HC Deb 24 May 2000 vol 350 cc1029-79

[Relevant documents: The Ninth Report from the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, Session 1998–99, Integrated Transport White Paper, HC 32-I, and the Government's response thereto, HC 708 of Session 1998–99.]

7.13 pm
Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex)

I beg to move, That this House notes that, while government spending on transport has fallen in comparison with the period before the 1997 General Election, taxation on the motorist has been raised to record levels, so that £1 in every £7 now spent by the Government is raised from the motorist; condemns the Government for presiding over ever-worsening congestion without any policies to deal with continuing road traffic growth; welcomes the increasing investment in transport industries that were privatised during the previous administration; laments the failure of the Government to build on these achievements and that total public and private investment levels in transport are still well below what is required by people, business and industry; and condemns ministers for failing to secure increased funding for anything except for the growing costs of running the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions which is the Government's largest and least effective Department of State. I am afraid that the first question that I have to ask is where is the Secretary of State? [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is Archie?"] I am the man responsible for the transport policy of Her Majesty's official Opposition, but the Secretary of State is responsible for transport, the environment and the regions, and much he has made of them since being appointed to the job. We are debating his policy and his White Paper; standstill Britain is his achievement. He is responsible for three years of perpetual policy chaos. He assumed office with ludicrous anti-car policy objectives such as traffic reduction targets, centralisation and control, and the travelling public are paying the price in congestion—not only on the roads, but on all our transport networks—transport spending cuts, delayed investment and, of course, ever-higher taxation. He is more mouth and less delivery than any other member of the Government. With all due respect to the Minister for Housing and Planning, who will reply to the debate, the Secretary of State should do so.

The Conservatives transformed many of the transport industries with privatisation and deregulation, starting with National Freight, British Airways, the British Airports Authority, British Rail's hotels, Sealink, Associated British Ports, the National Bus Company and the Scottish Bus Group, and finishing with British Rail. We stripped away the Treasury controls that stifled investment and we exposed those companies to proper competition. There has been an explosion of investment and innovation in those industries because they now put the customer first, and even the Government admit that there has been a transformation in the rail industry.

Angela Smith (Basildon)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way so early in his speech, but does he agree with the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Norman), who said today, "At Asda, we give a refund in all circumstances. That is because we are customer-led."? Will he give the British public a refund for the privatisations?

Mr. Jenkin

I shall treat the hon. Lady's intervention with the contempt that it deserves. I certainly support the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Norman), who speaks for the customer. It is about time that Ministers started speaking for the customers on the railways instead of for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

The Conservatives invested huge sums in many Conservative projects, such as £26 billion in our trunk roads and motorway system. It is now a largely completed network, thanks to the Conservatives. We substantially reduced the maintenance backlog to a manageable level. What would transport be like today if we had not built the M25, the M40, the second Severn crossing or the second Dartford crossing? The long list of such transport projects includes the docklands light railway, the Manchester metro, the Sheffield metro, the £12.5 billion investment in the channel tunnel and the docklands light railway extension.

During the past two or three years, there has been a succession of celebrated openings of great transport projects. The Prime Minister opened the Heathrow express in June 1998. That was a Conservative project and our achievement, as was the Jubilee line extension. The Croydon tramlink, which the Deputy Prime Minister opened in April, was a Conservative project funded with Conservative Government money backed by the Conservative commitment to transport. A fair description of Conservative transport policy would be, "A lot done, but a lot left to do." Labour's response could be summed as, "Not much done, and no plans to do much either."

Ms Claire Ward (Watford)

The hon. Gentleman is keen to take credit for the Jubilee line extension, but does he also take credit for the fact that it went massively over budget and over time?

Mr. Jenkin

That project proves the virtues of the private sector rather than the public sector. The hon. Lady seems to suggest that we should have involved the private sector more, and I have no doubt that such projects would be handled much more efficiently by a privatised tube.

The Labour party has produced not massive, great projects such as ours, but three years of dither, delay, broken promises and U-turns. After all, we waited more than a year for the integrated transport policy to be produced, even though the Labour party had 18 years in opposition to think about it. We waited for almost three years for the Transport Bill, but it will not take effect until almost four years after the Government were elected. Most of the achievements to which they lay claim are Conservative achievements. The improvement in the cleanliness of motor vehicles is the result of regulations that we introduced in government. That is why car pollution is decreasing.

It was the privatised Railfreight service that set the target for the trebling of freight on the railway in 10 years. It was the Conservatives who launched, for instance, the national cycling strategy and the safer routes to schools initiative. From the way this lot carry on, one would think that the Government had invented it all—but they are Conservative policies that they have hijacked. The only Labour initiatives have been all mouth and no delivery.

The Secretary of State said—this was quoted in the House— I will have failed if in five years time there are not…far fewer journeys by car.—[Official Report, 20 October 1998; Vol. 317, c. 1071.] However, three years into his Administration, congestion on our roads is increasing. It has increased by 6 per cent. since the election and is unaffected by any of the Government's policies.

On traffic levels, the Government's White Paper said: We will therefore…consider how national targets can best help to reduce congestion. The Government, however, now agree that that was a silly idea, and that national traffic targets are destructive. That is why they voted against a private Member's Bill earlier in the Session.

In paragraph 1.29 of the White Paper, the Government said that they wanted to tackle the pinch points in transport networks that lead to congestion. Barely a month later, however, following the roads review, 100 vital road improvements and bypasses were cancelled. As for the Birmingham northern relief road project, which the Government now say they support, not a sod has been turned. We were left with only 37 road schemes—and it came as no surprise that one of the first to be commenced was the A1033 Hedon road improvement scheme, which just happened to be in the Deputy Prime Minister's constituency. What we get from this Government is roads for the privileged few, but congestion and potholes for the many.

The roads White Paper claimed: We are refocusing our approach to trunk road investment. "Refocusing" is new Labour speak for "massive cuts". The transport White Paper said: We commit ourselves to challenging targets and rigorous monitoring. What exactly does that mean? It means multi-modal studies, a substitute for real action, a cry for help from the Highways Agency. Meanwhile, improvements on the A66, the A14, the M1, the A1 and many other vital trunk roads and motorways that are crying out for improvement have been frozen.

I should be interested to hear from the Minister whether he plans to go through with all the multi-modal studies, however long they take, before any action is taken on those roads. Will no improvement be made to the A14 while a multi-modal study takes place? Does the same apply to the Hindhead and Salisbury bypasses, to the A36 bypass and to the Stockport A6 bypass, which is jammed in the Government's "carry on consulting" policy? Even "carry on consulting" has failed, however, because the Government have so much consulting to do that they have run out of consultants. There are not enough consultants to conduct all the multi-modal studies that the Government have set in train: it will take years for them to clear those multi-modal studies.

Perhaps the Minister will give us a date. When will the multi-modal studies that were announced nearly two years ago be completed—or will he go abroad to find even more consultants to complete the work?

In the roads White Paper, the Government said: adequate maintenance of existing roads is our number one priority. They also said—twice— We will improve trunk road maintenance, making it our first priority. Two recent surveys have shown that roads are in a worse state than they have been since the early 1970s. That is because this Government are spending less on road maintenance than the Conservatives did.

Ms Ward

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Jenkin

I give way to the enchanting lady.

Ms Ward

The hon. Gentleman is most generous. He may have forgotten, however, that the Conservatives cut the road maintenance programme by 9 per cent. over a four-year period. Is the hon. Gentleman taking no responsibility for what happened under the last Government?

Mr. Jenkin

I would have expected the hon. Lady to have something to say about all the traffic that is being driven off the motorways, which go through and near her constituency, on to local roads. This Government have cut the road improvement budget so that traffic is driven on to the roads where her constituents shop, play and drive to work.

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Mr. Nick Raynsford)

As the hon. Gentleman has raised the question of spending on road maintenance, will he confirm the following figures? In 1994–95—a year that he likes to cite because it was the best year of the Tory Administration—£2.8 billion was spent on road maintenance. Over the subsequent two years, the amount fell to £2.45 billion. Since we have been in government, it has increased to £2.899 billion. Will the hon. Gentleman concede that he was wrong to claim that the present Government had cut spending on maintenance? It was cut by the last Government; we have increased it.

Mr. Jenkin

Unfortunately, the Minister has been given cash figures rather than figures relating to prices in real terms. In real terms, in 1994–95 we were spending £3.3 billion. [Interruption.] These figures are from the House of Commons Library: the Minister may want to argue with those in the Library. Not in any single year, either past or for which the Minister is planning, does expenditure match that amount.

The present Government, not the last, are responsible for today's spending levels. I know that the strategy of the Minister's party is to try to fight the last general election rather than the next, but we will not let him do so.

In its White Paper, Labour claimed: We are already…investing more in public transport. That is a typical Labour lie, like Labour's promises on tax. Increased taxation and spending cuts sum up the Government's transport policy. The Secretary of State, as a departmental Minister, has failed the real test. His record shows that the Deputy Prime Minister has consistently been the Government's biggest budget loser in every spending round.

These are the killer facts—

Sir Nicholas Lyell (North-East Bedfordshire)

When we start talking about killer facts, things become very serious. Is my hon. Friend aware that I was told I should say thank you when the Government rightly kept the Great Barford bypass in the programme? Is he further aware that, since then, absolutely nothing has been done to build it? There was yet another fatal accident earlier this month on the A428, leaving a family husbandless and fatherless.

Mr. Jenkin

I would not want to make a party political point about any tragedy. The fact is, however, that the less spent on highways maintenance and improvements, the more dangerous those roads will be and, inevitably, the more deaths and injuries there will be.

Mr. Bob Russell (Colchester)

The hon. Gentleman referred to killer facts. Until this moment he has not mentioned road deaths, and he has done so now only in response to an intervention. Will he at any stage mention the fact that 10 people a day are killed on our roads? Will he challenge the Government to do more about road deaths? That is a question to which people want answers.

Mr. Jenkin

As it happens, I am not majoring on road safety today, but the hon. Gentleman has raised a vital issue. I would like a debate on road safety in Government time. They tried to sneak out their road safety policy without making a proper announcement to Parliament. In the end, they made a statement, but it should be pointed out that they did so at my request. These are important matters. I continue to reflect on them, and in due course we will produce a road safety policy to keep the Government up to the mark.

I was talking about killer facts. Killer fact: Labour is spending less on local transport. The local transport grant has been cut from £329 million in 1994 to just £13 million in the current year. Killer fact: we were spending an average of £2.25 billion on the trunk road and motorway network. Labour is planning to spend a mere £300 million in the current year and in the next year. Killer fact: on road maintenance, the top priority, in our last three years, we spent £8.6 billion—[Interruption.] The Minister is touchy on the subject and we know why. We spent £8.6 billion and that was despite the recession. We maintained that spending despite the recession and the squeeze on public spending. In a boom, Labour has spent a mere £7.8 billion in the past three years and it has no plans to spend any more than the Conservatives.

Mr. Raynsford

As the hon. Gentleman referred to the Conservative Government's record in their last three years in office, will he confirm that spending on road maintenance in those last three years fell year on year from £2.8 billion to £2.6 billion to £2.4 billion? Why does he try to mislead the House with bogus statistics?

Mr. Jenkin

I am a generous chap, so I will overlook the Minister's jibe, but he cannot shuffle off responsibility for his lower spending levels using the record of the previous Government. We spent more over those three years than he spent over the successive three years.

Killer fact: Labour is spending less on the railways. Killer fact: Labour is spending less on London Transport. We averaged £830 million per year; Labour is averaging just £640 million a year. In fact, the spending level is well under £500 million this year. It is about £245 million and it is scheduled to be nil next year. Let us hope that there will be an announcement about that. The public-private partnership is mired in delay and the cost of consultancy fees is going up and up and up.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

I am interested in the fact that the hon. Gentleman says that Labour is spending and has spent less on railways. Is he suggesting that, somehow or other, the deal that his Government did on privatisation—that the public subsidy should consistently fall—is one that he now regrets, and that he would like a lot more public money to be invested? If that is the case, it is an interesting change of tack.

Mr. Jenkin

I am merely pointing out that the Government are responsible for spending levels today, just as we were responsible for spending levels before. It was the Secretary of State who said that he was going to change everything. If he is keeping everything the same, those are the facts that the hon. Lady has to accept.

The biggest killer fact, the killer blow to the Secretary of State's credibility, is that the Conservatives spent twice as much per year on transport as the Labour Government. Between 1984 and 1997, we spent an average of £12.2 billion per year on transport. In the past three years, Labour has spent an average of just £6.4 billion—barely half the Conservative commitment.

Against that background, there is Labour's killer tax lie. There is an extra £8 billion in taxes on the motorist compared with 1997 levels. The Government are raising £36 billion in motoring taxes and investing less than a fifth of that in transport. Half of that tax burden is paid by business, so it hits competitiveness and productivity. United Kingdom petrol is by far the most expensive in Europe. For every £20 spent at the petrol pump today, £16 is taken in fuel duty.

I will give the Minister the facts about the price of petrol because it is not a familiar topic on the Government Benches. The Government inherited a price per litre of 59.2p and it is now well over 80p per litre. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would do well to remember that. The average motorist is spending £270 more per year for fuel under Labour. It confirms that Ministers do not drive their own cars or have to fill them up. Motoring taxes have reached such a level that they now fund £1 in every £7 that the Government spend. Those are all killer facts.

Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree with the killer fact from a Tory Minister with responsibility for transport, who said in March 1994 that increases in fuel duty and motorway tolling would help people to make more informed choices about the cost of using their cars? Was it a killer fact then, or was he day dreaming?

Mr. Jenkin

The point is that it depends on from what level duties are going up. It was the hon. Gentleman's Government who doubled the rate of the fuel escalator, who imposed three increases in the space of 18 months—calling them annual increases—and who have been found to be cheating on the rate of inflation, using a higher rate for uprating fuel duties than for uprating pensions, something the hon. Gentleman might have found out about during the local elections. The important point is that there are more taxes to come: congestion taxes and workplace parking taxes. Those are Labour taxes, not just London mayoral taxes.

The Secretary of State and the Prime Minister are responsible for the taxes that the London mayor can apply under the Greater London Authority Act 1999. The Prime Minister says that Greater London Authority members must "abide by their manifesto" commitments not to introduce congestion taxes during the first term of the mayoralty. He should be aware that he was contradicted within hours of making that statement by the Labour deputy mayor, who was elected on that Labour manifesto. She said that "in principle" she wanted to introduce congestion taxes in the first term.

