13. In this Order—
allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as first Government Order of the Day provided that a Motion for allotting time to the proceedings on the Bill to be taken on that day either has been agreed on a previous day or is set down for consideration on that day; "the Bill" means the Transport Bill;
Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee;
Resolution of the Business Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House.
The House will readily appreciate the importance of the Transport Bill and its role in the Government's legislative programme. I should therefore like to indicate the Government's broad case for this legislation. The Bill is needed for two main reasons. First, in the past year or so, major uncertainties have arisen about the legal powers of the Greater London Council and the metropolitan authorities to give subsidies to their transport executives. The GLC had to abandon its "Fares Fair" policy after the House of Lords judgment. Following challenge, Merseyside was able to continue its policy, but the West Midlands, when challenged, changed its policy. Now, once again, the GLC and London Transport are to explore in the courts the legality of their proposed policy. These uncertainties about the powers to provide subsidy must be resolved.
Secondly, there is the rapid growth of subsidy. Over the past three years subsidies in the conurbations have more than doubled from less than £200 million to more than £400 million and forecasts for next year predicted an increase to about £700 million. The Government support subsidies and have accepted £283 million revenue support for 1983–84 for the purposes of transport supplementary grant, but the Government cannot support excessive subsidies, which are likely in any case to lead to further challenges.
The Bill aims to solve the problem of legal uncertainty within the context of a reasonable national total subsidy. Authorities will be able to choose the legal protection that the Bill will provide for a reasonable subsidy. Alternatively, they may risk challenge if they decide to exceed the protected level.
The Bill also aims to increase the efficiency of the transport undertakings in a number of ways, including improved financial and operational planning and careful assessment of the value for money to be obtained from subsidies. It is not for me to comment on the details of the Bill, but I have described its aims in order to show that it is about important matters.
The Government naturally hoped for useful consideration and improvement in Standing Committee. Indeed, the House will appreciate that the Select Committee on Transport, which includes hon. Members from both sides of the House, in its Fourth Report said:
we believe that the Government is right to seek some reduction from the levels of public transport revenue support which occurred last year".
In moving the allocation of time motion, I draw attention to the way in which the Bill, which received a majority of 284 to 224 on Second Reading on 15 November, has been treated in Committee. The Standing Committee has now spent more than 80 hours on the Bill. It has met on 14 occasions and the Official Report of its proceedings runs to 832 columns—about 500,000 words. The Committee sat until midnight on two occasions and until 5 am or later on three further occasions.
The House will wish to know of the progress made. It is a moderately short Bill with only 12 clauses. In all this time, the Committee has dealt with clause 1—a short definition clause—and two groups of amendments to clause 2, which deals with a new common financial duty of London Transport and passenger transport executives. Clauses 3 to 12 are untouched. The heart of the Bill—clauses 3 to 6—has not been reached. Those clauses set up a new system for the executive and authority to prepare three-year public transport plans. They also provide for the Secretary of State to confer his guidance on the protected level of expenditure. Similarly, clauses 7 to 10 and the schedule, which deal with organisational reviews, tendering, repeals, commencement and transitional provisions, have not yet been considered. Nor has clause 11, which deals with the National Dock Labour Board debt.
The Government wish the Bill, which was endorsed by the House on Second Reading, to be in place for the next financial year. The Standing Committee has had ample time for its consideration. The Government must now consider the need to provide reasonable time for the remaining stages. The order provides that the Bill be reported to the House by 25 January, with proceedings on Report and Third Reading being concluded in one day thereafter at one hour after midnight.
As the Leader of the House has given so much detail about the Committee's work, will he tell us how many times closures were moved? Did not the Government simply allow the Committee to record hours with the specific intention of taking no notice of it until 80 hours of exchange of ideas and views had been reached and of bringing in a timetable motion on the Floor of the House?
I understand that the closure motions were applied on procedural issues. Otherwise, the Government were anxious that there should be uninhibited debate. I am sorry that the Government's generosity was not reciprocated by a correspondingly constructive approach by the Opposition.
I am sure that the Business Committee will allocate the remaining time in such a way as to ensure that the Standing Committee gives some attention to the matters that it has not yet considered. The Government have played their part in trying to ensure adequate discussion of the Bill and have been ready to accept worthwhile amendments.
The tactics adopted by the Opposition become clear when I describe the treatment of one group of amendments. After nearly half an hour of debate, the Under-Secretary of State said that he was willing to accept the principle of the amendments, but the Opposition then took a further 75 minutes discussing that group of amendments before moving on. I refer to amendments Nos. 26, 27 and 19, which were discussed on 25 November.
The Opposition are perhaps to be commended on the dedication with which they have sought to achieve their objectives by speaking with such stamina and procedural skill, but that process cannot continue indefinitely.
That robust comment from the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) says it all and should certainly appear in the record. Those who oppose the principle of the Bill, contrary to the endorsement given by the House on Second Reading, are putting the Bill at risk rather than seeking to consider and improve it. Many of the amendments have been designed to strike at the heart of the Bill rather than to improve it.
For example, one set of amendments sought to exclude each of the authorities and executives from the Bill. that debate took about 300 columns in the Official Report, or 26½ hours of the Committee's time. The Opposition insisted on voting on six of the amendments separately.
Any dispassionate observer would conclude that the Bill's opponents seek its death rather than its improvement. The Government must use this allocation of time order to ensure progress for the Bill. It is a decision not taken lightly or wantonly. It is the inevitable consequence of the protracted debating combat that has taken place in Standing Committee A.
During the second or third week in March, I always find myself at the Dispatch Box saying to whoever happens to be the Leader of the House "I see that the guillotine season of spring is with us". Spring has come two months early this year. One is entitled to ask why in this instance the guillotine has been introduced so much earlier than normal. The guillotine is normally put to the House in March. That has happened in previous years under successive Governments.
First, why should it not be put? There is a pretty good rule that every Government are entitled to get through the legislation that is in their manifesto, even though the Opposition are entitled to as much time as is necessary to put their case. The Bill was not in any manifesto. No member of the electorate was ever given the chance to consider the terms of the Bill. I shall come later to what was to the electorate in the Conservative Party's manifesto.
The Government can argue that they are introducing a measure which, while, not in their manifesto, has received the endorsement of the House. The Government would receive the endorsement of the House because they have a majority. No doubt the same argument has been put by totalitarian Governments throughout history. The best majority is one which can clear the House of Commons. I have never heard of that as an excuse for a guillotine.
I was astonished that the Leader of the House, who takes the same view as I of the importance of This assembly, of the importance of manifestos and of the importance of keeping one's word, should have brushed aside by not even mentioning it the fact that the Bill was not in the manifesto. He did not confess to the House that there is no justification for the Bill having come to the House in the first place, let alone for it being guillotined.
I have already said that the guillotine season usually commences in March, so why is it starting in January this year? Why the indecent haste? Haste there certainly has been. I do not know whether there are historical precedents. I cannot remember a precedent where a Bill and a White Paper were published on the same day. I have never known that happen before. I put it to the Leader of the House that he has never heard of such a case either. Does it not show that when the Government—they did so wrongly because it was not in their manifesto and because it has never been done before—published the Bill and the White Paper simultaneously they knew perfectly well that they would introduce a timetable motion'?
I have listened to the right hon. Gentleman's argument. The last Bill to be guillotined and which was not in the Government's election manifesto was the Northern Ireland Bill of 1982. Should not the Opposition on that occasion have opposed the guillotine motion? I recollect that they did not do so.
When a Government impose their will upon the House, they get what they wish. On the other hand, if most hon. Members in the House are in agreement it does not matter whether it is in the manifesto or not. Some Bills come before the House as a result of an emergency and the Opposition deliberately help the Government to expedite that legislation. There is nothing unusual about that.
The Government, in their White Paper, promised that there would be widespread consultation with the local authorities concerned. I think that the Government have a slightly different view from most other democrats of the meaning of "consultation". Consultation is the process whereby there is an amount of give and take. People are asked their opinions and their opinions are listened to. Consultation is not as the Government and certainly the Secretary of State for Transport appear to think. It is not "We shall do this. You can take it or leave it."
The Leader of the House illustrated, the fact that 80 hours were required by the Opposition to do the Government's work because the Government had omitted to carry out any consultation. Somebody had to do it. I am astonished at the patience of my hon. Friends in allowing themselves to continue in Committee until 5 am to do the Government's work. They should be commended rather than treated in this unseemly fashion.
My hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) has said that the only closure motions were on the sittings motions. I am expert on closure motions because I was once a Chief Whip.
So far as I can recall, there were only two closure motions moved on the sitting motions in Committee. It was clear to Committee Members—we were quite happy to try to improve the Bill even though we did not agree with it, and two minor amendments were accepted by the Government—that Government Members were allowing the debate to take place and to let the hours clock up with a view to introducing a timetable motion. They had no care for the sympathetic treatment of the legislation.
When a Government think in terms of a guillotine on a matter not in their manifesto, the subject of the indictment begins to grow even more monstrous than had been first imagined. Much time was taken up by the batching of a large number of amendments. The Opposition were put to a great deal of work in doing the Government's job of consultation and improving the Bill.
There were 160 amendments, which were designed to help the Government in presenting this atrocious Bill, the principles of which we rejected from the start and continue to reject. The Leader of the House must say something on the lack of efficiency and the lack of consultation that has taken place. I hope that he will have a word with those concerned.
I have talked about three bases of objections. The third is democracy. As the Lord President fairly said, there is a clash on principle and on aim. However, he claimed that there was no real clash of principle on subsidy. He said that the Government were in favour of subsidy but he drew his line of principle at a slightly further point.
The point of principle on which we disagree is that of "excessive subsidy". Who is to decide what is excessive? If the Government had said to the electorate in their manifesto "This is what we would like to do, now vote for us", that would be as good a reason as one could find for saying that local democracy was being put into practice. Incidentally, it is historically a democracy that is older than that which prevails at Westminster.
Is it not local democracy when the local electorate has a right to make its decision? If that electorate says clearly "Subsidise local transport—we know that the rates will increase but go ahead and do it", other parties might regard the increase as excessive, as the losing party in the GLC election considered certain proposals to be excessive, but surely the local electorate should have the right to make such a decision.
I well recall the lectures from the then Secretary of State for the Environment throughout the debates on the Local Government Bill that was introduced in 1972. At that time I was leading for the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman used to lecture me on the rights of local authorities and on what local democracy actually meant. He was full of those sermons and I listened attentively to him. I gather that he was still at it in July 1979. At the annual conference of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, which took place that month, he said:
An effectively functioning local democracy can monitor the activities of local councillors far better than civil servants in Marsham Street.
How much we agree with the right hon. Gentleman. It seems that the Government have changed their mind, or perhaps what the right hon. Gentleman said was merely an automatic continuation of the things that he had been saying in 1972.
The judgment of Mr. Justice Woolf in the Merseyside case is completely relevant to the argument that my right hon. Friend is advancing. It states clearly that an authority is acting lawfully provided that it has taken into account all the relevant considerations in determining what the subsidy should be—in other words, that it has exercised its 7 discretion properly. The Bill is turning that judgment on, its head. It is saying, in effect, that if an authority goes beyond the Secretary of State's guidance it may be acting unlawfully. It is the failure of Ministers to deal adequately with that crucial issue that has led to many hours being spent in Committee. If we had had some clear answers on it, we would not have needed to take so much time.
Yes, that is germane to the argument. It turns very much on the issue to which my argument is directed.
I am glad that the Lord President did not treat us to the old chestnut that the Secretary of State for Transport occasionally uses, which is the argument that the Bill has been introduced to clear up difficulties in the law. He is not engaged in clearing up the difficulties, which the judge in the Merseyside case saw a little more clearly and more intelligently. The truth is that he is out to introduce new law. He has decided that he in his wisdom and munificence will decide what level of subsidy local authorities need apply in their areas. These are the authorities that were elected by the local people. That is the real distinction. My hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Crowther) has made a strong point, but on this occasion I must commend the Lord President for not having treated us to the hollow argument that has occasionally been advanced by the Secretary of State.
