which hon. Members on both sides of the House have clearly expressed their views. A number of hon. Members, including my colleagues from south and east Kent, have expressed their anxieties and asked me questions. I shall seek to reply to those questions before turning to the negative and carping Opposition amendment which signally failed to rise to the occasion and in good measure contradicted what was said by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), who said that a Labour Government would continue this project.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) clearly misunderstood the purpose and method of operation of the consultative committee, which I shall chair, which will meet in Kent with local authorities and the Channel Tunnel Group. It is intended to seek ways to minimise the damage caused locally by the construction and to maximise the benefits by agreement between the promoters and the public authorities.

I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he sought, that those who make representations to the committee will not affect their ability to be petitioners against the Bill. The hon. Gentleman also asked about the resources available to British Rail. I assure him that we plan to give British Rail an EFL sufficient to cover its commercially viable investment, which is what is involved in this project.

Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)

On the subject of rail investments, will my hon. Friend say if and when British Rail will have the resources necessary to widen the loading gauge so that through container traffic from all parts of the United Kingdom will be able to use the tunnel? That is crucial to the rail freight argument.

Mr. Mitchell

I assure my hon. Friend that that is something which British Rail is planning.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Rees) asked whether the committee would meet in Kent other than in Maidstone. I assure him that we intend to move around the county. He mentioned the problem of Shakespeare cliff. I can again assure him that that is a matter that we will consider carefully in committee and with the promoters. He also asked about jobs. I shall deal with that point separately.

My right hon. and learned Friend asked for three assurances. The first was about predatory pricing. The Monopolies and Mergers Commission can deal with that point under the Fair Trading Act 1973. He also asked how quickly the Office of Fair Trading would deal with a problem. It can react quickly and carry out an assessment of a problem if one arises.

The right hon. Member for Deptford, Lewisham (Mr. Silkin) asked about spoil dumping at sea and whether it would kill the spawning fish in the English Channel. That matter will be covered by the work of my consultation committee. In no circumstances would we allow the spawning grounds to be damaged.

My hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale) asked about the trunking of Thanet Way. We are consulting Kent county council about that matter, and I shall see that the consultative committee covers that point. He mentioned, as did other hon. Members, a document produced by the French Government about their intended investment in the Pas de Calais. He asked whether we could have a similar document in the United Kingdom. We have that in the White Paper, the statements that have been made in the House, the questions that have been answered and the speeches that have been made in the debates. Drawing all those matters together in one document might be helpful to hon. Members. I will consider that point carefully.

The hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland) asked about Customs, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Wolfson). I agree that it is desirable that Customs and Excise formalities should if possible be carried out on the trains. We are discussing with the Customs and Excise what is needed to satisfy its requirements.

The hon. Member for Vauxhall and other hon. Members asked about the hybrid Bill procedure. I shall not go over the arguments about that again. The House has already well debated them. However, I have today written to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard), who has been in his place throughout the debate, and who is assiduous in representing his constituents' views. I have set out in full the procedure which applies to a hybrid Bill and informed him of the opportunities for consultation and objection available to those of his constituents who wish to take advantage of them. I will place a copy of that letter in the Library. I intend, in addition, to produce a layman's guide in the form of a simple leaflet so that his constituents and others who are affected may be aware of what it involves

A civil engineering project of this size, as with any other major project, is bound to have an effect on the environment. There will be damaging local effects and wider national benefits. As the House is aware, I will chair in Kent a committee consisting of local authorities, the Department of the Environment and the promoters. We shall be looking at ways of carrying the project through with a minimum of practical damage to the environment. I recognise that that has particular and unique effects on Shepway and it is my intention to seek an invitation as soon as possible to meet the council to discuss the effects.

However, it is not only in Shepway that there will be environmental effects. For years, environmental groups have been pressing for more goods to go by rail. Now those groups have got what they want because the Channel tunnel will provide a rail link between the United Kingdom rail network and the whole of the continental rail network. It will provide the opportunity for substantially more goods to go by rail than in the past. Susan Hoyle, the director of Transport 2000, said that the CTG scheme offers the best opportunity since the war for a major renaissance by British Rail. The House knows that the longer the distance, the better prospects British Rail has of competing successfully. We should certainly see an environmental benefit from freight going by rail rather than road.

I have been questioned on jobs. If the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) had left me more time, I could have dealt more effectively with that subject. For the next six years there will be more jobs on the ferries because trade is growing, more jobs in the Kent area because of the construction of the tunnel, more jobs in other parts of the country because they will have orders for engineering works, for British Rail work and for the merry-go-round to go on the train. All of that is a net benefit.