I read that the Secretary of State had a meeting with the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone). Perhaps we will learn what was discussed on the matter of congestion taxes. I tabled a parliamentary question, but the only answer that I got was: We had a wide-ranging discussion of issues of mutual interest including transport.—[Official Report, 22 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 324W.] I bet he did. Perhaps the Minister would tell the House exactly what was discussed between the Secretary of State and the London mayor about congestion taxes.

Mr. Raynsford

I was not there.

Mr. Jenkin

Well, the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill), was there because he answered the question. Perhaps the Minister will tell the House what he expects the London mayor to do. If he decides to introduce congestion taxes, will he take responsibility so that London voters know that, when the mayor introduces a new tax on driving into London, it is Labour policy, or are we expecting another U-turn from the Government?

Meanwhile, business and industry are groaning under the burden of Labour taxes and crying out for more investment in transport. This year's Railtrack network management statement, which was delivered on time, said that £52 billion is needed. The British Road Federation Ltd. says that we need to spend £90 billion over the next 10 years to have a road system that is comparable with that of our European competitors. The Confederation of British Industry said that a total of £212 billion is needed to deliver the transport that business and industry need.

The real question is, how will the Government deliver all that investment? That would be a real transport policy. That is the real killer question for the Government. How will they deliver investment in the roads? Will they reverse the ludicrous 1998 decision to scrap the roads programme? How else can they solve congestion and pollution? How will the Secretary of State reduce the ever-growing backlog of repairs? Are the Government really going to wait until all those multi-modal studies are completed before carrying out the vital improvements that are needed?

On the railways, how will the Government help the industry to deliver their investment aspirations? When will the review of rail access charges be completed? It was meant to be completed this spring, then it was meant to be completed this summer. The rumour is that it will not be completed until the autumn. Will the Minister tell the House when the review will be completed?

What has happened to the Strategic Rail Authority's 10-year plan for the railways? Again, that was meant to be delivered this summer. The rumour is that that will be delayed too. How will the Government revive the financial confidence of the railway after a three-year campaign of denigration of the management and staff of the railways, who have done so much to transform the railways?

I take heart from recent statements from the Government. The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions said in his reply to the debate last week: I concede that it— the railway— has been successful in many respects under privatisation— that is a change of heart— and as a result of it. I think that we all acknowledge that there has been a great deal of innovation in the industry and a greater focus on customer care.—[Official Report, 10 May 2000; Vol. 349, c. 921.] I am glad that he has not got into trouble for making those remarks. They are the proof of the pudding that the much denigrated privatisation of the railways has been a force for good and something upon which the Government should be building.

Will the Government therefore abandon the Transport Bill? On 9 May, the Deputy Prime Minister said: I have been a defender of the public sector…but it costs a great deal more than the private sector. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is beginning to learn. The experience of office might be doing some good. Does he now support privatisation? He said: I have never accepted "public good, private bad"—[Official Report, 9 May 2000; Vol. 349, c. 710–715.] That would be a welcome U-turn, but judging from Prime Minister's questions today, as soon as he has the opportunity the right hon. Gentleman is once again posturing to the gallery of political correctness instead of doing what is right for transport.

Sir Brian Mawhinney (North-West Cambridgeshire)

Before my hon. Friend deifies the Deputy Prime Minister, will he make it one of his tasks to persuade the right hon. Gentleman to admit that when he sat on the Opposition Benches and kept saying that privatisation would accelerate the loss of passengers on the railways he was wrong? Passenger use of the railways since privatisation has increased by 25 per cent. That fact has been acknowledged by the Under-Secretary.

Mr. Jenkin

There we have it. Privatisation has achieved exactly what the Government say they want to achieve, which is to get people out of their cars and get bums on seats on the railway. That is what 40 years of nationalisation failed to achieve.

Why is the Deputy Prime Minister pressing ahead with the ridiculous so-called public-private partnership on the tube? It is based on the religion of ultimate state control. Is it not the case that the right hon. Gentleman's Department has the worst record of all Departments? It was the Select Committee on Transport, chaired by the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), which last July stated: The Department's achievements…have largely been confined to the publication of documents and policy statements and the establishment of task forces. As yet, there have been few tangible improvements. What has happened since then? The answer is, not much. We have heard only that the Deputy Prime Minister has been stripped of his responsibilities for transport. They have been handed over to Lord Macdonald, who will produce a 10-year transport plan. That seems to be more of the same.

We are told that it will be an £80 billion transport plan. What real increases will there be to match the Conservative commitment? If we add up what Railtrack is investing and what the Government are spending, that easily amounts to £8 billion a year. If that is stretched over 10 years, there is no substantial change in policy.

Will the Minister tell us when the great transport plan will be produced? I tabled a question, but I know that it is rather naive to expect any useful information. However—[Interruption.] It is not funny for the Under-Secretary to laugh about concealing information from Parliament. I asked clearly if he had decided to publish his 10-year transport plan before the end of July. After all, that is what all the spin has been about. He said, as with all such departmental reports, we will publish the plan when it is ready—[Official Report, 16 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 89W.] On past form, that probably means next Christmas. Will the Minister tell us when the plan will be published?

Mr. Raynsford

When it is ready.

Mr. Jenkin

There we are; the Government are a forthcoming lot.

The purpose of the debate is to give an opportunity for the Government to explain what their transport policy is. After three years of gesture politics, denigration of the transport industries and massive cuts in government financial support across the board, is it not about time that the Government started to explain how they will deliver the public transport services—the roads, the railways and the infrastructure investment—that the country needs?

When in office, the Conservatives spent more than Labour, raised more investment than Labour and kept Britain moving. When the Prime Minister says to the Deputy Prime Minister, "A lot done, a lot left to do", he is clearly referring to the achievements of the Conservatives and the failure of the Deputy Prime Minister to achieve anything.

Labour came into office promising to wave a magic wand. That was its so-called integrated transport policy. Perhaps the Minister will explain exactly what that slogan means beside the massive increase in congestion, the logjam of investment, the millions of frustrated commuters, the businesses that are groaning under their taxes and road users who are fed up with paying ever-higher taxation.

Why is it that only now the Government are contemplating a new transport plan? They had 18 years in opposition and three years in government to think about it. Is that not why it is fair to say that the Government are all mouth and no delivery? The Government tax more and deliver less. On the evidence of its record, Labour's new slogan should be, "Not much done, nothing doing, but taxes going up". Is that not the most savage indictment of the architect of the policy? The Deputy Prime Minister was appointed to deliver a better transport system. Instead, he has been scuppered by his so-called friends at the Treasury. In fact, he has become their plaything. How they must laugh at him behind his back as they tax and tax the travelling public and cut and cut his expenditure.

In December 1999, the right hon. Gentleman was robbed of his transport portfolio. Today, he may be Secretary of State for the environment and the regions, but not for transport. He is in office, but not in power. He is discredited. He is a loser. We know that and so do his colleagues and the public. The only person who does not know it is the right hon. Gentleman.

7.46 pm
The Minister for Housing and Planning (Mr. Nick Raynsford)

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: welcomes the fact that the Government has substantially increased spending on transport from the levels planned by the previous Government; notes that this Government ended the automatic fuel duty escalator begun by the previous Government; deplores the previous Government's record of under-investment in transport, which left an investment backlog in important areas like road maintenance, rail and London Underground; notes that under the last Government the number of cars per mile of road went up from 70 to 100, that yearly carbon dioxide emissions from road transport increased by 26 per cent. and that by May 1997 Railtrack was £700 million behind on its rail investment and maintenance programme; and welcomes the Government's approach on an integrated transport strategy which will be delivered by an integrated Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, and its plans to increase spending and modernise the transport system further through its Ten Year Plan for transport investment. The people of this country want a transport system that is quicker, safer, cleaner, smarter, more reliable and good value for money, which takes them conveniently from the start of their journey to their destination. [Interruption.] Opposition Members roar with laughter at that. Surely that is a self-evident statement of what the public expect. We intend to deliver such a system through modernisation, integration and partnership.

The hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) spoke at length about congestion, taxes and underinvestment. I agree with him on one point. There are significant problems with transport. It is not as good as it should be. I differ with the hon. Gentleman over his ludicrous attempts to re-write history and completely ignore the Conservative party's abysmal record and its responsibility for the problems that we face.

It is naive in the extreme to suggest that the problems of today are the product of the past three years alone. The hon. Gentleman and every sensible Member of this place know that the problems that we inherited from the Conservative Government were considerable. There was serious congestion on the roads and a chronic backlog of maintenance, with emissions and pollution from traffic aggravating health problems, especially among children—[Interruption.] Those are serious problems, which hon. Members would do well not to make light of. We were faced with a deregulated bus industry that was failing to deliver quality services, and there were far too many cowboy operators. We had also a fragmented railway industry that was lacking strategic management and direction.

We inherited a transport system that had suffered for 20 years from the irresponsible pursuit of ideology, defective privatisation—[Interruption]—and neglect of the public sector. Conservative Members clearly do not agree with my comment on defective privatisation. I am surprised. I am only echoing the words of the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Norman), who, sadly, has not stayed in the Chamber for the debate, despite making a brief appearance. Only yesterday he admitted that there were "serious shortcomings" in the privatised railways. Who is to blame for that?

The hon. Member for North Essex may not agree with the judgment of the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells. Indeed, he may not feel comfortable about the idea that his hon. Friend is defining Opposition transport policy. I feel a little sorry for the hon. Member for North Essex. I remember only too well when he proudly puffed out his chest a few months ago during consideration of the Transport Bill in Committee and said: I speak in this Committee on behalf of the shadow Cabinet—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 18 January 2000; c. 9.] Today the hon. Gentleman claimed that he represented the Opposition—but it was not him who was issuing the press statements and being quoted in the press yesterday; it was Archie.

Mr. Jenkin

Lest the Minister should start enjoying himself too much, I should tell him that I sat next to my hon. Friend at the press conference. We discussed exactly what he was going to say. He would not have done that press conference without my permission, because we work as a team. The Minister has got into a muddle: it is his Department that is the unhappiest Department in the Government. As for the shortcomings in the rail privatisation, he and his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill), would agree with me that there was much to improve on in the railways when the Government came into office. It is sad that they have done absolutely nothing except denigrate and cast slurs on the management, undermine the financial viability of the industry and cause an investment bottleneck.

Mr. Raynsford

That was rather a long intervention, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman, in the nicest possible way, that we are delighted to know that he sits next to Archie and is educating Archie.

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

Order. The Minister knows the convention of the House as well as I do.

Mr. Raynsford

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Ms Ward

Does my hon. Friend agree that that the comments of the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) seem to suggest that he is pulling the strings of the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Norman), who is a mere puppet? If it were not for the hon. Member for North Essex telling him what to say, the poor man would not know how to cope. How is that for a team working together?

Mr. Raynsford

My hon. Friend makes a good point, but it is interesting to see who is quoted in today's press. The hon. Member for North Essex is quoted—I grant him that. He was allowed to put out a short piece in the Evening Standard about encouraging motor cycling in London. However, it was the managing director who took precedence and issued all the press statements about the Tory party's policies nationally. I am sorry for the hon. Member for North Essex, because he has clearly been relegated to the equivalent of the local Asda store manager in Manningtree.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire)

The Minister sounds a little sensitive on the subject of who is spokesman for what. Could that be because when transport matters are discussed in the papers, it is not him who is quoted? It is not even the Secretary of State who is quoted, but his noble Friend in the other place. The hon. Gentleman is the Minister for Housing and Planning. What is he doing talking about transport?

Mr. Raynsford

I am only too happy to confirm that the Deputy Prime Minister and my right hon. and noble Friend Lord Macdonald are quoted on transport policy, because they represent the Government on that issue. [Interruption.] As my right hon. and noble Friend is in the other place, I am speaking for the Government at this Dispatch Box. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Hon. Members cannot shout across the Floor of the House.

Mr. Raynsford

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I have to remind the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) in the nicest possible way that in the Committee considering the Transport Bill it was he who identified his hon. Friend the Member for North Essex as merely the subaltern. There was a different field marshal; it was, of course, a different shadow Minister, but there we are.

Mr. Gray

I want to put the record straight. That was not the case. I was happy to identify myself as the humble lance-corporal, but there was no question about who the leader of our team was, and he is sitting on the Opposition Front Bench right now.

Mr. Raynsford

I distinctly remember the hon. Member for North Wiltshire referring to the field marshal sitting with him on the Back Benches—the lowering presence of the aspiring leader of his party.

We inherited a transport system that had suffered for 20 years from neglect and short-termism. Let me remind the House of that legacy. In the 10 years from 1986 to 1996, the proportion of public transport journeys fell by 11 per cent., while the number of car journeys increased by 21 per cent.—killer fact. Over the same period, bus journeys outside London where services were deregulated fell by 31 per cent.—killer fact. By May 1997, the funding backlog on the London Underground had reached £1.2 billion—killer fact.

Meanwhile, at the change of Government in May 1997, Railtrack was £700 million behind on its rail investment and maintenance programme—killer fact. The road system was no better. In fact, in 1997 the nation's roads were in their worst condition for 20 years—killer fact. At the same time, yearly carbon dioxide emissions from road transport increased by more than 26 per cent.

There is more of the same. The proportion of freight carried on our congested roads grew to 66 per cent. from a starting point in 1979 of 54 per cent., while rail freight fell from 11 per cent. to only 6 per cent. It is hardly surprising that in 1979 there were 70 cars for every mile of road, but when the Conservatives left office, after billions of pounds of road spending, there were 100 cars per mile—killer fact. That was their record.

Mr. Lawrie Quinn (Scarborough and Whitby)

Does my hon. Friend agree with me that one of the problems was the fact that the previous Government split up the rail freight industry into three component parts? It was only as a result of a private entrepreneur sticking Humpty Dumpty back together again that the renaissance that the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) applauded came about.

Mr. Raynsford

I am happy to confirm to my hon. Friend that in the past two years there have at long last been significant increases in rail freight. I shall deal with that matter later in my speech.

Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay)

Are we to take it from the Minister's remarks that the Labour party deplores the fact that more people can afford motor cars and like to use them on the road?

Mr. Raynsford

No, quite the opposite. If the hon. Lady will bear with me, I shall come to that issue and explain in detail our policy on road traffic and motorists. We want to see an extension of car ownership, but we recognise, as any sensible person does, that there must be limits on car usership in congested areas.