The motion is a bad one for all the reasons that I have given. It arises from circumstances that I have not known before. It stems from a controversial, opposed, non-manifesto and new commitment. It constitutes a breach of the normal practice in the House, because it has been introduced hastily and because the Bill goes against every tenet of local democracy. The Opposition believe in local democracy and are the defenders of it. We shall continue to adopt that posture whatever the Government may say. Accordingly, I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends, and even Members representing other parties, to defeat a monstrous attempt to muzzle Parliament and our democracy.
I support the motion. I have had the somewhat doubtful pleasure of sitting in the Committee Room waiting anxiously to make my contribution to the discussion. The amount of time that has been taken to discuss clause 1, Which is simply a definition clause, has meant, unforturnately, that we have been unable effectively to discuss the Bill in Committee.
The right hon. Member for Deprford (Mr. Silkin) said, in effect, "We oppose the Bill and we shall continue to oppose it." He treated us to a short lecture on the role of Parliament. Whatever he may wish to say about Parliament's role he will, I am sure, be ready to distinguish between the purposes of a standing Committee and those extension of a debate on the principle of the Bill. That has been the character of the Committee proceedings in practice.
An to exclude geographical areas from the Bill is to provide the basis on which an argument can be presented for the way in which transport is operated within each of the metropolitan counties. I have found much of that debate fascinating but I think that we should note the way in which the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cowans) introduced no fewer than six of his contributions. He may have used the same introduction on other occasions but I read with great care over Christmas what he said. On six occasions he invited the Committee to "meander along this pathway". I do not think that anyone with a classical education, which I am sure both the hon. Gentleman and I share, would suggest that "meander" suggests urgency, determination to examine closely and a wish to help the Government to get businesslike procedures in hand.
The phrase suggests one thing and one thing only, and that is that the Opposition are opposing the Bill in principle and wish to delay its progress. It seems that their thinking is as follows. If the Bill can be delayed for a time and there is a need for a business motion, that will be seen by the public as one more step in the battle on principle.
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that there would have been more contributions by Conservative Members in Committee if the Government Benches had been occupied more by those who represent the metropolitan counties, which are the only counties affected by the Bill? The hon. Gentleman represents a constituency that is further away from the metropolitan counties in the north than nearly any other.
I had many years' experience of the Midlands, I have spent a great deal of time on Merseyside and I have experience of a shire county. I am able to bring a balance which perhaps has been missing from the speeches that have been made in Committee by Opposition Members, which have tended to constitute a special pleading for their areas.
I am disappointed that we have not been able to discuss the details of the Bill. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is aware, there are many Conservative Members in Committee who wish to debate them and to do so critically. We have not yet had the opportunity to do that. During the Christmas recess I was able to discuss the Bill with people in my constituency who are interested in matters to do with buses. They asked me what was going on in Committee about a Bill which might become law. They want to know what will happen in the metropolitan counties just as much as the shire counties. They were disappointed to learn that those members of the Opposition on the Committee, whom they regard as their champions, were not debating the points of the Bill.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The attention of Mr. Speaker was drawn earlier to the position in Westminster Great Hall where about 70 women who have been demonstrating have been corralled. Members of the press, who sought to approach the women to ask them why they were there, were denied access by the police, who stated that the women were prisoners. What precisely is their status? If they are prisoners, what access will they have to legal representation? When will they be treated properly?
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I appreciate the point that you make, but surely there has been a further development. About 70 of our fellow subjects are downstairs surrounded by a cordon of police and corralled by various steel and iron railings. Members of the press sought to approach them to ask questions and were told by the officer in charge that the women were prisoners and access to them was denied. Are they or are they not prisoners? Should they or should they not be allowed access to the press?
This is important. Members of Parliament can speak to them and can act as telephones from the prisoners to the press. Why should the press be denied direct access to the women?
The hon. Member has been here a long time. He will know that whenever there is a disturbance in the Gallery those who create the disturbance are given into the custody of the Serjeant at Arms. That is the normal procedure. I imagine that that is what happened in this instance.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As someone who is hoping to catch your eye later, I appreciate what you say. I understand that Mr. Speaker was to have further consultations and was possibly going to make a decision at or around five o'clock. Would it be possible later today for a statement to be made by the Chair on the decision that has been made about the large number of people who have seemingly been arrested within the Palace of Westminster? There is anxiety that these women, who have come here to protest peacefully, may be treated as criminals.
If the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) is correct and these people who are "held prisoner"—I think those were the words he used—were in the Central Lobby and not the Gallery, the easiest way to settle the matter will be for me to draw it to Mr. Speaker's attention. I shall do so.
The hon. Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths) is correct when he says that I used the word "meander". He implies that there is some guilt attached to that. On previous occasions when I have used the word "meander" it has led to amendments being carried in Committee. If the hon. Gentleman is implying some guilt, I should point out that on no fewer than 12 occasions three of four of his hon. Friends meandered with me down that path and during the course of that meandering their education was improved considerably. If there is some guilt, and I submit that there is not, is it not shared when the meandering was on both sides?
In a Standing Committee, which is charged by the House with the specific duty of examining the detail of a Bill, meandering, from whatever source and in whatever direction, is undesirable. It is notable that on one occasion when I broke into the meandering of the hon. Gentleman to ask him a specific question after he had claimed that there was a direct relationship between bus fares and school attendance, he was unable to answer.
Will the hon. Gentleman concede that the Minister has already admitted that there are two major fundamental defects in the legislation in that in clauses 1 and 2—definition clauses—revenue expenditure is not properly defined? Will he concede also that the Government have slipped up because they have not dealt with reserves and the use of reserves by PTAs in the Bill? How can the hon. Gentleman say that time has been wasted during the discussion when there have been those admissions and when the future of local councillors depends upon the Bill?
At no time have I used the phrase "waste of time". That was the hon. Gentleman's phrase, not mine. I certainly accept the point which has been made, that from the beginning the policy of the Government Front Bench was to accept amendments which were intended to improve the interpretation of the Bill. That was done quickly. It could have been done even more speedily.
I do not suggest that the time in Committee has been wasted—far from it. We have spent 80 hours in Committee. I am not rising merely to oppose the amendments that have been placed on the Order Paper by the Opposition; I support my right hon. Friend's business motion. I now realise how essential it is for us to give the Government the fullest support on the Bill, because during the meanderings, particularly those relating to South Yorkshire, we learnt what the Opposition's transport policy is. I do not regard that as an unhelpful beginning to the discussions which we shall be having, no doubt in far more businesslike manner, over the next few weeks.
I am worried about the tenor of the hon. Gentleman's remarks because he is implying that the Chairman allowed comments which were out of order. Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the Chairman conducted the Committee absolutely fairly and that the amendments and speeches that were allowed by the Chairman were in order? Had they been out of order the Chairman, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman will recognise, would have called the speaker to order immediately. Therefore, all the comments were relevant except on the few occasions when the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) was out of order and was properly called to order by the Chairman.
I am pleased to state clearly that my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Pink) has conducted the Committee with the greatest of skill and courtesy and the utmost patience. I do not suggest that time was wasted or that comments were out of order. I suggest simply that it was shown that there was no desire to get on to the real business of the Bill. I do not consider that the Opposition are prepared to debate the details. If this motion is passed, over the next two or three weeks we shall see whether the Opposition are prepared to do so and whether they are capable of so doing. That is something to which I am looking forward.
I see the business motion as giving all members of the Committee the opportunity that they have been seeking since the Committee began to discuss the detail of the Transport Bill. That is the opportunity that we have. I suggest that hon. Members on both sides now say "Enough is enough. The meandering is over. Now let the Committee carry out the duty for which it was appointed" and give their support to the motion.
Conservative Members representing constituencies in Greater Manchester—I notice none is present—and those from other metropolitan counties would do well to examine the Bill and its implications very carefully before allowing themselves to be used as lobby fodder tonight and in the remaining debates.
One of the reasons for the long debates was the fact that there had been no prior consultation and we had to do the work of consultation, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) said. Every Monday morning in the period between the publication of the Bill and the start of the Christmas Recess I discussed matters with councillors and officials of the Greater Manchester county council. That was work that the Secretary of State should have done before he brought the Bill for Second Reading.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not want to omit, as the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) unfortunately omitted, the fact that from 28 July, four months before the Bill appeared, there was an offer of consultation to all the metropolitan authorities, including detailed proposals on how the matter might be carried forward, but consultation was prevented by instructions from the AMA to the authorities not to let their officials speak to the Government.
I referred to that so-called consultation document in one of my speeches in Committee. I said that it was extremely dictatorial and reminded me of Army orders that I saw 40 years ago.
The Bill is bad; it is mean, messy and miserable. It is a serious attack on local government. It will hit all sections of the community, particularly the people who use buses but also some of the people who use trains.
It is significant that in my area the North West Development Association, which represents local authorities, trade unions and employers—one of the joint secretaries is the chief executive of the chamber of commerce—has urged all members in its area strongly to oppose the Bill, pointing out that the probable result of it is a fare increase in Greater Manchester of 25 per cent. and in Merseyside of 40 per cent. The Bill does not clarify matters; it confuses them even more. I would suggest not a guillotine but some other form of execution for the Bill.
We have had uninhibited debates. The Government have made no attempt to bring to an end the various debates on the large number of amendments which each concerned. I freely admit that I have made the three longest speeches of my parliamentary career during the Committee stage of the Bill. All of them lasted about an hour. The first was to say how the Bill affected Greater Manchester, the area in which I live and which I represent. Another of my speeches was on Merseyside, where a case took place in court which clarified the situation completely for the metropolitan counties other than London. The third was on concessionary fares. The Bill could seriously damage concessionary fares not only for children but for old people and others.
It has been argued by the Leader of the House that, because the Bill was given a Second Reading by the House, we should not take our time carefully to debate the Bill in Committee. But it is even more necessary now than it was then. Since Second Reading we have had the strange leak to the press that the Cabinet on Thursday will consider a proposal to abolish the metropolitan county councils, and one reason for doing away with this Bill is that if the Government start that process of abolition they will need to bring in another Bill on transport almost immediately. We do not know who will be responsible for transport, the police, fire brigades or for other important matters in the future.
This is only one phase of the Government's attack on local government. The Water Bill is another, taking away all councillors nominated by their local councils to the water authorities. The actions of the Secretary of State for the Environment have penalised local authorities. What the Government are doing is in direct contradiction to what the Layfield committee said would be the best way to run local government. The committee said that the metropolitan counties were necessary because of the close proximity of people and the numbers of people, but that we could do away with the shire counties. The unitary authorities that Layfield suggested would make a better job of transport, concessionary fares and so on than the present shire counties do.
I believe that the time allotted in the proposals for the remainder of the amendments is quite inadequate. If the hon. Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths) and other Conservative Members are to take an active part in the Committee, the time allocated to debate the important clauses, 3, 4, 5 and right on to 11, is quite inadequate. I hope that the amendments put down by my right hon. Friends will be accepted if we are to have a time table.
I shall not detain the House for very long, but I want to follow the remarks made by the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin).
I am perhaps the only hon. Member on the Conservative Benches who last year opposed a Government guillotine. I did it on the basis of being opposed to the whole Bill. My aim was the same as that of the Opposition over this Bill—to defeat a particular Bill, the Northern Ireland Bill. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House drew to the attention of the House on that occasion that it had expressed the will to give the Bill a Second Reading. Although I opposed and voted against the guillotine motion, nevertheless I accepted the basic philosophy that a Government, having been given the authority of the House to introduce a Bill on Second Reading, even though I may use every parliamentary means at my disposal to try to defeat the Bill, are entitled to say that they wish to get that Bill through.
