HC Deb 29 June 1999 vol 334 cc197-248
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst)

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

7.15 pm
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham)

I beg to move, That this House condemns the Government's contradictory signals on transport and planning policies; requests the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions to cancel the M4 bus lane, and find a way of reopening the Circle Line and keeping other tube lines open; notes that the Government has no policies to increase road or rail capacity in line with traffic growth forecasts; is appalled that motorists are paying more and more tax under Labour to sit in ever worse traffic jams; and urges the Government to revitalise town centres and to follow transport and planning policies that can get Britain moving again. I have declared my interests in the Register of Members' Interests, and I do not speak on their behalf in this debate. However, I have some further interests to declare. I am a driver; I am a train passenger; I am a tube traveller, if there are trains for me to take; I am, from time to time, a pedestrian. I also own two Jaguars. I believe that the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions also uses two Jaguars, although I do not know whether he can claim either to own or to drive them himself.

I am upset that the Deputy Prime Minister is presiding over the collapse of our transport system. It is becoming more difficult, if not impossible, to get around the country. New Labour does not travel well. The Deputy Prime Minister is none too keen on new Labour, but he proves how new and old Labour, acting together, are bringing Britain to a standstill—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] Labour Members should treat transport with more seriousness because their constituents cannot get around. It is their constituents who find tube trains cancelled or delayed.

Do Labour Members know that the Circle line is not working under the Government, or that the Northern line is threatened with closure, or that District line trains were heavily delayed today? Do they know that the latest report on the tube shows that it has not hit its targets on punctuality, cleanliness or general service? Have they seen the almost permanent traffic jams on many sections of the road network? Do they know that too many trains arrive late, and that they often have no proper facilities on board? With this Government, it is jams today, and jams tomorrow.

Mr. Phil Hope (Corby)

My constituents know that the Labour Government have given an extra £700,000 to rural buses in this financial year, and they know that the Government are providing support for rural transport.

Mr. Redwood

Many councils have suffered dreadful rate support grants and have been unable to increase expenditure. The hon. Gentleman provokes me into mentioning investment in London Regional Transport, one of the areas suffering most from the Deputy Prime Minister's deep cuts. In the final year of the Conservative Administration, investment was £1,060 million. That fell to £843 million in the first year of the Labour Government, and to £654 million in the second. In the third Labour year, it is planned to be £564 million. The Deputy Prime Minister may scowl at me, but he cannot deny the figures. It is not my fault that he cannot do a good deal with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Investment has almost halved while he has been Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Secretary.

Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Will the right hon. Gentleman address the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Mr. Hope)? After bus deregulation, the number of bus passengers fell by a third outside London. Is my hon. Friend not right to say that the Government are absolutely right to correct the ridiculous imbalance created by the Conservative Administration?

Mr. Redwood

If the hon. Gentleman looks at the facts, he will see that privatisation has increased competition, choice and passenger numbers and that the frustration now is due to the fact that there are more passengers for buses and trains, but there is not enough money or decent management under this Government to provide the train and bus services that those passengers require.

In the past fortnight, I have been delayed when travelling from Paddington to Westminster thanks to the inadequate tube service. I faced a long delay on the Virgin train when I tried to travel by train from Manchester to Birmingham, and I waited 25 minutes for a bus in Oxford, where a park-and-ride scheme is advertised as having seven-minute services. Now, even the buses are held up by the absurd road closures in that Labour council area. In Oxford, it is not park and ride, but park, pay and wait, thanks to the Labour council and the policies that the Deputy Prime Minister is encouraging. I have spent many unhappy minutes in traffic jams on the M4, watching the entirely empty bus lane and wondering whether the Prime Minister would sweep by on that day as its only user.

This Government are out of touch—and in such a short space of time. The Deputy Prime Minister already seems to think that buses and tubes are there for others to use, or there for a photo opportunity with a Jaguar waiting to whisk him off to where he wants to go once the photo has been taken—[Interruption.] It is not a cheap jibe; it is true and that is why it hurts. The right hon. Gentleman will not even answer my question about how many times he has come to the office using public transport. I am sure that he uses a car because he has decided, like many others, that public transport is not good enough. I do not blame him; I just do not like the humbug. Why does he not admit that people have to use the car because there is no practical choice for many of their journeys, as Ministers illustrate? As for his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, he thinks that bus lanes are there for him to use when he is not travelling by the Queen's flight. For the rest of us, it is not life in the fast lane, but life kept out of the bus lane.

Mr. Nigel Waterson (Eastbourne)

Hear, hear!

Mr. Redwood

I thank my hon. Friend for that appreciation.

The Chancellor thinks that motorists are there to pay everyone else's bills, as he merrily goes on his way forcing the price of motoring through the roof. Now, we know that planning policy is to be relaxed to make the traffic jams worse. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor appear to favour more out-of-town superstores. That means more cars and lorries on the roads and a further blow to town centres, where there are still bus and train stations.

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. John Prescott)

What did the Conservatives do?

Mr. Redwood

The right hon. Gentleman asks what my right hon. Friends did when they were in government—they changed the planning guidance to try to restrict out-of-town developments for that very reason. Now we read clear indications that, against the wishes of the Deputy Prime Minister—I will give him that—No. 10, No. 11 and the Department of Trade and Industry have decided that they want to relax planning controls because they want to cover the south in concrete.

Mr. Bill Rammell (Harlow)

There are three out-of-town shopping centres in my constituency, all of which were rejected by the local council at the time. Those rejections were all over turned and the plans approved on appeal by the Government that the right hon. Gentleman supported. Is not this tirade the grossest hypocrisy, given the chaos and mess that that Government created?

Mr. Redwood

The hon. Gentleman has obviously not read planning policy guidance 6—the guidance that made it clear that we favoured in-town development. I hope that he will get a reassurance from the Deputy Prime Minister that the right hon. Gentleman will stand by that policy, whatever his right hon. Friends say, and that, on this solitary occasion, he will win the argument. Clearly, he did not win the argument to get his travel Bill—I am glad that he did not, as it was such a bad Bill—and we now hear that he will probably not get his railway Bill next year either, because he is so bad at negotiating with the Prime Minister and with No. 11.

Dr. Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test)

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that revised planning policy guidance 6 came in right at the end of the Conservative Government? For 15 out of the 18 years of the Conservative Government—the vast majority—there was a free-for-all in out-of-town shopping.

Mr. Redwood

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman remembers that out-of-town superstores were a phenomenon that was more concentrated in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We changed the guidance when we saw how things were going. The issue now, which the Government cannot conceal, is are they going to protect out-of-town areas—are they going to stand up for the city centres—or not? Or will we see more of what we saw today with the report about inner-city revival—it contains some quite good ideas—which has been produced after two years of this Government? What did the Deputy Prime Minister say? He said that he had not got much voice left and he did not intend to do anything about any of the recommendations for at least 12 months.

Why is the matter not more urgent? Why do the Government not want to do something to put the cities back on the map and to stem the exodus that they created from northern industrial towns and cities to the south? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is Labour's wanton destruction of British industry in the north and midlands that is leading to the mass exodus to the south? Instead of laughing at it, Labour Members should stand up for their constituents, who are suffering from it.

Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle)

I do not know how the right hon. Gentleman has the incredible brass neck to berate us for out-of-town developments. Permission for 50 per cent. of all out-of-town hypermarkets was given under his Government in the five years between 1986 and 1991. Is that not just hypocrisy with a capital H?

Mr. Redwood

Why does not the hon. Gentleman save his breath and ensure that his right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister understands that he must not relax the rather good planning policies that we put in place in the 1990s? The hon. Gentleman says that he is so worried about it, but he ought to have the courage and honesty to say that his argument is with those on the Government Front Bench, who are thinking of undermining a rather good policy—which I think he supports and which the Conservatives introduced. The Deputy Prime Minister also favours building more houses on green fields throughout the south-east to accommodate the mass migration from the northern cities.

The Chancellor always taxes when he can. He now thinks that he is on to another good thing to raise some money. He has decided that he wants to tax any motorist who succeeds in getting to work by car if that motorist dares to park when he gets there. That is on top of the £150 extra in fuel duty being paid already by the average motorist as a result of the swingeing increases in fuel duty imposed by this miserable Government.

I wonder whether the Government understand that people who live in rural areas often have no choice of travel. There are many villages with no bus services, or with only a few buses a week. People have to go by car if they are going to travel. For them, new Labour's transport policy is going nowhere fast. The difference is that the Conservatives did not make it impossible for people to use cars in those rural areas—this Government are making it impossible for people to use their cars, as well as denying—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but there are far too many sedentary comments, and some of them are coming from those on the Government Front Bench.

Mr. Redwood

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there was never a golden age for buses? It is ridiculous to suppose that buses alone are the answer for rural transport. Buses do not go where people want to go, which is between village and village; they go down arterial routes. It is missing the target for Labour Members to bay at us that buses are the only answer.

Mr. Redwood

My hon. Friend makes a powerful point from his own experience, with which I entirely agree.

Do the Government realise that some people who live in urban areas also have little choice about travel? The station car park may be full or vandalised. What are they going to do about that? The train or bus service may not take people out of town to the places that they wish to go. It may go nowhere near one's home, so one has to use the car to go to the station, if one wishes to use the train. Cross-country train services are either slow or non-existent in many parts of the country.

It is high time that Ministers woke up to those realities and stopped living in the past. It is high time that they stopped throwing jibes about Conservative Governments long ago and did something now. The British public are angry now and they are angry with this Government. They have already expressed their views on the previous Government. We have learned and listened and we have exciting new policies to get Britain on the move; this lot opposite on the Labour Benches have not a clue about how to get Britain back on the move.

Mr. Christopher Leslie (Shipley)

I am interested to know about the solutions that the right hon. Gentleman is offering. Can he say what his policy would be to improve bus services?

Mr. Redwood

I am glad that Labour Members want to learn from the Opposition, because we have much better ideas than the Government. I will come to ideas about how we can improve the position later, but I can give him some immediately—scrap the M4 bus lane, make the motorway safer, and get more people along the M4 in the morning peak time. That may not be so convenient for the Prime Minister, but it would be a lot more convenient for the rest of us.

Now, there is a spat between the Deputy Prime Minister and his boss. The Prime Minister is bitterly undermining his deputy through press briefings. He is letting it be known, in the usual backhand way, that he holds him to blame for stand-still Britain. The Prime Minister is determined that, as Britain grinds to a halt, it will be his deputy who is in the political jam.

The Deputy Prime Minister is not taking all that lying down. For once, I do not blame him—in fact, I find myself becoming extremely sympathetic towards to him—[Interruption.] Oh yes I do. He has been more spinned against than spinning. He protests that he is being blamed for implementing the Government's manifesto policies. Surely, he whispers, the Prime Minister should take the blame for the bash-the-motorist policies, for they are the policies of the Labour party as a whole.

I think that the right hon. Gentleman is right to take that view. Why blame the steward when you can blame the man who threw the party in the first place? For once, I admire the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister is the real thing; he oozes hatred of the motorist—[Interruption.] Hon. Members think that I went to a public school. I did not go to a public school; I went to a direct-grant school on a free place, which was rather different. It was that or the grammar school.

At least Two-Jags John is the real thing—he oozes hatred of the motorist and revels in the higher charges and taxes on motorists. He loves to see the rest of us struggling beside the empty bus lane, running the gauntlet of the growing selection of humps, cameras, chicanes, traffic lights and coloured lines that now deck out many a main route under his description of an integrated transport policy. It is, of course, a disintegrating transport policy.

Mr. Andrew Reed (Loughborough)

Is the right hon. Gentleman trying to tell us that the Conservatives are against chicanes, bumps and speed cameras, all of which are measures that save pedestrians' lives? Is he against all bus lanes? Perhaps he should consider the experience of people in Loughborough, where a bus lane was introduced only five months ago, and bus usage increased dramatically—by at least 15 per cent. Is that not an example of the sort of integrated transport system that is required? By rejecting all those matters, the right hon. Gentleman is not talking about a real integrated transport system; he is making cheap points that have no relevance to the debate on transport that we need.

Mr. Redwood

I advise the hon. Gentleman not to send those remarks to Downing street; they are definitely off-message. We do not want those impediments on through routes, red routes or main roads. There are uses for traffic-calming measures in residential areas, but not on main routes. Labour Members are getting muddled as to when, where and how such measures should be used. What they are doing is reducing the amount of available road space.

Jacqui Smith (Redditch)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Redwood

Usually, I should do so, but I am short of time and many hon. Members want to speak.

Mr. Graham Allen (Vice Chamberlain of Her Majesty's Household)

We are getting some good stuff out of this.

Mr. Redwood

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman thinks that there is good stuff in my remarks. He is quite right. It is much better than he will hear from the Treasury Bench.

The Deputy Prime Minister is being undermined by his boss at the very point at which he is succeeding in bringing the motorist to boiling point. That is what the Government planned; they wanted to infuriate the motorist, and they are succeeding. That is the one pledge they intend to keep. New Labour promised us joined-up government, but one branch of the Government is spending £150 million to get more cars made in Britain by subsidising Rover, while another is trying to stop any of them being driven when they have been produced and sold. That is not integration, but contradiction.

There is another spat or three over Labour's approach to big business. It looks as though "Just call me Steve"—the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry—the Chancellor and the Prime Minister want to relax planning controls to allow genetically modified food companies more scope to plant, and to permit more new superstores to be built out of town. However, we know that the Deputy Prime Minister wants to restrict all of those, reflecting his good, old-fashioned distaste for big business and all its works. We all know who will win. The deputy Prime Minister has lost many times before; doubtless he will lose again. He should now watch out for more undermining from the centre, as the Government cosy up more closely to the supermarket barons and the genetically motivated Lords.

What should the Deputy Prime Minister do? My advice to him is to go and have it out with the Prime Minister, man to man, before the briefings get any worse. He may have to queue for an appointment; he may need to remind the staff at Downing street who he is. We learn from The Independent that he has just been relieved of his special campaigning role. That is the first case of a Minister being sacked in order to spend more time with his Department. However, there is plenty for him to do there.

The right hon. Gentleman should start with the M4 bus lane. It must go. No one believes that it is quicker to go by car now that there are only two lanes instead of three. On that logic, all dual carriageways should be reduced to single carriageways to get rid of the jams. New Labour is not motoring. Then, he should turn to the tube. He should hold urgent talks to get the Circle line working again in busy periods, and provide bus alternatives when it has to be closed.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Redwood

I do not have enough time to give way.

The Deputy Prime Minister should stop London Underground from closing the Northern line. He should restore the massive cuts that he has made in the investment programme for the underground. The Labour Government have slashed investment in London Transport from £1,060 million in the last year of the Conservative Government to £564 million now. Tonight, if he announces anything less than £500 million extra for the tube this year, it will still be a massive cut in the investment plans that we introduced and were successfully implementing.

