New Clause 1—Pensions (consultation)—
'.—Before exercising the powers under section I in so far as they affect pensions. and relevant Corporation and the Secretary of State shall consult those members of the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme Committee of Management who represent the workforce and the Contributors' Committee Members of the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme on the appointment of advisers and shall not appoint any such adviser without their consent.'.—[Mr. Dobson.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Madam Speaker
With this it will be convenient to take the following: New clause 3—Changes to British Coal Corporation pension schemes—'.—Except in the case where the Secretary of State lays before both Houses of Parliament a statement certifying that such change is for the protection of the interests of the members and beneficiaries, no change shall he made to the Mineworkers Pension Scheme of the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme except by statutory instrument; and such instrument shall be subject to approval by resolution of each House of Parliament.'.New clause 7—Pensions (consultation)—'.—Before exercising the powers under section 1 in so far as they affect pensions, any relevant Corporation and the Secretary of State shall consult those members of the British Rail Pension Scheme and the British Rail Superannuation Fund committees of management who represent the workforce on the appointment of advisers and shall not appoint any such adviser without their consent.',New clause 8—Changes to British Railways Board pension schemes—'.—Except in the case where the Secretary of State lays before both Houses of Parliament a statement certifying that such change is for the protection of the interests of the members and beneficiaries, no change shall he made to the British Rail Pension Scheme or the British Rail Superannuation Fund except by statutory instrument; and such instrument shall be subject to approval by resolution of each House of Parliament.'.New clause 9—Colliery welfare organisations—'.—Before exercising the powers under section 2 in so far as they affect land on buildings owned by, or held in trust for, any Colliery Welfare organisation, any relevant Corporation and the Secretary of State shall consult both the representatives of such Colliery Welfare organisations and the local authority.'
§ Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)
I beg to move, That the new clause be read a Second time.
All the new clauses are about the pensions of people who used to work or still work for British Coal and British Rail. They seek to protect the rights of pensioners and potential pensioners of those companies. The new clauses are, therefore, important to existing pensioners, widows and children who benefit from the pensions, and the substantial number of people who work for British Coal and British Rail and still pay into those pension schemes. In any sensible society, those people should be entitled to feel that their pensions are secure. But they do not feel that they are secure. The House is under an obligation to offer them the protection that they do not have at present.
The Government's record on pensions is literally scandalous. Under the Government, we have proceeded 600 from one scandal to the next. Each time there is a pension scandal, they wring their hands, express concern, promise action and then do nothing. Even on the odd occasion when they do something, their action is too late. It is usually described as closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, although more often these days the horse did not bolt but was stolen from the stable and written off by some pinstriped highwayman from the City of London. Those latter-day Dick Turpins are always one jump ahead of the law enforcement officers and 10 jumps ahead of the law.
We are obliged to try to ensure that the law offers the protection that it has failed to offer to legions of other pensioners. It is about time Parliament took some action on pensions before, not after, a scandal—it is usually known as a spot of intelligent anticipation.
The new clauses are designed to protect the interests of pensioners, to protect their pension funds and to give pensioners and people still paying into the funds some confidence that, in these difficult times, they will get the pensions to which they believe they are entitled.
Pensioners have good reason to be concerned. The British Coal pension funds total more than £12 billion—perhaps 10 times the value that the Government will eventually place on the assets of the company itself. These funds represent different things to different people. To the pensioners and widows they represent their income—the money that pays the bills. To the people working for British Coal or, for that matter, British Rail these pension funds represent their future security.
Two other groups, however, have their eye on these funds. To the potential purchasers of British Coal that £12 billion represent a kitty. If we and the pensioners—not to mention the people running the pension schemes—are not careful these funds will represent swag for the thieving people in the City who have already stolen so much from Britain's pensioners.
Hitherto the Government have merely offered a few assurances. I am sure that Robert Maxwell would have given assurances. So would Barlow Clowes have offered assurances that its investments were sound. I am sure that the people at Belling would have told their employees that their pensions were safe and were not being invested in the company by a circuitous route. I am sure that when Hanson bought Imperial Tobacco it told its pensioners that their pensions were safe. Anyone who believes such assurances now is flying in the face of experience. Assurances are no longer enough.
§ Mr. Ian McCartney (Makerfield)
When Hanson was trying to buy Imperial Tobacco the staff did not believe its assurances and went to court to protect themselves.
§ Mr. Dobson
Yes, indeed, but my hon. Friend will agree that they had to go as far as the House of Lords to protect themselves, and that vulnerable groups such as pensioners should not have to do that. It is up to the House of Commons to offer them the protection to which they believe they are entitled and which they deserve.
Even under present law, pensioners and people paying into these schemes are unhappy about what is happening and they see money being taken away from them. The miners pension scheme has funds of more than £6 billion, out of which it has to pay 160,000 pensioners and more than 100,000 widows—and 260,000 other former miners expect to get what are called deferred pensions when they 601 are old enough to be entitled to them. There are fewer than 50,000 working miners paying into the scheme. British Coal decided that the fund was in such surplus that some of it could be disposed of. As the fund was set up to benefit pensioners, one might have thought that the first call on the funds would be to increase pensions now or in the future; but that was not British Coal's top priority. It gave itself a contributions holiday, so that it will make no employers' contributions to the miners pension scheme until the year 2001.
That holiday is worth more than £423 million to British Coal. However, it is intended to benefit not British Coal but whoever buys it when it is privatised. All that is legal, all above board, but it is all a loss to the pensioners, because the benefit will be passed to the shareholders of the new company or companies that will own British Coal. No wonder workers and pensioners in the industry want some reassurance about what will happen when privatisation is under way. Our new clauses seek to give workers, pensioners and their representatives some say in the appointment of advisers to the Government and the companies during privatisation.
As we all know, privatisation involves vast numbers of City advisers. If my memory serves me correctly, in one way or another more than 230 companies advised either the Government or the companies on electricity privatisation, and some of them advised both. That advice cost the taxpayer about £230 million. Such investment in advice cannot be justified unless we can be convinced of the propriety, honesty, wit, intelligence and professional competence of those who are getting the money. Who might the pensioners not want looking into their pensions? In view of the recent scandals, pensioners would not want any advice to the Government or the companies from anybody who was involved in any way in the Maxwell pension scandal.
§ Mr. Bill Etherington (Sunderland, North)
My hon. Friend speaks about advisers that pensioners might not want. They might not want that outfit masquerading as a trade union, the Union of Democratic Mineworkers. That outfit sided with British Coal to ensure a contributions holiday that will last to the turn of the century. I hope that that will never be forgotten.
§ Mr. Dobson
My hon. Friend makes a valid point. Unfortunately, a UDM representative voted with the management on the miners' pension scheme committee in favour of a pension holiday. It was a rather curious decision.
The point to remember about the Maxwell scandal is that Robert Maxwell did not do it all by himself. Money cannot be moved around and in and out of the City and in and out of Liechtenstein or anywhere else without people such as accountants, auditors, banks and merchant banks—and all sorts of people who make their living by movements of money through their institutions—noticing what is going on. They carefully log such movements, because, by and large, they get a percentage of every movement.
The people who noticed such movements of money fall into two categories—those who took part and those who averted their gaze. I do not think that miners or railway workers would want advice from people in either category.
602 Any institutions or persons who did not notice what Maxwell was up to are too stupid and incompetent to advise on the future of miners' pensions or railway staff pensions. Pensions for miners or railway workers should not be left in the hands of those who failed to prevent the pillage of the Maxwell pensioners.
We offered some help to the Government in their pursuit of the missing Maxwell millions. We suggested that they should demand from anyone whom they were considering appointing as an adviser on this matter a certificate from the Secretary of State for Social Security showing that, as the Secretary of State had requested, the certificate holder had done everything in his power to help the Maxwell pensioners get their money hack. If the licence holder had any of the money, he would need a certificate to say that he had paid it back. That is known in the business as an incentive and it should be passed into law.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)
There is not much reference to that in the Bill. The hon. Gentleman said, "We offered some help to the Government" for the Maxwell pensioners to get their money back. Will the hon. Gentleman define what he means by "we"? At great cost to itself, the National Westminster bank has decided to return money to the pension funds. Presumably the hon. Gentleman can assure me that the Mr. Maxwell of whom we are speaking was a former Labour Member of Parliament and that the Labour party received money from the Maxwell organisation. When the hon. Gentleman says "we-, does he mean the Labour party and, if so, does Labour propose to return that money, however small the total amount, as a gesture of good faith towards the Maxwell pensioners?
§ Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)
Order. The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) is dwelling unduly on matters relating to a clause that has not been selected.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. The selection of clauses and amendments is made by Madam Speaker, not by me.
§ Mr. Dobson
I have no intention of dwelling on our new clause which was not selected. I was in the process of moving on before the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) intervened. I do not give a damn which political party Robert Maxwell came from. He was a villain and he stole from pensioners. But he must have done that with the connivance of innumerable City individuals and institutions, because he could not have done it by himself.
§ Mr. Skinner
The Tories are speaking about Maxwell, but one of their clan, Peter Walker, picked up £450,000 for working for three months for a Maxwell organisation and took a Mercedes car worth about £50,000. That happened last year when Maxwell was fiddling the pension funds. Walker should send the money to those desperate Maxwell pensioners. That is what the Tories should be calling for.
§ Mr. Dobson
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend.
The Government recently announced the appointment of Department of Trade and Industry inspectors to investigate, not the Maxwell pension scandal but the flotation of Mirror Group Newspapers. Linklaters and Paines, and Clifford Chance, solicitors; Coopers and Lybrand Deloitte, the reporting accountants; Salomon Brothers International, the underwriters; the merchant bankers Samuel Montagu; and stockbrokers Smith New Court were all involved in that flotation, and are all being investigated by DTI inspectors.
The DTI is one of the two sponsoring Ministries behind the Bill. We would expect it to agree with us that none of the companies being investigated by the Department of Trade and Industry should be entitled, while under investigation, to be appointed as advisers to the Government, British Coal or British Rail on this matter of privatisation and in particular on the matter of pensions.
§ Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley)
Let him without sin cast the first stone. Many Conservative Members have interests in the City and are involved in all sorts of deals that take money from the pockets of those who invest their pounds and 50ps in the City. Is it not correct that the DTI is also involved, in that it was aware that Maxwell was an unfit person but never acted on that knowledge and allowed the robbery of the pensioners to continue?
§ Mr. Dobson
I cannot claim to understand all the detailed ramifications of how deeply the DTI or other Departments were involved in various aspects of the fiddles, but it is fairly unlikely that, in about two decades' time, when the various investigatory machines have finally completed their business, any Department will come out with a clean bill of health. We are pretty sure that it will be a long time before any conclusions are reached.
The DTI has established its investigation into the floatation of Mirror Group Newspapers. Presumably, it expects that investigation to be taken seriously. Everyone believes that if a DTI inspector makes a serious criticism of a company or individual in its report, the matter should be taken seriously. We believe that the miners and the railway workers wish to make sure that DTI inspections are indeed taken seriously, in view of the wisdom and foresight of the DTI inspectors, who in 1971 said of Mr. Maxwell that, in their view, he was nota person who could be relied upon to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company.How wise they were. We would go beyond that and say that, in order to protect the interests of the miners and the railway workers, and in particular those of pensioners, no company or individual who has been criticised by a formal DTI inspection in its published report should be entitled to advise on the pensions of either the miners or the railway workers.
Unfortunately, that leads us to what can only be described as the sad and lengthy roll call of the Government's advisers. Coopers and Lybrand, which incidentally was the auditor of Mirror Group Newspapers and its pension fund, and which, during the process of electricity privatisation, had no fewer than 19 advisory contracts, was criticised in a DTI report on the Milford Docks Company.
Ernst and Young, and its predecessor, were involved in advising the Government and the electricity supply industry—it got four advisory contracts out of electricity privatisation—and has been criticised in no fewer than six 604 published DTI reports. It is also the auditor to British Coal and the British Coal pension scheme, which is in direct contravention of the recommendation of the Select Committee on Social Security that it is improper for any organisation to be the auditor of both company accounts and pension scheme accounts.
§ Mr. Redmond
So that we are sure on this, will my hon. Friend tell the House which party was in power when those criticisms were made?
§ Mr. Dobson
I must confess to my hon. Friend that I do not have the date of all six of the reports into Ernst and Young.
The distinguished company of James Capel had only one advisory contract during the process of electricity privatisation but was criticised in the case of Consolidated Gold Fields. Kleinwort Benson, which was the Government's principal adviser on electricity privatisation and had four other contracts, was criticised, as everybody who was a Member of Parliament at the time will remember, in the House of Fraser DTI report.
Peat Marwick McLintock, the accountants, had three electricity advisory contracts and was criticised in the Alexander Howden Holdings case and the Orbit Holdings case. Price Waterhouse, another firm of city accountants, had no fewer than 23 advisory contracts on electricity privatisation, and it has been criticised in the public reports of two DTI inspections, into Norwest Holst and Raymor Investments. Spicer and Oppenheim, its predecessor, which had five advisory contracts on electricity privatisation, was criticised over the Aldermanbury Trust. Smith New Court, of which Lord Walker, who has been mentioned already, is a director, had three advisory contracts on electricity privatisation and was criticised, along with James Capel, over the Consolidated Gold Fields case.
Lest any Conservative Members suggest that these might be trivial or glancing criticisms, I will quote one or two examples of the criticisms levelled at companies that have been on the Government's list up to now, because I do not think that they are trivial. In the Consolidated Gold Fields case, the inspectors said:We consider that Smith New Court seriously hindered the company's attempt to pursue its right under section 212. with a view to identifying who had been buying a substantial number of its shares.It went on to say, and this is probably the most damning aspect:Moreover, we consider that Smith New Court did not understand their responsibilities under the Act and did not make any serious attempt to take proper legal advice.No organisation criticised in that way should be supervising any pension scheme or be involved in any way. Similar criticisms were levied at James Capel.
§ Mr. Stephen Milligan (Eastleigh)
The hon. Gentleman lists the shortcomings of these advisory companies, but will he add to the list the name of Mr. Arthur Scargill who, during the miners' strike, shifted money from one account to another with great freedom? Perhaps it would not be a good idea if, as suggested in the new clause, the National Union of Mineworkers had a prime role in giving advice in the future.
§ Mr. Dobson
To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Arthur Scargill will not be appearing in court, which is something 605 that distinguishes him from a large number of people who were involved in the Maxwell scandal, and who, if there were any justice in the world, would be appearing in court.
The DTI said about Ernst and Young:In our view, the auditors failed to carry out their responsibilities as auditors.The company had been appointed as auditors and was criticised for not carrying out its duties. Such auditors should not be allowed anywhere near the miners and railway workers pension schemes. The report of the investigation into Raymor Investments said:Price Waterhouse's conduct as regards the non-executive directors and the incoming auditors is indefensible.Should any organisation whose conduct described as indefensible be further employed by the Government, by British Coal or by British Rail? We would not want them supervising our pensions and we should not want them involved, in any way, in looking after someone else's.
In the case of the House of Fraser and the al-Fayeds, there is probably no more damning statement to be found in any Department of Trade and Industry report than the comment that was made not just about Kleinworts and Herbert Smith, Government advisers, or Lazard's, Government advisers, or Morgan Grenfell, Government advisers, than the words:So far as we know, not one of the advisers appears to have inquired at all critically into the Fayeds' background and bona fides.There could be no worse criticism of people appointed to look into things critically and to advise than that they never did their job.
We believe that none of these organisations should be allowed anywhere near the giving of any advice about the privatisation of either the coal industry or the electricity industry. What is more, we wonder who maintains this list of advisers and what criteria are applied before people's action, or inaction, is so bad that they are removed from the list. What do they have to do? Get involved in shifting money from Hong Kong into Tory party funds and then losing the money, or something like that? That appears to be the only thing that might prompt the Government to think that they were not up to their job.
§ Mr. Redmond
My hon. Friend wonders how advisers come to be removed from the list. If they stop contributing to the Tory party, they are removed.
The president of the National Union of Mineworkers has been mentioned. Perhaps he ought to be one of the advisers. Arthur would want to ensure that miners had adequate pensions. Despite the vilification, the president of the National Union of Mineworkers has been completely exonerated of any dirty tricks. The House ought to be aware that he has been completely exonerated of any fiddling of pension funds or NUM money. The so-called pension advisers in the City ought to have a look at Arthur's track record with a view to achieving the standards that he has set for himself.
§ Mr. Dobson
I can say only that if advisers were to look into a situation, it is unlikely, on the basis of what I have just read out, that they would notice anything.
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)
I have been listening very carefully to the comments of my 606 hon. Friend. I am not sure that he quite understands the reasons behind the privatisation, and that concerns me slightly. One of his problems, I think, is that he seriously suspects that advice is taken from private firms in order to facilitate the movement of assets from the state system into private pockets. The point is that there should be an ever more rapid movement of money from the state to the friends of the Conservative party. The view that these people are employed to give independent advice does not correspond with the facts.
§ Mr. Dobson
I have to confess that I have always had the old-fashioned view that the public business of the country should be conducted with honesty and in the interests of the people of the country rather than for the benefit exclusively of the Conservative party and its friends. However, I have become more and more disillusioned over the years.
In view of everything that has appeared in print or has been heard on television and radio. it is clear that any sensible miner or any sensible person working for British Rail must be concerned about what has happened to his pension fund. These people have read about Maxwell, about Imperial Tobacco and about Belling. Today I received a letter from someone who works for British Telecom. That person tells me that it looks as though the company is into contribution holidays and changes in schemes, to the advantage of the shareholders and the disadvantage of the pensioners and people paying in. I have not had time to investigate the ins and outs of the matter, but I am quite prepared to believe that these changes have been made.
Our new clauses are intended to secure from the Government agreement that no one will be appointed to advise on the pensions of the miners or the railway workers unless the Governments and the companies get the consent of the representatives of the work force—and I mean the entire work force.
Our amendments would provide that any change in a pension scheme required the consent of Parliament. Conservative Members have been fairly willing to agree to almost anything in recent times. I live in hope that if our proposal is accepted, or if the Government bring forward an amendment of their own, even the present Conservative party will be unwilling, up front, to vote for something that is to the total disadvantage of pensioners.
I hope that the Government will accept either the amendments or the spirit of the amendments. I come back to a point that I made at the beginning: it will be no good if, in three or four years' time, people come here and bleat about pensioners being robbed, as that could be stopped by action taken today. Bleating afterwards is not good enough any more. Any group of pensioners is entitled to the protection of this House, and that is what should be provided tonight.
§ Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I regret having to intervene with a point of order at this stage, but I seek your advice. Today an all-party delegation from the West Yorkshire passenger transport authority met the Minister for Public Transport. the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Freeman), to discuss the West Yorkshire electrification scheme. The main problen associated with the scheme arises from the anxiety of financial institutions about the effect of privatisation on the transport authority and about 607 whether, if they were to underwrite a leasing agreement for new rolling stock, they would be able to secure repayment of any loans.
I should like to know whether it would be in order for hon. Members, in the debate on new clause 5, to make brief comments on this matter, in the hope that the Minister for Public Transport would be able to report to the House on the present situation. That new clause refers to rights and liabilities. Or would it be more suitable for brief interventions to be made during the Third Reading debate, which, I understand is to take place later tonight?
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
We have not yet reached new clause 5. I shall consider the points that the hon. Member has made, but there is no need to give an immediate answer.
§ Mr. Redmond
As this is the first opportunity I have had to do so, Madam Deputy Speaker, I congratulate you on your election to the Chair. I am confident that you will do an excellent job. Indeed, it is widely accepted in the House that you are doing an excellent job.