I intervened in the right hon. Gentleman's speech to take up the point that he made about whether a specific proposal in the form of a Bill was or was not in a political party's election manifesto. I drew to his attention the fact that the provisions of the Northern Ireland Bill were not in the election manifesto of this Government; indeed, the Bill seemed to me to be quite contrary to it.
The right hon. Gentleman has anticipated my remarks. I shall come to the precise point of the purpose of a Committee stage.
I got the impression, when the right hon. Gentleman replied to my intervention, that on this occasion the Leader of the House should listen to what he had to say about the Transport Bill on the ground that the minority opposed to it was a large one—I am quoting his words almost exactly. I do not think that it is right when we discuss a guillotine motion to talk in terms of who constitute the minority and how large it is. The right hon. Gentleman is right. On the last occasion the minority consisted in the main of all the Ulster political parties except the SDLP and, I accept, only 20 or 25 hon. Members on the Conservative Benches. It is irrelevant from which side of the House hon. Members speak in a discussion about a guillotine motion.
Clearly Opposition Members wish to defeat the Transport Bill in its entirety. That is a legitimate aim. In the same way, I was opposed to the Northern Ireland Bill and used whatever parliamentary devices were available to me in Committee to defeat it within the rules of order. I acknowledge the point made by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) that everything said in Committee must be relevant, otherwise hon. Members would be ruled out of order.
Those who wish to defeat a Bill will obviously use the Committee stage to fulfil that purpose. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, had the misfortune of taking the Chair in the long Committee stage of the Northern Ireland Bill. I make no apology for the fact that, when I was speaking on the amendments to that Bill, my only aim was to defeat the Bill. Of course, I was interested in the amendments but my arguments were used mainly to try to defeat the Bill and to persuade the Government to drop it. The same tactics are now being adopted by the Opposition towards the Transport Bill.
While Opposition Members have had to address their remarks to relevant matters—otherwise they should have been ruled out of order—they were not especially interested in the arguments about the amendments, but wished primarily to defeat the Bill, as I wished to defeat the Northern Ireland Bill last year. That was the way in which they used the period up to the point when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State brought a timetable motion before the House.
Although it is true that the Chairman did not have to call hon. Members to order for their speeches, did he not regularly have to call to order those who tried to intervene and to make additional speeches?
My hon. Friend has drawn attention to the danger of the meanderings of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cowans). He invited the Committee to meander and we accepted that invitation. When we did so, we were pulled up for it. That is the problem about meandering in Committee, when in one's heart one wishes to defeat a Bill rather than to concentrate on specific clauses.
For better or worse, the House charged a Committee of the whole House last year to consider the detailed clauses and amendments of the Northern Ireland Bill with the view to getting the Bill passed. At the time, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House acknowledged that I and my hon. Friends were not anxious to improve the Bill—we had admitted that we did not believe that it could be improved—but that our purpose was to defeat it. Therefore, as Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House, he had a duty to bring before the House a motion that would give effect to the will of the House at Second Reading. The House is in the same position today. The Opposition, as is their right, wish to defeat the Bill and they are not so anxious about its detailed improvement. Therefore, I understand why they cannot accept the timetable motion.
After a timetable motion was imposed on the Northern Ireland Bill, my hon. Friends and I were listened to with more interest by my right hon. and hon. Friends. Those Opposition Members who oppose the guillotine motion may find that when the Bill is guillotined they will have greater opportunities to improve the Bill in the ways that they have proposed. That is why I shall vote for my right hon. Friend's motion today.
I have long held the view that all Bills should be timetabled, but there is a world of difference between timetabling a Bill at the outset and introducing a timetable motion at this stage. Much time has been spent on the Bill in Committee, especially on clause 1, which dealt only with a definition of terms. The way in which Opposition Members introduced amendments on such a restricted part of the Bill was a great tribute to their dexterity, skill and ability and enabled them to prolong proceedings.
What has happened now is what always happens on such occasions. A guillotine motion will curtail drastically further discussion of the Bill. The heart of the Bill in clauses 3 to 6—in which some of us are very interested and to which the Leader of the House referred—will not receive the quality of discussion that I should have preferred. The timetabling of a Bill from the outset would enable us to have a properly structured discussion of it. That will not happen in this case.
I shall oppose the guillotine motion this evening and advise my hon. Friends to do so, because the Bill is very bad and unsatisfactory in many ways, as the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Marks) said. Hon. Members in Committee produced ample evidence to prove how bad and uncertain the Bill is, and the serious effect that it will have on those who will suffer from its implementation.
From the outset the Bill has had an unhappy history. I have some revealing correspondence that was sent by Merseyside county council to my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams). The correspondence shows that there was no meaningful consultation with the people involved at any stage before publication of the Bill.
The Secretary of State made a statement to the House on 26 July, in response to the fiasco that developed with the GLC, in which he said, quite properly, that he intended to introduce legislation to clarify the position and to determine the future of revenue support for local transport operators. On 27 July, the day after his statement, he sent a note to the GLC and all the metropolitan counties. But that note, which I have read carefully, lacked any detail that could have led to realistic discussions and, not unnaturally, the metropolitan authorities were extremely disturbed and unhappy about the position.
The Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary of State met the leaders of the metropolitan authorities and the GLC on 27 September, when I gather from the correspondence that I have that the Secretary of State made it perfectly plain that
he was not open to any form of negotiation on the legislation.
That is a shameful posture to adopt on such an important matter. However, the Minister went on to promise a paper on what he called "methodology" and planning procedures. The authorities did not receive the guidance until 2 November, and three days later the Bill and the White Paper were published. That is not the way to behave if one expects to obtain the understanding and co-operation of authorities in what is admittedly a difficult matter.
The right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) mentioned the astonishing fact that the White Paper and the Bill were published on the same day. That is almost without precedent in the House, but it happened. Not only were those documents published on 5 November, but some of us were astonished when the Second Reading was arranged for as early as 15 November. Three days later, on 18 November, the Leader of the House was questioned by the Leader of the Opposition about the hastiness and the need for proper consultation. I hope that I do not do the Leader of the House an injustice or misrepresent him when I say that he seemed to give a real sign that there would be time for consultation before the Bill went to its Committee stage. But no; the Bill went into Standing Committee on 23 November.
Such hastiness is very suspicious, especially on a measure that has not had proper consultation and has not carried with it the authorities concerned in its implementation. It was not surprising to me or to other members of the Committee that hardly an hour of the first sitting of the Committee had elapsed before the Under-Secretary of State very pleasantly, as is his manner, conceded the guts of an amendment put forward by the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth). It was a revealing sign that no careful thought and judgment had gone into the measure.
That is only part of the unhappy history of the Bill. It was well said by a member of the Committee during our discussion that it is more a local government measure than a transport measure. No one is better equipped to take local decisions than the elected representatives of local people in the light of local circumstances. That is what it is all about, although I do not need four hours to say it. It is entirely wrong that we should push such a major measure through the House at breakneck speed and guillotine it without a background of consultation or the careful consideration that the House must give to such matters.
I resent the way in which the matter has been handled. The Bill is bad and has few friends. Perhaps I may be forgiven for feeling that it is a vengeful response to the GLC's "Fares Fair" policy. I am not an apologist for the GLC and I certainly do not justify its policies. The Select Committee on Tranport, of which I am Chairman, has made proposals about how the vexed question of the GLC's transport arrangements and their financing should be handled in the future. I say in all friendliness to the Secretary of State that he would have been better advised, although it might have taken much longer to get the necessary legislation through the House, to introduce the proposals that the Select Committee put forward in its report to deal with the difficult problem of the GLC rather than to drag in the other metropolitan authorities. Many of us believe that that was totally unnecessary in this Bill.
It was the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Rodgers) who first got to grips with South Yorkshire county council and tried to prevent it subsidising local transport. At that time the council's subsidies were much lower than they are now. Why does the hon. Gentleman now believe that such authorities should be left alone?
That point has been raised many times, but it does not invalidate my earlier proposition that the best people to make such decisions are the elected representatives of a locality in the light of local circumstances. That is how it should be done. No party has talked more about the value of and the right to independence of local authorities than the Conservative Party. Yet no party has done more since it has been in government to undermine the independence of our local authorities and to remove many of their traditional rights and freedom of action.
After long, patient and careful consideration, the Select Committee pointed the way to dealing with the problems of the GLC. Its way forward is more acceptable than that proposed in this hastily prepared and doubtful measure. I shall have no hesitation in voting against the motion this evening.
I have listened to Opposition Members accusing my right hon. Friend and the Government of indecent haste in this matter. It must be admitted by any fair-minded person that if an invitation was issued, as my right hon. Friend said, to metropolitan county councils to discuss the Bill as long ago as 21 July or thereabouts, and there was no response, and that for political reasons best known to Labour Members the authorities received suggestions—if not instructions—that the Association of Metropolitan Authorities should not respond, the Opposition are culpable. They would be speaking with a forked tongue and in a divided manner if they maintained that the Government intended to deceive them, to move quickly, to circumvent them or to prevent them from having enough time properly and reasonably to make all representations that are required on behalf of ratepayers. Let us nail that fact and accent it, because it must be accented. Opposition Members can make such speeches. They were invited by my right hon. Friend to come and discuss the matter and talk it over, before the White Paper was issued, at any time during that long summer. They were invited to debate and discuss. I must emphasise that there was no reaction.
I and my colleagues have had to sit through long days and evenings. My hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths) said that it was about 80 hours, but I do not know. We debated, and we listened through the days and the nights in the main to Opposition Members making whatever representations they quite properly wished to make in connection with the Bill.
I shall not accuse Opposition Members of making boring or puerile speeches. Indeed, I would commend much of what they said. However, we meandered. We meandered through pastures green, and only the Chairman's benevolence prevented many more hon. Members from being ruled out of order. We meandered not only on land but on water. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cowans) was a doughty exponent of his cause and a speaker to be listened to. He is a man of some magnitude in these matters. He led us meandering through water. He treated us to an exposition which I shall not forget for a long time on the Maltese breast stroke and how it was performed. His exposition was accompanied by indications of physical ability, and I am sure that he has himself meandered by water many times before. He spoke on the subject for about 20 minutes.
The hon. Member had a secret weapon. He threatened us with complete extinction. In Greek mythology it was called Pandora's box of troubles. He threatened to open that box of troubles and unleash its contents on an unsuspecting world. He threatened at least 60 times to open the box and allow those flying animals to alight and meander on land as they would through the air.
Let not Opposition Members pretend, therefore, that the whole of the 80 hours was spent with great dedication and discipline on the matters that needed to he raised. Opposition Members allowed themselves the full right to expand to any dimension on any subject.
I am worried by what the hon. Member says. He seems to challenge the Chairman's job in the Committee and to suggest that the Chairman allowed members of the Committee to breach Standing Orders, implying that he was less than competent in carrying out his duties. Surely the hon. Gentleman must acknowledge that the Committee was chaired perfectly properly and that its members were not allowed to go beyond the confines of the amendments which were properly selected and called by the Chairman. If the Committee's members had gone outside the bounds of the Standing Orders the Chairman would have called them to order, as the hon. Gentleman would surely accept, because he did not display any lack of confidence in the Chairman.
The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) tries to impute to me things that I did not say. I said that there was a benevolent interpretation, and I agree that all Chairmen should exercise that. Indeed, the hon. Member for Keighley and his colleagues sought to challenge my position in the first sitting. I do not make that accusation, as well he knows. What the hon. Gentleman says—to use his own favourite word—is otiose. It is redundant, and certainly cannot be used in this manner.
I promised the members of the Committee that I would give grave consideration to this Bill and to the points of democracy that were involved. I said that I would consider whether I thought that the Bill should be voted for. I have given great thought to the matter during the past weeks. I have listened to the argument that transport should be a local responsibility. That conflicted with the theory expressed on Opposition Benches over the years that transport should be a national responsibility.
