Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill

– in the House of Commons at 6:52 pm on 1st November 1989.

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Motion made,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 shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read) and shall be ordered to be read the third time;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 Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Several Hon. Members:

rose——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I call Mr. Kevin Barron on a point of order.

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

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I gave you notice that I wanted to raise a point of order on this issue.

You may recall, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that on Second Reading of the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill on 22 June 1988 I raised a point of order about meetings that had taken place between the Secretary of State for Transport and the promoters of the Bill, Associated British Ports. On that occasion, Mr. Deputy Speaker rightly ruled: Discussions that may have taken place outside the House are not a matter for the Chair."—[Official Report, 22 June 1988; Vol. 135, c. 1187] It is my understanding that, following a meeting between my right hon. and hon. Friends, the Secretary of State for Energy, the Leader of the House and myself in July, an approach was made to Associated British Ports. They then made an approach to Parliament, and I understand that that approach may have gone, directly or indirectly, to the Chairman of Ways and Means. That suggests to me and to many others than a Government Department has interfered directly with this private Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] I rise on a point of order because those discussions did not take place outside the House.

They have taken place in high office. I should like a ruling to be made about whether there are the fingerprints of a Government Department on this Bill. Perhaps it should not fall within the private Bill procedure.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

The hon. Gentleman is quite correct in supposing that the ruling is exactly the same. As he knows, a Committee has considered the private Bill procedure, so he can pursue the matter in whatever way he thinks appropriate. The points which he has made would be entirely in order in the debate on the suspension motion.

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

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is a matter for you because under the private Bill procedure there is not supposed to be whipping. I have heard people talk about the pairing system—although I have not been involved myself—and I know that it does not apply to the private Bill procedure because the Opposition and the Government are not involved. Yet, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) said, it is significant that the Secretary of State for Energy and the Leader of the House at that time—I know that there have been many changes since then, but in July two people were allocated to those posts—met the miners group to discuss this Bill's future. When that happened, the Bill was taken out of private Bill procedure.

Anybody can look at the matter in any way he or she likes, but the moment that those two Government spokespersons met the miners group they invalidated the private Bill procedure. As soon as those discussions took place in the room of the Leader of the House—not somewhere outside the building—the matter was removed from the private Bill procedure.

If the Government and their Ministers could manage to stop the Bill from proceeding in July, they have every justification—we have even more—for saying to the nation, the miners and others affected that the Bill is very flawed. It was flawed at the beginning because it was political from the outset. The person who took the Chair when the Bill was discussed voted to ensure that not one amendment went through. The Chairman is an adviser to the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association, which has as one of its members a firm which is helping to sponsor the Bill.

When all those facts are considered, together with the South African connection, the fact that Conservative Members are being paid to take free trips to South Africa to help get the Bill through and the fact that we now have a balance of payments deficit of £20 billion whereas when the Bill started its passage through Parliament there was a balance of payments surplus, it becomes clear that the Bill should be thrown out. It will add a tremendous amount of money to the balance of payments.

For all those reasons, you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would be totally justified in saying today that the Bill is flawed and should be withdrawn. If Conservative Members want to bring it forward in the next Session, they should start at the beginning and not be allowed to obviate that by a carry-over motion.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

This debate has got off to a good start. The hon. Members for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) and for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) have raised perfectly legitimate points. My only complaint is that they were not points of order but matters for debate. It would be better if, instead of prefacing the debate with points of order, we got on with it along the lines which have so far been wholly in order.

Photo of Mr Martin Redmond Mr Martin Redmond , Don Valley

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will recall that when the Bill was introduced I asked whether it was a hybrid Bill. The Chair ruled that it was not hybrid because the Clerk to the Private Bill Committee looked at it and told you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the Chairman of Ways and Means that it was perfectly proper and fell within the private Bill procedure. It was impossible for us to question the Clerk any more because he left soon after.

When we raised the matter of the Bill's hybridity, there was nothing at that time to indicate Government involvement. I understand that the Chairman of Ways and Means, who controls private Bills, has the power, if ever a Bill becomes suspect, to take the appropriate action to remedy the procedure. In the circumstances which have prevailed since the Bill was first introduced, will you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, rule that the Bill has obviously become hybrid? Therefore, will you withdraw the Bill?

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

There has been no change in the Bill's structure. The previous proceedings have been in order. We are now dealing with the suspension motion and I hope that we shall come to that so that we can continue to hear the arguments for and against it.

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not wish to detain the House, but in addition to considering whether the Bill should continue its passage, the House should be mindful of the fact that we are supposed to be a debating Chamber. When the House last considered the Bill, the only speech in favour of it was one of about 27 words by the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown). I accept that his contribution covered about four columns of Hansard; there were 14 words in the first bit and 10 or 11 in the second.

I am making a serious point. If the House spends hours and hours debating a Bill and those in favour of it can move it formally, even though they do not have the support of all their hon. Friends—the only Conservative Member to speak, with perhaps one exception, opposed the Bill as we do——it brings the House into disrepute. It allows us to suggest not merely that we should refuse to allow the Bill to be carried over, but that it should be reviewed and revised before any hon. Member has the gall to present a similar measure in another Session.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman because he helps me by suggesting, as I have said, that the sooner we get on to discussing the suspension motion the better.

Photo of Mr Michael Welsh Mr Michael Welsh , Doncaster North

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have an important question: an this sitting be adjourned until the Secretary of State for Energy comes and says why, in a letter to me on 26 July, he said that all the coal which was produced would be burnt, whereas a Cabinet document shows that 30,000 miners will be sacked in three years?

When we spoke about this Bill we were not aware of those facts. Therefore, it is right and proper that this debate should be adjourned or the Secretary of State for Energy should come and tell us which is the true document. I am sure that the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) would not have moved the Bill if he thought that 30,000 miners would be compulsorily sacked within three years. Therefore, can any action be taken along the lines I have requested?

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

That was a helpful point and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I noticed that the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes was rising; no doubt he wishes to speak to the suspension motion. I also noticed that there was a Minister on the Treasury Bench. The sooner we move on to the suspension motion the sooner we shall hear what those two hon. Members have to say, should they rise to speak.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. There is an awful smell in this place tonight. It stinks to high heaven. There is something crooked about what is going on and the smell is coming from the Conservative Benches. You know as well as we know what Conservative Members are up to.

I have been sent here by my constituents and they tell me that they do not like what is going on on the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill. Mine is a mining constituency, and what my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, North (Mr. Welsh) has just said about the report on further pit closures and job losses makes matters worse.

There is no doubt that the Government are pulling a fast one and you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, should take note of what we are saying. You saw it with your own eyes when they rolled in the payroll vote and they have a South African mouthpiece who is yawping like billy-oh, not only in here but outside. He stops me in the corridors and talks to me about it. I ask him how many times he has been to South Africa. He has been more than half a dozen times.

This smells; it really stinks. If the Government get away with this move, it will be at the expense of the British mining industry and the jobs in it, particularly in my constituency. I do not like it, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You should take note of what we are saying. I am not criticising the Chairman of Ways and Means; he has a job to do.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

What is the point of order?

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

The hon. Gentleman is always raising points of order and more often than not Mr. Speaker has to slap him down because he does not have one.

What I am saying is that this place stinks. The Bill should not be on today's Order Paper. We should not be discussing it tonight. The Government should do the right thing and damn well drop it.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

The points that the hon. Gentleman has made are perfectly in order in debate, but they are not points of order for the Chair.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I want to raise a number of points with you. First, in view of the association of the Chairman of the Private Bill Committee with the promoters. which has been the subject of previous points of order, would you be prepared to accept a manuscript amendment to the carry-over motion so that it can be examined by the Committee and a recommendation made to the House? That would be the best way of proceeding in these difficult circumstances.

Secondly, the provision of trips to South Africa has been mentioned on several occasions. It appears that the Bill would give an advantage to enterprises in that benighted country to export coal to Britain. I should have thought that that raised the question of a fiduciary interest, as "Erskine May" has defined it.

I would like a clear ruling from you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that if it can be established that people have received any sort of inducement to go to South Africa, any travel facilities or hospitality, or if anybody has received any sort of assistance tonight—rumours of champagne parties and facilities to keep Members of Parliament here are circulating around the House—that that would constitute a fiduciary interest and would prevent Members of Parliament from voting on the Bill.

I have raised such matters many times before and I know that the general rubric is that it is up to individual hon. Members of Parliament. That standard is not good enough when this place requires local councillors to make specific declarations and does not even allow them to be present in the committee rooms of council chambers. It is incumbent on the Chair to maintain the standards of the House, which should be such that we can tell local authorities that we have at least the same standards as we impose upon them.

Will you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, make it clear, as was made clear by Mr. Speaker during proceedings on the Lloyd's Bill, a private Bill that was submitted in 1981, that when Lloyd's members were involved they should not vote. People who have been scurrying to the South African Government who impose apartheid and produce coal with black miners' blood should not be allowed to vote in this matter.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

First, it is not possible for me to accept a manuscript amendment on a suspension motion. Secondly, page 354 of "Erskine May" says: No Member who has a direct pecuniary interest in a question is allowed to vote upon it; but, in order to operate as a disqualification, this interest must be immediate and personal, and not merely of a general or remote character. I hope that I have answered the two points raised by the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney , Makerfield

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. These points of order are not an attempt to delay the proceedings of the House; they go to the heart of the integrity of the House and its business. This is not the first occasion when we have been dealing with dock legislation that we have had to raise points of order about the direct or indirect pecuniary interests of Conservative Members.

Following representations made to Mr. Speaker, I have had discussions with the Clerk of the House over a number of weeks. It is important to set out the procedure under Standing Order No. 20 and what emerged in relation to the Committee's Chairman and the written evidence that he and others provided who, to my knowledge, have not to this day been called to give witness to that evidence or for that evidence to be checked for its veracity.

Standing Order No. 120 concerns the declaration by members of Committees on opposed Bills and says: EACH member of a committee on an opposed private bill, or a group of private bills, shall, before he is entitled to attend and vote in such committee, sign the following declaration: —

  • I, having been selected by the Committee of Selection to serve as a member of the Committee on the………Bill or on Group……of Private Bills, hereby declare, that my constituents have no local interest, and that I have no personal interest, in the said bill or any bill included in the said group; and that I will never vote on any question which may arise without having duly heard and attended to the evidence relating thereto."
That is important——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I am not clear what the point of order is for the Chair. The hon. Gentleman is now going over previous proceedings. He cannot do that. He must relate any point of order that he has directly to the suspension motion that is before the House.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney , Makerfield

I can do so, and I am trying to assist in the matter. I have taken a great deal of trouble over this in my discussions with the Speaker's Office and the Clerk of the House and I would be obliged, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if you would let me make the point.