It was said during the Second Reading debate and in Committee, and it must be said again, that there ought to be two Bills—one dealing with British Rail and one with British Coal. But we are quite used to the manipulation of Ministers with a view to shoving business through as quickly as possible. The Minister's approach has been that the Government and the Opposition agree in principle with regard to the proposals in the Bill. For a long time, I have not accepted that, when we agree in principle, we can sort out the details later.
I am confident that the Minister's office thinks that that applies to this privatisation legislation. If that is so, it should have been discussed on Second Reading arid in Committee, and certainly it should be discussed this evening. The problem is that the Minister simply sits back. He has an outline structure—possibly even the details—of the proposed privatisation, yet hon. Members on both sides of the House are fishing in the dark trying to understand what is happening.
I oppose the holiday that British Coal is taking from the pension scheme. It was agreed to on the casting vote of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers. The National Union of Mineworkers was opposed to it and did not participate. I do not understand why the Minsiter is not using his good offices in this matter. He gives assurances that future pension rights will be protected and that there is no need to worry because everything is wonderful, yet he is taking part in a manipulation by British Coal of the pension fund that will rob many of my constituents, who are ex-members of the coal industry, of many pounds. He should step on the toes of British Coal's chairman and bring their cosy relationship to an end.
I think it appropriate to mention the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation. It came about through a venture between the workers and British Coal. Over the years, the workers contributed tuppences and threepences week in, week out to bring facilities to mining villages—not just for the enjoyment of the miners and their family, but for the enjoyment of the whole community. Because of that, many mining villages have excellent facilities.
We are a little concerned about what will happen to CISWO's assets if British Coal is privatised. It must be remembered that those assets belong not to British Coal, but to the community. I hope that today the Minister will 608 give a categoric assurance that CISWO lands and schemes—be they cricket, bowling, football or welfare—will not be sold, but will be transferred free of charge to local authorities. I am sure that the Minister is aware that many local authorities are strapped for cash and are having a heck of a job trying to maintain statutory services. They will not have the money to purchase CISWO's lands and schemes from British Coal.
The point should be made that it is not just British Coal that has contributed to the schemes—over the years, the lads and lasses have brought those facilities to the communities for the enjoyment of the people. From British Coal's actions so far, it seems that it will want to exploit those schemes for the benefit of the new private owners. British Coal has a large amount of land, but when members of the public want to purchase any of it, British Coal charges property development prices—that is, it' it is prepared to sell at all.
I am sure that the same thing will happen with coal privatisation as happened when the water industry was privatised. There was a piece of land in Warmsworth village where people had tended allotments for many years. Suddenly, the water board wanted them off that land, because it thought that it could get planning consent for development. The same may happen with British Coal. Instead of benefiting the nation and the lads and lasses who spent many years in the coal industry, the new owners will want to dispose of the land to make fat profits for its board and the shareholders. That has happened in other privatised industries. I hope that the Minister will assure us this afternoon that that will not happen with the coal privatisation.
Concessionary coal is part of the right of the lads and the lasses in the coal industry. Six pits in Yorkshire have protected rights. They include Rossington. which is my patch, and Caeleby—which is closed—in the Don valley constituency. They have protected rights over and above the usual concessionary coal agreement. Will the Minister give an assurance that irrespective of who owns the industry, those rights will he protected? I hope that no one—for example, Fairclough or Monktonhall—will try to take on the industry as a single venture. Unless there are long-term markets, there is no long-term security.
Those six pits in Yorkshire have a right to the same protection as they had prior to privatisation. I hope that any agreement on privatisation will give the lads and lasses of those pits full protection under the law against exploitation. I hope that the Minister will bear in mind the points that I have made.
§ Mr. John Heppell (Nottingham, East)
I declare an interest as, at some stage in the future, I may have the opportunity to benefit from a railway pension. I am therefore pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) is looking after my interests so well.
I am disappointed by the Bill. My first reason is on political grounds, as I do not like the idea of privatisation. whatever it might mean for the railways. Nevertheless, I recognise reality. The Tories won the election and they are committed to privatisation. Unfortunately, the Bill is not clear about anything else. What does it tell hon. Members, the management of British Rail, the work force and the passengers? Alas, it is very little.
609 My second reason for disappointment is that, in the absence of a White Paper, the Bill is causing confusion and uncertainty throughout the country and especially among the work force and pensioners of British Rail. The Bill is not a blank sheet, it is a blank cheque—but for the benefit of the Government, not the pensioners. That is shown by the catch-all phrase in clause 1 that British Rail be giventhe power to do anything which in their opinion is appropriate for the purpose of … facilitating the implementation ofthe Government proposals.
That means that it can do exactly as it likes. The Bill suggests that private locomotives and wagons could run on BR track, but that already happens. I am therefore confused about the Bill's purpose. If it confuses me, it must confuse even more BR's existing work force and pensioners. The work force will have to make the changes work—once it is known what those changes are. At present, they do not know whether those changes will include restructuring, after 10 years of restructuring, or whether they will conflict with the Government's present proposals. Neither do the work force and many pensioners know whether their present travel concessions will be protected. Employees are uncertain whether their promotion prospects will be damaged. If they are, their pensions will also be harmed. There are many previous instances of that happening.
The work force and existing pensioners are worried about what will happen to their existing pensions. I do not rely on my pension, because I realised a long time ago, after I entered local government service, that my BR pension would not be sufficient to live on. However, many rely wholly on their BR pension for their future income.
Experience has shown that privatisation has not helped pensioners. The privatisations of British Rail Engineering Ltd, British Transport Hotels, Sealink and Travellers Fare produced pension schemes that were supposed to offer equal benefits and to mirror BR schemes. In fact, many of the new schemes closed, stagnated or offered only marginal improvements. In any event, they have not kept pace with BR schemes, while offering contribution holidays to employees, who pay nothing, while the pensioners receive less.
There is in people's minds today the spectre of Robert Maxwell. That case has concentrated the thoughts of those working in the railway and mining industries about the future of their pension funds. We have read much in the newspapers about the losses made by names at Lloyd's and suggestions that they ought to be compensated. I do not believe that they should. I have no more sympathy for names than I do for those who lose money on the stock exchange or by gambling on horses. Damon Runyon said that all those who play the horses die broke. One takes a risk, and enjoys the profits when one wins—so one must accept the losses when one loses. However, pensioners are not like that. They pay money to provide for their future security.
In the light of the Maxwell fiasco, the Government have an opportunity—which they should not miss—to send out a clear message to those who would con, cheat, rob, and steal from pensioners that such behaviour will not be tolerated. They can also send out to pensioners the message that their pension funds will be protected. The Government can do that today by ensuring that special 610 protection is built into the process of privatisation. If they agree to new clause 1. they can make the minium concession that they should to pensioners.
§ Mr. McCartney
As a member of the Select Committee on Social Security in the previous Parliament, I spent a great deal of time investigating this issue. As a Member of Parliament, I represent a coal mining community; my grandfather and grandmother both worked in a coal mining community, and my Scottish uncle died of pneumoconiosis at an early age. I therefore have some affinity with the new clause. It is necessary, historically and legally, to protect pensioners in coalfield and railway communities. It will also ensure a Government commitment to achieving equity.
In 1984. my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) challenged the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Mr. Cecil Parkinson, over the Government's commitment to British Telecom's pensioners on the privatisation of that public service. Mr. Parkinson replied that BT employees would have constitutional rights in respect of their pension scheme—yet two years after BT's privatisation, The Times reported on 22 August 1984 that the Opposition's fears about future employees might have been justified.
The article reported that British Telecom intended to introduce a new pension scheme in 1986 that would deny future employees the right to automatic index-linking of pensions—but that it would apply only to people joining British Telecom after 1 April 1986. In other words, British Telecom changed the rules after privatisation, and tens of thousands of pensioners lost the rights that were promised to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover, other hon. Members, and the Union of Communication Workers.
In the latter part of last year, the Social Security Select Committee took evidence in respect of the Government's intentions in regard to the pension schemes of nationalised and privatised industries. I quote from the Committee's second report. published on 4 March 1992. We took evidence from a former employee of the National Bus Company who had written to the Committee expressing concern about the effect of privatisation on the fund from which his pension was paid. The report states, in paragraphs 268 to 269:The National Audit Office investigated the sale of the National Bus Company, a company which by 1985 accounted for almost half the national bus mileage in England and Wales. The Government in 1984 had proposed the deregulation of the bus industry, and as part of this programme the NBC was to be returned to the private sector in smaller free standing parts. The 1985 Transport Act set the framework for the sale, and required disposal of the company by January 1989.The proceeds of the sale amounted to £324.2 million. Net receipts to the Exchequer amounted to £165.4 million, of which £120 million was an estimated net surplus on pension funds. Before tax the surplus was £200 million.The National Audit Office found that the Government had on privatisation asset-stripped the National Bus Company's pension fund, and in doing so were able to present a far rosier picture of the company's resources at the time of its sale. Paragraph 270 adds:The Public Accounts Committee in its investigation asked the Department why the pension fund surplus had been claimed as a net receipt from the sale. The Department responded that the figure of £120 million was part of the estimated net receipts following the sale.The Department offered no satisfactory explanation as to why the assets were used in that way. Current and future 611 pensioners of British Coal and British Rail schemes are well warned about the Government's promises, attitudes and actions.
I ask the House to consider other cases involving pensioners who lost out through privatisation. BREL pensioners in my constituency were formerly employed by Parkfield Castings and their pensions were lost when that company went bust. They also lost their travel allowances, and were not entitled in law to any recompense.
A more recent case, again notified to the Select Committee late last year, is that of the British Airways helicopter pilots. During negotiations with British Airways at the time of its privatisation, Robert Maxwell and his companies bought British Airways companies and responsibility for helicopter operations in the North sea and the highlands and islands of the United Kingdom. Shortly after the sale, an agreement was reached between Maxwell's companies and British Airways. Employees were told that, as part of their contract of employment, they had agreed to move out of the British Airways pension scheme and into the new British International Helicopters scheme.
