HC Deb 11 March 1997 vol 292 cc216-35
Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann)

I beg to move amendment No. 7, in page 8, line 38, leave out from beginning to end of line 3 on page 9.

Madam Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 22, in page 9, line 3, at end add— (4) Subsections (1)—(3) of this section do not apply for flights to and from airports in areas in receipt of Objective 1 funding from the European Union.'.

Mr. Trimble

The amendment would leave out clause 9, which doubles air passenger duty. When air passenger duty was introduced, we thought that it was misconceived. We do not need provisions that increase the cost of air travel. In the British Isles in particular and western Europe in general, we need the cost of air travel to come down.

I have in my pocket the airline ticket that I used to get me over here this afternoon. It cost £247 for a return fare. In my briefcase, I have a return ticket to take me to North America tomorrow morning, where, no doubt the Government will be glad to know, I shall be away for a week. That ticket to Washington and back cost £209. That is a ridiculous state of affairs. We need lower fares, not just for the comfort of those going on holiday—I am not doing that tomorrow, of course—but for business.

We in Northern Ireland are particularly conscious of that need. Unlike those hon. Members who fly to Glasgow or Edinburgh, we have no alternative—we fly or we do not travel. Taking a boat and then a car or a train is not a realistic alternative for business users. It is all right for holidaymakers. When I go on my holidays, I go by car and boat, but for business purposes that is not feasible. Air travel is essential for business. I have not bothered to do any studies on the matter, but the fact can be seen by looking around at people who travel on aeroplanes. Most of the traffic is business travel. The duty is penalising business. That is an important consideration.

One must also consider the impact on private citizens. The Government may have thought that the duty—introduced at £5 and now increased to £10—was a comparatively small amount in relation to ticket prices. In relation to the ticket that I have here, it is a small percentage sum, but there is a range of prices. For those who are planning family travel on cheaper fares, the duty is quite hefty in percentage terms. I expect that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) will elaborate on that, considering the impact of the duty on short-hop journeys to the Scottish islands. A £l0 duty on a £50 fare is a significant extra cost, and an unfair burden.

We considered tabling amendments to exclude Northern Ireland, because we are uniquely dependent on air traffic. We could have considered amendments to exclude areas such as the islands of Scotland, which are also uniquely dependent on air traffic. However, we preferred to table an amendment on the general provision. The tax is bad. We do not want to single out one part of the kingdom against others. We prefer to leave out the clause. We would like to repeal the duty, but at least let us not make it worse.

Mr. Salmond

I support amendment No. 7, and shall speak to amendment No. 22, which would provide a low-cost alternative to the proposal of the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble). It would concentrate relief on objective 1 areas of the United Kingdom—the highlands and islands, Northern Ireland and Merseyside. If the Government have any sympathy for the arguments, they might at least consider this low-cost alternative.

In Committee, the Exchequer Secretary was sympathetic to the arguments for the highlands and islands not undergoing the doubling of air passenger duty. However, he doubted whether the duty was having a substantial effect on the area. Rather than giving him my arguments, I should like to read a letter that appeared in the Financial Times in December from a number of people who have a deep knowledge of the highlands and islands and a deep interest in the economy of the area.

The letter said: Air services to and from the islands of Scotland are an essential part of the transport structure of the region. The natural boundaries of mountain and sea make air travel a social and business necessity and, in many instances, a lifeline service with no acceptable alternatives in road and rail. It is our view that the imposition of the Duty in November 1994 was inequitable and has had far reaching detrimental repercussions to island life and the local economy. In adding to the cost of travel, the duty is contrary to the special case presented by the government for European structural funds to achieve lower transport costs through Objective 1 status. The lower than projected passenger numbers on these lifeline services is already jeopardising some routes and frequencies and the reduction expected as a result of the doubling of duty will increase subsidies already paid by the Scottish Office with the net tax take to the Exchequer being reduced. While the amount of duty to be raised from November 1997 by the Exchequer nationally from the duty will be about £700 million in a full year. the amount collected in the Highlands and Islands will be less than £2 million. However, the consequences of the duty in the Highlands and Islands are greater because the proportion of tax is four or five times that on fares in other parts of the UK. Although in national terms, therefore, the Highlands and Islands tax take is insignificant, to the region it represents a very substantial penalty which will be detrimental to the future growth of the area's economy. That letter was signed by Alan Wilson, the chief executive of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry), and supported by Air UK, Highlands and Islands Airports, Highlands of Scotland tourist board, Loganair, the Orkney Islands council, the Shetland Islands council, the Highland council and the Western Isles council. All those organisations have a deep interest in the development and welfare of the highlands and islands of Scotland. Their arguments should be taken more seriously than the Minister was prepared to do in Committee.

I want to stress three arguments. The hon. Member for Upper Bann put his points well. Northern Ireland is particularly dependent on air travel, and so are the highlands and islands of Scotland. There are lifeline services for which there is no acceptable alternative. It was remiss of the Government not to consider beforehand the impact on those areas of doubling the duty, which is damaging to the local economies.

Levying the duty at two flat rates brings about the extraordinary anomaly of charging £20 on a business class fare to Japan, which costs many hundreds of pounds, perhaps even thousands of pounds, and £10 on a fare from Inverness to Stornoway, which costs a mere fraction of that. The charge is therefore proportionally much greater.

The hon. Member for Upper Bann pointed out that the fare from Northern Ireland to London was more than that to cross the Atlantic. People in the islands of Scotland will rightly point out that many fares are already too high in relation to the distances travelled. There are some extraordinarily high fares at the moment. Is it not all the more anomalous to impose a flat-rate duty on vulnerable communities?