Let me quote now from Hansard:I am totally in your pocket and I had better come across to speak to you."—[Official Report, 23 May 1989; Vol. 153, c. 893.] On two occasions the hon. Member for Rochford (Dr. Clark) was challenged by Members of the House. On one occasion the Deputy Speaker made it clear that the hon. Gentleman had better come back into the general discussion and he went from under the Gallery back to his place.

Subsequently, on 24 May I wrote to Mr. Speaker on Standing Order No. 120. Mr. Speaker then arranged for a series of discussions to take place between the Clerk of the House and a number of hon. Members, including myself. I was asked to produce evidence of the allegation and submitted two written statements or affidavits——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. This has nothing to do with the suspension motion. I call Mr. Michael Brown.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes 7:40 pm, 1st November 1989

It is very important that the House supports the carry-over motion—[Interruption.]

Several Hon. Members:

rose——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. We have had a good run on points of order. I have explained to every hon. Member who has raised a point of order that, apart from those on which I have already ruled, they are not points of order for the Chair, but are perfectly legitimate points to be raised in the debate. I suggest that it would be far better if these points were raised in speeches and not under the guise of points of order.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney), Mr. Deputy Speaker. It seems to me that my hon. Friend is referring to quite specific points of order relating to private business that require not the declaration of interest but the absence from a Committee of anyone who has any possible interest to declare. Without challenging your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it appears that my hon. Friend has raised a most material point of order by suggesting with some validity that the hon. Member who chaired the Committee on this private Bill was out of order in doing so. It would seem to any fair-minded person that my hon. Friend raised a valid point of order.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. It is not possible at this stage to challenge the validity of previous proceedings. We are now dealing with a suspension motion. As I have told the House more than once, it is perfectly in order to raise those arguments in favour of voting against the suspension motion. That is why I said that it would be far better if those perfectly legitimate points were raised not under the guise of points of order but as part of the general debate that has been going on for quite some time.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Surely it cannot be the case that subsequent proceedings validate those that have gone before if they were wrong. Let us suppose that in the case of another Bill an hon. Member who sat on an opposed Bill Committee was discovered to have been receiving sums of money from the promoter in clear breach of order. Surely that would invalidate those proceedings and allow them to be questioned at this stage.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Only a decision of the House could invalidate previous proceedings. If the hon. Gentleman is saying that further information has come to light which would appear to constitute a contempt of the House or a breach of privilege, he knows very well that the appropriate procedure in that case is to write to Mr. Speaker.

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

As I was saying, the carry-over is required because the Third Reading of the Bill now stands adjourned. In those circumstances, it is absolutely necessary—[Interruption.]

Several Hon. Members:

rose——

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

People should know what is happening in this cock-eyed place.

Photo of John Cummings John Cummings , Easington

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My point of order follows the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, North (Mr. Welsh). I have a copy of a letter dated 26 July from the then Leader of the House indicating that there was a certain tonnage to be bought and burnt from British Coal. We now have in our possession the leaked Cabinet document showing the implications for coal production——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. What is the point of order for the Chair?

Photo of John Cummings John Cummings , Easington

The point is that the Leader of the House has acted with duplicity, having had possession of the document before 26 July, and he should come here tonight and explain his action in calling us into his office—at his request—to discuss these matters.

Photo of Mr Pat Wall Mr Pat Wall , Bradford North

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My point of order could not be raised in the debate as it concerns the consequences of tonight's debate. I am the only hon. Member present who served on the Committee considering the Associated British Ports Bill. I did so believing that the Bill was about planning permission, only to find myself in the midst of one of the biggest controversies of my two and a half years in the House. I feel that I can raise a point of order in all freedom because I have no coal mining or dock interests. Bradford lost its last coal mine more than 50 years ago. The Leeds-Liverpool canal goes through part of my constituency but there is no docking, although there is a boat yard employing one and a half workers. So I do not have any pecuniary or other interests.

When we debated the Bill on Third Reading, at the end of the debate I was still on my feet. Closure was not called, and as I understand it the debate was incomplete. Had we been debating a Government Bill, presuming the unfortunate event that the suspension motion is carried tonight, I would have the Floor when Third Reading is resumed. Do we have that right on a private Bill and will that be the effect if the carry-over motion is carried tonight?

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in giving notice of his point of order, as that enabled me to look into it. The answer is that, if the suspension motion is carried tonight, the House would then proceed in the next Session to a Third Reading debate, and that debate would start from scratch. It would be de novo. The hon. Gentleman would be free to try to catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair, but he would not have the Floor at the start of the Third Reading debate.

Photo of Mr Joe Ashton Mr Joe Ashton , Bassetlaw

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. For many months I have been trying desperately to make a speech on the Bill, but I cannot be called to speak because of the controversy and the continual points of order. If the motion is carried and the Bill proceeds to Third Reading, will it be guillotined, will there be some form of closure and how many hours will the Government allow us to debate the Bill? Cart all the hon. Members who wish to speak on the many aspects of the Bill speak on it or will we be curtailed next Session and the Bill bulldozed through?

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

That is hypothetical at the moment. Let me clarify to the House the important and genuine point that, if a suspension motion for a private Bill is carried and the Bill is carried over to the next Session, and, as in this case, the Bill had an adjourned Third Reading, the Third Reading will start from scratch. That is the procedure which we operate and that is the answer to both hon. Gentlemen.

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

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether you can rule on whether the Bill can proceed with the carry-on motion? You and the House will be aware that, in paragraph 26 of the special report, the Committee put conditions on its recommendations, stating: In our view it is the Government's duty to take whatever steps are necessary in the overall national interest to protect the coal mining industry. We have received, no assurance whatsoever from the Government that they will take such action. In fact there has been evidence to the contrary. We have heard about the leaked document revealing that there could be another devastating attack on the coal industry. The recommendations and the conditions laid down in the special report have not been fulfilled, and I respectfully suggest that the Bill should not proceed.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Again, that is a legitimate point to raise during the debate that we are now having. It is not a point of order.

Photo of Ronnie Campbell Ronnie Campbell , Blyth Valley

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Coming to this House after 20 years local authority service, I am absolutely astounded to find that half of the Members on the Conservative Benches have interests in South Africa, interests in coal and shares in coal, yet here we are debating with them—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) can grin as much as he likes, but I am astounded at the contempt that this House has for our people, especially those in the mining areas. Conservative Members should be ashamed of that, and so should you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You should not allow this debate to continue. You should suspend it—[Interruption.] You should forget it——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. That is a point for debate, not a point of order for the Chair.

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

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You are in a difficult position because your concern is primarily with the procedures of the House and how the House should advance its business, yet most of the points of order that have been raised have questioned the legality of the measure if it goes through those procedures. I appreciate that some of those matters concern you, but they are also the concern of the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General. I suggest that the House is adjourned until either one or both legal officers come and make a statement on whether we should proceed with this measure.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

That is not a matter for me. Thank goodness, I have no power to summon Ministers to this House.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney , Makerfield

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We now have at stake the integrity of the discussions that I had with the Clerk of the House and with Mr. Speaker's office. I am quite sincere in this matter because I had detailed discussions with the Clerk on a number of occasions. The Clerk, in absolute good faith and integrity, did all that he could about my complaints.

There are two outstanding matters relevant to Standing Order No. 120. The first is that in the general investigation, the Chairman of the Committee admitted that he had discussions with the sponsors of the Bill; secondly—I now quote from a handwritten note by the Chairman—he conceded: I was unwise to speak to the sponsor of the Bill when I did. The remaining content of that letter must remain private because it was a private letter——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. If the hon. Gentleman is alleging that there has been a contempt of the House or a breach of privilege by an hon. Member, he knows the procedure that he must follow. He cannot raise the matter during proceedings on the Floor of the House; he must write to Mr. Speaker. I cannot allow him to proceed with that point if that is the nature of his allegation.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney , Makerfield

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. With all due respect, the establishment in this House is trying to gag Back-Bench Members and to deny us our rights in relation to the Bill. You are asking me to go back three months. I have done all that was asked of me by Mr. Speaker, so all that remains is that hon. Members, at 10 pm or even earlier, will have to vote on the Bill. My cursory investigations show prima facie evidence of a link between Conservative Members and the sponsors of the Bill. That calls into doubt the integrity of this House. Our integrity is now at stake. I implore you, Mr. Deputy Speaker——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. We are now——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. These points of order have been raised before and I allowed them to have a good run.

Photo of Ronnie Campbell Ronnie Campbell , Blyth Valley

It is a corrupt Bill.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I have allowed a good run on points of order. I have called every hon. Member who has risen——

Photo of Ronnie Campbell Ronnie Campbell , Blyth Valley

It is a corrupt Bill and the hon. Member for Johannesburg knows it.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I have either given a ruling on the points of order or I have said that they were legitimate points to raise during the debate. It would be far easier if we were to continue with the debate on the motion, and I call Mr. Brown.

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

Following on from the points raised by the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Wall) it is important to bear in mind——

Photo of Ronnie Campbell Ronnie Campbell , Blyth Valley

It is a corrupt Bill. It is disgraceful.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I try to assist you in what I appreciate is a difficult position? My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) asked whether it would be appropriate for either the Solicitor-General or the Attorney-General to come to the House and rule on the legality of proceeding with the measure. You said that that was not a matter for you.

If the House were to put a motion to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, requesting that the sitting be suspended pending the appearance of either the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General, would you accept that motion? We might then get out of the impasse and proceed with the business. Could you give me your guidance, please?

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

I am not prepared to accept such a motion. The motion on the Order Paper is perfectly in order and I hope that the House will now get on with discussing it.

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

The hon. Member for Bradford, North was towards the end of his speech during our debate before the recess—[Interruption]

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. The debate——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I remind the House once more that I have listened to many points of order. Those that are now being raised are merely a repetition of the points with which I have dealt—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh no they are not."] Order. I have dealt with the points. I hope that the House will now agree that it would be more sensible and more orderly to continue to discuss the suspension motion.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. With due respect to your earlier ruling, and while not wishing to challenge it, the questions asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) have not been answered, although they have been heard in the Chamber and await an answer. I have a note of the words used by the Chairman of the Committee when he went under the Gallery. He said: Since I am totally in your pocket I had better come across to speak to you. Michael Brown has had a word with me"—

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. Those points can be raised during the debate; they are not points of order for the Chair. I am gaining the impression that the House is trying to involve the Chair in political controversy—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Order. I am sure that, on reflection, the House will realise that it would be unfair to put the Chair in that position.

