Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill

– in the House of Commons at 7:13 pm on 8th November 1988.

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Motion made, and Question proposed:That the Promoters of the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House;That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session;That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed);That all Petitions relating to the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill, together with any minutes of evidence taken before the Committee on the Bill, shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session;That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business;That in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private business shall have effect as if the words "under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)" were omitted;That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.—[The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

With this it will be convenient to discuss also the motion relating to the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill: That the Promoters of the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House;That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session;That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed);That all Petitions relating to the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill, together with any minutes of evidence taken before the Committee on the Bill, shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session;That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business;That in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words "under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bills)" were omitted;That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.

Photo of Mr Martin Redmond Mr Martin Redmond , Don Valley

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will recall that when the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) originally introduced the two Bills, I asked whether they were hybrid Bills. You rightly said that the Examiner had examined the Bills and said that they were in order. We had several discussions with the Examiner, but unfortunately the holder of the office is not the person who originally approved the Bills. We found the present Examiner perfectly acceptable and most helpful in the guidance and assistance that he gave us.

My point of order is this. While it is not your concern that the Government have put a two-line Whip on these two Bills, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that action, coupled with their past practice when these Bills have been discussed on the Floor of the House, and with what happened when they were originally moved, shows that the Government are deeply involved. Therefore, I ask you to rule that the Bills are hybrid.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

The hon. Member is right: when the Bills were originally introduced, he raised the question of the possibility, as he saw it, of hybridity arising, and on that occasion I sought guidance and was assured, as the hon. Gentleman recognises, that the Bills were not hybrid. The way that Bills are whipped is not a matter for me, as the hon. Gentleman also recognises, but if, hypothetically, the Government were to favour a particular Bill, that of itself would not make it hybrid. Hybridity is a question of the inherent qualities of the Bill, and that point does not arise.

Photo of Kevin Barron Kevin Barron Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. On 22 July, as reported in Hansard, at column 1175, I questioned whether the Bills were private, because there had been a meeting between the outside promoters of the Bill and the then Secretary of State for Transport. You will recall, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you gave your ruling on that and we were satisfied that, given that the Bill concerns the Secretary of State for Transport, there was nothing wrong with that meeting taking place.

However, it has come to my notice that, since then, the promoters of one of the Bills has met not only the Secretary of State for Transport but the Secretary of State for Energy and I can assume that at that meeting there was some discussion about the moving of bulk cargoes of interest to that portfolio through this port. I assume that there has been no meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to discuss the sugarbeet and other agricultural produce that will go through the port, and no meeting with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to discuss the iron ore and other forms of steel getting through the plant.

In those circumstances, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will you look differently at the judgment you gave earlier about whether these are private or public Bills? The Departments closely connected with them seem to be running the passage of the Bills through the House, although they are supposed to be private Bills. Could you give us another ruling on this?

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is high time that we managed to sort out when a private Bill is a public Bill, a Government Bill or a hybrid Bill. We are fast reaching the point when Ministers not only meet those representing South African interests on behalf of the promoters of the Bill but they put on two-line Whips to get the troops here. We know that, on the last occasion, the Prime Minister herself, although she says that she is against apartheid, trotted through the Lobby in her carpet slippers and voted for the Bill.

All those ingredients added together show that it is high time that that the Chair, in this case the Chairman of Ways and Means, should start to come to the conclusion, as many on this side of the House and the country have, that this is not a private Bill. It is an abuse of parliamentary procedure and when there is an abuse of parliamentary procedure, it reflects not only on those involved in this corrupt procedure but on the Chair. It is high time that Bills of this nature were ruled out of order. Let us get on with the next business.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Perhaps I should deal first with the point raised by the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron). It appears that his recollection of a ruling that I made on a previous occasion was correct. It appeared to me quite sensible advice to give on that occasion. I shall not repeat it now, except to say that I do not think there has been any impropriety. Obviously, I do not know, nor is it a matter of concern to me, whom Ministers meet to discuss matters that come before the House, but I do not detect any impropriety.

Let me deal with the matters raised by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). I understand the concern that has been expressed several times about the private Bill procedure in the House. He will know that, in response to that concern, I took the initiative to establish a Joint Committee which has laboured long and hard. I must take this opportunity to express my appreciation of its hard work in producing a report.

After those people who are most directly affected by the report, and others, have had an opportunity to look at its recommendations and express their views, I very much hope that the House will be able to take those views into account in making its recommendations in the fullness of time. The hon. Member for Bolsover will no doubt want to take part in that debate, and I shall certainly bear him in mind.

Photo of Kevin Barron Kevin Barron Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not wish to disagree with your ruling, but would it be possible for the Secretary of State for Energy to be brought to the House to explain what took place at the meeting with the promoters of the Bill?

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

I do not think that that is a matter for me, and I am sure that the House will recognise that.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are all aware of and very much welcome your initiative in encouraging the House of Commons and the House of Lords to set up a Joint Committee. We welcome the unanimous recommendations of that Committee.

One of the matters that concerns many of my right hon. and hon. Friends is that, if the Committee's unanimous recommendations were adopted by the House, this sort of Bill would not be able to get through. If the carry-over motion were not passed, these Bills would have to start all over again and the rules of the House would probably have changed to make sure that that could not be done. We are concerned that, by passing these carry-over motions or even by contemplating carrying over these Bills, we would be foreclosing on the likely decision of the House that such Bills should not be contemplated in future. We think that that is a point of order and we would like your ruling on it.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

I doubt whether the points that have been put to me are matters of order or matters for the Chair. They might be taken into account by the House in the ensuing debate. What might be the view of the House on the procedure is in the realm of hypothesis and the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) would not expect me to speculate on what might be the view of the House in the event of the Joint Committee report being debated and decisions being reached by the House. Along with many of the other points that have been made, these are matters that the House might take into account in reaching its conclusions when the Question is finally put from the Chair.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes 7:23 pm, 8th November 1988

I wish to support the motions to carry over into the next Session the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill and the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill. The House will recall that we have had several debates on these Bills. We spent about five hours on the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill when we considered it on Second Reading before the summer recess, and we spent almost six hours on the other Bill. After much debate and passion, the House concluded that both Bills should be given a Second Reading. Those Bills are now being considered in Committee under the private Bill Committee procedure.

I and a number of other hon. Members have attended most of the sessions, sitting in the public gallery. We all agree that progress is being made. Petitions with legitimate concerns and fears may present their case to Committee members. All hon. Members who have seen the four hon. Members concerned working during the past three weeks accept that they have been doing a marvellous job, giving petitioners every opportunity to examine and cross-examine. Associated British Ports has now concluded its case as a promoter of the Bill. It has been examined and cross-examined fiercely and effectively by those who have petitioned against the Bill. During the past week, the promoters of the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill have been putting their case and their witnesses have been examined and cross-examined. There will be an important opportunity for those opposed to the Bill to present their case.

The House has resolved that the Committee is the place for these Bills to be judged. Witnesses can be called by both sides and those four hon. Members can act in a judicial capacity, looking dispassionately at the evidence before them, and conclude what recommendation to put before the House. It would be a great waste of time, particularly for the petitioners and the promoters, who have been working assiduously in that Committee, if they found that they were unable to proceed in presenting their cases. For those reasons, it is essential that the Committee should be able to do its job properly.

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

The hon. Gentleman says that it would be a great waste of time if the Committee's work were made pointless by the decision that I and many of my hon. Friends hope will be made later tonight. However, is he not saying that the Joint Committee, which has considered the private Bill procedure, has engaged in a great waste of time, if the Bill proceeds as he proposes?

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

I do not agree with that analysis. I wish to echo your words of tribute, Mr. Deputy Speaker to those Members of both Houses who have presented a report with which I have a great deal of sympathy. I hope that we can have an early debate on that report.

The promoters of both Bills are sympathetic to the content of that report. For example, if I am not mistaken, the recommendation regarding carry-over motions suggests that, when private Bills have been brought before the House and given a Second Reading, we should not have to go through this kind of debate and that there should be no need for a carry-over motion. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman reads that part of the report. These two Bills, which have been before the House for the past six months, have brought into sharp focus the need for a re-examination of the private Bill procedure.

The House has spent a great deal of time considering whether the Bills should be given a Second Reading. They have been given a Second Reading and they are now in Committee. The petitioners are doing a first-rate job in assimilating the evidence that they require to present to the Committee. The promoters are also doing their job. It is right and proper to allow those four hon. Members who have spent so much time on the thankless task of serving on a private Bill Committee to continue their work. It would not be right and proper for us to intervene in that work; I very much commend the carry-over motions.

Photo of Mr Lawrence Cunliffe Mr Lawrence Cunliffe , Leigh 7:30 pm, 8th November 1988

I do not question your judgments, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on the various points of order that were raised before the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) addressed the House. I know that you sympathise with some of the sentiments which were expressed against the background of personal, industrial and social objectives.

I believe that the Bill should be opposed at all stages. I am not satisfied that it is genuine private business. Most of the Bill's provisions relate to commercial enterprise, and the machinery of Parliament has been used to serve the interests of Associated British Ports. If the Bill is enacted, various strategic elements of the British economy will be adversely affected. It is inevitable that miners, transport workers, dockers and others who work in industries associated with the ports will be adversely affected. It could be said that no one group of workers will be unaffected. The Bill embraces almost every element of our industrial society.

The House will he aware that Lord Marshall said that, on the basis of privatisation, he would be prepared to take in 30 million tonnes of imported coal. Associated British Ports cannot say how much coal its terminal will be able to import. It must, however, have engaged in market research. It will have examined its investment policy and considered cash-flow liquidity. It is clear to everyone that it is a long-term investment that is bound to yield substantial profits. Profit is the motive behind the exercise, and it will be enhanced by Government collusion. If the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State participate in voting during the passage of a private Member's Bill, we must instinctively conclude that it represents part of their philosophy. It would be nonsense to deny that.

In talking about the importation of 30 million tonnes of coal, we are talking also of the livelihoods of 47,000 miners and 7,000 or 8,000 employees in complementary industries. It costs £24,700 to make a Yorkshire miner redundant, and the bill would be about £1·16 billion if 30 million tonnes of coal were imported. That would be a waste of human resources. Valuable manpower would be thrown on the scrap heap at great expense to the nation.

A parliamentary group visited South Africa to examine its coal mining industry. It was said that the aim of the February visit was to provide the delegation with a comprehensive insight of all issues related to the South African coal industry. The ultimate motive was thereafter about 47,000 mineworkers and 8,000 others as a result of sanctions, being introduced, in effect, against the coal industry. Those workers will suffer if we do not take action against South African imports. It is ironic that parliamentarians should seek to promote activities with South Africa when other civilised nations, including the United States, are breaking their links with that country. Association with South Africa is not welcomed by most democratic nations.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that the cost of the rundown of manpower throughout the nation, to which he has referred, could be £559 million?

Photo of Mr Lawrence Cunliffe Mr Lawrence Cunliffe , Leigh

I agree with rriy hon. Friend. I accept that figure.

