HC Deb 29 January 1990 vol 166 cc113-32 10.15 pm
Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Welfare Food Amendment Regulations 1990 (S.I., 1990, No. 3), dated 3rd January 1990, a copy of which was laid before this House on 5th January, be annulled. By these regulations the Government have achieved a rare feat. Few measures have aroused with equal passion the wrath of both the Child Poverty Action Group and the National Farmers Union. This is a mean malicious measure that has been universally condemned, and the whole milk business speaks on it with one voice—producers' milk producers, milk processors, creameries, milkmen, milk women and milk drinkers. I am sure that, if the cows themselves could join in, they would, bellowing a chorus of derision and denunciation.

More than 120 Members of the House signed an early-day motion, which condemned this inept and damaging decision to short-change the milk industry. It states: this House condemns the decision to reduce the redemption value of welfare milk tokens; is convinced that this autocratic cut will put in jeopardy a beneficial nutritional service to handicapped children, vulnerable nursing and pregnant mothers and their children; believes that it unfairly slashes the precarious income of milkmen and the milk industry. The decision is based on the Government's failure to appreciate the value of the work of milkmen in collecting and redeeming the tokens.

My normal practice is magnanimously to refer at first to any beneficial effects of legislation, but this time that is not possible because the regulations are damaging in every syllable, and every assumption that they make is wrong. They are friendless regulations, which can be justified only if one believes that the only function of Government is to reduce public spending, regardless of the social havoc that will be caused.

To understand the thinking behind the regulations is not easy. I would ask my hon. Friends to try to perform the mental gymnastics necessary to get down to the primitive protozoan level of thinking at which the Government's corporate brain functions. It is not the brain of homo sapiens—of reasonable humankind; it is the regressive, crude, tunnel-thinking brain of homo Thatcherus. So single-minded has the Government's pursuit of price-cutting and penny-pinching become that they now bargain and cheat with the guile of a stallholder in the souk in Baghdad and with the morality of an Arthur Daley. The Government have decided that there is virtue to be gained by getting good value for money. That is a laudable aim and one that we would all applaud. Big-spending Governments need to be circumspect, especially when they are buying Trident missiles, battle tanks, and jet aircraft. Of course these should come cheaper by the dozen. However, the crude assumption is that all bulk buying must be rewarded with a discount.

The Government certainly buy milk in bulk—£80 million worth. Therefore, they quite illogically deduce that there must be economies of scale. Of course, there would be economies if the milk was sold in bulk by tankers going round to the delivery points. However, that is meaningless in this case because welfare milk is delivered in pints very expensively and slowly on individual doorsteps. Not one drop of it is bulk delivered. There are no economies of scale and no price advantages from bulk purchase.

The regulations will cause a serious financial loss. The Associated Co-operative Creameries knows of some milkmen who deliver 200 welfare pints of milk a week. Under the regulations, that would represent a loss of £42 a week, or £2,184 a year. That could be a mortal blow for a small business.

The Department of Social Security and the Department of Health claim that they are being scrupulously fair and claim that the grief of the cut in milkmen's incomes could be shared with other sectors of the industry through a process of horse trading. In that case, the milkmen would be negotiating from a position of weakness.

The Government will save the not inconsiderable sum of £10 million, but that is a small sum in terms of DSS and Department of Health spending. At whose expense will that saving occur? The milkmen will suffer directly this week, out of their own pockets.

A milkman from the Gaer in my constituency has written to me asking, Why should I foot the bill for a welfare benefit? Why should I take a cut in my income in order to provide a service that the Government should provide? This is on top of the taxes that I pay already. What will happen next? Will the Government ask bus drivers to chip in to pay for free trips for pensioners? Will they ask nurses for a whip round to pay for operations? The NFU, a friend of the Conservative party, states: This is an unjustifiable attempt to force the dairy industry to pay for a national welfare scheme that is primarily in the interests of the nation. The milk industry suffers from low profit margins. If it cannot absorb the cuts, the loss must be repaid by the customers and the price of milk will rise. That is a familiar story of the Government cutting their costs by shifting the burden on to the milk buyers—the taxpayers.

All hon. Members will be aware that it is impossible these days to have a conversation with small business people without their bringing up their great anxiety that their businesses will no longer shortly be viable because of high interest rates and inflation. Last year there was a record number of small business failures. For many milkmen, this theft of a small part of their legitimate income may be the final straw that wrecks their business.

One of the Government's false claims that has greatly angered the trade is that they have negotiated with the industry on this matter. Negotiation is understood to be a process of bargaining and give and take at the end of which a consensus and agreement is struck. That is not what has happened in this case. The Government have obviously been reading the book entitled, "How to Strike a Bargain" by the late unlamented Nicolae Ceausescu. It is not a consensus so much as a Caeusensus. It is an autocratic act.

The managing director of Associated Dairies in Leeds confirms that there was no agreement. He wrote angrily: As recently as January 10th representatives of the dairy trade met with the Minister reponsible to advise her that the changes had been constructed on false assumptions. They were met with a simple refusal to reconsider the decision. "Change has been imposed", state the master dairymen of London. The Dairy Trade Federation, which represents all first-hand buyers of milk from the Milk Marketing Board, has refuted the claim that amendments came about through negotiations with the dairy industry. It insists that it consistently opposed any proposals regarding the discounts scheme. The Associated Co-operative Creameries in Tyne and Wear state that there has been no agreement and states that the proposed changes are an imposition, not a negotiation.

What will be the outcome of these damaging regulations? Some milkmen with a small number of welfare milk beneficiaries will abandon those deliveries as the continuing hassle of collecting the small number of milk tokens will not be worth their while because of diminishing returns. It is clear that the Government have foreseen that as regulation 9(1) will allow beneficiaries who cannot exchange their tokens for milk to redeem them for cash. That is proof that the Government have anticipated the actions of many milkmen.