Secondly, amendment No. 22 refers to objective 1 areas. Do the Government not consider it somewhat anomalous on the one hand to identify those areas as objective 1, with special help for transport infrastructure and other facilities, while at the same time imposing national taxation, without any differential, on the self-same areas?

In Committee, the Exchequer Secretary said that he thought that some of the fares in the Western Isles were already supported. I do not know whether he was sure about that. Yes, some fares in the highlands and islands are supported. Is it not therefore anomalous not to take that into account when considering the taxation system?

My third argument is about the high fare structure. For many years, the routes from Edinburgh and Glasgow to London have been among the most profitable for the operating companies. This year, British Airways shuttle flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow to London were among the most profitable of any of its operations anywhere in the world. In recent years—indeed, recent months—we have had the development of low-cost flights. Easyjet, Ryanair and other airlines have come on to some of the routes and started to put downward pressure on charges. It is working against that grain of encouraging competition to impose a flat-rate charge. The impact will be felt hardest by the airlines that are promoting economy tickets.

8.30 pm

For all those reasons, I hope that the Exchequer Secretary will reconsider. If he is not prepared to junk the whole taxation hike—I do not know whether it is Tory tax increase No. 22, 23 or 24 since the last election—perhaps he might like to consider the low-cost alternative of looking at objective 1 areas, which in fiscal terms would cost perhaps one tenth of the measure suggested by the hon. Member for Upper Bann.

I hope that my suggestion will attract some sympathy from both sides of the House. After the debate on energy-saving materials, I have no great expectation that the Labour Front-Bench team will be attracted to it, beyond promising a survey or a report. That is a great pity, because I suspect that hon. Members from every other Opposition party will be in the Lobby to support one, or perhaps both, of the amendments.

The Government have levied an increase in taxation without fully taking into account the consequences for certain areas that are particularly dependent on air travel and they were wrong to do so. It is the job of the Opposition—a real Opposition—to oppose that increase and to join in opposing it, rather than sitting, preparing for government and mentally placing themselves on the other side of the Chamber.

Last year, or perhaps a few years ago, in a debate in this Chamber, the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) said that the Labour party had become the national party of Scotland. He meant not that it had become the national party, but that it had Members and prospective parliamentarians from the length and breadth of the country. I give the Labour Front-Bench team a warning. Unless Labour is prepared to show some identity with and support for the fragile communities in the highlands and islands of Scotland by supporting this sort of amendment, or at least giving a firm commitment in financial terms to an alternative proposal, it will be cleared out of those areas come the general election.

Mr. Wallace

Air passenger duty certainly generated considerable controversy in the islands when it was first introduced in November 1994 and in the debates leading up to the enactment of that Finance Bill.

I cannot support the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble), inasmuch as I could not support suddenly losing that amount of revenue by removing the tax. In saying that, I am sympathetic towards the arguments that motivated him to move the amendment. My right hon. and hon. Friends will support the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond), although even that has some shortcomings. I do not intend any hint of criticism for the Chair, but my amendment was more specific and dealt with the islands alone. There is a particular problem in the islands.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that the mistake was to impose the tax? Is he also prepared to recognise that it is a tax on children, whose fares are low? At a time when we are trying to attract more tourism to the United Kingdom and the pound is strong, it is also a tax on tourism, so the tourist industry is being threatened as well.

Mr. Wallace

I agree about it being a tax on children and I was going to refer to that. As a generality, however, I find it one of the more difficult taxes to oppose—it is more a case of the details of its imposition. Among European Union countries, we probably have the lowest rate of air passenger duty, so I do not think that it produces a competitive disadvantage. I am concerned about its imposition on vulnerable communities and routes.

In October last year, British Airways withdrew its services on routes in the highlands and islands, claiming that it could no longer make a profit—indeed, it claimed that it had never made a profit—and that they were loss-making routes. The services are now being run by British Regional Airlines, which I am sure will try to make them profitable and successful.

In being asked to apply air passenger duty to routes serving the islands, we are being asked to tax a loss-making operation. Highlands and Islands Airports is subsidised by the Government. It reckons that, as a direct result of the duty that came into effect in November 1994, it has identified a less than projected increase in air travel in the region.

On the one hand, we are taxing loss-making routes—that could lead to greater subsidies being required for Highlands and Islands Airports—and on the other, we are paying a subsidy. The hon. Member for Upper Bann referred to the cost of about £247 for a return fare from Belfast to London. I do not have a ticket on me, but it costs approximately £480 or £490 for a return fare from my constituency to London. That is a phenomenal cost, and the Government now want to place an additional tax on top of that.

Businesses in the islands operate on pretty slim profit margins because of where they are. One cannot alter facts of geography, but one can try to minimise the disadvantages. One way to do so is to ensure that no additional burden—

Mr. Salmond

If my memory serves me right, in 1979 the Tory manifesto referred to the cost of travel to and from the Scottish islands, promising a range of measures sharply to reduce that cost, including road equivalent tariffs.

Mr. Wallace

The hon. Gentleman remembers correctly. I had the misfortune to hear the then Secretary of State for Scotland, now the noble Lord Younger of Prestwick, announcing the retreat from road equivalent tariff. That is just an example of the greater burdens that exist.

Parents who live in Orkney and Shetland will pay £30 in additional taxation to take a child to hospital in Aberdeen. I have received parliamentary answers showing that the additional cost to the Orkney and Shetland health boards runs into tens of thousands of pounds as a result of the additional taxation that will be levied.

