HC Deb 27 June 1995 vol 262 cc760-79

  1. '.(1) It shall be the responsibility of the Coal Authority to prevent water from abandoned coal mines by means of the control and/or treatment of such water from causing significant harm or from polluting controlled waters.
  2. (2) "Harm" has the same meaning as in Part II of this Act.
  3. (3) It shall be determined in accordance with guidance issued for the purpose by the Secretary of State in accordance with subsection
  4. (4) below as to—
    1. (a) what harm is to be regarded as "significant",
    2. (b) whether the possibility of harm being caused is "significant", and
    3. (c) whether pollution of controlled waters is being or is likely to be caused.
  5. (4) Any power of the Secretary of State to issue guidance under this Part shall only be exercisable after consultation with the appropriate Agency and such other bodies or persons as he may consider it appropriate to consult in relation to the guidance in question.
  6. (5) A draft of any guidance proposed to be issued under subsection (1) above shall be laid before each House of Parliament and the guidance shall not be issued until after the period of 40 days beginning with the day on which the draft was so laid or, if the draft is laid on different days, the later of the two days.
  7. (6) If, within the period mentioned in subsection (2) above, either House resolves that the guidance, the draft of which was laid before it, should not be issued, the Secretary of State shall not issue that guidance.
  8. (7) In reckoning any period of 40 days for the purposes of subsection (2) or (3) above, no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days.
  9. (8) The Secretary of State shall arrange for any guidance issued by him under this section to be published in such manner as he considers appropriate.'.— [Ms Ruddock.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Ms Ruddock

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss also the following: New clause 9—Review of minewater pollution from abandoned mines

  1. '.—(1) The Agency shall, from time to time, prepare a report to the Secretary of State on the environmental effects of pollution of controlled waters from an abandoned mine.
  2. (2) In any report under subsection (1) above the Agency shall make a recommendation as to whether subsections 59(1) and 59(2) should be brought into force.
  3. (3) The Agency shall publish any report produced under subsection (1) above.
  4. (4) Not more than three months after publication of a report under subsection (1) above the Secretary of State shall consider whether to exercise his power to specify a date under sections 59(1) and 59(2) above and shall publish his decision.'.

Amendment No. 4, in clause 59, page 80, line 24, after `1999', insert `or such earlier date as may be specified by order of the Secretary of State'. Amendment No. 5, in clause 59, page 81, line 14, after `1999', insert `or such earlier date as may be specified by order of the Secretary of State'.

Ms Ruddock

The purpose of the new clause is to ensure that the responsibilities of the Coal Authority in relation to polluting minewater are laid down in statute.

Under the privatisation proposals, the Coal Authority acquired some restoration obligations and, arguably, over time we may see some of our beautiful landscapes and areas that have been ravaged by mining activities restored to their proper splendour. Yet no statutory mechanism is in place to deal with an often less obvious and more insidious legacy: polluting minewater emanating from closed mines.

The Coalfield Communities Campaign has won the respect of many hon. Members on both sides of the House for its persistent and imaginative campaigns highlighting the disaster of polluting minewater in its communities. It leads an extremely impressive list of organisations that back the new clause. The scale of the problem is considerable. The serious pollution of 340 km of rivers and streams was reported in 1994 as a result of minewater escapes.

Since nationalisation, almost 1,000 mines have been abandoned. The Coal Authority is the successor body to the National Coal Board and British Coal and, as such, owns all those abandoned mines. Ministers have sought to reassure the Coalfield Communities Campaign and many hon. Members. The noble Lord Strathclyde said that the Government expected the Coal Authority to go beyond the minimum standards of environmental responsibility which are set out by its legal duties in these areas".— [Official Report, House of Lords, 26 April 1994; Vol. 554, c. 541.] That is a fine promise and it was quoted again in Committee.

Mr. Atkins

I shall probably quote it again.

Ms Ruddock

It will still be but an opinion. It is not the same as legislation and it has failed to satisfy all those to whom it was addressed.

The new clause requires the Secretary of State to issue guidance. Such guidance could remove any ambiguity about the action which the Government expect of the Coal Authority and could define precisely how the Coal Authority is to go beyond the minimum standards of environmental responsibility set out by its legal duties. No one knows what the noble Lord Strathclyde's comment means and we shall know no more if the Minister repeats it again tonight, and again and again.

Mr. Gareth Wardell (Gower)

He will have to do better than that.

Ms Ruddock


Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)

As someone who represents the Taff and Merthyr valleys, which have suffered industrial vandalism with the closure of all our pits, but are seeing the revival of our rivers to good clean water where trout and other life can exist, may I tell my hon. Friend that the passion with which she presents this new clause is very much supported by those Labour Back Benchers who are not willing to accept just promises? I represent a community that has suffered enough from disasters in the mining industry, and we are no longer willing to accept mere assurances; we want legislative certainty.

Ms Ruddock

I thank my hon. Friend for those comments. As someone who was born and bred in the south Wales valleys, I can pay testimony to everything that he said and to the passion which the people of those valleys and other abandoned coalfield communities feel about the issue.

No one knows what the promises mean. Lest the Minister thinks that I exaggerate, let me give him proof, chapter and verse. Neville Washington, the chief executive of the Coal Authority, was reported in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle of 26 April as saying: The Coal Authority is not responsible for water that emerges from pits". On 8 May, Albert Schofield, the director of contracts at the Coal Authority, was interviewed on the "Report Back" programme broadcast on BBC Radio Nottingham, when he said that the Bill was not clear in assigning responsibility for minewater pollution from abandoned coal mines to the Coal Authority. We concur; we have made that point again and again to the Minister in Committee—the Bill does not provide for that.