The Government's action is also sinister as it may be the start of a process to undermine the welfare scheme. The purpose of that scheme is to provide fine, nutritious food for those in greatest need. I believe that the Government may come back at a later stage to say that the scheme is not working.

Other milkmen will have no choice but to continue with the scheme. I am told that in some areas it is not uncommon for welfare milk to account for between 25 and 50 per cent. of the total round. Such milkmen are in deep trouble as they will be unable to recover the cost from their claimant customers, or abandon that business without inviting swift bankruptcy. Inevitably they will be faced with a crippling new financial loss.

Governments of all colours have long recognised that whole or homogenised milk should be a staple item in the diet of the under-fives and other vulnerable groups. There is a social obligation to ensure that such valuable food reaches pregnant mothers, nursing mothers, children in families whose income is uncertain and families where access to shops is restricted because the lone parent, usually the mother, is encumbered by pushchairs, shopping baskets or her pregnancy. Often such mothers are virtually imprisoned in their homes because of the demands of their young families. The daily delivery of a heavy, essential item of food is a godsend. Now it will be put at grave risk.

The regulations also pose a threat to the daily pinta. The dairy industry has already made a strong case against milkmen being short changed. It believes that milkmen should receive extra money for handling the tokens, especially as it involves a great deal of extra work. The milkman must collect the tokens, collate them, parcel them up and send them off. If there is any loss the milkman must make up the difference. Once the tokens have been despatched, he must wait at least a fortnight to be repaid, and often that results in a cash flow problem. The process is lengthy and cumbersome. The NFU has confirmed that the new procedural arrangements set out in the regulations and the extra records required by the Department will increase the administrative burden at all stages of the process.

Milkmen provide a splendid service by delivering the daily pinta—a service unique to Britain.

Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly)

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Government stand to save about £7.5 million as a result of the regulations? My hon. Friend has given a comprehensive list of our reasons for opposing the new scheme as well as a full list of the organisations and individuals opposed to it. Why are the Government seeking to introduce such a maladroit and vindictive scheme, which will save them a mere £7.5 million? In terms of the Department's total budget, that sum is infinitesimal. Given that my hon. Friend is trying to interpret the Minister's mind, what reasons does he believe lie behind the Government's decision?

Mr. Flynn

It is not for me to delve into an area of psychology that has always been beyond me. I do not pretend to understand the mind of the homo Thatcherus. The Government have tunnel vision, which dictates that they must save money. They believe that that principle, having worked in some areas, must work in all. That is why they have fallen into the trap of believing that, if there is bulk purchase, they must receive a discount. That policy may work in the corner shop, but it should not be adopted by a Government who should have other responsibilities other than merely reducing public spending. The Government have blundered on this because their thinking is fixed on tramlines and they cannot get off them. Certainly there are many contracts in which money can be saved.

All Governments have a duty to ensure that they get the best bargain and the best arrangement, but that is totally unjustified in a case such as this, where the casualties will be vulnerable people. In my experience, reaction to the provisions has been universally hostile. I do not know anyone, other than Government spokesmen, who have seen this as anything other than a calamity.

We must consider the service provided to us by the milkmen. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) that the total amount that has been spent on milk is £80 million and that the saving will be at least £8 million, but it could be as much as £10 million. Milkmen provide us with a marvellous service and are popular people in our society. They turn up in the most miserable weather, and at the most bleakly unsocial hours to deliver a heavy, awkward, essential food to our doorsteps.

The daily pinta is already enjoying a fragile survival, trading on the good will of the milkmen who toil for poor financial rewards. Why do an ungrateful Government insult them and the value of their work by imposing this penny-pinching cut on their small earnings?

Welfare milk tokens are lifesavers. They form a good-value scheme that provides a fine daily nutritional base for 500,000 families in greatest need. The Government are short-changing the milkmen. They are putting the pinta at risk and are sabotaging a welfare provision that has beneficially nurtured two generations. The regulations are miserly, inhuman and unjust.

10.31 pm
Mr. Donald Thompson (Calder Valley)

This is a niggardly little piece of legislation. I shall not repeat all that the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) said, but my hon. Friend the Minister has obviously been misled by inadequate, half-baked consultants and has been badly advised by whoever advises him on this matter.

I can see the reasons for saying that there is a huge purchase of this milk and for the Government therefore thinking that there should be some discount, but to do it in this way is short-sighted. The Secretary of State will gain another "milk-snatcher" title if he proceeds with the regulations.

How can we talk about "remote areas" in the press release, but not understand that to be at the top of a high-rise block of flats, with a couple of kids and a husband who is out at work all day, is to be in a "remote area"? How can we say, "You can exchange these tokens for cash", because that is what will happen? People will trade in the milk tokens and buy and sell them. The supermarket will take, say, 15 box tops and six milk tokens and knock the value of them off the bill. The cashier will say, "Thank you, Mrs. Smith, that's £35.72 less £7.80, including the milk tokens", but there might not be any milk in the basket. The Government and my hon. Friend do not care about that; nobody cares except the milk industry. Under this system, we will drive people to swapping milk tokens for cash. We may as well have food stamps that can be sold for cash.

The whole crux of this badly advised, badly constructed, half-baked, consultants' dream is regulation 5. How can we say that people can sell milk for any price that they like, but that a chap cannot charge for going to the top of a block of high-rise flats? How can we say that a milkman cannot say to Mrs. Jones, "I've got to charge you 3p for this", when she may say that she does not want to pay 21p or 42p per week, or whatever it is, and that she will go down to the supermarket instead?

How can our party stop a deal like that? We are in business to do a deal. What if someone says, "I'm not going to pay you 3p for your milk"? It is true that the milkman will be able to charge a general charge of, say, 3p to everybody, but he will be able to say, "You lot don't pay—I'll only charge this lady with the milk."

