HC Deb 17 October 1990 vol 177 cc1276-308

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That the Promoters of the Heathrow Express Railway Bill [Lords] shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office of their intention to suspend further proceedings not later than the day before the close of the present Session and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;

That if the Bill is brought from the Lords in the next Session, the Agents for the Bill shall deposit in the Private Bill Office a declaration signed by them stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill which was brought from the Lords in the present Session;

That as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill shall be deemed to have been read the first and shall be ordered to be read a second time;

That the Petitions against the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session;

That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business;

That in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words "under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)" were omitted;

That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.—[The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]

7.6 pm

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson (New Forest)

I support the motion standing in the name of the Chairman of Ways and Means that further consideration of the Heathrow Express Railway Bill should be carried over to the next Session of Parliament. Hon. Members may know that the Bill has already been through its stages in the other place. Indeed, throughout discussions, there have been petitioners against the Bill, but at no point have they objected to the concept of what it seeks to do. The Bill was deposited as far back as November 1988, but at no stage in its proceedings has it been delayed or objected to, other than delays caused by the pressure of Bills, which has made it impossible for the Bill to have a Second Reading before the Summer recess started at the end of July.

The Bill aims to provide a straightforward and basic service. During discussions in the Opposed Private Bill Committee in the other place, some substantial changes were made, which I hope will be to the benefit of the people who will use the link and to those who live in the area it will pass through, or who represent it.

I hope that hon. Members will agree that it would be very unfortunate if the Bill were not allowed to complete its stages, as it satisfies an important requirement.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

My hon. Friend says that the Bill will benefit constituents such as mine who live in the area through which the express train will pass. That may be so, but I have not yet received the assurances which I sought from the promoters that the train would stop at least twice a day in Ealing.

If the train cannot be stopped at Greenford, which would be better still, I would settle for a stop at Ealing Broadway in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young)—at least twice a day, and more often if possible. The promoters have made certain noises about that, as if to say that they will make some concessions to the good citizens of Ealing and the surrounding areas, but so far nothing concrete has come from them. Could my hon. Friend give me some assurance on that matter?

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

As one expects, my hon. Friend speaks with great fluency on a matter that concerns his constituents. No one is a more doughty fighter on behalf of his constituents than he. If he will bear with me for a moment, however, I shall endeavour to deal with the point that he made about stopping trains on the link. It is a matter of concern not only to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) but also to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) and others.

At this stage I want to establish the Bill's credentials—how far it has come and how it has been held up by events that are not directly related to the arguments that might he deployed when considering the clauses. The Bill is jointly promoted and jointly financed by Heathrow Airport Ltd., which is a wholly owned subsidiary of British Airports Authority and British Rail. The Bill aims to satisfy a real need—a fast, dedicated service between the capital and its principal airport. That is in line with thinking throughout the rest of Europe.

Many might reasonably ask why such a service has not been provided before this. I am among those who believe that we should have had something along these lines a long time ago. The Bill is a direct response to the Government's White Paper of 1985 that dealt with airport policy. The Heathrow surface access study, commissioned by the Department of Transport, followed in 1987. An evaluation of the consultations on that document followed in June 1988. Immediately after those consultations had been brought to a successful conclusion, the Bill was deposited—in November 1988. It is in response to a direct demand by all those concerned. No time has been wasted by those who wish to provide the service.

The underground service, the airbus, cars and taxis provide other means of getting to Heathrow airport, but those of us who know this part of England well recognise that road congestion is a great problem. A dedicated service would therefore be a great bonus. It would be a premium service. The promoters are seeking by means of the Bill to provide a fast premium service to enable travellers, who are prepared to pay a fare of approximately £6, to have fast transport straight into the airport.

Sir Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)

It will, of course, provide a very good service, but is my hon. Friend aware that most people want to travel by car to the airport and that the new service will not relieve the congestion on the M4, as has been suggested?

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

My hon. Friend uses the M4 to reach his constituency. Although I use it a great deal, he must use it more than I do. I realise that it is a very crowded route, but that applies to almost every other motorway that runs into and out of London. It surely cannot be denied that we need the best possible public service links from the capital to the airport if we are to alleviate the problem to which my hon. Friend has just referred.

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)

I know that my hon. Friend is an avid reader of all my publications. Therefore, I am sure that he will have read in bed "Tunnel Vision", in which I have tried to deal with the problem. I stress in particular the need for a west-facing link. If I catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, I hope to be able to refer to it and to deal with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor and Maidenhead (Sir A. Glyn). The contents of the Bill deal only with traffic from London, although that is not clear from the long title. The procedural point that I wish to put to my hon. Friend is this: is he of the opinion that, if the promoters succeed in obtaining the agreement of the House to this carry-over motion, they will be amenable to some of the proposals that may emerge during the debate?

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

My hon. Friend has made an important point. He is an acknowledged expert on these matters. It leads me straight to the point that was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North and others: that the link with Heathrow should not be unique to that service, and that others should be able to take advantage of the line that will start at Paddington. I have to make the point, which applies to hon. Members with constituencies in Wales and elsewhere, that, although the promoters are seeking, by means of the Bill, powers to construct the basic route, they have not closed their minds to the point that has just been made by my hon. Friend. They have not disregarded, either, the pleas that have been made by other hon. Members. When the line is in operation, all sorts of options can be examined. However, we are considering a Bill that provides only a basic service.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

So the answer is no.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

I am not so sure that the hon. Gentleman is right about that. If one were coming from Cardiff, or from anywhere else in Wales, which I know extremely well, one would probably be better off to go to Paddington and pick up the dedicated line to Heathrow rather than have to face all the confusion and problems that could exist—I do not say that they would exist—with stopping trains of any sort.

Another fundamental point is that, following the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport about London's east-west crosslink, there will be occasions when people from the eastern side of the capital will want to take advantage of a train that goes straight into the airport. British Rail and the British Airports Authority have made it clear that they are anxious to look at that point. The important point, however, is that the time scale of the two projects is totally different. The airport link with which we are dealing this evening is designed to be operational by 1994, whereas the east-west crosslink is unlikely to be available until 1999—a five-year gap.

Mr. Harry Greenway

I promise my hon. Friend that I shall not persist with my interruptions, so I hope that he will be kind enough to allow me this one. My hon. Friend is, I know, an honourable man. However, he is asking the House to accept the good faith of the promoters and to agree in due course to the construction of the line. He says that, when it is operational, the promoters will consider pleas made by others, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton and myself, for a proper stop at Ealing at certain times of the day.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. We are at the commencement of the debate. I must remind the House that this is a carry-over motion. We are not debating the arguments for and against the Bill. I hope that hon. Members will keep in mind the fact that this is a narrow procedural motion.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for your ruling.

Mr. Greenway


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman had completed what he wanted to say. He was going off the rails in a very big way.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

We must bear in mind that this is not a Second Reading debate, but I hope that I carry the House with me when I say that a Second Reading debate will be needed on a future occasion. I have taken note, however, of my hon. Friend's point.

There are still 15 petitioners against the Bill. According to the motion on the Order Paper, those petitions will be carried over to the new Session.

As I pointed out at the outset, the petitioners have no objection in general to the concept of the rail link that is being promoted. They are concerned about individual special interests which, hopefully, can be discussed in Committee if the Bill is sufficiently lucky to be given a Second Reading.

It is worth remembering that the original Bill introduced in the other place conceived the likelihood of an overhead rail viaduct across the M4 and into airport terminals 3 and 4. As a result of the discussions in the opposed Committee in the other place, the promoters have decided to go under that motorway and, hopefully, improve the environmental appearance of the operation and meet the important points made by the objectors. As a result of that decision, they have probably added about £25 million to the cost. Therefore, we have already seen in discussions on the Bill that substantial changes can be made.

Mr. Terry Dicks (Hayes and Harlington)

My hon. Friend mentioned an increase of £25 million. The paper produced by the promoters mentions the figure of £12 million. I want to help my hon. Friend and ensure that he has got the figures right, because we should not give the wrong information in this debate.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

The figure I have is £25 million. If my hon. Friend has another figure, we must discuss that later. However, if one were to look at the possibility of burying the line still further, we would be looking at a further increase of about £10 million, which would have a detrimental effect on the fare structure to which I have referred.

I hope that the House will agree that this is an important matter and that it should receive further consultation and discussion. It should be allowed to have a Second Reading during the next Session and then proceed to its Committee and other stages. Therefore, I commend the motion.

7.21 pm
Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

I must plead a constituency interest in this matter and remind the House that I am a former railway worker. I know every inch of the railway. If we go back far enough, I was a goods guard and shunter. When the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) made a plea for a stop at Ealing Common, it reminded me of someone who asked me whether a train stopped at Paddington. I said, "Blimey, madam, if it doesn't, there won't 'alf be a row." I support a stop at Ealing Broadway, and my constituents want a stop at Southall. In that part of my constituency there is a large Indian community and many employees of Heathrow airport. Of course, it is for the Bill's promoters to decide whether they want to resist the idea of stops. It might contradict the title of the Bill.

I want more information about the speed of the trains, because they will fundamentally affect my constituents in west Ealing. Already work is being undertaken on track laying in conjunction with the new high-speed train. Some of the houses near that area are nearly 100 years old and already suffer vibration from the existing services. In some of the houses, pictures jump about on the walls. A high-speed service to Heathrow at 15-minute intervals will not do much to improve their lives. I understand that British Rail has had a discussion with local residents. Those residents have said that it is the last thing they want, since there is about 25 ft. between the back of houses and the railway track, and the embankment is to be raised to bedroom height. I do not think that many hon. Members would want to live in that part of the London borough of Ealing.

