HC Deb 27 January 1986 vol 90 cc741-68 10.19 pm
Mr. Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden)

I welcome the Bill for two reasons. First, it encompasses the privatisation of the British Airports Authority and, secondly, it produces, through clause 29, the means of limiting the amount of activity at Stansted airport.

Those purposes should receive little challenge from the Conservative Benches. We will encourage the Government in the direction in which they wish to go, and the points that we take up will be without prejudice to the Bill's objectives.

I start with a number of general comments. This is a very regulatory Bill, which is a contrast to the liberalisation that characterises many other aspects of the Government's civil aviation policy. It seems weak on competition, and the interests of the customer could have been made a little more apparent.

Hon. Members know my constituency interest in Stansted, but I hope that, as on previous occasions, I will not speak in a narrow, parochial way. My colleagues often inquire how my constituents have taken the decision to expand the airport. The BAA and its pollsters have been hard at work again and we are told that there is a 5:1 majority in favour of the expansion. However, when one reads the small print, one discovers that three quarters of those polled live in East Hertfordshire, Epping Forest and Harlow.

There is still some resentment in my constituency about what has been done. The extent of that resentment is hard to measure; there has been some reluctant acquiescence. I should tell my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that the atmosphere might be helped if some matters were clarified fairly soon. We should like to know a little more about the finances of the proposed rail link so that we are satisfied that it is being done in an open and above-board way.

We are anxious to know about the disposal of safeguarded land that the BAA is to disgorge and we are anxious that the Government should back up their words about constraints on planning and development in the area. I know that that is not a matter for my right hon. Friend, but we are keen to ensure that there will be proper protection for the environment.

Hon. Members will recognise that there is some irony in the nature of the safeguard that those around Stansted have been offered in respect of the limit of 7 million to 8 million passengers per annum. We are being asked to endorse a power that was first brought before the House in the ill-fated Civil Aviation Bill of the previous Session. I note that my right hon. Friend did not chance his luck by calling this measure the Civil Aviation Bill. He obviously hopes that the change of name will improve the fortunes of this measure.

The protection to which I referred is the only one on offer, and it is better than nothing. I do not mean to be grudging, but I cannot fail to be aware of the innate clumsiness of that instrument. It is viewed with suspicion in professional quarters, and the Heathrow scheduling committee responded to the Government's consultations by saying that expressions of capacity of an airport over a period of a year are meaningless, would be difficult to administer and cannot be related definitively to physical capacity. We shall certainly wish to examine that matter carefully in Committee.

I assure the House and my right hon. Friend that I am not trying to fight yesterday's battle. The House has endorsed the Government's airports policy and I do not seek to undermine the House's decision by weasel, backdoor means. I emphasise that because there are some, maybe outside the House, who are all too ready to believe that I will use any opportunity to try to frustrate the will of the House. That is simply not so, especially in connection with the points that I wish to make about privatisation.

It seems extraordinary for me to have to complain—I am not considered the purest of all in my competitive free market instincts—that the Bill does not seem to meet the full spirit of competition as I was brought up to understand it. That reservation has been expressed in other places about Biritish Telecom and British Gas. I am inclined to give the Government the benefit of the doubt in those cases. But the BAA? Handing all the London airports over to it is a profound worry.

Even Her Majesty's Government concede that the BAA has not enjoyed the best possible reputation with users. What confidence can we have that, when given a lucrative monopoly in London, the leopard will change its spots? The BAA's influence is written large on the Government's proposals. Yet, the BAA itself is said to be worried at the volume of regulatory controls proposed.

I am not convinced that the controls will be used in ways that will seriously discomfort it. In the main essential it will be left to mine the seam of gold which Heathrow represents, knowing that that airport can be filled without problem. There is also the seam of silver at Gatwick. When both those profit centres have used up their capacity, everyone will be told to go to Stansted, which will make that airport profitable. It will not require much effort or ingenuity to make money in such circumstances.

What incentive will there be for the British Airports Authority to improve its airports? How responsive will it be to the airlines, its customers? The discipline of the international market will apply. Some business might be lost to Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle, but the tourist who wants to come to London because he wants to see London and because the value of the pound makes it particularly advantageous to come to Britain, will want to come to London. He will not go to Paris or Amsterdam. Similarly, the business man who has business in London will not satisfy his need by flying to Frankfurt. He will still want to come to London.

The cash registers will continue to ring at Heathrow and Gatwick, house full signs will be erected, and latecomers will be directed down the road to Stansted. It is a cosy little formula, but it is a formula for inefficiency and lower customer standards.

We shall want to test the argument that my right hon. Friend's way is the only way to privatise the British Airports Authority. My right hon. Friend intends to regulate closely. That will ensure that some of the disadvantages which he fears from the separate privatisation of London's airports will be avoided. It is hard to understand why the same regulations cannot apply equally to airports under separate ownership.

Heathrow, as the real money spinner, will raise a good price on its own. There is no question of that. The system for allocating slots at Heathrow could continue to serve its purpose irrespective of ownership. After all, if the airport is full, planes will have to go elsewhere. So what is the difference? If the owners of Heathrow plc face the prospect of business going from them to airports not in their ownership, they might become a little more determined to extract the maximum possible use out of Heathrow and to invest more to maintain their primacy in the system. To be more specific, they would have to have more interest in the Perry Oaks site than any multiple owner.

Those of my hon. Friends who represent Heathrow interests might take fright at that reference, but it is essential that Perry Oaks be brought into the boundary of Heathrow airport, whatever is done with it. It is a marvellous opportunity to redesign and redevelop Heathrow 40 years after it was conceived. It could be put into the best possible shape for dealing with the civil aviation demands of the next century.

Stansted could operate profitably at a 2 million to 3 million passengers per annum level as other airports have demonstrated, especially if its development costs are written off before the facilities are open. The owners of a Stansted plc would be out to sell the attractiveness of their modern airport. That would be a competitive element.

I do not see how separate privatisation makes a prospectus more difficult to write. The future is always uncertain. People would still have a shrewd idea of what they were being asked to buy. I do not believe that a blind man could be deceived by a prospectus on the sale of Heathrow. Heathrow will be red-hot property. I am sure that the public purse will in no way suffer. However, knocking down the lot to the BAA in its present shape becomes even more worrying when one realises that the runways will go as well. What hope then of any competitive force being given access to those runways?

Another concern is the prospect that the BAA, so strong to begin with, can become the eventual purchaser of regional airports. It already has management arrangements with three other airports outside the London and Scottish system, so on what possible philosophical grounds can the Government oppose the BAA takeover of Manchester or Birmingham if they have at the outset cast their blessing on the biggest monopoly of the lot in London?

The fervour with which the Government seem to be arguing against competition is disturbing. It should sound a warning to the Conservative Benches that the proposals, however welcome in general—I shall vote for them—should be subjected to friendly but minute scrutiny. If only because the legislation will have a massive effect on the direction of civil aviation for several decades, that is what must surely happen.

10.31 pm
Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

I should declare an interest as a sponsored member of the Transport and General Workers Union. I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) began his remarks by placing on record his appreciation of the excellent job done by the 7,000 BAA staff and other airport staff in the United Kingdom. I am sure that we are all grateful to those workers who keep the airports and aircraft operating all year round in all but the most harsh weather conditions. Yet what is to be their reward for their loyal and devoted service? Like the bus workers, as a result of the Transport Act 1985, the airport staff may find that their pension arrangements, let alone their future wages and conditions, will be undermined. Yet again, the work force is most likely to pay the price for Tory party ideology. Tory party ideology is being put first. The Government's obsession with private enterprise and privatisation is taking precedence over what is in the best interests of air transport and Britain.

The real reason for the Bill is not to do with transportation but the wish to provide another £500 million worth of assets for stripping. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North suggested that the true value of the BAA may be more than £1 billion. In an article entitled "Airports Going Private" in the January/February 1986 edition of "Airport", Mike Costello, a senior analyst at Grieveson Grant and Co., stated: Will the BAA be another Telecom? Its smaller size will inevitably lower the profile. In some other respects, however, the BAA can be compared with BT: it is essentially a growth business which has enjoyed a good measure of success, and it is in the public eye. Its enviable record of profits growth in all but three years since 1965 does not tally with conventional perceptions of a nationalised industry … The BAA last year reported profits after interest, but before tax, of £63.9m—up 39 per cent. on 1983/4… The reported profits of £63.9m have to be carefully considered when compared with most commercial enterprises. The BAA revalues its assets on a replacement cost basis and depreciates them accordingly. This approach does mean that profits are more conservatively stated than in many other companies … At this stage any valuation must be approximate. However, we see the BAA achieving a realistic value in the range of £450m to £520m. Yet the BAA could be worth well over £1.2 billion. That is what the Bill is about—another sale of the century, another scandal of £500 million of public assets—out assets — being given away to the get-rich-quick merchants in the City.