The Opposition are attempting to protect and promote British interests. That has been our approach throughout. I accept that the ports are sited strategically and that coal is not the only consideration. I welcome any expansion of the ports and the economy in and around them. I am merely arguing that there should be some protection. By and large, Britain clings to the Queensberry rules, while other countries are subsidising their industries to the hilt, including the coal and steel industries. We are receiving their exports while it is argued that free marketers should be able to do exactly what they want within the market mechanism.

My colleagues and I are opposed to the procedural device that is before us. We shall take every opportunity to oppose unbounded commercialism in our effort to protect the British people.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk 7:38 pm, 8th November 1988

I shall confine my remarks to the part of the Bill that is relevant to my constituency, including the port of King's Lynn. The provisions that relate to King's Lynn docks are entirely uncontroversial, much needed and welcomed, but perhaps it would have been better if they did not appear in the Bill. I have some sympathy with the views that have been expressed by the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Cunliffe) and some of his colleagues as well as the views of some of my colleagues. Having said that, I hope that they understand the position in which I find myself. The part of the Bill that affects my constituency will have a crucial effect on the docks and the local economy in future.

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley , Barnsley Central

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Bill should be split into three separate measures: the first confined to the King's Lynn terminal, the second to the Port Talbot terminal and the third to the terminal on the Humber? In that way there would be less opposition on the Opposition Benches to the provisions that attach to the King's Lynn facilities.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk

The hon. Gentleman has made a good point. It is all very well being wise after the event; hut, if the Bill falls, the works in both King's Lynn and Port Talbot will fall as well. That is why I must press for the carry-over motion.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

An opportunity has been presented for us to rethink. Rather than being tied to a Bill containing three elements, if we do not carry it over we shall be able to introduce three separate measures in the next session.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk

It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to say that, but King's Lynn wants to get on with the work. It wants to put the business out to tender and start as soon as possible.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman, who clearly faces a dilemma. His sympathies seem to lie with my hon. Friends from the coal mining industry rather than with his hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown). I assure him that if he opposed the carry-over motion, unlinked legislation affecting King's Lynn and Port Talbot could be introduced in January next year and it would receive no opposition from Labour Members. He would have his Bill much more quickly on that basis.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk

I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman has said, but he was putting words into my mouth when he claimed that I was supporting Opposition Members. That is not strictly true. I said that I had some sympathy with the arguments adduced by the hon. Member for Leigh and others, but I also have considerable sympathy with my hon. Friends who are concerned about their local economies and are keen to promote business and expansion in their constituencies.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) made some powerful points about why the carry-over should go ahead. The Committee on the Bill has been deliberating for some time, and if the motion were not passed much time and effort would be wasted. I should also like Opposition Members to understand what is happening in King's Lynn. It was once one of the country's busiest ports, ranked third in the national league. After many decades of decline in this century, it has now recorded a dramatic revival based on timber, grain and bulk commodities. It imports cars, tractors and motor bikes, and I am pleased to say that the export side is building up considerably as well.

In 1987 King's Lynn docks handled 1·5 million tonnes, and it is on target for a repeat performance this year. There are, however, numerous shortcomings. As I said when we were discussing the same measure about three months ago, the docks are tidal; they are also enclosed. They are restricted to vessels of about 3,000 dead weight tonnes, 13·8 m in width and 120 m in length. A riverside quay is desperately needed. The works allowed for in the Bill would mean that the maximum would rise to 6,000 dead-weight tonnes, and the average would be about 4,500 tonnes. The maximum length of vessels would be 140 m and the maximum width 18 m. That would make a dramatic difference to the type of vessel able to enter King's Lynn docks, which in turn would have a considerable effect, on the tonnage going through the docks and on the importance of the port. The docks would be revolutionised and their future guaranteed. If the Bill does not go through existing competition from non-scheme ports will intensify.

It is ironic that Opposition supporters of the national dock labour scheme, are, by that support, making life difficult for ports such as King's Lynn. A group of non-scheme ports that have set up in East Anglia are able to compete in a number of ways, and that is putting considerable pressure on King's Lynn. If Opposition Members deny King's Lynn its expansion, I must consider the effects on my constituency, although I am mindful of the helpful comment made by the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd).

I should not be doing my duty if I did not vote for the motion. The local economy has gone from strength to strength: unemployment has fallen from 18 per cent. to 6·5 per cent., small firms are booming, and a whole new enterprise culture is afoot. The roads are improving and we are campaigning hard for railway electrification. Underpinning all that, however, is the success of the docks. If they are not allowed to thrive, expand and compete with non-scheme ports, that success story will be jeopardised. It would indeed be a tragedy if the motion were not passed.

Finally, let me pick up a point made by the hon. Member for Leigh. While I sympathise with his views on apartheid, I cannot agree with his views on sanctions. I recently went down Douglas and Ritspruit mines in South Africa and had a chance to talk to representatives of the South African mineworkers' union. They said that if comprehensive coal sanctions were applied, the black miners, not the white owners, would suffer most. Clearly there is a wish to do something about apartheid, but sanctions would lead to appalling misery.

I must support the motion, because, if it does not go through, there will be serious consequences for my constituency and its future.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party 7:46 pm, 8th November 1988

The hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Bellingham) has been shedding crocodile tears about black people in South Africa. I suppose that he will make representations to all his friends with interests connected with South Africa and tell them to pay black workers decent wages—the same rates as are paid to whites. I wonder whether he did that when he went trotting off to South Africa, paid for by the South Africans.

It is interesting to note that the first two Conservative speakers have both come hotfoot from South Africa and that their visits were paid for. God knows how many more have done the same. I suppose that there are South African interests in the Under Gallery as well. The last time that we debated this subject there were so many South Africans sitting there, interested in bringing coal into Britain, that it was busier than Waterloo station. They were trotting back and forth to talk to their Tory friends.

We know what the Bill is about. It was clear from the points of order that we heard earlier—during which you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, made your own enigmatic contribution, which might be interpreted differently according to where it was read out. This whippersnapper from Norfolk, North-West, before he told us that he had been on a paid trip to South Africa, kept telling us that he had some sympathy with the opposers of the carry-over motion. Then, when questioned closely by my hon. Friends, like Paddy Backdown he changed his mind in about five minutes and adopted an entirely different argument. I suspect that when he and his Friends, such as the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), have been to South Africa they have not just been on site visits. They are part of a Tory party that is almost a wholly-owned subsidiary of South Africa, and the Bill exemplifies that.

Another reason for my opposing the motion is that this is a mammoth Bill. It is not just one of your pottering little private Members' Bills that appear on the Order Paper every Tuesday and Thursday. This is a Bill which, according to my hon. Friends, has 19 byelaws. The byelaw in clause 21 gives this company the power to dump whatever rubbish it likes into the Humber.

Some of that rubbish will no doubt filter down towards Norfolk, North-West, and I suppose that the hooray Henry opposite, the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West, will come running to the House complaining. He will turn into one of those environment specimens that the Prime Minister has suddenly become. However, I must say that I cannot visualise this Prime Minister in a green anorak and sandals, talking about protecting the environment. I cannot see her sailing up the Humber on a Greenpeace ship looking for the rubbish—the oil and the chemicals—that will have been deposited by this firm if this carry-over motion is approved. I cannot visualise this faded blonde aboard a Greenpeace ship clearing up the rubbish.

We saw the Prime Minister in St. James's park, with the Secretary of State for the Environment on hand with a little bag, but I cannot see her on that Greenpeace ship clearing up the muck in the Humber. However, I can see her husband not far behind with an Attwoods flag in his hand—representing a waste disposal company of which he is the deputy managing director—running to this firm called Simon Engineering, which is a promoter of the Bill, and saying, "We will pick up some of the rubbish. 1 have Karen B just outside and we will take it provided that the money is right—and we will have a gin and tonic on it while we are at it." The Government have the cheek to talk about the environment, when hidden in this private Bill is the facility for this company to dump oil and chemicals.

I am against this carry-over motion, too, because of the point that I made on two previous occasions about the Chairman of the Committee. He has sat in the House. He was in the House on the last occasion that I raised this matter during business questions. I believe it is a scandal that the Tory party, having failed to put one of its South African Members—one of the hon. Members with interests in Johannesburg—on to this Committee, has found it necessary to make the Chairman of the Committee, who represents the Tory interest, none other than the hon. Member for Rochford (Dr. Clark). It may be that he did not want the job of Chairman of the Committee, but it stinks in the nostrils, because Simon Engineering, the promoter of the Bill, has a subsidiary which is a member of a trade association, the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association, whose address is 1 Regent street—just up the road—and the hon. Member for Rochford is a paid parliamentary adviser to that association.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. Before the hon. Gentleman goes further, I should advise him that in the light of his representations, Mr. Speaker had careful inquiries made into the allegations, which he is now repeating to some degree, and was satisfied that there was no degree of impropriety whatsoever.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

All I have to say is that there was never any chance of one of the Opposition Whips or representatives going along to members of the miners' group and saying, "We know that you are a sponsored member of the National Union of Mineworkers. We are going to put you on this private Bill." I have a sneaking feeling that if that recommendation had gone to the Chairman of the Committee of Selection— another Tory, the hon. Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox)—he would have ruled it out of order. I repeat what I said earlier, that the Bill should have been stopped the moment that that Tory Member was allowed to go on that Committee and., even further, was made its Chairman.

History will record that this private Bill procedure has been rotten to the core from the moment that these two Bills hit the Floor of the House. It is no coincidence that they come from apartheid-ridden South Africa, which wishes to export coal to Britain, when the wages paid to black people are one seventh of those paid to white people who work in that ill-fated province. Botha's regime is represented right across the Tory party. I am fed up to the back teeth with hearing Tory Members saying, "We are against apartheid, but …" When they get the opportunity to bolster their interests in the Botha regime, by Christ they do it.

There was no better example of that than when the Prime Minister went belting through the Lobby on the last occasion, carrying well over 150 Tory Members with her, to get rid of jobs in Britain. By God, what a place it has become. Then the Tories stand up and talk about apartheid. They go trotting off to meetings here, there and everywhere, saying that they are against it, but on every possible occasion they pour money into the pockets of those who are depriving the massive majority of the population of votes.

They then have the cheek to tell us that they are worried about the blacks in the pits. They are not worried about the coal miners in Yorkshire, Durham, Derbyshire or even in the Nottinghamshire and the midlands coalfield—those who bailed out the Government during the 1984–85 strike. They used those miners in the Nottinghamshire coalfield, and now they come along to the House and say, "We will pass a Bill and kick them out of their jobs"—all those people in the bosses' union.