I must take this opportunity to spell out some of the worries of my constituents. However, in accordance with the spirit in which the hon. Member for New Forest (Sir P. McNair-Wilson) introduced the Bill, I must say that in general terms there is a welcome for the idea.

Mr. Dicks

Will the hon. Gentleman say exactly where in his constituency the line rises to the height of windows? I bow to his expertise on the railways but I was under the impression that that would happen as the train was leaving Hayes, not Southall.

Mr. Bidwell

I used to be a resident of Hayes and this matter never worried me when I lived there, so the hon. Gentleman probably knows more about it than I do. Although I often motor and walk around that area, I am sure that he knows more than I do about the spur extension near his constituency and across Stockley industrial estate.

There was a derailment last year very close to the houses I have mentioned, but miraculously there was no loss of life. An express train from Oxford to Paddington hit a piece of rail which it was thought may have been left by vandals, although that has never been proved. When such things occur, residents adjacent to the line must be fearful, especially with the prospect of increased traffic, even though on a quieter track.

Nobody has told me that they are powerfully opposed to the idea, and I would expect British Rail, backed up by the British Airports Authority—which is rolling in money—to be generous if the question of compensation for my constituents arises in the future. I am sure that they will want to be generous, because it is not simply a matter of increased use of the existing track with traditional express trains to Reading, south Wales and so on. If the enterprise is to be thought to be worthwhile, they will want a service of Gatwick-Victoria proportions.

I promised that I would raise this matter. I think that there will be further consultation with British Rail, and the British Airports Authority should be present at such consultations. They should look further at the worries and fears of those in my constituency who will be affected. As far as I know, no one will suffer such oppression, although I am sure that my colleague, the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks), will tell us differently. The old houses I have mentioned must be considered seriously. If they are not, I shall lead a protest greater than has been known hitherto.

7.28 pm
Sir John Wheeler (Westminster, North)

I welcome the principle of the motion and the potential progress of the Bill. I welcome the introduction of the debate by my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest (Sir P. McNair-Wilson) who is standing in for my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) who has ultimate charge of the progress of the Bill on behalf of the promoters. My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South has been particularly helpful to Westminster city council in recognising my constituents' special concerns because of the proximity of Paddington to the residential community.

If the House is minded to pass the motion, I hope that in future greater consideration will be given to the environmental aspect of the Bill as it affects the city of Westminster. My council has asked me to make clear that it is concerned about the impact that traffic may have should the Bill progress. Much growth is already expected in traffic movements to the A40 and the M40 extension, growth is predicted in general traffic and railway patronage of Paddington and there are estimates of a growth of traffic to Heathrow.

Mr. Adley

I fully understand and support what my hon. Friend is saying. Does he agree not only that his constituents are entitled to the protection for which he is asking but that he is entitled to suggest—if he does not do so, I will, and he might agree with me—that environmental expenditure to alleviate the problems faced by people because of railway schemes should be funded in exactly the same way as environmental expenditure is provided to alleviate problems created by road schemes? If there is an environmental problem, the taxpayer should pay, not the promoters of the Bill.

Sir John Wheeler

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's intervention, but it is not for me to express an opinion on the merits of his argument. That is, perhaps, for elsewhere or for another time in this Chamber.

My support for the principle of the Bill and the motion rests on the assumption that the promoters will continue to consider the traffic and environmental impact in the city of Westminster. In particular, they will want to focus their attention on access to Paddington station via what is described as a sub-standard ramp off Bishop's bridge road which requires cars to stop and proceed at 4 mph. I am advised that considerable progress is being made by the promoters to satisfy the council and particularly residential environmental groups such as the south-east Bayswater residents association. Should that progress continue to be made, I have no doubt that the Bill will be greatly welcomed.

Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)

What is the view of the hon. Gentleman and his council about the existing underground connections at Paddington? Does he feel that an additional 6 million passengers through Paddington main line station may cause enormous difficulties unless underground facilities are considerably improved?

Sir John Wheeler

That, again, goes beyond my ability to comment tonight and is a matter for elsewhere.

The Bill is greatly affected by the proposal to provide the east-west cross way, which may have the advantage of reducing potential vehicular traffic to Paddington railway station. That announcement impacts favourably on the environmental aspect of the Bill and I very much hope, therefore, that the motion will be supported tonight.

7.34 pm
Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)

I am uncertain whether to support the motion and will therefore need certain assurances from the sponsor of the Bill before reaching a decision.

I need not explain why a Welshman should speak to the Bill or seek those assurances. Paddington, with which this expressway will connect, is important not only to my personal life, given the amount of time that I spend going to and from it, but to the commercial and business community of south Wales. High-speed access to Paddington station is a vital factor in the industrial and commercial development of the Principality.

The best architectural sight in London is Paddington from a departing train. I say that not as a personal whim but because that station and the line to south Wales play a significant role in the economic well-being of south Wales. If, therefore, there is to be any disruption, even for a short period, to the high-speed link between London and south Wales—I shall draw the attention of the House to that possibility in a minute—it will be a matter of profound concern not only for hon. Members and their personal convenience but for the economic and commercial development of the Principality.

A vivid example that has concerned us about key life-line communication links is the state of the Severn bridge. The fact that it has been in a state of repair, refurbishment or alteration for a long time has had an important impact on attracting industry and commerce to the Principality. We therefore have every right to be worried, and before supporting the motion I shall need assurances from the sponsor of the Bill about the nature and character of the works and the impact that a new expressway might have on the speed with which the main 125 service from south Wales travels in and out of Paddington.

Let me explain some of my basic worries, which were not raised on Second Reading or Third Reading in the other place. Following an inquiry with the Private Bill Office in the other place, I do not believe that they were the subject of detailed discussion or cross-examination in the Committee proceedings in the other place. The first of my worries is the impact that a new 15-minute service from Paddington between 5 am and 11.30 pm might have on existing and future traffic to and from Paddington. If I do not receive some reassurance from the sponsor that our worries and concerns will be taken on board, that will influence how I vote.

Those of us who spend a considerable part of our lives on this line—

Mr. Morgan

Who almost live on it.

Mr. Rowlands


Many times, the 125 has been on time until the last three or four miles into Paddington station. Those last three or four miles cause the delays. About 90 per cent. of delays occur in that vital three or four miles into Paddington. One of the possible consequences of supporting the motion would be to add another 15-minute service in and out of Paddington from 5 am to 11.30 pm. I have not found any evidence from the proceedings on the Bill showing that the ripple effects that this new service might have on the speed of the 125 service in and out of Paddington have been investigated.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

As this is not Second Reading I shall not be seeking leave to speak again, but the promoters have assured me that current services will not be disadvantaged as a result of the Heathrow link. That is the best assurance that I can give the hon. Gentleman. If the motion is passed, he will have an opportunity to raise this matter in more detail on Second Reading.

Mr. Rowlands

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am glad that he has already understood that vital point. There was little evidence in the debate in the other place that it had been taken on board; it was, understandably, very much a London debate. The Bill has much wider significance, especially in terms of the Welsh economy. I hope that the word will go out to the promoters that we will seek detailed and categorical assurances. As I understand it, the new 15-minute service will be provided on existing lines and there are no plans to build new lines into the Paddington area. This point has not been dealt with in the necessary detail.

I understand from my reading that a great deal of the construction will not take place immediately around the main line. I do not believe that a scheme of such importance will not cause considerable disruption on and around the existing railway tracks into and out of Paddington, especially in areas about which Conservative Members can speak with greater knowledge. I ask the hon. Member for New Forest (Sir P. McNair-Wilson) to say that he will take this matter back to the promoters. We need an assurance about construction. The high-speed 125s travelling from the south-west and south Wales are vital to economic development and to inward investment in our community. We want an assurance that the construction will not affect their speed.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

The hon. Gentleman has made an important point, about which the promoters are concerned. The assurance has been given—to me, at any rate—that the service will in no way disadvantage main line trains travelling to Paddington from south Wales and other parts of the country.

Mr. Rowlands

I value that intervention. Obviously we shall seek to put flesh on that assurance later.

It would be galling for us to lose the speed and the efficiency of one of the major lifelines from the Principality to the capital. Many of us have suggested that British Rail should consider electrifying western lines as it has done along the east coast. It would be galling to watch construction of an electrified portion of the line in the west if construction slows services from and to the south-west and south Wales for a significant period. One can imagine the irritation and anger that could result. I am grateful to the hon. Member for New Forest for accepting that this is an important point.

I am concerned also about possible linkages between the new expressway and traffic coming from south Wales and the south-west. The hon. Member for New Forest said that the Bill's promoters were open minded. It will be galling if we are left with a service from south Wales to Heathrow that involves getting off at Reading, getting on a bus and, if one is lucky, reaching one of the Heathrow terminals 45 minutes later, then spending a considerable time running round the four terminals. It also takes a lot of time to get out of Heathrow before one can set on one's way towards Reading to catch the mainline service.