I shall give way in a moment to the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. Cohen).
I have been responsible for transport in the West Midlands, both in the city of Birmingham on the passenger transport authority, and as chairman of the county council. So I thought long and hard about whether this Bill was democratic—as I think today about whether this debate is democratic. I have had to ask myself what properly constitutes democracy in these matters. Was democracy served by giving absolute freedom to a local authority to raise any fare that it wished or to subsidise any fare to any extent? Or could it easily become a licence against the ratepayer? Could it become more than a liberty? Could it become a larceny against the ratepayer?
I, too, have been involved in the industry. I worked in it for 20 years before I became a Member of Parliament. Therefore, I am entitled to express an opinion and ask a question. During the past three weeks, and up to this morning, I have been involved in discussions in an attempt to solve some of the problems. I am not a member of the Standing Committee, but some of the problems that we have been discussing are those that the Committee should consider very carefully. For someone who has not been involved in the industry to pass the critical comments that we have heard this evening is rather distressing. It would be helpful if we could have the co-operation of Conservative members of the Committee to resolve some of the problems that face the transport industry generally and affect the country in economic and social ways.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East demonstrates his participation as a professional in these matters. Undoubtedly, he is proud of it. It is good to know that Opposition Members are professionals.
Perhaps I may respond to the hon. Gentleman's criticism of me that I have not actually worked in the industry by saying that every Labour Member on the Opposition Benches is a member of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (TASS), the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, the National Union of Railwaymen, the Transport and General Workers Union, the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Teachers, the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers, the National Union of Public Employees, or the Post Office Engineering Union.—[Interruption.] It seems, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that my speech is becoming a duet. The choir invisible is joining in. I emphasise that virtually every Labour Member on the Committee is a member of a union. Every hon. Member has a vested interest of some sort, if only a political interest. There is a deep interest in transport. Therefore, Labour Members must have every intention of opposing the Bill as they have Is it right or fair that the Bill be allowed to proceed? Does it stop discussion? I think not. Does it stop fundamental rights? I think not. I note—it has been emphasised today more than at any other time—that licence is being taken in local government. Unless the Bill is allowed to continue its passage, ratepayers will be ill served. In the west midlands the city of Birmingham has just announced its intention to reduce rates by 12 per cent.—about £24 million—an average of £38 for a semidetached house. The West Midlands county council has proposed that rates should be increased by well over £40 million and that there will be an extra cut of, I think, 10 per cent. of fares which will cost £70 million. In addition, about £28 million will be charged against the ratepayer by way of fines. Therefore, all the savings of the city of Birmingham for the ratepayer can be put at risk by the actions of the county council in keeping transport local. It must be reasonable to assume that the right mix should be achieved.
In his use of the word "licence", is not the hon. Gentleman overlooking—as is the Secretary of State—the judgment of Mr. Justice Woolf in the case of the Merseyside transport authority? Mr. Justice Woolf specifically laid down the rights and duties of an authority under the law. There is no question of the authority being able to act with what the hon. Gentleman called "licence"—to act capriciously or irresponsibly. It is crystal clear that authorities must follow the proper procedure and take into account all the relevant considerations, including the ratepayers' interests, before arriving at their decision. The hon. Gentleman seems to be forgetting that the law is crystal clear. Surely the Bill will make it unclear.
I am bearing the hon. Gentleman's point in mind rather than forgetting it. In answer to him I shall apply the point to the west midlands. I remember taking over an authority in the city of Birmingham which was £1 million in the red and under my chairmanship it was put £1 million in the black. I remember taking over as chairman of a committee in the West Midlands county council and inheriting a deficit of £24 million, heading for £28 million, which was reduced to £11 million three years later. The present subsidy in the west midlands is in the region of £28 million. If the West Midlands county council is allowed to go ahead and cut fares by about 10 per cent., in addition to last year's cut of 67 per cent., the total subsidy will be about £40 million. Which is right? Which is proper? Which is it reasonable to do? Is there an obligation on an authority to exercise its delegated authority reasonably? If it fails to do so, should not the Government take steps to introduce legislation to strengthen existing legislation to emphasise that point and to be fair to the ratepayers? If one were to ask the ratepayers in the west midlands in the name of democracy and liberty whether they would prefer their rates to be reduced by 12 per cent., a reduction of about £15 million—as is proposed by the city of Birmingham—or whether they would want them to rise by £40 million, I know what those ratepayers would say. They would make it abundantly clear that they preferred the decrease.
In saying that, the ratepayers would emphasise that there is an obligation upon the House and the Committee, on every occasion when transport is considered, to see that the mix is right. If they had sat in Committee through the long hours of the night watch, night after night, they would certainly think that that mix was not right. If they read every edition of Hansard they would know that the mix was not right. When other authorities are proposing actions which would mean a mammoth rates subsidy, those people would say that enough was enough and that the mix was not right. What is more, legislation is required to strengthen that which already exists.
It is for those reasons that I shall support the Government tonight. I have considered existing legislation and have seen how it needs strengthening. I have pointed out in Committee the areas of responsibility which need careful evaluation. The responsibility of the passenger transport authority to the Secretary of State, as well as that of the executive, is an issue that has been debated in Committee and will be again. Therefore, I shall not deal with it now. The Act should be strengthened to ensure that the political masters locally have some responsibility under the Act to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I hope that accommodation can be found for amendments, but at the moment, because of the overriding needs of a reasonable electorate, who certainly know that in some instances we have got it wrong and that further legislation is needed to protect, not to inundate, democracy and the rights of those individuals who would otherwise have to find the extra funds required without covenant, I shall support the motion.
From his speech, I am not sure whether the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) is in favour of or opposed to the motion. He must be challenged on some of his points. It is well known in the west midlands that he has trailed his doubts about the Bill around county hall in Birmingham. There is hardly a Tory or Labour member in that building who has not been waylaid by the hon. Gentleman wishing to express his doubts.
Will the hon. Gentleman name those whom he alleges I have waylaid? Had he examined the true position, he would know that I visited county hall only once, and spoke to one member of his party and the officers. Such regard for veracity exposes his defence against the Bill being guillotined.
The hon. Gentleman has made many visits to county hall, but he would not wish me to tell the House about them. Why does he not do the decent thing, as did the hon. Member for Bebington and Ellesmere Port (Mr. Porter), and abandon serving on the Committee? The hon. Member for Bebington and Ellesmere Port at least contacted Labour Herald and said that the Bill was so rotten that he could not support it. We have not seen him since. The hon. Member for Yardley does not do his cause any good by continually challenging the Government Front Bench, and not only about the Transport Bill. He also challenged his Front Bench on the Serpell report on the railways. If he wishes to convince the electorate at the next general election, he should first try to convince his own party.
We must closely examine the Government's real motive for their haste in introducing the Bill. The GLC wishes to introduce a 25 per cent. fares reduction in April and the West Midlands metropolitan county council and the Merseyside county council properly wish to introduce a 10 per cent. fares reduction on 1 April. The Secretary of State wants to stop the fares reductions being implemented. That is the reason for the indecent haste in presenting both the White Paper and the Bill on the same day. That is why we are suffering the indecent haste of a guillotine on the Bill on the first day after the Christmas recess. That is why there will be indecent haste by the Government to attempt to persuade metropolitan county councils to base their forthcoming transport estimates on a Bill that has not yet passed through the House. The Secretary of State wants them to base their precepts on legislation and guidelines that have not yet been approved by the House or by another place.
The real cat came of the bag in the inspired leak in The Guardian last Thursday. It showed that the Government, if they had time, would wish to go even further and take away not only the transport decision-making powers of metropolitan county councils, but all their powers. They know that the metropolitan county councils under Labour control are making proper transport policy decisions. For example, there is the resounding popularity of the South Yorkshire cheap fares policy, which has been in existence since 1976. There was the popularity of the GLC's cheap fares initiative last year. The Secretary of State and the Conservative leadership wish not only to dismantle the transport decision-making powers, but to remove a major element in the political power base of the Opposition.
The Secretary of State knows that we must have some power to co-ordinate transport on a regional basis. The right hon. Gentleman knows that many of the passenger transport authorities—the hon. Member for Yardley was chairman of one—and many of the metropolitan county councils have shown that they can effectively co-ordinate passenger transport decisions. His only concern in forcing through the Bill with such haste is to curtail those transport decisions, together with some important and popular political decisions.
I declare an interest not as a councillor, but as a Member sponsored by the Transport and General Workers Union. My hon. Friends and I have been searching and probing the matter. Great legal difficulties confront many of our local authorities, so we are entitled to challenge and probe the right hon. Gentleman's policy. We are encouraged to probe even further each time that he or the Minister attends the Committee in a vain attempt to clarify the position. Unfortunately, they have served only to make the matter even more complex and doubtful. A multitude of legal precedents now confront locally elected councillors—such as the Kensington and Camden cases and the Merseyside and GLC decisions. Therefore, we are bound to wonder about the legal position that will affect local councillors. They may be surcharged if the Bill becomes law.
My hon. Friends and I have assiduously pressed the Secretary of State about a number of points because we believe in the value and validity of decisions being taken by locally elected councillors. We also have a duty to safeguard our locally elected colleagues. We do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman understands the far-reaching implications of some of the legislation that he intends to introduce. If the Bill is passed, he will impose a duty on all passenger transport executives to accept a cheap tender from an outside contractor if it is less than services currently costed by the passenger transport executive. The right hon. Gentleman should pause and consider that clause in the Bill. He will then understand its far-reaching implications. It could upset the way in which local authorities provide their services. It is because of such fundamental principles that we have felt constrained to press the Secretary of State again and again.
The Bill will present the Committee, the House and many people outside with legal doubts and difficulties. I am sure that the Secretary of State has been told by his officials and advisers that there is concern about the precise legal interpretation that could be placed upon the Bill.
If the legal interpretations of the Bill are so doubtful and if the Bill is so unclear, why does the Secretary of State not withdraw it while he still has the chance to do so? His officials must have told him that if he wants to curtail many of the transport decisions that metropolitan county councils may take this year, he and the Secretary of State for the Environment already have the power to do so. Have not the right hon. Gentleman's officials told him that?
Many of us thought that the Bill's purpose was not only to curtail local transport decisions but to ensure that the Secretary of State kept his place in the Cabinet. We can assume that he has, at least for a while, kept his place in the Cabinet that is to fight the next election. If so, why does he need the Bill? Musical chairs in the Cabinet room have stopped. The right hon. Gentleman has still got his Cabinet chair. It might be at the wrong end of the table, but his place is assured.
The right hon. Gentleman already has the power to take some of the transport decisions that he may unfortunately wish to take. Why does he not withdraw the Bill and perhaps return at a later date with some meaningful and clear legislation? Why does he not abandon the horrible precedent that he is setting by rushing through the House and Committee a measure that will only cause untold chaos?
I rise with some trepidation to make my maiden speech on the Bill. The Bill does not concern my constituency. On Second Reading I went to considerable trouble not to make a speech and to be absent for the debate. Nevertheless, I found that I was a member of the Committee. I make no complaint about that, because it is part of the work that full-time Back Benchers have to do, and we all have to do our share of the chores. One part of the Bill is of interest to me and to my constituency, although only by implication. There is no Welsh interest in the Bill. There are no metropolitan authorities in Wales and no part of Wales is covered by it in any way.
This guillotine debate is one of the oddest that I have attended. The right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) knows, I hope, that I am one of his warmest admirers. I have often served on Committees with him and listened, fascinated, to his long and interesting speeches. However, today he made a short and boring speech, although I hope that he will forgive me for saying so. It lacked all conviction and I detected no sign of the routine synthetic anger that can be expected from the Opposition on such occasions. Give or take a few words, speeches during guillotine debates are interchangeable. To brief oneself for a guillotine debate one need only pick up a copy of Hansard to see what was said by the other side last time, and no further homework need be done.
