HC Deb 17 November 1987 vol 122 cc940-1015 4.54 pm
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

I have often wondered about the basic difference between state education and education in the private sector. After listening to the Secretary of State I think that it must be the ability to smile bravely and sweetly while skating very fast on thin ice.

Mr. Adley

No one will accuse the hon. Lady of doing that.

Mrs. Dunwoody

The reality of the present perfor-mance, if the Secretary of State really believes that he has such a good story to tell, is, why did he find it necessary to wait for the Opposition on one of their days to bring it before the House? It is a long time since we had a debate on transport and that is why so many subjects have had to be pushed into one day. I should like to return to the hard and unpleasant world of real transport policies in 1987.

We are celebrating 150 years of railways in my constituency and I trust that it will not prove to be one of the saddest and unhappiest years in that long and proud industrial history. Crewe was created very specifically by a private railway company in order not only to service its existing rail lines, but to build a large rail junction and to create railway workshops. At its height, Crewe employed over 12,000 people. What is happening now? Even though that workshop has kept up with the times and is very well equipped, with high-quality modern technology and staff with a high level of skill, it has very real problems, created entirely by the lack of clear policy by the Conservative Government.

When we talk about transport, it is important to realise that the problems in relation to British Rail and very specifically in relation to British Rail Engineering Ltd. have been created by political decisions taken by successive Conservative Ministers. They are not the result of an accident or a one-off relationship, in which somehow or other a very efficient organisation is allowed to decide its own future and its own investment plan. The problems are caused by specific political decisions taken by the Government.

An example is the change that took place in 1979–80, when there was a new political approach. Although the railway workshops were perfectly capable of competing with any company in any field, nevertheless we were to have a report, the Serpell report, that gave a very different view of how the railway workshops should progress. At this stage it is useful to look at what Serpell said because it is extremely revealing. Under the heading, "Mechanical and Electrical Engineering", Serpell said: There should be a full appraisal of the cost advantages of buying foreign components and locomotives, either purchased direct or assembled in the UK under licence. The report said that this would produce a number of clear and large savings. It went on to detail many of those savings, although it said that they were not totalled because there were all sorts of variables that might change in the next two or three years.

Almost without exception, everything that Serpell predicted has been pushed through by the present British Rail management. Serpell said that there would be staff reductions as a result of reorganisation, and that they would save £30 million. We are talking here about 1982 prices. Under competitive tendering, including foreign purchase, Serpell said that there would be a saving of £20 million to £25 million. With the rationalisation of the maintenance depots, it said there would be a saving of £25 million, and that by eliminating over-capacity and increasing efficiency there would be a saving of £20 million.

In the next chapter, on BREL's role in the railway, Serpell said: Because BRB has not sought competitive tenders, few firm conclusions can be drawn … with the exception of locomotives, there is no prima facie evidence indicating that … the cost of new build is excessive. Comparison with prices of US and Japanese manufacturers show that BREL coach and EMU prices are competitive. This is consistent with BREL's relatively high production of these units.

Mr. Gregory

In again producing this historical document to the House, will the hon. Lady confirm that Serpell said, as a criticism of British Rail, that it consistently over-specified? That is a crucial element and has been accepted by the rail industry and by those building for British Rail.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Serpell laid out the plot of the new Conservative approach to building. It said, in very simple political terms, "If we do not retain much locomotive new build or repair in Britain, if we open everything to competitive tender, no matter whether it comes from foreign countries or private industry, we shall automatically make a saving." It did not state the effect that that would have either on the overall planning and efficiency of British Rail or on the number of jobs created in the engineering industry in Britain.

Yesterday, in another place, Lord Young of Graffham said, in an interesting response, that the United Kingdom trade in engineering products, which includes section 7 machinery and transport equipment, shows a deficit of £3,370.4 million. Britain, which was the first country to create a rail transport system and has been in the forefront of modern design and technology, now has a deficit in its trade in engineering products. Serpell may be historic to the hon. Member for York (Mr. Gregory) but it is a very important document to his constituents who work in the workshops. It clearly shows them how they got into their present situation.

The lack of clear management designs is obvious to those of us who have to deal with the day-to-day contract work. We have split contracts, outside tendering and the saga of the tender for bogies by a Swiss company. There are considerable worries about the way in which that process was handled — the specifications, the source of the information, and what is happening now. The fact that a Swiss company was given a major contract based on what looks like a computer assessment of its ability to do a massive engineering job raises considerable doubt about the management expertise which allowed that to happen.

It happened because British Rail Engineering Ltd. followed the pattern laid down for it in Serpell. It has done that while saying to an extremely loyal work force, "Do not worry. If you will agree to accept new work patterns and new engineering processes, and if you will agree to a number of voluntary redundancies, not only will some manufacturing units be stable but their future will be assured and they will be able to compete with anyone else anywhere in the world."

It is true that they can compete with any other engineering workshop, but they are not allowed to do so. British Rail told BREL, "We will not allow you to tender for certain contracts because you are a wholly owned subsidiary and we will not be able to sue you if anything goes wrong." When it was pointed out that that argument could not be sustained, it said that that had not been the reason and that there were other difficulties. For example, we were told that BREL did not manufacture power units. BREL has never manufactured power units and has frequently bought them in, so that argument can hardly stand up.

The four workshops that now exist in three locations—one in Crewe, two in Derby, and one in York—are faced with a continuing and constant squeeze on their work and on their work forces. There is uncertainty in investment patterns and 7,000 staff have been made redundant—5,500 of them in BREL and 1,500 in the regions. That has been a result of the pattern of concentration and special development units. For example, we have a signal and telegraph unit in Crewe at present. The closures have been consistent and continuing. They read like a roll of honour and of unhappiness for the communities in Shildon, Temple Mills, and part of Horwich. We are not told about the constant and increasing redundancies elsewhere. Swindon has lost 2,263 jobs and Glasgow 1,206, and still the redundancies continue.

Men and women who for not one but many generations have given a loyal commitment to a firm that was always regarded as being among the best of the engineering facilities now feel betrayed and bewildered. They have no faith in management decisions. First they are told that if they agree to a number of voluntary redundancies, as happened in my constituency, their jobs will be safe. When they are told rapidly on top of that that there must be 1,000 more redundancies over the numbers already accepted. they can only assume that once again they have been lied to. They were told by those in management, who should know better, that their future depended on changing patterns of work ; yet when they complied with the very things that they were being asked to do, they were told that their units were still at risk.

We have not had from the Secretary of State today any guarantee that BREL will continue as a viable and strong engineering unit.

When we asked where the units would be built, it was noticeable that he was proud that he was able to announce a new programme. We welcome that very much, but he must note that the amount of repair work, maintenance and new build that has already gone out of BREL into other units means that soon four or five major units will be competing among themselves for a constantly dropping amount of work. That can only lead us to the conclusion that BREL will be faced with real difficulties in future.

I was so concerned that I put down a series of questions not only to the Secretary of State for Transport but to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office asking what had happened to Government overseas investment, which is so closely tied to trade rather that to aid. It was most revealing to discover that, although there have been many overseas programmes directly connected with the railway industries, involving the rebuilding of locomotives and the improvement of rolling stock, BREL is not listed among the contracts in the answers given to me by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Therefore, it is clear that there is to be an extension of the present policy.

If we dare to suggest that there is not a great advantage for British Rail Engineering workshops in always working through a private manufacturer, we are told that this is an unreasonable attitude and that, as long as BREL is doing subcontracting work, it still has work in the workshops and must be benefiting. Even the worst economists among us can work out that, if a company is always subcontracting work which it could do itself efficiently without a third party being involved, the profit from that deal inevitably goes not to the people doing the subcontracted work but to those holding the basic and important contract. That seems to be the pattern time and time again. British Rail workshops are expected to go for split contracts or they are told that there are problems about their contractual obligations — or, even worse, that there are difficulties for them in the way that development is foreseen.

The Secretary of State said that I was unreasonable when I suggested that there was a pattern. He is a charming and talented man but I hope he will forgive me if I say that I do not always believe him. That is not to suggest that he is necessarily telling an untruth but perhaps it is not the whole truth, which is rather more important. The sale proceeds of a number of major industries are included in the amount that the Government use to calculate their own income and loss account. The amount that comes from the sale of state assets is very important to the Government. It is not just a question of dogma. They actually care about the cash.

When we say to the Government, "Could it be that you are doing to British Rail Engineering exactly what you have done to other basic industries?", the answer is, "No, perish the thought. How could it possibly be so?" But the pattern is clear. First, considerable sums of investment are pumped in. We have had it in Crewe, where high-quality, expensive equipment has been put in at the expense of the taxpayer. Then the order book is starved, so that there is less and less work. Then there comes the constant pattern of redundancies in the work force. Finally, when the unit is much smaller and better equipped, capable of going anywhere and competing on any terms, it is privatised.

The Secretary of State said, "There cannot be a pattern ; that may have happened elsewhere but it is not a parallel". We believe that it is precisely a parallel. We should send a simple message from the House to anyone who is even thinking of getting involved in that situation. The Government have made it clear that, if there is any investment in new rolling stock or new locomotives, that investment will not necessarily go to British companies, privatised or non-privatised. So selling off the workshops will protect neither the jobs nor the incomes of the engineering units.

I shall not go on much longer because I know that many hon. Members want to speak. This is an indescribably gloomy day. I am proud to represent a constituency where the workshops are a major employer and where the quality and the commitment of the men and women are very great. They are deeply proud of what they do. They have abilities which in the past have always been highly valued. They are bitterly angry and deeply worried. They have lost their faith in those very people with whom they have so often co-operated in the past. if those people in my constituency are betrayed and if they lose their livelihood, their jobs and their future, the Government will never be forgiven.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

As the hon. Lady said, many hon. Members want to speak. Brief speeches will cut down the number of disappointments.

5.12 pm
Mr. Peter Fry (Wellingborough)

I hope the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) will not mind if I say that she made a commendable constituency speech which will perhaps strengthen her position at the next election. All of us are sorry when skilled workers in BREL are made redundant, but when the Select Committee on Transport went to Glasgow to see what was happening there, I was horrified to discover that although there were jobs elsewhere in British Rail, many young engineers were refusing to move from Glasgow and were prepared to remain unemployed. Therefore. that is a difficulty that the hon. Lady should remember. I do not wish to direct my remarks to that subject.

In a year which has seen the opening of the Docklands light railway, the most exciting innovation in public transport for many years, the new Docklands City airport, the confirmation of the Channel tunnel, which we hope will provide British Rail with the opportunity for which it has waited for years, the successful privatisation of British Airways and the British Airports Authority, and an actual bonus payment to British Rail this year in a higher than forecast public service obligation payment, I find it difficult to accept the Opposition's motion suggesting Government failure in transport. Even if the developments that I have just described are supposed to be harmful, let us have more of them.

I wish to restrict my remarks to one sector—the road network. Despite the increased programme that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has proclaimed since 1979—I am not ungrateful or churlish about that—there is a need for still further action if our problems are not to be compounded in the future. As a member of the Select Committee on Transport since its inception, I am aware of the difficulties that have arisen over the years. Traffic forecasts have proved woefully inaccurate, planning inquiries have been disrupted, resulting in long delays, and there has been a demand for heavier goods vehicles.

I am aware of the slowness in preparing new schemes to fit into the programme, the negligence of previous Governments in performing the necessary maintenance and rebuilding of our road system, and I am also aware that some local authorities have diverted funds intended for the road system to other projects closer to their hearts. I hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friend realises that I appreciate many of the problems facing his Department.

The present position gives me cause for concern and the prospect for the future is perhaps even more worrying unless there is an unexpected and dramatic drop in vehicle movements. Traffic in this country is growing steadily and, in 1984, 1985 and 1986, outstripped the high growth forecasts used for road planning by the Department of Transport. The latest survey shows that, from the second quarter of 1986 to the second quarter of 1987, traffic increased by some 8 per cent. overall, and motorway traffic by 17 per cent. Anyone who has recently driven on the M1, the M6 or the M25 will not be surprised by this. However, the Government should not be shamefaced about this. Their success in regenerating the British economy has led to an increased demand for goods and to the necessary swift and sophisticated distribution system that only roads can provide. The ability and desire of the public to buy more cars has also contributed to the increase in traffic.

Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh)

In the light of those statistics and despite last week's welcome announcement by the Department of Transport about some improvements on the A1 in north-east England, does my hon. Friend agree that it would have been much better if the Government had bitten the bullet and built a motorway all the way from Doncaster to Newcastle?

Mr. Fry

My hon. Friend is anticipating my speech. The Government's successes create some of their own problems.

I would like to describe the present position. The figures that I shall give show that forecasts are too low. Very often traffic on new roads is much greater than was anticipated before their opening.

Let us take, for example, the M6 between junctions 20 and 21 and the M4 between junctions 4 and 5. Those roads were built with a design flow of 79,000 vehicles per day and now carry over 88,000. The M1 between junctions 9 and 10 also has a design flow of 79,000 vehicles per day and now carries 102,000. I have not mentioned the M25 which was built to solve the problems of the 1970s, is not coping with the congestion of the 1980s and will be impossible by the 1990s. Between junctions 18 and 19, the M25 has a design flow of 79,000 vehicles per day. The 1986 figures show a vehicle flow of 117,000 which has risen in recent months to 130,000, almost twice the design flow for that particular section of the motorway. North-south traffic will be intensified by the Channel tunnel. The Department admits that, even when the M40 is completed, the M1 will still carry up to 140,000 vehicles per day on roads designed to carry approximately half that number.

Therefore, the new roads that are being planned should at least be seen in a more generous context than they have been in the past. They should be built to a sufficient standard to carry the expected increase in traffic. I urgently ask my right hon. Friend to build the M40 as a two-lane motorway or before long he will be coming to the House to tell us how it is to be widened.

Quite apart from the major motorway schemes, many strategic routes, such as the A11 or the A47, are being improved in a piecemeal fashion because present traffic forecasts do not justify the upgrading of the whole route. However, forecasts have proved to be too low in the past and the policy of piecemeal improvement is shortsighted. I well remember the battle that many of us had in trying to turn the projected A1-M1 link into even a dual carriageway. It was to have been a single carriageway, which would have been a disaster rather than the improvement that it will obviously be under the new specification.

The result of all the low estimates of traffic growth can be shown clearly in the amount of money allocated to the Department of Transport for national road expenditure.

Mr. Adley

I do not know whether my hon. Friend uses the M25 as much as I do, but does he agree that undoubtedly the worst congestion, as on most motorways within 40 miles of London, comes within rush hours? The evidence of one's own eyes on the M25 appears to be that many commuters from the stockbroker belt use it for short journeys. Is there not a danger in ploughing huge sums of money into certain roads purely to ease journeys for commuters, often travelling in cars for which they enjoy tax concessions?

Mr. Fry

I take my hon. Friend's point. Obviously, that is a problem, but those who drive on the M25 at many hours of the day will say that it is heavily congested.

As I understand my right hon. Friend the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, there was a 2 per cent. nominal increase for 1988–89 over the forecast outturn for 1987–88. However, if one puts that into real terms — constant value of money—rather than being an increase, there will be a 2.4 per cent. reduction next year. In the two years after that, there will be a reduction in real terms of 2.2 per cent. and 2 per cent. respectively.

At a time when congestion is increasing, and will go on increasing as our economy is growing, it is a pity that the road budget is being cut in that way. I do not understand how my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State can be expected to reduce the backlog of maintenance, to renovate the many roads and bridges that need repair over the years, having been neglected by previous Governments, and to start work on all the major new projects in his programme on a slightly lower budget.

The problem has been compounded because the honeymoon with the construction industry seems to be over. For some years now contractors have been willing to build new roads at considerably less than the estimated cost. Unless the figures for the Newark bypass are maverick, the days of cheap road building seem to be over. The estimates for that bypass were well above the original ones put forward by the Department.

Having said all that, even if, by herculean efforts, my right hon. Friend manages to maintain the present progress in his road policy, I hope that I have illustrated that there will be little alleviation of congestion on our main roads simply because our roads are busy and will increasingly be so.

We often compare ourselves with other countries and think we are doing rather well, but if we compare the number of vehicles per kilometre on our motorways with those of our continental neighbours, we see a striking contrast. For example, in West Germany there are some 3,300 vehicles per kilometre on motorways. In France it is 3,940 and in Italy 4,000. In Britain it is 6,763. Those figures show the real need for an expanding road programme.

To make the matter even worse, it is also clear from the Autumn Statement that in the area for which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State does not have direct responsibility—local government expenditure—there is likely to be a disappointing underspend. The figures show a 16 per cent. underspend and a 25 per cent. underspend on capital projects. Sometimes that money has been spent on other priorities. Moreover, the planning process is so long and complicated that planning delays often mean that road programmes slip rather badly.

The picture that I have outlined this afternoon is seen by many other observers of the traffic scene, many of them exceedingly responsible. The average road traveller who uses the roads daily can also see it for himself. Congestion is getting worse. I sympathise with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's difficulties, but I hope that he will consider some suggestions.

First, there should be a more realistic assessment of future traffic flow. Previous assumptions must be updated. They have proved to be wrong too often in the past. Secondly, road building must be accelerated. We must consider the problems of the 1990s and the next century. We must tackle the problem of what to do about an M1 that is overloaded even when the M40 is complete. For example, we should consider whether to widen the A1 or extend the M11. We should at least be considering a positive policy for the future. Thirdly, the underspending of local authorities should be thoroughly investigated and eradicated.

I shall not weary the House with figures about how much money is extracted from the road user, but the increased use of the road by many more vehicles must increase the amount of money going to the Exchequer in licence fees and petrol and diesel duties.

At a time when the Government's borrowing requirement is being reduced — all Conservative Members would congratulate my right hon. Friend on that — here is an opportunity for the Government to consider some innovation in finance for our infrastructure. We should look at what other countries are doing. The United States has long had a highway trust fund. In addition, for many years, it has provided for its essential construction purposes by a system of bonds which has enabled it to build many public utility works. The ideas of other countries can be imported successfully here. Indeed, construction bonds have greater application than to roads alone. They could well be used for the regeneration of our inner cities. It is time that the Government reconsidered the successful ideas of other countries.

I appreciate that money alone is not the answer. It now takes about 15 years for a new major road project to be completed. Much of that is taken up with the planning inquiry and rather more inside the Department by officials preparing for and anticipating the reply to such inquiries. Often delays are caused by the minority making the same point over and over again—"we do not want any new roads". The history of schemes such as that at Archway or the Winchester bypass is one of a series of public inquiries dragging on for months because of the objections of a vocal minority with national rather than local arguments being used against the scheme. Surely we can find a more effective way of allowing legitimate objections without disruption and interminable delay. After all, if we can go ahead with the biggest civil engineering project that we have had in this country—the Channel tunnel—while avoiding this kind of delay, why cannot we do it with the new road programme?

I suggest that my right hon. Friend should consider putting his annual road programme to a Committee of the House for approval, and that local inquiries should be restricted to truly local matters such as access, side roads and compensation. We should, perhaps, recall that our railway system was built through the parliamentary Committee procedure. If our present planning system had obtained at that time, I wonder whether the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich would be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the railways in Crewe. The railways might not have been built. The motor car might have arrived, and railways might not have been found necessary.

It is high time that the Government, who have talked about shortening delays in the planning procedure, did something about the problem. I urge my right hon. Friend to persuade his colleagues than change is urgently needed.

Let me sum up my remarks by saying that, while the Government have been very successful in developing our economy, their very success has caused new problems, particularly for road traffic. Because of the time scale involved in both building and planning roads, I believe that a reappraisal of their entire strategy is needed, and, in particular, an examination of new methods of financing. The Government have done much, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will not mind my saying that, because they have achieved so much already, some of us expect them to do even more in the future.

5.31 pm
Mr. Richard Livsey (Brecon and Radnor)

A transport policy must have a strategy. Complete laissez-faire, in my view and in that of my party, is not on. In any transport policy, there must surely be priorities. There must be a mix between public and private transport: both must be taken into account.

Obviously, the first priority in a transport policy must be the movement of people, which should be rapid, and also achieved at a sensible and reasonable price. Secondly, the movement of freight must be considered. Thirdly, the effect on the environment must be an important factor. Many transport policies are destructive of the environment. Fourthly, safety must be a major part of any transport system. The safety record for road transport is not good, although the record on public transport is very much better.

A transport policy must benefit every part of Britain, not just the south-east or the parts that we have been discussing for most of the debate. It is rather strange to hear a major announcement made today about Super Sprinters, only to realise that, by my calculations, only 16 miles of track in Wales will be used by them. The rest of Wales, apparently, is a desert. I hope that the Secretary of State is not going to finish off what rail system we have left after Dr. Beeching cut it almost to the bone in the 1960s.

A transport policy must also benefit the young, the old and the disabled.

Let us examine the different types of transport. First, there is land-based transport. The roads, and in particular the motorways, have already been mentioned. As Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnor, I have to ask, "What is a motorway?", because we have to travel 40 miles to reach one, but we are paying for them. We do not know what an Inter-City train is either: we do not have such a thing. Some of us look rather quizzically at what is going on in other parts of the country, where massive investment is taking place.

The motorway system is vastly overcrowded. The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) made some relevant points about this. The overcrowding of the motorways is becoming serious. Car ownership is increasing, and the number of units sold is increasing as well. I believe that I am right in saying that the British motor industry forecasts that another 1.7 million units will be sold in 1987–88. That brings the problem almost to crisis point.

I have no option but to travel to south Wales by train in any period between about 3.30 pm and 8 pm. To get into a car at Westminster and drive to the nearer end of the M4 takes longer than to go to Paddington, get on to a train and arrive in Newport. That is serious. I cannot contemplate using my car for an evening constituency engagement.

The amount of investment in roads has been considerable, despite what some hon. Members have said. In particular, the investment in the M25 seems to have created additional traffic problems. I hope that the Secretary of State does not take the counsel of others who advocate another M25 to duplicate the existing one. Surely that is not the answer to our immense problems. There are many delays, much coning and vast quantities of traffic on the motorways. Coning has had serious repercussions in the past nine months or so. There have been a number of very serious accidents as a result of the miscalculations of drivers coming on to coned-off motorways.

In passing, I back the second Severn crossing proposals for the motorway system, which is very important to us in Wales. I advocate—although this is not wholly within the Minister's responsibilities — the construction of a major road between north and south Wales, which, I believe, would transform communications within the Principality. Bypasses of some existing towns are also of major importance, and I feel that the Minister should pay more attention to building more bypasses around some of our more crowded towns.