We are tackling the problems. The Opposition criticise us for it. They accuse us of being anti-motorist. That is opportunistic nonsense. The truly anti-motorist policy would be to do nothing, and to allow congestion and pollution to increase. Like the Conservatives when they were in power, before the burst of post-Government amnesia that now afflicts them, we recognise that taxation of things that damage the environment is better than taxation of things that are good for the economy. That is one of the reasons why fuel duty revenue has increased.

Indeed, the then Chancellor, the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), said in 1994, when he increased the fuel duty escalator from 3 to 5 per cent.—[Interruption.] If Conservative Members would wait for it, they would be interested in this quote from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He said: Any critic of the Government's tax plans who claims also to support the international agreement to curb carbon dioxide emissions will be sailing dangerously near to hypocrisy.—[Official Report, 30 November 1993; Vol. 233, c. 939.] The Conservative party appears determined to qualify for that designation by criticising the very policies that the Conservative Government introduced to meet international environmental targets. We remain committed to those targets.

The Conservatives do not want to look at the whole picture. They did not do so when they were in government, and from what we have heard tonight they have not changed. It is still knee-jerk and quick fix.

Mr. Jenkin

Is the hon. Gentleman seriously suggesting that the extra increases in taxation on fuel have made all the difference between achieving the Kyoto targets and not achieving them? Will he be honest with the House and admit that the regulations on engine emissions and fuel economy have made the difference? They have been applied across the European Community and were promoted by the previous Government. Engine technology, not Labour taxes, will cure the pollution problem.

Mr. Raynsford

I know that the hon. Gentleman takes a different view from the former Chancellor on many matters, not least those related to Europe. I believe that his right hon. and learned Friend was talking a great deal more sense when he pointed out that it is not consistent to will the means to reduce emissions and then to reject policies that are designed to achieve that. I accept that the fuel duty escalator alone was not responsible for all the reductions that have been achieved. Of course it was not. Any sensible person knows that a range of policies across the economy are needed, but people do not deny the validity of measures that can make a contribution if they are serious about achieving environmental objectives. We are serious, and we shall not reject policies that contribute towards environmental gains.

Conservative Members do not want to look at the whole picture. The Government want to achieve real cuts in transport emissions, which is why we are already implementing an important package of tax measures to reduce the environmental impact of road transport, and, incidentally, to cut motorists' tax bills—a point that Conservative Members would do well to bear in mind when they make facile allegations that we are anti-motorist. Our major reform of vehicle excise duty in March 2001 will send an important signal to motorists to select cleaner, more fuel-efficient new cars.

Most purchasers of new cars will also see their tax bills fall. From this date, 4.1 million owners of smaller cars will benefit from a £55 cut in VED. Duty on ultra-low sulphur petrol is also being cut later this year, to encourage the take-up of the cleaner fuel. That follows on from the success that we had in switching the entire diesel market over to cleaner ultra-low sulphur diesel.

Those measures show that the Government are helping to protect the environment without penalising the ordinary motorist—an agenda that is being directly copied by the Opposition, judging by their recent policy paper "Greener Cars for a Greener Environment".

Mr. Gray

I thank the Minister for giving way a second time. He makes great play of the fact that we invented the escalator in 1994. Does he accept that in 1994 one third, or 28.4 per cent., of the tax raised from motorists was spent on roads, whereas today less than half of that—14.1 per cent. of the tax raised from motorists—is spent on roads? Surely that says it all.

Mr. Raynsford

The hon. Gentleman, like the hon. Member for North Essex, has chosen some rather selective statistics. I put it to him that if one is increasing investment in public transport, the proportion spent on roads will inevitably fall. That is a simple matter of economics. Percentages cannot remain constant if one increases the proportion spent in a different area.

We fully recognise that we cannot put right overnight, or even in a couple of years, the problems that have built up over two decades—but we will put those problems right.

Before I move on, I must take the hon. Member for North Essex to task over the wildly misleading figures that he quoted on total expenditure. He made some incredible claims. I have to put it to him that Conservative spending on transport in England was not an average of £12 billion, as he said. It averaged £8 billion a year during the period of the Major Government—1992–93 to 1996–97. Labour's spending on transport in England from 1997–98 to 2001–02, bearing in mind the fact that in the first two years we took over the expenditure plans of the previous Government, will average £7.6 billion. The difference is mainly due to the falling rail subsidies to train operating companies—a system put in place by the Conservative Government. So we will have no more nonsense from Conservative Members with false statistics about spending patterns. If we want a fair comparison of spending on transport, let us compare like with like.

In the 1997 annual report, the last produced by the Conservative Government, the figure given for total spend on transport in 1994–95 was £5.9 billion. That was the year that the hon. Member for North Essex selected, because it was the highest year for Conservative spending, so I will do him credit and use his figure. As the hon. Gentleman has said, total spend last year was just under £6 billion. Before anyone points out that that is a real decrease in spending, do not forget that rail subsidy has fallen over that period from £1.8 billion to £1.1 billion. Those are the facts.

Unlike the previous Administration, this Government are willing to take the tough decisions and invest for the long term.

Mr. Bob Russell (Colchester)

The Minister has quoted many figures. He has yet to mention road safety. Does he agree that the cost of every fatal accident is in excess of £1 million to the public purse? More than 3,000 people are killed on our roads every year, yet we spend only 10p per person per year on traffic calming.

Mr. Raynsford

I fully accept the importance of road safety. I say that with some personal feeling because I was orphaned at the age of 11 when my mother was killed with my stepfather in a car crash. I believe that road safety is fundamental, and I will refer to it in a moment. It comes into my speech, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will recognise that the speech has to cover a number of other issues. I certainly did not intend to downgrade the issue of road safety. I intend to give it considerable prominence.

In 1998 we published our integrated transport White Paper. At the time, we were criticised for the delay—and yes, it did take us just over a year from coming into office to publish the White Paper. The Conservative Government did not manage to produce one in 18 years. They did, however, publish a Green Paper; in 1996, they published "Transport, the way forward—the Government's response to the transport debate". I suspect that the Opposition are not too happy to be reminded of this document. It was, of course, the product of Mr. Steven Norris. The then Minister for Transport in London confessed that he much preferred to travel in the comfort of his own car rather than having to put up with all those dreadful human beings whom one meets on public transport.

Mr. Norris had some intelligent things to say about transport, despite that remark, which would probably make even the Bourbons feel embarrassed. When he talked about congestion charging, he sent a clear message that the view of the Government of the time was that price signals were a highly efficient way of influencing transport demand. The Green Paper referred to The Government's presumption in favour of introducing legislation in due course, to enable congestion charging and area licensing to be implemented. So it is a bit rich for the Conservative party to make such a meal of criticising us for taking practical steps to pursue the very same agenda that his own party floated when in government.

The biggest difference between this Government and the previous one is that we are delivering on commitments. The fact is that under this Government there has been a 15 per cent. increase in rail passenger journeys, with 1,300 more trains running daily to meet demand. The Conservative party can talk up its gimmicks about tackling the problems that it created, but in the real world investment in rail is doubling. Twenty per cent. of railway carriages are new and 80 per cent. of stations have been modernised. Bus capacity is increasing. We now have more than 1,800 new and enhanced rural bus services in England, not as a result of deregulation but as a result of the Government's initiative to increase rural bus services. More are to come.

We have halted the decline in the number of bus passengers and we have seen investment in buses rising year on year. In London, for example, 40 per cent. of buses are new. We are also guaranteeing a free bus pass for all pensioners—something that the Conservative party will want to abolish, along with the winter fuel allowance and free television licences for pensioners.

We are also setting up a national public transport information system with a single telephone number, which will be in place by the end of this year. Nothing like this has been done before. It will integrate timetabling and ticketing information for buses, trams and trains across the country. We have a targeted programme of 41 trunk road improvements, 20 of which will provide bypasses for local communities.

Mrs. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)

I have been listening carefully to the Minister's argument and to his statistics. Will he admit in all honesty that the statistic that he has just given about improvement in the railways and buses would not have been possible without privatisation?

Mr. Raynsford

I refer the hon. Lady to the views of the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells, who said that serious problems were created by the privatisation process.

Mr. Jenkin

Really it does politics no good if we cannot have a mature discussion about matters of policy. He is pretending to the House that my hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Norman) disagrees with my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Mrs. Laing). Of course, precisely the opposite is the case. The point that my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest is making is that a great many benefits have come about as a result of rail privatisation. The point that my hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells made was that whatever problems still existed, the Minister had not sought to deal with them.

Mr. Raynsford

I was merely quoting from The Guardian—probably not a newspaper that the hon. Gentleman reads. The hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells is quoted, referring to rail privatisation, as saying that there were "serious shortcomings". I rest my case.

We have introduced local transport plans so that local partnerships can improve public transport services, air quality and road safety, and tackle congestion and pollution. Provisional plans were produced last year, and the first full five-year plans will be produced later this year. Those plans are the cornerstone of our transport policy, providing, as they do, the key mechanism for delivering integrated transport at a local level. The plans provide for a longer-term, more strategic view, with greater certainty of funding for local authorities than under the previous annual system.

We have also, of course, introduced the first Transport Bill for a generation. The Bill will provide a statutory basis for bus quality partnerships and contracts, establish the Strategic Rail Authority, and provide powers for local authorities to introduce road user charging and workplace parking charges—as proposed, of course, by the Conservative Government in their own Green Paper.

Our Bill provides powers for local authorities to introduce charging, but it does not require them to do so. It will also be up to motorists to decide whether to use the roads where charges are imposed. It is an entirely voluntary charge. We have also—unlike Conservative Members—guaranteed that all income from those charges will be ring-fenced to improve local transport.

Although I want to focus on outcomes, I must emphasise that the Government recognise the need for extra investment. We have already increased spending on transport. In the 1998 comprehensive spending review, we provided an extra £1.8 billion for public transport, traffic management and road maintenance over and above what the Conservatives were planning to spend. In November 1999, we gave a £50 million boost for London bus services.

In this year's budget, the Chancellor gave an extra £280 million for transport, including £30 million for extension of the docklands light railway to City airport, £65 million for London Underground, £30 million for local authorities to spend on schemes for child safety and safe routes to school, and £20 million for 80 new schemes for safety and congestion stress points and other improvements on the trunk road network.

In response to the question from the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Russell), I stress that road safety is a critically important issue, and that we have set ourselves an incredibly demanding target of a 40 per cent. reduction in deaths and serious injuries. We are determined to drive forward measures that will achieve far greater safety on our roads.

We are also working on our 10-year plan for transport, which was announced last December by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister. That plan will entail a step-change in investment in both the public and private sectors, and enable us to deliver a real transport system for the 21st century.

The Opposition claim that we are spending less on transport than they did when they were in office and that we are taxing more. They are wrong on both counts. They also claim that we have a vendetta against the motorist. They are wrong about that, too. The truth is that we inherited a transport system that was suffering from a generation of underinvestment in terms of both money and long-term planning. We are putting that right.

Ms Ward

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Raynsford

No, I shall not give way to my hon. Friend. If she will bear with me, I am finishing my speech; I have probably been on my feet too long.

We are increasing spending and improving services. As I said, our 10-year transport plan will entail a step-change in investment. We are putting right the failures of the past and investing not just for tomorrow, but for a generation. We are making progress in modernising the transport system, and we are proud of our record. We have a commitment to put in place the policies, programmes and resources that are necessary to overcome long-standing and deep-seated problems. We intend to stick to that.

The public can see through the shallow, opportunistic and ill informed ideas that come from Conservative Members. I urge the House to do the same, and to reject the Opposition motion.

8.13 pm
Sir Brian Mawhinney (North-West Cambridgeshire)

Well, that is all right then—everything is for the best in this transport world; nothing could be better; and the Government are doing everything right. The Secretary of State is absent from this debate not because he is frit, but because he is out driving round in his Jag.

I am extremely grateful to the Minister for his speech. I am going to go back to the people of North-West Cambridgeshire and tell them how wonderful the Government's transport policies are. I am now able to tell them that, when they are caught up in traffic jams, it has nothing to do with the Minister. I can tell them that, when they have to take their cars in to be repaired because potholes have damaged the suspension, it has nothing to do with the Minister. I can say that, when they cannot get on a train, it has nothing to do with the Minister. I can assure them that, when they want to go on British Airways or Virgin but find themselves on some other airline instead, because of a cosy alliance that is not in the customer's best interests, it has nothing to do with the Minister.

I am grateful to the Minister for his speech, because he has produced a yardstick against which we shall continue to measure him. I have to tell him that it was a very foolish speech that reeked of complacency. [Interruption.] Yes, it did. I listened carefully to every word he said, and his speech reeked of complacency. He said that everyone out there is wrong, except for the Deputy Prime Minister and those who are brought in to speak on his behalf when he has something more important to do than to meet his own responsibilities by coming to the House and addressing transport issues.

Today, I do not want to range across transport issues—

Mr. Snape

I will bet the right hon. Gentleman does not.

Sir Brian Mawhinney

Did the hon. Gentleman wish to make an intervention rather than a sedentary comment?

Mr. Snape

Yes. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. Does he think that he could perhaps dignify this debate by being serious? If he is going to tell his constituents in North-West Cambridgeshire the stories that he has just related to the House, will he make it clear to them that those problems started only on 1 May 1997? The House really deserves better from a former Secretary of State, albeit not a very good one.

Sir Brian Mawhinney

I will tell the hon. Gentleman what I shall say to them. I shall say that, unlike the Minister, I am not confused about who is in government. I know who is in government. I know that the Government have been in office for three years. I know that they made the most preposterous claims about what they would do if only they were elected. I know that many in the electorate believed them, and that many in the electorate now know that they were conned in 1997. I am very happy to have that debate with my constituents. With every passing month, my constituents recognise just a little more clearly that the Government conned them. Transport in the United Kingdom is getting worse, not better.

As I said, I do not want to range across the full panoply of transport policy. I should like to talk about something that is dear to the Government' heart—congestion charging, and the "entirely voluntary charge" that the Minister just mentioned.

It is interesting that congestion charging remains part of the Government's policy as, slowly but surely, the political light is dawning on them. There can be no other explanation for the fact that the Government are wriggling, ducking and weaving, trying to create the impression that they are cooler on transport charging than they were. It also explains the fact that we are not going to see any congestion charging this side of a general election.

I should like, therefore, to ask Ministers a variety of questions. I shall do my utmost to be in the Chamber when the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill)—whom I hold in high regard on transport matters—answers them. I shall be interested to hear his answers.