The system of debating legislation in the House is creaking to a halt. I fully accept that the system of First and Second Readings is admirable. We hold closely-argued debates on the principle of the Bill in question. The Bill then goes to Standing Committee where, in theory—I stress "in theory"—we discuss the pros and cons of every clause and decide whether it can be improved or altered by introducing amendments. Every hon. Member knows that that does not happen in practice. Nothing of the sort has ever happened in the Committees on which I have served. In practice, there is a routine party dogfight and Second Reading speeches are usually repeated on every clause.
I make no criticism about the way in which Opposition Members conducted themselves in Committee. They make long, well-informed and usually relevant speeches on every amendment and clause. However, even they must recognise that in doing so they were knowingly making it impossible to have any rational or sensible discussion of the Bill's details. I do not blame them. That is the system. The system whereby the Government have a majority in Committee ensures that the Opposition's only weapon is time.
Nevertheless, I still question whether the Opposition were wise to behave as they did. On occasion Opposition Members have achieved their aims by making use not of the weapon of time, but of the weapon of persuasion. There have been times when Government supporters have been persuaded to change their minds and to withdraw their support from the Government on specific clauses and amendments. As a result, the Bill in question has been amended. If Opposition Members had genuinely concentrated on introducing amendments—knowing full well that some Conservative Members have misgivings about the Bill—instead of giving us a magnificent display of their erudition in the many areas to which they treated us, they might have had some success. Instead Opposition Members have merely reinforced my colleagues in their determination to support the measure even though some of us have reservations about it.
I agree with the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley). The guillotine motion is not much good, because it is far too general. It merely says that the Committee stage must be concluded by a certain date. It is probably the experience of most hon. Members that even after the application of a guillotine motion time is not sensibly allocated to the clauses and amendments. Everything tends to be concentrated on the first group of amendments. The rest is swept aside and merely voted on after the guillotine has expired.
I have no interest in the Bill, or at least in its first 10 clauses. However, I have a particular interest in clause 11. I cannot see the Committee ever reaching clause 11. As a result, and as we are debating the allocation of time, I would seem to have a perfectly good right to say a few words about it here and now. It deals with the provision of funds for the operation of the infamous Dock Work Regulation Act. The right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) was one of the architects of that Act, or perhaps the baby was put on his doorstep.
The measure that I took through the House was not given effect, because the House turned down the new dock work scheme under the Act. Neither of the successive Secretaries of State for Employment of the present Government has carried out his statutory duty under a Act to lay a scheme to make the Act effective.
The Act is still on the statute book. I have a high regard for the right hon. Gentleman and I do not blame him for that infamous measure. It was foisted on the Transport and General Workers Union by its dock workers section. The TGWU foisted it on to the TUC, which then foisted it on to the Labour Government. As an example of the leverage exercised by one tiny section of a union, it is almost without parallel. Nevertheless, the Act is on the statute book. I know that the orders have never been laid, but as long as the Act exists I cannot sleep easily at night.
Within my constituency lies the port of Mostyn. It is a small port with no deep water. It has poor road access, but reasonably satisfactory rail access. It plays a vital part in the economy of North Wales and provides prospects for my constituency, which has very much higher unemployment than the constituencies of a great many right hon. and hon. Members on the Labour Benches. The port plays a vital part in providing the jobs for my constituency which it so desperately needs. A number of promising new firms have settled in the area because they can make use of this small non-scheme port to bring in the raw materials they need to get out the goods that they manufacture. The port is vital to them.
This small port has no natural assets. Its one asset is its labour force, which is prepared to turn out at all hours of the day and night to ensure that any ship that comes in is turned round in the minimum time. The workers do not knock off for tea just when the unloading is almost complete. Therefore, shipowners find that it is well worth bringing their ships to the port—it can take only small ships—because they will receive good treatment.
Across the bay, across the sewage-laden waters of the Mersey and the Dee, is the great port of Liverpool, which, as all of us know, has virtually committed suicide through many of its industrial practices. Liverpool views with great resentment the activities of small ports such as Mostyn. Liverpool was delighted to have the Dock Work Regulation Act 1976, because it was thought that if non-scheme docks could be forced to adopt the same working practices as those in the great scheme ports, with the flexible operations of the type which enable—
The hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) must keep in order. I think that he was in order, but I should be grateful if he would return to the timetable motion.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As several Members who served on the Committee wish to contribute to the debate, will you ensure that Members who speak limit their contributions so that other Members have an opportunity to contribute to the debate?
The hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. Cohen) knows that the Chair has no ability, unhappily, to limit the time that Members speak. However, I have already made one appeal for brevity. Many other hon. Members wish to speak. I am now able to tell the House that the replies to the debate will begin at 6.55 pm. If hon. Members bear that in mind, it should be possible to call everyone who wishes to speak.
Had it not been for those two interruptions, Mr. Deputy Speaker, my speech would have been concluded by now. I should like to point out to the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Crowther) that these are the points that I should wish to raise under clause 11 if we ever reach it. The guillotine motion will not enable us to get to clause 11.
I should like to find out from my right hon. Friend whether I will have an opportunity either in the remaining parts of the Committee stage or when the Bill returns to the House on Report to revert to these issues, which are of enormous importance to my constituents.
I should like to address my opening remarks to the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir. A. Meyer). He is worried—I would be the first to support him—about having an opportunity to talk on those matters which affect his constituents and about which he feels strongly. As ever, I should like to help him, as I have tried to help all Conservative Members on numerous occasions. I can suggest to him how all his hopes will be fulfilled and he will have a chance to speak to clause 11 which affects his constituency. The hon. Gentleman should vote for the amendments tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) who gave a realistic alternative to the guillotine motion. The Opposition could then add one vote to whatever number we get in the Lobby. That will help the hon. Gentleman.
The hon. Gentleman made a remark which I hope refers only to him personally. He referred to the chore of serving on Committees. I tell him, and anyone else who wishes to listen, that serving on the Committee on this Bill is no chore for me. My constituents are concerned about the Bill. In my constituency 82.2 per cent. of the people do not have a car, 26.6 per cent. are unemployed and 22.2 per cent. are old age pensioners.
I am pleased that the Leader of the House has returned. I agree wholeheartedly that there are important matters to be discussed, but I quarrel with him because he is taking away the right of Members on both sides of the House to discuss those important matters.
The Opposition have been accused of not being constructive. The only support the Leader of the House could find for that view was the debate on amendments Nos. 19, 26 and 27. After 80 hours of alleged non-constructive discussion, he found three amendments. I shall refute the myth that he put forward.
The myth was that the Under-Secretary of State had accepted an amendment but that the Opposition had continued to debate it. That is absolute nonsense. In fact, the hon. Gentleman accepted amendment No. 19, but amendments Nos. 26 and 27 were consequential amendments of equal importance. We made that point on amendments Nos. 26 and 27 and some of the Minister's right hon. and hon. Friends joined in.
It was nonsense for the Leader of the House to comment as he did. I do not know whether it was a Freudian slip, but he used the words "uninhibited debate". If he is moving that rather than the guillotine motion, we can all wrap up and go home. Whatever business is next can take place and time will not be wasted. If the right hon. Gentleman wants an uninhibited debate, he does not have to say that it can go on for ever; he can accept a constructive alternative. All the way through in Committee we have tried to put forward constructive alternatives.
The Leader of the House is right to say—these are his words, not mine—that there are important matters in the Bill. There are fundamental issues in the Bill that affect everyone in my constituency. My constituents have sent me here to ensure that they are represented and obtain the best that is possible for them. The right hon. Gentleman has no remit in my constituency for this nonsense or any other nonsense. It is remarkable that, of the few Conservative Members representing Tyne and Wear, not one was put on the Committee. Instead, there seem predominantly to be Members, such as the hon. Member for Flint, West, who has an interest in clause 11 but not in the other 10 major clauses. It is nonsense that that should happen.
I should like to nail the myth that the Opposition are not putting forward constructive alternatives. Indeed, we are. Amendment (b) seeks for an extension of time, which will meet the observation of the hon. Member for Flint, West that he will not be able to speak to clause 11. We ask for two days, not one day, on Third Reading. Surely that is constructive.
The problem that we face is not the fault of Opposition Members. The Bill has been badly handled from its inception. The fact that the Government have to publish the White Paper and the Bill on the same day must be bad management on the part of those who say that they are the managers of this country.
The hon. Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths) gave the game away when he said that he was able to consult his constituents in the Christmas recess. The Committee sat 14 times before he consulted his constituents.
The Secretary of State said that he called people to a meeting. I stand to be corrected, but I understand that he called only local government officers to the meeting, not elected councillors. The point is that the Bill will take power away from locally elected representatives. That is why it is wrong that the Secretary of State should talk only to local government officers.
The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood. The invitations were sent to the metropolitan authorities so that elected representatives could either instruct their officials to attend or attend themselves. I had one discussion with elected representatives and I should have been happy to have had more.
I stand corrected. I call the meetings not consultations but "insultations". The Secretary of State is on record as saying to the people he met that the issues were too complex to discuss across the table; yet we are accused of spending 80 hours discussing those issues. That is nonsense.
We are proposing constructive alternatives. We do not take a negative view. Our amendments are constructive and we should be allowed reasonable time to discuss them.
It is strange that five amendments have been tabled by Conservative Back Benchers and another seven by the Secretary of State. Despite that, the Leader of the House wants discussion to be curtailed. Our 80 hours of debate have obviously inspired Government Back Benchers and the Secretary of State to table amendments. The Leader of the House should argue that we need more, not less, time.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The number of amendments tabled changes by the hour. One must assume that the amendments were inspired by the speeches of my right hon. and hon. Friends. There can be no other logical conclusion.
I wonder what would have happened if the Bill had gone through with the speed of light that the Government originally wanted. They would not then have been able to table further amendments. They are important and we need more time to discuss them. It is nonsense to curtail debate in such circumstances.
Many Government Back Benchers in Committee said that they had doubts. Doubts are no good once the Bill is an Act. There is no time then to express doubts. More hon. Members should have the courage shown by the hon. Member for Bebington and Ellesmere Port (Mr. Porter) who at least understands the Bill. In Committee, he said:
I was astonished to find that the Bill reiterates the old cliché that the man from Whitehall knows best and will tell us what to do."—[Official Report, Standing Committee A, 9 December 1982; c. 274.]
Almost every hon. Member, from whatever political party, has expressed that view at one time or another, regardless of the party in power. If local government democracy means anything, it means serving the community in the best way without the Secretary of State's heavy hand being wrapped round local representatives' necks. Why should the Secretary of State be the judge, jury and executioner? Local people do not vote for the Secretary of State when they vote in local elections. They vote for local councillors, hoping that they will do their best for the community.
The Leader of the House is right that important matters must be discussed. They will not become less important if the Government win tonight. We want uninhibited discussion, but that cannot happen under a guillotine. We have been accused of not being constructive. I contend that we have been constructive.
The Conservative Party, in its manifesto, promised to remove the chains allegedly imposed on local government by the Labour Government. The Conservatives promised to consider local democracy. By no stretch of the imagination have the Conservative Government honoured that commitment, but they have not withdrawn it. The majority of people involved in local government say that if this is freedom, roll on slavery.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I apologise for interrupting the debate again, but earlier I asked about the women detained and kept as prisoners in a compound in Westminster Hall. They were described by police as prisoners and the press was refused access to them.
Are you, Mr. Speaker, in a position to make a statement having considered the position of the women who number about 70? Can you say why they were detained and what charges are to be levelled against them? Why was the press denied access to them? What about the 15 women who are still detained in the police station under Westminster Hall?