In the public sector, bus transport after deregulation has been a very mixed story. There have been some benefits in urban areas, but bus services in rural areas have been quite severely hit. They have been more expensive. There has also been poor timetabling, and a lack of feeding into national bus routes.

I also counsel the Minister to resist the siren voices that are demanding an increase in lorry size from 38 tonnes to over 40 tonnes. This can only have a deleterious effect on our road system.

Much has already been said about our rail system. I believe that the financial targets set for the railways have been too tight, certainly in comparison with other west European countries, where railways are more heavily subsidised. A case can certainly be made for more Government support, particularly in the light of the crowding on the road system. We need rapid, hourly, city-to-city services, and an efficient feeder network in the regions and in Scotland and Wales, particularly to feed into the overall network. We also need modernisation, and more of our railway system should be electrified. That will require more investment than the British Railways Board appears to be allowed at present.

We need electrification on all our main routes. It is very serious that the south Wales and Bristol route is not to be electrified. Nor is the Aberdeen to Edinburgh route. That is because of the needs of the system to feed into the new Channel tunnel. Routes with no electrification will be at a disadvantage.

The Minister for Public Transport (Mr. David Mitchell)

I am listening carefully to what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Will he tell us in what way he finds the new diesel multiple-unit Sprinters inferior to electrification, and why he is so keen that there should be electrification? It would mean a substantial outlay in costs, and virtually no difference in what the customer receives. I should like to know what is behind the hon. Gentleman's comments.

Mr. Livsey

I welcome the new Sprinters. They are a move forward. However, they are not using the entire railway network but only what appears to be the central parts of England. I have already mentioned that they will use only about 16 miles of track in Wales. We would like to see that extended. Electrification will be essential to take the railways into the 21st century. Because of the Channel tunnel, electrification will be extremely important for through trains to the continent. We need to think about that and plan for it now. That is why I am propounding this argument.

The Channel tunnel is an epoch-making development which should not be under-rated. It is essential that the regions of England and that the countries of Wales and Scotland should be plugged into the Channel tunnel system. I cannot see why all the trains have to go through London to get to the Channel tunnel. I have no doubt that when Brunel constructed large parts of the Great Western railway he was anxious to get to Paddington, but if he were living now I am sure that he would be anxious to take the quickest possible route to the south coast.

Mr. Adley

It was not Brunel who built the South Eastern railway with a line from Tonbridge to Redhill and Reading. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the line from Redhill to Reading was built by the South Eastern railway in the 1870s for the Channel tunnel? Even Dr. Beeching said that it did not justify being kept open on local grounds but that some day the Channel tunnel would be built. Because of the criteria that the Government have laid on British Rail, that line will not be fully utilised. Will the hon. Gentleman join me in hoping that soon my hon. Friend the Minister will come to the Dispatch Box and give us some good news that the line will be electrified as part of the Channel tunnel project?

Mr. Livsey

I agree with the hon. Gentleman and I recognise his expertise on railway matters. In fact, he is covering a point I was about to make. I regard the development of Reading station as more important than some of the developments taking place in London. I hope that we can make the Minister realise that. It is a well-known fact that during the first world war troops were taken from Dover to central England and beyond via the route through Redhill and Reading. If one looks at the overall rail transport system in this country, particularly as it affects the west midlands, Wales and the west country, one can see that there is a great need for a through route from Reading to the south coast and that the route that exists now must be developed. Taking that transport away from London would be beneficial for the environment and for all concerned.

There is great feeling about the loss of sleeper services in north-east England. My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) has made a powerful case for retaining the service to the north-east.

I enter a plea to the Minister about the central Wales line and remind him that it travels through five marginal seats. Therefore, it must be of significance in the House. Will he acknowledge that that line is important for strategic reasons as well as for the people who live in the area?

I am sure that the Minister will join me in regretting the tragedy that took place on that line at the Glanrhyd bridge near Carmarthen. I would like to send my condolences to the families involved and remember those who lost their lives. It is important that that bridge is replaced as soon as possible, I hope before the 1988 tourist season. I should like the Minister to give us an assurance that that will be the case. I know that British Rail is actively pursuing new designs for the bridge and I hope that they will be completed as soon as possible.

I understand that there is a new road bridge in Scotland at the Dornoch firth but that no permission has been given for a rail line to run alongside that road. That could be done cost-effectively and it would assist people in that part of the world.

My right hon. and hon. Friends reject the conclusion of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on the British Airways-British Caledonian merger. We believe that it made the wrong decision and that it is against the public interest. In the first place, the Government did not give British Caledonian enough routes to make it a viable airline. At the end of the day, it is the customer who counts. The withdrawal of a second major airline, which will be the case if the merger takes place, will cause severe problems, particularly for people in the north and in Scotland.

There is no doubt that flights could be a great deal cheaper within the United Kingdom and to Europe. I know that the Government have been looking at that subject and I hope that they will continue to do so in order to benefit the customers, to ease the movement of people by air and to make travel by air a much more common method of transport.

The use of regional airports is extremely important because of the crowding at Heathrow and Gatwick. I urge the Minister to look again at allowing more usage of regional airports, especially Manchester and Birmingham. I would also like to see Cardiff airport used a great deal more.

Mr. Tony Lloyd (Stretford)

I noted the hon. Gentleman's comments about the British Airways-British Caledonian merger and his opposition to it. If the hon. Gentleman's party opposes that merger in principle, will he tell the House what his party would seek as a future for British Caledonian? It is important as a matter of airlines policy in this country.

Mr. Livsey

The hon. Gentleman is asking me to answer in two sentences something that needs a great deal of consideration. British Caledonian does not appear to have had enough routes to make it viable and a reallocation of routes could make it more viable. That has been within the power of the Government. However, I am sure that there are many other things that could be done.

Obviously the Zeebrugge disaster was a serious matter. I am the son of a master mariner and it seems that all the blame is being put on the master and the crew of the ferry. There is no doubt that the company has some responsibility in the matter. I know that that is a subject for the Director of Public Prosecutions and perhaps it is not right to comment on it too much. None the less, the role of the company in matters of safety should be of interest to us all. Certainly in the future companies should become more accountable. There are many important lessons to be learned from this terrible disaster.

Ferry routes other than those across the Channel, such as those in Scotland and across the Irish sea, are extremely important. The downturn in merchant shipping in Britain is serious. It is perhaps outside the remit of this debate but unquestionably it is becoming necessary for there to be greater investment in shipping and shipbuilding and the Government should provide greater incentive for that to occur.

I urge the Minister to look at an overall strategy for transport in Britain. There should be a mix of public and private transport which will benefit all the citizens of our island.

5.49 pm
Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)

I am grateful to have an opportunity to participate in this debate. As the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) has shown, one would like to cover so many topics that one will either have to leave half of them out or gabble. I should like to express my thanks to my hon. Friend the Minister for Public Transport and to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who have been here throughout the debate, for their courtesy.

I take up the point made by the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor about ferries. Nobody could have acted with greater speed or determination than my right hon. Friend. I have already had an opportunity to congratulate him, but I should say that I have been in the House some little time and rarely remember a Minister being so resolute and fast in coming to conclusions about what he reckoned needed to be done in the public interest.

Ferries are a classic example of totally deregulated transport. If we are to try to look dispassionately at regulation versus deregulation, the safety versus profits position of Townsend Thoresen, or P and O as the company now is, and Sealink looks rather like the Manchester City versus Huddersfield game of the week before last. As for Mr. Sherwood, with his obsession about the Channel tunnel, I suggest that he and his shareholders would have been far better spending £500,000 extra on safety than on a spiteful, nasty and objectionable publicity campaign against the project for which he himself once tried to obtain the contract to build. I wonder why we must tolerate the over-weight, over-mouthed and over-here Mr. Sherwood. Perhaps the Home Secretary will look at his work permit and consider withdrawing it. We should all be a great deal better off and life would be much quieter.

We must consider deregulation in this debate. Bus deregulation has been touched on and the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor clearly felt that it had both good and bad points. It is a little early fully to assess the effects of bus deregulation on the passenger. At the moment we are enjoying certain benefits. However, only time will tell how long they will continue or whether they will continue indefinitely. Whether the proliferation of small companies resulting in some places in traffic chaos is in the public interest, whether they will all survive and whether, at the end, we shall be left with a better or worse bus service than we had before are vital questions, but we cannot yet answer them. London Regional Transport is doing an extremely good job, but we must remember that in London we have not deregulated but nationalised. Before we draw too many conclusions from the policies that the Government have carried out—in many instances most skilfully and successfully—we must try to tone down the dogma of deregulation. I say that to hon. Members of all parties.

On one aspect of deregulation there have been some serious and damaging side effects that I do not believe were envisaged at the time of the legislation. I refer to the deregulation of coaches. Many more people are travelling on cheap, low-fare coaches, but in my view the effects on the community have not been anywhere near fully examined. The competition that British Rail faces from deregulated coaches is grotesquely unfair. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mrs. Chalker), when she was the Minister, referred to the intimidatory driving of coach drivers on many motorways. We all know that to be true, and some timetables call for quite impossible average speeds to be attained. Those timetables are used to compete with British Rail on commuter and other coach services.

I should like to ask my right hon. Friend one or two fundamental questions, not only about coach deregulation but on the whole business of road versus rail. Why do we tolerate the situation where we demand that British Rail produces annual accounts and pays £600 million for its own track costs when competition from the coaches is a form of transport in which all the track costs are borne by the taxpayer? I am not talking about private transport and the private motorist ; I am drawing a direct comparison between the public transport costs that are borne by coaches versus those of British Rail. It is scandalous that no account is taken of the fact that British Rail must bear track, signalling, police and a whole range of other costs that its competitors do not have to bear.

What about the parking of coaches in London and in many of our big cities? As Sir Robert Reid said to me a few months ago, if he were to park his trains at Piccadilly circus, the community would have something to say about it. However, quite regardless of the public interest, commuter coaches are scattered and parked all over London and many of our other cities.

I must refer also to pollution caused by coaches. Stationary coaches often have their engines left running for hours on end. In the summer that is done to keep the air conditioning going and in the winter to maintain the heating. That causes unacceptable levels of pollution in many of our towns and cities. The Government should look at that problem.

Has my right hon. Friend seriously discussed the coach situation in London with the Metropolitan police? I shall not weary him or the House with lengthy quotations from letters that I have received from Kensington and Chelsea council and Westminster city council. However, I shall quote just one sentence from a letter that I have received from Mr. Innes, the deputy assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan police. In a letter dated 15 January 1987, he wrote: You will be aware that in the Central Area problems with coaches are quite horrendous. That is one side effect of coach deregulation. I am bound to say to my right hon. Friend: if we are the party of law and order, what are we doing to try to ameliorate the problems that some of our legislation appears to have caused and the problems that we are causing the police?

I wonder how many people realise the actual costs that are paid by the coach companies. If I were to ask those right hon. and hon. Members who are now in the Chamber to give me a figure for the annual licence fee that is paid for a 53-seater coach, I doubt that many would realise that it is less than we, as individuals, pay for the motor cars that we drive. The annual licence fee for a 53-seater coach for the pleasure and privilege of taking up all the road space, polluting our streets, parking illegally and providing unfair competition for British Rail is £87.15. It is well and truly about time that my right hon. Friend's Department took a long, hard look at the way in which coach companies are getting away with licensing their vehicles on the cheap, in comparison with the costs borne by their competitors and British Rail.

I referred a moment ago to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey. In my view, she was one of the best Ministers that we have had in the Department of Transport. I am sorry for those of us who are interested in transport that she went on to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. As long ago as 15 November 1985 she announced that she would introduce speed governors for coaches. The coach industry has conducted a clever and concerted campaign of procrastination with the Department of Transport. It is now nearly two years later —almost to the day—since my right hon. Friend made that announcement, but legislation has still not been introduced. We face a powerful and well-financed road lobby. I hope that in due course my right hon. Friend will be able to tell us about some progress.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) has said, we do not spend a great deal of time talking about roads policy. However, knowing his well-known enthusiasm for roads, I was somewhat amused when he talked about the possibility of the railways being closed. I wonder whether he or any other hon. Member could answer a simple question: why do we tolerate a situation where the safety requirements that have been laid down by Parliament on the railways for 150 years—and properly so—are totally different when it comes to road transport?

Each year there are more than 5,000 deaths and 250,000 serious maimings on our roads. For the life of me I cannot understand how anyone trying fairly to assess the virtues and values of one form of transport against another can fail to take into account the double standards that we apply in matters of transport safety. For example, why has there been no discussion of the extraordinary new decision to introduce in London traffic lights that cannot be seen from the other side of the road? When I asked the Minister about that a few weeks ago, he implied that the invisibilty of traffic lights from the other side of the road was likely to increase safety. That doctrine is new to me. The new traffic lights add to our stock of rotten street furniture.

The age of the road vehicle and the internal combustion engine has been synonymous with the age of ugliness. The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor talked about Brunel. In the days of Brunel and the Stephensons we travelled in style. We had good design and good manners. On our roads today we push and shove, and that results in injuries and unhappiness. Motorway madness is not restricted to foggy conditions. My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough talked about the M25. It is crazy to devote scarce resources to the building of more and more motorways to cater for rush-hour traffic, especially in and around London where we have a good rail network. Taxation policy and environmental considerations are simply not given the priority that they deserve.

I welcome with half a cheer today's press statement issued by British Rail and the British Airports Authority about the proposed London to Heathrow express rail link. It is proposed to build a railway line to Heathrow off the Great Western main line to the west of Hayes and Harlington station. That deals with only half the problem. We should be dealing with it properly and building a loop line from that point to and through Heathrow out to Feltham on the London and South Western line and providing a proper rail service from Heathrow to Paddington and to Waterloo. That should be seen not only as a rail transport investment but as an environmental investment to cut down the problem of excessive traffic on the M4 and other motorways.

I welcome wholeheartedly the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State about rail investment. He mentioned the east coast main line, the Windsor link, East Anglia and Weymouth. That is first class, and the Government are fully entitled to take the credit for it. However, I want to pose a question about the relationship between public sector investment and the use of resources from public transport. I think that I am right in saying that about 60 per cent. of London Regional Transport's costs are financed from the fare box. In Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, or any other European city, the figure generally falls in the 20 per cent. to 40 per cent. range. While I welcome savings that relieve the pressure on the public purse, I believe that there has to be a marriage between savings and investment. We desperately need new tube lines in London, and many of our major provincial cities need much better rail services. We are not doing our job properly and in the national interest if we concentrate solely on increasing the percentage of costs that come from the fare box without taking into account the other side of the equation and increasing investment in the public transport infrastructure.

I have talked about the road versus rail question in relation to investment. We hear that the Government are to spend more millions of pounds on the M25. When will they spend millions of pounds on improving matters on, for example, the Victoria line at Victoria station? I fear that eventually the crush here will make the 1923 cup final look like a tea party.

I am worried by the overcrowding on London Regional Transport. I welcome the Docklands light railway, but it is a great pity that, because of our determination to do the job half properly, we are building a railway which, in operational terms, is incompatible with the rest of the railways of London Regional Transport. We cannot run London Regional Transport trains on the docklands light railway, so this good little system will remain physically unconnected with the rest of London's rail transport. Frankly, were it not for the fact that the Docklands light railway acquired viaducts and track bed from British Rail for nothing, the line would probably never have been built.

I had an exchange with the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor about the Channel tunnel, in which I declare an interest. I intend to buy 300 shares in the Channel tunnel—an excellent investment that I commend to hon. Members. I have no financial interest as I have not bought the shares yet, but I intend to buy them as a way of saying "Yah boo sucks" to Mr. Sherwood who has done a very good job of persuading me to invest in the Channel tunnel. I hope that millions of my fellow citizens will do likewise.

Is my hon. friend the Minister aware of the strong feeling in the House about the future of the Settle-Carlisle railway line? Is he aware that many of us will take the Government's position on that as a test case in deciding whether they are prepared to recognise the enormous efforts made by British Rail and others to improve the finances of that line? Is he aware that part of our nation's infrastructure is literally priceless, and I shall march unhesitatingly into the first lobby that defends it?

Mr. Robert Hughes


Mr. Adley

I see that the hon. Gentleman is somewhat terrified at the prospect. Many of us will be appalled if the Government do not keep the line open by one means or another.

We expect an awful lot of British Rail. It is expected to provide figures for us to pore over and criticise when its competitors' track costs are all borne out of taxation. I have a quotation from Railway World for December 1987, which shows how up-to-date I am: is it fair that BR, forced on one hand to operate on a commercial basis, should be required on the other to act as a curator of a huge stock of historic structures that it does not need? As the problem escalates we could become faced with the absurd position of BR's commercial operations being sucked dry by a vampire load of conservation. It is a forlorn hope to suppose that the entrenched road lobby at the Ministry of Transport will do anything other than get its way but it is right to put those thoughts on the record.

Mr. Speaker

Before I call the next speaker, I remind the House that many hon. Members wish to speak. If each hon. Member speaks for 15 minutes—I have no means of controlling that—all of them will be called.

6.9 pm

Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

It is to be deeply regretted that when voting in a general election the British electorate does not take sufficient account of the respective transport policies of the various political parties. I feel certain that had they done so we would have had a very different result and a different Government elected.

This Tory Government have failed miserably on all fronts to provide our nation with anything remotely like an adequate transportation policy or with the necessary infrastructure for such a policy. The Government's policy, if they have one, is that anything goes. As a result, proper planning and integration have done just that—they have gone. The situation on our roads is chaotic. We have traffic jams, continuous delays, road works, lack of maintenance and cones multiplying by the million.

We should consider too the chaos of our bus services —or more properly lack of bus services—in many areas. We should look at the chaos that regularly occurs in our airports and the frustration which will become more and more prevalent in air travel in future. We should also look at the staggering decline in our merchant fleet, and the difficult situation facing British Rail and BREL due to a lack of sufficient investment and the political will to make railways successful.

I declare an interest as a sponsored member of the Transport and General Workers Union and as chairman, for the current year, of its group of 33 sponsored Members of Parliament. As a former transport worker, I take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the workers in every aspect of the transport industry in this country for the splendid work that they do for the nation, often in most difficult circumstances, especially in winter, despite the various Acts and regulations that are made by the Government.

I commend to the Secretary of State and to the House a report published earlier this year by the Scottish Trades Union Congress entitled "Scotland — A Land Fit for People". Its section on transport is particularly good. I urge the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Scotland to consider it carefully, with a view to implementing a large part of it for the greater needs of Scotland's future. Two excellent examples are its call for a road equivalent tariff to be introduced to benefit the islands of Scotland and for a study to be made into the possibility of a roll-on/roll-off direct ferry service between Scotland and Europe. It is a disgrace that none exists at present.

During the last transport debate on 22 April 1986, I forecast: as a result of the Act, there will be utter chaos in Glasgow city centre … The city centre will come to a standstill… The sad thing is that there will be no overall benefit to the bus operators, because there just are not enough passengers to fill those buses, or even to half-fill them. In this winding-up speech, the Minister pooh-poohed my remarks and stated: Those services are registered because operators believe that they can fill the buses, and that will mean fewer cars and less congestion."—[Official Report, 22 April 1986; Vol. 96, c. 248, 266.] We all know what happened. Glasgow made national headlines—almost 350 empty buses, bringing the city to a halt. The worst sufferers were the travelling public, who were unable to travel anywhere. The situation in the city centre is now much improved, due to the withdrawal of many of the same services, but the city as a whole has a much worse bus service than it had before the Transport Act 1985.

Although, nationwide, the position is somewhat unclear, and will be so for another year at least, it is obvious that the 1985 Act has been a huge failure. In many parts of the country, early morning, off-peak, late evening and Sunday services have disappeared. Fares have not come down ; they have gone up substantially in some areas. Co-ordination, integration, planning and timetabling have gone by the board. In some areas, crews have been forced to work much longer hours and have had to accept massive cuts in wages just to keep their jobs—in some instances, £40 a week. There have been thousands of redundancies in all grades, garage closures and the appearance on our streets of vehicles more fitted to a transport museum than the streets of Britain. Reliability has become a thing of the past, and the public have lost confidence in our bus services.

Another victim of the 1985 Act is the bus manufacturing industry. It is in such a sorry state that I forecast that, in the not-too-distant future, new bus grant will have to be reintroduced if we are to have any British bus manufacturing capability at all and are not to become totally dependent on imports.

Another total failure was the Government's much-vaunted policy of taxi sharing. As far as I am aware, it has just not happened, and it is not likely to do so. On the subject of taxis, the Minister is aware of the concern expressed by the Transport and General Workers Union about attacks on drivers, some of whom have been murdered. How can he justify refusing to change the law to allow taxis to be fitted with alarm sirens similar to those on buses? Will he reply to that point?

On aviation policy, unlike the Liberal party spokesman, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey), I repeat my welcome for the decision to allow the British Caledonian-British Airways merger to go ahead. It may not have been the ideal solution, but the situation was not ideal. There is not the capability for two British megacarriers. Even the merged airline only scrapes into the top 10 big boys in the airlines world. For example, Texas Air is five times the size of BA. Having seen at first hand how some of the megacarriers operate, I say that it is essential that the merger goes ahead in the best interests of the British public, British industry and employees in both companies.

What are the alternatives? They are the total collapse and break-up of BCal and an asset-stripping exercise by predators who are waiting in the wings, and substantial redundancies. However, British Airways and British Caledonian have a duty to support domestic services and jobs in Britain. They must neither neglect nor run down their operations, especially in Scotland. It is not asking too much of them to consider expanding in the north, in Scotland, and in other areas outwith London.

The new airline will not be a monopoly. There is already tremendous competition in the industry. It will be no great surprise if one or two megacarriers go under in the next year or two. There are also plenty of opportunities for smaller airlines to get in on the act if they are responsive to the public need.

However, I am worried about the long-term future development of our airports. Everyone in central Scotland now accepts that, if we were to start from scratch, we would have only one airport instead of three. It may be idealistic, but with the tremendous build-up of air travel and the massive investment that is needed by the turn of the century, an investigation could and should be made into the feasibility of one single international airport for central Scotland.

London may be in danger of getting into a similar situation with Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, with the result that many international flights will go to Europe, with the consequential loss to our tourist-related industries. Perhaps lower fares in real terms and more passengers will prevent or offset that.

I worry also about the continuation of Anglo-Scottish flights to Heathrow. Will the Minister assure us that at no time will flights be transferred to Stansted? Will he ask some of his ministerial colleagues to examine the fact that holiday operators rip off Scots, especially at peak holiday times such as the Glasgow fair, by extortionate add-on charges for holidaymakers and their families?

