Power to Act in Relation to Proposals for Transfer of Functions, Property etc.

Orders of the Day — British Coal and British Rail (Transfer Proposals) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 29th June 1992.

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Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch 9:30 pm, 29th June 1992

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 14, at end insert— '(1A) It shall be the duty of the British Railways Board to communicate its intention to the Secretary of State who, within four weeks, shall present a report of such proposals to Parliament.'. I move the amendment in the hope that you. Madam Speaker, will accept that it has been difficult throughout the Committee stage of the Bill to know precisely what we were talking about because we had little information. My amendment is related to the provision of information which, I maintain, should have been provided previously by the Government so that we could debate with a little more clarity than has been possible in Committee and even up to Report.

The heading to clause 1 says: Power to act in relation to proposals for transfer of functions, properties etc. There are no such proposals. We therefore need more information from the Government and I hope to be able either to extract that information this evening or to obtain from my hon. Friend the Minister guarantees which satisfy me and my hon. Friends that it will be forthcoming shortly.

The House is being asked to pass the Bill with insufficient information. I somewhat philosophically ask my hon. Friend the Minister and the House why there is no White Paper. This is the 14th year of Conservative government. We have had some root-and-branch enthusiasts for railway privatisation—my Lords Parkinson, Moore and Ridley, to name but three—none of whom managed to arrange a meeting place between their political ambitions on the one hand and common sense on the other when it came to producing a White Paper on the possible change of ownership in some parts of British Rail.

Has secrecy precluded the appearance of the White Paper? It cannot be secrecy because we believe in open Government. Is it arrogance? Of course it is not, because the Prime Minister——

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch

I shall resist that temptation, having had one go this afternoon. Once a day is enough, as the actress said to the bishop.

Is it secrecy? No, because we have an open Government who want to provide us with as much information as possible. Is it incompetence? I do not think so. Is it deliberate? I do not know about that. I believe that the answer is much simpler. It is because it is proving so difficult for the Government to produce a sensible White Paper which somehow marries the ambition of one or two of my colleagues with the Government's need and intention to maintain a national rail system. That is the reason why we have not yet had a White Paper.

I put the question simply to my hon. Friend the Minister for Public Transport. Can he assure me that we shall have a White Paper before the Bill receives Royal Assent? To put it even more bluntly, can he assure me that the House will have the White Paper before we rise for the summer recess? In the absence of such a White Paper, I must make certain assumptions to explain why I wish the Government to show a little more determination to produce it before the Bill proceeds much further.

I begin by quoting an interesting leader in The Independent a few weeks ago: Having wrestled long and not very impressively with the question of how to privatise British Rail, the Government has come up with a minimalist solution. It will allow contenders to compete for franchises to run passenger services, with the possibility of BR's freight and parcels businesses being sold. John MacGregor. the Transport Secretary, said yesterday that BR will be the track authority. A regulatory body will be empowered to decide who should be granted the franchises and to act as referee.This cautious approach has much to commend it. Is that correct? Was the writer of that leading article accurately summarising the Government's intentions? If so, are the Government dragging the railway back from what I regard as the abyss or the jungle of total deregulation into which it looked as though it might fall two or three years ago?

One of the hardest tasks that my hon. Friend the Minister and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State have yet to undertake is to realise that the course on which they are embarked will sadly dash the great expectations of some of my colleagues who dream of waking up one morning to find that the Great Western Railway has been reincarnated. The Government would therefore be doing themselves a favour if they made the position fairly clear fairly soon.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth

Will my hon. Friend concede that it would be sheer common sense for the Government to provide more information so that hon. Members could scrutinise the Government's plans? For example, the Select Committee on Energy thoroughly examined the privatisation of electricity and decided that the costs of nuclear decommissioning could not be met. The City and its institutions formed the same opionion and in the end, at least a section of what was to be privatised was not privatised. One must not underestimate the value of the House in scrutinising the work of the Departments. It would be advantageous if information was given to the House before the legislation proceeds much further.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch

My hon. Friend makes a point which is not only interesting but pertinent. If the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) had been in his place, he would have agreed as vigorously as I do. I have not had the opportunity to consider carefully what my hon. Friend says, but he must be right.

As I recall, Lord Parkinson was Secretary of State for Transport at the time. As my hon. Friend the Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) said, he thought that it would be a mere bagatelle to privatise the nuclear industry. Sadly, the facts eventually proved him wrong. My hon. Friend is right. More information at an earlier date and an opportunity to debate the Government's propositions at an early date could have prevented the embarrassing retraction which had to take place on that occasion.

Will the White Paper deal with the taxation options? Can my hon. Friend the Minister tell me whether I am right in pushing the point? The Germans, for example, have a transport policy which seeks to transfer traffic from road to rail. They do not have complicated debates about ownership, and privatisation of the railways would he regarded as a faintly silly proposition if it were put to the Bundestag. The Germans simply have taxation arrangements which discourage the use of roads for longer-distance freight and encourage the use of rail. Many of us would like to encourage that here.

Where are we going with the paving Bill? How much longer are we to pretend that the future of British Coal bears any relationship to the future for British Rail? The Bill is an illogical and unreal piece of legislation in many ways. There is no reference, in the Queen's Speech or in any debates in Committee, to the complete privatisation of British Rail.

On 18 May—I welcome this totally—my hon. Friend the Minister, in answer to a question of mine, said: I am sure that this will prove useful in the detailed implementation of our policies for restructuring British Rail."—[Official Report, 18 May 1992; Vol. 208, c. 34.] That is what the Japanese have done. They have restructured their railways and that may be what we are doing. I suggest to my hon. Friend that, if we knew what was in his and the Government's minds, it would save some people getting themselves embarrassingly stuck on the end of a limb from which they will have uncomfortably to withdraw themselves.

Can my hon. Friend tell us what will he the position on financial support for the railways? Is it to continue indefinitely? What will be the relationship between the recipient of financial support and the providers of franchise-holding services? The word "franchise" is the new in-word emanating from Marsham street. Many colleagues in the House know that for some years I have been involved with a major hotel group which is one of the world's leading franchising operations. I suspect that what the Department of Transport means when it talks about franchise and what some of my colleagues in the House mean when they talk of franchising bear little relationship to what will be in the White Paper. The Government have done the House less than a service in producing a paving Bill on the railways before we have had a White Paper.

What is to be? We have had a useful exchange. My hon. Friend the Minister for Energy was helpful a few moments ago when I thought that he confirmed—I am sure that my hon. Friend the Minister for Public Transport will tell us whether what my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy said was correct—that on safety, British Rail will be the track authority and will be responsible for ensuring safety levels whoever operates trains on our railways. That will be a substantial step forward.

