HC Deb 11 February 1986 vol 91 cc909-29 12.19 am
The Minister of State, Department of Transport (Mr. David Mitchell)

I beg to move, That the draft Precept Limitation (Passenger Transport Authorities) (Prescribed Maximum) Order 1986, which was laid before this House on 29th January, be approved.

The House will know that in a few weeks time the six metropolitan counties will pass largely unmourned into history. Their public transport activities will be carried on by new joint boards made up of representatives from each of the districts within the former metropolitan counties. Under the Local Government Act 1985, these joint boards were designated for precept control for their first three years. This means that the Secretary of State for Transport sets an upper limit on the amounts which the new joint board passenger transport authorities may charge local ratepayers.

The Government have sought agreement with the new joint boards as to their maximum precepts for 1986–87. Agreement has been reached with the West Midlands and with Tyne and Wear joint boards, but we have not found it possible to achieve this in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire. The order laid before the House on 29 January therefore sets an upper limit for the precept of those four authorities. We have had several months of discussion with the joint boards about the appropriate level of their expenditure in 1986–87. The order before the House is the outcome of those discussions and the consequences of the failure of four of the six metropolitan counties to reach agreement with the Government on their maximum precept.

Perhaps it would be helpful if I explained a little of the background to these differences of view. Until not so long ago, the typical traveller paid for public transport through the fare box. People paid for their bus tickets, and so on, in much the same way as they paid for their food or their clothes or any other expenditure which they chose to undertake. But in recent years the practice has grown up of subsidising bus operators to run bus routes which did not have sufficient passengers to be viable, and, in addition, some authorities have given subsidies to the bus operators to reduce their fares below the economic cost.

It is possible to compare the amount of this subsidy in different parts of the United Kingdom in a form which adjusts for differences in population by looking at the cost per person in different counties. For example, in Oxfordshire public transport subsidies amount to £2 per person per year, to provide concessionary fares to certain groups and bus services to communities which would otherwise be isolated. Looking across the counties of England, one can see a number of counties where the amount per person spent in subsidising bus services is somewhat greater.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

Will the Minister admit that in counties such as South Yorkshire the electors have shown time after time, by voting Labour, that they entirely approve of the transport policies of those local authorities? Why does the hon. Gentleman not put it to the test and let the people decide at the ballot box?

Mr. Mitchell

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to complete my argument, he will find that I cover that point. One can ascertain the amount of expenditure in different counties on a comparable basis. Expenditure per person on subsidising bus services is £2 in Oxfordshire, £3 in Warwickshire, £6 in Hampshire and £13 in Lancashire. Some authorities have taken this to ridiculous lengths. For example, the expenditure on transport per head of the population in West Yorkshire is £23—compared with £2 in Oxfordshire —in Greater Manchester it is £30, in Merseyside it is £53 and in South Yorkshire it is £60. This is paid by the ratepayer. This is a degree of extravagance which has expremely unfortunate consequences for the ratepayers. In West Yorkshire last year the total rate in the pound—county plus districts—was 209p. In Manchester the figure was 228p, in Merseyside 246p, and in South Yorkshire 269p.

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

Does the Minister realise that when the cheaper fares policy was introduced by the Labour-controlled Merseyside county council in 1981 the Liverpool stores committee was wholly against it, but when it saw the upturn in passenger users it was wholly in favour of the cheap fares policy—and those people are not used to voting Labour?

Mr. Mitchell

Any store that is to have its customers brought to its door at a subsidised rate will be in favour of that. What would the hon. Gentleman expect? The position here is that the shire counties' average is 181p in the pound, whereas for South Yorkshire it is 269p in the pound as a result of this extravagant expenditure.

That is not all of the story. Each of these metropolitan counties, in a rake's progress of expenditure, was spending its reserves as if money had gone out of fashion last year, so that people living in those areas enjoyed the benefit of cheap fares at a cost far in excess of the income of the authority. It is like someone blowing his life savings and living the life of Riley, which can go on only until the savings have run out and the party is over. That is the situation in the metropolitan counties. The party is over.

Mr. Allan Roberts (Bootle)

Does the Minister agree that if he ratecaps the Merseyside passenger transport authority, and if it takes over Liverpool airport, which loses money, it will have the choice of either closing the airport or of subsidising it, as a consequence of which it will have to cut its bus services, because it does not have the money to do both? Does that not mean that Liverpool airport is likely to close unless it is subsidised? If it is not subsidised, bus services will not be provided in Merseyside. Does the Minister want Liverpool airport to close?

Mr. Mitchell

The hon. Gentleman knows that decisions about priorities are for the PTA. It is not for Ministers to lay down what should be done.

I can well understand the hon. Gentleman seeking to intervene when he did, because I was just about to draw attention to the extent to which local authorities in those areas overspent their income last year and drew on their reserves. The spending of the county council and PTE reserves in 1985–86 was equivalent to an additional precept of 27p in West Yorkshire, 22p in Greater Manchester, 23p in Merseyside and 21p in South Yorkshire. In short, last year the expenditure was much greater than the income, and this year the ratepayers are paying according to what is spent. That is why so many screams are coming from certain quarters.

Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)

Is it the Minister's argument that because the people of West Yorkshire and other counties have voted for this sort of passenger transport system he feels that he is justified in taking it away, and that what he really wants to do on the figures that he has quoted is to reduce the quality of service, so that what we receive in the metropolitan counties will be equivalent to what is received in the shire counties? The Minister's argument is not about levelling up or about saving the ratepayer, it is about cutting services. Why does he not have the courage to admit that to the House?

Mr. Mitchell

I am far more concerned about striking a proper balance between the interests of bus travellers and ratepayers. Ratepayers have been raped in so many places that it is high time they received a square deal.

Hon. Members may ask why a local authority should seek to spend on such a colossal scale compared with the level of expenditure in other parts of the country, and the answer is simply that Left-wing politicians realise that bus travellers have votes, but that those who pick up the rate bill often do not. It was cheap for councillors to spend extravagantly on subsidising the voters' bus services, and they saw little disadvantage in pursuing the policy, since many of the ratepayers would be businesses, which do not have votes. It was cheap and nasty — cheap for the politicians, and nasty for the ratepayer. Unfortunately for them and the country, many such businesses can vote with their feet, and have done so. They have left constituencies and areas where high rates make it difficult to start a business.