Photo of Mr Joe Ashton Mr Joe Ashton , Bassetlaw

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have been before the Privileges Committee in regard to a matter concerning contempt. As you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, points concerning privilege must be dealt with immediately, or they will be ruled out of order. Because of the recess, however, my hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) did not have a chance to raise the matter at the appropriate time, and Mr. Speaker would now rule it out of order.

In the light of the information that we have received, surely we need the guidance of the Attorney-General on whether there has been a breach of privilege, or corruption behind the scenes. The information in the letter in the possession of my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) has exposed a serious defect in the Bill, which ought to be examined at the highest level.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, because he has helped me. As he rightly says, a point of privilege must be raised with Mr. Speaker immediately; if the point had been raised at the appropriate time, it would have been dealt with at that time. If any hon. Member is suggesting that new information has become available that could amount to a contempt of the House or a breach of privilege, the procedures of the House are wholly clear: the matter should not be raised on the Floor of the House, where I cannot deal with it, but the hon. Gentleman concerned should write to Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney , Makerfield

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I quote from the Standing Orders on Private Business? Standing Order No. 162, on Bills relating to water companies, is entirely relevant. The private Bill at present under consideration clashes with the interests of a water Bill promoted by the Government, and without a ruling on the interpretation of the Standing Order this Bill, in my view, should not proceed.

Standing Order No. 162 states: In the case of a bill whereby it is proposed that an existing water company shall be authorised to raise additional capital, provision shall be made for the offer of such capital by puplic auction or tender at the best price which can be obtained, unless the committee on the bill reports that such provision ought not to be required, with the reasons on which its opinion is founded. The Committee has been considering this Bill at the same time as the water privatisation Bill is being considered.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. That is not a point of order for the Chair. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to make those points in his arguments against the suspension motion, he is entitled to do so.

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

The Bill was first presented to the House in November 1987. For some two years, therefore, the House has been able to consider the Bill on Second Reading, and then to instruct the Opposed Private Bill Committee to consider it at the Committee stage. The Committee considered the Bill, and reported it to the House without amendment. I remind the House—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I called the hon. Gentleman, and he should be given the courtesy of being heard.

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

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am trying to remind the hon. Members that the House has had an opportunity to consider the Bill on Second Reading, in Committee and in the first part of the Third Reading debate. The carry-over motion will enable the House to reach a conclusion in the next Session of Parliament. In those circumstances, I believe that it is crucial for the motion to be approved. [Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. Do I understand that the hon. Gentleman is rising to make a speech?

Several Hon. Members:

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I am seeing whether any hon. Member wishes to continue the debate.

Several Hon. Members:

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I call the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond).

Photo of Mr Martin Redmond Mr Martin Redmond , Don Valley

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I ask for your guidance? As I understand it, the House is about to discuss a motion on whether to carry forward a private Bill. Many points of order have been raised about whether the Bill should be dealt with on the Floor of the House this evening. In view of what has been said, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to ask whether Mr. Speaker's office has been called into disrepute by the malingering and gerrymandering on the part of certain Conservative Members. I ask you to suspend the sitting so that you can consult Mr. Speaker on whether the Bill should be carried forward this evening.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. It is my job to ensure that the business before the House is proceeded with. If the motion had not been in order, it would not be on the Order Paper. I hope that we will now get on with the debate: the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) was interrupted by points of order.

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

I wish to end my speech by saying that the most important point is that the Bill is the subject of controversy among Opposition Members with mining interests, and those interests will not be adversely affected by the Bill. It will probably not reach the statute book until 1990, and by 1992 its provisions will be enacted.

Several Hon. Members:

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. Let me repeat that we have had a long run on points of order. Some were asking me for a ruling on our procedures, and I have given rulings in answer to them. Most of the others—as I have explained more than once—were perfectly legitimate for the debate on the carry-over motion. It would be more sensible if hon. Members made the same points without prefacing them with the words "on a point of order", because they are not points of order.

Photo of Mr Jack Thompson Mr Jack Thompson , Wansbeck

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Only rarely do I rise to raise a point of order, but I find the position confusing. Along with, I imagine, every other hon. Member present, I have a copy of the special report by the Committee. The doubt cast on the validity of the report, in view of the role and actions of the Committee's Chairman, raise the question whether views that I might express relating to the report would be relevant. Much of what I would have to say bears on its content. It seems that we must question the work of the Committee, and its actions.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Again, that is a perfectly legitimate point for the hon. Gentleman to raise during the debate, and he has now done so.

Photo of Mrs Alice Mahon Mrs Alice Mahon , Halifax

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wish to refer to what was said earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Blyth Valley (Mr. Campbell). I am deeply disturbed that the House is being brought into disrepute. When as many hon. Members are on their feet as I have seen tonight—and I have not witnessed such a sight in two and a half years—it shows the depth of feeling that something very underhand, if not corrupt, is about to take place. I believe that the office of Speaker and Deputy Speaker—one of the highest offices in the House—should address itself to the concern felt by hon. Members. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to suspend the sitting, to bring the Law Officers to the House and to make a ruling.

Hon. Members, the press and those in the Public Gallery are not the only people listening to the debate. The eyes of the country are on us, and the country smells something pretty rotten. I ask once again, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what my hon. Friends have already asked: that you bring the Attorney-General to the House, suspend the sitting and give us a ruling.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

I have already said that I am not prepared to do that. We must continue with the debate.

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

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Solicitor-General has just poked his nose in. He is available now to have a look at this matter. Therefore, we should suspend the sitting and a discussion should take place between him, the usual channels and representatives of my hon. Friends on the Back Benches. Then we can proceed with the Bill if necessary. You have the power to suspend the sitting. It was suspended last week when Nigel Lawson packed up. The matter is important because it involves the loss of thousands of jobs in various constituencies, money being made in South Africa and Tory Members lining their pockets. It is essential to suspend the sitting so that discussions can take place.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

I have already said that I am not prepared to do that. Any discussions that take place through the usual channels have nothing to do with the Chair. Mr. Leigh.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle 8:12 pm, 1st November 1989

The facilities are essential. It has been said that they are primarily required for coal imports——

Several Hon. Members:

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I have called an hon. Member to speak in the debate. I hope that he will not be interrupted by further points of order.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

The facilities could be used for coal. Associated British Ports has a duty to——

Several Hon. Members:

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

Are you going to protect democracy in the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker?

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

You have called two Tory Members on the trot.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Does the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) have a point of order?

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Denton and Reddish

Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The House is in difficulty because my hon. Friends are worried about rulings on the passage of the Bill. I ask you to consider the business on the Order Paper. The Bill is on the Order Paper because the Chairman of Ways and Means chose to allocate time to it. That was a decision about the priority given to private Bills. As you will be aware, many private Bills have not yet completed their passage through the House. I understand that the Chairman of Ways and Means decides which Bills have carry-over motions and allocates time to them.

My hon. Friends are worried about the propriety of the Bill's rate of progress. In Committee, the promoters asked for an undertaking that no amendments would be tabled so that they could avoid Report stage. Members of the Committee agreed, on the basis that a report would be submitted to the Government before the Bill proceeded any further. That was an odd procedure and it seems strange that the Chairman of Ways and Means found time for a debate on a carry-over motion for this Bill ahead of the long list of other private Bills.

The Chairman of Ways and Means has a unique position in the House. Sometimes he is in the Chair and the rest of the time he takes care of private business. It is perfectly legitimate for Opposition Members to challenge his choice and to ask why this Bill was chosen, particularly as it has had a chequered course. I realise that no hon. Member should challenge the Chairman of Ways and Means, but my hon. Friends have legitimate anxieties about why time was allocated to the Bill. Hon. Members have the right to look into private business.

It is extremely mysterious that one Bill should move forward at a faster rate than others. The promoters may make requests, but the Chairman of Ways and Means has to make the decision. How can the House influence the decision to allocate time to this Bill in preference to the other 15 or 16 that have not made progress? How soon can we debate the report on private Bill procedure? The points of order raised today clearly show that hon. Members on both sides are dissatisfied with the present procedures.

I do not wish to push this matter further, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sure that you will appreciate that I am close to challenging the Chairman of Ways and Means in that capacity as opposed to his capacity as Deputy Speaker. The House should have some way of asking questions about priorities in allocating time, without challenging him as an occupant of the Chair.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

I am glad that the hon. Member said that he was not questioning the judgment of the Chairman of Ways and Means, who has a difficult job in finding time for private business. He tabled this motion for today and it is in order. Like Mr. Speaker, he does not have to give his reasons when making a ruling. It will not have escaped the notice of the House that the Bill was on its adjourned Third Reading.

Long before the debate this evening it was felt by hon. Members on both sides of the House that some features of private Bill procedure were unsatisfactory. For that reason, the House set up a Select Committee some time ago. It has reported to the House and there has been a preliminary debate. The matter is now under consideration. If the hon. Member wishes to raise any point on that, he should address it to the Leader of the House, not to the Chair.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

Although the port of Immingham could be used for importing coal, what it really needs is to expand. It is crying out for additional facilities so that it can deal, in particular, with steel and chemicals. That point must be made repeatedly.

British ports face stiff competition from Rotterdam and other continental ports. Expansion at Immingham will help Britain compete effectively and allow businesses in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) to flourish. That is why we support the Bill. Opposition Members emphasise that the Bill is intended to allow imports of foreign coal, but it is not.

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

We owe it to the House to declare the greatest interest of all—the welfare of our constituents. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about our constituents?"] The only crime of which my hon. Friend and I have been accused is supporting the views of our constituents.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Denton and Reddish

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not a fact that the House is supposed to exercise a judicial function with regard to private Bills? The rules require that the people appointed to consider a private Bill do not have a constituency interest in it but are as disinterested as possible so that they consider it not through the eyes of an hon. Member with a constituency or financial interest but in a detached manner. I realise that we have moved on from Committee stage, but surely it is inappropriate for an hon. Member with a clear constituency interest as opposed to the interest of the promoters at heart to speak for the Bill.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

What the hon. Gentleman says about the Committee is entirely correct, but, as he has already said, we are past the Committee stage. Its proceedings were completed some time ago. What hon. Members say in this House must be a matter for their judgment and their judgment alone.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

It is a very strange state of affairs when a Member of Parliament who is attempting to ensure that his constituents' interests are safeguarded is criticised by Opposition Members.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I have twice heard the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) and the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) on points of order. I hope that they will not continue to interrupt the speech of the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh), who now has the Floor of the House.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

I shall bring my remarks to a close very soon.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I have given the hon. Member for Makerfield a very good run.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney , Makerfield

I want to make a point of order.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will now allow other hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate to do so.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

The point that has to be made is that, because of the serious delay, it will be at least 1992 before the facility can be opened. That will provide ample opportunity for the Government, or any future Government, to reach a decision on their coal import policy. The carry-over motion relating to the Bill is not about coal imports. It is about increasing trade and helping to improve the economic outlook of constituencies in south Humberside and north Lincolnshire. It is on that basis that I support the carry-over motion.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian 8:21 pm, 1st November 1989

It is probably silly to say that the Bill arouses a great deal of emotion and concern among my hon. Friends and some Conservative Members, but no hon. Member should feel ashamed about their emotion and concern, particularly when the jobs of their constituents are at stake. Therefore I make no apology for attacking the motion. I said on a previous occasion that this was a bastard proposal. My view has not changed. One could also describe it as a pirate measure. I do not understand why the motion that the Bill should be carried over to the next Session is before the House.

