§ Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The House is about to discuss the Mines (Safety of Exit) Regulations 1988. The Health and Safety Commission is due to introduce a code of practice which sets out the regulations we are about to discuss together with guidance notes. I have been to the Vote Office and it appears that the code of practice and the guidance notes are not available to the House. The code of practice should be available to the House so that it can be discussed in conjunction with the regulations.
The Leader of the House will confirm that the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments recently made representations to him, because no Committee or individual hon. Member, and now, apparently the House itself, can examine codes of practice which are issued in conjunction with regulations. That seems to be a serious omission and the code of practice should be made available to us.
§ Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)
I beg to move,That the Mines (Safety of Exit) Regulations 1988 (S.I., 1988, No. 1729), dated 5th October 1988, a copy of which was laid before this House on 29th November 1988, be revoked.The House is well aware of the importance of mining safety regulations as compliance with them can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. They apply to one of our most dangerous industries, which is also one of the largest and most important industries in Britain.
The Minister will recall that during a recent debate on mine safety in the Standing Committee considering the Employment Bill I reaffirmed the Opposition's belief that the coal mining industry has a great long-term future as a producer of energy and chemical feedstocks. No matter how many pits are closed by the Government for short-term accountancy reasons, thousands of people will be working in our collieries long after North sea oil has run dry.
Against that background I have to tell the Government tonight that yesterday's announcement about Bilston Glen and Monktonhall collieries just outside Edinburgh is a piece of economic lunacy which we are determined to resist.
The exit regulations before the House tonight are the first legislative package in a programme of new law which is intended effectively to replace all the existing mine safety legislation, including the Mines and Quarries Act 1954, the Mines Management Act 1971 and a host of national and local regulations made under those and earlier Acts on mine safety.
Each package consists of a set of regulations and an approved code of practice. The regulations are made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This constitutes a fundamental break with earlier mine safety laws in that there is not to be a modern piece of primary legislation specific to mine safety, such as the Mines and Quarries Act 1954 or the Coal Mines (Regulations) Act 1908.
A second important break with the past is the use of codes of practice, which of course do not have the same force of law as a statutory instrument. The programme of 902 new law is intended to consist of 16 packages. Each package will consist of a set of new regulations and an approved code of practice. The exit regulations set out the facilities and conditions necessary for safe exit to the surface, the action to be taken when only one exit is available and the emergency apparatus to be provided when all apparatus normally used for exit to the surface becomes unavailable.
The approved code of practice gives guidance on compliance with the regulations and sets out, for the first time in a code of practice, the best operating procedures when there is only one way out. As a senior executive of British Coal has been quoted as recently 8 March as saying that managers will not be required slavishly to follow the codes, I urge the Minister to make it clear that an approved code of practice must be fully implemented. What are the consequences of not doing so?
Why have the Government not brought forward a major new piece of primary legislation to replace the 1954 Act? Many of the 16 packages relate to each other and it is difficult to consider them in isolation. It is to the credit of the mining unions that during the negotiations they obtained an assurance that if a later package created a need to revise an earlier one, that would be done. Will the Minister confirm that?
It is hardly necessary for me to spell out to the House just how dangerous this industry is. The number of fatal accidents declined from 44 in 1982–83 to nine between 1988 and 1989. But last year the figure doubled to 18, and since 1 April 1989 there have already been two more fatalities.
The accident rates for the various industries are well set out in the latest annual report of the Health and Safety Executive, and the Minister will recall that only recently we had a major debate, at the initiative of the Opposition, on health and safety in the construction industry. I can bring home to hon. Members how dangerous coal mining is when I point out that the accident rates in mining are three times those for the construction industry.
In recent years we have seen a sharp fall in the number of mines and quarries inspectors. There has been a fall from 116 in 1979 to 72 in 1988. There can be no dispute as to the important role those inspectors play in health and safety in the mining industry.
§ Mr. Strang
I do not have time to give way, and in any case I will probably answer the question that the hon. Gentleman would have asked when I say that I accept that those figures must be set against the decline in manpower and the reduction in the number of pits. But most disturbing about the recent accident figures is the extent to which they are higher among private contractors working in British Coal collieries compared with direct employees of British Coal and, further, the extent to which accident rates among employees in the private licensed mines are higher still. For those reasons it is necessary to reverse the decline in the number of inspectors who watch over health and safety matters in the pits.
That reduction in the number of mines and quarries inspectors must be coupled with the proposals in the Management and Administration of Health and Safety in Mines Regulations, currently under discussion. That legislative package would abolish the office and functions of the pit deputy, who performs a vital role in the pits. His responsibilities include the immediate charge of workers in 903 the district and their operations. Deputies may also carry out inspections and duties in relation to the presence of gas, into ventilation, the support of roof and sides and matters of general safety as required by the Mines and Quarries Act. Perhaps most importantly, deputies must give preference to the securing of the safety and health of the workmen employed in the mine over the securing of any other matters. Winston Churchill, speaking during the Second Reading debate on the 1911 Coal Mines Bill, said:The deputies and firemen are the non-commissioned officers of the mining industry, and, just as the non-commissioned officers are said to be the backbone of the British Army, so the deputies and firemen are the essential foundations on which the safety and security of the mines mainly repose."—[Official Report, 17 March 1911; Vol. 22 c. 2649.]It is for that reason that I take the opportunity to tell the Minister that the administration package, as currently drafted, is utterly unacceptable to the Opposition. But we are, of course, debating the Mines (Safety of Exit) Regulations 1988 tonight. It has to be said that in recent years, Trades Union Congress representatives on the Health and Safety Commission and others involved with the commission have invested a substantial amount of effort in securing a legislative package which aims to maintain, if not improve, the existing law for the safe exit from mines. As a result of pressure from the mining unions, significant changes have been made to the draft regulations during the consultative process. The earlier drafts of the regulations contained, for example, no requirement that the minimum height of a roadway should be 5 ft 6 in or 1.7 m, as referred to in the regulations.
