HC Deb 26 July 1988 vol 138 cc311-54 7.14 pm
Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

I beg to move, That this House condemns the Government's irresponsible transport polices which are careless of the social and economic needs of individuals and communities, have failed the travelling public, put lives at risk and caused great harship and inconvenience; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce transport polices which give proper priority to people's needs for safety and service. Hon. Members who are regular attenders of transport debates have a feeling of deja vu. It seems that almost every transport debate is preceded by a ministerial reshuffle. Therefore, my first duty is to congratulate the Secretary of State on having survived this time. My second duty is to pass on my congratultions to the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr. Portillo) on his promotion to Minister of State, Department of Transport.

There will be general and genuine regret at the departure of the hon. Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir D. Mitchell). Yesterday was a good news-bad news day for him. The good news was that he was offered a knighthood, and the bad news was that he had to go to the Government Back Benches to get it. Quite frankly, he deserves more than that. He vigorously defended successive policies with successive Secretaries of State. I am glad to see him in his place. All hon. Members look forward to his further contributions to our transport debates—all the more so now that he is free of the shackles of ministerial responsibility.

One wonders at the unreality of the Government's amendment. They seem to live in a totally different world from that of ordinary mortals. A cursory glance at press headlines over the past few weeks will enable one to see the story of traffic chaos on the roads, and of the Government being under attack for their failure to preserve their road maintenance programme and being behind with their by-pass programme. There is astonishing chaos at airports, and stories of sit-downs in the middle of Luton airport runway because of great dissatisfaction with what has been happening. Yet the Government seem to pretend that everything is all right.

Our motion sets out the truth. The Government are obsessed with deregulation, privatisation and cost cutting. Quite frankly, that attitude pushes safety and the well-being of the public to the back of the minds of those who run the transport system. One of the most chilling statements to come from the King's Cross disaster inquiry was made by one witness, who said: We thought of fire in relation to damage to property and not as a hazard to passengers. That is a most chilling report, and it was made because of the Government's obsession with deregulation, privatisation and cost cutting. It puts a dead hand on the initiative of those who seek to serve public industries. There is no doubt that the people in British Rail who want to plan for a better future find themselves stifled by constant references to bringing in private capital.

I fully understand why the Government are embarrassed at their philosophical inadequacies and the way in which they have been exposed by recent events. I appreciate that they sought to divert people from the real problems that face them by having a question planted and by giving a response to the North committee report. It was an attempt to divert the attention of the general public from what is happening. Having had a copy of the Minister's reply placed on the board at 6.30 this evening, I cannot be expected to comment on it in full or in any great depth. At a quick glance, I see that there is a lot of sense in it. I particularly welcome traffic light monitoring to stop people steaming through intersections long after the lights have changed to red. It is an extremely dangerous practice.

High technology is mentioned in the North report and in the Minister's response, but there is no mention of who is to pay for it. If it is to be the local authorities, it will be no use asking hard-pressed rate-capped authorities in London—where much of the problem of traffic congestion arises—to find the money to pay for that sort of technology. The Minister must be a lot more positive about where the finance will come from.

The Minister ducked the controversial issue of random breath testing. Frankly, I support it, and I believe that it is an additional arm of enforcement that the police need —unlike the Under-Secretary, who appears to believe that it is a substitute for current enforcement procedures. Perhaps the Under-Secretary will explain the difference between random breath testing and discretionary testing. Discretionary testing would appear to be as unconnected as random testing with the commission of an offence. I hope that he is not trying to smuggle in the sus law in another form—"You look a likely candidate for testing" —because that may cause a problem.

We are concerned about the Government's shortcomings, especially in relation to air traffic control and holiday traffic. We have heard all the old, tired and familiar excuses. It is always someone else's fault. It is the greedy holiday company, the strikes of foreign traffic controllers or the Civil Aviation Authority—anybody or everybody is to blame except the Government. However, the Government have accepted responsibility. A few weeks ago they began to see the writing on the wall, so they asked the Civil Aviation Authority to provide, by September, some plans to prevent the chaos next year. They cannot have it both ways; either they have responsibility or they do not.

We have been worried about air traffic control and safety for a very long time. There are no Ministers left at the Department of Transport who were in office when the Airports Act, which privatised British airports, was considered, but officials will remember that when that measure was going through its various stages we moved amendments to regulate the hours and the conditions of service of air traffic controllers. We were concerned about fatigue, and the amount of work carried out, but the Government steadfastly refused to have anything to do with it. We argued that if pilots had regulated hours of work, so should air traffic controllers. The Government, however, assured us that everything was all right.

Flow control has now been introduced because of a spate of near-misses. It was public outcry and concern about what was happening that brought about flow control. The Civil Aviation Authority and the Government between them bungled the whole issue, because none of this was unexpected. The amount of traffic was expected. As late as 14 July, the Under-Secretary told me that in March the Government had been assured by the Civil Aviation Authority that there would be some restriction on the number of planes flying. I am not quite sure what the sentence means, but it says that the National Air Traffic Services anticipated an increase compared to the average delay of 10 to 15 minutes experienced in 1987."—[Official Report, 18 July 1988; Vol. 137, c. 339.] I am not sure whether the Minister was saying that the average was 10 to 15 minutes in 1987 or whether he was expecting an increase of 10 to 15 minutes this year. If it was the latter, it was clearly a misprint, because it should be 10 to 15 hours, which is what has been happening.

The problem has not been caused by an increase in traffic. The amount of charter traffic has gone up only by 2 to 3 per cent. That figure is confirmed in a brief which I am sure many hon. Members will have received from Britannia Airways. Britannia Airways claims that its experience is that by using bigger aircraft, it is running 25 to 30 fewer flights weekly than it was in 1987. There has not been a failure in terms of air traffic control and there has certainly not been insufficient runway capacity. There is plenty of that. It is not inefficient management of the current air space; it is simply that, with the equipment available, the best efficiency will not allow any more traffic to fly.

There are two sorts of solutions to the problem of the long-suffering public whose holidays are being ruined by long waits at terminals and the whole experience of flying. In the short term, we must look for solutions other than those so far proposed by the Secretary of State.

I reject night flights. They are an imposition; they transfer the agony from inside the airport terminals to those people living under the flight path. I venture to suggest that the short-term relaxation on night flights will result in permanent night flights next year. The best solution is to transfer some of the existing air space——

Mr. Toby Jessel (Twickenham)

It sounds as if the hon. Gentleman does not know that, since the relaxation on night flights, only two extra flights have gone through Heathrow instead of through Gatwick, neither of which was at night. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State listened to the representations made on behalf of the people living around Heathrow.

Mr. Hughes

I have heard extravagant claims in my life, but that takes the biscuit. The hon. Gentleman knows that night flights have not so far expanded because airlines claim that, if they fly at night, they cannot get in at the other end. It has nothing to do with his representations; it is a fact of life. I suggest that once airlines get used to the idea of flying at night, changes will be made.

We should transfer some of the space permanently reserved for military aircraft to civilian use. I believe that will provide the space needed greatly to ease the problem. That is not a novel suggestion. In West Germany, they have opened up five new air corridors because of demand. I do not see any reason why that cannot be done as a temporary measure here.

In the longer term, the tragedy is that the CAA is way behind with its investment programme. It became infected by the Government's drive for cost-cutting and it now admits that it should have asked for more money some time ago. At least it has now been converted and is willing to ask for more money. Much more money is needed, and quickly, to speed up the present computer strategy.

Mr. Keith Mans (Wyre)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hughes

No, I think not, because time is moving on very fast.

The CAA must start to bring forward its plans for expansion of the system, which it does not envisage coming into operation until the year 2000. Much must be done also to train new air traffic controllers by the use of radar simulators. I am horrified to discover that those simulators were called for as long ago as 1964, but there is still none in place.

The Government must move away from the impression that it is said they have given to the charter and airline companies: "Just take the customers' money. It does not matter what you do once you have it. Take it and expand the business, and who cares what happens after that."

I want to refer briefly—perhaps too briefly because of the importance that it warrants—to P and O's safety record. During the whole period of the P and O dispute we vigorously expressed our anxiety about the potential damage to safety because of the company's proposals. Regrettably, since P and O has been sailing its vessels again, our concern has been justified. There have been far too numerous reports about safety codes being breached and, although the Minister has said that those breaches will be examined, many people believe that they will not be examined properly.

Is the Minister aware that on 17 July there was a report in The Observer about a fire on the P and O vessel European Clearway? Is he further aware that Mr. John Douglas Ball has sought the permission of the Attorney-General to take out a private prosecution because he is so dissatisfied with the Department of Transport's lack of action? As further information is coming forward every day, would the Minister be prepared to meet seafarers with direct recent experience of P and O to ensure that all complaints are thoroughly investigated? That has to be done to allay the fears.

The prime example of the dead hand of Marsham street stifling initiative is the report by British Rail on the Channel tunnel rail services south of London.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Has my hon. Friend read the full report about John Ball and the European Clearway, which stated that the breaches of safety were so numerous that John Ball referred to them as a horrifying catalogue of breaches of safety by P and O? When there was an oil leak on the ship five weeks ago, which he reported, the people in charge said, "Stick a bucket underneath and catch the oil." A similar incident resulted in a fire. When he reported the problem, he was so disgusted that no action was taken—although a serious fire had occurred, it was dowsed—that he rejoined the strike. Is it not time that the Government wrenched themselves clear from Jeffrey Sterling and P and O, even though he handed over £100,000 for the general election campaign, and sorted out some British justice for once?

Mr. Hughes

I hear clearly what my hon. Friend says. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is rubbish."] Well, I did hear it. If my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd) catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will no doubt mention P and O in more detail.

I found the British Rail report on the possibility of dedicated lines south of London to the tunnel apathetic and timid in the extreme. The report illustrates the true extent of British Rail's demoralisation. There is no sense of urgency or initiative, and no projection that increased business can be obtained by aggressive marketing. It is all passive and reactive. It mentions the Martin Vorhiees Associates report and the SETEC report—SETC being a French group of consultants for Eurotunnel. The report says that, in certain circumstances, this will happen and that, in others, something else will happen. There is no decision about which set of forecasts it believes to be true. It ignores Eurotunnel's forecasts.

The hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) is showing me his pamphlet, but he will do his own puff on it when the time comes. BR's report ignores the Eurotunnel statistics on the grounds that they are not sufficiently detailed for reliable use. It forecasts that there might be additional growth in traffic as a result of the tunnel. The other reports say that there may be some change in business, depending on economic growth.

Having looked at all the figures, British Rail decides that it will provide for only 80 per cent. of capacity. That means that there will be 55 days when the first choice train will not be available and 28 days when there will be unsatisfied demand. That period just happens to be when we would be trying to get traffic. British Rail is already planning for overcrowding. That makes no sense, and it ought to do something about it.

If British Rail cannot bring itself to consider the matter with some inspiration, what hope is there for the future? Under the heading "Financial Evaluations," at paragraph 13.3 of its report British Rail says: The results of the financial evaluations indicate that:—

  1. (a) There is no financial case for providing extra route or terminal capacity in association with the MVA forecasts until well into the twenty-first century."
If BR does not have the initiative, gumption and go to see what is happening south of London, what hope is there for those of us who saw the Channel tunnel as an engine for regeneration of economies in the north of England and Scotland? None at all. On the same day as the report is published, we are blandly told in a press release that there will be another 18 months of consultation with local authorities to see what might be done for services to the north.

It is time that BR stopped being so negative and acquiescent to Government policies without so much as a whimper of protest. Of course, the Secretary of State will say that the picture is not all bad. I can see forming in his mind the words "Heathrow rail link", because he thinks that that is a good one to bring out. The Secretary of State may be preening himself on approving BR's participation in a joint venture with the British Airports Authority for a fast, direct link and glorying in the attraction of private capital.

The press release gives the impression that it is all the result of an independent study by consultants and that the right hon. Gentleman is accepting proposals, but that impression is not the whole truth. The report—the "Heathrow Access Study"—by Howard Humphreys and Partners in association with others, gives the game away, on page 64, when it says: The most favourable option of those considered during the final stage of this Study ultimately depends on the Government's objectives. If the sole objective were financial viability, it is fair that any of the schemes considered could be chosen, at a suitable fare level. If the object were to improve travelling times and conditions for all users of public rail transport to the airport, the LUL solution is the only one that meets that condition … But the analysis we have performed … demonstrates clearly that, if what is required is a scheme which:

  • —is financially viable;
  • —is attractive to providers of private capital;
  • —increases consumer choice;
  • —benefits the maximum number of people and attracts passengers off the roads"
But there is a contradiction. The report states clearly that the best solution to the general travelling public is that of London Underground Ltd. The report continues: then the option which seems substantially the best"— not the best— is the proposal which BR/BAA have developed. On the basis of our own understanding of the Government's objectives we would therefore recommend that this proposal is the one that should be taken forward. It is not the best. The recommendation is made on the basis of what the consultants think the Government want. That is the problem—the Government are not interested in service or objective criteria. They are interested in sheer dogma. The only solution is that which attracts private capital. Nothing else matters. As long as that is what determines the service that is provided, the public will suffer delays and hardship and, ultimately, I believe that their safety will be imperilled as well.