As a Scottish Member, I am worried about the future, not only of our airports but of our service patterns. I fear that, although the BAA may be privatised into one company and may even have a separate holding company for its Scottish airports, there is nothing to prevent that privatised BAA from deciding subsequently to build up Glasgow airport and sell Prestwick, which would, in effect, be its death knell. The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) more or less suggested that in his intervention.

As a Glasgow Member, I, of course, want to see Glasgow airport built up substantially, and although there is spare capacity at Glasgow at the moment, if future demand begins to approach the traffic forecasts of the Department of Transport there will be a need for additional facilities at Glasgow and for Prestwick.

Prestwick needs a breathing space. My hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie) put the case for Prestwick extremely well. He was correct to draw our attention to the agreed all-party report of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs which he so admirably chairs.

In Scotland, Prestwick like Ravenscraig is an emotive issue. Its wartime role may have something to do with that. However, there are good practical reasons for supporting a future for Prestwick, apart from giving the Secretary of State for Defence a seat in the House. Instead of arguing about Prestwick's future, we should be consolidating it.

It is irksome for us to see the almost unlimited resources provided to improve links between London and Heathrow, London and Gatwick and London and Stanstead, and the billions of pounds of private money made available for a Channel tunnel when nothing is done to improve the links between Prestwick and the rest of Scotland. Prestwick can and must be given a role in the future of aviation and it is up to the Government to do all that they can to help achieve that.

On the future of Anglo-Scottish services, may I quote from the CAA consultative document on air traffic distribution in the London area, published in October. Under the heading "Displacement—Domestic Scheduled Services" paragraph 3.23 states: Another possibility would be to split the domestic trunk route services which now operate into Heathrow, for example by frequency capping. (This technique could be applied to other routes too.) While Glasgow and Edinburgh both contribute a large number of interline passengers to Heathrow, the proportion of total route passengers who are transfer passengers is relatively low. If terminal passengers on the Glasgow and Edinburgh routes are, all other things being equal, indifferent between the four London airports there might be a case for transferring say a third of these services away from Heathrow. The operators on the route would have every incentive to try to ensure that those who travelled on the route into Heathrow were interlining passengers. That is completely unacceptable to airline passengers in Scotland. It would create confusion and treat us as second or third-rate travellers.

The Bill will not help air transport or airports in the United Kingdom. I shall join my hon. Friends in the Lobby against the Bill.

10.37 pm
Mr. Patrick Thompson (Norwich, North)

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst), I welcome the change in the name and nature of the Bill. I welcome and support the Bill's main purpose, although some of the detail will require deep examination and discussion in Committee.

As I understand it. the Bill's purpose is to ensure and secure the efficient and profitable operation of the airports. It will provide the airports with the opportunity to meet the challenges of the future.

I wish to speak only about the matters which affect the local authority regional airports. I declare an interest because Norwich airport is in my constituency. Its turnover is somewhat in excess of £1 million a year. and that airport will be affected by the Bill.

I must refer to Norwich airport's history to make the points that I want to get across. Surface communications in the Norwich area are poor. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will be aware of the continual lobbying that they receive from Norwich and East Anglian Members about the roads—the All and the A47—and the rail network. I should like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the former Minister of State, Department of Transport, because we appreciate the work that she did to promote and help with the improvement of the road network in Norfolk. We shall be continuing with the pressure to improve communications in Norfolk and in East Anglia.

Twenty years ago a decision was made to establish Norwich airport under joint control between Norwich city council and Norfolk county council. Since then, thanks to North sea oil and other business activity in the area, the airport has developed steadily and now 90 per cent. of the traffic in the Norwich airport is business-related. Recently the Department of Transport granted special capital allocation to Norwich airport for the building of a new terminal at a cost of about £4.5 million. That will hopefully be completed towards the end of 1987.

At the moment there appears to be, and I hope it will continue, a general consensus in Norwich that the aim of the Bill — to encourage that airport and other local authority airports to become Companies Act companies —is and should be supported. I welcome the decision which is now being taken by the Joint Airports Committee of Local Authorities and the local councils to separate the industrial estate from Norwich airport so that the element of cross-subsidy will cease and the airport will be able to stand on its own two feet in the future. I know that that is what my right hon. and hon. Friends want.

There is a general consensus in Norwich and the surrounding area that the survival of Norwich airport is paramount. That must continue to develop for the benefit of commerce and jobs in Norwich. I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the staff and management of Norwich airport for the good work that they have done, particularly in recent years.

I see from local newspaper reports that local union leaders in Norwich are expressing fears for the future, but I do not see any evidence to support those fears. The Bill is broadly acceptable locally and is acceptable to JACOLA and to business and commerce. I am confident that the Bill will provide opportunity for Norwich and for those employees at the airport. Because of the commitment to the new terminal by the local authority and by JACOLA, it will be some 10 years before Norwich airport, standing on its own, will move into profit. although I see encouraging reports of significant improvement in the past year.

There are two factors in the Bill which could affect the survival of Norwich airport—firstly, the timing under which it will move over to become a plc, a Companies Act company; and, secondly, the power of local councils to support and make loans to that associated company whenever it is formed. I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Transport will answer or clarify my questions when he replies. I understand that, under clause 12, the Secretary of State may give direction to the airport or to the authorities for the airport to become a Companies Act company. I understand that to mean that there will be a discretion or an ability to negotiate between the Secretary of State and the appropriate authorities in Norfolk as to exactly what the timing will be and when the airport will become a Companies Act company. I hope that my hon. Friend will answer that for me. Under clause 23, the council will have the power to make loans to the new Companies Act company. Again, I ask the Under-Secretary whether the authorities will or will not require the Secretary of State's permission to make those loans. My understanding is that they will not, but it is important that we have the answers to those questions.

In their recent letter and press report, the union leaders asked the local Members of Parliament to make a stand to safeguard the operations of Norwich airport. Certainly, the local Members of Parliament want to make a stand to provide the best future for Norwich airport and jobs in the area. It is essential that there is a gradual transition so that the local government commitment remains, because it is now committed to substantial investment in the airport. Therefore, I support the Bill as it now stands. I am delighted that the Government are bringing it forward.

Norwich airport, is, perhaps more than many others, in the middle of a residential area in my constituency. In particular, the residents of Old Catton and Hellesdon are deeply interested in what will happen to the airport in future. Therefore, I intervened during the speech of the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Meadowcroft), when he talked about accountability and the teeth that the local council will have in the new arrangements, enabling it to bring forward constituents' views. I was interested in the hon. Gentleman's point, and I shall be interested to hear the remarks of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary about how consultative committees and the local council will operate, so that local residents will have their say about the future of the airport in which they are all interested, for various reasons.

Financial control under the new arrangements, as well as public spending controls, have been mentioned tonight. I have become a little uncertain about that, and I hope that my hon. Friend will clarify it. A letter that I received from the administration department of Norwich city council, quotes my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, who was reported in the Financial Times of 17 January as saying: Local authority airports will no longer be subject to public spending controls'. That is not quite what we have heard tonight. I am not giving a view or judgment on that, but it would be helpful to me and the local authorities in Norwich and Norfolk if we could have a little clarification of exactly what the position is.

Norwich airport can and will benefit from the opportunities provided by the Bill, for increased passenger traffic, increased commercial activity and increased offshore activity. I hope that the questions that I have posed can be clarified, either now or in Committee. I welcome and support the Bill, which will help towards more effective management of local and regional airports such as Norwich.

10.47 pm
Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)

Experience in the House of Commons shows that Governments often make the great mistake of allowing their philosophies to become obsessions, whatever subject they touch. This is such a case. We have not yet been convinced in the House by debate or argument from the Secretary of State, today or on any previous occasion, that the Bill merits support. Indeed, there is sufficient cause for concern in that Conservative Members with special interests and experience, and representing their views in a most balanced way, have conveyed serious reservations to the Secretary of State.