We should have liked to see—perhaps we shall—in the White Paper references to, for example, infrastructure costs as between road and rail. Of all the amazing allegations, in The Guardian this morning it is reported that the National Express company is to complain to the Office of Fair Trading about InterCity's 225 service between London and Edinburgh offering prices that are too competitive. We are coming to something when a private sector coach operator, which gets all its track costs provided free of charge by the taxpayer, complains to the Office of Fair Trading about the ability of our nationalised railway service to compete effectively despite the fact that it has to bear all its own track costs.

Track costs are not the only issue. Will the White Paper include details of the true expenditure as between road and rail in relation to the national health service? Some 5,000 people per year are killed and 250,000 are maimed in road accidents. What is the real cost to the national health service? What is the cost to the Department of Social Security of tens of thousands of people being off work because of accidents on the road?

What about the police? British Rail has to provide for its police from its budget. Like everyone else who uses the road, National Express finds that the taxpayer funds the police in that respect. What about the cost of time in our courts? Untold millions of pounds are spent in our courts every year dealing with traffic accidents and traffic offences. What about BR's task of maintaining the heritage?

What about pollution and congestion? Will the White Paper tackle the real questions which should be asked? We need only leave the House this evening to discover a London choking with fumes from the internal combustion engine. One need only blow one's nose to see what the internal combustion engine is doing to the air of this city and of other major cities in this country.

The White Paper should address those issues. I hope that it will do that, but I am afraid that I have some doubt——

It being Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.

Ordered,That, at this day's sitting, the British Coal and British Rail (Transfer Proposals) Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Nicholas Baker.]

Not amended (in the Standing Committee), again considered.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch

There was a story in the newspapers this morning that BR will shortly announce a loss of £150 million. What will we find in the White Paper about that? I attended the annual general meeting of Lloyd's on Wednesday morning, as I am a member of Lloyd's, and I did some quick mathematics. Lloyd's lost £2 billion in the 1989 trading year. British Rail has allegedly lost £150 million in the trading year 1991. That is a loss of £2 billion for 40,000 people in one year at Lloyd's and a loss of £150 million for 50 million people in one year in the depth of a recession on the railways. On the whole, the taxpayers and travellers of this country do not get a bad deal from BR.

What is to be the role of the railway? Will the White Paper attend seriously to that primary question? What is the role of the railway in a modern industrial state? Ownership is an interesting proposition, but whether or not someone can tack a few carriages on here or there is a matter of cosmetic interest.

As usual, there are double standards. British Rail was required by the Government to produce plans for a channel tunnel rail link. The Government said, "Build it as cheaply as you can and make sure that it meets Treasury guidelines." British Rail spent 18 months looking into the matter and buying houses. Then someone else came along and told BR to change the route. In the meantime, the Winchester bypass has been proceeding. I strongly support that, and the taxpayer bears all the environmental costs, but BR is expected to meet Treasury guidelines and to produce a railway which is economically acceptable to the Treasury and environmentally acceptable to everyone.

Those issues should be in the White Paper, but we do not know whether they are. We do not know whether they are relevant to the Bill. As we do not have the White Paper, I have the advantage that I can get away with saying virtually anything in relation to the amendment, because we do not know what is in the White Paper.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. I shall he listening to the hon. Gentleman very carefully.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch

I will therefore draw my remarks to a close.

My hon. Friend the Minister for Public Transport was very good in Committee. He has been conciliatory and helpful. I was one of the first people, if not the first, to make the point that the railways enjoy a unique relationship with their work force, born of the loyalty, enthusiasm and dedication of 150 years of serving the travelling public. I am not speaking as a spokesman of the trade unions—I cannot say that the trade unions have done nothing to cause damage to the travelling public, because they have—but there is a new mood afoot within the railway unions. They should be consulted by the Government as the legislation proceeds. The unions have some interesting suggestions to make and I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will assure me that they will be consulted.

I close as I started, by saying that I do not want to press the amendment to a Division. Nevertheless, I will do so if my hon. Friend the Minister cannot satisfy my request that the White Paper should appear quickly. I hope that he can do that.

Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay , Thurrock

I shall not detain the House for long, but an important constitutional point arises from the amendment. If the amendment were adopted, it would be one redeeming feature of a bad Bill and a bad way of proceeding—pushing legislation through the House. The hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) repeatedly made the valid point that there is no White Paper. Therefore, if the amendment were accepted, there would be some safeguards and a reassurance that the matter would come back to the House before any hard-and-fast decisions were made. There is great anxiety that, if the legislation is passed unamended, the House will be bounced into franchising or privatising the railways, in particular, without being able to take full cognisance of all the ramifications or being able to influence Government opinion before legislation is lined up and pushed through the House.

I deliberately used the words "constitutional point", because I invite hon. Members to pause to consider that we do not have the White Paper, but that their Lordships may do so when the matter reaches them. It is not only manifestly unfair but wrong in principle that this democratically elected Chamber will not be able to consider the White Paper in advance of legislation, whereas the other place might be able to do so.

I am told by hon. Members who have been in the House longer than I that it is possible that the Bill will have Royal Assent before the summer recess. Other hon. Members shake their heads and say no. It concerns me that we are about to embark upon a long summer recess. The passing of this legislation will signal to British Rail a certain way of proceeding in anticipation of privatisation. My anxiety is that we shall come back to the House in the autumn and either complete certain stages of the Bill's progress or find it already on the statute book. Incidentally, we keep talking about one privatisation Bill in the autumn, but I assume that there will be two Bills. It would be nonsense and quite outrageous for there to be only one Bill.

Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay , Thurrock

The Minister nods his head, and I welcome that confirmation: there will be two Bills. My anxiety is that we shall be down the road to privatisation or franchising in a manner which no hon. Member will have been able to influence, and we shall be presented largely with a fait accompli.

If hon. Members consider that remark to be alarmist or without basis, I refer them to the Ports Act 1991, which the same Department that is pushing this legislation through the House produced in the previous Parliament. I studied the Ports Act 1991 this very evening. Very little on the face of the Ports Bill disclosed how the ports privatisation would proceed. It was pushed through both Houses without proper examination.

I am concerned that, in respect of this Bill or Bills that we are yet to see, there will not be proper discussion of the implications of privatisation unless we adopt an amendment such as that which has been moved by the hon. Member for Christchurch. The hon. Gentleman ably explained why it is in hon. Members' interests to have the capacity, apart from on Second Reading and in Committee, to examine the proposals of British Rail which is charged with facilitating the implementation of the Secretary of State's proposals.

For those reasons, we should support the hon. Member for Christchurch. It is not the fault of the House that there is no White Paper; it is the failure of the Government. They have been dilatory and have let down the House by not producing a White Paper.