From then on, neither the Occupational Pensions Board nor the City regulators made any effort to take account of what was happening to the pension fund. Now, their pension fund having been looted, the pensioners are bereft of resources, and the Government have only belatedly produced a rescue package that may assist them in the short term. The House did nothing to protect pensioners at the time of the British Airways privatisation.
At the time of the privatisation of the National Freight Corporation, agreements were reached as a result of which the Government still make a small contribution to the pension fund. In every other case of privatisation, however, the Government have failed lamentably to take account of the consequences. That can be seen clearly when we examine the history of corporate takeovers in the 1980s. Most of the companies targeted by Hanson and others were targeted not because of their performances in regard to exports or investment, but purely because of the tangible assets held by their pension funds and the ease with which corporate raiders could get their hands on those assets. In the 1980s, the self-regulatory system in the City failed again and again to accommodate the rights of pensioners.
In legal terms, the most important case so far has been that involving Hanson and the tobacco industry. The Select Committee took a good deal of evidence about the consequence of Hanson's attempt to raid the pension funds. I have not raised the subject of Hanson because I see him as a bogeyman in relation to the new clause. It is likely that Hanson and his companies—such as Peabody's Coal Company—will try to purchase parts of the British coal industry, and that they will have a direct influence on, and interest in, the consequences of the break-up of British Coal and the future of the assets of its two major pension funds. Those assets amount to more than £12 billion. Hanson's history is vital in this connection, and the Government should be required to include in the Bill clauses to take account of the court ruling on the subject.
In both his summing up and his written judgment, the judge in the Hanson case said that he could not understand why the trustees representing the employees had immediately been made redundant when they raised 612 objections to the attempt to manipulate pension fund assets. The trustees who replaced them had done the same. and they, too, had been made redundant. The judge suggested that Hanson had used intimidating tactics to ensure that he could place on the board of trustees people who would simply rubber-stamp his intentions. Luckily. the court and, eventually, the House of Lords made arrangements for the funds to be protected, but it took tens of millions of pounds of pension fund assets for that to happen. Moreover, Hanson did not meet the costs of legal advice; the pensioners met the cost from the pension funds. The Government must write into the Bill clear commitments in respect of pensioners' rights.
The Bill has come at an embarrassing time for the Government. They will probably publish tomorrow their response to the report on occupational pension funds, published—as I said earlier—on 4 March 1992. Until 3.30 pm tomorrow, we shall not know what that response will be, but one thing is certain: no one can doubt the inadequacy of trust law in protecting pensioners, whether it applies to takeovers, privatisations or the general run of investment policies.
The most important aspect of the new clause is the need to ensure that professional advisers are independent of both the Government and management. Time and again, evidence to the Select Committee has make it plain that the main problem is the failure of warning systems to operate effectively, or at all. In almost every instance of the plundering or potential plundering of pension funds, professional advisers have been tied hand and foot to the companies employing them.
That does not apply only to Maxwell. Believe it or not, the Select Committee has received abundant evidence of corruption on both a large and small scale, and of unhelpful practices by employers. Some of those practices, although morally indefensible, are entirely legal, such as stock lending—lending to oneself a large proportion of investment funds as though a free banking system were in operation, or taking large pension holidays at the expense of future pensioners, as British Coal is currently doing. I hope that the Government will do something about that.
Apart from the professional advisers, everyone who has given evidence to the Select Committee—solicitors, barristers, private-sector advisers to the pensions industry, trade unions, pensioners' organisations and deferred pensioners' organisations—has said, "For God's sake, bring in legislation to protect us from advisers who are representing the company on one hand and, on the other hand, are responsible for advising trustees about the investment and the movement in and out of the portfolio of hard cash or assets belonging to pensioners." The Maxwell case is a fine example. A total of £1.8 million was taken out of the Maxwell pension funds in the space of a few months at the end of last year to pay the professional advisers. Maxwell did not pay them; the pensioners had to. That was rubbing salt in the wound—making the pensioners pay advisers who had never advised them.
An adviser in one firm of solicitors was paid more than £40,000 from the pension fund for writing a single letter on behalf of Maxwell and his fellow directors. The letter was a carefully constructed lie in response to complaints that had been received about the manipulation of funds. That solicitor still practises in the City. He admitted to the Select Committee that for writing a letter he had received more than £40,000—it had taken him more than six weeks 613 to construct the letter—from the very pensioners who had asked him to investigate corrupt practices. That is entirely unacceptable.
During that critical 12-month period when the auditors were licensed by the Investment Management Regulatory Organisation to regulate their own investments, they literally closed their eyes and their books and walked away. As they did so, hundreds of millions of pounds were taken out of the fund and are now to be found in various parts of the world. That is what might happen to British Rail's pension fund and to the mineworkers pension funds. These pension funds will be at greatest risk after privatisation. The City cannot wait to get its hands on them.
It is essential, therefore, that the Government should put on to the face of the Bill clear and precise arrangements that take account of the Select Committee's inquiry into pension fraud. The Government must also take into account what the industry, the managers' associations, the Union of Democratic Mineworkers and the National Union of Mineworkers have said to them. If the Government are not prepared to do so, history will be repeated. The asset-rich pension funds of British Coal and British Rail will be part and parcel of the sell-off. They will be the only reason for the sell-off. One only has to consider what happened after electricity privatisation. Under the contract arrangements, British Coal has been run into the ground. British Coal's only tangible asset is coal in the ground and its pension fund.
The Government must give commitments if they are to end the sincere worry of those employed in the industry and of the hundreds of thousands of pensioners and future pensioners. Unless the Government give those commitments, we shall have to divide the House and, by campaigning, make people aware of the fact that, despite Maxwell and the Select Committee's report, the Government are still prepared to gamble with the assets of public-sector pensioners.
§ Mr. Eric Clarke (Midlothian)
I echo what has already been said by my hon. Friends, in particular by my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). I worked in the coal mining industry and was the mineworkers' trade union representative until I was made redundant. Active and retired mine workers, and also their wives and widows, are extremely worried. I make no apologies for repeating that fact. We are talking about ordinary people and many honest individuals who have given their lives and their health to the industry. Some of them lie awake at night wondering what is going to happen. I appeal again to the Government, as I appealed to them in Committee, to look at what is going to happen to the fund.
It is difficult not to repeat what others have said, but I shall try my best to consider this matter from another angle. ON, a highly respected organisation, runs the pension fund. It is even respected in the City. Its investments on behalf of miners, their widows and others, are second to none. It makes investments throughout the world. I represented the trade union side on the fund for four years. The people who administer the pension fund are tough. I want to know what the Government intend to do about the fund.
If the industry is privatised, miners will not necessarily find that their pension fund investments are made by that organisation. I am asking for continuity. If doubt is cast 614 on its future, the headhunters in the City of London and elsewhere will take away its top people. In addition, between 290 and 300 people administer the fund in Sheffield and elsewhere. They earn their livelihood by looking after the pensioners' interests. I want to know what is going to happen to these people. They have done a good job. This is a good organisation. It would be a crime if it were to be split up after privatisation.
Some pension fund money has been put into works of art. That may be a great way of increasing the amount of cash, but it is not working for anyone. The works of art are either in museums or vaults. The money that is in this fund is working for people and has been invested in this country. I took a great deal of pleasure from the fact that money was lent to people who were starting up on green field sites or were pursuing other activities.
It is internationally accepted that this country is at the top of the league when it comes to new ideas. The silicon chip and many other inventions were the result of work done in learned institutions and technical colleges in this country, but they were developed and manufactured by other countries. The conservative attitude in the City of London and in our finance houses leads them to look for a return on their money yesterday. Six months is too long; a year is impossible. However, our Japanese competitors talk about getting a return in 10 or 12 years and of having a monopoly over any invention.
This organisation, however, waits for a return for anything up to six years. It does not have rose-tinted glasses; it does not give money to non-starters. It has been so successful that British Rail has asked it to take on its investments. That encourages intitiative and provides jobs for people in mining areas and elsewhere. It leads to investment in the know-how and initiative of the British people, which is second to none. That fact alone should lead to the Government allowing this fund to stay alive and the investment experts together. Risk capital is one of the particular strengths of this organisation.
We cannot, however, just sit back and say that everything is all right with this fund. One has to bear in mind the Maxwell nightmare. The fund must be well organised. Its assets must not be handed over to anybody else.
I ask the Minister to take on board my arguments on behalf of the mining communities who have invested their wealth and health in this country. The miners were never seen to be wanting when it came to campaigning against fascism. They fought for this country in two world wars. I do not want a Maxwell scandal to come out of this. There should not even be the hint of a Maxwell scandal here. I want a guarantee from the Minister that the cash that has been built up for their pensions by people who have created wealth for this country will be preserved.
I am not talking about City or stock exchange manipulations, or about somebody walking away with millions of pounds. I am talking about hard work to create wealth, generating power and energy for industry, commerce and domestic use. Without the coal industry, we would be in a poor position. Many countries envy our energy assets, but I am worried that they will be stripped before privatisation.
I want a moratorium on some of British Coal's activities. My hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) mentioned land being sold off. Two 615 anthracite mines are being sold in south Wales. I want to know about the other deals that are going on. We cannot stop them dead in their tracks, but I want the Minister to ensure that, before the Bill takes effect, he analyses any asset pertaining to the sale. Asset stripping may occur before privatisation. I do not trust some of the people who are running British Coal—and one person in particular, who hon. Members know all about.
The Government might get up to some of their old tricks by selling off assets to their friends or someone else before privatisation. Those assets belong to the industry and to the people of this country. I do not want any funny deals to be done before privatisation. That goes for pit closures as well. Premature pit closure can be detrimental asset stripping. I hope that the Minister will consider that.
I shall close there—I know that we shall debate other amendments later—but that does not mean that I am not interested in safety, concessionary coal or the other organisations that have been mentioned. However, it is important that we concentrate on pension funds.
§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)
I want briefly to support the new clause and to ask the Minister to take on board the fact that this is not just a ritual debate on privatisation. I have served on several privatisation and enabling Bills, in which, properly, there have always been debates on pensions.
