On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When reading the preamble to the Bill, I noticed that in page 1, line 16, the word "abstact" was used. Clearly the word "abstract" must have been intended, but there was a mistake. I went to the Table Office and said, "Surely we should be able to amend the Bill, because it is wrong."
I looked in "Erskine May", which said that there were certain circumstances in which, even on Third Reading, amendments could be made. You will remember, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the famous occasion a few months ago when a private Member introduced a Bill that the Government had taken off the shelf and given to him, and its title was wrong. On Third Reading the title of the Bill had to be changed, because it conveyed the opposite of what was intended. One Friday we had to speak at some length to sort out the matter.
Even on Third Reading, in very unusual circumstances, it is possible to amend a Bill. So I went to the Table Office and said that a word in the Bill was wrong. An argument was put to me by certain people connected with the Table Office—I do not want to name names; that would be unfair. Those people have a job to do. The last thing that we want to do here is to slag off people who work for a living.
Lloyd's is a different ball game, but we are not talking about Lloyd's here. We are talking about a spelling mistake.
The people in the Table Office said that in certain circumstances an amendment could be made, but that the amendment had to be insignificant. I said that we had an insignificant amendment here. The mistake that I mentioned is insignificant, so it must qualify.
However, there is another argument in "Erskine May", and I suppose that you will have to balance one against the other, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The other argument is that some mistakes are so insignificant that they can be corrected at another time. I do not know into which category the mistake falls. It is a mistake, for sure, and it is marginally insignificant, but does it fall into the category that cannot be debated here and now, or can it be settled somewhere else?
The other mistake occurs at line 13, on the same page, which refers to
a gas turbine generating station".
Yet part II of the Bill refers to 12 works—six for each station. Therefore, the reference to "a … station" is clearly wrong; the provision should refer to "stations".
Oh. We are beginning to get the support of the hon. Member for Johannesburg, are we? He is also on my side on Lloyd's; we are trying to clear up that mess, too, but that is another story.
The second mistake is more than significant; it is fundamental. The Bill refers to "a station" when it means "six stations". When I discovered that, I thought to myself, "I've got a case here." I asked the people concerned, "What do you reckon to this one? This is big." They said, "Of course it is."
Here again, we are talking about different interpretations in "Erskine May". One section of "Erskine May" says that, if a mistake is too significant, it cannot be dealt with on Third Reading. Another section says that, if a mistake is not too big, it can be changed.
I think that we need a ruling from Mr. Speaker. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, could see Mr. Speaker, but, in any case, the matter needs clearing up. On the one hand, we have a tiny spelling mistake of little significance. On the other, we have a big mistake, which alters the whole framework of the Bill. I do not think that the correction of both mistakes can be ruled out. We would settle for one —for the big one or for the little one—but the "Erskine May" rule cannot apply in both cases.
I should like to know, Sir, whether you will suspend the sitting, have a word with Mr. Speaker and get the matter sorted out. We could then deal with it another day so that people can get off. It is Royal Ascot week, after all, and I believe that the Gold Cup is to be run tomorrow. Other hon. Members are attending a fancy dinner party tonight because they have been in Parliament for 21 years. I am not going; I am working my tripes out here—or, at least, some would say that. I think that the matter should be settled, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You have had a word with the Clerk, and I should like to know the score.
On the hon. Gentleman's first point, if he is saying—as I think he is —that there is an obvious misprint or misspelling, it can be corrected without an amendment having been tabled. I am not wholly clear what the hon. Gentleman's second point was because he did not table an amendment in connection with it. It would be very much better, in any case, if we proceeded with the Third Reading debate. If we did so, the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman), who is to speak on behalf of the promoters of the Bill, might well be able to clarify the matter for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman and the House.
Right. The important word in the phrase is "a". When you look at page 4, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you
will see that part II of the Bill, entitled "Works", enumerates six separate works for each company. My argument is simple. The phrase
a gas turbine generating station
implies that two stations will be built—one per company. In fact, we are talking about six apiece. The Bill should be amended so that line 13 refers to "stations" if the provision is to comply with the rest of the Bill.
From our point of view, however, it would be better if another amendment removing the words "gas turbine" were tabled, thus leaving a reference only to "stations". Then the Bill would—[HON. MEMBERS: "What is the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) doing over there?"] What is happening?
Have you grasped my second point now, Mr. Deputy Speaker? Should the Bill refer to "a station" or "stations" in order to comply with the provisions in part II dealing with works, in which six separate stations are enumerated for each company—12 in all?
If the hon. Gentleman had read the whole paragraph and not just part of it, he would realise that the clauses in question deal with detailed works and not whole stations. That is the answer to his point. As I said, it would be very much better if we got on with the Third Reading debate. If we do that, further clarification may well be given. I call Mr. Knapman.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I ask you to defend hon. Members' rights? During the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), an hon. Member went to the place beneath the Gallery where the promoters, who are not allowed to speak in this place, are sitting to seek advice from them. Can you, Sir, give us some guidance as to whether that will be allowed during the remainder of our proceedings tonight? Will you protect hon. Members by ensuring that those sitting under the Gallery take no part in our proceedings from that position?
Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), Mr. Deputy Speaker. If my understanding of the private Bill procedure is correct, the first thing that must have happened to the Bill in the private Bill Committee following Second Reading in February this year was for the Committee to agree the preamble. That is what "Erskine May" says. The preamble must have been agreed before the Committee considered any of the Bill's clauses.
My hon. Friend has raised a fundamental point. I cannot see how anyone can infer from the grammar in the preamble that the Bill permits the building of more than two gas turbine power stations—one each for National Power and PowerGen. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) will keep quiet, he will hear what I have to say. In effect, later clauses in the Bill give planning permission for the building of six power stations on the site. We can assume that four of them are not designated as gas power stations or any other type of power station. All we know is that there is an outflow of water from the estuary for the further four power stations.
It is on that basis that the point of order has been raised. Before the Bill proceeds, we ought to establish whether the preamble is right and whether it has been agreed in Committee, as it tends to mislead the reader with regard to later clauses.
Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I congratulate you on the recent decision taken in respect of the birthday honours list. I think that I speak on behalf of the whole House.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) raised his point of order, you said that you did not quite grasp the significance of his second point. I put it to you, Sir, that I do not grasp the significance of your ruling. The provisions of the Bill are clear. We know that grammar is singular and grammar is plural. The reference in the Bill is in the singular rather than in the plural.
Will you advise the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on how you reached your decision, given that it is clear from the rest of the Bill that we are dealing not with the singular but with the plural? As my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover said, that decision is crucial to the Bill. If the ruling was that the grammar and the definition in the Bill were wrong, Opposition Members would seek, as my hon. Friend said, to discuss the question whether we should be talking about gas-fired power stations or power stations. I hope that you, Sir, will be seized of the importance of the matter. I ask you again to clarify how you reached your decision that the Bill was in order.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his kind comments at the beginning of his remarks. The preamble to the Bill has been proved, so we cannot go back on that. It is clear to me that the points that have been made are relevant to the Third Reading. The hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman), who is seeking to catch my eye, may be able to explain them.
I hesitate to rise on a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but earlier this afternoon Mr. Speaker refused even to hear a point of order from me, whereas you have listened patiently to a whole series of utterly fraudulent and bogus points of order. A clear reading of the preamble to the Bill makes it apparent that generating stations are referred to. The preamble states:
whereas to meet requirements for the supply of electricity each of the two companies"—
National Power and PowerGen—
proposes to construct on the lands vested in that company a gas turbine generating station".
It is manifest that the education of Opposition Members in the English language is so lacking that they have failed to grasp the basics.
A moment ago you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, made a very important comment. You said that the preamble to the Bill had been dealt with earlier; but, with respect, it was not this Bill. This Bill has been to another place and has been returned. Therefore, this Bill is not the Bill that was dealt with earlier. This is the Bill that has been reprinted. I accept that there are spelling errors in it—that can happen with any Bill—but there is also an error of substance. This is not the Bill that we discussed at an earlier stage. Having listened to the earlier debates, without participating, I can say that this is not the Bill that we debated earlier. With respect, I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to reconsider the statement that you have just made. This is a different Bill.
It might help you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to know that, if the Bill becomes an Act, it will not give PowerGen or National Power permission to build one, two, three, four, six, 66 or 166 power stations. The only authority which is competent to give planning permission for one, two or more—or less—power stations is not the House of Commons but Glanford borough council. The Bill deals only with pipes out of the power stations, so that the number of power stations is irrelevant.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
I second the good wishes of my colleagues and congratulate you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on featuring so prominently in the birthday honours list.
My hon. Friends the Members for Cannock and Burntwood (Mr. Howarth) and for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) have said much of what I need to say because they covered a substantial part of the Bill. However, I was surprised at the amateurish way in which a further delay was sought tonight. After all, where on earth was the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) during the revival motion and the debate on Second Reading? If the Labour party has such strong views on the subject, and if it is so deeply in the pockets of the National Union of Mineworkers, why did not one member of the Labour party attend the Committee stage?
While the hon. Gentleman is talking about pockets, will he declare to the House that the building firm with which he is involved will not be applying for any of the works mentioned in the Bill? As he is a member of Lloyd's, will he also make it clear that he is not involved in any representations to the Government about tax concessions for himself?
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for taking such a close interest in what I do. I am happy to reassure him on all those issues. I should have thought that anyone who was a builder or a member of Lloyd's deserved a little sympathy at the moment.
Tonight I thought that we had seen the nadir—that means the lowest point—of delays. However, I examined the record a little more closely and read the contribution of the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) on the revival motion on 14 January. Why was it said that the Bill should not proceed at that time? I remind the House, because the hon. Gentleman's comments merit further publicity. He said:
I recall telling the House in a previous debate that, when I met the Norwegian commanders in NATO, I asked them what would happen if a conflict broke out in the North sea and what consequences it would have for the oil and gas installations. They told me that the installations could not be defended. As a strategic aspect is now involved, because we may soon be involved in a war in the Gulf, the situation has changed since the House last addressed the subject.