I take issue with the Scottish tourist board and its business plan of April 1987, which states: Scotland must become more accessible to growing long-haul markets, whether by increased direct traffic through Prestwick and/or available and inexpensive add on fares from London and Manchester. That is a disgraceful approach for the STB to take. It should argue for Scotland to develop its own international links in the market place and for Glasgow to be allowed to develop along normal commercial patterns similar to those in Manchester.

The city of Glasgow has made tremendous progress, from being almost an industrial slum five years ago to being the European city of culture in 1990. There were 700,000 visitors in 1982, and there are expected to be 4 million next year, when it stages the 1988 garden festival. Even the CBI has said that every city in the United Kingdom could learn from Glasgow. People now have a reason to visit the city. They need good access. Therefore, good air services are vital to the city, which is the commercial hub of Scotland, with spokes feeding out to all other parts of Scotland and to parts which other cities do not reach.

I now refer to roads and road safety. The RAC, in its observations on Government spending plans over the next three years, has said that, contrary to some inaccurate statements in media reports, the planned increases are not in real terms. Taking account of predicted inflation of more than 4 per cent. next year, the cash increase will be a reduction of expenditure in real terms. It went on to state that there is no promise of the urgently required immensely greater expenditure to cope with the anticipated serious problems ahead, not least the estimated traffic growth of 40 per cent. or more by the end of the century.

The British Road Federation expressed its concern about a 16 per cent. or £300 million underspend on capital and maintenance in the current year, the evidence that road construction costs have been rising and that insufficient funds will be available, as well as the fact that, according to "Policy for Roads in England 1987", published in April, just before the election campaign, 114 previously announced trunk road schemes will now have later starting dates than published.

In its brief, the Freight Transport Association states that it is unable to corroborate the claims in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement that the budget for bridge maintenance on trunk roads was to be stepped up significantly. That is not in keeping with the Secretary of State's speech. Will the Minister tell us who is correct, the Secretary of State or the other people who have kindly sent briefs to hon. Members for the debate?

To its credit, the Freight Transport Association also mentioned the appalling lack of facilities for heavy goods vehicle drivers on our main routes. That is something about which the TGWU feels strongly, as the Minister knows. It is disgraceful that there are no facilities for lorry drivers on the M25, the M20, the M18, the M180, the M56 and the M40. Surely the Secretary of State has a duty in this respect and must make provision for the necessary facilities as soon as possible.

In Scotland, the entire length of the A74 between Carlisle and Glasgow, which is the main link between Scotland and England, must be upgraded to motorway standards in the immediate future. That was almost the only welcome election promise that the Tories made to Scotland, although I fear that they may be delaying its implementation. When will the M74 be completed?

We also need the A8 from Baillieston to Newhouse to become the M8 to complete the Glasgow-Edinburgh link. A motorway from Ayrshire to the M8 and the M74 is essential, as is completion of improvements to the A75 from Stranraer to Gretna. The A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen is totally inadequate. The Hamilton road route in my constituency is needed but I believe is somewhat delayed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Next question."] Conservative Members say, "Next question." I am just illustrating the total failure of the Government's transport policy in Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom.

The Government are attracted to seeking ways of involving private money for roads, which logically means toll roads. When one considers that taxation income from all road-related sources is some £14 billion per annum and that expenditure is only £3 billion, the Exchequer benefits from 75 per cent. of total revenue. As the number of vehicles increases, so does the revenue. Rather than use toll roads, most traffic would use the ordinary network. Has the Secretary of State considered that?

There is no case for introducing yet another American system into our British way of life. Toll roads are unfair, unjust, unnecessary and not wanted. When will an enlightened Secretary of State abolish tolls on bridges and estuarial crossings? The Select Committee on Transport suggested that it should be clone by phasing them out over a period. They serve no useful purpose and they are a hindrance to local economies.

One of the biggest road safety problems is drink and driving. The Government must stop pussyfooting. Publicity schemes and the like do not work. I fully support the campaign of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety for the introduction of random breath testing. I hope that the ten-minute Bill proposed today by my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) succeeds.

Scotland has been the guinea pig for unwanted and unpopular measures such as the poll tax. The Secretary of State missed a golden opportunity to introduce something useful in Scotland when, in answer to my parliamentary question on 2 November, he said that he had no plans to introduce random breath testing. That measure has been successful in other countries and I am positive that it would be successful here. I also favour the Royal Automobile Club proposal for a two-tier penalty system, which would impose much heavier sentences on those drivers who are well above the limit.

I want action against drinking and driving. However, I do not support Scottish Television televising the names of offenders. Some idiots might fancy getting their names on television and many offenders will plead not guilty and clog up the courts, adding to the expense. Others, or members of their families, may be victimised. Not every drunk driver is named in the newspapers but they will be on STV, which is a sort of double penalty — a penalty imposed by the courts and another by STV.

Today newspaper has jumped on the bandwagon and has published a four-page insert disclosing the names of convicted drivers. I appeal to my friends in STV to think again. If they really want to do something constructive, they should stop televising advertisements for alcohol, especially during the festive season. They could show pictures of some of the results of road accidents. I have seen some and they need a red warning triangle in the corner of the screen. Anyone who sees such horrific evidence will think and drive more carefully. That does not just apply to drunken drivers.

Another problem is the introduction in 1992 of cabotage for the heavy goods vehicle and the public service vehicle industries. The Government are dangerously complacent in ignoring representations made to them by the Transport and General Workers Union. In reply to a parliamentary question from myself on 6 November, it was admitted that approximately 3,000 overloaded lorries enter the United Kingdom from Europe each year. With variable driving standards, lower wages and lower taxation rates, foreign lorries and coaches will be able to drive around our roads at will, putting our drivers out of work and often posing real safety problems.

If we are to prevent many of the 5,000 deaths each year on our roads, we need tough enforceable laws, backed up by a highly visible police presence. In addition, we need a new motorway construction programme for the 1990s and the 21st century. Despite what the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) has said, people enjoy having a car and delight in using it. The Government should take more action against dud MOT testers, car-dealer sharks who sell death traps to people; they should stop insurance write-offs being rebuilt, and clamp down on unsafe vehicles. The Government should do something to improve our rapidly deteriorating driving standards and behaviour. Those are all positive suggestions.

The all-party Select Committee on Transport, in its report on financing rail services, said: The railway network is a national asset. BR must be given sufficient funds to enable it to use this asset fully. A list of 29 recommendations followed. It will be another illustration of the failure of the Government's transport policy if they choose to ignore those reasonable and sensible recommendations. There is an unanswerable case for massive investment in British Rail on environmental and energy conservation grounds. It would also create massive employment.

There is scope for expansion in Scotland. Direct rail links to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick airports are essential and would be well patronised. Electrification north of Glasgow and Edinburgh is desirable. The Dornoch firth crossing needs a rail bridge to be built at the same time as the road bridge. The Government's refusal to approve that is an absolute scandal. British Rail does not come out of that with much credit, as it accepted the Government's decision. I ask the Secretary of State to rethink and to do the decent thing for that part of the highlands.

My hon. Friends the Members for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) and for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. McKelvey) have been campaigning against the withdrawal of services, especially sleeper services in south-west Scotland. It is disgraceful that people will have to travel to Glasgow or, even worse, to Carlisle in England to get an Inter-City train. Does the BR board want passengers or not? Its policy of unmanned stations is also unpopular and stops many people travelling by train, especially elderly people who are afraid to use unmanned stations at night. Cannot BR have a change of mind about its policy?

The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) referred to the Select Committee visit to Springburn, in which I participated, and suggested that people should move from Glasgow. Why should people and their families move 400 miles to Network SouthEast to get a job in British Rail? Even if they did, how could they afford accommodation? That part of the world is already overcrowded. If the Government had any idea, they would create work in the north and in Scotland, and would alter the north-south drift to a south-north drift.

I have always argued that the Channel tunnel is unnecessary for British transport needs. Nothing has happened to change my mind. Although Glasgow has received some of the early contracts for equipment, that is a short-term benefit. The project is a long-term Trojan horse, which will siphon off even more investment and jobs from the north to the already overcrowded, prosperous south, and make it easier for import penetration into our markets. Whatever happens about the tunnel, I hope that it will not result in British Rail putting all its resources into that one project at the expense of the regions. Will the Secretary of State give an assurance that British Rail investment for the tunnel will have no effect on any of its plans for the rest of the network?

We need the repeal of the Transport Act 1985 and an awareness that transport is a social necessity, by means of the creation of a national concessionary fare scheme for pensioners, disabled, handicapped and unemployed people, and transport policies that give priority to people. Some hon. Members may say that transport is not a political topic. I contend that it is, and that the Government have failed miserably. The electorate should take note and act accordingly.

6.27 pm
Mr. Patrick Ground (Feltham and Heston)

I hope that, after listening to the many topics raised by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall), the House will not mind concentrating for a few minutes on just one topic. In both the motion and the Government amendment there is a reference to the environment. The amendment refers to Government policies to safeguard the environment. Recently a review was completed by the Department of Transport on the restriction of night flights at Heathrow. The proposals that were announced by my right hon. Friend within the last fortnight affect the possible regime at Heathrow after 1 April next year. Those proposals have important implications for the air transport industry. They are also potentially important not simply for people living around Heathrow, but for people living near other major airports.

There are two points in the Government's proposals that I welcome. First, despite the pressure that has been brought to bear from some quarters to increase the quota of night flights, I welcome the fact that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has decided to reduce the quota from 6,800 a year to 5,750. Therefore, in effect, the quota is reduced to the amount by which it is being taken up. Secondly, I welcome the recognition, despite all that has been said about quieter aircraft in recent years, that many of the so-called quieter aircraft, such as the Boeing 747, are still very noisy, especially at night. Indeed, the consultation document published by the Secretary of State makes it clear that planes that have been described as quieter for so many years have a very noisy footprint. In particular, I welcome that fact that only relatively quiet modern aircraft such as the BAE 146 and the Boeing 757 are to be allowed to take off between 12.30 am and 5 am. That is a very welcome and important development. I hope that that period will be extended progressively to cover at least the period from 11.30 pm to 6 am.

I was disappointed to see no reference to the Eyre report in the consultation document. I regard the Eyre report as the most thorough review of airport policy for many years. It was produced by an inspector who was very alive indeed to the needs of the air transport industry. I want to remind the House of what that inspector said: Although aircraft are becoming less noisy I doubt whether they will ever be so quiet as not to disturb the sleep of those living near airports. I regard it as unacceptable in a caring society that even one or two aircraft should be permitted to disturb sleep at night. The inspector went on to recommend that there should be a complete ban on night flights at Gatwick and Heathrow.

I believe that the Government have listened to some degree to the reasoning of the Eyre report, but it is regrettable that no specific reference has been made to the reasoning or recommendations that it contains. It is unsatisfactory that no clear explanation is given in the consultation document as to why it is necessary to have the comparatively small number of an average of 15 flights a night. Each one of those flights is capable of disturbing the sleep of a significant number of people. We understand that emergency flights are necessary and even the Eyre report made it clear that emergency flights were to be excluded from the recommended ban.

However, I fail to see any clear justification in the consultation document for the number of night flights that are still being allowed under the quota. The explanation given about freight flights is wholly unconvincing. It is very good that those noisy flights are to be excluded between 12.30 am and 5 am. However, there is no clear justification why freight flights are necessary at night. The paragraph in the consultation document that deals with night flights is extremely vague. The reasons for not allowing a complete night ban state: To do so would deny airlines the ability to plan some scheduled flights in the night period, and to cope with disruptions and delays; and damage the airport's status as a 24-hour international airport (with implications for safety and maintenance and the needs of passengers) and its competitive position in relation to a number of European airports. The air transport industry is of the greatest importance to my constituents and to the constituents of many hon. Members. I would be concerned if any measure damaged the ability of the airport to compete. However, I see no clear sign in the consultation document that a night ban would cause serious problems to the running of the airport.

When the balance is struck between the needs of the air transport industry and the people living around the airport. I hope that the Government will continue to bear in mind the reasoning in the Eyre report. People who live around airports have the same need of a night's sleep as people living elsewhere. Those who work at airports, their families and those who live near airports should be able to sleep without being disturbed by aircraft. The number of flights, whether 6,800 under existing quota or 5,750 in the Government's proposals, are insignificant in relation to the total capacity of the airport. Even if the total quota was doubled, that would only increase the airport capacity by 2 per cent. and that has been rightly rejected as a means of increasing airport capacity. People do not want to fly at night judging from the experience of the quota. People have not shown a great desire to fly at night. Judging from the experience of the existing quota, airlines are by no means keen to fly at night and there appears to be very little enthusiasm on the airlines' part for using up the quota.

I very much hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will look much more closely at the precise needs of the air transport industry with regard to night flights and look beyond the question of emergencies to define precisely the needs of the industry for flights within the quota. I hope also that he will consider whether the needs of the air transport industry for such flights justify waking up so many people for the sake of so few flights. I hope that he will consider how so many major foreign airports manage to survive and prosper with complete bans on night movements and in many cases with the airports shut down completely for a period. I hope that he will consider whether airport policy should he much more firmly and positively directed towards the achievement of a total night ban as has been recommended by the inspector in the Eyre report.

I hope that the reasoning implicit in the consultation document which appears to point towards the logic of a complete night ban will be increasingly spelt out so that it becomes a positive, express aim of Government policy without damage to the air transport industry to achieve a total ban on night movements at Heathrow and other major airports, so that people living around the airports —and that includes those who work at the airports will have the same opportunity of a night's sleep as people living elsewhere.

6.39 pm
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Môn)

The Secretary of State was bullish in his defence of the Government's investment programme for transport infrastructure. However impressive his performance was, it did not make up for the clear lack of an overall transport planning strategy.

We in Wales have suffered from a massive lack of investment in our road, rail, air and sea links. It is little wonder that we lose out so often in attracting inward investment when our transport communications are chronically and woefully inadequate. The Welsh and Scottish economies are not considered as entities in their own right, but unless we begin to look at them in that way we shall always lack the necessary investment to regenerate our economies.

My party welcomes the improvements to the A55 along the north Wales coast, but that creates its own problems because once the bottlenecks at Conwy and Penmaenmawr are resolved the bottleneck will shift further west to my constituency at Llanfairpwll and Gaerwen. Once one problem is settled another is created.

I could take hon. Members on a picturesque tour of my constituency. Many hon. Members have told me how they have spent a lot of time enjoying the scenery of the island. However, transport facilities on the island are extremely poor because, although there has been a steady and sustained growth in commercial traffic using the A5— particularly the Sealink ferries at Holyhead and the B and I ferries—there has been no investment to improve the infrastructure of our roads to ensure that we have good transport facilities and can solve some of the environmental and social problems that are created by increased commercial traffic.

We welcome the increased use of the resources at the port of Holyhead. However, unless we improve road facilities through the island the quality of life for those who live in the villages along the A5 will rapidly deteriorate.

We do not only envisage a growth in commercial traffic using the Sealink ferries. It is worth noting that the present throughput at Holyhead is about 1.6 million passengers a year, 36 per cent. of whom travel by car or commercial vehicle. Overnight from 1 January 1988 there will be a 30 per cent. increase in commercial traffic and a 30 per cent. increase in cars using that port. The B and I Ferries' operation that is currently situated in Liverpool will be transferred to Holyhead. Thus, not only will we face further increases in commercial traffic but in tourist traffic. With regard to the drive to attract new industry, it is a matter of urgent priority that the Government improve the A5 through Anglesey.

The Welsh Office has said that it is about to receive the consultant's report on the feasibility study on the A5. Will the Minister say whether that report has been received, when he will make an announcement to the House and whether the Government are committed to improving the A5? I am concerned not only with my constituency but with the lack of an alternative for traffic coming from Ireland to London and mainland Europe.

I am sure that the increased growth in commercial traffic through Holyhead will place a strain on the A55 when it is completed. Would it not make sense to have a new purpose-built A55 along the island through the constituencies of Caernarfon and Meirionnydd Nant Conwy as an alternative route to reach the motorway network in the midlands? In that regard the Government should consider making a joint approach with the Irish Government to the EEC for finance. I am sure that it would be successful.

As there will be an increase in commercial and tourist traffic into north Wales and my constituency, we should have an efficient modern railway link. The safety record of people travelling by train is much better than that for roads. Since 1980 there have been fewer than 50 deaths in railway accidents, compared with 40,000 deaths on our roads. That safety record should be commended. While we should improve road safety, we should also increase the use of the rail service.

As to the economic development of north Wales—I made this point in a question to the Secretary of State for Wales recently — the electrification of the north and south Wales line must be a priority. The Minister intervened when a similar comment was made by the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey). He said that we should accept Sprinter trains as an alternative to electrification. The Minister must be made aware of the fact that once the Channel tunnel is open, if it becomes operational, one will be able to travel from Dublin on an electrified line, except on the north Wales link. If we want a modern, efficient rail transport network into the next century we must consider the whole package and not bits of it. I urge the Minister and the Secretary of State to use their influence with British Rail to ensure that the north and south Wales lines are electrified as a matter of priority.

A modern, efficient integrated transport network is essential for the economic growth of Wales. I accept that the Channel tunnel will supply opportunities for us in that regard. However, I should like to ensure that we in Wales do not lose because of a lack of political will in Westminster to ensure that we receive a fair share of the cake. I foresee an important role for the port of Holyhead in that development. It is the gateway not only to but from Ireland. Some 80 per cent. of the people who travel to Ireland use the port of Holyhead. I should like to see that town, which has been ravaged by unemployment for so many years, given an opportunity to show what it can do. We must ensure that it is given an opportunity that is equal to any other part of the United Kingdom.

If we are to have sustained economic growth an integrated transport network is essential. I ask the Government to ensure that the investment that they have blandly said is available in so many other parts of the country is also made available in Wales and Scotland.

6.49 pm
Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams)

May I say how much I enjoyed listening to the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Mr. Jones) make his spontaneous speech about a special part of the country. I had the good fortune to have a house not far from his constituency and I used to visit that wonderful part of the country. I am sure that the Government will take to heart many of the things that he has said, especially about the rail links.

I also want to start with a constituency interest, the west country. The west country—rather like north Wales— tends to be thought of as an inaccessible and difficult place to get to. I must say that when I became the Member for South Hams I felt that it was a long way away and difficult to reach. However, in the four years that I have represented that constituency BR has done a remarkable job. The rail services take a lot of beating. One can get to Plymouth in under three hours by train and to Exeter in under two hours. Totnes, my constituency station, runs a fast and efficient service. If one wishes to travel to Totnes, one can buy a ticket at Paddington straight to Buckfastleigh. From there one can jump on the steam train and chug along up the River Dart in an old-fashioned steam locomotive. It is extremely popular. I pay tribute to the unions in helping BR to bring those steam trains straight to the British Rail platform at Totnes. That is a great achievement.

We also have an extremely good airport. My constituency just skirts round one of the runways at Plymouth airport and we have a first-rate service to Heathrow — five flights a day on Brymon. With the opening of the STOLport on 5 November by Her Majesty the Queen, it is possible to fly from Plymouth to the STOLport within an hour and then out to the continent. I pay tribute to the wonderful work done by Brymon.

The only trouble with Plymouth airport is that it is 1,000 ft up on the edge of Dartmoor. That means that one tends to be diverted to Cornwall when one flies to Plymouth because of the mists. However, that is being put right with new radar equipment and it will be possible to fly far more conveniently to Plymouth and not find oneself in Cornwall.

We have excellent plane and rail services, but I cannot say the same for the road services. It has taken me seven or eight hours to drive up from my constituency to the House because of endless roadworks and cones. I do not know how the Minister organises it, but it seems to me that there are always some roadworks going on, so it is never possible to have a clean run. At the moment there are three major roadworks on the M4. We are deceived, having passed the first one into thinking that there will not be any more. However, having passed the second, we meet the third set of roadworks. It would be good if the Secretary of State could ensure that, when there are roadworks, people are warned well in advance that there are three obstacles. As a result of that knowledge people might make a diversion, and that could save a lot of problems and traffic difficulties.

I believe that the Brymon operations out of Plymouth are a success because they go into the STOLport, one of the most imaginative air traffic developments that has ever been seen.

I pay tribute to the Secretary of State for his most exciting and stimulating speech. Although not all hon. Members would agree, I am sure that they appreciate that he gave us a tremendous race around the country and a lovely picture of developments and improvements. I am sure that most of us recognise that such improvements are the result of the Government's approach to transport needs for the 1990s. My right hon. Friend's speech was a tour de force, and I am sure that the House appreciated it.

I have mentioned Brymon and the STOLport. One of the attractions of the STOLport is that Brymon does not have a monopoly, because it faces competition from Eurocity Express. I do not believe that Brymon has come clean regarding the amount of interest that British Airways has in its future. Although British Airways states that it has only 40 per cent. voting rights, it has a 95 per cent. interest in Brymon. In fact, 1,250,000 preference shares have gone to British Airways, and Air France has linked up. I am advised that when Eurocity Express made its application, great fury emanated from Brymon and British Airways because they wanted a monopoly out of the STOLport. They were disturbed that Eurocity Express would compete with its short take off and landing planes, try to put Brymon to the test and not allow it to have a monopoly. However, British Airways has been extremely skilful.

I should like to talk about the success of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and what is at risk. At this point I should declare an interest. I have an interest in British Midland Airways, which does a fine job. I am not ashamed to say that I believe that it is one of the best independent airlines in the country. I also have an interest in British Island Airways, the charter airline that operates out of Gatwick. That airline does a remarkable job. In fact, it is fair to say that I am interested in the other airlines as well. I help all the independent airlines as much as I can, be they Brymon, Monarch or Britannia. I believe they do a tremendous job in bringing competition to our airline policies. I am a firm supporter of competition, private enterprise and independent airlines, whether retained by them or not.

If the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report goes ahead, one airline will have approximately 93 per cent. of the routes out of the country. I do not believe there is much point in the Civil Aviation Authority stating that there should be a review of licensing when 93 per cent. of those licences will be with one airline. It is an empty suggestion. I believe that the Government cannot have a credible aviation policy if 93 per cent. of routes are with one airline. The Government have lost credibility with regard to competition and their belief in helping the consumer. The Government have also lost credibility with the independent airlines. I do not believe it is the Government's fault.

Mrs. Dunwoody

It is the airlines' fault.

Mr. Steen

I shall explain whose fault it is.