The Minister must accept that what has happened in the past year has brought into sharp focus the concerns of thousands of people who are affected by the proposed privatisations. The hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) referred to British International Helicopters, whose operational headquarters are in my constituency. At the time of the proposed privatisation of British Airways, the work force of British Airways Helicopters, as it then was, were assured that their pension funds would be safe and that they would continue to be full members of the British Airways pension fund. Even when it became apparent that British Airways' management, having said that it had no intention of selling the company, was in negotiations to do so, the work force were told that they would be safeguarded as continuing members of the pension fund.
The Minister will understand, therefore, how sick and cynical those people now feel. They are victims of the Maxwell fraud and, as I understand it, they do not know whether they will benefit from the Secretary of State's rescue fund. As of a few days ago, two employees who had reached pensionable age since the winding-up of the Maxwell pension fund had not received any payment from the Mirror Group, which does not accept responsibility, or from the Secretary of State's rescue fund.
That sad example shows the dangers of fragmenting pension funds at the point of privatisation. In his detailed proposals to privatise rail and coal, will the Minister consider whether pension funds continue to exist as single entities rather than their being frozen and new pension funds being set up for each new company that is privatised? For example, if British Rail's employees were to transfer to one of the franchised companies, or if the coal industry were sold on a regional group basis or pit by pit, whereby employees were transferred to, for example, Yorkshire Collieries Ltd., would the Minister ensure that they did not cease to be members of their previous pension 616 funds and were not moved into a smaller and, by definition, more vulnerable pension fund that did not have the benefit of accumulated assets?
The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) made a powerful point about contribution holidays. It would be ironic if such employees found that their new employer did not offer the benefit of the accumulated successfully managed fund and had to start from scratch without receiving a contribution that would bring the fund up to the same competitive level from which they had benefited up to that point and which they might have hoped to continue until full retirement age.
The anxieties of pension fund contributors are bound to have been sharpened by what has happened in the past year. The lack of clarity in the Government's plans on how British Rail and the railways will be operated under their new proposals and how the coal industry will be privatised add to that uncertainty. It would be helpful if the Minister said that existing pension funds will not be frozen or broken up and that some mechanism will be found to ensure that payments continue.
The Secretary of State for Social Security is reviewing pension law. If the law has not been amended to take on board the concerns that have been expressed in the debate, will the Minister undertake to ensure that the legislation for the privatisation of the coal and rail industries will enhance the guarantees and protections that are being sought for those pension fund holders and to give serious consideration to ensuring that pension funds are not broken up?
§ Mr. McCartney
It might be helpful if the Minister were prepared to introduce an arrangement similar to that for electricity privatisation. The Department of Social Security proposed regulations to ensure that when the regional companies took over on vesting day the pension funds were protected. The machinery was complicated, but the Government introduced it because of the pressure that was put on them.
§ Mr. Bruce
The Minister will have heard that pertinent observation. To some extent, we do not seem to have learnt fully; we continue to reinvent the wheel and each new privatisation creates its own problems.
The Minister will have heard many powerful and specific speeches, articulating concerns and asking him particular questions. I hope that he will recognise that this is not just a token gesture for which a token assurance will be acceptable and that he must show that the Government take on board the seriousness of people's concerns. He must assure hon. Members that the Government will address those concerns under general pension legislation—and, I suggest, under the privatisation Bills that will be introduced—and that existing funds will continue and will be safeguarded.
§ Mr. Michael Clapham (Barnsley, West and Penistone)
I support what my hon. Friend for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said in moving the new clause. A number of important issues have been raised in the debate. I want to concentrate my comments on the mining industry and its pension schemes. At present, four pension schemes operate. The first is the mineworkers contractors pension scheme, which provides the same benefits to sub-contract workers as is provided under the mineworkers pension scheme for industrial workers. The second 617 pension scheme is that of the British Association of Colliery Management; the third is for supervisory workers and the fourth is the mineworkers' pension scheme.
The accumulated funds of the four schemes are well in excess of £12 billion, which is a great attraction to an asset stripper. Therefore, it is essential that we are able to ring-fence the schemes. The Minister has already made promises about what he is prepared to do, but we must go beyond promises. We need copper-bottomed guarantees in the form of legislation, perhaps part of the Bill, to ensure that the mining communities have the necessary protection.
Miners are already beginning to suffer anguish. For example, on Saturday two constituents came to my surgery to ask whether their pensions would be guaranteed, and I am sure that the same has happened to many of my hon. Friends.
My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) referred to the pensions holiday which has been in existence since 1987. The Minister will be aware that British Coal took £300 million out of the first surplus. The second sum taken from the surplus was £435 million, making a total of £735 million taken from the mineworkers' pension scheme to provide a contributions holiday. That has been an enormous help for British Coal, but it has been detrimental to the pensioners.
British Coal will not now make a contribution to the scheme until the year 2001. That is ironic at a time when we are talking about selling the industry. Companies that we could call sharks are circling the industry, ready to move in, and will be able to take advantage of the contributions holiday which, as I said, will last to the year 2001.
In giving copper-bottomed guarantees, I hope that the Minister will be able to examine how the pension scheme will operate in the future. Perhaps he will be prepared to consider a national pension scheme for all the industry's workers, irrespective of the shape that the future privatised industry may take, so that a man working for subcontractors who are further subcontracted will not have a worse pension than any other payroll worker. We need a uniformity of pension provision throughout the industry, and I sincerely hope that the Minister will take that suggestion on board.
At the same time, we must consider how employees can be guaranteed rights when they transfer from one employer to another within a national pension scheme. If they are part of national pension scheme, it must be guaranteed that their pension will remain in that scheme without the same transferred values as there would otherwise be, especially if the industry has perhaps seven or eight different employers.
New clause 3 is essential because it will provide the protection which the mining communities require. New clause 7 requires consultation with those representing mineworkers, such as those on management committees of pension funds. I hope that the Minister will guarantee open consultation and that new clause 7 will be accepted.
I was interested in what my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) said about new clause 9 and land. New clause 9 also refers to colliery welfare organisations. The Minister will be aware that the Coal 618 Industry Social Welfare Organisation, which has been in existence since 1947, has done a great deal of cultural work in mining communities but has also assisted mineworkers' families whose breadwinner has been injured.
For example, in my area of South Yorkshire, we have a paraplegic centre run by the social welfare organisation, which miners who have been crippled in the collieries can attend. At the same time, social workers do an enormous amount to support families who have reduced incomes since their breadwinners suffered an injury in the industry. Will the Minister consider a formula whereby the coal industry social welfare organisation may continue?
British Rail has vast amounts of land, much of which is farmed by tenant farmers, as is the case in my constituency. I hope that the Minister will be cautious and will ensure that land sales do not take place over the heads of the farmers or without any consultation. It is essential that such farmers are consulted and, if possible, given the opportunity to buy the land. Some of them—or their families—have farmed the land since 1947, and they should be given the opportunity to buy it rather than becoming tenant farmers of a landowner about whom they know little. I hope that the Minister will take that point on board.
The new clauses covering pensions are essential. I hope that the Minister will say that he is prepared to accept them to give pensioners in the mining communities the protection that they require.
§ Mr. Skinner
Last week the parliamentary miners' group went to visit the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. I think that he is called "President", but one of our group decided to ask him how he wanted to be addressed. To be honest, he seemed a bit embarrassed, but they settled for "Hezza". I am not sure that he liked it, but he had to lump it. Ten of us met him in the new Department of Trade and Industry building, which is called Ashdown house. I do not know whether there is any political significance in that, but I should not want to be stuck in a building named after Paddy Backdown.
It was interesting that we were only a few hundred yards from another building, 25 Victoria street, which the President of the Board of Trade used in the back end of 1990 to campaign to get rid of Thatcher. There were television cameras outside when the campaign was launched. I took a special interest in it and wondered what had happened to the building. It is blighted. Grilles have been put up, as happens when a property has gone down and been left empty for a long time.
I seriously believe that there is a big property scam. The DTI building at the bottom of Victoria street is being closed and is now part of the blight. I reckon that a property company will buy the lot and make a big fat killing. Where will the money come from? It will probably come from the miners' or the railway workers' pension funds. That is how such companies get the finance. They get it out of pension fund money; it is not their own money.
The Minister should come clean and give us a guarantee that nothing connected with the Department of Trade and Industry or with No. 25 Victoria street will go to line the pockets of any Tory Member who votes on the Bill. That could happen. Hon. Members are meant to declare a conflict of interest. As sure as night follows day, some Tory Members will go into the Lobby in the knowledge that the 619 pension fund money belonging to men and women who have slogged their guts out all their lives will be used to fill their pockets and to help them to make a killing.
§ Mr. Arnold
I am somewhat confused by the logic of the hon. Gentleman's argument. Was not Robert Maxwell a Labour Member?
§ Mr. Skinner
As the hon. Gentleman has introduced the subject, I will tell him what Robert Maxwell was. Mr. Deputy Speaker has heard the question, so I must answer it. Robert Maxwell was a mate of Peter Walker's. Peter Walker was a Minister in the Tory Government from beginning to end. He served Thatcher loyally for 13 years. When he packed up, just before he finished as a Member of Parliament, he was one of the 19 ex-Cabinet Ministers who had 59 moonlighting jobs between them. His last moonlighting job before he finished as a Member of Parliament was to join Robert Maxwell and to launder money. He got £450,000 out of Maxwell—I am sorry, out of pensioners.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)
Order. I trust that the word "pensioners" came in. The hon. Gentleman knows the rules of the House. May we get back to the new clause, please?
§ Mr. Skinner
I brought in the word "pensioners" because it is relevant to the debate. What happened in the Maxwell pension fiddle in relation to Peter Walker, who took £450,000 out of the pockets of Mirror Group Newspapers pensioners and got a Mercedes car worth £50,000, is relevant to the debate. Peter Walker should pay back the money. Every Tory Member should demand that the ex-Tory Cabinet Minister pays the money back into the pensioners' pockets.
I am sure that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have constituents who were part of the mighty lobby a few weeks ago when the Maxwell pensioners pleaded for justice. I am sure that you agree that Peter Walker should put his hand in his back pocket and send the money back—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] That is unanimous.