That appears to have been the reason for delaying the Bill at that stage. It is a good job that we did not take any notice of the hon. Gentleman's strictures, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Moss) said so eloquently. He said:
I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman. He is saying that with the Gulf crisis, or a Gulf war, we shall not have enough gas in the short to medium term and that we shall have to import it from the Soviet Union through a non-existent pipeline".—[Official Report, 14 January 1991; Vol. 183, c. 675–76.]
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Where should we be without your guidance? I shall not detain the House for very long because there is a star-studded cast of Conservatives Members who wish to speak tonight, including my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge, North-East—a member of the Committee—who is an absolute certainty for Secretary of State one of these days.
I shall give way in a moment. Other hon. Friends will contribute, not least my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes who has represented his constitutency in a way that is in marked contrast with those representing the two adjoining constituencies, both of whom are Labour Members and neither of whom has attended the debates on the revival motion or on Second Reading. They are also not here tonight, and why is that? It is because they know that the coal lobby is here and that their views count for nothing.
May I give the hon. Gentleman an opportunity to correct an error that he seemed to make in answer to a question that I put to him on Second Reading?
I asked him to name the petitioner against the Bill and the reason for the objection being withdrawn. The hon. Gentleman said:
I understand that the Coalfield Communities Campaign objected on the general principle of how the proposals would affect coalfield communities, but it withdrew the objection. It realised, even if the hon. Gentleman does not, that the Bill has nothing to do with coal."—[Official Report, 27 February 1991; Vol. 186, c. 1034.]
Will the hon. Gentleman admit that that has nothing to do with why the petition was withdrawn and that he made an error, to say the least?
I agree entirely, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am very tempted because I have such a detailed knowledge of all the subjects that the hon. Gentleman seeks to raise. However, I appreciate that if I sought to answer his points, I should be out of order, so I must return precisely to the nature of the Bill.
In the preamble to his speech, the hon. Gentleman mentioned the star-studded cast that he has in front of him and behind him. I have never described people with a vested interest in that manner. The hon. Gentleman mentioned that his hon. Friend the Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) had revealed knowledge of the detail of the Bill. I wish that the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) had read the Second Reading debate because it emerged that the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth had a good speech writer. If the hon. Member for Stroud reads Hansard, he will realise that comments were made about the speech writer. The hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth had the grace to reply to those comments with good humour. Will the hon. Member for Stroud take that on board when he tries to outline his case to the House?
I was merely saying that if I had the choice between my hon. Friend the Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth with a script writer and the hon. Member for Midlothian without one, I would side with my hon. Friend every time.
The Bill can be covered in six salient points. I propose to deal with them briefly because I know that many hon. Members wish to speak. National Power and PowerGen are already in the process of constructing gas turbine generating stations at Killingholme. My hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes will, I am sure, detail for us later how many jobs are now affected by the delay in the private Bill procedure. Almost 1,000 people are on the site now. That is why it makes me a trifle angry to think that the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) is unable, yet again, to attend the debate.
The Bill is related only to drawing water from the River Humber for cooling purposes. Whatever the type of fuel that will be burnt at Killingholme, there would still be a requirement for cooling water works in the River Humber. The Bill, as I have made clear on more than one occasion, is required for the construction of the necessary cooling water works and to overcome the prohibition in the Humber Conservancy Act 1905. We have gone into that matter in great detail before.
Contrary to the protestations of certain Labour Members, the Bill does not seek to circumvent planning permission procedures. The power station developments already have consent. They are now being built and planning permission has been given after full local consultations. Those consultations have included all those involved locally. Many Opposition Members do not have local interests—and they have taken great trouble to say that I do not.
Among the authorities that have been consulted is Glanford borough council, which one would hope knew best what was right for its area. In its letter to the Central Electricity Generating Board, which is now deceased, it wrote:
Further to my letter dated 16 November 1989 I am now able to inform you that on 7 December the Borough Council's Planning Committee resolved that Glanford wishes to raise no objections to the proposals contained in the Bill.
There we are. Glanford borough council wants the development very much. There are many others.
I do not want to put the hon. Gentleman off his speech, but may I ask whether he will cover the issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) on Second Reading about the fact that the Bill does not mention lagoons? Will the hon. Gentleman explain whether lagoons will be used in the operation?
Lagoons are not mentioned in the Bill, so I do not wish to trespass, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, the question has been asked again. I did not answer the point before because I did not understand what the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) was saying on Second Reading.
If the Bill is defeated tonight, lagoons could be built, subject to planning permission, but that would be worse from the environmental and financial points of view. Does the hon. Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood) want even private companies—and I know how much the Labour party detests them—to have additional expense so that they have to charge their customers more? I know that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) has a high opinion of his party leader, the right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock). He said carefully that Labour had to learn to run capitalism better than the Conservatives could. On that basis, I say to the hon. Member for Clydesdale that I have described the position on lagoons.
I underline strongly what my hon. Friend has said about Glanford borough council. I confirm to the House that the picture is exactly as he has described. I have the good fortune to have as my next-door neighbour Councillor Malcolm Parks. As my hon. Friend knows, he has just become this year's mayor of Glanford and the mayoral car is parked outside my driveway as the mayor and mayoress get in and out of it. Councillor Parks and I have discussed the matter at great length. I told him that my hon. Friend would draw to the attention of the House the fact that Glanford was very supportive in so far as it gave planning permission. I give the mayor's blessing as well as my own to what my hon. Friend has said.
I am sure that Councillor Parks and all the councillors on Glanford borough council will watch tonight's proceedings in the mother of Parliaments with unusual interest. They will wonder why Conservative Members have to bring benefits closer to the people of the north-east in the teeth of the fiercest opposition from the Labour party, despite the absence of Labour Members who should be concerned for their constituents' welfare.
It is not only Glanford council that supports the development. Humberside county council also supports the proposal. The hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) has a lot to say and he is currently discussing matters with his colleagues. On Second Reading, we reminded the hon. Gentleman that Humberside county council was Labour controlled and we wondered why the Labour party was at variance with the Labour controlled county council. The hon. Gentleman gave an undertaking to consult the council to see whether things could be ironed out. Has that happened? The hon. Members who cried "Object" to the Bill are not here tonight. Not only local Members, but hon. Members who objected are not here tonight. Will the hon. Member for Rother Valley tell us whether his view has been cleared with Humberside county council which, despite being Labour controlled, has no objection to these matters? [HON. MEMBERS: "This is boring."] Yes, it is boring. I apologised before for the fact that the Bill is mundane. It concerns a water pipe in and out of the River Humber. It is nothing like so dramatic as some Opposition Members would like to make out.
Others that approve the proposals are the North Killingholme parish council, Anglian Water plc, the Electricity Council, Lindsey oil refinery, Shell UK, British Telecom, the Department of the Environment, the Duchy of Lancaster, the Member of the European Parliament, the National Rivers Authority, and many others. Some 40 bodies have been consulted and none has any objection. There was no objection in the other place and there was no substantial discussion of the Bill in Committee. One reason why there was no substantial discussion was that no Labour Member turned up.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way and allowing me to clear up a point arising from the Second Reading debate. Is it not a fact that, contrary to what the hon. Gentleman said then, the Coalfield Communities Campaign was ordered to withdraw its petition against the Bill and did not do so voluntarily? As the Lords Committee judged that it should withdraw its petition, the CCC did not act voluntarily. I hope that he will clarify this point and clear the CCC of that terrible smear.
The reason why the Coalfield Communities Campaign withdrew its petition must have been that it eventually realised, which the hon. Gentleman has not, that the Bill has nothing to do with coal. My hon. Friends and I have made that point at great length on Second Reading, during the debate on the revival motion and we are obliged to do so again now. The hon. Gentleman can ask that question as many times as he wishes, but he will always get the same answer—that the Bill has nothing to do with coal. The fact that this private Bill has passed through the other place and this Chamber with only one objection to it, which was overruled, is remarkable in view of its complexity and the number of organisations that have had to be consulted.
Surely the answer to my question is that the hon. Gentleman does not know. However, that is not the answer that he gave on Second Reading when he said that he knew that the petition had been withdrawn because the petitioners no longer thought that the Bill had anything to do with coal. That was an error or untrue. I hope that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will allow me to cover that point later if I catch your eye.
If an objection is withdrawn, I would not place quite so much emphasis as the hon. Gentleman on the reason why it was withdrawn. The fact is that the only objection that was made by the 40 or more organisations that were consulted was later withdrawn. That seemed to satisfy their Lordships and it should satisfy reasonable hon. Members here.
There is only one point on which I wish to detain the House any further. I refer to the cooling water works, which is a temporary scheme that has nothing to do with lagoons. The scheme that is proposed for the temporary cooling water works would extract water from the River Humber by means of two submersible pumps, mounted on an Associated British Ports (Immingham) gas jetty located 1·5 km downstream of the power station. That is not ideal, but it is a temporary scheme for which permission will be given for 18 months. It is necessary only because of the delays that have been caused to the passage of the Bill by Opposition Members. The House should note that the cost of that delay is £3 million. What is more, the delay is costing more and more every day. Most of the Opposition Members who have done most of the objecting are not in their places tonight, but they should understand that they have had their run—
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the delay in the Bill's passage is more likely to be due to the fact that the promoters were late in bringing it to the House and did not do so until all the other planning permissions had been sought and construction was going ahead? The promoters need look no further than themselves.