Clarification is absolutely essential. Our new clause provides an opportunity for that. If the Minister is not minded to accept it, I can assure him that behind me, and probably in front of me as well, there are hon. Members who will press him with further questions, because many hon. Members represent mining communities. Those communities have seen pits abandoned and they now live with their legacy. Those local communities want to have a better environment, but they continue to feel great anxiety about the ever-present threat of pollution from minewater. Unless the Government act more decisively, among those communities the suspicion will remain that the Coal Authority cannot be relied upon to continue pumping the mines and to continue to take responsibility for minewater and the pollution that it causes.

I made a much longer speech about this matter in Committee, but I promised to be brief tonight because I am sure that many hon. Members want to make their own speeches. The Minister had better produce some more satisfactory answers than he has done hitherto, or he will suffer a further barrage of questions. Nothing that he has said to date satisfies us or the coalfield communities, which are so oppressed by the problem of minewater pollution.

Mr. Jopling

I have listened with great interest to the speech of the Opposition spokeswoman, the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms Ruddock).

I have been aware of the problem of minewater for some time through various correspondence that I have received from various bodies. I can remember years ago, when many hon. Members now in the House were perhaps a twinkle in their mothers' eyes, that I was made aware of the problem when I stood for Parliament in Wakefield in 1959. I do not need to remind hon. Members that I was unsuccessful on that occasion.

I have been particularly struck by the correspondence that I have received in the past few days from the Country Landowners Association and the National Farmers Union—let me declare an interest in that I am a member of both—about the problem.

I am a farmer, but I do not suffer from the problem of minewater on my farm, and, as far as I know, I do not have that problem anywhere in my constituency in the lake district. It is, however, a most important matter and it is vital that the Minister should give us the assurances for which the hon. Lady asked.

I am struck particularly to be told by the Country Landowners Association that it hopes that the Minister will be pressed to give detailed assurances to the House on how the Bill and the guidance will ensure that the costs of remediation required of individuals, while not responsible for contamination, will be contained. I am told that that concern is shared not only by the CLA and the NFU but by the British Property Federation, the Association of British Insurers, Lloyd's of London—I again declare an interest, although I stopped underwriting some time ago—and the Scottish Landowners Federation. I am told that those bodies are keen that there should be a full and positive response from the Minister, which would help to allay the genuine concerns of those who fear that they may discover that their property is on contaminated land.

I know from experience how sympathetic is the Minister to such problems. I wanted to intervene briefly in the debate to press upon him how important it is that we are able to allay those quite understandable fears.

8.15 pm
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham)

I shall try to be brief. I am in favour of new clauses 8 and 9.

Unlike the right hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling), my constituency, which is an ex-mining one, with an abundance of closed mines, is badly affected by minewater and the consequences of it. The problem is as bad there as it is in any other constituency.

The River Wear runs right through the middle of my city, which as many hon. Members will know, is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. With minewater draining directly into the River Wear, it could become heavily polluted. Those who are familiar with my constituency will know that the River Wear forms a horseshoe around the cathedral and the castle. The thought of a yellow and red scarf of pollution flowing around them is absolutely horrendous. It is one of the most famous beauty spots in the country and that pollution must not be allowed to happen. Only direct action by the Government will ensure that it does not.

I know that the Minister has a great interest in cricket and he might be interested to know that the River Wear also runs right by the new County Durham cricket ground at Chester-le-Street. That section of the river is also in danger of pollution. Can one imagine playing the West Indies in four years' time in a test match at Durham, with the River Wear running red right through Chester-le-Street? That is an appalling thought.

According to the National Rivers Authority, about 200 km of rivers in England and Wales are affected, or could be affected by minewater pollution. The problem of minewater pollution poses a tremendous risk not only to the River Wear but to many farms in my constituency. Last Friday, I visited, at his request, the farm of Mr. Wade at New Brancepeth in my constituency. I saw at first hand the appalling problems his land suffers as a result of minewater. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the huge amounts of water flowing not just off his fields, but underneath them as well. There was literally an underground river flowing right through his land. That land was opencasted many years ago and he has had tremendous drainage problems ever since. He is constantly having to repair drains or add new ones but he cannot stop the water flooding into his fields—and that is with the pumps still going.

He tells me that a few weeks ago—I saw the result—he had a contractor in to put more drains into his fields. A day later, after the contractor had left, the water reappeared 5 yd away from where the new drain had been put in. The fields were sown with corn. Acres of corn have been ruined, not only this year but every year since the land was reclaimed after opencasting.

About 8,000 million gallons of water are pumped each year from the Durham coalfield, where there are no longer any working pits. To be honest, it seemed to me that the whole 8,000 million gallons of water were coming through Mr. Wade's field when I was looking at it. It was unbelievable. It does not matter what Mr. Wade does, the water continues to flow. For the, sake of people in the same position as Mr. Wade, the Government have got to take some action.

To make matters worse for Mr. Wade, and for many of the farmers in my constituency who are in a similar position, they have been tenants of British Coal for many years. Shortly, they are going to have to make a decision about whether to buy their farms. They will be given 28 days to make their minds up and then they will have to make a decision. How can the men and women who have worked those farms for many years as tenants of British Coal suddenly make a decision about whether to buy the land when there are such horrendous problems? Should they take a chance or will they be given some guarantee by the Government tonight that they will at least have their problems considered and be helped?

The new Coal Authority must be made legally responsible for protecting the environment from minewater and for protecting farmers such as Mr. Wade who have to decide whether they should buy their farms. The Coal Authority, which is supposed to be the coal industry regulator, does not have adequate legal responsibility for environmental protection. Under existing legislation, it is envisaged that it will seek where reasonably practical to enhance and to protect the environment. There needs to be a clear duty to protect farmland and water courses against flooding and against pollution from the water that emerges from abandoned mines.

