HC Deb 20 February 1989 vol 147 cc804-9

Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

10.1 pm

Mr. Andrew Welsh

I am disappointed by the Bill and the Government's handling of it. Even the most arrogant and self-assured Government must surely concede that somewhere, sometime, something that the Opposition have said must be of some relevance to the Government's operations—but not this Government. They and they alone decide what they want and push through their measures. They have listened to nothing that Opposition Members have said, apart from on one tiny amendment. In so doing, the Government have rejected a series of amendments designed to protect consumers and transport users, ensure employee-management buy-outs with guaranteed rights for employees and passengers, create an integrated transport system, ensure that services are maintained, protect the needs of individuals and groups, including the handicapped and women, and protect people in remoter parts of Scotland. All the amendments have been swept to one side by the Government. Without exception, all those amendments, which were fair and desirable, were turned down. That is disappointing.

The Government have always used their English majority, whether in Committee or on the Floor of the House, to force legislation on Scotland. If we had any choice about it, the Scots would never accept it. Scotland has rejected the Government's measures. The Government have no mandate to put them forward. If this measure were discussed in a purely Scottish forum, it would be rejected.

The Government have shown a closed mind in promoting the legislation. They are lumping English legislation—matters which are designed purely for England—on to Scotland without any real thought. We have had yuppie education, yuppie health and now we are getting yuppie transport. [Interruption.] Some of the yuppies have just arrived. The Legislation was not designed with Scotland in mind.

I am glad to see some English Members present. They have not been present for any part of the debate, but they have turned up at the last minute to vote. That proves the point that I am trying to make. The Government are using their English majority to force the legislation through. They have again refused to understand the needs of Scottish transport users. We expect no better from the Government. We have received various reassurances from the Minister. I hope that the future does not prove him wrong, but I suspect that it will prove him and the legislation to be misguided.

10.4 pm

Mr. Bill Walker

I welcome the Bill and the Third Reading debate, and I do so on a special day for me. This is my 60th birthday. I will long remember the Third Reading debate, having had the opportunity to serve on two Standing Committees at the same time and the challenges that that presents, particularly when one has moved amendments and wishes to speak in both Committees. It is quite challenging.

That is why I welcome this opportunity to say to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary that, contrary to some of the views expressed by the Opposition, there is no question but that employees of Strathtay are keen to become shareholders in the company where they work. I have no doubt that they represent a changing view. It is one of the Government's successes that we have made ordinary working people realise the value of having shares in the company where they work. That has been made possible by the sort of legislation that the Government have been putting through. Employee-management buy-outs are popular, and even the trade unions have had to accept that.

In addition, the Bill provides the opportunity for the control and ownership of the SBG to be transferred to Scotland. I am optimistic that not only will management-employee buy-outs be successful, but that other Scottish companies in the bus and coach industry will have the opportunities to acquire parts of it.

All that means that Scotland can look forward to owning and running the buses that we have, knowing full well that the people working on them are probably shareholders and will have the interests of the passengers at heart. That is what this is all about.

10.6 pm

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I welcome the strong representations from my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) on behalf of employees working for Strathtay.

I wish to answer the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson), who said that one point has not been answered. He asked what the position was of a company which says in its bid that it will operate a concessionary fares scheme, but fails to do so in practice. While there is no statutory sanction, there could well be a contractual obligation and commitment in the sale agreement. I shall certainly look into that point further.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir. H. Monro) spoke about better bus services and the Bill being a change for the better. He stressed the importance and value of bus stations, and we shall bear that in mind.

The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North asked whether Kenneth Ryden was involved in Southampton.

To the best of our knowledge, it was not, but we shall check up on that. He asked who the two new appointees were to the board. One is David Erdal who is chairman of Tullis Russell, the paper makers in Fife. He has introduced an employee share ownership plan to his company. It is the first in Scotland and his contribution to the board will be invaluable, especially on the issue of employee participation. The second appointee is Mr. Robert Temple, formerly finance director of Distillers.

It has been pointed out that only one amendment has been granted.

Mr. Wilson

Before the Minister moves on, we should have more information about those appointments. The first sounds reasonable, but the second is mysterious to say the least. One hopes that the connection between Distillers and bus operating is limited. Since the STG will probably disappear well within two years, why were those gentlemen appointed for two years? Will there be any follow-on into the membership of the CalMac board?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Names have not yet been considered, so I cannot say who will be appointed to the CalMac board. The former finance director of Distillers will have expert knowledge on what bids and mergers are about. That and his financial expertise will be useful.

A considerable number of commitments—

Mr. Wilson

Will the Minister give way?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

No. I have answered the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Wilson rose—

Mr. Speaker


Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I have told the hon. Gentleman that names for the CalMac board have not yet been considered.

Commitments have been given to consult the Scottish Consumer Council and the Rural Forum. That has been arranged and there will be a meeting with them on 27 February. There have been comments about further meetings with the Scottish Trades Union Congress, and I have offered to meet Mr. Stevenson of the Transport and General Workers Union. I said that I would try to obtain information about the action taken by bus operators to implement the recommended bus specifications, and I reported to the Committee on the information that I had obtained. I made it clear that I had followed up with the Scottish Development Agency the need for management-employee buy-out teams to receive the same treatment as any other applicant for assistance from the SDA.