The Bill was promoted two years ago. The only reason why the Bill is needed is that the provisions of the Humber Conservancy Act—[Interruption.] No, the answer to the hon. Gentleman is that it was mooted nearly two years ago. The delay is totally unacceptable, bearing in mind that Opposition Members have had nothing concrete to say on the issue. That delay is too long and brings the House into disrepute.
The hon. Gentleman constantly seeks to avoid the question of lagoons, and has even treated it with hilarity. Perhaps he does not understand the definition of a lagoon. If he does understand it, will he explain it to the House so that we are clear that he is clear what the devil we are talking about?
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
In conclusion, and in direct answer to the hon. Member for Clydesdale, the Bill is not an attempt to circumvent any planning permission procedures because planning permission has already been obtained. Not one of the 40 local authorities, regulatory bodies or organisations with a legitimate interest in the Bill is now objecting to it. Therefore, I hope that the House will see its way to granting the Bill a Third Reading.
As happened in earlier stages, tonight's debate on the Bill has exposed the inadequacies of the private Bill procedure. I have tried to choose my words carefully when referring to "inadequacies". In the four years that I have been a Member of the House, I have served on various committees and have spent long nights discussing various Bills. I have seen what happens here—the champagne parties and the chattering under the Galleries. Those things and the private Bill procedure demean this place and the sooner that that procedure is changed, the better.
My recent experience has been on the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill, about which I wrote a minority report. Last week the Prime Minister went to Wales and announced that the Government would introduce their own Bill on that matter because, unlike many of the Bills that are pushed through via the private Bill procedure, the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill did not get through.
Does my hon. Friend agree that this place is demeaned when an hon. Member who is promoting a Bill tries to blame expenses that relate to the works covered by the Bill on the procedures of this place, despite the fact that the outside promoters failed to present the Bill at an early date? Does he further agree that Opposition Members have pressed for changes in the private Bill procedure month after month, and that the Government and their cronies, who are now complaining about the length of time the Bill has taken, are the ones who have delayed and obstructed those changes?
My experience has covered debates both in the Chamber and in Committee. The last Committee on which I served dealt with the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill. I can remember counting the wigs who were being paid £3,000 or £5,000 per day—one could add as many noughts as one likes. I believe that it cost a minimum of £3,000 per wig, so it cost £30,000 per day —
At one stage there were 10 wigs, which amounted to quite a lot of money. It is therefore a bit much for the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) to talk about costs. I did not know until tonight that the hon. Gentleman is a member of Lloyd's. Although I knew that 62 Conservative Members are having sleepless nights at present, I did not know that the hon. Gentleman was one of them. He has my sympathy and I am sure that he will have the sympathy also of my general management committee when I tell its members on Friday night about the poor souls at Lloyd's who are asking for tax concessions to bail them out when they have previously made so much money in profits in the so-called wonderful free-market economy. Those poor souls are now having to come to the Government with their hats, asking to be bailed out.
Does my hon. Friend know that such is the state of affairs at present with those 62 hon. Members and their friends who are members of Lloyd's that they are now staked out outside Lloyd's having avocado soup? There is now an avocado soup kitchen there.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way because this point is pertinent to what he was saying about people being asked to do certain jobs in relation to the promotion of the Bill. May I remind my hon. Friend that the sponsor, who is speaking on behalf of the companies, does not even live in the constituency concerned, yet he has the audacity to stand up in the House and criticise other hon. Members who make comments and who do not live in the constituency either?
I share my hon. Friend's concern about that matter. However, I want to be pragmatic and fair and I recognise that the choice of sponsor is entirely a matter for the promoters. Perhaps they observed what happened during the passage of previous Killingholme legislation and thought that they should go somewhere else because the performance of their sponsor then certainly did not impress me and it might not have impressed them. Perhaps the promoters will look for some improvement. I do not know whether they will obtain any improvement from the hon. Gentleman but I am sure that that is for reasons better known to the hon. Gentleman.
I shall cover that, with the permission of Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I proceed with my speech. As I come towards the end of my speech, if the hon. Gentleman feels that I have not covered some of the matters that he would like me to cover, I hope that he will feel free to jump up.
The expression "unofficial whipping" has some strange connotations. I do not know what unofficial whipping means to Conservative Members, but I am sure that many things which do not do the House credit take place in all its proceedings, not only on the Bill to which my hon. Friend refers. My experience since I became a Member suggests that such things happen often.
The hon. Member for Stroud says that the Bill is about putting pipes in and out and putting water in and out. That is a bit simplistic. The reason why the Coalfield Communities Campaign objected to the Bill was that it had seen the effects that implementation of the Killingholme power station proposals would have on the coal industry and especially the coal communities. The hon. Member for Stroud referred to 1,000 jobs. A conservative—it is a word which does not jump out of my mouth too quickly—estimate of the effect of the gas-fired power station is that it would cause the loss of 5,000 jobs. That is 5,000 mining jobs. The multiplier effect of that loss of jobs on the mining communities would mean that teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, salesmen, van drivers, lorry drivers, and bus drivers would lose their jobs. The list goes on and on. We are not merely talking about water in and out and pipes in and out. The Bill would have serious consequences.
My hon. Friend was talking about consequences. Some considerable time ago I read a general analysis of the Bill. It said that the area that would be most affected by job losses was the Nottingham area. Does my hon. Friend have any knowledge of that?
I thank my hon. Friend for the opportunity to remind the House, for hon. Members who need reminding, that before I came to this place I was a miner for 23 years, 19 of which I spent in the Nottinghamshire coalfield. I was a coal face engineer. I have many happy memories of that time. I was also a local councillor. We did not have such good fortune then. It was a hung council when I was a member of it. There has been a massive swing to Labour since and we now have a Labour council.
The hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart) argues, rightly or wrongly, that my departure may have enhanced Labour's prospects. I am told affectionately by my former colleagues that it might be better if I were down there, but I leave them to what they are doing.
For 19 years I worked in the coal industry in Nottinghamshire. I am aware, and the hon. Member for Sherwood will be aware, of the employment consequences for the Nottinghamshire coalfield and his constituency of a proposal such as the Killingholme power station. Most of the coal in the Nottinghamshire coalfield is steam coal for power stations. The pit where I worked, 011erton colliery, was 70 per cent. steam coal. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) worked at the Clipstone pit, which was about 80 per cent. steam coal. That is the story of the Nottinghamshire coalfield. The people at such pits will be those most affected by the Bill.
The hon. Member for Stroud chose not to talk about lagoons. As a miner and an engineer, I have some experience of lagoons. I imagine that lagoons may be developed in this operation to provide coolants. There are some advantages to creating lagoons; I state that clearly. But there are some environmental disadvantages to lagoons. In a previous debate the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) enlightened us about the biocides in the process. All of us environmental experts could be forgiven for scratching our heads when he talks about biocides. Biocides are a chemical for killing all living matter. They kill insects. What about the animals who are in and out of the water? There will be an effect on the environment and on animal and insect life.
As the hon. Gentleman rightly said, biocides are additives which are put into the water to help remove barnacles, mussels, and algae and so on. The most commonly used biocide is chloride which is proved beyond all measure to be safe and is extensively used. The hon. Gentleman need not get excited about the word biocide. It is a straightforward chemical expression which explains the safety of what PowerGen and National Power seek to do.
I am tempted to have a discussion about the safety of chlorides. I have heard many sad stories about the misuse and effects of chlorides in certain circumstances. If one tried to drink water in certain parts of this country, one would not be so comforted by the hon. Gentleman's assurances.
That and several other illnesses can be ascribed to pollution from chemicals and pesticides. People in Britain and in other countries are just coming to terms with the problems created by so-called good additives which are supposed to make things better. My experience is certainly that such additives are not as good as they are said to be, and that it is a great deal better if they are not added at all in many cases. The need to use chemicals is one small example of the problems that will be caused by the creation of a lagoon. It is sad that the hon. Member for Stroud did not address the matter.
We are told that gas generation will be cleaner, less polluting and more environmentally friendly. As a Scottish Member of Parliament from a mining background and as the chairman of the energy committee of Labour Scottish Members, I know that we hope soon to have the good news that Monktonhall colliery will be reopened. I will put power generated by Monktonhall coal, Longannet coal or any other Scottish coal against any power generated by gas.
Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House the average thermal efficiency of a coal-fired power station and the average thermal efficiency of a combined cycle gas turbine power station?
The advantage might be 35 or even 50 per cent., but that is not the end of the argument when comparing gas with any other fuel. As my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) rightly said, we must consider the life expectancy of gas supplies. Only a few years ago we were talking about relying on the Soviet Union to pipe gas to the United Kingdom after the year 2000. Our reserves of coal run into hundreds of years, whereas our gas reserves will last 20 or 30 years. In terms of efficiency, therefore, coal is a better bet than other forms of fuel, including oil and gas.
The question of pollution has cropped up at every stage of the Bill. My hon. Friend said that we expect an announcement this week about the opening of Monktonhall colliery in my constituency. Leaving aside the pollution issue, has my hon. Friend read the reports this week of likely forthcoming increases in the price of gas? Considering that we have so much coal available, we should not be denying to our children and grandchildren their coal inheritance.
My hon. Friend's intervention reminds me of a conversation I had recently with the divisional commander of my local police force. I was trying to discuss a constituency issue, but we discussed my problem for two minutes and spent the next 10 minutes talking about a problem he had. He wanted to move with his wife into a little rural village in which I live. He complained that natural gas was not piped there and that most of the local people were relying on coal or bottled gas to run their central heating systems. It was clear from our conversation that many people who had gone over to gas were returning to coal, because of the way in which gas prices had escalated, so my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) makes a telling point.
I urge my hon. Friend to concentrate on the way in which all this use of gas represents a shocking waste of coal, remembering that coal will have a greater domestic market in the long term. In other words, we are using gas now as a replacement for coal without facing the fact that eventually the gas will run out and we will have to rely on coal. If we are not careful, there will be no coal on which to rely. Does my hon. Friend agree that there are better uses of gas, other than feeding it into power stations, bearing in mind that the Secretary of State recently told the Energy Select Committee that the capacity of all power stations built in the coming 10 years will rely on gas? Does he agree that that represents a shocking waste of coal?