In Committee, the Exchequer Secretary said that he was not unsympathetic to the views being put forward. Indeed, in a letter to me on 19 February, he repeats that he is sympathetic to the issues raised about the lifeline nature of some services in the Islands", but thinks that the exemption from air passenger duty is not necessarily the way to deal with that. He goes on: in recognition of the valuable service provided by air transport to the Scottish Islands communities, the Government decided that subsidy was the best way forward. I have rarely heard that said by a Conservative Minister, but it is a fact of life. Additional funding was made available to enable the Western Isles council for example to offset the effects of APD. I think this is a more effective way of granting relief as subsidies can be better targeted to routes where it has been objectively shown that help is needed to keep them in existence. The subsidy is very limited: there is certainly no subsidised route between my constituency and the Scottish mainland. Again, I have to meet the Minister tomorrow with the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) to go into the matter in more detail, but it would be interesting to hear what he has in mind with regard to greater targeting of support to vulnerable routes.

A paper prepared by the Scottish Office for the most recent meeting of the Highlands and Islands Convention in Stornoway said: The Government recognise, however, the concerns about APD are real and that commercially fragile routes in the Highlands and Islands are under threat. The Government are giving the matter the fullest consideration. I welcome that consideration, but I hope that it will be productive.

Mrs. Ewing

That viewpoint has been underpinned by the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) and by the tourist authorities and many business organisations, as well as the councils in the highlands and islands. The Government should take that on board: not only members of political parties make that point, but people across the entire sphere of interests in the highlands and islands.

Mr. Wallace

The hon. Lady is right, as was the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan, to give examples of the range of support for opposition to the tax.

We have some reservations about amendment No. 22, although it is true that there is a contradiction between having objective 1 status to try to eliminate the disadvantages of peripherality, and imposing a tax that exacerbates them. Removing the tax from Liverpool but leaving it in Manchester would not, however, be readily understood in the north-west of England. The amendment is therefore in some respects unsatisfactory, but it is nevertheless the best vehicle we have with which to register the point, and my party is prepared to support it.

Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr)

I do not entirely identify with all the issues of the islands, so I leave it to others to make representations about them. It amazes me that there are not more hon. Members from the central belt of Scotland in the Chamber tonight, because the tax has a significant effect on flights from central Scotland.

One of the Government's recent successes has been the introduction of a range of low-cost choices for flights from Scotland to England: there is a £29 single fare from Prestwick to London, or about £59 return. If the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) wants to find a cheaper way of getting to London from Belfast, I suggest Gill Air at £56 return to Prestwick, followed by Ryanair at £59 to London. If he does that, however, tax will be charged twice because of the change of airline; that does not seem fair.

Mr. Wallace

That is an important point, about which I often get complaints from constituents. My understanding is that, if the issuing travel agent can link the two tickets and show that they apply to a single journey, and if the second flight takes off within six hours of the previous one arriving, air passenger duty should be levied only once. The Minister may want to confirm that, but it is something that should be drawn to the attention of travel agents.

Mr. Gallie

That is an interesting point, but it is my understanding that, if people change airlines, they lose that option.

Mr. Oppenheim

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) is correct: it makes no difference whether it is one airline or two; if it is one journey, even though the flight is broken because of connections, the tax is levied only once, and not at a double rate.

Mr. Gallie

I am relieved to hear that, because travel agents in my constituency certainly felt that on a journey from, say, Prestwick to London, connecting with an onward flight to the United States, two charges would be levied. If that is not so, I have little to argue with my hon. Friend about.

Rev. Martin Smyth

The hon. Gentleman should bear it in mind that the Minister was talking about a through fare. People who fly into London or Manchester and spend a few days there before flying on to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness or the north-east of England would be subject to double taxation.

8.45 pm
Mr. Gallie

I have asked my hon. Friend for further clarification on that point, and I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comment.

It seems to me that a percentage rate would be more appropriate than a flat rate. I have no difficulty with the idea of airport taxes, as they seem to apply in every other country, and, as the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) said, our rate is one of the lowest. That apart, there is an unfairness with respect to low-cost flights. I ask my hon. Friend either to address that point today or to give an undertaking to do so in the future.

Mr. Macdonald

I well remember some of these details from a Finance Bill some years back, when the tax was first introduced and we tried to explore some of its complexities. I support what the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) said about the value of considering a percentage, VAT-style approach to the duty, especially if it continues to increase.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) for his undertaking to take an overall view of the impact of transport costs on the economy of the islands. This debate ties in neatly with a previous debate on vehicle excise duty, and we need an overall view of all such costs and their impact on the economy of the islands if we are to have a strategic approach to targeting assistance in the most effective way.

Three years ago, when the tax was first introduced, I moved an amendment in Committee in terms that were extremely close to those of amendment No. 25, tabled by the Liberal Democrats. That amendment has not been selected for debate, for what must be good and proper reasons, but I regret that, because I believe that it represents the right approach to the issue. If we are to tackle the disadvantages facing the Scottish islands—it is notable that all those who have spoken so far have emphasised the position of those islands as compared with other parts of the United Kingdom—we must target support and assistance in a proper, cost-effective way; so I would have been happy to support amendment No. 25, had it been selected.

I support everything that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) said. He gave much background about how this will affect the Scottish islands, and explained that airline routes are essential to them.

It is worth emphasising that the public sector is a big user of the airline routes. The measure affects business people and ordinary consumers, but it also affects the public sector, and especially local authorities and health boards. Perhaps nothing more clearly illustrates the lifeline nature of the routes than the fact that they are used so extensively by local health boards, not only to carry officials around but to transport patients from island to mainland. No other health board in the country flies patients to hospital for treatment, but in the islands, it must be done; that emphasises that the airline routes are essential.