Having achieved those changes, the regulations are supported not only by the Trades Union Congress, but by the three mining unions. We recognise the amount of work involved in the regulations and the improvements that have been made, but we are conscious that there are many more packages to come before the House. We earnestly urge the Government to ensure not only that they consult fully on those packages, but that the packages increase health and safety standards rather than diminish them and that they come before the House, as this package does, with the support of the mining unions. On that basis, we will not seek to divide the House tonight.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. John Cope)
I apologise to the House that the code of practice was not in the Vote Office. It is in the Library, but I accept the criticism, although we are actually discussing the regulations. I want to set out briefly the background to the regulations and their contents, but I realise that many hon. Members want to speak, so I shall keep my remarks as brief as possible and then, if the House wishes, seek to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to respond to any points made in the course of the debate.
As the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) said, mining is an inherently dangerous industry. However, the modern British mining industry is the safest in the world and that reflects the attention paid to safety over many years by all concerned. The current law is based on a royal commission report of 1938, whose recommendations formed the basis of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954. Since then, there have been major technological and other changes. There have been two more Acts of Parliament, 50 sets of general regulations and 904 literally hundreds of local requirements and exemptions. It is time that all those were brought up to date and the regulations before us tonight start that process.
I was asked by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East why there was no new primary legislation in this area. The reason is that we believe that the primary legislation, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, should form the basis of health and safety legislation for mines and quarries, as for the rest of British industry.
§ Mr. Cryer
Part of the package involves the codes of practice. The Minister was here when I raised a point of order with Mr. Speaker about the lack of codes of practice in the Vote Office. I have been there again and the Minister has not arranged for any copies of the codes of practice to be placed in the Vote Office. That is a serious omission when we are debating the regulations, as a result of an Opposition initiative. The Government have not even troubled to lay a document before the House although, as I have emphasised, it will not be examined by any other body. Surely the document should be available.
§ Mr. Cope
The hon. Gentleman may not have been present when I dealt with that point earlier and explained that copies are in the Library. However, I accept the criticism, as I did earlier.
It is time that we modernised and revised the mass of existing legislation. The new basis for the Health arid Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in industry of all kinds could hardly have a more cross-party basis on which to start, or, for that matter, a more mines-oriented parentage. It was based on the Robens committee and work on the agreement started under a Labour Government, proceeded under the Conservative Government of 1970–74 and was enacted by the incoming Labour Government later in 1974.
The regulations are introduced on the basis of that Act. As the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East said, this is the first of a series of regulations, 16 of which are planned, which will in due course supersede the existing law on mines and quarry safety.
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
This is all about the privatisation of the pits. But is this the time, even for this Government, to be talking about relaxing safety laws when we have had so many accidents in industry, on the railways and at airports? Not satisfied with that, the Government want to relax the safety laws in the pits as well so that the privateers can make an easy killing. Is the Minister aware that the regulations are being introduced against a background of about a 130 per cent. increase in underground fires since the Government came into power? What kind of a Government would want to see more accidents in the pits?
§ Mr. David Ashby (Leicestershire, North-West)
Is it not right to say that last year the number of underground fires fell to the lowest level for 10 years?
§ Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley)
Does the Minister accept that over the years regulations have been brought to the House to enforce safety factors in mines and they exist because of pit accidents? However one dresses the package up, it is taking away some of the measures which in the past have made safety paramount. These regulations are taking us a stage backwards.
§ Mr. Cope
The regulations supersede some previous ones, but they seek to improve and build on them as I shall seek to show in a moment.
It is not only the Government who have evolved the regulations. Work started on this package more than five years ago in 1983. The mines and quarries inspectorate and its colleagues in the Health and Safety Executive prepared the first draft which was published for informal consultation in November 1984.
After six months' consultation with the unions, employers and others, the Health and Safety Executive worked out a revised draft which was put to the tripartite Health and Safety Commission. It approved it and released it for formal consultation in November 1985. There were further meetings with all concerned, as a result of which there was further consideration and amendment. But the commission was most anxious that the final proposals should be acceptable to all concerned. So the amended drafts were the subject of a third consultation, beginning in August 1986.
By November 1986 it seemed that there was agreement all round. But in December of that year, the National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers and the National Union of Mineworkers withdrew agreement and the whole programme was thrown into doubt. As a result, the commission asked Mr. Ray Buckton, a former commissioner of health and safety, to chair a series of meetings with the unions to try to find agreement. Finally, in June 1988 the unions accepted the regulations and the related code of practice and, apparently too, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act formula of regulations supported by approved codes of practice. The way was then clear for the set of regulations before us to be approved by the commission, sent to the Secretary of State and laid before Parliament. They were laid before the House on 29 November last, to come into force on 1 April this year.
I have spelt out the background in order to make clear that the regulations are not based on Ministers' ideas primarily. They have not sprung out of our heads, nor have they been imposed upon the unions by management. 906 For the benefit of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), may I point out that they far predate any talk of privatisation. They are based on legislation introduced by the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), based on the recommendations of a committee chaired by a former Labour Member who was chairman of the National Coal Board. They have had five years of careful consultation with the unions and with others, and have been agreed and sent to Ministers by the tripartite Health and Safety Commission.
I am sure that all that consultation was worthwhile and necessary. I am not in any way criticising it or the amount of time that it has taken. On the contrary, as has already been stressed, it is important that there should be wide agreement on such a package of measures.
Above all, I stress again that the regulations improve safety standards. They are introduced under an Act which allows us to introduce them only if they maintain or improve standards of health and safety.
§ Mr. Cope
I am coming to that. The main thing that the regulations do is to bring together and clarify the existing provisions. They rearrange them into regulations and an approved code of practice. They tighten some of the provisions. I shall give some examples. They extend the requirement for two separate exits from coal mines to all other mines—an important provision. They set a minimum height of 1.7 m for all roadways, irrespective of who uses them or when they were constructed. They reduce from 100 to 50 the number of people permitted where there is only one air intake. They clarify the requirement that normally only nine people may work in places where there is only one exit, restrict the scope for exemptions that are granted at the moment and provide extra safeguards where there are more than nine people. They also require action plans from management, emergency equipment and so on.
I explained that some of the provisions are in regulations and some in approved codes of practice. I was asked about the approved codes of practice. The formula of having codes of practice and regulations derives from Robens and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. In the rest of industry it has worked well over the years since its introduction.