If the new clauses were accepted, the Bill would ensure that the problems were solved. If they are not accepted, there will be the most appalling consequences because the Coal Authority clearly has no intention of taking responsibility for the situation. The Minister may look surprised, but my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms Ruddock) quoted Neville Washington, the chief executive of the Coal Authority. In an interview in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle on 26 April he said that the Coal Authority is not responsible for water that emerges from pits". If that is not making a categoric statement, I do not know what is.

The fact is that if the Government do not take responsibility tonight and do not provide us with legislation, the Coal Authority will not take that responsibility. The consequence for farmers and other people who have the pleasure of living in my constituency will be that they are going to be blighted for the rest of time. I plead with the Minister, for goodness sake, to take action to ensure that the Coal Authority takes legal responsibility.

Sir Kenneth Carlisle

This issue requires clarity. Many of us have been deeply impressed by the passion and commitment of the Coalfield Communities Campaign. It has spoken with enormous sincerity for its communities and expressed the wish that they should live free from the threat of pollution. That is not easy because abandoned coal mines present us with one of our greatest pollution challenges.

The problem has existed for many years. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling)—who was almost the Member for Wakefield—said, it was an issue way back in 1959. Since then—especially in the 1960s—hundreds of coal mines have been closed, adding to the potential problem. We all recognise that should mines be abandoned willy-nilly and pumping cease, the pollution threat would be extraordinary and unacceptable.

We have to create a framework that recognises the problem and proposes a solution. I think that we all admit that in the long term, we have to find some mechanical, scientific way of resolving the matter but in the meantime we can take precautionary measures that will diminish the threat of pollution.

Mr. Gareth Wardell

In respect of the precautions that the hon. Gentleman was going on to, does he think that pumping should continue? Later on, if the Minister does not accept the new clause, will the hon. Gentleman join us in the Lobby?

Sir Kenneth Carlisle

The hon. Member should listen to what I have to say. Clearly, each mine has to be treated according to its circumstances—he knows that. Each pollution problem must be tackled specifically according to the circumstances.

The problem has existed for 30 years. There has been some action to prevent pollution, but the Coal Authority is now the body that has to carry that burden forward. What we want from the Coal Authority is a clear guarantee that action will be taken. If it is true that the chief executive of the Coal Authority, Neville Washington, said that the Coal Authority is not responsible for water that emerges from pits, it is unacceptable. It is quite clear that Albert Schofield, the director of contracts for the Coal Authority, is uncertain about what his responsibilities are.

I believe that we need from the Government a clear understanding of what is the responsibility of the Coal Authority and the certainty that it will conduct itself effectively. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale said, that argument is supported by the Country Landowners Association and the National Farmers Union.

In Committee, I gave the example of a horticultural nursery that had been severely affected when polluted minewater started to interfere with its irrigation. Many local farmers in those areas are anxious that their livestock should have unpolluted water. I do not necessarily agree—perhaps this will help the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Wardell)—that legislation is always a panacea. I believe that instruction, guarantee and guidance can also be effective.

I want to learn from my right hon. Friend the Minister that the Coal Authority's uncertainty will not be accepted, that there will be very clear instructions to the Coal Authority, which is the responsible body, and that there will be sufficient funds to enable it to reduce pollution to a minimum and to allow the continuance of research to find a long-term solution to the problem. The whole House and the coalfield communities require a clear statement and guarantee in the Bill that this major pollution threat—one of the greatest pollution threats that the country faces—is being tackled with the certainty and seriousness that is required.

8.30 pm
Mr. Tipping

I, too, support and congratulate the Coalfield Communities Campaign. It now has 99 members, and I look forward to it gaining its centenary member fairly soon. I mention especially Barbara Edwards, the deputy director of the campaign, who has tirelessly followed through the demise of British Coal, which was a thankless task. She has brought real commitment to that task, as have a number of local authorities involved in the campaign.

My hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) mentioned the problems in his area where pollution from minewater is a pressing and immediate issue. It is not yet a live issue in Nottinghamshire because, thankfully, we still have a deep coal industry, so pumping will have to continue. However, we could face major pollution problems in 30 years. According to the National Rivers Authority and British Coal, the water discharge will appear not in the countryside but in the middle of Radford and Lenton which, as hon. Members who are familiar with the area will know, are inner-city areas. The consequences will be devastating, but there will be practical difficulties in taking remedial action.

It is important that we have provisions on the statute book to deal with the problems 30 years hence. Ministers gave commitments during the passage of the Coal Industry Act 1994 and of this Bill—in another place and in this House—but, as we have seen from the events of the past few days, things can change, and change quickly. I should like some security for the people who live in the coalfield communities.

There has been talk about the responsibilities of the Coal Authority. Again, assurances were given in another place during the passage of the Coal Industry Act 1994 and the passage of this Bill that the Coal Authority would pick up the mantle and meet all existing obligations.

I went to see Neville Washington, the chief executive of the Coal Authority, and Albert Schofield, the director of contracts, at the end of last month. My discussion with them was not free and frank. I have to say that the comments made by the chief executive, Mr. Washington, were very guarded. I was dismayed to hear subsequently that my visit to the Coal Authority's headquarters was described as a fishing trip. The authority believed that I was trying to find out what its responsibilities were. Of course I have a clear responsibility to the people and communities I represent to find out what the authority's responsibilities are.

I should point out to the Minister that, during my discussion with him, Mr. Washington made it clear to me that commitments given by Ministers during the passage of the Coal Industry Act 1994 would not now be given by Ministers in similar circumstances—[Interruption.] I said, in similar circumstances. I am therefore concerned and want protection to be written into the Bill.

I am concerned because we are talking about large sums of money. I suspect that the Coal Authority is worried about its budget. We need to remember that trying to clear up the problems at Wheal Jane has cost the NRA something like £7 million in grant aid. I suspect that there are 100 difficult sites where there is a possibility of minewater discharge.