Photo of Mr Lawrence Cunliffe Mr Lawrence Cunliffe , Leigh

May I declare an interest? On the question of the Queensberry rules, on 6 October a South African ship called the Fasiline Avra arrived at Killingholme. It had on board 26,500 tonnes of South African coal. It was bought by William Reed of Solid Fuels, associated with Simon Engineering, screened by Coalite and then sold to the CEGB by trickery and deception. That is the sort of tactic that we face. And then they plead for the African miner and the British miner, who are brothers in arms in the search for freedom.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

The hon. Gentleman might get in eventually. The hon. Gentleman received a knighthood because he grovelled to that Front Bench. What a man. He reckoned to be protecting the interests of people in Cambridge who were going to knock hell out of the Government for about five minutes in 1986–87, but nearer to the election he went running a mile and someone said, "Shut your mouth and we will give you a knighthood." So he went and practised like Cyril Smith.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

Get yourself down. What I am saying is that the hon. Gentleman should have a word with his hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes, because he knows the way to South Africa on a freebie. He knows how to get there for several days or several weeks. If the hon. Gentleman has not already been there, he can get on a trip. If his hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes does not give him the advice, he should talk to his hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West, who will tell him how to get there. The hon. Gentleman has a multitude of friends in the Tory party who know the way to South Africa without putting their hands into their back pockets. If the hon. Gentleman wants to get away from the Prime Minister because he is fed up to the back teeth with her, he should ask them the way. He will be told and provided with the money.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

No. I have some hon. Friends who want to speak when I have finished.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

I wish that the hon. Gentleman would stop referring to me.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

You are worried about the balance of payments. You are worried about unemployment in Doncaster if the Bill is passed and thousands of miners' jobs are lost in that area. You will be running along there with my hon. Friends from Doncaster trying to find the answers. I know that deep down at least—I might be stretching a point here—you know that everything that our people have had to say on this issue has been bang on the nail. You know only too well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this means a black day for British miners. It means that jobs will be lost.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

It means that 76,000 jobs will be lost.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

My hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse) gave us that figure in a previous debate, and that is the total if we include the spin-off jobs.

Our mining industry adds about £500 million to the balance of payments. The other day the Chancellor of the Exchequer had the audacity to say that one of the reasons why the Government had been able to pay so much money in debt repayments was that they had saved £1,000 million because dole queues had decreased. We are opposing the carry-over motion because we do not want more people thrown on to the dole. The Bill will mean that more people will have to go to employment exchanges, and that will mean a loss of revenue—just the opposite of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said the other day. I have no doubt, however, that he will be telling his friends to turn up in the Lobby tonight.

This year we have a £13 billion balance of payments deficit and a massive manufacturing trade deficit, but here we are talking about giving commercial opportunities to South African and other foreign interests within the Common Market to launder coal through ports such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Coal will be brought into this country via those ports and will make our balance of payments deficit worse. Not only are the Government going to throw people out of work, but they are going to add to the £13 billion deficit that already exists.

If one considers why we have got into this mess with our balance of payments, it is clear to everyone that it is because our manufacturing industry has been decimated because our coal industry has been hammered, and because we are importing so much oil. We went through it all before in the 1950s and the 1960s. We warned the Tories about importing coal and running down our mining industry. Then the result was another balance of payments crisis. For a temporary period in our history, however, we have recently managed to overcome the problem as a result of North sea oil. Yet, here we are with North sea oil still available, but with a massive balance of payments deficit. The Bill will make matters worse. No wonder those in West Germany and Japan are laughing all the way to the bank. They are sitting on a $120 billion surplus between them, but we are getting further and further into the mire.

I am concerned about those miners and others who will be thrown out of work in Doncaster, Derbyshire, Durham, Nottinghamshire and the rest of the midland coalfields. Everyone should be concerned about that—my hon. Friends and I certainly are.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman because I believe that he voted with us on one occasion.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

The hon. Gentleman is quite right. My colleagues and I voted with him on 23 June. The hon. Gentleman is making an emotional address to the House. He is usually a fair man, and I think he should recognise that, on that night, only 63 people voted with him, 11 of them Tory Members. I do not believe that that suggests that there is strong support within the Labour party for opposition to the Bill. Can the hon. Gentleman explain that to the House?

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

It is quite simple. I am not the Chief Whip of the Labour party. We have never had a Whip on this Bill. Because of my emotions about the Bill, I believe that more of our people should have been there for that vote. I am sure that the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo) will recall that, on the second occasion, we doubled our numbers. I should like to think that on this occasion even more of my hon. Friends will be here, but I should tell the hon. Gentleman that, unlike the Tories, we have not put a Whip on the Bill.

From the beginning the Tory party has not considered that the Bill represents narrow private interests. They have always seen it as a way in which to help South African interests. The Tories allowed the hon. Member for Nottingham, South to have a token vote against the Bill. Why? Because his constituency is part of the Nottinghamshire coalfield, and the Government wanted the people in the Union of Democratic Mineworkers to say, "We got our man to vote for us." The Tories allowed that in the knowledge that for every 10 people who voted with the Opposition, they could bring in another 50 to cancel those votes.

Photo of Mr Martin Redmond Mr Martin Redmond , Don Valley

I wonder whether we can clear up this matter of the Tory Whip once and for all. I wish that the Conservative Members present were honourable enough to tell the House that there is a two-line Whip on the Bill, because Tory Members who are not in the Chamber have told us that that is so. Are the Conservative Members present calling their colleagues liars? I would sooner believe their colleagues. It is true, because I have seen the agenda paper submitted by Conservative Whips.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He comes in early in the morning and, during the past few years, 1 have noticed how he has begun to get the feel of this place. He has got to know what is happening. I have seen him go down to that Tory side of the Tea Room where there is a little barrier. Initially I thought that he was just reading the papers, but I think that he has been hanging the tab. He has found out what has been going on. If he says that there is a two-line Whip, my guess is that—

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wish to discuss factual information rather than opinion. I have a note from my Whip which says that there is Government business later tonight, for which I am needed as a Parliamentary Private Secretary, but that I am perfectly free to vote as I will on this Bill. I believe that that applies to everyone else on the Conservative Benches.

Photo of Mr Martin Redmond Mr Martin Redmond , Don Valley

Further to that point of order, Miss Boothroyd. Whether the hon. Gentleman has had permission from the Whips to vote freely one way or the other is not the issue. Let me tell the hon. Gentleman that the Tory Whips have put a two-line Whip on this Bill. Later on this evening, the Tories will come out of their rat holes to support the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

I agree with my hon. Friend. The reason why the hon. Member for Nottingham, South does not believe that there is a Whip is that he is one of the Conservative Members representing Nottinghamshire. He is that naive that he does not understand that the Tory party has issued a two-line Whip to everyone except those representing Nottinghamshire. The hon. Gentleman is not smart enough to understand that he is being left out. My hon. Friend sussed that out at the beginning. The Tories are kidding the hon. Member for Nottingham, South on.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

No, get off to the American embassy.

Another reason why we are against the Bill is that we know that it is a review to privatisation, not just of the coal mining industry, but of the electricity industry. Those are all sound political reasons for the Bill. Our argument is not about private Bills, but about political will and the Government wanting to help their own interests. They want to line the pockets of those who have connections with South Africa. The purpose of the Bill is to bring in coal from South Africa, and that will lead to British pits being closed down. As a result, more people will be on the dole and we shall have a bigger balance of payments problem.

The Bill has been an abuse of parliamentary procedure from beginning to end. Every Member on the Labour Benches is opposing this carry-over motion. That opposition does not come only from my hon. Friends who represent the mining industry, but also from those who represent the docks industry. We know that jobs will be lost because of the Bill. We want to save jobs and we want to save money. We also want to ensure that the procedures of the House are not abused in the way in which they have been on this occasion.

Photo of Mr Andrew Stewart Mr Andrew Stewart , Sherwood 8:08 pm, 8th November 1988

This debate gives Members a further opportunity to highlight the dangers to our coal industry if the proposed Humber ports are allowed to proceed. Before proceeding with arguments against the motion, I should like to say that when the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) denigrated the Chairman of the Committee which considered the Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford (Dr. Clark), he did not help our case one bit.

The widespread fear about the Bill is that the new ports will allow the United Kingdom market to be flooded with imports of subsidised coal, much of it possibly dumped on the market. If that took place, it could have a severe effect on the British coal industry, leading to colliery closures.

The supporters of the Bill have told the House of its virtues in job creation, cheaper coal and cheaper electricity, but they have omitted to tell us for how long those conditions will apply. Is it one year, five years or more? Have their memories dimmed so much that they have forgotten the cartel hype in oil prices in 1973, 1979, and 1981, and the fact that our only protection from international blackmail at that time was our coal industry, giving predictable prices to its major buyers in the short and longer term, which no importer of coal will give or can contemplate, considering the fluctuating value of the dollar?

Today's world market coal prices are 40 per cent. higher than a year ago. Since I spoke on Second Reading of the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill on 11 May, prices have risen by 15 per cent—in all, equivalent to a £10 per tonne increase. Therefore, before the House makes an irreversible decision, we should let the past be a guide to the future. It tells us two important facts: first, that indigenous supplies must be available at all times; and, secondly, that they should be at known prices and with fixed long-term contracts. We shall have neither of those things if the ports are built, giving unscrupulous foreign coal producers the opportunity within six months to decimate the industry, with premature colliery closures.

Apart from the human tragedy of job losses, that would liquidate without return the billions of pounds invested on behalf of the British taxpayer in the coal industry.

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

The hon. Gentleman referred to unscrupulous importers. He will be aware that in the past 12 months a substantial quantity of coal has been imported to this country, labelled as Dutch coal produced in the Netherlands. The hon. Gentleman will know well that there are no collieries in the Netherlands and that that coal imported into Britain that is described as Dutch is actually South African. As he has perceived that there is unscrupulous conduct, will the hon. Gentleman join us in asking the Minister to respond to the point that unscrupulous and probably unlawful behaviour has already taken place? Our opposition to the Bill would discourage unscrupulous operators from further dishonesty.

Photo of Mr Andrew Stewart Mr Andrew Stewart , Sherwood

I had better make it clear what I said. I referred to unscrupulous foreign coal producers. There is a difference. One must be careful not to lump all importers into the group that the hon. Gentleman describes. However, the Minister was listening to what the hon. Gentleman said.

I can hear our opponents saying, "So what? British Coal has caused enough trouble in the past 15 years with three strikes, vast expenditure of taxpayers' money and a dangerous exposure of elected Governments to extraparliamentary pressure." It is a straightforward question which deserves a straightforward answer. Those days are behind us for good and the coal industry is back on the road to being a modern and respectable business. The central policy at the heart of everything that British Coal has been doing is the judgment that, if it is to survive, the coal delivered to its United Kingdom customers must match the sustainable price of international coal delivered to United Kingdom users. "Sustainable" means the price that could reasonably remunerate new investment in favourable geological conditions in exporting countries.

The other half of the equation is about bringing our costs down to meet international coal prices as they come back into balance. The transformation in British Coal since the strike is remarkable. The latest productivity figure is up 74 per cent. and our costs are down by over 30 per cent. in real terms. The last time British Coal increased its prices in line with inflation was at the start of 1981. With a further price freeze that means that, in real terms, coal prices will be over 25 per cent. down on four years ago.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

The hon. Gentleman mentioned all the wonderful achievements in the coal industry, which we are all pleased about. The price of coal to the Central Electricity Generating Board is about £42 a tonne compared with £20 to £28 a tonne for imports of coal subsidised by foreign Governments. If that continues, how can we hope to compete?