Mr. Allan Roberts


Mr. Mitchell

I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman. Businesses have a life cycle. They start with people with new ideas, products, zest and enthusiasm. The grow, create employment, grow old, tired and staid, and, often, die. Their place is taken by new businesses, with new ideas, employing new people. In the metropolitan counties, because of the high level of rates, few new businesses have been started. The result is that we have the burden of unemployment in areas where that should not be so, and it has a significant effect.

Mr. Roberts

The right hon. and learned Member for Southport (Sir I. Percival), the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton) and I represent the lowest rated metropolitan district. With such low rates and a Conservative council which has cut services to the bone and kept rates low, can the Minister explain why Sefton has a 30 per cent. unemployment rate and businesses are leaving the area? If rates drive businesses away, why should that be the case?

Mr. Mitchell

The hon. Gentleman will know that it is not merely the district rate, but the amount levied by the metropolitan county, which has caused high rates and driven businesses away. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Order. I remind the House, especially hon. Members wishing to catch my eye, and hon. Members making interventions that this is a short debate.

Mr. Mitchell

The result is that unemployment has remained desperately high in those areas. The Government should not wash their hands of the matter. One of the important reasons for the order is that we are starting on the process of reducing the burden on ratepayers in metropolitan counties so that gradually there will be a better prospect for securing an increase in job creation and employment opportunities for those who live in those areas.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)


Mr. Mitchell

I have given way several times, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will seek to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

By the order the Government seek to set a maximum for the precept that may be charged by four of the six new joint board PTAs. The maximum precepts are set out in the schedule to the order as follows: Greater Manchester 19.99p, Merseyside 44.88p, South Yorkshire 44.07p, and West Yorkshire 26.51p. Total expenditure levels, which we determined in December are only some 3 per cent., in real terms, below the equivalent budgeted metropolitan county council expenditure this year, but that expenditure has been supplemented by some £35 million of PTE reserves. The underlying reduction in expenditure is more than 3 per cent. There is a long way to go, but the ratepayers can take hope from the fact that we are engaged in a programme which over three years will bring them to a more reasonable level of expenditure on transport services, and those thinking of setting up in business, and those who would be employed by firms starting in business, can look forward to more jobs as the rate burdens cease to distract and destroy business starting in the area.

We have also provided some immediate help to reduce the burden falling on ratepayers in the metropolitan counties in 1986–87. The additional police grant announced by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will provide some significant assistance. In addition, I should remind the House that in announcing the rate support grant settlement for the next financial year, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment stressed that any consequences of abolition would be subject to a safety net. This ensures that the total burden on ratepayers in the metropolitan areas is no greater as a result of abolition than it would have been if the metropolitan counties had continued to exist.

Mr. Wareing

That is not true.

Mr. Mitchell

The hon. Gentleman says that that is not true. It is true. He may be deceiving himself, because he has failed to take account of the £35 million of reserves which were blown last year in sustaining expenditure higher than the income received by the authorities.

Mr. Wareing

If the ratepayers will be better off under the system which the Minister is introducing, how much block grant will be paid to the joint boards for transport next year?

Mr. Mitchell

I have given the figures for the precept set by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I should put that more correctly and say "the maximum precept" set by my right hon. Friend.

I recognise that the precepts that we are setting, despite those measures, are higher than we would have wished. However, the ratepayers would do well to contemplate how much larger the bill might have been had the authorities been able to continue their fantastic policies without restraint. The charge in Merseyside, for example, would have been 58p, or nearly 30 per cent. higher than we propose that the authority should be allowed to spend. South Yorkshire would have needed a truly enormous precept of 66p—half as much again as will be required under our policies.

Instead of those grotesque amounts, we confidently expect that by the end of the three years of precept control metropolitan ratepayers will be enjoying the benefits of much reduced charges. The long-term benefits should do much to stimulate and revive the ailing economies of those areas. I commend the order to the House.

12.37 am
Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)

I have no doubt that in your long experience in the House and in the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you have heard many remonstrations from the Opposition about the way in which we conduct our business. I do not wish to disappoint you this evening. We know of no other country whose Parliament would be debating the future funding of its public transport system at about 12.35 am for a maximum of one and a half hours.

I wish it to be firmly understood by the House, the Secretary of State and the Minister of State that the Opposition think that the procedure of introducing a statutory instrument whose contents have massive and wide-ranging consequences for millions of our people who use public transport every day is completely unacceptable.

To allow time for my hon. Friends who represent areas affected by the order, I shall not make a long and detailed critique of the Government's proposals. My hon. Friends will spell out in precise terms what it means for their county council areas.

Having spent a year of my life opposing the provisions of the Transport Act 1985 and having been locked in political and intellectual conflict with the Secretary of State—although for him the latter was hard—and with the Minister of State during the passage of that measure through the House, it gives me no pleasure to report that what my hon. Friends and I said at that time has proved to be true.

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

The hon. Gentleman talks of intellectual conflict. If his intellect does not tell him that the order before the House is made under the abolition measure and arises out of local government legislation and has nothing whatever to do with the Transport Act 1985, his intellect is sadly lacking.

Mr. Stott

If I had time, I would rebut that intervention. Regrettably, I do not have the time, so I will ignore it.

The deregulation of Britain's bus industry, allied to the abolition of the metropolitan counties, will prove to be a disaster. With the perspicacity of an ostrich, the Secretary of State continued to pursue the ludicrous idea that the free market could be visited on public transport, unfettered and without constraint.

Some of us suspected the real motives that lay behind the Transport Act 1985. That measure was simply a parliamentary vehicle by which the Secretary of State could reduce the Revenue support for public transport in the UK. Our worst fears about that measure are coming to fruition.

Mr. Matthew Parris (Derbyshire, West)

I recall the passage of the 1985 Act.

Mr. Tony Banks

Did the hon. Gentleman come by bus?

Mr. Parris

If reference is being made to the fact that I am wearing a dinner jacket, I am dressed in this fashion because I have been to the annual dinner of the Bus and Coach Council, where I sat next to Councillor Alec Waugh from South Yorkshire county council—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Interventions to speeches must be brief.

Mr. Parris

—who was wearing a considerably more expensive dinner jacket than I. I recall the hours of debate on the 1985 measure and the intellectual content. This order, however, does not derive from that measure, and I am still waiting to hear the hon. Gentleman's case.