Mr. Matthew Taylor

On that very point, the hon. Gentleman should be aware that the cost is £7 million so far. There is still no permanent solution, only a pilot project. The hon. Gentleman should not underestimate the amount involved.

Mr. Tipping

That is a good point. The figure of £100 million has been quoted, although I think that the true figure will be far in excess of that. We should consider capital schemes rather than revenue schemes, but engineering solutions are preferable to capital schemes.

New clause 8 places a duty on the Coal Authority to clear up the problem. New clause 9 approaches the problem from a slightly different angle. It provides for an annual report on, or review of, the problem. It is important that not only Members of Parliament but local authorities and the coalfield communities have a clear idea of what the problem is and what is being done to resolve it so that we can all keep track of what is happening.

We should also consider carefully amendments Nos. 4 and 5. In Committee, I pressed the Minister about the responsibility of the new private owners. Will they, for example, keep up the pumping? Will Coal Investments at Annesley Bentinck in Nottinghamshire continue to pump at a cost of £1.4 million a year? Will R. J. Budge pick up the bill for continued pumping? I suspect that there is a question mark over that, which is why amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are important.

Under the Bill, it will not be a criminal offence to cause minewater discharge until 31 December 1999. The new coal contracts come into operation in 1998, which will be a year of challenge for the coal industry and could well be a year of change. It could be a year in which further pits are closed. That is why it is important that we accept amendments Nos. 4 and 5, which give the Secretary of State the power to bring the date forward if necessary.

The people of the coalfield communities accept that much of the deep coal industry has been buried. The Government have tried to walk away. Those people now want a better future, a landscape that is lifted and an environment that is enhanced. New clauses 8 and 9 and amendments Nos. 4 and 5 give us the opportunity to make it clear where we stand.

Mr. Matthew Taylor

I shall not speak for long, because I do not have a direct constituency interest in the coalfields and I know that a number of hon. Members here do. However, I have direct constituency experience of the Wheal Jane tin mine to which reference has been made. In that respect, I think that the Government are being foolish with the long-term finances of this country as well as with the environment.

There is no question but that pollution from abandoned mines can have a dramatic environmental impact. We saw that with Wheal Jane, which hit the headlines, partly because it was colourful to see the pollution flowing out across the Fal estuary and partly because of its serious environmental impact on livelihoods. It also meant that some people had to get water to their homes by tanker, whereas they had relied on natural water supplies. In the long run, it has been notable for the enormous costs involved. Some £7 million has already been spent, but much more is needed to find a solution.

When I visited the pilot project recently, it appeared that the reed bed solution might not succeed or be cost-effective, and that we might have to return to long-term chemical treatment of the effluent and long-term pumping to manage that process. That could extend to having to build up the mica dam, at considerable expense. It might ultimately mean a new dam area as the original area fills up. The costs are potentially huge.

Had pumping continued from the word go, it would not have provided a solution, but it would have managed the situation, and would certainly have reduced the early costs and the pollution. In other words, it would have been cheaper for the Government. Cheapest of all would have been to allow the investment programme in the mine to go ahead, thereby keeping the jobs. That, however, is another story.

I urge the Minister to consider whether it is not short-sighted and foolhardy to put back the date of action on the financial and environmental consequences that have been highlighted extremely well by the Coalfield Communities Campaign. It has done an extraordinarily good job in bringing the matter to the attention of Ministers and of the wider public and I hope that an effective solution will be found.

Mrs. Helen Jackson

I ask the Minister to accept the new clauses and amendments, for four reasons. First, the Government's responses in Committee—I suspect that they will be the same today, although we have yet to hear from the Minister—have failed to recognise the scale of the problem. Every day, 440,000 gallons of polluted water flow into the rivers and water courses in Yorkshire alone. It affects virtually every water course in south Yorkshire, and certainly most in my constituency.

Secondly, the Coal Authority's responsibility is crucial. People in mining areas know that every pit is linked with every other pit. Minewater that gathers in one place may surface in another. At the end of the day, the Coal Authority has responsibility for dealing with that problem.

Thirdly, minewater pollution is not a new problem, but it is likely to accelerate very quickly because of the level of pit closures. The problem at Sheephouse Wood in my constituency originates from a pit closure in the latter part of the 19th century, but the polluted water is there now.

I know that many hon. Members wish to speak, so I shall be brief. Fourthly, it is not simply a matter of clarity; it is also a matter of resources. We must recognise that the emission of polluted water, which kills fish and every other living creature in the water courses, can be resolved by proper investment. The Government must decide now—not in 1999—how the Coal Authority and the new Environment Agency will have the resources to deal with that problem in our mining areas, which threatens the wildlife and the livelihood of the local people.

I ask the Minister to take on board the views of the National Rivers Authority in the Northumbria and Yorkshire region about resources. It made it clear to me in a letter that the moneys it required to undertake pilot studies to treat the polluted water have not been specifically allocated by DoE and consequently have to be squeezed out of normal operating costs. We would prefer to see a specific allocation of funds on top of our normal budget to take account of the minewater problems. I invite the Minister to confirm today that next year the Department of the Environment will make a specific budget allocation to the Environment Agency for minewater pollution. I invite him to make that commitment, as it will go some way toward alleviating the fears of many hon. Members who are in the Chamber tonight.

Mr. Michael Clapham (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

I rise to speak in favour of new clauses 8 and 9 and amendments Nos. 4 and 5. New clause 8 is particularly important, because it identifies the responsible authority and puts a duty on that authority. That is extremely important, because, as the Minister is aware, we were given certain assurances about the Coal Authority's responsibilities when the Coal Industry Bill passed through Parliament. Many of those assurances have not materialised.

My constituency is a former mining region with a history of two to three centuries of mining. Many old mine shafts have been kept dry by the pumping operations conducted by British Coal when it operated collieries in my constituency. Since the end of the pumping operations at Dodworth, Woolley and Barrow collieries, for example, my constituency has experienced considerable problems.