The Opposition have said in many of our debates that the Bill should be referred back to the Committee. The case for doing so was overwhelming, consequent upon the information that was coming to light week by week and month by month. Since we last debated it, it has become even more of a pirate measure. In all fairness, therefore, it should go back to the Committee.

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

My hon. Friend has made an important point about the Bill being sent back to the Committee for re-examination. It would not be the first time that a private Bill was referred back to a Committee for re-examination. Does my hon. Friend believe that, if the Bill were to be referred back to the Committee, which any decent legislature would ensure, the Chair of the Committee would have to be changed?

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

It would be a legal matter, of course. I tried to assist the Chair when I said that, since we were trapped in legalities, the proceedings of the House ought to be suspended so that the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General could be asked to make a ruling. My hon. Friend asks whether the Committee's Chairman would have to be changed. There might also have to be new Committee members. My hon. Friend has made a valid point.

The Committee felt that what it was being asked to decide was, to a certain extent, out of bounds: that it was considering not just private legislation but a proposal that involved national energy policy. The Committee's view, therefore, was that the Government should respond to that point. The parliamentary group of hon. Members with mining constituencies sought a meeting with the Government. As a result of the far-reaching consequences of the Bill, which I have described as a bastard Bill and as a pirate Bill, we thought that the Government should respond to what the Committee had said about its belief that the proposal involved national energy policy.

We were received with the ulmost courtesy by very distinguished people—the former Leader of the House and the then Secretary of State for Energy who is now the Secretary of State for Transport. They undertook to provide us with the Government's view on whether the proposal had any implications for national energy policy. I am in no doubt that that was said to us with the best will in the world.

I shall not bore the House with the details. Any independently minded person who examined the proposal with complete objectivity would be bound to agree that since July it has been completely out of date.

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

Does my hon. Friend agree that, as the Committee's recommendations and the conditions that it imposed in its special report have not been met by the Government, the Bill should go back to the Committee?

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

Yes, it should, but will we, as parliamentarians, be allowed to vote as free individuals?

Part of the difficulty throughout has been that when we met the Government's representatives, they said, "This is not a matter for us. This is a private legislation; it is a matter for the Chairman of Ways and Means. He must decide when it will be debated in the House."

My hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse) made a reasonable point. Anyone outside the House listening to what he said would agree that he was developing an argument of sweet reasonableness. The problem is that Conservative Members, with the honourable exception of one or two, are being whipped to defeat whatever arguments are advanced. Mention was made of winning the argument but losing the vote—we have won the argument.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney , Makerfield

It is accepted that the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) is the Whip. My hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) was talking about hon. Members being free to vote. An entry in the Register of Members' Interests on the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes says: Overseas Visits … 2–5 February 1988, to South Africa, as the guest of the Office of the South African Coal Industry. The hon. Member will be entering the Lobby with a direct interest in what happens to the Bill. That is a public scandal which brings the House into total disrepute.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I can understand my hon. Friend's emotions, which are shared by many Labour Members.

I wish that this debate was being televised. I am a super-idealist, but when people read about their conduct, Conservative Members' day of reckoning will come.

My hon. Friend for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) should not apologise for feeling emotional, because thousands of jobs are at stake. However, we must continue to argue against this bastard Bill.

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

Does my hon. Friend agree that if this debate were being televised, anyone watching would say, "It is a fine state of affairs when National Union of Mineworkers-sponsored Members of Parliament were not allowed to sit on the Committee that considered the Bill because they are too close to the subject, but a Tory Member of Parliament can not only sit on the Committee but chair it while he is representing an interest through the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association"? Would not an independent observer say, "There is something corrupt in the House of Commons when that can be allowed to take place. There is no place for miners, but places for Tory Members to represent the bosses who are pushing the Bill through"? There is something dirty about that.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

Of course there is something anomalous in what my hon. Friend says. I was the Minister with responsibilities for coal in the last Labour Government for five and a quarter years. I remember that I received a note from a civil servant saying that I should not be dealing with an aspect of the coal industry because I was so emotionally involved as a coal miner. What a cheek! I am pleased to say that the Secretary of State made it perfectly clear what responsibilities I had.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

As a matter of fact, it was.

Photo of Mr Allen McKay Mr Allen McKay , Barnsley West and Penistone

Does my hon. Friend agree that if this had been a report from a local government committee to a full council, the full council would have sent it back to the committee? If that did not happen, Conservative Members would say that the district auditor should investigate such corruption and whether there was a case to answer. If the mother of Parliaments cannot send back to the Committee something that is suspicious, we are worthy of suspicion ourselves.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I know that there are many views of Parliament and that sometimes people are very cynical about it. I say to them that they can be either Members of Parliament or outsiders. Labour Members have more reason to preserve this House than anyone. If we leave here, we have nowhere else to go. This is a forum for discussion, and our forefathers made great sacrifices to ensure that we would have a Parliament in which we can voice the opinions of the people whom we represent. We are not anti-parliamentarian by any stretch of the imagination. If we destroy Parliament and the way that it works, we destroy the opportunity for putting the case of the people whom we represent. I make no apology for defending the House.

At the outset of my remarks I mentioned the great change that has taken place. I showed how, since July, the Government's energy policy had changed. I said that that policy is out of date, which itself is a good reason for the Bill to be referred back to the Committee. It is a good reason for the Government to reconsider it, and my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) knows that we have asked the Government to do that.

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley , Barnsley Central

My hon. Friend said that the document on Government energy policy was out of date when it was forwarded to my hon. Friend in his capacity as secretary of the miners' group. That document was not only out of date but was compiled at the same time as the document that was leaked to the Financial Times publication "Power in Europe". It is contradictory to the information given in the letter from the Secretary of State for Energy. At about the same time as that letter, the Department of Energy gave evidence to the Select Committee about several matters, including redundancies in the coal industry. The information given to the Select Committee was contradictory to the information that we were given in the letter from the Secretary of State, and different from the information in the leaked document.

The Government's energy policy is upside down. It is absolutely futile for us to consider this Bill. Some 30,000 jobs in the coal industry are at stake because 15 million tonnes of coal will be imported through the Humber ports if the Bill is passed. Will my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) reflect on that and on the fact that there is no representative from the Department of Energy on the Government Front Bench and nor is the Leader of the House there?

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

That could be the subject of a speech which would probably last for all the time that we have available. My hon. Friend poses a pertinent question and if I have a chance to make this speech, that question will be the substance of my remarks, because he is correct.

I must plead guilty of inaccuracy because I said that the Government's statement was out of date. The words were out of date because, at that time, we did not have the knowledge that we now have. It is a damning indictment of the Government that they had the temerity to write that statement, knowing perfectly well that there was a Cabinet document that we knew nothing about, and which was subsequently leaked. That was clandestine and it must cause embarrassment to the Government to be found out issuing words that do not relate to reality.

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

Before my hon. Friend goes on to make his speech, does he agree that the most damning indictment of the Government in their involvement with Associated British Ports, is that, at the beginning of the Third Reading debate on the Bill, the Minister refused to get up and to offer answers about the special report or about the way the Bill had gone through the House? It will be interesting to see whether the Government have come, prepared with a statement, to pass comment on the implications of the Bill, as we proceed towards 10 o'clock.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I am glad that I do not have to respond on behalf of the Government and that I am not responsible for what they do. I am not a supporter of the Government and I am always anxious to point that out in letters to my constituents. I do not know what the Minister will say, whether he will respond or try to defend the indefensible.

I shall list three aspects of how things have changed. I do not want to incur the wrath of some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, but I have to say that the nuclear power argument has changed dramatically even when one considers the words of the Secretary of State in the document. I shall not go through the papers and quote exactly, but they talked about security of supply, a price that the consumer could afford and a proper pricing policy. That is old hat.

I do not know what the Government will do about an indigenous energy policy but it is well known—in fact it appeared in The Observer, at the weekend—that we will not be able to build any more pressurised water reactors after Sizewell B, because they are too expensive.

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

It should be on record when we are talking about building PWRs that the cost per KW hour could be somewhere between two and three times more than using British fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

If I had been able to proceed, I would have been able to produce ample documentation to substantiate the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron), but he was right to intervene. When one is speaking one can omit details. I am not chastising my hon. Friend, but pointing out that it was my intention to mention that issue.

I base my remarks about nuclear policy not on anything that I have calculated, but on a letter that we received from the Secretary of State for Energy about a country that was trying its best to have an indigenous energy supply, and that was trying to consider "security of supply". I was astonished to read that at the beginning of the week.

Many right hon. and hon. Members have made a meal of the fact that we are importing 1,500 to 2,000 MW of electricity from France. We did the best we could and we tried to find out the cost of that electricity coming across the Channel link. We know what it costs them in France but we can never find out what we have to pay.

I listened to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry at Question Time today. He was complaining about subsidisation within the Common Market.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I am talking about the man who said that he has no objection to a 12-year-old kid having a plastic card, as long as he has money in the bank. I am glad we are at one.

The importation of cheap energy from France will probably have to cease, and the reason that has been given is the drought. At the moment, France is supposed to be madly importing coal to start up coal-fired power stations to sustain indigenous sources of energy. It has been said in many debates in the House that if one depends upon energy supplies from any area, whether it is politically unstable or not, one places British people in jeopardy.

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

My hon. Friend will be aware that we have asked the Government on many occasions to state the price that we pay for French nuclear power. In my view —and it is a generally accepted view—it is an example of dumping. My hon. Friend may like to know that new initiatives are currently being pursued in Britain and elsewhere to ascertain that price. It might be useful, since it is relevant to this debate, if the Minister came clean rather than having to be dragged kicking and screaming to divulge that information.