Once the MMC recommends that the merger should go ahead I believe that the Secretary of State has no choice.

He must accept its recommendation by law, provided that the MMC does not say it is against the public interest. That is the first problem faced by the Government.

Secondly, I believe the Government may have made a mistake — of course, before the present Secretary of State had responsibility—in not putting into practice Civil Aviation Paper 500. I believe that the Opposition recognise what an important breakthrough there would have been for the regional airports, for British Caledonian and for British Airways if CAP 500 had been put into effect.

The Government got it wrong. They carved up the routes and gave British Caledonian what turned out to be bad routes and gave the good routes to British Airways. The result is that British Caledonian is now to be taken over by British Airways. The die was cast once the Government failed to implement CAP 500. There is no point in having a Civil Aviation Authority if one does not follow its recommendations.

When things went wrong, the British Airways offer was made. I am advised that the MMC said to British Airways that it did not think much of the merger proposal and asked it to come up with some conditions so that the MC could tell the country that competition would still exist.

British Airways put forward proposals. The Monopolies and Mergers Commission did a good job on the report, but its members are not experts on aviation. When the Commission got the list of conditions that British Airways suggested, it thanked the company and said that it would accept them. The Secretary of State could not then turn down those conditions and impose new ones. We all have a high regard for Lord King, British Airways' footwork was very neat indeed, and the Secretary of State was caught out.

The merger was announced on 11 November. On 10 November British Airways issued a press release about the merger and what it was going to do. I have a copy of that release here. How did British Airways know what was in the report the day before it was announced? The Secretary of State did not know ; nor did the House; but British Airways issued this statement. It was not released until 11 November, but it was dated 10 November. I took the matter up with the Library, which checked with British Airways, which said that the problem was due to a typing error.

Mr. Morgan

The most likely explanation for that is that, as the House decided to run Tuesday into Wednesday, British Airways did the reverse and ran Wednesday into Tuesday.

Mr. Steen

That is a bit of "Alice in Wonderland" on the part of British Airways. The matter calls for an explanation. I cannot believe that the major PR company that represents British Airways, which always behaves in the most impeccable, responsible way, could produce a press release dated on the wrong day and then claim that it was due to a typing error.

Did British Airways have inside information'? Once it had put its conditions forward, and the M MC had accepted them, the die was cast. The merger had to go ahead, and the Secretary of State had to approve it. I think that Lord King has bounced the House, the independent airlines, the Government, and the Civil Aviation Authority, too, into the merger.

The report said that 5,000 slots would be given up. However, there are no more than the four domestic routes out of Gatwick to four destinations in this country, so nothing is being given up. If British Airways chooses to apply for the licence, it will get some of its slots back. When the report says that up to 20,000 slots could be given up, it refers to the Paris, Brussels and Nice routes. If those routes go to other airlines, British Airways will give out British Caledonian slots on those routes, so there will be no room for greater competition. The odd thing is that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission acknowledges that charter airlines have provided competition and brought down fares. But what will happen at Gatwick when the merger goes ahead? Before answering that, I shall digress a moment to describe what is happening at Heathrow.

British Airways is putting larger and larger planes on European routes on which there is a cartel. Seats that it does not sell as scheduled seats are being sold through the back door to bucket shops where one can pay one half or one quarter of the price. That means that the large wide-bodied jets that are not needed on some of the European routes are being put on those routes so that British Airways can break into the charter market. Charter airlines are not allowed at Heathrow, but British Airways is taking charter passengers out of Heathrow by putting them on the back of scheduled aircraft.

At Gatwick, it is the other way round: one is not allowed to put scheduled passengers on charter airlines. If there are 20 seats in an empty charter aircraft, one cannot put scheduled passengers on them, even though they are going to the same destination.

If the merger goes ahead, British Airways will put wide-bodied planes on scheduled services out of Gatwick to destinations that are presently British Caledonian services, and thus start eating into the charter market by putting charter passengers on the backs of the wide-bodied planes out of Gatwick. That is what the charter airlines—not only British Island Airways, but Monarch, Orion, Britannia and Dan Air—fear most. Those airlines have done a tremendous service to this country, serving consumer interests and prices by providing competition. My concern is that British Airways will do the same thing out of Gatwick as it is now doing out of Heathrow.

A few weekends ago I had the experience of flying to Frankfurt by British Airways. I said that I wanted the excursion fare. British Airways was sorry, but there were only a few excursion fares to Frankfurt and, when full, one had to travel club class. On the plane I discovered that three quarters of the seats were club and fairly deserted, and, right at the back, all those poor people on excursion were squashed in. British Airways is squeezing out excursion fares, so that there are fewer and fewer rows available, and insisting that one flies club class, which costs more. That is another anti-competition, restrictive practice.

The MMC report says that British Airways would welcome competition out of Heathrow, and that British Airways would not object to licences ; and Lord King welcomes competition. But he knows that he will not get any. How can there be parity out of Heathrow to the European capitals when a cartel of British Airways and Lufthansa pulls in the profits? British Airways and Air France pull in the profits, too. No one else can fly on those routes because the Government, despite valiant efforts, are unable to get foreign Governments to agree that independent airlines can compete with British Airways and Lufthansa.

Let us examine what competition does. Flying from Glasgow to Heathrow on a British Midland diamond service covers 340 miles and works out at 21.17p a mile. I am sure that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) has used that splendid service. From Heathrow to Paris, which is 216 miles, the economy fare is 39.35p and the club fare 48.61p a mile. So flying from Glasgow to Heathrow on British Midland costs less than half the economy fare on British Airways from Heathrow to Paris per passenger mile. That is the effect of the cartel. Until that is broken, there is no way in which the Government can ensure that independent carriers provide consumer benefits.

If the merger goes ahead, the Government should suggest to British Airways that it should give up half of its flights a day to, say, Paris and Brussels, and that idependent carriers should compete with British Airways on these routes. That is the only way in which competition can take place. If British Airways and British Caledonian combine to hold 93 per cent. of routes, there can be no competition.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Does not Air Europe already have a licence to fly on the London to Paris route that is being blocked because of British Caledonian's objections? If those objections are withdrawn, why is it necessary to cut anyone's routes, provided that Air Europe receives the capacity and slots to fly in competition?

Mr. Steen

The hon. Gentleman is right. If Air Europe flies out of Gatwick there will be competition. However, I am talking about Heathrow, which has the cartel and restricted space. I suspect that British Airways will move more and more British Caledonian flights out of Gatwick into Heathrow and leave fewer and fewer peak time slots for independent airlines. It is one thing to say that British Midland can fly from Heathrow to Paris, but it must fly the same number of flights out of Heathrow to Paris in order to compete. If not, there is no competition and there will not be enough slots. That is the problem. British Airways has it all ways. It can put charter seats on the back of scheduled flights ; it can take up all the slots in peak time; and with the cartel, it can prevent anyone from competing on the principal revenue routes in Europe.

Why, in April last year, did British Airways increase its fares to most European capitals by 3 per cent., and again in November by 5 per cent.? In Amsterdam there is independent competition and in Gibraltar there is competition from Air Europe. Those are the only two routes on which there has not been a price increase by British Airways. That is the effect of competition. I am sure that the Secretary of State must appreciate the fear not just of the airlines with which I am closely involved, but of all the independent airlines.

We have seen an enormous growth in air traffic and the great success of our aviation industry. Those things are at risk, and we are on the horns of a dilemma. If the merger goes ahead without the Secretary of State doing something in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Authority, consumer protection and competition will go out of the window. There is a sense of injustice and the feeling that the independent airlines cannot compete and cannot get the slots. They cannot raise the capital and operate at the same frequencies. The CAP 500 saw the beginning of a monopoly creeping into aviation. I fear that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report merely completes that work.

Several lion. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. I repeat Mr. Speaker's appeal for brevity. The winding-up speeches are expected to begin at 9.20. Therefore, there is a little over two hours left and many hon. Members are hoping to catch my eye.

7.10 pm
Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

I should like to speak about the effect that the Government's transport policies have had, especially in my constituency. I want to draw to the attention of hon. Members some of the comments made by the Minister of State about how the Government's policies have improved the quality of service for our people and to demonstrate that in my constituency that claim is very hollow. Far from improving, the quality of public transport has dramatically declined and a shadow of uncertainty has been cast over the bus services. Government policies have also undermined other services, especially the taxi service.

I want to declare an interest in public transport. For some years I was chairman of one of our biggest municipal transport operators, and I was an executive member of the Federation of Public Passenger Transport Employers. I watched the deregulation Bill taking shape line by line and clause by clause. I remind the House that the background to that Bill came not from the Government but from the Adam Smith Institute, an organisation of Right-wing extremists who were laughed at years ago by most intelligent people. Its proposals were not taken seriously by anybody in the transport industry, but it appears that the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) believed that it had the key to what he thought was the way forward in public transport. That is a joke.

In my area there are four main operators. They are Kingston-upon-Hull City Transport, East Yorkshire, Grimsby-Cleethorpes Transport and, in my constituency, the Lincolnshire Road Car Company. Since deregulation the Lincolnshire Road Car Company has cut its route mileage by nearly a half. The Secretary of State said that route mileage in Britain had increased, but that is a false claim because he is talking about areas in which there may be more than one operator running on the same route at the same time. Certainly that increases route mileage, but it does not improve the quality of the service.

No significant new operators have come in since deregulation. The new services that have been brought in have simply been introduced by existing operators running on works contracts, works journeys, and they provide the service at a peak time when there is already an adequate service. On the evening, Sunday and early morning works journeys that have been lost, no new operator has come in to fill the gap left by the Lincolnshire Road Car Company. The operations that have been introduced are funded by the county council and the district councils.

The end of cross-subsidy in the town of Scunthorpe has meant route reorganisations. Not only has that ended many services at 6 o'clock, thereby stranding many people, but it has recently stranded elderly people who want to go to their doctors' surgeries. They have lost their routes, especially the town circular service, and people who want to go to draw their pensions can no longer catch a bus on that route. Some of those people are at the bottom of a large hill and the walk is beyond the frail and elderly. The Government's proposals have made those people prisoners in their own homes, simply because the company can no longer operate uncommercial services that are cross-subsidised from the profitable ones.

A study was Commissioned by Glanford borough council to look into the leisure provision in its area. One thing that came out very strongly in the consultants' study was that the lack of public transport and the expense meant that many young people from the rural areas were not able to come in to use the leisure facilities in the urban centres. That is a quite dramatic effect.

Some companies in my constituency have complained bitterly that early morning works journeys are causing enormous problems to their staff in getting to work for the early morning shifts. The people who are affected are the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society. They are the elderly, women at home, young mothers with children and young people—all of whom rely on public transport. They may not be among the two thirds of people who are car owners that the Secretary of State talked about. However, they have rights, and at the moment their rights and needs are not being recognised by the Government.

At the Scunthorpe depot, 50 per cent. of the local bus company employees have lost their jobs. As part of their struggle to survive, many of the staff have accepted wage cuts of between £20 and £30 a week in order to stay on with the company. There are no longer any premium payments and there is no shift pay. The people who work for the Lincolnshire Road Car Company are simply paid on a flat rate. The Government's so-called improvement is not only at the expense of consumers, because the Government are taking money from the people who work in the industry — the staff who are losing wages as a result of Government policies.

The effect locally has not just been limited to the bus service, although that has been bad enough. It has also affected taxis. As a result of deregulation more taxi plates can be given out. Many taxi operators buy their original plates, sometimes for as much as £1,000 per plate. I realise that that was not the intention of the law as it stood, but it is a long-standing tradition in the industry. The people who buy their plates sell them when they retire. Therefore, the price that they pay for their plates is recovered and that is an accepted part of their retirement benefit.

When deregulation came in, plates were increased in the town by nearly 50 per cent. A further batch of plates will now be given out because of a ruling by Reading council that it cannot pick and choose who gets the plates; the plates must be given out in a batch. That is assuming that there is sufficient demand. That will completely undermine the viability of some of the town's taxi owners. I would not want to see anybody who wants to get a taxi job being in any way restricted, but it is not doing people any favours to allow them to enter an industry in which there is over-demand and over-capacity, because they will be doomed to work long hours for low pay in order to make a living. It is in no way desirable that there should be so many taxis that many of them are restricted to circling the town, going round and round waiting for an empty taxi rank. That is not a step forward.

The county and district councils are all that are holding together the public transport system in the area. They are doing that by the use of their concessionary fare scheme that was introduced by a Labour-controlled county council and also by being sympathetic and using subsidies where they are needed. There is a strong case for subsidies for public transport. Not only does public transport supply the needs of the weakest members in our society, but is a sensible use of resources.

I draw the attention of the House to a study carried out by the Transport and Road Research Laboratory. It developed a computer model of a cost-benefit analysis in order to investigate the value of putting money into public transport subsidies compared with the cost of roads, accidents, pollution and providing service car parks in congested areas. That study showed that the former GLC's fares fair policy was the correct way to induce people to leave their cars at home and use public transport. The south Yorkshire policy of low fares was justified and correct, and the west Yorkshire policy was moving in the right direction, but it had not cut the fares enough. That was an independent study by a Government Department.

That study was suppressed. It was never made widely available. It demonstrates that what the Labour party is arguing for is correct in principle and in terms of scientific fact.

In regard to roads, I shall also briefly mention the Humber bridge, which has caused some concern. Glanford borough council had the foresight to be involved in setting up the Humber bridge and it has an interest in it. As the Secretary of State is probably aware, the debts on the Humber bridge are so crippling that the interest is not covered by the income from it. For many years I was a commuter across the Humber bridge. I mentioned to the chairman of the Humber bridge board, Councillor Alex Clarke, that in all the years that I commuted across the Humber bridge I must have paid off a substantial chunk of it. He told me that, because of the rate of interest, all those hundreds of pounds I had spent on tolls had just about paid for one rivet in the bridge, let alone a substantial part of it. It is important that the bridge is recognised as part of the infrastructure and the economy of the whole region. It therefore deserves support by having its debts wiped off and all crossing tolls abolished. It does not make sense, when one goes through the Dartford tunnel, to be held up by long queues in both directions. What does that cost the economy in terms of the people who are held up when they should be on their way?

Public transport is so important that it cannot be left to the free economy to decide its direction. That is not done in any other European country. I am amazed that the Government find it amusing that the Labour party is arguing for an integrated transport policy. Is there something amusing about having trains timed to meet buses, and buses operating in areas of need, and taxis operating where buses do not operate? Is there something amusing or illogical about that? I do not think so. We need a policy which meets people's needs, is given the necessary resources and is subject to democratic local accountability. I find nothing amusing about that.

In my constituency people are stranded in their own homes. Young people cannot afford to go out and use the leisure services provided by the public authorities. We have a limited bus service which means that young women have to walk home late at night because there is no service for them. Young people are isolated in their villages because there is no service. The free market has failed those young people. The only thing that can provide a proper and coherent service is an integrated transport policy and commitment and support of a kind that is not given by the Government.

7.23 pm
Mr. Conal Gregory (York)

I am delighted that the House is devoting a major part of its time today to transport policy. The Conservative party has a proud record of supporting the user of transport, whether it be bus or coach, train, boat, car or plane. It contrasts with the Labour Government's shameful record, during the period which so many people cannot remember, when they were in office in the 1970s. Since then, Labour authorities have continued to put the operator before the user. Why should the state know best when ever increasing subsidies are thrown away regardless of need? The Labour party's proposed national transport authority would be a bureaucratic dinosaur. Traffic would come under the stranglehold of politically motivated local authorities.

I should like to discuss bus and rail traffic. Just over a year ago bus travellers outside London found themselves at the centre of a revolution in public transport. For the first time in half a century the bus industry was opened up to anyone who wished to run a service, provided he could comply with the safety regulations. The Opposition bitterly opposed the deregulation of long-distance coaches and local bus services. Labour prefers municipalisation and state stranglehold to service as the watchdog for the bus and coach user. Labour has defined its policy in the document "Failed Directions" but mistitled "Fresh Directions". It said it would repeal the Transport Act 1985 and thereby reverse all the benefits passed on to bus travellers.

Let us remember the situation prior to the passing of the Transport Act. Rising costs—which the Opposition would rather forget—stagnant passenger numbers and increasing subsidies were the order of the day. Since then bus mileage has risen by almost 12 per cent. and by 17 per cent. in the shire counties. That gives the lie to the Socialists who said that services would be cut. We have seen over 440 new operators entering the bus market, contrary to the words of the Opposition during the passage of the legislation. At the same time local authorities have made substantial savings, benefiting ratepayers by £40 million per annum.

In the York area we have seen new routes, new vehicles with a fleet of hoppers, a new courtesy on the part of drivers and new operators. The West Yorkshire Road Car Company, denationalised, has set its aim as providing a better service with a more local image. Almost 40 million passenger miles have been achieved with its 470 vehicles. I welcome the new management and wish it well in serving the York community.

I have spent a most useful couple of years fulfilling an industry and parliamentary trust fellowship with British Rail as my chosen company. It has allowed me to see all aspects of its work and I have grown to have a high regard for its senior management. Of course, as the Member for York I am also closely in contact with this major employer in my constituency. I have been pleased to see the Government's consistent support by approving invest-ment projects in British Rail worth over £1.3 billion since 1983. Tory support for British Rail gives the lie to Labour's claims.

Let me remind the House of the words of Labour's transport spokesman, the former right hon. Member for Barrow, Mr. Albert Booth, at the time of the 1983 election: Make no mistake: if Mrs. Thatcher is re-elected it will be the end of the line for British Rail. The Conservative manifesto gives the green light to the biggest series of closures since Beeching. How wrong he was. A massive investment programme without any major route closures and with over 50 rail stations opened or re-opened since 1983 has been the reality. No wonder Labour was rejected. The transport policy of the Conservative party was another reason for its third successive term in office.

If new rolling stock is to replace old equipment, inevitably there will be a shift from regular maintenance, just as we run our motor cars for longer periods between major services.

Mr. Morgan

The hon. Member has just said that 50 new stations have been opened by British Rail. He also said that Labour's policy would have been disastrous because it would have resulted in a municipal stranglehold. Is he aware that the normal process by which new stations are opened for use by British Rail is by investment by those very municipal authorities whose efforts he is denigrating? They pay for them.

Mr. Gregory

I should like to go down that road, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I will not. I hope that the hon. Member will catch your eye later. What he has said shows severe lack of knowledge on the Opposition's part about purchasing policy. Investment in stations is undertaken substantially by British Rail, with the approval of those stations by the appropriate Minister, be it the Secretary of State in Scotland or the Minister south of the border.

To deny the point that I was making about investment in new rolling stock would be ostrichlike and sticking one's head in the sand. Those who want an efficient modern railway system are pleased about the investment in new construction. In this connection I have been pleased to see faster and more efficient passenger rail traffic, particularly on inter-city, for example, with the electrification of the north-east main line, and modern ways to attract freight from the roads. On conservation grounds, it makes sense to move more heavy traffic by rail. Too much is causing devastation to our historic centres, including my own constituency of York.

I have referred to new rolling stock. I would like to commend the speed and decisiveness with which my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for railways has approved applications by British Rail. The Opposition have never been able to give an example—and I hope they never will — of tardiness by my hon. Friend. For too long British Rail Engineering Ltd. has taken orders from British Rail without using fully its engineering expertise. Now British Rail Engineering Ltd. is winning orders openly against competition.

I know the pride with which the BREL work force in York tackles its work. It has an order book worth £140 million, which includes class 321 and 319 electrical multiple units for Network SouthEast. I am delighted, therefore, to hear today of the announcement of the Super Sprinters, worth £69 million.

There is a serious misunderstanding by the Socialists on York city council about British Rail's purchasing procedure. Quite rightly, British Rail makes application for the approval of funds which are evaluated by the Department of Transport. It would not be right for my hon. Friend the Minister to dictate specifically where those funds should be applied. Therefore, I welcome the opportunity for BREL to compete and to win an order book against strong competition—

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge)

Would the hon. Gentleman care to tell the House by how much BREL's operations in the city of York have been run down over the last couple of years?

Mr. Gregory

I would expect the Opposition to be better briefed on such a factual point. I commend to the hon. Gentleman that he should do that. The Opposition have been slumbering for some time. The hon. Gentleman has not taken note of the fact that we are moving from heavy maintenance to less regular maintenance so that the skills inherent in York, which I recognise but which the Opposition do not, can be put into new build in the United Kingdom and for export. It would be a marvellous fillip to the city of York and to British Rail Engineering Ltd. in particular if it were to win the order for Super Sprinters to which my right hon. Friend has referred. However, the export potential and the ability of a major engineering company to win non-rail orders should not be underestimated.

British Rail has some catching up to do in passenger services. Too many trains are still not providing catering facilities. Why cannot British Rail extend to all passenger trains a trolley service, such as the excellent one which operates on the trains from Victoria to Gatwick? Why does not British Rail provide on trains newspapers, periodicals and train-related memorabilia? That would certainly meet passenger demands. Great strides are being taken in on-station catering, but still not with the imagination that I have seen on Dutch railways, for example, where Utrecht has a thriving range of shops, restaurants and other support services around its rail station. A few stations here, particularly Victoria and Waterloo, are moving in that direction but development is slow, particularly at provincial stations.

Mr. Steen

On the catering point, does my hon. Friend agree that there has been some improvement on British Rail? It has got rid of its foreign sparkling waters and it now stocks English waters. Does he agree that British Rail should extend its catering to include English wine. not just foreign varieties?

Mr. Gregory

My hon. Friend makes some excellent points. The tourism aspects of British Rail would thereby be enhanced. Clearly there is demand not only for those but for the reintroduction of Rowntree Mackintosh's excellent confectionery, Kit Kat, which has recently been removed from inter-city services.

If subsidiaries of British Rail are to be denationalised, will the consumer be placed first? That cannot be so if one considers, for example, the lacklustre material of British Transport Advertising Ltd. It is incredible that one can travel on an inter-city train and see no form of advertising — unless, perchance, one picks up the magazine—and that there are no opportunities to advertise in connection with the ticket. Support services are meant to support British Rail users.

When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State holds discussions later this year with British Rail about its plans to denationalise non-key activities, will he give an assurance that any changes will benefit the user and widen choice? That will ensure that the Conservative party is the true friend of the traveller and that we put the user, not the operator, first. I urge the House to support the amendment.

7.35 pm
Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge)

No parliamentary debate about transport would be complete without representation from Tyne and Wear, which has a transport system rivalling even that of the Docklands light railway. Tyne and Wear has one of the most advanced passenger transport systems in the world, incorporating a metro light railway system and full integration with accompanying bus services.