Although I understand at least part of the motivation behind the selection of amendments and the remarks made about them, I fear that they go too wide to tackle the problem specific to the Scottish islands. Amendment No. 22 is not only too wide, but probably unworkable. It is not sensible to link exemptions to objective 1 status, because its lifespan is limited. In two or three years, that status will be reviewed, and it is likely that the highlands and islands will not retain it.

An exemption made to help the region could end up missing its target. Merseyside could continue to enjoy objective I status and an exemption but the highlands and islands could be excluded. That would be absurd. It is not the outcome that we are trying to achieve. More sensible is the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central for a proper strategic approach to the range of problems that are tied up in the issue. We can then target help where it is most needed.

Mr. Darling

As my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) said, this debate follows on from that on vehicle excise duty. I want to deal with the two amendments separately. Amendment No. 7 was moved by the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble). The difficulty is that it deletes all the revenue brought in by air passenger duty, which would amount, when fully implemented, to £415 million. I appreciate that for him and his party, and for the nationalists, that is not their problem but somebody else's. The hon. Member will recognise that, under the present Government or a future one, if the House deleted £415 million of revenue, all other things being equal, the money would have to be recovered from elsewhere. Some of that money would be spent in Northern Ireland. The hon. Member has no doubt reflected on that; perhaps he will say where he proposes to make good the loss of revenue were clause 9 to be wholly removed.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) said, in his usual sneering way, that the problem with Labour is that we might be preparing for government. It has occurred to us that it is possible that, in a few weeks, we will be elected to govern the country. That means that here are constraints on us that are not visited on him.

Mr. Oppenheim

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Darling

In due course. I understand that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan leads a party that vehemently opposes Labour and that he must take every opportunity to criticise what we do or propose.

Mr. Salmond

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Darling

In a minute. Were clause 9 deleted, some £415 million would be lost to the Revenue. All other things being equal, that money would have to be recovered.



Mr. Darling

I shall give way to the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan first, because I referred to him in critical terms. The courtesies of the House, as the Minister might just grasp, mean that I should therefore give way to him.

Were amendment No. 7 carried, a traveller going to New York on Concorde would get the same benefit as someone travelling from Stornoway to Glasgow or from Belfast to London. It would therefore be a mistake to support amendment No. 7, but I accept that the hon. Gentleman and others need not concern themselves with such problems, because their position is different from ours.

Mr. Salmond

The hon. Gentleman should be careful. The last time he was at the Dispatch Box describing a Scottish National party move as a cynical ploy, it was our proposal to reduce VAT on fuel from 8 to 5 per cent. Within 10 months, he was trying to explain why that was not a cynical ploy by the Labour party. Does he expect to be at the Dispatch Box suggesting something like what we propose in the near future, or can he rule out any help for the highlands and islands, Northern Ireland or anywhere else?

Mr. Darling

I shall disappoint the hon. Gentleman in two respects. I am glad that he raised the other point, because I am happy to deal with it. The hon. Gentleman will recall that, when the Labour party tabled an amendment to stop VAT on gas and electricity going up to the full 17.5 per cent. rate, the arithmetic of the House meant that it was necessary to win support not only from Opposition parties but from rebel Tories. The nationalists, as ever, wanted to get in on someone else's activities; they tabled an amendment to go one better than us that would have reduced VAT to 5 per cent. I thought, and I think that I was right, that it was opportunist to table such an amendment then. The argument before the House was whether VAT on gas and electricity should be at 17.5 or 8 per cent. I understand why the hon. Gentleman does this. The whole stance of the nationalist party is to—

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. Reference in passing to other matters is all right, but this is taking too long. I would prefer the hon. Gentleman to return to the main subject.

Mr. Darling

I am happy to do that, because I was about to come to the opportunism of the nationalists in respect of the present amendment. I have a suggestion more helpful than amendment No. 22, tabled by the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan, with which I have not yet dealt.

Some parties claim that it would be a great step forward if the Government were defeated on amendment No. 7, but £415 million is a lot of money. Although other Opposition parties do not have to concern themselves with this problem, we have to concern ourselves with the possible loss of revenue and with a problem that any future Government will have to face: dealing with the economic situation that we actually inherit, not one that we might like to inherit.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan wants to exempt people who travel to and from airports covered by objective 1 status. The problem is that objective 1 funding is to be reviewed, starting this year and coming into effect from 2000; so we do not know at this stage which areas may be covered. I agree with the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) that it would be hard for people living in Manchester to find that Liverpool airport was covered but Manchester airport was not. I understand exactly why the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan included objective 1—it covers the highlands and islands and, by a happy coincidence, it also covers the area represented by the Ulster Unionists.

The Labour party, possibly together with some Conservative Members, recognises the problems associated with highlands and islands flights. As my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles said, these are lifeline services, especially for health. They are a much quicker way of reaching other parts of Scotland, the United Kingdom and Europe. Ferry travel can often take hours and sometimes days to cover the same distance.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan said that we are talking about only £2 million. Supposing we had that £2 million; we would then have to decide whether to use it by forgoing airport passenger duties in the highlands and islands or whether to use a similar sum to subsidise, for instance, freight going to and from the islands. All the transport costs involved in transport between the highlands and islands and the rest of Scotland need to be looked at.

I therefore believe, as do the Government to some extent, that we need to examine how best the Government can support air and sea transport to and from the islands. The whole issue needs to be looked at strategically to determine how best we can assist the islands with the resources available to us. That is far more constructive than looking at any one item in isolation.