The Government talk about congestion charging as if it were a mantra. It is the stick that they have chosen with which to beat the motorist, whom they so hate. My constituents understand the disdain in which the Government hold the motorist. It is too late for the Minister to sit there on the Treasury Bench, holding his chin and shaking his head: car users have already formed a judgment of the Government, and that judgment will not change this side of a general election. He is stuck with that judgment. One of the joys of government is that change requires long lead times, and the Government are way past the point of being able to change the public's perception of Ministers' attitude to the motorist.

The Government have never said whether they see congestion charging as a means of increasing the speed of traffic or as a means of getting more traffic through a congested area. At least the hon. Member for Streatham understands transport policy, not least because he was a distinguished member of the Select Committee for some time, and will understand the significance of the next question. I shall be interested to hear his answer. I do not have great hopes of an answer from the Minister for Housing and Planning. The second fundamental question that the Government have never addressed on congestion charging is what charge would have to be applied to reduce the amount of traffic on a road by, say, 10 per cent.

That is not a new question. The hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) has been the Chairman of the Select Committee for a considerable time and I had many a happy discussion with her when I was Transport Secretary—discussions that, I would like to think, were marked by a good deal of mutual respect. She will recall that the question has been around for at least five years. Let me repeat it: what charge would have to be levied to reduce traffic by 10 per cent?

Let me tell the Minister a story. When I was Transport Secretary, I visited the United States. In Boston, I asked that question of one of the world authorities on urban congestion. He said, "I don't know the answer. Nobody in the world knows the answer. If you give me a large enough contract, I'll come up with some advice for you, but you should save your money, because the charge would be so great that no democratically elected politician would ever be able to enforce it."

The Government do not have a clue what sort of charge would be needed to reduce traffic by 1 per cent., 5 per cent. or 10 per cent. We are talking about just another form of taxation. I shall tell my constituents that.

The Government are frit. They do not have the guts to implement the policy that they have been going on about for years, because it might cost them votes at the election. Before local authorities decide to implement it, they ought to give some thought to the consequences of implementation.

I have a few more questions for the Minister. What will the technology be? We know that the Labour party is in favour of congestion charging. The deputy mayor of London confirmed that recently, and in the first vote of the Greater London Authority, the Labour members voted in principle to support congestion charging. This is not an idle debate. It goes to the heart of what will happen in our towns and cities throughout the country.

What technology does the Minister envisage? If he is thinking of technology rather than pieces of paper, how effective is it? A few years ago, it was not nearly effective enough. The German trials of the technology a few years ago proved it to be about 95 per cent. effective—I am speaking from memory, but that figure is more or less accurate. Can the Minister envisage the uproar that there would be in this country if 5 per cent. of all congestion charges levied were shown to be inadmissible and wrong? The Minister must think about how effective the technology is.

How would the system be enforced? There is no point in having congestion charging unless it is enforced. Who would do it? How many extra people would have to be employed, and at what cost? Does the Minister have any idea whether enforcement would be immediate or subsequent to the event?

That leads me to my next question. How can the Government square enforcement policy with their commitment to the privacy of the individual? The Government must have an enforcement policy. If they acted, at least in part, subsequent to the event, what would the privacy implications be? How intrusive in the life of individuals are the Government prepared to allow the state to be in support of congestion charging?

What work have the Government done on the economic consequences of congestion charging for shops and businesses that suddenly found themselves inside an area? Does the Minister believe that congestion charging would have no effect, some effect or a large effect on their business? Does he know? Does he care? What would be the likely effect on property prices or private leasehold arrangements? Would those affected be eligible for compensation, and who would pay it? The Government do not have answers.

Who would administer the scheme? What would it cost? The Government would want to take credit for supporting the old and the disabled, so presumably they would be given exemptions.

Mr. Jenkin

We tabled amendments in Committee for such exemptions, but none of our amendments was accepted.

Sir Brian Mawhinney

I should have known that and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for telling me. The Government mouth support for the old and the disabled, but they are not prepared to make legislative provision for them. Perhaps that is because they understand that the administrative costs of exemptions would be enormous. What about occasional visitors to a town or city? How would they be dealt with?

If the Government are interested in electronic technology, they must tell us who would pay for the installation of all the electronic equipment in every car, van, bus, truck and, for all I know, motorcycle in the land. Would the Government pay? Would people be able to reclaim the money? Would they be able to offset it against tax? The Government have no idea.

The Minister looks at me quizzically. He is beginning to understand that when he talks about congestion charging and tries to encourage some of his more gullible party members in other parts of the country to introduce it locally, he does not begin to realise the ramifications.

Mr. Raynsford

I would not want the right hon. Gentleman to labour under any illusions. I remind him that the basis of the scheme is that the issues that he has raised are to be determined locally. He might remember the time when he was Secretary of State for Transport. The Government at that time appeared to be rather interested in the scheme. Why has he done an about-turn since he left office?

Sir Brian Mawhinney

I am deeply grateful to the Minister; I was hoping that he would get up and say that. In preparation for his doing so, I went to the Library today to re-read my evidence to the Select Committee on congestion charging in London on 1 February 1995. The Minister did not even know that I gave evidence. He has no idea what that evidence was. The Under-Secretary knows, because he questioned me. The Minister could have saved himself a good deal of embarrassment if he had asked his hon. Friend before he got up to ask that question.

His hon. Friend, or the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich, could have told him that the hon. Lady—with all the courtesy with which she is traditionally associated—managed to convey to the Committee that this Secretary of State was pretty unimpressed with charging. He did not say that it would not be Government policy, because he repeatedly said that the research was not in and that he would not make a judgment until he had all the information. I know that the hon. Lady remembers that, because we talked about this issue a few weeks ago and she went off and read the evidence. The Minister knows nothing about it. The Under-Secretary does, and he will not take me to task when he winds up.

The Minister's second point was that all this is to be dealt with locally. Let every local authority leader in the country understand that before they get into congestion charging, these are the questions that must be asked and answered. There is no point in turning to the Government, because the Government are all mouth on this issue and do not begin to understand the ramifications of their policy.

Mr. Raynsford

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the principle of collective responsibility? Will he remind the House whether he remained a member of the Government at a time—admittedly after he personally had ceased to be Secretary of State for Transport—when the Government issued a Green Paper suggesting that congestion charging was the right way forward? Did the right hon. Gentleman resign because of that?

Sir Brian Mawhinney

No; he talked to his right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young), the then Secretary of State, and he agreed a statement in the Green Paper that bears no resemblance to what the Minister has just asked. The difficulty that the Minister has is that I know what happened and what my view was. I know what my right hon. Friend's view was. I know what was in the Green Paper, and it was not the view that the Minister would have the House believe.

I remind the Minister that it was a Green Paper; it was a judgment, taken collectively, that following the transport debate that I initiated there were still a number of outstanding issues to be resolved—certainly on this matter—before the Government could even make a decision. That is what a Green Paper is all about and the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich will recall that that is what I told her when I gave evidence on 1 February 1995.

Mr. Clive Efford (Eltham)

I will avoid the temptation to remind the right hon. Gentleman of the cuts that he made in the road-building programme and the red route programme in London while he was Secretary of State. Would he care to comment on the actual wording of the Conservative Green Paper, published in 1996? It said: The Government will discuss with the Local Authority Associations what powers may be appropriate over and above those already available to them, for example to facilitate the introduction of congestion charging, area licensing, or taxing private non-residential parking.

Sir Brian Mawhinney

A Green Paper said that there were more discussions to be had and more issues to be explored. That Green Paper came out of the evidence that I gave the Select Committee. The present Government have not produced any evidence, facts or understanding. They have had no dialogue with local authorities, except to say that they are frit and that they do not like the political consequences; in that they may be right. The Government will not do it—local authorities must do it, and take the opprobrium.

What advice would the Minister give to those in the public and social services? Who will pay the congestion charges for school buses, district nurses or police vehicles? The list goes on and on. Does the Minister think that the charges should be levied by location, by distance travelled or by time spent? None of this is a matter of interest to the Government, because they do not care. They just want to find new ways to raise taxes.

The Government are in favour of this ill-thought-through policy. It will be a damaging policy competitively, and it will reinforce in the minds of my constituents the fact that the Government hate the motorist. That is the ineluctable consequence drawn from the policy. I will also tell my constituents that the Deputy Prime Minister did not have the guts to be here to answer for himself.

8.37 pm
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

The first thing to remember when trying to plan a transport policy for the United Kingdom is that when people are in their cars, they want everything cleared away so that they can go past; that when they are fighting to get on a train, they want much better public transport; and that when they are walking by the road, they want to be safe and not at risk from any vehicle. I regard that as a perfectly normal and balanced view, even if it means that we occasionally have slightly unrealistic debates.

I do remember the passages of arms that I had with the right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney) when he was Secretary of State for Transport. I also remember him giving hell to people who he felt had not supported him correctly after one of those sessions. I am also prepared to believe that he was exceedingly sceptical about congestion charging; however, his Government were not, and subsequent Conservative Ministers not only planned to bring forward congestion charging in some form but in the run-up to the general election had actually begun to prepare for it.

The right hon. Gentleman said that it is difficult—almost impossible—to introduce congestion charging to deal with the amount of traffic on the road, but he knows that that is not true. Other countries have done it. Norway has a very effective congestion charging scheme. The Select Committee, to which he referred, which had a Conservative Chairman at the time, went to have a look at it. We saw that there were several different ways of implementing congestion charging.

The right hon. Gentleman made an important point about the protection of privacy and ensuring that one does not impinge on the rights of people travelling in a vehicle whose number is recorded. The Norwegian authorities addressed that with great care. Their scheme was highly efficient and they recorded the number plates of vehicles going through congestion charging barriers, but they were also very careful to eliminate the faces of both driver and passengers, so that whoever was operating the system could not see them. The authorities had the number and could take action against the car that had breached the rules, but people's privacy was protected. The Norwegians had thought carefully about all the objections that the right hon. Gentleman raised.

We know that congestion charging can be implemented efficiently and at very little cost. British firms were responsible for the electronic charging systems used in America. A British firm came up with the smartcard technology used in Virginia, and a British firm has been carefully selling systems throughout the world.

There is no great technical problem to overcome. The real problem is political, which is why it is absolutely essential that local authorities should take the decisions. Authorities with mediaeval towns which are very attractive but have congested streets and are hard to get in and out of will want to consider seriously some form of charging as a way of at least slowing the rate of growth. Others that are perfectly capable of absorbing large numbers of vehicles, either by using park and ride or by providing alternative forms of transport, will be quite happy to let the natural evolution of the motor car develop in a different way. Congestion charging is achievable as one of the means of managing the growth of motor traffic. That is all it is: a management tool.

What has been demonstrated today is that we have to think seriously about transport, and in terms other than, "Yah-boo, you rotten lot hate the motor car, and we love the bicycle", or, "We managed to get rid of the railway system, so it is not costing as much, but you want to run it down even further." Frankly, that is not a very high level of debate, and it does not do anybody much good.

Rail privatisation was an unmitigated disaster. Only now, years after the destruction and the splitting of an old system into unmanageable fragments, are we beginning to pull it together into some kind of manageable, efficient system. It still suffers disastrously from the way in which it was privatised. The Conservative Chairman of a Conservative-dominated Select Committee thought that the method being used by the Conservative Government to privatise the railways was a disaster. He set out the way in which he thought that it should be done. He was not against privatisation, but was convinced that what was being suggested was unworkable. He proved to be absolutely right.

Sir Brian Mawhinney

I agree that there is little value in revisiting what we did, but I am concerned by the hon. Lady's statement that rail privatisation was a disaster. Given the huge surge of investment, some of which has already been delivered and the rest of which will be delivered over the next few years, and given the huge increase in the number of passengers—bearing in mind the fact that for the previous 40 years, under nationalisation, it had gone down year after year—is not her judgment a little harsh?

Mrs. Dunwoody

My judgment when it comes to men is frequently disastrous, but when it comes to transport I am rather better. I believe that rail privatisation was a disaster, and I use the word advisedly. Frankly, under privatisation, a very old system that was disastrously run down was not improved but made even worse. It is only the pressures brought to bear by—believe me—the customers that have begun to change the situation.

Of course it is true that there are many more people riding on the railways, but it is also true that the interim years when we did not commission any new trains, buy any new rolling stock, plan any new lines or keep the existing lines up to standard proved truly disastrous. Those factors have resulted in trains providing unacceptable levels of service to passengers, and we are only now beginning to see the companies—after all this time—buying new rolling stock and improving the lot of the passenger.

I hope that the Minister will forgive me if I do not address such delightful issues as congestion charges or what might happen in 2015, because what matters to me is the day-to-day running of the railways. Above all, safety is still high on the list of issues about which we should worry. We listen every day to the evidence being given by those who were in the appalling train crash in which so many people died. Many of the faults involved arose out of direct negligence by the company—investment had not been made, training standards had been allowed to fall and rolling stock had become run down. All those faults, which we have set out in detail, were contributory factors to that dreadful crash, including even the training of drivers and the lack of proper concern about the teaching of safety procedures to senior conductors.

My simple plea to my hon. Friend the Minister tonight is that we are waiting for the safety company that Railtrack is supposed to have set up. I know that an announcement was made yesterday and I welcome that, because the chairman, Sir David Davies, is a remarkable man and will be a great asset. However, the company should have been set up some months ago. If Railtrack's licence requires modification, that should have been considered and changed. We do not need to hear from Railtrack about a wish list of billions of pounds to be spent on projects that it will frankly never achieve unless the taxpayer coughs up. It asks for many millions of pounds on spurious grounds, when it should have been bringing forward workable plans for the new railways safety company. By now, that company should have been staffed and given a budget. Railtrack should have come forward with criticisms of the existing facilities and with the ways in which the existing working practices were deficient. None of that has happened.

I blame the management of Railtrack, of whom we have heard much in the past months. It is also part of the Government's responsibility to lean on Railtrack in a way that has not happened in the past. Railtrack's management knows that if it is to produce a high-quality railway, it must talk about the money that it intends to put in immediately. We do not need a 20-year plan that is entirely dependent on the taxpayer. Railtrack must admit unequivocally that it does not have the state-of-the-art safety measures that will save us from such a disaster in the future, and it should say how it intends to change that situation.