I shall explain to the House how the system has been affected by the Government's deregulation policies. The system was devised, provided and run by local government and has now been undermined by national Government policies. Twelve months after deregulation, it is possible to look around Tyne and Wear and conclude, superficially, that nothing in public transport has changed. If I count the number of buses in the centre of Newcastle on any weekday, I can almost trick myself into thinking that things have improved. The metro is still running and still appears to be integrated with the buses. The British Rail Sunderland line still operates when the new Pacer trains are working correctly. We still have Traveltickets and single journey through ticketing. Passengers have all the travel information that they require. Bus stops are well signed and bus stations are being brought under control. A dial a ride scheme is being introduced into Sunderland and south Tyneside.

Public agencies, the passenger transport authority and the passenger transport executive have done an excellent and professional job in protecting the interests of the passenger during the transition to deregulation. The Government have been well served and assisted in achieving the present position by the PTA and the PTE, neither of which actively supported or promoted deregulation. On the contrary, they sought the specific exemption of Tyne and Wear from the Transport Act 1985, only to be thwarted by the full weight of the Government on the basis of some very lightweight arguments—light in substance, but heavy in dogma.

Counting buses in Newcastle can be a superficial exercise. One must go further to establish a true picture and to get some idea of what has really happened and what is really emerging. Let us start with money, always an important consideration in these matters. The expenditure limit in Tyne and Wear for 1986–87 was about £64 million and the Secretary of State has mentioned a figure of £53.5 million for 1988–89. That is a cash reduction of some 11 per cent., but, in real terms, it is a massive cut of 25 per cent. Last year, the Secretary of State said that the funds available would be sufficient for existing concessionary travel schemes to continue, yet he proposes a 25 per cent. cut. I must support the PTA, not as a matter of dogma, but as a matter of fairness and social justice, in its bid to make the Secretary of State increase expenditure to a more realistic level in view of all that has been achieved in Tyne and Wear.

In order to meet the Government's new financial regime of lower expenditure levels each year for public transport, and to achieve the transition to deregulation in Tyne and Wear, nearly £20 million has been paid out for redundancies and nearly 1,500 people have been thrown out of work, and that is in the worst jobs black spot in the country.

Against that background of financial cuts by the Government we have been promised lower fares and improved services, so we have minibuses. Well, for the present we have minibuses — the cure for all public transport ills, innovation in motion, initiatives on wheels. Well, we shall see in a couple of years.

What else do we have? I know what we had. We had a comprehensive through-ticketing system known as Transfare, which now operates at only 14 of the 44 metro stations. Bus-to-bus Transfare no longer exists at all. As a result, many passengers have suffered a hidden fares increase and families with children going to school suffered a fares increase of 100 per cent. or 200 per cent. on deregulation day.

The countrywide ticketing scheme was a boon for the area. Now operators are messing passengers about, accepting some tickets and not others, playing around with the passengers' interests and welfare. Multi-journey tickets were just dismissed by the bus operators. Integration is now breaking up as bus routes are diverted past metro interchanges which were designed to take buses. Passengers are denied access to the system or are penalised through their pockets by the bus operators who have opted out of the long-established and much praised ticketing arrangements. Pensioners are also being forced to join in and are diverted away from the metro system.

Where is the value for money or passenger choice? We face the prospect of a £300 million investment being under-used because of Government policy and the commercial rulings of bus operators. Public waste and inefficiency are the direct result of Government interference in our local affairs. That Government promised improved services, but what has happened? Where are the benefits to which the hon. Member for York (Mr. Gregory) refers?

We now have old 1971, 1972 and 1973 single deckers back in the area, newly painted but belching smoke all over the place. Services run from 8 am to 6 pm — exactly what was predicted. They run on the best used routes, but not at lower fares, sapping the resources of the opposition so that soon there will no commercial services after 6 pm or on Sundays. It is not the Government, but the fare-paying passengers who pay for that wasteful and needless competition, either through higher fares, or by having reduced services or no services at all.

The future is now becoming clear; all that was prophesised for the Transport Act 1985 will become fact. We already have bunching of buses in the centre of Newcastle and Sunderland, buses chasing one another in and out of bus stops and bus stations, and all those other lovely practices which are part of free competition. There is little doubt that fares will continue to increase at a higher rate than inflation. Single fares increased by nearly 10 per cent. last April and Travelticket prices have nearly doubled since last October.

Operators are now talking about deregistering evening and Sunday services, thinning out their frequencies, and the talk of redundancies is once again in the air in Newcastle. Bus staff have made major sacrifices by working longer hours and taking reduced pay. Yet nothing more than higher fares and severely reduced services will be achieved, and even those will have to be provided by the PTA and the PTE through the tendering process.

The Government's financial policies will aggravate the matter and create an inevitable conflict between the concessionary travel scheme and bus services for the public. In another 12 months, all that will have arrived. The signs are there for all to see — the results of deregulation and dangerous dogma.

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) referred to British Rail's proposal to withdraw the sleeper service on the east coast line. There have been numerous objections to that proposal from business men and others —not least from Members of the House. I am sure that the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor did not wish to mislead the House into thinking that only the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) was worried about this matter. The northern group of Labour Members of Parliament has been most industrious in trying to get British Rail to change its mind on that. Unfortunately, their efforts have had little effect.

The alternative that has been offered by British Rail is to travel overnight from Euston to Edinburgh via Glasgow on the west coast line and then to travel from Edinburgh to Newcastle the following morning. That is completely unacceptable. The withdrawal of that service will damage the northern region, which is working hard to overcome the considerable economic difficulties that it faces; it needs every assistance to attract business and industry to the area. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will be able to tell the House that he will use his good offices to put pressure on British Rail to see that the east coast line sleeper service is retained for the benefit of the northern region.

7.45 pm
Mr. David Gilroy Bevan (Birmingham, Yardley)

Let me first declare an interest on behalf of my constituency which contains the end of the runway of Birmingham International Airport. Without our co-operation we could wreak havoc on British Airways, and all the independent airlines who use that greatly enhanced airway under a development plan that I am proud to say was initiated during my chairmanship of the transport committee in the west midlands.

In that context I must congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on doing an excellent job in reaching a decision on the merger between British Airways and British Caledonian. He had to deal with an airline that is ranked only ninth in the world. The other eight airlines above it carry about 400 million passengers a year compared with under 20 million passengers a year which British Airways and British Caledonian together will carry. Therefore, internationally, it is still a small concern.

At the same time, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission paid great regard to clauses that had to be inserted to protect the private operators. However, with respect, we have heard the fear that predatory action could be taken by British Airways before. It was only four years ago that the airline that was to take over British Caledonian this time, if British Airways did not, expressed those fears. If my memory serves me right, some four years ago that airline sold off five of its nine planes overnight and availed itself of the bucket shop seats which British Airways was said at that time to have released upon the market as part of its charter business.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on making wise decisions and on the fact that excellent clauses which protected the independent operator and allowed the private charter airlines to continue carrying passengers in an extraordinarily competitive way were inserted in the agreement.

The concept of good travel is not owned solely by the Government or the Opposition. There is no monopoly of rectitude on either side. Travel should be concerned with substantially increasing the provision of comfortable, safe and cheap travel, whether local, international, European or internal. We are still competitively miles from the fares level established by the United States of America on internal flights where fares are about one third of those priced here. We have a long way to go, but the Government have made great strides in that direction.

The fear of the historical write-off of planes between British Airways and British Airtours has not materialised. Nor has the fear of predatory action. Part-plane charter —the use of the rear parts of planes for charter. which is sensible—has not done permanent damage to private companies, as was feared. The then Minister for Consumer Affairs gave an undertaking in Committee—I was there when he gave it ; indeed, I had asked for it—that his Ministry would keep an eagle eye on British Airways in case that ever happened, but it has not. We must continue, as we have done, to maintain the British flag in the air.

As for road transport, there is still room for transfer from one mode of transport to another. I was particularly impressed this week by the 8,000 lorry trips a day that were saved by the transfer of 250,000 lorry journeys between the west country and London. One lorry a minute was taken off the roads of Somerset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and West London, through the simple expedient of giving a Government grant of some £3,700,000 towards a £8 million terminal to the Amey Roadstone Corporation for automatic limestone loading on to the railways. What a sensible use that is of our ground transportation infrastructure, and what a marked effect it will have.

When I last looked at the figures, the amount of freight carried by British Rail was only about 5 per cent. of the total transportation ingredient. British Rail has made marvellous progress with the development of InterCity, with a price differential that is extraordinary when we take into account the low fares that inter-city coaches are able to charge. There is only the movement of mass quantities of raw chemicals to be developed in freight services. Despite the encouragement of deregulation, integration has continued to take place, even on the buses.

One thing stands out a mile to anyone who studies the area, or who travels—as I do, along with many other hon. Members—as often as twice a week or more on the motorways, particularly the M1. Owing to such impediments as motorway repairs, which prevent rapid transit, a second M1 will have to he built, perhaps along the lines of the A5. If that infrastructure cannot be provided from public funds — as it probably cannot, although it is undoubtedly demanded—we must think of other methods. One, the two roads could carry freight only. Another possibility is the toll method, which has been so successful in America and on the continent for many years. The Italian autostrade were mostly provided over a 30-year period, the first 20 years being used as a pay-back period and the final 10 as a profit period, when the motorway reverted into public ownership. That method must not be discarded. All possible mechanisms must be used to take account of ever-increasing demand.

Mr. Morgan


Mr. Bevan

The hon. Gentleman has already had a very good time with his interventions, but I shall allow him to intervene yet again.

Mr. Morgan

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I want to raise a point about the autostrade and other motorways in continential countries. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the main benefits to Italy of putting a toll on the Autostrada del Sole to the south is that a high proportion of users are foreign tourists? The same applies to the autoroute that goes down towards Nice and Marseille, which is also tolled. A high proportion of its users will be German, Dutch, Belgian and British, rather than French.

Mr. Bevan

The same argument could be deployed—and has been, on occasion—about joining up north and south Wales to introduce tourists to the other part of the country. But the hon. Gentleman has hit the nail on the head. This country is now experiencing the most massive upturn in tourism of all time. People and vehicles are flooding over, and that will be expedited by the successful advance of the Channel tunnel project which is about to take place. The same demand exists here as in Italy.

We need a long-term, well-thought-out series of plans for road transport. It is our main line of communication. Of the £59 billion spent last year on transport, 96 per cent. was spent on the roads. No less than 84 per cent. of freight tonnage goes by road, as does 99 per cent. of freight transported in the building trade. There is a great demand for us to think ahead and produce a comprehensive and effective scheme for local road maintenance. It must include a combination of the statutory reinstatements that are perpetually making such a mess of our city roads, one after the other.

We must also concentrate on improving safety standards. This week's Sunday Times pointed out, in a frightening article, that there have been 49 deaths in the past two years on the stretch of road between Lancaster and the junction of the M6 and the M61. Good though the Government's present funding for safety improvements is, we need a radical emergency programme in such situations.

I commend the plans issued today by the British Road Federation, entitled "The Way Ahead", which I have only just been able to skip through. However, let us not deny the opportunity, highlighted by the introduction of the Dartford river crossing, to use private funding to create road infrastructure.

The demands of freight transportation, which have risen by some 40 per cent. in the past two years, have been elephantine. We must include new trunk roads in our plans. I am the first to compliment my hon. Friend the Minister on his plans to invest £1 billion in the next five years in British Rail rolling stock, and on the £69 million contract awarded today to British Rail Engineering Ltd. That is excellent, and I know that the spin-off will benefit those excellent train manufacturers, Metro-Cammell Weyman, near my constituency. However, local railway stock will need vast improvement.

When I had the privilege of being the chairman of the passenger transport authority in my area I was able to come up with some of the plans. One of those plans was for a cross-city railway line. That line is now at breakdown point. When it first opened it added to travel along the line by 1,500 per cent. and had positive passenger-carrying advantage. It is breaking down because of the lack of investment in local railways. We must get British Rail to address itself to the vast investment needed in the rolling-stock programme, even before we proceed with the many metro rail schemes that are needed.

My authority and the west midlands area will shortly bring forward a private Bill asking for a metro scheme. I will fully support that Bill because such a scheme is necessary, as are light electric railway schemes. However, in looking at such schemes we must also remedy the lack of investment in local railway stock.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall), who co-chairs with me the road passenger transport group in the House, is waiting to see whether I will mention buses. Of course, I will. The result of the Transport Act 1985 has been patchy throughout Britain. We are receiving different reports, which will be carefully monitored. However, this is not the time to bring them up as a point of discussion. My town, Birmingham, where West Midlands Travel has been formed, has covered around 100 per cent. of its services. I was staggered because I did not believe that that was possible. I concede that in that area and in other areas it has been a success. It is a success that should be universal but, regrettably, it is not. We shall continue to monitor the Transport Act 1985 to ensure that the integration—I was one of those able to plan that in the west midlands—continues to be a component part of the overall service. We shall aim for cheap prices and good quality service.

8.2 pm

Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport, East)

The motion standing in the name of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues speaks of the transport needs of the nation and is a scathing indictment of the Government's policy. It cannot be said too often that good communications and an efficient transport system are important levers to bring about a prosperous economy and to provide jobs for our people. Heavens knows, with 3 million unemployed — that is the official figure, but there are many more—something needs to be done.

The Government are now in their ninth year of office and the criticism of transport is wholly justified. In fairness to the Secretary of State, in his opening remarks he spoke about his plans and the roads programme. For some reason best known to himself, my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) failed to mention the roads programme. Had he done so, he would have been on firm ground. The forecast outturn for spending on national roads in 1987–88 is £980 million. The provision for spending in the following year, 1988–89, is £1,000 million. That is an increase of only 2 per cent., which is hardly sensational. If we also consider the Chancellor of the Exchequer's forecast that inflation next year will be in the region of 4.5 per cent., in real terms expenditure on roads will fall rather than rise. That message was rubbed in well by the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry).

What the Secretary of State has been saying has an element of duplicity in it. He is pretending that more is being spent when it is not borne out by the facts.

The amount of traffic has been rising steadily. The latest figures from the Department of Transport show that, from the second quarter of 1986 to the second quarter of 1987, traffic increased by 8 per cent. overall and by 17 per cent. on motorways. Those figures are provisional, but a reassessment is certainly needed.

A further criticism is that the new roads are being built to an inadequate standard. For example, there is the absurd proposal for a new 12-mile stretch of the M40 to be a two-lane carriageway. Already major sections of our trunk roads are having to carry traffic way above their design flow. For example, at junctions 4 and 5 on the M4, which is essentially the Welsh motorway, the 1986 traffic flow was 88,000 vehicles per day, whereas the design flow is 79,000 vehicles per day. Similar examples could be given in respect of the M1, M6 and M25. Surely the Government should have learned those simple lessons by now. With current and projected expenditure, there can be little prospect of relieving the congestion on our trunk roads and motorways.

Traffic density on the roads is already the highest in Europe. It is well above the figures for Italy, France, West Germany and Belgium. There has been considerable underspending on local authority roads. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, road users and residents are suffering as congestion increases and maintenance standards fall.

There is a need for the Government to accelerate the completion of the trunk road programme. They should review the assumptions in the national road traffic forecast and eliminate the underspend on local authority road construction and maintenance. It is vital that those measures are taken because today transport by road in Britain—I want to emphasise this—is predominant, for people and goods, whether for good or ill.

The hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) seems to dwell in some sort of pre-Beeching era. He forgets about the importance of the motor industry for the British economy. He forgets that people like to have personal transport, which was once the prerogative of the rich. However, that is not to say that rail does not have a part to play. The Labour party believes in the hackneyed concept of an integrated transport system. We believe that that is vital to the future of this country. However, it needs investment to ensure an easier transfer of loads from one form of transport to another. The grants for sidings and rail freight facilities should be increased. There is also the need for the electrification programme to go ahead, especially from London to south Wales, especially since the go-ahead for the Channel tunnel has been given. We need electrification also on the Crewe-to-Holyhead line.

I should like to see more development of local rail services. There has been some spectacular progress in the Cardiff area, where several local stations have recently been opened. I welcome those new facilities. In my own constituency, in the large village of Magor near the Severn tunnel, only 10 days ago a meeting was attended by more than 150 people who demanded, without dissent, a railway station there. I believe that their demand is justified. As a point of information, that matter rests at present with Gwent county council because it is the county council which, in conjunction with British Rail, decides such matters. I am sure that Gwent county council will see the wisdom of the demand for a station at Magor. It is a valuable facility that could be provided at a small cost. The residents confidently hope that that facility will be made available by 1 May 1988.

I should like to make a point of criticism about the Central Electricity Generating Board, which moves about 100,000 tonnes of coal by road to the Uskmouth power station. In addition, large quantities of coal are blended at Newport dock and forwarded to that power station by road. Those road journeys are unnecessary and pose considerable environmental problems. People do not like them. That freight could go by rail.

Our transport needs in Wales are obvious, especially when one considers the dreadful unemployment figures. On the present method of compiling the statistics, in 1979 the unemployment figure would have been 73,100 or 7.3 per cent. Today, after eight and a half years of this Government, that figure is 148,800 or 17 per cent. —more than double the 1979 figure.

There is a contrast between the prosperous south-east of England and impoverished south Wales. That prosperity comes down the M4 motorway to Reading, Swindon and Bristol but it stops at the Severn bridge, where there is a psychological barrier. People are met there by bollards and lane restrictions and the ultimate insult of a toll charge. That is the gateway to Wales, our lifeline. Those toll gates should be set aside. Much needs to be done to remove the despair in south Wales. The Chancellor has the resources to help, but he is obsessed with tax cuts. I remind him yet again of the Government's own submission to the European Economic Community just one year ago, when they pointed out that Wales had the lowest economic activity rate in Britain. How long is that neglect to continue? It is time that something was done.

8.13 pm
Mr. Toby Jessel (Twickenham)

I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) and especially to what he said at the beginning of his speech about the growth in road traffic, which he said was 8 per cent. last year, and in motorway traffic, which he said was 17 per cent. However, the more I listened the more difficult I found it to discern whether he was in favour of that increase in road traffic. I make no bones about the fact that I am very much in favour of it. 11 is socially good. More car ownership means that more people are able to derive enjoyment from their use, to travel about, and to satisfy their wish to make certain journeys more easily and conveniently.

A large proportion of car owners are people who 10 or 15 years ago would not have been able to own a car. Car ownership among old age pensioners has doubled in the past 15 years. It is pleasant to think of retired people being able to drive around the country to visit their families. In an age when families are largely split up because they have to move about to take jobs far from the areas where they grew up, people lose touch even with brothers and sisters, let alone with more distant relatives such as uncles, aunts and cousins.

It is pleasing to think of people being able to drive about to visit their relations at weekends. The increasing ownership of cars and the growth in the number of motorways which the present Government have been building help to meet people's wishes to do such things —or at least, the wishes of most people; some may not want to see their relatives.

I am in favour of the growth of car ownership and of the construction of motorways to meet the demand for their use, because it is socially beneficial. However, what worries me about motorways, especially the M25, is how close together some cars are driven. I do not know whether any studies have been made to measure whether driving behaviour on the M25 is worse than on other motorways, but if there are no such studies, there should be. Many people use the M25 and, although the behaviour of drivers on that motorway is normally orderly and drivers concentrate, they drive too close together at habitual speeds of 70, 80 or 85 miles an hour and often seem to be only 10 or 12 or 20 yards apart. That is dangerous if people have to stop suddenly or their attention is distracted. I am surprised that there are not more pile-ups. I hope that my right hon. Friend will ask that a study is carried out to ascertain whether that is a serious and dangerous problem and what could be done about it.

I turn from cars and motorways to the environment and especially to the environment around airports, such as Heathrow. The Government's amendment refers to "the Government's policies to safeguard the environment" and the Opposition's motion to the increased damage to the environment". There are different views about what is happening. Certainly the environment around Heathrow is of great concern to my constituents in Twickenham, Whitton, Teddington and Hampton, who number about 90,000 including children, but who comprise only a small proportion of the more than 2 million who live within earshot of Heathrow.

I am pleased that, 11 days ago, in reply to my question, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that he proposed not to increase the number of night flights allowed at Heathrow. I should like to go further than that and propose a total ban on all night flights, except in emergencies. On that, I am glad to have the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley), whom I see in his place. I should like to take this opportunity of wishing him many happy returns of the day.

Apart from the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond and Barnes and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Ground), who spoke earlier, several other right hon. and hon. Members who represent constituencies around Heathrow share my concern about aircraft noise. They include my right hon. Friend the Member for Chertsey and Walton (Sir G. Pattie) and my hon. Friends the Members for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls), for Esher (Mr. Taylor), for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire), for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith) and for Windsor and Maidenhead (Dr. Glyn). I should like to add the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor). As Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he does not speak on matters that are the responsibility of other Departments but he makes his views known in his own way.

In the 17½ years during which I have had the honour to represent Twickenham no other matter has preoccupied me more continually than aircraft noise. It is a pestilence. It ruins people's quiet enjoyment of their homes and gardens. It affects their work in offices, hospitals and schools, and on Sundays it affects churches. What people mind about is not only the peak loudness of each flight but the sheer number of flights. At Heathrow there are now more than 750 flights per day, which, at peak hours, means a flight every one and a half to two minutes. The noise lasts quite loudly for 40 to 50 seconds, there is then an interval of a further 40 to 50 seconds before the next flight. The problem is at its worst in the summer when people want to be in their gardens or keep their windows open at night. Furthermore, the noise is more audible in summer because it gets through the air which is lighter, whereas when the weather is cold it is heavier.

Not everyone minds about aircraft noise, but a great many people do mind—some of them very much. Some people find it deeply annoying and upsetting and it spoils their lives. In a few cases, as has been shown by a study undertaken at the West Middlesex hospital, it is a cause of mental illness. For some, any addition to aircraft noise — [Interruption.] There seems to be some noise on the Opposition Benches. To those who suffer as a result of aircraft noise, any addition to it can be the last straw. They do not want the noise merely contained they want a substantial and permanent reduction. Over the years, my colleagues and I have fought to achieve just that.