The Deputy Prime Minister and his colleagues have slashed the roads budget and slashed investment on the tube. Now, to add to the misery, they want to charge us to drive into the city centre and again for parking at work. Only the Deputy Prime Minister could believe that the answer to Britain's transport problems is a poll tax on wheels. The only beneficiary of that will be the Conservative party. I am glad that he is so well inclined towards us; his policies suit our party interests well but they serve the nation so badly.

The Deputy Prime Minister now says that he wants to regenerate our city centres. Why, then, does he want to stop people driving in city centres and owning cars in cities? Does he not realise that people value the freedom brought by the car? His measures will put people off his city centres, rather than encouraging people to go to them. His Department's annual report states that new roads relieve congestion and help the regeneration of rundown areas. I agree with that. Does the Deputy Prime Minister stand by that statement? Has he read it? Does he agree with it? If he agrees with it, why does he not do something about it? Why has he cancelled so many of the roads and other transport links that could bring some relief to those rundown inner-city areas?

The right hon. Gentleman is fast becoming the biggest polluter of them all. The best way to increase pollution is to increase traffic jams; he has perfected dozens of ways of doing just that. He causes more congestion than an epidemic of summer colds. Labour is not new and it is not green. It is old and brown. It is just a rip-off. The motorist now rues the day that a Labour Government came to town.

Occasionally, a member of the Government does something that captures the public mood and sums up a feeling. No one is better at that than the Prime Minister. Only the other day, he did it again, by travelling down that bus lane on the M4. That was arrogant. It demonstrated a dangerous absurdity in Labour's transport policy. It showed how out of touch the Government now are.

Mr. Clive Efford (Eltham)

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that traffic in and around London is projected to increase by between 30 and 50 per cent. by 2030? What would be his policies to address that issue?

Mr. Redwood

First, we would privatise the tube and get massive new investment for the tube system, so that it provided a better alternative. Secondly, we would remove a great deal of clutter from the main routes so that traffic could flow better. Thirdly, by sorting out the enormity of fuel and diesel duty that has been heaped on taxi drivers, we would give them a much better deal than the hon. Gentleman's miserable Government have given them.

I promised to confine my remarks to 20 minutes; that time is now up. I read today, after a week of anti-briefing, that the Prime Minister backs his Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, bus lane and all. When he reads that in the papers, I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman minds his back and scraps his bus lane. Over the past few days, the message in the papers has been quite lethal for the right hon. Gentleman—the boss is not happy with his performance; England, Scotland and Wales are in revolt over the transport chaos; the nation is not happy with the Deputy Prime Minister. He should think again, or relations with No. 10 will get even worse. I urge the House to support our motion.

7.38 pm
The Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. John Prescott)

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: deplores the previous Government's record of under-investment and disintegration in the transport network, its failure to tackle congestion as traffic rose by 75 per cent., the £1.2 billion investment backlog it left on the London Underground and its cut in road maintenance; commends the Government for producing the first Transport White Paper for 20 years, taking a far-sighted and more integrated approach than the previous administration, and linking together planning and transport policy more closely; and notes that the present Government has begun to tackle the inherited problems of under-investment, pollution and increasing traffic congestion, by a new radical integrated strategy, including an extra £1.8 billion for public transport and local transport management, winning back passengers to public transport, improving road maintenance, encouraging greater fuel efficiency, reducing pollution, and introducing the long-term policies needed to increase transport choice and improve Britain's transport system.". I do not intend to treat the House with the contempt displayed by the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood). Transport is one of the Government's most important policy areas. It is important for the environment and for the effectiveness of our industry. We must address the problems that have occurred during the past 18 years—although they were occurring before then. Congestion and transport problems have been evident for a considerable period. There has been a move from public transport to the private vehicle; we have to change that. I shall try to address that point.

The speech of the right hon. Gentleman had more to do with humour than with any substantial ideas as to how we solve the problems. I suggest that he changes his scriptwriter—the jokes were not particularly humorous. It is a bit much for him to talk about the problems of the underground. We inherited a £1.2 billion under-investment in the system, because the previous Conservative Government refused to make a proper investment in the underground. The figures cited by the right hon. Gentleman are not accurate. The previous Government planned to invest £729 million in 1997–98; that was to be cut to £350 million in 1998–99 and to £161 million in 1999–2000. That was the judgment of the last Conservative Budget—the right hon. Gentleman can check the figures easily enough. It is not surprising that the Circle line and the Northern line are facing problems as a result of that disinvestment.

The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the local authority settlement was not a good one. In fact, it was a generous settlement and it was accepted by the local authorities. By any comparison with any settlement of the past five to seven years, it was indeed generous, and it was acknowledged as such by hon. Members on both sides of the House when it was announced. The right hon. Gentleman should not believe everything that he reads in the newspaper: the endlessly repeated story about my getting on to a bus and a Jaguar following behind is totally untrue. I constantly use public transport, and I can say that I spent 10 years of my working life working in public transport in this country; the right hon. Gentleman cannot make the same claim.

Mr. Redwood

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the figures for the last three years of Conservative investment in London Transport are £955 million, £1,114 million and £1,060 million? This year—a year of planning and budgeting by the Labour Government—the figure is £564 million. Of course the Conservative Government's planned investment was lower: we were going to privatise and bring in private finance, so much of the investment would not count as public spending. Surely the fair contrast is between three years of £1 billion a year investment under the Conservatives and three years of miserable investment under Labour, with the figure falling to £564 million this year?

Mr. Prescott

I made it clear that the figures to which I refer are those for projected expenditure for investment in the underground over three years. The right hon. Gentleman refers to the three years prior to that, but he should acknowledge that much of the money was lost on the Jubilee line, because of the Conservative Government's incompetence in negotiating a contract that has led to an overspend of about £1 billion. That is a constant problem of the underground with which I have to deal: when I find money for investment, it is sucked away into the Jubilee line. I shall have more to say about that shortly.

It is interesting to note that the Opposition motion mentions both transport and planning.

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington)

I am sorry to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but may I leave with him a hallmark of the Tory years drawn from the London underground? It is to travel on the underground and see broken-down escalators throughout the whole system and little old ladies protesting to rail guards about having to carry their bags up stairs. That went on for years and years—it was hard to leave the House of Commons and find an underground station in which the escalators were working. That is the hallmark of the Tory years, and we remember it.

Mr. Prescott

I remember it well, too. Anyone who travels on the underground has witnessed that deterioration over the many years of Tory Administration. The Select Committees of the House of Commons have investigated and confirmed the level of disinvestment in the underground, and we are witnessing the consequences of that long period of disinvestment.

I should like to remind the House of the Labour Government's inheritance, because I did not recognise it from the description offered by the right hon. Member for Wokingham. Let me give one or two facts which can be found in the books, some of which the right hon. Gentleman has before him. Eighteen years of clear Tory misrule were dominated by deregulation and privatisation—the concept that competition could solve any problem. The consequences were that our national rail networks were broken up and privatised, worsening the service and weakening regulation. I do not suppose that anyone denies that—it is in the newspapers almost every day.

The bus industry was deregulated and the evidence of the consequences is absolutely clear: bus networks were broken up, raising fares and reducing the number of passengers by one third. Curiously, the only place where the number of bus passengers increased was the London area, where buses were not deregulated. Where regulation prevailed in the bus industry, the results were a better service and an increased number of passengers. The factors that undermined bus services were deregulation and privatisation. I have already mentioned the £1.2 billion backlog of investment in London Underground and the £400 million cut made in the last Tory Budget—again, the figures are there for all to see.

The Tories' massive £200 million cut in road maintenance expenditure resulted in roads being in their worst state since surveys began. The document containing that fact was published only recently, but it covered a period of Tory Administration. Inevitably, congestion increased, despite roughly £16 billion being spent on the roads programme. In 1979, there were 42 motor cars per kilometre of road, whereas by 1997, that figure had increased to 60 motor cars per kilometre of road—a increase of almost 50 per cent.

According to the Confederation of British Industry, the cost of congestion to the United Kingdom economy was £20 billion. Furthermore, up to 24,000 premature deaths were caused by exposure to air pollution. The Tory policies forced more people to rely on their car, and tilted the balance from public transport to the private car. Consequently, the Tories were responsible for introducing the term "gridlock" to Britain. Such congestion led to massive costs and frustration.

The House probably thinks that I am being somewhat biased, so I shall pray in aid someone else's description of the transport system: We have gridlock. The rush hour begins just after 6 am and is still in full flow three hours later. In many parts of the South East the traffic queue for one junction runs into the queue for the next, and for the one beyond that. The station car park is full. The queue for Heathrow is long. The M25 regularly seizes up. Everyone tells me something should be done about it. Absolutely right, but who made those comments? The right hon. Member for Wokingham. It is interesting that he wrote that, not last week, or last month, but in 1996, after 16 years of Tory Administration and failed transport policy. Despite all the rhetoric that we have just heard, that is what he wrote when he was in the throes of another election within his party. The right hon. Gentleman was writing of the collapse of the transport system and the collapse of Tory party policy. How else can he explain that article? It was an attack on the failure of the transport policies of the Conservative Government of which he was a member.

Mr. Redwood

I do not see it like that. My article shows that the country became a lot more prosperous under the Conservatives and that people wanted to use their cars, so we needed to make some improvements to the transport system to accommodate their wishes. That does not give the right hon. Gentleman an excuse to come along and make the problem 10 times worse, with his bus lane on the M4 and his closure of half the tube system. Instead, it means that he should follow our policy by privatising the tube system and clearing the roads.

Mr. Prescott

Let us not pretend that traffic jams started with new Labour. They were with us before, and they became considerably worse because of the policies pursued by the previous Administration.

Let me give another quote from the same article, in which the right hon. Gentleman offered ideas about how to improve the transport system. Under the headline, "How I would free drivers from gridlock", he wrote: The main A roads, especially the main routes into London, should be freed of any traffic management impediments"— such as speed cameras, speed humps and so on. In other words, "deregulation of the roads". The right hon. Gentleman regards driving on the left as an affront to personal liberty, and traffic lights as an attack on human rights, but can the House imagine him on the M4 if the changes that he suggests were made? The frustration of trying to travel on such a congested deregulated road would cause him to try to return to his home planet, Vulcan, with a cry of "Beam me up, Scotty!"

No wonder he does not like to acknowledge the positive results of the M4 bus lane pilot. Whatever the rhetoric in the papers or from Opposition Members, it is clear that, in the first two weeks of the M4 bus lane pilot, 3,500 buses and taxis improved their journey times by 16 minutes, and car journeys were shortened by two minutes in the rush hour. Furthermore, there is a projected 20 per cent. cut in accidents. I believe that result to be win, win, win, but all that we hear from the right hon. Gentleman is whinge, whinge, whinge.

Let me make it clear: I am certainly not anti-car. I am for ever being called Two-Jag Prescott, so I assume that that means that I love motor vehicles—and I do. The right hon. Member for Wokingham said that he has two Jaguars; they are beautiful cars and I like them. However, that does not mean to say that I do not think there should be a better public transport policy and that we should seek to encourage people to use public transport more and their vehicles less—as each of us must do. I certainly observe that rule. I am not anti-car, but I am anti-congestion.

I assume we all share that view. The car has done much to improve the lives of people in this country and I am determined that we will do all that we can to ensure that the benefits of car ownership are not lost to future generations. However, those benefits will be lost if we allow congestion to grow at its current rate. There will be 6 million more cars on the roads in 20 years if we do not effect some kind of change. Try to consider how much road space will be necessary to accommodate 6 million more cars. We cannot build our way out of the problem—just ask Lord Parkinson who, as Secretary of State, proposed 14 new roads for London. Londoners soon made it absolutely clear what they thought about that road programme.

We cannot build our way out of the problem—and that is not only my conclusion but that of the previous Administration in its last transport Green Paper. The Conservatives advocated moves to better public transport systems and the shadow transport spokesman said that he agreed with that policy. The previous Government came to that conclusion late in the day—after 17 years in government, they decided that they had got it wrong. The Opposition transport spokesman admitted that today, when he said: Mistakes have been made; we came quite late to this whole issue. He is probably right about that, but we suffered a great deal as a result of the Conservatives' policy mistakes.

The worst thing for motorists would be to follow the same route as the Tories—the right hon. Member for Wokingham seemed to advocate that course of action in his speech—and surrender to congestion. That would be bad for the economy, bad for the environment and bad for the motorists—just ask them. Doing nothing is not an option; we must make changes if we are to have any influence over congestion.

Mr. Efford

Does my right hon. Friend agree that those who claim that the bus lane on the M4 is the cause of congestion are implying that there have never been any problems on that motorway? I have worked in London's transport system and I can vouch for the fact that there were enormous problems. Does my right hon. Friend agree also that traffic jams on the M4 are a sign of things to come if we do not do something to make public transport flow freely and shift people out of their cars and on to public transport?

Mr. Prescott

It is about offering people a better choice. Our policy aims precisely to allow people freely to make the decision to use public transport more and their cars less. It is a voluntary choice, but other European countries—which have more cars per head of population than we do—have managed to persuade their motorists to use their cars less and public transport more. People do not use public transport in this country because that system has been run down.

We believe that things can get better and that we can achieve change in Britain. We made clear in our White Paper that we want a transport system that is safe, clean, efficient and fair. We will achieve those objectives by prioritising and improving public transport; by improving traffic management and road maintenance, not by deregulating the road system; by creating a more integrated transport system and linking transport with planning and a wider range of Government policies.

We cannot do that overnight—anybody who believes that we can is in cloud cuckoo land. To make those kinds of changes and to persuade people to make different decisions about how they will travel and move from A to B is not an easy task. However, it must be done. Doing nothing is not a possibility. We have to improve the situation, and that will take time.

Miss Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove)

As the right hon. Gentleman thinks that there are difficult choices to make, I would be grateful for some clarification. I presume that he approves of the charges for workplace car parking spaces that are proposed in the west midlands. Who does he think should pay the £250 parking charge: the employee or the employers?

Mr. Prescott

That is an interesting point to which I shall turn in a minute. I remind the hon. Lady that that was the policy of the previous Government—they produced a Green Paper on the subject. At the time, the hon. Lady was writing about what was said in Parliament. If she reads that document, she will find that that was Conservative policy. One Opposition transport spokesman is saying yes and another is saying no. A transport spokesman has said from time to time, "We came late to it, but we have begun to make those changes."

We are making a start. We have made improvements in our first two years in government. We have increased resources for public transport and local transport by £1.8 billion. We have established a shadow strategic rail authority that will deliver tougher rail regulation. We will raise road maintenance spending, through an extra £600 million over three years, to nearly £3 billion a year. As a result of those policies, we have seen an increase in the number of bus passengers in England for the first time in decades. Those figures have not increased in this country, year after year and decade after decade but, now, more people are choosing to use the bus system to travel from A to B.