On balance, I am inclined not to oppose the carry-over motion because of the comments by the hon. Member for New Forest. We give due notice, however, that we will raise the issue of the connection between the railway service from south Wales to Heathrow and Paddington and the ways in which the benefits of a major, new communications infrastructure can be tied to the Principality's requirements. We feel that we are a long way from the channel tunnel; we are determined not to be a long way from London or Heathrow.

7.45 pm
Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)

I should like on behalf of the whole House, I hope, to thank my hon. and neighbouring Friend the Member for New Forest (Sir P. McNair-Wilson). Over the years, he has taken immense trouble with railway Bills and he is always courteous, diligent and thorough. We are grateful to him yet again, and we are grateful for his attempts to answer questions.

We have a problem. This procedural motion involves a group that is partly financed by a nationalised industry, which presumably accounts for the presence of the Minister on the Front Bench. We shall all try to keep within order, but it is difficult to decide whether to support this motion without assurances from my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest or my hon. Friend the Minister on some points.

I have to declare an interest as the author of "Tunnel Vision" which the Hansard reporters could not seem to see, so I shall hold it up for them. It was published by the Conservative Political Centre and was purchased by certain Labour Members. A long time ago, the book foresaw many of the points that we are discussing. I declare an interest also as author of a recently published book "Out of Steam", which also attends to questions of railway investment criteria.

My hon. Friend the Member for New Forest asks us to support the Bill. Paragraph (4) of the preamble states: In order to provide improved services and facilities for passengers travelling to or from Heathrow". I submit that, before the Bill completes its passage, the words "from central London" should be inserted. Preferably—I strongly echo the words of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands)—the Bill should provide what is proposed in paragraph (4). Unless the Bill is amended, a great opportunity will be lost.

A west-facing link must be a vital feature of the Bill for south Wales, the west country and the south-west. Of course we accept the assurances given by my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, but surely the time when the Bill is being promoted is the time for the promoters to say that they will acquire the necessary land. We are talking about 200 or 300 yd of land on which to build west-facing tracks and that land should be reserved now. I have not yet heard an assurance from my hon. Friend on that point.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

As I said, this is not a Second Reading debate, but I should like to make the point that the promoters want to ensure that the link between the capital and the airport is preserved as a premium rail route. If we are to have stopping trains or any alterations to that basic principle, obviously different objectives will have to be considered. I have already assured the House that those objectives are being considered. Finally, I should emphasise that it will probably be as quick to go to Paddington and get on to the dedicated line as it would be to have stopping trains on what is intended to be a fast premium service.

Mr. Adley

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, but I should point out to him that people who are traveling—whether to Baghdad or to Bangkok—with lots of luggage will not take kindly to finding themselves whizzing past Heathrow at 125 mph on a high speed train from Swansea, watching the airport disappear behind them, getting off at Paddington and taking all their luggage from platform A to platform B, only to go back on themselves.

Following on from the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor and Maidenhead (Sir A. Glyn), I suspect that unless a determined decision is made at the outset of the Bill's proceedings both to provide and utilise modern technology and to provide for the acquisition of the necessary extra land—I shall touch on that in a moment—the Bill will face considerable difficulties as we proceed.

This is not a hybrid Bill, but it is the result of a hybrid promotion: it is being promoted partly by a recently privatised company and partly by a state-owned company. Sooner or later—and before we proceed much further with the Bill—someone will have to recognise that a public transport opportunity will be missed unless the matter is dealt with properly. We need a transport policy that recognises opportunities. We need the electrification of the Great Western main line— thank goodness Brunel built it to the 7 ft gauge, otherwise we should not now have enough land to do what the promoters envisage in the Bill—not just from Paddington to Heathrow but from the proposed Heathrow junction to Reading and Oxford and to Banbury and Coventry. We need the line to be connected with the electrified rail network throughout the country.

I must point out to my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest that people like through trains. They do not like having to change, especially if they are travelling with a lot of luggage. To build a new piece of railway line at a cost of many tens of millions of pounds and not to capitalise on the opportunities being created is a dereliction of duty.

Have the promoters considered the use of modern technology for powered slip coaches? The hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) will remember that the Great Western used to slip coaches in steam days. In those days, one could not do what one can now do with electric and diesel power, which is to slip a self-powered unit. Can my hon. Friend tell me whether that has already been considered, or whether it will be borne in mind when the promoters consider the west-facing link?

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

I am not competent, Madam Deputy Speaker, to answer questions about advanced technology on the railways in this debate: it is not a Second Reading debate. My only concern is that we should move to the point at which the interesting arguments deployed by my hon. Friend can be given a proper opportunity to be discussed—namely, a Second Reading debate in the next Session.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Perhaps I should again draw the attention of the House to the fact that we are not discussing the Bill. We are discussing the motion on the Order Paper, which deals with the question whether we should suspend proceedings on the Bill. We are talking not about the Bill but about a suspension motion and it would make my job a little easier if hon. Members would relate their remarks to that from time to time.

Mr. Adley

I shall relate my remarks to that from time to time, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The present Bill is a private Bill, but it will be funded in part by the nationalised railway industry. We cannot simply disregard the Bill's national transport implications. I shall endeavour not to incur your wrath, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I do not have a great deal more to say, but the point is that this is a private Bill based on the use and exploitation of a public asset—the Great Western railway main line.

On that basis, the promoters must be made aware that they cannot just take advantage of the opportunities of financial reward; they must be made to be responsible for the public interest in their use of a priceless national asset. That is why I ask my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest—or perhaps the Minister can answer this question—whether the promoters or the Department have made any sort of cost-benefit analysis not only of what is in the Bill but of the aspects that the promoters might reasonably have assumed hon. Members would raise at this stage in the debate.

My hon. Friend the Minister may not know this yet, but a number of us have had a wasted year. We have been discussing with British Rail the future of the Waterloo-Salisbury-Exeter line. We were promised a cost-benefit analysis and then, at the eleventh hour, British Rail had to admit that it had been told by the Department of Transport not to go ahead with such an analysis. Flow on earth can the Department of Transport forbid a nationalised railway industry to undertake a cost-benefit analysis? For this Bill, such an analysis is essential.

The Minister for Public Transport (Mr. Roger Freeman)

Although it is not directly relevant to the motion, Madam Deputy Speaker, I must tell my hon. Friend that he has been misled. At no stage did the Department of Transport suggest to British Rail that a cost-benefit analysis should not be performed.

Mr. Adley

When my colleagues and I come to see the Minister, we shall pursue the matter. Certainly, that was the clear impression that we received from British Rail in the course of our meetings with it.

We are being asked to approve a carry-over motion for half a Bill. Where else but in Britain could it seriously be proposed to build a rail link from the nation's major airport facing in one direction only? The proposed new construction comprises a spur from the Great Western main line into Heathrow. The spur faces eastbound only. The Heathrow Express Railway Bill, welcome in itself, highlights dramatically everything that is wrong with transport planning in this country.

Passengers from the west country and south Wales—from Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea, Gloucester, Swindon—who wish to use the Heathrow link will have to travel into Paddington passing the new link-line; then transfer themselves and their luggage from platform X to platform Y at Paddington; then travel back on themselves to Heathrow. Leaving aside the time wasted and the aggravation of whizzing past one's destination and continuing in the wrong direction, the inevitable result of this situation is that large numbers of potential rail travellers to Heathrow from the west country will still go by coach and car, thus failing to ease congestion and pollution.

The obvious common sense of building a westbound spur into Heathrow has escaped planners of the new line, or, more likely, has failed to attract them as commercially worth while. No questions are asked about the perceived national interest, the obvious regional advantages or simple transport logistics.

Can anyone imagine the Department of Transport proposing a new motorway link road which faced in one direction only? To ask the question is to answer it. This highlights only too well the fundamental difference in road and rail planning in this country. For roads, money is no object. The taxpayer pays and that is the end of the story. For railway development, whether publicly or privately funded, no such rules apply. If it is not commercially viable, it is not built.

When British Rail announced its intention to build a high-speed link from the channel tunnel to central London, the nation demanded—quite properly—that full environmental protection be given to those who might be adversely affected. The Government so instructed British Rail: but they have failed to provide funds for the environmental protection. Somehow British Rail—alone amongst western European railways—is expected simultaneously to behave like a commercial organisation and a national environmental benefactor.

Contrast that with the saga of the Winchester by-pass. Quite appropriately, again, the Department demands sensible environmental protection: the taxpayer pays; no questions asked; end of story. Unless and until the same investment criteria are applied by the Department of Transport and the Treasury to road and rail investment, Britain's railway developments will be based on the foundation of Victorian engineering by our forebears, whilst our industrial competitors in Europe are busy building new railways as well as improving their existing infrastructure. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest will pass my thoughts on to the promoters in full and that he will be able to assure me that, before we proceed any further with the Bill, these matters will be raised with the Department of Transport—

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

The points that my hon. Friend has raised are exactly the points that should be raised in a Second Reading debate. I very much hope that the House will allow the Bill to be carried over so that that debate can take place and so that my hon. Friend can deploy his interesting arguments.

Mr. Harry Greenway

I shall have considerable doubts about supporting the carry-over motion unless proper attention is paid to the environmental aspects of the Bill to which my hon. Friend has referred. In my constituency, we need safeguards to prevent children from getting on to the line because they can do so all too easily—[Interruption.] Well, this is fundamental to my attitude and to whether I vote for the carry-over motion—

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sure that it is, but I must advise the hon. Gentleman that it is not fundamental to the—

Mr. Greenway


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. It is not fundamental to the carry-over motion. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will seek to speak in the debate and I shall wish to call him so that he can speak to the motion.