When the tunnel opens, there will be a short-term loss of about 1,600 jobs in Dover, but after that there will be a resumption of growth both in jobs and traffic on the ferries, which will mean that after 10 years there will be about 2,000 more jobs than at present. There will be huge opportunities for other parts of the country to compete more successfully because we will be able to get our goods more cheaply, efficiently and reliably into our export markets on the continent.

I turn to the Opposition amendment, and I do so with relish. It contains six carping criticisms. It complains that the Government have not published the full terms of the treaty and protocols. I see the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East nodding. The Opposition must know that it is not normal to do so in advance of signature of a treaty. No Governments do that and the previous Labour Government did not do it. There is no reason why we should depart from the established practice in that respect.

The amendment also refers to there being no Government commitment to finance British Rail. There is no need for the Government to finance British Rail when it is doing something which is commercially viable and can raise the money out of its own resources. The Government will ensure that its external financing limit poses no problems for this investment.

The carping amendment complains about the effect on jobs. As I have just explained, there will be benefits for jobs in Kent and other parts of the country and there will be benefits for jobs when the Channel tunnel is open. I believe that hon. Members on both sides of the House should take note of the substantial advantages when British industry is not suffering from the disadvantage of having to drag all its imports across the Channel, and having to send all its exports with double handling at each port end because it could not get them into the export markets. I am convinced, and I believe that the House will agree, that the opportunity for increased competitiveness by British industry makes many thousands of jobs more secure than they would otherwise have been.

The amendment attacks the Government for not having set up a public inquiry. I have already explained to the House that if we had a public inquiry it would mean that the Secretary of State would appoint an inspector and the inspector would carry out an inquiry and report to the Secretary of State, who would take the decision in private. That decision would be binding, whereas now the highest tribunal in the land—the House of Commons—is able to decide the issues. It is laughable to suggest that there is a lack of consumer choice.

I heartily commend the project to the House. It will provide a faster, more reliable and cheaper link with the continent.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 173, Noes 263.

