HC Deb 31 October 1994 vol 248 cc1274-318

[Relevant document: The Sixth Report from the Transport Committee, Transport-related Air Pollution in London (HC 506).]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)

Madam Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

7.23 pm
Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)

I beg to move, That this House, noting the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's condemnation of current Government transport and land use policies as unsustainable, calls on the Government to make a major strategic shift away from an obsessional concern with road building and road widening in favour of an affordable, safe and reliable public transport system to reduce pollution, accidents, noise and congestion.

Last week's royal commission report is a comprehensive and authoritative repudiation of the Government's transport policies over the past 15 years. In the magisterial words of paragraph 14.51, In the past, transport and land use policies have combined to promote life-styles which depend on high mobility and intensive use of cars, and which cannot therefore be regarded as sustainable. I emphasise the words which cannot… be regarded as sustainable.

Not one but two Government reports have now forcefully asserted what not only Labour but everyone with common sense has always known, but what the Government have always resisted: that it is impossible to build a way out of congestion. Even the Government's own standing advisory committee on trunk road assessment is thought to be telling the Government—it would help very much if the Secretary of State told us tonight when he will publish its report, which has been lying on his desk and that of his predecessor for some six months—that building more roads simply generates more traffic.

The fact is that 15 years of the Government's policies have brought our transport system to breaking point. If we want proof that unbridled individualism does not work, we need only look at our highways and inner-city roads.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Meacher

I will, although it is rather early in my speech.

Mr. Bottomley

My intervention may be helpful. Is it not true that, during the years when not a single extra mile of motorway was built, the growth in traffic seemed more related to the expansion of the economy? Is that not the dominant truth, although the report seems to exclude it?

Mr. Meacher

The Government are as guilty as anyone else in that regard. Moreover, today's circumstances are very different: there has been extensive road building on a massive scale, and no alleviation of road congestion—in fact, the reverse.

The need for a radical change of direction towards a new strategic approach is now overwhelming. The evidence is clear: the DTI's forecast that car use over the next 30 years will at least nearly double, and may even increase at a rate between doubling and trebling, cannot be handled through the building of roads to accommodate such a massive increase in the volume of cars.

Like many hon. Members, no doubt, I recently saw a newspaper picture of a large stretch of the M1 as it was in 1959. There were three vehicles on it; no doubt that was bliss. We have all seen pictures of the M1 as it is now—indeed, I am sure that we all have experience of it—with hundreds of cars crawling for miles on end, bumper to bumper, at 5 mph. That is hell.

Widening the M25 to 14 lanes is not the solution to motorway congestion; it is a demonstration of the ultimate insolubility of the problem through such means. If we reach the year 2025 and it is predicted yet again that the volume of cars will double, will we then be offered 28-lane motorways? Where will this madness end?

In addition there are the environmental effects. The royal commission puts the quantifiable cost of air pollution—climate change, noise, vibration and accidents—at between £10 billion and £18 billion a year, compared with the £16 billion a year, or thereabouts, that motorists now pay in taxes, but that still omits the cost of congestion, which the CBI recently put at a further £15 billion a year.

Mr. Peter Butler (Milton Keynes, North-East)

The cost of congestion, in terms of pollution and delayed journeys, is enormous. The hon. Gentleman has argued that the M25 should not be expanded. May we logically conclude from that that he wishes that it had never been built? What effect would that have had on pollution and congestion in London?

Mr. Meacher

We are saying not that the M25 should not have been built but that it should have been part of an integrated transport policy including many other forms of transport that have been neglected—in particular, light rail systems, the development of British Rail and proper investment in it. Of course London needs such an outer road network, but that need simply will not be met by investment entirely in extending an already huge motorway. We have now certainly reached an absurd point.

The cost of the present policy also omits the unquantifiable but no less serious environmental costs—loss of land and access to the countryside, visual intrusion, disruption of communities and loss of wildlife habitats. As we all know from our constituencies—many Tory Members will be aware of this—the cost in urban areas has often been in terms of extensive demolition of housing, blight, as on the north circular road and the highly unpopular Hackney M11 link-up in east London, and sprawl, with growing out-of-town shopping developments.

For all those reasons, which are familiar to the House, we are remorselessly approaching a transport nightmare. To be fair, the Secretary of State for Transport—I will be fair to him, compared with his predecessors—shows some signs of beginning to recognise that. He is starting slightly to mitigate some of the more extreme excesses of his predecessors.

Our charge against the Government today is twofold: first, that there is no evidence that the Government seriously grasp the magnitude of the transport crisis facing Britain today and, secondly, that, even if they do, they are either unwilling or unable effectively to deal with it.

This is the Government who, five years ago, promoted the great car economy with a mammoth road-building programme of £18 billion, which was later increased to £23 billion. They have cut rail grants by more than £2 billion since 1983, and are cutting investment in rail by two thirds between 1991 and 1996. Despite March's roads review, they are still powering ahead with plans to widen British motorways into United States-style super-highways and will spend £6 billion over the next three years on road networks. They are still spending three times more on roads than on public transport and are pressing ahead with rail privatisation, which will increase fares, reduce services and push more people on to the roads.

Any Government who grasped the scale of Britain's transport crisis would change course on all those counts. This Government have changed course on none of them. They have shown an unswerving, visceral antipathy to the public sector since their first days of Thatcherite interventionism. [Interruption.] The Minister for Transport in London may laugh at the terminology. I am not worried about the terminology; it is the facts that count. I hope that the Minister will accept that we have seen a constant, persistent and destructive run-down of public transport. That is the key point.

Mr. Nigel Forman (Carshalton and Wallington)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Meacher

I shall give way in a moment.

Even today, Ministers continue to talk about investment in roads to meet demand while at the same time talking about subsidies for railways that must be rationed because apparently the nation cannot afford them. The Government still prefer to spend £270 million on widening the M62, rather than £170 million on electrifying the trans-Pennine network, even though that would relieve congestion on the motorway much more effectively.

Tory Members may not like the suggestion, but they simply have never tried it. They have never examined what has happened with the development of public transport systems abroad. If they had, they would have pursued a different policy. They still prefer to spend millions of pounds on extending the congested M6 north of Birmingham before they start modernising the west coast main line, which would do much more to relieve congestion.

It is not too difficult to see that the real reason why the Tories are so determined to continue building roads in perpetuity, despite mounting opposition across the country, lies in the link between the Tory party and some of the major construction companies. One company, Taylor Woodrow, has given more than £1 million to central office since 1979. Trafalgar House has given £590,000, Tarmac has given £389,000 and Wimpey has given £385,000. [Laughter.]

If it is such a laughing matter, I wonder why Tory Members think that those companies did so. They did so because they believed that they would get a return—and, by golly, they did from this Government. As we have long known, the trouble with Tory transport policy is that he who pays the piper calls the tune. That is not the way to get the new forward-looking policy for Britain that is now needed.

Mr. Forman

The hon. Gentleman said that he was interested in the facts, rather than anything more rhetorical. Is he aware of the simple fact that, although there was no new net investment in surface public transport throughout the International Monetary Fund cuts in 1976 to 1986, many of the problems that my constituents face are the result of a policy followed by Governments of both parties, who inadequately invested in surface transport over that period?

Mr. Meacher

We are 15 years on, and the hon. Gentleman might look at his own record. The Government like to claim that they have given 40 per cent. of investment to public transport. Of course, that investment includes items such as the royal train, National Freight Corporation public pensions and the coastguard service. If we remove those items, investment in public transport has been about 26 per cent.—an extremely low rate. Three times as much is going to roads than to public transport. That is the point that the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Forman) should be addressing to Ministers.

Sir Roger Moate (Faversham)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Meacher

No, I will not give way. Even if the Government were minded to make a change of direction, our second charge is that they are not in a position to deliver it. Their obsession with rail privatisation and bus deregulation is fragmenting services to an extent that makes it much more difficult to deliver a big expansion of public transport, even if they are minded to do so.

Indeed, the Secretary of State may soon have to decide whether he favours promoting competition between rail and bus operators, or whether he wants to help rail and bus to compete with the car. If it is the former, he may have to put a stop, under competition rules, to integrated ticketing valid between different operators. If it is the latter, he may have to enforce integrated ticketing to attract people away from their cars. Perhaps he would like to tell us his choice, but the fact remains that, whatever it is, Government policy is now wholly unfitted for the agenda that lies ahead.

What should be done? What is fundamentally needed in the United Kingdom is a genuinely sustainable policy that integrates different transport networks and provides real freedom of choice for the traveller and the commuter, not the present Tory policy, which is unsustainable and fragmented and which has distorted the Department of Transport into a ministry for endless road building and road widening. That is not only our view; it is shared by the royal commission, which is an across-the-board vindication of Labour's integrated policies.

We believe that that requires a moratorium on new road building and road widening, a major switch of resources into extending and upgrading public transport, greater use of light rail systems in inner-city areas and a significant shift from road to rail freight. Having said that, I immediately make it clear what our policy is not.

First, our policy is not anti-car. It is pro-car because it is not in the motorist's interests, let alone anyone else's, to build more and more roads indefinitely that, within a few years, will result in more and more people driving on more and more crowded roads and in an inexorable rise in delays and stoppages. We favour freedom of choice for the motorist. The problem is that he or she does not have freedom of choice at present because alternative public transport systems that are affordable, reliable and convenient and that he or she might prefer to use often simply are not available.

Mr. David Nicholson (Taunton)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir Roger Moate

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Meacher

I will in a moment.

Secondly, we do not suggest, and neither does the royal commission, that people should be required to get rid of their car. We do not even suggest that people should be encouraged to do so. All that we say is that the Government should provide a balanced and integrated transport system that will persuade people that it is common sense and in their interest to use the car less for certain purposes.

Mr. David Nicholson

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Meacher

I will not give way if the hon. Gentleman keeps jumping up.

Our intention is to persuade the motorist to use the car less for particular purposes, such as driving into city centres with no passengers. We seek a cultural change, which is what is needed in Britain. We need a cultural change rather like the one that has occurred in the attitude to smoking and drinking and driving so that more socially responsible car use, such as I have suggested, becomes the norm of social acceptability. That requires a lead from the Government, but it is not being given at present.

Thirdly, we do not suggest that the choice is between the car and the present system of public transport, run down and under-invested as it is. We say that the real choice is between the endless expansion of the car society, which is ultimately self-defeating, and a balanced system in which cars, buses, trains and other means of transport can all play their interconnected and optimal roles.

Fourthly, let me make it clear that our policy is not to stop all future road building but to undertake a major review to decide what is in the wider social interest to build. Ironically, the Government have given the highest priority to certain major, hugely unpopular road projects, such as Twyford down, the Batheaston bypass and the M25 and M62 motorway widening projects, but have neglected certain clearly needed upgrading projects such as—I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) agrees with this—the construction of a dual carriageway on the A 1 north of Morpeth, and upgrading of the last few miles on the A2 into Dover and the A34 spine in the south-west.

We would look afresh at priorities in the light of new criteria, which would include the likely generation of new traffic, pressure for green-belt or out-of-town development and the capacity of alternative public transport options to solve the problem. Above all, we would want to see a common cost-benefit approach to all investment in transport that took the environment much more into account. That is not a utopian policy—far from it. There are strong practical reasons for believing in its realism.

There is scope for change in Britain today. Britain is the most car-dependent country in Europe. Public transport use is among the lowest. Where public transport has been improved, car owners use it: 40 per cent. of those using the newly reopened Robin Hood line into Nottingham are ex-car users and a similar proportion who use Manchester's Metrolink are well-off car owners from wealthy districts of Cheshire.

The Secretary of State for Transport (Dr. Brian Mawhinney)

We know.

Mr. Meacher

If the right hon. Gentleman knows it, why has he been so slow to support the construction of light rapid rail systems in cities? Many projects have come to him and he has been sitting on them. There has not been the rapid development that was needed years ago.

Pedestrianised areas in inner cities have been found to increase retail turnover, not to diminish it. Where cycling facilities are provided, many people use them; York is just one of many examples. Where local authorities have set targets to reduce city centre traffic, many have dramatically succeeded.

The Minister for Transport in London (Mr. Steve Norris)

We welcome that.

Mr. Meacher

If the Minister is so pleased with the policy, why has he been so extremely lax and laid back about implementing it? If he thinks that he has made the change in direction that is really needed, I am astonished. The Government are still going substantially along exactly the same lines. Despite the sustainability policy and the car review earlier this year, very little has changed.

Sir Roger Moate

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Meacher

I will not give way.

Many local authorities have had remarkable success stories—for example, the City of London traffic management schemes or the Manchester and Sheffield supertrams.