8.45 pm

Four rivers—the Dearn, the Don, the Little Don and the Dove—run through my constituency, and all of them, especially the three primary rivers, are badly polluted with minewater. Minewater pollution in my constituency has been around for many years, but not in the same volume as we have experienced in recent years. When pumping stopped at Dodworth in 1989, all the mine shafts along the Silkstone valley began to fill up and to weep.

The beck that meanders from Silkstone to Barugh to join the Dearn is now so polluted that nurseries along the river—particularly the nursery at Silkstone—can no longer use the water for irrigation. Farmers along the beck have fenced off the banks, so that their cattle cannot drink the polluted water.

At Worsborough, the reservoir—which is used for leisure pursuits and is particularly popular with anglers—is almost impossible to use in the summer time. Last year, the water authority was forced to fit aeration equipment in order to put oxygen into the water and keep the fish alive. Problems on the west side of my constituency relate to older mines. We must learn from the experience of what has happened with those older mines and include provisions in the Bill to deal with the problems.

In 1964, Bull House colliery on the west side of my constituency closed. Following its closure, the ochre water from that mine polluted the River Don, which is now an orange colour for six miles down the river from the point of entry of the Bull House water, past Penistone and towards Barnsley. Sheephouse mine, an old mine in the west of my constituency, closed in 1898, but we still have an enormous problem with minewater. Water drains from Sheephouse and flows under the road at Stocksbridge and into the Little Don. The drainage system has operated for almost 100 years, and each day it must be swept in order to stop the ochre deposits from collecting and causing the road to flood.

Minewater is clearly an enormous problem, which requires legislative action. The assurances that we were given during the passage of the Coal Industry Bill have not materialised. Having said that, I pay tribute to the Coal Authority so far as its endeavours at Woolley are concerned. Woolley colliery is at the core of a project joining eight or nine other collieries.

The tremendous build-up of water pressure at Woolley colliery has resulted in a break-out of water that has severely polluted the Dearn. The National Rivers Authority helped to put pressure on the Coal Authority, which has now decided that it will spend £360,000 to develop a reed bed filtration process on the banks of the Dearn.

In my constituency, there are at least another six places where water courses are badly polluted. We require moneys to be spent by the responsible authority to clean up those waterways. It is essential, therefore, that the new clause is accepted.

Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central)

My hon. Friend mentioned Worsborough reservoir, which is in his constituency. It would be appropriate for him to give another dimension to the debate by saying that the Worsborough reservoir is fished by the Barnsley angling team, which makes up the bulk of the country's international angling team. The team is represented abroad, it fishes throughout Europe, and the majority of its members, including its captain, are based in Barnsley.

The team fishes in the Worsborough reservoir and invites international competitors to that reservoir. Unfortunately, as a result of the problem of minewater pollution, that reservoir was no longer usable, until the installation of the aeration equipment referred to by my hon. Friend. Perhaps he will add that dimension to the debate.

Mr. Clapham

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for prompting my memory. The position at Worsborough is the reverse of the position that we normally meet. The problem has been caused as a result of pumping being stopped and the reservoir not having the added volume of water. That has helped to create circumstances in which, in hot weather, algae develops in the reservoir and the fish cannot breathe. Consequently, aeration equipment is needed.

The Minister must he aware that the country has enjoyed the great wealth that was extracted from the ground, and it is unfair that mining communities and former mining communities are to be left to pick up the tab. If the Minister would assure us that he is prepared to accept those new clauses, especially new clause 8, it would give a great deal of satisfaction to the Opposition and to many Conservative Members.

Mr. George Stevenson (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

I shall make three brief arguments in support of the new clauses.

First, I too represent a region that has had a mine tradition for many years and has suffered from industrial pollution and damage as a result of mining activity. Were it not for clear legislation, a district such as the Potteries would not have the clean air that it has today. The position regarding minewater is similar.

My constituents, who have witnessed their collieries closing, especially in the past few years, leaving a small fraction of the mines that used to exist, are extremely worried that the transition from British Coal to the Coal Authority leaves them vulnerable to further pollution as a result of the inability or refusal of the Coal Authority to tackle the potential pollution and damage from water from abandoned mines.

My first argument to the Minister is that I know that it is difficult to strike a balance between the Coal Authority and people but, in my opinion, we have got that balance wrong. It is far too much in favour of the authorities. It was far too much in favour of British Coal, and continues to be far too much in favour of the Coal Authority.

Secondly, it simply is not good enough for the Minister, in resisting those new clauses, to give us assurances about the Coal Authority giving undertakings about its attitude to that important issue. We have only to consider the record—there is a good example in my constituency—of what happens when there are gaps or ambiguity in the legislation that places responsibility on the Coal Authority/British Coal.

We have many abandoned mine shafts in my constituency. Some are very small. They go back a long time, but they are the responsibility of the Coal Authority. As the present legislation refers to the Coal Authority having responsibility only if those abandoned mines cause damage, when the Coal Authority has been challenged it has walked away. It has said that, as no apparent damage is being caused to land and property, it has no responsibility. However, I can tell the Minister that hundreds of homes in my constituency are blighted as a result of the discovery of those mine shafts.

Although pollution of rivers and streams from abandoned mines, which affects people's property, may not damage that property physically, it will blight that property, that district and that land. If the Minister suggests that the present legislation be carried forward and those responsibilities placed on the Coal Authority, unless actual physical damage is done to land and property, the Coal Authority will deny responsibility and fight every case tooth and nail, as it is fighting that other issue in my constituency. We do not have to wait for the film: we can read the book. The evidence is there for the Minister to see.

My last argument is as follows. The experience in my constituency, and the constituencies of hon. Friends throughout the country, shows that we must not allow ambiguity to determine our decisions. We must not allow gaps to continue in the legislation. We must seek to place a clear responsibility on the Coal Authority for that extremely important issue. That is why new clause 8 is especially important. I can guarantee the Minister that, unless there is a clear responsibility, the Coal Authority will fight tooth and nail to avoid any responsibility unless it is placed on the statute book.