7.37 pm
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Paul Channon)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'congratulates the Government on its success in developing and implementing policies to provide the public and industry with an efficient transport system, giving both value for money and an improved quality of service; welcomes the increased investment in transport infrastructure which is accompanying a reduction in the burden on the taxpayer; applauds the increasing involvement of the private sector in transport projects; and reaffirms the Government's overriding commitment to the safety of travellers.'. Although there was not much with which I agreed in the speech made by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), there were two things. The first is that I also would like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir. D. Mitchell) for his magnificent services to the Department of Transport and to the Government. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North for his comments at the beginning of his speech. The only thing about which I should like to correct the hon. Gentleman is that my hon. Friend left for private reasons. We would have loved to keep him for a great deal longer. He will be sorely missed.

The second respect in which I agree with the hon. Member for Aberdeen. North is that I also would like to welcome my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr. Portillo) as Minister of State. Since I have been in the House, all hon. Members from Southgate have been close personal friends. I think that my hon. Friend will make a magnificent contribution to the Department.

Mr. Skinner

Watch him-he will stab the right hon. Gentleman in the back.

Mr. Channon

This concern for me is very kind.

In our previous debate, the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North said that I would last 173 days. I have lasted a little more than that, but we shall see how we get on.

The motion asks us to condemn what it calls the Government's irresponsible transport policies". I do not think that it is irresponsible to start, as the Government do, with a clear understanding of what constitutes a good transport system—one which is affordable, reliable, efficient and convenient. It must be designed, built and operated with proper respect for the environment, and, above all, it must be safe.

Nor is it irresponsible to draw a clear distinction between those features of a good transport system which are the proper concern of the Government and those which are not. I think that it is the job of Government to set standards of matters of safety and the environment. It is our job to ensure that the nation has a proper transport infrastructure, but that does not mean that every new project has to be funded by the taxpayer and approved in Whitehall. It is our job to ensure that there is free and fair competition between transport operators. After that, it is up to operators to provide the service that the public want, at a price that the public are prepared to pay.

I understand that Opposition Members may not like such an approach to transport policy. They hanker after the old days of interventionism, central planning, state finance, monopolies, and regulation of this and that—in fact, all the old stuff that we had in the past.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)


Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)


Mr. Channon

Here they are: regulators every one, subsidisers the lot. I cannot give way to both hon. Gentlemen, so I shall give way to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks).

Mr. Banks

Will the Secretary of State accept that where transport operators are competing for finite

Mr. Channon

I shall deal with roads in a moment. Before I finish, I want to deal also with rail investment and with investment in the Underground which, when the hon. Gentleman was one of the leaders of the Greater London council, he was so scandalously incapable of providing —[Laughter.]

Mr. Banks

Come outside and I will take you all on.

Mr. Channon

You may have to regulate the hon. Gentleman, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)

My right hon. Friend has laid down as the criteria for public transport, what the public want and what they are prepared to pay. Does he agree that there is another factor in the equation— provided that that transport does not have detrimental effects on other members of the public?

Mr. Channon

My hon. Friend will recall that I said earlier that environment was a crucial factor. I agree with my hon. Friend and I suspect that I know what he is getting at. I strongly recommend the House to read my hon. Friend's booklet, which should be required reading for every hon. Member. We may have an exam later.

I turn first to the Opposition motion. At least the part relating to maintaining safety standards will be common ground between us. The House must face up to the fact that the most serious safety problem that we have to tackle is road transport. Let us consider the facts. Over 5,000 people were killed on Britain's roads last year. Compared with air travel, motorists run 16 times the risk of being killed; cyclists run 170 times the risk; and motor cyclists about 440 times the risk. It is true that Britain's roads are among the safest in Europe, but I do not derive all that much comfort from that. There are far too many avoidable accidents on our roads and their economic cost and cost in terms of human suffering is unacceptable.

Therefore, we have set ourselves the firm target of reducing the number of deaths and injuries on Britain's roads from 300,000 per year to 200,000 per year by the end of the century. We are taking action on several fronts to achieve that. We are putting emphasis on bypasses and orbital routes to divert traffic around towns which are where 70 per cent. of all road accidents take place. We are working with local authorities to improve road layouts in towns and are diverting more effort into research into the causes of accidents and how to prevent them.

Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh)


Mr. Channon

I shall give way to my hon. Friend, but this is the last time, because I must get on.

Mr. Holt

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that one of the most dangerous roads in this country is the A1 north from Doncaster? There is no major motorway to the north-east of England. If my right hon. Friend is seriously interested in cutting deaths, he should give us the motorway for which every political party and every local authority in the north of England is asking.

Mr. Channon

I understand my hon. Friend's concern, which he has often expressed to me. Naturally, we shall consider any representations that he makes and we certainly wish to improve the roads in his part of England. I take note of his representations on that important matter.

We have been accused today of being irresponsible about safety. At this very moment, our current motorway safety campaign is in operation. The police are dealing severely with motorway accidents caused by bad driving and are deeply concerned about their prevention. Our main task must be to ensure that we have the right laws and that they are being obeyed. Today we published our interim response to the 137 recommendations of the North report on road traffic law. We accept the conclusion that the offence of reckless driving should be redefined. We agree that drinking drivers who cause fatal accidents must be punished appropriately. We agree that the penalty points system needs rethinking and we agree in principle to the use of video cameras to detect speeding and traffic light offences. We are pursuing the question of insurance policies against disqualification. We shall now consult the police and other interested parties, and I shall publish our final conclusions as soon as I can.

I turn now to a point which the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) specifically raised—the question of ferry safety. Mr. Justice Sheen's report made a number of recommendations which we are putting into effect——

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)

As regulations?

Mr. Channon

Yes, as regulations. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman wants to support us—[Interruption.] Thank you very much. I am most grateful, and I am glad to hear it.

Regulations are already in place, dealing with some of the key issues raised in the Sheen report—including the procedures to be followed to ensure that ferries do not sail with loading doors open. Other regulations have been drafted and will be brought forward. I am determined that the regulations should be right and I am sure that the House will agree that ill-thought-out regulations will benefit no one——

Mr. Skinner

The Secretary of State is in Sterling's pocket.

Mr. Channon

The hon. Gentleman always says that. I shall ask him who the treasurer of the Labour party is. I suppose that the hon. Gentleman is in the pocket of the treasurer of the Labour party—[Interruption.]—and not only in the pocket, but in the flat of the treasurer of the Labour party——

Mr. Skinner

In case the Secretary of State wants reasonable, proper and precise information, I can inform him that I am one of the people who has nominated somebody to oppose the treasurer of the Labour party —namely, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang).

Mr. Channon

I never thought that gratitude was the hon. Gentleman's most conspicuous quality.

Opposition Members have repeated various allegations that the ferries are being operated unsafely. That is simply not so.

Mr. Terry Fields (Liverpool, Broadgreen)

It is true.

Mr. Channon

It is not. Marine surveyors have inspected each P and O ferry before its return to service and have made random spot checks thereafter. They have always found the vessels to be carrying a full complement of properly qualified seafarers. Opposition Members are themselves guilty of irresponsibility in this. During our last debate, the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) made numerous allegations about safety matters. None of them has been followed up.

Our approach is the responsible one. Where necessary, we will certainly prosecute if offences are committed. I am already prosecuting in the case of the Horsa. I am not prepared to join the Opposition in a mud-slinging session in furtherance of an industrial dispute with people who pretend to be impartial, but are fresh from their triumphs, campaigning on the picket lines as the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) was this morning. If offences are committed, we shall certainly prosecute. If there are not—[Interruption.] Yes, I am prosecuting the Horsa at present.

Mr. Tony Lloyd (Stretford)

What about the Herald of Free Enterprise?

Mr. Channon

The hon. Gentleman entirely misunderstands the situation, and I believe that he does so wilfully. It is for the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide.

Mr. Lloyd


Mr. Channon

The hon. Gentleman can go on saying, "Ah", until he is blue—or should I say red?—in the face.

I repeat what I have told the House on many occasions. We shall not hesitate to tackle any offences that are brought to our attention, and reasonable Opposition Members know that to be the case.

I turn now to air safety, which is a major issue, which I want to put in its proper perspective [Interruption.] Surely the House is interested in air safety. I want to quote some statistics—[Interruption.] Well, not as quick as the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend.

Over the 10 years from 1978 to 1987, there was one death for every 3.6 billion passenger kilometres flown on British aircraft. That record compares favourably with any other form of transport. I want to quote the statistics, although they are bound to be taken by some as evidence of complacency, which they are not. Complacency would be a sign of real irresponsibility, but it is just as irresponsible to sow unnecessary alarm among the travelling public. Therefore, I want to give the exact facts.

Reports of risk-bearing air misses have dropped from 45 in 1977 to 13 in 1987. Of course there is an element of subjective judgment, but the. reporting criteria have not changed and the trend is clear. It is not only a British experience but a worldwide one. I am sure that the House would want to reassure the travelling public, and our main task is to ensure that the air safety trend is sustained. Improvements in aircraft design will probably be the major contributing factor, but the European Community harmonisation of airworthiness certificates will be a significant step forward.

The Civil Aviation Authority plans to introduce a ground-based "conflict alert" system by next summer covering all aircraft flying above 25,000 ft, and it is starting trials on airborne collision avoidance systems this year. In all of that, the CAA has the support of my Department and I am determined to support its efforts to improve air safety. For that reason, last year the CAA introduced the system of flow control in response to growing demands on air space. It is extremely important that the House appreciates that demand.

I see no reason why air safety should not continue to improve, but we must not cut corners on safety to relieve congestion at airports.

Mr. Spearing


Mr. Channon

I am sorry, but I must press on.

The House will be aware that air transport has increased in recent years by an enormous amount. Increases in demand were anticipated and catered for by Governments and operators. However, the rapid growth on some routes, especially to Greece and Spain, took every European aviation authority by surprise.

There is no overall shortage of capacity at airports or among airlines. Europe's air traffic control system can accommodate normal traffic levels easily enough. They can even handle the abnormally high traffic levels that are experienced on the most popular routes at peak periods. However, there is little capacity to spare if something goes wrong.

European countries are dependent on each other's air traffic control systems. A problem in one system, whether caused by an industrial dispute or a technical hitch, has an immediate impact on other systems. In recent weeks, we have seen the consequences of that all too clearly.

Everyone understands the frustrations caused by long delays at airports. No one saves up to spend their holidays at Gatwick or Luton; they want to get off to Greece, Spain or wherever. We shall do all we can to help, but there are a number of things that we cannot do. We cannot sort out other countries' strikes, nor must we subject people living near airports to a night flights free-for-all. I was grateful to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North for his remarks about that. Above all, we cannot compromise on safety. Within those constraints, we are doing everything possible to alleviate congestion.

As a first step—my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) referred to this a moment ago —I have changed the traffic distribution rules so that charter operators can take advantage of spare capacity at Heathrow, on a temporary basis, to help holidaymakers who face hardship. That has already happened.

I have also asked the CAA to report to me on various matters relating to airport use and capacity. I have asked for an interim report in the autumn, when the Select Committee's report should also be available, followed by a full report later. Among the issues on which the CAA will have to report to me are sectorisation, discrimination against general aviation and the priority given to larger aircraft. They are difficult issues.

In the long term, we must increase our air traffic control capacity. The CAA plans to implement its new central control system by the mid-1990s, as part of its £250 million investment programme. It has the Government's full support in that—we have never yet blocked any CAA investment. However, it takes time to phase in a new system, while maintaining a 24-hour service that must be perfect all the time.

Air congestion is not a purely, or even primarily, a British problem. It is a European problem, to which we must find European solutions. The CAA took the lead in establishing a "hotline" that will help Europe's air traffic controllers to improve traffic flows. We have made British equipment available to our German colleagues to help them to participate. We have used our presidency of the Commission to move Eurocontrol into more effective action. To be truly effective, however, Eurocontrol needs to bring together all the nations concerned. Greece has just taken the decision to join Eurocontrol and last week I wrote to Transport Ministers in Denmark, Italy and Spain urging them to do likewise. I have also spoken this morning to my German counterpart about ways of improving co-operation between us.