We have allocated £150 million to rural transport services—about which I hear a great deal. Our programme for rural bus services has produced, within 18 months, 1,500 new and improved services that people in rural areas are using and that they wanted and needed. The rural audit, which was conducted a year or so ago, made it clear that people in rural areas wanted a better public transport system. The right hon. Gentleman might not want that, but I assure him that rural constituents throughout the country are very pleased with our improvements to rural transport services.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)


Mr. Prescott

I cannot give way.

The rail industry has seen a 14 per cent. increase in passengers and there has been a 12 per cent. increase in rail freight since the general election. An extra 1,000 trains have been running each day since the general election and more than 70 new freight terminals have opened. Twelve new railway stations are opening this year. We are restoring a new confidence to the public transport system in this country.

We are taking the necessary long-term decisions. We produced a transport White Paper—the first in 20 years. The previous Administration produced only a Green Paper. In view of what they did to public transport, one would have thought they might have had further thoughts on the subject. The White Paper made 81 recommendations, 70 of which have already been implemented. Ten recommendations require legislation and six are enshrined in legislation that is either before the House or is about to come before us. There has been tremendous implementation of the transport White Paper.

It is a radical document that addresses the problems of transport and the environment; congestion and pollution. Measures include providing powers for local authorities to use congestion charging and workplace parking levies. They are part of the toolbox of measures for dealing with transport problems. That is the most targeted way of tackling congestion. It is also the view of the previous Administration—although that seems to be contested. Their transport Green Paper, produced by the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young), stated: The Government will therefore discuss with the local authority associations how best to take matters forward on these topics and with a presumption in favour of introducing legislation in due course to enable congestion charging to be implemented". That was the Conservative party's policy when it left office. I do not know whether that remains Tory policy—perhaps we will be told in the winding-up speech.

We did something else: we endorsed the principle of hypothecation.

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex)


Mr. Prescott

The hon. Gentleman says that, yet all moneys raised as a result will go directly to financing the public transport system. Will the hon. Gentleman confirm whether the Conservatives endorse hypothecation as a way of financing public transport? The right hon. Gentleman talked about the poll tax. As I understand it, he was in charge of the policy unit that devised the poll tax under Mrs. Thatcher. Perhaps it remains fresh in his mind: another disastrous experiment in local government financing. The right hon. Gentleman's public transport ideas would be as bad as those of the previous Tory Administration.

This Government believe in strong public-private partnerships, in which the risk is carried by the private sector. In recent years, a great deal of my time has been spent trying to rescue the incompetent deals done by the Tories. We salvaged the channel tunnel rail link, which was on the brink of collapse, refusing to meet the extra demands for £1 billion. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning) might laugh, but it was a stupid beggar on her side of the House who agreed to that contract. The company then came to me and asked me for another £1 billion. The company in charge of the Jubilee line is now doing the same thing.

I was able to renegotiate the channel tunnel rail link contract, and about 10 per cent. of that project has now been completed, on budget and on time. If the project's costs overrun, the company pays them and, if it makes a profit, the taxpayer gets a share. That is a fundamental difference in the way in which we deal with public-private partnerships. That will govern our approach to future developments, particularly on the London Underground. The Jubilee line is a classic example of the projects to which I have referred. The contract was not well negotiated, and contractors were able to get a considerable sum from the taxpayer because we had to meet obligations. That was due purely to the incompetence of the previous Government.

In conclusion, I shall deal with out-of-town shopping. I did not intend to mention this matter, but the right hon. Member for Wokingham mentioned it. It is a bit much for members of the previous Administration to talk about transport and planning, when one of the greatest effects on congestion and the demands placed on our motorways was the growth in out-of-town shopping.

In 1979, there were 150 out-of-town shopping centres and, by 1997, there were nearly 1,000. The Conservatives opened the doors for those centres; they let rip. Now, we have demands for 16 lanes and traffic lights to deal with the traffic on the motorways leading to the big shopping centres in places such as Sheffield. We do not believe in allowing such development. It has been disastrous, as the Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning made clear, on behalf of the Prime Minister, only last week. It is only the press who prattle on and try to suggest that such changes should be made.

If the Opposition are having difficulty in figuring out whether the Asda deal will have an effect on transport policy, perhaps they should ask the Conservative Member who is Asda's director. He could tell them the answer because he sold the company to the Americans.

This is a typical example of an Opposition debate because it flies in the face of the evidence, ignores all that the Tories did in their 18 years in power and offers us no solution to transport problems. There is an awful lot of political rhetoric and very little substance. The Opposition made a tactical error in choosing to link planning and transport in a debate, because we are linking planning and transport policy as never before. It was right that we brought together environment and transport in one Department because that was a major step towards the integrated decision making that is needed. As I have said, the Tory record on planning was disastrous.

This debate demonstrates that the Tories want to build more roads, but they want to save the countryside. They oppose congestion, but in government they failed to tackle it. They want good public transport, but in government they dismantled the rail and bus networks. Most of them want to tackle climate change, but they reject the means to do so.

The Government recognise the scale of the problem that we inherited. The consultation on our White Paper reveals that there is now a consensus for radical change in transport policy. For far too long, public transport has been treated as shabby and second class. We want, and intend to deliver, a better-quality integrated transport system to offer more choice and achieve a better balance between public transport and car dependence. That will be better for the economy and quality of life, and it will offer better social justice.

8.4 pm

Mr. Stephen Day (Cheadle)

I enjoyed the Deputy Prime Minister's speech. I find it amusing that he criticised my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) for the quality of his jokes. All I can say is that when my right hon. Friend makes the House laugh, it is usually intentional, which is not the case when the Deputy Prime Minister gets to his feet. I find his comments amazing after his recent embarrassing performance at the Dispatch Box.

I want to address my comments to three main areas of transport policy and connected planning policy. The first is the west coast main line. I speak as joint chairman of the all-party west coast main line group, and I should like to pay tribute to the group, particularly the work of my co-chairman, the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew). The west coast main line is one of the most important transport features for my area and probably for the area extending up to the west of Scotland.

I declare an interest in this matter which is listed in the Register of Members' Interests. Some time ago, both chairmen of the all-party group were guests of Virgin Trains. We went to see the new tilting train mechanisms and designs that have been produced in Milan, which will eventually be built in Birmingham and Preston.

The second issue that I want to address is the Manchester airport eastern link road, which I raised only last week in the House. I shall continue to raise that matter with Ministers until they have the common sense to finish a motorway that has already been started and not to cancel the rest of the project. The third issue is the impact on the area around my constituency resulting from the Government's decision to approve the application for a second runway at Manchester airport.

I draw hon. Members' attention to the fact that there has been an exhibition about the west coast main line in the Upper Waiting Hall today. The exhibition was sponsored by Railtrack and Virgin Trains, and a Railtrack press release refers to a new £35 million contract for work to be done on the west coast main line. Phase 1 is under way, and phase 2 is the subject of the press release. The project means that by 2002 there will be new trains on that line travelling at 125 mph, and by 2005 they should be travelling at 140 mph. That will greatly improve travel times to Euston from Manchester and other places along the line.

I have always approached the subject from a non-party political point of view, as has the all-party group. Having listened to the Deputy Prime Minister's comments, I will not be surprised if, when success is eventually achieved, the Government tell us that it is all their doing. I do not doubt that the investment on the west coast main line is long overdue, but the truth is that it is coming about for the simple, practical reason that the railways were privatised. It would never have happened otherwise.

Mr. Prescott

Under any Government?

Mr. Day

Under any Government. The Deputy Prime Minister knows full well—better, perhaps, than anyone else in the Government—that however much he, personally, may be committed to expenditure, the Treasury decides that the money is not available. The dead hand of the Treasury stopped investment in the British Rail network for years. That investment is now coming about because of privatisation.

Mr. Miller

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's comments about my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew). However, if the hon. Gentleman believes that a policy introduced by the previous Administration will deliver to the west coast main line the results that he saw in Milan, will he be voting for our amendment, rather than the original motion, which says that there are no policies to increase…rail capacity"?

Mr. Day

The policy currently being implemented is our policy. This Government have simply continued our policies and run the rail network that the previous Government created. This Government have no initiatives or vision about how to deal with the rail network. There are improvements now only because the Government have not reversed the policy of privatisation. Thank God that they have not, because private investment is being made in the west coast main line, and its success is vital.

The west coast main line is the busiest route not just in the United Kingdom but in Europe, so it is essential that it is modernised to the extent announced. With investment from Railtrack, Virgin Trains and Angel Trains, which is buying the lease for the trains from the Fiat-Alstom consortium—all major private companies—the long overdue improvements in the service on the line, which my constituents and those from Euston to the west of Glasgow have a right to expect, will ultimately be made.

Mr. Norman Baker (Lewes)

Of course I acknowledge the need to modernise the west coast main line, but does the hon. Gentleman accept that such modernisation has been rather over-hyped by Railtrack and that it is dressing up the renewal of basic infrastructure as new investment? In fact, on some stretches of the line, the maximum speed limit will not increase.

Mr. Day

If the hon. Gentleman knows anything about the west coast main line he will know that many of the current delays are caused by the use of old rolling stock, which Virgin is still running. Many of the trains are ex-British Rail—30 years old and some. There will be improvement with new rolling stock, which will obviously be able to travel faster, but only when the line is straightened and the signalling system is upgraded. Today's Railtrack press statement sets out clearly that the bulk of the £35 million contract will be spent on new signalling and points systems at various places on the track which cause delays and bottlenecks outside stations such as Euston.

All that is as a result of privatisation. If privatisation had not happened, we would not be seeing the improvements that, thank goodness, we are beginning to witness. There has been criticism of Virgin—I would be the first to say that much of it has been valid—but at least the company and its partners on the west coast main line project have the guts to put the money up front that will eventually bring about much needed improvements.

I accept readily that, in trying to reduce traffic congestion on motorways and roads, it is sensible to encourage people to use trains. Anybody with any common sense realises that, but we should not destroy alternative ways of solving such problems or force people out of their cars. The attitude that there are too many cars on the road, so people must be stopped from driving and travelling to out-of-town shopping centres in which people want to shop, is shared by old and new Labour. It is not surprising that the Deputy Prime Minister fronts the policy.

There is no question that the congestion difficulties that out-of-town shopping centres have undoubtedly brought about must be dealt with. But the answer for new Labour is to tell people that they cannot shop in such places. It says, "That is wrong, bad. Do as you are told. Do as I say, not as I do." That is not the answer to Britain's transport problems.

On the M6 in Staffordshire—[Interruption.] I want the Deputy Prime Minister to listen for a second, if that is possible. There is a minor problem but a great irritant caused by congestion on the M6 in Staffordshire as a result of necessary work—I do not dispute that—to improve lane signalling, which is being carried out by the right hon. Gentleman's Department.

There are logjams on that section of the motorway when the road is busy; traffic often comes to a halt in any case. With two-mile gaps between seven or eight sets of roadworks, there are 50-mile an hour speed limit signs. Therefore, even when the road is reasonably empty, traffic slows. It is not as though the work is going on throughout Staffordshire. One drives for miles and miles at a restricted speed limit, and what does one see? One sees three men and a digger at the side of the road. That infuriates drivers. I want the Deputy Prime Minister to ask his Department whether it is necessary to restrict the speed limit on almost all the M6 throughout Staffordshire—these works are to continue until March next year.

Mr. Gordon Prentice

Next point.

Mr. Day

Many of the hon. Gentleman's constituents drive on that stretch of road every day. I hope that they take note of his comments. He obviously has no interest in the concerns expressed by his constituents who use that stretch of motorway.

My constituents are being failed dramatically by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Government on a number of issues. The cancelled bypass around Manchester airport is only one of them. Many of my constituents live on the flight path to Manchester airport. The flight path is no great detriment to the lives of the majority of my constituents, many of whom—myself included—are proud of the airport.

In order to deal with congestion in the sky, the airport authorities have for many years asked for the power to fine aircraft that stray from the flight path over my densely populated constituency. Despite the fact that the Government agree with that principle, and that about 18 months before the election the previous Government agreed also, the airport authorities are still waiting for the regulations to be brought before the House. I simply appeal to the Deputy Prime Minister to do something for my constituency. One thing would be to enact what the Government claim they support and allow airports the power to fine airlines who stray from flight paths. Will he seriously consider that?

Mr. Prescott

I have not found the best way of doing it.

Mr. Day

Such sedentary comments give me the impression that the Deputy Prime Minister is very flippant about the matter. I hope that he takes it seriously because, for many of my constituents, it is a major issue. I simply ask him to ensure that his Department finds time to put the regulations before the House and thereby ensure that airports have the powers that they want. If he asks the Manchester airport authorities what powers are required, he will find out—because they support every word that I am saying.

Up and down the country, towns and villages are awaiting one development to rid their communities of pollution: bypasses. This Deputy Prime Minister and this Government have cancelled their one hope of being saved from pollution. Bypasses are the one way in which communities that suffer dense traffic may be relieved in the short term and for the future, yet the resolution of their problems has been taken away from under their noses. [Interruption.] The Deputy Prime Minister will hear about this whether he likes it or not.

The bypass to which I shall refer is a third part built. Nevertheless, the remaining two parts—the Poynton bypass and the western section of the Manchester airport eastern link road—have been cancelled. That is a joke. The proposed road has always been known as the Manchester airport eastern link road, yet the Government have cancelled the building of the part that links the road to the airport. It is unbelievable.

Mr. Prescott

It is not the only road to the airport.

Mr. Day

I would like the Deputy Prime Minister to visit my constituency. He and his Ministers have been asked on many occasions to see it for themselves so that I can prove to them that what I am saying is true. I would like to see the Deputy Prime Minister walk down Woodford road between Bramall and Woodford and see the reaction that he received. I advise him to take his Jaguar so that he can make a quick getaway. I would like to see him walk along Finney way in Heald Green, where the missing section of the link road should be. It has no apparent chance of being built with this Government's attitude.

Mr. Jenkin

Will my hon. Friend remind his constituents that the Deputy Prime Minister found £63 million to improve the road in his own constituency?

Mr. Day

My constituents would be surprised, but I doubt whether they would be shocked by that.

I must impress on Ministers on the Treasury Bench that my constituents in Cheadle, Bramall, Heald Green and Woodford desperately want the bypass. Seven thousand signatures were collected, but not by people going round knocking on doors and presenting petitions. The petitions were simply left in local post offices, and within two months, 7,000 signatures were collected from people who wanted the bypass. Despite the fact that the previous Government had given a starting date for the completion of the bypass, the present Government cancelled it.

The story of Cheadle's missing bypass is not uncommon. The only thing that sets it apart from instances in other parts of the country is that in our case, part of the bypass already exists. That is the nonsense that my constituents will never understand.

I also do not understand why the Government do not see the logic of completing the bypass, especially as the same Government gave permission for the second runway at Manchester, which will dramatically increase the traffic flows to Manchester airport. Manchester airport admits that even though it is providing for extra rail links and other services and forms of transport to get to the airport, the majority of the increased journeys to the airport through my constituency will be by road.