Mr. Greenway

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. How can one decide whether to support the carry-over motion without making the fundamental points that had been put before one by one's constituents in support of the ultimate Bill?

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. If we should reach Second Reading, that is when the hon. Gentleman should put his points. He is now anticipating a Second Reading debate in which he will be able to determine how he will vote on the Bill.

Mr. Adley

May I conclude my speech, Madam Deputy Speaker? I do so by saying that, in view of my long, close and happy relationship with my neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, I shall support the carry-over motion because he has assured me that my points will be taken into account. The Minister has also listened to all the debate. I therefore hope that, before the Bill receives its Second Reading, those of us who support it but who wish to see it amended will be able to seek a meeting with my hon. Friend the Minister to pursue some of these points, preferably on an all-party basis.

8 pm

Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)

The debate has been interesting, whether in or out of order. The fact that so many hon. Members of all parties have expressed their legitimate concerns about the progress of the Bill shows that, if and when we reach Second Reading, the hon. Member for New Forest (Sir P. McNair-Wilson), who moved the motion with his customary diligence and courtesy, will face considerable cross-examination. I have no wish to arouse your ire, Madam Deputy Speaker, by transgressing the rules because, were I to do so, I should suffer in a way in which other hon. Members would not, because you would have ample opportunities to tell me so in West Bromwich, as well as in the House.

I should like to give my party's attitude to the motion and, if we have a Second Reading debate, to present our views on the Bill as a whole. The way in which the Bill is being promoted is indicative of the lack of any transport policy under this Government and of the illogical thinking of many Conservative Members. Over the past 11 years, the Government have continually said that British Rail must divest itself of what Conservative Members term its "superfluous activities". Those aspects of the railway network that were built up by the former private railway companies and run by British Rail since 1948, such as the shipping and hotel services, have been removed from British Rail during the past decade because the Conservative party has said that British Rail should concentrate on running the railway system.

Nevertheless, Conservative Members are here presumably prepared to support a Bill that is promoted jointly by the former British Airports Authority—now BAA plc—and British Rail. The Bill has little to do with operating an airport, but everything to do with running a railway. If the British Airports Authority—or whatever it calls itself these days—can build a railway, surely a railway system can be involved in the ancillary services from which it has profited and which have been seen as a necessary adjunct to that system for more than 100 years. To say the least, it is illogical for the Conservative party to support the carry-over motion, given the way in which the Government have behaved towards British Rail and some of its activities during the past 11 years.

The most worrying aspect of the provisions is that, if the forecasts of the hon. Member for New Forest prove accurate, 6 million people will be using the mainline station in London which is probably the least suitable to carry that additional burden. When I suggested to the hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) who, alas, is no longer in his place, that that state of affairs should worry Westminster city council and himself, he replied that it was a matter for Second Reading. However, he also referred to the east-west crossrail which, if it is ever built, will have a substantial impact and will relieve Paddington station of that additional burden.

I realise that the Minister of State has not been at the Department of Transport very long and that he seems to have been shunted into this branch line, but I must advise him that some of the Department's pronouncements are difficult to believe. Earlier this year we had an announcement from British Rail about the modernisation of the railway line to Glasgow, but we are now told that that will not happen because of the economic situation. Furthermore, the Secretary of State and the Minister of State were very much aware of the fears of some of my hon. Friends—and, to be fair, of some Conservative Members—about the additional burden that would be placed on Paddington station if the motion were adopted.

Miraculously, at the Conservative party conference—a strange forum to make such an announcement—and in a vain attempt to produce the standing ovation which I always thought was customary on such occasions, although obviously I was wrong, the Secretary of State produced the east-west crossrail out of his top hat at an estimated cost of £1.5 billion but said nothing about the source of the funding. When the present Secretary of State produces such a white rabbit from his top hat before that particular forum, I think that it is a job for a good vet because I am not sure whether the animal is genuine. Both Siegfried and Tristan from "All Creatures Great and Small" would have an interesting time examining that white rabbit. The Minister of State owes it to the House to tell us whether the funding for the east-west crossrail will be forthcoming because the Opposition's attitude to the motion may well depend on that central point.

Mr. Freeman

I do not wish to detain the House later if I catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker. The east-west crossrail will be funded in the conventional way by the Department of Transport by way of grant, in just the same way as the Jubilee line will be financed. Turning to the west-coast main line, I must advise the hon. Gentleman that he should not believe what he reads in the newspapers. That project has not been cancelled. As I understand it, it is still very much in British Rail's plans.

Mr. Snape

If I said that it had been cancelled, I was wrong. I thought that I said that it had been delayed or postponed. We now read that British Rail is talking about an additional year of delay before bringing forward those plans.

Let us concentrate on the Bill—

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

I was wondering whether my hon. Friend could pursue this a little more quickly. Shall we be able to get from Glasgow to London quicker before we can get from Paddington to Heathrow that little bit quicker?

Mr. Snape

I have no doubt that, having heard that comment, the Minister of State will reply suitably to it if he succeeds in catching your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The real fears expressed by hon. Members of all parties about the motion and the logical conclusion of its acceptance should be considered carefully both by the promoters and by the Department of Transport. It is not just a question of BAA plc and British Rail dividing the £235 million cost in the way in which they have outlined with 80 per cent. being met by BAA plc and, as I understand it, 20 per cent. by British Rail. In an ideal world, the Department of Transport would say that this should be a joint partnership. If the Minister of State would like to take the weight of speaking for the nation on his undoubtedly broad shoulders, he should say, "We, the nation, must be involved in a project of this size." It does not make sense merely to connect the nearest London terminal station to Heathrow airport. We must do far more than that and ensure that if and when the new rail link is built it becomes an integral part of our overall railway system. Such a piecemeal, begging-bowl approach to these matters bedevils our transport industry and amply illustrates what is wrong with the Government's lack of a transport policy.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

Is it not also nonsensical that an important railway development should apparently depend on British Rail being able to flog off some land to obtain the revenue to inject into the project? It might find itself in the same position as it was in at King's Cross. The land that it proposed to sell was suddenly declared to belong to a hospital and had to be returned to that hospital instead of being used for development land—a classic example of depending on the vagaries of property development for important projects.

Mr. Snape

Exactly. The overall economic situation, grim as it is, also has an impact on the amount of cash that British Rail can raise from the sale of its land. This is the only nation on earth that would approach projects of this size and complexity in this way. It is nonsensical that British Rail should have to flog off parcels of land to find the money to invest in a railway line which should have been built decades ago.

Mr. Adley

Will the hon. Gentleman come to the point about the west-facing link? In case I did not make myself clear, does he agree that if the same had been done by road, it would have been announced when the M4 was being built that there would be a link from the M4 to central London but that the traffic coming in by road would have to go right into central London, round Hyde Park corner and back out again?

Mr. Snape

That amply illustrates the nonsensical approach that the Government always adopt.

I should not want the House to think that I am being too hostile to the British Airports Authority. Without its contribution, the link would never be built under the present Government because British Rail would have great difficulty proving that there would be a proper return on the capital. No doubt it would have to parcel up even more tracts of land throughout the country to finance the link, assuming that the Secretary of State or the Minister of State gave it permission to spend its own money.

To return to the point made by the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), a similar situation arose with the Manchester airport rail link. That is being built by BR, although it can only afford to build a north-facing junction. It has supposedly reserved enough land to be able, when it has parcelled off and sold another piece of land, to build a south-facing junction some time in the future. Those are the economics of bedlam and the railways of the madhouse.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Does my hon. Friend accept that at least the promoters of the Manchester Bill had the honesty to include in that Bill the north and south links? Although it is sad that the south link is not being built at the same time, at least the parliamentary powers exist to build it and it can be lobbied for. The sad thing about this Bill is that there is no sign of a west link in it. All the signs are that the promoters are determined not to have one.

Mr. Snape

That is probably right. Looking at the scheme from the promoters' narrow angle, I do not believe that they want a west link. They want their own dedicated train service running every 15 minutes between Paddington and Heathrow. They would regard the addition of trains from the west country as an intrusion on their private railway. That is what is wrong with the system. Even if land is reserved for a west-facing junction, there is no guarantee that under the present 80–20 system of ownership the junction would ever be laid. Given the habitual incompetence of much of British Rail's senior management, they would miss an opportunity like that if they were given the chance.

It is hard to imagine the BAA seeking additional trains from the west country because the authority would regard them as trespassing on its private piece of railway. The BAA also says that because the new station at Heathrow is under ground it will be unsuitable for the diesel trains—HSTs or diesel multiple units—which now operate on the former Great Western main line. As the hon. Member for Christchurch would tell us, that is an argument for electrification, but so far as I am aware the Government have no plans to electrify the Great Western main line. So unless common sense prevails and there is a change of heart by the Government we shall be stuck with a private piece of railway—[Interruption.] I wish the Minister would persuade some of the people who sit in the civil servants' Box, and who have been giving him doubtful advice, not to shake their heads when an Opposition Member is speaking. After all, it is their advice on which successive Ministers have relied for so many years, which explains why our transport network is in such a mess.