I can inform the House that roughly 60 ladies who demonstrated in one part of this building have now left the premises. Those who interrupted from the Gallery are, as is customary with everyone who tries to stop the House functioning, detained. It is customary that people who interrupt our proceedings are detained until the House rises. I shall examine the issue once again, but I must tell the hon. Gentleman that I can add no greater detail tonight in reply to his point of order except to say that the ladies have now left the premises and that I was consulted earlier.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I be assured that the 15 women who are, I understand, to be detained until the rising of the House, will be given a cup of tea and a sandwich? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] One does not know when they last ate. It is fair to ask that question.
I shall inquire whether the conditions are as they should be for people who are held in custody. I do not want the House to be under any illusions. It is an extremely serious offence to interrupt the proceedings of the House. If we give any encouragement to that type of thing, our future will be bleak indeed.
I support the Bill. It is important for Londoners. I am only the second Member of Parliament who represents a London constituency to speak. I listened to the other—the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin)—with my customary interest. I always enjoy his speeches, but I did not feel that his heart was in it today or that he was fully supported by his colleagues when he protested about the curtailment of discussion on the Bill.
I am not a member of the Standing Committee. I understand that it has discussed the Bill for some 80 hours. It contains 12 clauses and I cannot believe that the Committee is unable to dispose of it in a reasonable time. Like other hon. Members who take a keen interest in transport matters in London, I hope to be able to say something on the Bill on Report.
The Bill is important to Londoners because it deals with the key issue of subsidies. It is intended to resolve doubts and clarify the position of metropolitan counties and the Greater London Council about transport subsidies. Transport subsidies are of interest to every Londoner—both those who live in outer London such as those whom I represent, and those who live in the centre. From my experience as a result of discussing the subject with my constituents, I believe that they are not so much interested in trivial changes in fares if those changes result in substantial increases in their rates. They are interested in a clarification of what is to happen with regard to subsidies following the Law Lords' decision as a result of the case that the London borough of Bromley brought against the GLC.
Two options face Londoners. They will face my constituents if the Bill is not dealt with speedily. The first is the possible return of some form of "Fares Fair" policy such as that which would still be in force in the Greater London council area if it had not been for the Law Lords' decision. That policy resulted in substantial increases in Londoners' rate bills. It also had a serious effect on commercial ratepayers in London. The policy failed before the courts, but many of us are aware that Londoners had to pay for the debts that accumulated as a result of it.
I am not sure that more people were encouraged to travel by public transport as a result of the "Fares Fair" policy. I believe that those who normally use London Transport made more journeys. Moreover, I do not believe that the number of cars using London's roads was reduced by a very great extent. The GLC's "Fairs Fair" policy was expensive business for London's ratepayers because of the lack of clarity which the Bill is designed to clear up. That is one reason why I am anxious that the subject should be cleared up.
The House should be aware that 62 per cent. Of the rates are paid by commercial ratepayers. The "Fairs Fair" policy would have quadrupled the London business rate bill in 1983. That is an increase of £182 million or the equivalent of the cost of at least 30,000 employees. That is extremely serious not only for dometic ratepayers in Hillingdon in my constituency but for small firms there and in other London boroughs. Those people and business must know where they are going. Until the matter is clarified by the present legislation, it is difficult for local authorities and London ratepayers to know what will happen.
The Bill will provide for sensible levels of subsidy to encourage planning and efficiency. It will also clarify matters relating to urban transportation. The 80 hours that the Standing Committee has taken to discuss clause 1 and a little part of clause 2 is too long. It is fair for hon. Members who do not have the honour of serving on that Committee to say that it is time for the Bill to be dispatched. One of my colleagues has told me that one hon. Member made a speech that lasted four hours. One can say a great deal in four hours. We are supposed, to meet your edict, Mr. Speaker, to confine our speeches to 10 minutes. I hope that I shall speak for not much more than that today and that in that time I shall have managed to persuade you, Mr. Speaker, my colleagues and, perhaps, some Opposition Members that the time has come for the Standing Committee to discharge its duty and get through this short 12-clause Bill and give other hon. Members who take a keen interest in the subject an opportunity to debate it.
The subject is important to my constituents because of the high level of fares that is the result of the mismanagement of London Transport and the obscurity of some of the statutes which resulted in last year's "Fares Fair" fiasco. I shall not use this debate as an opportunity to indulge in a lot of GLC bashing, but the Standing Committee has had adequate time to consider the Bill. I therefore support the motion in what I believe are the interests of parliamentary democracy. We should get on with the job so that the Bill can be debated on the Floor of the House on Report by other hon. Members.
I realise that hon. Members from other parts of the country and their constituents face problems that are different from those in London. No doubt we shall hear more about them on Report. It will be interesting. My plea on behalf of Londoners to the Standing Committee is "Get on with the job, it is important to clarify the subject quickly".
I am happy to follow the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) who represents a London constituency. I oppose the motion because as the only Labour Member of Parliament who represents a London constituency who served on the Standing Committee it is clear to me that those who support cheap fares policies in the GLC and in metropolitan counties should have the right to use Parliament for the purpose for which it was intended—to fight for equality and a decent deal for citizens. If we are discussing parliamentary democracy, as the hon. Member for Uxbridge did, it is vital that we have the opportunity to debate a Bill line by line and clause by clause. The motion prevents the elected representatives of the people from doing just that.
We have spent so long discussing clauses 1 and 2 because the Bill is extremely contentious. Much of it contains the Government's political views. The hon. Member for Uxbridge talked about the powers of the Greater London Council. What he said was a bit rich. The Conservative Party opposed the GLC's cheap fares policy. When the Conservatives lost the election and a democratically elected majority of Labour councillors was elected to county hall and sought to introduce their policy, what did the Conservatives do? They used not democratic, but political, methods, and went, through their Tory friends on Bromley council, to the courts. They sought to evade the results of democracy. In the Bill there is another attempt to evade democracy and to prevent discussion of a matter that is vital to 6½ million Londoners and the whole population of the metropolitan counties.
Not only democracy matters. The Bill is about cutting public transport subsidies and giving the Secretary of State power to say to local councils "You will not subsidise your public transport, although you were elected by a majority in your area so to do." That attack on local democracy cannot be covered up by the guillotine motion.
The guillotine motion has come from the same diseased minds that produced cuts in the National Health Service, social security expenditure, the housing programme and other social programmes. From the same diseased minds that gave us those attacks on the social wage we now have another attempt to stymie local authorities, which are elected by the people, from carrying out the functions that they are supposed to carry out and that they were given a mandate to carry out.
The motion will prevent us from discussing adequately where power lies in our democracy. Will it be with the local councils? Will it be with Parliament or with the courts? That is a crucial question, and the reason why the Secretary of State apparently introduced the Bill. We are told in the House that we have to legislate because the courts have muddied the waters and it is no longer clear what legal powers and authority the GLC has. That is an important question. No one can doubt it. Therefore, for the Secretary of State to try to rush through the other clauses that are of fundamental importance to the metropolitan counties and the GLC seems to be inviting retribution in the courts.
I believe that the Secretary of State will rue the day when he introduced the guillotine motion. By curtailing debate in Committee he will be prevented from removing the bugs in the Bill and will be confronted with a situation in which the courts will have to decide what the Bill means. If anyone in the Chamber has any doubt about the importance of that, let me quote the important words of Lord Denning in his judgment reported in the Weekly Law Reports on 15 January 1982. As we all know, Lord Denning was adjudicating on the case of Bromley London borough council versus the GLC. In his summing up on the application by Bromley he said:
I am of the opinion that the GLC had no power whatever to give instructions to the London Transport Executive as they purported to do. The leader"—
that is the leader of the GLC—
had no right whatever to go to Sir Peter Masefield and tell him to cut the fares by an overall 25 per cent.: nor had Sir Peter any business to accede to it. The council itself had no power to make resolutions to enforce a 25 per cent. cut. That was a completely uneconomic proposition done for political motives—for which there is no warrant—including the supplementary precept. It was beyond their powers. It is ultra vires and void. It cannot be allowed to stand.
There is more of that. I shall not bore the House by reading it out.
The important point about the guillotine motion is that it will prevent us from ensuring that the courts do not have to play the role that Lord Denning played in the judgment in January 1982. It is the people who are elected to the House and to local authorities all over the country who should determine by the political decisions that they make the extent of the subsidy to public transport. It is a scandal that the courts are involved in making such political judgments. It is not right that the courts should have to adjudicate on what are in essence matters of political dispute between political parties.
It is a principle in the Labour Party that we need to support by subsidy public transport because we believe that unless we do so there will be no public transport system to rely upon. There would be no concessions for pensioners and problems for the unemployed and others if the public transport system were to be cut. That is our proposition. The Conservative Party and the Government propose that the amount of subsidy to public transport should be strictly limited, in the interests of the ratepayers.
That is a matter for political discussion and debate. It should be the function of the local and national electorate to determine which view prevails—certainly not the courts. By introducing the guillotine motion the Secretary of State will ensure that there is more recourse to the courts in future than there ever has been in the history of public transport legislation. That view is shared not only by Opposition Members but by many Conservative Members.
It is not only on public transport that people come to the House for protection and guidance but on every issue, whether it be cruise missiles or National Health Service expenditure. People come to the House of Commons for a decision. It would be a scandal if the guillotine motion were to be passed tonight and if the Government were to get their way.
I make no apologies for having spoken for 2½ hours on behalf of London in Committee. I suspect strongly that if the hon. Member for Uxbridge had been a member of the Committee and was a member of the Opposition, he too would have made a long speech on behalf and in the interests of his constituents. It is vital that every member of a Committee should have the opportunity to raise important issues that affect his constituents and the geographical area that he represents. It would be a disgrace if we did not have the opportunity to do that on the crunch clauses of the Bill from clause 3 onwards.
Does my hon. Friend accept that the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby), who claims, like the Bill, to be in favour of democracy, is prepared to support the Government trampling on the rights of Parliament and forcing through the Bill? However, he could vote for our amendment. He claims that he wants to speak on Report. Our amendment provides for two days' debate on Report instead of one, which would be an advantage. Why do not the Tories who claim to support democracy accept that amendment?
I realise that the hon. Gentleman opposes the Bill and has strong views on it. I do not dispute the fact that he is doing what he believes is right in the interests of his constituents. However, I do not believe that prolonged discussion for the sake of discussion is in the interests of parliamentary democracy. It is far more desirable that the Committee should last for a reasonable period and that the Bill should come back to the House. A wider spectrum of hon. Members should have the opportunity to debate it. We do not need two days on Report.
The hon. Member for Uxbridge has got it wrong. The reason for this guillotine motion and the reason why the Committee must report by 25 January is that the Government want to stop the GLC and the other metropolitan counties from cutting fares this year. If ratepayers and members of the public in the metropolitan counties thought that Santa Claus might give them cheaper fares for Christmas, they have another think coming. The Secretary of State's aim is to prevent those terrible local authorities, elected by the people, from cutting fares. His method is to introduce a guillotine motion to curtail debate and to pass the Bill before the beginning of the 1983–84 financial year. Any Conservative Member who supports the guillotine motion will be helping the Government to stop those local authorities from cutting fares this year. For that reason alone, we must oppose this disgraceful motion.
Having sat through most of the 80 hours of debate on the Bill in Committee, I should like to comment on one or two of the points that have been made today.
The right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) seemed to suggest that when the Government put their manifesto commitments into legislation they have the right to insist, to curtail and to guillotine, but that they have no such right if what they are doing was not set out as a commitment in their manifesto. That cannot be right. A Government may run for live years. They have to deal with matters that could not possibly have been foreseen in the manifesto and on which there is deep division between the parties. The Government must conduct their business and get their business through in the ordinary way.
The right hon. Member for Deptford and others have complained that the White Paper and the Bill were published virtually together. I agree that that is not satisfactory, but we all know the reason for the Government's haste. They are afraid that the Greater London Council will try to reduce fares before the Government have time to stop it. If the Greater London Council were rather more deferential to the needs and wishes of Parliament, the haste with which the Bill has been brought forward would not have been necessary.