In such a situation, we are bound to ask: what are the benefits of the Bill for which the Secretary of State is seeking a Second Reading? Let us put aside for a moment—not too far away—the loyalties to party, and ask: are we convinced that there are any real benefits to the nation from the Bill? We have a public monopoly. Of our 140 airports, the BAA has control over the major seven—Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and the four airports in Scotland. That is 80 per cent. of the passenger traffic, so we are dealing with a very powerful authority. The Secretary of State has made it clear that the BAA is not to be sold off in parcels with the possibility of some competition and the injection of entrepreneurial expertise. It is to go, lock, stock and barrel, as it is. When the Bill has passed through Standing Committee, Third Reading and the other stages and is enacted, we shall still have the present chairman and board with the present personalities.

The second question then arises. By what test shall we say that these honourable men of professional standing have lapsed in running the public undertaking to justify its becoming a private monopoly? That is a very important and interesting question. If we have to have the notion and semblance of competition, there has to be a competitor. At least when British Telecom was sold off there were powerful competitors to make the running. Here there will be none.

Conservative Members have adequately expressed the concern arising from those two simple questions. Nevertheless, the sale is to take place. To what extent will the nation benefit? As I understand it, there are four main reasons for the Bill.

First, it will reduce the size of the public sector. That may or may not be desirable, but it is not a sufficient argument to support a particular private enterprise exercise —unless it is agreed that the reduction of the public sector is of paramount importance. I suggest that that cannot be argued in this case.

Secondly, we are told that it will widen share ownership. One can be pedantic about that. As was pointed out earlier, there is already public share ownership.

Thirdly, it is argued that it will increase employee involvement by allowing employees to buy shares. It is within the qualifications of the present legislation and within the powers of the House, the Secretary of State and the BAA to involve all the employees in profit sharing. What is the difference? The Company has 17 years of profits. I am sure that the employees would be just as happy with a profit-sharing involvement as with buying shares.

Fourthly, it is said that there will be greater freedom for management. Yet when the chairman and board approached the Secretary of State not long ago with an idea for managerial flexibility and initiative to bring private interests into play in setting up hotels in British airports, the Secretary of State was not satisfied with that competition and rejected the proposal.

All those reasons having been set aside, we still do not have adequate evidence to support the need to translate a public monopoly into a private monopoly. I suggest that investors will have a hybrid form of investment. It is clear from the information that most of us have that operations involving BAA administration, including terminals, runways and other plant are running at a loss. The profit is solely in the retailing done at airports. For all the regulation envisaged by the White Paper and the Bill, there is no evidence to suggest that the retailing element will not burst out and have an impact on retailing business around airports. If the profit arises from duty-free goods, that is another cause for concern—will someone say, "Stop the duty free."? Where will the retailing end of the business go then? There is bound to be some uncertainty, even for investors.

Before the Secretary of State's obsession is enacted, he should prepare himself for a Committee stage in which we shall want to satisfy ourselves that there is adequate protection for the airport user, the customer and the investor. More than that, we must ensure that the exercise does not deny the national interest.

Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)

Can my hon. Friend say with conviction that privatisation has benefited the consumer? For example, it is clear that some parts of British Telecom which used to be efficient are not so any longer, so the consumer is suffering.

Mr. Leadbitter

I agree. There has been much comment on the investments and investors in BT.

More important than privatisation, competition and value for money is the national interest. It is important to consider local authorities in areas such as mine. We on Teesside felt that it was of fundamental importance to have an airport to improve our communications with the rest of Britain and the continent. We had the most dire problems—the highest level of unemployment in the United Kingdom and rapidly declining heavy industries. We had to bring in new, active and lively industries.

Cleveland county council, and its supporting districts, and Durham county council made a judgment. We did not have profit in mind when we developed Teesside airport. We can now pursue profit, however, because the airport generates new activity. It was essential to improve our communications so that we had a chance of bringing new industries to the area. To that extent we have had some success.

Clauses 12 and 13 provide the qualifications under which a commercial undertaking can be set up as a company, and the Secretary of State saywns that in commercial practice we must work at arm's length. That might conceivably be correct in relation to buses—where they were competitors—but how does one work at arm's length when there is no competitor and when we cannot have the support of the county councils? In those circumstances, the Cleveland and Durham county councils, the north-eastern region and the airport at Teeside are placed in danger.

The Secretary of State should take account of the pleas that have been made on behalf of the local authorities. In particular, he should take account of my special plea on behalf of a very special area that has a very special problem.

11.1 pm

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

Unlike many of our debates, this one is about the present and the future rather than the past. We often talk about the past and are concerned about the loss of jobs. In this debate we are dealing with the present and the future, when jobs will exist and when more jobs will be created if we do things properly.

I must at the outset declare an interest. I am a director of two aviation companies. Therefore, I approach the Bill with some knowledge of the problems that must be faced.

The fortunes of the airlines and the airports are inextricably linked. The airlines depend on the provision of facilities by airport authorities that are fundamentlly important to airline operating standards, prices and services. The adequacy of an airline's facilities and prices and charges can have a profound effect on its commercial results, and that is the basis on which the airlines are looking at the Bill.

In the short time at my disposal I shall touch on only one or two points, but I hope to have the opportunity in Committee of raising many of the matters that are causing concern to the airlines and to myself. I am one of the rare volunteers who occasionally emerge in the House.

I place on record my welcome for the Bill. It is long overdue. It was necessary to do something about the problems facing our airports. For more than 40 years various Governments have in different ways attempted to deal with those problems. The result is what we have today, and none of us can claim that we are happy with it.

I understand the problems faced by the Government in trying to privatise anything, because that requires the cooperation of management and, as far as possible, of unions. I understand that that can inhibit some of the things that the Government wish to do.

I remind the Government—as my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst) did so well — that competition is an important element in our philosophy. We should not apologise for that, because the customer benefits. Anyone who thinks differently need only travel regularly between Glasgow, Edinburgh and London to realise what competition has done for the travellers on those routes. Therefore, competition pays.

The Bill deals with airports, but we should remember that airports are merely runways with facilities to get aircraft and people in and out. We should remember that if someone else comes along later and wishes to invest his capital in a facility and to compete, he should, as of right, have access to the runways and taxiways. Unless that is so, we shall not open up opportunities for competition as the Government would wish. At the end of the day competition will give customers the best service.

Since 1945 a major political issue has been: who determines the need for additional airport capacity, principally in the south-east? Recently, it has fallen to the BAA to make planning applications which are subject to extensive public inquiries. The Bill is almost silent on that. I must point out to my hon. Friend the Minister that the BAA does not own the Perry Oaks site. If an enterprising group of people puts up capital, as in the Channel tunnel project, and says, "We should like to provide an airport facility here" — as my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden said, one would not build a palais de dance there—"but we cannot get access to the taxiways, runways and other facilities as of right", there is no future. I hope that that point will be considered.

There is no provision for competition in the supply of aviation fuel to the airlines. We should consider that carefully, because fuel prices are far higher than they need be, certainly compared with the other side of the Atlantic. There is inadequate competition.

As I am the only Scottish Conservative Member called to speak, it will not surprise hon. Members that I wish to put forward our views on Scottish airports. As far as I am aware, there is complete agreement about the future of Prestwick airport, and we welcome anything that will ensure the development and future of that fine airport. We are also pleased to note that Scots will decide on the appointment of the directors to the Scottish end of the BAA. I hope that is correct. It is important that decisions affecting Scottish airports are made by people who understand the Scottish dimension. Lest anyone should think there is no such thing, I remind the House of the problems that this Parliament has suffered because of a failure to understand it.

The Highlands and Islands airports are an important part of the Scottish transport infrastructure. It is right to set up a private limited company for them and to examine the real costs in detail.

Mr. Robert Hughes

When the Government tried to sell the Highlands division, they could not even find a buyer, so what is the point of setting up a plc?

Mr. Walker

I am not trying to sell the airports. I never thought that that was a viable proposition. However, we can know exactly what it costs to operate those airports. If their overheads include a substantial part of the CAA's overheads, we should not be surprised if the figures are distorted. I have never believed that the figures published for those airports were accurate. They were distorted by other factors. There is scope, certainly in the CAA airports, to privatise the management of the Scottish airports, provided it can be shown that the privatised management can make savings in the deficiency that is made up by the Scottish Office. If we can show that savings can be made to the benefit of the airports and consumers, that should be done. I look forward to seeing something in the Bill to provide scope for that.