Photo of Mr Andrew Stewart Mr Andrew Stewart , Sherwood

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. That is why I shall vote against the motion. Within six months, some of our marginal collieries could be closed. Perhaps it will lead to job losses. However, the British coal industry and those who work in it are taking steps to enable us to compete with that imported coal, but not at subsidised prices.

From that experience, it is now possible to look forward to the final stage of the transformation of British Coal. By 1990, British deep-mined coal will compete well with any imported coal, but will it be allowed fair and unfettered competition? I believe not, because the stakes are too high for the exporting countries to allow the British coal industry the time to complete its transformation. For me, the risks not only to the Nottinghamshire and other coalfields, but to those who work in the industry, particularly the 27,000 in Nottinghamshire, are too great. Therefore, I ask the Houe to reject the motion.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield 8:17 pm, 8th November 1988

I take great pride in being called to speak against this bad Bill. It is important to consider the effect on Nottinghamshire if the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill proceeds through the House.

One of the primary reasons why we should not carry the Bill over into the next Session is that, beyond any shadow of a doubt, it is racist. If any Conservative Member doubts that, he should recall the words of a South African Prime Minister, who said that every £1 invested in South Africa was another brick in the wall of apartheid. That will happen if the Bill proceeds. Without any shadow of a doubt, that has been one of the prime motivations for the Bill because if the ports proceed, imported South African coal will take over British Coal's market in the United Kingdom. The Bill seeks purely to secure a major trade route for imported coal into Britain, particularly South African coal. It seeks to undermine current port capacity and takes no account of the effect on the coalfield communities.

Both these private Bills represent purely commercial interests and should not have been taken in the manner in which they have been treated. They will undermine the national interest, with our future dependence on the importation of foreign coal. The Conservative party has a great belief in privatisation. We should remember that the Bills will greatly devalue national assets. We still have many decades of coal supplies left. The value of coal mines, with their plant and machinery and the investments that are being made, will be vastly reduced if the Bills are enacted. Most important of all are the mining communities that have invested their lives in the British coal mining industry.

I should like to refer to an article, which was passed to me recently, that concerns South African coal imports. The article appeared in "SA Coal Insight" and gives a detailed account of the visit made by the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown). The article says:

The aim of this February visit was to provide the delegation with a comprehensive insight into all the issues related to the South African Coal Industry. The ultimate motive was to explain the threat that exists to 30,000 mine workers and 8,000 associated workers through the imposition of sanctions against the coal industry. I want to ask the hon. Gentleman what will happen to the British coal mining industry. Should we not be concerned about that? Some of my hon. Friends have referred to the 76,000 jobs in the mining communities— 50,000 directly in coal mining and 26,000 in subsidiary areas. Those jobs are not in the affluent south, but in the midlands, the north, Wales and Scotland, which already have high levels of unemployment.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

Does my hon. Friend agree that the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart) ought to notify miners in his constituency that the Central Electricity Generating Board's figures show that, of the 19 pits in Nottinghamshire, nine will close? He should tell them that his own Government are pushing through Bills that, if successful, will lead to the closure of nine pits in Nottinghamshire.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

To add to what my hon. Friend has just said, I should like to draw the attention of the House to the unemployment figures for the Mansfield area—which covers Sherwood and parts of Ashfield. Because of Government policies that have been pursued since 1979, there is considerable idle labour in Mansfield. At the moment, 6,224 men and 2,188 women remain idle, so there are now 8,412 people who are unemployed because of the Government's policies. As a result of the Government's trade policy and their inability to act in the textile industry, the largest knitwear manufacturing base in the EEC announced its closure two weeks ago, and a further 850 jobs will disappear.

Let us consider the unemployment figures elsewhere. In Nottinghamshire, 47,500 people are unemployed, in Leicestershire, where there are also coal mines, 25,668 are unemployed, and in Derbyshire the figure is 38,275. The total unemployed in those areas is about 112,000.

The Bills will have a considerable effect on the Nottinghamshire pits. Already, 50 million tonnes of the coal produced in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire goes directly to power stations in the area. It has already been explained that, if the ports are developed, the CEGB will purchase South African and other imported coal. According to the Select Committee on Energy, in the first year, the West Burton area power stations will use 500,000 tonnes of imported coal and in the third year, the figure will he 8 million tonnes. That will lead to 15 pit closures out of the 18 remaining pits in Nottinghamshire.

Photo of Mr Michael Welsh Mr Michael Welsh , Doncaster North

There is another point to be added. If cheap coal comes from South Africa, does it not mean that British Coal will be unable to plan new investment and that investment in new pits will stop because British pits will not have the chance to supply coal? A pit is not like a factory—it cannot close and then open again. The critical path is 10 to 15 years. Therefore one must plan ahead. We shall lose millions of pounds as a nation because of cheap coal. The importers will have their hands on the tap and will be able to turn it on or off to suit themselves, as the oil producers did in the 1950s and 1960s.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

That is absolutely true. I also draw that point to the attention of the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart) and other hon. Members from Nottinghamshire who have turned up to vote against the Bills, and I thank them for coming here.

All the pits in Nottinghamshire that supply power stations will be affected. Blidworth colliery supplies 51 per cent. of its coal direct to power stations, Calverton supplies 80 per cent., O11erton 87 per cent., Thoresby 93 per cent., Creswell 95 per cent., Harworth 97 per cent., Bilsthorpe 98 per cent. and Silverhill 98 per cent. One hundred per cent. of the production at Bevercotes, Cotegrave, Sherwood, Welbeck and Clipstone goes directly to power stations. As the hon. Member for Sherwood knows, six of the pits that I have mentioned have been included, in the past few days, in the review procedure that British Coal is carrying out in the Nottinghamshire area.

Photo of Mr Andrew Stewart Mr Andrew Stewart , Sherwood

That is entirely untrue. The review procedures are not those that the hon. Gentleman has come across before. They are the normal discussions that take place every three months in those collieries. I investigated the matter on Monday, and I was given that assurance by British Coal and the trade unions.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I hope that those assurances are better than the ones that I and other hon. Members have received in the past from British Coal in Nottinghamshire. Undoubtedly, the decision whether to keep open some of those collieries in the near future will be influenced by whether the Bills are passed tonight rather than being carried over into the next Session. Areas such as Mansfield, Bolsover, Chesterfield and parts of south Yorkshire will be faced with utter turmoil and destruction unless the Bills are defeated this evening.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk

Can the hon. Gentleman say with his hand on his heart that the evidence is that there will be a big increase in the volume of imported coal? If the market were able to accept such volumes, it would surely have done so already, as reasonably good facilities exist. What evidence does the hon. Gentleman have?

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I wish that that hon. Gentleman had listened when I referred to the report of the Select Committee on Energy. The CEGB in the West Burton power station group will take 500,000 tonnes in the first year, 2 million tonnes in the second and 8 million tonnes in the third. That will lead to the closure of some of the pits in Nottinghamshire.

If the hon. Gentleman wants other examples, I draw his attention to the imports that are already coming in and to one of the companies that is involved in these Bills—Van Ommeron, the Dutch company which imported into Europe 5·8 million tonnes of South African coal last year, of which 2·9 million tonnes came directly into the United Kingdom. Every tonne of coal that comes into this country puts British mining jobs at risk; no hon. Member can dispute that.

I remember asking the hon. Member for Johannesburg in the previous debate whether he had ever held any position or received any gift from any of the companies involved in the Bill.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think that the hon. Gentleman's question was directed to me. I am the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes, but I presume that the hon. Gentleman was referring to me.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will make that clear. I call Mr. Meale.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. During the past 12 months and more, I have heard the hon. Gentleman's references to South Africa many times, so I automatically assumed that he represented Johannesburg. I apologise for that.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

I was asked why I should be promoting the Bills and what my relationship was with Associated British Ports and the promoters of the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill. I have no position, and I derive not a penny from either company, although I have to admit that I was given lunch at the headquarters of Associated British Ports, when we discussed whether it would be proper for me to sponsor the Bill. The simple reason for my sponsoring the Bills is that the major works involved in both are to take place in my constituency. I would say to my constituents and to members of political parties outside the House that I hope that if there were ever a Labour or a Liberal Member of Parliament for Brigg and Cleethorpes, he too would promote such Bills.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I remind the hon. Gentleman that he accepted a free trip to South Africa. That raises the question whether it is ethical for an hon. Member to accept such a gift when he is a member of a Committee of the House that is discussing related issues. That is the moral question that the House will have to consider, and I only hope that it will make the right decision.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South 8:31 pm, 8th November 1988

The passion felt by Labour Members is clearly not matched by a willingness to put their time and their votes where their words suggest they should. Their opposition may make very good copy for the press and the media as it did in June, but that is about the limit. Words are enough as long as they appear in the paper— [Interruption.] Opposition Members' criticism is that there is an organised lobby. You must look into your own hearts to make up your own minds.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is not speaking to the Chair.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

I apologise, Madam Deputy Speaker. Opposition Members must look into their own hearts and consciences and decide whether their conduct in June matched the passion of their speeches.

As part of the debate about carrying over consideration of the Bills, I think that it is relevant to remind the House that the vote in June was no late-night vote on a Thursday, when one could perhaps have forgiven Scottish and other Labour Members for catching the sleeper home. The vote was taken at 8.29 pm. At that time, early in the evening, only 63 hon. Members voted against Second Reading and 11 were Conservative Members. I shall not waste the time of the House by reading out the list, but I suggest that the absence of the other 150 Labour Members should be a matter of shame for them.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

Will the hon. Gentleman also inform the Nottinghamshire newspapers that the Government shoved the measure through by the payroll vote?

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

That is one of the defences that Labour Members have put around to try to cover their tracks on that disgraceful affair.

That night, to my certain knowledge, three Conservative Members who voted against Second Reading were Parliamentary Private Secretaries. They had a clear undertaking that the Government took no position and that they were perfectly free to vote as they chose. There is no way that the Government can be accused of wheeling out the payroll vote.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

Will the hon. Gentleman comment on a conversation that took place between the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science and the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) in the Tea Room earlier today? The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes was asked about the whipping arrangements for this business and said, "It is whipped but we are supposed to be keeping that quiet." It is a two-line Whip for Ministers, is it not?

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) can speak for himself, although it is fair to say that if one is sponsoring a private Bill, one will use every method in one's power to get the minimum 100 people into the Chamber. I know that my hon. Friend was almost soiling his pants in June because, if the debate had gone on for another 15 or 20 minutes, Conservative Members who did not have strong views would already have been on their way home and he would not have succeeded in getting the closure motion passed. Only 95 Conservative Members voted for Second Reading 15 minutes after the closure motion was passed. That proves the point that the Tories had begun to go home. The greater shame was that only 35—

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

It is true. The record shows that only 35 voted against, and 11 of those were Conservative Members. That seems to suggest that only 20 passionate supporters of the coal industry on the Labour Benches bothered to stay later than 8.30 pm that night.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk

Is my hon. Friend aware that a number of those Labour Members present tonight were not among that number? Is that not extraordinary?