The Government and the CAA are working together to find practical solutions to the problem of congestion. Airspace is, in the last analysis, a finite resource, but I am convinced that we could make much better use of it than we do at present. We must get much better co-ordination between the air traffic control authorities of Europe. In the next few weeks, I shall devote a great deal of attention to that.

Sir Anthony Grant (Cambridgeshire, South-West)

Will my right hon. Friend discuss with Defence Ministers, and possibly his European colleagues, whether there is a possibility of European military using rather less space and making more available for civilian purposes?

Mr. Channon

I have discussed that with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. My hon. Friend will be aware that one of the advantages of our system is that it is a joint one operating between military and civilian aircraft for the control of air traffic space. That gives us certain advantages that are not available to some other countries.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North has criticised us for having an irresponsible transport policy, but we have done more for transport infrastructure than any other Government in our history. Since 1979, we have added nearly 800 miles of new trunk roads and motorways.

Mr. Tony Banks

Why not repair the ones that we have?

Mr. Channon

We are going to do that too. When the Labour party left office, it left a terrible legacy of backlogs in road repairs and Underground repairs and improvements. That was the "Banks legacy".

The schemes that we have undertaken cover the whole range of improvement, from short stretches of bypass to the construction of motorways. We have increased expenditure on road building by 30 per cent. in real terms and expenditure on road maintenance has doubled.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North, in an extravagant turn of phrase, said that British Rail morale was low, but British Rail has never done better than under this Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Come on!"] That certainly is true. British Rail has undertaken major projects such as the electrification of the east coast main line. It has carried forward its programme of modernising rolling stock and, since 1983, it has opened or reopened some 80 stations. British Rail has invested nearly £2 billion since 1983 and it plans to spend about £4 billion more in the next five years. We have undertaken a far larger programme of investment in real terms in British Rail than that carried out by the Labour party when it was in office. It pays lip service to the railways when it is in office, but its investment programme in BR was negligible.

Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)

The same old story.

Mr. Channon

It is a jolly good story, and it is true and accurate.

We have secured the increase in capital investment by keeping a tight rein on current expenditure. We insist on value for money, particularly in the roads programme. Nowadays, contractors complete their work within budget and ahead of time—something that was virtually unheard of in the bad old days. We are no longer in the business of doling out grants for this and subsidies for that. Privatisation, which the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North has laughed at, has led to enormous savings. Industries that used to be dependent on the taxpayer are now paying their own way—and prospering, as the employee shareholders of Associated British Ports and the National Freight Consortium can testify.

In recent years, we have seen imaginative new solutions to long-standing transport problems. Within a few miles of this House is London's flourishing docklands community, represented by the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing). It is served by the Docklands light railway, by the Thamesline riverbus and by the City airport.

Mr. Spearing

The Secretary of State will be aware that the City airport had some problems with the CAA. Is he also aware that my hon. Friends the Members for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) and for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) and myself regarded the tests that were conducted at the weekend as invalid? The loads involved were not the same as those that would pertain when the aircraft are operating. That airport was imposed upon us by the unelected London Docklands development corporation. In the cause of safety, will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that there will be a public inquiry into all aspects of safety, particularly as the runway is close to large centres of population and projected shopping centres?

Mr. Channon

I have no application before me for any change in the present procedures. If there were any they would have to follow the normal planning procedures as the hon. Gentleman is well aware.

All the examples that I have given illustrate another important point—coming up with solutions to transport problems is no longer the exclusive preserve of the public sector. The private sector is playing a much more active role than it has done for many years. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North has already referred to the largest example of private sector finance, the Channel tunnel. That is the most significant transport project in Europe and it is being funded by £6 billion of private capital. There are other examples, and there will be more to come.

Last week I announced the new rail link to Heathrow —unlike the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North, I believe that that is the right solution. It will be largely privately financed and will provide an excellent service for those who wish to travel to the airport. Next week I shall be attending the Dartford tunnel handover, paving the way for another major private sector transport project. When such projects are brought into the reckoning, alongside Government-funded schemes, it is clear that we are seeing an unprecedented regeneration of the nation's transport infrastructure.

What a contrast there is between the picture painted by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North and Conservative party policy. The Opposition do not have a transport policy—at any rate none has been published yet——

Mr. Robert Hughes

Yes, we do.

Mr. Channon

Where is it? I looked at the Labour policy review—I spent a weary hour reading it—but there was not a word about transport policy. Transport and defence are too difficult for the Opposition to handle. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should have lunch with the Independent; then we will know his transport policy.

The Government have a clear policy based on clear principles: value for money, efficiency, investment and, above ail, safety. We are taking the decisions to put that policy into practice and developing a transport network fit for the next century. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North and his hon. Friends are living in the past. They have nothing to do with their time but criticise. They have nothing constructive to say. I hope that the House will support our amendment.

8.1 pm

Mrs. Gwynneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

I always enjoy watching Conservative Ministers sliding out from under the burden of their transport policies. They bear a strong resemblance to break dancers. The trouble is that their facility, always worth looking at, is not always terribly admirable.

Conservative party transport policy has resulted in making it difficult to get from anywhere to anywhere. That does not apply only to people sitting in airports, but to those who try to use the motorways and the train services. Tonight I shall speak briefly about two important results of Conservative policy of the past nine years. No matter how often they reel off vast numbers of statistics, the Government have no basic transport policy. They have made it clear over a number of years that they have no airport policy, either. In due course the Select Committee will report on that lack of policy. It was clear even from the Minister's speech tonight that the Conservatives are not prepared to plan to make radical plans for the numbers of people using the airports. They are even prepared to try to ignore the immediate results of their inability to face the facts.

There is a real problem with air traffic control. The Minister spoke of flow control and the difficulties at Maastricht. He spoke about the inability of all the other European nations to work together. He did not mention the inability of the Conservative Government to support European control policies, even if that was what they wanted to do. He did not point out that flow policies can at best be only a form of crisis management and were never intended to be the usual day-to-day way of organising traffic into and out of important airports. They were intended as temporary measures and, like a great many other such measures, they are turning out to be all too permanent. When the Select Committee reports, I know that it will have a great deal to say about those aspects of Government policy.

I shall deal first with the deregulation of the buses. My constituency provides a classic case of what happens when basic transport services are entered in a haphazard game of chance. When the National Bus Company was divided up, members of Cheshire county council went to the Secretary of State for Transport and told him that they had evidence that one of the main bidders—indeed, the one most likely to be selected—for Crossville Motor Vehicles Co. had a bad record of managing previous companies. The council members did not make up that information. It was based on decisions taken by the north-west traffic commissioners. When the company had operated in other parts of the north-west it had frequently had its licence to operate reduced in considerable numbers. The Minister listened to all that and said that it was not a matter for him but was the responsibility of the National Bus Company.

It became clear from answers to questions that I asked subsequently, when ATL holdings bought Crossville Motor Vehicles Co., that any problems with the reliability of that company were regarded as the responsibility of the NBC. That is the marvellous double bind. Assets can be sold in any way that people like, and if there is a problem the Minister will say it is not his fault but that of the National Bus Company, which by then no longer exists. So when we want to argue about the quality of ministerial decisions that allow such sales to go ahead, we are told that everything is the National Bus Company's responsibility.

What happened in Crewe was simple and uncomplicated. The company is doing there exactly what it has done before. First, it ran down the number of maintenance engineers. Then it sold off the maintenance garage. Thirdly, it decided to get rid of the central bus station and offer an alternative somewhere outside the centre of town. In other words, that was a classic example of asset-stripping, and that was what we said it would be before these people were allowed to bid for the assets. We predicted what would happen when the legislation went through the House—and that sort of thing has happened again and again.

The safety of passengers is of no concern to the company. If it were, it would not have been before the traffic commissioners and had its licences reduced as often as it has done. The interests of the people of Crewe and Nantwich are of no concern to the company, either, or it would not have sold off the only town centre bus station that was capable of handling the constituency's needs. Furthermore, the relationship between bus transport and other forms of transport is of no interest to the company. It is not prepared to discuss interlinking or the planning of joint services. The company is one of those that move in, buy up assets, take away as much as they can carry in both hands and then apologise for being unable to comply with the undertakings that were asked for originally, because they cannot—a classic case of the results of Conservative transport policy.

Such problems are not restricted to the buses. The other important employer in Crewe is the railway industry. Time and again we have witnessed the effects of Government policy on the railways. The railways are not important to the Government. The Secretary of State gave us statistics to prove that he had offered the railways whatever investment they wanted, but he never points out that, because the railway services must comply with wholly unrealistic financial targets, basic services are deteriorating at such a speed that most passengers experience difficulties every day——

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

Does the hon. Lady agree that the introduction of new electric locomotives on the west coast main line will enhance the service to her constituency?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I have no difficulty in encouraging the building of new locomotives. I trust that the jobs that are involved will not be handed to foreign companies—such as the Americans—or to any other companies that submit interesting but not necessarily 100 per cent. accurate estimates of cost.

When asked to examine what is happening to rail traffic in this country, an independent consultant made it clear that British Rail is planning to turn away 3 per cent. of its customers and that it is running its services in a way that is grossly unacceptable to its customers. The independent consultant NERA, working for the Rail Federation, found numerous examples of overloading and suggested, for example, that between Carlisle and Crewe the overloading factor was 200 per cent. That means expensive seats for passengers—if they are lucky. More often than not they find it impossible to travel in comfort, and they are constantly faced with rising fares and falling standards. Yet we are told not to worry because British Rail is prepared to invest a great deal.

The Channel tunnel shows the quality of planning under the Government. I went to the chairman of British Rail and pointed out that in the Crewe and Nantwich area we have an ideal site for a Customs and Excise facility and for the transhipment of goods. We were told that BR was prepared to look enthusiastically at any plans put before it. There has been no real response by British Rail to the immediate difficulties that will arise when the Channel tunnel is in operation. No decisions have been made. As far as British Rail can see, running times between London and the coast seem to be all right as long as the whole journey is within three hours.

French railways have put an enormous amount of money and effort into providing a first-class service between Paris and the coast. It will be possible to run trains through the tunnel at great speed, but when those trains reach the British coast they will have to slow down to little more than 26 or 28 mph. It seems to be difficult for British Rail to understand that passengers might not be too delighted at that. Even the plans now being suggested by British Rail do not make it clear that it is prepared to move at the speed and with the urgency that will make the difference.

I have heard that the amount of money that the French railways are prepared to invest would ensure that French trains could run as far as Ashford, at which point French railways expect that freight and people would be put on the road. That is not an unrealistic assessment, and it will begin to happen if British Rail is not prepared to improve facilities and to update running times and the provision of rolling stock and locomotives on this line. I see no signs from British Rail that it even understands the implications of this measure.

Mr. Irvine Patnick (Sheffield, Hallam)

Having looked at the corporate plan for British Rail I see that it is spending £180 million on new traction and rolling stock on the east coast line. It is also spending money on the west coast main line. To say that it is not spending money is twisting the facts.

Mrs. Dunwoody

If the hon. Gentleman reads what I said, he may understand the point. We know that no matter what British Rail says, it intends to balance the books by getting rid of thousands of railwaymen. That can hardly contribute to the safety and comfort of passengers. it also intends to balance the books in such a way that even the improvement of rolling stock will not be carried out in British Rail workshops, but will be used as a means of offering support and jobs to other countries.

To the Government, transport is way down the line in terms of investment and policies. The passenger is the last person that they are prepared to think about. Whether one travels from Manchester on the Shuttle that cannot get into London airport, or on a train that goes through Crewe and on which first-class passengers, let alone standard passengers, are not able to find seats, the reality of Conservative transport policy is less for more and under more difficult circumstances. It is not a policy of which the Government can be proud.

8.13 pm
Mr. Peter Fry (Wellingborough)

I have a great regard for the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) who said that she could not get to where she wanted to go. Much is now clear to me. She is obviously emulating the lady in the music hall song: Oh, Mr. Porter, what shall I do? I want to go to Birmingham, But I ended up in Crewe. That is a slight digression. I shall not follow the line taken by the hon. Lady. This is a short debate and it can cover everything from air misses to the quality of tea on British Rail. All that any of us can do is pick one or two subjects and try to air them. I shall restrict myself to the subject of air congestion and the need of the traveling public for an adequate transport infrastructure.