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope you will agree that, as the Bill makes various claims about the environmental use of gas in relation to pollution, it is in order for us to challenge that statement, bearing in mind that other sources of fuel may be less polluting. The promoters of the Bill are responsible for bringing the question of the environment into the debate. I hope that we shall be allowed to challenge their views on that subject.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Given that gas turbine generating involves the energy industry, I trust that my hon. Friends and I will be permitted to compare, and express concern about, the effects of the implementation of the Bill on the energy industry as a whole. If so, how can we ignore alternative fuels and the effects of their use?
I accept your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I humbly apologise to you for not congratulating you on the honour bestowed on you in the Queen's birthday honours list. Perhaps I may turn this into a genuine grovelling apology by pointing out that you are one of my favourite occupants of the Chair, as you were in the Chair when I made my maiden speech. I have always appreciated the good guidance you gave me then, which has stood me in good stead ever since.
I shall not be tempted by the interventions of my hon. Friends to debate the merits of gas versus oil or any other fuel, except to say that I can never forget the remark made by the Earl of Stockton, commenting on the actions of the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher), to the effect that she was selling the family silver. I fear that that is analogous with what is happening to the coal industry in relation to gas, nuclear generation and the rest. We are giving away our natural heritage by closing down pits. We are certainly giving away our ability to be self sufficient in energy.
Before my hon. Friend departs from the question of the difference between gas and coal and the relative merits of different fuels, may I ask him to remind us of the devastating effects on communities resulting from the sort of proposals that are before the House tonight? Reference has been made to the loss of perhaps 1,000 jobs. Is it not a fact that communities are devastated by pit closures? Such villages are often geographically isolated, being around pits. The introduction of gas burning resulting from the Bill will bring further pressures, not only on employment generally but on the communities centres around pits. I suggest that my hon. Friend deals with that aspect because, if he does not put it on the record, Conservative Members are likely to say that the issue has been forgotten about by Labour Members.
I assure my hon. Friend that that matter will never be forgotten by us. People used to believe that when a pit closed only the immediate mining community was affected. While that may be true of small communities, the effect of the Bill, in enabling gas generation on a large scale, will be enormous in whole coalfield communities. For example, the effects in South Yorkshire will be devastating, not only in terms of miners' jobs but on school teachers, doctors, nurses and the whole community.
Is my hon. Friend aware that Blyth power station, in the constituency of our hon. Friend the Member for Wansbeck (Mr. Thompson), has just announced 260 redundancies because of a reduction of electricity generation there? Does my hon. Friend agree that it does not make sense to cut capacity there and build other stations when the power station at Blyth was modernised only seven or eight years ago?
I am tempted to go into that issue in great detail, in response to my hon. Friend's important intervention, but I am sure that many of my hon. Friends who wish to take part in the debate will want to talk about similar situations affecting their constituencies. For example, my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian will agree that, whereas in our part of the world we have coal-fired power stations ticking over, Torness nuclear power station has turned out to be the enormous white elephant that we forecast it would be. In other words, there are many instances of the example given by my hon. Friend the Member for Blyth Valley (Mr. Campbell).
I remind the House that the new chairman of British Coal was appointed to do a specific job. His wages were increased from £98,000 to £220,000-odd. A week after his wage increase, my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian asked the Prime Minister to comment on that increase, to which the right hon. Gentleman simply said that he must be worth the money. The new British Coal chairman has been brought in to run the industry down.
My hon. Friend makes a fair point, but perhaps that says more about the Prime Minister's opinion of himself than about his opinion of British Coal's new chairman. Only last week, that chairman warned the Government that if they do not stop the obscenity of running down the domestic coal industry and importing coal, there will be no long-term power generating contracts, and then it will prove impossible to privatise the coal industry. I find it objectionable that he should speak in such terms.
Thank you for your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
We cannot kid ourselves that this is just a wee Bill about water going in and out of a power station. It will enable a power station to come into being that will destroy jobs and communities. For that reason, I cannot support the Bill, and I hope that the House will not do so.
Just before you took the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it was said of me that I have a scriptwriter. I must explain what happened. The remark was made on a previous occasion, by an Opposition Member who is not present this evening, that I am an expert. All right hon. and hon. Members know that I am of an extremely modest disposition. I denied that I was an expert, and said that I had simply done my homework.
You may also be interested to know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that before you took the Chair—and we are delighted to see you in the Chair—there were 20 contributions to the debate, not including many points of order before it began. It has, therefore, been a wide-ranging debate of great interest.
I begin by pointing out that the Killingholme Generating Stations (Ancillary Powers) Bill is promoted by National Power plc and PowerGen plc, which are the successor companies to the Central Electricity Generating Board. To meet the requirements for the supply of electricity, each of the two companies—and this deals with a point of order raised earlier—is in the process of constructing a gas turbine generating station at Killingholme, for which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already given the necessary consent.
In operating each of those generating stations, quantities of water will be required for cooling purposes. The most convenient, economical, and environmentally friendly method of obtaining that water will be to extract it from, and subsequently to discharge it into, the River Humber.
The Bill's main purpose, of which we should not lose sight, is to authorise the construction of intakes, outfalls, and pipes in the River Humber for cooling purposes. The authority of Parliament for the construction of those works is required in order to overcome the provisions of section 6 of the Humber Conservancy Act 1905, about which we heard an eloquent contribution from the Bill's promoter, my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman). That old Act prohibits works
beyond or riverward of the river lines"—
Yes; he planted it on me.
The Bill passed through all its stages in another place, and this evening we give it the Third Reading that is so vital to the companies that are promoting the Bill, their work forces, and all the contractors working on-site at the two power stations. They number many people in the Humberside region.
I turn to the nitty gritty of the Bill. Many hon. Members have lost sight of the Bill's narrow definition. It seeks permission to place works in the Humber estuary—not to make abstractions from or discharges to the river. Licences would be required from the National Rivers Authority under the Water Act 1989 and the Water Resources Act 1963 for abstraction or discharges. The NRA is empowered to license discharges into waterways, and will maintain a check on licensed emissions throughout the length of agreements.
The abstractions and discharges required for cooling will be on a significantly smaller scale that those already taking place at coastal and estuarine major power station sites. Cooling is required at power stations to condense steam that has been exhausted from steam turbines at low pressures. That cooling may be direct or indirect.
For direct cooling, water is abstracted from the source of cooling water, passed through condensers, and then returned to the source of the water. For indirect cooling, the water passing through the condensers is cooled by air using giant cooling towers, and the same water is then recirculated. Only the water that has evaporated in the cooling towers and the small quantity of purge water is required to be replaced. Purge water is water taken from a recirculating cooling system—
and returned to the river in order to control the concentration of materials in the water."—[Official Report, 27 February 1991; Vol. 186, c. 1042.]
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understood that it was a convention of the House that speeches are not to be read. However, if my hon. Friend is to read his speech, perhaps she will direct us to where we may obtain a copy of it. Rather earlier, my hon. Friend promised us something better, and perhaps you should rule, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on whether we should all have a copy of his speech so that we may enjoy it all the more.
I would be less than honest if I did not say that, if the two power stations and their piping that we are debating tonight were coal fired, there would be no debate. Labour has made great play of being the party for the environment, particularly in respect of power station emissions. My party says that it would like to cut emission levels by the year 2005, but Labour is on record as wanting to achieve that aim by 2000. However, we are here presented with two power stations that will be so environmentally friendly that there will be no enormous lorries making coal deliveries to the site; no mounds of ash building up around the plant; and no great sulphur emissions into the atmosphere. If Opposition Members want me to go on the attack, I will throw my notes away —[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, do."]
I ask the hon. Member to throw his notes away, because he is much more enjoyable when he is not reading out such nonsense from the Second Reading debate. If someone knocked on the hon. Gentleman's door tomorrow and said, "I am a friendly person, but I want to sack you. I want to put you on the dole. You will be thrown out of your house because you will be unable to afford the mortgage. They will probably have to close down the school because people will have to move away", would the hon. Gentleman accept such a person as a friend?
Would I accept him as a friend? PowerGen and National Power have made a commercial board room decision which they think will satisfy all consumers and their shareholders. They feel that a gas turbine is the most sensible way forward. The decision was made in the interests of keeping the lights in the north-east burning, keeping industry in the north-east running, and ensuring a friendly environment for the people of Humberside, particularly Grimsby. I hope that the Grimsby Evening Telegraph takes note of my words.
Some people have asked why I have taken particular interest in the Bill. My constituency is nowhere near the north-east, so perhaps, on this Third Reading, I should explain. I realise that the generation of electricity is a national problem. The new National Grid Company is a carrier of electricity, so if there is a surplus in the north-east and the weather is colder in the north-west that I represent electricity could be sent from the two power stations to my constituency. Therefore, every hon. Member has a great interest in the two power stations.
I am pleased to see that the hon. Gentleman took my advice and is now ad libbing. I do not live near the north-east either, but we are discussing pollution-free and environmentally-friendly generation. Two pits in Scotland put coal into an organic power station. The coal produced in that complex is so low in sulphur that sulphur must be added at the power station in order to burn the coal. By expanding the Scottish coalfield, as we suggest, and doubling the interconnector between Scotland and England, we could pump electricity down the wire which would be far more environmentally friendly without the consequences of those two power stations, which will generate electricity by gas.
The House will be very interested to hear what stage those power stations have reached, which is the purpose of the Bill.