Mr. Loyden

Evidence of the tragedies that have taken place at airports shows that in the view of all reasonable minds more regulations are required in airports rather than a relaxation. The tragedies that have occurred in Britain and throughout the world show that airports require greater constraints on their activities, not the removal of them.

Mr. Walker

I am sorry that I allowed the hon. Gentleman to intervene. He has made no attempt to study what I am trying to say. Nothing that I have said suggests that the safety aspect should be diluted. I have spent my life flying in and out of airports. The last thing that I want is an airport that is unsafe. Obviously one wants safe airports, but safety is not necessarily achieved by extra costs and expense. That has not been my experience. We want airports to be run more effectively and efficiently.

I wish to consider slot allocations and air traffic control. The Bill should provide for appeals against decisions of the national air traffic control services. That was mentioned earlier in the debate. I believe that is a weakness in the structure of the arrangements. Ministers are in a better position to consider appeals. I should like a formalised procedure, as there is with planning applications, for appeals against the national air traffic control services if its decisions—taken for whatever good reason—have an adverse affect on others using the area.

The airlines believe that the slot allocation, as operated by the scheduling committee, is sensible because it does not attempt to achieve artificial figures. It is involved in the art of the possible. The airlines make arrangements between themselves. I repeat what my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Waldon said. To publish annual aircraft movement figures is nonsense. Those figures are hourly and daily and can vary from time to time. The airlines are the best equipped to determine them.

I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench to remember that airlines are the customers of airports. Airlines and airports exist to provide a service to air passengers. They do not exist for any other reason. Competition provides the best deal for the customer. I remind those who doubt that to travel regularly between Glasgow, London and Edinburgh to see what competition has done on those routes.

11.13 pm
Mr. Gerald Howarth (Cannock and Burntwood)

I warmly welcome the withdrawal of the Secretary of State's earlier Bill. That demonstrates the flexibility shown by the Government in so many areas where things do not command the approval of the House. They have seen the light.

I welcome the fact that my right hon. Friend has no plans to introduce an air transport movement limit on Heathrow and Gatwick. That is a welcome sign, but I have reservations about the fact that he is taking powers to impose limits. I understand the need to impose limits on Stansted, because that is part of the agreed deal that my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst) was able to extract. However, I fear that if we were unfortunate enough to have a Labour Government, they would be keen to exercise those powers at airports other than Stansted. Of course, that prospect has receded after the performance of the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon.

My second point relates to the London airport system and traffic distribution. I still disagree with the desire of my right hon. Friend to privatise the three London airports en bloc. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear".] I hear what my hon. Friends say. It is interesting to note that, about a year ago, few people were calling for the privatisation of the three airports separately. However, as time has gone by, the argument has become more and more persuasive that those three airports could and should be privatised separately. A measure of the complexity that has resulted from our not doing this is the fact that one third of the Bill deals with economic regulation designed to even out the problems that will be caused by privatising the BAA in its present form.

My right hon. Friend rejects our proposal on the ground that it might result in the smaller airlines being squeezed out of Heathrow. But, in reply to an intervention from me, he said that the British Airports Authority already squeezes people out as part of its plan riot to allow traffic to flow naturally into Stansted, but to squeeze it into Stansted. That process would continue under British Airports Authority plc.

I cannot believe that the entrepreneurial future which my right hon. Friend envisages will be as entrepreneurial as he or I would wish. If and when Heathrow is full, the company which operates that airport will have no real incentive to maximise Heathrow as the jewel in the crown. There will be no incentive to develop terminal 5, as my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden rightly said, as the key to taking out the centre of Heathrow, which is an old-fashioned airport system, and making it into a modern system, at the same time increasing airport capacity. There will be no incentive to build a STOL runway between the A4 and the M4. There will be no incentive to put airport terminal management out to franchise to another operator. Therefore, when BAA plc decides arbitrarily—as the BAA quango now does—that Heathrow is full, it will direct to Stansted that traffic which it no longer wishes to take at Heathrow.

What would happen if the three airports were run separately? The present position with the slots at Heathrow and Gatwick is clear. There are a few slots le ft at Heathrow, and Gatwick is pretty full. If we had been having this debate 10 or 15 years ago, it could have been argued that Stansted was a white elephant. But the fact that Gatwick is almost full and that Heathrow is getting that way means that Stansted cannot be regarded as a white elephant. I believe that someone would be willing to buy Stansted as it is, with the prospect that it would take some of that overflow traffic.

I shall quote some remarks from the Heathrow scheduling committee and point out to my right hon. Friend that that committee schedules movements for no fewer than 86 airports. Its submission states that there is no need for further distribution rules, and continues: It should be stated that the current Scheduling Committee System for the allocation of scarce airport resources has operated successfully for many years and is far more robust than is generally thought by those outside the industry. Every carrier is acutely aware of the increasing risk that it will not achieve its desired slots and that decisions will have to be made on how best to cope with this situation when it arises. The options include acceptance of sub-optimal timings, a rearrangement of historic and the sub-optimal timings offered to achieve a satisfactory compromise, the acceptance of more optimal slots at an alternative airport and the use of higher capacity aircraft. As pointed out in our submission to the Department Transport, carriers prefer to order their own destinies by making their own decisions when faced with such problems. Government interference in such matters through the promulgation of sweeping artificial rules destroys freedom of choice by the carriers, normally motivated by the wishes of their customers and the closely associated profit motive. It is a paradox for government to advocate deregulation of air transport and at the same time introduce new regulation, punitive for some carriers, in order to enable it to happen. Upon that I rest my case on scheduling.

Birmingham is the airport serving my constituency, and a number of points have been raised on it. I should like my hon. Friend the Minister to comment upon those if he can. One is the requirement for the CAA to grant permission to levy airport charges and impose conditions in that respect. As the Birmingham airport people point out, in the White Paper this control did not apply to all airports. They see this as representing an extension of the provisions in the White Paper. They and I would like to hear the Minister's comments on that.

They also looked at the provisions in the Bill about the privatisation of the British Airports Authority and compared them to the changes in local authority ownership, which they see as being extremely difficult as the majority of powers in relation to the conversion of the BAA rest with the Secretary of State. One good point they make is: It is proposed to extinguish all the BAA debts to the Secretary of State. This can hardly be seen fair to Local Authorities who are very unlikely to be able to do likewise and it is possible that some of the early Stansted development expenditure will be written off in this way prior to privatisation, thus improving Stansted's financial position. I certainly do not want to see anything done at Stansted that would involve the writing off of taxpayers' money at the expense of Heathrow.

I support the Bill, despite my reservations. It will help the employees of the British Airports Authority. At least they will have a stake in their business. A lot of detail still has to be worked out. I hope that my right hon. Friend will agree, as with the Transport Bill dealing with buses, to seek to fashion a better Bill in Committee.

11.23 pm
Mr. Patrick Ground (Feltham and Heston)

I welcome the Bill and the opportunities it brings to employees to buy shares. I hope that those opportunities will be at least as generous as the ones made available to employees in British Telecom. I am glad this Bill is coming after the main decisions have been taken on the expansion of the London airports system. The right decision has been made to privatise that system as a whole. I accept the need for the regulation of traffic, and I accept that for the reasons that have been given by the Secretary of State.

I represent a constituency near Heathrow and I welcome the relief afforded to Heathrow and Gatwick by expansion at Stansted. The methods that have achieved success for Gatwick could equally well be applied for the success of Stansted. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) who said that there is no reason why Stansted cannot be a success in the way that Gatwick has been a success. During the debate, some hon. Members have said that Stansted is likely to be unsuccessful, but that was also said about Gatwick in its early stages.

I should like to make two comments about parts of this Bill. First, in relation to part III and clause 29, I should like to see specific provisions for consultation with bodies other than and in addition to those inside the air transport industry. That process of consultation could usefully be widened.

Secondly, I am concerned about the limitation of ownership of shares. I am attracted by the solution put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Mills) of a golden share provision. It would also be worth looking at the possibility of limiting the percentage holding of any individual shareholder because there are plain dangers if the airport system comes under the control of either a single airline or group of airlines or foreign interests, against the public interest of this country. Therefore, I urge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to look carefully at the limitation of shareholdings in that way. I ask him to bear in mind that this is the first measure for the privatisation of airports and caution in that regard is worth considering.