I hope that before the House accepts this motion it will look again at some of the points that have been raised. Perhaps we should reconsider the signalling system in and out of Paddington—a point mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney—which I believe is still controlled from an old oak signal box dating from the late 1960s. I do not know whether that system can be improved to cater for these additional trains without impinging on the existing mainline service from Paddington. If the experience of Birmingham is anything to go by, it cannot, because we have enormous problems with additional capacity into Birmingham New Street station, where the signalling system dates from the 1960s. With its habitual short-sightedness, British Rail senior management ripped up every additional piece of track that it could, so life is extremely difficult now that capacity needs to be increased in the way that many of us had warned that it would.

There are still many unanswered questions. Although the hon. Member for New Forest has done his best to answer them, hon. Members on both sides need more reassurance. If this is to be a small private railway run purely for the benefit of Heathrow airport, it will not have the support of the Opposition or, I suspect, of many Conservative Members.

8.17 pm
The Minister for Public Transport (Mr. Roger Freeman)

I apologise to the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) for any apparent discourtesy by officials—it was not meant. From my knowledge of officials in the Department of Transport, I can say that they would serve any Government of any party fully and faithfully, and I assure him that their views about the facts are in no way intended to be discourteous.

The Government support the procedural motion because we support the principle of the Bill: a new, fast, electrified line from the nation's capital to the nation's major airport. As my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest (Sir P. McNair-Wilson) rightly pointed out, prospects of connections beyond, once the east-west crossrail is completed—we hope by the end of the decade, although British Rail cannot yet have fully thought through the details—open up, for instance, between the airport and other places in the nation's capital and further afield. That is an exciting prospect, made possible by the announcement on the crossrail.

Mr. Cryer

As the Government have no plans to electrify the former Great Western main line out of Paddington, does the Minister envisage a dedicated track to Heathrow as the sole electrified track out of Paddington? Does not that militate against any use of the Heathrow railway by other traffic?

Mr. Freeman

I do not want to stray into secondary issues. Of course, an electrified track coming off the main line to Heathrow would preclude—although this is not for me to say—a diesel service coming from the west country, for reasons of railway safety. That is a matter of common sense, although it is not for discussion in this debate. As the hon. Gentleman has rightly said, all points west of the junction with the main line would have to be electrified to provide a west-facing service. The line to Reading will be electrified on the east-west crossrail. However, no submission or decision has been made by British Rail about the electrification of the whole of the Great Western line.

Mr. Adley

Is the Minister saying that the east-west crossrail rail will have full overhead electrification to Reading? If that is the case, it is extremely welcome news which I must have missed.

Mr. Freeman

Planning permission for an east-west crossrail has to come before the House if that procedure is adopted. That is the principle behind the proposal. I should he happy to meet hon. Members to understand more fully some of the points that have been made. They are not directly germane to the motion or the principle of the Bill.

I note the pressure for stops on the line, especially in Ealing, and the arguments for a west-facing service. I also note what hon. Members have said about the implications for the existing service at Paddington station. Those are all important matters and I give an undertaking to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) and to other hon. Members that at any time from tomorrow onwards I should be happy to meet them to understand their concerns more fully. In the meantime, the Government support the motion because we support the principle of the Bill.

Mr. Patrick Ground (Feltham and Heston)

The Minister mentioned links in other directions. Will he include in his undertaking a willingness to discuss the possibility of keeping open links to the south by constructing the tunnels under the airport, because the points that he has made apply in the same way to links to the south as to links in other directions?

Mr. Freeman

I note what my hon. and learned Friend says. The Department of Transport does not run the railways. This is a private Bill and it is for British Rail to make investment proposals to the Government. If my hon. and learned Friend cares to join my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch in a meeting with me or cares to see me separately, I should be glad to listen to his arguments.

8.21 pm
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

Did the Minister say that the cross-London link will be electrified from Reading? If that is the case, the west link is much more feasible. The Minister is nodding, from which I take it that the line will be electrified from Reading to the centre of London.

I oppose the carry-over motion because it is a totally inappropriate way for us to proceed in this matter. It is clear from the debate that we are concerned about three major areas. One is a national transport policy, the second relates to environmental issues for people close to the proposed link, and the third is about how well petitioners can be represented.

It is inappropriate for us to deal with transport policy by way of a private Bill which can always be narrowed as it goes through Parliament. However, it can never be widened. The perfectly reasonable proposals about the west link could not possibly be introduced to the Bill at any stage because the promoters would have had to give notice to local people and it is possible that petitions would have been raised. Such a procedure enables us to discuss only a narrow part of transport policy.

We should throw out the Bill. We have already spent a long time on it, but the Government should start again. Instead of using a private Bill, the Government should present their own measure which would give us an opportunity to discuss all the transport implications in the same way as the House is able to scrutinise public Bills. That is much more satisfactory than the way in which we scrutinise private Bills.

Mr. Snape

I realise that my hon. Friend's objections to the Bill are procedural rather than on the details of the Bill. However, I urge him to bear in mind that, although this system of legislation is inadequate, it at least enables the House to debate railways projects. There is no such procedure for road projects, which is why we never debate them.

Mr. Bennett

I am not arguing for a procedure that would allow us to debate only road projects. I want a procedure that will enable us to debate our whole transport policy. We do not have an opportunity to debate a whole series of transport matters.

What is the relationship between the Bill's proposals and the whole question of the channel tunnel? I am mystified about what British Rail will do. Will it advertise to encourage people to go to Paris by taking the train from Paddington to Heathrow and then flying, or will it encourage people to go all the way by rail? The British Airports Authority wants to promote a rapid link to Heathrow because it wants to encourage more people to fly. I am baffled by British Rail's proposals.

We should have a proper debate about how far we want to encourage more people to fly to Europe or more people to travel by train when the channel tunnel is completed. We could debate the environmental issues and the implications for Kent and for those who live around the airport. The Bill also raises the whole question of the regional airports versus Heathrow. The north-west faced great difficulties about getting the money for a small rail link from the centre of Manchester to Manchester airport. That link should have been built years ago. However, we see the ease with which money can be raised to improve a link through the centre of London and out to Heathrow. We should be able to explore the whole of that argument.

We should question whether everyone should have to travel into London and then out to Heathrow or Gatwick rather than having direct links to those airports. Hon. Members have spoken about the west link. A west link would be attractive for people from the north of England because from Reading northwards the old Great Western line to Coventry would form an attractive link to the north-west. It is much more attractive to come from Manchester to Heathrow via Reading and to have a direct link into the airport from the west than to have to get out at Euston and struggle through central London and all its crowds.

Mr. Adley

That is precisely why I have been pleading for some years for the linking of the channel tunnel line and the proposed line through to Reading, Oxford, Banbury and, through Leamington, to Coventry. We have not touched on a matter that the promoters must consider because it is relevant to the Bill. It is whether passengers would prefer to save perhaps five minutes by transporting their own luggage from A to B or whether they would prefer through services if they were available. In any discussion on transport policy linking rail and air, that aspect of any proposal must be fully considered.

Mr. Bennett

I accept that. I would argue strongly for a link from Reading northwards. It would be attractive for people on the west side of Britain to have a major service down the west side to Reading which then made its way to the channel tunnel, avoiding London. A link from Reading to Heathrow would also be attractive. Many people who live north of Reading would find it better to go northwards to Manchester, which has a much more convenient airport, than to try to struggle round the four terminals at Heathrow. There are strong arguments for developing a policy that encourages much more use of regional airports.

A major problem of the private Bill procedure is that it does not give us a proper opportunity to explore what should be our national transport policy. For example, the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) asked whether people want through journeys, or to change. What about the convenience of changing on one platform rather than having to struggle from one platform to another—a factor with considerable implications for people with luggage?

If this were a public Bill, amendments could be tabled and issues could be debated at some length in Committee. I suspect that there would be a great deal of interest in debating and making proposals for an effective integrated public transport system. While the private Bill procedure gives us the occasional three-hour debate—when we press some of the procedural points, we get slightly more debates—it is not a satisfactory way in which to proceed.

There are also the environmental issues. The private Bill procedure is not satisfactory for those who live along the proposed routes. I appreciate that in this case the promoters have put much of the section to Heathrow underground, and removed the objections of some of the people who live close to the route and who would suffer environmental problems. However, those living along the existing sections of railway will suffer from the considerable increase in the frequency of trains. There are far better ways for them to put forward their objections than to have to come to a Private Bill Committee in the House of Commons.

It is increasingly onerous on hon. Members to have to sit in a semi judicial role. Furthermore, I wonder whether any hon. Member can honestly say that he has no interest in a Bill such as this. The theory behind the Bill procedure is that four hon. Members, who are supposed to be neutral and disinterested, and who will listen to the case being put forward by the promoters and the objectors, are picked to serve on the Committees examining the Bills. I suspect that most hon. Members have suffered from the frustrations of trying to get out to Heathrow and would, for their own convenience, prefer to cut the journey time considerably. Many hon. Members use Heathrow almost weekly, so the House will have to look carefully to find those who could fairly serve on the Committee and have no interest in the matter. Furthermore, we do not best serve our constituents by being tied up in a Private Bill Committee with such narrow terms of reference for the long hours that some of our colleagues have suffered when dealing with private Bills such as the Kings Cross Railways Bill and the Channel Tunnel Bill and one or two other such Bills.