Are we to have another 50,000, 5,000 or even five civil servants conducting sweeps to determine whether people are charging 3p or 2p to deliver a bottle of milk? We are supposed to be getting rid of that sort of practice.

I know no one in favour of these regulations. I also know no one who does not believe that a small charge for delivery would be reasonable. Regulations 5 and 7 could be amended or deleted to make the regulations more palatable, at the very least.

Some months ago my hon. Friend the Minister and I were wise enough to weigh public opinion on green top milk. We did not receive much help from the Opposition, 1 may say. Anyway, my hon. Friend and I listened to what the consumer had to say, and we withdrew our regulations on green top milk because we had listened to public opinion. I advise my hon. Friend to do the same tonight.

10.36 pm
Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South)

I shall not detain the House long. The hon. Member for Calder Valley (Mr. Thompson) comes from the part of the West Riding in which there are many small dairies and he understands the issue well. He has made many good points, adding to those made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn).

I agree that the regulations should be withdrawn. For the greater part of my time of nearly 30 years in the House I have represented an inner city. Many people in it need welfare milk. This marks the beginning of finding an end to the scheme, which has been with us for 40 years. As a result of a redistribution of boundaries, my constituency now contains many small dairies on the borders of the constituencies of the hon. Member for Batley and Spen (Mrs. Peacock) and of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden). I imagine that we have received similar letters. I want to raise one or two points from letters that I have received from some of the larger dairies.

Associated Dairies, whose head office is in Kirkstall road, Leeds, has written to me to say that towards the end of last year a Minister assured the House of Lords that 'There will be provision to enable this reduction to be shared between all sectors of the trade on a voluntary basis'. That has not been done; there is no such scheme. The letter went on: It is now clear that the Department of Health has made no provision for this sharing" I hope that the Minister will explain that— apart from a suggestion to welfare milk suppliers that the cost of the reduction which the Government have imposed, should be shared equally by the milk producer, the milk processor and the milk distributor. Indeed, I believe that the DOH/DSS officials acknowledge that they laid the Statutory Instrument before Parliament after having received advice from officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food that it would not be possible under the Milk Marketing Scheme, for the Milk Marketing Board to contribute on behalf of its producers. What is the point of making a suggestion if it cannot then be implemented? The letter effectively alleges that the Minister misled the other place. That only fuels concern about what has been done to the welfare milk scheme—

Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the point about sharing, has he managed to perceive—I have not—how a producer-retailer can share the cost with anybody when he has no one with whom to share it?

Mr. Rees

I imagine that some of the hon. Gentleman's constituents know a great deal about dairy farming and will also suffer from this.

The other letter came from the managing director, Mr. Blackburn, of a dairy at Wakefield which no doubt serves Batley and perhaps Bradford. He said that even in high-density welfare milk areas, which affect a relatively small number of rounds, the dairy men will be adversely affected. He raised the same point differently. He said: Admittedly, the proposal allows the constituent parts of the industry, including the Milk Marketing Board, to negotiate a sharing of the grief. Such a negotiation would appear to us to be of the type generally frowned upon by the OFT. It has been alleged that the other place was misled and that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food could not substantiate the claim made by the Department. Now it appears that the Office of Fair Trading would be against the Government's sharing plans. I leave my case there.

We all know the problems that the dairy industry will face, particularly the small dairy men in the West Riding. The best thing that the Government can do is to withdraw the regulations. The former Minister, the hon. Member for Calder Valley, recalled, "Thatcher, Thatcher, Milk Snatcher". Is that the Government's theme: that money can be saved on welfare milk? The scheme is misconceived and bad. All Members who feel strongly about it will vote against the Government.

10.41 pm
Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

One puzzle about the scheme is why it has anything to do with the Department of Health. When the Department of Health and Social Security was dismantled I would have expected the scheme to come under the Department of Social Security, because it exists to cater for deprived people for whose benefit the original scheme was proposed. This is not primarily for the Department of Health. My hon. Friend the Minister needs to explain why he is sitting on the Front Bench dealing with this matter, instead of a Minister from the Department of Social Security. Clearly, this is in the nature of a welfare benefit.

That cat is well and truly out of the bag when people can cash the tokens in a social security office, not for milk, but for money, almost all of which in many cases will have gone to the bus company which brought them there, especially if they come from rural areas.

Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

Because of bus deregulation.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

That would have been equally true without deregulation. If people have to get to a social security office miles away it will cost money.

Villages do not have social security offices, nor do many towns. It may not have occurred to officials in London that some parts of Britain do not have social security offices. That is the reality in vast areas of Britain, particularly where there are producer-retailers. They are not to be found in the centres of London, Birmingham and Manchester. They are, by definition, in rural areas.

This is one of the most ill-conceived schemes that I have seen. The sum of money, even gross, is negligible, let alone when net of the considerable administrative costs. It serves no obvious purpose that the benefit should be taken away. Wise Ministers withdraw ill-conceived statutory instruments when defects are pointed out. That is the fate which should overtake this one tonight.

10.45 pm
Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Cromarty and Skye)

The broad issues of concern about and the objections to the scheme have been expressed to good effect by hon. Members on both sides of the House. I shall be brief and raise a specific regional point about the impact of the scheme. I hope that the Minister will pay attention and respond to my point at the end of the debate. One of my constituents, Mr. Robert Hosford, who is a retailer running a small village shop on the Isle of Skye, has written to me about the dreadful impact that the revised scheme will have on him. Apart from the additional weighting that has been given to London, the scheme does not adequately take account of the different purchasing costs of milk in different parts of the country. The Minister must appreciate that, for transport and other reasons, the costs and overheads in an area such as the Highlands and Islands are that much greater.