Mrs. Anne Campbell (Cambridge)

Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the effects of the Government's transport policy is that when environmentally friendly infrastructure is available it is often not used? I have a good example in my constituency. Very narrow residential streets are being blocked by heavy lorries delivering equipment to Railtrack in the centre of Cambridge. Equipment is delivered by lorry instead of by rail. Does my hon. Friend think that that is disgraceful?

Mr. Meacher

It is certainly extremely unwise and a good example—[Laughter.] One notices that every time a suggestion is made of an obvious, common-sense departure from the current inanities of the Government's unintegrated transport policies, they are simply greeted by a great deal of laughter. Transport is an issue about which many people in Britain care. They think that the Government should not simply laugh about absurdities such as my hon. Friend mentions but should make some real changes. What my hon. Friend says makes a great deal of sense. I hope that the Secretary of State will deal with those issues.

Sir Roger Moate

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Meacher

I will not give way now. The hon. Gentleman can make a speech if he wants to.

A great deal more could be done to switch freight from road to rail and to coastal shipping. In the United Kingdom only 7 per cent. of freight goes by rail while more than 60 per cent. goes by road. By comparison, about 27 per cent. in France and a third in Germany goes by road. If rail freight in the United Kingdom was doubled exclusively to replace journeys of more than 100 miles by the biggest lorries, total road freight could be reduced by more than a fifth and mileage by the biggest lorries could be reduced by half.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Meacher

I will not give way to the hon. Lady.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Did the signalmen's strike help?

Mr. Meacher

The hon. Lady will not succeed in interrupting by making sedentary interventions.

None of the problems to which I have referred need involve extra spending—[Laughter.] That just shows the extraordinarily closed minds that Conservative Members have. It is simple. If only a proportion of the money pledged by the Government for road building were reallocated, it would certainly be enough to provide much-improved, high-quality public transport systems, improved grants for rail freight and a wide variety of measures to cut inner-city traffic.

Few issues on the political agenda today are more important than transport. The Opposition have a vision for Britain. It is not of a country sinking ever deeper into a morass of pollution, congestion and concreted countryside. It is of a country in which transport is the ally, not the enemy, of the environment and where all modes of transport play their optimal role within a balanced network. That is our vision and our agenda. We believe that it is widely shared by the people of Britain.

7.49 pm
The Secretary of State for Transport (Dr. Brian Mawhinney)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: welcomes the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's report on Transport and the Environment; recognises that its recommendations deserve thorough consideration and analysis; supports the significant measures already taken by the Government to improve the environmental impact of transport; endorses the Government's recognition stated in the United Kingdom Sustainable Development Strategy, of the need to influence the rate of traffic growth and its clear planning policy guidance which seeks to reduce the need to travel in the future; to that end applauds the Government's efforts to promote the development of public transport and its moves towards an effective partnership between public and private investment in transport; and believes that a balance must be struck between environmental concerns, economic growth and the freedom and choice provided by road transport.". I congratulate the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) on his promotion—I would call it that—and I look forward to debating with him across the Dispatch Box. I hope that he will enjoy his new responsibilities as much as I am enjoying mine.

This debate centres on last Wednesday's report by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. With my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Health, I welcomed that report—I do so again this evening—as an important contribution to the broader debate about how to balance the economic benefits and personal freedoms that transport can bring with the need for environmental protection.

The report begins by looking back to the 1970s, so I thought that I would do the same and remind right hon. and hon. Members of the nature of transport in Britain in the 1970s and the changes that have occurred since. The hon. Member for Oldham, West may then agree that we are far from the breaking point to which he referred; moreover, in doing so I will endorse the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley).

The mid-1970s were not our railways' finest hour. Only 14 per cent. of ordinary trains operating in 1977 were less than 10 years old—their average age was closer to 20 years. Today, the average age of similar rolling stock is 14 years and more than half is less than 10 years old.

Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)

I do not want to sound too churlish at this stage in the Secretary of State's career, but he should not rely too much on statistics of that sort prepared within his Department. The diesel multiple units that he described as being around 20 years old in the 1970s were deliberately built with a design life of 30 years, so they still had another decade to go at the time.

Dr. Mawhinney

And today.

In 1978, the fastest journey time between London and Newcastle was three hours and four minutes—it is now 24 minutes less. It took four hours and 52 minutes to get to Edinburgh; now it takes 47 minutes less. It took three hours and 33 minutes to get to Plymouth and today it takes 28 minutes less.

Between 1978 and 1993, 775 miles of route were electrified. More than 160 stations have been reopened in the past 10 years. I hope that the hon. Member for Oldham, West will be listening to the next sentence. More than £15 billion has been invested in the railways.

Today, many more people fly—for business or to enjoy holidays. Fewer than 53 million passengers passed through our airports in 1978. Last year, more than 112 million did so.

On our roads, travel was often slower and more difficult. Since the late 1970s, we have opened more than 460 miles of new motorway and 160 new bypasses. In that time, more than £20 billion has been invested in our motorways and trunk roads to assist our nation's economy.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

What about sedan chairs?

Dr. Mawhinney

I know that it would appeal to the hon. Gentleman given his idiosyncratic views but the Department of Health is not going to provide him with a sedan chair.

During the 1980s and 1990s, travel has become a more important feature of our lives. As incomes have grown, travel has grown—a phenomenon that is quite apparent to the royal commission, if not to Opposition Members, and which clearly presents challenges.

The commission's report sets out those areas in which transport growth can threaten the environment, especially pollution, noise and effects on land. We ought not to assume, however, that environmental damage always and necessarily grows in proportion to the growth in transport. The Government have taken very seriously their commitment to environmental protection. Consider, for example, the progress that has been made in improving air quality in our cities.

Mrs. Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

I was anxious that, before he left the subject of the 1970s and stopped looking backwards, the Minister should recognise that in the 1970s and the early 1980s the public transport system in south Yorkshire was planned on an integrated basis. The system included some subsidy for the fare-paying passenger, but there was a year-on-year increase in the number of passengers travelling on public transport. Does the Minister recognise that that system—the best in Europe—was destroyed by the Government's deregulation legislation?

Dr. Mawhinney

No, because it is not true. I was trying effectively to deal with the argument of the hon. Member for Oldham, West, which I guessed at although I did not get the words right. The change, development and progress in transport, which have benefited individuals and the nation's economy, are considerable and impressive.

I shall turn to the future, as the hon. Member for Oldham, West wants me to, but we will inform our debate about the future by the facts of our recent history, which is what I have been doing.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (Derbyshire, West)

Could my right hon. Friend also remind the House about the fact that the Government's road-building programme concentrated on bypasses? The advantage of those is that they remove congestion from towns and reduce accident rates. The Opposition seem to be against bypasses, but may I put in a plea for some more to be built fairly quickly in my constituency?

Dr. Mawhinney

As my hon. Friend rightly points out, there is widespread support for bypasses among the people whose lives will be relieved by them. Batheaston bypass may have attracted people with different views of environmental issues, but it was welcomed by the people whom it was going to aid, as the hon. Member for Oldham, West knows.

Mr. Robert Ainsworth (Coventry, North-East)


Dr. Mawhinney

I must make a little progress before I give way again. The hon. Member for Oldham, West gave way four times and I have allowed three interventions.

The acrid choking sulphur smog of the 1950s is no longer a part of London life. We have succeeded in halving sulphur emissions since the 1970s. In London, peak levels of sulphur dioxide have decreased tenfold. On 4 October, we lowered maximum sulphur concentrations in diesel by a third. In 1996, we will be lowering permissible sulphur levels by another three quarters, helping reduce further the levels of sulphur dioxide and also reducing particulate emissions.

With lead, too, we have seen dramatic improvements. Airborne lead concentrations have dropped by up to 70 per cent. in urban areas since the mid-1980s. Lead affects the intellectual development of children. Reducing airborne lead concentrations is a major environmental achievement of which all of us should be proud.

On that point, I welcome the royal commission's support for continued efforts to promote the use of unleaded petrol. The commission's report endorses the Government's firm advice to motorists that those whose cars can run on unleaded petrol and who are not using it should start doing so, and that those already using unleaded petrol should not switch back to using leaded petrol.

The introduction of catalytic converters was a significant development in new technology. A new car driven from the showroom today will emit 63 per cent. less carbon monoxide, 83 per cent. less hydrocarbons and 87 per cent. less nitrogen oxides than its 1978 counterpart. New trucks and buses are more than 50 per cent. cleaner than their 1978 predecessors.

Reductions in noise have also been impressive. Three modern cars make less noise than one 1978 model and 10 of today's trucks will make the same amount of noise as one 1978 equivalent.

Progress has not been limited to surface transport. A modern jet aircraft is typically four times quieter than the first generation of jets and twice as quiet as the second generation.

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)

This is not a part of the motion.

Dr. Mawhinney

The hon. Gentleman says from a sedentary position that this is not a part of the motion. It is absolutely at the heart of the motion because the royal commission report talks about environmental pollution and mentions emissions and noise. Unlike his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West that is exactly what I am addressing, so I hope that the hon. Gentleman will listen.

Since the 1970s, emissions from aircraft engines have been reduced by 70 per cent. in the case of carbon monoxide and 90 per cent. in the case of hydrocarbons.

Tremendous strides have been made in the past 15 years. We have sought to allow people the freedom to make their own choices and to create for our industry the conditions necessary for it to thrive at home and compete abroad. What we have not seen in this country is the appalling environmental neglect that characterised those eastern European states where freedom was stifled and transport decisions were the prerogative of the bureaucrat.

[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Oldham, West knows what is coming. On the contrary, we have seen increasing concern for the environment at all levels of Government and society. But, in spite of all the progress we have made since 1979—in spite of the revolutionary improvements to our national transport system and in spite of the revelation that freedom of individual choice is the key to economic, social and environmental progress—Opposition Members still cling to an obsolete belief that only the state can make acceptable changes to peoples' lives.

The Government will work with the grain of the British people. We recognise that there is real concern about the damage that transport can do to the environment. But we also recognise that Government cannot put more freight on to trains or move more people on to public transport at a stroke. Unlike Opposition Members, we share with the British people a belief in choice. We will present the facts. We will provide incentives and where appropriate seek to persuade, but we do not and will not direct people off or on to roads.

Our policy is clear, but the same cannot be said of the Labour party's. On 1 July the Evening Standard, presumably on the basis of a private steer, reported that an incoming Labour Government would halt all new road schemes". The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), who was then Labour's environmental protection spokesman, backed off that very quickly.

In October, the Labour party conference was told that "much" of the £20 billion that Labour claims will be spent on roads over the next eight years would be redirected by a Labour Government to public transport. Last week the hon. Member for Oldham, West promised us a "moratorium" on road building, and he has promised us one again this evening. How confusing; it is not so much a policy, more a way of life. As ever, the Opposition are torn between trying not to offend the public on the one hand and their trade union paymasters on the other.

The Labour party has not even considered the costs of imposing a moratorium—nor how much it would have to pay to the construction companies for breach of contract. [Interruption.] Let the House listen carefully. Our preliminary calculations suggest that the hon. Gentleman's gentle promise of a moratorium could cause a Labour Government to face claims for around £1.4 billion. Has the hon. Gentleman cleared that bill with his hon. Friend the shadow Chancellor? Of course not. What about the schemes undertaken by local authorities? Has the hon. Gentleman checked the legal basis on which he might force them to abandon their schemes? Has the hon. Gentleman cleared this with his right hon. and learned Friend the shadow Attorney-General? Of course not.

The hon. Gentleman needs to understand that the roads budget—much of which he would like to redirect—does not just pay for new roads. It pays for maintenance, lighting, bridge strengthening, safety schemes and all the other things which are part of the road structure of this country. Would the Labour party's moratorium include those areas? The hon. Gentleman did not say.

Has the hon. Gentleman told his hon. Friends—many of whom are keen for local road improvements—which schemes he would abandon? Has he told his right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) to forget about the improvement schemes in his constituency which he supports? Has he told his right hon. Friend the Member for Halton (Mr. Oakes), or his hon. Friends the Members for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney), for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), for Wansbeck (Mr. Thompson), for Wigan (Mr. Stott) or any of his other hon. Friends who write to my Department supporting their local road schemes? Has he told Labour local authorities what his plans for the roads programme will mean? Has he told councils such as that in St. Helens, where only last week my hon. Friend the Minister for Transport in London opened the M62 extension and was told by Labour councillors just how vital the project is to the town?