This debate is about considering whether such a pension fiddle could happen again. Many of my hon. Friends have mentioned that it is quite possible. The debate is about ensuring, if we can—we cannot be sure about Tories—that all Labour Members are fully aware of what can happen with pension money.
It is not long since the miners had a meeting with British Coal about their pensions. British Coal said, "If we have a pensions holiday, we can get £435 million and British Coal will not have to pay any money until 2001." Our people in the National Union of Mineworkers said, "You are not going to do that. If you have any spare money, it should go to pay miners who have retired, and those who have been made redundant and thrown on the scrap heap. It should go to the widows of those miners who died choking with pneumoconiosis. Give it to them." That would have meant an extra 16 per cent., which would not have broken the bank. Some pensioners get only £10 a week. My mother, before she went, used to get £10 a week after my dad died.
What has British Coal done? It has pocketed £435 million. How did it achieve that? It achieved it by its 620 people voting for it, together with Prendergast, the representative of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers—the scab union. I use that phrase especially for those who might have doubts about the UDM.
The other Sunday, I read in the business section of The Sunday Times—before it ran the Di story, because there is nothing in the second section other than that now—that Mr. Hanson, a well-known fan of Mrs. Thatcher and the Tory party who has now changed his allegiance to the present Prime Minister because it suits his pocket, has said that he will take Canary Wharf off the Government's hands and that he will take over the mining industry if he can use the £435 million from the pension fund. He could then buy the industry with the miners' own money—their deferred wages. That is clever. I want the Minister to tell us that that will not happen and that neither Hanson nor anybody else will use pension fund money to buy the remains of the coal mining industry.
Let us imagine what would happen if the UDM decided to cash in. The UDM does not have enough money to buy the coal industry. Let us suppose that having voted to have the pension holiday, it is then able to use some of the money to get a stake in the privatised coal industry. That is a conflict of interests. The Minister has a duty to tell us that that will not happen in the industry. If it does, all the talk about Maxwell and the rest is meaningless.
We met the President of the Board of Trade. Like Cecil Parkinson, whom we met once, he was badly briefed. Two or three years ago, we asked Cecil Parkinson how he would privatise British Coal; he did not know. He told the Tory party conference that the Government would privatise British Coal. What did that mean?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. This is out of order in relation to the new clauses. Will the hon. Gentleman please get back to the pensioners?
§ Mr. Skinner
I do not want to teach grandmothers how to suck eggs, but I will tell you this, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Privatisation of the coal mining industry is wrapped up in all the amendments and new clauses. If you want me to find some labyrinthine way to get back to the new clause, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will take the time necessary to do so, but I do not think that you want me to waste time.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I do not mind how the hon. Gentleman gets back to the new clause; I would like him to get back to it.
§ Mr. Skinner
The new clauses and the pension scheme are closely connected with the privatisation of the coal mining industry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. That is what the paving Bill is about. There are some clever people in the City, who are close to the Tory party and who are financing the Tory campaign, who have said, "We will help you to privatise the coal mining industry and we will use the pensioners' money to do it—we will pinch it out of the pockets of the widows and retired miners." Have you got it, Mr. Deputy Speaker? Are we on the ball? I think that we are. I ask the Minister for some clear answers to the questions put by me and by my hon. Friends.
The sell-off will be a sleazy affair because it is possible for the Minister to make statements here today, but then if the Bill becomes law to say, "The industry is privatised—it is none of my business." A private entrepreneur may get hold of the pension funds. The Minister can then say, 621 "We were clean and pure until the industry was privatised; now we have no contact with it—it is the owners' business."
I want an assurance from the Minister that even after privatisation the Government will ensure that coal, pensions and all other entitlements are kept secure, as they were after nationalisation in 1947. It is no good saying that we are going to change things now. Let us suppose that the industry is sold off twice, first to one body and then to another. That is quite conceivable. The Minister might say that the Government managed to safeguard the pension entitlements when they passed the industry over to the first purchaser, but if it is passed on again, those entitlements may be lost.
§ Mr. Redmond
The House should be aware of the problems that have occurred following privatisation of other nationalised industries. Far from the El Dorado that we were promised after privatisation, there have been enormous problems and the public have had to pick up the bill. They are paying a terrible price for mistakes which have occurred in legislation. The privatisation of British Coal is a complicated business. Unless we get it spot on, people will make a killing from it and some people will die as a result of being ripped off by the City and as a result of mistakes made in this House.
§ Mr. Skinner
I was trying to point that out, but you were not too keen on me travelling down that road, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Suffice it to say that my hon. Friend is correct. The privatisation of British Coal is unlike any other privatisation. It is impossible to secure markets in an industry where one is battling against mother nature. That is why we subsidise farmers in Britain. They cannot produce food as cheaply as it can be produced in Mediterranean areas, in parts of the Common Market or elsewhere in countries with better climates.
There must be a change of philosophy to secure the mining industry. Privatisation could mean the death knell of the British coal industry. Some Tory Members do not care about that, but many Opposition Members do.
Reference was made to finding the Maxwell money. En passant, I believe that if the Government want to find that money, they should do what they did in respect of the miners' money in 1984. They followed the miners' money to Luxembourg, Ireland and everywhere else. The Government found it in a few months. If they want to get the Maxwell pensioners' money back, they should act in that way. They should deal with the banks so that the Maxwell pensioners who do not have two halfpennies to rub together can get their money back.
The Minister's job today is to give us a guarantee that if the industry is handed over, all the pension entitlements will be secure—not for 12 months, or two years, but way beyond the year 2000 so that everyone who receives a pension will continue to receive it.
§ The Minister for Energy (Mr. Tim Eggar)
Whatever hon. Members thought about what the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) had to say, they must agree 'that it was good entertainment.
§ Mr. Eggar
My speech will certainly not be as riveting as that of the hon. Member for Bolsover.
No matter what differences there may be between the Government and the Opposition in the House or the differences between us in Standing Committee, there was total agreement about the importance of the pension fund. It is critical to those who receive pensions. As the hon. Member for Bolsover said, many of those pensioners receive very small amounts. The pension fund is also important for the hundreds of thousands of people who will receive a pension in the future. It is also important for those who are still employed in the industry.
The Government and the trustees of the present pension fund must decide how, given that the Government have decided to privatise the industry, those pension funds are to be allocated and how the Government's determination to safeguard the pensions and the pension funds can be implemented.
The hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) raised an interesting point. He wanted to know whether it is appropriate, given that privatisation is going to happen, to section off parts of the pension fund relating to those people with entitlements who are still in the industry. I assume that he believes that, if that was the route to be followed, any sectioned-off amount would automatically reflect the proportion of any surplus or overall assets in the main fund. The hon. Member for Gordon wanted to know how those assets would be protected. The hon. Member for Bolsover made the same point in more colourful language. He wanted to know how those vital assets could be protected for the rights of the individuals who had paid at least a proportion of the total assets in the fund if the industry was sold on in future.
Those are very complex issues. The hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Clarke) recognised that the factors involve the ratio between the number of present contributors and apparent and future beneficiaries. Those factors are unique to the British Coal pension fund. Indeed, the fund is not simply unique in terms of the size of its assets. Those complex questions must be addressed very carefully.
In response to the hon. Members for Midlothian, for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) and for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney)—who made a particularly interesting speech with his expertise from the Select Committee on Social Services—I must state that we are determined to achieve a solution that is just and fair for all the different participants in the pension fund. We have said that we are going to safeguard pensioners' rights under the pension scheme, and will certainly stick by that undertaking.
I state quite specifically that there has never been and there will never be, so long as I stand at the Dispatch Box and am responsible for policy in the area, any rip-off by any potential purchaser of the coal industry of the accumulated assets under the pension funds. That would be totally inexcusable, and no member of the Government would put up with it.
§ Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale)
The Minister seemed to say that he was relying on the trustees of the miners' pension scheme to safeguard the interests of miners' pensions. Is the Minister aware that 50 per cent. of the trustees represent British Coal management, who are 623 scheming at present for a management buy-out? There is evidence from the holiday that is costing £435 million of pensioners' money that the management are intent on using the money. I hope that the Minister will not tell us that he is relying on the good will of the trustees of the miners' pension scheme. I hope that the Government will provide the safeguards in black and white in legislation to safeguard miners' pensions.
§ Mr. Eggar
I have given an assurance to the House on behalf of the Government. Clearly, the trustees of the pension fund at the moment have a duty to the pensioners and to act in an appropriate way. The hon. Member for Midlothian is well aware of how that operates. I agree with the hon. Member for Midlothian that the pension fund has been well managed. It consistently performs at the top end of pension fund performance, and I have every hope that that will continue to be the case. However, it is unfair to the trustees of the pension fund to imply that any of them in any way at any time believes that giving the holiday to British Coal was a way of assisting them in a management or employee buy-out of the industry. That kind of rumour and slur simply do not help a very important and serious debate.
We have heard much about the holiday for British Coal. No Opposition Member has mentioned that, on the previous valuation, there was a surplus of more than £1,400 million in the mineworkers' pension scheme, and £1,000 million of that went back to the beneficiaries in one form or another. It was not distributed solely for the purpose of giving a holiday to British Coal, and the House of Commons should recognise that.
§ Mr. Dobson
How can the Minister expect miners to accept his assurances about the future of the pension scheme when they know of the assurances that Mr. Peter Walker gave when he was the Secretary of State for Energy before he went off to the other place? He assured the miners that there would be no change in the law governing the number of hours that may be worked underground, and no repeal of the Coal Mines Regulation Act 1908 without their agreement. However, the Government repealed that law without the miners' agreement. How can the Minister expect miners to accept an assurance on pensions when the Government have gone back on their previous assurances on safety?