9 pm

Mr. Wallace

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, and of course I welcome any review. What worries me is that the £1 million or £2 million at stake is money that would go straight to the Treasury, whereas a freight subsidy of up to £3 million would come out of the Scottish Office bloc grant. Is the hon. Gentleman saying that that bloc grant would be inflated to allow directly for transport support for the highlands and islands, or does he mean that, if the money is to be provided, something else for Scotland will have to be cut?

Mr. Darling

I am not saying that at all. Whether the money goes to the Treasury or comes from the Scottish Office bloc grant, it will still be a sum within the total available to central Government to spend—

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)

Is that a commitment?

Mr. Darling

The commitment to a review is of course a commitment. I do not mind being criticised by anyone for my party's reluctance to make promises unless we know that we can deliver on them. [Interruption.] The Minister seems to be greatly exercised by that remark. He should perhaps reflect on the fact that one reason his party is in such deep trouble is that it made promises at the last general election that it did not keep. We will not get into that position—

Mr. Oppenheim

The only promises the hon. Gentleman is prepared to make are to stick to Tory policies—after 18 years in opposition.

Mr. Darling

Madam Deputy Speaker, you would doubtless rule me out of order if I listed the many areas where there is a clear difference between us and the Government. One of them is that we will not make promises unless we know we can deliver on them—indeed, that is a big difference between Labour and the Conservatives.

Another difference, related to these amendments, is that we have always recognised that the highlands and islands of Scotland have particular transport problems, but those problems are not satisfactorily dealt with by the sort of promises that some of the small parties make, knowing that they will never be in a position to keep them. Nothing is more calculated to increase disillusionment among the public than political parties making promises that they know they will never have to deliver.

There is clearly a problem in this area at which we need to look, but I am not giving any commitments and I will not do so unless I know that we can stick to them. The points raised by several hon. Members, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles and the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, have been argued positively by representatives of the island communities who know what the problems are and who have come up with constructive ways of dealing with them.

I make no apology for the fact that Labour will not support amendment No. 7. Perhaps we will hear how the money is to be made good; the hon. Members who have tabled the amendment have to reflect on the fact that the revenue would have be made good from elsewhere and that some of it would find its way to their own constituents. If they cannot answer that question, they should not have tabled an amendment of this nature.

Mr. Oppenheim

All hon. Members on both sides of the House who listened to the speeches of the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) and other Opposition Members will have sympathy with the particular problems of the islands and Northern Ireland. I want to deal briefly with some of the generalities in respect of airport passenger tax—they have been adequately rehearsed, so I shall not speak on them at length—before going on to explain why the amendments will not work in practice.

First, I want to clear up a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie). The position is that if there is one journey, even if there is a relatively small break in it, there is only one tax, but if there is a significant break and, effectively, two journeys are being made—even if the break is a stopover for some reason—that will be taxed twice. I am sure that, if my hon. Friend considers the problem, he will see that any other system would be unsustainable, because at what point would the cut-off be—one day? Two days? A week? If a significant gap in a journey resulted in only one tax being levied, the system would be open to abuse.

On the generalities, everyone accepts that aviation is an area in which taxation is relatively low. International treaty provisions mean that there can be no tax on aviation fuel, unlike fuel used in many other forms of transport, so airlines have a significant fiscal advantage in that respect. Regarding the Scottish islands in particular, the small aeroplane exemption means that 50 per cent. of departures from the Scottish islands are exempt. I know that the proportion of passengers is smaller than 50 per cent., but the exemption helps a little.

The other general point is that 40 per cent. of the tax is paid by foreigners visiting the UK, in the same way as British tourists and travellers abroad have to pay taxes in other countries. There is no sign that it damages our tourism industry, which is still growing strongly, although I accept that any indirect tax increase will have a marginal impact.

Mr. Wallace

To take the Minister backwards for a moment, did I hear him say that aircraft fuel cannot be taxed? Does he accept that AvGas, which is used by a number of aeroplanes operating in the islands, is taxed? Is there any scope for looking at that aspect?

Mr. Oppenheim

Yes, there is scope for looking at that matter; but if it is not covered by international treaty, there is scope for taxing it. The hon. Gentleman might want to raise that issue when he comes to the Treasury tomorrow, but generally air fuel—regardless of whether it is for domestic or for international flights—is not taxed as a result of an international treaty.

On relative rates, as one or two Opposition Members accept, our rate is—even after this increase—still relatively low. I shall quickly read out the figures based on a £120 domestic flight—we are primarily talking about domestic flights. The tax in Germany would be £27.61, and the list then goes down through Mexico, Greece, Austria, Finland, Spain, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Canada, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, the USA, Portugal, the Netherlands—apologies to Hansard—which all levy the tax at a higher rate than the UK. The UK is in the bottom third of countries in respect of taxing domestic flights, even after the rise.

No one likes taxes, but as the shadow Chief Secretary, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling), pointed out, this tax raises a significant sum—£385 million in 1998–99. We all know that the money goes primarily to core services such as education, law and order and health. Those are all services on which hon. Members on both sides of the House want extra money to be spent, so it is worth remembering that that is where the money goes.

Mr. Salmond

A few seconds ago, the Minister was laughing at the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) for giving no commitment. In Committee, the Minister said that he was sympathetic about the specific problems of the highlands and islands, but could give no commitment. Six weeks have passed. Six weeks is a long time in politics; who knows what can happen in six weeks? Has the Minister anything constructive and tangible to offer regarding the highlands and islands or Northern Ireland?

Mr. Oppenheim

If the hon. Gentleman will let me finish, I shall describe the best possible ways to help the regions.