Mr. Quinn

Does my hon. Friend share my real concern about the upgrade of the west coast main line, because Railtrack, its contractors and project managers are now having to recruit technical expertise from the Indian sub-continent? Is not that a symbol of what has happened to our railway industry's manufacturing base? Expertise has been lost and we have not replaced it with future investment.

Mrs. Dunwoody

It is a marvellous irony that we, who built most of the Indian railways and supplied the engineers and expertise, are now—100 or 150 years later—having to go back and ask for assistance. I am glad that the Indian railway system is capable. When I look at some of our trains, I wonder whether we will end up riding on their roofs, as people in India do; I hope not.

Some rail companies, worried about their franchise, come forward with the most wonderful plans and wish lists. Others, such as Railtrack, do not appear to deal with immediate or short-term problems but only say that they hope that things might be different in 20 years' time. That is not acceptable and it will not do.

Recently, members of Railtrack staff were criticised in the tabloids for what was reported as some sort of drunken folly. Whether the story was true or not I do not know, but Railtrack managers made a clear statement that they expected people to be sacked over the incident. That is terrifying. Many people in Railtrack need to be shifted because of what happened to 31 people outside Paddington station. If that does not happen, we have got our priorities totally wrong.

People who try to put the responsibility solely on the Government should remember that the private rail companies received their franchises in return for the promises that they made. Those promises were not simply general ideas; they were contractual responsibilities. If those companies do not fulfil those contractual obligations, no one will believe a word they say when they come forward for the new franchises. No matter how many glossy colour brochures are published by those companies, their plans will be examined in great detail.

I hope that the Minister will answer some questions from me this evening. When will the rail safety company become operational? What will its responsibilities be? How many staff will it have, and how big will its budget be? Who will take the decisions?

If railway safety is left in the hands of those who contributed to the Paddington disaster, the House will be guilty of complacency. In that case, it should consider where its true priorities lie.

8.52 pm
Mr. Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington)

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). I trust her judgment on transport, although hon. Members on the Government Front Bench may not always be so certain. We welcome this important debate. I am happy to speak to the Liberal Democrat motion and against the motion tabled by the Conservative motion.

From what we have heard it is clear that the Government are failing in their transport policy. They came to office pledging to reduce the overall level of traffic on our roads. That pledge has been broken.

The Government came to office planning to save the London underground. That pledge has been broken: London underground has not been saved, but a bill for at least £60 million in consultancy fees has been run up—with no guarantee that the public-private partnership will go ahead. The public sector comparator could still find the PPP financially unacceptable.

The Government came to office promising that our air is not for sale—another transport pledge that has been broken.

However, even though the Government's record is one of delay, cancellation and the occasional U-turn, I can only admire the brazen opportunism and astounding collective amnesia exhibited by the Conservative party in tabling the motion before the House. Conservative Members seem to be suffering under a delusion that three years in opposition absolves them of responsibility for decisions before year zero of the new Labour regime. I am happy to remind them of their record on transport.

It was the Conservatives who introduced the fuel duty escalator. It was the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), who said, as we have heard already: Any critic of the Government's tax plans who claims also to support the international agreement to curb carbon dioxide emissions will be sailing dangerously near to hypocrisy. What we have heard tonight certainly qualifies as sailing dangerously near to hypocrisy, if not colliding with it.

It was the Conservatives who first investigated the use of additional charges for road use in cities. In 1994, the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major), said: I do not expect to have people dancing in the streets in delight at the concept of road pricing but if you look at the environmental problems, you can see the impetus behind the policy and the necessity. It was the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young), then Secretary of State for Transport, who said at his party conference in 1995: I believe the key is not to build lots more roads but to make more intelligent use of the ones we have. The Tory mayoral candidate, Steven Norris, said as recently as 1997: I take the view that you cannot pander to traffic growth. Steven Norris, unlike the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin), does not rubbish plans to tackle traffic growth.

After years of failed transport policies, during which the Conservatives were convinced that building more roads would solve congestion, they at last began to realise that that was not possible. They began to realise that the continued growth of road traffic was unsustainable. Even they noticed that motor vehicle traffic increased every year, according to the House of Commons Library, by a total of 75 per cent. They began to realise that despite the biggest road-building programme since the Romans, the condition of Britain's roads had deteriorated to the worst on record. They began to realise that with no alternative strategy, there would be no hope of keeping to internationally binding Kyoto agreements to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

That insight, acquired during 18 years of government, was, regrettably, jettisoned within a matter of months of being in opposition in favour of a transport policy that is about soundbites and spin. It must have been dreamt up at a joyriders' convention. The Conservatives want to take us back 20 years in terms of transport policy, in a desperate attempt to shore up their support. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Inverness, West (Mr. Kennedy), the leader of the Liberal Democrats, was right to attack the Conservatives recently for constantly proposing policies that they rejected in office. Their transport policy is just another example.

The Conservatives say that they will publish a balance of account showing what the Government raise in transport taxes and how it is spent. That may be fine, but the Conservatives never did it in 18 years of government. The Conservatives say that they will improve road maintenance. That is all well and good but, again, after 18 years of Conservative government, the roads were in the worst condition on record.

The Conservatives say that they will save the tube through privatisation, but forget that they never did so when in office. In fact, they created a maintenance backlog of £1.2 billion. Right hon. and hon. Members do not have to take my word for it. The hon. Member for North Essex said in the House: We did not do enough for the tube—I would be the first to acknowledge that—[Official Report, 27 January 1999; Vol. 324, c. 436.] The Conservatives say in their new rail policy that they will improve the railway service. We all support that. They will ensure that all passengers without a train seat travel for free, end the practice of running lesser services on Sundays and end long ticket queues. All that is missing from that list is a requirement for all railway staff to wear a baseball cap when they are available to be spoken to—or is it when they are not available to be spoken to?

The Conservatives do not say how any of their proposals can be achieved; they certainly do not say how they will pay for them. They say that they will talk up the railway and encourage investment. That must be how they will pay for their promises. That is the size of their strategy for investment in the railway service that they privatised.

As part of their fair deal for the motorist—or their joyriders' charter—the Conservatives propose allowing motorists to turn left on a red light, provided that it is safe to do so, to ease traffic flow. They will also be doing away with those irritating traffic-calming impediments. What is fair to the motorist will be fatal for the pedestrian.

It is clear to Liberal Democrats that, regrettably, the Government have so far failed to honour their pledge to develop an integrated transport policy so as to fight congestion and pollution. They promised to reduce traffic overall—so far they have failed. They no longer even aim to reduce traffic; they accept that the number of vehicles on our roads will continue to rise and that the amount of traffic will continue to increase.

In contrast, we are clear about the fact that traffic reduction is crucial to help us to meet our carbon dioxide emission targets. It is also crucial for business.

The right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney) referred to the costs of congestion charging schemes. That is a valid point, but he did not refer to the costs of congestion itself. The CBI estimates that it will cost industry about £20 billion a year—not an inconsequential sum.

Traffic reduction is also crucial in the reduction of death on our roads and of death and ill health caused by air pollution. The right hon. Gentleman did not refer to the obvious costs associated with that problem.

To sell off National Air Traffic Services in the face of opposition from pilots, air traffic controllers and more than 100 Labour Back Benchers is unnecessary.

Sir Brian Mawhinney

The hon. Gentleman says that Liberal Democrats are in favour of reducing traffic. Will he offer us a small indication of how that might be done?

Mr. Brake

I am happy to respond to that point. As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, congestion charges may have a role to play—as would a substantial improvement in public transport, which would encourage people to switch to it from car use.

I am happy to repeat the call for NATS to remain as a public company, allowed to raise funds for investment from the private sector.

Liberal Democrats are clear—as are Londoners—that the state of the tube has worsened under the Labour Government. However, our answer is not the Conservative folly of privatisation, nor the Government's mish-mash of partial privatisation and fragmentation. Our response is to raise the finance needed to revitalise the tube system through the issue of bonds against guaranteed future revenue streams. I am sure that Susan Kramer—as London's transport supremo—will fight for that—[Interruption.] Does an hon. Member want to intervene? If not, I am happy to repeat that Susan Kramer is London's transport supremo.

I hope that the Government will listen to the message that came across clearly at the recent elections for the Greater London Authority: Londoners do not want another rail privatisation fiasco on their hands—even only a partial one. I hope too that the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) will listen to Londoners and honour his pledges, and that he will not be tempted to compromise simply to secure his early return to the Labour party.

I am a regular commuter on Connex South Central, whose representatives were willing to talk to my constituents about the future of rail services; it appears that the Go-Ahead group has decided to pull out of the arrangements. I confirm my party's support for the establishment of the Strategic Rail Authority. We believe that it will improve regulation on the railways, although its scope could have been widened to include other modes of transport. The existing remit of the SRA should be extended to cover the expansion of the rail network where appropriate. As a priority, the SRA should simplify ticketing throughout the network.

In the wake of the Paddington crash, the public are still rightly concerned about safety. Immediately after the disaster, the Deputy Prime Minister announced that he was minded to remove the setting of safety standards from Railtrack. We supported him on that matter, but we were much less comfortable with his proposal, announced in February, that an independent subsidiary company of Railtrack should be responsible for transport safety. Railtrack should not be judge and jury on such an important matter.

We remain concerned that there is still a considerable shortfall of funding for investment in the railways. Without the investment, there will be no improvement in the services promised by the Government. If they continue to reduce the amount that they spend on the railways, it is increasingly likely that it will be left up to the passenger to make up the difference. That is why we believe that the tapering of subsidies has to be called into question.

Our tax plans reflect our transport priorities. We would invest in public transport first, securing a leap in the quality of public transport, and only then consider the introduction of congestion charges. We would abolish road tax on all cars of up to 1600 cc; this would be paid for by a small compensatory rise in the fuel duty. With two thirds of British drivers driving cars of 1600 cc or below, the majority of drivers would be better-off. The policy would also have the beneficial environmental effect of encouraging smaller engined cars. That is the right way to proceed.

The debate about transport needs an infusion of honesty. The Tories' promises will come to nothing unless they are prepared to say where they will raise the finance to improve our transport infrastructure. In 18 years in government, they failed to invest in roads, rail and the London underground. Tonight, they have said nothing to make me believe that they will do any better next time. They are all mouth and no delivery.

9.6 pm

Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)

I declare an interest: I am the chairman of Travel West Midlands, a subsidiary of the National Express Group, and I am a director of other National Express subsidiaries in the bus industry.

Mrs. Gorman

Will the hon. Gentleman repeat that?

Mr. Snape

The hon. Lady, who is not averse to dodging the rules of this place occasionally, asks me to repeat that; I am delighted to do so. I speak as the chairman of Travel West Midlands and I am the director of various National Express Group subsidiaries. I hope that satisfies her. My other interests—I am a member of the RMT—are in the Register of Members' Interests.

I hope that the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake) will forgive me if I do not pursue most of the points that he made. However, I am inclined to agree with him about the future role of the Strategic Rail Authority. I shall return to that subject shortly.

These are enormously depressing debates for those of us who have a long-standing interest in transport. The hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) made a speech that I have heard umpteen times—so many times, particularly in Committee, that I would have thought he would have refined it by now, but he has not. He has done his usual disappearing act. He opened this debate by demanding the presence of my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, and he opened the proceedings of the Committee stage of the Transport Bill by making exactly the same speech. He then did a disappearing act there. Of the 36 or 37 sittings of the Committee, he missed more than he attended. He has disappeared again tonight and it brings the House into disrepute when Opposition spokesmen behave in that way. The hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Syms) has been left to pick up the pieces and, no doubt, he will do that in his own adequate fashion. However, it is still a sad commentary on Conservative policy.

Stale statistics have been trotted out. Usually they are the prerogative of the motoring organisations, the AA and the RAC. Although I have been a member of the AA for many years, it has never asked me for my views on the subject, but it still trots out the same old rubbish about £36 billion being raised in taxation and £6 billion being spent on the road network. There is some excuse for the AA; it is part of the motoring lobby. However, I do not think that there is any excuse for someone who purports to be a shadow Minister of Transport to trot out all those statistics.

As the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Russell) reminded us, there are more than 3,000 road deaths every year. Each one of them, as he again rightly reminded us, has a financial cost as well as a human cost—a point that was made by my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning. It costs about £1 million for each accident, so can we add that sum to the £6 billion that is spent? Can we add on to the £6 billion the £16 billion in congestion costs, which is the estimate of the Confederation of British Industry? Shall we add on all the police, court and legal time that is spent on the aftermath of the motoring offences committed? If we do so, the equation does not look too attractive, although it is beloved of motoring organisations and idle hacks on daily newspapers, who spend their lives driving cars and reporting that the ashtray is in the wrong place to guarantee that they will get another new car to test within three or four weeks.

Surely transport receives better treatment than it is given in the House. I was disappointed by the speech of the right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney), who did not come up with anything new. When a Conservative Government gave local authorities the power to impose residential charging schemes, some Tory backwoodsmen asked how that would affect shops and visitors to people's homes, as though an impossible barrier were being erected around residential areas. Those schemes have worked well, and some are in constituencies that have long been represented by Conservative Members.

The right hon. Gentleman went through a list of road schemes that he said we are still considering. I am interested in one scheme in particular—the Hazel Grove bypass around Stockport. I do not represent that part of the world, but I come from that area. I remember, as a councillor on Bredbury and Romiley urban district council—that ages me somewhat—taking part in a debate in Stockport about that particular road. That was in 1971, so delays in building roads are nothing new and did not start on 1 May 1997.

I come now to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). Parliamentary privilege is precious to all hon. Members and should not be abused. Blaming Railtrack for Ladbroke Grove when an inquiry into that accident is taking place is an abuse of parliamentary privilege. I have no brief for Railtrack, but I hope that my hon. Friend will reflect that Railtrack did not design the offending layout at Ladbroke Grove; it was designed in British Rail days. Railtrack inherited the design in 1994, when it was still a public sector company.

That design is pretty complex, but, goodness me, in my youth as a railway signalman the entry to most railway terminuses was guarded by a multiplicity of semaphore signals, and that was a pretty complex business. To suggest, as some of my hon. Friends occasionally do, that drivers have passed signals at danger only since the railway was privatised is to ignore a long history of railway accidents. Ladbroke Grove was an enormous tragedy, but we should let Lord Cullen decide who was responsible and make recommendations accordingly.

Mrs. Dunwoody

My hon. Friend has chosen to accuse me of abusing parliamentary procedure, and I have to say that that is the first time in 30 years that anyone has said anything of the sort. I certainly believe that Lord Cullen must make his recommendations, but I am deeply concerned about the fact that straight after the accident, Railtrack gave certain undertakings about the immediate creation of a railway safety authority. I made that point then and I make it now, and I resent the suggestion that I am doing anything that in any way abuses parliamentary procedure.