Mr. Atkins

I have been impressed by the quality of the debate. I know, as does any Member of the House, when people speak for effect and when they speak from the heart. I understand that hon. Members with mining constituencies feel strongly about that issue. I assure them that I and other Ministers and Conservative Members—as expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Sir K. Carlisle)—feel just as strongly, and have the same worries.

I have also been impressed on several occasions by the Coalfield Communities Campaign. The Opposition Chief Whip, the name of whose constituency temporarily escapes me—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Bishop Auckland."] Bishop Auckland, of course. I should know, I have been there. The right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Foster) has several times made representations to me, by way of inveigling me into accompanying him to Durham county cricket club, which he and I together, in another capacity, sought to get into the county cricket championship. Therefore, I understand and appreciate the anxieties especially of Durham, but also of other places, such as Nottingham.

There is a clear agenda behind the new clause, so I must address it at the outset. As to coal mines, it is proposed that the public purse, in the shape of the Coal Authority, should be under a duty to prevent minewater causing pollution. I cannot forbear from mentioning the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mrs. Jackson) demanding—albeit not from the Opposition Front Bench—the commitment that more money be spent. Is that another commitment on top of all those already made by Labour, and has it been cleared?

Mrs. Helen Jackson


9 pm

Mr. Atkins

I will not give way, because I want to proceed, but that point should be considered in the context of this debate.

It will not come as a surprise that the Government do not accept the potentially sweeping proposition that they should be under a duty to prevent minewater causing pollution. I recognise that that would have great attractions for parties actually or potentially affected by an abandoned coal mine, but we do not believe that it would be a responsible use of public funds.

Ms Ruddock

I appreciate that the Minister is trying to make progress, but this is an important point. He suggested that he is concerned about the public purse. What other purses are available to the Government to deal with the problem of abandoned mines, where pumping is required?

Mr. Atkins

Later, I will be reiterating commitments already made. The Coal Authority has the necessary resources to meet what is required. I was merely posing a question to the hon. Member for Hillsborough, who was demanding more money on top of other demands for money.

Mrs. Jackson


Mr. Atkins

I will not give way. Let us try to make progress with the facts; then the hon. Lady can respond. I am conscious of time, and I understand that Opposition Members are keen to hear my response to their genuine concerns.

New clause 8 would place an absolute duty on the Coal Authority to prevent water from abandoned coal mines polluting controlled waters or causing significant harm, irrespective of how long ago they were abandoned. That duty would be more onerous than the regulation applied to all other types of discharge.

Such an absolute duty would also be impossible to meet in practice. The Coal Authority would be under a duty to prevent all pollution from all minewaters discharging from all abandoned coal mines, irrespective of the seriousness of the water pollution. Such a duty would also apply in respect of coal mines that were abandoned before nationalisation. There would be no practical way for the Coal Authority to comply for all such mines at the same time, as is required in the amendment.

As to new clause 9 and amendments Nos. 4 and 5, the provisions of clause 59 have been carefully considered—in particular, the effective date for the removal of the existing, long-standing defence and exemption that apply to polluting discharges from abandoned mines that a person permits to enter controlled waters. The Government have repeatedly argued that the removal of those protections is necessary, but must be carefully handled to avoid potentially serious consequences.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 5, together with new clause 9, would simply allow the Secretary of State, on the advice of the agency, to specify any earlier date for the removal of the defence and the exemption. As the amendments are worded, there is no limit to how far back the change could reach—in theory, we could imagine mines abandoned 30 or even 100 years ago suddenly coming under the agency's regulation.

Mr. William O'Brien

I want to impress on the Minister the significance of old mine workings. In my constituency, because an old mine shaft was on charter, 13 miners lost their lives in the Lofthouse disaster. Does the Minister accept that auditing old mines and old mine workings under the Bill is important to avoid such a disaster occurring again?

Mr. Atkins

Of course I understand the importance of such an incident. I made it clear in Committee, and I do so again, that any such incident must be investigated, and that the conclusions drawn from such an accident must influence future policy. I do not disagree with the hon. Gentleman in that regard.

We all accept that minewater pollution is a long-standing and difficult problem. In this Bill, the Government have for the first time proposed a considered approach that will allow the agency to address the issue. It is simply not practicable to solve the problem at a stroke, as hon. Members imply.

The Government of course recognised the real and acute concerns about the continuation of British Coal pollution containment measures. I do not want to delay the House, but my noble Friend Lord Ullswater made a specific commitment in the other place, which has been met to date and will continue to be met in relation to British Coal, that is worth putting on record.

The Government made it clear during the passage of the Coal Industry Act 1994 that we would not expect the Coal Authority, when it assumed its responsibilities, to limit itself to the minimum standards of environmental responsibility that were set by its legal duties in respect of water pollution. We would expect the authority to seek the best environmental result that could be secured from the use of the resources available to it for those purposes. When the authority was in due course established, it accepted that task.

The hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms Ruddock) referred to Neville Washington, so I refer to a statement issued by Durham county council in the name of Councillor Len James, chairman of its environment committee.

Ms Ruddock

indicated dissent.

Mr. Atkins

I am sorry, but the statement is also dated 20 April. It states: Sir David White, chairman of the …Coal Authority"— in the company of Mr. Neville Washington— told members of Durham County Council that pumping would continue until an environmentally acceptable alternative is found. As a result of the meeting, Councillor James said: We were pleased to hear that the Coal Authority has made provision to ensure that adequate pumping cover is maintained and is drawing up a costed programme of action in priority areas. In all, it was a very productive meeting which has reassured us that some of the pressing issues which the County Council has long been campaigning to be resolved will be treated seriously and in a spirit of co-operation. It is specific. Councillor James has said—

Ms Ruddock

The Minister does not help the House by quoting a press release yet again. He quoted it in Committee, and I had to tell him-L—I tell him again—that it was a proper courtesy for Durham county council to issue such a statement. It was a useful meeting, and the council was satisfied on some counts.