Mr. Stott

I, too, attended the Bus and Coach Council annual dinner. I discarded my dinner jacket for this debate. If the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) will remain in his place, I will educate him into the reasons why the Transport Act 1985 and the order are closely linked.

The order sets out the precept limits placed on the metropolitan counties of Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Merseyside. Tyne and Wear accepted the Government's original proposal. The only passenger transport authority for which a change has been made is the West Midlands PTA. The change results only from a technicality — a product of a penny rate used by the Department of the Environment, which has been miscalculated. All the PTAs, except those that I have just mentioned, have appealed against the decision, because of the severe damage that will be inflicted on their areas.

We are debating the amount of revenue, via a punitive GRE settlement, with which all the metropolitan counties must operate this year and early next year. South Yorkshire is represented this evening by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn). I hope that he will catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. During the past ten years, South Yorkshire has consistently returned a Labour-controlled county council that has administered a public transport system second to none in the world. As a consequence of the order—if the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West would pay attention—South Yorkshire will suffer horrendous job losses, route closures and fare increases.

The same can be said for the county of West Yorkshire. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden), if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will make that clear. As a direct result of the order, West Yorkshire envisages that in rural areas some communities could lose their service completely and Sunday services would be considerably reduced. Early morning services in suburban areas would be restricted and evening services would be limited.

In my county of Greater Manchester — my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Mr. Callaghan) will have something to say later if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker—the passenger transport executive has said that as a consequence of deregulation and the provisions in the order, 2,000 busmen and women will be made redundant, routes will be cut, and fares will be increased by 15 per cent.

Mr. David Sumberg (Bury, South)

Will the hon. Gentleman put the matter into perspective? All those job losses will come from what is inappropriately termed natural wastage. No-one will be put on the scrap heap. Already, people have applied to the authority to be included on the redundancy list.

Mr. Stott

People may be applying for retirement or early redundancy, but I do not accept the premise of the hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg). A considerable number of people will be forced into redundancy against their will as a result of the provisions.

That is the Greater Manchester executive's estimate, which has been demonstrated to the hon. Gentleman and to all hon. Members who represent that area. The figure of 2,000 is similar to that in other areas of the United Kingdom where the implications of the order will come to fruition.

Mr. Mitchell

Does the hon. Gentleman deny that more than 2,000 people have already applied voluntarily for redundancy?

Mr. Stott

I do not believe that that is the case. The Greater Manchester transport executive— so far, these are the management figures— has told me and other hon. Members who represent that area that in its view, as a consequence of the order and bus deregulation there will be 2,000 less jobs. Even if those jobs are lost as a consequence of voluntary redundancy, it still means a net loss of 2,000 jobs in an area of high unemployment.

Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

The loss of 2,000 jobs there, and the 1,600 scheduled to go in South Yorkshire, are not only jobs but services. Those people drive buses. If they go, what will happen to the rural services in my constituency, such as those to Silkstone and Dumford Hazelhead? I know what will happen: there will be no buses.

Mr. Stott

Had we had a full and proper debate on the matter this evening, I have no doubt that my hon. Friend could have made those points in far greater detail. However, he has managed to get them on the record in this limited time.

I shall not discuss Merseyside, since I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) will do that, should he catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, I should point out that Merseyside gets no block grant. Under this order not one penny piece will go to Merseyside. It might get a few bob through surreptitious means, but the great conurbation of Merseyside will not get a penny under this order.

We are witnessing what my hon. Friends and I predicted in Committee. We are beginning to see job losses, poor services and the withdrawal of rural routes. There will be higher rates, because the ratepayers will have to pay for this, as a consequence of the transitional period and the redundancies that will be caused. As a result of the uncertainty in the bus market, which has been created by the Secretary of State, no one is buying buses and the bus manufacturing industry is in the doldrums. That is a direct consequence of the Transport Act 1984. I attended the Bus and Coach Council's annual dinner earlier this evening, with my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) and the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West. We did not have the advantage of having Hansard writers at that dinner, but I was sitting not too far away from the Secretary of State when he addressed the dinner. If I do not have his words right, I will apologise to him; but if they are right. it is worth hearing what he said. He told the Bus and Coach Council: You are now free to run your businesses without the constraint of a social conscience.

Mr. Parris

That is a misinterpretation.

Mr. Stott

If I have misinterpreted the Secretary of State, I shall be the first to apologise to him. But that is what I wrote down, and that is what I believe he said. That was precisely the motivation behind the Transport Act 1985 and this order. One and a half hours in which to debate Britain's transport policy and the movement of millions of people is an utter disgrace. I need not ask my hon. Friends to join me in the Lobby; I know that they will do it.

12.53 am
Sir Ian Percival (Southport)

May I take a few minutes to try to bring the debate back to reality by relating it to my constituents? In Merseyside, there have been no fare increases since 1980; indeed, there have been decreases. No doubt that suits many people, especially those who do not pay rates, and I do not blame them for saying, "For goodness sake, reduce the fares even further". My constituents, who are not all wealthy people, bitterly resent—I agree with them—being forced to contribute money to allow others to travel at ridiculously uneconomic prices. [Interruption.] I see that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) does not like what I am saying. I am glad that he does not, because it proves that I am making a point.

Last year, the council disguised this move by taking £8 million to £10 million — one cannot tell quite how much, because it is all covered up—out of reserves. That was done deliberately so that this year, following on abolition, the rates would have to go up by an equivalent amount. Let us cut the cackle and look at the facts. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may laugh—what is so funny about that? I feel about my constituents as I feel about my Government—I want to do my duty to both. The hon. Member for West Derby should keep quiet. I know that he does not like what I am saying, but why should my constituents, who are no better off than many of his, contribute to the travel of his constituents? They resent being forced to do that because they are in the minority in the district council, and have no control over the profligate spending of the Labour authority. They are grateful to my right hon. and hon. Friends for putting a limit on the waste of money, the cost of which falls on their heads.

If the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts), who had a cackle and then went away, thinks that such measures do not affect employment in my constituency, he is wrong. By business men have to pay their rates, to pay for something of which they are not seeing the benefit, and which makes it difficult for them to stay in business and continue. It is no good the hon. Member for West Derby wagging his head, I know my constituency better than he does. He has enough difficulties. We do not aim to put up our money to help him to supply benefits to his constituents. We do it well enough on equalisation, and do not reckon to have to subsidise cheap transport for his constituents.