Opposition Members have complained that other metropolitan transport authorities have been roped into a Bill which is primarily designed to deal with London. If it is true—I do not think that it is—that other local authorities have been roped into the Bill without consultation, the reason is the way in which Mr. Ken Livingstone has acted. I imagine that Opposition Members must privately feel rather bitter about the consequences of the way in which Ken Livingstone has acted and intends to act.
The right hon. Member for Deptford asked who was to decide what was excessive. Somebody must decide. It was the right hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. Rodgers), when he was in a Labour Cabinet, who tried to stop the South Yorkshire authority subsidising local transport in his area at a far lower level than now. It was right for the Labour Cabinet to do that then, and it is right for this Government to take action now. The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley) gave the impression that the 80 hours that we spent in Committee were purgatory. I assure the hon. Gentleman that it was enormous fun, and we should have welcomed the pleasure of his company for more of the time. We enjoyed that time, but everyone knows that it did not get us anywhere. The Committee's excellent Chairman kept us entirely in order, but it is perfectly possible to get bogged down on a road without ever leaving it, and that is exactly what happened.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Brown), in a pleasingly frank speech, spoke of his opposition to the recent Northern Ireland Assembly legislation and of the way in which he and his hon. Friends succeeded in thwarting the Government at least for a while. As he said, the intention was to prevent the Bill ever becoming law, and he rightly saw the way in which the Opposition have handled the debates in Committee on the Transport Bill as evidence of the same intention to thwart the principle of the Bill and to prevent its becoming law.
I suppose that Oppositions always behave in that way and that Governments always protest. You, Mr. Speaker, and indeed right hon. and hon. Members on both sides, must have heard so often as to be bored by them the protests of new Back Benchers such as I that this cannot be the best way to conduct our affairs. The 80 hours of debate in Committee were perfectly futile. Both sides knew what it was all about. If we had been able to timetable the debate from the beginning, we might have had a constructive and useful debate and might already have changed the Bill. I regret the necessity to timetable the rest of the Bill now. Necessary though this guillotine motion is, I cannot believe that this is the best way to conduct our affairs.
I must tell the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) that my judgment of the 80 hours of debate in Committee is entirely different from his. To say that they were futile is to ignore the experience of the Committee in revealing serious defects in the Bill. Had those defects not been revealed, I doubt whether the Government would have spent part of the recess tabling amendments to meet our points, and, but for our debates on clause 1, I doubt whether the Government would have acknowledged that there was an error in the scope of the Bill.
The Leader of the House clearly has not read the report of our proceedings on clause 1, and to that extent I forgive him, but to say that so much time was spent merely on an interpretation clause ignores the fact that the Chairman ruled that only on amendments to that clause could we deal with the scope of the Bill—whether it should cover the whole country, metropolitan authorities, or merely the GLC. The Opposition are surely entitled to take a view on that. The Government have certainly taken a view on it. It would be a very strange Leader of the House whose concept of the parliamentary role was that the Opposition should not raise matters on which their view of the scope of the legislation differed markedly from that embraced by the Government in the legislation. I am sure that the Leader of the House did not intend to suggest that. Once the Chairman of the Committee in his wisdom had made that very proper ruling, it was inevitable that we should raise on clause 1 the serious issue whether the Bill was appropriate to the entire local government sector, including the shire counties, to metropolitan authorities, or to the GLC alone.
The Committee did not reach clause 2 as quickly as I have reached it in my speech today, but, when it did, it found that the Government's revenue definition on the important matter of the financial duties of the PTEs was wrong, because they failed to make proper provision for them when they made a surplus or had to make provision within their reserves.
No one who has studied the proceedings on the Government's previous Transport Bills will be surprised to know that out of proper consideration in Committee a whole range of amendments has emerged. On the last three major Transport Bills there have been long lists of amendments on Report and in the House of Lords to deal with matters raised in Committee. One of the victims of today's guillotine will be detailed consideration of that kind and the resulting list of amendments. We contend that every Bill requires careful consideration in Committee, but that this Bill requires it more than most.
The Secretary of State for Transport claimed that the Bill was needed to clarify legislation covering the rights of metropolitan authorities and of the GLC to conduct transport services, to deal with the situation arising from the judgment of the House of Lords and to deal with the situation arising from the Woolf judgment in the Merseyside case. Far from clarifying the position, amendments to the 1968 and 1969 Acts make it almost impossible to predict what the true legal powers of the metropolitan authorities and of the GLC will be.
A second reason why it is necessary to study the Bill in Committee with rather more care than other Bills, and with more care than will be possible under the guillotine, is that clause 5 has been proved to be a virtual invitation to test the powers of metropolitan authorities and the GLC in the courts in the important area of public transport administration.
The Woolf judgment highlighted the power of metropolitan authorities to direct their passenger transport executives to provide services. The Bill will destroy the one point on which the law is crystal clear. It is repealing section 15(3) of the Transport Act 1968, on which a large part of the Woolf judgment was founded. There has to be a right vested in passenger transport authorities to instruct their executives to provide services. Once that right is removed, there is no telling what judgment will be provided.
When considering the 1969 Act, which did not contain the equivalent provisions of section 15(3), five eminent Law Lords had very different views on the GLC's power. The result is that the GLC has said that the law must be changed, but the metropolitan authorities have said "We can live with the Woolf judgment. That makes our position clear." The Government have not accepted that, and they are hell-bent on destroying the clarity for the metropolitan authorities.
In Committee, the Bill has been shown to disrupt the transport planning that is taking place in metropolitan areas. The three-year rule, involving planning provision, is to be set aside. It is to be set aside in the first year of the Bill's operation. This will happen on the diktat of the Secretary of State, and it will destroy the longer term plans of the metropolitan authorities.
The claim by the Government, that the Bill will make it easier to identify the cost benefit of subsidies, has been revealed as a total sham. The so-called protected expenditure level, not defined as such in the Bill, has been virtually determined by the Secretary of State without any proper debate with the metropolitan authorities, and without any attempt to identify with them the cost benefit of the plans that they are proposing. They will face figures which will be set without any cost-benefit analysis.
We believe that the protected expenditure level has been determined merely to sustain a Tory myth and to endorse Conservative monetarist prejudice about what the figures should be rather than to examine in any intelligent way proper planning and benefits to be gained from adopting financial policies for public transport which have been developed from the hard experience gained by the metropolitan authorities. The Committee proceedings are necessary to consider the extent to which the Bill will improperly curtail the powers of local government. It is an intrusion into local democracy.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) recognised the Government's right to implement the Conservative Party's manifesto by taking legislation through the House. The Bill is taking from metropolitan authorities and from the GLC their right to implement their manifestos. If a democratically elected Parliament stands for anything, it should stand for a sensitive appreciation of the balance of power between one elected body and another.
The electorate in a city such as Leeds, with a population of half a million, requires some right to say what should happen in the city. It is being deprived of that right by those who were elected on the basis of supporting the rights of local authorities.
My hon. Friend has effectively endorsed the point that I would make. The curtailment of full Committee proceedings is converting some Conservative Members on the Committee to our point of view. That is
one of the reasons why the Government are now coming forward with a guillotine. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cowans) quoted a Conservative Member on the Committee. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) said things in Committee which hardly accord with the judgment that he reached in his speech today. He said:
The Bill would enlarge the policy-making and planning role of non-elected passenger transport executives and reduce that of the metropolitan councils".—[Official Report, Standing Committee A, 7 December 1982; c. 198.]
More significant was the contribution of the hon. Member for Bebington and Ellesmere Port (Mr. Porter), who accepted that local elections are often not decided on local issues. That may be so. If local issues do not matter, we may as well abolish local elections and local authorities altogether. It seems that the hon. Member for Bebington and Ellesmere Port had more influence than he thought at that time because the Government are now considering abolishing metropolitan authorities and their elections.
The Government have not had the courage to legislate for authorities which are carrying out their election manifestos. They have not provided in the Bill for public transport authorities to expand in a way which is not favoured by the Secretary of State. The Bill will put local authorities at risk of legal challenge and of a surcharge. The courts will be left to take decisions on the effective scope of metropolitan services instead of allowing Parliament and local authorities to determine their proper transport policies.
That is the alternative.
A further two and a half days in Committee will be hopelessly inadequate. We shall have to skimp or abandon many of the amendments which were tabled on behalf of metropolitan authorities. This guillotine motion is an attack on our rights to represent those authorities. More importantly, its purpose is to expedite the Government's policy for which they have no electoral mandate. It is a denial of the rights of those who would implement policies that have been fully endorsed at local elections. Therefore, I call upon the House to reject the motion.
I should have more sympathy with the rather low-key and muted opposition that we have heard this afternoon to the Government's timetable motion if I did not have before me the facts of what has occurred in Committee so far, and a recent memory of it as well.
My right hon. Friend the Lord President has reminded the House that 80½ hours were taken to cover one clause and some of the amendments to the second clause. I make no criticism of that. There were undoubtedly some very long speeches. Some of the finest speeches in the history of the House have been very long. However, the facts are worth reporting. During the 80½ hours there were six speeches of more than two hours. On one occasion we were treated by the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cowans) to an oration of four hours and twenty minutes. The Committee admired the breadth of his interests and the wide range of subjects which, within the rules of order, he brought to bear in arguing his case. Perhaps the only sour note was struck by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer), who condemned his hon. Friend for being too brief and failing to get to the meat of the argument.
The subjects that were mobilised and touched upon within the rules of order—at times the Chairman rightly called him to order—included journeys to the moon, the views held in Manchuria on transport policy and the problems of the British film industry. There were a variety of comments on different methods of swimming and swimming techniques. These topics were recognised to be within order and admitted and the Committee listened to them. That is sufficient to show that the matters contained in the first clause and part of the second clause were covered intensively.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the hon. Member who was responsible for what he described as taking place in the House on one occasion is now in another place? He was one of the active members of the Franks committee. There is probably a chance of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cowans) becoming a member of the committee.
I do not know what the fates have in store for the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central but I am sure that he listened to the hon. Gentleman's intervention.
The right hon. Members for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) and Deptford (Mr. Silkin) and the Opposition generally know that the law had to be changed. They know that the new legal framework must be in place by the end of March for the new financial year. The issue is not confined to the Bromley judgment, although the GLC has repeatedly called publicly in many pronouncements for an
immediate and overriding need to amend the 1969 Act
a desperate need for a change in the law.
Labour Members have repeatedly recognised the extent of conflicting legal interpretations governing the administration and provision of local government transport subsidy throughout the country. It is absurd to say—this has been stated by the right hon. Member for Deptford and some of his hon. Friends—that there is no need for the Bill. The law is not crystal clear and Labour Members who have said that it is have contradicted themselves when illustrating the ambiguities and the conflicting legal judgments that have been flying around.
Labour Members know that a Bill is needed, but the Bill that has been introduced is not one that they want. That is a case for amending it, not for seeking to kill it, bearing in mind that it was approved on Second Reading by a large majority.
I and the Government are chided because when consultation was offered to the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and the metropolitan authorities themselves some months before the Bill was published it was turned down flat. Officials wrote to fix dates and details when these matters could be pursued. That was done at both elected member level and official level. For reasons that were quite wrong, an edict went out from the AMA that there was to be no discussion with the Government and Government officials on the details of the Bill.
Labour Members have asked why the Bill is needed now. The subsidy pattern that is indicated in the transport plans that have been issued by the metropolitan authorities is one that is about to explode upwards. Transport subsidy for current operations in the metropolitan counties has doubled in the past three years. On the basis of their plans for next year, it would have increased by another 75 per cent. That would have had a catastrophic effect on rates and on jobs. We have not heard very much about the effect of high rates on jobs, which would be extremely serious. Such rating would be bound to provoke further legal challenge. That is another reason why it is essential to bring forward the proposed legislation.