Does my hon. Friend agree that another serious danger for energy in Britain is the policy which is now being pursued of importing coal at a lower price into Britain than into other European countries? This new port capacity will be used to do that—to smash the British coal industry. When they have succeeded, they will be able to put the price up. That is just as foolish as importing French nuclear power.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

My hon. Friend is spot on. The dream of many countries is to have a safe, secure indigenous source of energy. We in this country are fortunate in that we have an abundance of energy reserves. Some people used to say that we had sufficient coal for 600 years—when I was Minister, we probably had sufficient coal for 1,000 years.

We have been greatly helped by the exploration for North sea oil. When the seismic studies were perfected, we found that we were studying coal measures that we had not thought existed. The so-called exporters who want to destroy our capacity to produce our own energy have been terribly wrong. I have been a Member of Parliament long enough to remember what the experts said to us about North sea oil. They said that oil could never be produced from the North sea because of the hostile climate, with winds of more than 100 mph and waves of more than 100 ft. The Norwegians said the same thing but put it in another context. They said that we could drink the only oil we could ever get from the North sea, and, of course, they were wrong.

The biggest blunder by the experts was on gas reserves. That is why we must consider the proposition lying behind the Bill. They said that North sea gas would be gobbled up by the year 2010. We know differently now. Norway and Britain probably have sufficient gas for more than 100 years.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) has talked about the experts. They say, "You need only close the pits, wave a magic wand whenever you need it and you will be able to get the coal." It does not work like that. Miners these days must be highly skilled. They will not sit around on the dole waiting on their country to decide to open its pits again. It is also a physical impossibility to reopen all the pits. One can mothball, but only to a limited extent.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I do not know. I shall give an example from my constituency. After hundreds of years, there is no longer any coal mining in Midlothian.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

It is a disgrace. That has happened not because there is no coal——

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

There is low-sulphur coal.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

There is very low-sulphur coal. There is no coal mining because of the Government's policy. They said that it was too expensive to produce the coal.

We have a new development in Midlothian, which is called Monktonhall colliery. The authorities spent £40 million or £50 million on its development. The work went on below the Firth of Forth. The men stopped drilling because it became too boring as they were finding more and more coal reserves. British Coal, aided and abetted by the Government, decided that Monktonhall had to close. The authorities thought about it again and said, "We have spent that £40 million or £50 million on developing some of these seams. We will mothball the development." It has been mothballed for about a year, in the hope that things will improve. If Monktonhall colliery is closed because of the water problem—thousands of gallons of water a day are pumped up—the coal measures in that vast area will probably be lost for ever.

That is not energy policy. It is sheer vandalism. Let us remember that the Government are destroying what is a priceless asset for generations yet unborn.

Photo of Mr Jack Thompson Mr Jack Thompson , Wansbeck

I wholly support my hon. Friend's point. Is he aware that the coal reserves in Scotland are echoed down the east coast? In my area in Northumberland, the mine in which I worked was so far out under the North sea that we always claimed that we were entitled to duty-free goods. We were 6 to 10 km out. One of the mines in Northumberland was closed in the 1960s because of bad management decisions. The management decided to use a technique that was not appropriate under the sea. Millions upon millions of tonnes of coal reserves in that area have been written off because the mine had to be flooded after a fire. That is the situation about which my hon. Friend is talking. Those coal reserves are to be found not only in Scotland but along the east coast of England.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

As a Minister with responsibility for coal, I was privileged to see the results of many of the examinations which were carried out. I had some in my house but was not able to lay my hands on them. My hon. Friend is talking about the Cannibie coalfield, which starts at Dumfries and goes on and on through Cumberland. It is probably the largest unexplored coalfield in Britain. Mining that coal is a matter of investment. If pits were opened, miners in Wansbeck, Cumberland and Dumfries would be employed.

People talk about limited coal reserves, but Britain is a rich nation in terms of its energy reserves of oil, gas and coal. We should be worried about silly propositions like the Bill and talk of importing coal, thereby putting our miners out of work and destroying our capacity to produce coal.

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

The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), the sponsor of the Bill, heard the words expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) about closing coal mines and then reopening them. Only today the chairman of British Coal, Sir Robert Haslam, informed the Energy Select Committee that if a coal mine is closed, it cannot be reopened. The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes is aware of that.

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

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know that you have to deal with some tricky situations in the House but we are coming to a sorry pass. The sponsors of the Bill are sitting under the Gallery and there is a South African pin-striped fellow who has not yet opened his eyes. Despite all the talk, he is using the Chamber as a doss house—[Interruption.]

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

Order. The Chair is accustomed to dealing with tricky situations. However, as the hon. Gentleman knows, one is not supposed to refer to people present but not in the Chamber. However, the point has been taken.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

Some of us are sentimental and if someone is sleeping, we do not want to disturb them unduly. However, perhaps the Badge Messengers could point out that he should go to his bed.

Photo of Mr Lawrence Cunliffe Mr Lawrence Cunliffe , Leigh

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We should suspend the House for 10 minutes. I an extremely concerned about our honourable visitor—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Lawrence Cunliffe Mr Lawrence Cunliffe , Leigh

We should suspend the sitting—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I shall give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Baron:

Does my hon. Friend agree that we could look at no better region than the Scottish coalfields if we are studying the Government's energy policy, or the lack of it? There is a sub judice rule in the House and it is not my intention to comment on any particular case. However, two public bodies—British Coal and the South of Scotland electricity board—are currently in court arguing about contracts. That sums up the Government's commitment to any form of energy policy.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

My hon. Friend tempts me to deal with the absurd position in which we now find ourselves. The Government are supposed to reflect the needs of the nation but they are standing back and in the courts we have an expensive legal battle between the South of Scotland electricity board and British Coal.

The situation is becoming a farce. The problems are convoluted by the fact that last year the South of Scotland electricity board decided to import Chinese coal. If one is to depend on a particular area for one's energy supplies, one must look for areas of political stability. I do not regard South Africa as an area of political stability and I do not think that anybody would disagree that China can hardly be deemed as such. When we question the Government, they say that the case in the courts is a matter of commercial judgment for the bodies involved. That is an abdication of what good government should be about.

Photo of Mr Jack Thompson Mr Jack Thompson , Wansbeck

Is my hon. Friend aware that in May and June this year some of my parliamentary colleagues and I were in China during the student demonstrations? The instability still exists and my hon. Friend was right to say that China is not politically stable. We should not depend upon imports of Chinese coal. It will be 20 or 30 years before that country becomes stable again.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

My hon. Friend adds substance to my earlier argument that we have an abundance of indigenous energy. I heard my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth say that some coal was low in sulphur content. However, some of the coals that we import are high in sulphur content. Earlier, I saw the green Minister, the Secretary of State for the Environment, sitting on the Front Bench. What are his views when the Cabinet decides on imports of coal? The Government supposedly went green. They are not very blue at times, but they are certainly not green either.

The coal deal made by the South of Scotland electricity board was absurd, yet it was done in Parliament's name. The price paid bore no relation to the cost of producing energy indigenously.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

Is my hon. Friend aware that only this week, 20,000 tonnes of Colombian coal, dug by small children, was imported on the east coast? For the past two years, large amounts of South African coal, dug by slave labour, has been imported via Rotterdam, where it is mixed with cheap coal, imported into this country and distributed. Is my hon. Friend also aware that an ex-employee of British Coal, who was a senior director of British Coal, is one of the directors of the main company involved in the mixing and sale of that coal?

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I know many people who are engaged in business and some of them are decent people. However, I also come across many people who argue that if it is good for business, it is justified. This is a question of morality. The analogy is to say that it is right to have cheaper coal even if it is produced by 10 or 11-year-old children. What kind of nation are we if we are prepared to countenance that? We are even encouraging it to some extent by buying such coal.

The Prime Minister talks about returning to good Victorian moral values. I do not know what moral values are for 1989 and 1990, but I know that my constituents take gross exception to the fact that as a nation, we argue on the basis that if it is good business and if it is profitable, we must carry on with it. I gave an earlier example which typified the Government's philosophy. When the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry was asked a question today about 12-year-old children having plastic credit cards, he did not say that that was a bit much or unfair, as most people would have said. Instead, he had to bring the business aspect into his answer. He said that there was nothing wrong with it provided that 12-year-old children had the money. A Government who preach such moral values are wrong.

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

Does my hon. Friend recognise that in addition to the feckless morality and social stupidity of a Government with such a policy, there is also demonstrable incompetence, which allows a current trade deficit of £18 billion a year which will certainly rise? Does my hon. Friend agree that that means that we shall soon see a pound-dollar relationship at least 25 cents lower than it is now? That will mean that although the Government believe that they are signing good deals to import coal from Colombia or elsewhere, in five or six years' time at the most, this country will find that it cannot afford the new price as a result of the changed sterling relationship.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

My hon. Friend makes a valid point. We have often heard that if one destroys one's indigenous energy capacity, which is the key to a nation's requirements, and does not have sufficient energy sources, one dies. In the long run, a Government who subscribe to such a policy will be at the mercy of others.

A point was made about the financial problems that Governments encounter when they pursue such policies. Reference was also made to the estimated £20 billion trade deficit. To some extent, the Opposition are trying to help the Government and our constitutents. If we allow the importation of 15 million to 25 million tonnes of foreign coal, we will put extra pressure on our trade balance. Of course, we will never then be able to tackle the £20 billion defecit. It is absolutely crazy that the Government should be conniving. They are either sleeping or whipping the measure through. I cannot understand the crying need for this motion or for this three-hour debate,. It is absolutely unnecessary.

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

My hon. Friend will have noticed that one of the excuses—it can be put no better than that—given by Conservative Members is that there is a need for a port in that area and that coal was only of secondary importance. My hon. Friend will be aware of my interest in the port transport industry: since the abolition of the dock labour scheme, there has been over-capacity in our ports. We need another port like we need a hole in our national head. I hope that my hon. Friend will dismiss the argument about the need for further port capacity in the United Kingdom.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I greatly appreciate my hon. Friend's intervention. I was seeking to emphasise—perhaps overemphasise—the energy argument. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) has brought a new dimension into the argument. Times have changed since this madcap, bastard Bill was introduced. My hon. Friend is saying that events have overtaken the Bill. He pointed out that the argument about port capacity is no longer valid. The House should be grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. There has been a cloth argument in favour of getting the go-ahead to import more than 15 million tonnes of foreign coal.