Mr. Tony Banks

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman not believe that there is any benefit to businesses from the benefit of cheap travel?

Sir Ian Percival

There is none to my ratepayers in subsidising the transport of people in Liverpool. That is a fact, whether the hon. Gentleman likes it or not. They resent having to do it, and I agree with them. I am glad that my right hon. and learned Friends are taking steps to curb other people giving benefit to their constituents at the expense of my constituents.

Mr. Ridley

Hear, hear.

Sir Ian Percival

I am afraid that I may have to attack my right hon. and hon. Friends soon. I am glad that they agree with me so far.

The hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) said that Merseyside does not get any grant. Why does it not? Because it is spending so much money that it goes right outside the limits under which they would get any grant. It ill behoves any Labour Member to complain that we, and my constituents are part of the we, are not getting any grant. It is their spending that is depriving my constituents of the opportunity to receive the benefit of any grant and producing the situation in which my constituents are having to ante-up about another £5 million to keep low the fares of their constituents at our expense. That is crazy, and it is no good Labour Members saying that we should do it. There is no basis on which they can say that my constituents should pay for their constituens. If it were their constituents doing it for my constituents, they would be hollering even louder than I am.

Mr. Allen McKay

That is the type of people they are. They are happy to help.

Sir Ian Percival

It is so cheap and easy for the hon. Gentleman to say that when he is talking about the recipients. A great many of my constituents are no better off than his, and they deeply resent having to put their hands in their pockets for people who are at least as well off as they are and to provide benefits for which they do not ask themselves. My constituents do not ask for free transport.

Mr. McKay

They like concessionary travel, though.

Sir Ian Percival

The hon. Gentleman does not like it. I am rather glad, because that may mean that I am touching a few sore points.

My constituents understand what my right hon. and hon. Friends are doing, limiting the waste of money in which Labour-controlled authorities seem to exult. We do not understand, however, why we should be penalised at the same time. I hope that my hon. Friend, in winding up will assist me. If those who have wasted money had not wasted it, my constituents would be £5 million better off in the rates than they will be. If those over whom they have no control were not wasting money, we would get a grant of £25 million. Why can we not have that £25 million although they are wasting it. It is no good the hon. Member for West Derby laughing. This is no laughing matter. In no way will Opposition Members' cackling or giggling distract us. Irrespective of whether the hon. Member likes it, the money is going on my constituents' rates and I care about that.

Mr. Wareing

So do I.

Sir Ian Percival

Because of the wastefulness of the Labour party on Merseyside, my constituents will lose the benefit of the grant that they would have received if those over whom they have no control had exercised more control over spending. We do not ask for anything extra, but for my right hon. and hon. Friends to re-examine the matter and let us have the benefit to protect us from the excesses of the people to whom I have referred.

In saying that, I do not detract in any way from the main thrust of my attack, which is on those who seem to spend money as if it does not matter. The fact that such spending appeals to their constituents should not blind them to the fact that, to please their constituents, they are taking money from my constituents, who cannot afford it any more than theirs. There is no moral justification whatever for that.

Mr. Ridley


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has finished his speech and sat down.

1.2 am

Mr. Jim Callaghan (Heywood and Middleton)

I have an interest in this debate, because I use public transport regularly. The people who use it with me are usually the very young, the very old and mothers with young children. In other words, they are people who do not have cars and cannot get about without public transport. If services are cut, the people who can least afford them will be affected.

In my area, anyone who does not have a car must take at least three buses to get to any hospital. The Middleton Guardian does not normally support the views of my end of the political spectrum, but on 3 January it ran a headline, £10m Cut in Bus Budget and the article said: Reports that a massive £10M is to be cut from this year's Greater Manchester Transport bus services budget has confirmed the fears of Middleton GMC councillors. It is claimed that the £10M cut will cripple bus services, raise fares, and could lose jobs.

If that was not sufficient to alarm people, we need only to look at a regional paper a month later, the Manchester Evening News—again no supporter of our political views. The headline is, "Bus shocker", and it says, "2,000 jobs to go" and then: Services cut and three depots are to be axed". For the poorer section of the community, that is a horrific cut in services.

I could go on at length giving instances. When I was coming into the Chamber, I heard a member of the shadow Front Bench talking about having been ill in hospital for quite a long period. He said that his wife, who is not a car driver, found that she could not get to the hospital by public transport to visit him most nights, because it was too difficult to do so. He said that, by the time she had paid her fares, she had almost bought the taxi. Pensioners who from time to time need to go to hospital do not have that sort of money.

On the question of the proposed cuts, I wish to refer, not to the problems of the elderly, but to the mathematics of the cuts. These figures will spell out to the House and to the people of the various transport authorities exactly what the effect will be. In the Greater Manchester area, the maximum precept which the Secretary of State for Transport has proposed is 19.99p for the Greater Manchester transport authority. Together with grants, this gives the authority a total expenditure level of £83.5 million for 1986–87. All things considered, this sum is totally inadequate for Greater Manchester's transport needs.

The year 1986–87 is an unusual one, to say the least, because after seven months bus deregulation will be introduced and the financing of public transport will be completely changed. The expenditure this year has to cover seven months of the existing system and five months of the new system. On the latest figures available, the situation is as follows. The period to 26 October will require a grant of about £38 million. Even within this total it will be necessary to increase fares by 10 to 15 per cent. We all know what that will mean to the poorer section of the community—the old-age pensioners, the young and those with young children. This leaves, out of a total of £83.5 million, a sum of £45.5 million, £6 million of which is earmarked by the Secretary of State for redundancy payments — for the 2,000 who are supposed to be clamouring to take redundancy payments, to which I shall come later—and for the losses involved in disposing of other surplus assets as a direct result of deregulation.

The sum of £6 million is totally inadequate. The passenger transport executive has just announced that about 2,000 jobs may have to go in four workshops, with all their engineering skills, and three bus garages. That will mean poorer services. The executive estimates that £25 million, not £6 million, will be needed. The men who are clamouring for redundancy should realise that only £6 million is available for redundancy payments. Spread over 2,000 men, that is £3,000 per man. Even with natural wastage, when the men realise how little they will get, they may have second thoughts. The rest of the money will have to be borrowed, leading to further debt charges. Therefore, only £39.5 million will be available for other expenditure.