The Select Committee on Transport, of which I have been a member since its inception, is currently investigating air safety and runway capacity, especially in the south-east. I cannot anticipate our report, nor can I reveal any of the information because it is not generally made public at this stage. However, I must comment on the debate that is now raging on who is to be blamed for the congestion and delays experienced by so many people, particularly those who want to go on holiday.

I should make it quite clear that the blame is most definitely not to be laid at the door of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. It is his duty to respond to the advice given to him by the Civil Aviation Authority and it is the duty of the CAA so to advise. As he said, he recently requested an early response from the CAA on its suggestions about how the present situation may be eased. He had to ask for that response, and that is significant. Clearly, before the crisis that built up this summer, he did not have the advice that he needs, and that is why he had to ask for it.

Secondly, and perhaps surprisingly to some people, the problems are not the sole fault of the present chairman of the CAA—[Interruption.] I said, not the sole fault of the chairman of the CAA. Mistakes have been made in the past, and as he is the current front man he has to take the criticism. In due course the Select Committee may pronounce on the CAA's share of the responsibility. However, it is worth quoting to the House at least two of its defences. First, the CAA is not responsible for the actions of foreign air traffic controllers and, secondly, it does not arrange the schedules of the various airlines.

It is also untrue to say that no responsibility at all should be attached to any airline for the present congestion. The schedule set by some operators of four or five return flights per day by one plane would be testing enough at any time of the year. Given the kind of congestion that occurs in the summer peaks, some airline scheduling has been more than optimistic and on the verge of being foolhardy. This problem has not been uniformly shared because delays have arisen with some companies far more than with others. When the CAA and the Government come to consider solutions to alleviate problems that may arise next year and in the ensuing years, tight scheduling must be investigated.

The main reason for congestion at our airports is simply the increase in demand about which my right hon. Friend spoke. It is not true to say that the rise in demand was clearly seen by all the airlines even last year. We must ask why the increase has taken place. It is simply because more of our people are better off and more of them can afford to fly, often more than once a year. Therefore, the problem is of economic success and widespread affluence —not the kind of picture of the United Kingdom in 1988 that the Opposition try to paint. This picture of affluence applies throughout transport. That is why 2.3 million new vehicles took to the roads in 1987 and why projections show that by the year 2000 car ownership will increase by about 20 per cent. to 25 million. Traffic could increase even more as people use their vehicles more regularly.

Congestion on our roads raises the question of road safety. I shall insert a caveat here, because, while it is absolutely legitimate for us to be anxious about this matter, we must put it in perspective. Road deaths today are only 13 per cent. higher than they were in 1926 and we have 10 times the number of vehicles on our roads. Even in the past 12 years road deaths have been reduced by 20 per cent., while vehicles have increased by 22 per cent. One reason for the improved record on our roads is that we have a far better motorway network than for many years. That brings me to my main point.

The increased demand for transport that we are experiencing will mean that a better and more sophisticated infrastructure is needed. An inadequate infrastructure will only lead to more accidents. Accidents on our roads are often due to the sheer frustration that many motorists experience after being in long traffic jams or to being unable to overtake on inadequate roads.

Mr. Skinner

Give us some infrastructure.

Mr. Fry

Of course, there will be those who say that the road safety measures that we have at the moment still need tightening up. Perhaps they are right,; such measures are an inadequate answer to the congestion that we are facing and to the frustration being experienced by some road users.

I say to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, who I understand will reply to the debate—I hope he will take my remarks as well-intentioned—that sometimes, when he is quoted in the media, his comments suggest that road safety measures can, perhaps achieve rather more than they can, and the main obligation to provide more roads sometimes tends to be lost. That is why some people perhaps criticise him rather unfairly.

Greater road safety alone cannot be a sufficient answer. Of course we can say that lower speeds will reduce accidents. We can produce statistics to show that a speed limit of 50 miles per hour will produce fewer accidents than a speed limit of 70 miles per hour, but we could reduce that argument to an absurd level. A traffic speed of one mile per hour would produce very few accidents. On the other hand, the effect upon our economy would undoubtedly be disastrous. We cannot all go by train, because the trains do not always go where we want to go. That is sometimes forgotten by protagonists in this area.

Our journeys today are becoming increasingly diverse and sophisticated. The sheer congestion on the roads is opening up great opportunities for rail, and light rail, and that challenge is to be met by British Rail and local authorities in the immediate future.

I am not convinced that random breath testing will be approved by those who experience it, quite apart from the people who answer opinion polls on the subject.

Mr. Skinner

Said he, with first-hand experience.

Mr. Fry

Let me tell the hon. Gentleman that I have been breath-tested on the motorway and was found to be totally clear; but it is not a pleasant experience to go through, and many innocent motorists will reject random testing on the ground that it is an intrusion into their personal liberties.

If the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) wishes to make a speech, perhaps he can catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, in the normal way. I am sure that if I sat and spoke to him while he was speaking, the House would not think that that was the way to conduct its affairs.

Mr. Skinner

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Fry

I would not give the hon. Gentleman anything, even the time of the day.

Mr. Skinner

Very droll.

Mr. Fry

I hope that the Government, despite the pressure from some sources of the media and other lobbies, will not allow completely random testing.

The traveller's safety does not depend on road safety measures alone. Much depends, whether we travel by road, rail or air, on an adequate infrastructure. Our people will travel more, and more often. They can afford it, and it is the Government's responsibility to assist them. I praise the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State because he has clearly seen the need for the better service that is being demanded. To his great credit, he has clearly seen that it is unlikely that the Treasury will provide sufficient public funds to provide that infrastructure in full. That is why I applaud his efforts to encourage people to talk and to become involved in the private funding of various transport projects. The Channel tunnel, the Dartford bridge, the City airport and the new Heathrow railroad are all excellent, but we must regard them only as a start.

Mr. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)

Is my hon. Friend aware that many of my constituents and many people living in Leicestershire hope that private funding can be found to electrify the midland main line to Sheffield?

Mr. Fry

My hon. Friend knows that I am a joint Chairman of the all-party Committee concerned with that subject, and that the Committee shares his view.

Mr. Skinner

Speak for the midland main line electrification.

Mr. Fry

We shall try to avoid the hon. Gentleman's constituency.

The public are demanding a higher standard of service and the Government are finding it increasingly difficult to finance it entirely from state funds. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has my full support in examining every possible scheme for the involvement of private money and private risk-taking. We should look beyond just building new bridges or new airports by private finance, because we must consider how we shall obtain better public transport in our cities, better through communications and more motorways, by-passes and access roads.

Not all the schemes put forward will be financially viable, but many urban roads will give much better access and open up areas of redevelopment, which will be highly profitable to developers. Surely those same developers who will make the profit should therefore be expected to make a greater contribution to new road building. Similarly, it is essential that the Treasury's Ryrie rules, which reduce the Department of Transport's spending budget by the amount of the mixed public-private investment, must be revised and probably changed.

My right hon. Friend is entirely right to think the unthinkable in terms of transport provision, whether it be toll roads or privately funded rail extensions. He, at least, is a man of strong vision and energy, as well as being a realist. It is the Opposition's thinking on transport which appears to be stuck in a 1950s time warp, where subsidy is the sole answer. The Secretary of State is prepared to look to the future and to find any means to secure greater safety and services for the travelling public. I shall have no hesitation in supporting him in the Lobby tonight.

8.27 pm
Mrs. Ray Michie (Argyll and Bute)

First, I congratulate the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr. Portillo) on joining the Department of Transport. I congratulate also the hon. Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir D. Mitchell) on his recent honour. I am sorry to see him leave the Department of Transport. In my short time in the House I found him to be a Minister who was prepared to listen. He was always kind, courteous and helpful. I wish him well on the Back Benches.

I welcome this opportunity to take part in the debate. It is right that we should consider safety and the service to the travelling public. The condition of the urban environment has worsened during the past decade. There is greater traffic congestion—none more so than in the City of London—more air pollution and a poorer, but more expensive public transport system. Many of the deficiencies have been catalogued, such as the sight of holidaymakers stuck for hours at airports or on a motorway for two hours negotiating a three-mile contraflow. Traffic is increasing by 13 per cent. every year and the roads and motorways can no longer cope.

It is a costly and dangerous situation. We have suffered from a lack of planning, vision, foresight and political will, and successive Governments must share the blame. [Interruption.] Fundamental errors were made by cutting road maintenance programmes—[Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. I am having some difficulty in hearing the hon. Lady.

Mrs. Michie

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Fundamental errors were made by cutting road maintenance programmes in the 1970s, slashing the railway network from 17,000 to 10,000 miles, and even withdrawing the trams from our cities. What complete folly that was.

Mr. Tony Banks

I agree with the hon. Lady. Trams were one of London's great transport boons. She may not have heard, but a Conservative Member said from a sedentary position that the withdrawal of trams was a Socialist policy. The last tram journey, on which I had the great honour to travel as a babe in arms, was in 1953, when we had a Conservative Government. I just remind the hon. Lady of that because she is obviously too young to remember herself.

Mrs. Michie

I wonder who was the younger travelling on the trams. Trams were also withdrawn from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and that was a terrible mistake.

City transport is a focus for employment, education, retailing, leisure and health care. Cities must depend on transport to function, for the movement of goods and people. This vital service has a considerable impact on the quality of life of those living in the cities. Surely the challenge is to find a compromise between competing demands for mobility and a decent environment. There is no doubt that the urban environment has worsened during the last decade. As I said, there is greater traffic congestion, more air pollution and a poorer, but more expensive, public transport system. Pedestrians in particular have had a raw deal. Abused by motorists and intoxicated by exhaust fumes, they need standards of Olympian fitness, or the mentality of moles, if they are to use some of the pedestrian bridges or subways.

The result is that our environment has deteriorated and our standard of living has suffered accordingly. Nowhere is that more true than on the streets where we live. It is our children who have suffered most as a consequence. Because of the dangers of excessive traffic, which is often allowed to travel far to fast, children no longer have the freedom to visit their neighbours without being escorted by an adult, let alone the freedom to play in the streets or cycle to school, and it is often only the street that they can play in because of the lack of playground facilities.

Let me say a quick word about the railways. We have never made the best use of our railways. The cuts and the colossal lack of investment have been a huge mistake. Financially British Rail may say that it is doing better, but at what cost? There is surely room now in which to improve the service to the public. The great mistake that was made was the lack of co-ordination between rail and road transport. There was no co-ordination of freight, and that was one of the failures of nationalisation. It is terrible that freight is carried up and down our roads on huge juggernauts. It should be taken by rail to freight depots spotted all over the country, and thereafter the containers taken to wherever they are required. If containers can be taken on and off ferries, they can be taken on and off trains. That is not a problem.

We have referred to the loss of trams. I hope that the Minister will encourage the expansion of the light rail transit system, to improve safety and reduce congestion —we are looking for that in the midland metro light rail transit system—to relieve pollution, to allow motorists to park and ride and to allow people to shop in a traffic-free environment. The Government talk about privatisation and the private money that must accompany it, but I want to hear how that will help the integration of our transport services.

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge)

The hon. Lady may be aware that Tyne and Wear did have such integration between the light railway system and the buses, but that that has been destroyed by the Governments privatisation policy. The Government have destroyed integration and the promotion of co-ordination. Their privatisation policies led, first, to duplication, and eventually to the elimination of transport systems for the general public.

Mrs. Michie

I accept what the hon. Gentleman says. The Government must not turn their back on integration. That means planning a variety of public transport services to meet identified transport needs in such a way that passenger transfer between services is helped. Passengers should not have to wait a long time between buses, between a bus and a train or between trains. Such changes should be convenient and the ticket should be valid on both services.

However, integration alone is not a panacea. Considerable investment is required to make up for years of neglect of the public transport system. The numbers of maintenance and running staff employed need to be increased if service reliability, cleanliness and passenger safety are to be restored to acceptable levels. We are looking for a better quality service.

We have talked about holidaymakers, but I hope that Ministers and others involved will also think about the ordinary domestic travellers. I should like to see much more traffic going out of airports in the regions of England and the nation of Scotland—from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick. I hope that the Minister understands that the Scots hate having to travel to London before going on to——

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

So do the Mancunians.

Mrs. Michie

I am talking about the Scots, not about the Mancunians.

In order to understand what the general public have to put up with, Ministers, and, indeed, the Prime Minister, should give up their ministerial cars for three weeks and move 400 or 500 miles away from the House and then travel here and back twice a week. They should see how they get on with trains that leave and arrive an hour late, and aeroplanes that leave Glasgow half an hour late and circle over Heathrow for 25 minutes. The situation is diabolical. My goodness, no wonder we want a Scottish Parliament, so that we do not have to do that twice a week. I believe that the Government's amendment is very bland.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

It is a terrible amendment, not bland.