An approved code of practice has legal backing in that if an employer does not follow the practice set out in the approved code of practice, and if legal proceedings result, he has to prove in court that the regulations were complied with in some other way. This allows for the different circumstances in different pits, and so on.
Failure to follow approved codes of practice may be taken by a court in criminal proceedings as proof that a person has contravened the regulations or the section of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to which the provision relates. It is prima facie evidence in court and that is the extent of the legal backing that it has.
There are, of course, many informal British Coal codes of practice in use in coal mines at the moment, as well as other managers' rules, and so on, which are also provided for in some of these regulations.
907 All in all, these regulations are an important step forward not only in what they do but even more because they are the first steps in a renewal of all our law and regulations on the safety of mines and quarries. They 908 have been, as I have spelt out at some length, painstakingly agreed by all concerned. I commend them to the House and believe that they should have the support of all parties.
§ Mr. Alexander Eadie (Midlothian)
The Minister is an experienced parliamentarian and he will gather that there is a measure of suspicion, if not hostility, on the Opposition Benches when we discuss the question of safety. I am hardly very well disposed to the Minister because yesterday two pits in my constituency closed after 800 years of mining because of over-production and because there is no sale for the product.
This is a significant debate for us tonight. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) has said that the exit regulations now before us are a forerunner of what has been described as a package of new law which replaces all the existing mine safety legislation, including the Mines and Quarries Act 1954 and the Mines Management Act 1971, and a whole host of national and local regulations under earlier Acts on mine safety.
The Minister must explain to us the proper definition of an approved code of practice. It might have been helpful if, as mentioned in the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer), we had had the necessary documentation before us. I ask the Minister if the men's representatives will have the opportunity to approve codes of practice before they are put before Parliament. He retailed to us a long discussion that had taken place with TUC representatives. Since he has told us that we are about to embark on a whole cycle of new regulations, we want to know what the position will be with regard to consultations with the representatives of the mining unions.
It has been stated that the regulations are made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, but this action constitutes a fundamental break with earlier mine safety laws, and there is not to be a modern piece of primary legislation on mine safety like the Mines and Quarries Act 1954 and so on. It is all very well to modernise and we would never object to modernisation, but it has to be demonstrated to us that these codes of practice, these packages, will be beneficial to safety in the mines. So I put it to the Minister—and we will have to be persuaded otherwise—that this is an important break with the past in the use of codes of practice.
It may be my fault, but I was not really persuaded about the force of law in relation to these regulations. We want to know about the force of law for parliamentary purposes in the case, say, of statutory instruments. The Minister must clarify that very important legal point tonight. What legal standing do the regulations have? The Minister must bear in mind the statement made by an official from British Coal. I recorded the official's exact words. He said:British Coal do not intend to carry out slavishly codes of practice.It is important that that statement is clarified tonight. It is no good Parliament being involved in discussion, argument or debate if a senior executive at British Coal says that British Coal will not slavishly follow legislation, codes of practice or whatever else Parliament wants to define.
I was involved in the discussions about merging the mines inspectorate with the proposed Health and Safety Commission. If you were more free, Mr. Deputy Speaker, 910 I am sure that you would want to put in your pennyworth, although we might not agree. You were involved in this matter as well.
There were extreme doubts about the wisdom of the merger and I was one of the doubters. Would the authority, experience and independence of the mining inspectorate be undermined as a consequence of merging with the new commission? If it had been put to us that the method before us tonight was the way to deal with mine safety, would the industry and mining unions have agreed to sink their identity? I do not think that they would have.
One compromise was reached. There is a minute to the effect that in matters of mining safety the sponsoring Department—the Department of Energy—would be involved in full consultations. My hon. Friends and I in the miners' parliamentary group want to know, as do my colleagues who represent constituencies with powerful mining interests, whether the Department of Energy was involved in full consultations. The minute states that it had to be involved. What input has the Department made to the proposals before us?
The exit regulations are important because they set out the facilities and conditions necessary for safe exit to the surface and the action to be taken when only one exit is available. In my mining experience, which lasted more than 30 years, I had to lead men up an exit when the main shaft was blocked. I have led men up stair pits. I can assure the Minister that climbing a stair pit to the surface is not a pleasant task when the main shaft is blocked, particularly for men who have not done it before. I had plenty of experience because I was a workmen's inspector. It was part of my job to inspect those exits and also to climb them five or six times a year. Is there any change in the regulations concerning the authority, stature and influence of workmen's inspectors? Are there any new powers vested in them in the regulations? We hope that their powers have not been diminished. The Minister must say whether they have any additional powers and whether their existing powers are to be maintained.
Some of us were concerned to find that there was to be no minimum height for roadways. It was only due to pressure from the mining unions that a maximum height for a normal roadway of not less than 5 ft. 6 in. became a requirement. The day should be past when miners have to walk like half-shut knives when making their way to an exit. The powers that be should be told by Parliament that we are disappointed that this had to drawn to their attention when it was an aspect that had long been under discussion.
The history of the coal industry has a record of blood in the coal. Too often miners have had to weep, bury their dead and generally grasp whatever comfort they could from their Churches and relatives. Mining safety is important. There was an increase in mining fatalities last year. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East said, it is distressing that the statistics for accidents in private mines are much higher than those in British Coal mines.
If there are plans for the privatisation of the coal industry, Parliament must be eternally vigilant when any mining safety regulations come before it. It will have to know whether the regulations are legally enforceable, and whether those administering, running and managing the mines can afford to ignore rather than follow slavishly codes of practice.
911 We shall not regard these regulations, or any other regulations on mine safety, with complacency. I believe that my view reflects that of my hon. Friends. We shall scrutinise with utmost care any such measures that the Government bring before the House.
§ Mr. Andy Stewart (Sherwood)
I have not had the privilege of working in the mining industry, unlike a number of Opposition Members, in particular the hon. Member for East Lothian—[Interruption.] I am sorry, the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie)—his constituency is next door, so why worry. However, I have lived all my life in coal field areas, the first 23 years in Scotland and the past 28 in Nottinghamshire, During that time, I have learnt that nothing surpasses safety in the coal industry.