As for the Liberal Democrats, you, Madam Deputy Speaker, will know that they oppose new road developments. You hear them say so in the Chamber week in, week out. But I have to tell you that it is a different story when they leave Westminster. The right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) is in favour of the proposed road-building scheme in Yeovil. The right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) is in favour of the road proposals in Berwick—in fact, he would like us to go further.

The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) is in favour of roads in North Cornwall—ditto the hon. Members for Truro (Mr. Taylor), for Bath (Mr. Foster) and for Cheltenham (Mr. Jones).

Why cannot we all agree that the task of devising an acceptable roads and transport policy for the next century is complex and demanding, and that it will not be solved with slogans? The hon. Member for Oldham, West uses the phrase "integrated policy" without explaining what it means. He used it once in his speech, in saying that the Labour party did not want to expand the M25 but wanted an integrated policy of railways and light railways. But he did not tell us whether he wanted British Rail to run trains alongside the M25.

Those slogans will not help us to make progress in determining what both he and I want—I shall come back to an area of agreement with the hon. Gentleman in a moment—which is a sensible policy which takes account of economic benefit, individual choice and environmental protection.

Mr. Robert Ainsworth

Instead of throwing some red herrings into the debate, as he has spent half his speech doing, will the Secretary of State address the issue as it really is? We are not doing drivers, the car industry or anyone else a favour by failing to deal with the problems, particularly in the urban areas.

When we talk about public transport in urban areas outside London, we are talking about buses. The Secretary of State answered my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mrs. Jackson) by saying that he did not believe that what she said was true. But the Government have destroyed integrated bus services in metropolitan areas up and down the country. They have allowed ever-growing congestion, and fewer and fewer people travel by bus. Will he now reverse the deregulation policy and get back to some common sense in the urban area?

Dr. Mawhinney

I must tell the hon. Gentleman that operating costs for bus services are down by one third, subsidies are down by a half and there are 20 per cent. more route miles. If there was a large element of truth in what the hon. Gentleman said, we would not be selling the London bus companies as easily as we are. All of them will be sold by the end of the year.

Bold statements about Government spending priorities will not be sufficient to achieve genuinely sustainable transport policies. Anyone who believes that the answer lies in a simple shift of Government support from road to rail is ill informed. We need to make careful judgments about our ambitions for society, and then consider what measures will be necessary to achieve them. We also need to realise that, if people are to change their attitudes and behaviour, they will need to understand and accept the reasons with a good deal more clarity than is the case at present.

I agree with the hon. Member for Oldham, West that we face some fundamental questions. We need to address the issue of how much traffic is generated by new road building and to face up to the challenges that traffic growth presents. The hon. Gentleman is right that the standing advisory commission report is at the Department. It was considered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor) before I took over as Secretary of State. The hon. Gentleman would not judge it unreasonable that I, as the new Secretary of State, should ask a number of questions about that report. He will know that it is customary for the Government to publish the report and their response at the same time.

My consideration of the report is drawing to a conclusion and I give the hon. Member for Oldham, West my undertaking to publish it and the Government's response shortly. I make no apology for the fact that I have taken my time to consider a report which I deem to be important and which, from what the hon. Gentleman said, which he also deems to be important. We will publish those documents shortly and we are making progress in their consideration.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

A few moments ago the Secretary of State said that the hon. Member for Newham, South supported the construction of new roads in his constituency. He should ask for a little more accuracy from his officials, because although I supported two improvements to the dangerous A13, which improved communications in Newham—it was not a new road—I am opposed to a third flyover at Canning Town. I consider it to be unnecessary. I hope that the Secretary of State accepts that that does not constitute offering support for new roads in my constituency.

Dr. Mawhinney

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for confirming the truth of what I just told the House.

Dr. Jeremy Bray (Motherwell, South)

The Secretary of State has been unduly modest about one aspect of the Government's proposals—their commitment to implement a 5 per cent. per annum increase in the motor fuel tax. Does he dispute the arithmetic, logic or politics of the royal commission's recommendation that that increase should be upped to 9 per cent?

Dr. Mawhinney

We have not yet even reached the point where we can understand the mathematics that was used by the royal commission to develop some of its recommendations, but we are studying it very carefully.

I have already noted how, in the space of just a few hours' interviewing, the hon. Member for Oldham, West went from offering a heavy endorsement of the report's commitment to double the price of petrol to offering a heavily hedged endorsement. It took him just three television and two radio interviews to shift entire Labour party policy from A to Z. The Government have taken a more responsible and considered view. We intend to think before we speak, unlike the hon. Member for Oldham, West.

Mr. Forman

My right hon. Friend may not wish to answer my question now, but perhaps something could be said during the winding-up speech about the interesting suggestion in paragraph 8.85 of the royal commission's report. It advocates further research on and support for hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles, especially in urban areas. I am sure that such support would be helpful from an environmental point of view. Will my right hon. Friend undertake to look carefully at that suggestion?

Dr. Mawhinney

I will certainly undertake to look at that suggestion carefully.

I have already mentioned one fundamental question that we must face together. We must also ask ourselves what level of congestion on our roads is acceptable and how we can make other forms of transport more attractive to people. We believe that rail privatisation will help enormously, but are there other things that could be done?

In 1993, some 94 per cent. of all passenger transport took place on the roads; 63 per cent. of freight traffic moved by road, with 30 per cent. moving by water or pipeline and 6 per cent. by rail. I want to see more people and more freight travelling by rail but efforts to shift traffic in that direction will only alter the balance over time.

A study published last week examined the effects on road and rail use of significant improvements to the midland main line between London and Sheffield. It was shown that investment of perhaps £125 million would possibly attract up to a 30 per cent. increase in use of the railway line. The hon. Member for Oldham, West referred to similar figures. The significant point is that the effect on road use of that investment was shown to be negligible—scarcely 1 per cent. of drivers using the M1 or A 1 (M) would be likely to switch from road to rail. In other words, £125 million would remove one car in every 100 from the queues that are already building on the M1.

Similar conclusions flow from analysis of the effects of new light railways introduced in Manchester and Sheffield. Both are good schemes in their own right, but £140 million spent on the Manchester metrolink has resulted in a reduction in traffic in Manchester of around 0.3 per cent. So £140 million of good investment for the benefit of people who use metrolink has removed three cars in every 1,000 from Manchester's roads.

From that and other research, it would appear that to transfer just 10 per cent. of car journeys nationally to rail would, on those figures, require an investment of some £140 billion. It is clear—[Interruption.] Opposition Members do not like it because they have not got beyond the superficial thinking that says that, if one puts some more money into rail, people will automatically follow that money.

I wanted to make common cause with the hon. Member for Oldham, West; I hope that that will not damage him unduly so early in his career. The real issue to be addressed relates more, as the hon. Gentleman said, to the attitudes and behaviour of individuals than it does to the disposition of spending. The hon. Gentleman said that we need a "cultural change"; I have said that we need to address "attitudes and behaviour". I believe that, broadly, we are saying the same thing.

If so, the hon. Gentleman must move beyond the simplistic idea that if one takes money out of one budget and puts it into another, people will automatically follow that changed disposition of investment. The evidence does not support that. That poses a serious problem for those who would wish to see a greater shift in transport policy. One of my regrets about the royal commission report is that it did not address that issue with the degree of fundamental concern that it warrants. We will all have to address it in debate and research in the months that lie ahead.

I am pleased that much of the debate surrounding the royal commission report is not about whether we should seek a sustainable transport system but about how we should do so, and in particular, what are the costs of making changes.

The commission said clearly that it expected some stiff price increases to be necessary if its targets were to be met. It suggested a doubling of fuel prices by 2005—as the hon. Member for Oldham, West said—in combination with other measures such as reduced speed limits.

I wish the royal commission had given a little more attention to that area. Looking at the scale of some of the things it proposed—a 20 per cent. cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, for example—I believe that much more stringent measures are implied even than a doubling of fuel prices. No doubt we will discuss that issue further in the months ahead.

So, while a debate develops around how to persuade more people to use public transport, how to manage our road systems better, how to decide which parts of our roads programme are valuable and necessary and which are of less importance and how to advance 21st century engine technology, we will continue to pursue policies which attack the problem of air pollution, encourage the transfer of freight off the roads and on to rail or water, promote better use of land planning by local authorities, encourage local authorities to put together packages of measures to meet both environmental objectives and transport aims, promote road safety and foster increased use of cycling.

The next time the hon. Member for Oldham, West is looking for a city that has a good cycle system that he can admire, I invite to come to my constituency of Peterborough. The hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) will be able to testify to that, as a result of his short sojourn among us in Peterborough. Incidentally, to that end, I intend to visit Holland to seek to understand why so many Dutch people take to the bicycle.

During my first weeks in this office, I have asked a series of questions not only about existing policies but about the balance of those policies between economic well-being, enhancement of choice and environmental protection. I assure the House that, as with my announcement over regional airport liberalisation, I shall not hesitate to seek to change the balance if I consider it necessary. This week's edition of The Economist makes my final point when it says: Cars are accused of being accomplices in the destruction of town centres … public transport is back in fashion—not as something to use … but rather as something to recommend that other people should use. This battle between what people want to do and what they would like other people to do risks getting out of hand". I am not interested in the sort of sloganising that that represents. I am interested and wish to see developed sensible and sustainable progress, and I am determined to work to that end.

I commend the amendment to the House.

8.20 pm
Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and my other hon. Friends for initiating this important debate. It is obvious that the Government would never have initiated such a debate.

I hope to make a common-sense contribution and, first, I declare an interest as a sponsored member of the Transport and General Workers Union. During my time in the House, I, in common with many other Members, have attended a wide variety of meetings of different transport groups covering every aspect of transport: road, rail, sea and air.

In the 1960s, the in-phrase was "to seek to create a co-ordinated, integrated transport system". Since the Beeching rail cuts, we have moved steadily further away from that still-desirable aim. [Interruption.] If the Secretary of State does not know what an integrated transport system is, he should not be in the job that he holds. Indeed, if past practice is anything to go by, he will not be in it for much longer anyway.

Dr. Mawhinney

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell me what he means.

Mr. Marshall

That will become obvious as I progress.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) was travelling in the right direction with his 1992 policy for a national transport plan. We simply cannot have a successful nationwide transportation system based on a piecemeal approach, as is now the case. The Government have never had a proper transport policy of any kind.

Contrast that fact with what happens in other countries. From most parts of western Europe there is a high-speed rail service to Calais and the channel tunnel. Yet on this side of the channel we have far too little far too late, and a marvellous opportunity has been missed. When I went to Lille in northern France, for example, in January 1992 as the then Chairman of the Transport Select Committee, a brand new tramway system had almost been completed, together with a brand new suburban rail system, a brand new TGV high-speed rail link and a brand new bus station and road links, all connecting into a large complex with office and shopping facilities on a grand scale.

That shows co-ordination, integration and common sense, and it is the type of integrated planning system that we want and need. It is a much less environmentally harmful system than the alternatives. With such essential infrastructure in place, it is no wander that Lille will attract thousands of new jobs as a result. Why, oh why, can it not happen here?

Why have we never had a proper on-going investment programme in our railways, replacing rolling stock annually, and more electrification on energy conservation and environmental grounds, even to the unacceptable extent—unacceptable to this Government—of building new railway lines to meet the needs of shifting populations? Such investment would have created jobs, retained and increased passenger levels and avoided the sorry position that we are in today.

The brilliant policy of changing to unmanned suburban railway stations has driven passengers away in droves. Sadly, due to the rise in crime under this Government, people are afraid to use unmanned stations, especially women, children, the frail and the elderly—the very people who depend almost totally on public transport. Let us reduce unemployment by returning to manned stations, and so increase the use of rail transport and reduce road congestion.

The Secretary of State talks about transferring freight from road to rail, but the railway system can take only a tiny amount of such freight due to the lack of infrastructure caused by lack of investment by his Government during the past 15 years. Is it not ironic that, only a few years ago, Railfreight was withdrawing from the freight business because it was not making a go of it or delivering the goods? That is no way for any Government to run a railway system.

On the problems of London, we cannot build our way out of trouble. That would be both unacceptable and far too expensive. Better public transport and traffic management will help, but some form of restraint seems inevitable. But no fair system of restraint has yet been devised. Some of my hon. Friends may be offended if I suggest that job dispersal would be a far better way to deal with the problem because, due to technological progress, there is absolutely no reason why many jobs in London could not be done in the provinces and in Scotland and Wales, which would benefit the nation as a whole. Perhaps we should start by moving Parliament to Manchester or some other place, and leaving this building to the tourists.