I greeted the shadow Chief Secretary's comments with mirth because, although I may be extrapolating too far from the drift of his comments, he seemed to be saying that, because the Labour party thought that it would be in government—I thought that Labour Front-Bench spokesmen had been forbidden to say triumphalist things like that—all of a sudden it had decided that it must be responsible. By implication, for the past 18 years it has not been responsible. It focuses the mind somewhat to know that one will be in government; one suddenly has to be responsible.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central is right: a large sum is involved, and any party that votes against the raising of that sum, by what I believe to be a reasonably fair form of taxation, will have to say where else that money can be found. The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point when he says that that money primarily goes into the core services whose funding all hon. Members, regardless of party, want increased.

I was not sure whether the proposal in amendment No. 22 was that flights should be exempt or charged at a lower rate if they were to or from any objective 1 airport. To be legal under European law, that proposal would have to apply to all objective 1 airports throughout the European Union. The cost would be £50 million—quite a substantial sum—but the effect might not be exactly what hon. Members intend. For example, on that basis, the exemption would apply to all flights from any United Kingdom airport to anywhere in Greece or any other objective 1 country, so flights from Heathrow to Greece would be exempt. [Interruption.] I am sorry; that is the effect of amendment No. 22. [Interruption.] I am afraid that it is.

Mr. Salmond

The Minister is adopting a traditional Treasury Bench tactic. If the hon. Gentleman is saying that he accepts the sense behind the amendment but does not like the detail, let him specify the highlands and islands and Northern Ireland in his own amendment, as has been specified in the case of inter-island flights already. Does the fact that we have exemption for inter-island flights—island-hopping flights on low-capacity planes—mean that a similar exemption must be made throughout the European Union? I say to the Minister, "Do not hide. If you agree with the substance of the amendment, find a way to put it into practice; if you disagree with it, say so."

Mr. Oppenheim

The hon. Gentleman misinterprets what I am saying. I in no way agree with the sense of the amendment. Not only do I not agree with the sense, but in practice the amendment is unworkable.

I shall take another example of why this measure would be unworkable. It would exempt all flights to and from Liverpool airport but not Manchester airport, thereby creating distortions and competitive problems.

I have explained the problems regarding amendment No. 22 and I have outlined the objections to basing any exemption on objective 1. To produce an amendment that applied generally to the UK regions but not more widely—which I believe the Liberal Democrats tried to do—would be illegal under articles 59 and 62.

I accept that there is a specific problem relating to the islands and to Ulster, but I do not consider that this is the way to tackle it. I believe that all hon. Members on both sides of the House accept that there are specific problems relating to the UK regions, but the way to tackle those is not to create piecemeal anomalies and exemptions, which logically could be extended to many other areas.

The way to tackle those problems is, if necessary, in some instances to give subsidies. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) expressed surprise at the idea that I, a Treasury Minister, would support that. In principle, we have always said that, where there are social needs for subsidies for transport—be it trains, buses or some air routes—that is a legitimate reason for subsidies. We do not believe in subsidising lame-duck industries, but there are cases where there should be social subsidies in sectors such as transport. We have never denied that; it is a long-standing Tory policy.

Those problems are genuine—I do not duck away from them—but the way to tackle them is not to create anomalies or piecemeal exemptions, but to use regional aid and another more general policies. I urge hon. Members not to press the amendments to a Division.

Mr. Trimble

This has been an interesting debate, and what I have heard reinforces my view that amendment No. 7 is right. I am surprised by the Government's approach on this matter. They acknowledge that there is a problem, especially regarding the regions.

The Minister says that the solution to the problem of the regions is subsidy; but subsidy will not solve the problem, because the problem is the cost caused to travellers, and the subsidy will not go to travellers. The subsidy may be relevant only in the context of uneconomic flights, where there is an argument for subsidy. We have heard, however, that the British Airways flights to Glasgow and Edinburgh are among that airline's most profitable. The most profitable route for British Midland is from London to Belfast. It is not the most profitable route for British Airways, but there are reasons for that. The subsidy will not arise on the profitable routes, but there will be a cost for the regions. Subsidy is not the answer to the problem. The Minister acknowledges that there is a problem, but, as I have said, the answer does not lie in subsidy.

9.15 pm

The Minister should think again because of the cost that he is imposing on the regions, on businesses travelling to the regions and on individuals who travel to them. I am reinforced in my belief that amendment No. 7 is the right one because of the problems that would arise with the implementation of amendment No. 22.

The Liverpool and Manchester position is superficially attractive, but in reality is not. With a localised exemption, there will always be problems in drawing a boundary. The fact that a boundary runs over land or over sea is irrelevant. The problem with the Scottish National party's amendment, No. 22, is its reference to "Objective 1". Objective 1 is under review. As the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) said, it is not likely that objective 1 status will apply to any part of the United Kingdom within a short time. If we are to be positive, we must accept the proposal that has been put before the House in amendment No. 7.

It is right that we should take that course against the background of the costs being imposed. As my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) said, a regressive tax is bearing especially heavily on those who opt for budget fares, and that can be said particularly of children.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) produced some remarkable arguments. He said that the revenue gained would benefit our constituencies. The revenue might benefit the hon. Gentleman's constituency, but it will certainly not benefit Northern Ireland constituencies, because in the current Government spending round—the hon. Gentleman may not appreciate this—expenditure in Northern Ireland as a whole is being reduced in real terms. The additional revenue will not come to any constituency in Northern Ireland.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central sees a problem in raising £415 million. I am amazed. A year or two ago, we defeated the Government when they proposed increasing value added tax on domestic fuel. I did not hear Labour spokesmen expressing worries about lost revenue. The Government seemed to have no problem in filling a much greater gap than would ensue if the amendment were passed. It is remarkable, as the Minister has said, that Labour is now adopting Conservative policies in broad terms. It may quibble about details, but broadly it is adopting those policies.