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

Will the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo) give way?

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

Yes. I agree to give way, but we shall go on all night at this rate.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

Will the hon. Gentleman grant that Parliament is not just about going through the Lobbies? It is about debate. Debate is supposed to be an important part of our proceedings, especially in connection with private Bills, as hon. Members may be persuaded by such debate. On the Conservative Benches, the debate has involved the four hon. Members who have spoken tonight, the Minister and the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Alexander). The Labour Benches have been full of hon. Members who have wished to involve themselves in the debate but who have been prevented from doing so by the pressure of time. At the end of each of the five debates, Labour Members have been jumping to their feet seeking to catch Mr. Speaker's eye.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

It is also worth pointing out that only one senior Minister was here that night in June. Of course the House is about debate. Labour Members must surely concede that the understandable passion displayed in June—and again tonight, by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner)— should have been matched by action and that more than 20 Labour Members should have bothered to stay behind to defend the mining industry. That is a matter of shame for Labour Members. Certainly you may—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. The hon. Gentleman is not addressing the Chair.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

I beg your pardon, Madam Deputy Speaker. Labour Members may criticise Conservative Members for voting to give the Bill its Second Reading, but a substantial number of Conservative Members want free enterprise. They want competition from imports and argue that the lower electricity prices that will ensue will be better for other industries, which might create more jobs. Those are the arguments advanced by Conservative Members in favour of the Bill. For all the debate and for all the arguments and passion from the Labour Benches, only 20-odd Labour Members bothered to be there to vote in June. That is a matter of shame.

Throughout the debates on these Bills, the South African connection has damaged the Opposition's case more than it has helped it. I understand the arguments about the Dutch connection. It always puzzles me to hear from Opposition Members that ours is the only country in Europe which is sympathetic to South Africa; they go on to say that the Dutch are sending us relabelled South African coal. That seems a little contradictory. I remind the House of the careful and well reasoned speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester), who said that South African coal is of minor consequence and is not the main argument used by those of us who oppose the Bill. As my hon. Friend said, the real threat is from opencast coal from Colombia, Australia and China, which is to be sold as a means of earning hard currency—

Photo of Ronnie Campbell Ronnie Campbell , Blyth Valley

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, because of sanctions, South Africa has been losing 9 million or 10 million tonnes a year in sales? Somehow those losses must be made up—hence these coal Bills, which are designed to create another market for South African coal.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

The hon. Gentleman misses the point. I am not disputing whether we should import coal from South Africa. I acknowledge the arguments on both sides. My point is that Conservative Members representing Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire believe that South African coal is a minor part of our opposition to the Bill. The greater threat of imports is from Colombia, Australia and China, and we should be concentrating on that.

I understand the remarks made by the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) about racism, but I am trying to leave that out of the debate—

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

The hon. Gentleman, of all people, should understand racism.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

—and not for the reason given by that silly man. I beg your pardon, Madam Deputy Speaker, but Conservative Members are being criticised and personally insulted for not going along with the knee-jerk reactions of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), who calls us pro-South African.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I understand that tempers are running high on this matter, but hon. Members should be addressed correctly.

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

The hon. Gentleman has referred to me in scathing terms. My hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) talked about racism. We know that the black South African workers support sanctions. They are poor people, hounded into compounds, who produce cheap coal with which our miners cannot possibly compete. If the hon. Gentleman supports that system but denies that it is racist, let him square that with his conscience.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

I do not seek to deny or challenge any of those points, but by focusing almost exclusively on the importation of South African coal, via Rotterdam or anywhere else, Opposition Members undermine the case we are trying to make.

Conservative Members have other reasons—

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

Granted, but the main thrust of our argument is that Colombian, Australian and Chinese coal will enter this country. That is why we oppose the Bill; the South African connection may be an additional reason for opposition. In speech after speech, Opposition Members have attempted to make a virility symbol of their attitudes to South Africa, which undermines their case—

Photo of Mrs Alice Mahon Mrs Alice Mahon , Halifax

I am a little confused about the hon. Gentleman's reference to Colombia, a country in which there is a human rights crisis. Fewer than six lawyers are left to defend trade unionists there. Would you expound on that a little?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. The hon. Lady should address her remarks through the Chair.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

I cannot comment on that point, but the hon. Lady is making my case for me. The position of labour in Colombia is appalling, which is why its coal is priced far below a sum that could be called the result of fair pricing. British Coal is faced with unfair competition from Colombian coal. That is why I oppose the Bill and hope that enough hon. Members will enter the No Lobby to ensure that it is not passed.

Photo of Mr George Buckley Mr George Buckley , Hemsworth 8:48 pm, 8th November 1988

The hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo) concentrated his arguments on the shortcomings of Opposition Members who have not voted against the Bill after previous debates. I remind him that he must also criticise Conservative Members who support the Bill in spite of all the things that he has said. They support unfair competition and apartheid coal from South Africa. They support the running down of British Coal and an increase in unemployment. They support the waste of capital investment by British Coal in this country. The hon. Gentleman should criticise his hon. Friends for that support.

We base our opposition on the impact that the proposals will have on, and their economic consequences for, our constituencies. The hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Bellingham) spoke of the Bill's importance to King's Lynn and reminded us that in a previous debate he had said that the Bill would generate about 100 jobs in his constituency. I commend the hon. Gentleman for promoting the interests of his constituents, even though unemployment in his area is only 6·5 per cent., but I remind him that we in the mining communities suffer from unemployment that is three times as high.

In Hemsworth, unemployment is currently 18 to 20 per cent. Historically, the constituency has depended on coal mining. This week British Coal announced that 1,000 more mining jobs are at risk, on top of the 11,000 that have been lost in Wakefield metropolitan district area in the past five years. So the South African connection must not be seen in isolation from its direct consequences for people in our constituencies, who will suffer if the Bill is passed.

Photo of Mr David Hinchliffe Mr David Hinchliffe , Wakefield

Is my hon. Friend aware of the consequences for the mining engineering supplies industry, which is still a major employer in my constituency? So far this year, 253 jobs have been destroyed in that industry. Does he agree that it is a disgrace and a gross misuse of Parliament that the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) should represent the interests of a Fascist regime, so helping to create jobs and assist economic development in that Fascist regime at the expense of places such as Wakefield?

Photo of Mr George Buckley Mr George Buckley , Hemsworth

I thank my hon. Friend for making that important point. Reference has been made to this measure allowing 10 million tonnes of coal to be imported, possibly making 40,000 miners redundant, and now my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) has added another dimension by drawing attention to the knock-on effect on the mining engineering supplies industry.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

My hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Buckley) is making an excellent speech. Does he agree that the general multiplier is three, and that if the jobs of 40,000 miners are at stake, that means the total number at risk will be about 120,000, as jobs in the service and supply industries will also disappear? Unquestionably, some of them will be in the small firms about which the Tories are supposed to be concerned. Nevertheless, Conservative Members intend voting in a way that will squash those small firms.

Photo of Mr George Buckley Mr George Buckley , Hemsworth

I accept the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer).

This matter is not only political; it affects the country's economy. The Bill will be to the detriment not only of mining communities, such as Hemsworth, but of other areas of the country, as has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield. The Prime Minister persistently claims that she and her Government are backing Britain, whereas they are undermining the British economy, and the mining industry in particular, by obtaining the approval of the House for this Bill. There seems to be a conflict of policy because the Government appear to be pursuing a line that will jeopardise our mining industry in the not-too-distant future.

One of the problems confronting British Coal is that it was encouraged by numerous Governments to undertake high investment in order to improve bulk output. As a consequence of the run-down in manpower, that investment has become increasingly critical. At the point where that investment is about to provide the bulk coal that our country requires, the Government, with this Bill, will provide facilities that will vastly increase coal imports.

Photo of Mr Eddie Loyden Mr Eddie Loyden , Liverpool, Garston

Is this not the point to distinguish between the arguments advanced from the Government Benches and those made by the Opposition? I represent a constituency where there is an Associated British port, but I am not looking to make that argument tonight.

My hon. Friends have questioned the validity of the introduction of the Bill. It has wide implications for and will influence a number of industries. We are arguing the broader case for the mining industry. Conservative Members make only the narrow argument —respected though it may be at some time—for constituency interests rather than for the broader interests that we represent.

Photo of Mr George Buckley Mr George Buckley , Hemsworth

I take my hon. Friend's point.

It ill behoves Conservative Members to criticise the lack of Opposition support for this measure. The question is whether Conservative Members are prepared to support a general view rather than the narrow one of those who are promoting the Bill.

Photo of Mr George Buckley Mr George Buckley , Hemsworth

The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) will be able to make his comments later.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

No, I shall not, as I have already spoken.

Photo of Mr George Buckley Mr George Buckley , Hemsworth

As the hon. Gentleman has already made his points, he must give me an opportunity to comment on the Bill that he is sponsoring. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate the conventions of the House. He must give others an opportunity to make their points.

The argument is so wide that it will have far-reaching consequences beyond the economics of mining communities. Local authorities, for example, will also feel the consequences, as they will suffer a loss of revenue resulting from colliery closures. Local authorities' economics will also be undermined by the Bill.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

Will it not also undermine British Coal's economics? One of the obligations revealed during the miners' strike was that the recovery and rehabilitation of colliery sites is a continuing cost against British Coal's revenue. Colliery closures will compound the situation, as it will make the price per tonne extracted from the remaining pits even higher.

Photo of Mr George Buckley Mr George Buckley , Hemsworth

I agree with my hon. Friend.

The House should not take lightly the economic consequences of these two Bills being carried over to the next Session. They will be dramatic and devastating for mining communities and for the country as a whole.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield 8:57 pm, 8th November 1988

I may inform you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that you missed a first-class contribution earlier this evening from my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner).

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

Obviously, I hit the wrong mark.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover hit every nail on the head. [Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) will listen. He is busy gasbagging to the Whip instead of listening to this important and serious debate on whether the ports should be allowed to continue and to expand at the expense, probably, of the mining industry.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

I have only just started—sit down!

I want to say right at the outset that I am opposed to the proposal to carry over into the next Session the two private Bills that we are debating. I am opposed for a number of reasons.

The hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart) has got it wrong. He does not understand what is going on. He will vote with us tonight, but he does not understand what is going on. He has not worked in the mining industry. He has pushed a plough, tilling the land in the north of Nottinghamshire. I admit that I know nothing about farming, but I know something about coal mining and I know what we are talking about tonight.

The hon. Member for Sherwood came to this place in 1983 after serving for a short period on Nottinghamshire county council organising swings and roundabouts for kids. That is the work he has done out there in Nottinghamshire. That was his only interest—leisure.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

No, I will not give way.