The Bill is none the worse for the element of caution in other regards which has been criticised by some hon. Members because the Bill recognises the particular difficulties of privatising the airport system. Therefore, I commend it to the House.

11.26 pm
Mr. Fred Silvester (Manchester, Withington)

I want to concentrate on one aspect. It is fascinating that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State have, between them, probably been the most effective and successful Ministers in aviation policy for a long time. They have done a great deal for regional airports and for freeing air transport for passengers and they have tackled some of the thorny problems, including the Stansted decision.

Therefore, it is odd that the Bill comes not quite right. It is in the process of spoiling their achievement. Let me describe what I think my right hon. Friend is seeking to do and say why the Bill slightly misses out. As I understood it, the object of the exercise is to create an airport structure in Britain which is as responsive as possible to consumer demands. My right hon. Friend has to do that in the context of a highly regulated international system and in the context of heavy demands in some airports which are rather greater than the supply at the moment.

My right hon. Friend grasped the nettle on that point by giving planning permission for Stansted up to between 7 million and 8 million passengers a year or so ago. That decision was crucial because it made available at Stansted additional capacity for the London system. In the Bill my right hon. Friend has added to that a curious superstructure which I must confess mystifies me.

I am told that my right hon. Friend has set his heart on privatising BAA in one lump. My hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst) and others have made powerful arguments as to why it should be done in separate airports. I have no doubt that that could be done in separate airports if my right hon. Friend wished. When we had discussions about the matter before, my right hon. Friend went to some lengths to secure fair competition between airports and he spoke, for example, of commercial rates of interest between the holding company and Stansted and also of the transparency of accounts.

I gave considerable thought to his propositions in those respects but I have come to the conclusion that neither are adequate for the purpose that he set himself. I do not believe that the two measures he proposes provide adequate competition between airports.

It is difficult to determine what is a commercial rate of interest when one is being underwritten by a holding company that has the booze at Heathrow at its back. Secondly, the transparency of accounts depends on the attitude of the management, and we know that the BAA wishes to develop the system around London as one airport. It will use its powers to direct, entice, bribe or in other ways ensure that airlines go to Stansted.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Ground) was talking about whether Stansted will be successful. I have no doubt that it will be successful. My right hon. Friend's decision on planning has ensured that the airport will grow. However, in the past 12 years, Stansted has been unprofitable. The BAA has run it unprofitably, largely because it has overinvested and sought to make Stansted's capacity greater than its requirements. Nothing in the Bill will prevent that system from continuing. If Stansted were a separate airport, the requirement to develop at a proper speed would be much more firmly placed on its board.

I will not go into greater detail, but it is a pity that the Bill misses the opportunity to create a structure under which all the airports—BAA and local authority airports — would operate competitively as best they could. I noted that my right hon. Friend said that one reason why he could not privatise airports separately was that there was no practical way of producing competition between BAA airports. That is not the point. The point is that there should be competition between all airports — local authority and BAA airports. We are concerned with the whole airport structure.

I can understand why clause 20 is in the Bill. It reflects the current state of local authority airports, but if they become public limited companies, they will be subject to corporation tax. If we are to make them subject to private restraint in one sense, we cannot make them subject to public restraint in another.

My right hon. Friend has a wonderful opportunity to set all the airports on the same competitive basis, able to operate in response to market forces, subject only to international control. I ask my right hon. Friend to think again, as he pilots the Bill through the House, about the central issue of whether the BAA should be disinvested in one lump.

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

In many ways, this has been one of the strangest debates that I have heard in the 12 years that I have been an hon. Member.

It appears that the Conservative party favours privatisation and generally supports the Bill, but, without exception, every Conservative Member who has spoken has qualified his view that this is a good Bill, and those hon. Members have hedged their bets on the effect of the Bill on their local or regional airports and, in the case of Scottish Members, on the impact of the Bill on Scotland's airports.

Listening to most Conservative Members, one would have thought that there was little that was good about our airports and the way in which they are run. I am sorry that, with the exception of the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson), no Conservative Member could find the time to praise those at all grades and levels in our airports who, largely through their own efforts, have made the British airports industry a comparative success in recent years.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter) and others asked the key questions: what is in the Bill for Britain? What impact will the Bill have on cur aviation industry? Will the Bill be good for this country? Answers have been sadly lacking from the Government.

Those who have made representations about the Bill—to hon. Members on both sides, I am sure—are many and varied. Their collective view is that the Bill will not be beneficial to British aviation or to the airports industry in the United Kingdom. Even the British Airports Authority, which appears from the first parts of the Bill to be a beneficiary, is less than wholehearted in its support. Like management in any walk of life, it would rather not be under Government control but make its decisions in the commercial market.

The BAA is repelled, as are some Government Members, by the amount of central control that will be in the Secretary of State's hands. I understand the reluctance of Government Members to place too much responsibility in the hands of the Secretary of State because he is a reckless soul. One would not give him any greater task than boiling a breakfast egg because he would probably make a mess of it. I understnd the reluctance throughout the aviation industry and among Government Members to give the right hon. Gentleman the central role envisaged in the Bill.

Concern about the Bill's impact has been expressed by the users of British airports and by hon. Members on both sides of the House. British and foreign airlines have voiced their concern. In a letter dated 23 January, the British Caledonian head of government and industry affairs says: Generally our main criticism is that nowhere in the Bill is the BAA actually charged with responsibility for providing adequate facilities and services at airports for users. We are also unhappy about provisions for consultation and the limited provisions for users"— that is, the airlines— to refer matters, particularly those relating to charges, to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. I am sure that the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle) will be delighted that I have put that on the record, because a successful, privately owned airline is expressing in no uncertain terms its reservations about the Bill.

Not only British airlines have expressed strong reservations. In a joint submission, Pan American and TWA express their deep concern about the Bill. They say: The deficiencies in the proposals are as follows: As a proposal for regulation the Bill is seriously deficient … The main defects are that there is no duty on the BAA to provide any services or facilities or meet any proven demand … The CAA has insufficient power to regulate directly the level of charges. The interposition of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission makes the procedures laborious and ineffective … The charging standards to be applied are not laid down in the legislation. They detail another four fundamental objections which foreign airlines have about the flaws in the Bill.

The views of another group have never been sought, yet I am sure that if they were it would say that there was no need for this doctrinaire nonsense. No one has bothered to ask passenger and freight customers whether they are satisfied. No one has bothered to solicit the views of those who use our airlines to send cargoes all over the world. The Government, in their habitual burst of blind ideology, believe that the privatisation process, by one method or another—in this case, by the back door—is necessary to bring about a better service, but no one else believes that. Such a belief has never been properly amplified in this debate.

Given the lack of time, I regret that I am not able to comment in detail on all the views expressed by hon. Members. I shall refer to just a few. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) gave his usual effective defence of Manchester international airport. Basing his comments on his knowledge and constituency involvement, he referred to the belief of all the grades of people who work at Manchester airport that the Bill's proposals will not be good for the future of the work force or of the airport. Like many other hon. Members, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe referred to the lack of assurances on the abolition of the Stansted subsidy and the effects on Manchester and other airports if that subsidy is not removed.

The hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Mills) rightly pointed out the unfairness of writing off the BAA's debts yet leaving local authority plcs saddled with the debts which they have, for good reason, incurred over the years. He rather stood reality on its head by saying that there was no need to force passengers to use airports such as Birmingham. The reality is that passengers from the Birmingham area—the constituency of the hon. Member for Meriden—are forced to use airports in the south of England because of the impact of existing policies on regional airports. I regret that the hon. Member for Meriden has not yet shed his illusions as successfully as he has shed the pounds in recent months.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie) made his usual able defence of Scottish airports, especially in relation to Prestwick's future.

The hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Sir F. Montgomery) demonstrated a number of illusions dear to his heart. Obviously, he failed to understand the difference between a local authority and a Companies Act company. When asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd) why a BAA successor company should be afforded the facility of open market funding when a similar facility was denied to a plc under the control of a local authority, the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale gave no answer. We are entitled to ask: why is there an inherent unfairness in treatment? Why should the BAA be allowed access to the open market and local authority plcs?