If the scheme goes ahead, the token replacement value will be reduced to 27p per pint. The milk purchased wholesale by my constituent from the local milk board in Dingwall—which is a fair haul from Dunregan—costs 29p per pint. Therefore, small retailers such as my constituent will have to subsidise the Government to the tune of 2p per pint without any profit being made. That is hopelessly unrealistic and quite unworkable. My constituent wrote: We were under the impression that these tokens were given to people who were receiving some sort of subsidy, ie either Social Security or Unemployment Benefit to supplement their low incomes. Although the Milk Marketing Board are obliged to take the tokens, it has been left to the retailer's discretion whether he accepts them or not. We now find that if we do accept the tokens and do not supply 7 pints of milk, at a loss to ourselves, we are liable for a fine of £400."That is a pathetic position in which to place the small retailer. It is typical of what will happen in rural areas. The effect on the Orkneys, the Shetlands and the Western Isles will be even greater because they will have far greater overheads. No proper attention has been given to that matter. The alternatives that have been suggested by Ministers, for example, that the consumer could use a large store or supermarket, are quite unrealistic. For those living in Dunregan there is no point in looking for a supermarket, as that involves a round trip of 46 miles—quite a journey, and petrol costs would wipe out any benefits.

Officials appear to have been wholly unaware of the diversity in the price of milk throughout the country. It would be wise to withdraw the scheme and think again. It is causing great social concern and direct practical economic concern both to those who are due to be the recipients of the scheme and to those small retailers in rural areas who have to administer it. I hope that the Government will have the good sense to take a step back from what is a quite unnecessary and avoidable brink.

10.48 pm
Mrs. Elizabeth Peacock (Batley and Spen)

I regret to inform my hon. Friend the Minister that I cannot support the regulations. They are ill-thought-out, damaging, and against the best interests of all concerned, especially those in most need of the benefit. It is a serious disadvantage to many milkmen—who are small business men, the very people whom we supposedly support.

What is even more serious is that it is a long-term threat to the delivery of the doorstep pinta—the retention of which I have campaigned for over many years. The elderly, the disabled and those with small children living at the top of blocks of flats cannot walk to the supermarket or the corner shop to buy their milk. They are the very people whose nourishment we want to encourage. I agree, of course, that the Government should get the best value for money. Obviously, with bulk purchases they should receive a discount. But bulk purchases should mean bulk delivery as well. I expect the Government to look for good value in all its contracts. As I come from Yorkshire, no one would expect anything else from me. But I do not know any housewife who has a tankerload of milk delivered very often. To me, that—not a pint bottle—is bulk.

Obviously the Government want to spend very wisely the £80 million that is involved. We have a responsibility to the taxpayer to make sure that it is spent wisely. But I am afraid that this is not a means of saving money. The 3p discount that the Government propose is nonsense. As we have all been told, there is no agreement with producers and suppliers. Discussions have taken place, but they have been one-sided. Therefore, either the milkmen or the dairy companies will have to stand the discount. Large welfare milk rounds in inner city areas will suffer huge losses—£50 to £60 a week, it has been prophesied. The milkmen who came to my surgery on Saturday say that even in good areas they will lose £10 to £20 a week. It is outrageous to expect small business men to subsidise any Government scheme by such an amount.

As the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) said, Baroness Hooper, in answer to a parliamentary question in another place on 20 December, said that there would be provision. Where is that provision? At the moment it is not obvious to any of us. It has been suggested that Baroness Hooper misled the House in saying that there would be provision. No one can find it.

Will welfare milk deliveries come to an end? The milkmen are saying that if they do not get a proper price they will have to think very carefully about whether to accept tokens. There is no onus on the retailers to take tokens. If they decide not to take them the whole scheme will be in danger. The idea that tokens could be exchanged for cash is outrageous. What guarantee is there that the money would not be spent on cigarettes or gin? That is not the purpose of subsidising a milk scheme. It is essential that the people in question get nourishing milk, and not other things. The exchange of tokens for cash is not something which the Government or the industry could police; the people receiving the cash could spend it as they pleased.

We are led to believe that this matter was investigated by a consultant. I suggest that a consultant, once he has collected his fee and gone on to his next job, has no responsibility. Perhaps this consultant based his report on what may happen in areas of central London. But central London is quite different from the rest of the country. Milk is usually delivered direct in London by dairy companies. Those companies may be able to make special provision. Certainly in my part of the country the situation is quite different. There, milk is usually delivered by small business men—either people who run their own businesses or people with franchises from dairy companies. The loss to such people would be great.

I am all for Governments spending taxpayers' money wisely and carefully, but this exercise will save only a very small amount and will cause a major upheaval in the very important service of the delivery of milk to our doorsteps. That is my main concern. I suggest that the Government look again at this matter—and do so urgently. Certainly I shall not support the regulations.

10.54 pm
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

It is rather interesting that, so far, not a single hon. Member on either side of the House has been willing to say one word in favour of this measure, and I suggest that it is very unlikely that in the next half hour any hon. Member, except the Minister himself, will defend this decision by the Government. It is absolutely astounding.

In all the literature and statements that they have put out, the Government have talked about negotiation. Negotiation implies agreement at the end of the day. One negotiates in order to reach agreement. But there has been no agreement with the milk processors or with the dairymen, and any suggestion that there has been is completely refuted by a document issued by the Dairy Trade Federation. The federation ends by saying: Finally the Dairy Trade Federation would like to refute the statement, promoted by the DSS, that amendments to the scheme came about through negotiations with the dairy industry. The DTF has consistently opposed any proposals regarding the introduction of a discount system. Many of the people working in the dairy industry are small business men. The Government tell us—though I never believe them—that they are firmly on the side of the small business man. I have always argued that they are on the side of the small business man's biggest enemy—big business. In my view, it is big business that the Government try to protect.

In many areas, franchises are more and more the accepted way of retailing milk. The people who run franchises have to take out a second mortgage, repay bank loans at high interest rates, rent vans, and pay for relief roundsmen when they fall ill or take a holiday. They should be given proper consideration by any Government, let alone the present one.