Obviously, the aviation industry is of national importance. It is a major employer. It brings foreign business men who may buy British goods, and it serves the tourist industry, which is increasingly important as a source of employment. However, aviation must be organised so that it does not ruin people's quiet enjoyment of their own homes. The quiet enjoyment of one's home has been enshrined as a basic principle of English law for centuries. However, the civil aviation Acts specifically exclude the right to sue for nuisance in respect of aircraft noise. A man may go to court to stop nuisance from noise or smell from a factory or a neighbour's home but he may not go to court to sue for damages for noise nuisance from aircraft because the Acts expressly prevent him from doing so. It follows that people who live near airports must depend on the Government of the day — in effect, the Secretary of State for Transport and his Ministers—to protect them against aircraft noise. They must also depend on their Member of Parliament to put pressure on the Government, as my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond and Barnes and I with the other hon. Members that I have named have consistently tried to do.

Successive Conservative Governments have been sensitive to the problem. Two years ago, the Conservative Government refused to grant planning permission for the construction of a fifth terminal at Heathrow. That was a remarkable decision, because it overrode the advice of the inspector at the public planning inquiry who, after studying the matter for two years, recommended that the construction of a fifth terminal should go ahead. The Conservative Government stopped the Heathrow-Gatwick helicopter link which would have overflown the edge of my consituency. Most aircraft now have quieter engines, although there are some notable exceptions and aircraft are still not as quiet as I would like them to be.

Mr. Jeremy Hanley (Richmond and Barnes)

Does my hon. Friend agree that, had it not been for the combined votes of the Labour and Liberal members of the Committee that considered the Civil Aviation Bill and three or four of its Conservative members, the Government would have introduced a limit on the number of flights entering and leaving Heathrow?

Mr. Jessel

My hon. Friend is quite right. The Civil Aviation Bill introduced in 1984 contained provisions to restrict the number of flights at Heathrow. In Committee a vote was carried against it when the Labour Members, the only Liberal Member and three Conservative Members who represented constituencies with aviation interests or who had a particular interest in aviation matters voted together. Had one of those Members voted differently, the vote would have been a draw and the Chairman of the Committee would have had to cast his vote in accordance with convention for the Committee's business to continue. The Bill fell because its central provision was defeated, and it has never been revived. If that had not occurred we should now have a restriction on the number of flights allowed at Heathrow to 275,000 flights per year. I must say in all conscience that even that is high enough, amounting as it does to about 700 flights per day.

As far back as the early 1970s a Conservative Government introduced a control on the number of night flights, and I am glad to have been instrumental in pressing them to do so. A good night's sleep is a basic health need but we have recently witnessed a massive campaign to increase the number of night flights allowed through Heathrow. An unholy combination of the airlines, the British Airports Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority has brought pressure to bear on the Government to allow a substantial increase in the number of night flights.

In his announcement last week, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State proposed to cut by one quarter the number of night flights allowed through Heathrow and proposed a five-year freeze on the number of summer night flights at the existing level of about 2,750 for the six months from 1 April to 31 October. That would mean an average of about 15 flights per night. The present number allowed averages at 20 flights per night through the summer, which is 3,650 over the six-month period. That quota of about 20 per night was not fully used, the average number of flights being 15 per night for the summer of 1987. However, the number of flights was increasing each year and would soon have reached the quota of 20 per night. That is why the airlines wanted the quota increased.

The Secretary of State refused their request. He put peace and quiet and health of the people above commercial interest and thus showed the Conservative Government to be more sensitive to the environment and the quality of life than a Labour Government or a Lib-Lab coalition dominated by the Labour party.

I want the Secretary of State for the Environment to go further. Sleep is basic to health. I like being asleep, and wish I were asleep more often. I should like a total ban on night flights, except in emergencies. There should be an extra hour of sleep from 6.30 to 7.30 in the morning. What has been done is at least a step in the right direction, and I commend the Government for it. I hope that the Minister will convey my remarks to the Secretary of State.

8.29 pm
Mrs. Margaret Beckett (Derby, South)

The congratulatory remarks of the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) will sound extremely hollow to my constituents, 1,400 or more of whom were declared redundant by BREL this summer. That means that about 1,800 staff in the works in my constituency and some 200 or so of the BREL headquarters staff presently face redundancy. Of course, they are only the latest to do so during the Government's period of office. Whatever congratulatory words may have been uttered by the hon. Member for Twickenham to the Minister, and whatever soothing palliatives are offered by other hon. Members who represent Derbyshire, the work force in BREL in Derby feel that they have been misled and betrayed by the Government and their placemen in the industry, and they feel so with cause.

The Secretary of State bragged — there is no other word for it—about the Government's wonderful record in investing in British Rail. I always listen with interest to such observations. I admire the way in which Ministers manage to rise above technical details when they make comparisons with the record of the last Labour Government — the minor technical details of their enjoying about £10,000 million to £12,000 million a year in North sea oil income, which was not enjoyed by that Government—and brag about what in that context are minuscule increases in investment.

I note that the deputy director of Network SouthEast, in a fit of frankness which will possibly cost him his head at some stage, was quoted recently as saying: We think that the level of investment we are planning will fit the amount of cash the Government will allow us to have. He thereby neatly disclosed the basis on which BR's investment planning has been pursued for several years now, since the real plans that BR knew that it needed for adequate investment in the future were withdrawn a few years ago. It puts forward now only what it knows the Government will approve.

Mr. David Mitchell

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Beckett

If the Minister will forgive me, I shall carry on. We are short of time.

In 1985, even British Rail, under its present leadership, said that it needed, and would like, to replace 1,500 of its locomotive fleet. Current plans, as I understand them, are that about 171 of the 1,500 may be built in the next five years. Again, that puts the Secretary of State's boasting in a rather better context.

I wish to say most about the opportunity within the investment as it exists that has been offered to my constituents and other hon. Members' constituents in BREL to participate in building such new rolling stock as the Government have been prepared to finance. The Secretary of State referred to the fact that BREL has historically got about 70 per cent. of the tenders that have been put out since competitive tendering was introduced. Of course that is the case, and it ties in neatly with the view of the Serpell inquiry to which my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) referred. It showed that BREL's prices were, and indeed are, competitive.

Recent events have proved extremely worrying They have directly contributed to the redundancies that have been announced. When the decision was announced that the British Rail board should in future depend on competitive tendering in these matters, some criteria were published. I draw attention to one in particular. Criterion No. 2 was: The competence and financial standing of private sector firms will be taken into account in assessing tenders. When one looks at the way in which recent tenders have been awarded, it is difficult to see how that criterion has been observed.

In 1984, when British Rail decided that it wanted to advance the time scale for introducing Sprinters and that, therefore, it was not possible to have extensive trials of the prototypes being built—one by British Rail and one by Metro-Cammell — it decided to treat the first group of 100 vehicles as a pre-production run and award the contract 50:50. In practice, it turned out that Metro-Cammell had such technical difficulties in making its prototype run that the board was forced to award the whole contract to BREL. Despite that, it does not seem to have cast any doubt on Metro-Cammell's competence, and the requirement for the next generation of Sprinters — about 468 vehicles, to be delivered by March next year — was split three ways between Metro-Cammell, British Leyland and BREL with the lion's share going to Metro-Cammell, which had just failed to deliver on the previous deal.

I now refer to the peculiar affair of the mark 4 passenger coaches. In November 1986, there were strong rumours in Derby that Metro-Cammell had won the contract to construct mark 4 coaches. About 283 coach orders were awarded. That in itself was again a somewhat strange decision, because Metro-Cammell had had no experience of British Rail main-line coach construction. Many queries were raised—the Minister may recall my raising the matter in the House at the time—because, on good advice, it was believed within BREL that BREL's tender for the coaches was the lowest and that Metro-Cammell was able to come near the BREL tender only by beating the heads of other suppliers against the wall and trying to force them to make changes in their tenders. In the event, of course, as we suspected, the order for the 283 vehicles went to Metro-Cammell.

Again, we were told that it did not matter — the Secretary of State sang the theme tonight — because BREL would get some of the sub-contract work. Indeed, it was awarded a contract to build bogies. Again, I hope that the Minister will recall that the contract was taken away from BREL earlier this year. It was decided that the bogie that it put forward, the T4 bogie, could not meet British Rail's specifications at the time. BREL believed that the bogies could be upgraded to meet the 140-mile-an-hour specification but it could not meet it here and now. The sub-contract was taken away from BREL and awarded to the Swiss firm, SIG.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) for asking the Secretary of State to comment on the situation in regard to the order. Again, the Secretary of State most unaccountably forgot to include that in his observations. I hope that the Minister, despite the pressing demands on his attention, will manage to answer my question. Is it the case that the order that was given to the Swiss company was based on an untested design that had only been computer tested and not tested on the track? As I have pointed out to the Minister, our sources are usually pretty reliable, whatever the Minister may normally say in pooh-poohing them at the time.

Is it further the case, as we have heard in Derby, that, now that the bogies are being tested, they have only attained the same smoothness of ride as BREL's, and that the Swiss company also will not be able to meet the original specifications laid down by the board? If that is the case, I hope that it will not transpire that more consideration is being given to the Swiss company than was given to BREL, that the award of the bogie tender will be reconsidered, BREL's position also reconsidered and, perhaps, some part of the award given back to BREL.

I now refer to the peculiar tendering for locomotives. A most strange argument has been put up about why BREL was not allowed to tender. One of the BREL's senior management wrote hon. Members a letter in which he said that BREL was not being allowed to tender because the board had to go for the most competitive outcome. If the board was so confident that BREL could not be the most competitive, why did it not let it compete and lose? The unworthy thought crosses one's mind that the board was afraid that, if it let BREL compete on equal terms, it might actually win the tender and that it had already decided that it wanted to put it not just to open competition but to open competition outside the country.

A new argument recently surfaced in relation to the issue—that it would not be right for BREL to have had the order because it is a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Rail board, and so, if there were problems with the contract, they could not be pursued in law. I thought that the whole point of setting up BREL as such and not having railway workshops any more was that it would no longer be regarded as a wholly owned subsidiary. Indeed, it is the whole point of the process of competitive tendering that BREL does not have any preferential treatment and that it is supposed to compete, and does compete and frequently win, in the open market. Now, having said that it must compete on the open market, when it wins there it is now being told that it is not on the open market and that it cannot compete in any circumstances.

I find that argument impossible to understand. The Minister, BREL and the British Rail board have not succeeded in justifying that argument. The significance to people in Derby is that, if that argument or the alternative that my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) demolished — that BREL is not a power plant manufacturer which it has not been since the days of steam—are to be sustained, from where will the new orders for BREL come? Also, what about the reassuring noises that have been made to my constituents through one round after another of hundreds of redundancies? What future can there possibly be for BREL, in Derby or anywhere else?

I wholeheartedly endorse the remark of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North that there must be an inquiry into the tendering policy of the British Rail board and how it is working in practice. He said that that inquiry should look properly at the way in which those developments are taking place. Listening to the problems of my constituents and observing the devastating blow that those redundancies have been for the city of Derby, I believe that to set aside a British company—even a public sector British company that we know the Government hate—for the sake of encouraging foreign companies to compete and win orders is little short of economic treachery.

8.41 pm
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham)

The main burden of the attack from Opposition Members has been to suggest that the Government have not spent enough money on public transport and on its investment programme. That is a dangerous charge to level, as are most of the normal stock in trade charges of the Opposition. It is dangerous because it invites the response that, when Labour was in power, the position was much worse, it was all cuts and candle ends, as it was in the case of the transport industries. It is a silly line of attack, because it invites people to tot up how much all the Opposition's pledges amount to over all the programmes that they think are inadequate; we soon see that the country would be bankrupt if we accepted all their advice.

Another worrying aspect about the normal exchanges across the Floor of the House is that hon. Members concentrate simply on quantities of money. People are not interested in quantities of money spent. They are interested in the quality of service, the range of provision and what they get for their money. What is encouraging about the story of the transport industries and the transport sector in the last few years has been the concentration on value for money and the progress that has been made in a number of areas. The Secretary of State drew our attention to many hard figures of output, success stories in terms of roads constructed and new services opened. He might also have pointed out that it is now much cheaper in real terms to build a mile of motorway because of the success of tendering procedures and changes in the cost effectiveness of the road construction industry. That is to be greatly welcomed.

Another line of argument of Opposition Members centred around British Rail Engineering Ltd., the implication being that the Government have not cared enough about it and have not lavished enough subsidy and attention on it. The only way that one can have a successful British Rail engineering business, or any other business, is to have customers, and products that those customers wish to buy. It is extraordinary that, until the contribution of the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett), there was no discussion about the tendering and the troubles that BREL has had in persuading customers to buy its product. Even the hon. Member for Derby, South made no mention of overseas orders. One would think that one of the main thrusts of BREL strategy should he to win a wide range of orders overseas that will guarantee jobs and provide employment.

Mrs. Beckett

Although BREL has tried, it is not easy to win overseas orders when its own Government say that it is not competent to do things at home.

Mr. Redwood

The Government are not saying that BREL is not competent. BREL has had many orders from British Rail. What matters is the relationship between BREL and BR. One would have thought that BREL has had enough orders for it to be able to persuade overseas rail contractors and Governments that it knows what it is doing and that it can provide the goods.

Another line of argument that has a little more novelty than the money one is the argument that the Government are only seriously interested in privatisation, and that wherever privatisation comes into apparent conflict with competition, privatisation triumphs. The evidence is that exactly the opposite is true in transport. If one had wished to maximise the proceeds from privatising the bus industry, one would have strengthened the quasi-monopoly of the National Bus Company and sold it as a going concern with near-monopoly rights.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

What about British Airways?

Mr. Redwood

Instead, the Government went out of their way to inject competition and deregulation and to split the organisation up to get the benefits of smaller scale and competitive forces. The results have been extremely good.

I will now come to British Airways, as that was just mentioned by an hon. Gentleman from a sedentary position. If they had wished to maximise the proceeds from the sale of British Airways, the Government would not have transferred any routes to British Caledonian when they did. The Government would not have ensured that they were strongly allied with the forces for deregulation and competition in Europe, nor would they have succeeded in getting deregulation of some of those routes that obviously affected the revenues and traffic of the main carrier, which was often British Airways. Again, there is strong evidence that where competition and privatisation came into dispute on maximising proceeds, the Government quite rightly voted strongly for competition, and the customer has undoubtedly benefited.

Public transport services, far from being a picture of neglect and decline, are showing many signs of improvement, as has been illustrated by Conservative Members. They also show that one can create in good circumstances a virtuous circle of falling subsidy, increased usage of the services and increased investment, creating a further virtuous circle, with more usage, falling subsidy and more investment. That is exactly what is happening with London Regional Transport. I hope that it will also happen in more parts of British Rail's networks.

I am pleased to say that in my own area, along the Reading-to-London line, and the southern region line to Waterloo, there is evidence that usage is rising quite sharply, there has been a welcome improvement in a new station and there has been some evidence of service improvements. The efforts of British Rail, coupled with population growth and, it is fair to say, coupled with the growing traffic jams on the principal motorway network, have encouraged an increased usage that will fuel a virtuous circle. I look forward to new timetables because I think that they will show more trains and better services. If BR can keep up its improvement in punctuality, cleanliness and reliability, it will create a virtuous circle that I would like to see carried across to many other parts of the country.

A matter that relates to my constituency interest and the interests of neighbouring constituencies is the state of the M4 and the M25. Hon. Members know that those motorways are heavily clogged with traffic during the morning and evening peaks. There is a growing problem, not only because of economic growth and prosperity, and rising car ownership and usage, but because the Thames Valley has become a major centre of housing and population expansion. I should be grateful if there could be some communication between Whitehall Departments and if the Department of Transport could point out to the Department of the Environment that the more houses and development that are permitted along the Thames Valley, the greater the strain will be on the M4 and the M25 to the west of London and the more difficult that transport link will become. I should be grateful if the Secretary of State would advise whether there are any plans to alleviate the traffic problems along the M4 and the M25, as those problems will clearly get worse over the next 10 or 15 years.

I welcome those signs of partnership between parts of the private sector and the public sector in providing a better and unified range of services to the traveling public, particularly in the growth of new types of retail and service activities in main stations. BR is making the right moves by understanding that running a railway business is not just a question of moving people from A to B in the most efficient or quick manner, but also providing a total service to the users of stations and trains, thus enjoying the many extra revenue opportunities that can come from being alert to the business opportunities on stations and trains.

I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will give every encouragement to those signs of business acumen which we can now see on some of our better stations.

8.49 pm
Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

As I represent Cardiff, West, it will not surprise hon. Members when I say that I want to concentrate my remarks on network south-east. Of course, I mean not Network SouthEast in England to which the Secretary of State referred earlier, but network south-east in Wales, which is much smaller, but very important to the people who live in the valleys of south Wales and in the coastal cities of Cardiff, Newport, Barry and Cwmbran.

The Secretary of State made two interesting remarks about railway and public transport investment in his opening comments. He said that he had never refused an investment project presented to him by British Rail. He also said that British Rail had proved that the commuter was now willing to pay a higher price for a better service and the right hon. Gentleman welcomed that.

Let us consider network south-east in Wales which incorporates the cities and valleys line. That is the seventh largest commuter rail network in Britain, or so I am told. It is much smaller than the London network and follows behind the networks in Glasgow, Tyne and Wear, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. When the local authorities started to take an interest in that network, there were 54 stations. Since the two Labour-controlled county councils of Mid Glamorgan and South Glamorgan took a constructive interest in it, it now has 61 stations. Therefore, the line has been increased by seven stations and it is expected that the network will have 70 stations before very long.

When the two Labour-controlled local authorities started to take an interest in the network, they had to pay 100 per cent. of the costs of new stations for the line. British Rail rapidly realised that new stations meant increased usage of the whole service and it is now willing to pay 25 per cent. of the costs of new stations. However, the network is still reliant on co-operation between the local authorities. As we can well imagine, the Conservative opposition on the authorities — although there is virtually no Conservative opposition on Mid Glamorgan county council — derided the concept of investment in new stations by local authorities. However, that concept is now widely accepted by everyone.

The authorities have done their bit. They are grant-aiding or building new stations and British Rail has promised to pay its percentage. Therefore, South Glamorgan finally pulled off the feat of grant-aiding the construction of the first new passenger railway in Wales for more than 75 years — the inner-city link line including four new stations, all of which are in my constituency. However, British Rail's contribution was to bring into service 30 new Sprinter sets. That would have allowed smaller trains to run on the line than the diesel multiple units that were used before. The Sprinter sets would run more frequently in the two-car set-up and be very useful for commuting. Unfortunately, between the agreement reached by the two county councils and British Rail and the opening of the service some six weeks ago, British Rail cut the 30 Sprinter sets first to 22 and eventually to 18. The result was utter chaos when the new service opened in early October. Commuters have lost jobs because they could not get to work on time. Others have arrived late. The levels of discomfort have been very high and revenue has been lost because guards at unmanned stations cannot get through the overcrowded trains to collect fares from those who did not pay before they boarded the train. The shortfall of investment in Sprinter sets by British Rail has meant that what should have been a major stride forward in public transport through cooperation of the kind commended by the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) has been impossible to get off the ground.

Commuters are disillusioned, especially commuters in my constituency, because they cannot get a seat as the trains have been filled up on their way into central Cardiff at stations further up in the coal-mining valleys as people in those areas have a greater dependence on commuting into central Cardiff for employment than ever before. By the time the trains reach stations in the suburbs of Cardiff, people simply cannot get on. Whereas people are willing to put up with that level of discomfort for a while, standing every so often, especially when there is the compensation that it is unlikely that the guard will be able to collect the fares, in the end commuters will refuse to use that service. Ultimately, they will refuse to take jobs which depend on them getting to work on time. That can hardly be in keeping with the image of the enterprise society and the growth in jobs that Conservative Members continue to boast about and that they claim to see when they consider the employment figures.

If the Secretary of State is to be believed, the major problem that I have described could not have come about as a result of British Rail putting forward an adequate investment project, so it must have resulted from the fact that British Rail felt too afraid to bring forward an adequate investment project for Sprinter sets. If what the Secretary of State has told the House is true—that he has never refused an investment project put forward by British Rail — he must consider the decision-making procedures within British Rail, for which he is responsible, to discover why British Rail had to cut the number of Sprinter sets from 30 to 18 after it has reached agreement with the two county councils.

We can well imagine the sense of letdown in those two county councils and the sense of disappointment among commuters. The next time a co-operative venture of that type involving municipal enterprise — which Conservative Members profess to be impossible — is undertaken to assist the residents, there will be a sense of disappointment if British Rail does not have a high enough external financing limit to put in capital investment for adequate numbers of train sets, especially when the local authorities are opening new railway lines, as is the case in my constituency.

I want to consider briefly the question of the second Severn bridge. That bridge is badly needed to make the M4 the motorway that it was intended to be. The M4 motorway, including the Severn bridge, was originally designed as one motorway to link south Wales with the west and south-east of England. It was of colossal importance for the distribution of goods into and out of Wales and for industrial development since the late 1960s when the Severn bridge was opened. Over that time, we have lost more than 40,000 jobs in steel manufacturing and 40,000 jobs in coal mining and we have had to try to transform the economy from being mainly dependent on production from those two heavy industries. Indeed, no region anywhere in Europe has been so dependent on only two industries as south Wales was in the mid-1960s. We have had to attempt to transform those industries and we are now totally dependent on the free flow of traffic along the M4 across the Severn bridge. I am sure that the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) will agree with me on that matter.

The trouble with the M4 began six or seven years ago because of the rapid build up of commercial traffic. It has shaken the foundations of the bridge to such an extent that there are constant lane restrictions. Industrialists have ceased to have faith in the bridge, so we now have two M4s —one in England and one in Wales, divided by a Berlin wall in the middle. The Severn bridge is not supposed to act like the Berlin wall. I am not sure whether I believe the east or west German propaganda or whether it is intended to keep the Welsh out or the English in.

The Rank Hovis McDougall company, in an interview in the Financial Times yesterday, was asked why it had abandoned the largest industrial project in job terms for Wales since the Government took office in June 1979. Some 800 jobs would have resulted from that project at the Dragonparc plant in Merthyr. The new owners, Rank Hovis McDougall, had taken over from Avana Bakeries, which had engendered this project. It decided not to proceed with it because chilled foods cannot be distributed dependably from south Wales and because the distribution costs are horrendous. The company did not specifically mention the Severn bridge, but I am sure that the gentlest pressure on the directors would lead them to say that that is the problem.

I am aware of the recent abandonment by the printing industry of a £10 million project in south Wales for precisely the same reason. If publications must be with W. H. Smith and Son Ltd. or John Menzies plc on Thursday morning, it is no good getting them there by Thursday night because of problems on the Severn bridge.