In days, months and years gone by, my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover has regularly told the Prime Minister at the Dispatch Box about the money that has been poured into the farmers' pockets, and that is still going on.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. Other hon. Members want to speak. The hon. Gentleman has made his contribution, although he made a mess of it. He did not say the right things because he does not understand. He is a groveller too.

Photo of Mr Andrew Stewart Mr Andrew Stewart , Sherwood

The hon. Gentleman does not want to hear the truth.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I would be much obliged if the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr Haynes) would refer to the motion.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

I am trying hard to, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The hon. Member for Sherwood need not wave his hand at me. I shall say what I want to say in this debate. We recently debated Health Service charges that will affect many miners in my constituency who have worked in the pits for as many years as I have and were trying to enjoy certain social security benefits.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

That was the end result of what the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo) did last week—I shall drag him in as well—when both voted in favour of Health Service charges. They then told the Nottingham Evening Post, "We had to do it. We might have lost our jobs as Parliamentary Private Secretaries."

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I remind the hon. Member for Ashfield once more that the carry-over motion relates to a particular Bill and I hope that he will respect the wishes of the Chair and relate his remarks to the motion.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

I shall try to do so. I was provoked by the hon. Member for Sherwood and the hon. Member for Nottingham, South—well, one of them anyway.

I am opposed to the carry-over motion simply because of the effect that it will have in my constituency in particular and elsewhere, such as Bolsover, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Yorkshire. It will have a serious effect in Yorkshire. No Conservative Member has mentioned Yorkshire. This will have a serious effect on the Yorkshire coal mining industry and that hon. Gentleman from—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I have appealed to hon Members before this evening. While I am in the Chair, hon. Members will be referred to correctly.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

—the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes. You did not let me finish, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

No, I shall not give way. Other colleagues of mine want to speak. The hon. Gentleman is not going to cover for those Conservatives who are not here. Plenty of Opposition Members want to speak in this debate.

I shall be interested to hear what the new Minister of State has to say on this. He has not spoken at the Dispatch Box on this matter before.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

I did not know that the Minister did not intend to respond to the debate. I am shocked. What is he doing here, if he is not going to respond?

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

I share my hon. Friend's concern that the Minister is not going to respond. For months and months on private Bills, Ministers have unfailingly risen to the Dispatch Box to announce the Government's absolute neutrality. We have then watched Conservative Members trooping through the Aye Lobby. Will we be saved from that rather preposterous and frequent precedent that has been established? Will the Minister at least intervene, if only briefly, to explain the matter of the false labelling of South African coal coming into British ports, as we fear that South African coal will continue to be brought into the new ports?

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

I appears that the Minister is not going to respond to my hon. Friend, but I am not going on about that. The Minister has made it pretty obvious that he is not going to respond.

Photo of Mr Andrew Stewart Mr Andrew Stewart , Sherwood

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

No, I am not giving way. Sit down. [Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

I am entitled to make a speech. I have been called by the Chair. The hon. Gentleman has made his speech; he must sit down and listen to what is going on.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. I am sure that he will agree that it is a great pity that the Minister will not reply to the debate. For example, the Minister could have outlined the difficulties which the Bills will create for the coal industry, for the engineering supply industry, and for the railway industry, as they will encourage the closures which the Tories have lined up anyhow.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

My serious worry is that there used to be nine pits in my constituency, and there are now four. It has been agreed that one of those pits is closing next year, and now we are having a review. The hon. Member for Sherwood does not understand what goes on in a review as far as the bosses in the mining industry are concerned.

I have been in the mining industry 35 years. My hon. Friends have served in that industry for many years and they know what a review is all about. They have been officials at pit level, they have been involved in negotiations, and they have tried to persuade the board not to go in the direction that it wanted to take. The hon. Member for Sherwood does not understand what is going on. There is another review and there will be further pit closures in Nottinghamshire if we are not very careful, and if British Coal has its way.

The hon. Gentleman may wag his head but he still does not know what is going on. If British Coal decides to close the pits, there will be serious opposition from Opposition Members and in the constituencies where those pits are, yet the Bill does not help the situation at all—it makes it worse, as my hon. Friends have said. I hope that as many hon. Members as possible vote against it.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I ask your advice on an important question? When an hon. Member makes disparaging remarks about another hon. Member and comments adversely on his conduct and knowledge, surely it is incumbent on that hon. Member to give way when the hon. Member who is being criticised and attacked stands up?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I understand the hon. Member's point of order. It is for the hon. Member who has the Floor to decide whether he gives way. Usually, in a challenge such as that, hon. Members give way, but it is entirely for the hon. Member who has the Floor to determine whether he will do that.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

Further to that point of order, Miss Boothroyd. I have been following the proceedings very carefully, and I have noticed your very good-tempered conduct of the House. My hon. Friend's speech was continuously marred by Conservative Members standing up and shouting. Therefore, I hope that you will suitably deprecate the behaviour of these lager louts, these pin-striped hooligans—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. If the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) had been as attentive as he usually is, he would have seen that I am very keen to ensure that hon. Members who are not being given the floor are asked to resume their seats.

Photo of Ronnie Campbell Ronnie Campbell , Blyth Valley 9:08 pm, 8th November 1988

It is important that we stress the fact that we are debating the coal industry along with the Bill. We are debating one of Britain's biggest assets in energy—coal. We have more coal in this country than we have oil or gas. There are 300 years of coal supplies in this country. From the way in which the Government are trying to import foreign coal, one would think that we had no coal at all. Also, one would not realise that since the miners' strike the miners have increased their productivity by at least 60 per cent.

Photo of Mr Andrew Stewart Mr Andrew Stewart , Sherwood

Seventy-four per cent.

Photo of Ronnie Campbell Ronnie Campbell , Blyth Valley

That is even better. One would not think that while listening to Conservative Members.

The Government are importing coal from countries such as Poland, South Africa, China, Colombia, Venezuela, Indonesia and others. I would hazard a guess that not one of those countries is stable. Yet the Government want to bring in 30 million tonnes of coal, with the loss of many miners' jobs. It means that in the northern region—it is on record—there will be only two pits left. This is not the only Bill. We know that there will be more to come. We know that Bills affecting Teesside and Southampton are due. We know that the coal will come to Britain at the whim of countries such as South Africa—and we have all heard about apartheid.

The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) may have had a pleasant trip to South Africa, but, if he is so concerned about his constituency, he should visit the areas that will lose jobs, particularly Nottingham. He should go with his hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart) and visit a pit and tell the miners what he is trying to achieve in this Bill.

As well as being at the mercy of the unstable countries, we are at the mercy of the dollar. If the dollar falls or rises, the price of foreign coal becomes unstable. That is a problem that the Government have to sort out, but they cannot.

We know that the pits will close because Tory Members will troop through the Lobbies tonight. They have a two-line Whip. Several hon. Members have been excused so that they can go back to their constituencies and say that they did not vote for the Bill— [Interruption.] It is true.

This progressive and most radical Government—that is what they call themselves—will close the pits and see thousands of miners lose their jobs and thousands of communities hurt yet again. I went through the review with my pit. I won the review, but the Government still closed the pit.

Photo of Mr Andrew Stewart Mr Andrew Stewart , Sherwood

The collieries mentioned in the local evening paper last week are not in the review. It is the local three-monthly review, endorsed by British Coal and the local trade unions.

Photo of Ronnie Campbell Ronnie Campbell , Blyth Valley

If they are not in the review now, it wil not be long before they are. That will happen when the coal starts to come into the country and when the men from Associated British Ports get cracking on other ports. That is the danger.

My constituency held the record for exporting coal to Europe in the 1950s, but there is talk of changing the harbour to receive coal from abroad. We have heard about bringing coals to Newcastle. The Government are certainly doing that.

The Government are decimating the coal industry. It has been said by some Ministers, including the Prime Minister, that miners have to stand on their own two feet. The Government are saying to British miners, "Stand on your own two feet while we bring in cheap coal." The importation of cheap coal will destroy our mining industry. Closing a pit is not like closing a factory. Some Conservative members think that a coal mine is a factory that can be stopped by pressing a button. They think that after a couple of years another button can be pressed and the pit will start up again. Once a mine is closed, it is finished and cannot be opened again.

If our mining industry is destroyed, coal prices will be at the whim of the countries that I have mentioned, such as South Africa and China. Those countries will do what the Arabs did in the 1950s. At that time the Arabs were living in tents and had cheap oil for export. Britain's whole economy was built on cheap oil. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) spoke about that. I remember what happened in the 1950s when the Arabs decided that they no longer wanted to live in tents. Oil prices rocketed. As soon as our mining industry has been destroyed, foreign producers will push up their prices and we shall he at the beck and call of the countries that I have mentioned.

The Prime Minister was in Poland last week. What a country to rely on for coal! She was hardly out of the country when Lech Walesa called for a general strike. There will be more strikes there, yet the Government seek to rely on coal from that part of Europe. Coal comes to the spot market and is mixed. The mixture is described as coal from the Netherlands, but we know that it is a mixture of Polish and South African coal and coal from other countries. It is all dumped and then mixed and sold as Netherlands coal.

In my maiden speech a year ago, I said that the Government were out to wreck the coal industry. Perhaps they are trying to do that out of malice. I have the gut feeling that they want to destroy the coal industry. They should heed the warning given by the Opposition in this debate. They risk severe economic problems not only because of imported coal but because industry will have to pay higher prices for coal. I gave that warning in my maiden speech and I give it again. The Government will decimate the British coal industry at their peril. The Prime Minister is directing that destruction, and she is wrong.

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley , Barnsley Central 9:17 pm, 8th November 1988

Like my hon. Friends, I oppose the motions which would allow the two private Bills to go into the next Session. There are numerous reasons why the Bills should be withdrawn or discontinued. Some of them have already been given in this debate and others were given on Second Reading.

On Second Reading I asked about the identity of the promoters of the Bills. The matter was raised on Second Reading by my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, North (Mr. Welsh) who is in the Chamber. He said that he could not identify the company promoting the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill. Throughout the following debates, and to some extent in Committee, no light has been thrown on the identity of the company. In Committee the issue appears to have been clouded even further by the introduction of the names of other companies connected with the Bills.

Two companies recently mentioned in connection with the Bills are the Killingholme Wharf Company and the Immingham Storage Company. Apparently these are subsidiaries of the Central Oil Refinery Company. We are led to believe that it is a promoter because it is named in the Bill. Those companies are subsidiaries of the Chemicals and Oil Storage Management Company, which in turn is a subsidiary of Simon Storage Group Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Simon Engineering and members of the Simon Group. The Simon Group is a massive multi-million pound company that obviously has interests in all manner of things. Added to that, we have heard that there is a partnership involved—a partnership between the various companies that I have just mentioned and a company called B.V. Schieveem, a Dutch company, which in turn is a subsidiary of a company by the name of Van Ommeron UK, which is a subsidiary of Van Ommeron Ceteco.