A probable consequence of the regulation is that some of those people will go out of business, and that will affect many households. An estimated 650,000 households currently receive tokens, accounting for 800,000 children, so the best part of 1 million children will be affected by the change. The Government may argue that they are not ending the scheme, only changing the way it operates, and that existing beneficiaries will continue to benefit. But will they?

One of the regulation's consequences is that many dairies and roundsmen will, to save costs, be forced to cut their services. One franchise on Merseyside is talking of reducing its labour force by 25 per cent., causing more jobless in an area of existing high unemployment. The Co-operative movement in Skelmersdale may also be forced to make redundancies and to review its delivery services if the scheme goes through. The question of the additional costs burden also arises.

In some cases, as much as 40 per cent. of weekly takings will be affected by the Government's proposals. Even those firms that do not go out of business will suffer heavy losses. Those worst affected on Merseyside will include a Bootle franchise that currently takes 260 tokens valued at £546, so that that small firm will lose £54.60 per week. A franchise in Huyton collecting 250 tokens valued at £525 will lose £52.50 weekly. Another in Toxteth, a poor area of Liverpool, takes 180 tokens valued at £378 per week, so it will lose £37.80.

There can be no argument but that that loss will be shared by the Government, and the Milk Marketing Board has already stated that it does not wish to deviate from the selling price agreed with the federation. Perhaps the Minister has some influence with the Milk Marketing Board, but it appears that the full burden of the change will fall initially on the back of the retail milk trade.

Ultimately, those of our constituents living in poorer areas will suffer, because many milk delivery services will end. It may be said that they can make their way to the supermarket, but many are old and disabled. Moreover, that would leave the scheme increasingly open to abuse. Milk, like bread, is used by supermarkets as a loss leader for other products, and there is nothing to stop them from using milk tokens for other supplies: indeed, that is probably happening already. The only way in which we can be certain that value for money is being obtained—that the tokens are being used for their intended purpose—is to ensure the continuation of a viable retail dairy facility.

There is a further social aspect to doorstep deliveries. For many old or disabled people, they provide a point of contact with the outside world. I am aware that milkmen are not there to act as social workers, but I know of at least one case—and there have probably been many others—of an old or disabled person being found very ill. No one has visited for days and days; it is the milk roundsman who finds that Mrs. Jones is unwell. It is not, of course, the Minister's responsibility to provide that social service, but it is there none the less, and many people will miss the contact that it provides.

People who do not receive milk tokens will suffer as well. For one thing, the loss of a delivery service in a particular area will hit the general customer as well as the milk token customer: indeed, in some cases it will be the general customer who bears the cost. In many impoverished areas poor Peter will be paying poor Paul, subsidising a scheme that should properly be paid for by the Government.

This is a penny-pinching regulation. When the Government talk of achieving better value for money, what do they mean? Do they mean better value for the customer? Certainly that cannot be so. Do they mean better value for the milk roundsman? That cannot he so either. Do they, perhaps, mean better value for the Government? I suggest that the real reason for the debate is that the Department—like all Government Departments—has been faced with a diktat from the Prime Minister. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, "Here is the public expenditure survey: look at the high interest rates and the balance of payments, and tell me whether we can afford tax cuts this year. You had better do your share and come up with an idea that might save a little money here and there."

I do not think that £8 million is worth it, and I think that the general public—the electorate in all our constituencies—will be up in arms as the regulation starts to take effect, as it apparently did yesterday. There is time for the Government to reconsider, though, and I hope that what has been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House will show the Minister that he must do so. If he has not the authority to deal with the matter tonight, I suggest that he promise a review of the scheme's impact in three to six months' time, and undertake to enter into proper negotiations that will produce an agreement with the trade unions and other interested parties.

11.3 pm

Mr. Andy Stewart (Sherwood)

It appears that the result of tonight's debate is a foregone conclusion, as the regulations that we are discussing were introduced on Sunday 28 January. That opinion is shared by my milk-delivery constituents, who wrote to me on 26 October 1989 opposing the proposals. When I wrote on their behalf to the Department of Social Security asking for clarification, my letter was forwarded to the Department of Health, as that Department was now responsible; only today did I receive a reply. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will agree that a wait of three months is unacceptable.

Mr. Donald Thompson

Will my hon. Friend give those dates again, please?

Mr. Stewart

I wrote to the Department of Social Security on 26 October. I have received a reply today.

The welfare milk scheme, introduced in 1945, has benefited millions of children. Milk—nature's natural food—cannot be bettered. I welcome the Government's commitment that the scheme will continue. Milk roundspeople in my constituency feel that the proposed 10 per cent. reduction in the value of the tokens will come solely from their business operations, yet the Department of Health stated that, following negotiations with milk producers' organisations, wholesalers and retailers, each would bear about one third of the total cost of the reduction. Why should milkmen complain if that were the case? They believe that the Department of Health is naive in thinking that milk wholesalers will be willing to buy milk tokens at a higher price than they would obtain if they surrendered them to the milk token surrender unit.

There are further consequences to consider in my constituency if the regulations are implemented without a guarantee that the price reduction will be shared equally. My constituency is made up of small communities. Delivery costs, therefore, are high. As some dairymen receive 15 per cent. of their income from token sales in poorer areas, they may have no choice but to cease operations.

If there is a reduction in the number of milk rounds that are willing or able to accept tokens, recipients of tokens will be forced to go to the shops where tokens are frequently accepted for goods other than milk. An increase in that practice would undermine the scheme and what it purports to achieve.

The Department's argument, that procedural changes will make reimbursement simpler, is unsubstantiated. I am told that the additional records that would be required by the Department would increase the administrative burden on all processors. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will assure us that he will review the workings of the regulations in a few months to ensure that they are working as he suggests and that the price reduction for milk tokens will be shared equally and not exclusively by milk roundsmen.

Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have now heard enough from hon. Members on both sides of the House to convince me that the scheme is flawed. Would it not be helpful if we were now to hear the Minister's explanation of why the scheme—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. That is not a point of order. When the Minister rises and seeks to catch my eye, that will be the appropriate time for me to consider whether he should be called.

11.7 pm

Mr. Thomas McAvoy (Glasgow, Rutherglen)

I wholeheartedly endorse all that was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn). The regulations will strike at the heart of a balanced system which, on the whole, has worked well and has been appreciated by those who have received the milk. The milk provided by the scheme for many of these people guarantees that they have some nutritious food. Anything that adversely affects the milk supplier must also affect the future viability of their involvement in the supply of welfare milk.

I am sponsored by the Co-operative movement. I am well aware of the commercial impact that the regulations will have on Co-operative and other milk suppliers. The scheme costs £80 million per annum. The Government are trying to save £8 million. The Co-operative movement, reflecting the philosophy upon which it was founded, is also concerned about the commercial implications of the Government's proposals and the well-being of the users of the scheme. We have not been told why the Government have decided to make an arbitrary 10 per cent. cut. They have given no rational or logical explanation for it.

The hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy) referred to what happens in Scotland. The difference between the cost in London and that in the rest of the country is due to higher costs in the London area. Surely the Minister must be aware that in Scotland, in Wales and in many rural parts of England costs must be higher because of distance and terrain.

A letter from a civil servant to suppliers states that in certain circumstances, such as when a supplier has very high distribution costs, a higher reimbursement price will be paid. That seems to he the status quo. I join the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye in asking for some clarification from the Minister about whether that applies to Scotland and whether it will continue as nothing in the regulations makes that clear.

The Government boast about the free market. Usually, Conservative Back Benchers do, too, but tonight it seems to be only the Government. They boast about the free market and then abuse their position by imposing the idea of a discount without any rational justification for reaching the level of that discount. Surely it is infantile to suggest that the Milk Marketing Board will volunteer to take a share of the cut. The Government know full well that the board will not offer to take a share.

Mr. John Battle (Leeds, West)

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is the view of the dairy associations that under the milk marketing scheme it could be illegal for them to implement the cut?

Mr. McAvoy

Yes. A letter from one of the Co-operative organisations about sharing the grief makes it quite clear that if the Milk Marketing Board were invited to share the grief, it would certainly be a different sort of grief if Oftel were involved in those considerations. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point.

There is no bulk delivery and no guaranteed continuity of supply. The Government quote a free market philosophy, but use their power to fix the market. That is despicable, particularly when it is used against small business men.

Occasionally Conservative Members have accused Labour Members of being too closely associated with clause four of the Labour party constitution. I am quite sure that tonight's vote will demonstrate another clause which is continually the refuge of Conservative Members trying to dodge responsibility for their actions. It is the suitability clause—"never mind the principles, the policy or the people, just do what suits us". That is the clause that many Conservative Members will follow tonight when they troop through the Lobby to support the Government.

The selling price of the milk must be a matter for individual dairy companies in open competition. The Dairy Trade Federation believes that the imposition by legislation of a fixed national discount will greately impede the viability of the welfare milk scheme.

I believe that the measure is the start of the death by a thousand cuts of the welfare milk scheme. It is the Government's first step towards getting rid of the scheme. They can hardly find £2 million or £3 million here and there to cope with this, but I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House believe that it is the beginning of the end for the scheme, and that is disgraceful.

11.13 pm
Mr. Christopher Hawkins (High Peak)

I realise that time is short and I shall be very brief. I can save time by saying that I am sad that I cannot support the Government and I agree with the views expressed by my hon. Friends the Members for Calder Valley (Mr. Thompson) and for Batley and Spen (Mrs. Peacock).

I have been asked by my constituents to put three short questions to the Minister. First, why should the small dairies in my constituency carry the cost of a national welfare benefit? Secondly, why give milk tokens at all if the benefit will not be spent on milk as the tokens will be cashed instead? Thirdly, where did we find the imbeciles who have recommended such a crazy scheme?

So far everyone who has spoken has been against the measure and all outside bodies that made representations to me or to anyone else I have talked to also oppose the measure. If the Minister does not withdraw the measure tonight, despite the unanimous opposition, what does he think is the purpose of this Chamber?

11.14 pm
Mr. John Battle (Leeds, West)

It is clear that the scheme has been ill-thought out and shoddily proposed. As hon. Members have said, it was implemented yesterday, yet tonight we are debating the regulations for implementing it. That is completely the wrong way to legislate.

The comment of the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) that the scheme has been shunted from the Department of Social Security to the Department of Health came as a surprise to me. I thought that the Department of Health was the big-spending Department and was not involved in pound pinching or cuts. The Under-Secretary of State for Health may say that he needs this money to settle a current industrial dispute, but I cannot believe that that is the reason. The Government have a budget surplus of £20 billion, so why do they need to save £7.5 million through this scheme?

The scheme has been going for 40 years and is dependent on one-man businesses. I have received a letter from John Healy, a milkman in Wortley, which says: I collect around 30 Tokens a week which is about £63. I am writing to object in the strongest manner to the way this issue has been handled without any consultations or consideration to its effect". That is precisely the point. The most vulnerable groups in society—single parents in receipt of family credit with children under five, the long-term unemployed and pregnant women—are provided with the benefit of the weekly token. The Government say: The entitlement of beneficiaries to welfare milk is not affected by this change"—[Official Report, 24 January 1990; Vol. 165, c. 714.] That was said in reply to a question tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), so we are entitled to say, "Their entitlement may not be affected, but from where will they pick up their entitlement?"—because this will mean the end of the doorstep delivery.