We urgently need a second Severn bridge. Before the election, Ministers at the Welsh Office — who are responsible for the Severn bridge along with the Secretary of State for Transport, although he has the prime responsibility — were going around south-east Wales saying, "The Severn bridge is now a committed fact in the Government's transport planning. It is just a matter of getting it designed, on the stocks and going through the planning and land acquisition procedures." As soon as the election was over the tune changed—"It is no longer a committed scheme. It will come only when demand justifies it. Do not forget about the £35 million that we are committed to spending on strengthening the existing Severn bridge." Many engineers believe that that strengthening is necessary only because the Government would not commit themselves early enough to a second Severn bridge to enable heavy lorries to be diverted from the bridge, where they can cause damage if they go across three or four in a row.

We in South Wales are dependent for our industrial redevelopment prospects on the Government's commitment during the lifetime of this Parliament to a second Severn bridge. If they are not, we have little chance of reducing unemployment levels to those of the south-east of England. The bridge is a major psychological blockage to getting investment from the south-east, where most of the investment decision-makers live. They are aware that the Severn bridge is only 130 miles away from central London but they regard it as being 260 miles away because they hear the stories about the cones, the lane restrictions and the closures to high-sided vehicles on windy days. They know that that is a reason for not investing in south Wales and, if they did, why they would want to be promised a higher return than on the east side of the bridge.

This deprivation cannot continue if Wales is to believe that it is part of the prosperous future that the Government are promising. I hope that in his winding-up speech the Minister of State will offer a commitment to the constituents of south Wales. We live in the other southeast—south-east Wales. The fact that south-east Wales elects Labour Members and that the other south-east elects Tory Members should not be a reason for the Secretary of State to be unwilling to take an interest in the economic future of south Wales, for which a second Severn bridge is essential.

9.2 pm

Mr. Michael Irvine (Ipswich)

At the heart of the debate is the link between an efficient transport system and the economic growth. A good transport system and excellent communications can stimulate economic growth; poor communications can strangle it.

I represent a fast-growing town in a fast-growing part of the country. It is a part of the country where transport strains are particularly apparent. We have an out-of-date infrastructure. Superimposed on that out-of-date infrastructure are the strains of fast growth. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the railway links. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State mentioned, quite properly and with pride, the recent electrification of the railway line from Liverpool street through Ipswich to Norwich. Frankly, although it sounds good in the ministerial statements and looks good in public relations brochures and magazines, the efficiency of that line is lamentable. There is chronic overcrowding and regular unpunctuality.

It may be that the figures produced for trains that arrive within five minutes of their allotted time do not look too bad, but that does not go to the heart of the problem because — it is something that affects British Rail's statistics for unpunctuality across the country — the greater number of trains arriving late is concentrated in the peak hours when more people are travelling. That means maximum damage to efficiency and maximum incon-venience to the travelling public. When we consider BR statistics for unpunctuality, we must bear that fact in mind.

Travellers from East Anglia want to see a substantial improvement in punctuality during peak hours. It is not just a matter of punctuality. The overcrowding is regularly chronic during peak hours. On the hour-long journey between Colchester and London people often have to stand in considerable inconvenience and discomfort.

The knee-jerk reaction is to blame the current management of the line. However, that is not entirely fair because the source of the trouble goes back a good deal further in time. But some progress is being made. Improvements are being carried out to the signalling system. Gradually we are beginning to get better rolling stock, although the eastern region has a history of being handed the left-overs from other regions. The lesson to be learnt is that it is necessary to plan ahead. In a fast-growing area, it is important to take future needs into account and to build the necessary capacity into the transport network.

The same problem is apparent on the road system. The links between Ipswich and London have recently improved considerably with the bypass on the A12 around Chelmsford. However, pressures are already building up during the peak hours on the A12 into London and on the A45 to the midlands. Again, with a view to the future, I remind the Minister that the completion of the A1-M1 link, so long delayed and so eagerly awaited, will place major additional pressures on the A45. It is yet another example of why it is necessary to look to the future.

What causes me great anxiety is the repeated tendency of the Department of Transport to underestimate future traffic growth. My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) has already pointed out that part of the strain and trouble currently experienced by the transport network is due to the very success that the Government have had in bringing about seven years of uninterrupted, steady economic growth.

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

I do not disagree with the hon. Gentleman's analysis of the problem. He has rightly drawn the Government's attention to the severe problem within out railway system. However, why does he shy away from the obvious conclusion to his analysis? The external financing limits of BR have been reduced so much by the Government that it cannot provide the proper rolling stock, proper signalling system and proper track renewal that is absolutely essential to go hand in hand —if one accepts what the hon. Gentleman has said — with industrial growth. But the same problems that he described exist in areas in which there is no industrial growth.

Mr. Irvine

The hon. Gentleman has it the wrong way round. In fact, the Government have been putting pressure on British Rail to take a more commercial approach. Opposition Members always say that any problem such as the railway or road network can be solved by throwing money at it. The correct approach is to examine the matter commercially. My hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) rightly said that we should encourage British Rail to make better commercial use of its substantial assets.

Before I was interrupted I criticised the Department of Transport for its repeated failure to look far enough ahead when planning the road network, and its consequent underestimation of traffic growth. When one hears talk of the M40 link being built with only two-lane carriageways, one trembles. That motorway link should be built with three lanes, and when roads are built in the future they should be built with a designed capacity for expansion.

I ask my right hon. Friend carefully to examine ways of introducing private capital and finance into improving our transport network in general. There has already been considerable progress in tendering procedures, which has brought down costs dramatically. There are already improvements in the standard of inspection and the quality of building of motorways and bridges. Now we need more private capital to be brought in along the lines of the planned financing of the Thames crossing at Thurrock.

In conclusion, a reflection on the colossal amount that is due to be spent on the Channel tunnel: if that money were to be spent instead on improving the infrastructure of this country's transport, there would be considerable benefits all round.

9.13 pm
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

I was intrigued to hear the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Irvine) refer to the Channel tunnel in a lively and animated speech. I find it interesting that the advertisements for the Channel tunnel are using the statue of the mannequin pis from Brussels.

Mr. David Marshall

Pronounced "pees".

Mr. Banks

I stand corrected by my hon. Friend. I can think of no more appropriate statue to use to encourage people to take up shares in the Channel tunnel.

I wish to discuss London. The Secretary of State's speech was highly self-congratulatory — and aggressive, for him. That was a pleasant change, but, to be frank, his speech bore no relation to reality in London. I should be a little more convinced of his arguments if I thought that he was a regular user of London transport during the rush hour. I am sure that several hon. Members on both sides of the House use that system during the rush hour and they know just how bad it really is. The Government's policy towards London Regional Transport is reducing the transport system in the capital to chaos and discomfort.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

The capital of England.

Mr. Banks

Indeed. I am grateful for all these late interventions.

I hope that the Secretary of State has had a chance to read The London Evening Standard of Friday 13 November. Its front page carried a story about a major independent inquiry into the shortcomings of the services that are being provided. It said: The Trade and Industry Secretary … is to announce the terms for the inquiry—to be carried out by the monopolies and mergers Commission—within the next month. Lord Young's decision follows widespread complaints in recent weeks about the efficiency of the Underground. Public attention has been focused on the shortcomings of the network since LRT decided to increase fares next January by an average 12 per cent. — three times the rate of inflation. I hope that whoever sums up for the Government will tell us how widespread the complaints to the Department of Transport have been, and how detailed will be the inquiry into the running of the London underground. The Minister knows that, because of the policies of the Government, revenue support to LRT has been cut from about £190 million in 1984 to £75 million in 1987, making it the least supported public transport system of any Western capital city. That is the situation in London.

Next year, LRT's income from concessionary fares will be greater than the level of revenue support. It is quite clear that the Government want to reduce revenue support to zero and to throw the whole burden on to London's ratepayers who have little if any say whatever in the transport policies of London Regional Transport. We go through a charade once a year when we have a one and a half hour debate about the LRT revenue and subsidy support. That is the only control that the House and London Labour Members have over policy decisions that used to he taken by the transport committee of the Greater London Council.

Whatever Conservative Members thought about the GLC, I hope that the mists of time have perhaps given them a more rosy vision of how things used to be when my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) was the leader of the Greater London council. At least at that time elected members could be questioned by various interest groups and took decisions in the full glare of the public spotlight and media interest.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

Will the hon. Gentleman explain why, when he was in control as a GLC member, the number of passengers using the London underground fell from 594 million in 1979 to 498 million in 1982? Since LRT took over in 1984 and it was nationalised, the number has risen to 766 million.

Mr. Banks

More people were using the buses. If the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) looks at his source material, he will find that that was the case. Fares were considerably cheaper on the underground. Now one is seeing an inexorable rise in fares because of the Government's determination to remove all forms of revenue subsidy from London Regional Transport. One is seeing a greater degree of traffic chaos on the roads. We have not yet had deregulation in London but, unfortunately, we expect to receive it some time in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House have complained bitterly about access to the House becoming more and more difficult by the day because of the number of commuter coaches that ignore all the yellow lines and park all round the Palace of Westminster. One can see them outside the underground stations in the evening. People are now turning to private contractors because the public transport system of this capital city is being effectively destroyed by the policies of the Conservative party.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett


Mr. Banks

The hon. Gentleman has obviously found another nugget.

Mr. Bennett

In refuting my point about the underground, the hon. Gentleman said that bus passenger journeys were increasing under the GLC. That is not true. The lowest figure for bus passenger journeys for London Transport was attained under the GLC in 1982 with 1,043 million passengers. It has now gone up to 1,147 million.

Mr. Banks

The hon. Gentleman should get the position clear. I said passengers. That is the important thing. I am quite prepared to have a discussion with the hon. Gentleman on a Clapham omnibus on any day that he wants to have such a discussion, and I shall explain to him exactly what is going on.

The Government's policies are a recipe for chaos, not only in London but throughout the country. I would not want it on my shoulders. The Minister is ensuring that London will descend into traffic chaos, and I hope to be around to point that out to him.

9.19 pm
Mr. Tony Lloyd (Stretford)

This has been an interesting debate. We have had a massive ideological split between the Secretary of State for Transport, who has extolled the virtues of the Government's competition policy and said that it was in the interest of the travelling public, and Conservative Back Benchers, who have systematically slammed his policies and said that they have failed in almost every aspect.

The hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) made a typically knowledgeable speech about transport, in which he rubbished the Government's claims about British Rail. The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) advocated the need for an adequate road-building programme. He rightly said that the Secretary of State's claims that the Government had a great record w shout about in terms of road building were bogus. He observed that next year there will be a reduction in the level of spending on that programme.

Mr. Fry

I said that the Government have been successful until now. I was concerned about the future. They have been successful in comparison with the Labour Government.

Mr. Lloyd

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He has led me to my next point.

The Secretary of State made great play about the record of the Government, who are now eight years old—old enough to bear the consequences of their failures in terms of their investment programme in the construction of new motorways and trunk systems. The Governments record has not surpassed that of the Labour Government. It is a matter of public record. The Labour party did not produce the figures; they were produced by the Royal Automobile Club. In no year since 1979–80—effectively the last year of the Labour Government — have the Conservative Government spent more money on motorway construction. That is a matter of record and makes nonsense of the Secretary of State's attempt to convince the House otherwise.

The Secretary of State can say that plans for the future will include increased spending on road construction, but the hon. Member for Wellingborough noted that the Government have not behaved in the way claimed by the Secretary of State.

I was fascinated by the speeches of many Conservative Members. The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) advocated the benefit of nationalisation. Some hon. Members extolled the virtues of the services provided by British Rail — a nationalised system — and said how successful it is. There is much suspicion of nationalisation and national programmes among Conservative Members.

I understand the reason for that. More than 90 per cent. of Government spending has been on the roads system, and they have made a complete mess of it.

The report of the National Audit Office in 1985 examined the Department of Transport's expenditure on motorways and trunk roads. It expressed concern and disquiet about the Department's basic inability to understand what is going on. It commented that, while the Department of Transport was good at bringing in schemes to unblock specific traffic jams, it did not take into account the fact that traffic would be thrown on to other areas. Between 1985 and 1987 the Department planned to start £48 million worth of road schemes showing negative economic returns. This is the Government who lecture the Opposition on the need for economic and fiscal prudence. The Minister looks askance at that comment, but he is the only one who has held office in that Department for four years.

The Secretary of State tells us about the wonders of the roads programme, but that is an area where the Government may feel vulnerable. It is not surprising that Tory Back Benchers have spent so much time attacking the Secretary of State. Perhaps he now begins to understand why five of his predecessors have disappeared from that bed of nails. On that basis, it may not be too long before he also disappears.

One of the most interesting speeches was that of the hon. Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen), who is not in the House at the moment. I am sure that he has a good reason. He pointed to the failure of the Government's competition policy for airlines. He said that competition was at the forefront of the Government's White Paper. The hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) claimed that the Government had persuaded British Airways to give up routes and slots to BCal. The hon. Member for South Hams rightly argued the opposite. Once again, there was inconsistency on the Government Back Benches, which mirrors the inconsistency between the Front Bench and the Back Benches.

The hon. Member for South Hams is right. BCal is falling into the hands of British Airways, or whoever, because the Government wanted to fatten British Airways for the market and were not prepared to allow space in the market for BCal to operate routes that it had been promised. That is the view also of BCal and of other independents. So the Government's competition policy for airlines hardly bears examination.

Many of my hon. Friends from outside London referred to deregulation, which was almost the jewel in the crown of the Government's competition policy. The Government claim that deregulation has been a great triumph for the National Bus Company. We still do not know, however, what price was obtained for the NBC subsidiaries as they were sold off. We could assess the merits of the Government's claims if the Minister of State were to make that information available so that we might know what went on company by company rather than on an aggregate basis.

We heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland) about the plight of the Newcastle metro system which was in a sense one of the jewels in the crown of public transport throughout Britain and which has been copied in the United States by those who recognise its viability as a public transport scheme for the future. What has happened in Newcastle is not dissimilar to what we have seen in other areas. There has been the institutionalisation almost of instability in the transport system. It will take years to settle down.

We do not believe that we can make a definite and final judgment on deregulation yet because the process is still unravelling. Nevertheless, we can begin to point to some of the detrimental effects of deregulation. For example, patronage in the metropolitan areas is down. We heard about an increase in miles travelled, but in reality passenger miles have decreased by 10 per cent. throughout the metropolitan areas. Nationally the figure is not dissimilar. The decrease in Merseyside is about 20 per cent. That may be a special case because there has been a massive increase of over 50 per cent. in fares. Although that is an extreme case, in most areas fares have gone up following deregulation.

Mr. Rogers

My hon. Friend said that he would have reservations about giving a definite judgment on deregulation. Does he know that the Minister of State has already given a definite judgment? He gave it before the legislation came into force, because the whole philosophy of deregulation was based upon studies set up by the Minister of State. When we asked him what sort of quantitative analysis had been done about these trials, it transpired that there had been none. His judgment was based on his visit to Hereford, when he jumped on and off a few buses and asked a few old ladies how deregulation was going. They said it was great, and he came back and said that deregulation would work because many people had told him so.

Mr. Lloyd

The Minister of State is one of the strongest advocates of competition. He told the Standing Committee, on which my hon. Friend served, that competition was at the heart of the Government's approach to public transport and deregulation and that it was an important stimulus to all the benefits that we were told would ensue.

Greater Manchester is one of the few areas, other than Strathclyde, where there has been genuine competition. The Minister of State spoke recently at the Adam Smith Institute about the competitive process. He asked — I paraphrase and he may wish to correct me—whether it was unfair that the publicly owned bus company in Greater Manchester should respond to competition with the minibuses. He asked whether it was not an abuse that the public sector should choose to compete against others. The Minister of States shakes his head. I am sure that he will correct me later.

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


Mr. Lloyd

I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman as time is running short and he was not present for most of the debate.

Given the failure of and uncertainty about deregulation throughout the country, will the Minister of State tell us that he is now prepared to think carefully before foisting the same thing on London? My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) spoke about the disasters of the Government's approach to London and the south-east. We have heard how bad London transport is. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has referred the Secretary of State for Transport to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission because he thinks that this great triumph of nationalisation, as the hon. Member for Pembroke put it, is failing. It is failing for a simple reason — systematic underinvestment by the Government.

Like a magician, the Secretary of State told the House earlier about the £300 million worth of goodies a year on offer to London Regional Transport. We welcome that investment because it is badly needed. It is needed on the northern line where trains which are supposed to run every two or three minutes take 20 minutes to arrive. Opposition Members know to their cost what damage that causes.

Mr. Flannery

One of today's newspapers contains a letter about crowded platforms on the underground due to the late running of trains. A lady, who was only 1 ft away from the edge of the platform and unable to move, was knocked on to the track.

Mr. Lloyd

My hon. Friend demonstrates the real crisis about which Conservative Members know nothing because they do not use public transport. They do not see how the failure of the Government's policies affect the ordinary people of London.

The Conservative party claims to be the party of the nation, but I have always found it difficult to understand what unifies it. Many Labour Members have talked about the Government's transport policy failures outside the metropolitan areas — areas which are economically under-developed and where transport is an important factor in their development. I refer to Scotland, Wales, the north of England and the south-west.

In the south-east the position is different, but the cry from Conservative Members is just the same: that the Government are incompetent and have failed the southeast, and with that I must agree. The M25 has been slammed by Conservative Members, and rightly, because it shows the failure of planning to which the Government are a party. The M25 is supposedly the great traffic route out of central London. I remember not so long ago the Prime Minister standing on the M25 boasting about her Government's triumphs in the creation of this brand new orbital motorway. Yet, almost as soon as she had stepped off it, the traffic was way ahead of expectations.

The M25 is a failure because the south-east is being over-developed economically. The Government have failed to address the problems of over-development. The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) wanted the Government to prevent further development in the Thames valley because of its grossly inadequate infrastructure. The Government have been in power for eight years and their own Back Benchers are rightly telling them that they have failed to invest in the infrastructure of this over-developed part of the country, while other parts of the country, which could cheerfully have used the £1 billion spent on the M25, have not had similar opportunities made available to them.

The Secretary of State told the House that shipping was a vital part of the nation's transport needs, yet the Government have presided over the virtual collapse of the merchant fleet. Shipping receives far too little attention in the House, and it is important that we should recognise the scale of the collapse of the British merchant fleet.

In 1979, when the Government came to power, the merchant fleet had nearly 1,300 ships and about 80,000 serving seamen. By September this year there were about 465 ships and fewer than 30,000 working in the industry. At the same time, we have seen the flagging out of Britain's trade, dependency on foreign ships and even dependency in strategic terms. [HON. MEMBERS: "What would you do?"] If hon. Members will listen, I shall tell them.

One thing that we would do would be to think seriously about reserving coastal and ferry shipping to domestic users. For example, the Swansea to Cork ferry is operated by a Polish ferry with a Polish crew. While that Polish crew is composed of merchant seamen in this country, in Poland no distinction is drawn between the military and merchant navies. In other words, we already have the Polish military navy in Britain's soft underbelly. Even Conservative Members should find that a little surprising. They represent the party of patriotism that would lead us into a great future, but in the process would sell every strategic control that the nation has over its military or economic future.

The Secretary of State said that the Government had a good safety record. The Opposition completely concur with many of the measures that the Secretary of State introduced following the Zeebrugge disaster, but we would be considerably happier if the inspectorate was in place in his Department to ensure that those regulations work.

The Secretary of State recently sent me a copy of the consultative document on operational procedures, management ashore, logbook entries and the reporting of accidents — an important step forward. The enclosed letter says: Such manuals will be required to be available to the Department surveyors who would inspect them in the course of their visits to roll-on/roll-off passenger vessels. We welcome that. However, while the present Government have been in power, there has been a massive decrease in the number of surveyors in the Department of Transport. No doubt the Government will tell us that that bears some relation to the decline in the merchant fleet, which we accept. But it is disturbing that, even in the year in which the tragedy of the Herald of Free Enterprise is still alive in people's minds, there has been a decline in the number of inspectors and surveyors. Indeed, it was at the inquiry into the sinking that the Department's own chief surveyor made the point that he did not have enough inspectors on his books to inspect ferries regularly to prevent such disasters from occurring.

We shall support the Secretary of State in his safety measures, because that is right and proper. However. we shall condemn him absolutely if he fails to provide adequate personnel to ensure that the new procedures work. The Opposition's case is that the Government have neglected many of the nation's vital infrastructure needs, whether it be shipping, air transportation, the railways or the roads. They have relied on the market system in an anarchic way, and that has reduced the nation's capacity.

The country needs adequate planning. It will not get that from the Government unless they change their ways.

9.40 pm
The Minister for Public Transport (Mr. David Mitchell)

I understand that the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) was to have wound up this evening's debate, but is unwell. I am sure that the House will wish him a swift return to his normal rumbustious good health, and I congratulate the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd) on his first appearance at the Dispatch Box.

During last week's all-night sitting on the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill, I wondered at times why Labour Members were so determined to talk out the debate on transport that was scheduled to take place the following day. Perhaps they were more conscious than their Front Bench of the weakness of the case to be deployed. Nevertheless, we have had a wide-ranging debate tonight, and I shall try to reply to all the points put to me.

The hon. Member for Stretford asked about the alleged inadequacy of investment by London Regional Transport. That investment is now higher than it has ever been, and LRT is carrying more passengers than it has ever carried. It now seems to be suffering the penalty of success, and must wait for the £45 million that we have approved for investment in new rolling stock before the pressure can be eased.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about the sale of National Bus Company subsidiaries, and about the prices being obtained. Forty-nine companies out of 72 have been sold. It would damage future negotiations if we were to reveal the prices paid in the individual sales so far. However, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that 29 of those sales have been local management buy-outs, which I hope he will welcome.

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman missed the opportunity to congratulate British Rail on the progress being made on the Windsor link in Manchester, which will be completed and opened for the first part of its business next May. I am also sorry that he did not take the opportunity to congratulate British Rail on the station at Humphrey park in his constituency, and the neighbouring stations at Atherton, Hag Fold and Salford crescent.

However, let me turn from the hon. Gentleman's failure to seize those opportunities of congratulating British Rail to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), who began his speech by claiming that he did not like attacking British Rail, but nevertheless proceeded to do so with gusto. He claimed that British Rail can obtain approval only for investments that pay off in 12 months. He is quite wrong.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I did not say that.

Mr. Mitchell

I wrote it down. When the hon. Gentleman reads Hansard, I think that he will find it there.