The 900 MW Killingholme combined cycle gas turbine station is taking shape fast. Moreover, the work force at the south Humberside site now numbers about 1,000 and is growing each day. About 60 per cent. of the structural steelwork for gas turbine buildings is erected and work is starting on the third floor control room. There is so much to see on the site that it is difficult to describe the massive changes that have taken place in the past few months. The two main turbine slabs, each measuring 450 cu m, are in place. All major excavation work is completed, including that for the site's cooling towers.
I am sure that hon. Members are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for this information. Cooling water pipe work is being installed. Some 400 m of 1·5 m diameter glass-reinforced plastic pipework is involved, as well as a total of some 1·5 km of 700 mm pipework.
I thank my hon. Friend for the extremely courteous way in which he allows me to intervene in his speech. Will he say a word about the manufacturers of the turbine generators? Are they produced in this country and, if so, is there not a good chance that they were produced in my constituency of Rugby by GEC? Does he agree that, if my supposition is correct—
With the utmost respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it may be relevant to the amount of water being consumed, which will then go through the pipe into the Humber. As you will know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, from your experience in those matters, some generating sets use more water than others. The ones produced in my constituency are extremely water efficient.
You are quite right, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend has been mischievous. I confess that I am not sure which gas turbines these are, but they would be produced under licence. The ones that threaten my hon. Friend's constituency—if I can call it that —are produced by General Electric in America. The sponsor, John Brown of Glasgow, is the main person against whom he is leading the campaign. My hon. Friend must not spring such questions on me.
I am not sure to which companies the hon. Gentleman refers. I freely confess that I can take in all that information but sometimes have difficulty in recalling it. That is why I am not Prime Minister. I have notes on my desk that would give the answer, so perhaps I shall drop the hon. Gentleman a line. We seem to have heard that song before.
A total of 115,000 cu m of excavative material is on site for use in later landscaping. I am sure that the House would wish to know that it is in two mounds—one measuring 130 m by 180 m in area and 5 m high. More than 500 cast-in-situ, reinforced concrete piles have been placed at an average length of 20 m. Work started at the site in February last year. The first unit is planned to begin generation next October. Initial site preparation and contractor mobilisation were achieved on time, despite the usual frustrations of the weather. The programme will be on time and within costs. That is all good news. Delivery of the first gas turbine is set for the end of October.
Therefore, it is fair to say that Killingholme teams have been pioneers in the United Kingdom for that new plant configuration, for a significantly different contract strategy, and for the changed specification format. There is little doubt that the Killingholme specification is being and will continue to be used as the model for the CCGT stations to be built during the next decade.
The spec has needed regular improvement and updating. The lessons learned have been passed on to other project teams. The PowerGen green site tombstone is also now in place and landscaping work undertaken towards the end of last year is now beginning to look most attractive. The final landscaping scheme to be implemented, once construction is complete, has been approved, in principle, by the local Glanford borough council.[Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud says that he wants me to continue for another hour.
I gather from the activity on the Conservative Benches that the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddlesworth (Mr. Dickens) will resume his seat in the not-too-distant future. Before he does so, may I take him back to his comments on Second Reading in relation to the biocides? He eloquently explained how the chemicals would be added to the water and how they would then be returned to the river after transmission through the appropriate pipework. The hon. Gentleman has not mentioned that aspect this evening. Will he explain more fully to us the strengths of the biocides and what effect they will have on the river?
It would be very unfair on other hon. Members who wish to speak for me to go into such detail. As the hon. Gentleman will be accompanying me to Germany, Sweden and Denmark next week, I shall be able to tell him all about it on the aircraft.
I believe that the coal mining fraternity has fought its corner very hard. Let us suppose, however, that there was an equal body of support for nuclear energy, oil-fired power stations, windmills or solar power. It would be narrow-minded and spiteful of their opponents to try to deprive National Power and PowerGen of the facility to install pipes for cooling purposes simply because they did not approve of the form of electricity generation that had been chosen.
The coal industry's only salvation is the current high level of productivity, in comparison with that of the dark days following the year-long miners' strike led by Arthur Scargill. The men at the coal face are responding brilliantly. The industry's future lies in its own hands: if it continues in its present vein, it will always have a major role to play.
None of those considerations, however, should send hon. Members through the Lobby to vote against the insertion of pipes in the estuary. I understand why one or two hon. Members should take that line—they are the ones who fight the coal industry's corner so bitterly—but I am surprised that the Opposition as a whole should do so.
Does that mean that the Opposition will not vote tonight? That is splendid news. In that case, we should listen to what the hon. Gentleman has to say.
I do not think that any hon. Member would argue with me if I said that I do not ask for much time to speak on the Floor of the House. Having read the Bill, however, I felt slightly puzzled and rather disturbed: I feared that the procedures of the House were being misused.
The Bill includes the words
whereas it is expedient that each of the two companies"—
that is, National Power and PowerGen—
should be empowered to acquire lands".
I did not think that the House was here to accommodate outside interests in connection with a matter of expediency; I am a bit concerned about the wording of that clause.
Another part of the Bill states:
In the construction of the National Power works or the PowerGen works, as the case may be, the appropriate company may deviate laterally from the lines or situations thereof shown on the deposited plans".
What powers does the Bill give the two companies? I am worried by the use of the word "expedient", and by the Government's lenient attitude towards sticking to what was initially provided. This is a private Bill; who will exercise control? The Bill seems to provide for a free-for-all.
The Bill also states:
The appropriate company may use, appropriate and dispose of the materials from time to time dredged by them from the river".
That means that any such material can be deposited anywhere, on land or at sea. A later part of the clause starts to ring bells with me, however. It states:
nor shall such materials be deposited on the foreshore or bed of the river without the consent of A. B. Ports.
Nothing in this section shall authorise any interference with any subaqueous cable belonging to or used by British Telecommunications plc.
All those companies have reason to be grateful to the Government. Why do the same names constantly crop up in private Bill procedure? It occurs to me that the Government have a hidden agenda, involving tacit approval of the misuse of private Bill procedure. I am talking about unofficial whipping. I do not know what the Government's arrangements are for the whipping of the business that follows this, but I would lay even money on its being a fair whip, so that Conservative Members can return to consider whether to vote on the Bill. We saw the same arrangements operating for the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill; I find it insidious and offensive.
My hon. Friend is obviously referring to the champagne dinners to which Tory Members were invited in return for supporting the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill. Associated British Ports is always being mentioned in debates on private Bills. I referred earlier to my part in the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill, of which the Prime Minister spoke so affectionately in Swansea last week. Associated British Ports was given lifelong, copper-bottomed guarantees that it would be looked after it the barrage went ahead. Like my hon. Friend, I feel concerned when Associated British Ports keeps cropping up; someone is making a killing.
I can tell the hon. Gentleman where he can get champagne. If he read The Sunday Times last week, he will know about an important party held by the Leader of the Opposition and attended by various actors and actresses. Many of the great and the good were there, including the Mandelson brigade from Walworth road. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman was not present. Nor was I—we were not invited. The Labour party was drinking champagne in Berkeley square. I am only sorry that the hon. Gentleman was not invited either.
No, I should like to respond to the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown).
The people to whom the hon. Gentleman has referred paid their own way. They were not paid for by an outside company. None the less, I anticipate drinking a few glasses of champagne in the months ahead, following Labour victories in by-elections and subsequently in a general election. Perhaps we shall not see the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes then.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that information. I am not too familiar with the ambitions of the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes.
It seems that the Government are guilty of misusing the private Bill procedure because they have quietly supported private Bills on energy. Despite their talk about the free market, they have a hidden energy programme.
The hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) challenged Labour Members to declare their interests. I make no apology for talking about the effects of the Bill on the energy industry, nor do I apologise for expressing concern about the misuse of the procedures of the House. The hon. Member for Stroud has now disappeared.
My hon. Friend is looking for the hon. Member for Stroud, who has just walked into the Chamber and I am pleased to see him here. The hon. Gentleman may be excused for leaving the Chamber at 9.30 pm as I understand that an amendment to the Finance Bill is being discussed in Standing Committee whereby members of Lloyd's are asking for handouts from the taxpayer.
I am pleased to see that the hon. Member for Stroud has returned. The hon. Gentleman challenged Labour Members to declare their interests. He keeps running in and out of the Chamber to hand scripts to Conservative Members. One of the script writers must be Hansard, because the points that he was reading appeared in Hansard on Second Reading.
Will the hon. Gentleman turn his attention from Lloyd's to the National Union of Mineworkers? I have been asked to give certain undertakings, but can the hon. Gentleman assure us that Labour Members are not getting a kickback from the NUM? If they are, they will be disappointed, because most of the NUM's money is missing.
I have made no assertions. Some of my colleagues may have mentioned Lloyd's, but I did not do so.
I was saying that the hon. Member for Stroud challenged Labour Members to declare their interests. Unfortunately, when I said that, the hon. Gentleman was not in the Chamber. He returned and made gross accusations, accusing me of slandering him in some way. I did not mention Lloyd's.
I am taking insurance.
The hon. Member for Stroud challenged Opposition Members to declare what interest they had in or contact with Killingholme. I tried to clarify the matter and explained that, as a Member of Parliament, I was worried that private Bill procedures had been misused by the Government.[Interruption.]
I am grateful to you for trying to bring some order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was talking over the heads of hon. Members who were perhaps expecting their next champagne supper. As a Member of Parliament, I am entitled to feel worried if there is a misuse of the procedures of the House. Some private Bills have been introduced with the tacit agreement of the Government. That is a misuse of our procedures, and I declare my interest in that respect.
I have given way a lot. If I may, I shall finish my point.
As you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it has always been my policy to be brief and to the point. Constant interruptions have prolonged my remarks. That makes me suspect that there will be no champagne suppers tonight, so Conservative Members have come to have some fun in the Chamber. I do not find this matter funny. I am trying to get on with a serious debate—[Interruption.] Perhaps I could listen to the conversation that is taking place.