We saw a typical example of the blinkered ideology of the Secretary of State. He fails to understand that the employment of private capital is not necessarily tied in with share capital. Surely, private interests invest in undertakings when they can secure a proper return on their capital. It might surprise some Conservative Members—it will surprise the Secretary of State because he knows nothing about these matters—that millions of pounds of private capital are already tied up in airports such as Manchester international airport. Private capital—I pay tribute to it — put up £10 million to build a cargo terminal at Manchester airport. Private capital would not have put up such an amount if it had any fears about the way in which Manchester airport was operating or would operate in future. Private capital invested to show its confidence in Manchester airport's public ownership. That is a truism that the right hon. Gentleman fails to understand.

I return, as have other hon. Members, to the subject of the restructuring of the airports in the London area. No fewer than 10 hon. Members on both sides of the House have expressed their desire to see the ending of the subsidy to Stansted airport. There is a big difference between eliminating that subsidy and showing it in Stansted's accounts. Until and unless we receive that assurance, the reservations that I have expressed will bother hon. Members on both sides of the House. I hope that they will continue to exercise hon. Members' minds in Committee.

It would be remiss of me if I did not refer to the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst). He rightly reminded the House of the shambles that the right hon. Gentleman made of his Civil Aviation Bill. I am not the one to remind him of that, because when I asked him about his back-door privatisation a few hours ago he told me that I would not understand because I was thick. I will take that from many Conservative Members, but I have some difficulty in accepting it from the right hon. Gentleman. I might not have gone to the same school as he did, and I might have left school a good few years before he did, but I have not been in court three times in the past two years, and it has not been said about me by a High Court that I have acted illegally, irrationally and improperly, as has been said about the right hon. Gentleman on no fewer than three occasions.

We need no lectures from the likes of the right hon. Gentleman on who in the House is and who is not thick. I hope that we shall see him at least fleetingly in Committee, because if he does not know much about the Bill, he knows how to make us laugh. We might need a few laughs in Committee. When the Committee deals with the ideological rubbish that is before the House we shall need people with some knowledge of aviation from both sides of the House. Despite what has been said by the hon. Members for Saffron Walden and for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester)— I normally disagree with him, but I pay tribute to his interest in these matters—I hope that they will be on the Committee to give the right hon. Gentleman the benefit of their knowledge of these matters.

I even hope that we shall see the hon. Member for South Ribble (Mr. Atkins) on the Committee because he is always good for a bit of chuckle if he does not know much about the subject. I hope the right hon Gentleman does not exclude those of his right hon. Friends who helped the Opposition humiliate him on the Civil Aviation Bill, because if anyone needs humiliating it is the right hon. Gentleman. The Bill is not even accepted by most of his hon. Friends.

That is a nice set of molars that the right hon. Gentleman has and I appreciate the view. If the Bill is not improved drastically in Committee, he will be doing a great deal of yawning.

11.49 pm
Mr. Bowen Wells (Hertford and Stortford)

I feel that I must speak on behalf of my constituents, because over 12,000 housing applications have been made to the East Herts district council since my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced his decision to expand Stansted airport. According to the report on Stansted, 12,000 houses are required for the expansion of that airport to take 15 million passengers per annum. Those 12,000 were in Bishops Stortford alone.

I shall speak in note form, in view of the time. I very much welcome the Bill because it will prise the British Airports Authority away from the dead hands of the Department of Transport and the Treasury and enable it to operate more rationally and competitively. I am sorry, as are my hon. Friends the Members for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst), for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) and for Cannock and Burntwood (Mr. Howarth), that the competition element of the Bill is seriously limited. We will end up with a series of plcs, mostly owned by local authorities, plus the British Airports Authority owning the whole of the London system and the Scottish system. The London system will not be properly competitive unless the airports are denationalised separately. I hope that my hon. Friends will join me in Committee in persuading the Secretary of State to accept a amendment to denationalise them separately.

I agree that Heathrow cannot possibly be redeveloped as is necessary, because it is now reckoned to be not just a second-rate airport but a third-rate airport. Many travellers from the United States of America and friends of mine say that it is the worst airport in the world for tourists to travel to. What a reputation.

It is the British Airports Authority, which runs Heathrow, to which the Secretary of State is going to give the monopoly to develop the whole of the London system. It will be a disincentive to the development of London airport not to take in the Perry Oaks site and the land to the M25; the whole airport needs a total redevelopment and I hope that it happens quickly.

I do not believe that the air traffic movements limitation in the development of Stansted which my right hon. friend the Secretary of State has used to try to redeem his pledge to restrict the number of passengers to 8 million per annum, can possibly be effective. Any measures taken by the Government to limit airline access to the airport that they want to go to will have serious international repercussions which my right hon. Friend, the Foreign Office and the Government will be unable to withstand. Therefore, I do not believe that we can implement the limitation at Stansted and I do not believe that my right hon. Friend can direct airlines and refuse it. Nonetheless, as a cosmetic measure, I suppose we will have to be satisfied with it. It would be much better if my right hon. Friend allowed proper competition between the airlines.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will make clear to the House what he means by the financial write-off which has been described. If he means writing off the development expenditure at Stansted airport, he is going back on his pledge that Stansted would not be cross-subsidised from other airports belonging to the British Airports Authority. I am grateful for the limited time that I have been given to speak on the matter and urge my right hon. Friend to accept amendments in the way I have suggested.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Mr. Anthony Steen.

Mr. Snape

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is customary in such matters for agreement to be reached between the usual channels about what time the wind-up speeches start. If I had known that two hon. Members would be called after me, I would not have considerably truncated what I have to say on the matter. We know that there is little honour in the party opposite these days because we saw that—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. I am sure that he realises that the Chair has no knowledge of the usual channels. However, I know that the House decided at 10 o'clock to exempt the business.

Mr. Loyden

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I represent a constitutency in which there is an airport. I have been on my feet on four occasions and have not been called, but hon. Members from the Conservative party have been called.

11.53 pm
Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams)

The hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) is not the only one who has had to make a truncated speech, and he is not the only one who has waited through the evening to speak. I hope that I can make a short contribution to the debate.

Mr. Loyden

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have sought to catch your eye on at least five occasions. I represent a constituency in which there is an airport. I think that it is reasonable to argue that in those circumstances a Labour Member should have been called. I support the views of my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) who takes exception to the fact that four or five Members have been called from the Conservative Benches and not one Labour Member has been called.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has made two or three interventions, but I have not seen him rising.

Mr. Steen

Because of the late hour, I propose to confine my remarks to two issues. The Bill, which I wholeheartedly support, has two principal omissions. The first is that restrictive practices exist in the British Airports Authority. The Bill is silent on those practices. They exist at both trade union and management level.

I take provincial airports as an example. At East Midlands airport only one oil company provides oil for all the airlines that land at the airport. That does not lead to competition. Leeds is also a local authority airport., and there is only one caterer there permitted to put in bids. The same goes for Belfast, where Trusthouse Forte has a monopoly catering for all airlines that land at Belfast.

I suggest to the Secretary of State that in the provincial airports and the BAA airports, such monopolies should not be allowed and the Bill should spell that out. That is also true of ramp handling at Heathrow and airport servicing at Gatwick. I should declare an interest in one airline, British Midland, which flies out of Heathrow, and is prevented from doing ramp handling of its own.

Secondly, the principal shortcoming in the Bill is in clauses 28 and 29, which provide centralised control for the Secretary of State in the shape of air transport limits, if and when they are reached. Those limits have not been reached. Rather than look at the scheduling committee, the Government should look at the national air traffic control services, which is riddled with bureaucracy and has a strong bias towards the military. It refuses to allow London traffic to grow as fast as it should. Yet the inspector at the terminal 4 inquiry permitted air transport limits at 240,000 and the Secretary of State allowed them to grow to 275,000. The CAA has now said that they can grow to 325,000. I believe there is more capacity, and this needs to be utilised.

Therefore, I ask the Secretary of State not to penalise the airlines but to allow natural growth to occur. However, the NATCS should be investigated to see what spare capacity there is. We believe for this reason that as much as 30 per cent. of airport capacity is left at both Heathrow and Gatwick.

This is clearly not the time to cover all the points that I would like to make. I was going to mention noise and other issues. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loydon) is not the only one to feel aggrieved. Some of my hon. Friends feel equally aggrieved. Perhaps we can debate this issue in Committee.