These are just a few of the companies whose names have been linked with the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill, either as promoters or subsidiaries of promoters. I understand from my reading of the Committee proceedings that still further companies are involved in the Bill. It is extremely difficult to keep track of all the companies, particularly as only two of them are mentioned in the Bill. I suggest that both the Bills should not be carried over into the next Session until the House receives some information as to the exact identity of the promoters, some exact reference to their relationship with other companies involved in the promotion of the Bill, and some identification of the foreign element and foreign input in the Bill, which is not even mentioned. Nowhere in the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill is Van Ommeron mentioned. I venture the opinion that the promoters of the Bill are happy to maintain that confusion.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

The hon. Gentleman has referred to confusion, which I freely concede occurred in Committee one day last week. If he wants to be sure about the full reason why there was that confusion, all he has to do is to get hold of a transcript of the proceedings of last Thursday, and he will see a statement by the promoters' principal witness which clearly shows, certainly to the satisfaction of the Committee, exactly what happened. A number of the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends were in the Public Gallery with me. It was a straightforward matter that was put before the Committee.

Photo of Mr Martin Redmond Mr Martin Redmond , Don Valley

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. How can the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) prejudge what the Committee will decide unless he is privy to information that I do not have?

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley , Barnsley Central

I appreciate the comments made by the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown). I have considered the Committee proceedings in some detail and tried to elicit the true identity of the companies involved. I believe that I am getting closer and closer, but every day more and more companies are introduced. The Bills are unclear about the identity of the companies involved and silent about the international involvement, so perhaps they should be taken away and redrafted, either next Session or in a later Session, so that this information can be provided.

Photo of Mr Michael Welsh Mr Michael Welsh , Doncaster North

We still cannot find out who is the owner. Are we to allow a compulsory purchase order to be applied when we do not know who desires it?

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley , Barnsley Central

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. As I pointed out on Second Reading, the Bill seeks to grant not only powers of compulsory purchase but powers to dump into the River Humber. Furthermore, the power to delegate those powers to successor companies is to be granted. The Bill is designed to allow the company at the end of the chain to disguise its operation completely and to hide its intentions regarding the works on the River Humber.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) referred earlier to the Chairman of the Committee. I am pleased that the hon. Member for Rochford (Dr. Clark) is in his place, as he is the Chairman of the Committee. However, he is also the parliamentary consultant to the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

The hon. Members for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) and for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) have now called into question the integrity of one of my colleagues who, by parliamentary convention, is unable to rise in his own defence. My hon. Friend, who fought Ilkeston a few years ago, was born and brought up in Nottinghamshire and is sympathetic to many of the comments made by Nottinghamshire colleagues on this side of the House, so criticism of him is misplaced.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. As was explained earlier, the Examiners are perfectly satisfied with the chairmanship of that Committee and that the documents were signed in accordance with propriety. The hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) should not continue to refer to that matter.

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley , Barnsley Central

I wish to clear up one or two points that were raised in that last exchange. I am not calling into question the integrity of the hon. Member for Rochford. That has been done, but not by me. The multiplicity of companies involved in the Bill place the hon. Gentleman in a position of some embarrassment because, in his capacity as parliamentary consultant to the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association, it is possible that, without his knowledge, he could be compromised by an application by any of those companies. [Interruption.] I was not seeking to call into question the hon. Gentleman's integrity, but simply to point out that he might have been compromised without his knowledge.

There are other reasons why the Bill should not be carried over into the next Session and why the motion should be rejected this evening. The Bills will enable the ports to handle coal. The evidence before the Committee confirms that fact. The Bills will simply increase the number of coal imports down the River Humber and the total number of imports into this country when British Coal is about to break even at the end of this financial year. We hope that British Coal is about to wipe out a considerable deficit and be profitable by next April. The corporation must be profitable next year because the Secretary of State has intimated that he will sell it off and privatise the industry. Obviously, he cannot do that unless it is profitable.

We should be promoting British coal, rather than improving the facilities for importing coal into this country. It has been stated that about 30 million tonnes of coal come into this country. I would place that figure about 20 million tonnes higher. The CEGB estimate of 30 million tonnes was made in 1986. That estimate has now been revised to 50 million tonnes.

We must also bear in mind the forthcoming privatisation of the electricity supply industry. That will have a considerable effect on the coal industry and will also bear some relation to these Bills. Those responsible for generating electricity will be able to cash in on the Secretary of State's assertions that, when the electricity industry is privatised, they will be able to purchase coal from whatever source they see fit.

The influx of imported coal will increase world prices and remove the very advantage that the Bills are seeking to secure. The British coal industry will be damaged and pressure will be brought to bear on our balance of payments, which is in a sorry state already. By the end of the century our increased electricity requirements will mean that we shall need more coal-fired power stations. These stations should be fuelled by British coal, not imported coal.

Statements have been made this week and last week to the effect that we need more nuclear power stations. Those assertions have been dismissed by the Department of Energy. Instead, we shall be looking to smaller coal-fired power stations. The nuclear power industry will suffer from the privatisation of the electricity supply industry. The Government have decided to withdraw funding for two research projects into the fast breeder reactor and the fission programme. Nuclear power will be unattractive to investors in future; hence the need to place a 20 per cent. ring fence around it.

British Coal should be encouraged in its efforts to achieve profitability. It appears to be Opposition Members who are promoting a "buy British" or "support Britain" policy.

Photo of Mr Martin Redmond Mr Martin Redmond , Don Valley

Does my hon. Friend agree that those of us who are seeking to promote the interests of British Coal and the British people are patriotic and that those who are seeking to promote foreign interests are less patriotic?

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley , Barnsley Central

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend.

A multiplicity of companies and a huge range of facilities lie behind the proposals that are set out in the Bills. There is a fear that there could be a turnkey contract. For example, Simon Engineering and its subsidiaries could build a power station on the Killingholme site—it has already been identified by the CEGB as a possible site for a power station—and that could encourage imports. That could result in many companies becoming involved in the building and running of a power station that would use imported coal.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 9:33 pm, 8th November 1988

We have heard eloquent speeches by Conservative Members in support of the motion. The Minister has not uttered one word during the debate—

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

Perhaps my hon. Friend's silence could be described as one of the best speeches of the evening.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

It is the best speech that we have heard from the Government Dispatch Box.

If the Minister does not intend to make any comment about the merits of the Bill or those of the motion, perhaps he will clarify whether the Government are supporting the Bill, or whether they are neutral. Will we not see any member of the payroll vote supporting the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown)? Would the Minister care to intervene to tell the House where the Government stand? Whenever private Bills come before the House, the Government speak the language of neutrality while voting in support of the promoters, such as the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes and his South African friends. If the Minister wishes to intervene now, I shall be happy to let him do so.

Photo of Mr Michael Portillo Mr Michael Portillo , Enfield, Southgate

The hon. Gentleman is right to ask about the Government's views on the carry-over motion. The Government believe that the motion should be supported. That will provide the opportunity for this important Bill to continue to be discussed.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

Let me remind the Minister of what the Joint Select Committee on Private Bill Procedure said about carry-over motions. Members of the Minister's party as well as mine were on the Committee. The report concluded that, in principle, private Bills, like public Bills, must obtain Royal Assent within a single Session of Parliament to become law. The report quotes from the Chairman of Committees, who considered that in recent years the carry-over facility had come to be abused. It says: He thought it right that a bill should be carried over if its progress is being impeded for reasons unconnected with its merits"—

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

The hon. Gentleman should listen carefully. If, as he has said, the Bill's promoters and he are in full agreement with the report. I hope that he will withdraw his support for the motion.

The Chairman of Committees continued: if a private bill is so controversial that progress cannot be made on it (or is not being made on it because the promoters are trying to avoid a long drawn-out Committee stage). I question whether it is reasonable for it to continue from Session to Session". The Committee recognised the concern of the Chairman of Committees that the facility should not be abused, and it recognised that it was being abused when Bills were politically contentious, as this one is. The Committee recommended:

henceforth it should only be in the most exceptional circumstances that a private bill should be allowed to continue its passage through Parliament for more than two Sessions. A private bill should be expected to complete its progress within a single Session". That is in black and white in the report that the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes claimed to support. It he has any integrity, he will now tell the House that he accepts that the motion is inappropriate. But he has no intention of doing that, or of supporting the report.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

I did not put down the motion. It appeared this morning on the Order Paper in the name of the Chairman of Ways and Means. I saw it, thought that it was a good idea and spoke in favour of it.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

Even at this late stage, I feel confident that if the promoters of the Bill said that they were withdrawing their support, the Chairman of Ways and Means would not wish to continue with the motion. The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes can help us by telling his hon. Friends that the carry-over will be opposed, not only by the few who are afraid of constituency majorities in Nottingham, but those like the Minister, who supported the Bill on Second Reading, and his Front-Bench colleagues of the time.

The same applies to the Prime Minister, who is at the centre of this expedition. It must be unprecedented for any Prime Minister of any Government to use the full might of parliamentary procedure to force through a Bill that will do so much damage to British jobs in the mining community for so much gain for the private speculators and the foreign coal industry.

The Government are determined to reward their South African friends. The Prime Minister's Ten o'clock motion allows this private business to be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour. For the Prime Minister to be present to support the Bill and force it through by procedural means is a scandal. The Bill is massively contentious politically. All my hon. Friends who have spoken have done so on behalf of their communities and the jobs that will be decimated if the Bill is passed. We have heard nothing from Conservative Members, even the Nottingham apologists, about the real interests affected by the Bill.

No Labour Member has walked through the Division Lobby in support of the Bi11, while the overwhelming majority of Conservatives have done so. We are used to watching the honourable hypocrites on the Conservative Benches walking through the Lobby, or threatening to—

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

The hon. Gentleman used the words "honourable hypocrites" about Conservative Members. I think that that is unparliamentary.— [Interruption.]

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I want to answer the point of order. Although the term "hypocrite" is one that I deprecate, when used in general it is acceptable according to the practice of the House.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

I place on record the fact that I, too, deprecate the term "hypocrite". The Opposition are a little tired of listening to Conservative Members with their bleeding hearts, pretending that they have a conscience, when they feel that there is an electoral advantage. However, we see those same hon. Gentlemen prepared to vote to get rid of child benefit, to vote to keep this Government in power and to vote on any other issue that tramples on the jobs and interests of the people whom the Opposition represent. We are used to seeing those hon. Gentlemen do that, so we will take no lessons from them, under any circumstances.

This debate goes to the core of the distinction between the two political parties. My hon. Friends have consistently supported and spoken in favour of the maintenance of jobs in the coal mining industry and of jobs in industries far wider afield. My constituency has long tradition of engineering, and it used to supply switchgear equipment to the mining industry. That switchgear industry has been decimated because of the failure of the Government to invest in our native industry. When Conservative Members are prepared to see, not just the destruction of jobs, in the mining industry, in the transport industry and in the engineering industry, but the destruction of whole communities, we are entitled to ask whose side they are on.