The bypass must be finished. It is beyond belief that a Government who gave permission for the second runway have cancelled the road link to the airport that is meant to service it. The entire issue needs to be thought through carefully, because it affects a wider area than the Manchester airport eastern link road. It affects the Poynton area in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) and the constituency of the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Stunell), because of the eastern section of the MAELR, known as the Poynton bypass, which has been cancelled, and the Hazel Grove A6(M) bypass. The three motorway projects together are supposed to link up to the M60 and provide the necessary relief for the whole of what is known as the south-east quadrant of Greater Manchester.

All that my constituents have seen as a result of the Government's green policy is their one chance of escape from pollution being taken away from them. That is the only change that they have seen. In its place is a promised study into the transport difficulties of the south-east quadrant of Greater Manchester. What a mouthful. I do not know precisely what that means, but on behalf of my constituents I shall raise one or two points with Ministers.

First, I thank the Department for including at long last—it was not the original intention—Stockport metropolitan borough council in the steering committee that is to be set up to appoint consultants for the study of the south-east quadrant of Greater Manchester.

Secondly, when the study gets under way, will it deal with the issue of the bypasses that have been cancelled, or will its aim be purely to find what the Government would call alternatives to those bypasses? I seek an assurance, as does the council in Stockport, that in the course of that study, the consultants will examine all aspects of transport policy, including the cancelled bypasses, and that the issue of roads will not be ignored.

The argument applies equally to other parts of the country. I hope that the Government's rhetoric will not be matched by their actions, and that they will not ignore the possibility of any bypass providing a solution in any area. I fear that that will happen, but I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure me.

Thirdly, as part of the study, will the Secretary of State or one of his Ministers consider coming to the area to see the difficulties that my constituents face? Since the road programme was cancelled, I have asked by letter and I have asked in the Chamber for Ministers to come and see for themselves. On no occasion have they given me a positive response.

Mr. Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way, and for notifying me of his intention to raise the matter. For my constituents in Hazel Grove, the road programme is vital. Does he agree that if the Minister visited the area, he would see that the conventional road network is no way able to take the additional traffic that will result from the development of the second runway, and that the Government have failed to take proper account of that?

Mr. Day

I agree. By approving the second runway, the Government recognised the importance of the north-west. They recognised the importance to the north-west of Manchester airport. In setting up the study, they recognised to some extent that there was a difficulty with transport in the so-called south-east quadrant of Greater Manchester, yet they took away one of the main solutions to that difficulty that was originally planned because the airport was expanding.

Given my constituents' expectation over 20 to 30 years that the road would be built, given that a third of it is already built, given that the previous Government set a starting date, and given that the second runway is imminent, the Government can no longer hide behind a transport study and deny my constituents the protection and the service that they have every right to expect that the Government will provide, to ensure that their environment, which the Government claim that they are seeking to protect, is protected for the future.

Mr. Gordon Prentice

We surrender!

Mr. Day

It will be a nice day for me and my constituents when the Government surrender. For many other communities throughout the country—not just in Hazel Grove, Poynton, Bramall, Woodford, Cheadle Hulme and Heald Green—the Government must formulate a coherent transport policy. If they stopped restricting travel by car, assisted drivers to get where they want, provided investment for alternatives and tried to attract drivers to alternatives, rather than forcing them to use such alternatives and bringing nothing but despair to areas such as mine, that would indeed be a happy day.

8.25 pm
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

The transport White Paper is the first major attempt for more than a generation to address seriously the problems of transport in Britain. The Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs made it clear that we regarded that as a tremendous advance, and we looked in considerable detail at the aspects of transport that we thought needed not only to be highlighted but in many instances advanced.

The debate has been interesting because of Conservative Members' tremendous insistence on roads. Roads are an integral part of the transport system, but anyone in this country who talks about congestion without mentioning the alternatives to roads, the advance in hypothecation and the first attempt for well over 20 years by any Government seriously to address the problems of public transport is running away from everything that is important.

Under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, we are at long last seeing a specific attempt to address a number of practical problems that have a direct impact on our economy. Transport and the economy are directly linked. That is not an accident. If we cannot move people and goods around the country, we are unable to benefit as we should. Indeed, aviation and the rail system have a direct impact on gross domestic product.

It was clear from the Select Committee's work that a number of areas should be addressed. I welcome the discussion about the Strategic Rail Authority. The sooner we get real parliamentary muscle behind the shadow Strategic Rail Authority, the sooner we shall begin to get changes. The previous Government fragmented the railway system like a cheap glass and left others to pick up the shards.

I was interested in what the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Day) had to say about the west coast main line. What the hon. Gentleman did not manage to say was that Railtrack is so concerned about the signalling system that it has issued an instruction to its contractors not to touch signalling. That is for fear that the system is so old that it will accidentally cease to operate, making the signals automatically go red and causing an advancing train the problems that we may have seen in the recent accident in the Winsford area—although I am not saying that such problems were the reason for the accident.

Mr. Day

On the signalling matter that the hon. Lady raised, today's Railtrack press release says: Phase Two, which will enable Virgin to increase train speeds … and provide additional capacity for other users, requires the development of a new moving block transmission-based signalling system. Phase 1 of the project involves £596 million to deal with the problem. Phase 2 will deal with it more specifically.

Mrs. Dunwoody

The hon. Gentleman is very sincere, but I do not have the faith in press notices that he appears to have. Let me draw to his attention the £27 billion investment announced by Railtrack recently. If he reads my report, he will see not only how we examined that figure, but how it strangely became £11 billion and then, when we broke it down, only £1.6 billion. Railtrack uses creative accounting, but we discovered that its large investment programme is a combination of money that it would have had to spend on maintenance; schemes that would need even more public money for matching; and action on pinch points which have been outstanding since Railtrack took over.

Suddenly, that £27 billion collapsed—right down to about £1.6 billion—and all those grandiose schemes disappeared into thin air. We are of course told that they will happen—if the taxpayer finds even more money; if we do not count maintenance; if Railtrack manages to use the money that we regard as absolutely essential for reinvestment in the signalling system; and if, somehow or other, Railtrack comes up with a new plan. That is ot what all that will mean.

I am delighted that Railtrack is issuing notices saying that it will do fantastic things in the future, but I have the strange, old-fashioned idea that I should like it to do something in the present. Although that may sound rather unimaginative of me, Railtrack is walking away with large amounts of taxpayers' money. When it appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, there was detailed discussion of what it had spent on consultants and privatisation. It said that it had had to spend money because it needed highly specialised information, but the reality is that it is neither entrepreneurial nor efficient— and nor, so far as one can see, is it capable of managing major schemes. If that is the case, any problems that will arise will arise not from its spending £27 billion but because we may be asking it to do something that it is not capable of achieving.

Mr. Redwood

Given the hon. Lady's comments on Railtrack, is she suspicious of that organisation's being allowed to be the only bidder—the preferred bidder—for a third of the tube? In view of her comments on its conduct, would she like to say to the Deputy Prime Minister that perhaps he should not allow that?

Mrs. Dunwoody

The nice thing about my relationship with my right hon. Friend is that I frequently say things to him that he understands without any difficulty at all. That situation has existed for at least the past 20 years and I do not expect it to change overnight.

I am suspicious of Railtrack—that will not come as a surprise to my right hon. Friend, because I have been telling him that ever since it was created—and I shall continue to be suspicious of Railtrack.

The Government of whom the right hon. Gentleman was a member created a merry-go-round of taxpayers' money, which meant that Railtrack finished up with the bulk of the cash. Of course it is one of the strongest players in the game. The fact that I do not trust Railtrack does not mean that it does not have the money. That is one of the things that worry me.

The Select Committee report suggested to the Deputy Prime Minister—who, I am sure, paid great attention to it—that one solution would be for us to say to Railtrack, "In future you will get access charges, but a large amount of the money that you collect at present will be diverted to the Strategic Rail Authority, so that Railtrack can be paid after it has invested in the schemes that it promises." I do not consider that an unrealistic attitude. I hope that the Government will seriously consider whether Railtrack has fulfilled all its promises, and whether it is doing what it said it would do or is simply walking away with an enormous profit for its shareholders on the basis of extremely inadequate management techniques.

I believe that the Deputy Prime Minister is doing such a good job that he needs to talk seriously to some of his colleagues. I do not mean just the Treasury, although, in my experience, all Governments need to speak clearly to Treasuries. The Deputy Prime Minister has succeeded in moving us towards a system of hypothecation. This is really the first time that it has been clearly understood that, if a large amount of money is raised from taxpayers in connection with transport—whether through road tolls or in the form of direct taxation—it is easy to persuade those taxpayers that an advance is being made in transport policy if they can see what is happening to their money.

Mr. Eric Pickles (Brentwood and Ongar)

The hon. Lady is right to suggest that hypothecation is possibly the most exciting change in transport policy that we have seen so far. When I had the honour to serve with her on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, we were very careful about our drafting in regard to hypothecation.

Does the hon. Lady agree that it is regrettable that, after the Deputy Prime Minister achieved the change, an official in his Department—in connivance with a Treasury official—changed the rules slightly, allowing sums taken for hypothecation to be spread and to be spent on matters other than transport? That means that the money goes straight back into the Treasury coffers.

Mrs. Dunwoody

The Deputy Prime Minister has secured a 10-year time scale, which I think will enable the public transport system to be transformed. I wish that he had secured a longer time, but I am sure that any incoming Labour Government will be able to continue his excellent transport plans, and that, when we see the advances that are made over the next 10 years, we shall be able to plan for even more hypothecation in the future.

Mr. Jenkin

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I do not want to take too long, but I am terribly honoured that the hon. Gentleman wishes to intervene.

Mr. Jenkin

I reciprocate the sentiment. However, we remain suspicious of hypothecation. Unless it also means additionality, hypothecation means nothing. According to a written answer in Hansard dated 20 July 1998, there is no public expenditure provision at all for London Underground after April 2000. If that is so, does it not mean that Government grant for the public-private partnership will be replaced by the revenues from congestion taxes and parking charges? Where is the fairness in that, given that motorists are already being fleeced by the Treasury? Why should the grant be taken away as well?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I do not share this terrible worry about the motorist, for a very simple reason. If we had continued to take no action in relation to either road transport or public transport, the whole road system would have been in continual gridlock.

Mr. Redwood

The hon. Lady is changing the subject.

Mrs. Dunwoody

No. It is not possible to deal with a problem by ignoring it; that just makes it a hundred times worse. The present Government have grasped the nettle of difficult decision making. In many instances, they are telling people who use public transport but want to retain their cars, "That's fine, but you should be aware of the cost to both the environment and the quality of life for people who live in cities—and the cost to the facilities that you yourselves want."

I hope that the Deputy Prime Minister will talk to the Home Office about the whole question of police enforcement. So far, there has been no discussion of the impact of road injuries, of the need to set targets, or of the need to accept the fact that, although the number of injuries is going down, the number of serious injuries continues to rise. I hope that we will be able to say to the Home Office that now is the time to put traffic law enforcement much higher up the list. It should be part of chief constables' core duties. They should find it possible to have considerably more energy directed towards traffic law enforcement. If they are not able to do so, the Government will have to consider seriously the creation of a traffic police. If they do not, we will pay a price.

The role of the Home Office goes beyond that: it needs to look at the whole question of crime on public transport. There will undoubtedly be positive benefits from policies that allow local authorities to enter into partnership with police authorities to ensure that there is better policing of public transport early in the morning and late at night. Women need to be assured that they can travel safely and comfortably to the place where they need to be.

I hope that private Members' legislation will be introduced to allow us to impound illegally operated lorries. I was sad that such a power was not in one of this year's private Members' Bills. It would save lives. It is essential. That gap in the legislation needs to be addressed.

The Strategic Rail Authority will produce enormous changes in the next five years. The operating companies will be required to work together. It is only since the Deputy Prime Minister succeeded in persuading them to do a lot more things in common that we have at last addressed the whole question of information, and of information systems that actually work.

I meant to bring along a marvellous letter that I received today from Virgin Trains, after two months: they were sorry that I had used the internet to ask for information on a train direct to Manchester and had been told that I should change at Crewe, but that was because I had tapped in the wrong information—I should have asked for trains not just in the next hour but throughout the day. Had I done so, I would apparently have got information about more than the one train. I explained to Virgin when I wrote that I knew that Crewe was the centre of the universe but that it came as a considerable surprise that it had just learned that as well.

We talk about what Virgin will do with its new tilting trains. We all want new efficient rolling stock. We want it to be built in this country. We build good engines in Crewe. It would be nice if people did not import them from elsewhere, but bought them from this country. However, no matter how good the rolling stock, if the rails are not there, it will not make any difference to the speed, efficiency or safety of the trains.

Railways have strange habits: all trains have to run on rails. Unless Railtrack is prepared to provide high-quality rails, many of our plans for an integrated railway system will be as nought. The quality of investment and of equipment and the safety of signalling equipment will be so substandard that we shall be faced with continuing problems.

For the first time in 20 years, we have a Minister who understands that transport has to be one of the most important policies that any Government espouse. All of us want changes in education and health. All of us understand that constitutional change frequently pushes out other, more domestic, measures. The reality for our constituents and everybody fighting their way on to the underground system is that, unless we get high-quality, safe public transport in place, none of the things that we want for our country in the new millennium will be possible, and we shall all suffer as a result.

8.45 pm
Mr. Norman Baker (Lewes)

I welcome the comments of the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). I agree with most of what she said, as I usually do on transport matters. I welcome, too, the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister and his team have not left the Chamber throughout the debate. That example might be followed by some of their Front-Bench colleagues in other Departments.

I am afraid that the Tories are in opposition mode. Their opposition is characterised by cynical opportunism and a cavalier disregard for the facts. I listened to the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) introduce the debate, but I did not like what I heard. Regardless of his portfolio, he always plays the man rather than the ball. On genetic modification he attacks Lord Sainsbury, and on transport he attacks the Deputy Prime Minister. The Government have made some mistakes on transport, and I shall come to them, but we need a mature debate rather than the personal attacks that we get from the Opposition, especially from the right hon. Member for Wokingham. He exaggerates the Government's faults to an absurd degree and stands with his hands clasped and a halo on his head pretending that year zero started on 1 May 1997. In truth, the inheritance from the previous Tory Government was lamentable.

Just in case there is any suspicion that the Conservatives could be the saviours of transport policy, let me remind the right hon. Member for Wokingham of the record of his county council in Buckinghamshire. I have chosen Buckinghamshire because it is one of the few councils that has been solidly Tory year after year. Even in the dark days, it was the one county council controlled by the Conservatives. In 1994–95 it spent £52.03 per head on road maintenance—an issue that the Conservatives are always keen to mention. In 1998–99, that was down to £33.71. In 1994–95 it was spending a total of £14.8 million on road maintenance and by 1997–98 that was down to £8.5 million. This year, the council has stopped producing the figure for its council tax leaflets so we are not sure what it is, but as I understand it, it has dropped still further. That is the gap between the rhetoric which promises that everything will be wonderful under the Conservatives and the reality when they are in control of a council. It is not a record of which to be proud.