Everyone wants a better environment and less pollution, but the danger is that people look not at the overall position but only at the bits they like. We all want less congestion so long as someone else's car comes off the road, not ours. Most people do not like lorries, but they want to buy goods from the shops to which lorries deliver, and they want to buy them as cheaply as possible.

We must reduce congestion, improve public transport and reduce the number of unnecessary car journeys. Extreme punitive fuel taxation is not the answer. It could even worsen the problem, especially economically. It would also be unfair because business executives and many others would simply have the increased cost paid for them, eventually passing the costs on to the consumer. Yet again, the biggest losers would be the poor and those on low incomes.

Let us not forget, too, that for many people, especially those with handicapped or elderly relatives, the car is sometimes essential, as I know from personal experience. Let us also not forget that the first ambition of young people is to have access to a car. We should allow them to do it legally and affordably, rather than have more and more of them resort to joy riding, with all that that involves. On the employment aspects, we must not get things out of balance and impose substantial fuel tax increases immediately, as the Government may do in the Budget. The manufacturing, sales and servicing of cars and trucks employs many hundreds of thousands of people. Lorry drivers and car drivers whose livelihood depends on their vehicle will be at risk, as will many associated jobs. Unemployment is far more dangerous to one's health and welfare than living beside a busy road. One has only to ask the thousands of my constituents who have been unemployed for many years.

What will happen to prices, especially those of basic essential food stuffs? What about the effect on rural areas? What about tourism, not only in Britain as a whole but especially in Scotland, where it is now the largest industry? Scotland, especially the highlands and islands, could be hard hit, with disastrous economic consequences. All that shows that we must plan properly if we are to get it right. The Government will never do so because they do not believe in transport planning.

May I take just one minute to refer to the position in my constituency and neighbouring constituencies? At the moment, the main arterial routes in the east end of Glasgow—Duke street, Gallowgate, London road, Shettleston road and Tollcross road—all carry exceptionally high volumes of very noisy traffic, made much worse when the M8 is choked, as it regularly is. The east end has a high accident rate, mainly among children and elderly people. It also has many hundreds of the 5,000 acres of vacant and derelict land in the city of Glasgow, and one of the highest levels of unemployment in Scotland.

We desperately need to complete the M74 from where it comes to an end at Tollcross in my constituency, through to the Kingston bridge. I plead guilty to the Secretary of State's earlier charge about wanting new road investment where it is necessary and where it is proper, not where it is not needed and not where it is unnecessary.

The completion of the M74 would relieve pressure on Kingston bridge, which is grossly overloaded and currently under repair. If that bridge ever has to close, Glasgow will grind to a halt, because one will not be able to move. The completion of the M74 would substantially reduce through traffic in my constituency, reduce road deaths and accidents, improve the environment and open up hundreds of acres of derelict land to investment, and the possible creation of thousands of desperately needed jobs.

That project should go ahead as soon as possible. I hope that I have demonstrated that such projects are desirable and enhance the environment. To do nothing is to blight the area for decades to come, and to worsen the environment and quality of life in the area.

Finally, how does one define environmental improvements? One example, in my opinion, is bypasses, which take traffic round towns and villages and, in so doing, greatly enhance the local quality of life. We need many more such bypasses.

However, most of all we need to aim for a balanced integrated transport system; one that recognises transport as a social necessity and funds it accordingly; one that invests adequately in our railways and light rapid transit systems and provides more and better secure park and ride facilities, and, by using better traffic management schemes, encourages people to use buses. We also need a national transport policy that puts public transport back on the agenda as a first priority, not as a last resort.

Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his fine speech, and I agree with almost every word. However, the Secretary of State was smiling when my hon. Friend spoke about an integrated transport policy. Let me give my hon. Friend an example from my neck of the woods.

Before railway privatisation, there were connections from Wrexham to Chester and we could catch trains from Chester to London. Now that we have privatisation, Regional Railways competes with InterCity and it is no longer expedient to have connections when one travels from Wrexham to Chester, so that one may catch the InterCity service from Chester to Euston. Regional Railways wants one to sit in a Sprinter all the way to Birmingham, and take an hour longer over it.

That is an excellent example of a way in which the Government's policy has introduced disintegration. I suspect that there are similar examples throughout the country.

Mr. Marshall

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point.

I repeat my final remarks. What is needed is a national transport policy, which puts public transport back on the agenda as a first priority, not as a last resort.

8.32 pm
Mr. Matthew Banks (Southport)

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall). I agree with several of his main arguments, and especially his final argument. The bypasses that he mentioned are needed in many districts throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles. I deeply regret the fact that it was necessary to slim down the road-building programme, for reasons that I shall discuss later. [Interruption.]

I hear the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) moaning, but many of my constituents, and those of other hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House, wish traffic to be taken away from the centre of towns, as the hon. Member for Shettleston said. That is very important.

We shall not witness those developments if the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) has his way and there is a moratorium on the road-building programme. He painted a depressing picture of Labour's roads policy. Throughout the "Roads for Prosperity" assessment of the decade between 1979 and 1989, which led to some of the road-building schemes that are taking place at present, it was obvious that many people throughout the country wished traffic to be taken away from their towns and villages. Although I would be the first to accept that many schemes are contentious and have been dropped for a variety of reasons, there are many others that I and many other people would like to be developed, not least in my constituency.

If my hon. Friends on the Front Bench will take note, I wish that the A570 Scarisbrick and Pinfold schemes, linking my constituency with the national motorway network, might be carried out sooner, but I recognise that, due to a bit of assiduous lobbying, we were able to keep that scheme in the road-building programme rather than witnessing it drop off the programme, which might have been the case.

As my right hon. Friend of Secretary of State mentioned, I do not believe that what we heard from the hon. Member for Oldham, West was a balanced view of the way that we should proceed. He mentioned the light rail systems. We have heard earlier about Nottingham, Manchester, Tyne and Wear and Sheffield. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister for Transport in London will draw attention to the substantial amount of money that Government, the private sector and local authorities have put into those important schemes.

There was not a word from the Opposition Front Bench about the freight facilities grant scheme. Do Opposition Members realise how many millions of lorry journeys per year have been removed from the 1995 diary as a result of the freight facilities grant scheme? It has allowed companies grants of up to 100 per cent. of the cost of the infrastructure of transferring freight off our roads on to the rails.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West does not realise yet that more than 90 per cent. of all freight journeys throughout the country at present are under 50 miles, so it is not practical for every company to invest, even if it could afford to, even with the help of the freight facilities grant scheme, to transfer more of its freight off the road on to the rails. That 50-mile limit for 90 per cent. of the freight that moves throughout the country is an important statistic, of which I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take note.

However, the hon. Member for Oldham, West made several valid points about certain aspects of our culture. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman said about the changing attitude to smoking and drink-driving. I believe that, in our national life, we need a gradual change in our culture in relation to transport over several years.

I recognise that many of my hon. Friends and Opposition Members wish to contribute to the debate, so I shall try to keep my remarks to the issues that have already been raised in the debate, and especially in relation to the remarks that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made about unleaded petrol. I shall return to that subject later.

The Transport Select Committee drew attention to many issues in its recently published report on transport-related air pollution in London. I shall mention several. I feel strongly about many matters, of which I very much hope that the Government will take note.

Although I would be the first to recognise that the use of the catalytic converter is, rightly, the cornerstone of Government policy in reducing emissions, because it is the best technical way of doing so at present, it is important that we recognise that it will do so only if the catalytic converter is working properly. It is important that, in the years ahead, as part of our Department of Transport testing procedure, we should have a section that is concerned with the maintenance and standard, at that moment, of the catalytic converter.

Friends of the Earth has drawn attention to the fact that, during the average 10 km journey, 70 or 80 per cent. of the emissions take place in the first kilometre, which brings into question the importance of ensuring technical developments in pre-heated catalytic converters. I hope that the Government will enter as soon as possible into new discussions with the motor industry to try to set a target date so that all cars will be able to have new pre-heated catalytic converters, and that those catalytic converters will be the subject of MOT testing. I recognise that the Department of Transport has, rightly, tightened MOT testing procedure, but we must reconsider in particular the way in which emissions are checked, to try to produce cleaner cold starts.

If hon. Members are concerned about catalytic converters and their use and about whether they are effective, it is important that they ensure that the industry takes on board the suggestions made by the Automobile Association, the Royal Automobile Club and the Select Committee on Transport. They said that we should encourage motor manufacturers at the point of manufacture to install in vehicles an electronic warning device that will show whether the catalytic converter is working properly, in the same way as a warning light tells a driver whether his brakes are failing. The Department of Transport should take that on board, and it should press motor manufacturers to install such a device as soon as possible.

My next point does not have a direct impact on the responsibilities of my hon. Friend the Minister, but perhaps in his discussions with Home Office Ministers he might suggest that they should start compiling statistics. In particular, we should encourage our police forces to start taking a greater interest in enforcing the legal emissions limit.

I am conscious that time is pressing on. I welcome the fact that the Department, in response to the Transport Select Committee's recent publication, has said that it will continue to review the use of super unleaded petrol. The Select Committee took evidence from some reputable individuals and companies, in particular Associated Octel, which estimated that in London premium unleaded fuels contain between 4 and 6 per cent. more aromatics than leaded four-star petrol and that super unleaded contains at least 16 per cent. more aromatics than four star. Associated Octel recommended that super unleaded be taken off the market or, at the very least, that it should lose its lower excise duty advantage over unleaded petrol. The Department of Transport must take that on board.

Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Banks

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, but I shall sit down in a moment. I hope that he will seek to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker. I recognise that he has a constituency interest in the matter and I hope that he will have the opportunity to make his speech in his own time. Although I welcome the Government's response in the matter, I hope that the review will be a little more substantial than has been suggested.

I should like to comment on the policies of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. I excuse the hon. Member for Shettleston from my remarks, but in the past few weeks Opposition Members, many of whom are sponsored by transport unions, have shown a knee-jerk reaction to the report. It seems to me, particularly from what the hon. Member for Oldham, West said earlier, that Labour party policy on the environment and transport is driven by the unions rather than by the need to have a more balanced approach. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State commented on Liberal Democrat policy, particularly in relation to its "Getting Britain to Work" document. The best that can be said about it is that it makes clear that it, too, would cancel all motorway improvements. That would lead to greater congestion, further pollution and damage to the economy. There is no greater example of the usual inconsistencies of Lib-Dem policies that are advocated in the House.

Liberal Democrat Members talk about the environment in this place, but when they get back to their constituencies it is a different matter. The hon. Member for North Devon (Mr. Harvey) talks about the importance of the north Devon link road; the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) talks about the necessity of the dualling of the Al. The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel), who one rarely sees in this place, insists on having a Newbury bypass; and the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) insists on improvements to the A46. The Government are achieving the right balance, and I shall have no hesitation in supporting them in the Division Lobby.

8.44 pm
Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall)

I shall not follow the hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Banks) in that diversion around the country, because I want to deal with the remarks of the Secretary of State for Transport, who I regret to see has left the Chamber. I agree with the Secretary of State on one important point. We are dealing with some complex issues. All hon. Members should be grateful to the royal commission for considering those complex issues with a great deal of expertise and experience—I notice that Conservative Members are nodding. There is room for consensus across the Chamber.

Sadly, this place does not do justice to issues of this complexity, which have run through Governments for many years. Often the adversarial atmosphere does not give the best result. I hope that consensus will develop across party boundaries, and I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State appears to believe that that should be the case.

It is easy to be wise after the event. It was less easy perhaps for Ministers in the 1960s and 1970s—not all of whom represented the Conservative party; some represented the Labour party —to ignore the warnings of Colin Buchanan, with whom I have had the pleasure of working, about many of the problems that the royal commission has brought before hon. Members. This is not a just a problem of the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s. It was identified by some of the more perceptive of our advisers in the 1960s.

The Labour party may already be finding itself in some difficulty. I regret very much that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) has left the Chamber, because this weekend he appeared to rule out the use of all road-pricing mechanisms to deal with congestion in our major cities and towns. I am not sure whether that represented the policy of the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) but I suspect that it did not. None of us can relinquish a useful carrot. We cannot rely entirely on sticks, and it was profoundly misguided of the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras to rule out all price mechanisms of that sort. With the exploding use of private vehicles, cars and lorries, it will be essential to find new mechanisms to enable and encourage people to travel by other means.

No hon. Member is suggesting that we can uninvent the internal combustion engine—that is patently absurd. However, the hon. Member for Southport touched on the point that no magic formulation for fuel in internal combustion engines will suddenly make them totally environmentally friendly. Whatever is put in their fuel, they are inherently an environmental problem,.