I can vividly recall the disaster in Ayrshire in the 1950s, when the community was bereaved like the families in Liverpool today. The recommendations from the report of that disaster and others from across the British coal fields have made working in the industry safer. During the past 10 years there has been a major reduction in accidents in Britain's coal industry. The rate for all accidents for every 100,000 manshifts worked has fallen by two thirds, from 94.6 in 1978–79 to 29.3 in 1988–89.
Those figures belie the allegations made last year, and repeated recently by the Labour research department, that pit accidents were rising. The British coal industry has an unrivalled international reputation for its standards of safety and health. Accident prevention is the top priority of all miners and management throughout the industry—their lives depend on it. The Mines (Safety of Exit) Regulations strengthen the law, particularly by having to keep the nominated person informed. In the Nottinghamshire coal field that will usually be the Union of Democratic Mineworkers' branch secretary. The new regulations bring into line what is now practice under exemptions from the existing Mines and Quarries Act 1954 and regulations. In other respects there is no change.
While the overall safety record has improved owing to a combination of determined efforts by those who work in the industry, it is to everyone's regret that fatalities increased to 18 during 1988–89, compared with 15 in 1986–87 and nine—the lowest number ever—in 1987–88. In an attempt to achieve what we must all see as our goal, a zero fatality figure, the coal industry's safety campaign activities this year involve everyone in the collieries concentrating on preventing fatal and major injuries.
No better example could be produced than the safety-conscious miners of Clipstone colliery, in my constituency, who have won the national underground safety competition for the second time in three years. If their best were the national norm, and given the new regulations, mining would be a safer industry in which to work.
§ Mr. Jack Thompson (Wansbeck)
I spent the major part of my working life in the mining industry, protected by and complying with the various Acts and regulations governing safety in the mines. I cite especially the Mines and Quarries Act 1954, but I was in the industry even before the advent of that Act. I remember when I was governed by the Coal Mines Act 1911.
912 I am particularly interested in the 16 new regulations. If there is one major flaw in our approach to them, it is our method of dealing with each regulation separately. They are not a package, and if we are to look at them at all that is how we should view them. They are all inter-related: safety of exit relates to electricity regulations, mechanical regulations, ventilatory regulations, and so forth. I hope that the Minister will give us an assurance that when all 16 have been examined we can examine them again, noting that the flaws in one may relate to another.
My hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) rightly pointed out that many existing safety regulations had evolved from accidents and disasters, both large and small, some causing heavy loss of life. Let me give an example that relates specifically to safety of exit. More than 100 years ago, in my county of Northumberland, the New Hartley mine had only one shaft—circumstances that prevailed at the time. Ventilation was provided by a furnace at the shaft bottom, which pulled the air up and allowed cool air to come down. At the top of the shaft was a beam pump operated by steam: this was used to extract water from the mine. While the beam pump was operating, the beam snapped. It went down the single shaft and sealed it off, trapping all the men and boys—some only eight years old. Literally hundreds died. As a result of that accident, from then on mines were expected to have at least two shafts—a significant development.
I am sure that those who draft and redraft mining legislation will have read the poignant stories of New Hartley and, for instance, Cresswell colliery, where a disaster involving the burning of conveyor belting led to new regulations being introduced. No doubt they have studied the reports produced at the time, and the horrendous stories relating to such accidents. Such events must be at the forefront of their minds when they draw up safety regulations such as these.
It has become apparent that the foundation of the present legislation has prevented many more deaths and serious occurrences. Changes are acceptable only if they will improve safety standards. Any legislation that lowers standards would and should be opposed.
The mining industry is claimed to be the safest in the world, as the Minister said himself. I do not dispute that claim. I hope that these regulations will uphold that reputation, but there is a financial price to pay. The British miners have shown that, despite the high cost of safety, they will always produce a relatively high standard.
My role in the industry was in electrical engineering. While I had responsibilities for high standards of safety in electrical equipment upon which other miners depended, they, in their turn, were responsible for protecting my safety by ensuring that other equipment such as ventilation, roof supports, and roadways were secure and that the beams of the work place were safe.
In electrical engineering, standards and quality of equipment have improved dramatically in recent years. I have seen changes that I would not have believed possible when I entered the industry. These improvements have continued since I left the industry. So in all aspects improvements have taken place; always in a nationalised industry safety came first.
I am concerned that this set of regulations does not reduce the safety aspects of leaving a work place or mine in circumstances that are potentially dangerous. I shall give a personal example. Before I left my place of 913 employment in the mining industry—and I lived in Corrie —a new system of drawing men up the shaft was introduced. In fact, we did not have the normal procedure of a winch pulling a cage but a lift such as is in the Savoy hotel, believe it or not, although not quite up to that plush standard. However, it operated on the same principles. My responsibility as an engineer was, on occasion, to make sure the lift was working satisfactorily. When it did not work but broke down and stuck half way—this happens in the Savoy sometimes as well—with miners inside it was usually when they were coming out for a pint of beer on a Friday night. On such occasions I had to go to that lift and introduce a standby system which actually defeated some of the safety systems on the lift. I hope that the regulations prevent that sort of thing happening as standard practice. I hope that it will become part of the code of practice that that sort of equipment be protected.
The only real improvement I can detect is a small change in the language to be used in the drafting of regulations. In Schedule 2 (b) which refers to regulation 20 relating to a deputy's duty to be acquainted with ways leading to exits the wordsof egress therefrom or from any place thereinare replaced byeach leading to a different exit.Later there is a further simplification. The wordsAfter 'from the district' for 'and from any such place"'are far more understandable expressed asand from every place where a person works.I quote those two small examples to emphasise that miners are more used to using simple, clear and sometimes colourful language and not the pseudo-legal language often used in drafting Acts and regulations governing their lives and safety. That is all that I can really identify as an important change to the regulations.
In general I can see these regulations having a more significant effect upon people operating small private mines whose resources and enthusiasm for safety standards are somewhat limited. Many of the proposals included are already standard practice in British Coal mines, including internal codes of practice.