Photo of Mr Allen McKay Mr Allen McKay , Barnsley West and Penistone

My hon. Friend is exposing the Secretary of State's double-dealing in his conduct of the Government's energy policy. I have a copy of a leaked document that mentions phasing in coal imports over five years. The Government are already talking about five years. The document states: In such a significant closure round, it would be almost impossible to shield the UDM areas from further closures, given that British Coal have already fallen over backwards to maintain in existence relatively high cost pits in Nottinghamshire. Since the miners' strike, the Government have pursued the closure of NUM pits and kept open the high-cost Nottingham pits, as part of their ideological policy against the National Union of Mineworkers.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Perhaps later I shall be able to make the speech that I would like to make, at which time I can deal with the points raised by my hon. Friend. I have all the vital statistics and I am sure that the House would like me to place them on the record. I shall tell my hon. Friend now in case I forget to tell him later that the facts he quotes are correct.

Photo of Mr George Buckley Mr George Buckley , Hemsworth

Understandably, my hon. Friend has dwelt on the consequences of the Bill on the coal industry. All Opposition Members expressed extreme concern at every stage of the Bill. The promoter of the Bill says that it will have no impact whatever on the mining communities. However, he introduced another dimension which I hope my hon. Friend will consider. He says that the Bill's main purpose is to introduce extra capacity for importing chemicals. Perhaps my hon. Friend will consider that aspect, because it may pose danger to his constituents and to the constituents of other hon. Members. The Bill may result in the transport of toxic chemicals through our constituencies. My hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) currently has a toxic waste problem in his constituency caused by imported chemicals.

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

Order. I am sure that the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) will be able to respond to those points.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I take your strictures, Madam Deputy Speaker.

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

Order. My strictures are that interventions should be pertinent or should be questions, and they should not be so long.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I take the strictures, but I understand how my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Buckley) feels. He was a little emotional in describing the matter, but he need not apologise for that because I know that he speaks with great experience of this matter. My hon. Friend's first point was about the impact of the Bill on mining. Anyone who tries to suggest that the provision of facilities capable of handling the import of 15 million tonnes of foreign coal will not have an impact on mining is either not relating himself to reality or is economical with the truth.

We are not merely discussing the impact on one area of imports of coal because the importation of foreign coal touches every part of these islands. It touches south Wales, the north-east, Scotland, Lancashire—I could go through all the regions. It would have an impact throughout the United Kingdom. To some extent that is why the proposition has engendered such emotion in people from every part of the United Kingdom.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth spoke about toxic waste, a matter of great controversy. At the moment I am concerned about the transportation of such waste by rail, quite apart from the possibility of its being conveyed from the ports. I accept that the toxic waste generated must be disposed of. My major criticism, however, is that, because of Government policy, we have not invested the necessary money to dispose of it by the best technological method available.

Vitrification was proposed long ago—it would not solve the problem of toxic waste, but it would make it easier to handle. Somewhere along the line, however, it was decided not to invest money in that process. The failure to do so has, of course, brought anxiety to my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth, to those working at the ports as well as people living in different regions. Some countries approach this problem in a much more realistic manner and they already vitrify toxic waste—despite the fact that we invented that process.

Photo of Mr Terry Fields Mr Terry Fields , Liverpool Broadgreen

I know that my hon. Friend has had a long association with the Fire Brigades Union. He will be aware that that union resists the further development of the transportation of chemical waste. The fire brigade performs a tremendous task along with the ambulance service, which has been treated so shabbily by the Government.

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

Order. I am sure that the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) will get on to the substance of his speech, which he has been promising us for some time now.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

Further to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Fields)—it is perfectly in order for me to comment on what he said—I know that the organisations to which he referred support the stand that has been taken in opposition to the Bill. He is entitled to that response from me so that it can go on the record. We are very dependent upon the emergency services—sometimes we do not want to be—if we are involved in a road accident or a fire. Those people do heroic work. It is right that what my hon. Friend has said should go on the record—they support our opposition to the Bill.

Photo of Mr Michael Welsh Mr Michael Welsh , Doncaster North

The two electricity generating companies have asked that they be able to reduce the amount of coal that they receive from British Coal from 25 million tonnes to below 60 million tonnes while getting the rest from abroad. Does my hon. Friend agree that that means that one third of British collieries will close? It means that the Nottinghamshire coalfields will disappear. What happens when something goes wrong with the importation of that coal? My hon. Friend will know that the critical life of a pit is 10 to 15 years. One cannot just find new coal. If we import coal we will be going into the unknown and generations of people will suffer as they discover that there is no fuel for them. That is what will happen within 15 years. Does my hon. Friend agree that that scenario is correct?

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I confirm what my hon. Friend has said and I hope to do so at even greater length later. A study of the leaked Cabinet paper bears out exactly what my hon. Friend has said. Those suggestions come not from a particular group on the Labour Benches, but from the Government. That is the important thing that we must understand. We are not talking about something that has been cooked up, but about Government statements. Before the debate is concluded I hope that I shall have the opportunity to raise some further questions so that they are put on the record.

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

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) for allowing me to say a few words. I have previously attended debates on this subject because it is one of the most important which we have discussed during my time here. I have listened to the Prime Minister over and over again saying how she hates sanctions against South Africa, that the sanctions would hurt the South African working people, and that working is the way for South African people to obtain their freedom. That is absolutely and directly connected with the issue which we are discussing.

We all know that these ports are a deliberate attack on the miners. The hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart), who represents the Union of Democratic Mineworkers, knows full well that having used the UDM the Government will ruthlessly sacrifice it and all the workers of South Africa, including the miners. They know that the coal will go to Holland, where there are no mines, and that the coal will come here from specially arranged ports in Holland. We know that and they know that, and the South African workers defend the British workers as we defend them. That is the reality of the struggle which is going on.

The Conservative party supports trade unions in Poland, and so it should, but it does not support them here. The Government's sanctions are against the miners of this country. They believe in sanctions against our miners and pretend that they are not in favour of sanctions against South African miners. Such hypocrisy is almost unbelievable and must be fought, even though they have the will of us in the end.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney , Makerfield

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Will you refer to page 227 of Erskine May's "Parliamentary Practice" on the matter of the misconduct of strangers in Galleries? For the third time in this House we have to raise the fact that the representative of the Parliamentary agents, Sherwoods, is guilty of gross discourtesy to this House by sleeping under the Gallery. He is not someone who is a stranger to the House and visiting it for the first time, but a professional. paid individual who knows the practice of this House. In accordance with Standing Orders, will the Serjeant at Arms remove the person because it is a gross discourtesy to this House for such an agent to come here and conduct himself in such a fashion?

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

I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but hon. Members should not refer to strangers in the Gallery. I assure the hon. Member that I have dealt with the matter in the firmest possible manner.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I must respond briefly to what my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) has tried to argue in relation to South Africa. If the House has the patience to listen to me I shall describe what has happened in relations to the South African coal miners whose wages and conditions are a disgrace.

In the past, I have had the opportunity to speak to some of the leaders of the South African coal miners. I wish to make a point which I have repeatedly tried to make during this debate: the importation of energy does not assist our balance of payments problem. Worse than that, when we have an abundance of such energy of our own, it seems suicidal that we should consider contracting our indigenous energy capacity in order to buy energy supplies from overseas. Such a consideration is bedevilled by the fact that the energy is produced by semi-slave labour in South Africa.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough will accept that tonight we have been arguing that we want no part of that. One aspect of this debate has dealt with the morality and ethics involved in this matter. There is no morality in importing coal which is produced by 11-year-old children or slave labour in South Africa. Certainly we are very much against it.

Photo of Mr Peter Griffiths Mr Peter Griffiths , Portsmouth North

I fully accept that the Bill increases port capacity and has implications for the coalmining industry, energy policy and the importation of coal. I have not sought to intervene earlier because the Bill does not directly and immediately affect my constituents. However, does the hon. Gentleman agree that at the beginning of this evening's debate many of his hon. Friends were seeking to deal with the motion, which has considerable significance for parliamentary and constitutional procedure, and it would be a great pity if between now and 10 o'clock those who wish to debate the substance of the motion were denied the opportunity to do so?

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I make no complaints about the points that the hon. Gentleman is making. If the hon. Gentleman was in the House earlier, he will know that I raised a point of order. I did not like what happened in the House tonight. I told Mr. Deputy Speaker that a way out of the impasse would be to suspend the sitting for 10 minutes to allow the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General to rule on the legality of the motion. It is only a guess, but we might then have been able to proceed. I do not know what can be done about the legality of the matter. My hon. Friends also have a view on that. The measure should not have been proceeded with tonight.

In the course of my remarks and in trying to respond to interventions, I have been trying to back up that argument. The hon. Gentleman is entitled to disagree, but I hope that he will appreciate that some of the points that my hon. Friends have been putting to me, and some of the points that I have been putting, have sought to substantiate the fact that the Bill is out of date and that this carry-over motion should not have been before us tonight.

What happens in the next Session is a matter for us all to play for, but why on earth, with the Government under so much pressure to get their business through and with the House meeting at 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning, is this matter being treated with such urgency?

I might be told that I am behaving in an extraordinary way. I am not criticising anybody. The Chairman of Ways and Means may have been duty bound to put this measure on the Order Paper. However, I can say in all sincerity that I have been a Member of the House for getting on for 25 years and I know that any Government who do not want a particular thing generally succeed in their objective if they have the necessary majority.

We are reasonable men. The Leader of the House sent for some of us and we had a discussion. We said, "Look, there doesn't seem to be any problem here. You are saying that this is only a carry-over motion and that the matter will then be debated in the next parliamentary Session regardless of whether the matter is of the minor importance that you suggest." But if the matter has the insignificance that was suggested, why are we spending three hours debating this when the House is chockfull of parliamentary legislation that must be completed before the Queen's Speech?

If the hon. Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths) feels embarrassed by what has happened tonight, we have a solution to the problem. We should not proceed with the motion. Nothing would be lost or gained if we did that and the promoters of the Bill would be completely up to date when they had to produce a fresh proposition to present to the House. The hon. Gentleman and I would be better informed. Since the Bill was first presented to the House so many things have happened. That is a reasonable solution as it would do away with all the hassle and all the difficulty.

I do not like what has happened here tonight. I have already expressed my views about Parliament, parliamentary democracy, the authority of the Chair and the conduct of business. To some extent, Parliament and the Government have been injured tonight.