The hon. Gentleman referred to his distress at the idea that Conservative Members were perhaps heavily whipped to attend the next debate on the teachers' pay motion, so we shall all be here to vote for this excellent Bill, which was eloquently supported by Conservative Members but commented on in a stuttering and faltering way by Opposition Members. Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that the strength of the Whip is determined by the Opposition? If they had chosen to let the excellent teachers' pay motion go through on a one-line Whip, perhaps there would not have been as many Conservative Members here.
Conservative Members have been more than a little frivolous in the debate. That is shameful. I have been trying for a long time to conclude.
I tried to make it clear to the hon. Member for Stroud that I had doubts about the misuse of the private Bill procedure. I have doubts also about the use of private Bills on energy, given that that involves serious matters. Associated British Ports opened the ports to foreign coal, and the Bill must be seen in the context of effects on the energy industry and on the country. I understand, although I have my doubts, that the Government are fighting inflation. Who is paying the bill? It is the 2.5 million unemployed, not Conservative Members. One of the contributors to inflation is the deficit in the balance of payments.
The point that my hon. Friend is trying to make was made earlier in the debate and is about the Bill's general impact on Nottinghamshire. My hon. Friend is saying that we cannot debate the Bill in isolation because it has an impact on areas other than the one to which it relates.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, with whom I agree. The Bill is part of a hidden agenda. About 15 minutes ago when I started my speech I sought to explain to the hon. Member for Stroud why we have such a determined interest in the Bill. There is room for concern and I hope that the lovers of the House and its procedures will watch the situation closely and think seriously about their attitude to the Bill, which is following the same lines as many other private Bills. The private Bill procedure is being misused.
This debate on the Bill is one of a series. I spoke in the two debates in January and February. A certain pattern and routine has developed and some of the points are a little familiar. I do not have much to add to what I said in the two earlier debates, especially as my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) gave much excellent information about the Bill when he opened the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) gave another comprehensive and technical analysis which confirmed his reputation as something of an expert on the subject. When he strayed from his notes he scored some effective political points, but I shall not follow that line.
Does my hon. Friend agree that to listen to my hon. Friend the Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) is to walk in the foothills of immortality? Does he further agree that our hon. Friend is a jewel in the life of the House and should be encouraged to participate in every debate? It is monstrous that he does not sit on the Treasury Bench.
I always agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames). It is an honour and a privilege to be in the same debate as my hon. Friend the Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth.
The Bill's scope is narrow. It simply seeks to provide water cooling works for two power stations for which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy, after scrutinising all the necessary considerations, gave permission early last year. No environmental objections have been raised to these water works and no planning objections were raised by the local authorities concerned. The ancillary works are plainly necessary for the effective and efficient operation of the power stations which have been given consent. The Government therefore believe that this is a good Bill and that it should be passed.
I do not intend to delay the House, as many of the points concerning the impact that the Bill may have on electricity generation were discussed in the two previous debates and I do not intend to go over them again.
The hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) discussed my position in respect of Second Reading and Humberside county council, and claimed that I had said that I would contact that council. What I said was:
I have not, nor has the council contacted me about my Second Reading speech or my actions in that connection. I would be more than happy, however, to receive representatives of that authority—as I did in respect of
legislation".—[Official Report, 27 February 1991; Vol. 186, c. 1054.]
I have received nothing from Humberside county council to date.
The hon. Gentleman will recall that, when my hon. Friends' names came up previously, I explained in some detail why they and some of my other hon. Friends were not happy about National Power and PowerGen because of the deception used to get the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill through the House. ABP's representatives said during the Committee stage that Associated British Ports had no plans in respect of the Humber coal terminal, but we found out a few weeks later that both ABP's representatives were taking a 40 per cent. stake in the coal terminal on Humberside. As I said then, my hon. Friends were against deception of that sort.
As for delay, I told the hon. Member for Stroud that if the Bill had been thought out properly when initial planning permission for the two generators was sought, the measure would have got through Parliament sooner. This Bill in effect completes planning permission for the six generators mentioned in it. The fault lies with the promoters, and we should also blame the Leader of the House, a Cabinet Minister, who received recommendations from the Procedure Committee last year on changing private Bill procedure in the House, yet has failed so far to act on those recommendations. As a result, several private Bills have been held up by hon. Members coming in at 2.30 pm and shouting, "Object," or putting down blocking motions. The sooner the Leader of the House sorts out our private Bill procedure and acts on the recommendations of the Committee the sooner we shall sleep easy at night—but that is up to the Government.
We objected strongly to the Government's apparent dash for gas in the form of new generators—a dash initiated by the electricity generators and supported by the Government. That will lead to a depletion of a premium fuel in this country which, in turn, will mean that in time we will come to depend on imported gas.
My hon. Friend said that in time we would be dependent on imported gas and that is correct. There will be a greater dependence on imported gas. But is my hon. Friend aware that we are importing gas at present which will affect our balance of payments?
That is right. My hon. Friend will know that I went in some detail into the question of gas reserves in Britain on Second Reading and I do not intend to do so again now. I raised that matter because the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) said that the generation of electricity is a national problem, and it is.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Members for Crawley (Mr. Soames) and for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) have no particular interest in the Bill, but they are interfering. I am trying to listen to my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron), but the hon. Member for Crawley has not stopped yakking since I came in. I should have thought, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you would have taken notice of that. We are trying to concentrate on what is being said by my hon. Friend at the Dispatch Box. I wish that you would deal with that behaviour.
Order. That does not entitle him or anyone else to misbehave in a manner that distracts the House. [Interruption.] Order. When I deem it appropriate I shall reproach other hon. Members in a similar way, but I hope that the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes will leave it to the Chair. I hope that I shall now be given the opportunity to listen to the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron).
If the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), who does not appear to be listening to the debate, had the interests of his constituents at heart he might have promoted the Bill instead of dodging it and leaving it to the hon. Member for Stroud, who comes a few hundred miles away from the hon. Gentleman's constituency.
In January this year I said:
we are reluctant to give our approval to the Bill, as it will enable the construction of two gas turbine generating stations without"—
I emphasise that—
the House giving due consideration to the implications of increasing gas generation of electricity."—[Official Report, 14 January 1991; Vol. 183, c. 680.]
Sadly, we have not yet had such a debate. One does many things reluctantly in life and perhaps the Bill will go through. There may be some reluctance to support it among Opposition Members, but that is due to the absence of any general debate about energy strategy and, in particular, electricity generation. That is particularly
important, because since the Government privatised the electricity supply industry there have been major question marks over what will happen in the future and there have been major redundancies within the industry, with power stations closing and thousands of people being made redundant from power stations and offices. But we have not yet had a debate about Britain's energy strategy. Instead, the Government have only been prepared to sell off the industry so that many people, some of them Labour supporters, I accept, but many of them Conservative supporters and institutions, have been able to make a killing at the expense of the public purse. There have been increases in electricity bills, such as the 11 per cent. domestic increase that we have had this year, as a result of privatisation, but we still have not yet had a debate about the future of Britain's energy. That is wrong. It is an omission which must be put right, but it appears that that will only be done after the next general election.
On Second Reading the hon. Member for Stroud attempted to explain why the Bill provides for six sets of intakes and outfalls when only two are presently needed for the proposed two power stations. The hon. Gentleman said that that was so that National Power and PowerGen could develop the site further without coming back to Parliament.
It seems strange to me that we are being asked to grant powers for hypothetical future projects additional to those that have been authorised. That presumably means that any future projects will not be subject to any environmental assessments as the applications will already have been granted. It also means that the preamble is extremely misleading. There was a point of order on the subject at the start of our proceedings on the Bill tonight. The preamble says:
each of the two companies"—
that is, National Power and PowerGen—
proposes to construct on the lands vested in that company a gas turbine generating station".
But the hon. Member for Stroud suggested that there would be more than one station each. Why else would planning applications be sought for six sets of intakes and outfalls?
It is clear that the preamble is misleading. The Committee did not take notice of the wording, and there is nothing that we can do about it now. One of my hon. Friends asked last week whether anything could be done about it, and nothing could, but the preamble still seeks to mislead. We shall have to wait and see whether the other power stations are gas-fired.
The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes was screaming and waving his hands about some years ago when there was talk of a low-level nuclear dump near the site in his constituency. He threatened to cause a by-election by resigning to fight the Government if permission was given.
The hon. Gentleman might have something to say about the measure having been rushed through if the next four power stations proposed for the site happened to be pressurised water reactors.
I do have something to say: but for the fact that my constituents and I defeated that proposal through a campaign against nuclear waste, the Bill would not have been introduced. The proposal was for a nuclear dump on the site where we shall now have the flower of power stations. Those power stations owe their existence to the campaign I ran five years ago.
The hon. Gentleman claims much credit, but if my memory serves me well, he was ably assisted at that time by the then Government Chief Whip, whose constituency faced a similar threat. The right hon. Gentleman, too, used his influence to have the project stopped, yet now he is the pro-nuclear Secretary of State for Energy, who goes round telling us how nuclear power stations are good for the country. Five years ago he did not think that low-level nuclear waste dumps were good—they were certainly not good for his prospects of being re-elected.
I shall not give way on that point, because I said that I wanted to keep my speech short, and I want to move on to the rest of my argument about the Bill. On second thoughts, I am being unfair to my hon. Friend. I shall give way to him, because I know that he is concerned about Northumberland.
The second part of my argument is about the environmental impact of the choice of cooling towers for the sites. Her Majesty's inspectors of pollution produce notes for guidance on what constitutes the best available techniques not entailing excessive costs—BATNEEC is the acronym, I believe. Those notes say that cooling lowers should be of the dry type, and that justification must be provided for wet cooling towers. Dry cooling is essentially air cooling and does not involve sending large clouds of steam into the air.