During their 18 years in government they had a twin-track policy of private and public transport. The private element was the great car economy, which was the phrase of the Prime Minister of the day, now Baroness Thatcher. Another boast was that they had the biggest road building programme since the Romans. They are still on the same track. Their motion today criticises the Government for having no policies to increase road or rail capacity in line with traffic growth forecasts". The motion moved by the Conservatives on 18 March condemned the Government for cutting the programme of motorway and trunk road improvements to 37 schemes, which will increase congestion and pollution which the Government say they oppose".—[Official Report, 18 March 1999; Vol. 327, c. 1322.] How depressing that is.

During their 18 years, the Conservative Government made many mistakes on transport policy. They attempted to build us out of problems year after year while watching congestion get worse and worse. Increasing numbers of environmental areas and sites of special scientific interest were destroyed. The incidence of asthma increased—one in six children now has asthma. There were more and more health problems, and the Confederation of British Industry identified £19 billion a year as being lost because of congestion. Despite all that, it was not until the end of their time in government that we had a little relief when they at last recognised that it is not possible to build our way out of a problem. The report from the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment—produced by the then Department of Transport—recognised that building more roads encourages more traffic. The Conservatives finally accepted that—hooray for that.

The Tories cut their road-building programme dramatically, and cited environmental reasons for doing so. We thought that they had made many mistakes over 8 years, but at last they had recognised the fact that building more roads was not the answer. We now find out that in opposition they have unlearned that painful lesson, which took them so many years to learn. They are now back to where they were in the 1970s and 1980s. They think that if we build more and more roads, more and more bypasses, and more and more dual carriageways, then suddenly everything will be all right again. What nonsense.

Mr. Christopher Fraser (Mid-Dorset and North Poole)

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could explain the fact that his hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) approved, assisted, co-operated with and supported the Newbury bypass.

Mr. Baker

I shall take that one head on. I did not approve of the Newbury bypass being built, and I have made that clear.

Mr. Fraser

The hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend does, though.

Mr. Baker

He does indeed. I do not approve of that bypass. It was not Liberal Democrat policy to build such a road.

Mr. Fraser

The hon. Member for Newbury is standing as leader of the hon. Gentleman's party. He may be its future leader.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael J. Martin)

Order. I have to instruct the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole (Mr. Fraser) to be quiet.

Mr. Baker

The hon. Gentleman has asked me a direct question, and I shall give him a direct and honest answer. I thought that it was a mistake to build that road, and I did not support it. It was not Liberal Democrat policy at the time, but it was supported by the local Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament.

When the shadow Transport Minister sums up, will he tell us exactly what his party's roads policy is? Is it, as the Conservative motion implies—they criticise the Government for not doing so—to increase road capacity in line with traffic growth forecasts? Are we back to meeting projected demand? Are we back to road-building programmes that meet the projected increase of 142 per cent., which is the 1989 figure? Are we back to covering the countryside in more and more concrete? If that is not Conservative policy, what is? What is the Conservatives' road-building programme? They criticise the Government for knocking their programme down to 37 schemes, but how many roads are in the Conservative party's programme? Let us hear those facts from the Conservatives. If they are not prepared to say what their policy is, they should not criticise the Government in such a cavalier way.

The public transport strand of Conservative policy in the past 18 years was a total disaster. Rail fares increased by 74.8 per cent. above inflation between 1974 and 1996, whereas road prices and the costs of driving decreased over that period by 3.5 per cent. We should remember that when we hear about the motorist being clobbered. It is the rail passenger who has been clobbered under the Tories. We must keep that in perspective when we hear the Conservatives argue for changes to fuel duty.

While road users were given every encouragement and were told that they were wonderful and were given a road-building programme, rail users were given a second-class service, with clapped-out rolling stock, signals that did not work and no encouragement for rail investment. The rail network represented everything that the Conservative Government hated, especially the then Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher. It was fixed, regulated and in the public sector. She did not like it, and people who had to travel by rail did so only because there was no alternative. That is not a successful transport policy.

After 1986, with the calamity of bus deregulation, there was a catastrophic drop in the number of people using buses.

Mr. Redwood

Will the hon. Gentleman move on from his biased history lesson and talk about the future? Does the Liberal party support the M4 bus lane? Would it like to see more bus lanes on other motorways?

Mr. Baker

I remind the Front-Bench spokesman that my party is the Liberal Democrat party and not the Liberal party. Yes, of course we support bus lanes. If they are proved to work, we will support them. As the Deputy Prime Minister said, the figures from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions suggest that, during that experiment, travelling times were reduced not just for buses and taxis, but for private motor vehicles. Each bus lane must be judged on its merits, but according to the figures that I assume are accurate—they have not been spun—that particular bus lane is working. If so, I do not understand why the Conservatives oppose it, other than for purely dogmatic reasons—but that would not surprise me in the least.

During the Conservative years, the poor and the disadvantaged suffered: the third of the population with no access to a car were expected to pay more than car users. While people were getting company car benefits to glide into central London and other city centres in their cars, other people had to pay the so-called market rate for second-rate buses and trains—and they had to stand all the way. Where was the comfort for them?

I could not believe that I heard the right hon. Member for Wokingham describe safety measures and road traffic calming devices as "impediments". They are not there to save lives, or to help pedestrians and cyclists. They get in the way—they get in the way of people, such as the right hon. Gentleman, who want to drive very fast down roads so that people on foot must get out of the way. [Interruption.] The record tomorrow morning will show that the word "impediment" was used.

Mr. Redwood

The hon. Gentleman should listen more carefully. There are impediments such as the M4 bus lane, which is thoroughly unsafe as it is in the fast lane of the motorway and adjacent to the new fast lane. Of course we support safety improvements on other roads, where they are needed.

Mr. Baker

The record will show that the word "impediment" was used in response to a query on chicanes and traffic calming.

Conservative policy is this: car drivers should be entitled and encouraged to drive where they like—as uninhibited and as cheaply as possible—and the environment must pay. The public transport users must pay. The pedestrians and cyclists must pay. The poor and disadvantaged must pay. Those with health problems must pay. Nothing must stop the car driver, or the great car economy. What kind of a balanced transport policy is that?

Mr. Paterson

In a rural area such as mine, the majority of people drive to work in a car. According to Shropshire county council, the figure is 67 per cent. What does the Liberal party say to those car users who, thanks to Government policies supported by the hon. Gentleman's party, will now be paying, on average, £900 per year in extra tax?

Mr. Baker

First, I have no idea what the Liberal party would say, as it is a different party from mine. The Liberal Democrats recognise—I represent a rural area myself—that there are journeys in rural areas which must be made by private car where there is no realistic alternative. That is why we have a policy on vehicle excise duty under which someone driving a car of under 1600 cc for up to 24,000 miles a year will be better off, while someone with a gas guzzler will be worse off. The answer is that one chooses one's car carefully and one makes one's journeys carefully, and one will not suffer if one lives in a rural area.

We want to support the Government in what they are doing, as we believe that their heart is in the right place. The ideas coming from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions are the right ideas, and I do not doubt the commitment of Ministers to improving transport policies and practice in this country. However, they sometimes make it difficult for themselves.

The White Paper is full of good ideas, but they are not being implemented as quickly or as thoroughly as we would like. As the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich said, we need, above all, time for legislation and time to introduce changes. There is only so much that can be done by cajoling, shouting and encouraging. We need legislation to bring about changes, and so far that has not been proposed.

There are certain measures in the Greater London Authority Bill—affecting London only, of course—but other measures have not been proposed to improve transport nationally. We are two years through this Parliament—probably halfway through—and we are still awaiting legislation on this priority subject. I am sure that the Deputy Prime Minister has been pushing for legislation, but the fact is that he has not got it.

Mr. Prescott

What does the hon. Gentleman want?

Mr. Baker

I will come to that. Either the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are getting cold feet about the radical nature of the White Paper, or the Deputy Prime Minister has been outmanoeuvred by his colleagues who have other Bills that they want to propose, and he has not won the battle in Cabinet.

We want a clear statement of how the Government are to achieve the road traffic reductions implied in previous legislation, and those agreed to in the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Act 1998. Early-day motion 323, signed by 319 Members of Parliament, calls for real reductions in road traffic—not reductions in road traffic growth, a phrase that is now making its appearance. Of those 319, 236 are Labour Members. So the majority of the parliamentary Labour party have signed up to real reductions in road traffic, along with all Liberal Democrat Members, with the exception of the party leader, who by convention is not supposed to sign early-day motions. Only 19 Tory Members have signed, which shows that they are committed not to road traffic reduction but to road traffic increase.

The Deputy Prime Minister said: I agree to that commitment"— to reduce overall road traffic and not only road traffic growth— judge me on my performance in five years."—[Official Report, 20 October 1998; Vol. 317, c. 1071.] That was a brave statement and I am pleased that he made it. His ministerial colleague, the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson), said: our commitment to achieving not only a reduction in road traffic, but an absolute reduction, stands firm."—[Official Report, 18 March 1999; Vol. 327, c. 1365.] However, in a parliamentary answer to me in January she said that it is estimated that, with the transport White Paper policies in place—which they are not yet—traffic will grow by 37 per cent. by 2010 relative to 1990 vehicle kilometres. That is traffic growth of 25 per cent. over the next 10 years.

The Government need to act more quickly and with more radical policies to bring about the reductions. There is no doubt that they inherited a terrible situation, with problems of infrastructure, especially in the rail network; of pollution, which causes 24,000 premature deaths a year and has led to one in six children having asthma; and of congestion. Nobody expects them to turn the oil tanker round overnight, but my constituents are chafing at the bit. We know that we must have the stick of restrictions or extra charges but we want the carrot of improvements in public transport, which are not happening as quickly as they should.

The Government should be brave and legislate as soon as possible, in the next Session if not before, for a Strategic Rail Authority. They will by and large have our support for that. We want more real investment in rail, not the Railtrack version, dressing up maintenance as investment. We want rail lines to be reopened. I can give the Deputy Prime Minister a list of those that could be reopened. We want freight-only lines to be used for passengers. We want new stations to be slotted in where they make commercial sense.

We want the sale of British Rail land to stop. I thought that we had won that one—I pushed the Minister interminably for it—but the answer to a parliamentary question last week on what land had been sold since the moratorium ran to two pages. The moratorium is about as effective as the one on genetically modified crops.

We need to consider more creative ways of using the tax system to encourage a better approach from drivers. The Budget made a start, and the graded tax disc was welcome, but it dealt only with cars under 1000 cc, which amount to less than 10 per cent. The Government have to take that welcome principle and extend it.

Mr. Paterson

Referring to rural car users, I cited the figure of £900 a year as the extra cost, but only £150 of that is the VED element; £600 is extra fuel duty. Would it be Liberal Democrat policy to continue to support increases in the escalator year on year?

Mr. Baker

I have set out the calculations on how our policy, including VED, would lead to a reduction in costs for rural drivers using a particular size of car to do a particular mileage. I think, therefore, that I have dealt with that point already.

Finally, I shall turn briefly to what we want to happen with the rail system. We want trains to be reliable and safe, especially for women at night. We want them to be clean and welcoming. Above all, we want them to be cheap.

In my constituency, the A27 Lewes-Polegate road is chock-a-block with traffic, while nearly empty trains run parallel to the road. The trains are nearly empty not because they are inconvenient or stop in the wrong place: the service is very good and the stations at Lewes, Brighton and Eastbourne are in the middle of town. The reason is that the trains are simply too expensive. Cutting fares would be a sensible use of Government money. The cost to the Treasury would be less than that incurred by the provision of infrastructure for new roads.

Such things cannot be done overnight. I welcome the start made in the White Paper, but the Government are still in first gear. We want them to go further, faster.

9.6 pm

Miss Geraldine Smith (Morecambe and Lunesdale)

Much has been said tonight about congestion on our roads. I share the concerns that have been expressed in the debate, but it is difficult to swallow the criticisms levelled at the Government by Conservative Members. Public transport in this country was systematically run down over 18 years of Conservative Government. In that time, the whole of the former British Rail network was underfunded before the former Government privatised it at a knock-down price. Also, local authorities that tried to provide low-cost, efficient, local bus services were undermined by deregulation and the prohibition on subsidies to bus operators. The net result of Tory policies was the greater use of private cars and a reduction in the use of public transport.

Conservative Members have a cheek when they talk about revitalising town centres, given the way in which their Government decimated those centres by giving planning consent, year after year, for out-of-town shopping centres. We watched the growth of those centres throughout the Tory years—so I shall take no lectures from Conservative Members on transport policies. Their record is one of dismal failure over many years.

However, I recognise that serious transport difficulties face this country. There is a long way to go before we achieve the integrated public transport that people require and deserve. I welcome the Government's recognition of the problem, and I welcome, too, their strategy to help to relieve congestion and bring about health and environmental improvements. We know the problems of pollution and the effects of congestion on our roads, and we know what that is doing to our children. We must address all those very serious issues. It is obvious to everyone—except, perhaps, to some Conservative Members—that the solution lies in getting people out of their cars and on to decent, affordable public transport. That must be done by persuasion.

Mr. Paterson

Does not the hon. Lady understand that the Government's policy is urban driven and cannot apply to rural areas? There are 98 villages in my constituency. With the best will in the world, there will never be a comprehensive public transport system. Private cars, vans and lorries will remain the prime means of transport for people of all ages and classes. All commerce depends on motorised vehicles.

Miss Smith

I appreciate that rural communities rely on private transport, but there are things that can be done. For example, the Post Office operates a post-bus service, which is very helpful in rural communities.

Mr. Paterson

It runs once a day.

Miss Smith

It delivers mail and carries people from village to village. However, I accept the hon. Gentleman's point that rural communities rely on private transport as well as public transport. There is no disputing that.

We must persuade, not force, motorists out of their cars. There is a big difference in that. We must offer motorists safe, clean, reliable, affordable and convenient public transport. People in rural communities will leave their cars at home only if there are decent bus services. In some villages in my constituency, the last bus is at 6 pm, so without a private car no one can leave the village. We must address those problems before we ask people, unrealistically, to leave their cars at home.

Huge capital investment—either public or from private partnerships—is required in public transport. Improvements should also come from general taxation, rather than from hammering the motorist with a multitude of charges, levies and taxes. I feel strongly that it is unfair to penalise the poorest motorists through raising petrol levies. We must persuade people to leave their cars at home by providing public transport. If we do it the other way around, we will put the cart before the horse.