I am rather puzzled that in these regulations reference is made to the role of deputies. I would appreciate a comment from the Minister as to whether proposals will be laid before the House to alter both the title of the official and his important role. He is the principal officer responsible for on-site safety. If that is to happen, then this document before us should take that change into account. If the regulation is to change the role of the deputy, it should be the first to be considered. Any diminution of the role of the deputy will affect safety standards and the application of these regulations. In my long experience in the industry the deputy was the on-site safety officer for general safety standards. He was supported by skilled craftsmen with responsibility for the machinery's safety. If the deputy's responsibilities are reduced and shifted further up the management hierarchy, many of the regulations will be seriously affected in their application.
I understand that the mining unions have been consulted, and that they made valuable suggestions for changes that have been incorporated in the regulations. I welcome the unions' participation because they know as much as anyone about mining safety. I shall be interested to learn their views on future proposals.
914 This package of 16 regulations can have a significant effect on the industry's future, for better or for worse. I hope that they will be for the better.
§ 11.5 pm
§ Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)
I trust that brevity will not detract from the serious nature of the remarks that I shall make. As the House knows, I am sponsored by the National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers, and reference has already been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wansbeck (Mr. Thompson) and by others to NACODS' serious concern about the regulations. NACODS has an enormous interest in the regulations and in the others that will follow.
My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) referred to the association's concern. The House should be aware that the duties, experience, training and qualifications of the underground official reflect and provide for safety as well as for the pursuit of production. Will the Minister confirm that under the law as it was, or is, the priority of production was subordinate to that of safety? The anxiety felt about the regulations basically stems from concern as to whether production will command a greater priority than it has. It is in that regard—the additional risk to life and limb—that concern is most strongly felt.
I suspect, as do many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, that there are people who, especially with the prospect of private profit, wish to weaken the structure of and priority given to safety. I hope that I am wrong. However, confusion seems to exist in the mind of British Coal. When the Select Committee considered the matter in 1985–86—as my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse) will confirm—Sir Robert Haslam seemed to suggest that substantial changes to legislation were necessary. In the light of the Minister's comments about 1983, Sir Robert's remarks were consistent.
It appears that when Sir Robert made that point senior British Coal officials present indicated dissent. Mr. Moses stated—he repeated this comment in response to questioning by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford—that the only changes he wanted to see were changes in the Hours of Work Act 1908. He stressed that there was no need to amend regulations. According to the Minister, that was three years after the proceedings began. I believe that Sir Robert was honest with the Select Committee, but there seems to have been some inconsistency.
The first package was reluctantly accepted by NACODS, for two reasons. Originally there was no minimum height proposal. Given the political situation and the mood in the industry at the time, I suppose it was felt to be a triumph to reach agreement on an exit height of 1.7 m. That is less than my height, but I suppose the unions felt relieved that miners would not always be required to crawl. No doubt there are those on the Government Benches and in Hobart house who would be happy if they were made to crawl.
NACODS was assured—and I ask the Minister to comment on this—and it was promised that if it agreed, and if other parts of further packages were unacceptable, the association could return to the first package. Will the Minister confirm that such a promise was made? I feel some anxiety about whether that promise can be fulfilled.
915 The Minister acknowledges that there have been months of deliberation, months of argument, and months in which the unions, the inspectorate and others involved, including officials of the Department, gave serious thought and consideration to the regulations. At a meeting of the Mining Qualifications Board—this has been referred to already, so the Minister will have to comment on it—there was a discussion about whether the candidates for mining engineering qualifications should have access to works of reference during the examination. Mr. Moses said—and I am quoting again, but I shall complete the quotation because, so far, it has not been completed—My managers will not slavishly follow the code of practice".He went on to say:I will send out instructions that will supersede these codes.The Minister must understand that such a statement from such a principal person—the technical director of the British coal industry—justifies the concern of this House. Is privatisation such a god that proper regard for democratic and constitutional procedure can be set at naught? The Minister must answer that point. I do not know whether Mr. Moses has any explanation to offer, but, if not, the Minister has a duty to offer one.
I suspect that the sort of attitude that is still to be found in the industry concerns the commitment to produce regardless of the consideration of safety. There is only one pit left in my constituency. It is a successful pit with good men and good management. But throughout my area there has been mining for generations. Indeed, people from three generations of my family were underground officials. The history of my area, as in the case of Northumberland and the other coalfields, is riddled with example after example of the priority and predominance of production. There have been series of accidents where the dominance of production has been the major factor in the loss of life. We are worried—very worried indeed—that the priorities are now about to shift.
Reference has been made to accident rates. Last week, in this building, there was a press conference concerned with mine safety. Concern was expressed about the increased incidence of major accidents and major injuries. British Coal was far quicker off the mark in replying to that than it had been in advising people seeking to defend the coal industry during the proceedings on the Electricity Bill. It was far quicker off the mark than it had been in advising or helping us in seeking to defend the coal industry against the development of Humber ports to import South African coal.
On the very day on which that press conference was held British Coal issued another statement suggesting that there were fewer accidents. The hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart) may have forgotten that, as a result of the implementation of the bonus scheme, men are much more reluctant to report minor accidents. But major accidents cannot be disguised, and the number of major accidents and major incidents is increasing.
§ Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central)
Before leaving that point, would my hon. Friend comment on the fact that the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1985 made it more difficult to compare like with like on either side of the date of implementation?
§ Mr. Hardy
My hon. Friend is quite right. The implication is that there will have to be further debates when other regulations are considered.
There are those concerned with the coal industry who will be looking longingly at the coal industry in America. I have visited American pits, and I know that there are safe ones, but there are also dangerous ones, and my anxiety is that in the unfolding situation in the British coal industry we will see the dangerous ones rather than the better ones emulated. Those anxieties need to be allayed, otherwise the Minister will run the risk of being charged with putting a cover round those who are rather reckless in their attitude to the coal industry.
§ Mr. Spencer Batiste (Elmet)
I shall be very brief, as I know that several other hon. Members wish to speak.
Having read the regulations and listened to the speeches from the two Front Benches, I was satisfied that, in these regulations, we had achieved a reasonably fair balance, with a wide measure of acceptability across the political spectrum. Having listened to some of the comments that have been made since then, however, I think that it is important to probe the original speeches a little to see whether points of substance have been raised or whether what we have been hearing is unnecessary scaremongering for those listening to, or reading the report of, our debate.