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

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. It is really very kind of him to be so generous with his time. Will he accept from me that we are debating a procedural motion designed to carry the Bill over so that further discussion can take place? It is certainly the Government's view that there is nothing unusual about having a motion in the name of the Chairman of Ways and Means. As the Government are always neutral in respect of private Bills[Interruption.] We believe that it is wholly consistent with that position that the motion in the name of the Chairman of Ways and Means for the carry-over should be supported. Therefore, if there is a vote, the Government will recommend to the House that the motion should be carried so that there can be further debate, and all the issues that have been raised this evening could be pursued on Third Reading. Will he therefore accept from me that it would be the Government's recommendation that the carry-over motion should be passed by the House?

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Why should we accept a statement like that from the Minister at the Dispatch Box when we know very well that on previous occasions when we have debated this Bill, all the Ministers have been wheeled in, including the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Energy, to vote in favour of it? They have a Whip on it——

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

Let me attempt to cool the anger of my hon. Friends. I want to respond to the Minister. It is unfortunate that the Minister is obviously not privy to what has happened. I do not wish to delay the House, but I could quote verbatim the Government's attitude, as it is contained in the letter I have here about the Bill. The Government argue that they want to be as reasonably objective as possible, but at the end of the day, it is a matter of ways and means. I and my hon. Friends are quite entitled to oppose the motion. The Government may disagree with us, but we are entitled to vote against the motion. But—this is what angers my hon. Friends—we know that there is a Whip on the motion. Therefore, the Government lack the candour that they should show on the matters.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I shall give way to my hon. Friend when I have answered the Minister. I am not revealing any secrets as I respect confidentiality, but I was asked by the Leader of the House and the deputy Leader of the House to go and see them. They asked what was the problem. I have a record of what I said then and also of what I said when we met the Leader of the House and the Secretary of State. We explained the problem to them. I know that the Minister was not privy to our discussions, so I do not criticise him. We asked his Cabinet Minister why it was necessary to debate the measure tonight when the Government have such a pressure of business.

The Minister said that we were dealing with a technicality. Whether or not he believes that, he has been sitting at the Dispatch Box for most of the debate and one thing must be impressed upon his mind—that my hon. Friends do not think that this is but a simple technicality. If anything is marked on his mind, it must be how strongly my hon. Friends feel.

I said earlier that Governments with a commanding majority generally get their way. I am not suggesting that the Government would breach the private legislation procedure and usurp the powers of the Chairman of Ways and Means. Nevertheless, had the Government so wanted, they could have prevented this debate and all the agony felt by my hon. Friends. The matter is not as simple as the Minister has suggested, and we cannot allow the measure to proceed.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

Will my hon. Friend consider the content of the Minister's intervention? He suggested that, if the carry-over motion was accepted, there would be a further opportunity for debate. Is it not true that if the motion is accepted, that will curtail further debate? If the Minister is anxious for further debate, what could be more satisfactory than to allow the Bill to lapse with other Bills on Prorogation so that it can go through all its procedures in a new Session of Parliament? If the Minister wants more debate, he should advance that argument. Does not all this demonstrate the Government's double standards and forked tongue?

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

My hon. Friend argues with sweet reasonableness. However, I was even more reasonable when, at the outset, I said that because there had been great changes in energy policy—absolutely devastating changes—since the Bill was first born, the proper procedure would be to accept paragraph 26 of the Committee's report, which said that because the issue covered all aspects of energy policy it did not feel competent to make a judgment, and that it was a matter for Government to decide. My proposition was different from that of my hon. Friend. It was that we should decide to send the Bill back to the Committee, which would then examine it in the light of all that had happened, and report back to the House. Then we would have a proper, up-to-date report.

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

May I add to the serious point made by my hon. Friend? Would he care to remind the Minister—a Transport Minister is on the Bench at present—that, just before the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill was, unfortunately, passed, a high-quality survey of port capacity in the United Kingdom was carried out by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, on whose council I then sat—as will be confirmed by my hon. Friend the Minister for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley), who is now a member of that council. That survey demonstrated beyond doubt that there was no need for the investment on the Orwell that destroyed a site of considerable importance.

There have been other approvals of dock investment since then, but the basis of the argument advanced against the Orwell investment is even stronger today because of that. We have, however, had no real opportunity to consider the transport implications of the Bill, because economic and energy implications have been overriding. Does not the question of transport investment strengthen the suggestion by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) that proceedings on the Bill should start all over again? Would the Minister care to deny what I have said?

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I do not know how long I have been speaking—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not long enough."] Indeed, I have not even started my speech. I do not want to fall out with my hon. Friends at this juncture; nor do I wish to be sandwiched between my hon. Friends the Members for Wentworth and for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer). I was trying to demonstrate that I have been, to some extent, an example of sweet reasonableness. I had no intention of deviating from the proposition that I advanced at the outset as a solution to the problem.

I do not object to what my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South has said; I am merely saying that we are giving the Minister not one but two options. If I could persuade the House to accept either, it would get us out of our present unnecessary impasse. I am astonished that as yet we have had no response from the Minister, but I suspect that he is not empowered to respond to the present climate of debate: if he were, he would surely have accepted one of those two propositions.

Photo of Mr Andrew Stewart Mr Andrew Stewart , Sherwood

The hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) is probably one of the greatest authorities in the House on the mining industry, and, in his long speech, he has made some pertinent points and offered some solutions. The hon. Gentleman has talked about deep feelings, but does he not feel that they may be a little shallow, in view of the fact that only 51 of his colleagues turned out to vote against the Bill on Second Reading on 23 June 1988?

Photo of Mr Michael Welsh Mr Michael Welsh , Doncaster North

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether you could rule on the point that has just been made by the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart)? Is it relevant to the carry-over motion?

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

No breach whatsoever of our Standing Orders has been committed.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

At the outset of the debate, I said how emotional and indignant my hon. Friends feel about the motion. The point made by the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart) was synthetic. I made the mistake of courteously allowing him to intervene, but I am bound to say that he is the victim of his own Government's deception. The leaked Cabinet papers may have a devastating impact on jobs in the Nottinghamshire area and in his constituency. I predict that many Conservative Members will not be re-elected. They must be worried about their prospects. We have only the power of argument and persuasion, but Conservative Members ought to be able to exert some influence over the Government in a way that we cannot do.

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

The hon. Gentleman has raised a number of points about the Government's energy policy and their attitude towards various other matters. It is entirely legitimate that he should pursue them in correspondence with Ministers, at meetings with Ministers, at Question Time and in debates that the Opposition wish to initiate. So that there is no confusion about it, I ought to point out that we are debating the carry-over motion and that none of the matters to which the hon. Gentleman has referred is relevant to that question. I believe that I can explain to the hon. Gentleman in a way that he will understand why the Government support the motion of the Chairman of Ways and Means to have the Bill carried over to another Session when it could be further debated.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I am grateful to the Minister for elaborating on the Government's point of view, but my hon. Friends and I have already written to the appropriate Ministers and asked them to explain the Government's energy policy. We have also asked them to explain why they sent to us documents that they knew were out of date.

The hon. Gentleman ought to convey to his ministerial colleagues our view that these debates should take place not in Opposition time but in Government time. The Government are responsible for the leaked Cabinet papers and for the mess that they have made of the nuclear power industry. They were responsible for finding out that nuclear power has become so expensive that it is quite possible that we shall be unable to build another pressurised water reactor. The Government must say why electricity, reputed to be derived from nuclear power and equivalent to the output of one massive power station, will be imported from France. We are told that, having accepted that deal, we may not be able to import that energy. I hope that the Minister will convey my remarks to the Secretary of State for Energy, because they are important for energy policy.

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

In view of the Minister's remarks about the neutrality of the Government, perhaps my hon. Friend will ask the Leader of the House for a debate in Government time on the neutrality of the Government's payroll vote when it is exercised on private business.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

My hon. Friend makes an interesting point. Debates on the Bill have illustrated the convoluted nature of private business.

To some extent, the Bill has been under a guise, and I make no personal criticism of anyone in the Chair of anyone associated with the business procedures. To say that Conservative Members will have a chance to vote without being subject to whipping by the Government is untrue. Hon. Members are concerned about the private procedure. It is untrue to suggest that hon. Members will be voting freely in the Lobby, because Conservative Members have been whipped—[Interruption.]

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

Order. I must be able to hear the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie).

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I had a friendly meeting with the Leader of the House, who received us with the utmost courtesy. I told him about a member of the Government going through the Lobby, but that Mr. Speaker, in his wisdom, decided that the matter—[Interruption.]

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

Order. If hon. Members wish to hold meetings, perhaps they would do so on the other side of the swing doors.

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

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put: —

The House divided: Ayes 190, Noes 169.