Many people choose not to drive. I did not drive for 10 years when I worked for the Post Office in the Morecambe and Lancaster area, but I had to take it up when I was forced to move to an office 30 miles away. Many of my constituents have no option but to drive to work on out-of-town industrial estates that are inaccessible by public transport. People who work shifts, hospital workers, those who work in out-of-town shopping centres and many others have to drive to work. If we attack the motorists, we shall often be attacking low-paid workers who would have to leave their jobs if they had no car to get them to work.

Many parents drop off children at school in the morning and collect them when the school closes. Often, there are no adequate school buses. Can parents, worried about safety, really be expected to allow children to walk to school? We must be realistic. School buses and safe routes to school are needed—but until they arrive, people will drive.

Out-of-town shopping has damaged town centres and has not, on the whole, been good. However, it exists, and I, like many hon. Members, do my shopping out of town. Do we use public transport for that? Very few of us do, because it would be an absolute nightmare.

Mr. Jenkin

I do.

Miss Smith

The hon. Gentleman must be one of the few who go to out-of-town shopping centres on public transport. He will know what a nightmare it is to carry home bags of food, clothes and much more. Without a car, we have to depend on often unreliable public transport.

I represent many rural villages, so I know the problems that people face when buses do not run beyond tea-time. It is sad that my constituents in the village of Warton have no way of getting home at night from Lancaster or Morecambe. We must address such problems, and I am pleased that the Government are trying to do so through the rural transport initiative.

The car provides freedom for people with disabilities and older people. Even if the disability is slight—perhaps someone cannot walk far because of bad arthritis or a bad heart—people with disabilities need their cars to allow them to go to town. We must be careful not to penalise those people by driving fuel bills too high. Any Government foolish enough to take on the motorist would soon face serious difficulties. A large percentage of people drive. They depend on their cars. Next to their homes, most people aspire to owning a car. We must recognise that that is how people think and how they will continue to think for the foreseeable future. It is a fact of life and it will not go away because we want it to.

We must consider how we can change people's attitudes, again by persuasion. What would persuade me to stop using my car is knowing that public transport was safe, reliable and convenient. We must ensure that it is, but to do so everyone has to pay the price. The people who will benefit most from improvements in public transport are those who do not own cars and who already use it. Surely, if they are to benefit, they should also contribute.

Therefore, in the main, improvements in transport should be paid for from general taxation. It will take huge amounts of money and I recognise that the Government have been left with a transport system that is in an horrendous state. It has been neglected for 18 years. Car use has been allowed to escalate and we have not considered how we can persuade people to use other forms of transport. Our public transport system is crumbling. People complain about London, but if I lived here I would at least find it easier to get around. There are all-night buses and there is the tube. In my constituency, buses often do not run at night and what service there is tends to be infrequent.

Until we get all those things right, the Government must realise that people cannot be forced out of their cars. They simply will not have it. They will hit back against any Government who try to implement that policy—and the Government will lose out. We should not force people out of their cars. We should listen to what people tell us, which is that they enjoy using their cars and will continue to do so for the near future. Only through sensible transport policies will we reduce car use.

Mr. Paterson

In that case, will the hon. Lady impress upon her Front-Bench colleagues that the fuel escalator should cease next year?

Miss Smith

The fuel escalator was introduced by the hon. Gentleman's party. It did not do the Conservatives much good, as they lost the last general election. It was not a popular policy, but then not many of the policies that the Conservative Government were proclaiming at that stage were popular with the British people.

My purpose tonight is to ask the Government to reflect carefully and to think about the vast majority of people in this country who drive cars and who need to be persuaded to use public transport. Transport needs to be in place for them to be able to use it.

Mr. Paterson

Will the hon. Lady do the House the courtesy of answering my question? Will she propose that the Government do not extend the fuel escalator next year?

Miss Smith

I was winding up. I told you that the fuel escalator was unpopular for your—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Lady does not tell me anything.

Miss Smith

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was telling the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) that I did not think that the fuel escalator was a popular policy for the Conservative Government. If that policy is continued and the price of petrol increases dramatically, it will not be a popular policy for this Government, either. That is why I ask them to think carefully and why I am speaking tonight.

9.19 pm
Mr. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)

I am grateful for being called to speak, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I noted that my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) was winding up the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Miss Smith) as she tried to wind up her speech.

I am grateful to have a few minutes and I will confine my remarks to my Leicestershire constituency, to consider the problems of the development in Hinckley and the need to upgrade the A5 between the M1–M69 roundabout and the Longshoot junction at Nuneaton.

Earlier, the Deputy Prime Minister said that it was a mistake to link planning and transport. I want to demonstrate that if we do not consider transport in relation to the A5, Watling street and Hinckley, development in Hinckley will not take place in line with his inspector's recommendations on the local structure plan. As soon as those proposed developments are approved by the borough council, the Highways Agency will reject them on the ground that the trunk road does not have the capacity. I commend the Highways Agency and my local council—Hinckley and Bosworth borough council—for getting together to try to solve that problem sensibly.

In my rural constituency of 100 square miles, there has been tremendous concern among car owners about tax increases. My hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire also referred to that matter. There has been particular concern in the more rural parts of my constituency, but firms such as Crowfoots, in the main town of Hinckley, are extremely worried about the hike in diesel costs. That has caused great hardship.

There would be anxiety about any proposed bus lanes in the midlands. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) referred to the bus lane experiment on the M4. We should be most concerned about any proposed bus lanes on the M1 and the M69.

The Secretary of State has failed to set up the much-vaunted Strategic Rail Authority; we should be interested to know when that will be done. It was one of his flagship proposals. The chaos on the Circle line reflects badly on the Labour Administration, too.

In Hinckley, there will be no development on the main local sites—such as grass plots, Nutts lane, Coventry road housing estate or the area off Wolvey road, unless the Government are able to help us. There can be no development in line with the Government's proposed increase in house building in Hinckley and the rest of Leicestershire unless improvements are made to the A5—an important trunk road. It is nonsense that we are unable to expand Hinckley, which is a most important town in the midlands.

The right hon. Gentleman can help us. The proposals are for a private-public partnership and will be introduced over five or six years. A few years ago, a small development took place on a section of the road from the Coventry road roundabout to Longshoot, which eased traffic enormously. We now need to extend that development. That could be done if the DETR, through the Highways Agency, looks kindly on the proposals. They have been well thought out and will cost about £9 million. If a railway bridge in the area is raised or lowered, the cost may increase by about 10 per cent to 20 per cent. If the Deputy Prime Minister supports the scheme, there will be huge benefits for the nation, because when the M6 is clogged up, the A5—the main arterial road running from London to the north-west—comes into play. I appeal to him to take note of that local initiative.

During the past fortnight, there have been two fatal accidents on that part of the road and there have been four fatal accidents in almost as many months. We need black-spot and warning signs on that section, and we need markings on the roundabouts. We need immediate action. I appeal to the Deputy Prime Minister to consider the matter.

Jacqui Smith

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he is arguing for traffic calming measures, such as those opposed by Members on the Conservative Front Bench during the opening comments of the debate?

Mr. Tredinnick

The hon. Lady must have misunderstood me; I thought that I was arguing for improvements on the road itself—a dual carriageway, three lanes and some roundabouts. That was the principal thrust of my argument.

Mr. Paterson


Mr. Tredinnick

Does my hon. Friend want to intervene?

Mr. Paterson

I merely wanted to say that the hon. Member for Redditch (Jacqui Smith) shamefully misinterprets my hon. Friend's arguments.

Mr. Tredinnick

I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

The Deputy Prime Minister has a unique opportunity to use his influence in respect of a major strategic road in the middle of England and to enhance his own reputation. I hope that he will not miss that opportunity.

9.25 pm
Ms Rosie Winterton (Doncaster, Central)

I am glad to have an opportunity to speak in the debate, because transport has an enormous effect on the quality of life of all of us and of our constituents.

In a voluntary capacity, I am a member of the RAC's public policy committee, so I know how important it is to motorists that we do something to reduce congestion on our roads. The RAC Foundation for Motoring recently surveyed RAC members, and the results show that 78 per cent. of motorists are concerned about traffic congestion. That motorists are concerned about the costs of motoring is to be expected, but they also know that congestion is costly to business and in health terms. Motorists know that, not only because they are car drivers and car users, but because they are also pedestrians, cyclists and rail users.

The survey shows that everyone knows that maintaining the status quo is not an option; people want change. The Government are delivering change, by providing an extra £1.8 billion for public transport, developing local transport plans with local authorities, providing an extra £170 million for rural buses, and increasing road maintenance. Those measures are making a real difference in improving public transport.

Although congestion charging has not yet started, local authorities will be able to establish local transport plans that will, as my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Miss Smith) said, help to persuade people to leave their car at home. If bus lanes, park-and-ride facilities, bypasses and ring roads are available, funded through local transport plans, the motorists will be offered a choice and, as the RAC says, that is the way to ensure that people believe that they can leave the car at home.

Mr. Fraser

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms Winterton

No—I am sorry, but I have very little time.

The RAC survey showed that the majority of motorists said that, if the money derived from congestion charging went back—at local level—into improving transport, providing better roads and better public transport, they would support charging. That is why the link with hypothecation is so important to the Government's aims. The survey also showed that 49 per cent. of motorists said that, if charging were introduced, they would try to car share; and, of those, 94 per cent. said that they thought that that could be achieved.

That survey was only of motorists—it did not take into account the views of those who do not have cars. In my constituency, 40 per cent. of people do not have a car—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. There are private conversations going on in the Chamber. It is bad manners to talk though the hon. Lady's contribution to the debate.

Ms Winterton

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The 40 per cent. of people in my constituency who do not own a car would not have been consulted in the survey, which shows that motorists support the action that the Government are taking.

The RAC Foundation for Motoring recently published a report, "Civilising Cities", which shows that people in local communities believe that improved transport links can help to increase employment, enhance access to leisure facilities and improve health through better air quality. The RAC believes that, if the DETR could set up a unit that would take those indicators into account—much in the way suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody)—that would help in assessing the effectiveness of local transport strategies. There is no doubt that it will take time to improve public transport—we must clean up the mess left by the Conservatives—but I am convinced that the actions of this Government will enable us to do that.

9.30 pm
Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex)

This Government were elected promising a great deal. Labour promised that there would be no new taxes and immediate benefits for the travelling public. We can laugh a hollow laugh at that. Labour said that merging the Departments of Transport and the Environment would create what it called "joined-up Government". Two years on, we have soaring anti-car taxation—the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Miss Smith) is right: the motorist is feeling hammered—transport spending has been cut and the Government pontificate endlessly against the car and against the ordinary folk who use it. We have had precious few policies and no legislation—which may be rather a good thing. We have had numerous consultation documents and policy launches, but the problems are worse than ever. Labour promised an integrated transport policy, but it is delivering a stand-still Britain.

After more than two years in office, all that the Government have to show for their transport and planning policies are ever-lengthening queues: queues of traffic on our motorways, queues of commuters waiting for their trains, queues of vehicles in town and city centres, queues of decisions waiting to be made and ever-growing queues of unanswered questions that are fundamental to the direction of future policy.

It is the Minister for Transport's first time at the Dispatch Box with me, so I shall be gentle with her. However, I should be grateful if she will answer in her winding-up speech some of the questions that the Government's policies leave unanswered. Let us consider the problems on the tube. The Circle line has been closed for two weeks and will remain closed for another seven weeks. Later this week, the city branch of the Northern line will also be closed for repairs. There is uncertainty about when the Jubilee line extension will be completed.

Will the Minister make a brief statement about the future of the public-private partnership on the tube? Will the Minister admit that the PPP is now at least one year behind the timetable envisaged in March 1998, that the contracts should have been let last September—we are not yet at the pre-qualification stage—and that the completion date of April 2000 is now ludicrously impossible? Will she tell the House who supports this public-private partnership? Not a single mayoral candidate is on record as backing it. Does the hon. Lady remember Labour's criticism of rail privatisation: that it was fragmenting the network? This public-private partnership will fragment the tube into four different companies, fragment the sub-surface tube from the deep tube and will split the management of the tube from that of London Buses for the first time in more than a generation. How is that integration?

Who will pay for the PPP? A written answer makes it clear that the Government subsidy for the tube will run out in April next year. Is it now apparent that the congestion charges and parking taxes will be hijacked by the Government to pay for their failed policies on the tube. What will happen when the money runs out? It is quite obvious that London Underground will run out of funds before the PPP is in place. Does the Minister agree that Londoners will rue the day when Labour cancelled the Conservative investment plans for the tube?

The public-private partnership is an extraordinary beast. It is one thing to privatise the management and the operations of the tube and hold the assets in the public sector but quite another to privatise the assets but keep the management answerable to the whims and fancies of politicians and civil servants. There is no precedent for the PPP. I recall the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Anniesland (Mr. Dewar) describing the privatisation of British Airways as the "pantomime horse of capitalism". This public-private partnership will be the pushmi-pullyu of the public sector.

The consensus option is the model proposed by Professor Glaister. Why do not the Government consider that? The supreme irony is that privatised Railtrack will be bailing out the Deputy Prime Minister's discredited policies.

That brings us to railway investment. I have a few questions about that. Does the Minister agree with Sir Alastair Morton, who says that he wants to make rail privatisation work, and that it was always going to take 10 years to do so? When will the Strategic Rail Authority Bill be published? Is it true that the Deputy Prime Minister was forced to remove that announcement from his speech this afternoon? What powers are needed by the SRA that the British Railways Board, the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising and the Rail Regulator do not already have? Is a new statute really necessary?

When will the Government stop fighting the previous election campaign against the rail companies that are trying to deliver the network and service improvements that the Government say they want? If the rail franchises are too short, why have the Government taken no action on that for over two years? How will Railtrack deliver its £27 billion investment plans if Ministers continue to threaten its profitability and undermine its share price? That investment includes the investment in the west coast main line, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Day) pointed out. When will the Government make the decisions that will enable Railtrack to deliver the rest of its investment plans?

What is the objective of the rail regulatory review, and when will that be completed? With freight trebling over 10 years, what will the Government do to improve on their target, which is presumably part of their policy? As sure as eggs are eggs, increasing fuel duties for road freight is not the answer.

That brings me to the crisis in the road haulage sector. After her Government's massive hikes in fuel tax and vehicle excise duty, does the Minister recognise that the UK road haulage industry faces an unprecedented crisis? Is she aware that one in 10 long-haul trucks in the UK are now foreign-registered? The Conservatives' policy is to end the fuel escalator. What is the Government's policy? Will they increase fuel duties in the next Budget? The Minister's predecessor was considering our plans for the Britdisc. What progress has she made on that? She has finally agreed a new meeting, on 19 July, for the road haulage forum, but why has it taken so long since the first meeting—which was in early April—to do so? Are such delays the penalty for having a new Minister for Transport every year?

Does the right hon. Lady think that forcing UK hauliers out of business will help to solve congestion on our roads? Is taxation—on fuel, congestion and parking—the Government's only policy to solve congestion? In response to the remarks of the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale, I ask whether it is fair to try to price poorer motorists off the road. That is the effect of the Government's policy.