We can, of course, work towards reducing carbon dioxide levels in line with suggestions made by the royal commission and I hope the Government will make a commitment, when they have taken stock of the evidence, to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2000, and to 80 per cent. of 1990 levels by 2020.

The Government should also firmly commit themselves to complying with the World Health Organisation's air quality guidelines by 2005. We do not want a lot more vacuous hot air from either side of the House about those ideas. We want some commitment to improving air quality.

The environmental impact of carbon dioxide emissions is highlighted in new research that shows that the soil in our cities is becoming contaminated and is unable to absorb water. That is the scale of the problem. It is not just the environment that is suffering. How much subsidy does the national health service effectively give to the roads lobby? It must treat those people who suffer from breathing difficulties, the levels of which are increasing, asthma, which received a lot of publicity this summer, and stress-related problems. How much does industry generally pay in days lost at work from those illnesses?

We have to look at ways in which, with carrot or stick, we can encourage people to use public transport whenever possible. In some rural areas—my own constituency is a case in point—there is very little public transport left, and to imagine that it could suddenly be reintroduced overnight would be flying in the face of experience. Successive Governments—not just this one—have cut investment in public transport, leaving rural areas with no realistic alternative to the car. I know that some Conservative Members represent such areas.

Where it is a viable alternative, however, public transport must take precedence—hence the need to set the targets which the royal commission has rightly put before the Government and the House. We could increase the use of public transport by 12 per cent. on 1993 figures, to 20 per cent. in the year 2005 and on to 30 per cent. by the year 2020—if that were declared a programme objective now. It would be feasible to aim to increase by 50 per cent. the number of urban journeys taken on public transport outside London by the year 2020, and, in London, to increase them by 30 per cent. In the next few days, planning guidance that can help that process is likely to be issued.

The concentration of amenities out of town, causing people to abandon traditional urban centres, has caused enormous difficulty in this respect, and unless there is reversal of the trend, it will be difficult to ensure that people reduce their reliance on the private car.

Decision makers are, almost by definition, people who depend on cars. Planners, business leaders, councillors, civil servants, Members of Parliament and certainly Ministers all depend on their cars. They assume that everyone else does, but even in comparatively well-off rural areas of Britain, where there is little public transport, a large percentage of the population cannot have daily access to private cars. The census in Wiltshire, a relatively well-off county, showed that 60 per cent. of women did not have driving licences and thus were automatically precluded from car transport for all the usual amenities of daily life. Other parts of the country could provide us with similarly sizeable numbers. Any action in this area could also assist the regeneration of our town centres; that would be an extremely useful by-product.

I accept the Secretary of State's point that it cannot all be done over night; the shift will probably take the lifetime of a Government, given the magnitude of the U-turn, but we must start with some explicit and effective action.

The commission has proposed increases in the price of petrol; so, we understand, have the Government. For several years now, Conservative candidates all over the country have accused Liberal Democrats of wishing to increase the costs of transport for those living in rural areas. A few hours ago, a Tory Member told me that we had been brave to propose tax rises some years ago. At the last general election, a large number of those Conservative candidates gave explicit promises that fuel taxes and costs would not be increased—but they have been, by successive Conservative Chancellors. Indeed, the rate of increase has been faster than even we dared suggest.

Now, as we have heard this evening, the Government are threatening to raise fuel taxes again in the forthcoming Budget. The essential difference between what the commission proposes—we agree with it—and what the Government propose is shown by the ways in which the additional revenue is to be used. Ministers want to use it to help with their income tax cuts, preferably closer to the election. The commission and many of us would propose that the money be ring-fenced to pay for direct assistance for those who use smaller, more economical and more environmentally friendly vehicles, and for those who have limited access to feasible alternatives in the form of public transport.

We plan a scheme that would not hit the private user with a low annual mileage and, typically, a small-engined car. Predominantly we want to ensure that the male business users—long-distance, heavy-duty users who commute from city to city in high-powered vehicles—pay the real costs of that activity. There must be an incentive for them to let the train take the strain.

Surely all hon. Members accept that it would be much fairer to tax the use of the car effectively than just to tax its ownership indiscriminately. The Mini should not be taxed the same as the Jaguar. As the Secretary of State pointed out, the impact of any increase in fuel duty is far from clear, but the Department appears to suggest that a 9 per cent. increase in fuel tax would secure a petrol use reduction of only 2 or 3 per cent. That is not enough to make the sort of impact that the royal commission says will be necessary to satisfy its—and our—environmental aims. If it was a flat rate increase, without the mitigating measures that we suggest, it would hit all who need to use their cars, and those who can least afford to be without them would be hit just as badly as those with a viable alternative.

With figures provided by the motoring organisations, we have concluded that a shift in this tax burden is called for. A cut in vehicle excise duty—retaining for the smallest engines only a nominal administrative charge—could be the most effective way of ensuring that those who are environmentally friendly in their use of motor cars benefit, while those who are least helpful in that respect carry the heaviest burden. The figures show that the average private motorist with a small mileage and a small car would benefit under this system.

The commission recommends that action be taken to increase freight-carrying capacity by putting lorries on trains that will run on the rail link from Scotland to the channel tunnel, for instance. That is a high priority for all parts of Britain away from the south-east. We think that there are economies of scale on rail for journeys of more than 200 km. Is it not absurd that, in the very year our rail system links up, after hundreds of years, with the continental system, so that it becomes economic again to carry a lot of freight on it, rail privatisation threatens to disintegrate the rail network?

The royal commission also shows that lorries pay much less than they cost us—they pay about half what they cost the national Exchequer and economy. We shall seek to transfer heavy long-distance loads to the railways—transferring about 22 per cent. of current total lorry mileage to rail. I hope that the Secretary of State means what he says in this respect. The mileage of the largest lorries could be cut by 45 per cent. too.

I do not think that we have yet got to the kernel of this issue. There is widespread acceptance that we cannot build our way out of congestion in the south-east or anywhere else. One of the members of the commission, Professor John Lawton, suggested, that if the M25 is widened in line with present plans at a cost of £9 billion, it will be just eight years before the congestion results in the whole process having to start again. Incidentally, some Conservative Members who have actively campaigned in their constituencies against widening the M25 are conspicuous by their absence from this debate.

Dr. Phil Goodwin, whose transport studies unit at Oxford university has proved such a pioneer of the new realism, said last week that an enlarged motorway and trunk road construction programme is counter productive. Irony of ironies, he quoted a British Road Federation report which shows that, if the programme is increased by 50 per cent., congestion on trunk roads would actually worsen every year, not improve. As we have heard, the Department of Transport's standing advisory committee has looked at that issue. I suspect that it will come up with the same answer.

The inevitable conclusion is that a whole basket of measures—carrots and sticks—will be necessary to achieve a shift in balance. Dr. Goodwin also believes that

small, widespread improvements often give better results than prestige projects. That is why many of my colleagues and I have supported small-scale improvements to bypasses. They are cost-effective. However, none of us has supported the huge and enormously expensive expansion of the motorways programme.

Dr. Goodwin spoke about the need for an emphasis on better maintenance, but that has not been mentioned much in the debate. One illegally overloaded lorry does more damage to a mile of motorway than 3,000 or 4,000 cars on it on one day. If we could deal with that problem—and so far the Government's initiative in that respect has not been effective—it would make a major contribution to the removal of many of the roadworks which themselves cause congestion.

Of course there must be some investment in new roads: we cannot not wipe out the programme overnight. Talk of cancelling every contract is absurd. However, we should concentrate on bypasses to improve the environment of smaller towns and villages. The imbalance between road and rail is on the mega-schemes. I shall give an example that will be familiar to you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

If the Government have their way, there will be another crossing on the River Tamar between Cornwall and England. If that happens, there will have to be a motorway connection between the present end of the M5 and the bridge, and huge expenditure on the access roads on the Cornish side. All the local authorities are dead against the proposal because of the increased cost to the motorist, quite apart from that to the taxpayer. They believe that the problem could be much more effectively dealt with through just some investment in the rail network to ensure that mainline trains continue into Cornwall and that freight can be taken out. A comparatively modest investment in the rail network would save huge sums on roads and could make possible an effective park-and-ride system and reduce commuter traffic.

I hope that, in his reply to the debate, the Minister will specifically repudiate the comments by previous incumbents in his Department. I am delighted to see that the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) is in his place. I warned him that I would be referring to one of his trenchant speeches before he was relieved of his duties as a Minister. I have in mind his stirring address to the Auto Express awards dinner at the Park Lane hotel to an audience of 200 motor manufacturers and car fanatics—a roads lobby bonanza if ever there was one. At that dinner the hon. Member for Salisbury confessed his love for cars of all shapes and sizes. He said that cars were a "good thing" and went on: The car is going to be with us for a very long time. We must start thinking in terms that will allow it to flourish. I am not sure what the Government had been doing before that.

The hon. Gentleman condemned the railways. He said: If ever there was an environmentally unfriendly form of transport it was the railways. They played havoc with our countryside and it was outrageous the way Parliament allowed them to carve up the countryside and destabilise it by building tunnels. They spewed out polluting gases and turned buildings black. It makes me wonder if we've got our priorities right.

Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)

That selective quote is proof, if proof were needed, that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing in the hands of the Liberals. Of course I was referring to debates in the House 100 or more years ago when the big issue which made Maastricht look like a picnic was the Railways Regulation Act 1883. The hon. Gentleman well knows that that was the subject of my speech. There can be no consensus as long as he seeks to deliver speeches like that.

Mr. Tyler

I never thought that I would be so grateful for an intervention. I wish that the hon. Gentleman and Ministers would concentrate on the problems of the 21st century rather than those of the 19th. It is sad that the hon. Gentleman, who was at that time a Minister, thought that it was more important to re-run the rearguard action of the landowners of the 19th century than to look at what our fellow citizens will have to face in the 21st century.

The royal commission proposals would cost money, but in true cost-benefit terms we should consider what could be achieved by reducing the £19 billion that is presently earmarked for the roads programme, and especially for the motorway improvement and expansion programme. For the benefit not of the roads lobby but of the individual citizen, we believe in giving people real choice, and in that we agree with the Secretary of State. But we want to give our future citizens the choice of cleaner air to breathe, a public transport system that is reliable and pleasant to use, and an improved environment for future generations.

9.4 pm

Mr. Quentin Davies (Stamford and Spalding)

The House should be genuinely grateful to the Labour party and to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) for tabling this motion and introducing this debate. It has been extremely revealing and instructive. Over the past few months, there has been a great deal of chatter throughout the country about the fact that the Labour party is now supposedly reformed and suddenly committed to the virtues of economic rationality, freedom of choice and the rights of the consumer and so forth, having abandoned its former attachment to promoting purely sectarian producer interests—largely trade union—and to the cause of state planning and intervention. This evening, the hon. Member for Oldham, West ripped away the veil. Behind it we saw a rather unattractive face—the face of the traditional Labour party. Already this evening we have heard one speech on behalf of a transport union.

Let us consider the issues of consumerism and free choice. There was no evidence in the hon. Gentleman's speech that he has ever asked himself why roads are crowded and why new roads rapidly become popular and therefore crowded. It seems that it has never occurred to him that the reason is that people want to use roads. They need roads and they need more roads. In what other way can the motorist demonstrate that he likes a road and that he wants more roads than by using them? What is the solution to that? Of course, the hon. Gentleman referred to the traditional Labour party remedy of state control and intervention, preventing the consumer from doing what he wants.

The Opposition motion makes great play of the need to reduce pollution, accidents, noise and congestion. Has the hon. Gentleman asked himself what causes them? It is bad and inadequate roads. The amount of pollution generated by traffic stalled in a traffic jam is a vast multiple of the pollution generated by traffic flowing freely along a new bypass or motorway. The figures show that far and away the most dangerous roads are the traditional roads and the safest roads are motorways and bypasses. If he were serious about dealing with the issues of pollution, accidents, noise and congestion, the last thing to do would be to introduce a moratorium on new road building.

One may wonder about either the rationality or the sincerity of a party that complains about air pollution, but opposes nuclear generation of power—which is environmentally the most friendly form of generation. The pollution caused by CO2 and SO2 emissions by burning coal for power generation is three or more times greater than the CO2 emissions generated by traffic in this and other modern economies.

Mr. Butler

Does my hon. Friend accept that electric vehicles and dual-powered motor vehicles are not pollution-free? Indeed, they are pollution-free only at the point where we put the plug in. Under Labour policies, the production of electricity could be highly polluting.

Mr. Davies

My hon. Friend makes a good point. A large amount of the energy generated would be lost in generation and transmission.