The normal return on investment is 7 per cent., spread over the life of the investment. On loss-making services, we use the best return on outlay to achieve the quality standards that have been set.

The hon. Gentleman claimed that the report by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on Network South-East said that cleanliness had deteriorated. That is not so. I urge the hon. Gentleman to read page 107 of the report, which states that British Rail's carriage cleaning has improved considerably since 1980, and is continuing to improve. The hon. Gentleman attacked British Rail for having increased some of the cut-price fares which had led to overcrowding on some services last summer. That is plain business common sense. If one runs a special offer to the extent that it is crowding out one's full fare-paying passengers, one reduces the attraction of the cut-price offer in order to enable full fare-paying passengers to be carried in a normal state of quality and comfort.

The hon. Gentleman attacked British Rail for not electrifying the rail to Aberdeen because it said that electrification is not commercially viable. I have two questions for the hon. Gentleman. What is wrong with the HST 125 which goes to Aberdeen? It goes faster than the trains on the electrified west coast main line. If the hon. Gentleman were ever to become Secretary of State for Transport, would he wish to see investment in unviable propositions? Heaven help the country if he would.

Mr. Morgan


Mr. Mitchell

I will not give way, because I have only just started and I have a lot of ground to cover.

I wish that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North had taken the opportunity to see the significant progress that British Rail is making on the electrification of the east coast main line and found time to congratulate it on the three stations that have been opened not far from his constituency.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall) raised the question of the Dornoch bridge. There was no application from British Rail for investment approval. It would have cost £16 million in order to safeguard £250,000 of revenue. If the hon. Gentleman ponders those figures, he will see why British Rail did not see fit to use that as a means of expending its resources.

The hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) represents a BREL town, as does my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Gregory), but there was such a contrast in their approaches. The hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich spewed out her vitriol, saying that the Minister and British Rail management are all involved in a plot to do down BREL workers. She is wrong. She attacks competitive tendering, but fails to realise that British Rail does not have a monopoly. It is in a competitive world and it has to give the best value for money in order to attract its customers. To do that, it has to obtain the best value for money itself when it is buying.

There has been £3 billion-worth of investment by British Rail since 1979 and that means that there are new vehicles which are designed to require less maintenance. Because the vehicles are out of service for less time, there are fewer vehicles to maintain. The hon. Lady should know that British Rail has changed its pattern of maintenance, so that most of it is now being done in the depot. Part exchange has revolutionised the system of British Rail maintenance; the hon. Lady should know that.

The hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) claimed that British Rail's investment submissions equate with the sum that British Rail expects the Government to allow it to spend. She must have missed the speech of her hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North, who complained that British Rail has not been spending up to its EFL. They cannot have it both ways.

The hon. Lady asked about the bogies for the class 91. Both BREL and SIG bogies were subject to theoretical testing. BREL fell far short of the specification, but SIG met it. The theoretical tests have been subject to independent verification and are confirmed. British Rail is still of the view that the BREL bogie would not meet the specification and that the SIG bogie will.

Mrs. Beckett

Having told us all about the theoretical study, will the Minister confirm that in practice the Swiss bogie does not meet the requirements either?

Mr. Mitchell

The hon. Lady may have received leaked results of the SIG bogie, which is currently being tested to give the SIG experience of British operating conditions. That is not the bogie that will be used on the mark 4. That is where the rumour came from. British Rail is satisfied that the bogie will deliver as required.

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey), who spoke for the Liberal party, claimed that the Government have neglected Wales and gave some examples. He said that there were no high-speed trains in Wales. I am sorry that he was not there when I flagged off the Red Dragon HST from Cardiff to London. He said also that there were no Sprinters in Wales. Of course, I am not as familiar with the Principality as the hon. Gentleman, but it is strange, because I thought that Holyhead, Bangor and Rhyl were in Wales and they have Sprinters. They also have services into Cardiff valley, Shrewsbury, Pwllheli, Aberystwyth and on the lines from Cardiff to Chepstow and Cardiff to Hereford. All those lines have Sprinters. I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is misinformed. I must advise the hon. Gentleman that no area has Super Sprinters yet, but they are to be deployed in Wales.

My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) drew attention to the potential of a British Rail route from Ashford, through Redhill, to Reading as was envisaged by Brunel and endorsed by Dr. Beeching, for the benefit of the Channel tunnel. The joint consultation committee that meets in Kent has Commissioned a study, as a result of which there will be a further reappraisal of the capacity and routing of Eurotunnel traffic. A report will he available next summer and I shall ensure that those who produce it take account of my hon. Friend's suggestion. My hon. Friend also asked me about coach operators not paying their track costs. They almost cover their track costs but do not receive the substantial subsidy that British Rail enjoys on its operations.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) raised, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan), the issue of environmental damage from juggernauts on the roads. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Yardley on having identified a recent case where more than £3 million was given by the Department of Transport under section 8 to enable freight facilities to be installed, resulting in 1,000 lorry journeys a day of roadstone being kept off the roads. Since 1979, there have been 127 projects resulting in 2 million journeys being taken off the roads. I am sure that hon. Members with interest in the environment will welcome that news.

I shall write to the hon. Member for Shettleston on his point about taxis which, I think, can be satisfactorily resolved.

Several hon. Members have referred to bus deregulation. Although there was a temporary hiatus at the beginning, there is now broadly the same level of service in rural areas; bus mileage has increased by more than 10 per cent. and more than £40 million has been saved for hard-pressed ratepayers as a result of deregulation. The productivity of operators has increased and I am sure that the hon. Member for Stretford will be delighted that in Greater Manchester the bus company's operating costs per mile are down 23 per cent. Bus miles are up 17 per cent. and costs are down by 13.5 per cent. over all. Innovation has been the biggest single result of deregulation. New ways are being found of providing customers with what they want. I cite as an example the 250 minibus services that are now operating up and down the country.

Countless villages now have bus services when they did riot have them before. The other day I was sent a cutting entitled "It's the bus—after 33 years". There are dozens of other examples.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Where are they?

Mr. Mitchell

If the hon. Gentleman looked out of the window while the train taking him to his constituency was passing through Hemel Hempstead he would see other new bus services serving local hospitals which did not have services before. Scores of estates throughout the country now have bus services that did not have them before. [Interruption.] Hon. Members' constituents have reason to be glad that the buses have been deregulated and that passengers have turned into customers who are given care and attention by those who operate the services.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) made a thoughtful speech in which he drew attention to the need for longer-term future planning on roads. The Department plans roads on the basis of traffic flows 15 years after opening. My hon. Friend said that traffic forecasts exceeded high growth figures. I assure him that the figures are rebased every year so that the actual increase since the latest national road traffic forecast in 1984 has been taken into account in assessing future traffic flows. The money for national roads was halved in real terms under the Labour Government. Under the Conservative Government it has been increased by 30 per cent. in real terms. That is a substantial increase.

Good transport is an important component in the quality of life of our fellow citizens; for our manufacturers and business men it is essential to success. I have not sought to disparage the record of the Opposition when they were in government. However, it can be demonstrated that in every key area transport has improved and continues to improve under this Government. The amount spent on the national roads programme is up by 30 per cent. in real terms. Investment in regional airports has increased 10 times since the Government came to office.

British Rail has invested more than £3 billion since 1979 and no investment proposition has been rejected. Today we announced that up to 204 Super Sprinters have been sanctioned. Investment in electrification has soared from £41 million a year under Labour to £72 million a year in real terms under this Government. The National Bus Company which was a Whitehall-controlled nationalised giant is passing into the hands of a spread of local owners and operators. Nothing has given me more pleasure than to help to remove power, wealth and decision-making from the state and see it spread out throughout the community. The business is now run by owner-managers and worker-shareholders. This is modern Conservatism in practice, spreading power and wealth throughout the community rather than concentrating it in the hands of the state, and I am proud to have been involved in that process. Indeed, I hope to announce another sale tomorrow.

Bus deregulation was fought tooth and nail by the Opposition because it extended choice and competition. Choice and competition are the enemies of Socialism and the best possible friends of the customer and the consumer. I ask hon. Members to join me in the Lobby to support the policies that are proving to he successful and in the national interest.

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

The House divided: Ayes 200, Noes 293.

Division No. 71] [10.00 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Foulkes, George
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Fyfe, Mrs Maria
Allen, Graham Galloway, George
Anderson, Donald Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary George, Bruce
Ashton, Joe Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Golding, Mrs Llin
Barron, Kevin Gordon, Ms Mildred
Battle, John Gould, Bryan
Beckett, Margaret Graham, Thomas
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Bermingham, Gerald Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Bidwell, Sydney Grocott, Bruce
Boateng, Paul Hardy, Peter
Boyes, Roland Harman, Ms Harriet
Bradley, Keith Heffer, Eric S.
Bray, Dr Jeremy Henderson, Douglas
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Hinchliffe, David
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Holland, Stuart
Buchan, Norman Home Robertson, John
Buckley, George Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Caborn, Richard Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Callaghan, Jim Hoyle, Doug
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Canavan, Dennis Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Clay, Bob Illsley, Eric
Clelland, David Ingram, Adam
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Janner, Greville
Cohen, Harry John, Brynmor
Coleman, Donald Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Corbett, Robin Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Corbyn, Jeremy Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Cousins, Jim Lambie, David
Cox, Tom Lamond, James
Crowther, Stan Leadbitter, Ted
Cryer, Bob Leighton, Ron
Cummings, J. Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Litherland, Robert
Cunningham, Dr John Livingstone, Ken
Darling, Alastair Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Loyden, Eddie
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) McAllion, John
Dewar, Donald McAvoy, Tom
Dixon, Don McCartney, Ian
Dobson, Frank Macdonald, Calum
Doran, Frank McFall, John
Douglas, Dick McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Duffy, A. E. P. McKelvey, William
Dunnachie, James McLeish, Henry
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth McNamara, Kevin
Eadie, Alexander McTaggart, Bob
Eastham, Ken Madden, Max
Evans, John (St Helens N) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Martin, Michael (Springburn)
Fatchett, Derek Martlew, Eric
Faulds, Andrew Maxton, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Meacher, Michael
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Meale, Alan
Fisher, Mark Michael, Alun
Flannery, Martin Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Flynn, Paul Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Moonie, Dr Lewis
Foster, Derek Morgan, Rhodri
Morley, Elliott Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Mowlam, Mrs Marjorie Short, Clare
Mullin, Chris Skinner, Dennis
Murphy, Paul Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Nellist, Dave Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
O'Brien, William Soley, Clive
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Spearing, Nigel
Patchett, Terry Strang, Gavin
Pendry, Tom Straw, Jack
Pike, Peter Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Prescott, John Turner, Dennis
Primarolo, Ms Dawn Vaz, Keith
Quin, Ms Joyce Wall, Pat
Radice, Giles Walley, Ms Joan
Randall, Stuart Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Redmond, Martin Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Wigley, Dafydd
Reid, John Williams, Rt Hon A. J.
Richardson, Ms Jo Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Wilson, Brian
Robertson, George Winnick, David
Robinson, Geoffrey Wise, Mrs Audrey
Rogers, Allan Worthington, Anthony
Rooker, Jeff Wray, James
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruddock, Ms Joan Tellers for the Ayes:
Sedgemore, Brian Mr. Frank Haynes and
Sheerman, Barry Mr. Frank Cook.
Adley, Robert Buck, Sir Antony
Aitken, Jonathan Budgen, Nicholas
Alexander, Richard Burns, Simon
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Burt, Alistair
Allason, Rupert Butcher, John
Amess, David Butler, Chris
Amos, Alan Butterfill, John
Arbuthnot, James Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Carrington, Matthew
Ashby, David Carttiss, Michael
Ashdown, Paddy Cash, William
Atkins, Robert Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Atkinson, David Chapman, Sydney
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Chope, Christopher
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Churchill, Mr
Baldry, Tony Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Batiste, Spencer Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Colvin, Michael
Beith, A. J. Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Bellingham, Henry Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bendall, Vivian Cope, John
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Cormack, Patrick
Bevan, David Gilroy Couchman, James
Biffen, Rt Hon John Cran, James
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Currie, Mrs Edwina
Blackburn, Dr John G. Curry, David
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Davis, David (Boothferry)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Day, Stephen
Boswell, Tim Devlin, Tim
Bottomley, Peter Dickens, Geoffrey
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Dicks, Terry
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Dorrell, Stephen
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bowis, John Dover, Den
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Dunn, Bob
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Durant, Tony
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Eggar, Tim
Bright, Graham Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Evennett, David
Brooke, Hon Peter Fallon, Michael
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Farr, Sir John
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Favell, Tony
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Fearn, Ronald
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Fenner, Dame Peggy
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Fookes, Miss Janet Knowles, Michael
Forman, Nigel Knox, David
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lang, Ian
Forth, Eric Latham, Michael
Fox, Sir Marcus Lawrence, Ivan
Franks, Cecil Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Freeman, Roger Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
French, Douglas Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fry, Peter Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Gardiner, George Lilley, Peter
Garel-Jones, Tristan Livsey, Richard
Gill, Christopher Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Glyn, Dr Alan Lord, Michael
Goodhart, Sir Philip Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Goodlad, Alastair McCrindle, Robert
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Macfarlane, Neil
Gorman, Mrs Teresa MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gorst, John Maclean, David
Gow, Ian McLoughlin, Patrick
Gower, Sir Raymond McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Madel, David
Greenway, John (Rydale) Major, Rt Hon John
Gregory, Conal Malins, Humfrey
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Mans, Keith
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Maples, John
Grist, Ian Marland, Paul
Ground, Patrick Marlow, Tony
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mates, Michael
Hampson, Dr Keith Maude, Hon Francis
Hanley, Jeremy Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hannam, John Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'Il Gr') Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Harris, David Miller, Hal
Haselhurst, Alan Mills, Iain
Hawkins, Christopher Miscampbell, Norman
Hayes, Jerry Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hayward, Robert Monro, Sir Hector
Heathcoat-Amory, David Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Heddle, John Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Morrison, Hon P (Chester)
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Moss, Malcolm
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Needham, Richard
Hill, James Nelson, Anthony
Hind, Kenneth Neubert, Michael
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Holt, Richard Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Hordern, Sir Peter Onslow, Cranley
Howard, Michael Oppenheim, Phillip
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Page, Richard
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Paice, James
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Howells, Geraint Patnick, Irvine
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Patten, Chris (Bath)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Pawsey, James
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Porter, David (Waveney)
Irvine, Michael Portillo, Michael
Irving, Charles Powell, William (Corby)
Jack, Michael Price, Sir David
Jackson, Robert Raffan, Keith
Janman, Timothy Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Jessel, Toby Rathbone, Tim
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Redwood, John
Johnston, Sir Russell Renton, Tim
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Rhodes James, Robert
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Riddick, Graham
Kennedy, Charles Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Key, Robert Ridsdale, Sir Julian
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Kirkhope, Timothy Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Kirkwood, Archy Roe, Mrs Marion
Knapman, Roger Rossi, Sir Hugh
Rost, Peter Stanbrook, Ivor
Rowe, Andrew Steel, Rt Hon David
Ryder, Richard Steen, Anthony
Sackville, Hon Tom Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Sayeed, Jonathan Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Scott, Nicholas Summerson, Hugo
Shaw, David (Dover) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Thornton, Malcolm
Shelton, William (Streatham) Thurnham, Peter
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Wallace, James
Shersby, Michael Watts, John
Sims, Roger Wells, Bowen
Skeet, Sir Trevor Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wiggin, Jerry
Soames, Hon Nicholas
Speed, Keith Tellers for the Noes:
Spicer, Jim (Dorset W) Mr. David Lightbown and
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Mr. Kenneth Carlisle.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 30 (Questions on amendments):

The House divided: Ayes 256, Noes 186.

Division No. 72] [10–14 pm
Adley, Robert Carttiss, Michael
Alexander, Richard Cash, William
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Allason, Rupert Chapman, Sydney
Amess, David Chope, Christopher
Amos, Alan Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Arbuthnot, James Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushclifie)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Ashby, David Cope, John
Atkins, Robert Cran, James
Atkinson, David Currie, Mrs Edwina
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Curry, David
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Baldry, Tony Davis, David (Boothferry)
Batiste, Spencer Day, Stephen
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Devlin, Tim
Bellingham, Henry Dickens, Geoffrey
Bendall, Vivian Dorrell, Stephen
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Benyon, W. Dover, Den
Bevan, David Gilroy Dunn, Bob
Biffen, Rt Hon John Durant, Tony
Blackburn, Dr John G. Eggar, Tim
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Evennett, David
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fallon, Michael
Boswell, Tim Farr, Sir John
Bottomley, Peter Favell, Tony
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bowis, John Forman, Nigel
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Forth, Eric
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Fox, Sir Marcus
Bright, Graham Franks, Cecil
Brooke, Hon Peter Freeman, Roger
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) French, Douglas
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Fry, Peter
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Gardiner, George
Buck, Sir Antony Garel-Jones, Tristan
Budgen, Nicholas Gill, Christopher
Burt, Alistair Goodhart, Sir Philip
Butcher, John Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Butler, Chris Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Butterfill, John Gorst, John
Carrington, Matthew Gow, Ian
Gower, Sir Raymond Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Mates, Michael
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Maude, Hon Francis
Greenway, John (Rydale) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gregory, Conal Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Grist, Ian Miller, Hal
Ground, Patrick Mills, Iain
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Miscampbell, Norman
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hampson, Dr Keith Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hanley, Jeremy Monro, Sir Hector
Hannam, John Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'Il Gr') Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Harris, David Morrison, Hon P (Chester)
Haselhurst, Alan Moss, Malcolm
Hawkins, Christopher Needham, Richard
Hayes, Jerry Nelson, Anthony
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Neubert, Michael
Hayward, Robert Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Heddle, John Onslow, Cranley
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Oppenheim, Phillip
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Page, Richard
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Paice, James
Hind, Kenneth Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Patnick, Irvine
Holt, Richard Patten, Chris (Bath)
Hordern, Sir Peter Pawsey, James
Howard, Michael Porter, David (Waveney)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Portillo, Michael
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Powell, William (Corby)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Price, Sir David
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Raffan, Keith
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Rathbone, Tim
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Redwood, John
Irvine, Michael Renton, Tim
Jack, Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Jackson, Robert Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Janman, Timothy Riddick, Graham
Jessel, Toby Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Roe, Mrs Marion
Key, Robert Rossi, Sir Hugh
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Rowe, Andrew
Kirkhope, Timothy Ryder, Richard
Knapman, Roger Sackville, Hon Tom
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Sayeed, Jonathan
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Scott, Nicholas
Knowles, Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
Knox, David Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lang, Ian Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Latham, Michael Shelton, William (Streatham)
Lawrence, Ivan Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shersby, Michael
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Sims, Roger
Lilley, Peter Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lord, Michael Soames, Hon Nicholas
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Speed, Keith
McCrindle, Robert Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Macfarlane, Neil Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Stanbrook, Ivor
Maclean, David Steen, Anthony
McLoughlin, Patrick Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Summerson, Hugo
Madel, David Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Major, Rt Hon John Thornton, Malcolm
Malins, Humfrey Thurnham, Peter
Mans, Keith Waddington, Rt Hon David
Marland, Paul Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Marlow, Tony Watts, John
Widdecombe, Miss Ann Tellers for the Ayes:
Wiggin, Jerry Mr. David Lightbown and
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle.
Abbott, Ms Diane Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) George, Bruce
Allen, Graham Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Anderson, Donald Godman, Dr Norman A.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Golding, Mrs Llin
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Gordon, Ms Mildred
Ashdown, Paddy Graham, Thomas
Ashton, Joe Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Grocott, Bruce
Barron, Kevin Hardy, Peter
Battle, John Haynes, Frank
Beckett, Margaret Henderson, Douglas
Beith, A. J. Hinchliffe, David
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Holland, Stuart
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Home Robertson, John
Bermingham, Gerald Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Bidwell, Sydney Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Boateng, Paul Howells, Geraint
Boyes, Roland Hoyle, Doug
Bradley, Keith Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Illsley, Eric
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Ingram, Adam
Buchan, Norman Janner, Greville
Buckley, George Johnston, Sir Russell
Caborn, Richard Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Callaghan, Jim Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Kennedy, Charles
Canavan, Dennis Leadbitter, Ted
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Clay, Bob Litherland, Robert
Clelland, David Livingstone, Ken
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Livsey, Richard
Cohen, Harry Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Corbett, Robin McAllion, John
Corbyn, Jeremy McAvoy, Tom
Cousins, Jim McCartney, Ian
Cox, Tom Macdonald, Calum
Crowther, Stan McFall, John
Cryer, Bob McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Cummings, J. McKelvey, William
Cunliffe, Lawrence McLeish, Henry
Cunningham, Dr John McTaggart, Bob
Darling, Alastair Madden, Max
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dewar, Donald Martin, Michael (Springburn)
Dixon, Don Martlew, Eric
Dobson, Frank Maxton, John
Doran, Frank Meacher, Michael
Douglas, Dick Meale, Alan
Duffy, A. E. P. Michael, Alun
Dunnachie, James Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Eadie, Alexander Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Eastham, Ken Moonie, Dr Lewis
Evans, John (St Helens N) Morgan, Rhodri
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Morley, Elliott
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon)
Fatchett, Derek Mowlam, Mrs Marjorie
Faulds, Andrew Mullin, Chris
Fearn, Ronald Murphy, Paul
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Nellist, Dave
Fisher, Mark Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Flannery, Martin O'Brien, William
Flynn, Paul Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Foster, Derek Patchett, Terry
Foulkes, George Pendry, Tom
Fyfe, Mrs Maria Pike, Peter
Galloway, George Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Quin, Ms Joyce Straw, Jack
Randall, Stuart Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Redmond, Martin Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Reid, John Turner, Dennis
Richardson, Ms Jo Vaz, Keith
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Wall, Pat
Robertson, George Walley, Ms Joan
Rogers, Allan Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Rooker, Jeff Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Wigley, Dafydd
Rowlands, Ted Williams, Rt Hon A. J.
Ruddock, Ms Joan Wilson, Brian
Sedgemore, Brian Winnick, David
Short, Clare Wise, Mrs Audrey
Skinner, Dennis Wray, James
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Soley, Clive Tellers for the Noes:
Spearing, Nigel Mr. James Wallace and
Steel, Rt Hon David Mr. Archy Kirkwood.

Question accordingly agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House congratulates the Government on the success of transport policies which have led to an improved transport infrastructure through increased investment whilst reducing the proportion of gross domestic product taken up by public expenditure, which have provided better value for money for taxpayers, ratepayers and industry, and which have increased choice of service to the customer; and furthermore notes with approval the Government's policies to safeguard the environment and to maintain and improve transport safety standards.