Labour has been offered an opportunity this evening to defeat the Government, and what does it do? The answer is that it retreats. One wonders why Labour Members bother to continue sitting on the Opposition Benches.

Mr. Darling

Am I not right in thinking that the hon. Gentleman's party has been sustaining the Government in office for some weeks?

Mr. Trimble

There is an interesting contrast to be drawn. As on other occasions, the hon. Gentleman might have paused to think before he spoke. Let us cast our minds back to the announcement of the Budget resolutions. How did Labour vote on this issue? Did it vote for or against? It did not vote in support.

At that stage, the Government had a majority. The Government did not have to worry about that. They do not have a majority now and an opportunity has arisen. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central will understand, if he reflects, that there has been no Division in this place when the votes of my colleagues would have saved the Government. However, Labour was given the opportunity tonight to defeat the Government. We do not see Labour Members. Let us see what happens when the Division is called. As the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) asked, where are the hon. Members representing the central belt of Scotland? They have an interest in the matter. Labour Members seem to have lost their way in their approach to the issue generally and to the amendment in particular.

I am sorry to say, Madam Deputy Speaker, that we will not withdraw the amendment, but intend to press it.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 17, Noes 225.

Division No. 93] [9.19 pm
Barnes, Harry Salmond, Alex
Beggs, Roy Skinner, Dennis
Butcher, John Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangf'd)
Cunningham, Ms Roseanna Trimble, David
(Perth Kinross) Walker, A Cecil (Belfast N)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Welsh, Andrew
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Wigley, Dafydd
Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Llwyd, Elfyn Tellers for the Ayes:
Molyneaux, Rt Hon Sir James Mr. William Ross and Rev. Martin Smyth.
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Brown, Michael (Brigg Cl'thorpes)
Alexander, Richard Browning, Mrs Angela
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Burns, Simon
Amess, David Burt, Alistair
Arbuthnot, James Butler, Peter
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Carlisle, John (Luton N)
Ashby, David Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n)
Atkins, Rt Hon Robert Carrington, Matthew
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Carttiss, Michael
Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V) Cash, William
Baldry, Tony Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Chapman, Sir Sydney
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Churchill, Mr
Bates, Michael Clappison, James
Bellingham, Henry Clark, Dr Michael (Rochf'd)
Bendall, Vivian Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Beresford, Sir Paul (Rushcliffe)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Clifton—Brown, Geoffrey
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Congdon, David
Booth, Hartley Conway, Derek
Boswell, Tim Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Bowden, Sir Andrew Cormack, Sir Patrick
Bowis, John Couchman, James
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Davis, Rt Hon David (Boothferry)
Brandreth, Gyles Day, Stephen
Brazier, Julian Devlin, Tim
Bright, Sir Graham Douglas—Hamilton,
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Rt Hon Lord James
Dover, Den Maitland, Lady Olga
Duncan, Alan Malone, Gerald
Dunn, Bob Mans, Keith
Eggar, Rt Hon Tim Marland, Paul
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Marlow, Tony
Evans, Nigel (Ribble V) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Faber, David Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Fabricant, Michael Merchant, Piers
Fenner, Dame Peggy Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Fishburn, Dudley Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Forman, Nigel Moate, Sir Roger
Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling) Monro, Rt Hon Sir Hector
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Neubert, Sir Michael
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Nicholson, David (Taunton)
French, Douglas Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Fry, Sir Peter Oppenheim, Phillip
Gallie, Phil Ottaway, Richard
Garnier, Edward Page, Richard
Gill, Christopher Paice, James
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Patnick, Sir Irvine
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Patten, Rt Hon John
Goodson—Wickes, Dr Charles Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Pawsey, James
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Grylls, Sir Michael Pickles, Eric
Hague, Rt Hon William Porter, David
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy Powell, William (Corby)
Hannam, Sir John Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hargreaves, Andrew Richards, Rod
Harris, David Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Hawkins, Nick Robathan, Andrew
Hawksley, Warren Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Heald, Oliver Robertson, Raymond S (Ab'd'n S)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Hendry, Charles Roe, Mrs Marion
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Rowe, Andrew
Hicks, Sir Robert Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Horam, John Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Hordem, Rt Hon Sir Peter Shaw, David (Dover)
Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildf'd) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W) Shepherd, Sir Colin (Heref'd)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensb'ne) Shersby, Sir Michael
Hunter, Andrew Skeet, Sir Trevor
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Smith, Tim (Beaconsf'ld)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Speed, Sir Keith
Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N) Spencer, Sir Derek
Johnson Smith, Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Spink, Dr Robert
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Spring, Richard
Jones, Robert B (W Herts) Sproat, Iain
Key, Robert Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
King, Rt Hon Tom Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Knapman, Roger Stephen, Michael
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Stern, Michael
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Stewart, Allan
Knox, Sir David Streeter, Gary
Kynoch, George Sweeney, Walter
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Sykes, John
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Legg, Barry Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Leigh, Edward Thomason, Roy
Lennox—Boyd, Sir Mark Thompson, Sir Donald (Calder V)
Lester, Sir Jim (Broxtowe) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Lidington, David Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Townsend, Sir Cyril (Bexl'yh'th)
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Tracey, Richard
Lord, Michael Tredinnick, David
Luff, Peter Trend, Michael
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Trotter, Neville
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Twinn, Dr Ian
MacKay, Andrew Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Maclean, Rt Hon David Viggers, Peter
McLoughlin, Patrick Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Walden, George Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton>
Waterson, Nigel Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesf'ld>
Watts, John Wolfson, Mark
Wells, Bowen Wood, Timothy
Whitley, Sir Raymond Yeo, Tim
Whittingdale, John Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wiggin, Sir Jerry Tellers for the Noes:
Willetts, David Mr. Sebastian Coe and Mr. Anthony Coombs.
Wilshire, David

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 22, in page 9, line 3, at end add—

(4) Subsections (1)—(3) of this section do not apply for flights to and from airports in areas in receipt of Objective 1 funding from the European Union.'.—[Mr. Salmond.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 35, Noes 223.