Division No. 366][9.58 pm
AYES
Allason, RupertHill, James
Amess, DavidHoward, Michael
Arbuthnot, JamesHowarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Atkins, RobertHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyHunt, David (Wirral W)
Beggs, RoyHunter, Andrew
Bellingham, HenryIrvine, Michael
Bendall, VivianJessel, Toby
Bevan, David GilroyJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Blackburn, Dr John G.Kilfedder, James
Boscawen, Hon RobertKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Knapman, Roger
Bowis, JohnKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Brazier, JulianKnox, David
Bright, GrahamLang, Ian
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Lawrence, Ivan
Burns, SimonLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Butler, ChrisLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Butterfill, JohnLightbown, David
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Lilley, Peter
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Carrington, MatthewLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Cash, WilliamLord, Michael
Chapman, SydneyLyell, Sir Nicholas
Chope, ChristopherMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)Maclean, David
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Madel, David
Colvin, MichaelMans, Keith
Conway, DerekMarland, Paul
Cope, Rt Hon JohnMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Couchman, JamesMeyer, Sir Anthony
Cran, JamesMiller, Sir Hal
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Mills, Iain
Day, StephenMiscampbell, Norman
Devlin, TimMitchell, Sir David
Dorrell, StephenMoate, Roger
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMolyneaux, Rt Hon James
Dunn, BobMonro, Sir Hector
Durant, TonyMorrison, Sir Charles
Emery, Sir PeterMoss, Malcolm
Fallon, MichaelMoynihan, Hon Colin
Favell, TonyNeubert, Michael
Fenner, Dame PeggyNicholls, Patrick
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Fishburn, John DudleyNorris, Steve
Fookes, Dame JanetPage, Richard
Forman, NigelPatnick, Irvine
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Fox, Sir MarcusPortillo, Michael
Freeman, RogerRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
French, DouglasRedwood, John
Garel-Jones, TristanRenton, Rt Hon Tim
Glyn, Dr AlanRhodes James, Robert
Goodhart, Sir PhilipRiddick, Graham
Goodlad, AlastairRidley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesRidsdale, Sir Julian
Gorman, Mrs TeresaRifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Gow, IanRoberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Roe, Mrs Marion
Gregory, ConalRossi, Sir Hugh
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Rowe, Andrew
Grist, IanRumbold, Mrs Angela
Ground, PatrickRyder, Richard
Grylls, MichaelSackville, Hon Tom
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynSayeed, Jonathan
Hague, WilliamShaw, David (Dover)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Haselhurst, AlanShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hawkins, ChristopherShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyShersby, Michael
Skeet, Sir TrevorTwinn, Dr Ian
Speed, KeithWaddington, Rt Hon David
Squire, RobinWalker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Steen, AnthonyWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Stern, MichaelWaller, Gary
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)Ward, John
Stradling Thomas, Sir JohnWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Warren, Kenneth
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Watts, John
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)Wheeler, John
Tebbit, Rt Hon NormanWiddecombe, Ann
Temple-Morris, PeterWiggin, Jerry
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)Winterton, Mrs Ann
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Winterton, Nicholas
Thorne, NeilWood, Timothy
Thornton, MalcolmYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Thurnham, Peter
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)Tellers for the Ayes:
Tredinnick, DavidMr. David Davis and Mr. Nicholas Bennett.
Trippier, David
NOES
Alexander, RichardFisher, Mark
Allen, GrahamFlannery, Martin
Armstrong, HilaryFlynn, Paul
Ashton, JoeFoster, Derek
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Fraser, John
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Fyfe, Maria
Barron, KevinGalloway, George
Battle, JohnGarrett, John (Norwich South)
Beckett, MargaretGodman, Dr Norman A.
Benn, Rt Hon TonyGolding, Mrs Llin
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Gordon, Mildred
Bermingham, GeraldGriffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Bidwell, SydneyGrocott, Bruce
Blair, TonyHardy, Peter
Blunkett, DavidHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Boateng, PaulHaynes, Frank
Boyes, RolandHeffer, Eric S.
Bradley, KeithHenderson, Doug
Brandon-Bravo, MartinHood, Jimmy
Bray, Dr JeremyHoyle, Doug
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Buckley, George J.Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Caborn, RichardIllsley, Eric
Callaghan, JimIngram, Adam
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Clay, BobKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Clelland, DavidLambie, David
Clwyd, Mrs AnnLamond, James
Cohen, HarryLatham, Michael
Coleman, DonaldLeadbitter, Ted
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Corbyn, JeremyLitherland, Robert
Cousins, JimLivingstone, Ken
Cox, TomLivsey, Richard
Crowther, StanLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cryer, BobLofthouse, Geoffrey
Cummings, JohnLoyden, Eddie
Cunliffe, LawrenceMcAllion, John
Darling, AlistairMcCartney, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Mcl-all, John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)McKelvey, William
Dewar, DonaldMcWilliam, John
Dixon, DonMadden, Max
Dobson, FrankMahon, Mrs Alice
Doran, FrankMarek, Dr John
Dunnachie, JimmyMartin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethMartlew, Eric
Eadie, AlexanderMaxton, John
Eastham, KenMeacher, Michael
Evans, John (St Helens N)Meale, Alan
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Michael, Alun
Faulds, AndrewMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Fearn, RonaldMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, RhodriSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Morley, ElliotSmith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Morris, M (N'hampton S)Soley, Clive
Mowlam, MarjorieSteinberg, Gerry
Murphy, PaulStevens, Lewis
Nellist, DaveStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
O'Brien, WilliamStott, Roger
O'Neill, MartinStrang, Gavin
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Parry, RobertThompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Patchett, TerryTurner, Dennis
Pike, Peter L.Vaz, Keith
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)Wall, Pat
Prescott, JohnWalley, Joan
Quin, Ms JoyceWareing, Robert N.
Reid, Dr JohnWatson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Richardson, JoWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Robertson, GeorgeWilson, Brian
Rogers, AllanWinnick, David
Rooker, JeffWise, Mrs Audrey
Rowlands, TedWorthington, Tony
Ruddock, JoanWray, Jimmy
Sheerman, BarryYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shore, Rt Hon PeterTellers for the Noes:
Short, ClareMr. Michael Welsh and Mr. Martin Redmond.
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly: —

The House divided: Ayes 190, Noes 169.

Division No. 367][10.10 pm
AYES
Allason, RupertDunn, Bob
Amess, DavidDurant, Tony
Arbuthnot, JamesEmery, Sir Peter
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Fallon, Michael
Aspinwall, JackFaveil, Tony
Atkins, RobertFenner, Dame Peggy
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Fishburn, John Dudley
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Fookes, Dame Janet
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyForman, Nigel
Beggs, RoyForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bellingham, HenryForsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Bendall, VivianFowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bevan, David GilroyFox, Sir Marcus
Blackburn, Dr John G.Freeman, Roger
Boscawen, Hon RobertFrench, Douglas
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bowis, JohnGlyn, Dr Alan
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGoodhart, Sir Philip
Brazier, JulianGoodlad, Alastair
Bright, GrahamGoodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Burns, SimonGow, Ian
Butler, ChrisGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Butterfill, JohnGregory, Conal
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Grist, Ian
Carrington, MatthewGround, Patrick
Cash, WilliamGrylls, Michael
Chapman, SydneyGummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Chope, ChristopherHague, William
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Haselhurst, Alan
Colvin, MichaelHawkins, Christopher
Conway, DerekHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Cope, Rt Hon JohnHill, James
Couchman, JamesHoward, Michael
Cran, JamesHowarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Day, StephenHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Devlin, TimHowell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Dorrell, StephenHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Hunter, AndrewRoberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Irvine, MichaelRoe, Mrs Marion
Jessel, TobyRossi, Sir Hugh
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelRumbold, Mrs Angela
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Ryder, Richard
Knapman, RogerSackville, Hon Tom
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Sayeed, Jonathan
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Shaw, David (Dover)
Knox, DavidShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lang, IanShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lawrence, IvanShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Shersby, Michael
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkSkeet, Sir Trevor
Lightbown, DavidSpeed, Keith
Lilley, PeterSquire, Robin
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)Steen, Anthony
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Stern, Michael
Lord, MichaelStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Lyell, Sir NicholasStradling Thomas, Sir John
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Summerson, Hugo
Maclean, DavidTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Madel, DavidTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Mans, KeithTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Marland, PaulTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Temple-Morris, Peter
Meyer, Sir AnthonyThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Miller, Sir HalThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Mills, IainThorne, Neil
Miscampbell, NormanThornton, Malcolm
Mitchell, Sir DavidThurnham, Peter
Moate, RogerTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesTredinnick, David
Monro, Sir HectorTrippier, David
Morrison, Sir CharlesTwinn, Dr Ian
Moss, MalcolmWaddington, Rt Hon David
Moynihan, Hon ColinWalker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Neubert, MichaelWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Nicholls, PatrtekWaller, Gary
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Ward, John
Norris, SteveWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Page, RichardWarren, Kenneth
Patnick, IrvineWatts, John
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)Wheeler, John
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethWiddecombe, Ann
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Wiggin, Jerry
Portillo, MichaelWinterton, Mrs Ann
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyWinterton, Nicholas
Redwood, JohnWood, Timothy
Renton, Rt Hon TimYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Rhodes James, Robert
Riddick, GrahamTellers for the Ayes:
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasMr. David Davis and Mr. Nicholas Bennett.
Ridsdale, Sir Julian
NOES
Alexander, RichardCampbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Allen, GrahamCampbell-Savours, D. N.
Armstrong, HilaryClark, Dr David (S Shields)
Ashton, JoeClay, Bob
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Clelland, David
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Barron, KevinCohen, Harry
Battle, JohnColeman, Donald
Beckett, MargaretCook, Frank (Stockton N)
Benn, Rt Hon TonyCook, Robin (Livingston)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Corbyn, Jeremy
Bermingham, GeraldCousins, Jim
Bidwell, SydneyCox, Tom
Blair, TonyCrowther, Stan
Blunkett, DavidCryer, Bob
Boateng, PaulCummings, John
Boyes, RolandCunliffe, Lawrence
Bradley, KeithDarling, Alistair
Brandon-Bravo, MartinDavies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Bray, Dr JeremyDavies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Buckley, George J.Dewar, Donald
Caborn, RichardDixon, Don
Callaghan, JimDobson, Frank
Doran, FrankMeale, Alan
Dunnachie, JimmyMichael, Alun
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Eadie, AlexanderMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Eastham, KenMoonie, Dr Lewis
Evans, John (St Helens N)Morgan, Rhodri
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Morley, Elliot
Faulds, AndrewMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Mowlam, Marjorie
Fisher, MarkMurphy, Paul
Flannery, MartinNellist, Dave
Flynn, PaulO'Brien, William
Foster, DerekO'Neill, Martin
Fraser, JohnOrme, Rt Hon Stanley
Fyfe, MariaParry, Robert
Galloway, GeorgePatchett, Terry
Garrett, John (Norwich South)Pike, Peter L.
Godman, Dr Norman A.Powell, William (Corby)
Golding, Mrs LlinPrescott, John
Gordon, MildredQuin, Ms Joyce
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Reid, Dr John
Grocott, BruceRichardson, Jo
Hardy, PeterRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyRobertson, George
Haynes, FrankRogers, Allan
Heffer, Eric S.Rooker, Jeff
Henderson, DougRowlands, Ted
Hood, JimmyRuddock, Joan
Hoyle, DougSheerman, Barry
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Illsley, EricShort, Clare
Ingram, AdamSkinner, Dennis
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Kilfedder, JamesSoley, Clive
Kinnock, Rt Hon NeilSteinberg, Gerry
Lambie, DavidStevens, Lewis
Lamond, JamesStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Latham, MichaelStott, Roger
Leadbitter, TedStrang, Gavin
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Litherland, RobertTurner, Dennis
Livingstone, KenVaz, Keith
Livsey, RichardWall, Pat
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Walley, Joan
Lofthouse, GeoffreyWareing, Robert N.
Loyden, EddieWatson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
McAllion, JohnWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
McCartney, IanWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
McFall, JohnWilson, Brian
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)Winnick, David
McKelvey, WilliamWise, Mrs Audrey
McWilliam, JohnWorthington, Tony
Madden, MaxWray, Jimmy
Mahon, Mrs AliceYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Marek, Dr John
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)Tellers for the Noes:
Martlew, EricMr. Michael Welsh and Mr. Martin Redmond.
Maxton, John
Meacher, Michael

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 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 shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read) and shall be ordered to be read the third time;

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.