The report of the Joint Select Committee on Private Bill Procedure talked about the need for an environmental impact assessment. It came out on Second Reading that the constituency of the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes will have rumbling through its streets 800 extra lorries every day. I believe that that is a suitable subject for the sort of environmental impact study recommended by the Select Committee.

There are all the arguments in the world for the Bill not being carried over, such as that the Joint Select Committee's report can be debated, so that we can have the environmental impact study and determine whether that is the proper way forward. The constituents of the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes are entitled to the sort of protection, which would be given as a result of that study, but which is not being given to them by their Member of Parliament.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

The Labour-controlled Humberside county council commissioned a study by Coopers and Lybrand when my constituency was threatened with the possibility of nuclear waste being disposed there. It was a Labour authority that commissioned that study with a view to suggesting that there might be alternative uses for the land around the CEGB site that was to be nominated for nuclear waste disposal. The Humberside Labour-controlled county council backed the report, which recommended that there should be an improvement in dock facilities. On those grounds, the hon. Gentleman's party should disagree with the environmental impact study that he has just recommended.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

I was referring to the recommendation made in the report of the Joint Select Committee, which the hon. Gentleman has already said he supports.

If I can go beyond the area covered by the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes, why can we not have an employment impact study? Why should we not have a proper study of the employment consequences of the Bill? Opposition Members have already said that 76,000 jobs in the mining industry and countless jobs outside that industry will be affected by the Bill. Why should the House not have an acceptable assessment of the employment impact, and not just the pious hope of the 100 jobs that the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Bellingham) mentioned? I accept that the 100 jobs in King's Lynn are valuable, but they cannot be weighed in the balance against the 76,000 jobs that my hon. Friends have sought to defend tonight.

We gave the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West the opportunity to come out of the debate with dignity when we told him that he could have a Bill that would help his port. However, instead of wanting to pursue the interests of his port and the interests of my hon. Friends, the hon. Gentleman chose to support the interests of the South African coal industry and those of his hon. Friends.

Photo of Mr Lawrence Cunliffe Mr Lawrence Cunliffe , Leigh

The hon. Gentleman has been paid off.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

As my hon. Friend has said, there may have been some sort of pay-off. I do not know, because, of course, we are used to a Government who reward their members through the political patronage system.

The impact of the Bill is far too great to allow it to be carried over tonight. We should accept the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee, which suggest that the carry-over motion is totally inappropriate. For that reason, I shall support my hon. Friends in their opposition to it.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle 9:44 pm, 8th November 1988

We have spent some three and a half hours debating the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill and six hours on the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill. The House has had the opportunity to consider both sides of the argument. After a long deliberation, the House decided to give the Bills a Second Reading and they were referred to a Committee. They have been dealt with most assiduously by that Committee, and I am sure that my hon. Friends would like me to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford (Dr. Clark) for the work that he has done on that Committee.

I believe that nothing will be gained by voting down the carry-over motions tonight. All that would happen is that the Bills would go back to square one. I appreciate that the Neanderthal elements on the Opposition Benches, who are opposed to free trade at any cost, are using every parliamentary tactic in the book—filibustering and so on —to defeat the Bills.

We believe that the Bills should be given a fair wind. We believe that it is only right and fair that those people who wish to oppose the Bills should go to the Committee and petition it. Under the assiduous chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford, both sides of the argument will be heard. That is the fair and right way. It is not right for Labour Members to try to use parliamentary tactics to defeat the Bills. The House has made its decision that the Bills should go to Committee.

In support of the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill I believe that I can do no better than quote the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown). I am sure that the House would want to pay tribute to him for the fair, careful and highly intelligent manner in which he introduced it.

Opposition Members continually state that North Killingholme will be used to import South African coal, but that is a red herring. On 22 June 1988, my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes said: The import and export traffic will be in bulk commodities, which include grain"—[Official Report, 22 June 1988; Vol. 135, c. 1183.]

Photo of Mr Allan Rogers Mr Allan Rogers , Rhondda

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for people who obviously received favours from the South African Government to participate in this debate? It is clear that certain Conservative Members have had buckshee trips to South Africa.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

It is perfectly in order for an hon. Member who wishes to be called to stand.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

That intervention was irrelevant to my speech, but let me make it clear that I have received no favours from the South African Government.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I understand your ruling about hon. Members wishing to speak, which is perfectly correct, but if the House votes, a different issue arises. "Erskine May" points out that Members cannot vote if they have a direct pecuniary interest.

The Register of Members' Interests, drawn up by a Select Committee appointed by this House, includes in its requirements all trips paid for by outside organisations that are not in the service of this House. Several Conservative Members have been to South Africa, paid for by the South African Government. The Bill could give facilities for the importation of South African coal.

I believe that there is a clear link between the effects of the Bill and the benefits that some hon. Members have gained from the South African Government. Therefore, in the light of the ruling from a previous Speaker when a private Bill was being promoted in favour of Lloyd's, I believe that hon. Members should bear their interests in mind and refrain from voting.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I have no doubt that hon. Members will bear that in mind, and that if they have any interests they will be honourable and declare them.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

I have absolutely no interest in this Bill except that it will benefit my constituents who have witnessed the revival of north Lincolnshire under this Government. They have seen unemployment cut. They have seen inflation cut. They have seen new prosperity come to our area. That is why I support the Bill. That is why I want more trade. That is why my farmers want more grain to be exported. It is typical that Opposition Members should always take a narrow, negative and old-fashioned view. The Conservatives have confidence and faith in our ability to export from this port. Why do Opposition Members always assume that we shall import South African coal? Why are they so worried about our ability to beat the world in its free markets?

This is a fine Bill, which will be carefully considered by my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and the Committee. If the Opposition think that they have a case —they have not—they can take their argument to my hon. Friend. Why are they using filibustering tactics and raising irrelevant points of order? Perhaps they do not have the confidence in their own case.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood , Wokingham

Does my hon. Friend agree that it might be difficult if an hon. Member participating in the debate was sponsored by a mining union, when Opposition Members have drawn attention to other hon. Members' interests?

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

My hon. Friend makes a fair point. Opposition Members in glasshouses should not throw stones. They have all been trooping into the debate. Why, for once, do we see such a high turnout of Labour Members? Does it have anything to do with the Bill's merits? No, they are all in the pockets of Arthur Scargill. I know what the country thinks of Arthur Scargill—the people have no time for him.

The Bill will go through on its merits. It will receive the full support of the House of Commons. It will bring prosperity to the area that I and my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes represent. I recommend it to my hon. Friends.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The Question is the motion on the Order Paper.

As many as are of that opinion say Aye.

To the contrary No.

Hon Members:

No.

Hon. Members:

Aye.

Question put:

The House proceeded to a Division:

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

(seated and covered): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Today, we have had a lot of talk about tapes. If anyone listens to the tape of this debate, it will be absolutely clear beyond doubt that at the appropriate point there was no cry of "Aye"—[Interruption.]

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. If I am to be heard, I ask hon. Members to listen. A Division is now in progress.

The House having divided: Ayes 212, Noes 157.

Division No. 478][9.51 pm
AYES
Amess, DavidEvans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Arbuthnot, JamesFairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Favell, Tony
Atkins, RobertFenner, Dame Peggy
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Baldry, TonyFishburn, John Dudley
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyFookes, Miss Janet
Beggs, RoyForth, Eric
Bellingham, HenryFowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bevan, David GilroyFox, Sir Marcus
Boscawen, Hon RobertFranks, Cecil
Bottomley, PeterFreeman, Roger
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)French, Douglas
Bowis, JohnGale, Roger
Brazier, JulianGardiner, George
Bright, GrahamGarel-Jones, Tristan
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterGill, Christopher
Brown, Michael (Brigg & CI't's)Glyn, Dr Alan
Buck, Sir AntonyGoodhart, Sir Philip
Budgen, NicholasGoodlad, Alastair
Burt, AlistairGoodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Butcher, JohnGorman, Mrs Teresa
Butler, ChrisGorst, John
Butterfill, JohnGrant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Carrington, MatthewGrist, Ian
Cash, WilliamGround, Patrick
Chope, ChristopherGrylls, Michael
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Cope, Rt Hon JohnHanley, Jeremy
Couchman, JamesHargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Cran, JamesHarris, David
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHaselhurst, Alan
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Hayes, Jerry
Devlin, TimHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Dickens, GeoffreyHayward, Robert
Dorrell, StephenHeathcoat-Amory, David
Dunn, BobHeddle, John
Durant, TonyHicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Emery, Sir PeterHicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Hill, JamesPaice, James
Hind, KennethPatnick, Irvine
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Patten, John (Oxford W)
Hordern, Sir PeterPawsey, James
Howard, MichaelPorter, David (Waveney)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Portillo, Michael
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Redwood, John
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Riddick, Graham
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Howells, GeraintRoss, William (Londonderry E)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Rost, Peter
Hunter, AndrewRowe, Andrew
Irvine, MichaelRumbold, Mrs Angela
Jack, MichaelRyder, Richard
Jackson, RobertSackville, Hon Tom
Janman, TimScott, Nicholas
Jessel, TobyShaw, David (Dover)
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Shelton, William (Streatham)
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Shersby, Michael
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Sims, Roger
Kirkhope, TimothySkeet, Sir Trevor
Knapman, RogerSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lamont, Rt Hon NormanSpeed, Keith
Latham, MichaelSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelSquire, Robin
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkStanbrook, Ivor
Lilley, PeterSteel, Rt Hon David
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)Steen, Anthony
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Lord, MichaelSumberg, David
Luce, Rt Hon RichardTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Lyell, Sir NicholasTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Macfarlane, Sir NeilTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Temple-Morris, Peter
Maclean, DavidThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Mans, KeithThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Maples, JohnThornton, Malcolm
Marlow, TonyThurnham, Peter
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Townend, John (Bridlington)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Trippier, David
Mawhinney, Dr BrianTrotter, Neville
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir PatrickTwinn, Dr Ian
Mellor, DavidVaughan, Sir Gerard
Meyer, Sir AnthonyWaddington, Rt Hon David
Miller, Sir HalWaldegrave, Hon William
Mills, IainWalden, George
Moate, RogerWaller, Gary
Montgomery, Sir FergusWard, John
Moore, Rt Hon JohnWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Warren, Kenneth
Morrison, Sir CharlesWatts, John
Moynihan, Hon ColinWells, Bowen
Neale, GerrardWiggin, Jerry
Neubert, MichaelWood, Timothy
Newton, Rt Hon TonyWoodcock, Mike
Nicholls, PatrickYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyTellers for the Ayes:
Oppenheim, PhillipMr. David Davis and
Page, RichardMr. Edward Leigh.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Ordered,That the Promoters of the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;

Ordered,That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House;

Ordered,That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session;

Ordered,That the Bill shall he laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed);

Ordered,That all Petitions relating to the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill, together with any minutes of evidence taken before the Committee on the Bill, shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session;

Ordered,That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (h) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business;

Ordered,That in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words "under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)" were omitted;

Ordered,That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;

Ordered,That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.