If the House were to refuse this and other carry-over motions, it would encourage the Government to reform the private Bill procedure. We have had a consultation document on this, and the responses to the Government were in by 28 September. I hope that the Minister will at least have a word with the Leader of the House and suggest that there are many attractions in finding time in the next Session to legislate to reform the private Bill procedure. It is likely that the Session after that will be the first of a new Parliament. I suspect that reform of private business would not be the first priority in such a Session. When the Labour party forms the new Government, there will be fierce competition for the first Bill, and I suspect that Tory Members who hope that they will form the next Government will not want legislation dealing with reform of private Bills to be introduced in the first Session of their new Parliament. Therefore, the next Session of Parliament, in which business appears to be rather light, gives us the most reasonable chance of getting through such reforms.

We must tell people outside what is happening. Several Bills dealing with transport are under discussion and people have a right to know whether such Bills will be taken through under the present archaic procedure, or under a new and improved set of rules. For example, in what way will the proposal for a cross-London link, which we have discussed today, be dealt with? We must sort out our procedures, and if the House stopped routinely passing carry-over motions and insisted that promoters got Bills through in one Session, or if the Government looked for some other way to promote such measures, that would be a major spur to sorting out these procedures.

8.35 pm
Mr. Terry Dicks (Hayes and Harlington)

I am the constituency Member for the Heathrow end of the proposed railway and I declare an interest as a shareholder in the British Airports Authority. My hon. Friend the Member for New Forest (Sir P. McNair-Wilson) said that the cost of amending the route was £25 million when, as I pointed out to him, it was £12 million which was put in by the BAA. The hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell)—I nearly called him my hon. Friend because we both sit on the Select Committee on Transport—also suffered from a slight misunderstanding. He said that his constituents were concerned about the rising of the line on the flyover, but the flyover comes out at Hayes. I think that the hon. Gentleman was remembering the days when he lived in this part of Hayes, and I hope that he does not mind my correcting what he said.

We have to look at several factors before deciding whether to agree to the carry-over motion. The first is consultation. When this issue first raised its head in the summer of 1988, what consultation there was was bad. Since then, and since this was brought most forcibly to the attention of the sponsors by me and others, the consultation, especially that between the BAA and me, as the local Member of Parliament, has improved substantially. I am glad to place that on record.

I still believe that the route chosen is the wrong one. I feel that it should come in from Southall direct to the terminals. However, again as a result of the debates in the other place, the promoters of the Bill amended the proposal in a way that most reasonable people would feel is acceptable, and they are to be congratulated. However, many of my constituents are more concerned about the way in which the railway line will lift off past their homes—in some instances past their bedrooms—rather than being pleased that the line in going under the M4, as that has little effect on the way that they live or on their environment.

The amount involved now is over £200 million and, on the projected figures, 6 per cent. of the 39 million passengers using Heathrow will use the link. However, there will soon be a planning application for terminal 5, which, if approved, will increase the number of passengers to 50 million. What will be the effect on the comfort and perhaps even the safety of the link of another 1 million passengers—7 million rather than 6 million? Before we decide to agree to the carry-over motion, will my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest say how this potential increase in rail use is covered by the Bill?

I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) that we must have a better rail link from London to Heathrow. The motorway and other surface access to Heathrow is appalling with four terminals, and the only way to improve surface access is to make sure not just that we have a link but that we have one that meets the needs of my constituents as well as the financial aspirations of British Rail and BAA.

My local authority of Hillingdon has never been and is not now opposed to the principle of a fast rail link. However, some questions need to be answered. As I have already said, the construction will cause a great deal of concern to my constituents. The area is renowned for the amount of hazardous waste beneath the surface. Unfortunately, it has methane gas deposits, so great care must be taken. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will give an assurance that all possible measures will be taken to minimise the impact of dealing with hazardous infill—for example, it may have to be moved and deep piling may be necessary.

Although the proposals are welcome to many people in my area, it must be remembered that my constituents will have to cope with the noise of additional trains at night and early in the morning. I wonder whether the Bill's promoters have considered every possibility for minimising the noise from additional trains.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

I have already said that 15 petitions have been lodged against the Bill, some of which relate to my hon. Friend's concerns. If the carry-over motion is passed, that will provide an opportunity for the important points raised by my hon. Friend to be given an appropriate airing in Committee.

Mr. Dicks

I am aware of the requirement that we speak within the rules of the carry-over motion. However, if my hon. Friend can clarify certain aspects of the proposal tonight, some of the petitioners might modify their objections by the time the Bill reaches Committee.

I understand the comments from south Wales Members about trains not stopping to pick up passengers along the line into London, even though Heathrow is just around the corner from some of the stations.

I am in a dilemma, because some of my constituents do not want the rail link, while my local authority wants it, but believes that there is a better route. At this stage, I am not sure which way I shall vote. From a democratic viewpoint, I suppose that a Second Reading would give hon. Members the opportunity to air their views in a much deeper and more meaningful way than is possible on a narrow carry-over motion. Perhaps, on balance, there is a case for allowing the Bill to proceed to Second Reading. I shall have to make a decision on that before the vote.

8.42 pm
Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

Like other hon. Members, I am in a dilemma. I am not opposed to the principle of a fast rail link from London to Britain's major airport. London has been referred to as the nation's capital, and it is certainly one of the nation's capitals. I am disinclined to support the motion, and my reasons for that are related to what a carry-over motion is all about and to the rights of ordinary Members of Parliament with an interest in the matter. I have taken an interest in this Bill since it was first mooted and eventually made its first tentative steps into the private Bill procedure in another place.

We must seriously consider our rights in relation both to the private Bill procedure and to carry-over motions. Most of us understand the private Bill procedure to confer on Members of Parliament the right to express views to the promoters. The promoters then have a fairly clear idea what they need to do to satisfy the objections from all parts of the House. If they want their Bill to go through quickly, they try to meet those objections. If they do not mind struggling through a carry-over motion, Second Reading in the next Session and a Committee stage opposed by 25 petitioners, the procedure will take a great deal longer but they may eventually get the Bill in the form in which it was originally tabled. That is their choice, and it is the traditional way in which we conduct our private Bill procedure. It is the balance that Parliament has struck between the rights of the promoters to bring a private Bill before Parliament, with petitioners able to object to it, and our rights as Back-Bench Members of Parliament.

I listened carefully to what the hon. Member for New Forest (Sir P. McNair-Wilson) said when he attempted to satisfy some of the objections from Opposition Members and, in particular, from Conservative Members, in the hope that those who are minded to vote against the Bill or who are extremely worried about it might have their minds changed by the end of the debate. I wish to explore the exact nature of the assurances that he gave to his hon. Friends the Members for Christchurch (Mr. Adley), for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks) and others. I wish to clarify exactly what he said.

I should not like to think that the hon. Gentleman was giving oral promises which might fall into the Sam Goldwyn category of not being worth the paper on which they are written. The hon. Gentleman said that the promoters were fairly open-minded about making some provision for travel from the west into Heathrow which would take advantage of the investment that the British Airports Authority and British Rail are willing to make. He said that he wanted to make that point at this stage in the hope of achieving some cross-party—east and west of Heathrow—backing.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

I made it clear that the Bill seeks to provide a basic, dedicated service between the capital and Heathrow. However, the promoters have said that at some time in the future, after that is set in place, they will consider the options available—some of which were referred to by my hon. Friend the Minister—when the east-west crosslink has been built. Much is said about what happens in continental Europe. Charles de Gaulle airport has a dedicated line which does not go past the airport, and does not pick up people from Reims, Vervins or anywhere else. That is a normal procedure. British Rail is right to build a basic system first and then consider the options to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Mr. Morgan

If I understand the hon. Gentleman correctly, he is withdrawing all the assurances that he gave about having an understanding with the sponsors that, if we pass the carry-over motion and give the Bill a Second Reading, at some stage in the proceedings the sponsors will be willing to spend some money on making provision for westward travel. Is the hon. Gentleman saying that, if we pass the carry-over motion and if the sponsors manage successfully to negotiate the other shoals and rapids of the parliamentary procedure, perhaps at some later stage there could be some provision for futher expenditure, wholly unconnected with the matter before us tonight, which might provide the wider link to south Wales and, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett), to Birmingham and points north-west via a link from Didcot? The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

I am not trying to have it both ways. If the hon. Gentleman reads what I said in Hansard he will find that, both in my opening remarks and now, I am saying that we are seeking power in the Bill to build a basic link between the two points. However, British Rail has said that in future it will look at the sort of extensions to which the hon. Gentleman has referred.

As the former Chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Private Bill Procedure, I am well aware of the current system's defects. The Committee's unanimous report is currently being considered by both parts of the House. As the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) pointed out, that led to a consultation document which ended on 28 September. There is nothing sacrosanct about the private Bill procedure. I should like to see it altered for railway building, but I am anxious that the Bill should go forward for a Second Reading when the important points to which the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) has referred can be properly discussed. He can have the proper assurances on such an occasion, but I am afraid that tonight is not the right occasion for such assurances to be given.

Mr. Morgan

It is important that the House should be crystal clear about what the hon. Gentleman is now saying. Is he saying that the Bill's promoters are open-minded about amending it during its passage through the House with regard to both the Westminster end and the people who represent constituencies immediately west of Heathrow or around Heathrow or elsewhere? Or are they merely open-minded about doing something entirely different at a later stage? Of course they will be open-minded about introducing an entirely different Bill at an entirely different time, possibly with an entirely different public/private sector joint venture. But I think that the hon. Gentleman is saying that their minds are closed to any alterations to the Bill.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

I made the point earlier that in the Opposed Private Bill Committee in the other place a substantial change was made to the route that the link will take. It was to have gone on a viaduct above the M4, but it is now going in a tunnel under it. The hon. Gentleman's point can be argued in Committee, if such takes place, when the Bill returns in the next Session. The assurances for which he is asking must be given by the promoters. I am making the point that they are listening to what he is saying and that the purpose of the Bill, as at present drafted, is to build the basic link.