§ Mr. Eggar
The hon. Gentleman's speeches in the House and at Barnsley were an absolute disgrace. He was deliberately and consciously, I suspect for reasons more to do with the shadow Cabinet elections than anything else, seeking to stir up concern and worry about pensions in the coalfield communities. We can do many things in the House and we can have many debates about the right way to privatise the industry and about the right way to protect pensioners, but the depths to which the hon. Gentleman is prepared to sink really disturb me.
We are talking about individuals—people who go to hon. Members' surgeries because they are worried about their pensions. The least we should offer them—we should be able to reassure them—is a sensible analysis of the options. The scaremongering and low-level tactics pursued by the hon. Gentleman are most disturbing and surprising from a member of the Opposition Front Bench, in particular.
§ Mr. Dobson
The House of Commons is a place where laws are made. The least we can do to assure miners, railway workers and pensioners is to pass some laws to protect them, and not rely on feeble ministerial assurances from a Government who have already gone back on previous assurances affecting the self-same industry.
§ Mr. Eggar
I differ from the hon. Gentleman in that I am simply not prepared to play political football with people's pensions for political gain. The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that this is a paving Bill. He knows perfectly well that it is structured to enable British Coal and British Rail to get the necessary advice to enable them to prepare themselves for privatisation. He knows as well as other hon. Members that the time for detailed and legal consideration of matters relating to pensions and other matters relating to privatisation is when the House considers the main Bill, yet he goes around the country and repeats again today, and he will do it again—[Interruption.] He is deliberately worrying individuals out there in the country. He is not even prepared to do so in anything resembling a balanced way. He knows perfectly well that he will have a chance to debate those matters when the Bill comes before the House. I simply do not understand how he can act so irresponsibly.
§ Mr. Madden
Opposition Members are concerned about the pension funds of two great industries and the people who serve those industries. Will the Minister answer a very simple question? When privatisation is proposed, will the pension funds be protected and safeguarded by legislation, bearing in mind that Ministers come and go, that their assurances are not worth the paper they are written on, and that one Government cannot commit another Government? Will the Minister give a clear and simple answer to the question put a few minutes ago by my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson)? Will the pension funds be safeguarded by legislation?
§ Mr. Eggar
I have said categorically, and I say again, that individuals' pension rights will be safeguarded. The mechanism that is used to achieve that end has not yet been decided upon. The hon. Member for Makerfield drew attention to the method that had been used for the electricity industry privatisation. That is one option; there are a number of others. I say quite categorically that we are committed to safeguarding pensions, we will safeguard pensions, and we will use the most appropriate method to do just that.
§ Mr. Redmond
Obviously, the protection of pensions is a crucial point. When people such as Lord Hanson are whipping around the country ripping off, selling or disposing of assets, we can understand people's fear. British Coal and the Union of Democratic Mineworkers combined to vote for the free holiday period. If the Minister is suggesting—I hope he is not—that the present structure is to be maintained, I urge him to rethink. It would make pensioners extremely happy if there were a regulatory body purely and simply to look after pensioners' rights which could not utilise their funds in any way, shape or form. It is very important that the present structure—the UDM and the National Union of Mineworkers—will not be satisfactory if privatization 625 takes place. There has to be something else that takes the control of pensions from the industry but gives the lads and lasses protection.
§ Mr. Eggar
I understand the hon. Gentleman's points. It is just those factors that we need to consider and decide, taking into account the points that have been made by other hon. Gentlemen, so that we provide essential safeguarding in the most appropriate way. There are many factors that we have to take into account. Of course, whatever structure is finally decided, the pension funds will be covered by the normal legislation with regard to the safeguarding on monetary amounts, and that has always been the case.
§ Mr. Clarke
When we privatise the industry, we may nationalise the funds. It worries me that the Treasury might have its eye on the assets of the funds. The Minister will guarantee to the people, "Yes, we will look after you; yes, you will get your pension at this rate." The Minister said that there are other methods. Other methods can be other methods. I am very suspicious of that. I want an assurance that the benefits of the funds, investment and know-how go into the Treasury and not into people's pockets. They will be frozen and the benefits of the know-how and future surpluses created by that fund will go to the Treasury. That is not the road down which I want to go. I want a guarantee from the Government but I do not want people to pay a high price for it. One of the problems is that the Minister can give a guarantee from the Despatch Box but people will pay for it.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. When it is clear that the Minister is not giving way, I should be grateful if hon. Members would take their seats.
§ Mr. McCartney
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I persist in this matter because the Minister has mentioned me twice—I accept that he has not attacked me yet—and it would have been common courtesy to give way to me just for a moment.
§ Mr. McCartney
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Your persistence has paid off.
I suggest that the Minister reads a textbook entitled "Essential Guide to Pensions", page 188 of which says that the Government have a standard policy for pension funds in the event of privatisation. First, they close down the current fund so that new entrants have completely different benefits. They then remove the right to indexation and other benefits. That is not my view but was written by Sue Ward, who has just been appointed by the Secretary of State for Social Security on the committee to review pensions law and whether pensioners need better protection. So the Government's advisers say that the Government have a set pattern, which means that, in the long run, pensioners lose out through privatisation. Is the Minister prepared to read that book and learn from it?
§ Mr. Eggar
I have not read the book to which the hon. Gentleman refers. However, in his speech he elegantly drew attention to the fact that, in practice, the Government had adopted a number of different approaches to the pension funds in various privatisations. So the assertion that there is only one methodology does not stand up, even on the analysis in his speech.
§ Mr. Snape
Does the Minister accept that his allegations about my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) scaremongering and his refusal to answer detailed questions on this complex matter are not helpful to the House? Does he recollect the exchanges in Standing Committee A on 18 June, when my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill) pointed out the case of a British Rail employee who moved from the publicly owned railways to the privately owned British Rail Engineering Ltd., then back to the publicly owned railway and saw his pension years reduced because of that move? The move was perfectly understandable and part of the promotion chain within that industry, but his pension years were reduced from 11 to three and a half purely because he had made that transfer. Given the fact that the Government want a multiplicity of railway operators, what guarantee can the Minister give now, not at some time in the future, that that will not happen after this wretched Bill has been enacted?
§ Mr. Eggar
I am sure that the hon. Member for Makerfield will bear out the fact that the whole question of transfer rights—concerning a transfer from an existing pension fund to another pension fund and back again—affects the ultimate value of a pension. That effect operates whatever kind of pension fund it is. One of my hon. Friends has been trying to improve that problem in recent legislation. However, we shall consider those factors when we look at the structure relating to pension funds in the future.
§ Mr. Eggar
No, I have been more than generous.
The hon. Members for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) and for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. Clapham) asked about social welfare arrangements. I shall give that matter 627 careful consideration. It is a complicated subject and there are many different entitlements with many different historical antecedents. As several hon. Members have said, significant assests are associated with them.
If the hon. Member for Don Valley has particular constituency problems, I should be grateful if he would draw my attention to those. He also asked about concessionary fuel entitlements and the position of individuals in his constituency with pre-1947 rights. We are aware of that problem and will try to take account of it in ensuring that our pledge that concessionary fuel will be safeguarded is fully implemented.
We have had a useful debate, but this is not the appropriate Bill in which to have measures such as those suggested in the new clauses. We shall have a chance to return to the matter when we debate the main privatisation Bill later this Session.
§ Mr. Dobson
The Minister has accused me and, I suspect by implication, a number of my hon. Friends—[HON. MEMBERS: "Particularly you."]—oh, particularly me—of scaremongering about pensions. I wish that I had a publicity machine that could create the amount of concern that is felt about the future of pension schemes in the coalfield communities and those places where railway workers are employed. They are worried not because of what I have said but because of what they observe day in, day out, on television, what they hear on the radio and read in newspapers. No scaremongering is required by me to remind people of what happened to the Maxwell pensioners or the legions of pensioners suffering as a result of earlier privatisations so well listed by my hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney).
People are bothered about City institutions getting their filthy hands on miners' and railway workers' pension funds and need no reminding about the scandal of BCCI or any other City scandals that have arisen in the past few years. The Government are responsible for those because they have not laid down satisfactory rules in advance, through laws passed in the House; nor have they set up adequate schemes to regulate what happens in the City.
If any Tory Members believe that regulation of the City is adequate, they are even more empty-headed than they have seemed in previous debates. Surely no hon. Member believes that regulation of the City is adequate. Even the Secretary of State for Social Security—God help us—thinks that pensions legislation is inadequate and has promised that it will be changed.
If the Minister wants people to stop being scared about what will happen to their pensions as a result of coal and rail privatisation, there is a simple answer. He can accept the new clauses, or if he wants to change them in the House of Lords, he can table new clauses, formulated by his officials, which will provide the sense of security for which people are looking.
If the law is changed, people will be happier; they will still not be entirely happy, however. The Minister has signally failed to reply to the points made in this debate about the adequacy of the advice that the Government are seeking or which the companies may seek. This Bill is mainly about the advice sought, and the Minister has said nothing about that. He still apparently believes it adequate to seek advice from an organisation such as Smith New Court, about which the Department's own inspectors have said: 628They did not understand their responsibilities and they did not make any serious attempt to take proper legal advice.Apparently the Minister is happy, too, with Ernst and Young, of which the Department's inspectors said:The auditors failed to carry out their responsibility as auditors".They had no other responsibilities, but they did not carry out the ones they had.
Apparently the Minister is happy that the Government should seek advice, or that British Coal or British Rail should seek advice, from Price Waterhouse, about which the Department's inspectors—not scaremongering Dobson—had this to say:Their conduct as regards the non-executive directors and the incoming auditors is indefensible.The Minister still proposes to give himself powers to appoint the indefensible to look after the interests of miners and miner pensioners, of railway workers and their pensioners. It is no good the Minister smiling in his bland way in the hope that all this will go away: it will not.
Miners and rail workers and millions of others think it wrong that Parliament, given the opportunity to protect some pensions, should fail to do so. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I will return to this issue over the next few years. We will continue to pursue the Government to ensure that we get justice for present and future pensioners of these two companies.