The Minister is not likely to point out that the guidelines, which I shall quote later, originally referred to oil and coal-fired rather than gas-fired stations. But the cooling systems on different types of fossil-fuel power stations are all the same. There is as yet no new technology other than that referred to in those notes.
The new controls under part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 will apply from 1 April 1992. When HMIP issues the notes for gas turbine stations, the guidelines will be similar to those on the present cooling systems. In that respect there is no difference between gas turbines and other types, as I have said.
There are a number of environmental considerations to be taken into account in considering power plant cooling systems. They include intake effects, discharge effects both thermal and chemical, water consumption, plume and drift, land use and noise.
The whole House will remember that, on Second Reading, that master of detail, the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth, discussed at some length the subject of cooling. He did not mention the possibility of dry cooling. He contrasted two systems—direct cooling and indirect cooling, both of which, I understand, are wet systems. He did not mention the environmental
disadvantages of the clouds of steam emanating from the cooling towers of the wet system, even though Her Majesty's pollution inspectorate's guidance note state:
the operator should justify the use of wet cooling towers and should identify the means to be employed to prevent adverse effects due to water fog or droplets and should identify how monitoring will be undertaken".
In his Second Reading discourse the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth merely suggested thai: the wet indirect system proposed at Killingholme would be cheaper and would produce less water than the direct system. It would seem, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman's account of the environmental options and effects was less than complete. Perhaps that is not surprising, given the hon. Gentleman's mastery of detail in that debate.
The generators may well be able to justify the use of wet cooling towers but it does not appear that they have been asked to do so. It seems that alternative systems were not properly canvassed in the environmental assessment for the project prepared for the application to the Secretary of State. So in authorising not two but six sets of intakes and outfalls, we would appear to be pre-empting future decisions regarding the most satisfactory cooling systems for the extension of the power station, and that could lead to emissions of much larger clouds of steam in the future.
I see that the hon. Member for Johannesburg, South is in his place. It seems, indeed, that he is nodding his head. I must say to him, and—perhaps more important—to the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes, who is sitting next to him, that these are very important issues in terms of making environmental assessments for the building of any large combustion plants covered by the directives to which the inspectors are putting their minds at present If the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes had any concern about his constituents—he keeps telling us that he has—he would have looked into the matter but not just in respect of the two cooling systems that have been accepted. He would have looked into the possibility of having dry cooling systems for any further developments on the site to protect the interests of those who live in the locality.
The hon. Gentleman is normally an expert on these matters, but I am afraid that tonight he is misleading the House on the environmental question. Does not he realise that combined cycle gas uses only about a third of the steam to generate electricity? Moreover, the water required to cool the steam down is 5 per cent. of that required in all other conventional stations, including the coal-fired stations of which he is so enamoured.
We shall still have steam plumes no matter what type of generation is used. The test is to be found in Her Majesty's inspectors' standards laid down for any environmental assessment of the plant. I think that the hon. Gentleman will find that similar tests are laid down in respect of any form of power station to be built under the current EEC directives—and no doubt under more directives in future.
As with so many aspects of the Bill, the energy and environmental implications have given us cause for concern, especially in view of the absence of any debate about the direction in which the electricity generating industry in Britain is going following the privatisation of the electricity supply industry. The country is worth more than that. These major issues should have been debated. I am sure that many members of the Select Committee on Energy would agree that they are of national importance and that they merit debate rather than silence. It is no good the Government dodging major issues that will affect future decisions, even though they were quite happy to sell off the industries to make sure that they made money for the Treasury.
As I said when we first debated the Bill, it would be with reluctance that we would give permission for the stations to be built. No one thinks, however, that that will not be done. If there is a vote tonight on Third Reading, the Labour party will not be opposing it; we have never said that we would. We have opposed the absence of a strategic and sensible national debate, which the Government have dodged. When we are in government, one of the first things that we do will be to give Conservative Members, who will be on the Opposition Benches, the opportunity to get involved in such debates which are, as the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth said, of major national importance.
I apologise to the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) because I was not in the Chamber to hear all of his speech. However, I agree that we should have a post-privatisation debate on the power supply industry. That is a very good idea. I should at this point declare that I am a fellow elect of the Industry and Parliamentary Trust, doing my attachment with National Power.
We have heard and are still hearing a lot of dark mutterings from some sections of the Labour party about what they call the Government's hidden agenda. All sorts of things have been read into the Bill and there have been comments attached to it about an abuse of procedure, but the Bill should not be made to bear that burden. It is merely an attempt to amend a small and insignificant Act of 1905. If one wishes to change the law, one must pass a law to do so. The statute of 1905 was passed some time ago, but that does not alter the fact that it is still in force today just as much as if it had been passed only yesterday and just as much as a statute from 1500 is still in force today.
We have discussed such matters as thermal efficiency. It is certain that a combined cycle gas turbine power station which has a thermal efficiency of about 50 per cent. will be far less polluting and far more efficient than a conventional coal-fired power station, which has a thermal efficiency of only about 35 per cent.
I recently visited a power station in East Germany. It was supposed to be a state-of-the-art power station but when I asked the operators about its thermal efficiency, at first they could not tell me. They went to find out and then told me with great pride in their voices that it operated at a thermal efficiency of 26 per cent. I think that they were rather surprised when I was not exactly bowled over.
The new power stations do not operate on either wind or hydro-electricity—
I should certainly not have mentioned that if I had thought that you were going to rule me out of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I had intended to move on from the alternative sources of power to the gasification of coal in the sea. That ideal would answer many of the issues raised by members of the Opposition, who seem to think that gas-fired power stations and coal-fired power stations are mutually exclusive, which need not necessarily be so. If the technology that I have mentioned is developed, as I am sure that it will be, power stations such as Killingholme will be powered not by natural gas from the North sea but by gas from the coalfields. I am sure that most people would agree that that would be a fit and proper use for coal.
As we all know, the real purpose of the Bill is to enable the laying of pipes in the estuary of the Humber. When I last visited the Humber—indeed, whenever I have visited the Humber—I have never thought it an especially attractive piece of water. The waters of the Humber hardly sparkle. The laying of pipes in or under the estuary may improve its rather dismal look and may even improve the various varieties of wildlife which flourish in and around the Humber estuary. There will be some effect—[Interruption.] I am enjoying standing here talking to myself. Some slight raising of the temperature in the waters of the Humber may be a good thing. The Bill may have that effect when it becomes law.
The mussels in the Humber will improve their growth once they feel the tingling effect of the slight warming of the rather dull and murky waters of the Humber. The Bill will produce a great improvement all round and I have no hesitation in saying that I support it.
The abuse of planning permission as a result of the Bill is very important. That aspect involves all of us. Local authorities and communities should be involved in planning. Hon. Members may say that it is a minor detail, but the Bill abuses the right of the planning authority.
Part III concerns lands and refers to such new rights "as they may require" over any of the lands. That means that almost anything can be done on the land. Clause 20(3) says:
References in this section to rights over land include references to the right to do, or to place and maintain, anything in, on or under the land or in the airspace above its surface.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) said, that means that there may be plans for other development. The Bill will give the relevant bodies permission to do anything that they desire under the ground in the given area.
Although this is a private Bill, it seems that all Conservative Members support it. The Bill may be used to allow something else, such as nuclear dumping, and people will say that the Bill was passed by the House. The Bill says:
on or under the land or in the airspace above its surface.
This must be the only country that gives permission for anyone who owns land to do anything in the airspace above. In America, a great place of enterprise, someone who erects a building does not own the airspace above it. One can sell the building, but one cannot do what one likes in the airspace above it.
The provisions in clause 20 are deplorable. They may be a small matter, but they are important to people involved in planning. The people who are supposed to own the land now could sell it or other people might buy them out. They would have a golden opportunity to do anything that they desired below the ground, on the ground or above the ground without going through any planning procedures. That is not right. I believe in local government arid local planning so that the individuals concerned and the community can study proposed developments.
I have pointed out what is being asked for in the Bill and, if the Bill is passed, it will be what Conservative Members have deemed their sole desire. I do not think that environmentalists will like that, but I do not know. Conservative Members are not bothered about the environment—many of them could not care less about it. That is their choice and I am not criticising it. However, our choice is to be bothered about the environment and we should like to know what is happening. We should also like the local planning committee and the local community to know what is happening so that they can hold inquiries before planning permission is given. If Conservative Members are not bothered about the local community or planning matters, that is okay—there is nothing wrong with that. Their love of private enterprise means that they overrule anything that happens outside the Chamber. That is okay if it is their wish and desire. They are the Government and they can do it. However, I am afraid that individuals outside the House may disagree with Conservative Members on occasions and may even disagree with them on important matters.
I turn now to the way in which the Bill deals with land. Clause 21 begins:
If the deposited plans or the deposited book of reference are inaccurate".
That means that if the applicants—the faceless ones—have produced something that is inaccurate, even with all the money at their disposal, they will still be protected. Such an undertaking should not be allowed to produce inaccurate plans, but it has covered itself if it does so. If the House agrees to that, it is agreeing to inefficiency. Again, I am not condemning that because if you believe in inefficiency—
With great respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I did not mean to do so and I apologise.
Clause 21 also refers to what would happen if those responsible
are inaccurate in their description of any land, or in their statement or description of the ownership or occupation of any land".
In such circumstances, the company may apply for a correction. The promoters have paid for this country's greatest expertise, but they are asking to be excused if they are wrong. How terribly nice. I find that unbelievable and deplorable, but it is part of the Bill—[Interruption.] Well, I am reading from the Bill. I may be wrong, but I do not think so.
As my hon. Friend says, such suggestions would be thrown out; or if the council was Labour, it would discuss the plans with the applicant to try to come to some amicable agreement. That is what a Labour council would do and that is what good planning is all about, but the Bill is not about good planning.