Mr. Snape

I stand by what I said, and my hon. Friend can resent what she likes. The future of the railway industry is done no great service by attacks such as those that have just been made, particularly when the Government have set up an inquiry to look into all the causes of the Ladbroke Grove disaster and to make proposals that will, I hope, be debated and accepted as quickly as possible.

Another allegation is that Railtrack is unfit to investigate rail accidents or to have any responsibility for rail safety. If Railtrack does not do that, who will? It is easy to demand independent inquiries, but the technicalities of rail safety are complicated and people investigating rail accidents must have prior knowledge of the industry, track layout and how signalling is designed and installed. Finding someone who is independent and who has the knowledge to take on that responsibility on a day-to-day basis is no easy task.

We ought to get away from the concept that, to us, everything that the previous Government did is automatically bad, and, to the Tory party, everything that the Government are doing is automatically bad. Those who work at any level in the railway industry deserve better from this House.

I cannot understand the present-day Conservative party from the terms of the motion: a Conservative Opposition are denouncing a Labour Government for not spending enough public money on transport. I was always brought up to believe that the wicked Tories were against public expenditure, but somehow they have decided that there is some political mileage to be gained from hammering such spending on transport.

I do not want to bore the House too much with my experiences, but I have seen lots of public money spent on the railway industry since the late 1950s when I began working in it. I have seen lots of public money wasted on it by Conservative Governments. I well remember the aftermath of the 1955 modernisation plan, when millions of pounds of public money was spent on wiring up railway sidings that had not seen a wagon for years. Overhead wires were provided for sidings that had gone rusty before I was born.

I saw the Government of the day—a Conservative Government, I must remind the House—insist as part of that modernisation plan that railway locomotive purchase was spread as far around the country as possible. The result—I speak from memory, but I think that I am right—was 32 different types of diesel locomotives, many of which were in the knacker's yard in a decade because they were not any good. Is the Conservative party these days saying that all public expenditure is necessarily a good thing and that a Labour Government who look carefully at their expenditure priorities are misbehaving? I would have thought that the reverse would be true.

Can we get away from the philosophy that everything was wonderful when the railways were publicly owned and when they were privatised everything was appalling? I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich that the previous Conservative Government's system of privatisation was disastrous because it was introduced in too much of a hurry to get it out of the way before the then impending election.

However, the system has one advantage now that it is beginning to settle down, as my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich said. At last, and for the first time in my life, the railway industry is out from under the dead hand of the Treasury. Before people are allowed to renew franchises, they will have to pledge some long-term investment in the industry—not something that we could ever get out of the Treasury.

Again I refer to some of the disastrous mistakes following the 1955 modernisation plan—but we were lucky. I remember Peter Parker, as the chairman of British Rail, fighting desperately for a three-year investment plan in the industry, yet under franchising we can demand 20-year investment plans. The train operating companies do not just lease trains and run them; we can demand that they make improvements to infrastructure along the route that they have chosen to acquire. We could never do that in BR days.

Indeed, more often than not, the first piece of expenditure to be cut by successive Governments—Tory and Labour alike—was capital investment in our public sector industries in general and our railway industry in particular. I remind the House of the saga of the west coast main line electrification and modernisation. We did the first bit from Crewe to Liverpool and Manchester in 1959 and the second bit from Euston to Crewe in the mid-1960s, but it took another decade to complete the bit from Crewe to Glasgow—I nearly said Edinburgh—where it stopped in those days. That was largely because the Treasury, under successive Governments, could never resist interfering with investment plans.

Mr. Quinn

May I advise my hon. Friend that about 65 per cent. of all the design work with which I was personally involved in 18 years of working in the railway industry remains in some dusty drawer? I do not think that that is a reflection on my abilities as a designer, but it supports his point.

Mr. Snape

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I hope that those of us with practical experience of these matters can occasionally put politics aside and say that we have to start from where we are today if we are determined to have a better railway industry. There is no point harking back to the glory days—either pre-grouping, since nationalisation or beyond.

Of course the Tories got it wrong in the mid-1990s because they were in such a hurry, but other countries that are privatising have learned from our mistakes. Australia, which is a case in point, takes the same view that many of us are coming round to: if the railway industry is left in the public sector, it is always subjected to the vagaries of the economy. I am not saying that the private sector is immune from those vagaries, but at least long-term investment plans are part of the railway hinterland in a way that they never were in the past. We ought to recognise that.

I wish that the Conservative party would grow up and participate in a proper debate. In other parts of the world—particularly other parts of Europe—these matters are not considered worthy of political discussion, and whether Governments are of the left or of the right, a basic transport infrastructure is accepted as necessary and something that has to be paid for in any civilised society. However, the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Norman) yesterday issued a press statement entitled "The new railway—serving the customer". As far as I am aware, no statement was made in the House, but I shall put that to one side.

The hon. Gentleman made some sensible proposals—for example, that franchise terms should be reviewed if the franchisee does not live up to them. Hon. Members on both sides of the House would not argue with that, but occasionally he moved into the realms of fantasy. One paragraph, entitled "Standing is Free", says: For too long passengers, particularly on London commuter lines paying full fares, have found themselves having to stand. Train companies now need to grasp the fact that their product includes a seat. Selling a fare without the capacity to provide a seat is like selling a hotel room without a bed. Well, it is not, but that is what the hon. Gentleman says. He also says: In passenger speak, it is a "rip off". There is a good modern Tory term; the Tories would know all about that. He goes on: Therefore we would ask the SRA to introduce a new policy whereby after three years of a new franchise all customers unable to get a seat would be entitled to a refund. Administering that proposal should be great fun for somebody. It would mop up a few unemployed bureaucrats, I dare say, and there would be fun and games when the 8.47 from London Bridge arrived at Victoria and the passengers lined up to complain.

What about the people who choose to get into the front coach of a train arriving at a dead-end terminus? Many do so, all over the country, to get ready for the off. Should we compensate them as well? My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich referred to the Indian situation, but that would lead to an overcrowding problem as people in one half of the train would stand on the roof, and on each other's heads, to qualify for a refund, while everybody else would demand breakfast because there was lots of space in the carriages.

Someone ought to take the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells aside and teach him the facts of life, particularly if one remembers when the time came—not much more than a decade ago, and under BR and public ownership—to replace the diesel multiple unit fleet. A Conservative Government insisted that that could be done only if three-car DMUs were replaced with two-car DMUs. Now the Conservative party complains about overcrowding. If ever a railway industry was designed to be overcrowded, it was that which the previous Government left us.

I hope that we can bring a little common sense to these debates. I am glad that the hon. Member for North Essex has returned to his seat. I hope that he will give serious and mature consideration to these matters instead of behaving like a red-nosed comedian without the red nose, particularly as he should obtain a new script from time to time. It is impossible to deliver the same jokes to the same audience all the time. I realise that the audience for these debates is not a great one, but those who attend regularly would appreciate his getting a new scriptwriter so that we could at least hold a sensible and grown-up discussion on the railway industry. People in the industry deserve better than the debates that usually take place in the House and they certainly deserve a lot better than the cliched and hackneyed nonsense that they hear from the hon. Gentleman.

9.24 pm
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley (South-West Surrey)

Unlike the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape), I am no expert on transport matters, although I declare an interest in that I have a brother who is a railwayman and is as passionate about and obsessed with railways as the hon. Gentleman is—and, of course, I used to be married to a Transport Minister.

I know, however, that my constituents care more about transport today than they have at any stage since I have been their Member of Parliament. Among their heroes is my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin). He visited my constituency—as did every Conservative Minister with responsibility for transport—to witness one of the most shameful problems, the A3 at Hindhead, which is the only single carriageway stretch between London and Portsmouth, and contains the only traffic lights that the four Scottish roads Ministers would encounter if they travelled from Scotland to Portsmouth.

My hon. Friend has identified and articulated my constituents' outrage at the fact that £17 out of every £20 that they spend on petrol goes to the Chancellor. My constituents include nurses, pensioners and school-run mums—people who have no option but to drive. In return for paying that exorbitant tax, they are asked to wait in their cars for hour after hour. It is a disgraceful situation.

The Government recently produced a Countryside and Rights of Way Bill. It has been met with a hollow laugh in my constituency. The land involved locally is a special protection area under the European Union birds directive—a site of special scientific interest. However, all my constituents are confronted with is what my hon. Friend described as the "Carry On Consulting" policy.

Local people were initially hopeful about the review of trunk roads. They were enthusiastic, and I myself participated, expecting the process to be straightforward. We thought that if the proper answers were given on safety, access, economic development, and routes to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight—all of which had been held up by the situation at Hindhead—our position would be approved. During the 18 years of Conservative Government the rest of the A3 was improved, effectively to motorway standard, but the Hindhead problem is appalling. "Carry On Consulting", because what was announced in the review of trunk roads, means further reports and discussion of whether tolls should play a part in the A3 Hindhead problem.

My hon. Friend the Member for North Essex suggested that there were too few consultants to undertake the work. I am delighted to say that an excellent team, MVA, has undertaken it. It is clear that MVA will produce a textbook illustration of a place where tolls could never be used. Tolls would lead to more rat-running, and toll plazas would use more of what is internationally precious land. However, the Government have been given what they wanted—the opportunity for further delaying tactics. I am informed that even when the report is completed, it will be submitted to the south-east England regional assembly. There will be more talking shops and more delay—and, presumably, the final result will land on the Government's desk shortly before a general election. My constituents are heartily sick of all this, and totally cynical about the device.

Progress has been achieved in one respect. My right hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hampshire (Mr. Arbuthnot) and I asked, on a monthly basis, for one of the 10 environment Ministers to visit Hindhead. At long last, after three years, the roads Minister has visited it, but this is an example of the way in which the Government behave. They do not govern for the many; they govern for their friends. It is disgraceful that it took three years for one of 10 Ministers to visit the site of the most serious problem in the south-east. I believe that the Government have no credibility on this issue. People are being taxed more, and are getting less.

Those for whom I feel most sorry are people in the Highways Agency such as Paul Arnold, who has been there for 14 years, and Graham Hodgson, from Surrey county council, who have had to meet irate residents groups who were asking for traffic-calming measures and other palliative steps because of the Government's failure to discharge their responsibilities.

This is a crucial route. I ask the Minister not to offer more consultation reports or talking shops, or to refer the matter back. At a time when people are paying more than ever before, this is a Government responsibility, and the Government should discharge it.

9.29 pm
Mr. Robert Syms (Poole)

I start by declaring an interest. In the Register of Members' Interests, it is stated that I am a director of a family business that has some interests in transport. We may stray into areas that may by affected, so I hope that hon. Members accept that.

We have had an interesting debate on a subject that is important for most of our constituents. It is a pity that more Back Benchers could not speak in the debate. All of us as constituency Members appreciate that the issue is dear to the heart of many Members because of the number of times that it comes up in surgeries and in letters, with people saying what they want.

The debate was ably started by my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin), who set out an indictment of the Government's policies. It was chapter and verse; it was game, set and match. The Government have learned a lot about their policies from the impact that they are having.

The Minister for Housing and Planning did his best to defend the Government on a difficult wicket. I think that we all acknowledge that defending the Government's policies on transport is not easy. He did it in his normal way, and he did his best. He said in his peroration that the Government were spending more and taxing less than the previous Government—and he kept a relatively straight face, so he did a reasonable job.

The fact is that the Government are taking £36 billion from motorists. That is a lot of money—£8 billion more than when they came into office. One pound in every £7 collected by the taxpayer comes from motorists. As we have heard, of every £10 spent on petrol, £8 is tax.

For most people, a car is a necessity. Most people need one to work, to get to school, to go to hospital, to go to the supermarket and to undertake the ordinary tasks that hard-working families in communities must undertake. One gets the feeling in many of these debates that Members think that people with cars are fat cats with unlimited amounts of money, but many people find it difficult to run a car.

Being hit by higher taxes under the present Government is bound to have an effect on the family budget, and, indeed, on people who are not necessarily the richest; some of the poorest people, and many of those who live in rural areas, will be affected. Sixty-nine per cent. of households own cars, but 85 per cent. of households in rural areas own them. The Government have hit them hard. Under Labour, the average motorist is paying £270 more a year for petrol than under the previous Government.

Roads are key to any integrated strategy, because most people travel by road. Most goods travel by road. The Minister said that when we came to office, there were 70 cars per mile of road, and when we left, there were 100. That is a sign of Conservative success, of a more prosperous economy, with people able to buy cars. In many instances, those who in earlier times would not have been able to afford a car could do so. Many people have two cars.

Mr. Snape

If 100 cars per mile of road is a tribute to Conservative party success, and the allegation in the debate is that there are even more cars on the roads and even more congestion now, is that a hallmark of Labour success, too?

Mr. Syms

As we become more prosperous, it is evident that there will be more cars on the road. The way to deal with it is to increase capacity—to increase the value of the road system. People aspire to have a car. They work hard. They expect to be able to buy a car, so that they can have a better standard of living.

Mrs. Gorman

Is my hon. Friend aware that statistics on the use made by each family of their cars show not that every car is on the road all the time, but that one or other of the cars is on the road at any one time? It is not true to suggest that congestion is caused by more cars on the road. It is caused by the run-down condition of the roads, which have been getting worse under the present Government.

Mr. Syms

My hon. Friend makes a persuasive point. I hope that those on the Government Front Bench were listening. The fact is that £36 billion comes from motorists, but only slightly over £5 billion—about 15 per cent.—is being spent on roads. That is having a dreadful effect on our roads system. We experience log-jams and breakdowns. People who travel round the country to do their jobs have greater difficulty.

What is the Government's big idea? What have they decided to do to solve the problems? In their long awaited Transport Bill, they have proposed congestion taxes and workplace parking. Brilliant. What does that mean? It means that the answer to the problems of our nation is more tax—to raise more money from more people.

In the 1998 spending review, the Treasury assumed that £1 billion would be raised by that method by 2005–06. The Minister said that the charge would be voluntary. That is an interesting comment, bearing in mind the fact that the Government are underfunding local authorities' spending on transport. I suspect that if the Treasury is making the assumption that £1 billion will be raised by the charge, all the pressure in the world will be put on local authorities. The Government will say to them, "You have the right to introduce this charge, and if you do not, why should we give you the money?"