We gave an undertaking to the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) to look for candidates for the CalMac board among residents of the islands, and we shall of course do that.

The Bill offers significant opportunities to those involved in the bus industry in Scotland. It will provide the opportunity for more competition. It will offer the opportunity for management-employee buy-outs, for management and employees to own the companies in which they work. It will offer the chance of greater local responsiveness. There will be a new board for CalMac and a fresh look at the company's operations against the background of our continuing commitment to the present quality of services to the islands.

I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 192, Noes 113.

Division No. 106] [10.10 pm
Alexander, Richard Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Grist, Ian
Amess, David Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Amos, Alan Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Arbuthnot, James Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Hanley, Jeremy
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Hannam, John
Ashby, David Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Atkins, Robert Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Harris, David
Batiste, Spencer Hayes, Jerry
Bellingham, Henry Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Bendall, Vivian Hayward, Robert
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Benyon, W. Heddle, John
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Boswell, Tim Hill, James
Bottomley, Peter Hind, Kenneth
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Hordern, Sir Peter
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Howard, Michael
Brazier, Julian Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Bright, Graham Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Browne, John (Winchester) Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Buck, Sir Antony Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Burns, Simon Hunter, Andrew
Butcher, John Irvine, Michael
Butler, Chris Jack, Michael
Butterfill, John Janman, Tim
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Carrington, Matthew Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Carttiss, Michael Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Cash, William King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Chapman, Sydney Knowles, Michael
Chope, Christopher Lang, Ian
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Lawrence, Ivan
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Lightbown, David
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Cope, Rt Hon John Lord, Michael
Currie, Mrs Edwina Mans, Keith
Davis, David (Boothferry) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Day, Stephen Miller, Sir Hal
Devlin, Tim Mills, Iain
Dorrell, Stephen Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Mitchell, Sir David
Dover, Den Monro, Sir Hector
Dunn, Bob Moore, Rt Hon John
Evennett, David Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Morrison, Sir Charles
Fallon, Michael Moss, Malcolm
Favell, Tony Mudd, David
Fenner, Dame Peggy Nelson, Anthony
Fishburn, John Dudley Neubert, Michael
Fookes, Dame Janet Nicholls, Patrick
Forman, Nigel Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Forth, Eric Norris, Steve
Fox, Sir Marcus Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Franks, Cecil Oppenheim, Phillip
Freeman, Roger Page, Richard
Gale, Roger Paice, James
Gill, Christopher Patnick, Irvine
Glyn, Dr Alan Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Porter, David (Waveney)
Gow, Ian Powell, William (Corby)
Greenway, Harry (Eating N) Price, Sir David
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Raff an, Keith
Gregory, Conal Rathbone, Tim
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Haynes, Frank
Alton, David Home Robertson, John
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Hood, Jimmy
Beckett, Margaret Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Beith, A. J. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & Ft'dish) Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Blunkett, David Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Boateng, Paul Ingram, Adam
Bradley, Keith Janner, Greville
Bray, Dr Jeremy Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Kennedy, Charles
Buchan, Norman Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Buckley, George J. Lamond, James
Caborn, Richard Leadbitter, Ted
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Lewis, Terry
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Loyden, Eddie
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) McAllion, John
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) McAvoy, Thomas
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) McCartney, Ian
Clay, Bob Macdonald, Calum A.
Clelland, David McFall, John
Cohen, Harry McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) McKelvey, William
Cook, Robin (Livingston) McNamara, Kevin
Cox, Tom McTaggart, Bob
Crowther, Stan McWilliam, John
Cummings, John Madden, Max
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Marek, Dr John
Dewar, Donald Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dixon, Don Martlew, Eric
Doran, Frank Maxton, John
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Meale, Alan
Evans, John (St Helens N) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Fearn, Ronald Morgan, Rhodri
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Mullin, Chris
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Murphy, Paul
Fisher, Mark Patchett, Terry
Flynn, Paul Pike, Peter L.
Foster, Derek Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Fyfe, Maria Reid, Dr John
Galbraith, Sam Robertson, George
Galloway, George Short, Clare
Godman, Dr Norman A. Skinner, Dennis
Golding, Mrs Llin Spearing, Nigel
Gordon, Mildred Steinberg, Gerry
Graham, Thomas Strang, Gavin
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Wall, Pat
Redwood, John Tracey, Richard
Renton, Tim Tredinnick, David
Riddick, Graham Trippier, David
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Twinn, Dr Ian
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Waddington, Rt Hon David
Sackville, Hon Tom Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shaw, David (Dover) Walden, George
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Waller, Gary
Skeet, Sir Trevor Ward, John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wells, Bowen
Speller, Tony Wheeler, John
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Widdecombe, Ann
Stanbrook, Ivor Wiggin, Jerry
Stern, Michael Wilkinson, John
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Wilshire. David
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Winterton, Mrs Ann
Summerson, Hugo Winterton, Nicholas
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Woltson, Mark
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Wood, Timothy
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Tellers for the Ayes:
Thurnham, Peter Mr. David Maclean and
Townend, John (Bridlington) Mr. Tony Durant.
Wareing, Robert N. Wray, Jimmy
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Wigley, Dafydd Tellers for the Noes:
Wilson, Brian Mr. Ken Eastham and
Wise, Mrs Audrey Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie.
Worthington, Tony

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time,and passed.