Mrs. Michie

I hope that the Government will answer many of the points that have been raised, particularly that about integrating the transport services.

8.39 pm
Mr. Terence Higgins (Worthing)

This motion takes no account of the tremendous success of the Government's transport policy in allocating massive amounts to additional infrastructure in every form of transport and in using resources more efficiently by eliminating wasteful subsidies. It is important to start from that point. I join the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie) and other hon. Members who have congratulated my hon. Friend for Enfield, Southgate (Mr. Portillo) on his new appointment. We certainly wish him well.

I also join those who have congratulated my hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir D. Mitchell), who has every reason to be pleased with and proud of his ministerial career. We have known each other for a long time. We were both selected as parliamentary candidates in the same week, and whereas I failed to get on the short list for his constituency, he got on the short list for mine. Ever since, I have noted with great interest the tremendous contribution that he has made to the House both from the Back Benches and as a Minister. I feel sure that he will continue to make a very important contribution.

I wish to concentrate on road and air transport. I begin by stressing the importance of the Government's commitment that through traffic should be taken away from towns, and I do so for important constituency reasons. The Government recently appointed a firm of consultants to look into the future route of the A27 in the Worthing area, and their proposals would effectively cut the town in two. What we need is a real bypass. At constituency meetings in recent days attended by 400, 900 and well over 1,000 people, there have been strong protests against the consultants' proposals. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will take that feeling into account and ensure that Worthing is given a real bypass, in the same way that every town and almost every village of any size on the south coast has been provided with a bypass along what will clearly be, in view of the Channel tunnel, the main east-west route for the south.

Other aspects of road transport that require particular attention concern both London and the inner cities, and motorways. The Government are doing far less then they could to facilitate road transport both in the cities and on the motorways. The present policy in London in particular needs to be carefully reviewed in respect of coaches and bus lanes. I am convinced that in many places, if not all, bus lanes seriously slow down traffic flow, and as my right hon. Friend will know, the way in which coaches are allowed to park all over the place and to interfere with traffic flow—not least disgorging passengers in the centre of Westminster bridge, with great risk of loss of life— should be carefully examined. Other proposals for improving traffic flow have proved to be disastrous—such as the Aldwych, which was the GLC's final kick before it——

Mr. Tony Banks


Mr. Higgins

No, I shall not give way.

The GLC, in its final kick, introduced a system at Aldwych that has totally fouled up the traffic every day ever since. I hope that the Government will reinstate the original arrangement at the Aldwych, which was much better than the present one. It is important that the Government take action. I feel sure that London's traffic flow can be improved, and I am glad that my right hon. Friend is establishing a specific study to examine the matter.

As to motorway traffic, I welcome the acceptance of the idea that 70 mph signs, rather than signs taking the form only of white circles with a black diagonal, should be erected on motorways, to remind motorists using them of the real speed limit. I hope that that experiment will be successful and helpful in ensuring that the speed regulations, which I believe are set at the right limits, are observed more rigorously than they are at present.

What really concerns me are the appalling hold-ups that occur on motorways because steps have not been taken to divert traffic away from a blockage. A few weeks ago, as my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will know, I suffered an appalling experience when I had to wait about 50 minutes at the junction of the M25 and the M23. That was because a machine was apparently being used to test the road surface at a time when there was a massive amount of traffic on the motorway. All that was needed was one sign at the junction warning of the blockage and directing traffic to another route. I do not believe that the delegation of authority from the Department to county councils takes any account of the need to improve motorway traffic flow, when just a little advanced planning and concentration of thought could make a tremendous difference.

I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench will seriously consider setting up a small unit within the Department of Transport that will be notified of all likely major hold-ups and then make sure that action is taken to divert traffic. The waste of resources that currently results from such confusion is often wholly avoidable. That is something on which the Government could reasonably take effective action. Having said that, it must also be recognised that the Government's road building programme is making considerable progress, and I trust that it will continue.

The other point I wish to stress concerns air traffic control. The chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority has been most unfairly criticised over situations that developed as the combined result of several industrial disputes in other countries and the extremely tight schedules set by charter operators, whereby any minor disruption of their programme results in considerable disruption. That combination was the crux of many recent problems and there was nothing that either the CAA or the Government could reasonably have done, given the situation that had been created before the present difficulties arose.

However, it is important that we should not give way to those pressure groups that argue that there should be more night flights. It would be wrong for huge numbers of people to be seriously inconvenienced by an extension of night flight schedules. We tend to express too much concern about aircraft take-offs while ignoring landings. In my constituency, I constantly receive complaints about the level of night noise. The Government have done something to divert certain routes to less populous areas, with the result that there has been an improvement.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will stand firm against those who argue for an extension of night take-offs and will also look carefully at what appear to be completely unnecessary landings at, for example, Heathrow. They disturb many people at something like 5.20 in the morning. There is no need for large numbers of people to be inconvenienced for the sake of a few hundreds' convenience.

The Government have constantly claimed—I believe this is true—that it is not lack of resources that has resulted in air traffic control problems. However, we must carefully consider whether the Government's proposals for central control functions, which are designed to help in the future, cannot be brought forward from 1995. That time horizon surely ought to be shortened, and I cannot believe that the changes envisaged are such that they need to be introduced over that length of time. We are all aware of the considerable difficulties being experienced with that part of the programme, but everything possible must be done to ensure its implementation without the kind of delay that is envisaged.

There are many other subjects on which I might be tempted to speak; in particular, in declaring my interest as a council member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists —totally unpaid, I might add. It is important that we should encourage people to engage in better training after they have passed the present test, which is not sufficiently thorough to ensure that drivers are capable of driving safely in all conditions.

I am tempted also to discuss trams, which were referred to a moment ago. I once had the pleasure of successfully moving an amendment that secured the perpetuation of trams in Blackpool. The main advantage of London trams seemed to me that they were operated by members of a different union from those who operated the buses, which meant that they did not both strike at the same time.

The Government are putting in vastly more resources than before, and many aspects of their policy are now extremely successful. I hope very much that the House will reject the Opposition motion, which is superficial and partisan and the sort of thing that we might expect at this time of year.

8.50 pm
Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)

One of the fundamental factors in any consideration of the state of transport must involve the public's view. The public appear to have little say in what happens, yet by any reasonable test of the conditions of our present transport system the number of public complaints is higher than ever, and the House should take serious account of that.

I think that for our present purpose we can ignore the transport experts, many of whom have been indifferent to public opinion. They know best. Members of Parliament are often frustrated when presenting a case involving their reaction to a legitimate public complaint. What we get is an exciting stir of indifference in the Department of Transport. When the right hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) talks of more resources being spent on transport than ever before, I cannot disagree, except to suggest that after eight years of Conservative government, the Secretary of State's excuse that he has been dealing with conditions inherited by the present Administration is beginning to wear a little thin. The public are not convinced by that kind of political observation, and it wastes time in the House. While we have perhaps improved the allocation of resources, the concern of the public about the inconvenience caused to them suggests that we have done too little, often too late.

Towards the end of his speech, the Secretary of State said that this was an excellent story. He presented the House with an excessive degree of heavy breathing. It is not an excellent story at all. Let us look at one of the four considerations in his approach to transport—safety. It is a remarkable habit of the House and indeed the country to become more keenly concerned about safety after an accident. We organise inquiries promptly, without hesitation; we wait for some months for their reports; then, as time passes, we seem to wait for the next accident.

Is the Secretary of State really satisfied with safety levels? Will he not admit that the Department has not once taken on board a semblance of responsibility for the conditions that led up to the ferry accident at Zeebrugge? We know where the real culprit is, but the Department has procrastinated. It has been lethargic about pinpointing responsibility. As I recall, most of the blame was placed on two individuals, but where does the real responsibility lie? Despite assurances in the House that something would be done about the conditions that led to the accident, we hear reports from the crews of other ferries that the same laxity prevails. One ferry went about its business, albeit within the port, with the doors open at the front where vehicles are loaded.

Is it enough to say that safety is one of our main considerations? What about the responsible reports of people who have spent a lifetime on the airways? Are the pilots wrong about near misses, or are the official reports wrong? Of whom should we take notice—the pilots who experienced a near-mishap, or the reports churned out by a tiresome bureaucracy with no personal involvement? The country is becoming involved, entirely unprofessionally, in passing the buck.

How does the House feel about roads? Last year I travelled in Europe for some 4,000 miles and never saw a single roadworks. I returned to this country and was soon sick and tired of being stopped. We want large sums to be spent on roadworks, but we have built road systems to be unable to deal with the developing traffic circumstances.

When travelling to my constituency—if I travel within the law, as I suppose I must—I can get pretty far up the road to the north-east until I come across those wonderful inhuman things called cones, or Daleks. I am stuck there until I am fed up to the back teeth. Such conditions can promote accidents, and a good deal needs to be spent to put them right.

If, however, I decide to travel by rail, what happens? I get to Darlington—as I may tomorrow evening if sensible people on both sides of the House ensure that the vote is before 7 o'clock—but I then cannot get a train to take me the 21 miles to my constituency. I can afford to pay for a taxi, but what about the dear old lady or the young wife with her bairns? Taxis are costly. They have to catch a bus. To reach the bus stop they have to walk for over a mile and when they catch the bus it goes in and out of little villages and they have a very long ride.

This country has lost a great opportunity to integrate its transport system to meet the requirements of the public—not the requirements of politicians who have allowances and who can ride in their cars. We are not meeting the requirements of the public, because we have never measured up to the great economic benefits that an integrated transport system would provide. We had such a system in Tynemouth. We could get on and off the metro, using the same ticket. Because the bus system was integrated, people could move quickly within the area and, better still, get home quickly. That was stopped. Obeying the orders of the House, I had to chair the Committee on the Bill that led to the deregulation of transport. The result is that even in the smallest towns, six or seven buses are now fighting for customers.

Mr. Clelland

When I put that point to the Secretary f State for the Environment, he replied that deregulation had led to buses queuing for people instead of people queuing for buses. If that is the Secretary of State's view of efficiency, it is no wonder that our transport system is in such a mess.

Mr. Leadbitter

I can think of no better way to round off my contribution than with my hon. Friend's intervention. I had decided to speak only for a short while. I look at the clock and, out of respect for other hon. Members, both before me and behind me, I shall sit down.

9.1 pm

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Crawley)

I agree with the point that the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter) made about safety. Concern about safety should always be at the forefront of our minds. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman agrees with me that no Secretary of State for Transport, or his Ministers, could operate a successful transport policy without having the needs of the public at the forefront of their minds. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is disappointing that safety matters are not aired in this House as often as they should be and that they are always aired after a sad and tragic event. We have had our bellyful of such events this year.

I join in the paean of praise to my hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir D. Mitchell). He always took the trouble to listen to what hon. Members on both sides of the House had to say about transport matters. He dealt with us all with great courtesy and effectiveness. The Government will be the poorer without him. However, the Department of Transport will be greatly enriched by the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr. Portillo). Within a short period he brought a unique distinction to his ministerial office. We congratulate him and wish him success in his new office.

The quite exceptional growth in the economy and the real earnings that have gone with it have enabled more people to travel—and a very good thing, too. However, considering the history of economic growth in this country, it is hardly surprising that the Department of Transport and other Departments with responsibility for forecasting traffic growth have not got their sums right. Because of the very heavy burdens that he has recently had to bear, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State of Transport will be more aware than anybody else of the fact that the forecasting errors that have been made in the past of traffic on the roads and in the air are unacceptable and must never be allowed to happen again, in so far as it is possible to prevent them.

I intend to deal with two separate transport matters —aviation and roads. The British aviation industry is one of our great economic success stories. The transformation of British Airways under the exceptional leadership of Lord King and Sir Colin Marshall, the remarkable efforts of people such as Michael Bishop of British Midland Airways Ltd., of Harry Goodman of Air Europe, of Peter Villa of British Island Airways and of Britannia, Dan-Air and many others, has resulted in an explosion of activity. It has provided much employment and prosperity for people all over the country. Long may it continue, and broader may it spread.

The people who run the airlines and the people who work in them must realise that the great, substantial and happy successes must be balanced with crucial environ-mental considerations, which are of the greatest importance to people who live near airports. The British Airports Authority, under Sir Norman Payne, has made a brilliant start in the private sector and has confounded all the horror stories that those of us who served—I shall not say, had the fun of serving—on the Standing Committee that considered the Airports Bill heard forecast for it. The BAA has gone from strength to strength. Heathrow and Gatwick are now the two busiest international airports in the world and the BAA team runs a successful and splendid enterprise, which is expanding its interests handsomely and successfully overseas.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his colleagues have more than done their bit. They have done a remarkable job in liberating air transport, both domestically and internationally, and they have done an excellent job in trying to achieve that important balance between environmental concerns and commercial success.