11.58 pm
Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool. Garston)

I support the view expressed by hon. Members from the northern region, who argued that there has been a shift in the balance of airports towards the south, which is a serious and important economic factor. I say that in passing because I do not want to deal with that matter. The case has been well argued in the House by hon. Members representing Manchester and other constituencies.

I wish to refer to the apparent disregard of regional airports in the Bill. The airport in my constituency provides important services, particularly to the Isle of Man and Ireland, but those services are totally disregarded by the Secretary of State in his consideration of regional airports. I should have thought that it was generally accepted that air traffic of that kind is part of modern life and that the development of airports should be encouraged wherever they are proved to be enhancing the industrial life of the area. The Secretary of State has left those airports in grave doubt about their future, as the concern being expressed by the local authorities shows.

The regional airports are not only an important part of the development of internal air traffic throughout the United Kingdom, to which I hope that we all subscribe, but certain airports have special interests which must be considered. At present, the Isle of Man and Irish trade is mainly served by Liverpool Speke airport, but its future is now in doubt. When the Bill goes into Committee, proper consideration must be given to the regional airports and the service that they provide to the economy generally and to the regional economies particularly.

If the Bill deprives us of those services it will create a further downward spiral in areas such as Merseyside. The Secretary of State must not disregard the shift in the centre of gravity of the airports industry from the north and to the south and he must give proper consideration to the special interests of Liverpool when considering future airport development generally.

12.2 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Michael Spicer)

The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) accused the Government of electioneering. Presumably he meant that the Bill would be very popular. I assume that that is why he lapsed into less than total coherence when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State asked whether the Labour party would renationalise the BAA if it ever returned to office.

As I suspect that the House wishes to reach a fairly rapid decision, I shall pick up just one or two of the major points raised in this informative and closely argued debate and leave the points of detail for consideration in the Standing Committee, as has been suggested.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) accused the Government — certainly he was accusing somebody—of not paying enough attention to regional airports. I suspect that no Government in the history of this country have done more for regional airports than we have, both in the traffic rights that we have obtained for airlines and in capital allocations to those airports. Therefore, I completely and utterly dismiss that charge straight away.

Mr. Favell

What will happen to the regional airports will be what has happened before. Liverpool has been under the dead hand of municipal Socialism for years. That is why the airport has failed. The Bill will leave airports, such as Liverpool, to town hall incompetence. That danger also faces Manchester airport. Will my hon. Friend please reconsider allowing the privatisation of Manchester airport? The London airports will undoubtedly be a great success, but the regional airports must not be jeopardised by leaving them in the hands of municipal authorities.

Mr. Spicer

Perhaps I might consider Manchester airport and its future immediately as it was a major consideration in the speeches of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) and my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Sir F. Montgomery). I understand that there was a failure to agree on the immediate future ownership of the airport at a meeting of the Greater Manchester district councils last Friday.

The Bill is clear about the airport's future. As it has a turnover of more than £1 million, its local authority owners will be required to submit a scheme for approval to the Secretary of State by which the airport will become a plc. The uncertainties about the airport are to do with its immediate future. Manchester city council refused to meet the terms of Trafford district council that the airport should be turned into a plc, subject to conditions outlined in the Bill.

The Government have already made their stance clear in a parliamentary answer that I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) on Friday 6 December. We are dissatisfied with certain aspects of the scheme for the formation of a plc proposed by Manchester city council. If the council secured the unanimous agreement of the district councils and went ahead with its scheme, we would not be able to prevent that, but we would reverse those parts of the city scheme of which we disapprove once we had the powers to do so after the Bill had been enacted.

I am going into some detail as what I am saying is of general application to local authority airports. We dislike the idea that the airport company should look exclusively to Manchester city council for the supply of specialist services. The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) was also truncated, but I know that he is worried about this. We say that the airport should at least have the choice of looking elsewhere for its services.

We also believe that, under the Manchester city council scheme, airport management would be less than adequately represented on the board of directors. We reject any condition imposing a tight restriction on the sale of shares in the airport to the private sector, and we dislike the proposal that would enable Manchester city council to strip the airport of all of its physical assets, which it would lease back to the airport company. We have made it quite clear that all of these proposals would undermine our objective of turning Manchester airport and other local authority-owned airports into businesses operating at arm's length from their owners.

Under the Local Government Act 1985, if the districts of the Greater Manchester county council do not unanimously agree to the arrangements for the allocation of the county council's present interest and for the operation of the airport, the Secretary of State will consider tranferring the county council's interests to the passenger transport authority. As the new structure must be in place by 31 March and as orders giving effect to the new structure must be put before Parliament at least 21 days before 31 March, I see little practical alternative now to the PTA solution for Manchester airport, given that all of the parties—we must all agree on this at least—especially the management, must be given time to prepare themselves for the new structure.

The other major theme of the debate has been the privatisation of BAA airports, and it has been mentioned by my hon. Friends the Members for Luton, South (Mr. Bright), for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst), for Meriden (Mr. Mills), for Cannock and Burntwood (Mr. Howarth), for Withington, and for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells). The Government considered such a proposal seriously. We eventually came down against it for the reasons that I shall now give. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Ground), we were unconvinced that the three London airports could be set in genuine competition with each other.

I take the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Withington. As Heathrow would be so overwhelmingly the preferred choice of airlines into the foreseeable future because of the benefits of interlining that it offers, the distribution of traffic between the airports would not be so much the product of competitive pressures as of regulations and traffic distribution policies that we would have to lay down.

Secondly, we are concerned to maintain the rights of independent domestic airlines to serve Heathrow airport. This policy of providing competition among British carriers would be much more difficult to sustain if Heathrow were privatised independently, when the overwhelming pressure on the airport owner would be to maximise the use by large international carriers. Put a different way, it is much easier for us to ensure that Heathrow does not discriminate against smaller carriers if we have given the airport owner sufficient scope and capacity elsewhere within his own system.

Thirdly, with Heathrow and Gatwick already about full at peak times—I accept that it is only at peak times—and with a forecast annual increase in traffic of about 4 per cent. per year to 1995, we believe that there is an immediate need for extra capacity to be provided within the London system. We debated that at length last summer. A separately privatised Stansted might not provide sufficient capacity in time to meet the need. I readily acknowledge that this is one reason why those who do not wish to see the expansion of Stansted favour the separate privatisation of that airport.

Fourthly, the problems of selling the airports separately would doubtless delay the process and benefits of privatisation. That argument will appeal to my hon. Friends if not to the Opposition.

All this having been said, we very much agree with the views expressed by several of my hon. Friends that there should be firm safeguards against potential monopolistic abuse by the BAA company. With this in mind, we have built some quite specific controls into the Bill.

For a start, each of the seven BAA airports will be formed into individual companies with separate and totally transparent accounts. Any transactions between the parent company and the subsidiaries will be completely open. Loans by the parent company to the subsidiaries wP11 be made at market rates of interest. Above all, the CAA will be given direct powers to prevent the imposition of predatory charges by any one of the airports.

In direct answer to my hon. Friends who asked about cross subsidies, loans at market rates will be allowed arid perhaps even a measure of equity financing. Cross investment will also be allowed, but cross subsidy will not. Every five years the Monopolies and Mergers Commission will make a complete review of all the business activities of the airport, including commercial activities such as car parking and car hire concessions. If the commission finds any activity that it considers against the public interest, it must report these to the CAA. The CAA then has the duty under the Bill to impose conditions on the airport owner to remedy the practice. I hope that in some way that will meet the points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks).

I listened carefully to the arguments of my hon. Friends the Members for Cannock and Burntwood and for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker). As they know, we have asked the CAA, after consulting the industry, to make recommendations to us about traffic distribution. I hope to receive shortly at least an indication of these recommendations.

The Government have laid down certain conditions that they will wish to see maintained in any arrangements that are made for traffic distribution. The most significant of these are that competition between airlines must be maintained to the benefit of the user and that satisfactory access to Heathrow and Gatwick must be provided for domestic airlines. We must also maintain London's position as the world's most important centre of international air travel, with Heathrow remaining London's main scheduled international airport and Gatwick its second hub. We must also avoid undue dislocation to the airlines using the airports.

I am, of course, deeply conscious of the anxieties of the airlines about traffic rules. If we make new rules—and it is by no means inevitable that we shall—we shall have a very strong regard for the views of the airlines and, indeed, for the way in which existing voluntary arrangements have worked through the operation of the scheduling committee.