I can assure the Minister, as I have done in the past, that I have received a letter from Durham county council in which it raises many of the questions that he is now failing to answer. The council may have had some confidence, but there is clearly a great deal of confusion now. We have quoted to the Minister remarks from the chief executive of the Coal Authority to the effect that it, the authority, does not have responsibility.

Why should the county council feel thoroughly satisfied? That is not its feeling today, and I fear that it will not be in future. The Minister is failing to tell the House how, in the light of the Bill, the Coal Authority will have responsibility in future.

Mr. Atkins

I understand that the hon. Lady feels strongly about these matters. A perfectly legitimate response by a courteous county council seems to conflict with what she is saying. I assure her that I shall check with the Coal Authority to ascertain what the chief executive has said. As I have said, I have sought to do so. As I have also said, the dates appear to be the same, and there appears to be a conflict of information. That is something that I cannot resolve now. I shall return to the issue in due course.

Mr. Steinberg

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Atkins

I am conscious of the time and—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] I am being told to get on with it, but I am trying to respond to an important debate in which some hon. Members have spoken at length. I resent suggestions that I should get on with it when I am trying to answer questions.

Mr. Steinberg

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Atkins

No, I will not.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling) asked me specific questions, and I must give him the assurances that he seeks. Liability is changing only under the abandoned mines provisions for the owners and operators of mines abandoned after the end of 1999. They are liable for mines abandoned before then only if they cause pollution. Farmers and other landowners in the area with no connection with the operation of the mine cannot be liable for causing pollution. I hope that that reassures my right hon. Friend.

I am conscious that Members wish to move on and make progress. I have tried to spell out the situation, but I have not been able to do so as well as I would wish, because of lack of time. I want to emphasise that we, the Government, care just as deeply about these issues as do the Opposition. We have stated in another place—we have been supported by the money that has already been spent—our commitment to future pumping, and continuing it for as long as is necessary.

I repeat that it is unnecessary to add the new clause to the Bill. I ask the House to reject it.

Ms Ruddock

I shall not detain the House. I expect that the Minister will be writing to me to clarify the statement of the chief executive of the Coal Authority, when he said, in effect, that the authority would not be responsible for water that emerged from pits.

Mr. Steinberg

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Ms Ruddock

Yes, indeed.

Mr. Steinberg

To take up the point on which the Minister would not give way, he said that Councillor Lennie James, whom I know personally as an honourable man, made a press statement on 20 April. He apparently left the meeting on the understanding that the Coal Authority would take responsibility. On 26 April, Neville Washington issued his response to the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, in which he said that the Coal Authority was not responsible for water emerging from pits. It seems that Councillor Lennie James may have been misled by what was said at the meeting. It is disgraceful that the Minister should seek to draw comparisons.

Ms Ruddock

My hon. Friend has provided the House with extremely useful information, which will be read by many hon. Members. I am sure that the Minister will need to take account of my hon. Friend's intervention when he writes on the subject.

There can be no doubt that the Minister has yet again failed to give any satisfaction to those who took part in the Coalfield Communities Campaign for a better deal for the protection of their environment, and for assurances for the future that responsibility will be taken for this terrible legacy. I have no doubt that the House needs to divide on this issue.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 241, Noes 268.