To return to clause 21, if the plans are inaccurate, the provisions refer to
the appropriate company after giving not less than 10 days' notice to the owner, lessee and occupier of the land in question may apply to two justices having jurisdiction in the place where the land is situated for the correction thereof.
The 10-days provision is fair enough, but we are talking about a democracy. Anything that is passed in the House is important, irrespective of to whom it applies. I know that you are smiling, but I also know that many of your hon. Friends who are landowners go away for a month—
I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Many individuals on both sides of the House go away for a month. The matter comes up within 10 days. Indeed, some people go away for three months. I do not criticise them for that. The best of British luck to them. Sometimes they go to the Caribbean, a place that I do not claim to know. However, the time is limited. That is the issue. The matter should be open all round. That is to ask for nothing but democracy.
I am almost loth to stop the hon. Gentleman in full flow. He talks about democracy. If he continues, he will have read the whole Bill out to us. Is he aware that in the Committee stage on 27 March no Labour Member attended, no amendments were tabled and the Bill went through in record time on the nod? If the Labour party is so incensed about the Bill, why did it not participate in the democratic process?
I hope that when my hon. Friend answers that point he will bear in mind that, although the Bill is supposed to be a private Bill, time without number throughout its stages we have seen the payroll vote wheeled in. There has been an official vote on the Bill. How can the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Moss) talk about democracy when the use of the payroll vote has been an abuse of democracy?
My hon. Friend is correct. If you use the payroll vote to steamroll a private Bill through the House, you cannot expect Opposition Members to treat it with anything but contempt. That is what it is about. If you allow complete freedom, there would be more democracy in this Chamber and that would be welcomed by hon. Members on both sides of the House.
Another important point arises from clause 22 and compensation claims. You talk about backing two horses in a two-horse race. If the Bill becomes an Act, any private individual who has a small factory and employs three or four men would not be able to extend that factory one bit but would receive no compensation. When you give permission, as you most probably will, people will probably be told three years before construction starts. A man in private enterprise might think, "1 have got a good thing going here. I will employ another 10 men. There are 8,000 unemployed in the area." If he then cannot extend his factory, he will receive no compensation. Compensation is paid only when the Bill is enacted.
My hon. Friend is making a powerful point. I find it difficult to understand one matter. I wonder whether my hon. Friend can correct or assist me. I understand that it was a Tory Government way back in the 1950s who amended the Land Acts to the effect that one paid only the value—
With all due respect, it is my fault and not your fault, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend was making a point about values and how they will be affected by the power station that is being built. My hon. Friend asserts that owners of adjacent land will suffer a loss. As I understand it, an Act away in the 1950s changed the basis for assessing the value of land from the existing use to the value at that particular time.
An existing use facility in, say, an area resembling a desert would warrant a small amount of compensation, but if the value of the land became enhanced, the value of the existing use would increase substantially. I hope that my hon. Friend will deal in more detail with the question of the value of land and existing use, remembering that land with no value—
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. There are some hon. Members who hold strong views on this issue, who have attended the debates on the Bill through thick and thin and who have listened to all the arguments today. We are being forced to listen to unadulterated claptrap from the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie). Disguised as a point of order, his remarks plainly amount to a speech. We crave the protection of the Chair for the rights of Back Benchers who have something to say other than the filibustering that is now taking place.
I understood that the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie), to whom reference has been made, was intervening and not making a point of order. I reproached him, and he then volunteered the point that he was making.
My hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) makes a vital point. It proves that a business man with a small factory who wishes to expand and to provide more employment may not receive more compensation after extending his factory than he would have otherwise received. That will be the position when you have passed the Bill. You will be depriving—
I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Government will remove the freedom of choice from employers to extend their works in that way. Conservative Members may not object to freedom of choice being removed. We have no intention of allowing that to happen. In a democracy, freedom of choice is vital.
Pathways run across a great deal of land, but clause 23 begins:
All private rights of way over any land which may be acquired compulsorily under this Act shall be extinguished on the acquisition of the land".
In other words, all private rights such as byways—
|Division No. 178]||[9.57|
|Alexander, Richard||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Dover, Den|
|Allason, Rupert||Dunn, Bob|
|Alton, David||Durant, Sir Anthony|
|Amess, David||Eggar, Tim|
|Arbuthnot, James||Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Fenner, Dame Peggy|
|Arnold, Sir Thomas||Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey|
|Ashby, David||Fishburn, John Dudley|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Fookes, Dame Janet|
|Atkins, Robert||Forman, Nigel|
|Atkinson, David||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Fox, Sir Marcus|
|Baldry, Tony||Franks, Cecil|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||French, Douglas|
|Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)||Fry, Peter|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Gale, Roger|
|Beith, A. J.||Gardiner, Sir George|
|Bellingham, Henry||Gill, Christopher|
|Bellotti, David||Glyn, Dr Sir Alan|
|Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)|
|Boswell, Tim||Greenway, John (Ryedale)|
|Bottomley, Peter||Gregory, Conal|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n)||Ground, Patrick|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Hague, William|
|Bowis, John||Hannam, John|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes||Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)|
|Brazier, Julian||Harris, David|
|Bright, Graham||Hawkins, Christopher|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Hayes, Jerry|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney|
|Burns, Simon||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Burt, Alistair||Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)|
|Butcher, John||Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)|
|Butler, Chris||Hill, James|
|Butterfill, John||Holt, Richard|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)|
|Carlisle, John, (Luton N)||Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Howells, Geraint|
|Carr, Michael||Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)|
|Carrington, Matthew||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Carttiss, Michael||Irvine, Michael|
|Cash, William||Jack, Michael|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Janman, Tim|
|Chapman, Sydney||Johnston, Sir Russell|
|Chope, Christopher||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Jones, Robert B (Herts W)|
|Clark, Rt Hon Sir William||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine|
|Colvin, Michael||Kilfedder, James|
|Conway, Derek||King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)||King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Cope, Rt Hon Sir John||Knapman, Roger|
|Cormack, Patrick||Knight, Greg (Derby North)|
|Couchman, James||Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Knowles, Michael|
|Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)||Knox, David|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Day, Stephen||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Devlin, Tim||Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Lightbown, David|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Livsey, Richard|
|Lord, Michael||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|Macfarlane, Sir Neil||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)||Speed, Keith|
|Maclean, David||Speller, Tony|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Squire, Robin|
|Malins, Humfrey||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Mans, Keith||Steel, Rt Hon Sir David|
|Maples, John||Stern, Michael|
|Marshall, John (Hendon S)||Stevens, Lewis|
|Mates, Michael||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Stokes, Sir John|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Summerson, Hugo|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Miller, Sir Hal||Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)|
|Mills, Iain||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Mitchell, Sir David||Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)|
|Moate, Roger||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Thorne, Neil|
|Moore, Rt Hon John||Thurnham, Peter|
|Moynihan, Hon Colin||Tracey, Richard|
|Needham, Richard||Tredinnick, David|
|Nelson, Anthony||Trotter, Neville|
|Newton, Rt Hon Tony||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Nicholson, David (Taunton)||Walden, George|
|Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley||Walker, Bill (T'side North)|
|Paice, James||Wallace, James|
|Patnick, Irvine||Waller, Gary|
|Pawsey, James||Ward, John|
|Porter, David (Waveney)||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Portillo, Michael||Watts, John|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Wells, Bowen|
|Price, Sir David||Wheeler, Sir John|
|Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy||Whitney, Ray|
|Renton, Rt Hon Tim||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Rhodes James, Sir Robert||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Riddick, Graham||Wilkinson, John|
|Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||Wolfson, Mark|
|Rowe, Andrew||Wood, Timothy|
|Sackville, Hon Tom||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)||Mr. Malcolm Moss and|
|Shersby, Michael||Mr. Michael Brown.|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Ashton, Joe|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.)||Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)|
|Anderson, Donald||Barron, Kevin|
|Battle, John||Hughes, John (Coventry NE)|
|Beckett, Margaret||Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)|
|Bell, Stuart||Livingstone, Ken|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)||Loyden, Eddie|
|Blunkett, David||McAllion, John|
|Boateng, Paul||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Boyes, Roland||McFall, John|
|Bradley, Keith||McKelvey, William|
|Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)||McMaster, Gordon|
|Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)||Marek, Dr John|
|Buckley, George J.||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Caborn, Richard||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Callaghan, Jim||Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)|
|Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)||Martlew, Eric|
|Canavan, Dennis||Maxton, John|
|Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)||Meale, Alan|
|Cohen, Harry||Michael, Alun|
|Cook, Robin (Livingston)||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Cousins, Jim||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Cryer, Bob||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Cummings, John||Murphy, Paul|
|Dalyell, Tam||Nellist, Dave|
|Dewar, Donald||O'Brien, William|
|Dixon, Don||Patchett, Terry|
|Dobson, Frank||Pike, Peter L.|
|Duffy, Sir A. E. P.||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Dunnachie, Jimmy||Randall, Stuart|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth||Rogers, Allan|
|Eadie, Alexander||Rowlands, Ted|
|Eastham, Ken||Short, Clare|
|Edwards, Huw||Skinner, Dennis|
|Fatchett, Derek||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)||Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)|
|Fisher, Mark||Snape, Peter|
|Flynn, Paul||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Foster, Derek||Soley, Clive|
|Foulkes, George||Steinberg, Gerry|
|Fyfe, Maria||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Garrett, John (Norwich South)||Vaz, Keith|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)|
|Gordon, Mildred||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Graham, Thomas||Williams, Rt Hon Alan|
|Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Hain, Peter||Wray, Jimmy|
|Haynes, Frank||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Heal, Mrs Sylvia|
|Hinchliffe, David||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Mr. Eric Illsley and|
|Home Robertson, John||Mr. Jimmy Hood.|