We are now in substantial and considerable difficulties. The problems of growth in this area, as in so many others dealt with by the Government today, are proving even harder and more intractable to manage than were the problems of decline before 1979. There is very serious congestion at airports and there are unsatisfactory delays for passengers, which are quite unacceptable. Many of the reasons for those delays are entirely unconnected with this country. The Greeks, Spaniards and French have all done their best to ruin holiday travel for our people. It is a Europewide problem, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said. The problem must be addressed on a European scale because it is not simply a British problem.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State must ensure that the directors of each international air traffic control system have their heads collectively banged together until there is a unified system over western Europe. As sure as eggs are eggs, 1992 will bring a greater demand for travel and that must be dealt with before the impact of the open market.

The remarks made by some hon. Members about the Civil Aviation Authority and its chairman and management two weeks ago were, frankly, disgraceful. I am ashamed to say that the rent-a-crowd on the Conservative Benches were largely responsible. I want to place on record my unreserved admiration for the way in which the chairman of the CAA and Keith Mack, the head of air traffic control, are coping with particularly intransigent and difficult problems. I visited the air traffic controllers in my constituency the other day and I was exhausted by watching them. They do a brilliant and highly complex job under very demanding conditions, and the most onerous and appalling responsibilities rest on their shoulders. A great deal needs to be done to improve working practices in that organisation, but huge investments have been, are being and will continue to be made in air traffic control equipment, as I am assured by the Government.

All that is happening after the horse is almost out of the box. What can be done? My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is already dealing with the problem in the European dimension. I suggest that he gets hold of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and that he shakes from that appalling sink of waste every inch of military air space that he can prise from it. It is ridiculous that in 1988, when the most modern facilities for controlling air traffic exist, the military should insist on retaining in so many areas of this country vast acres of air space that are completely unnecessary for their own requirements and would greatly assist my right hon. Friend's problems.

Decisions in respect of future licences, runways, terminals and technical investments must be made, as they have been in the past, but particularly from now on, in the context of a national and international strategy for air transport.

I now turn briefly to roads. No one can deny the Government's right to claim credit for a very handsome increase in spending on the roads programme since 1979. But that is self-evidently not enough. My constituents and millions of others are daily deeply frustrated and greatly angered by road chaos. On this, as on so many matters in relation to infrastructure spending, we can and must do better.

Finally, I wish to make two key points. The public transport services require, first and foremost, far more effective direction and use of those who work in them and the resources for which they are trustees. Services must adapt to the requirements of the travelling public. My final point to my right hon. Friend is that efficiency is about doing what is right, but effectiveness, which is the true management task, is about doing the right things, as Peter Drucker said.

We must continue to invest at ever-increasing levels in the transport infrastructure of this nation if we are to begin to keep up with our continental neighbours.

9.12 pm
Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

The question that has to be posed is: do the Government have an overall policy for adequate transportation systems to meet the present and future needs of the nation, taking into account convenience, cost, safety and service? It is patently obvious that they do not. I wonder whether it is the Government's desire to encourage everyone to stay at home, as it is becoming very difficult to travel anywhere without experiencing considerable discomfort, frustration, strain, stress and worry travelling by road, rail, sea or air.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) on securing the debate as half of the Opposition Supply day debate today. Were it left to the Government, we would never have a transport debate in the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) boasted about travelling as a baby on the last London tram in 1953. I believe that I can go one better, having worked for two years as a tram conductor in Glasgow until the last tram ran there in 1962.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir D. Mitchell) on securing his knighthood, and the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr. Portillo) on his appointment to the Ministry of Transport. I sincerely hope that he will prove to be a good Minister, particularly in relation to public transport.

I declare an interest as a Member sponsored by the Transport and General Workers Union and also as the Chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Transport. As the House is aware, at present the Select Committee is in the middle of an inquiry into air traffic control safety and runway capacity. Therefore, I feel that it would be most improper for me to make any comment on those matters. Suffice it to say that I hope our report will be published in December, or very early in 1989. I sincerely hope that, as usual, it will contain a number of helpful and meaningful recommendations and possible solutions that the Government may see fit to accept.

As an individual hon. Member, I believe that the Select Committee was perfectly right to conduct such an inquiry, and it would have been failing in its duty had it not done so. The concern of hon. Members and of the general public is very well known, and we must always guard against complacency whenever and wherever it arises, especially in matters of safety.

There is a very strong link between congestion and safety, whether it be in the skies, on a crowded ferry boat, in a train, an underground train or on the roads and motorways of our country. Motorways are grossly overcrowded, yet astonishingly, as far as I am aware, the Government have no plans for a new motorway network to meet the expected increase in traffic on our roads in years to come. They should be ashamed of themselves, and even more ashamed that they opened the M25 with no service area facilities for motorists. They seem also to be unwilling to provide, or to encourage someone else to provide, proper facilities for HGV lorries, and long-distance coaches. Drivers and passengers need sufficient, decent places to stop for rest and refreshment.

Facilities for the disabled traveller are also a disgrace. For example, a recent Automobile Association survey found that, at six service areas, disabled people could not rely on getting access to any facilities. Perhaps not enough profit can be made out of the disabled traveller.

I make no apology for again referring to the A74 and to the Government's repeated failure to honour their election pledge to upgrade that road to motorway status along its entire length from Carlisle to Glasgow. It has a horrific accident record and is well known as a killer road. How many lives must be lost on the A74 before the Government do something about it?

Drunk driving is one of the most serious problems facing us today. When will the Government finally get their act together and do something about it? Call it random breath testing, discretionary testing, unrestricted testing—call it what one likes—but the public want action, and they want action now. In making the case against random breath testing, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley) said that, in other countries, only one in 200 drivers stopped is over the limit. That is a powerful argument for random tests. It suggests that people are unlikely to take a chance if they fear that there is a real risk that they will be caught.

One matter that greatly concerns me relates to motor cyclists and the terrible toll of deaths and serious injuries suffered by young bikers. Has the Secretary of State seen the admirable campaign that was recently waged by the Scottish Daily Record, which called for compulsory training before riders are even allowed on to our roads? The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton), supports the campaign. Will the Secretary of State do the same, and do the sensible thing and introduce the necessary legislation as soon as possible?

The Secretary of State should also consider a publicity campaign along the "clunk-click" campaign lines, to get all drivers to use their indicators properly. He should again consider making motorway driving a part of the driving test, and providing more resources to ensure a high-profile, marked police presence on our roads. Nothing is more effective in making us better drivers than to see a police car on the same road. He should also provide much more of the £14 billion that is derived from road users than the £3 billion provided at present. Research, maintenance and construction are all in need of substantially increased funding. The wonder is not the number of accidents that take place on our roads, but that the figures are not substantially greater.

Despite the Secretary of State's claim about investment, there are no signs of any new railway lines being built, yet the present network is greatly overcrowded in many areas and could not meet an increased demand. No serious efforts have been made to transfer traffic or passengers from road to rail. Staff shortages in the south-east mean constant gaps in services and a lack of service. Overcrowding, especially on underground trains in London, must be a safety hazard and make commuting unbearable.

Why do the Government not give British Rail all the necessary resources to tackle the problems in a proper, responsible manner, thereby benefiting the nation, industry, the travelling public and employees? The Government put profits before people. One of the saddest features of all is the short-sightedness of a Government who are not prepared to invest in long-term safety. They will long stand condemned for that fact alone.

9.18 pm
Sir Anthony Grant (Cambridgeshire, South-West)

In the short time available I should like to deal with air and road travel. I declare an interest as president of the Guild of Experienced Motorists and as an adviser to the Guild of Business Travel Agents, which is responsible for four out of five business flights out of the United Kingdom.

A top priority for both means of travel is safety. The difference between the two methods of travel is stark. There is almost hysterical excitement and anxiety when a jumbo jet has a near miss—there is wide coverage in the press and great terror—but the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing, with total loss of life, takes place every month of every year on our roads and receives nothing like the same publicity. There are 35 road casualties every hour. There have been 100 road casualties in the time that we have been debating this matter. It is no consolation to people who have suffered the misery and horror of a road accident to be told that the statistics are better than those for France or, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) said, because there are so many cars on the road, the proportion of accidents is smaller.

It is essential to concentrate on road safety, despite what my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough said, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister on his work and his attention to this matter. He has emphasised the number of deaths and misery caused by drunken driving. He always states that one in five road accidents are caused by drink, but we should not forget that four out of five are not caused by drink. So what are they caused by? In that respect I welcome the Government's support for the North report, which reviewed road traffic law.

It is right to emphasise the need for more and better roads. As my hon. Friend always says, one is safer on a motorway than on the small urban roads. I know that that is true of my constituency, where ghastly accidents occur, not on the motorways, but on the smaller roads in rural areas. The call for roads to be built is interesting. My hon. Friend the Secretary of State accused the Opposition of being big spenders, of wanting to spend big money and to subsidise, but what did they do when they were in office? They halved the road programme. Therefore, we can dismiss their view. Indeed, the whole of the motion is party political claptrap. The subject deserves much more serious debate.

There are many items in the North report that are important. First, the report is right to emphasise the distinction between major and minor road offences, which at present is somewhat blurred. The offence of recklessness is always difficult to prove in court. The muddles and the wheeler deals, in which I used to be involved when I was involved in the law, were in many ways bringing the law into disrepute. The police would throw in two charges, dangerous and careless driving, and a deal would be struck: "All right, I will plead guilty to careless driving if the dangerous driving charge is withdrawn." I am glad that the North report recommends changes that will differentiate between those two offences, because a diminution of the respect shown for the police has been encouraged by our traffic laws.

I hope that in future, the police will be able to make greater use of warnings and explanations to motorists of what has gone wrong. That would be good public relations and would be helpful to the motorist. I understand that the police can have videos in their cars, and it would be valuable if an offender could be shown on the video what he did wrong, in the hope that he would not do it again.

I am glad that there is to be greater use of technological advances, which I know my hon. Friend is studying. In Japan, heavy goods vehicles have lights that illuminate when they are travelling too fast, and that makes them easily identifiable. The greatest curse of our motorways is the wretched practice of driving too close to the vehicle in front for the conditions on the road. I am advised that it is possible to have a technological gadget—for example a light—that will show clearly that one is driving too close behind the other vehicle for the speed at which one is travelling. The Opposition have asked who will pay for that. The answer is simple. If we are sensible we will ensure, as we did with seat belts, that such gadgets are fitted to vehicles before they are put on the road. That is what must happen if we are to deal with the mayhem.

The magistrates bench is often feeble about disqualification for very bad driving, and I should like greater use to be made of the power to order the forfeiture of the vehicle. I know that it is said that most people do not drive their own vehicles, but I do not believe that that matters. There are many companies which are irresponsible about who they give a car to. They do not check whether the person to whom they are giving the keys is a good driver or sensible. It would be a salutary experience for companies if their vehicles were forfeited and they had to pay a substantial sum to get them back. They might then ensure that their drivers drove more carefully. It is, after all, commercial travellers belting about in other people's cars who are a major cause of mayhem on the roads.

I hope that appropriate measures will be applied strictly to heavy goods vehicles and coaches.

Mr. Terry Dicks (Hayes and Harlington)

Especially coaches.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Particularly when they are in the outside lane.

Sir Anthony Grant

I entirely agree with my hon. Friends. There are excellent drivers of HGVs and coaches, but, as those vehicles are much more dangerous than anything else, the drivers of them must maintain higher standards.

I entirely support what my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) said about the Civil Aviation Authority. Its chairman, Mr. Christopher Tugendhat, is an old friend and a former colleague of ours. He is a man of great integrity and ability. It is wrong to blame him for what has happened with our air traffic control. There is no doubt that we were all caught out badly in our estimate of the increase in the amount of air travel. It is rather like the M25. It is an excellent concept, but the number of users has far outstripped the number anticipated when the wretched thing was built. For air traffic, we are stuck with a problem that will be with us for a long time.

The CAA is to spend £250 million during the next five years. My view, which I am told is shared by some airlines, is that that is inadequate. I also believe that resolution of the problem, which is predicted for 1995, is likely to slip to 1997. There will be more temporary measures, such as moving charters to Heathrow. Despite what my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) said, I think it is unavoidable that some extra night flights will be used. That is regrettable.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley about the use of military airspace. I am told that the regulations that affect military airspace were laid down a long time ago, and in different circumstances. I ask my hon. Friend the Minister to consult our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, who may be able to raise the subject in NATO circles, to see whether some military airspace can be released. That would make a big difference.