The unelected other place may have the benefit of a White Paper. We have a right and a duty to be able to examine the proposals outside the context of the Second Reading of a future Bill. For those reasons, I hope that we shall support the amendment of the hon. Member for Christchurch and that he will not be tempted to withdraw it.

Photo of Mr Mark Wolfson Mr Mark Wolfson , Sevenoaks

I wish to support the amendment on the basis of my experience and that of all my hon. Friends who represent Kent and south-east London of British Rail's secretive approach to its plans for the development of the channel tunnel rail link in the past three and a half years.

The amendment would go some distance toward ensuring, through the Secretary of State, that information on British Rails proposals appertaining to the Bill would be in the public arena. My unsatisfactory experience has alerted me to the importance of that happening in the future under the Bill.

Many unanswered questions about the fast rail link are relevant not only to the south-east of England but the whole country. I am also concerned about how the privatisation proposals will affect Network SouthEast, on which London's prosperity and future will always depend. Although it is right to seek ways of involving the private sector in the operation of British Rail, Network SouthEast, which serves a great capital city, will always need to be the beneficiary of some public subsidy. The House will want to know how that is likely to be organised in a privatisation Bill, so I echo the requests to my hon. Friend the Minister for details of those proposals in a White Paper as rapidly as possible.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

The hon. Gentleman has put his finger on the point about Network SouthEast being relevant not only to the south-east of England but to the whole of the United Kingdom. I understand that the figures that British Rail will publish tomorrow suggest that, although its loss is £150 million overall, the loss on Network SouthEast is £250 million. The hon. Gentleman's point must be taken on board; if Network SouthEast is to be supported—I accept that it must be, because of what it serves—it should not be at the expense of the rest of the United Kingdom. That is one of the reasons why we must have more information on what is proposed for the south—east and the rest of the country.

Photo of Mr Mark Wolfson Mr Mark Wolfson , Sevenoaks

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point in support of my argument.

I have no doubt that London is now in danger of being less well served by its rail system than other capital cities with which it is in competition. We are having some difficulty in persuading the European bank to come to London and we may not win that argument. The issues on that are much wider than this debate, but one of the factors that will ensure that London continues to be a highly successful financial centre serving the rest of the world is people's ability to travel to and from work. As I have often done in the past, I compare London with Paris, which has a 19th-century rail network and a metro network equivalent to our tube. But it also has a whole new network of RER railway lines crossing Paris from 30 miles outside to the centre. Trains on that network travel at 60 mph through the centre of the city. London has no equivalent, and plans for one are still a long way off.

Through a sensible approach to privatisation, we can better overcome some of the problems, but it is important that the House has an opportunity to monitor and debate the plans as often as possible as they develop. In that context, I support the amendment.

Photo of Mr Stephen Milligan Mr Stephen Milligan , Eastleigh

I sympathise with those who have pressed home the need for the House to have greater information. We have waited a long time for this White Paper—it was first promised in December last year.

The delay has been extremely fruitful, however. At the time, the proposal that appeared to be circulating in the Government was to begin by selling off InterCity. That would have been a bad mistake. First, it would not have promoted competition. Whoever had bought the company would not want to open up lines to competition from rivals. Secondly, it would have been horrendously complicated. British Rail calculated that 30,000 separate issues would have to be included in the contract between InterCity and other operators if the scheme was to work.

The plan that now appears to be circulating in the Government, to allow franchising, is a much more practical way to improve rail services, which is what privatisation should be about.

10.15 pm

Experience in Sweden, a country which Opposition Members have long admired, shows that franchising has been extremely successful. A bus company in the south of Sweden known as BK-Train won the franchise for 400 kilometers against competition from Swedish Rail. The result after the first year has been a halving of fares, a 40 per cent. increase in use and 95 per cent. of the trains arriving on time. Some of the modifications that the company has introduced have been copied by Swedish railways elsewhere on the network. Franchising and a limited introduction of competition are a practical way to improve rail services, which is why the delay in the White Paper has been a good development.

I represent a railway constituency in which more than 2,000 people work in the industry, so I make a plea to the Minister not to rush any decision about the future of British Rail Maintenance Ltd., in Eastleigh, which maintains most of the trains in the southern region and employs almost 1,800 of the 2,000 people to whom I have referred. BRML is a successful part of British Rail and a semi-independent company. It repaired most of the motors damaged by the wrong type of snow recently; fortunately those motors got the right sort of maintenance in Eastleigh. The company has been profitable and increasingly efficient and is taking more steps towards efficiency.

BRML has been hampered, however, by not having the right to compete equally with other companies. It does not, for instance, have the right to compete for contracts to maintain trains north of the river. Apparently the British Rail Board has been trying to reduce its ability to compete with private companies on repairing electric

traction motors. It cannot compete effectively with depots in Network SouthEast. The tendency is to give work to those depots first and afterwards to BRML.

Before the Minister makes any decisions on BRML's future, I hope that he will consult its managers and its work force. I am delighted that he has accepted an invitation to come and visit the works and do just that. I hope that he will not rush his decision, because in this matter consideration will lead to a better decision than any attempt to rush one through.

Photo of Mr Peter Snape Mr Peter Snape , West Bromwich East

I congratulate the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) on the comprehensive shopping list that he presented to the Minister. If he elicits a better response from him than we have had, we will be worthy of double congratulations. Many of his points, particularly about the White Paper, were pertinent.

The hon. Gentleman asked about taxation policies and transport. Does he really need a White Paper to find out what the Government's transport taxation policies are? They are very simple: spend as much public money as possible—hundreds of millions of pounds—on widening the M25, and, at least in the view of the former Secretary of State, now Lord Parkinson, then abolish the subsidy for Network SouthEast by 1992. That was his original intention, and I do not think that the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Wolfson) played a prominent role in opposing it. Perhaps he thinks it just as well that Lord Parkinson left the Department of Transport as soon as he did.

A toll road has been proposed for the west midlands, yet we cannot get the go-ahead to spend the comparatively small amounts of money necessary for the Snow Hill railway line. The hon. Member for Christchurch effectively put across points such as these.

We need a White Paper to find out exactly what is in the Government's mind. We suspect that, even now, a White Paper is being drafted at the Treasury and that its purpose will be to save even more public money on the railways. It will not augur well for the hon. Member for Sevenoaks or his constituents, or for the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Milligan), whom I congratulate on his speech.