On planning and congestion, has the Minister read the report by her noble Friend Lord Rogers? He says that building 40 per cent. of the 4 million new homes required over the next 25 years on green-field sites would lead to a further erosion of the countryside, increase traffic congestion and pollution, damage biodiversity and increase social deprivation". What is the Government's response to that?

Congestion growth is found not in city centres or suburban areas but on inter-urban roads, where traffic is set to grow by 70 per cent. over the next 20 years. The hon. Member for Doncaster, Central (Ms Winterton) is right to say that congestion is costly, but how will cancelling virtually the entire roads programme reduce congestion? Ninety-one per cent. of journeys are made by car, and 94 per cent. of land freight is moved by road. My hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Tredinnick), who spoke in the debate, understands that.

There is a fundamental contradiction in the Government's policy: there is no evidence that traffic growth forecasts have changed, but they are making absolutely no provision for any traffic growth.

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex)

Is my hon. Friend aware of the astonishing decision taken by the Deputy Prime Minister to grant additional planning permission for even more new houses in West Sussex without any provision for improvements in infrastructure? How does that combine with care for the environment?

Mr. Jenkin

My hon. Friend is right; the decision does nothing about caring for the environment. Nor will it reduce traffic and congestion.

It is perfectly all right for the Minister for Transport, who represents a Scottish constituency, to sit in her place and pontificate about policy—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The House must come to order.

Mr. Jenkin

In the 18 years of Conservative Government, spending per head on roads was 24.7 per cent. higher in Scotland than in the rest of the United Kingdom. In the Government's own plans, spending remains 12.3 per cent. higher in Scotland. How can the right hon. Lady come to this House, where she has no responsibility for roads in her constituency, to tell us in England that we should not complain about her cuts in our English roads programme? Why are a Government who pledged to revolutionise transport raising more taxation than ever from it but cutting spending?

Mr. Tony McNulty (Harrow, East)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Jenkin

I will not give way.

The Deputy Prime Minister was hit very badly in the public spending review. Last year, he spent £4.7 billion on transport, this year, it is £4.6 billion, and next year, £4.5 billion. Taxation raised from road users last year totalled £32 billion. We have an affluent society, and the car economy reflects that affluence, yet this Government expect roads to be funded on a shoestring.

We have a standstill on the roads, a standstill at the UK Passport Agency, as we heard earlier and, by a quirk of irony, we also have a standstill at the airports. The Government are meant to be taking decisions on the public-private partnership for National Air Traffic Services. It was announced last summer in a document on asset disposals for the financial year 1999–2000.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Does the hon. Gentleman support the sale of National Air Traffic Services?

Mr. Jenkin

It was our policy at the general election to privatise National Air Traffic Services. It is also the policy of her Government, as it says in the document. They are meant to be privatising the services during this financial year, but where is the legislation? Where is the decision? Is the Deputy Prime Minister being jumped on, just as he has been jumped on concerning other decisions?

NATS needs £100 million of new capital every year, and the Government are taking it away. Talk about disinvestment! More delay on the decision means more delays for air travellers, holidaymakers and business men flying abroad. If the Minister for Transport is in charge of this privatisation, will she be giving the necessary reassurances on safety?

Will the right hon. Lady give the necessary assurances on pensions? After serving as Robert Maxwell's right-hand man in Scotland as director of public and corporate affairs of the Mirror Group (Scotland), at Robert Maxwell's beck and call, does she think that she is qualified to give assurances on pensions, of all things? Her defence is that she did not know what was going on at the time. It is quite obvious that she does not understand what is going on now in her Department.

After two years in power, Labour is bringing Britain's roads to a standstill. Rail networks are overcrowded and Britain has the highest fuel taxes in Europe, but our transport investment ranks among the lowest. Labour sees motorists, who are ordinary people, as nothing but a tax-raising opportunity.

After two years in power, no one knows what Labour's transport policies are—except for their disastrous M4 bus lane and new taxes on traffic queues and on people who park at work. The Deputy Prime Minister's Department has no money, no legislation, no principles and no solutions to the transport crisis.

We promise to deliver a fairer deal for Britain's travelling public, to provide real transport options, to encourage greater innovation and private investment. At the same time, people want to be able to use their cars responsibly and to respect and protect the environment.

Labour is taking the country on a road to nowhere because it is ignoring the real needs of the travelling public. We believe in increasing public choices, not reducing them. The Conservatives will get Britain moving again.

9.45 pm
The Minister for Transport (Mrs. Helen Liddell)

I thank the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) for his welcome to the Dispatch Box. I was greatly amused when he said that he would be gentle. I kept waiting for him to start his speech. In fact, I am frequently overawed by the hon. Gentleman's ability to keep a straight face when he comes out with such twaddle as we heard tonight.

The motion, the opening speech of the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) and the speech of the hon. Member for North Essex were glaring examples, even by Tory standards, of political hypocrisy camouflaged as righteous indignation.

On an Opposition Day motion, on a subject that the Opposition presumably consider important, only two Opposition Back Benchers sought to speak in the debate. That is the measure of Opposition interest in the debate. The far-sighted approach to transport choices that they have demonstrated tonight reflects the phrase of one of their former Prime Ministers—

Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for a Minister to claim that only two Conservatives put in to speak, when it was quite plain at the end of the debate that at least two Conservatives were rising and trying to get in?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order. The Chair is not responsible for what the right hon. Lady or any other hon. Member says.

Mrs. Liddell

I am amused by the intervention of the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald), as I have been in the Chamber all evening and he has only recently come in.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire)


Mr. Paterson


Mrs. Liddell

Ah—Opposition Members all want in now. They all want their mark in the register, now that they have come in. [Interruption.] I give way—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. Lady is not giving way.

Mrs. Liddell

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for pointing out that I am not giving way.

Mr. Paterson


Mrs. Liddell

I do not know which part of no the hon. Gentleman does not understand.

To judge from some of the contributions tonight, it is clear that the Opposition are confused and have no memory. I found it interesting that the hon. Member for North Essex made no reference to the much-vaunted M4 bus lane—

Mr. Jenkin

I did.

Mrs. Liddell

I must have missed that comment. Presumably it was different from the comment that the hon. Gentleman made on 11 March, when he addressed the Institute of Directors and said that there was much in the Government's White Paper with which the Conservatives agreed, not least the sensible approach to bus lanes. Presumably that is what he had in mind when he constructed the Opposition motion this evening.

Mr. Jenkin

Why did the Government issue no public consultation about that bus lane? Why was it not modelled through the Transport Research Laboratory? Why was there no marketing push to improve the use of public transport on the bus lane before it was launched? Why was it just sprung on the public as the silly stunt that it is?

Mrs. Liddell

The only silly stunt that we have seen tonight is the Opposition motion.

When the right hon. Member for Wokingham opened the debate, I wonder whether he was conscious of the fact that the shadow Transport Minister beside him not only did not support him when he ran for the leadership of the Conservative party, but has made it clear in the past that he supported Mr. Michael Portillo. I have no doubt that tonight's debate was much more about posturing within the Conservative party than about making a meaningful contribution to public transport policy. [Interruption.]

When Labour came to power, we inherited—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It does not do for the Chair to keep standing and intervening. I plead with the House again to come to order. The House must keep good order.

Mrs. Liddell

I reiterate: when the Labour Government came to power, we inherited a transport system that had been undermined by the ideological pursuit of the free market and starved of vital investment.

When we were elected we discovered a £1.2 billion shortfall in investment in London Underground. This morning, the hon. Member for North Essex was caught out on the "Today" programme whenever he talked about such investment because Mr. James Naughtie pointed out that he had made it clear three months before the general election that the Conservative Government regarded it as adequate. Conservative Members have repeatedly mentioned the problems of the Circle and Northern lines. Had there been the investment in London Underground that there should have been, the difficulties that are being experienced on the Circle line would not have arisen.

Labour Members are committed to taking concrete and practical approaches to public transport and to the use of the car. We believe in an integrated transport policy. [Interruption.] From a sedentary position, Conservative Members ask what an integrated transport policy is. I am not surprised that they ask that, because their policies will fragment and destroy the public transport network.

We started by merging the Departments of the Environment and of Transport to make sure that we take an integrated approach to policy. We are committed to physical integration that ensures that all modes of transport work smoothly together. We also believe that there should be vertical links when decisions are taken at national level. Those links should filter down to proper and adequate local decision making. We also believe in the integration of public and private transport because we want to give people the choice of using either their cars or adequate public transport.

The hon. Member for North Essex is an ex-car salesman. Like him, I enjoy using a car. We do not want people to stop using their cars; we want them to be more sensible about the use of their cars. Conservative Members have extremely short memories. The Green Paper published by the previous Government in 1996 made it plain that alternatives to the car had to be found and that difficult decisions would have to be taken.

We have heard much this evening about the road policy. The 1996 Green Paper included the statement that the roads network was almost complete. One aspect of roads policy was distinctly ignored by the previous Government—there was no attempt to achieve proper road maintenance, and a number of speakers have made plain the local difficulties that they are experiencing as a consequence of the previous Government's crazy policies and the failure to tackle—

Mr. Gray

Will the Minister give way?

Mrs. Liddell

No, I want to make progress. If I have time, I shall give way.

A number of points have been made by hon. Members about the difficulties—[Interruption.] Conservative Members ask about the points that have been put to me. I am about to respond to them, not least those made by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Day). [Interruption.] Those on the Conservative Front Bench say, "How exciting." They have not all been in the Chamber this evening. If they had been, they would have heard some constructive points from my hon. Friends, who are committed to a proper transport policy, not the haphazard opportunism of Conservative Members.

The difficulties that we are experiencing with our transport network were not two years in the making; they were 18 years in the making. The hon. Member for Cheadle talked about some of the difficulties that are being experienced in Manchester and on the west coast main line. I argued for improvements to be made when I was an Opposition Back Bencher, but the previous Government made no attempt to get them under way. He also asked about airport policy.

Mrs. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)

Will the Minister give way?

Mrs. Liddell

No. I am replying to points made by the hon. Member for Cheadle, who has had the courtesy to remain in the Chamber for the duration of the debate.

The hon. Gentleman asked me about airport policy, and the difficulties that are experienced when aircraft stray from their given paths. That is an interesting point, which the Government have already considered. We will consult on matters concerning air traffic, not least those relating to the difficulties of noise mitigation. Many problems of noise are caused by aircraft that go off their permitted paths. I hope that that commitment is of some assistance to the hon. Gentleman, and to his constituents.

Predictably, we heard an interesting speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), who, on the basis of considerable knowledge, spoke of the role of the Strategic Rail Authority. A number of speakers referred to the authority, and to our determination to end the fragmentation created by haphazard rail privatisation and get the railways working again in the interests of the travelling public and our economy.

My hon. Friend made a valid point about the need for us to give the authority statutory backing. If Opposition Members want a railways Bill and a Strategic Rail Authority, perhaps they should consider applying the working time directive to the House of Lords. Were it not for the delaying tactics in the House of Lords, we should be able to proceed much more quickly with the establishment of a Strategic Rail Authority, and with a railways Bill—although I can say that we hope soon to be able to make an announcement about the Strategic Rail Authority.

Mr. Gray

Will the Minister give way?

Mrs. Liddell

No. I will not. I want to take up more of the points that have been made.

In a considered speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Miss Smith) spoke of the difficulties caused to her community by the rundown in public transport over 18 years of Conservative Government. She also referred to the increase in out-of-town shopping, and the pressures that it imposed on those without cars. I remind my hon. Friend that, in the lifetime of the last Government, the number of out-of-town shopping complexes increased from 100 to more than 1,000. That caused considerable difficulties.

My hon. Friend made some considered points about the fuel escalator. Her comments were much more sensible than those of the hon. Member for North Essex. I remind her that we have international obligations in relation to the Kyoto summit, which is why we supported the last Government when they introduced the fuel escalator. Indeed, it was the hon. Member for North Essex who, when the escalator was introduced, waxed eloquent in his praise of the Chancellor for introducing it.

My hon. Friend also made an important point about schools. I hope to be able to make some announcements tomorrow about Government policy to assist those who wish to ensure that their children can walk to school. In the lifetime of the last Government, there was a considerable increase in the number of children being driven to school by car. That is not good for children's health, and it does not help the problem of road traffic congestion, much of which occurs at about 8.50 am. Because Labour Members believe in joined-up government—that phrase that we hear so much—I, along with my colleagues in the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Employment, have promoted a number of initiatives relating to school transport.

I note from tonight's debate that Opposition Members—who are now trying to deny it—oppose the very traffic-calming measures that have ensured a 20 per cent. reduction in the number of accidents. It is clear to Labour Members that for 20 years we had to stand in impotent opposition, while a Government who did not care and would not act presided over economic disruption and social deprivation. Labour Members believe in public transport, and we will ensure—

Mr. James Arbuthnot (North-East Hampshire)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

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

The House divided: Ayes 137, Noes 350.