We have an interesting situation in London. The Labour party ran on a manifesto of no charges for four years. The Conservatives ran on a manifesto of no charges. At the first vote in the London Assembly, the Labour party took a different view. The public in London, especially those who voted, have been sold a false prospectus on congestion charging.

Those who read the Evening Standard, as most of us do, will have seen the article "Commuter Watch 2000" in Monday's edition. It clearly says: The new Mayor is considering a £5-a-day congestion charge… But the blunt truth from our 3-month CommuterWatch survey of train, Tube and bus services is that the majority are as poor or even worse than when we tested them in 1997 and 1998. Who was in office in 1997 and 1998? Ministers often forget the fact, but it was them. They must accept responsibility for the situation in London.

The Government are taxing more and delivering less. My right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney) asked some extremely pertinent questions about congestion charging. I hope that the Minister will answer those questions when he winds up the debate, so that hon. Members can be better informed. I believe that congestion charging is a bad thing—but it will probably be a good thing for the Conservative party. We oppose such charges, and that will make a tremendous difference in the forthcoming election campaign. [Interruption.] There was a Green Paper and a discussion paper, but we never introduced charges.

Looking at the implications, and having served on the Transport Bill, I have no doubt that the proposal is bad news for motorists, and bad news for town centres and urban areas that will be blighted by the taxation.

Mr. Brake

Would congestion charging be bad for people's health?

Mr. Syms

I do not think that congestion charging would make any difference to people's health. According to the study of road congestion charging in London, to reduce traffic by discouraging people who travel in those areas, the charge would have to be so high as to be politically unacceptable—as my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Cambridgeshire said.

Congestion charging is another way of taking money out of people's pockets. The Government's policies have more to do with the Dick Turpin approach to politics: stand and deliver. Most people are having to pay more in tax. They stand in traffic throughout the country, no doubt wondering why the Deputy Prime Minister has not delivered what he said he would do before the general election.

There is no such thing as a painless tax rise. There is a cost to families, a cost to businesses, a cost to companies, and a cost to British businesses competing abroad. The Government have substantially added to those costs.

Last week, an article in The Times said that the Government were considering charging people £5 for motorway journeys of less than 10 miles. Will the Minister give some clue as to whether that story is true, and where the Government intend to implement such charges? In urban areas, where people need to commute on motorways even for short journeys, such a charge would have an appreciable effect on the way in which people travel. It could easily drive people off the motorway network into other areas where extra traffic would not be acceptable.

The road network consists of 226,779 miles. It is a great national asset, and it needs to be properly maintained because in the long term our country will benefit greatly if that asset can deliver a world-class economy. We have a road maintenance backlog on local roads alone of £5 billion. The road maintenance bill is rising by £1 billion each year for want of stitch-in-time maintenance. All that is having an impact on British competitiveness. The United Kingdom has 500 bypasses outstanding, and many communities suffer heavy through traffic. Many have been waiting many years for a bypass, and their hopes were dashed by the Government's action when they came to office and badly attacked the roads programme.

Let us consider the position of motorists in Britain versus that of motorists in Europe. The AA's great British motorists 2000 study showed that in Britain we spend more time commuting, suffer the worst road congestion in western Europe, pay the most for petrol and diesel and for cars, are more likely to have our cars broken into, are least likely to find workable alternatives such as public transport or cycling, have a lower level of car ownership than in Europe, are highly taxed and receive the lowest return on investment in roads and public transport.

The AA concluded: At the root of this depressing picture lies the crisis of investment. The pitifully low levels of money spent on the UK's crumbling transport infrastructure have weakened every link in the chain, from poor maintenance to bad day to day management. My hon. Friend the Member for North Essex set out the record of the previous Government very well. We should leave a large pile of pink ribbon and some nice scissors so that when Labour Members open schemes started by the Conservative party they can go along and snip the tape, and say, "Thank goodness for John Major and Margaret Thatcher." They contributed greatly to this country. We invested more than £26 billion in motorways and trunk roads. That was an important investment, and a sign of the priorities of the Conservative party on this important issue.

As my hon. Friend has said, we introduced many schemes, including the docklands light railway, Manchester metrolink, Sheffield metro, the channel tunnel, the Heathrow express, the Jubilee line and the Croydon tramlink, the M25—I could go on and on about Conservative successes. The Labour Government are not going to match that, because, having badly cut the roads programme when they came to office, they sent any difficult or knotty problems off to be studied.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey (Mrs. Bottomley) said, that has often kicked such items into touch. Many of the multi-modal studies will come back well after the next general election. The Government will have time to kick the issues into touch. Endless studies are not the solution. We need action, and action is what people will get from the Conservative party. We need not more consultants but more people building roads and making a contribution towards the future of our economy.

We have had an interesting debate. We heard an excellent speech from my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Cambridgeshire, who posed some pretty tricky questions that the Minister will have to answer. We heard an interesting spat between the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) and the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape), who is usually wheeled out on these occasions to give the same speech that we have heard in times past. We enjoy his speeches, and he made a memorable contribution when he said that privatisation of the railways had got rid of the dead hand of the Treasury.

We heard a great deal from the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake), mainly about Conservative party policies. His speech seemed to owe more to the fact that he is in a Conservative-Liberal Democrat marginal seat than to anything to do with the debate. I urge his constituents to read his comments, because they only have to do so to realise that the Conservative party's attitudes are consistent with helping people and their families, and allowing people to have the freedom to make their own decisions.

9.45 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. Keith Hill)

This has been a short but interesting debate. My hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) brought his usual transport expertise and panache to our proceedings.

The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake) made some effective criticisms of the previous Government and ground a few of the usual Liberal Democrat axes about the current Administration.

The right hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mrs. Bottomley) raised a specific issue, on the A3 through Hindhead. I appreciate that that has been a serious problem for many years—including the Conservative years, when she was a Secretary of State. It is tempting to ask her what she did about it then.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Hill

No. The right hon. Lady has had her opportunity to speak, and I am responding to her speech. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] I am responding to her speech.

The roads-based study into whether the environmental and economic benefits of the preferred scheme can be delivered by a contribution from charges on road users is on-programme to report by the end of 2000. It is inappropriate for Ministers to comment further on the way forward for the preferred scheme until the report of the study and the advice of the regional planning body is received by the Secretary of State.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Hill

I am afraid that I just do not have time. The hon. Lady has also not been in the Chamber for most of the proceedings, and I am responding to specific questions asked by those who took the trouble to stay in the Chamber and participate in the debate.

Miss McIntosh

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I simply wish to set the record straight. I was here until 9.10 pm and sat through the whole debate, except for 20 minutes.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord)

That is not a matter for the occupant of the Chair.

Mr. Hill

My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) asked when a separate rail safety company will be established. The answer is autumn 2000. The Health and Safety Executive and the rail regulator have to go to consultation. The Rail Regulator's consultation will begin next week, and the Health and Safety Executive's consultation started last week. I hope that that is helpful to my hon. Friend.

Miss McIntosh

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hill

I will.

Miss McIntosh

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his incredible generosity. On the roads issue, is he not embarrassed that, today, the British Road Federation said that the Government would have to spend more than 80 per cent. more than their projected spending to keep up with the rest of the Europe?

Mr. Hill

I am extremely grateful to the hon. Lady for mentioning the British Road Federation. If I have time, I intend to deal precisely with its proposals, and the effect of those proposals on the Opposition's transport policy.

We had a long speech from the right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney). Although I am grateful for his flattering remarks—who would not be?—I thought his speech smacked a little of self-exculpation. It was he who, as Secretary of State, broke the growing consensus in favour of congestion charging that had developed under his predecessors and was continued by his successor, the now shadow Leader of the House. Alas, that consensus has now been broken by Opposition spokesmen, for entirely opportunistic reasons.

The right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire asked me many questions. I do not have time to answer them all, but I shall summarise the answers to his most important questions. First, the purpose of congestion charging is traffic reduction, in the interests of the economy, the environment and public health.

Secondly, of course the Government—like the previous Government—have conducted studies on the level of congestion charges and their likely effects on traffic. The latest one was the road congestion charging in London study, focusing on central London, which the right hon. Gentleman can consult in the Library.

Thirdly, of course congestion charging is not a form of taxation. The Government have made it clear that the proceeds of charges will be ring-fenced for local transport investment and that there will be no cuts in Government financial support for local transport authorities.

Finally, I find it absurd of the right hon. Gentleman to accuse the Government of hating the motorist. That comes from a Tory former Secretary of State for Transport and a leading member of a Government who brought in the automatic fuel duty escalator and increased fuel tax from 7p to 42p a litre. What could be more anti-car than that? The Conservative Government invented road congestion. They started with 70 cars per mile, spent £70 billion on new roads and ended up with 100 cars per mile. That is not success; it is congestion. What could be more anti-car than that? The Conservatives cut road maintenance by 9 per cent. over four years and left Britain's motorway and trunk road network in its worst state of maintenance since records began. What could be more anti-car than that?

In 1997, we inherited a crumbling transport system that failed to provide real choice, with poorly maintained and congested roads, cowboy bus services and a fragmented, stunted rail system that lacked strategic management and direction. We inherited an endangered environment and a contempt for the concept of transport integration. The Conservative legacy was no plans, no purpose and a lack of investment because of boom-bust economic incompetence. That boom-bust incompetence led in one year, between 1992 and 1993, to a massive 25 per cent. cut in core investment in London Underground—the largest single cut in any line of Government expenditure in the 1990s. That was typical of the Tories' irresponsible approach to investment in transport. It takes years to deliver major projects and real improvements to passengers, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. We are still suffering from that legacy of neglect.

We have heard many alleged statistics on transport spending. Let me remind the House of the real facts. There is no disputing the fact that, under the previous Government, expenditure on transport was set to fall. In their last published plans, set out clearly in the Conservative Government's transport report 1997, forecast total transport spending was scheduled to fall from £5.2 billion in 1997–98 to £4.3 billion in 1999–2000—a planned cut of £1 billion over three years. These are the real facts.

Following the comprehensive spending review, we announced an extra £1.8 billion for local and public transport and road maintenance. That included £700 million more for local authorities' local transport plans and to restore cuts in the maintenance of their principal roads; more than £400 million extra for new spending on the trunk road and motorway network, with priority given to the maintenance of the existing trunk road network, and to making better use of it; more than £300 million extra for new investment in the railway industry, including extra support for the channel tunnel rail link, on top of the annual subsidy of more than £1 billion to rail operators for existing rail franchise contracts; and £300 million more for local bus services.

That is not all. Since then, we have announced a further £517 million to modernise the London underground, a £755 million local transport plan settlement for 2000–01, with more than £1 billion extra to come next year, and an extra £280 million for transport in this year's Budget statement.

As a result of that extra cash, in 1999–2000, more than an extra £1 billion was spent on transport than was planned by the previous Administration for the same year: £5.3 billion against a previously planned £4.3 billion. That is a fact. If I might say so, it is not a killer fact, but a living, breathing, joyous fact of which the Government are proud. It is an extra £1 billion more than was planned by the Conservatives.

Of course, that is only part of the story of growth in investment in transport in the Labour years. Because we believe in partnership—and because the private sector believes in our commitment to stability and growth in transport investment—we have given encouragement to the private companies in public transport to invest massively in better services for the travelling public. There has been a 50 per cent. growth in private sector spending on transport between 1997 and 2000 from £2.6 billion to £4.2 billion and a further 50 per cent. increase to £6.2 billion is projected over the next two years. These are the facts—the real facts.

Against this impressive record of commitment to the nation's transport system, what is the Tory alternative? What is on offer from the commonsense revolution? For enlightenment, I turn to that seminal document, "Bringing Common Sense to Your Local Council" with its "Five Key Pledges". I seem to have heard of that one before—highly original.

What is the key pledge on transport? It is No. 3—"no new taxes". That is also highly original. What do we find among the Tory promises? First, "Much better public transport"—but no new taxes. Then there are New park and ride schemes, but no new taxes. More secure and cheaper parking places, but no new taxes. New roads where they are needed, but no new taxes. More bypasses, but no new taxes. More road-widening and improvements, but no new taxes. Last but not least, "Better road surfaces" but, of course, no new taxes.

Is it just me, or is there a problem here? Isn't there just a small problem of where the money is coming from? Even if the shadow Transport Minister, the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin), cannot see it, I rather suspect that his trusty sidekick, the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Syms), can. After all, on 13 April, he launched the Conservative roads consultation programme. The news release was headed: Conservatives show the road ahead —another original title.

At that launch, the hon. Member for Poole declared: Today I am asking everyone who has to use the road to write to me and tell me what are the worst roads in the north-east. Why the north-east only, and how many actually wrote to the hon. Gentleman, are fascinating moot points. He continued: I want to hear about the roads that need widening, badly maintained roads and clogged towns and villages that need a bypass. This will allow the next Conservative Government to put together a roads programme that addresses the real needs of the travelling public. The hon. Gentleman goes on to quote with approval the British Roads Federation which, he says, has claimed that the Government will need to spend an additional £4 billion per year on maintaining and improving our road network to deliver a transport system that will rival the best in Europe. So now we know that the Opposition are committed to spending £4 billion a year extra on the roads—but no new taxes. Frankly, the sums just do not add up. They do not make sense—not even common sense. There is no way the Tories will succeed in foisting their ill-conceived and half-baked transport plans on the British public.

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 130, Noes 349.