The first call on the £39.5 million will be the debt charge which the passenger transport authority will take over from its predecessor and which it cannot avoid. That is estimated at £7.3 million. So, out of a total of £83.5 million £51.3 million is already spoken for, leaving £32.2 million for the PTA to spend on fulfilling its duties after deregulation. None of the expenditure can be reduced in the short term. Most of it involves long-term obligations.

The list omits one important item of expenditure—the provision of socially necessary bus services over and above those provided by the free market. Only £4.7 million is available, but nobody knows at the moment how much will be needed to finance those services. The PTE, which runs 98 per cent. of the buses in Greater Manchester, is likely to run only 60 per cent. of its bus mileage commercially. Therefore, 40 per cent. of the services, or four buses in 10, will not be running after October unless they are financed by support payments. The people of Greater Manchester should realise that.

The services at risk will be those going to works, schools, rural and outer suburban areas, as well as many early morning, evening and Sunday services. They are the least remunerative services, costing over £40 million per year. The top estimate of their revenue is £15 million, so they lose £25 million per year. Even if deregulation reduces costs by 30 per cent., as the Minister claims, the loss will still be £13 million.

Mr. David Mitchell


Mr. Callaghan

The precept order allows £4.7 million for providing the services. That is totally inadequate for the needs of the community in Greater Manchester.

Mr. Mitchell

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has sat down.

1.12 am
Mr. Matthew Parris (Derbyshire, West)

I should like to set the record straight on what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport said in his speech to the Bus and Coach Council this evening. I listen often with interest and usually with admiration to what the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) says, but what he said about my right hon. Friend's speech did not represent fairly what my right hon. Friend was trying to say.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

They were precisely the words used.

Mr. Parris

They were precisely the words used, but if I said to the hon. Gentleman, "Do you like this?" and he replied. "Yes, and no," I might say that the hon. Gentleman had said, "Yes," but unless I mentioned that he had also said, "and no," I would be misinterpreting him.

It is important to put on record what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said. He said that what the bus industry was best at doing was running buses and what local authorities were best at doing was deciding on the level, the direction and the distribution of social provision, and that the purpose of the legislation was to separate those two so that busmen could cease trying to be amateur social workers and get on with the business of running buses, and the local authorities could do what they were elected to do, and decide where benefit should be directed. That seemed to me a fair point for my right hon. Friend to make in the circumstances.

My second point relates to the south Yorkshire PTA South Yorkshire runs into my constituency. I set aside the rights or wrongs of the measures the House is considering and assume, although we should not, that the House will approve those measures. I accept that the south Yorkshire PTA deeply and genuinely objects to the extent to which its expenditure will be cut and I accept that it has the strongest and most sincere reservations about the fact that fares will have to be increased, but the fact is that fares will have to be increased and the amount of subsidy it will be able to channel to the bus service will have to be reduced. I think that everybody accepts that, but there is a perfectly fair argument as to whether it is right.

That being so, south Yorkshire has to decide whether to get its customers used to higher fares by a gradual and incremental increase in the level of fares or whether to leave fares at their current very low level and suddenly, at the last moment, to allow a huge increase in fares. All the professional busmen, many of them ideologically in sympathy with the PTA, say that a series of incremental increases starting now is the fair and sensible way to treat the customers of the south Yorkshire PTA. On behalf of those customers I make this plea to the passenger transport authority — that, whatever the political advantage of a huge and sudden increase in fares in south Yorkshire, the interest of the bus company and the passengers must lie in their being able gradually to get used to the increases, which will, I think, be a fact.

1.16 am
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

I believe that for the people of Merseyside the order is aimed at reducing the standard of living in an area which is already grossly deprived. The Merseyside passenger transport authority has had its expenditure redetermined at the level of £81.3 million. That is £20 million less than that required to maintain the service at its current level. I ask the House to bear in mind the fact that not only is the £81.3 million a very low figure but that it also has within it £5 million which, under Government diktat has to be put to one side, for the redundancies which will inevitably follow the implementation of the policy.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts) has said, Merseyside is also responsible for the airport. We are talking about a joint board, not the Merseyside county council — the alleged overspender that the right hon. and learned Member for Southport (Sir I. Percival) bleeped about. We are talking about a joint board which is now to be penalised at its outset and rate-capped for three years. No account has been taken of the social and economic needs of Merseyside, including the ratepayers that the right hon. and learned Member for Southport talked about. Twenty-one per cent. of his ratepayers do not have jobs but of those that do, half work in Liverpool and depend upon a rail service subsidised by the Merseyside county council. He can explain to his constituents when those services are either reduced or closed down. He has some explaining to do before he finally leaves his seat at the next general election.

On Merseyside we have 21 per cent. unemployment — 25 per cent. in Liverpool. Fifty per cent. of households do not go out every morning and get into a chauffeur-driven car, as Ministers do. They do not have a car at all. That is what we are talking about. In Liverpool that figure is as high as 62 per cent. Forget all the fancy notions. In my opinion and the opinion of my constituents, the people on the Front Bench are beneath contempt.

Ministers are not used to using public transport and they do not know what it is to have to depend on it. Many of those who live in the outer suburbs of Liverpool are 10 or 15 miles from the city centre and heavily dependent on bus services. About 16 per cent. of Merseysiders live on overspill estates, and they often endure appalling housing conditions. Concessionary fares allow pensioners to free themselves—the Conservative party talks so often about freedom—from the areas in which they live as a result of policies that have been introduced by Labour-controlled county councils.

Are Ministers aware that 75 per cent. of those who enter Liverpool city-centre shops have travelled to the area by bus, or rail and bus, including those who come from Southport? Do they realise that 66 per cent. of work journeys into the Liverpool city centre are by passenger transport, by rail as well as bus? Do they know that 25 per cent. of adults on Merseyside are dependent on social benefits, and therefore on a reasonable bus service provided at a reasonable price?

Since 1981, the people of Merseyside have enjoyed a fares policy which has met the real needs of the area. Fares have been reduced twice and we are proud of the fact. Services have been improved, and we make no apology for that. The years of decline have been reversed. Since 1981, passenger usage of buses on Merseyside has increased by 27 per cent. Where has that happened in Tory-controlled areas? Those who use the bus service include people from Southport, Crosby, Wallasey, Wirral, West and Wirral, South. I challenge the Members who represent those constituencies to explain to their constituents why bus fares increase while both bus and train services are lost to them.