Mr. Mans

Will my hon. Friend explain how the release of military airspace will solve congestion on civilian airways?

Sir Anthony Grant

The point was put to me powerfully at a meeting that I had with British Airways air traffic people. They think that if military airspace in Europe were reduced, much more would be available for civilian aeroplanes. Their view is shared by some of their European counterparts.

We are all sorry for the holidaymakers, because it is wretched for them to have their holidays ruined. However, we must remember the other important travellers who have to travel by air all year round, not just at holiday times. I am referring to the business traveller, the person who is concerned with trade for Britain and about our exports as a trading nation. He does not travel for pleasure. He has to travel day in, day out, in all circumstances to trade for Britain. Such travellers should not be inconvenienced or suffer in any way because of the failure to arrange our affairs in such a manner that scheduled flights can take priority over charters. I ask my right hon. Friends to have careful regard to maintaining the scheduled services at all costs, because they are important for the business traveller and the British economy.

The Department of Transport is often regarded as a Cinderella, but I believe that it does a first-class job. It is in the front line when there are difficulties and what it does touches on the activities of all our citizens. It has done a first-class job and I wish it well. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley) who is to reply to the debate, will have close dealings with the Department of the Environment and that there will not be any conflict with the new Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley).

9.31 pm
Mr. Tony Lloyd (Stretford)

I should like to join the assembled welcome for the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr. Portillo) and to add my commiserations to the hon. Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir D. Mitchell), who I shall miss because of the way in which he took part in the debates that we shared, with me doing the talking and him doing the listening. He did that well for the most part.

If I could give some advice to the hon. Member for Southgate, it would be to read carefully the Governments amendment to our motion and then ignore every single word in it because it is absolute nonsense, as has been borne out by speeches of hon. Members of all parties.

If things are so good, why are they so bad? Why, for example, has the road system in the City of London almost collapsed, so that the London ambulance service has now had to reduce from 95 per cent. to as low as 90 per cent. the number of calls that it expects to make within 14 minutes? That is a terrible indictment of the congestion on London's roads and of the Government's total inability to get to grips with the situation.

I remind the House that it is not that long ago that London Regional Transport was striving to attract traffic off the roads—and succeeding—that the number of accidents on London's roads fell by 3,000 per year, and that the number of cars on London's roads also decreased. That was because at that time London Regional Transport was receiving that terrible thing, a subsidy from the Greater London council and from the Treasury. Because of that subsidy, it could offer the unusual combination of a decent fare structure and passengers attracted back to public transport.

If everything is so good, why did the Audit Commission state in its recent report that since 1980 roads throughout the country have been deteriorating and that their condition is now worse than in 1977? If things are so good under this Government, why are the travelling public throughout the country totally fed up with the motorways being coned off and with being unable to travel from one part of the country to another, and why have those who used to travel on public transport deserted it? Following the great emphasis on deregulation, fewer people use public transport after deregulation than used it before.

The most important item in the Opposition motion is the part that concentrates on safety and the most damning indictment of this Government's record is their record on safety. Although this has been a wide-ranging debate, I believe that it is important to consider safety.

London Regional Transport enjoyed phenomenal success under the Greater London council when, partly in co-operation with the Labour Government and even with the Conservative Government in their early years, low fares made a real change to the fortunes of transport in London. The Government have now withdrawn the subsidy to LRT, and the 1988–89 LRT business plan admits that the London Underground and the London transport system are seriously overloaded.

In April of this year, LRT also announced that new investment, far from coming from the public to satisfy the needs of the public through taxation and other mechanisms, would lead inevitably and inexorably towards higher fares. The inevitable result will be fewer passengers travelling on the transport system—except for those forced off by the congestion on our roads.

Although the Government boast in their amendment to the motion of the increased investment in transport", there are now fewer railway cars on LRT railways than there were in 1979. There is less seating capacity on the Underground than there was in 1979. Basically, the public are being given a shabby deal as a result of lack of Government investment.

The Secretary of State always makes great play of the "caring Government" and of what they have done to improve safety. However, the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors have neglected safety on London Underground since the day they took it over from the GLC.

One of the first tasks of the new Minister for Public Transport—poor sucker—was to answer a written question from my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). My hon. Friend asked on what date his Department received London fire brigade inspection reports on the London Underground deep underground stations in 1987, and in each of the preceding five years. The answer that came back said: None were received in 1987."— or in 1986, 1985 or 1984— The last report received from the London fire brigade … was dated 10 May 1983". Surely the Department of Transport and the Secretary of State, or his predecessors, must have realised, when those reports from the fire brigade did not come through, that something had gone wrong. Surely, having nationalised London Underground, the Government appreciated that they had responsibility for safety. Once that transport system had been nationalised, the Government took away any adequate safety regime. The sure and inexorable result has been that the management, pressed to deliver cost savings and profit achievements, has ended up with poor safety conditions. That has led directly to the King's Cross fire and that is a charge that the Government will not be allowed to evade.

There have been previous fires on London Underground, at Oxford Circus and at Green Park. The reports on the inquiries into those fires were available, yet, despite its importance, no steps were taken to ensure the safety of the travelling public in London. That should have been the Government's prime concern and that is a charge that I am levelling against the Government. It is the greatest hypocrisy for the Government to argue that safety is at the forefront of their decision-making.

The most important concern relates to the safety of the ferries that ply between our coastal ports and France— that is a growing sore. The charge that such ferries are unacceptably vulnerable to capsize has been made by people with professional competence and of the highest international repute. That warning has come from the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, from those who suffered a bereavement as a result of the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise, and from the Herald Families Association. On each occasion, the Government's response has been that they have taken all kinds of measures to introduce regulations for ferries. They have at no time addressed the basic problem—the ability of such ferries to capsize.

During the passage of the Merchant Shipping Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) and I pointed out the problems of fatigue. In every comparable industry, whether the air service or road haulage industry, there are specific limits on the hours of work that can be undertaken by or allowed for any operative. We pointed out that navigation at sea was an exception in that respect and that the Government had already committed themselves to bringing in legislation on fatigue.

We were told by the then Minister of State, and again on Report, that the Government intended to do nothing about bringing in maximum permitted hours of work for the merchant marine. We did not twig why—that it was a prelude to the introduction of new working conditions by P and O and that if the Government had brought in those acceptable hours of work they would have ruled out the introduction of the new blue book regime which was brought in by P and O and which has done so much damage to the ferry industry——

Mr. David Shaw (Dover)

The final terms were red book, not blue book, terms.

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Gentleman stood before the House some months ago and described how P and O had listened to people like him and had brought in the red book to amend the blue book—but it has ratted on that agreement and brought in the blue book. There are people on its ferries who operate under blue book conditions.

I want to quote some interesting comments made by personnel of P and O, the kind-hearted company whose only aim is to make an honest buck and to ensure the safety of it passengers. The company was described by Lord Justice Sheen thus: From top to bottom the body corporate was infected with the disease of sloppiness. So much has changed that the Dover personnel manager of P and O European Ferries, a Mr. Chaston, was observed by members of NUMAST in negotiation with him to say: P and O cannot be seen as putting forward any reduction in manning. Any such changes must come from the union as the company cannot afford to be held responsible for accidents. He was not saying that the company did not want reductions in manning; he was happy to have them. But he was saying P and O would not accept responsibility for any more accidents caused by what he knew—so much is implicit in his comments—were unsafe manning levels. That is what P and O is up to.

This is the same P and O which, as we have already heard this evening in the case of the vessel European Clearway, allowed operating conditions that defy categorisation as acceptable. P and O has denied none of these charges yet. The Secretary of State told us that he was prepared to prosecute in the event of unacceptable conditions at sea, but that the Herald of Free Enterprise is unfortunately out of his hands. Will he give a guarantee that, if the charges about the European Clearway made by motorman John Ball are proven, rather than allowing him to pursue a private prosecution, he will take all possible steps to ensure that Jeffrey Sterling and his company are brought before the courts to answer for the unacceptable safety standards on their vessels?

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the position of the European Trader? I have already raised this matter with him. On the night when there was a fire on board the European Trader, an exchange took place between the vessel and the coastguard, who said: Please listen to me on Channel 80 and Channel 16. The vessel's radio operator replied: We do not have enough men to monitor on both channels. The Secretary of State is not an able seaman—no more am I—but we both know that it is vital in such an emergency that monitoring should take place on both channels. On that occasion it did not, because there were not enough men on board. The right hon. Gentleman's departmental inspectors allowed that to happen. I can provide—I have provided—the Secretary of State with the names of witnesses; will he guarantee that if the charge is proven he will prosecute P and O for that?

Will the Secretary of State, through the Under-Secretary, tell us about the charge that surfaced this morning about the European Trader? On the night when the fire was raging and the crew went in to put it out, they were issued with gear to prevent them from being burned, and with breathing masks. They found that the oxygen cylinders for the breathing masks were empty, so they had to depart and find substitutes before going back to fight the blaze. Any observer would recognise that that delay might have caused a major tragedy which fortunately—no thanks to P and O or the Government—did not take place. Will the Secretary of State guarantee that charges will be laid against P and O if that incident is proven? I invite the Under-Secretary of State to respond to that, because clearly the Secretary of State does not intend to move.

The Government often claim that they are the victims of the success of their policies. That success is reflected in airports that have people lying all over the place and in traffic queued up for miles on our motorways and in the streets of London. The real victims of the Government's success are those who died on the Herald of Free Enterprise and at King's Cross. The Opposition will not allow the Government, who claim that they care for safety standards, to escape responsibility for those victims.

9.45 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Peter Bottomley)

Every day people lose husbands, wives, parents, children and friends they have loved, whose loss reduces every perspective to dullness, misery and pain. In many cases they carry the pain around with them for the rest of their lives. At moments like this, one realises that under the surface of polite society there is a great well of sadness and bereavement, an aspect of the human condition which is as inescapable as it is seldom remarked, yet looming larger in many people's lives than any of the things they pretend to think important. The only excuse for allowing my own howl of anguish to be heard is to give those yet unbereaved a glimpse into the hellish blackness lying under the surface of their lives before they sensibly turn away and think of something else. These words are Auberon Waugh's from the Spectator of 15 February 1986.

The House will acknowledge that this is an important debate with many aspects. It is regrettable that it draws about as much press attention as our most boring debates. The House knows that for a debate about capital punishment, which might affect the lives of about six or 60 people a year, the Press and Strangers' Galleries would have been full and there would have been newspaper attention throughout the debate. I am not criticising the press; and I shall later deal with what it has achieved.

While not in any way obscuring some of the terrible tragedies that have occurred, I can tell the House that in every category of transport the accident rate for the last available year is lower than it was in 1979. Of course, it should be. We should be able to get rid of avoidable crashes and to reduce the risk of disaster—[Interruption.] When disasters occur we should learn the lessons. One of the important things to recognise is that if we spent more time listening rather than speaking, we could work together to reduce the number of crashes.

Some hon. Members spoke about the King's Cross fire. I think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I were two of the few Members of Parliament who were there. I pay tribute to those who at that disaster and in other disasters clear up the consequences of human error. On the roads, 95 per cent. of deaths and injuries are caused in part or in full by human error.

While we wait for the report of the Fennell inquiry, let us recognise that, because of the increased number of passengers who used the London Underground this year, between 25 and 30 lives have been saved. Seventy per cent. more people now use London Underground than in 1982, when it came away from the GLC. Without that increase in passengers, we would have expected at least 250 serious casualties and 1,000 slight casualties extra on the roads. If the underground passenger miles had been travelled in cars, on motor cycles and pedal cycles the saving would not have been so great.

Those who have managed to promote London Regional Transport so that it is more attractive to passengers have saved lives. By holding fares roughly steady, London Regional Transport has got so many extra passengers that it can proceed to an investment programme of £1 million a day. Capital investment in London Regional Transport is over three times the rate of investment on national roads in London. That should be welcomed rather than criticised by the Opposition if they believe their own rhetoric. People should have a choice about how they move around. They should make their own decisions rather than have them made by the Government or by the Opposition.

I also wish to mention one of the more vulnerable groups—motor cyclists. The House will be aware that over 40 per cent. of injuries to motor cyclists occur to those who are very young. In 1982, which is a useful comparative year —let us not bring party politics into the matter by taking 1979—a motor cyclist between the ages of 16 and 19 was 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash or collision for every mile travelled than a motor cyclist aged 25 or over. That ratio of 20:1 is horrifying, and the House rightly acted in a number of ways.