What price the economic rationality of the reformed Labour party? None of the contributions by Labour Members reflected the slightest evidence that any of them had thought for one moment about the negative economic consequences of congestion, or about the benign economic consequences of investing in new roads.

When one improves the road system, one increases human mobility for all sorts of purposes. One increases also job mobility, because people can travel to a larger number of possible jobs. They can take up employment that is located outside the range of public transport. However elaborate that network might be, there will always be a large number of places that cannot be served by it. That will be especially true in rural areas.

An improved road system also allows goods to be delivered more cheaply and rapidly, and provides greater consumer choice and competition. More transactions will lead to more specialisation and output, which will in turn create more jobs. To conduct a discussion of the consequences or otherwise of improving the nation's road system without mentioning the enormous economic stakes that hang on that decision reflects extraordinary unreality on the part of Opposition Members, including those on Labour's Front Bench, who should know better.

I am much in favour of railways and of higher investment in them, but the hon. Member for Oldham, West and other Opposition Members did not say that they would spend more public money on railways. Labour opposes root and branch our proposal to enable more private capital to be invested in the railways, to improve the network and to make services ever more market-oriented—and therefore more consumer-friendly and likely to attract a higher volume of passengers and freight.

What is one to make of a party that argues for a better balance between road and rail, yet opposes the proposal to extract a price for the use of motorways—which alone could create the sort of level playing field on the basis of which private capital will be induced to invest in new rail projects?

It would be unreasonable flattery to term what we have heard in tonight's debate an argument, because it has been more a series of slogans and unthought-through prejudices and contributions full of the most elementary contradictions.

Another reason that I am grateful for comments by Labour Members this evening is that their line on the road programme will give me several thousand votes in the next election in Stamford and Spalding that otherwise I would not have received. The people of the beautiful, ancient town of Stamford, with which I hope hon. Members in all parts if the House are familiar, and of The Deepings, an only slightly less well-known town, are desperate for bypasses. My hon. Friend the Minister knows all about that, as did his predecessor. I am confident that, with his support, we shall have those bypasses before too long.

One thing that is clear beyond peradventure to my constituents is that, if Labour is in power after the next general election, there will be a moratorium and my constituents will not get those bypasses at all. I did not expect this evening to be given such a wonderful electoral gift, but the fact that it was given to me by the Opposition is not a good reason to be churlish, and I express my profoundest gratitude for it.

9.14 pm
Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge)

I am pleased that the hon. Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies) is trying to keep his spirits up.

I took part in the transport debate on 26 April, which may have been the last occasion on which we debated transport in the Chamber. I raised a broad range of transport issues affecting the north of England: the lack of efficient transport planning, the failure of deregulation and its effects on integration—particularly as it affected the Tyne and Wear metro system, although the Secretary of State's self-confessed ignorance of integration perhaps sheds more light on why the Government pursued that lunatic policy—the difference between opinion on roads policy in the region and the policies of the Department of Transport, which particularly affect the Al, A69, Al9 and the A66, the loss of free transport for senior citizens, directly resulting from the financial squeeze on local authorities, and restrictions on capital expenditure that prevent more rapid development of Newcastle airport.

Hon. Members will be relieved to learn that I do not intend to rehearse those arguments this evening. I shall restrict myself to a local issue that affects my constituency—the severe congestion on the Al Gateshead western bypass and the various proposals for its relief, specifically the Department of Transport's plan to bypass the bypass. Given the comments that were made about the advantages of bypasses—in some instances they do have advantages—Ministers must answer why it has become necessary to bypass the bypass. Where will it all end? Will we have a bypass to the bypass to the bypass?

Evidence showing that there is a significant problem in the area can be found in a reference in paragraph 12.21 of the royal commission's report. I understand that the commission met in Gateshead. In discussing the problem of congestion on primary routes, it said: Sometimes local traffic on a primary route is the result of large-scale developments … The Al on Tyneside provides an interesting example. Congestion on this road, caused by predominantly local trips to and from the Metrocentre and a large industrial estate, led DOT to promote a controversial scheme for by passing what was itself in origin a by pass.

That is a controversial proposal. Two groups of local residents in my constituency have organised a campaign. One is opposed to the Department's bypass plan on the grounds of intrusion into the green belt and property loss—the proposed route goes right through one of the designated north-east tranquil areas of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England—and the other is opposed to improvements to the existing road and is in favour of the bypass because it believes that the bypass would reduce the nuisance to residents living alongside the existing road, whereas improvements to the existing road would increase it.

What does a Member of Parliament do in those circumstances? I can only examine the circumstances and try to reach what I believe to be the best all-round solution for not only the short-term but the long-term future welfare of people in the area.

Having considered the problem, Gateshead metropolitan borough council has proposed a plan that deals not only with the problem of through traffic, which the bypass option does almost exclusively, but considers the overall problem of traffic movement on and around the road and in and out of the Metro centre and the Team valley trading estate.

The council suggested various options, which are reflected in the royal commission's report: closing some of the access points to the road, at once relieving congestion points and creating a third lane; creating improved access and egress points to cater for the Metro centre and Team valley at peak-hour-traffic times; and restructuring traffic movements within the Metro centre and Team valley trading estate. Other options might include improving public transport by frequent links to park-and-ride facilities, creating bus priority lanes and extending links to the Tyneside metro system.

All the available evidence, including the royal commission's report, suggests that continually building more roads and wider roads will not solve the problem—although, of course, some improvements to existing roads will be warranted, and I have mentioned some of them—and, as the report recommends, more effective use of existing roads should precede any plans to build new roads wherever possible.

The royal commission also recommends a fundamentally different approach by the Department of Transport. We have heard from the Secretary of State that he favours a different approach; just how fundamental it is remains to be seen. To date, his Department has argued for the simplest—although, by its own admission, not the cheapest—solution to the Gateshead problem.

Tomorrow I shall meet the roads Minister to discuss the problem with him. I hope that evidence of a shift in opinion may be forthcoming at that meeting. I have come to know the new roads Minister—the new Minister for roads, that is, not the Minister for new roads—through an interest that we share.

The Minister for Transport in London (Mr. Steve Norris)

A frequent Opposition error is to refer to any transport Minister as a roads Minister. One of the facts that I hoped the hon. Gentleman would note, it being very germane to the debate, is that there is no roads Minister. If he is referring to my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Mr. Watts), he is the Minister of State responsible for rail and roads, reflecting our view that an integrated transport policy is very important.

Mr. Clelland

It seems that the "fundamentally different approach" is already showing itself in the Chamber. In any event, I have come to know the Minister responsible for roads and rail very well—or, rather, rail and roads: the Government, of course, put rail first every time—through our common interest in working men's clubs. In my experience, his work in that field has shown him to be a fair and reasonable person, and I hope that he manages—against recent trends—to retain those qualities in government. If he does, there may yet be hope of a progressive change.

I know that the Minister will not have an opportunity to answer in detail tonight on this specific proposal, but I shall put some points to him so that he can sleep on them. First, is it not true that the standing advisory committee on trunk road assessment has concluded that—contrary to the Department's thinking—new roads generate extra traffic? According to Oxford university's transport studies unit director, Phil Goodwin, who is a member of the committee: a new road scheme would, on average, induce an extra 10 per cent. of its base traffic in the short term and 20 per cent. in the long term. When can we expect the report's publication? Does not Mr. Goodwin's conclusion make nonsense of the Department's traffic forecasts for the proposed bypass to the western bypass?

Is it true that the Department has let the contract for ground investigations on the site of the proposed new road? Could not that money be put to better use on the alternative proposals? What will be the cost of a public inquiry, which, it is forecast, may take as long as six months?

In short—in the light of all the information that is now available, the weight of opinion against further schemes of this sort, the fact that the Department has downgraded the priority of the scheme and the blight and suffering being caused to those now living in the path of the proposed route—is it not time that the Department cut its losses and sat around a table with local people to pursue a better, more effective and more rapid solution to the problem?

Earlier this evening, the Secretary of State said that he wanted to encourage local authorities to pursue environmentally friendly transport policies. Let him begin by supporting Gateshead council's environmentally sympathetic approach.

The answers to regional transport infrastructure problems will be properly deduced only if those who live in the regions are fully involved in the planning and decision-making process. The planned movement of Highways Agency operations from the north to Leeds is a further example of migration from the northern region, to the detriment of local involvement in decisions directly affecting the lives of people who live in that region.

Ministers cannot continually abrogate their responsibilities by hiving them off to agencies and then claiming that decisions are nothing to do with them, when those decisions have implications for the people of this country. The decisions have everything to do with them, and they must intervene to protect the regional planning structure from fragmentation. I look forward to hearing from the Minister that he plans to do just that.

9.23 pm
Mr. Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden)

I must first remind the House of my interest as an adviser to Johnson Matthey plc, which makes catalytic converters—not that I intend to dwell on that subject specifically.

The Opposition motion accuses the Government of an obsessional concern with road building and road widening". I can say only that that "obsession", if such it is, is widely shared. We do not help ourselves by failing to recognise that the public have a strong desire for good roads. A large section of industry is entirely dependent on roads.

People cherish the freedom that the motor car has brought them. Over the past 40 or 50 years, whole communities have developed on the assumption of road transport in the absence of anything else, and not one Government are responsible for that. Therefore, in some places, to talk of shifting freight from road to rail is utter nonsense.

When the emphasis is on economic recovery and job creation, this cannot be the right moment to suggest a total change of direction, as is implicit in Labour's motion, which could hugely disrupt commerce and industry and add to their costs. The obsession to which I referred is a serious matter that grips a lot of private and commercial people in the United Kingdom, and it is not hard to see why.

Let me turn to the case for improving the A130 in Essex, which is the only strategic link between south-east Essex and the rest of East Anglia as all the other roads in south-east Essex feed into London and the M25. The proposed improvement will not only improve the quality of life in the villages that it bypasses but it is predicted to save some 17 injury accidents per year and make an annual saving of £1.2 million per year. There have been 152 such accidents in the past three years—five fatal and 22 serious. I have sympathy with the case for a major improvement to the A130.

The words that I have used are not mine; they are contained in a letter from the chairman of the highways and transportation committee of Essex county council, which is a Labour and Liberal-controlled authority. The same council is pressing for the speedy construction of the Al20. What advice would Labour Front-Bench spokesmen give Labour and Liberal-controlled Essex county council? Is it that, instead of making an improvement to the A130 and the Al20, there should be a moratorium, or that there should be railways in place of the roads? The proposition that the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) put to the House is absurd.

In its motion, Labour calls for a major strategic shift in spending. Apparently, it is not an increase in spending but a major strategic shift in spending. Instead of talking in generalities, Opposition Members would assist our understanding of their case if they spoke in specifics. Which roads would go, and which bypasses would be forfeited? The more one listens to the debate, the more one realises that everyone is in favour of some roads; it is simply roads in general that Labour is against.

If one totalled up all the schemes we favour, there would be no diminution in the roads programme at all because we would all say—as the chairman of the Essex county council highways and transportation committee said—that there is an urgent case to have a particular road. We could do without the humbug that we hear from Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen. All of us know of roads that need to be built, which people want and industry needs.

How would Labour deal with the problem of old cars that cannot be retrofitted with catalytic converters, which are mainly owned by elderly and low-paid people but which will still be a major polluting factor in our environment? Would Labour implement the royal commission package as a whole, including the proposal to increase the price of a gallon of petrol to £5, or would it simply pick parts of it? Labour Members have not assisted us at all; they have made a general swipe against Government policy without saying what they would do.

We are entitled to know what Labour's priorities are for public transport schemes. Let us cost such schemes to see whether its claim is right that road schemes can be replaced by public transport schemes. Calling for a new strategic approach, as the hon. Member for Oldham, West did, is simply not enough. Labour should be reminded that new public transport schemes do not come cheap, that they are not always acceptable to people in whose areas they are to introduced, and that they are not always successful in drawing people from the roads, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made clear in his example of the imperceptible shift that has taken place in the Bury-Altrincham corridor as a result of the light railway in Manchester.

Undoubtedly, there are serious issues to be faced, including those raised in the reports of the Royal Commission on environmental pollution and the Select Committee on Transport, but Labour's facile motion comes nowhere near addressing those issues. It will be an extremely difficult and sensitive exercise in an open, democratic society to persuade people away from vehicular transport.

If we are honest, we cannot be absolutely sure that we know the whole story on environmental pollution and exactly what causes what particular illness, but we cannot ignore the main thrust of the evidence before us. We need the careful and considered approach that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recommends. A great deal of public education will be necessary before measures can be put before the House that will command respect and support. It may require a combination of the carrot and the stick, to which the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) referred, if we are to protect our environment, decongest our cities and safeguard our health.