The pensioners in these areas, including those from Southport, which has been salvaged by the policy of the Labour-controlled county council, have free passes for bus and train travel. In 1985–86, this cost the Merseyside county council and the districts £18.5 million. The GRE set for transport for 1985–86 was £8.9 million, which was below the figure necessary to provide free transport for pensioners throughout Merseyside. The expenditure of £18.5 million related to the travel that now takes place, and much more money will be needed to provide concessionary fares throughout Merseyside. It seems that higher fares will have to be introduced, and it is estimated by the Merseyside passenger transport executive that fares will rise on Merseyside by about 70 per cent. That increase will take place in an area of utter deprivation. In other words, a 15p fare will be increased to about 21p. The authority estimates that in three years a 15p fare will become 52p.

Conservative Members talk about voluntary redundancies. About 4,300 jobs are at risk in the MPTE as a result of the Government's policy. The Government talk about defending the ratepayer—I should like to know how that talk is reconciled with no block grant being made available to Merseyside. How is that reconciled with the fact that the precepts for police, fire and public transport services—the three joint boards—come to 76.92p? That cost will be borne entirely by Merseyside ratepayers, and that must be compared with the 73p that Merseyside county council levies to cater for the three vital services and for all the other services that it has to provide.

Merseysiders will be exploited. I ask the Minister to compare what is happening in Tyne and Wear with what happens on Merseyside. There is tremendous unemployment in those areas. Tyne and Wear's transport allocation, according to the grant-related expenditure assessment, is £53 million. It is £45 million for Merseyside. Tyne an Wear is to be provided with a block grant of £33 million but Merseyside is to receive none.

Where is the fairness in that, even from this Tory Government? They are below contempt. I expect nothing from them. All I expect is that after the next general election Liverpool will be almost dominated by Labour Members of Parliament and that some of the outlying districts will be devoid of the Tory representatives who diminish this House. If the constituents of the right hon. and learned Member for Southport (Sir I. Percival) who voted for him at the last general election could have heard his speech tonight, it would have been the very last time that they voted for him.

Sir Ian Percival

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Wareing

No. I have said all that I want to say.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Mr. Caborn.

Sir Ian Percival


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman did not give way.

Sir Ian Percival

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) has referred over and over again to my constituency. Is it not the convention that he should give way?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It may be the convention, but it is not a point of order. Mr. Caborn.

1.27 am
Mr. Richard Caborn (Sheffield, Central)

I do not intend to rehearse yet again all the transport arguments that were forcefully put to the Committee by the Opposition. It is obvious that they did not make any impression upon the Minister. South Yorkshire passenger transport executive is carrying by far the greatest number of passengers and it is increasing every year. This order will pull the guts out of south Yorkshire's social, cultural and industrial life.

Conservative Members have referred to the rates paid by industrialists. The increase in wages that will be needed to take account of a 225 per cent. increase in fares has to be found somewhere. Industrialists in south Yorkshire are extremely concerned about the fact that pressure will be applied through the collective bargaining procedure.

In addition, the south Yorkshire passenger transport executive will lose 1,600 jobs. There will also be a 10 per cent. reduction in services. That will be the effect on south Yorkshire, a community that has enjoyed an integrated transport system for the last 10 or 12 years.

The way in which the south Yorkshire passenger transport executive has been treated by the Department of Transport is nothing short of diabolical. The Minister said that there have been negotiations with the south Yorkshire passenger transport executive and the new joint boards. The joint boards sent to the Department of Transport a four-page questionnaire. It thought, naively, that there would be serious and real discussions about the problems that will be faced during the transitional period, but no answers were given to those questions. A delegation went to the Department of Transport to see the Secretary of State for Transport and the Minister of State. It deposited with the Department a full list of questions to try to find out what projections will have to be made if there is to be a smooth transition.

Four financial options were included in the three-year plan for 1986–89 which was sent to the Department of Transport on 26 July 1985. The south Yorkshire passenger transport executive referred to a presentation containing detailed costings and service level reductions involved in bringing about a phased reduction to the Protected Expenditure Levels proposed by the Secretary of State … Both in correspondence and in response to questions to the delegation from South Yorkshire Joint Board and the PTE the Secretary of State has refused to state whether any figures supplied by the PTE or assumptions made by them for calculating the cost and implementing the 1985 Act are wrong or what different assumptions he is using and why. The Department of Transport, the Secretary of State and the Minister of State have not answered any of the questions asked by the joint board or the PTE. That is the response to the order, even before deregulation on 26 October 1986.

The Government have been asking the joint boards and the PTEs to back a treble in the Derby, the Oaks and the St. Leger or to hit the white on to four reds and get a cannon. This measure will affect the lives of thousands of people socially, culturally and industrially. It is deplorable that the joint board and the people of south Yorkshire have been treated with such contempt.

We have been dealing with a Secretary of State who is at the top of the league in terms of being taken to court for being on the wrong side of the law. The manner in which he has treated south Yorkshire is contemptible. Action should be taken on behalf of the south Yorkshire people. The Secretary of State should be taken to court to justify his actions in reducing by one third the revenue needed to fulfil our transport policy. This will have horrendous effects on the people of south Yorkshire.

1.31 am
Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

Last Thursday, when this week's business was announced, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition rightly accused the Government of trying to steal legislation through the House late at night in the hope that much of it would not be made known to the people. The order is a prime example. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) that it is an absurdity and an obscenity that the democratic process means that important matters of this sort are dealt with at this time of the night.

The terms of the order are extremely unfair to the people of west Yorkshire. The settlement as a whole for west Yorkshire is unfavourable compared with the settlement for the other areas that are the subject of the order. West Yorkshire people get extremely low pay. They are dependent on public transport, especially buses. About 47 per cent. of households in west Yorkshire do not have a car or access to one. In Bradford that figure rises to more than 50 per cent.