I am also glad that many people in motor cycling, including the British Motorcyclists Federation and many retailers, have promoted training. The ratio of danger for a young motor cyclist compared with that of a 25-year-old or older motor cyclist has fallen to 13:1. That is a significant improvement, especially when we reckon that between 600 and 700 motor cyclists die each year.

We intend to continue working with people in the motor cycling industry. When they have their rally on Saturday or Sunday, I hope that they will recognise the value of their approval of comprehensive training for young motor cyclists. At present, only 30 per cent. of motor cyclists receive any training before they take to the road.

Mr. David Marshall

If voluntary training has achieved such a substantial reduction in the number of accidents, why not make it compulsory and achieve an even greater reduction?

Mr. Bottomley

We will. We announced our intention to do so, with the approval of the motor cycling world, a few months ago. I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman, the Chairman of the Select Committee on Transport, who, in a broad speech, covered a number of areas to which the House will want to return.

This has been one of our better debates. We were reminded that the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), who said that she could not move around the country, managed to move from Exeter to Crewe while a Tory Government were in power. I am indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward) for reminding us of that and for pointing out that, when the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) said that he was a babe in arms in 1953, his mother must have been quite some person because he was aged 10 at the time, having been born in 1943.

Mr. Tony Banks

I was a child who loved my mother.

Mr. Bottomley

The hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie) told us how the urban environment has worsened. I am not sure that she is right. As I go round the country, meeting the 107 highway authorities in England —my road responsibilities stop at the border—I find that the urban environment is improving and that there are more through roads for through traffic. The bypass programme carried forward by the Government allows more people to move around their local roads and allows traffic-calming measures to be introduced. It is interesting to note that, although the hon. Lady's party supports bypasses, there are many areas where local supporters of her party spend their time complaining about road schemes. We recognise the difficulty. We had the same problem with the Channel tunnel when the Liberal spokesman supported the Channel tunnel and the Liberals in Folkestone were spending all their time saying that they opposed it.

The points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) are well known to me. I hope to send him a letter in response to those that he has sent me. Perhaps he can then distribute copies of the letter to his constituents who are keenly interested in the road that we cannot call the Worthing bypass, but must call the Worthing relief road. It is controversial. That is why I delayed putting forward what appeared to be the most realistic view of where the road could go. I recognise that this is a disappointment. As one of my ex-constituents now lives on the proposed route for the new road, I realise how strongly my right hon. Friend's other constituents feel about it. My right hon. Friend also made some points about air travel. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has dealt with those very effectively.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

My hon. Friend quoted a figure for deaths of motor cyclists of 600. Did he mean in a year?

Mr. Bottomley


The hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter) made a discursive speech. He talked about travel within the law. It is important to realise how schizophrenic we are about road casualties. On Friday I was looking at red-light jumping with a television crew. That is one of the habits that is getting worse—[Interruption.] Forty per cent. of the traffic—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall) referred to being a Member sponsored by the TGWU; I stand here as a Member not sponsored by the TGWU—[Interruption.] Three years ago on "Any Questions" the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) said that he would give up insulting for the new year.

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)

I did not.

Mr. Bottomley

The hon. Gentleman is now denying it, but it is true. If he cannot be consistent from one year to the next, I would not vote for him as Deputy Leader.

Going across traffic lights which the car should not do —[Interruption.]—red-light jumping, as I described it— was watched by a television camera. The producer asked how to obscure the registration plates of those cars that broke the law. We would not try to obscure the faces of people filmed breaking out of a building society with all the money. No other form of crime kills so many people as driving offences. Driving too close to another vehicle, drinking and driving and many other things that people do are somehow looked on—or used to be—as a game, in which one should have a chance to avoid detection. Would we not tell a good friend not to drink and drive?

It is important to recognise what happens when people drink and drive—one of the biggest single killers on the road. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-West (Sir Anthony Grant), the president of the Guild of Experienced Motorists, was speaking for many when he reminded us that two thirds of deaths on the road come from sober road users. The one third caused by motorists and road users who have been drinking have the biggest single cause.

It has been reported in no more than one newspaper that the crime of driving over the legal limit, when people are two, five or 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash or collision, appears to have been halved in the last year and a half. The rate of the crime that has led to 1,000 people a year dying—that is probably an underestimate —has been halved. That is a matter of which the House should be aware and we should recognise how it has happened.

That has not happened as a result of a change in law, although the Government do not rule out change of law in future. It has not happened as a result of a change in sentencing. As has been said, there has not been a change in sentencing, and some people regret that. I can offer no view because I do not comment on the courts' decisions. It has not happened as a result of a change in the amount of money that has been spent. It has changed because the media have treated drinking and driving as news and current affairs. That has helped. It has come about because the brewers have promoted non-alcoholic drinks. Now, 95 per cent. of pubs and clubs have non-alcoholic or low-alcohol beer available. Drink-driving has been 90 per cent. a pub problem, 90 per cent. a beer problem.

It is also worth recognising that the only change that would come with full discretionary testing would be that the police would be able to test people whom they believed had not been drinking. We look forward to receiving a detailed submission from the police on what change they would like in addition to a restatement of the existing law.

I make a plea to people inside and outside the House. Instead of debating random breath testing, they should make it plain that to cut transport casualties people should not drink and drive, offer alcohol to drivers or accept lifts from drinking drivers.

If we reduce those figures as fast as we have reduced those for crashes and risks in the air, on the underground and on the railways, we shall be able to move around Britain more safely. The figures for air misses are going down and the situation on the railways and the roads is improving. We have much of which to be proud. I ask the House to reject the Opposition's motion and to support the Government's amendment.

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

The House divided: Ayes 201, Noes 262.

Division No. 446] [9.59 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Allen, Graham George, Bruce
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Armstrong, Hilary Godman, Dr Norman A.
Ashdown, Paddy Golding, Mrs Llin
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Gould, Bryan
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 Harman, Ms Harriet
Battle, John Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Beckett, Margaret Haynes, Frank
Beggs, Roy Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Heffer, Eric S.
Bermingham, Gerald Henderson, Doug
Bidwell, Sydney Hinchliffe, David
Blair, Tony Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Boateng, Paul Holland, Stuart
Boyes, Roland Home Robertson, John
Bradley, Keith Hood, Jimmy
Bray, Dr Jeremy Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Hoyle, Doug
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Buchan, Norman Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Buckley, George J. Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Caborn, Richard Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Illsley, Eric
Canavan, Dennis Ingram, Adam
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) John, Brynmor
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Clay, Bob Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Clelland, David Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cohen, Harry Kennedy, Charles
Coleman, Donald Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Kirkwood, Archy
Corbyn, Jeremy Lambie, David
Cousins, Jim Lamond, James
Crowther, Stan Leadbitter, Ted
Cryer, Bob Leighton, Ron
Cummings, John Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lewis, Terry
Cunningham, Dr John Litherland, Robert
Darling, Alistair Livsey, Richard
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Dewar, Donald Loyden, Eddie
Dixon, Don McAllion, John
Dobson, Frank McAvoy, Thomas
Doran, Frank Macdonald, Calum A.
Duffy, A. E. P. McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth McKelvey, William
Eadie, Alexander McLeish, Henry
Evans, John (St Helens N) McNamara, Kevin
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) McTaggart, Bob
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) McWilliam, John
Fatchett, Derek Madden, Max
Faulds, Andrew Mahon, Mrs Alice
Fearn, Ronald Marek, Dr John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Fisher, Mark Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Flannery, Martin Martlew, Eric
Flynn, Paul Meacher, Michael
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Meale, Alan
Foster, Derek Michael, Alun
Foulkes, George Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Fraser, John Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Galbraith, Sam Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Galloway, George Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Rhodri Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Morley, Elliott Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Snape, Peter
Mowlam, Marjorie Soley, Clive
Mullin, Chris Spearing, Nigel
Murphy, Paul Steinberg, Gerry
Nellist, Dave Strang, Gavin
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Straw, Jack
O'Brien, William Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Parry, Robert Vaz, Keith
Patchett, Terry Wall, Pat
Pendry, Tom Wallace, James
Pike, Peter L. Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Prescott, John Wareing, Robert N.
Quin, Ms Joyce Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Radice, Giles Wigley, Dafydd
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Richardson, Jo Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Robinson, Geoffrey Wilson, Brian
Rogers, Allan Winnick, David
Rooker, Jeff Wise, Mrs Audrey
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Worthington, Tony
Rowlands, Ted Wray, Jimmy
Ruddock, Joan Young, David (Bolton SE)
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry Tellers for the Ayes:
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Mr. Ken Eastham and Mr. Ray Powell.
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Amess, David Emery, Sir Peter
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Fallon, Michael
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Farr, Sir John
Aspinwall, Jack Favell, Tony
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Fishburn, Dudley
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Fookes, Miss Janet
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Forman, Nigel
Bevan, David Gilroy Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Forth, Eric
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fox, Sir Marcus
Bottomley, Peter Franks, Cecil
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Freeman, Roger
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) French, Douglas
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Fry, Peter
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gardiner, George
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Buck, Sir Antony Gill, Christopher
Burt, Alistair Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Butterfill, John Goodhart, Sir Philip
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Goodlad, Alastair
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Chapman, Sydney Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Chope, Christopher Gorst, John
Churchill, Mr Gow, Ian
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Gower, Sir Raymond
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Colvin, Michael Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Gregory, Conal
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Cope, Rt Hon John Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Cormack, Patrick Ground, Patrick
Couchman, James Grylls, Michael
Cran, James Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Critchley, Julian Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hampson, Dr Keith
Curry, David Hanley, Jeremy
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Hannam, John
Day, Stephen Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Devlin, Tim Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Dickens, Geoffrey Harris, David
Dicks, Terry Haselhurst, Alan
Dorrell, Stephen Hawkins, Christopher
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hayes, Jerry
Dover, Den Hayward, Robert
Durant, Tony Heathcoat-Amory, David
Dykes, Hugh Heddle, John
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) McLoughlin, Patrick
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Hill, James Major, Rt Hon John
Hind, Kenneth Malins, Humfrey
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Mans, Keith
Holt, Richard Maples, John
Hordern, Sir Peter Marland, Paul
Howard, Michael Marlow, Tony
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Maude, Hon Francis
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hunter, Andrew Miller, Sir Hal
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Mills, Iain
Irvine, Michael Miscampbell, Norman
Jack, Michael Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Jackson, Robert Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Janman, Tim Moate, Roger
Jessel, Toby Monro, Sir Hector
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Moore, Rt Hon John
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Morrison, Sir Charles
Key, Robert Moss, Malcolm
Kilfedder, James Moynihan, Hon Colin
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Neale, Gerrard
Kirkhope, Timothy Neubert, Michael
Knapman, Roger Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Knowles, Michael Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Knox, David Oppenheim, Phillip
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Page, Richard
Lang, Ian Paice, James
Latham, Michael Patten, Chris (Bath)
Lawrence, Ivan Patten, John (Oxford W)
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Pawsey, James
Lee, John (Pendle) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Porter, David (Waveney)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Portillo, Michael
Lilley, Peter Powell, William (Corby)
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Price, Sir David
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Lord, Michael Rathbone, Tim
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Redwood, John
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Riddick, Graham
McCrindle, Robert Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Maclean, David Rost, Peter
Ryder, Richard Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Sackville, Hon Tom Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Thorne, Neil
Sayeed, Jonathan Thornton, Malcolm
Scott, Nicholas Thurnham, Peter
Shaw, David (Dover) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Tredinnick, David
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Trippier, David
Shelton, William (Streatham) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Viggers, Peter
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shersby, Michael Walden, George
Sims, Roger Waller, Gary
Skeet, Sir Trevor Ward, John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Soames, Hon Nicholas Watts, John
Speller, Tony Wells, Bowen
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Whitney, Ray
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Widdecombe, Ann
Stanbrook, Ivor Wiggin, Jerry
Stern, Michael Wilkinson, John
Stevens, Lewis Wilshire, David
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Winterton, Nicholas
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Wolfson, Mark
Sumberg, David Wood, Timothy
Summerson, Hugo Woodcock, Mike
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Younger, Rt Hon George
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Tellers for the Noes:
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Mr. David Lightbown and Mr. Kenneth Carlisle.
Temple-Morris, Peter

Question accordingly negatived.

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

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

Resolved, That this House congratulates the Government on its success in developing and implementing policies to provide the public and industry with an efficient transport system, giving both value for money and an improved quality of servicc; welcomes the increased investment in transport infrastructure which is accompanying a reduction in the burden on the taxpayer; applaudes the increasing involvement of the private sector in transport projects; and reaffirms the Government's overriding commitment to the safety of travellers,".