Labour would earn more respect if it spelt out in detail what it expected the electorate to accept: parroting slogans is not enough.

9.30 pm
Ms Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford)

This has been an important debate. The Secretary of State and some of his colleagues responded in a manner that suggested that we lived in a monoculture of car owners and users. I remind the House that the percentage of our adult population who have a driving licence, let alone a car, is not 100 but 66 per cent. Almost half the women of Britain do not hold a licence. Among pensioners, women make up a mere 6 per cent. of those who hold a driving licence.

The Secretary of State referred to London smogs as if they were a thing of the past. I remind the House that, in December 1952, 4,000 people died in London as a result of smog—a thick, swirling, stinking blanket of choking air produced by coal fires and heavy industry. Today, the smog is invisible. It is a cocktail of toxic chemicals produced by private and commercial motor vehicles.

The warnings are all too clear. They include the report of the Royal Commission on Transport and the Environment, the Transport Select Committee report on transport-related air pollution in London, and the excellent briefings provided by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Cyclists Public Affairs Group.

Mr. Butler

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms Ruddock

It is very soon, but I will.

Mr. Butler

I am grateful to the hon. Lady. Perhaps she can help me. The motion to which she is speaking says that this House notes the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's condemnation of current Government transport and land use policies as unsustainable". I have searched in vain for that condemnation. What I did find was paragraph 1.17, which says: We endorse the general framework for a sustainable transport policy which the Government has put forward. Can the hon. Lady help me with that?

Ms Ruddock

Page 242.

Let me continue with my speech. Some 160 deaths in London have already been attributed to the photochemical smog in December 1991, and millions are suffering ill health nationwide. Nothing in the royal commission report comes as any surprise to those of us who have followed transport policies in recent years. Labour repeatedly warned the Government of the dangers inherent in their obsession with road building and road widening. Yes, we proposed a moratorium—a halt on new road schemes, while, as my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) said, we considered the most appropriate way to meet mobility needs.

We never said that there would be a cancellation of all roads for all time. Nor did we ever suggest that contracts already let would be reneged upon. We warned of the adverse impact of road building on our countryside, of growing demand for and depletion of non-renewable materials and of traffic disruption to our communities. We warned of noise and air pollution, the threat to our health, particularly of the most vulnerable—children and the elderly—and the growing contribution that road traffic makes to greenhouse gases.

We warned that no amount of road building could provide for the doubling of traffic predicted by the Department of Transport. In short, we warned—and we reiterate—as the royal commission warned, that the Government transport policy was unsustainable. On every occasion in the past five years, Ministers rejected and even ridiculed our claims.

The hon. Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies) proved true to form tonight by entirely missing the central point of the royal commission's report. Even if the Government spent all their £20 billion on new road capacity, it could not cope with their predictions for the increase in traffic on those same roads.

The Government behave as if they have played no part in what has happened, yet today's ecological crisis is being driven by their policy. Let us look at the record. We acknowledge that increasing car ownership—desirable in many ways—and road haulage is a Europewide phenomenon. Yet—as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall) said—as other European Governments began to take steps to alleviate congestion by a large expansion in public transport, this Government embarked on an orgy of reducing investment and of privatisation, fragmentation and deregulation?

While other European Governments, who recognised the environmental effects of increasing car use, agreed measures to reduce exhaust emissions, this Government fought to resist or delay them. While the decline in public transport produced further road congestion, the Government simply built more roads, and thus increased by one third the amount of land covered in tarmac. Yet congestion continued—total vehicle kilometres rose by nearly 50 per cent. in the past decade, while rail passenger journeys and rail freight decreased.

The environmental consequences have been dire. Our towns and cities are noisy, dangerous and dirty. Despite its known benefits, cycling has declined by almost one third in the past decade, walking is hazardous, and while child pedestrian road casualties remain among the highest in Europe, parents are forced to drive their children to school.

Our countryside has been despoiled. The latest affront is Twyford Down, and more than 300 sites of special scientific interest have been damaged in the past year, with the habitats of precious wildlife threatened.

Ministers cannot evade their responsibilities any longer. They cannot hold that they are simply responding to public demand for greater car use when the public have no other choice. They cannot sit back in the knowledge that we are poisoning ourselves with petrol emissions and pretend that it is our fault alone. The nation's health is the Government's responsibility.

Let us look at the record again. Since 1979, emissions of black smoke from motor vehicles have increased by 78 per cent. Black smoke causes respiratory problems and may cause cancer. Emissions of nitrogen oxides have increased by 74 per cent.—they cause lung irritation and bronchitis and can cause pneumonia, contribute to acid rain and, when mixed with volatile organic compounds, cause ground level ozone, which causes eye, nose and throat infections and headaches. Carbon monoxide is up by 48 per cent. Fatal at high doses, that pollutant produces drowsiness, and is especially dangerous to people with heart disease. All that has happened despite the Secretary of State's claims about improving air quality.

Mr. Quentin Davies

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms Ruddock

I am sorry, but I have not got time.

Surely the Government must now accept that, in the light of those two reports, ways must be found to limit the increase in car use and accelerate programmes to cut vehicle emissions.

Has the Minister who is going to reply to the debate—I am sorry that he is not an Environment Minister—noted the report's finding that about 3 million people now have asthma? That is twice as many as were diagnosed in 1979. Does he know that hospital admissions for that disease have also doubled? One of his hon. Friends mentioned costs—the cost of that disease alone is £400 million a year. Does he accept, as the royal commission did, that 50,000 tonnes of benzene are expelled from motor vehicles each year? Benzene is a potent carcinogen, for which there are no known safe levels.

The Minister for the Environment and Countryside (Mr. Robert Atkins)

Not true.

Ms Ruddock

I tell the hon. Member that that is evidence presented to the royal commission, which it accepted.

Mr. Atkins

It is not true.

Ms Ruddock

I will debate this with the hon. Gentleman in another place and on some other occasion, but he is saying that the royal commission has taken inaccurate evidence.

The Government's complacency is literally breathtaking. They deny all the experts—

Mr. Butler

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. This is the first point of order that I have ever sought to raise, so I hope that you will forgive me if I do not get it quite right. The hon. Lady said when she gave way to me that I would find the royal commission's condemnation on page 242. I have found no such condemnation, and the hon. Lady may be unwittingly misleading the House. I wish to give her the opportunity to correct that.

Madam Speaker

That is barely a point of order for me. It is a point of argument for the debate. If the hon. Gentleman catches the hon. Lady's attention later in the debate, he may do something about that, but it is certainly not a point of order for me.

Ms Ruddock

If the hon. Gentleman looks at the uppermost paragraph on page 242, he will see that the very policies which the Government have pursued are described there, and that the royal commission says that these

cannot therefore be regarded as sustainable". I do not believe—

Mr. Matthew Banks

On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker

Order. I feel now that I am getting points of frustration, rather than points of order. If it is a point of order for me, of course I shall hear it.

Mr. Banks

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Surely it is particularly important that during debates the House listens to accurate information. If we had time, I could draw umpteen examples from the last few minutes—

Madam Speaker

Order. It is important that the House listens to information, but it is not for me to determine whether that information is accurate or otherwise. It is for hon. Members who are using the information to determine for themselves whether or not it is accurate.

Ms Ruddock

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the policies described which the royal commission regard as unsustainable are indeed the policies which have been pursued by the Government, and we have heard nothing tonight to suggest that the Government will change those policies. I hope that they will, and I shall be asking the Minister to give us more information when he winds up. [Interruption.] If Government Members are not quiet, they will find that the Minister's time will be taken up by my speech.

Do the Government accept, as we do—the Secretary of State failed to say—the royal commission's eight objectives and the accompanying targets for a sustainable transport policy? Will the Government match Labour's promises on the environment which were so ably developed by my predecessor, the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith)? [Interruption.] I can assure the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) that that was not a strategy that my hon. Friend proposed.

The Secretary of State implied that he would try to find some common cause with my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher). If the Government are prepared to make some small shift in resources, will the Minister tell us whether any money that is earmarked now—but which subsequently is not spent on roads—will be invested in public transport and not grasped back by a greedy Treasury? Will he create new financial incentives for private motorists to retro-fit catalytic convertors, and for bus operators to clean up their buses?

Will he make air quality monitoring a statutory requirement of local authorities? Will he ensure that when there are episodes when we are being poisoned that people are given the information speedily so that they can take some action? Will the Government, as the Secretary of State claimed, get rid of belching monsters once and for all; not by a few pathetic spot checks but by making more stringent MOT tests, as the hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Banks) proposed, and by helping local authorities to acquire and operate pollution cameras for long-term monitoring?

Will he help to make the fundamental shift that my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West proposed, or is he beholden, like so many of his hon. Friends, to sectional interests? If the Government will not respond to my hon. Friend's challenge, will they respond to the royal commission's challenge to realise the benefits of a new transport strategy or will he only respond to the vested interests of the British Road Federation, whose spokesperson said: These costs"— the costs of making the shift— cannot be justified. I suggest that it is the costs of inaction that cannot be justified.

The reports of the royal commission and the Select Committee have offered every proof of the urgency of the tasks before us. Real freedom, real choice in mobility and economic well-being and quality of life demand Government action in line with our motion tonight. There must be action to shift from increasing road use to reliable, safe, clean and affordable public transport. Action must be taken on behalf of our shared community and our shared environment and it must be taken now.

9.45 pm
The Minister for Transport in London (Mr. Steve Norris)

This has been an important debate. We have had some excellent contributions, particularly from my hon. Friends the Members for Southport (Mr. Banks), for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies), who represents a delightful part of the country, and for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst), who put his argument extraordinarily well. Just as Churchill once remarked that we are all in favour of reductions in general and in public expenditure in particular, so we are in favour of curtailing the road programme, except in our own constituencies.

It is a shame that this evening's debate is so short, but that, of course, is a reflection on the Opposition's priorities. Their great claim of initiating this debate is in truth a sham. The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) could not even finish the previous debate at 7 o'clock, so heaven help us if she were ever in charge of a timetable.

The reality is that there is a huge amount on which we can and have to agree, as the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) said. He is right that we all have to address the serious issues that are raised by the prospect of limitless traffic growth. It is reasonable to consider that the ever-burgeoning volume of private motoring poses a real question over the sustainability of our lives as we move to the next century.

The hon. Gentleman is right to say that we must address the consequences of greater general prosperity. I do not refer to that in terms of the immediate party political sense, but, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already demonstrated, as we have become a richer community, so our demand for transport, and particularly the attractions of motoring, have become greater. Many more people enjoy both the attractions and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden has said, the freedoms, that the car brings.

I believe that we need to face an uncomfortable truth and it was one which my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley) drew to the attention of the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) in an intervention. My hon. Friend has probably forgotten it by now, but he emphasised the absolute linear relationship between economic growth and traffic growth. That is self-evident to anyone who is prepared to look at the issue seriously.

I agree with the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland) that we must look at the issue of traffic generation and the induction of traffic. That was raised in SACTRA—the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment—report which my right hon. Friend is currently studying.

Dr. Bray

The Minister's argument about a so-called "direct relationship" between economic growth and transport used to be argued about electricity demand—until the oil price increase. Does he not anticipate the same thing happening in respect of roads?

Mr. Norris

The hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly good point, which is not that the demand for services in a developed economy powered by electricity or other forms of power generation has decreased but, rather, that we have concentrated our attention on addressing the finite nature of those resources, developing alternatives, and developing the kind of economies of scale and model about which we should be concerned. Incidentally, in addition to an analysis of the underlying problem on which we can all agree, in reality we all know, in broad and general terms, what the solutions to those problems must be. Although we heard remarkably little of it from Opposition Members, we all appreciate the fact that we need to create infinitely more sustainable communities.

Recently, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for the Environment together produced policy planning guidance note 13 on sustainable development. Essentially, it said that one of the most useful things that Governments can do is plan the need to travel. But for a few people, travel is not an end in itself but a process that takes us from our home to our work, shops, leisure activities and so on. If we can build sustainable communities in which we combine housing, jobs, leisure, recreation and other amenities, we shall have a chance to break through the inevitable link between economic growth and travel.

Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Norris

No, I have very little time, and I want to move on.

In addition to the policy of sustainable development, we clearly also need to ameliorate the effects of road transport. The Department of Transport is currently doing that in a number of ways. First, it is improving the standards of new vehicles, about which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made an important announcement in recent weeks. The hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms Ruddock) referred to the spot checks initiated by my right hon. Friend as "pathetic", but I suspect that that verdict will not be shared by those motorists who encounter them; on the contrary, my right hon. Friend is rightly responding to the proper concern about emission levels and, in dealing with standards of existing vehicles, is initiating an important improvement.