A continuation of the Government's taxation policy for transport is bad for rail users and for those who maintain or operate the system. I hope that the Minister will tell us, if he knows, what is in the White Paper or that he will say as much as possible to satisfy his hon. Friends. We need to know whether the railways' capital requirements and revenue support needs will for once be met, and we should like to hear about negotiations between the Department and the Treasury to bring that happy situation about.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

Before dealing with the amendment, I shall deal with the important point raised by the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay). The hon. Gentleman is not in his place, but I am sure that he will shortly return. He asked whether we have the correct sequence for the introduction of the Paving Bill and the White Paper on the future of British Rail. That issue is highly relevant to the amendment. I think that we have the sequence right, because the Paving Bill gives British Rail and British Coal the power to hire consultants and extra staff to consider, in due course, our proposals for the introduction of private sector capital into both industries. I am sure that the House wants the reasoned opinions and advice of both those corporations, because they will enable hon. Members to reach a conclusion about the main legislation for British Rail which we intend to introduce later this autumn.

British Rail and British Coal have no power to introduce any element of privatisation until the main legislation has been passed by Parliament. There is no prospect of franchising commencing until the main legislation has been passed. We must first give BR and British Coal the power to consider our proposals. They will then advise not only us, but, through the Government, the House.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Will the advice to BR and British Coal and their advice in response to Government proposals be made available to hon. Members?

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

I do not speak for British Coal, British Rail or the Opposition. I have assured the House that, as the Minister responsible for British Rail on a day-to-day basis, I will ensure that the House is properly informed of BR's views. My hon. Friend the Minister for Energy has heard the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

I have only a few minutes, but if the hon. Gentleman finds that I have not covered his questions, I shall give way towards the end of my reply.

My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) asked for specific assurances which I am happy to give. He asked for a categorical assurance that the White Paper would be published before Royal Assent to the Paving Bill. I give him that assurance and hope that that will ensure the sequence that we debated at length in Committee so that the work that British Rail will entrust to its advisers, consultants and extra staff, will have the White Paper as a point of reference.

There may be opportunity in Parliament for comment on the White Paper before Royal Assent, although the debate on the Paving Bill is probably not the right legislative peg upon which to hang a detailed debate. The House may need to have fuller consideration of the White Paper, but the timing of a debate and whether there is one is not a matter for me. I hope that my hon. Friend is reassured on that point. I can confirm our intention to publish the White Paper before the House rises for the summer recess.

My hon. Friends the Members for Eastleigh (Mr. Milligan), for Sevenoaks (Mr. Wolfson) and for Christchurch raised two key points. The first concerns what kind of railway we want to see in the last decade of the 20th century. We want an expanding railway, and one that has been helped by the Government. In the past two financial years, we have increased by £1,000 million the resources available to British Rail. Thank goodness, we did not have a national transportation plan setting out precisely, and no more, what funds should be available to British Rail. The Government responded quickly and promptly, in the face of the recession, to maintain the investment programme of British Rail and to increase the investment programme of London Transport, particularly the London Underground part.

We want to see more choice and responsibility introduced into British Rail and to turn the clock back beyond 70 years, to when different companies offered different services, because we believe that choice is essential. We want an efficient industry, and the forces of the private sector, including BRML, may well improve productivity of those parts of British Rail.

The transfer of freight and passengers on to rail is an important subject and one which would have had to be addressed whether or not we were proposing privatisation. I can confirm that, within the Department of Transport, we are giving serious consideration to the steps that would be needed to ensure that, when decisions are taken on hauling freight, they are taken on the basis of a level playing field in terms of charging and the fiscal regime.

I was asked about what is in the White Paper. I put myself firmly in the school of pragmatists within the Tory party and I want to ensure that our proposals are workable. I believe that this White Paper is rather like a Stilton cheese—[Interruption] I am glad that mirth is breaking out on the Opposition Benches, but perhaps Labour Members will bear with me as I finish my speech.

The White Paper will show that we have workable policies for introducing the private sector into British Rail. We are proposing that BR should have responsibility for running the track and the signalling, through what will become a track authority. There will be a regulator responsible for ensuring fair competition and access to the rail network on the basis of charges to the track authority. We want a privatised rail freight system, and we want to franchise as much as possible of the passenger service, as fast as possible. We are very much in the hands of the private sector, hut, already, informal conversations have shown that the private sector thinks that that policy will work. By the end of this Parliament, a significant proportion of passenger services will be run under franchises.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks asked me about subsidy. I can confirm that, for both Network SouthEast and the regional railway system, a subsidising regime will continue through the passenger service obligation grant, which will be paid to those who operate railway services whether in the public or the private sector.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch

I am sorry to press my hon. Friend on this point. Can he confirm that my understanding of what the Minister said early this afternoon is as I put it to him? That is that British Rail, as my hon. Friend has just said, will be responsible for all the track, all the signalling and the safety of passengers, whoever is running the trains, if anybody else does run them.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

I am happy to conclude my remarks by discussing safety, which is extremely important. I confirm what my hon. Friend said. The Health and Safety Executive will set safety standards and monitor them. But the track authority will be responsible, on a day-to-day basis, for all safety issues on the track. That makes sense. I believe that the private sector, whether operating freight services or franchised passenger services, would want it, and that the travelling public would want it.

I hope that on the basis of those remarks my hon. Friend will withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch 10:30 pm, 29th June 1992

I thank my hon. Friend very much for his generous answers to the points that I made. Obviously there will be a great deal more to be said when the White Paper is published. On the basis of the assurances that my hon. Friend has given me tonight, I am perfectly happy to withdraw the amendment.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

I beg to move amendment No. 2, in line 29, after 'corporate', insert 'or regulatory body.'.

I do not wish to detain the House. Indeed, some of this is a continuation of, or arises out of, a debate that we have just had. However, it would be helpful if Ministers were able to give us a little more information as to how they envisage the privatised coal and rail sectors being regulated. They have not made this at all clear. Indeed, as the debate on rail services has continued, it has become clear that full-blown privatisation is probably not now on the cards at all.

What we are talking about is the majority of services continuing to be run by the state rail undertaking, and some of the services being franchised. One question that arises immediately is whether or not the track authority will be separate from British Rail as an operator, or whether British Rail will serve in a double capacity. If the Minister were to give some information about that, it would help to clarify forward thinking.

One point that was made when I intervened during the speech of the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Wolfson)—it is a matter for concern—related to how British Rail will relate to the track authority, to the regulator and to the other companies operating. Clearly, as the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Milligan) pointed out, if British Rail were to issue the franchises, it would not he likely to do so on terms good for competition, just as British Gas has not been terribly co-operative in giving other people access to the pipelines.

If the figures that we expect to get from British Rail tomorrow are correct-showing that the railways lost £150 million, but Network SouthEast lost £250 million; in other words, that the rest of the network, grossed up, made a profit—many concerns will arise, and they will have to be addressed.