Division No. 64] [10.00 pm
Abse, Leo Cook, Frank (Stockton North)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Corbett, Robin
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Corbyn, Jeremy
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Craigen, J. M.
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Crowther, Stan
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Cunliffe, Lawrence
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cunningham, Dr John
Barron, Kevin Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Deakins, Eric
Bell, Stuart Dewar, Donald
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dixon, Donald
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Dobson, Frank
Bermingham, Gerald Dormand, Jack
Bidwell, Sydney Douglas, Dick
Blair, Anthony Dubs, Alfred
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Duffy, A. E. P.
Boyes, Roland Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Bray, Dr Jeremy Eadie, Alex
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Ewing, Harry
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Fatchett, Derek
Buchan, Norman Faulds, Andrew
Caborn, Richard Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Fisher, Mark
Campbell, Ian Flannery, Martin
Campbell-Savours, Dale Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Carter-Jones, Lewis Forrester, John
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Foster, Derek
Clarke, Thomas Foulkes, George
Clelland, David Gordon Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S) Garrett, W. E.
Cohen, Harry George, Bruce
Coleman, Donald Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Conlan, Bernard Golding, John
Gourlay, Harry O'Neill, Martin
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central) Park, George
Hancock, Michael Parry, Robert
Hardy, Peter Pavitt, Laurie
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Pendry, Tom
Haynes, Frank Pike, Peter
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Prescott, John
Heffer, Eric S. Radice, Giles
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Randall, Stuart
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Redmond, Martin
Home Robertson, John Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Hoyle, Douglas Richardson, Ms Jo
Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Robertson, George
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Rogers, Allan
John, Brynmor Rooker, J. W.
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Rowlands, Ted
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Ryman, John
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Sedgemore, Brian
Lambie, David Sheerman, Barry
Lamond, James Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Leadbitter, Ted Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Short, Mrs R. (W'hampt'n NE)
Litherland, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Skinner, Dennis
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Loyden, Edward Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
McCartney, Hugh Snape, Peter
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Soley, Clive
McGuire, Michael Spearing, Nigel
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Stott, Roger
McKelvey, William Strang, Gavin
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
McNamara, Kevin Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
McTaggart, Robert Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Madden, Max Tinn, James
Marek, Dr John Torney, Tom
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Maxton, John Weetch, Ken
Maynard, Miss Joan Welsh, Michael
Meacher, Michael White, James
Michie, William Williams, Rt Hon A.
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Winnick, David
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Tellers for the Ayes:
Nellist, David Mr. John McWilliam and
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Mr. Ray Powell
O'Brien, William
Adley, Robert Cranborne, Viscount
Alexander, Richard Critchley, Julian
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Currie, Mrs Edwina
Ancram, Michael Dorrell, Stephen
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Durant, Tony
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Eggar, Tim
Boscawen, Hon Robert Emery, Sir Peter
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Fairbairn, Nicholas
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Favell, Anthony
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Forman, Nigel
Buck, Sir Antony Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Burt, Alistair Forth, Eric
Butterfill, John Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Fox, Marcus
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Franks, Cecil
Cartwright, John Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Cash, William Freeman, Roger
Chapman, Sydney Freud, Clement
Churchill, W. S. Fry, Peter
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Galley, Roy
Clegg, Sir Walter Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Cope, John Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Corrie, John Garel-Jones, Tristan
Couchman, James Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Glyn, Dr Alan McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Gow, Ian Madel, David
Gower, Sir Raymond Major, John
Grant, Sir Anthony Malins, Humfrey
Greenway, Harry Malone, Gerald
Gregory, Conal Maples, John
Griffiths, Sir Eldon Marlow, Antony
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Grist, Ian Mates, Michael
Ground, Patrick Mather, Carol
Grylls, Michael Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Gummer, Rt Hon John S Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Mellor, David
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Merchant, Piers
Hampson, Dr Keith Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Hannam, John Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hargreaves, Kenneth Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Harris, David Miscampbell, Norman
Harvey, Robert Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Haselhurst, Alan Monro, Sir Hector
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW) Moore, Rt Hon John
Hawksley, Warren Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Hayes, J. Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney Murphy, Christopher
Heathcoat-Amory, David Neale, Gerrard
Henderson, Barry Nelson, Anthony
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Neubert, Michael
Hickmet, Richard Newton, Tony
Hicks, Robert Nicholls, Patrick
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Norris, Steven
Hind, Kenneth Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Osborn, Sir John
Holt, Richard Ottaway, Richard
Hordern, Sir Peter Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Howard, Michael Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Pattie, Geoffrey
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Pawsey, James
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N) Penhaligon, David
Howells, Geraint Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Pollock, Alexander
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Porter, Barry
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Portillo, Michael
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Powell, Rt Hon J. E.
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Powell, William (Corby)
Jessel, Toby Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Price, Sir David
Johnston, Sir Russell Prior, Rt Hon James
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Raffan, Keith
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rathbone, Tim
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Renton, Tim
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rhodes James, Robert
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Key, Robert Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Knowles, Michael Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
Knox, David Roe, Mrs Marion
Lamont, Norman Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Lang, Ian Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lawler, Geoffrey Rost, Peter
Lawrence, Ivan Rowe, Andrew
Lee, John (Pendle) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Ryder, Richard
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Sackville, Hon Thomas
Lightbown, David Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lilley, Peter Sayeed, Jonathan
Livsey, Richard Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lyell, Nicholas Sims, Roger
McCrindle, Robert Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
McCurley, Mrs Anna Soames, Hon Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Speed, Keith
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Spence, John
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Spencer, Derek
Maclean, David John Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Squire, Robin Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Stanbrook, Ivor Waldegrave, Hon William
Stanley, Rt Hon John Walden, George
Steel, Rt Hon David Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Steen, Anthony Wallace, James
Stern, Michael Waller, Gary
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Ward, John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Watson, John
Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N) Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Stokes, John Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Sumberg, David Wheeler, John
Taylor, John (Solihull) Whitney, Raymond
Temple-Morris, Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Terlezki, Stefan Wilkinson, John
Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M. Winterton, Mrs Ann
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Winterton, Nicholas
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Wolfson, Mark
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Wood, Timothy
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S) Woodcock, Michael
Thornton, Malcolm Yeo, Tim
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Trippier, David Younger, Rt Hon George
Twinn, Dr Ian
van Straubenzee, Sir W. Tellers for the Noes:
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Mr. Peter Lloyd and
Viggers, Peter Mr. Francis Maude.
Waddington, David

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 268, Noes 107.