Bus passengers are ratepayers—something that seems to have escaped the notice of the Minister of State and many other Conservatives. Many businesses recognise the importance of public transport and are willing to see expenditure on rates to maintain an effective, efficient bus transport system. In many urban areas of west Yorkshire—the same is true of many other regions—about two thirds of all the people who come to city centres for work, business and other reasons come by bus. On Saturdays, the figure is about 40 per cent. I would argue that most businesses, rather than resenting the amount of money that they pay in rates to maintain an effective public transport system, would say that they face a much bigger burden in the form of high interest rate and exchange rate payments and the cost of energy—matters that are the Government's direct responsibility.

Unless funds are made available for west Yorkshire, there will be a substantial loss in services. The authority estimate something of the order of 18 per cent. That means that many people will face a complete loss of services in rural areas. They will see cuts in Sunday bus services, in early morning and evening services, and also in late night services.

In Bradford we are anticipating an experiment where there will be last buses as late as 2 am. That sort of initiative will be in jeopardy if this Order stands and if more funds are not made available to the transport authority in West Yorkshire.

I draw particular attention to the transitional arrangements. We estimate in west Yorkshire that the transitional costs are going to be about £8.5 million— much higher than the forecast. Only about £3 million was allowed by the Secretary of State. Job losses are estimated to be between 450 and 800.

Certainly, the redundancy payments are expected to be about £7 million. I would emphasise to the Government, who are so glib in saying that it really does not matter because all these jobs will be accounted for through natural wastage, and there will be voluntary redundancies, that these are job losses. These are the real jobs that the leader of the Conservative Party used to talk so much about. These are the real jobs that are going to be lost in areas of high unemployment. In west Yorkshire about 15 of every hundred people are unemployed, and we can ill afford to lose 800 real jobs in our bus industry.

Public transport, especially bus public transport, is an essential service. In west Yorkshire it is a vital service, and tonight we see a further attempt by this Government to sabotage that service. I am sure that the people that are going to suffer that sabotage when the buses that they used to catch are no longer available, will remember, despite the late hour, who is responsible.

1.37 am
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

The voices that have been raised on this side of the House in large measure represent the strength of feeling that people have about a service, decisions for which should not be taken by this House at all. The decisions about the level and cost of bus and train services should be taken in the places that are affected by the order.

The Minister has made it clear that he believes that his prime duty is not to the service, but to reducing the cost to certain ratepayers. They have a way of judging whether or not the rates they pay are appropriate.

The Government deny that. They pretend that there is not a link between rates and local elections, but the Minister knows that that is not entirely the case. He also knows that to say that the reduced transport cost that is met by ratepayers, and which contributes to local services, such as public transport, protects jobs in inner city and metropolitan areas, is contradictory, when the direct effect of the order—for the first time rate capping of public transport in the four metropolitan areas in question—is immediately felt in job losses.

The Minister held in his hand a bit of paper which showed that 2,000 people in Greater Manchester had accepted redundancy. If that is right, it shows that there are 2,000 fewer jobs. There is no evidence that people are going to find replacement jobs in the foreseeable future, let alone in the transport industries and the public service sectors.

We knew when abolition was proposed for county councils that there would be thousands of job losses. Nothing that the Government have yet done has restored anything like a small percentage of those jobs to people. For every person who loses a job, there may be a family, elderly relatives or dependants who need an income coming in, and a redundancy is not an equality in terms of the balance between that and the opportunity of continued employment.

With a good transport system, one has many advantages. My party does not run South Yorkshire, but the advantages to cities, such as Sheffield, of a late night public transport service at a cheap rate are great, especially to its commerce and business. People can come and spend their money. That is good both socially and for the health and prosperity of the city. In South Yorkshire it is probable that fares will increase by 225 per cent. The Minister knows that, even starting at a low level, a 225 per cent. fare increase is a substantial addition to a weekly bill which many people can ill afford. I am thinking particularly of a mum who makes four journeys a day taking her child to and from school.

Mr. David Mitchell

Will the hon. Gentleman explain why fares in his constituency, which are substantially higher than the fares in South Yorkshire will be with a 225 per cent. increase, are fair to his constituents but not to constituents in South Yorkshire?

Mr. Hughes

The Minister will remember that I have criticised the policy of London Regional Transport, because since it has taken over bus services have decreased and fares have increased. I am not making a party political point, because, as the Minister knows, the fares fair policy was not introduced by my party. It was of substantial benefit to people on low incomes without mobility. In South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and in my constituency the majority of people do not have their own transport. They cannot leap into a car which is sitting on the drive, because there is no car. By removing a subsidised public transport service to benefit the constituents, for example, of the right hon. and learned Member for Southport (Sir I. Percival), the Government are saying, "To those who have will be given the facility of services, but those who cannot afford private transport must just rot and stay at home."

Sir Ian Percival

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hughes

I shall not give way. The right hon. and learned Gentleman made the same point over and over again, and we understood it. He said that he did not want social justice to require those who have to pay for those who have not. I reject and resent that. The same test that applies elsewhere should also apply to public transport.

Sir Ian Percival

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I said nothing of the kind. When personal attacks are made—

Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Hughes

As a result of the orders instead of people in the areas in question deciding and offering the electorate a judgment on public transport, the Minister will take that decision. Those who will lose jobs and services will remember the Minister's speech and his attempt to separate commerce from social provision and social duty. Public transport is a public service, and should remain so. The Government should be aware that to privatise it is a gross disadvantage to those less able to help themselves. The Government have failed in their duty.

1.43 am
Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

My hon. Friends have dealt with the technical points, so I shall turn my attention to south Yorkshire. When we canvass at local elections, general elections and county council elections, we ask ratepayers what they think of the south Yorkshire transport policies. By and large, people agree with them. Some disagree and say that an extra penny or two on fares would help to ease the problem. We have consistently asked constituents about the cheap bus fares policies, and for 10 years they have returned Labour councillors to the county council.

The Government are trying to recoup the money that has been amassed gradually for 10 years to keep the cheap bus fares policy going. They want to withdraw that money in one go. The withdrawal symptoms will be serious. For 10 years, local authorities have built their facilities around that cheap bus fares policy. Sports centres have been built because people can get to them. Shall shops in the rural areas have closed. People travel into the towns because it is cheaper to shop there. What will happen to those facilities when the bus fares increase by 225 percent.? The sports centres will not pay. There are no shops in the rural areas. Rural areas have run down as a result of Government policies. They are closing post offices in rural areas.