The first is one that I accept—that people in London and the south-east will clearly be concerned that vital electric services are loss makers, and that they may be put at risk, either because the franchising will result in cherry picking that might increase the loss to British Rail, or because the support or subsidy is inadequate to maintain both service and forward investment. But, clearly, the rest of the United Kingdom will be concerned that the subsidising of Network SouthEast may be at the expense of services elsewhere.

As I represent a north of Scotland constituency I do not have to tell the Minister that we are extremely concerned about the constant publication, in the Scottish papers, of maps that show the future rail network finishing at Edinburgh and Glasgow, with no line serving the north of Scotland. We are unable to get any commitment to the electrification of the east coast main line.

I put a full stop at that point, because Ministers are in the habit of suggesting that the east coast main line has been electrified. At the risk of boring the House, I repeat that it has been electrified to Edinburgh. The east coast main line always used to run to Aberdeen, and those of us who are served by Aberdeen insist that it should continue to do so. The lack of electrification is an extremely worrying development.

Similarly, the poor quality of the investment in the services to the north, in terms of rolling stock and the development of services, gives us considerable concern. We need to know how British Rail and the track authority will operate, and how they will relate to each other. For example, it seems very unlikely that there will be a huge queue of people wanting to take up the franchise to operate a service between Aberdeen and Inverness.

Let me be quite clear: if somebody comes forward and is willing to do it, and believes that he can do it as an attractive proposition and profitably, I will have no objection whatever, just as I had no objection to the Stagecoach experiment from Aberdeen providing seating accommodation on the trains to the south.

What will happen, however, if no organisation is interested in providing the service, and British Rail feels that it is under pressure to cut loss-making services so that it can compete elsewhere in the network? That is an example of problems that are giving cause for concern. The sooner that we can obtain clarification from the Government of the exact role of the regulator in parcelling out services, including subsidised services, and maintaining services, the better will we be reassured.

was glad that the Minister was able to say that the White Paper will be published before the House rises for the summer recess. The hon. Gentleman may be surprised to know that I think that that is the right sequence of events I say that because I think that the debate has helped to head off some of the more ideological flights of fantasy and to draw out some real concerns. I hope that those concerns will help to shape future debates on the basis that full-blown privatisation of the rail network—it would seem that the Government have not been able to produce a viable scheme—is not a serious proposition.

The Government say that they intend to have a rail regulator, but they have not explained how their concept will operate. They left us with a complete blank when we considered the regulation of the coal industry. We considered licensing in Committee, and the Minister said that that was something that he might consider. If there is to be licensing, however, there must be a licensing authority, whether it is a Government Department, a Crown agency, a regulator or whatever.

There may be a logical continuation for British Coal as the regulator for the coal industry even if it is not to be the operator of pits. The Minister knows that I am not happy with the idea of British Coal, in the private sector, being the operator of pits and the licensee of private pits. I do not understand how such a concept can square with the aspiration of genuine competition and choice. It means that one operator will have a clear advantage over any competitor.

It is interesting that references have been made to the Health and Safety Executive while discussing the details of safety in both the coal and rail industries. It may be appropriate for the HSE to have a continuing role and for there to be a specific safety responsibility for the regulators and the operators in both the coal industry and the rail network. It is noteworthy that the Minister said earlier that we cannot talk about safety too much or in too much detail.

We must not put responsibility for ensuring safety in too many places. The danger of separating responsibilities is that someone will think that an element of safety is somebody else's responsibility. Surely every operator must have accountability for safety to the HSE and to whoever issues the operating licence. The right to remove or alter the licence could be a factor in determining safe operation.

If franchising is to be the direction of access to private operators to the rail network, who will set the terms of the franchises? Will they be set by the track authority or an independent body? It is clear that they cannot be set by British Rail if BR is itself an operator, albeit the major operator.

If British Rail is to continue as an operating body, to whom is it likely to be accountable in future? At present, BR is accountable to the Secretary of State for Transport, and through him or her to the House. If BR is to continue as a public sector body, will that relationship continue, or will BR be accountable through the regulator or the traffic authority? What will be its accountability? The Minister must understand that the relationship is being changed even though the details are not apparent. Some clarification would be appropriate.

This is the Government's sixth major privatisation. They have all been different. I do not complain about that—they have properly been different, in the sense that different industries require different approaches. It is sad, however, that we have not always learnt the lessons of the preceding privatisation, and that every new regulator had to embark on a new learning curve. The embarrassment suffered over the past two weeks by OFFER, the electricity regulator, because of the scale of the profits made by that industry, has been apparent. The concentration of ownership in the generating sector needs to be further addressed.

I accept that one cannot apply the techniques used in the privatisation of gas or electricity to those of British Coal and British Rail. However, after 13 years, the Government should have some coherent idea of whether there will be a regulator, and the broad nature of his relationship with the overall track and licensing authorities, and with those operating in the industry.

The Government said that there will be a regulator for rail, but they have not explained how that regulator will operate or relate. They have not even said whether there will be a regulator for coal. It is high time they did. Given that we may not get a coal White Paper before the summer recess, regulation is essential. Although competition may help to provide some discipline, which is clearly a Government objective, it will not wholly meet the bill. There will clearly be a need to ensure that the industry is properly accountable.

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

I hope that I can go some way to helping the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce). A number of his detailed questions will be answered in the rail White Paper, which will be published before the House rises for the summer recess. It will include a proposal to establish a rail regulator, which will be separate from British Rail and therefore—as other regulators—ultimately responsible to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

The regulatory and franchising functions to which the hon. Gentleman referred will be separated from British Rail—but for more details, the hon. Gentleman will have to await the best-selling White Paper.

As to a regulator for coal, the hon. Gentleman is well aware that the situation there is very different. It is not a question of a classic regulatory arrangement whereby an outside individual or agency is charged with examining rates of return, prices, and so on. The sense in which the hon. Gentleman uses the word "regulator" relates to his concept of a licensing authority, which he would probably expect to examine such questions as the allocation of deep coal-bearing land, or land otherwise of interest to independent operators.

I do not want to discuss current thinking because the consultation period finished only a week ago. We received a number of detailed responses, particularly on some of the issues that the hon. Gentleman raised. It would not be appropriate to make up our minds in advance of considering those consultation papers—not all of which I have yet been able to read.

The hon. Gentleman made the good point that it is important for the operator of coal mining activities to have a separate function from that of the licensing authority. It is clear that the roles need to be separated, although I am not sure exactly how that is to be done.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

In the event of a competitive bid for a licence, whether it is for a single pit or for a group of pits—I understand that in Scotland, for instance, there may well be an NUM bid, private sector bids and a bid from a miners' consortium—who will make the ultimate decision? Will it be the Secretary of State, or will the decision-making be delegated?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North 10:45 pm, 29th June 1992

That, I think, is a separate issue. I have no doubt that, if it were decided that the assets of mines were to be sold on a regional basis in the form of a trade sale—which is presumably what the hon. Gentleman is postulating—responsibility would ultimately lie with the Secretary of State. If assets subsequently remained to be disposed of, there might well be a need for another entity to take charge, at arm's length from the Secretary of State. We have not made any decisions; we are evaluating the consultation responses. Such questions, however, must clearly be answered, and they will be answered before the final Bill is presented.