The dairies have said that there can be no economies of scale. Associated Dairies wrote to me saying: Welfare milk is provided pint by pint to individual households and costs the same to distribute as other milk. Milkmen will refuse to deliver welfare milk for tokens. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Rutherglen (Mr. McAvoy) said, the cost of the change cannot be passed down the chain. Can the Milk Marketing Board legally pick up the tab for the change?

We are debating a pound-pinching measure. We should be concerned to preserve one of the great British institutions—the doorstep pinta. Conservative Members resisted EC proposals to get rid of the doorstep pinta, yet this proposal will have the same effect if it is passed. I urge the Minister to give us a last-minute reprieve.

11.17 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Roger Freeman)

Three major concerns have been expressed by Labour Members and by my hon. Friends, who spoke forcefully and with great authority in this brief debate. They were mentioned initially by the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) and were touched on by my hon. Friends the Members for Batley and Spen (Mrs. Peacock) and for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins). In the short time available, I shall seek to answer not only their concerns but the other points that were made.

The first concern was whether the regulations would damage the welfare milk scheme. The Government do not intend to harm the beneficiaries of the scheme. We do not intend to add to the burdens or diminish the value of the scheme; there is no hidden agenda to remove or modify it.

The second concern was that the regulations will place an unreasonable burden on the milkman. We do not seek to place a burden or inequitable share of the discount on the milkman.

The third concern was that £8 million is an insignificant sum. That is equivalent to about £40,000 per district health authority, or three extra nurses. The money comes out of the Department of Health vote, and I do not think that it is an insignificant sum.

I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart) for the unacceptably late reply. As a Minister, I accept responsibility for it, and I shall look into it. The fact that the Department of Health has to answer 30,000 letters from Members of Parliament each year is no excuse, and I apologise unreservedly for the delay.

Let me deal with the welfare milk scheme. We have no intention to alter that and the proposals will have no effect on the right of beneficiaries under that scheme. As the hon. Member for Newport, West said, it benefits children under the age of five, pregnant mums in families drawing income support, and handicapped children aged from five to 16—some 800,000 beneficiaries in all. It is an important scheme and we have no intention of changing it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) asked why I was to reply to the debate rather than a Minister from the Department of Social Security. The answer is that the scheme is financed from my Department's vote. It costs £80 million for Great Britain, paid for by the various health Departments. It is an important programme, providing nutrition—that is its purpose—to families and children, and accounts for about 2.5 per cent. of all liquid milk produced on our farms.

We are not basing our argument on the fact that we are a bulk purchaser. Unlike Sainsbury's, for example, we are not a bulk purchaser because the milk is delivered in individual pints. But we argue—and we have sought the advice of our consultants, Handley Walker—that without the welfare milk scheme some extra sales, although not all the welfare milk scheme sales, would be lost. If the argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton were pursued to its logical conclusion and the Department of Social Security made a cash payment to the appropriate families, not all that money would be spent on welfare milk. We estimate that about £20 million of contribution to overheads and profits can conservatively be attributed to the scheme. That is equivalent to about 0.3 per cent. of total milk turnover.

Our proposals envisage a saving of about 10 per cent. on that £80 million cost—about £8 million—and that is less than half of our estimate of the additional contribution to profits and overheads that the whole of the milk industry makes from the operation of the scheme—through the Department of Health, as opposed to the Department of Social Security, vote. We therefore propose a 3p discount on the 30p pint delivered in most of the country and the 31p pint in London, with a resulting cost per pint of 28p in London. In reply to the hon. Members for Glasgow, Rutherglen (Mr. McAvoy) and for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy), I can say that separate provisions are made for parts of the country where the regular cost of sale is significantly higher, and the discount would operate off that higher price. The 27p price that I have cited for most of England would not apply in those instances. The discount of 10 per cent. would be taken off the larger sum.

The central point of Opposition Members' arguments turned on the question of who should bear the cost of the discount of £7.5 million to £8 million, which benefits patient care. At present the cost is being recycled in the Department of Health vote. In answer to the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) and others, the Department of Health strongly believes that the burden of the discount should be borne equitably among the producer, the processor and the distributor—I shall refer to each briefly—not the family beneficiaries through a specific delivery charge. My hon. Friend the Member for Calder Valley (Mr. Thompson) is quite right to draw attention to regulation 5. Although we do not countenance a specific charge on the beneficiaries, a general delivery charge applied to all customers is a matter between the milkmen and their customers. That is not dealt with in the regulations.

We believe that negotiations between the Milk Marketing Board and the Dairy Trade Federation should commence promptly. A mechanism exists—through the statutory joint committee—for the very modest reduction in price that would be implied by the farmer—the producer-bearing an equitable proportion of the discount.

The independent deliveryman would account for 40 per cent. of the total distribution element for milk. He should bear only an equitable part of the total discount. He should pass on the other part of the discount—which we argue that the farmer and the processor should bear—either by getting his milk cheaper or by the processor—the bottler—paying a premium on the redemption of the tokens.

Mr. Hawkins

Does not my hon. Friend believe that the Government have a responsibility to sort out who pays for the scheme before they ask the House to approve the regulations?

Mr. Freeman

I will give the assurance asked for by my hon. Friends the Members for High Peak and for Sherwood and others. The regulations come before the House regularly because they must be amended. Unless there is evidence of the principle that I have outlined tonight—an equitable sharing of distribution of that modest burden between the producer, the bottler and the deliveryman—I give an undertaking that we will review the regulations.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

The Minister seems to be struggling to defend the indefensible and the assurance that he has just given is not good enough. Will he give a clear assurance that if the burden is not shared fairly between the three sectors to which he has referred, and if we show within three months that dairymen are losing up to £40 or £50 a week, will he agree to scrap the regulations and reintroduce the status quo with which everyone is satisfied? No one can understand why the Minister is fiddling about with the regulations in this way.