Mr. Morgan

I am grateful for the gracious way in which the hon. Gentleman has risen every time I have challenged him. I do not wish to put too heavy a burden on him as though he were the promoter—he has simply introduced the Bill today for the purposes of the carry-over motion—but it is our right as Members of Parliament on a carry-over motion that is important.

The hon. Gentleman said that in the other place the promoters showed themselves flexible enough to put more of the line in a tunnel and therefore we should be reasonably satisfied that they will listen to any points that are made, but this carry-over motion is one of the ways in which to bring a bit of heavy muscle to bear on the promoters so that they give us some indication of the kind that they have not shown so far during the Commons stages of the Bill. They have done so in respect of altering the route from Paddington to Heathrow, but not in respect of the linkages between the line and the rest of the public railway system. That is the critical point. Are they willing to consider putting one or more stops on the line, as distinct from altering the route or putting sections of it in a tunnel? That is the sort of thing that Back Benchers would like to know at this stage.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the House that this a procedural motion. The hon. Gentleman is anticipating a Second Reading debate, when these matters can be debated.

Mr. Rowlands

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. After an earlier exchange between myself and the hon. Member for New Forest (Sir P. McNair-Wilson), I believed that this was an open-minded debate and that when it came to Second Reading and subsequent stages the promoters would be genuinely open-minded and at least consider making provision in the Bill for stopovers and connections with the west, particularly with south Wales. It now appears that that is not quite so, and that affects the way in which I shall vote on the motion. Therefore, I hope that you, Madam Deputy Speaker, will consider that a legitimate point to raise in the debate.

Madam Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order for me. The hon. Gentleman seems to be repeating a speech that he made earlier.

Mr. Morgan

I am confining myself as best I can to the motion, but in my inexperience you, Madam Deputy Speaker, may have to correct me and I shall be happy to accept such a correction.

I am concerned about the kind of undertaking that can be given in a debate on a carry-over motion to show not the good behaviour of the promoters but their flexibility, which the sponsor has been at pains to emphasise in his opening speech and in his interventions in response to me and to other hon. Members.

There are three major ways, apart from the buffers at Paddington station, of linking the dedicated enclave line contained in this private Bill with the public railway system. Can some sort of nod or wink be given at this stage as to whether any of those are up for grabs if we agree to the carry-over motion and the Bill reaches Second Reading and Committee stage? Those three ways have been partly referred to by the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) and my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape).

Mr. Adley

I accept the assurance given by my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest (Sir P. McNair-Wilson) and I gratefully accept the Minister's offer of a meeting to ensure proper ministerial influence. I hope that on that basis the hon. Gentleman will be inclined to join me in the Lobby tonight in support of the motion.

Mr. Morgan

I shall be happy to do that. Earlier today the Welsh parliamentary group met the Minister in Marsham street when the matter that we are discussing was touched on. Like the hon. Gentleman, I accept the assurances that have been given, but I want to know what they mean. Basically, we are seeking to discover what a carry-over motion can achieve for ordinary hon. Members.

I was dealing with the three major ways of linking the line to the public railway system and whether we can discuss those tonight by way of a sponsor's undertaking on behalf of the promoters or whether we simply have to accept an open-ended assurance that they may be dealt with at another time.

We in south Wales would like a stop on the line as far west as possible—somewhere between West Drayton and Hayes, I think, but my knowledge of the local geography is limited. Members for the Ealing area have already mentioned that they would like a more commuter-oriented stop closer into London—seven miles east of Farringdon. We would like some mention of that from the sponsor tonight. If we give the Bill's supporters the carry-over motion tonight, are they prepared at a later stage to talk about stops, or have they completely shut that out of their minds? Would they rather drop the whole Bill? Do they think that stops would wreck the economics of the line?

Another idea has been mentioned three or four times today, so I am sure that you, Madam Deputy Speaker, will not mind if I mention it a fifth or sixth time. That is the question of a westward-pointing junction just slightly west of Heathrow, which would join up on the stub line down into Heathrow with the eastward-facing junction coming out in the Hayes area. They would join up to enable people from Slough and points west as far as Reading, Bristol, south Wales—and, indeed, Oxford and Birmingham—to enter London from that route.

A third idea is what I think that the sponsor has talked about. It has also been tangentially referred to by the local Member of Parliament, the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks), with whom I had the honour of serving on the Dartford-Thurrock Crossing Bill for some sins that I must have committed during the summer of 1987, although I have still not found out what they were. They pointed out that if, and only if, terminal 5 is built at Heathrow—and that would convert this matter into a totally different type of undertaking—a westward link would come out underneath terminal 5 of the new railway link that is to go underneath terminals 1, 2, 3 and 4, thereby offering a nice little carrot to the House of Commons to remember in future what we spoke about in the original Heathrow Express Railway Bill back in the summer of 1990. It is almost as if they are saying, "We are willing to do that for you now, but only if you give us permission for terminal 5." That would not convert tonight's proceedings into an ability to obtain an undertaking that they are willing to consider a westward link; it would mean that, if they come back with an entirely different scheme to expand Heathrow massively to a capacity for a throughput of up to 60 million or 70 million passengers a year, as was mentioned by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington—

Mr. Dicks

I did mention 50 million, but the 60 million or 70 million referred to by the hon. Gentleman is going too far. Nor was I suggesting that the promoters—especially British Airways—would use this as a form of blackmail to get terminal 5; I was merely referring to the transport implications for both road and rail of a fifth terminal.

Mr. Morgan

I mentioned 60 million or 70 million, as opposed to the 50 million mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, because I am not the local Member of Parliament and therefore would not encounter the frightful constituency implications that no doubt would affect him. I am not merely repeating the hon. Gentleman's point about terminal 5; I am amplifying it, because it is entirely relevant to the carry-over motion.

I have been exercising my rights as an ordinary Member of Parliament to object to a private Bill. I have put my name down; other objectors have had to withdraw because they are now on the Government Front Bench. I have done that for many months. The objectors have had meetings with the two promoters of the Bill. The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington has exercised his right, as a local Member of Parliament, and I have exercised mine as a south Wales Member of Parliament. The promoters have told us that if there is a fifth terminal it will be possible to exercise the third way of connecting up to the railway system somewhere west of Slough. A big loop would then come in from Reading, dive down to terminal 5 and through to terminals 4, 3, 2 and 1, and back up on the line that we are discussing tonight.

What is being said is, "Give us the ham tonight, and then, if you give us the eggs at a later stage, we will have a 'ham and eggs' of the westward link." That is what hon. Members on both sides of the House are asking for tonight—both those who want commuter assistance because they represent constituencies near Heathrow involving huge work forces, and others who have a regional point of view to put but cannot put it properly under the private Bill procedure unless they exercise their muscle power as Back Benchers in relation to carry-over motions.

Procedural though they be, such motions give us the right to try to put the squeeze on the promoters of private Bills. Otherwise they ignore us completely, as we have been ignored regionally in attempting to exercise our rights. That is why tonight's procedural motion provides an extremely welcome opportunity for us to see whether, by expressing our views forcefully tonight, we can obtain some type of undertaking that the promoters are listening to people who say that "private enclave" railways are not a good investment for this country, but that new investment on the railways that is linked to the public railway system is a good investment for many reasons relating to the environment, global warming, traffic exhaust fumes and surface access transport to the most important single mode of transport in this country.

I am still disinclined to vote for the carry-over motion, simply because of the procedural point that has already been referred to by the hon. Member for New Forest—when he was talking as the past joint Chairman of the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure and not as a sponsor of the Bill. That Committee made a recommendation that carry-over motions should not be acceded to by the House unless the promoters could demonstrate that they had not been dilatory. I think that I am summarising the views about the dilatory clause in the recommendations. In the narrow procedural context, we must ask ourselves whether the promoters have been dilatory and whether they have dealt properly with the objectors who have made their views known.

Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

The promoters have been extremely attentive in dealing with the objections put to them—some would argue that in the other place a great measure of success was achieved by the objectors. Tonight, we are asking only that the Bill be given an opportunity to progress in the next Session, so that the promoters can be equally thoughtful and forthcoming in response to views of the kind that the hon. Gentleman is expressing.

If the motion is lost, the link will be lost. Those who would vote it down must understand that it will be a long time before such a project can be re-established. Who knows when? I urge those who have doubts to allow the Bill to proceed in the next Session, so that all the valid arguments deployed today by the hon. Gentleman and others can be fully considered. To kill the motion now will be effectively to kill the Bill, with great damage to those who need the link to London airport.

Mr. Morgan

That was a very effective winding-up speech by way of an intervention. In accepting the point that I made when quoting the hon. Gentleman's report, as Chairman of the Committee, that carry-over motions should not be available to promoters unless they can prove that they have not been dilatory, I presume that the hon. Gentleman accepts also that that ruling does not apply to any proceedings in another place, but only to the extent that the promoters have been dilatory after a Bill has left the Lords and it comes before this House. Our only concern is whether Members of this House and their objections have been dealt with in a reasonable manner. I am not suggesting that our arguments should immediately be conceded—that would be nonsense—but have the promoters made any attempt to meet the many points that have been made?