Anybody who has been down a pit recognises that those who spend their working lives underground are uniquely vulnerable. I have been down pits in many parts of the country. The experience of hon. Members on both sides of the House of the mining industry and the representations that were made when the regulations were being drafted have to be borne in mind.
If the regulations are to be accepted, high standards of maintenance and enhanced safety must come first. I seek my hon. Friend's assurance that safety will be put first. Notwithstanding the carping criticism in the debate, I hope that that clear message will be given.
Apart from maintaining and enhancing the high standards of safety, will my hon. Friend confirm that the regulations will have firm statutory force and that they will apply both to British Coal and to the private sector, whatever their future status in relation to each other may be? Will he also confirm that the codes of practice will be made more easily comprehensible so that specific problems can be tackled as they arise? Will my hon. Friend confirm that the regulations enjoy the support of bath management and all the unions in the industry? If the unions as well as the management support the regulations, the Opposition's criticisms have gone well beyond the views of the union's negotiators who participated in the preparation of the regulations.
If, as a consequence of subsequent parts of the package, questions arise about the safety of exits, can my hon. Friend assure the House that the matter will be looked at again? I hope that my hon. Friend will give firm assurances about all these questions. If, as I believe, his answer to all of them is yes, the regulations should receive not just the approval of the House but a very warm welcome.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
Order. I can see five hon. Members who are trying to catch my eye. I 917 understand that the debate must end by 11.47. I am sure that the House will want to leave time for the Minister to comment on some of the matters that have been raised.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse (Pontefract and Castleford)
The regulations will lead to a fundamental break with the safety legislation. Is that necessary? The safety regulations should be strengthened, if a case can be made out for doing so. My experience of the mining industry goes back over many years, both as a face worker and as a member of the management team. The regulations will not strengthen the safety laws. They will be diluted.
The regulations will lead to a move away from a statutory obligation to a code of conduct.
§ Mr. Lofthouse
The Minister shakes his head. No doubt he will put me right later, but that is how it appears to me. If that is the case, that is dilution of the present regulations.
I make a further point as regards egress. There was reference earlier to egress from the winding shafts, but there are other forms of egress from headings with just one way in and one way out. As I understand the regulations here, the current situation is that where a manager requires more than nine men, plus any other workers such as deputies, to work in a heading of that nature, he must get Her Majesty's inspectors authorisation before he can increase that number. As I understand this regulation, that will not now be necessary and the manager will be able to decide for himself. If that is the case, that is diluting the present regulations.
I hope the Minister will take full note that, after a long investigation into the future of the mining industry by the Energy Select Committee in 1986, it took evidence from those we expected to be experts. The evidence given to us at that time was that it would not be necessary for any alterations at all to the regulations apart from the working hours. Mr. Kenneth Moses, who has been referred to earlier this evening, who made a speech to the Mines Qualifications Board on 18 March, I understand, will not expect his managers slavishly to carry out the codes of conduct. During the investigation I personally put a question to Sir Robert Haslam. For the benefit of the House I will quote:Are you aware that many of the elements of this new strategy assume the deregulation of the coal industry and coal mines legislation will have to be amended and diluted?The strategy referred to was the mechanisation of the British industry as recommended by Mr. Albert Wheeler. Sir Robert replied:We realise that to bring about the kind of changes Mr. Wheeler is outlining, there would have to be quite radical changes in legislation, yes.At that moment I noticed some of the witnesses with Sir Robert that morning shaking their heads, so I put a further question:I notice a shaking of the heads there. In other words, some of the witnesses are not agreeing with what you are saying, Sir Robert. Can you indicate in your view or any of your officials' view, which specific regulations and which piece of legislation you think will be required as an amendment, so that the Wheeler plan can be implemented?918 The same Mr. Moses who was saying that he did not expect his managers slavishly to carry out the code gave this answer:There is only one piece of legislation that would require any amendment to carry out Mr. Wheeler's plan, and that is the Hours of Work Act 1908 which limits the amount of time a man can spend underground in a normal shift. There will be no requirement to amend the Mines and Quarries Act; there will be no requirement to amend any safety legislation whatsover.Mr. Moses goes on to say in 10.19:What I am saying is that if you take all the elements of Mr. Wheeler's suggestions which might be implemented to improve the performance of pits, there is no requirement to amend either the Mines and Quarries Act or any orders and regulations made under the Mines and Quarries Act, the Health and Safety Act or any orders made under the Health and Safety Act to enable any of these suggestions to be carried out. There is a requirement to amend the Hours of Work Act 1908.There was then a further question from me:Will there be no pressure from the Coal Board to do so?
§ Mr. Illsley
Far be it for me to defend Mr. Moses, but what he might have been saying was technically correct. There is no intention to amend the Mines and Quarries Act 1954. According to the written reply I have dated 27 May 1988 from the Department,The intention is to replace the Mines and Quarries Act 1954"—[Official Report, 20 May 1988; Vol. 133, c. 613.]Not amend it, but simply to do away with it altogether.
§ Mr. Lofthouse
I fully appreciate that point. Mr. Moses, in his senior position in British Coal, was deceiving the Energy Select Committee because the Minister has told us tonight that discussions and negotiations were taking place two years before Mr. Moses gave evidence to the Select Committee. Mr. Moses must have known that. If Mr. Moses, the technical director of British Coal and a mining expert, could tell the Select Committee that there was no reason whatsoever why the regulations would need to be changed, why are they being changed? We can only conclude that it is in preparation for privatisation. When the other 15 regulations are produced—it is a pity they are not before us tonight—I am sure that they will represent a continued dilution of the safety laws in the mining industry. People who worked in the mining industry prior to its nationalisation know what that means.
I am not convinced that the true and honest motive behind the regulations is simply to strengthen the safety laws. I believe that they are in preparation for privatisation.
I stress that the regulation that gives the manager the sole right to decide how many men go in a heading is extremely dangerous. The mining industry has already started operating the American system. Many of the headings have only one entrance and the roofs are supported only by roof bolts. That creates added danger. If hon. Members want confirmation of that, they should read the evidence of Her Majesty's chief inspector of mines to the Select Committee. He said that roof bolting alone was not satisfactory for United Kingdom mines. That practice is taking place in headings with only one entrance and one exit, putting men in danger. Yet the regulations will allow the manager to decide to increase the number of men from nine to 18 without the permission of Her Majesty's inspectorate. That is diluting the regulations.