Division No. 65] [10.13 pm
Adley, Robert Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Alexander, Richard Freeman, Roger
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Freud, Clement
Ancram, Michael Fry, Peter
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Galley, Roy
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Glyn, Dr Alan
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Gow, Ian
Buck, Sir Antony Gower, Sir Raymond
Burt, Alistair Grant, Sir Anthony
Butterfill, John Greenway, Harry
Campbell-Savours, Dale Gregory, Conal
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Griffiths, Sir Eldon
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Cartwright, John Grist, Ian
Cash, William Ground, Patrick
Chapman, Sydney Grylls, Michael
Churchill, W. S. Gummer, Rt Hon John S
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Clegg, Sir Walter Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Cope, John Hampson, Dr Keith
Corrie, John Hannam, John
Couchman, James Hargreaves, Kenneth
Cranborne, Viscount Harris, David
Critchley, Julian Harvey, Robert
Currie, Mrs Edwina Haselhurst, Alan
Dorrell, Stephen Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)
Durant, Tony Hawksley, Warren
Eggar, Tim Hayes, J.
Emery, Sir Peter Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Fairbairn, Nicholas Heathcoat-Amory, David
Favell, Anthony Henderson, Barry
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Forman, Nigel Hickmet, Richard
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Hicks, Robert
Forth, Eric Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Hind, Kenneth
Fox, Marcus Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Franks, Cecil Holt, Richard
Hordern, Sir Peter Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Howard, Michael Osborn, Sir John
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Ottaway, Richard
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N) Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Howells, Geraint Pattie, Geoffrey
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Pawsey, James
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Penhaligon, David
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Pollock, Alexander
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Porter, Barry
Jessel, Toby Portillo, Michael
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Powell, William (Corby)
Johnston, Sir Russell Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Price, Sir David
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Prior, Rt Hon James
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Raffan, Keith
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rathbone, Tim
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Renton, Tim
Key, Robert Rhodes James, Robert
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Knowles, Michael Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Knox, David Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lambie, David Robertson, George
Lamont, Norman Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Lang, Ian Roe, Mrs Marion
Lawler, Geoffrey Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Lawrence, Ivan Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lee, John (Pendle) Rowe, Andrew
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Ryder, Richard
Lightbown, David Sackville, Hon Thomas
Lilley, Peter Sayeed, Jonathan
Livsey, Richard Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Sims, Roger
Lyell, Nicholas Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
McCrindle, Robert Soames, Hon Nicholas
McCurley, Mrs Anna Speed, Keith
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Spence, John
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Spencer, Derek
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Maclean, David John Squire, Robin
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Stanbrook, Ivor
Madel, David Stanley, Rt Hon John
Major, John Steel, Rt Hon David
Malins, Humfrey Steen, Anthony
Malone, Gerald Stern, Michael
Maples, John Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Marek, Dr John Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Marlow, Antony Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)
Mates, Michael Stokes, John
Mather, Carol Sumberg, David
Maude, Hon Francis Taylor, John (Solihull)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Temple-Morris, Peter
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Terlezki, Stefan
Mellor, David Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Merchant, Piers Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Miscampbell, Norman Thornton, Malcolm
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Monro, Sir Hector Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Trippier, David
Moore, Rt Hon John Twinn, Dr Ian
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Murphy, Christopher Viggers, Peter
Neale, Gerrard Waddington, David
Nelson, Anthony Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Newton, Tony Waldegrave, Hon William
Nicholls, Patrick Walden, George
Norris, Steven Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Wallace, James Winterton, Mrs Ann
Waller, Gary Winterton, Nicholas
Ward, John Wolfson, Mark
Wardle, C. (Bexhill) Wood, Timothy
Watson, John Woodcock, Michael
Wells, Bowen (Hertford) Yeo, Tim
Wells, Sir John (Maidstone) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wheeler, John Younger, Rt Hon George
Whitney, Raymond
Wiggin, Jerry Tellers for the Ayes:
Wilkinson, John Mr. Tim Sainsbury and
Williams, Rt Hon A. Mr. Michael Neubert.
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Fatchett, Derek
Aitken, Jonathan Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Flannery, Martin
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Barron, Kevin Foulkes, George
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Gale, Roger
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Garrett, W. E.
Bermingham, Gerald Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Bidwell, Sydney Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Boyes, Roland Hancock, Michael
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Hardy, Peter
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Haynes, Frank
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Heffer, Eric S.
Caborn, Richard Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hoyle, Douglas
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Clarke, Thomas Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S) Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Cohen, Harry Lamond, James
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Corbett, Robin Litherland, Robert
Corbyn, Jeremy Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Craigen, J. M. Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Crowther, Stan Loyden, Edward
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) McCartney, Hugh
Deakins, Eric McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Dixon, Donald MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Douglas, Dick McNamara, Kevin
Duffy, A. E. P. McWilliam, John
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Maxton, John
Eadie, Alex Maynard, Miss Joan
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Michie, William
Ewing, Harry Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Sheerman, Barry
Moate, Roger Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Skinner, Dennis
O'Brien, William Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
O'Neill, Martin Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Park, George Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Parry, Robert Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Pavitt, Laurie Torney, Tom
Pendry, Tom Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Pike, Peter Welsh, Michael
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) White, James
Redmond, Martin Winnick, David
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Richardson, Ms Jo Tellers for the Noes:
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N) Mr. Max Madden and
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW) Mr. Dave Nellist.
Ryman, John

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, This this House approves the Government's White paper on the Channel Fixed Link (Cmnd. 9735).