In the Wages Bill, the Government are trying to ensure that people do not have a weekly wage but are paid by cheque which will be cashed at a bank. They need transport to reach a bank from the rural areas. The transport will not be there because the deregulation and the grants will ruin the service.

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) said that the fares should he increased gradually. There is not time for them to go up gradually. The people should have been taken into consideration. The Government have not considered the people who use public transport. What about the industries that have a transport policy?

Mr. Robert Hughes

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I draw your attention to Standing Order No. 3, which deals with exempted business? It makes plain that, with regard to statutory instruments, Mr. Speaker shall put any questions necessary to dispose of such proceedings not later than half-past eleven o'clock or one and a half hours after the commencement of those proceedings, whichever is the later: Provided that, if Mr. Speaker shall be of opinion that, because of the importance of the subject matter of the motion, the time for debate has not been adequate, he shall, instead of putting the question as aforesaid, interrupt the business, and the debate shall stand adjourned till the next sitting".

I submit that we have not had adequate time to deal with an order that covers four metropolitan counties. We have not had an opportunity to hear the Minister's reply—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. With great respect, the hon. Member is reminding me of a Standing Order that I consider every day. It is left to the Chair's discretion as to when the hour and a half is up and whether there has been enough time.

Mr. Hughes

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As you say, you look at this Standing Order every day. I am making a submission to you that these circumstances require special consideration. I ask you to rule accordingly.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The Chair takes everything into consideration. The decision will be given when we have had an hour and a half. Mr. Allen McKay.

Mr. McKay

I was talking about industry. Conservative Members have talked about the cheap fares policy and said that industry does not like it. We visited industry and I have received no grumbles from industry. No one likes paying taxes and rates. I am sure all hon. Members will agree that they have come across that feeling.

There is industry in Yorkshire which has its own fares policy. The National Coal Board has a cheap bus fares policy, which costs it thousands of pounds each year. It is based on the cost of bus fares. If fares increase by 225 per cent., its contribution will increase by 225 per cent. That will be a levy on the National Coal Board. It will not be the only industry to suffer because some major contractors also have—

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question pursuant to Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted Business).

The House divided: Ayes 151, Noes 101.

Division No. 70] [1.50 am
Alexander, Richard Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Amess, David Lawler, Geoffrey
Ancram, Michael Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Arnold, Tom Lightbown, David
Ashby, David Lilley, Peter
Aspinwall, Jack Lord, Michael
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Lyell, Nicholas
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Baldry, Tony Maclean, David John
Bellingham, Henry Major, John
Bendall, Vivian Malins, Humfrey
Benyon, William Malone, Gerald
Best, Keith Maples, John
Biffen, Rt Hon John Marlow, Antony
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Blackburn, John Mather, Carol
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Maude, Hon Francis
Boscawen, Hon Robert Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Merchant, Piers
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Meyer, Sir Anthony
Bright, Graham Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Brinton, Tim Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Brooke, Hon Peter Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Bruinvels, Peter Moate, Roger
Buck, Sir Antony Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Budgen, Nick Murphy, Christopher
Burt, Alistair Neale, Gerrard
Butterfill, John Nelson, Anthony
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Neubert, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Nicholls, Patrick
Chope, Christopher Norris, Steven
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Coombs, Simon Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Cope, John Parris, Matthew
Couchman, James Pawsey, James
Cranborne, Viscount Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Currie, Mrs Edwina Pollock, Alexander
Dickens, Geoffrey Portillo, Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Powell, William (Corby)
Dover, Den Powley, John
Durant, Tony Raffan, Keith
Dykes, Hugh Rhodes James, Robert
Eggar, Tim Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Emery, Sir Peter Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Fallon, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Favell, Anthony Roe, Mrs Marion
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Rost, Peter
Garel-Jones, Tristan Ryder, Richard
Greenway, Harry Sackville, Hon Thomas
Gregory, Conal Sayeed, Jonathan
Griffiths, Sir Eldon Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Ground, Patrick Shelton, William (Streatham)
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Sims, Roger
Hampson, Dr Keith Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Hanley, Jeremy Speed, Keith
Harvey, Robert Spencer, Derek
Heddle, John Stanley, Rt Hon John
Henderson, Barry Stern, Michael
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Watson, John
Sumberg, David Watts, John
Temple-Morris, Peter Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Wheeler, John
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Whitfield, John
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Thornton, Malcolm Winterton, Nicholas
Tracey, Richard Wolfson, Mark
Trippier, David Wood, Timothy
Trotter, Neville Yeo, Tim
Twinn, Dr Ian Young, Sir George (Acton)
Waddington, David
Waldegrave, Hon William Tellers for the Ayes:
Walden, George Mr. Tim Sainsbury and
Waller, Gary Mr. Peter Lloyd.
Ward, John
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter John, Brynmor
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Lambie, David
Bermingham, Gerald Lamond, James
Blair, Anthony Leadbitter, Ted
Boyes, Roland Leighton, Ronald
Bray, Dr Jeremy Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Litherland, Robert
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Loyden, Edward
Caborn, Richard McCartney, Hugh
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Campbell-Savours, Dale McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Canavan, Dennis McTaggart, Robert
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) McWilliam, John
Clarke, Thomas Madden, Max
Clay, Robert Marek, Dr John
Clelland, David Gordon Martin, Michael
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Maxton, John
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S) Michie, William
Cohen, Harry Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Nellist, David
Corbyn, Jeremy Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Cunliffe, Lawrence Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Dalyell, Tam Park, George
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Parry, Robert
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Pike, Peter
Deakins, Eric Powell, William (Corby)
Dewar, Donald Prescott, John
Dormand, Jack Radice, Giles
Dubs, Alfred Redmond, Martin
Eadie, Alex Richardson, Ms Jo
Eastham, Ken Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Rowlands, Ted
Ewing, Harry Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Fatchett, Derek Skinner, Dennis
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Fisher, Mark Soley, Clive
Flannery, Martin Spearing, Nigel
Forrester, John Stott, Roger
Foster, Derek Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Foulkes, George Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
George, Bruce Wareing, Robert
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Welsh, Michael
Hardy, Peter Winnick, David
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Young, David (Bolton SE)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Home Robertson, John Tellers for the Noes:
Hoyle, Douglas Mr. Don Dixon and
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Mr. Frank Haynes.
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Precept Limitation (Passenger Transport Authorities) (Prescribed Maximum) Order 1986, which was laid before this House on 29th January, be approved.