919 I am sorry that we have decided not to vote against the regulations as I believe that they are a retrograde step for the safety of mines in Britain.
§ Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley)
I shall detain the House for only a few minutes. I have some sympathy with the Minister in dealing with the regulations. There is an old saying, "To know me, come and live with me". To know what makes the industry tick, and why it ticks, it is necessary to spend a considerable time in the industry. I listened to the Minister's opening speech with great care, but I was not convinced. Perhaps when he replies to the debate he will convince me that the regulation is a good thing.
The Minister talked about consultation, but one does not consult with the management of British Coal. If one does not accept what they say they will not play ball—they simply take the bat and ball away. We met the British Coal board the other day, and I have yet to meet a more arrogant and conceited group of individuals.
If we refer to the Mines and Quarries Act, we get back to the old theme that regulations need to be enforced. If miners object to discrepancies and complain that managers are failing to comply with mines and quarries regulations, they are classed as troublemakers and are forced out of the industry. For proof of that we need only talk to the men who have experienced these problems.
It is all very well to talk about safety practices, but they go by the board when British Coal wants to see increased production coming up the shaft. There is a danger that British Coal is getting shot of men and threatening men who dare to question the integrity of the mines and quarries safety practices.
The Minister assured us that the regulations would have legal backing. I urge him to speak to present and former mines and quarries inspectors about provisions having legal backing. He might then take a different view about such matters having the force of law.
Is the Minister aware that a reduction in the roadway height must have an effect on ventilation? I am not a mining engineer, but I assure the Minister that the domino theory comes into effect because, once one section is interfered with, there is bound to be a knock-on effect. The Health and Safety Executive will have the right to disregard any of the regulations if it claims that in doing so it is meeting a British Coal request.
I hope that the Minister will do more to convince me of the need for the regulations, because I cannot, from what he has said so far, consider them to be beneficial for the future of the coal industry.
§ Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)
I worked underground for 20 years as an electrical engineer and 13 years as an industrial relations officer. During the time I was underground I was president of the NUM at my colliery and I was a No. 1, 2 and 3 inspector at that colliery. Hon. Members will understand, therefore, that I take a great interest in the health and safety regulations applying to mining.
920 I was fined on two occasions for breaking the then existing regulations, once by the manager and once by the inspector, and on each occasion they shoved across the table to me the document containing the rules and regulations—the bible, as we called it—and said, "That is what you have broken. It is a statutory responsibility."
I mention that experience to show that, while the Minister may talk about the regulations and the approved code of practice having legal status—that they could be used in court—he must realise that all of that will apply after the event. A code of practice is precisely that—a guide, a code than can be altered by the mine management, by British Coal—and I do not think it need return to this House to be altered. It must be done in consultation, but it need not return to Parliament. When a matter arrives in court, there will have been an accident. That will be the only time that a code of practice will be tested legally. Can the president of the NUM or a representative of any other trade union take a manager to court, not because there has been an accident but because the code of practice has been broken?
In view of the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy), may we have an assurance that, should problems occur with any of the other packages under this set of regulations, we will be able to return to the issue? The Minister said that there was little difference between what my hon. Friend sought and what was proposed. What precisely is the difference?
My hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth spoke about fast headings. I worked under private enterprise in the mines, from non-mechanisation to mechanisation, and I saw the rules and regulations altered to suit the new conditions as bigger machinery was installed. I suggest that to have 18 men in a fast heading is too many in view of the size of the machinery that is now in use.
A recent newspaper article said:British Coal is lobbying the Government to hasten measures which could radically alter the way the industry is run. The corporation wants speedy changes in health and safety legislation in order to clear the way for new working practices to increase efficiency.It went on:they are reluctant to see definite instructions on safety"—referring to the unions—replaced with broader recommendations. As one union official said, they do want to see `shall' replaced with 'as far as is reasonably practicable."'Regulation 3(1)(b) states:the shafts or outlets are so separated that as far as is practicable".Regulation 3(2) states:The manager shall ensure that, so far as is practicable".Regulation 8(2) states:The person for the time being in charge of that part of the mine shall ensure that any such barrier or enclosure is properly maintained and kept in position.However, the original regulation has been altered, because the word "deputy" has now been left out. This is the beginning of doing away with the safety representatives in the collieries—the deputies. We can see that in black and white. The word "deputy" has been taken out and that has left the manager able to put someone in charge other than the person who has been in charge of safety for every minute that the colliery has been open. Those are changes that are taking place.
The changes have been accepted and we shall not vote on them, but we have made the points that should have been made. Some points cannot be answered, because the 921 real answers are here in black and white. We shall look carefully at the regulations as they come into effect. We want the assurance that we shall be able to come back to the original regulations if we find anything untoward in the new ones.
§ Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)
I will confine my remarks to the important issue of the number of men allowed in a heading where there is no separate means of exit. As the Minister will know, the regulations refer not to "men", but to "persons" because it is proposed in the Employment Bill to allow women to work in the pits and to place them in circumstances in which they could be blocked in a heading.
Before 1 April, when the present regulations came into force, the law on numbers in a non-exit heading was contained in section 24 of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954. It allowed only nine men in a heading where there was no separate exit, other than in exceptional circumstances under a notice issued by an inspector. Exemption certificates were issued carefully and only ever for small numbers of people. There is seldom a need to operate with more than nine men in a heading. Why is the law now being changed?
The new regulations allow nine men, or persons, into those headings, plus three others engaged temporarily in inspection, investigation, measurement or sampling. But how long is "temporarily"? The code of practice from the Health and Safety Commission, which operates in association with the regulations, explains that for us. Section 31 states that it is:to allow such persons as managers, mining and engineering supervisory staff, inspectors, workpeople's inspectors and surveyors to enter the heading.For how long? The code of practice states:for as long as is necessary to do their work.In other words, "temporary" will be for as long as it takes.