Division No. 179] [9.10 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Adams, Mrs Irene Flynn, Paul
Ainger, Nick Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Allen, Graham Foster, Don (Bath)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Foulkes, George
Armstrong, Hilary Fraser, John
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Fyfe, Maria
Barnes, Harry Galbraith, Sam
Barron, Kevin Galloway, George
Battle, John Gapes, Mike
Bayley, Hugh Garrett, John
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Gerrard, Neil
Beggs, Roy Godman, Dr Norman A
Bell, Stuart Godsiff, Roger
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Golding, Mrs Llin
Bennett, Andrew F Gordon, Mildred
Benton, Joe Graham, Thomas
Bermingham, Gerald Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Berry, Roger Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Betts, Clive Grocott, Bruce
Boateng, Paul Gunnell, John
Bradley, Keith Hain, Peter
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hanson, David
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Harman, Ms Harriet
Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Burden, Richard Henderson, Doug
Caborn, Richard Heppell, John
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hinchliffe, David
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Hodge, Margaret
Campbell-Savours, D N Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Cann, Jamie Hood, Jimmy
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery) Hoon, Geoffrey
Chidgey, David Howarth, George (Knowsley North)
Chisholm, Malcolm Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Church, Judith Hoyle, Doug
Clapham, Michael Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands WVIO Hutton, John
Clelland, David Illsley, Eric
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Ingram, Adam
Coffey, Ann Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Cohen, Harry Jamieson, David
Connarty, Michael Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Jones, Lynne (B'ham S 0)
Corbett, Robin Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Corston, Jean Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Cousins, Jim Keen, Alan
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Kennedy, Jane (L'pool Br'dg'n)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John Khabra, Piara S
Dafis, Cynog Kilfoyle, Peter
Davidson, Ian Kirkwood, Archy
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Lewis, Terry
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Liddell, Mrs Helen
Denham, John Livingstone, Ken
Dewar, Donald Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dixon, Don Llwyd, Elfyn
Donohoe, Brian H Loyden, Eddie
Dowd, Jim Lynne, Ms Liz
Eagle, Ms Angela McAllion, John
Eastham, Ken McAvoy, Thomas
Etherington, Bill Macdonald, Calum
Evans, John (St Helens N) McFall, John
Fatchett, Derek McKelvey, William
Faulds, Andrew Mackinlay, Andrew
McLeish, Henry Roche, Mrs Barbara
McMaster, Gordon Rooker, Jeff
McNamara, Kevin Rooney, Terry
MacShane, Denis Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Maddock, Diana Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Mahon, Alice Rowlands, Ted
Marek, Dr John Ruddock, Joan
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Salmond, Alex
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S) Sedgemore, Brian
Martin, Michael J (Springburn) Sheerman, Barry
Martlew, Eric Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Meacher, Michael Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Meale, Alan Short, Clare
Michael, Alun Simpson, Alan
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Skinner, Dennis
Milburn, Alan Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Miller, Andrew Smith, Chris (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Mctyneaux, Rt Hon James Snape, Peter
Moonie, Dr Lewis Soley, Clive
Morgan, Rhodri Spearing, Nigel
Morley, Elliot Spellar, John
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Mudie, George Steinberg, Gerry
Mullin, Chris Stevenson, George
Murphy, Paul Strang, Dr. Gavin
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Straw, Jack
O'Brien, Mike (N W'kshire) Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
O'Brien, William (Normanton) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
O'Hara, Edward Timms, Stephen
Olner, Bill Tipping, Paddy
O'Neill, Martin Touhig, Don
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Turner, Dennis
Parry, Robert Tyler, Paul
Pearson, Ian Wallace, James
Pendry, Tom Walley, Joan
Pickthall, Colin Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Pike, Peter L Wareing, Robert N
Pope, Greg Watson, Mike
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Welsh, Andrew
Prentice, Bridget (Lew'm E) Wicks, Malcolm
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Prescott, Rt Hon John Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Primarolo, Dawn Wilson, Brian
Purchase, Ken Winnick, David
Quin, Ms Joyce Wise, Audrey
Radice, Giles Worthington, Tony
Randall, Stuart Wright, Dr Tony
Raynsford, Nick Young, David (Bolton SE)
Reid, Dr John
Rendel, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Mr. Stephen Byers and
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW) Ms Estelle Morris.
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Biffen, Rt Hon John
Aitken, Rt Hon Jonathan Body, Sir Richard
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Booth, Hartley
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Boswell, Tim
Amess, David Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)
Ancram, Michael Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia
Arbuthnot, James Bowis, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grove) Brandreth, Gyles
Ashby, David Brazier, Julian
Atkins, Rt Hon Robert Bright, Sir Graham
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V) Brown, M (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Browning, Mrs Angela
Baldry, Tony Bruce, Ian (Dorset)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Budgen, Nicholas
Bates, Michael Burns, Simon
Batiste, Spencer Burt, Alistair
Bellingham, Henry Butcher, John
Beresford, Sir Paul Butler, Peter
Butterfill, John Hendry, Charles
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln) Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Carrington, Matthew Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Carttiss, Michael Horam, John
Cash, William Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Chapman, Sydney Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Churchill, Mr Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow, W)
Clappison, James Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hunter, Andrew
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Jack, Michael
Coe, Sebastian Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Congdon, David Jenkin, Bernard
Conway, Derek Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Couchman, James Key, Robert
Cran, James Kirkhope, Timothy
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Knapman, Roger
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Day, Stephen Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Devlin, Tim Knox, Sir David
Dicks, Terry Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Dover, Den Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Duncan, Alan Legg, Barry
Duncan-Smith, Iain Leigh, Edward
Dunn, Bob Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark
Dykes, Hugh Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Eggar, Rt Hon Tim Lidington, David
Elletson, Harold Lightbown, David
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Lord, Michael
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Luff, Peter
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Faber, David MacKay, Andrew
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Maclean, Rt Hon David
Forman, Nigel McLoughlin, Patrick
Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling) McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Forth, Eric Madel, Sir David
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Maitland, Lady Olga
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Marland, Paul
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Marlow, Tony
French, Douglas Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Gale, Roger Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Gallie, Phil Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gardiner, Sir George Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Merchant, Piers
Garnier, Edward Mills, Iain
Gillan, Cheryl Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Goodlad.Rt Hon Alastair Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Moate, Sir Roger
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Monro, Sir Hector
Grant, Sir A (SW Cambs) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Needham, Rt Hon Richard
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Nelson, Anthony
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Neubert, Sir Michael
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hague, William Nicholls, Patrick
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hampson, Dr Keith Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy Norris, Steve
Hannam, Sir John Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Hargreaves, Andrew Oppenheim, Phillip
Harris, David Ottaway, Richard
Haselhurst, Sir Alan Page, Richard
Hawkins, Nick Patrick, Sir Irvine
Hawksley, Warren Patten, Rt Hon John
Hayes, Jerry Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Heald, Oliver Pawsey, James
Heathcoat-Amory, David Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Pickles, Eric Sweeney, Walter
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Sykes, John
Porter, David (Waveney) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Powell, William (Corby) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Redwood, Rt Hon John Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Temple-Morris, Peter
Richards, Rod Thomason, Roy
Riddick, Graham Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Robathan, Andrew Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Thurnham, Peter
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Tracey, Richard
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Tredinnick, David
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Trend, Michael
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Trotter, Neville
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Twinn, Dr Ian
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Sackville, Tom Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy Walden, George
Scott Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Shaw, David (Dover) Waller, Gary
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian Ward, John
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Waterson, Nigel
Shersby, Sir Michael Watts, John
Sims, Roger Wells, Bowen
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Whitney, Ray
Spencer, Sir Derek Whittingdale, John
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset) Widdecombe, Ann
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Spink, Dr Robert Wilkinson, John
Spring, Richard Wilshire, David
Sproat, Iain Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch) Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Wood, Timothy
Steen, Anthony Yeo, Tim
Stephen, Michael Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Stern, Michael
Stewart, Allan Tellers for the Noes:
Streeter, Gary Mr. David Willetts and
Sumberg, David Dr. Liam Fox.

Question accordingly negatived.

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