Tonight, the Minister has offered every assistance short of actual help. I must take him back to the principles of these pension funds. All provision of this sort is money put by for a rainy day—for the miners and their widows and orphans and for the railway workers and their widows and orphans. They do not save up the money for a rainy day for British Coal or for Intergalactic Property Theft plc or for whoever buys British Coal or gets some options on bits of British Rail. The money in the funds was put there to look after present and future pensioners. They are entitled to protection, and if the Government will not provide them with it, we are entitled to say, and they are entitled to believe, that their money is not safe.
We do not think the money is safe. That is why the law needs to be changed, and no ministerial assurance will convince anyone to the contrary. We are a law-making Chamber, not a place for empty assurances. If the Minister wants to do something to end the disquiet among coalfield communities and railway workers and their pensioners, he has an easy answer: change the law.
§ Question put, That the clause be read a second time:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 227, Noes 273.631
|Division No. 42]||[6.55 pm|
|Adams, Mrs Irene||Blair, Tony|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Blunkett, David|
|Allen, Graham||Boyce, Jimmy|
|Alton, David||Boyes, Roland|
|Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)||Bradley, Keith|
|Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)||Bray, Dr Jeremy|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)|
|Ashton, Joe||Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)|
|Austin-Walker, John||Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)|
|Barnes, Harry||Burden, Richard|
|Beith, Rt Hon A. J.||Byers, Stephen|
|Bell, Stuart||Caborn, Richard|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Campbell, Ms Anne (C'bridge)|
|Bennett, Andrew F.||Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)|
|Benton, Joe||Campbell, Ronald (Blyth V)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Campbell-Savours, D. N.|
|Berry, Roger||Canavan, Dennis|
|Betts, Clive||Cann, James|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)||Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)|
|Clapham, Michael||Jowell, Ms Tessa|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Keen, Alan|
|Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)||Kennedy, Ms Jane (L'p'l Br'g'n)|
|Clelland, David||Khabra, Piara|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|Coffey, Ms Ann||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Cohen, Harry||Leighton, Ron|
|Connarty, Michael||Lewis, Terry|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Livingstone, Ken|
|Cook, Robin (Livingston)||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Lynne, Ms Liz|
|Cousins, Jim||McAllion, John|
|Cryer, Bob||McCartney, Ian|
|Cummings, John||McKelvey, William|
|Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)||Mackinlay, Andrew|
|Cunningham, Dr John (C'p'l'nd)||McLeish, Henry|
|Dalyell, Tam||McMaster, Gordon|
|Darling, Alistair||McNamara, Kevin|
|Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)||Madden, Max|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Mahon, Alice|
|Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)||Mandelson, Peter|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I)||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Denham, John||Martlew, Eric|
|Dewar, Donald||Maxton, John|
|Dixon, Don||Meale, Alan|
|Dobson, Frank||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Donohoe, Brian||Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)|
|Dowd, Jim||Milburn, Alan|
|Dunnachie, Jimmy||Miller, Andrew|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)|
|Eagle, Ms Angela||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Enright, Derek||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Etherington, William||Morley, Elliot|
|Evans, John (St Helens N)||Morris, Rt Hon A (Wy'nshawe)|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret||Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Fatchett, Derek||Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Mowlam, Marjorie|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Mudie, George|
|Flynn, Paul||Mullin, Chris|
|Foster, Derek (B'p Auckland)||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Foster, Donald (Bath)||O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)|
|Foulkes, George||O'Brien, William (Normanton)|
|Fraser, John||O'Hara, Edward|
|Fyfe, Maria||Olner, William|
|Galbraith, Sam||O'Neill, Martin|
|George, Bruce||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Gerrard, Neil||Pendry, Tom|
|Godman, Dr Norman A||Pickthall, Colin|
|Godsiff, Roger||Pike, Peter L|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Pope, Greg|
|Graham, Thomas||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)||Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)|
|Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Grocott, Bruce||Purchase, Ken|
|Gunnell, John||Qum, Ms Joyce|
|Hain, Peter||Radice Giles|
|Hall, Mike||Raynsford Nick|
|Hanson, David||Redmond, Martin|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Reid, Dr John|
|Heppell, John||Robertson, George (Hamilton)|
|Hill, Keith (Streatham)||Roche, Ms Barbara|
|Hinchliffe, David||Rogers, Allan|
|Hoey, Kate||Rooker, Jeff|
|Hood, Jimmy||Rooney, Terry|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Hoyle, Doug||Rowlands, Ted|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||Ruddock, Joan|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Hutton, John||Sheerman Barry|
|Jackson, Ms Glenda (H'stead)||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Jackson, Ms Helen (Shef'ld, H)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Jamieson, David||Short, Clare|
|Janner, Greville||Simpson, Alan|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Jones, Ms Lynne (B 'ham S O)||Smith, C (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)|
|Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)||Wallace, James|
|Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)||Walley, Joan|
|Snape, Peter||Warden, Gareth (Gower)|
|Spearing, Nigel||Wareing, Robert N|
|Spellar, John||Watson, Mike|
|Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)||Welsh, Andrew|
|Steinberg, Gerry||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Stevenson, George||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)|
|Stott, Roger||Winnick, David|
|Strang, Gavin||Wise, Audrey|
|Straw, Jack||Worthington, Tony|
|Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)||Wray, Jimmy|
|Taylor, Matthew (Truro)||Wright, Tony|
|Turner, Dennis||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Tyler, Paul||Mr. Ken Eastham and Mr. Thomas McAvoy.|
|Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold|
|Adley, Robert||Davies, Quentin (Stamford)|
|Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)||Davis, David (Boothferry)|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Day, Stephen|
|Alexander, Richard||Deva, Nirj Joseph|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)||Devlin, Tim|
|Allason, Rupert (Torbay)||Dicks, Terry|
|Amess, David||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Ancram, Michael||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Arbuthnot, James||Dover, Den|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Duncan, Alan|
|Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)||Duncan-Smith, Iain|
|Ashby, David||Dunn, Bob|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Dykes, Hugh|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Eggar, Tim|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)||Elletson, Harold|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)||Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)|
|Banks, Matthew (Southport)||Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)|
|Bates, Michael||Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)|
|Batiste, Spencer||Evans, Roger (Monmouth)|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Faber, David|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Fabricant, Michael|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)|
|Booth, Hartley||Fishburn, John Dudley|
|Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)||Forman, Nigel|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia||Forth, Eric|
|Bowis, John||Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes||Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)|
|Brandreth, Gyles||Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)|
|Brazier, Julian||Freeman, Roger|
|Bright, Graham||French, Douglas|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Fry, Peter|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)||Gale, Roger|
|Browning, Mrs. Angela||Gallie, Phil|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Gardiner, Sir George|
|Burns, Simon||Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan|
|Burt, Alistair||Garnier, Edward|
|Butcher, John||Gill, Christopher|
|Butler, Peter||Gillan, Ms Cheryl|
|Butterfill, John||Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles|
|Carrington, Matthew||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Carttiss, Michael||Gorst, John|
|Cash, William||Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)|
|Chaplin, Mrs Judith||Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Greenway, John (Ryedale)|
|Clappison, James||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)||Hague, William|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Coe, Sebastian||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Colvin, Michael||Hanham, Sir John|
|Congdon, David||Hargreaves, Andrew|
|Conway, Derek||Harris, David|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Hawkins, Nicholas|
|Cope, Rt Hon Sir John||Hawksley, Warren|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hayes, Jerry|
|Couchman, James||Heald, Oliver|
|Cran, James||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)||Hendry, Charles|
|Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Hicks, Robert||Redwood, John|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Renton, Rt Hon Tim|
|Hill, James (Southampton Test)||Richards, Rod|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)||Riddick, Graham|
|Horam, John||Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm|
|Hordern, Sir Peter||Robathan, Andrew|
|Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)||Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn|
|Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)||Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)|
|Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)||Robinson, Mark (Somerton)|
|Hunter, Andrew||Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)|
|Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas||Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)|
|Jack, Michael||Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Ryder, Rt Hon Richard|
|Jenkin, Bernard||Sackville, Tom|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Jones, Robert B. (W H'f'rdshire)||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Kirkhope, Timothy||Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian|
|Knapman, Roger||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Knight, Greg (Derby N)||Shersby, Michael|
|Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)||Sims, Roger|
|Kynoch, George (Kincardine)||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Lait, Mrs Jacqui||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Lawrence, Sir Ivan||Spencer, Sir Derek|
|Legg, Barry||Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)||Spink, Dr Robert|
|Lidington, David||Spring, Richard|
|Lightbown, David||Sproat, Iain|
|Lilley, Rt Hon Peter||Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Stephen, Michael|
|Lord, Michael||Stern, Michael|
|Luff, Peter||Stewart, Allan|
|Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas||Streeter, Gary|
|MacKay, Andrew||Sumberg, David|
|Maclean, David||Sweeney, Walter|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Sykes, John|
|McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Maitland, Lady Olga||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Malone, Gerald||Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)|
|Mans, Keith||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Marland, Paul||Thomason, Roy|
|Marlow, Tony||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Marshall, John (Hendon S)||Thurnham, Peter|
|Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Tracey, Richard|
|Mellor, Rt Hon David||Tredinnick, David|
|Merchant, Piers||Trend, Michael|
|Milligan, Stephen||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Mills, Iain||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)||Waldegrave, Rt Hon William|
|Moate, Roger||Walden, George|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Walker, Bill (N Tayside)|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Waller, Gary|
|Moss, Malcolm||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Needham, Richard||Waterson, Nigel|
|Nelson, Anthony||Watts, John|
|Neubert, Sir Michael||Wells, Bowen|
|Newton, Rt Hon Tony||Wheeler, Sir John|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Whitney, Ray|
|Nicholson, David (Taunton)||Whittingdale, John|
|Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Norris, Steve||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley||Wilkinson, John|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Willetts, David|
|Ottaway, Richard||Wilshire, David|
|Page, Richard||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Paice, James||Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f''ld)|
|Patnick, Irvine||Wolfson, Mark|
|Patten, Rt Hon John||Yeo, Tim|
|Pawsey, James||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Pickles, Eric||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Porter, Barry (Wirral S)||Mr. Tim Boswell and Mr. Timothy Wood.|
|Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
§ Question accordingly negatived.