Photo of Mr Phil Gallie Mr Phil Gallie , Ayr

The hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) made several valid points about profitability and the involvements on offer. Did not capital investment in the electricity supply industry give very reasonable returns, and would not investment in the coal and rail industries also give reasonable returns?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

I agree that the hon. Gentleman's point about the profitability of electricity companies should not go unanswered, but I am not sure that this is the forum in which to answer it.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

I had no intention of pressing this matter, although I thought it important for us to debate it. The Minister has responded constructively. In a way, the debate is premature; on the other hand, it is better for us to have a debate before the Government have formulated all their ideas.

I am grateful to the Minister on two counts. First, he made it clear that he recognised that the establishment of some form of licensing authority was the way forward for the coal industry. It is encouraging to learn that that is the Government's view; it has a certain logic, and such an arrangement could be operated flexibly.

I am still concerned about the lack of clarity in the division of responsibilities in the rail sector. As the Minister says, however, we shall have to wait for the already long-awaited White Paper. If it does not deal with the issue, I shall write to the Minister for Public Transport to seek further clarification.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Photo of Mr Peter Snape Mr Peter Snape , West Bromwich East 10:48 pm, 29th June 1992

We have had quite a long debate, preceded by a comprehensive Committee stage, on a Bill which—as we have said from the outset—is fairly short in substance.

I very much doubt whether the concerns of my hon. Friends who have spoken so eloquently and knowledgeably about conditions in the coal mining industry have been answered satisfactorily at any stage. The fact is that pensioners in the industry have no security, and there has been very little commitment on safety. Indeed, secrecy rather than safety seems to be the Government's motto for the future.

My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) dealt extensively with the problems in the industry. I hope that my hon. Friends who spoke so eloquently will forgive me if I turn from the importance of the coal industry to a subject which I am sure they will agree is just as important—the future needs of the railways.

The Government have failed to answer the central question about the need of the railways for finance. For 13 years the Government have starved British Rail of capital investment. No matter what Ministers say or how they try to mislead the House, the Government have cut revenue support for the railway industry to the minimum and have controlled British Rail's spending plans, with civil servants continuously double guessing professional railway men. They have invested heavily, and continue to do so, in the road network, which is free at the point of use, and have ignored the competitive effect of that investment on the railway industry.

For many years the Government have encouraged the use of company cars, now—uniquely in Great Britain—seen as an automatic perk for the better-paid. They have tolerated high road casualty levels and have made little attempt to enforce safety standards, particularly for heavy lorries. Private-sector interest has been shown by companies such as Stagecoach and Virgin. It is based on leasing existing trains from British Rail rather than on investment in new trains. It is a question of new colours rather than new coaches.

The latest proposals, specious as they are, have had an enormous impact on the already declining morale of British Rail's work force. What is there in the Bill to encourage British Rail's work force or the coalminers to respond to the new challenges that they face? What will happen to their jobs, their pensions, their travel facilities? Ministers appear, apparently, not to know. Who will maintain the recruitment and training programmes in both industries and, just as important, who will pay for them? When will the orchestrated media campaign—orchestrated by Treasury Ministers—against British Rail, with its damaging effects on morale, end?

On 6 April this year British Rail completed its most fundamental reoganisation since nationalisation. It was entitled "Organising for Quality." It was designed, so BR management said, to focus on customers' needs—though I notice that they are now passengers again—and to deliver the quality standards required. Less than three months after its completion, the Government's proposals in the Bill require yet another upheaval for railway staff, with the separation of infrastructure from train operation and the establishment of franchise areas. Where is the efficiency in that, and how much more managment and staff time is to be wasted on another reorganisation rather than on operating and running the railway industry?

We have been this way before on many previous occasions. I remind the ideologues in the Conservative party that private ownership of the railway industry is nothing new. The grouping of more than 100 railway companies on a geographical basis in 1923 took place because of the virtual bankruptcy of many of those private companies. The Prime Minister talks about the joys of the brass buttons and the chocolate and cream. He must have been a child prodigy with a vengeance. He is the same age as I am, and I was six when the railway industry was nationalised. I was no child prodigy, I must say, before Conservative Members intervene. However, the Prime Minister talks nostalgically about the great days of the chocolate and cream. That grouping in 1923 lasted for less than 30 years and did not stave off bankruptcy for many of the privately owned railway companies.

In a book well known to railway buffs—"British Railways 1948 to 1973"—its author, T. R. Gourvish, said: The financial state of the railways on the eve of nationalisation was worse than it had been in the difficult years of the late 1930s … Starved of investment and hampered by the enormous backlog of repairs and renewals, the industry could do no more than offer a product much inferior to that of pre-war days. That is the experience of private ownership of the railway industry over the years. Privatisation will he inefficient and wasteful. In the case of the mines in particular, it could—as it was in the past—be positively dangerous.

We shall oppose the Bill because we think that it is a bad Bill. We shall oppose the succeeding and detailed legislation tooth and nail.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire 10:54 pm, 29th June 1992

This is a sad Bill and it has been a rather sad day. Before 10.9 pm, only one Conservative Back Bencher—the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley)—had made a speech and he is generally critical of the proposals to privatise railways. No Conservative Members have defended the Bill.

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

Not before 10.9 pm.

For the bulk of the day, we have been discussing pensions and safety; only Labour Members, the Minister and the hon. Member for Christchurch have spoken. Conservative Members have been silent about a matter of considerable importance.

On Second Reading, the speeches that we heard from Conservative Members tended to be maiden speeches. Some parts of those maiden speeches may have been about the coal industry and British Rail, but generally maiden speeches follow a pattern——

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Order. The speeches would not have been in order if they had not covered the Bill.

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

They were in order, but they followed the pattern that maiden speeches generally take. Conservative Members did not deal with the measure before them. They seemed to miss three of their hon. Friends who previously spoke in debates on the coal industry because we won three good victories in Nottingham and got rid of them.

The Bill is a paving measure. It is a peculiar paving measure, because one would expect it not to give the detail of later measures but to say something about the path down which we are going. Some of the speeches that have been made on pensions show that that is not so, that nothing is ruled out and nothing is ruled in and that we do not know what will emerge.

My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) was concerned about the railway police, but no idea was given of the role that they will play.