Division No. 221] [10 p
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Clarke, Rt Hon kenneth
Amess, David (Rushcliffe)
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Clifton—Brown, Geoffrey
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Collins, Tim
Beggs, Roy Colvin, Michael
Bercow, John Cormack, Sir Patrick
Beresford, Sir Paul Cran, James
Blunt, Crispin Curry, Rt Hon David
Body, Sir Richard Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Boswell, Tim Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Duncan, Alan
Brady, Graham Duncan Smith, lain
Brazier, Julian Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Evans, Nigel
Browning, Mrs Angela Faber, David
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Fabricant, Michael
Bums, Simon Fallon, Michael
Butterfill, John Flight, Howard
Cash, William Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Bamet) Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Chope, Christopher Fraser, Christopher
Clappison, James Gale, Roger
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh) Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Prior, David
Gray, James Randall, John
Green, Damian Redwood, Rt Hon John
Greenway, John Robathan, Andrew
Grieve, Dominic Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Hague, Rt Hon William Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxboume)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie St Aubyn, Nick
Hammond, Philip Sayeed, Jonathan
Hawkins, Nick Shepherd, Richard
Heald, Oliver Simpson, Keith (Mid—Norfolk)
Heathcoat—Amory, Rt Hon David Soames, Nicholas
Hese!tine, Rt Hon Michael Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas Spicer, Sir Michael
Horam, John Spring, Richard
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot) Steen, Anthony
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Streeter, Gary
Jackson Robert (Wantage) Syms, Robert
Jenkin, Bemard Tapsell, Sir Peter
Key, Robert Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Taylor, Sir Teddy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Townend, John
Lansley, Andrew Tredinnick, David
Leigh, Edward Trend, Michael
Letwin, Oliver Tyrie, Andrew
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E) Viggers, Peter
Lidington, David Walter, Robert
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Wardle, Charles
Liwyd, Elfyn Waterson, Nigel
Loughton, Tim Wells, Bowen
Luff, Peter Whitney, Sir Raymond
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Whittingdale, John
Maclean, Rt Hon David Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
McLoughlin, Patrick Wilkinson, John
Madel, Sir David Willetts, David
Maples, John Wilshire, David
Maude, Rt Hon Francis Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian Woodward, Shaun
Moss, Malcolm Yeo, Tm
Nicholls, Patrick Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard Tellers for the Ayes:
Page, Richard Mrs. Jacqui Lait and
Paterson, Owen Mr. Stephen Day.
Abbott, Ms Diane Blizzard, Bob
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Boateng, Paul
Ainger, Nick Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Alexander, Douglas Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Allan, Richard Bradshaw, Ben
Allen, Graham Brake, Tom
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Breed, Colin
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Brown, Rt Hon Gordon (Dunfermline E)
Ashton, Joe Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Atherton, Ms Candy Browne, Desmond
Atkins, Charlotte Buck, Ms Karen
Baker, Norman Burden, Richard
Banks, Tony Burgon, Colin
Barnes, Harry Burnett, John
Bayley, Hugh Butler, Mrs Christine
Beard, Nigel Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Cabom, Rt Hon Richard
Begg, Miss Anne Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bndge)
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Campbell—Savours, Dale
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield) Cann, Jamie
Bennett, Andrew F Caplin, Ivor
Benton, Joe Caton, Martin
Berry, Roger Chaytor, David
Best, Harold Chidgey, David
Betts, Clive Clapham, Michael
Blackman, Liz
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Grocott, Bruce
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Grogan, John
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Gunnell, John
Clarke. Charles (Norwich S) Hain, Peter
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Clelland, David Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Clwyd, Ann Hancock, Mike
Coaker, Vernon Hanson, David
Coffey, Ms Ann Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Cohen, Harry Harris, Dr Evan
Coleman, lain Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Colman, Tony Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Connarty, Michael Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Corbett, Robin Hepburn, Stephen
Corbyn, Jeremy HeppeII, John
Corston, Ms Jean Hesford, Stephen
Cousins, Jim Hill, Keith
Cox, Tom Hinchliffe. David
Cranston, Ross Hodge, Ms Margaret
Crausby, David Hoey, Kate
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Hood, Jimmy
Cryer, John (Homchurch) Hoon, Geoffrey
Cummings, John Hope, Phil
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hopkins, Kelvin
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S) Howells, Dr Kim
Curtis—Thomas, Mrs Claire Hoyle, Lindsay
Dalyell, Tam Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W) Humble, Mrs Joan
Davidson, Ian Hurst, Alan
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Hutton, John
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H) Iddon, Dr Brian
Dean, Mrs Janet Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Denham, John Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Dobbin, Jim Jamieson, David
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Donohoe, Brian H Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Doran, Frank Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)
Drown, Ms Julia Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Jones, Marlyn (Clwyd S)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston) Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Edwards, Huw Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Efford, Clive Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Ellman, Mrs Louise Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Ennis, Jeff Keetch, Paul
Etherington, Bill Kemp, Fraser
Fearn, Ronnie Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Fisher, Mark Khabra, Piara S
Fitzsimons, Loma Kidney, David
Flint, Caroline Kiffoyle, Peter
Flynn, Paul King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Follett, Barbara Kirkwood, Archy
Forsythe, Clifford Kumar, Dr Ashok
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings) Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) Laxton, Bob
Foulkes, George Lepper, David
Fyfe, Maria Levitt, Tom
Galloway, George Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Gapes, Mike Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
George, Andrew (St Ives) Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
George, Bruce (Walsall S) Linton, Martin
Gerrard, Neil Livingstone, Ken
Gibson, Dr Ian Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Gilroy, Mrs Linda Love, Andrew
Godman, Dr Norman A McAvoy, Thomas
Godsiff, Roger McCabe, Steve
Goggins, Paul McCafferty, Ms Chris
Golding, Mrs Llin McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)
Gordon, Mrs Eileen McDonagh, Siobhain
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) Macdonald, Calum
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McDonnell, John
McIsaac, Shona Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary Ryan, Ms Joan
Mackinlay, Andrew Salter, Martin
McNamara, Kevin Sanders, Adrian
McNulty, Tony Savidge, Malcolm
MacShane, Denis Sawford, Phil
Mactaggart, Fiona Sedgemore, Brian
McWalter, Tony Shaw, Jonathan
McWilliam, John Sheerman, Barry
Mallaber, Judy Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Mendelson, Rt Hon Peter Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Singh, Marsha
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Marshall—Andrews, Robert Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Martlew, Eric Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Maxton, John Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Meale, Alan Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Merron, Gillian Snape, Peter
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute) Southworth, Ms Helen
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan Speller, John
Miller, Andrew Squire, Ms Rachel
Mitchell, Austin Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Moffatt, Laura Steinberg, Gerry
Moonie Dr Lewis, Stevenson, George
Moore, Michael Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Moran, Ms Margaret Stinchcombe, Paul
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N) Stoate, Dr Howard
Morley, Elliot Stott, Roger
Mudie, George Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Mullin, Chris Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood) Stringer, Graham
Naysmith, Dr Doug Stuart, Ms Gisela
Norris, Dan Stunell, Andrew
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton) Sutcliffe, Gerry
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks) Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
O'Hara, Eddie Taylor, David (NW Leics)
O'Neill, Martin Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Öpik, Lembit Temple—Morris, Peter
Organ, Mrs Diana Timms, Stephen
Osborne, Ms Sandra Tipping, Paddy
Palmer, Dr Nick Todd, Mark
Pearson, Ian Tonge, Dr Jenny
Pickthall, Colin Tricke tt, Jon
Pike, Peter L Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Plaskitt, James Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Pond, Chris Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Pope, Greg Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Powell, Sir Raymond Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Tyler, Paul
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Vaz, Keith
Prescott, Rt Hon John Vis, Dr Rudi
Prosser, Gwyn Walley, Ms Joan
Purchase, Ken Ward, Ms Claire
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce Wareing, Robert N
Radice, Giles Watts, David
Rammell, Bill Webb, Steve
Rapson, Syd White, Brian
Raynsford, Nick Whitehead, Dr Alan
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough) Wicks, Malcolm
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Robertson,, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S) Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW) Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Rooker, Jeff Willis, Phil
Rooney, Terry Wills, Michael
Rowlands, Ted Winnick, David
Roy, Frank Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Ruane, Chris Wise, Audrey
Ruddock, Joan Wood, Mike
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth) Tellers for the noes:
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock) Mrs. Anne McGuire and
Wyatt, Derek Mrs. Mike Hall.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):—

The House divided: Ayes 311, Noes 147.

Division No. 222] [10.13 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Corbyn, Jeremy
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Corston, Ms Jean
Ainger, Nick Cousins, Jim
Alexander, Douglas Cox, Tom
Allen, Graham Cranston, Ross
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Crausby, David
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Atherton, Ms Candy Cryer, John (Homchurch)
Atkins, Charlotte Cummings, John
Banks, Tony Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bames, Harry Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland)
Bayley, Hugh Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Beard, Nigel Curtis—Thomas, Mrs Claire
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Dalyell, Tam
Begg, Miss Anne Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Davidson, Ian
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield) Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Bennett, Andrew F Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Benton, Joe Dawson, Hilton
Berry, Roger Dean, Mrs Janet
Best, Harold Denham, John
Betts, Clive Dobbin, Jim
Blackman, Liz Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Blizzard, Bob Donohoe, Brian H
Boateng, Paul Doran, Frank
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Drown, Ms Julia
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Bradshaw, Ben Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Edwards, Huw
Browne, Desmond Efford, Clive
Buck, Ms Karen Ellman, Mrs Louise
Burden, Richard Ennis, Jeff
Burgon, Colin Etherington, Bill
Butler, Mrs Christine Fisher, Mark
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen Fitzsimons, Lorna
Cabom, Rt Hon Richard Flint, Caroline
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Flynn, Paul
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bndge) Follett, Barbara
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Campbell—Savours, Dale Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Cann, Jamie Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Caplin, Ivor Foulkes, George
Caton, Martin Fyfe, Maria
Chaytor, David Galloway, George
Clapham, Michael Gapes, Mike
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Gerrard, Neil
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Gibson, Dr Ian
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S) Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Godman, Dr Norman A
Clelland, David Godsiff, Roger
Clwyd, Ann Goggins, Paul
Coaker, Vernon Golding, Mrs Llin
Coffey, Ms Ann Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Cohen, Harry Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Coleman, lain Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Colman, Tony Grogan, John
Connarty, Michael Gunnell, John
Corbett, Robin Hain, Peter
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Hanson, David Marshall—Andrews, Robert
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet Martlew, Eric
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Maxton, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Hepburn, Stephen Meale, Alan
Heppell, John Merron, Gillian
Hesford, Stephen Milbum, Rt Hon Alan
Hill, Keith Miller, Andrew
Hinchliffe, David Moffatt, Laura
Hodge, Ms Margaret Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hood, Jimmy Moran, Ms Margaret
Hoon, Geoffrey Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Hope, Phil Mudie, George
Hopkins, Kelvin Mullin, Chris
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Howells, Dr Kim Naysmith, Dr Doug
Hoyle, Lindsay Norris, Dan
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Humble, Mrs Joan O'Hara, Eddie
Hurst, Alan O'Neill, Marlin
Hutton, John Osborne, Ms Sandra
Iddon, Dr Brian Palmer, Dr Nick
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead) Pearson, Ian
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Pickthall, Colin
Jamieson, David Pike, Peter L
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Plaskitt, James
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Pond, Chris
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) Pope, Greg
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Powell, Sir Raymond
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Jones, Marlyn (Clwyd 5) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Prescott, Rt Hon John
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Purchase, Ken
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Kemp, Fraser Radice, Giles
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Rammell, Bill
Khabra, Piara S Rapson, Syd
Kidney, David Raynsford, Nick
Kilfoyle, Peter Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green) Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Kumar, Dr Ashok Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Rooker, Jeff
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Rooney, Terry
Laxton, Bob Rowlands, Ted
Lepper, David Roy, Frank
Levitt, Tom Ruane, Chris
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Ruddock, Joan
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen Ryan, Ms Joan
Linton, Martin Salter, Martin
Livingstone, Ken Savidge, Malcolm
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Sawford, Phil
Love, Andrew Sedgemore, Brian
McAvoy, Thomas Shaw, Jonathan
McCabe, Steve Sheerman, Barry
McCafferty, Ms Chris Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield) Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
McDonagh, Siobhain Singh, Marsha
Macdonald, Calum Skinner, Dennis
McDonnell, John Smith, Angela (Basildon)
McIsaac, Shona Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Mackinlay, Andrew Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
McNulty, Tony Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
MacShane, Denis Southworth, Ms Helen
Mactaggart, Fiona Spellar, John
McWatter, Tony Squire, Ms Rachel
McWilliam, John Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Mallaber, Judy Steinberg, Gerry
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter Stevenson, George
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool 5) Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard Wareing, Robert N
Stott, Roger Watts, David
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin White, Brian
Straw, Rt Hon Jack Whitehead, Dr Alan
Stringer, Graham Wicks, Malcolm
Stuart, Ms Gisela Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Sutcliffe, Gerry Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Taylor, David (NW Leics) Wills, Michael
Temple—Morris, Peter Winnick, David
Timms, Stephen Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Tipping, Paddy Wise, Audrey
Todd, Mark Wood, Mike
Trickett, Jon Woolas, Phil
Tumer, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE) Worthington, Tony
Tumer, Dr Desmond (Kemptown) Wray, James
Tumer, Dr George (NW Norfolk) Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Twigg, Derek (Hatton) Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield) Wyatt, Derek
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi Tellers for the Ayes:
Walley, Ms Joan Mrs. Anne McGuire and
Ward, Ms Claire Mr. Mike Hall.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Gill, Christopher
Allan, Richard Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Amess, David Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Gray, James
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Green, Damian
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Greenway, John
Baker, Norman Grieve, Dominic
Beggs, Roy Hague, Rt Hon William
Beith, Rt Hon A J Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Bercow, John Hammond, Philip
Beresford, Sir Paul Hancock, Mike
Blunt, Crispin Harris, Dr Evan
Boswell, Tim Harvey, Nick
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Hawkins, Nick
Brake, Tom Heald, Oliver
Brazier, Julian Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Breed, Colin Heathcoat—Amory, Rt Hon David
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Heseffine, Rt Hon Michael
Browning, Mrs Angela Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Horam, John
Burnett, John Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Butterfill, John Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Cash, William Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Chope, Christopher Jenkin, Bemard
Clappison, James Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Keetch, Paul
Clifton—Brown, Geoffrey Key, Robert
Collins, Tim King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Colvin, Michael Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Gran, James Kirkwood, Archy
Davies, Quentin (Grantham) Lansley, Andrew
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice) Leigh, Edward
Day, Stephen Letwin, Oliver
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Duncan, Alan Lidington, David
Duncan Smith, lain Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Loughton, Tim
Faber, David Luff, Peter
Fabricant, Michael MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Fallon, Michael Maclean, Rt Hon David
Fearn, Ronnie McLoughlin, Patrick
Flight, Howard Madel, Sir David
Fraser, Christopher Maples, John
Gale, Roger Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Garnier, Edward Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
George, Andrew (St Ives) Moore, Michael
Gibb, Nick Moss, Malcolm
Norman, Archie
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Page, Richard Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Paterson, Owen Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Pickles, Eric Tonge, Dr Jenny
Prior, David Townend, John
Randall, John Tredinnick, David
Redwood, Rt Hon John Trend, Michael
Robathan, Andrew Tyler, Paul
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry) Tyrie, Andrew
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Viggers, Peter
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Wafter, Robert
St Aubyn, Nick, Waterson, Nigel
Sanders, Adrian Webb, Steve
Sayeed, Jonathan Wells, Bowen
Shepherd, Richard Whittingdale, John
Simpson, Keith (Mid—Norfolk) Widdecombe, Rt Miss Hon Ann
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns) Willetts, David
Soames, Nicholas Willis, Phil
Spelman, Mrs Caroline Wilshire, David
Spicer, Sir Michael Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Woodward, Shaun
Steen, Anthony Yeo, Tim
Streeter, Gary Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Stunell, Andrew
Syms, Robert Tellers for the Noes:
Tapsell, Sir Peter Mrs. Eleanor Laing and
Mrs. Jacqui Lait.

Question accordingly agreed to

MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House deplores the previous Government's record of under-investment and disintegration in the transport network, its failure to tackle congestion as traffic rose by 75 per cent., the £1.2 billion investment backlog it left on the London Underground and its cut in road maintenance; commends the Government for producing the first Transport White Paper for 20 years, taking a far-sighted and more integrated approach than the previous administration, and linking together planning and transport policy more closely; and notes that the present Government has begun to tackle the inherited problems of under-investment, pollution and increasing traffic congestion, by a new radical integrated strategy, including an extra £1.8 billion for public transport and local transport management, winning back passengers to public transport, improving road maintenance, encouraging greater fuel efficiency, reducing pollution, and introducing the long-term policies needed to increase transport choice and improve Britain's transport system.

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