Division No. 207] [9.59 pm
Amess, David Greenway, John
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Grieve, Dominic
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Gummer, Rt Hon John
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Hague, Rt Hon William
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Baldry, Tony Hammond, Philip
Bercow, John Hawkins, Nick
Blunt, Crispin Hayes, John
Boswell, Tim Heald, Oliver
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Horam, John
Brady, Graham Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Brazier, Julian Hunter, Andrew
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Browning, Mrs Angela Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Burns, Simon Jenkin, Bernard
Cash, William Key, Robert
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Clappison, James Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh) Lansley, Andrew
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Lidington, David
Collins, Tim Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Cormack, Sir Patrick Loughton, Tim
Cran, James Luff, Peter
Curry, Rt Hon David Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Day, Stephen McIntosh, Miss Anne
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Duncan Smith, Iain Maclean, Rt Hon David
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter McLoughlin, Patrick
Evans, Nigel Madel, Sir David
Faber, David Major, Rt Hon John
Fallon, Michael Maples, John
Flight, Howard Mates, Michael
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Fox, Dr Liam Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Fraser, Christopher Moss, Malcolm
Gale, Roger Nicholls, Patrick
Garnier, Edward Norman, Archie
Gibb, Nick O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Gill, Christopher Ottaway, Richard
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Paice, James
Gray, James Paterson, Owen
Green, Damian Pickles, Eric
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Prior, David Taylor, Sir Teddy
Redwood, Rt Hon John Tredinnick, David
Robathan, Andrew Trend, Michael
Robertson, Laurence Tyrie, Andrew
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Viggers, Peter
Ruffley, David Walter, Robert
St Aubyn, Nick Waterson, Nigel
shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian Wells, Bowen
Shepherd, Richard Whitney, Sir Raymond
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk) Whittingdale, John
Soames, Nicholas Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Spelman, Mrs Caroline Wilkinson, John
Spicer, Sir Michael Wilshire, David
Spring, Richard Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Steen, Anthony Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond Tellers for the Ayes:
Syms, Robert Mr. John Randall and
Tapsell, Sir Peter Mrs. Eleanor Laing.
Ainger, Nick Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Alexander, Douglas Campbell-Savours, Dale
Allan, Richard Cann, Jamie
Allen, Graham Caplin, Ivor
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Casale, Roger
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Caton, Martin
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Ashton, Joe Chaytor, David
Atkins, Charlotte Chidgey, David
Austin, John Clapham, Michael
Ballard, Jackie Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Barnes, Harry Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Barron, Kevin Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Bayley, Hugh Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Beard, Nigel Clelland, David
Begg, Miss Anne Clwyd, Ann
Beith, Rt Hon A J Cohen, Harry
Bell, Martin (Tatton) Coleman, Iain
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Colman, Tony
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Connarty, Michael
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield) Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Bennett, Andrew F Cooper, Yvette
Benton, Joe Corbyn, Jeremy
Bermingham, Gerald Corston, Jean
Berry, Roger Cox, Tom
Best, Harold Cranston, Ross
Blackman, Liz Crausby, David
Blears, Ms Hazel Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Blizzard, Bob Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Blunkett, Rt Hon David Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland)
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Darvill, Keith
Bradshaw, Ben Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Brake, Tom Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Brand, Dr Peter Davidson, Ian
Breed, Colin Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Brinton, Mrs Helen Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Denham, John
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Dismore, Andrew
Browne, Desmond Dobbin, Jim
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Buck, Ms Karen Donohoe, Brian H
Burden, Richard Doran, Frank
Burgon, Colin Dowd, Jim
Burnett, John Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Burstow, Paul Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Butler, Mrs Christine Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen Edwards, Huw
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard Efford, Clive
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Ellman, Mrs Louise
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife) Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fearn, Ronnie Khabra, Piara S
Field, Rt Hon Frank Kidney, David
Fisher, Mark Kilfoyle, Peter
Fitzpatrick, Jim King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna Kirkwood, Archy
Flint, Caroline Kumar, Dr Ashok
Flynn, Paul Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Laxton, Bob
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings) Lepper, David
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) Levitt, Tom
Fyfe, Maria Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Gapes, Mike Llwyd, Elfyn
Gardiner, Barry Lock, David
George, Andrew (St Ives) McAvoy, Thomas
George, Bruce (Walsall S) McCabe, Steve
Gerrard, Neil McCafferty, Ms Chris
Gibson, Dr Ian McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Mrs Linda Macdonald, Calum
Godman, Dr Norman A McDonnell, John
Godsiff, Roger McFall, John
Goggins, Paul McGuire, Mrs Anne
Gordon, Mrs Eileen McIsaac, Shona
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) Mackinlay, Andrew
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McNamara, Kevin
Grocott, Bruce McNulty, Tony
Grogan, John MacShane, Denis
Hain, Peter Mactaggart, Fiona
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) McWalter, Tony
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) Mallaber, Judy
Hancock, Mike Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Hanson, David Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Harris, Dr Evan Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Harvey, Nick Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Martlew, Eric
Healey, John Maxton, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome) Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Meale, Alan
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Merron, Gillian
Hepburn, Stephen Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Heppell, John Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Hesford, Stephen Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Hewitt, Ms Patricia Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Hill, Keith Mitchell, Austin
Hinchliffe, David Moffatt, Laura
Hoey, Kate Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hood, Jimmy Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Morley, Elliot
Hope, Phil Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B' ham Yardley)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Hoyle, Lindsay Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Humble, Mrs Joan Mountford, Kali
Hutton, John Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Iddon, Dr Brian Mullin, Chris
Illsley, Eric Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Jamieson, David Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Jenkins, Brian Naysmith, Dr Doug
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Norris, Dan
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield) Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn) O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark) O'Hara, Eddie
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Olner, Bill
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Organ, Mrs Diana
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa Palmer, Dr Nick
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Pearson, Ian
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Pendry, Tom
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Perham, Ms Linda
Keetch, Paul Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L Stevenson, George
Plaskitt, James Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Pollard, Kerry Stinchcombe, Paul
Pond, Chris Stoate, Dr Howard
Pope, Greg Stuart, Ms Gisela
Pound, Stephen Stunell, Andrew
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Sutcliffe, Gerry
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Prosser, Gwyn Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce Temple-Morris, Peter
Quinn, Lawrie Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Radice, Rt Hon Giles Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Rammell, Bill Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Rapson, Syd Timms, Stephen
Raynsford, Nick Tipping, Paddy
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N) Todd, Mark
Rendel, David Tonge, Dr Jenny
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff Touhig, Don
Rooney, Terry Truswell, Paul
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Rowlands, Ted Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Roy, Frank Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Ruane, Chris Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Ruddock, Joan Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Tyler, Paul
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) Tynan, Bill
Salter, Martin Vis, Dr Rudi
Sanders, Adrian Ward, Ms Claire
Sarwar, Mohammad Wareing, Robert N
Savidge, Malcolm Watts, David
Sedgemore, Brian Whitehead, Dr Alan
Shaw, Jonathan Wicks, Malcolm
Sheerman, Barry Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Willis, Phil
Skinner, Dennis Wills, Michael
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) Winnick, David
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale) Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch) Worthington, Tony
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Wray, James
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns) Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Snape, Peter Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Soley, Clive Wyatt, Derek
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John Tellers for the Noes:
Squire, Ms Rachel Mr. Clive Betts and
Starkey, Dr Phyllis Mr. Robert Ainsworth.
Steinberg, Gerry

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 308, Noes 163.

Division No. 208] [10.16 pm
Ainger, Nick Bayley, Hugh
Alexander, Douglas Beard, Nigel
Allen, Graham Begg, Miss Anne
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Atkins, Charlotte Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Austin, John Bennett, Andrew F
Barnes, Harry Benton, Joe
Barron, Kevin Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Blears, Ms Hazel Fyfe, Maria
Blizzard, Bob Gapes, Mike
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul Gardiner, Barry
Bradley, Keith (Withington) George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Gerrard, Neil
Bradshaw, Ben Gibson, Dr Ian
Brinton, Mrs Helen Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Godman, Dr Norman A
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Godsiff, Roger
Browne, Desmond Goggins, Paul
Buck, Ms Karen Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Burden, Richard Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Burgon, Cohn Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Butler, Mrs Christine Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen Grocott, Bruce
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard Grogan, John
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Hain, Peter
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Cann, Jamie Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Caplin, Ivor Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Casale, Roger Hanson, David
Caton, Martin Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Chaytor, David Healey, John
Clapham, Michael Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S) Hepburn, Stephen
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Heppell, John
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Hesford, Stephen
Clelland, David Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Clwyd, Ann Hill, Keith
Cohen, Harry Hinchliffe, David
Coleman, Iain Hoey, Kate
Colman, Tony Hood, Jimmy
Connarty, Michael Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hope, Phil
Cooper, Yvette Hopkins, Kelvin
Corbyn, Jeremy Hoyle, Lindsay
Corston, Jean Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Cox, Tom Humble, Mrs Joan
Cranston, Ross Hutton, John
Crausby, David Iddon, Dr Brian
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Illsley, Eric
Cryer, John (Hornchurch) Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland) Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Darvill, Keith Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C) Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Denham, John Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Donohoe, Brian H Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Doran, Frank Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Dowd, Jim Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Khabra, Piara S
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston) Kidney, David
Edwards, Huw Kilfoyle, Peter
Efford, Clive King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Ellman, Mrs Louise Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ennis, Jeff Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Etherington, Bill Laxton, Bob
Field, Rt Hon Frank Lepper, David
Fisher, Mark Levitt, Tom
Fitzpatrick, Jim Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna Lock, David
Flint, Caroline McAvoy, Thomas
Flynn, Paul McCabe, Steve
Foster, Rt Hon Derek McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield) Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Macdonald, Calum Rowlands, Ted
McDonnell, John Roy, Frank
McFall, John Ruane, Chris
McGuire, Mrs Anne Ruddock, Joan
McIsaac, Shona Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Mackinlay, Andrew Salter, Martin
McNamara, Kevin Sarwar, Mohammad
McNulty, Tony Savidge, Malcolm
MacShane, Denis Sedgemore, Brian
Mactaggart, Fiona Shaw, Jonathan
McWalter, Tony Sheerman, Barry
Mahon, Mrs Alice Shipley, Ms Debra
Mallaber, Judy Short, Rt Hon Clare
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury) Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Meale, Alan Snape, Peter
Merron, Gillian Soley, Clive
Michael, Rt Hon Alun Southworth, Ms Helen
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley) Spellar, John
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan Squire, Ms Rachel
Mitchell, Austin Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Moffatt, Laura Steinberg, Gerry
Moonie, Dr Lewis Stevenson, George
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N) Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Morley, Elliot Stinchcombe, Paul
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Stoate, Dr Howard
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon) Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Mountford, Kali
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Mullin, Chris Temple-Morris, Peter
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck) Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood) Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen) Timms, Stephen
Naysmith, Dr Doug Tipping, Paddy
Norris, Dan Todd, Mark
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton) Touhig, Don
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks) Truswell, Paul
O'Hara, Eddie Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Olner, Bill Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
O'Neill, Martin Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Organ, Mrs Diana Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Palmer, Dr Nick Tynan, Bill
Pearson, Ian Vis, Dr Rudi
Pendry, Tom Ward, Ms Claire
Perham, Ms Linda Wareing, Robert N
Pickthall, Colin Watts, David
Pike, Peter L Whitehead, Dr Alan
Plaskitt, James Wicks, Malcolm
Pollard, Kerry Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Pound, Stephen Wills, Michael
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Winnick, David
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Prescott, Rt Hon John Wood, Mike
Primarolo, Dawn Woolas, Phil
Prosser, Gwyn Worthington, Tony
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce Wray, James
Quinn, Lawrie Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Radice, Rt Hon Giles Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Rammell, Bill Wyatt, Derek
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick Tellers for the Ayes:
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N) Mr. Clive Betts and
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff Mr. Robert Ainsworth.
Allan, Richard Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Amess, David Hunter, Andrew
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Jenkin, Bernard
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Keetch, Paul
Baldry, Tony Key, Robert
Ballard, Jackie King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Bercow, John Kirkwood, Archy
Blunt, Crispin Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Boswell, Tim Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Lansley, Andrew
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Leigh, Edward
Brady, Graham Letwin, Oliver
Brake, Tom Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Brand, Dr Peter Lidington, David
Brazier, Julian Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Breed, Colin Llwyd, Elfyn
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Loughton, Tim
Browning, Mrs Angela Luff, Peter
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Burnett, John MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Burns, Simon McIntosh, Miss Anne
Burstow, Paul MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Butterfill, John Maclean, Rt Hon David
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife) Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick
Cash, William Madel, Sir David
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) Major, Rt Hon John
Maples, John
Chidgey, David Mates, Michael
Clappison, James Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh) Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moss, Malcolm
Collins, Tim Nicholls, Patrick
Cormack, Sir Patrick Norman, Archie
Cran, James Oaten, Mark
Curry, Rt Hon David O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Davey, Edward (Kingston) Öpik, Lembit
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice) Ottaway, Richard
Day, Stephen Paice, James
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Paterson, Owen
Duncan Smith, Iain Pickles, Eric
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Evans, Nigel Prior, David
Faber, David Redwood, Rt Hon John
Fallon, Michael Rendel, David
Fearn, Ronnie Robathan, Andrew
Flight, Howard Robertson, Laurence
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Fraser, Christopher Ruffley, David
Garnier, Edward Russell, Bob (Colchester)
George, Andrew (St Ives) Sanders, Adrian
Gibb, Nick Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Gidley, Sandra Shepherd, Richard
Gill, Christopher Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Gray, James Soames, Nicholas
Green, Damian Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Greenway, John Spicer, Sir Michael
Grieve, Dominic Spring, Richard
Hague, Rt Hon William Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Steen, Anthony
Hammond, Philip Streeter, Gary
Hancock, Mike Stunell, Andrew
Harris, Dr Evan Swayne, Desmond
Harvey, Nick Syms, Robert
Hawkins, Nick Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Hayes, John Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Heald, Oliver Taylor, Sir Teddy
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome) Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas Tonge, Dr Jenny
Horam, John Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael Wilkinson, John
Tyler, Paul Willis Phil
Tyrie, Andrew Wilshire, David
Viggers, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Walter, Robert Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Waterson, Nigel Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond Tellers for the Noes:
Whittingdale, John Mr. John Randall and
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question accordingly agreed to.

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

Resolved, That this House welcomes the fact that the Government has substantially increased spending on transport from the levels planned by the previous Government; notes that this Government ended the automatic fuel duty escalator begun by the previous Government; deplores the previous Government's record of under-investment in transport, which left an investment backlog in important areas like road maintenance, rail and London Underground; notes that under the last Government the number of cars per mile of road went up from 70 to 100, that yearly carbon dioxide emissions from road transport increased by 26 per cent. and that by May 1997 Railtrack was £700 million behind on its rail investment and maintenance programme; and welcomes the Government's approach on an integrated transport strategy which will be delivered by an integrated Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, and its plans to increase spending and modernise the transport system further through its Ten Year Plan for transport investment.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The next item that we are due to consider is a consolidation Bill, under Standing Order No. 58. That, in turn, rests on Standing Order No. 140(3), which states that such Bills are considered by some mysterious Committee that apparently must have a quorum of two. Are you satisfied that such a Committee will provide the House with sufficient protection? It appears that we are confronted, on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, with a Bill that could be significant or complicated, but which may be considered by a Committee that is quorate with only two Members. Are you satisfied that that is in order?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord)

It is not my responsibility to comment on such Standing Orders; it is my duty to ensure that they are correctly applied.

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