Safety is of the greatest importance to the railway and coal industries, yet it has not been mentioned. Points have been made about the future role of passenger transport executives and regulators. Will there be an Ofrail, as we have had Ofgas?

Privatisation is being pushed on to rail and mining communities, where collectivism, association, comradeship and working together have been considerably to the fore. The pattern might have changed in some areas and pits may be more cosmopolitan than they used to be, but they are based solidly on communities that work together. Even this Government should worry about introducing into those areas the principles of competition, possessive individualism, fighting one's own corner or entrepreneurial values. They should not simply be concerned about pushing the ideological line that they have followed with electricity and gas privatisation.

It is also sad that more and more matters are being removed from parliamentary scrutiny. The Department of Energy has already disappeared, which meant that the Select Committee on Energy also disappeared. In future, questions on rail and coal, which would have been dealt with during Question Time, will be pushed to one side. We have seen that happen with agency agreements, and more and more issues are removed from the Floor of the House.

A consequence of previous privatisations—the same will be true of the Bill—is that little action is taken by the management of the industries involved to defend public provision. The Opposition should be worried about why there was the necessary commitment among the work force but not among the management. The management looked for the opportunities that were availabe under the new entrepreneurship.

As the Government have not prepared a White Paper or the necessary paving Bill, there is still time for them to decide to drop the measure, or are we to wait for a White Paper which might be like a chapter in a book about football by Len Shackleton. The chapter dealt with what the average director knew about football—it was a blank sheet. There is a danger that we shall have a White Paper which will be as useful as a blank sheet. We want clear information before we can even contemplate allowing the measure to proceed.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South 11:01 pm, 29th June 1992

Someone shouted that I have just arrived. I have been on the telephone, but I have attended the debate from the early evening arid have already participated. I should not have to give that explanation.

The House is a place to debate issues, and it is a measure of the Government's attitude that Conservative Back Benchers want to finish the debate, push the paving Bill through and get another slot in the wrecking of British Rail. That is what the Bill means——

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

The Minister shakes his head, but he should talk to the Minister for Public Transport. The Bill has caused mayhem with the Leeds-Bradford electrification proposals. The passenger transport authority has negotiated with the best faith and the greatest patience, but the Royal Bank of Scotland refused to proceed with leasing because it was critical of the privatisation proposals. It was not prepared to accept that it would be as safe to lease from a private organisation as it would from a public organisation such as the PTA.

The Bill should be withdrawn. It has caused damage, wasted time and led to extra negotiations and difficulties for a perfectly sensible electrification proposal which the Government want. It will also throw into jeopardy a national system of rail transport, which has been built over many years. The national rail system did not arise by chance. There were clearing houses between the private companies, and there will have to be again if there is a franchising operation to ensure that various franchised services work in conjunction rather than against each other. Co-operation is needed for a decent transport service.

The idea of choice is absolutely ludicrous. Several trains cannot leave a station at 10.30 am, especially if they are going in opposite directions, because that would be unsafe. When the Stockton-Darlington first operated in 1825, the idea was that there could he many users of the track. The reason that that was stopped was that the system posed a danger to life and limb.

The Bill is going backwards, not forwards. We shall find that the railway network, instead of encouraging passengers, will put people off by its complexity and uncertainty. Whatever the Minister says, the Bill has cast uncertainty over the railway network, over the management and over the work force who are, by and large, highly dedicated and want to give a decent public service. The Bill will not help and the best thing that the House could do with it is to tear it up.

Photo of Mr Derek Enright Mr Derek Enright , Hemsworth

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order—it is certainly bad manners—for junior Ministers and hon. Members to chatter to people who are in the Gallery?

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

The people concerned are riot in part of the Chamber. They are therefore outside the Chamber. However, I agree that there is too much noise. We should be able to hear hon. Members.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering 11:05 pm, 29th June 1992

We have had extensive debate on the paving Bill and, in Committee and on the Floor of the House, the Bill has been justified and should now pass to another place. Our proposals for the privatisation of British Coal and the introduction of private-sector capital into British Rail will be in the best interests of the work force, of the passengers and of the customers of British Coal. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:

The House divided: Ayes 278, Noes 216.