We have heard much about local democracy from Labour Members and about the need for local authorities to use ratepayers' money as they will. But who provides that ratepayers' money? My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) has reminded us that 62 per cent. of the ratepayers' funds for Greater London come from business. Business is an easy target. It can be taxed without having a vote. Business pays the lion's share, but it does not have the vote. Labour Members should bear that in mind when they lecture us on local democracy.
The Bill provides a framework for responsible planning and subsidy, which on a sensible and balanced level the Government welcome. The Bill will help towards more efficient local transport and authorities remain free to decide whether to use the protection of the Bill. It is they who make the final decisions on the level of grant and whether to step outside the protection that the Bill offers in a way that did not exist in the past.
It is right to say that sensible discussion has not been helped by what can be described only as some grossly misleading propaganda that has been put forward outside the House, often in the form of extremely expensive advertising and often at the ratepayers' expense. As my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington (Mr. Wheeler) said in a good letter in The Times, substantial sums have been spent in putting forward propaganda which is based on false and inaccurate information. That is a serious matter that ratepayers should have drawn closely to their attention.
This false propaganda has claimed that urban transport is being starved of resources under this Government. The facts are quite different. Support for the current operations of local authority transport is higher in real terms under this Government than ever it was under the previous Labour Government. The propaganda has suggested that local control is threatened. The slogan has been used "Keep local transport local". The fact is that local control is not threatened by the Bill. The local authorities remain free to decide the level of subsidy and to plan their local transport. If they wish to pursue a course that lands them in the courts, they are free to do so. The protected expenditure level provides a far greater area of certainty than authorities have had in the past. That has been recognised by those who have studied the Bill and by some of the major transport authorities.
There is a third matter that Labour Members have raised. It has also been raised in a false and misleading way outside the House. It is suggested that the Bill will remove or threaten the concessions that are provided for the old or disabled who travel on buses and other transport. Labour Members know perfectly well that it will not touch on the concessions for the old and disabled.
Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that he is making exactly the same statements about the Bill not having an effect on pensioners and others in receipt of concessions that he made following the House of Lords judgment, when he was assisted by the Solicitor-General? Both the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. and learned Gentleman were proved completely wrong, and within two months the right hon. Gentleman introduced a Bill to put right what he said had not gone wrong in the first place.
That is not correct. It is correct that the Government introduced a Bill to safeguard concessions for the old in London. It was rightly introduced and it was very welcome.
Nothing illustrates better the cynical nature of the attack that has been mounted on the Bill than the dissemination of the utterly false and alarmist information that has been put around. Labour Members who have raised the issue of concessions and caused worry to the elderly on a false basis should think carefully before proceeding on that line of propaganda.
There are many important details to discuss in the Bill. It is a short Bill, but it deals with important issues governing the legality of subsidy and the difficulties arising from the various legal judgments last year, particularly the Bromley judgment against the GLC.
I hope that the House will permit the Committee, and then the House on Report, to consider seriously the remaining aspects of the Bill. I hope those will include the matter raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) about clause 11, which deals with matters related to the support of the Port of London Authority and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. They are important and should be discussed in full. The Bill needs to be looked at in detail. The Government's timetable motion will allow that to happen.
So far we have had an extended debate which plainly has not departed from the proper road of order, although, as my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) said, it has taken us deep into the quagmire and near the ditch several times as we tried to proceed.
I now confidently ask my right hon. and hon. Friends and others, who wish to see a better, more stable and balanced pattern in local transport, to support the guillotine motion and get this valuable measure on to the statute book where it belongs.
|Division No. 38]||[7.22 pm|
|Adley, Robert||Benyon, W. (Buckingham)|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Berry, Hon Anthony|
|Alexander, Richard||Best, Keith|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Bevan, David Gilroy|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Biffen, Rt Hon John|
|Ancram, Michael||Biggs-Davison, Sir John|
|Arnold, Tom||Blackburn, John|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Blaker, Peter|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne)||Body, Richard|
|Atkins, Robert(Preston N)||Bonsor, Sir Nicholas|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E)||Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)|
|Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone)||Bowden, Andrew|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Boyson, Dr Rhodes|
|Banks, Robert||Braine, Sir Bernard|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Bright, Graham|
|Bendall, Vivian||Brinton, Tim|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)||Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Hawksley, Warren|
|Brotherton, Michael||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n)||Heath, Rt Hon Edward|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Heddle, John|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Henderson, Barry|
|Buck, Antony||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Budgen, Nick||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Hill, James|
|Butcher, John||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Holland, Philip (Carlton)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hooson, Tom|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)||Hordern, Peter|
|Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldfd)|
|Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul||Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)||Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Irvine, Rt Hon Bryant|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Godman|
|Cockeram, Eric||Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)|
|Colvin, Michael||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Cope, John||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Cormack, Patrick||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith|
|Corrie, John||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Costain, Sir Albert||Kershaw, Sir Anthony|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kimball, Sir Marcus|
|Critchley, Julian||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Crouch, David||Knox, David|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Lamont, Norman|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Lang, Ian|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Latham, Michael|
|Dover, Denshore||Lawrence, Ivan|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||Lee, John|
|Durant, Tony||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Dykes, Hugh||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Lester, Jim (Beeston)|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Eggar, Tim||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)|
|Elliott, Sir William||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Loveridge, John|
|Eyre, Reginald||Luce, Richard|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Faith, Mrs Sheila||McCrindle, Robert|
|Farr, John||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Fell, Sir Anthony||MacGregor, John|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||MacKay, John (Argyll)|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey||McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)|
|Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)||McQuarrie, Albert|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Madel, David|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Major, John|
|Fox, Marcus||Marland, Paul|
|Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh||Marten, Rt Hon Neil|
|Fraser, Peter (South Angus)||Mates, Michael|
|Fry, Peter||Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Mawby, Ray|
|Gardner, Sir Edward||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Mayhew, Patrick|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Mellor, David|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Gorst, John||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Gow, Ian||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Grant, Sir Anthony||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Gray, Rt Hon Hamish||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Greenway, Harry||Moore, John|
|Grieve, Percy||Morgan, Geraint|
|Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Mudd, David|
|Grist, Ian||Murphy, Christopher|
|Gummer, John Selwyn||Myles, David|
|Hamilton, Hon A.||Neale, Gerrard|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Nelson, Anthony|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Neubert, Michael|
|Hannam, John||Newton, Tony|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Normanton, Tom|
|Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Nott, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Onslow, Cranley||Stainton, Keith|
|Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.||Stan brook, Ivor|
|Osborn, John||Stanley, John|
|Page, John (Harrow, West)||Steen, Anthony|
|Page, Richard (SW Herts)||Stevens, Martin|
|Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil||Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)|
|Parris, Matthew||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Patten, John (Oxford)||Stokes, John|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Pawsey, James||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Percival, Sir Ian||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Peyton, Rt Hon John||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Pollock, Alexander||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.|
|Porter, Barry||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Thompson, Donald|
|Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)||Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)|
|Rathbone, Tim||Trippier, David|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Trotter, Neville|
|Renton, Tim||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Viggers, Peter|
|Ridley, Hon Nicholas||Waddington, David|
|Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)||Wakeham, John|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Rossi, Hugh||Walker, B. (Perth)|
|Rost, Peter||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.|
|Royle, Sir Anthony||Waller, Gary|
|Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.||Walters, Dennis|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Ward, John|
|St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.||Warren, Kenneth|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Watson, John|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Wells, Bowen|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Wheeler, John|
|Shepherd, Richard||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Shersby, Michael||Whitney, Raymond|
|Silvester, Fred||Wickenden, Keith|
|Sims, Roger||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Wilkinson, John|
|Smith, Dudley||Williams, D.(Montgomery)|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Speed, Keith||Wolfson, Mark|
|Speller, Tony||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Spence, John||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)|
|Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Sproat, Iain||Mr. Carol Mather and|
|Squire, Robin||Mr. Robert Boscawen|
|Abse, Leo||Canavan, Dennis|
|Adams, Allen||Cant, R. B.|
|Allaun, Frank||Carmichael, Neil|
|Alton, David||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Anderson, Donald||Cartwright, John|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Clark, Dr David (S Shields)|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Clarke, Thomas('C'b'dge, A'rie)|
|Ashton, Joe||Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)|
|Atkinson, N.(H'gey,)||Cohen, Stanley|
|Bagier, Gordon A.T.||Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Conlan, Bernard|
|Beith, A. J.||Cook, Robin F.|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Cowans, Harry|
|Bennett, Andrew(St'kp't N)||Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Crawshaw, Richard|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Crowther, Stan|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro)||Cryer, Bob|
|Bradley, Tom||Cunningham, G. (Islington S)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Dalyell, Tam|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Davidson, Arthur|
|Brown, R. C. (N' castle W)||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)|
|Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)||Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)|
|Buchan, Norman||Deakins, Eric|
|Campbell, Ian||Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Dewar, Donald|
|Dixon, Donald||McKelvey, William|
|Dobson, Frank||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Dormand, Jack||McMahon, Andrew|
|Douglas, Dick||McNally, Thomas|
|Dubs, Alfred||McNamara, Kevin|
|Dunnett, Jack||McWilliam, John|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Magee, Bryan|
|Eastham, Ken||Marks, Kenneth|
|Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)||Marshall, D(G'gow S'ton)|
|Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Martin, M(G'gow S'burn)|
|English, Michael||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Maxton, John|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Ewing, Harry||Meacher, Michael|
|Faulds, Andrew||Mikardo, Ian|
|Field, Frank||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Fitch, Alan||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Flannery, Martin||Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)|
|Ford, Ben||Molyneaux, James|
|Forrester, John||Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)|
|Foster, Derek||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Foulkes, George||Moyle, Rt Hon Roland|
|Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Newens, Stanley|
|Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|George, Bruce||Ogden, Eric|
|Ginsburg, David||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Golding, John||O'Neill, Martin|
|Gourlay, Harry||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Graham, Ted||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Grant, John (Islington C)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Grimond, Rt Hon J.||Park, George|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Parker, John|
|Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)||Parry, Robert|
|Hardy, Peter||Pendry, Tom|
|Harman, Harriet (Peckham)||Penhaligon, David|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Powell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Haynes, Frank||Prescott, John|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)||Race, Reg|
|Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)||Radice, Giles|
|Home Robertson, John||Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)|
|Homewood, William||Richardson, Jo|
|Hooley, Frank||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Horam, John||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Howell, Rt Hon D.||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Howells, Geraint||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Robertson, George|
|Huckfield, Les||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Hudson Davies, Gwilym E.||Rodgers, Rt Hon William|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Roper, John|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Rowlands, Ted|
|Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)||Ryman, John|
|John, Brynmor||Sandelson, Neville|
|Johnson, James (Hull West)||Sever, John|
|Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Sheerman, Barry|
|Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Kerr, Russell||Short, Mrs Renée|
|Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)|
|Kinnock, Neil||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Lambie, David||Silverman, Julius|
|Lamond, James||Skinner, Dennis|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)|
|Leighton, Ronald||Smyth, Rev. W. M. (Belfast S)|
|Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW)||Snape, Peter|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Soley, Clive|
|Litherland, Robert||Spearing, Nigel|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Spellar, John Francis (B'ham)|
|Lyon, Alexander (York)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W)||Stallard, A. W.|
|McCartney, Hugh||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Stoddart, David|
|McElhone, Mrs Helen||Stott, Roger|
|McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Strang, Gavin|
|Straw, Jack||White, J. (G'gow Pollok)|
|Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)||Whitlock, William|
|Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)||Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)|
|Thomas, Dr R.(Carmarthen)||Williams. Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby)|
|Thorne, Stan (Preston South)||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Tilley, John||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H.(H'ton)|
|Tinn, James||Wilson, William (C'try SE)|
|Torney, Tom||Winnick, David|
|Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.||Woodall, Alec|
|Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)||Woolmer, Kenneth|
|Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)||Wright, Sheila|
|Wardell, Gareth||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Wellbeloved, James||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Welsh, Michael||Mr. George Morton and|
|White, Frank R.||Mr. Allen McKay.|