If passed by the House, the Bill will unashamedly play its part in reversing the ratchet effect of Socialism which in the 1960s and 1970s some people had begun to believe represented the natural course of history. The energies, resources and discipline of the private sector will be harnessed directly to the development of the London and Scottish airport systems. The right of ownership will be spread to employees and to local residents.

The local authority airports will be given the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the BAA. At the very least, those airports will be given the commercial framework and greater autonomy, but also the greater level of accountability, which will flow from being turned into public limited companies. That has enabled us to give to local authority airports the right to reinvest their profits freely without requiring the permission of central Government.

If the opportunity is grasped by the local authorities to sell a majority of the shares in their airports to the public, the development of the airports will be free from all capital controls. Subject to planning controls, they will be free to expand at a pace determined by Market demand. They will also be able to attract private resources to help them to do so.

Ten of the 16 local authority airports which are relevant to the Bill make losses. The experience of Southend airport and, indeed, Southampton suggests that with private sector involvement, more robust marketing, more imaginative development and more determined cost control, many of them would stop making losses.

Unashamedly in the Bill we are setting a new pace. We are giving the opportunity to the public, employees, local residents and travellers to participate directly in the ownership of one of Britain's most dynamic industries. It is a fact that Britain is at the crossroads of international travel. Heathrow and Gatwick are the first and fourth busiest international airports in the world, and Manchester is one of the most successful in Europe.

The Bill accepts that the airport business no longer needs the protection and capital controls which exist in the public sector. We wish to liberate the energies and the talents of the industry to the economic benefit of those who participate in it and the nation as a whole.

Amendment negatived.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:

The House divided: Ayes 257, Noes 180.

Division No. 51] [12.17 am
Aitken, Jonathan Aspinwall, Jack
Alexander, Richard Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.
Amess, David Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)
Ancram, Michael Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)
Arnold, Tom Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Ashby, David Baldry, Tony
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Goodlad, Alastair
Batiste, Spencer Gow, Ian
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gower, Sir Raymond
Bellingham, Henry Gregory, Conal
Bendall, Vivian Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Grist, Ian
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Ground, Patrick
Blackburn, John Grylls, Michael
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Gummer, Rt Hon John S
Body, Sir Richard Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hampson, Dr Keith
Bottomley, Peter Hanley, Jeremy
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Hannam, John
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Harris, David
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Harvey, Robert
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Haselhurst, Alan
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Bright, Graham Hawksley, Warren
Brinton, Tim Hayes, J.
Brooke, Hon Peter Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Hayward, Robert
Browne, John Heddle, John
Bruinvels, Peter Hickmet, Richard
Buck, Sir Antony Hicks, Robert
Budgen, Nick Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Bulmer, Esmond Hind, Kenneth
Burt, Alistair Hirst, Michael
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Butterfill, John Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Holt, Richard
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hordern, Sir Peter
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Howard, Michael
Carttiss, Michael Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Cash, William Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Chapman, Sydney Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Chope, Christopher Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)
Churchill, W. S. Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Hunt, David (Wirral, W)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Cockeram, Eric Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Colvin, Michael Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Conway, Derek Jones, Robert (Herts W)
Coombs, Simon Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Cope, John Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Couchman, James Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Cranborne, Viscount Key, Robert
Currie, Mrs Edwina King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Dickens, Geoffrey Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Dicks, Terry Knowles, Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Knox, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Lamont, Norman
Dover, Den Lang, Ian
Dunn, Robert Latham, Michael
Durant, Tony Lawler, Geoffrey
Dykes, Hugh Lee, John (Pendle)
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Emery, Sir Peter Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Evennett, David Lester, Jim
Eyre, Sir Reginald Lilley, Peter
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lloyd, Ian (Havant)
Fallon, Michael Lord, Michael
Farr, Sir John Lyell, Nicholas
Favell, Anthony McCrindle, Robert
Fenner, Mrs Peggy McCurley, Mrs Anna
Fletcher, Alexander Major, John
Fookes, Miss Janet Mather, Carol
Forman, Nigel Maude, Hon Francis
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Merchant, Piers
Forth, Eric Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Monro, Sir Hector
Fox, Marcus Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Franks, Cecil Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Moynihan, Hon C.
Freeman, Roger Neale, Gerrard
Fry, Peter Neubert, Michael
Gale, Roger Newton, Tony
Galley, Roy Norris, Steven
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Ottaway, Richard
Garel-Jones, Tristan Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Temple-Morris, Peter
Parris, Matthew Terlezki, Stefan
Pattie, Geoffrey Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Pawsey, James Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Porter, Barry Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Rhodes James, Robert Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Thornton, Malcolm
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Thurnham, Peter
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Roe, Mrs Marion Tracey, Richard
Rossi, Sir Hugh Trippier, David
Rost, Peter Trotter, Neville
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Twinn, Dr Ian
Ryder, Richard van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Sackville, Hon Thomas Viggers, Peter
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Waddington, David
Sayeed, Jonathan Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Waldegrave, Hon William
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Walden, George
Shelton, William (Streatham) Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Waller, Gary
Shersby, Michael Ward, John
Silvester, Fred Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Sims, Roger Warren, Kenneth
Skeet, Sir Trevor Watson, John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Watts, John
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Speed, Keith Wheeler, John
Speller, Tony Whitfield, John
Spencer, Derek Whitney, Raymond
Spicer, Jim (Dorset W) Wilkinson, John
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Squire, Robin Winterton, Nicholas
Stanley, Rt Hon John Wolfson, Mark
Steen, Anthony Wood, Timothy
Stern, Michael Woodcock, Michael
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Yeo, Tim
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Younger, Rt Hon George
Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Tellers for the Ayes:
Sumberg, David Mr. Archie Hamilton and
Taylor, John (Solihull) Mr. Peter Lloyd.
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Clarke, Thomas
Alton, David Clay, Robert
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Clelland, David Gordon
Ashton, Joe Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Cohen, Harry
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Conlan, Bernard
Barnett, Guy Cook, Frank (Stockton North)
Barron, Kevin Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Corbett, Robin
Bell, Stuart Corbyn, Jeremy
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Craigen, J. M.
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Crowther, Stan
Bermingham, Gerald Cunliffe, Lawrence
Blair, Anthony Cunningham, Dr John
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Dalyell, Tam
Boyes, Roland Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Deakins, Eric
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Dewar, Donald
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Dobson, Frank
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Dormand, Jack
Bruce, Malcolm Douglas, Dick
Buchan, Norman Dubs, Alfred
Caborn, Richard Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Eadie, Alex
Campbell, Ian Eastham, Ken
Campbell-Savours, Dale Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Canavan, Dennis Fatchett, Derek
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Cartwright, John Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Fisher, Mark
Flannery, Martin Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Forrester, John Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Foster, Derek O'Brien, William
Foulkes, George O'Neill, Martin
George, Bruce Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Park, George
Godman, Dr Norman Patchett, Terry
Golding, John Pavitt, Laurie
Gould, Bryan Pendry, Tom
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Pike, Peter
Harman, Ms Harriet Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Prescott, John
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Radice, Giles
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Randall, Stuart
Heffer, Eric S. Redmond, Martin.
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Richardson, Ms Jo
Home Robertson, John Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hoyle, Douglas Robertson, George
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Rogers, Allan
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Rooker, J. W.
John, Brynmor Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Johnston, Sir Russell Rowlands, Ted
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Ryman, John
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Sedgemore, Brian
Kennedy, Charles Sheerman, Barry
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Kirkwood, Archy Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lambie, David Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Lamond, James Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Leadbitter, Ted Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Leighton, Ronald Skinner, Dennis
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Snape, Peter
Litherland, Robert Soley, Clive
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Spearing, Nigel
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Steel, Rt Hon David
Loyden, Edward Stott, Roger
McCartney, Hugh Strang, Gavin
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Straw, Jack
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
McKelvey, William Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Thorne, Stan (Preston)
McNamara, Kevin Tinn, James
McTaggart, Robert Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
McWilliam, John Wareing, Robert
Madden, Max Weetch, Ken
Marek, Dr John Welsh, Michael
Marshall, David (Shettleston) White, James
Martin, Michael Williams, Rt Hon A.
Maxton, John Winnick, David
Maynard, Miss Joan Wrigglesworth, Ian
Meacher, Michael Young, David (Bolton SE)
Meadowcroft, Michael
Michie, William Tellers for the Noes:
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Mr. Don Dixon and
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Mr. Frank Haynes.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read a Second time and committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 42 (Committal of Bills).