The promoters know, for example, that all Members of Parliament representing constituencies in south Wales have fears about the future of Paddington station, and believe that the people of south Wales are again being treated like second-class citizens. If rail congestion in the Paddington area gets much worse during the construction of the link, we may be compelled to have Welsh parliamentary questions in Reading town hall because that will be the only place where we can foregather.

Our fears are reinforced when we hear that not only the 10 miles on our main line—although we have no ministerial access to it—is to be electrified, but that something more is to happen, according to the statement made by the Secretary of State for Transport at last week's Tory conference in Bournemouth. The Secretary of State appears to believe that announcements about major new investment projects are in the nature of a travel competition, in which the first prize is a week's holiday in Bournemouth and the second prize a week's holiday in Bournemouth, spent in deafening silence at that conference.

The Secretary of State makes such announcements thinking that everyone will be very pleased. That new project has not yet come before this House, which is a sad reflection on the right of Members of Parliament to debate such matters. In any event, we understand that the line is now to be electrified as far as Reading. However, places to the north of Reading and elsewhere, where the rest of us live—such as Didcot, Oxford, Birmingham and even Scotland, where access could be provided via the west coast main line, though the Scots may have views about the desirability of using Heathrow anyway—are treated as back numbers. They are expected to find ways of compensating for that disadvantage through regional policy, simply because investment decisions are oriented entirely to south-east England.

No wonder we often have to debate regional policy, when private Bills and carry-over motions pass through this House as though they have no regional or wider implications, and when the only point considered to be of importance is whether objectors to the land being taken, and so on, can be squared when the Bill reaches the Committee.

The debate tonight is important because of its wider implications for electrification and the links between the proposed railway and the present public rail system.

The private Bill procedure has many problems.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)

One argument that my hon. Friend may like to consider in support of the carry-over motion is that it will allow us the opportunity to study the fare structure used on the link as well as that used elsewhere by British Rail. My hon. Friend is familiar with many aspects of European life. A few days ago, I travelled between Paris and Brest on a superb train, part of the way it was the TGV, and the fare was two-thirds what it would be here. My hon. Friend will be aware that French railway investment is proceeding apace. I welcome the proposed investment in the Bill, but I hope that it will not be accompanied by a fares policy which is outrageously at variance with the policy across the channel.

Mr. Morgan

The financing of the line should be fully considered at Second Reading, if the Bill gets that far. The use of the private Bill procedure by a consortium which is both private and public has financial implications. British Airports Authority was privatised recently but the money that it will use to fund the express line comes from taxes forgone on duty-free goods at Heathrow. British Airports Authority have a tax-free concession from all of us here tonight and from the 60 million people who live in this country. As people do not pay tax on the goods that they buy there, we all have to pay more tax. The British Airports Authority sells franchises for sale of duty-free goods, for example, to Hills duty-free shops which put 50 per cent. of the price back on to the duty-free goods. Payment for such franchises are made to the British Airports Authority which then has free capital to invest in projects such as the one we are discussing tonight. However, we shall not be able to discuss the financing of the link tonight, as the money used has been called private money. It is not private, it is our money—the taxpayer's money—because it is a result of taxes forgone on goods: VAT, purchase tax and other taxes on goods sold—

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is going a long way off the rails from the carry-over motion. He is an experienced parliamentarian and debater and I am well aware of that, but I should like him to return to the motion on the Order Paper now.

Mr. Morgan

I do not want to cross swords with you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Even before I became a Member of Parliament I was warned not to do so. I was told that you had been a Tiller girl and the emphasis was on the Attila. Therefore, I shall definitely not quarrel with you tonight.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)

My hon. Friend mentioned Scotland. Everyone in Scotland to whom I have spoken about the link is in favour of it. All those people who travel from Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow to Heathrow hate the dreadful journey from Heathrow into central London on the Piccadilly line. However, they have serious reservations about diverting money from the Glasgow to Euston run for the construction of the express link. I have met no one in Scotland who objects to the express link—they support it wholeheartedly.

Mr. Morgan

I entirely agree that there is universal support for the line but people want it to be linked to the rail system. They are surprised at the dilatoriness with which the promoters of the Bill have considered how to join the express link with the present railway system.

I am still inclined to oppose the carry-over motion. The sponsor's threats that successful opposition to the carry-over motion would kill the chance of getting a link from central London—

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Does my hon. Friend accept that if the Bill falls today it will put considerable pressure on the Government to sort out the private Bill procedure and they could consider bringing forward their own legislation? The promoters would be able to reintroduce the Bill in November and, provided that they had been able to satisfy all the petitioners, the Bill would go through the House as an unopposed private Bill. Such Bills can move through both Houses extremely quickly. That is one of the arguments for getting petitions sorted out before the promoter starts the parliamentary procedure. Therefore, that threat is not serious and if the promoters were willing to meet the wishes of the objectors, a Bill could go through Parliament quickly.

Mr. Morgan

I was about to make that point to the sponsor of the Bill. I am sure that he did not mean to threaten the House when he said that if the House exercised its constitutional right to refuse the carry-over motion because it believed that the promoters had been dilatory, that would be the end of the Heathrow Express Railway Bill. That is what I think that he said, but I am sure that he did not mean it. If it were a threat, it would be accepted in the way that all threats are accepted. It would show that the promoters had adopted a poor attitude and that they were prepared to cut off their nose to spite their face.

The House has to consider whether to exercise its right to refuse the carry-over motion. It would be open to the promoters to reintroduce the Bill in the next Session. Similarly, recommittal occasionally takes place because of changed circumstances. If the House refuses to agree to the carry-over motion, that will not be the end of the story. The promoters believe that the Bill is a gold mine, so they will reintroduce it in the next Session of Parliament. We want to be part of that gold mine; we do not want to be second-class citizens. Between 6 million and 7 million people live in the London area; they need a first-class service. In addition, between 6 million and 7 million people live to the west of Heathrow. They, too, want a first-class service to Heathrow, but they do not want to lose the almost first-class service to Paddington that they now enjoy. For that reason, I intend to oppose the carry-over motion.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 155, Noes 10.

Division No. 321] [9.16 pm
Adley, Robert Davis, David (Boothferry)
Alexander, Richard Devlin, Tim
Amess, David Dixon, Don
Arbuthnot, James Dorrell, Stephen
Ashby, David Dover, Den
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Dunn, Bob
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Durant, Tony
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Fallon, Michael
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Favell, Tony
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bevan, David Gilroy Fishburn, John Dudley
Blackburn, Dr John G. Flynn, Paul
Boswell, Tim Fookes, Dame Janet
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bowis, John Freeman, Roger
Brazier, Julian French, Douglas
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Gale, Roger
Burns, Simon Garel-Jones, Tristan
Butler, Chris Gill, Christopher
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Carrington, Matthew Goodlad, Alastair
Chapman, Sydney Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Chope, Christopher Gorst, John
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Grist, Ian
Conway, Derek Ground, Patrick
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Hague, William
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hanley, Jeremy
Curry, David Hardy, Peter
Dalyell, Tam Harris, David
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Haynes, Frank Patnick, Irvine
Heathcoat-Amory, David Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Pawsey, James
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Porter, David (Waveney)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Portillo, Michael
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Howells, Geraint Price, Sir David
Jack, Michael Riddick, Graham
Janman, Tim Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Ryder, Richard
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Sackville, Hon Tom
Key, Robert Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Kilfedder, James Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Sheerman, Barry
Kirkhope, Timothy Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Kirkwood, Archy Skeet, Sir Trevor
Knapman, Roger Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Speller, Tony
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Lawrence, Ivan Squire, Robin
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Stanbrook, Ivor
Lightbown, David Stern, Michael
Lilley, Peter Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Lord, Michael Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Sumberg, David
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Summerson, Hugo
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Maclean, David Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Malins, Humfrey Trimble, David
Mans, Keith Trippier, David
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Twinn, Dr Ian
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Waddington, Rt Hon David
Michael, Alun Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Mills, Iain Wallace, James
Miscampbell, Norman Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Monro, Sir Hector Wheeler, Sir John
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Widdecombe, Ann
Moore, Rt Hon John Winterton, Nicholas
Moss, Malcolm Wood, Timothy
Murphy, Paul Young, Sir George (Acton)
Needham, Richard
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Tellers for the Ayes:
Norris, Steve Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson
Oppenheim, Phillip and
Paice, James Mr. Jack Aspinwall.
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Parry, Robert
Callaghan, Jim Skinner, Dennis
Cryer, Bob Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Dicks, Terry
Eastham, Ken Tellers for the Noes:
Illsley, Eric Mr. Andrew F. Bennett and
Morgan, Rhodri Mr. Ron Davies.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the Promoters of the Heathrow Express Railway Bill [Lords] shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office of their intention to suspend further proceedings not later than the day before the close of the present Session and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid; That if the Bill is brought from the Lords in the next Session, the Agents for the Bill shall deposit in the Private Bill Office a declaration signed by them stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill which was brought from the Lords in the present Session; That as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill shall be deemed to have been read the first and shall be ordered to be read a second time; That the Petitions against the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session; That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business; That in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words "under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)" were omitted; That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session; That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.