Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington, Labour)
This debate, on a Bill that most people agree with, has been fascinating. The last five speeches, by my hon. Friends the Members for Easington (Grahame M. Morris), for Glasgow North East (Mr Bain) and for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy), my right hon. Friend Mr Raynsford and my hon. Friend Nic Dakin, are worth reading. They were superb. I do not usually follow the parliamentary convention of saying, “It is a pleasure to follow”, but it was a pleasure listening to their speeches. My hon. Friend the Member for Easington demonstrated a commitment to, and deep knowledge of, his constituency. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow North East set out the implications for Scotland and the overall economic situation. My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow was passionate about the problems and returned, as ever, to Wonga. My right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich displayed his ministerial experience, while my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe demonstrated his passion.
A succession of MPs have stood up and urged the inclusion of particular projects in the Bill. May I be a contrarian and suggest one that should not be included in the Bill—the expansion of Heathrow airport? I am worried because although the Bill is meant to account for ready-made projects—those on the drawing board and ready to be implemented over the next 12 months—there is no sunset clause. Furthermore, it can be renewed and additional sums can be bestowed simply by statutory instrument. Now, I am not a conspiracy theorist, but my constituents might start to believe in conspiracies: we had 12 months of intensive lobbying by the aviation industry; after that, the Chancellor expressed scepticism about existing Conservative party policy, which was against a third runway at Heathrow; then the Prime
Minister announced a review of that policy by someone who was director of the CBI, which had lobbied for a third runway; and now we have a Bill that would go on the shelf as almost suitable for funding the expansion of Heathrow. It is no wonder, then, that my constituents are anxious about the attitude of the Government to that measure.
The measures in the Bill would perfectly suit Ferrovial, the Spanish company established by a fascist in the 1930s who made his profits as a result of contracts awarded to him by Franco. It would ideally suite Ferrovial to come forward and seek funding for the infrastructure expansion at Heathrow. I am sure it would be willing to pay for the tarmac, but not for all the infrastructure that goes with it, particularly the road and rail network needed to support a third runway. I fear that Ferrovial will come forward seeking Government guarantees to fund and back up the expansion. I say that because its construction company globally is in serious difficulties, or certainly is in doubt.
I give notice that despite the cross-party support for the Bill, which I also support, I will be moving amendments to ensure that the expansion of Heathrow is not part and parcel of it. I expect coalition support for that on the basis of the existing coalition policy, sworn in this Chamber by the Prime Minister, that the Government will not bring forward the expansion of Heathrow during the lifetime of this Parliament.