Division No. 44][11.05 pm
Adley, RobertDavis, David (Boothferry)
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)Day, Stephen
Aitken, JonathanDeva, Nirj Joseph
Alexander, RichardDevlin, Tim
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)Dickens, Geoffrey
Allason, Rupert (Torbay)Dicks, Terry
Amess, DavidDorrell, Stephen
Ancram, MichaelDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Arbuthnot, JamesDover, Den
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Duncan, Alan
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)Duncan-Smith, Iain
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Dunn, Bob
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)Eggar, Tim
Banks, Matthew (Southport)Elletson, Harold
Bates, MichaelEvans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Batiste, SpencerEvans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Beith, Rt Hon A. J.Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Beresford, Sir PaulEvans, Roger (Monmouth)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnEvennett, David
Blackburn, Dr John G.Faber, David
Body, Sir RichardFabricant, Michael
Bonsor, Sir NicholasFairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Booth, HartleyField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)Fishburn, John Dudley
Bottomley, Rt Hon VirginiaForman, Nigel
Bowis, JohnForth, Eric
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir RhodesFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Brandreth, GylesFox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Brazier, JulianFox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterFreeman, Roger
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)French, Douglas
Browning, Mrs. AngelaFry, Peter
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Gale, Roger
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Gallie, Phil
Burns, SimonGardiner, Sir George
Burt, AlistairGarnier, Edward
Butcher, JohnGill, Christopher
Butler, PeterGillan, Ms Cheryl
Butterfill, JohnGoodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Gorst, John
Carrington, MatthewGrant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Carttiss, MichaelGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Cash, WilliamGreenway, John (Ryedale)
Chaplin, Mrs JudithGriffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Chapman, SydneyHague, William
Clappison, JamesHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)Hampson, Dr Keith
Clifton-Brown, GeoffreyHannam, Sir John
Coe, SebastianHargreaves, Andrew
Colvin, MichaelHarris, David
Congdon, DavidHarvey, Nick
Conway, DerekHaselhurst, Alan
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)Hawkins, Nicholas
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Hawksley, Warren
Cope, Rt Hon Sir JohnHayes, Jerry
Cormack, PatrickHeald, Oliver
Couchman, JamesHeathcoat-Amory, David
Cran, JamesHendry, Charles
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Davies, Quentin (Stamford)Hicks, Robert
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Powell, William (Corby)
Hill, James (Southampton Test)Redwood, John
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Horam, JohnRiddick, Graham
Hordern, Sir PeterRifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Howard, Rt Hon MichaelRobathan, Andrew
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Hunter, AndrewRowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Jack, MichaelRumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Jenkin, BernardRyder, Rt Hon Richard
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreySackville, Tom
Jones, Robert B. (W H'f'rdshire)Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineShaw, David (Dover)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C & S)Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Kilfedder, Sir JamesShephard, Rt Hon Gillian
King, Rt Hon TomShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Kirkhope, TimothyShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Kirkwood, ArchyShersby, Michael
Knapman, RogerSims, Roger
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)Skeet, Sir Trevor
Knight, Greg (Derby N)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)Soames, Nicholas
Kynoch, George (Kincardine)Spencer, Sir Derek
Lait, Mrs JacquiSpicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Lawrencè, Sir IvanSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Legg, BarrySpink, Dr Robert
Lennox-Boyd, MarkSpring, Richard
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Sproat, Iain
Lidington, DavidSquire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lightbown, DavidStephen, Michael
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterStern, Michael
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Stewart, Allan
Lord, MichaelStreeter, Gary
Luff, PeterSumberg, David
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasSweeney, Walter
Lynne, Ms LizSykes, John
MacKay, AndrewTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Maclean, DavidTaylor, John M. (Solihull)
McLoughlin, PatrickTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickTaylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Maitland, Lady OlgaTemple-Morris, Peter
Malone, GeraldThomason, Roy
Mans, KeithThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Marland, PaulThurnham, Peter
Marlow, TonyTownend, John (Bridlington)
Marshall, John (Hendon S)Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)Tracey, Richard
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Tredinnick, David
Mawhinney, Dr BrianTrend, Michael
Merchant, PiersTrotter, Neville
Milligan, StephenTwinn, Dr Ian
Mills, IainTyler, Paul
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Moate, RogerWalden, George
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesWalker, Bill (N Tayside)
Monro, Sir HectorWallace, James
Montgomery, Sir FergusWaller, Gary
Needham, RichardWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Nelson, AnthonyWatts, John
Neubert, Sir MichaelWells, Bowen
Newton, Rt Hon TonyWheeler, Sir John
Nicholls, PatrickWhitney, Ray
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Whittingdale, John
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)Widdecombe, Ann
Norris, SteveWiggin, Jerry
Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyWilkinson, John
Oppenheim, PhillipWilletts, David
Ottaway, RichardWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Page, RichardWinterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Paice, JamesWolfson, Mark
Patnick, IrvineWood, Timothy
Pawsey, JamesYeo, Tim
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Pickles, Eric
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Tellers for the Ayes:
Porter, David (Waveney)Mr. Robert G. Hughes and
Portillo, Rt Hon MichaelMr. Tim Boswell.
Adams, Mrs IreneGodsiff, Roger
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Golding, Mrs Llin
Allen, GrahamGraham, Thomas
Alton, DavidGrant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Ashton, JoeGrocott, Bruce
Austin-Walker, JohnGunnell, John
Barnes, HarryHain, Peter
Bayley, HughHall, Mike
Bell, StuartHanson, David
Benn, Rt Hon TonyHarman, Ms Harriet
Bennett, Andrew F.Heppell, John
Benton, JoeHill, Keith (Streatham)
Bermingham, GeraldHinchliffe, David
Berry, RogerHood, Jimmy
Betts, CliveHowarth, George (Knowsley N)
Boateng, PaulHoyle, Doug
Boyce, JimmyHughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Boyes, RolandHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Bradley, KeithHutton, John
Bray, Dr JeremyJackson, Ms Glenda (H'stead)
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)Jackson, Ms Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)Jamieson, David
Burden, RichardJanner, Greville
Byers, StephenJones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Caborn, RichardJones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Campbell, Ms Anne (C'bridge)Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Campbell, Ronald (Blyth V)Jones, Ms Lynne (B'ham S O)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Canavan, DennisJowell, Ms Tessa
Cann, JamesKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Chisholm, MalcolmKeen, Alan
Clapham, MichaelKennedy, Ms Jane (L'p'l Br'g'n)
Clark, Dr David (South Shields)Khabra, Piara
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Kilfoyle, Peter
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Leighton, Ron
Clelland, DavidLestor, Joan (Eccles)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnLewis, Terry
Coffey, Ms AnnLivingstone, Ken
Cohen, HarryLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Connarty, MichaelLlwyd, Elfyn
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Loyden, Eddie
Cook, Robin (Livingston)McAllion, John
Corbyn, JeremyMcCartney, Ian
Cousins, JimMacDonald, Calum
Cryer, BobMcKelvey, William
Cummings, JohnMackinlay, Andrew
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)McLeish, Henry
Dalyell, TarnMcMaster, Gordon
Darling, AlistairMcNamara, Kevin
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)McWilliam, John
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Madden, Max
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Mahon, Alice
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I)Mandelson, Peter
Denham, JohnMarek, Dr John
Dewar, DonaldMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Dixon, DonMartin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Dobson, FrankMartlew, Eric
Donohoe, BrianMaxton, John
Dowd, JimMeale, Alan
Dunnachie, JimmyMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethMilburn, Alan
Eagle, Ms AngelaMiller, Andrew
Enright, DerekMitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Etherington, WilliamMoonie, Dr Lewis
Evans, John (St Helens N)Morgan, Rhodri
Ewing, Mrs MargaretMorley, Elliot
Fatchett, DerekMorris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Flynn, PaulMowlam, Marjorie
Foster, Derek (B'p Auckland)Mudie, George
Foulkes, GeorgeMullin, Chris
Fyfe, MariaO'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Galbraith, SamO'Brien, William (Normanton)
Galloway, GeorgeO'Hara, Edward
George, BruceOlner, William
Gerrard, NeilO'Neill, Martin
Godman, Dr Norman A.Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Pendry, TomSmith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Pickthall, ColinSnape, Peter
Pike, Peter L.Soley, Clive
Pope, GregSpearing, Nigel
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)Spellar, John
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)Steinberg, Gerry
Primarolo, DawnStevenson, George
Purchase, KenStott, Roger
Quin, Ms JoyceStrang, Gavin
Randall, StuartStraw, Jack
Raynsford, NickTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Redmond, MartinTipping, Paddy
Reid, Dr JohnTurner, Dennis
Robertson, George (Hamilton)Vaz, Keith
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Roche, Ms BarbaraWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Rogers, AllanWareing, Robert N
Rooker, JeffWatson, Mike
Rooney, TerryWicks, Malcolm
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Rowlands, TedWilliams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Ruddock, JoanWinnick, David
Sedgemore, BrianWise, Audrey
Sheerman, BarryWorthington, Tony
Sheldon, Rt Hon RobertWray, Jimmy
Short, ClareWright, Tony
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, DennisTellers for the Noes:
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)Mr. Ken Eastham and Mr Thomas McAvoy.
Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.