Business of the House
Geoff Hoon (Secretary of State, Department for Transport; Ashfield, Labour)
In weighing the evidence when making difficult decisions, such as those that I outlined to the House today, any Government or potential Government have to consider it carefully and reach often difficult conclusions. I am sorry that the hon. Lady demonstrated in her remarks today that she had clearly reached her conclusions long before any examination of the evidence. She also showed—I encourage her researchers to provide her with some assistance on the matter—that she simply does not understand the terms of the EU air quality directive or the enormous improvements in technology for producing modern aircraft. I am disappointed, albeit not particularly surprised, by her response. Her comments are entirely representative of the do-nothing attitude of the modern Conservative party.
In contrast to the action and decisions that we are taking, the Conservative party would do nothing to give businesses and families real help now and in future. It would do nothing to provide a genuine financial stimulus to the economy; it has opposed the £3 billion capital investment that we introduced for infrastructure projects, including £1 billion extra for transport. It would do nothing to tackle the capacity problems at Heathrow, which will increasingly damage the economy and British jobs.
Doing nothing is the worst of all possible worlds. By encouraging our European competitors to expand at our expense, doing nothing would damage the country economically and save not a single gram of carbon. That is why British business has roundly condemned the Conservative party's position.
It may surprise the House to learn that there is a Conservative position on aviation, which, unlike that of Conservative Front Benchers, has the benefit of being intellectually coherent— [Interruption.]