Mr. Miller

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Norris

I am sorry, but I cannot. I have only eight minutes left, which is not enough for the notes that I have written.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southport was right to refer to the need to continue to refine the technology relating to emissions. He made a perfectly sensible point. My hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Forman) was also right to suggest that, in future, we shall need to look more closely at hybrid vehicles, electric power and so on.

We need to encourage a modal shift. We must persuade people out of private cars and on to the railways, and freight out of trucks and on to the railways. In that regard, how sad it was that the Opposition supported the recent damaging industrial dispute in the rail industry, which has probably done more than any other single action to discourage potential investors in rail from taking freight on to that mode. It will take years to put right, and the Opposition stand condemned for their support.

We must also encourage other modes, such as cycling and walking. Most sensible academics understand, however, that it is not good enough simply to spend huge sums on public transport because, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said—I do not know whether the point has embedded itself sufficiently in Opposition minds—spending large sums of money on public transport projects sadly initiates only a very small transfer from traffic using the roads to those modes of public transport. Public transport is well used in those circumstances, as the SPOTT research, such as that undertaken by Westminster university, shows, but, sadly, once that use occurs it is not accompanied by a corresponding reduction in car use.

Mr. Clive Betts (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Norris

No; I will not give way. It is obvious that it is not enough simply to apply the carrot; one must also apply the stick, whether that be physical restraint on vehicles—park and ride, and local parking control, which is obviously important—or pricing, which is a vital component.

We should investigate road pricing, as the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) said. I am sad that, although the Government have said that that is too important an issue to ignore, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) has already set the face of the Opposition against it, in spite of the fact that it is a hugely important tool in the control of congestion.

Yes, we have also accepted the need to price fuel. My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already stated the Government's policy of adding 5 per cent. in real terms to fuel prices, deliberately to achieve the reductions in road traffic and emissions that we seek. He has made that brave statement in order to achieve our Rio targets by the end of the century. The Royal Commission, on the other hand, has said that we should do more, and that is where the attitude between the parties clearly divides.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has said that we shall examine that proposition, because, difficult as it might be politically, we understand the severity of the problem. From the Opposition, however, as we all know, the hon. Member for Oldham, West has done nothing but to obfuscate and to retract from his original enthusiasm for the proposal as he realised the electoral unpopularity associated with it.

The speech of the hon. Member for Oldham, West was a classic of its kind. I noted, among other things, that he said that he is not saying that the M25 should not be built. I presume that he is saying that it should have been built, perhaps with three lanes but not four, perhaps four lanes but not five. Perhaps five lanes are right but not six; perhaps four, five or six lanes are right, but no collector-distributor road. The hon. Gentleman must know that he cannot square that circle. It is no policy simply to try to nod in the direction of each lobby group.

I notice that we heard about integrated ticketing as the key to public transport—no doubt sitting alongside post-neo-classical endogenous growth theory as another of the meaningless slogans that we shall be offered. We also heard about an integrated transport policy, defined in Labour's terms as any policy other than that practised by the Government of the day.

To add insult to injury, at the end of a disappointing speech, the hon. Member for Oldham, West capped it all by saying that the link between the construction industry and the Conservative party was at the root of the great issue of congestion. It takes someone like the hon. Gentleman, with that extraordinary, twisted grasp on reality—that extraordinary, witchfinder-general mentality—to make such an assertion and to expect us to take it seriously.

The reality is, ironically, that it is the Government who are bearing down on public expenditure and taking the flak for it, while the Labour party sprays promises in the way that Damon Hill sprays champagne.

The reality is obvious; there are some serious issues. There is no free lunch. Yes, there will be some tough decisions on pricing: perhaps the £5 gallon—who knows, perhaps more. There will need to be other restraints on road use, in towns and possibly in open countryside, and no doubt they will inconvenience many people who would otherwise wish to make those journeys. Yes, there still will be a need for a road-building programme, for bypasses that can transform the quality of life for tens of thousands of people in the affected area, and for roads such as the M62 in St. Helens which can regenerate the whole town.

In that context, the reality is clear. The difference between the Opposition motion and the Government amendment is the difference between fantasy and hard reality. I have no hesitation in commending the Government amendment to the motion tonight.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 259, Noes 299.

Division No. 316] [10.00 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Cann, Jamie
Adams, Mrs Irene Chidgey, David
Ainger, Nick Chisholm, Malcolm
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Church, Judith
Allen, Graham Clapham, Michael
Alton, David Clark, Dr David (South Shields)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Anderson, Ms Janet Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
(Ros'dale) Clelland, David
Armstrong, Hilary Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Ashton, Joe Coffey, Ann
Austin-Walker, John Cohen, Harry
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Connarty, Michael
Barnes, Harry Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Barron, Kevin Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Battle, John Corbett, Robin
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Corbyn, Jeremy
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Corston, Jean
Bell, Stuart Cox, Tom
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bennett, Andrew F. Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Benton, Joe Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Bermingham, Gerald Dafis, Cynog
Berry, Roger Dalyell, Tam
Betts, Clive Darling, Alistair
Blair, Rt Hon Tony Davidson, Ian
Blunkett, David Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Boateng, Paul Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Bradley, Keith Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Denham, John
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Dewar, Donald
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Dixon, Don
Burden, Richard Dobson, Frank
Byers, Stephen Donohoe, Brian H.
Caborn, Richard Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Callaghan, Jim Eagle, Ms Angela
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Eastham, Ken
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Enright, Derek
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Etherington, Bill
Evans, John (St Helens N) Madden, Max
Fatchett, Derek Maddock, Diana
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Mandelson, Peter
Fisher, Mark Marek, Dr John
Flynn, Paul Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Foster, Don (Bath) Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Foulkes, George Maxton, John
Fraser, John McAllion, John
Fyfe, Maria McAvoy, Thomas
Galbraith, Sam McCartney, Ian
Garrett, John McFall, John
George, Bruce McKelvey, William
Gerrard, Neil McLeish, Henry
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John McMaster, Gordon
Godman, Dr Norman A. McNamara, Kevin
Godsiff, Roger McWilliam, John
Golding, Mrs Llin Meacher, Michael
Gordon, Mildred Meale, Alan
Graham, Thomas Michael, Alun
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Milburn, Alan
Grocott, Bruce Miller, Andrew
Gunnell, John Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Hall, Mike Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hanson, David Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hardy, Peter Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Harman, Ms Harriet Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Harvey, Nick Mudie, George
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Mullin, Chris
Henderson, Doug Murphy, Paul
Heppell, John O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Hill, Keith (Streatham) O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hinchliffe, David O'Hara, Edward
Hodge, Margaret O'Neill, Martin
Hoey, Kate Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) Olner, William
Home Robertson, John Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hood, Jimmy Parry, Robert
Hoon, Geoffrey Patchett, Terry
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Pendry, Tom
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Pike, Peter L.
Hoyle, Doug Pope, Greg
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Prentice, Bridget (Lew'm E)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Hutton, John Primarolo, Dawn
Illsley, Eric Purchase, Ken
Ingram, Adam Quin, Ms Joyce
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Radice, Giles
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Randall, Stuart
Jamieson, David Raynsford, Nick
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Reid, Dr John
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mofln) Rendel, David
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Rogers, Allan
Jowell, Tessa Rooker, Jeff
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Rooney, Terry
Keen, Alan Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S) Ruddock, Joan
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Sedgemore, Brian
Khabra, Piara S. Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Kilfoyle, Peter Short, Clare
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn) Skinner, Dennis
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Lewis, Terry Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Liddell, Mrs Helen Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Litherland, Robert Snape, Peter
Livingstone, Ken Soley, Clive
Loyden, Eddie Spearing, Nigel
Lynne, Ms Liz Spellar, John
Mackinlay, Andrew Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
MacShane, Denis Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Stott, Roger Watson, Mike
Strang, Dr. Gavin Wicks, Malcolm
Straw, Jack Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Sutcliffe, Gerry Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Wilson, Brian
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Winnick, David
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck) Wise, Audrey
Timms, Stephen Worthington, Tony
Tipping, Paddy Wray, Jimmy
Turner, Dennis Wright, Dr Tony
Tyler, Paul Young, David (Bolton SE)
Vaz, Keith Tellers for the Ayes:
Wallace, James Mr. Jim Dowd and
Walley, Joan Mr. Jim Cunningham
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Aitken, Rt Hon Jonathan Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Cormack, Patrick
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Couchman, James
Amess, David Cran, James
Arbuthnot, James Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Ashby, David Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Atkins, Robert Davis, David (Boothferry)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Day, Stephen
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Deva, Nirj Joseph
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Devlin, Tim
Baldry, Tony Dicks, Terry
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bates, Michael Dover, Den
Batiste, Spencer Duncan, Alan
Beggs, Roy Duncan-Smith, Iain
Bellingham, Henry Dunn, Bob
Bendall, Vivian Durant, Sir Anthony
Beresford, Sir Paul Dykes, Hugh
Biffen, Rt Hon John Eggar, Tim
Body, Sir Richard Elletson, Harold
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Booth, Hartley Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Boswell, Tim Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Bowden, Sir Andrew Evennett, David
Bowis, John Faber, David
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Fabricant, Michael
Brandreth, Gyles Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Brazier, Julian Fishburn, Dudley
Bright, Sir Graham Forman, Nigel
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Forth, Eric
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Budgen, Nicholas Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Burns, Simon Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Burt, Alistair Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Butler, Peter French, Douglas
Butterfill, John Fry, Sir Peter
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Gale, Roger
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln) Gardiner, Sir George
Carrington, Matthew Garnier, Edward
Carttiss, Michael Gill, Christopher
Cash, William Gillan, Cheryl
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Churchill, Mr Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Clappison, James Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Gorst, Sir John
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif) Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Coe, Sebastian Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Colvin, Michael Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Congdon, David Grylls, Sir Michael
Conway, Derek Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Hague, William Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Monro, Sir Hector
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hampson, Dr Keith Nelson, Anthony
Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy Neubert, Sir Michael
Hannam, Sir John Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hargreaves, Andrew Nicholls, Patrick
Haselhurst, Alan Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hawkins, Nick Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hawksley, Warren Norris, Steve
Hayes, Jerry Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Heald, Oliver Oppenheim, Phillip
Heathcoat-Amory, David Ottaway, Richard
Hendry, Charles Page, Richard
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Paice, James
Hicks, Robert Patnick, Sir Irvine
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence Patten, Rt Hon John
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Horam, John Pawsey, James
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Pickles, Eric
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Powell, William (Corby)
Hunter, Andrew Rathbone, Tim
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Redwood, Rt Hon John
Jenkin, Bernard Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Jessel, Toby Richards, Rod
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Riddick, Graham
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Robathan, Andrew
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Key, Robert Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Kilfedder, Sir James Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
King, Rt Hon Tom Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Kirkhope, Timothy Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Knapman, Roger Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Sackville, Tom
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Knox, Sir David Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Shaw, David (Dover)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Legg, Barry Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Leigh, Edward Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark Shersby, Michael
Lidington, David Sims, Roger
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lord, Michael Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Luff, Peter Soames, Nicholas
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Speed, Sir Keith
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Spencer, Sir Derek
MacKay, Andrew Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Maclean, David Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Madel, Sir David Spink, Dr Robert
Maitland, Lady Olga Spring, Richard
Malone, Gerald Sproat, Iain
Mans, Keith Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Marland, Paul Steen, Anthony
Marlow, Tony Stephen, Michael
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Stern, Michael
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Stewart, Allan
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Streeter, Gary
Mates, Michael Sumberg, David
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian Sweeney, Walter
McLoughlin, Patrick Sykes, John
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Tapsell, Sir Peter
Mellor, Rt Hon David Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Merchant, Piers Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Mills, Iain Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Temple-Morris, Peter
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Thomason, Roy
Moate, Sir Roger Thompson, Sir Donald
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Watts, John
Thurnham, Peter Wells, Bowen
Townend, John (Bridlington) Whitney, Ray
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th) Whittingdale, John
Tracey, Richard Widdecombe, Ann
Tredinnick, David Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Trotter, Neville Wilkinson, John
Twinn, Dr Ian Willetts, David
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Wilshire, David
Viggers, Peter Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William Wolfson, Mark
Walden, George Wood, Timothy
Walker, Bill (N Tayside) Yeo, Tim
Waller, Gary Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Ward, John Tellers for the Noes:
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Mr. David Lightbrown and
Waterson, Nigel Mr. Sydney Chapman

Question accordingly negatived.