The manager can now decide to have 18 persons in such a heading provided he fulfils certain conditions and notifies the inspector of mines and quarries for the district. Sections 32 and 33 of the code of practice are headed:Managers' rules where more than nine persons are employed in headings.But it should not be managers who rule. It should be the inspectors, as under past law, custom and practice, who make the decisions. Managers will be subject to increasing commercial pressures with the electricity privatisation and competing floods of coal imports coming through the Humber ports. They should not be expected to balance safety considerations against a push for increased productivity. The two functions should be undertaken by different people.
The dangers of working in a heading are shown by the events at 91s main gate at 10.30 am on Friday 13 January at High Moor pit in my constituency. They occurred under the Mines and Quarries Act, but illustrate the need to change the current regulations and the code. I shall paraphrase the report of the inquiry by A. Ingham, the chief mining engineer, and I hope that I do not distort his work unfairly.
High Moor is in the South Yorkshire area of British Coal. At approximately 10.30 am on Friday 13 January 922 this year, 30 m. of roof collapsed between 210 m. and 240 m. into what is in effect a tunnel 990 m. long. Ten men, one over the nine, were trapped inside.
The inquiry pointed out that the accident was due not to any geological factors or to other seam operations, but to the fact that the girders were too far away from the roadway so that it was not correctly protected. When the fall took place the girders collapsed with a domino effect leaving people blocked inside.
The report contained a set of recommendations and I hope that they will be included in any future revision of these measures in order to ensure proper safety within roadways.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
I take it that the Minister has the leave of the House to speak again.
§ Mr. Cope
I shall do my best to respond to as many points as possible, but I thought it better to give one or two more hon. Members the opportunity to speak. I shall respond in writing to those whose points I do not touch on in the remaining few minutes.
First, let me do my best to try to reassure hon. Members about the origins of the legislation and of codes of practice. The legal reason for the introduction of codes of practice goes back to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, introduced by the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) against the background that I described.
Section 1 of that Act says:shall in particular have effect with a view to enabling the enactment specified in the third column of Schedule 1 and the regulations, orders and other instruments in force under those enactments to be progressively replaced by a system of regulations and approved codes of practice operating in combination with other provisions of this Part".One of the Acts of Parliament mentioned in the schedule referred to is the Mines and Quarries Act 1954 and the other Acts that have been replaced by regulations under that. Therefore, the origin of all this is the Robens committee and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 passed by a Labour Government. The Health and Safety Commission put that provision into effect.
Several hon. Members have asked about the legal position of approved codes of practice. Failure to observe any provisions of an approved code of practice is prima facie evidence of a breach of statutory duty. The onus of proof is on the accused, British Coal or whoever, to prove that the law has been complied with. That is a strong measure which will be influential.
I was asked by the hon. Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. McKay) whether somebody could be taken to court for breach of the code of practice. Certainly. The regulations must be complied with. If somebody fails to follow the code of practice, he is, prima facie, likely to be in breach of the regulations. Breach of the code of practice is evidence of the breach of the regulations, unless those regulations are shown to have been met in some other way.
§ Mr. Cope
I have many points to answer. I shall try to deal with all the questions that I have been asked.
I was asked by the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) whether the Department of Energy was involved in the consultations. It was. He also asked whether 923 workmen's inspections were affected by the regulations. They are not. They will remain as the hon. Gentleman has known them from his personal experience.
The hon. Member for Wansbeck (Mr. Thompson) thought, like others, that all 16 regulations should be in a single package. The decision was made by the Health and Safety Commission; it was not decided by me or any other Minister. I think that it is a help that the consultations should proceed separately on different parts. The consultations will be interlinked and we may have to refer back to the regulations and to the code of practice later. The other parts of the package will have to be examined in the light of these regulations.
A senior British Coal official made a statement recently about the code of practice. I want to make it absolutely clear that neither British Coal nor any other mine owner can choose whether to comply with the law or with the regulations. I have explained that prosecution can follow breaches of the regulations. Mine owners will have to satisfy the courts that their chosen methods meet the regulations. So British Coal is not and should not be above the law.
Several hon. Members referred to the arrangements for nine men working in a heading. The position is that inspectors frequently granted exemptions from the provisions of the old law when more than nine men were to work in a single entry blind heading. Under the new regulations a mine manager must notify us—
§ It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to order [21 April]:
§ The House divided: Ayes 24, Noes 95.924
|Division No. 176]||[11.47 pm|
|Alton, David||McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)||Maxton, John|
|Beith, A. J.||Nellist, Dave|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Cryer, Bob||Salmond, Alex|
|Galbraith, Sam||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|Gordon, Mildred||Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)|
|Graham, Thomas||Vaz, Keith|
|Hardy, Peter||Wallace, James|
|Haynes, Frank||Wilson, Brian|
|Ingram, Adam||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Livsey, Richard||Mr. Dennis Skinner and|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Mr. Martin Redmond.|
|Alexander, Richard||Irvine, Michael|
|Amess, David||Jack, Michael|
|Amos, Alan||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Arbuthnot, James||Knapman, Roger|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Lang, Ian|
|Batiste, Spencer||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Bellingham, Henry||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Lightbown, David|
|Boswell, Tim||Lord, Michael|
|Bowis, John||Lyell, Sir Nicholas|
|Brazier, Julian||Maclean, David|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Mans, Keith|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)||Martin, David (Portsmouth S)|
|Burns, Simon||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Burt, Alistair||Mills, Iain|
|Butcher, John||Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Carrington, Matthew||Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)|
|Cash, William||Norris, Steve|
|Chapman, Sydney||Raffan, Keith|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Ryder, Richard|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Cope, Rt Hon John||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Couchman, James||Shersby, Michael|
|Cran, James||Stern, Michael|
|Day, Stephen||Stevens, Lewis|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)|
|Dover, Den||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Durant, Tony||Summerson, Hugo|
|Fallon, Michael||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Fishburn, John Dudley||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Forman, Nigel||Thurnham, Peter|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Freeman, Roger||Waddington, Rt Hon David|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Walker, Bill (T'side North)|
|Greenway, John (Ryedale)||Waller, Gary|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Watts, John|
|Hague, William||Wheeler, John|
|Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Hayward, Robert||Wood, Timothy|
|Hind, Kenneth||Yeo, Tim|
|Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)|
|Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Hunt, David (Wirral W)||Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||and Mr. Tom Sackville.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.