Mr. Freeman

I repeat the assurance that I gave to my hon. Friends who pressed me on that point. If the burden is not being shared in the equitable fashion that I have outlined, we will review the regulations and doubtless the issue will be debated again in the House.

Mr. Hawkins

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister. His comments show that debates in the House sometimes achieve something.

Mr. Freeman

I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

11.28 pm
Mr. Flynn

With the leave of the House, I will respond to the Minister. I believe that we will find that the Milk Marketing Board cannot take on this burden.

A few days ago I had the great privilege of discussing our Parliament with the aspiring members of the new Government in Bucharest and I spoke with pride to the people who expect to be running the country in a few months. I spoke to them in the same way that I have spoken to people in Budapest. I cannot send the Hansard report of tonight's debate to such newly democratised countries with any pride.

In this debate hon. Members from all parties have denounced the regulations. Conservative Members described them as damaging, ill-conceived, flawed and even crazy.

The regulations will be a disgrace to our statute book and a dishonour to democracy. They will cause damage, downgrading and cheating. Even at this late hour and in the event of the regulations being passed, I beg the Government to review them at the earliest possible date.

11.29 pm
Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

I shall try to be helpful to the Minister in the final minute of the debate.

Will the Minister consider using some of the money that will be robbed from milkmen as a result of the regulations to promote the scheme—it operates within the welfare milk regulations—which enables every state nursery with under-fives to claim free milk for them? The Minister is refusing to promote that scheme—he is making local county councils apply individually. Although those authorities that care about their under-fives make such an application, many others are unaware of the scheme. Given the benefits of milk to young children, why does he not promote it?

It being half-past Eleven o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15 ( Prayers against statutory instruments, &c. (negative procedure)):—

The House divided: Ayes 117, Noes 149.

Division No. 54] [11.30 pm
Allen, Graham Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Alton, David Kennedy, Charles
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Lamond, James
Armstrong, Hilary Leadbitter, Ted
Ashton, Joe Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Barron, Kevin McAvoy, Thomas
Battle, John McCartney, Ian
Benn, Rt Hon Tony McFall, John
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Bradley, Keith McWilliam, John
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Madden, Max
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Caborn, Richard Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Callaghan, Jim Maxton, John
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Meale, Alan
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Michael, Alun
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Morgan, Rhodri
Clay, Bob Morley, Elliot
Clelland, David Murphy, Paul
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Nellist, Dave
Cohen, Harry O'Brien, William
Cook, Robin (Livingston) O'Neill, Martin
Corbyn, Jeremy Patchett, Terry
Cousins, Jim Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Crowther, Stan Pendry, Tom
Cryer, Bob Pike, Peter L.
Cummings, John Prescott, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence Primarolo, Dawn
Dalyell, Tam Quin, Ms Joyce
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) Reid, Dr John
Dixon, Don Rogers, Allan
Duffy, A. E. P. Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Dunnachie, Jimmy Short, Clare
Evans, John (St Helens N) Skinner, Dennis
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Soley, Clive
Flynn, Paul Straw, Jack
Foster, Derek Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Foulkes, George Turner, Dennis
Fyfe, Maria Vaz, Keith
Galloway, George Wareing, Robert N.
George, Bruce Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Golding, Mrs Llin Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Williams, Alan W. (Carm then)
Henderson, Doug Winnick, David
Hinchliffe, David Winterton, Mrs Ann
Home Robertson, John Winterton, Nicholas
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hoyle, Doug Worthington, Tony
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Wray, Jimmy
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Tellers for the Ayes:
Illsley, Eric Mr. Frank Haynes and
ngram, Adam Mr. Ken Eastham.
Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)
Alexander, Richard Forth, Eric
Amess, David Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Amos, Alan Franks, Cecil
Arbuthnot, James Freeman, Roger
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Gale, Roger
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Ashby, David Glyn, Sir Alan
Aspinwall, Jack Goodlad, Alastair
Atkins, Robert Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Batiste, Spencer Gorst, John
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Gow, Ian
Boscawen, Hon Robert Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bowis, John Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bright, Graham Hague, William
Brown, Michael (Brigg & CI'T's) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hanley, Jeremy
Buck, Sir Antony Harris, David
Burns, Simon Haselhurst, Alan
Burt, Alistair Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Butler, Chris Hayward, Robert
Butterfill, John Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hordern, Sir Peter
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Carrington, Matthew Hunter, Andrew
Carttiss, Michael Irvine, Michael
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Jack, Michael
Chapman, Sydney Janman, Tim
Chope, Christopher Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Colvin, Michael King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Kirkhope, Timothy
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Knapman, Roger
Couchman, James Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Knox, David
Davis, David (Boothferry) Latham, Michael
Day, Stephen Lawrence, Ivan
Devlin, Tim Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Dorrell, Stephen Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Durant, Tony Lightbown, David
Evennett, David Lilley, Peter
Fishburn, John Dudley Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forman, Nigel Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Stanbrook, Ivor
Maclean, David Stern, Michael
McLoughlin, Patrick Stevens, Lewis
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Madel, David Summerson, Hugo
Malins, Humfrey Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mans, Keith Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Maples, John Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Temple-Morris, Peter
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Maude, Hon Francis Thornton, Malcolm
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Thurnham, Peter
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Trippier, David
Moss, Malcolm Trotter, Neville
Neale, Gerrard Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Nicholls, Patrick Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Warren, Kenneth
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Watts, John
Page, Richard Wells, Bowen
Pawsey, James Wheeler, Sir John
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Whitney, Ray
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Wilshire, David
Ryder, Richard Wood, Timothy
Sackville, Hon Tom Yeo, Tim
Shaw, David (Dover) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Younger, Rt Hon George
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Tellers for the Noes:
Shersby, Michael Mr. Nicholas Baker and
Skeet, Sir Trevor Mr. Irvine Patnick.
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Question accordingly negatived.