Division No. 94] [9.31 pm
Alton, David Molyneaux, Rt Hon Sir James
Barnes, Harry Nicholson, Miss Emma (W Devon)
Beggs, Roy Rendel, David
Berth, Rt Hon A J Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Ross, William(E Lond'y)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Salmond, Alex
Carlile, Alex (Montgomery) Skinner, Dennis
Chidgey, David Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Cunningham, Ms Roseanna Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangf'd)
(Perth Kinross) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim) Thumham, Peter
Foster, Don (Bath) Trimble, David
Harvey, Nick Tyler, Paul
Johnston, Sir Russell Walker, A Cecil (Belfast N)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Wallace, James
Kennedy, Charles (Ross C & S) Wigley, Dafydd
Kirkwood, Archy
Llwyd, Elfyn Tellers for the Ayes:
Maclennan, Robert Mrs. Margaret Ewing and
Maddock, Mrs Diana Mr. Andrew Welsh.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Bright, Sir Graham
Alexander, Richard Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Brown, Michael (Brigg Cl'thorpes)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Browning, Mrs Angela
Amess, David Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Arbuthnot, James Burns, Simon
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Burt, Alistair
Ashby, David Butcher, John
Atkins, Rt Hon Robert Butler, Peter
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Carlisle, John (Luton N)
Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V) Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n)
Baldry, Tony Carrington, Matthew
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Carttiss, Michael
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Cash, William
Bates, Michael Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Bellingham, Henry Chapman, Sir Sydney
Bendall, Vivian Churchill, Mr
Beresford, Sir Paul Clappison, James
Biffen, Rt Hon John Clark, Dr Michael (Rochf'd)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Booth, Hartley (Rushcliffe)
Boswell, Tim Clifton—Brown, Geoffrey
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Congdon, David
Bowden, Sir Andrew Conway, Derek
Bowis, John Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Brandreth, Gyles Couchman, James
Brazier, Julian Davis, Rt Hon David (Boothferry)
Day, Stephen MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Devlin, Tim MacKay, Andrew
Douglas—Hamilton, Maclean, Rt Hon David
Rt Hon Lord James McLoughlin, Patrick
Dover, Den Maitland, Lady Olga
Duncan, Alan Malone, Gerald
Dunn, Bob Mans, Keith
Dykes, Hugh Marland, Paul
Eggar, Rt Hon Tim Marlow, Tony
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble V) Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Faber, David Merchant, Piers
Fabricant, Michael Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Fishburn, Dudley Moate, Sir Roger
Forman, Nigel Monro, Rt Hon Sir Hector
Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling) Neubert, Sir Michael
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
French, Douglas Oppenheim, Phillip
Fry, Sir Peter Ottaway, Richard
Gallie, Phil Page, Richard
Garnier, Edward Paice, James
Gill, Christopher Patnick, Sir Irvine
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Patten, Rt Hon John
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Goodson—Wickes, Dr Charles Pawsey, James
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Pickles, Eric
Grylls, Sir Michael Porter, David
Hague, Rt Hon William Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald Powell, William (Corby)
Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hannam, Sir John Richards, Rod
Hargreaves, Andrew Robathan, Andrew
Harris, David Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Hawkins, Nick Robertson, Raymond S (Ab'd'n S)
Hawksley, Warren Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Heald, Oliver Roe, Mrs Marion
Heathcoat—Amory, Rt Hon David Rowe, Andrew
Hendry, Charles Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Hicks, Sir Robert Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Horam, John Shaw, David (Dover)
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildf'd) Shepherd, Sir Colin (Heref'd)
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W) Shersby, Sir Michael
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensb'ne) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Hunter, Andrew Smith, Tim (Beaconsf'ld)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Speed, Sir Keith
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Spencer, Sir Derek
Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N) Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Johnson Smith, Spink, Dr Robert
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Spring, Richard
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Sproat, Iain
Jones, Robert B (W Herts) Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Key, Robert Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
King, Rt Hon Tom Stephen, Michael
Knapman, Roger Stern, Michael
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Stewart, Allan
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Sweeney, Walter
Knox, Sir David Sykes, John
Kynoch, George Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Thomason, Roy
Legg, Barry Thompson, Sir Donald (Calder V)
Leigh, Edward Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Lester, Sir Jim (Broxtowe) Townsend, Sir Cyril (Bexl'yh'th)
Lidington, David Tracey, Richard
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Tredinnick, David
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Trend, Michael
Lord, Michael Trotter, Neville
Luff, Peter Twinn, Dr Ian
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Viggers, Peter Wilshire, David
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Walden, George Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesf'ld)
Waterson, Nigel Wolfson, Mark
Watts, John Wood, Timothy
Wells, Bowen Yeo, Tim
Whitney, Sir Raymond Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Whittingdale, John
Widdeoombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann Tellers for the Noes:
Wiggin, Sir Jerry Mr. Anthony Coombs and Mr. Sebastian Coe.
Willetts, David

Question accordingly negatived.

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