London Underground (Public-Private Partnership)

Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th November 2000.

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[Relevant Documents: the Seventh Report from the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, Session 1997–98 on London Underground, HC715-I, and the Government's response thereto, Cm4093; and the Fourteenth Report from the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, Session 1999–2000, on the Funding of London Underground, HC411, and the Government's Response thereto, Cm4877.]

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Speaker of the House of Commons

We now come to the first debate on the Opposition motions. I have selected the Government amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not know whether you can delay the debate until the Secretary of State arrives, or if you have been made aware that yet again, the Secretary of State will not attend the debate. Can you advise us on what we have to do to get him to come to the House, participate in such debates and account for the actions of his Department? So far we have completely failed to do that.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Speaker of the House of Commons

The important thing is that the right hon. Gentleman and I are here, so we can carry on.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Labour, Workington

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. It was not a point of order. Does the hon. Gentleman have a point of order to make?

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Labour, Workington

Mr. Speaker, I think that it should be drawn to your attention that, following the privatisation of British Rail in the 1990s and the disasters on today's rail network, many Members have great difficulty getting to the House of Commons. People are making all sorts of arrangements throughout the country to get to Parliament. Some of us have to get up at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning simply to get here. That is why some Members are not here.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the acute embarrassment caused to the Government during the weekend by the leaking of the detailed note of the Cabinet meeting in June 1997 regarding the millennium dome, have you received any request from the Prime Minister to come to the House and share his embarrassment with us?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Speaker of the House of Commons

That is not a point of order. I call Mr. Jenkin to move the motion.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport) 3:33 pm, 13th November 2000

I beg to move, That this House notes the widespread concern about the viability of the Government's public private partnership proposed for London Underground; further notes that the Government has established Transport for London, which is answerable to Londoners, and whose Director, Mr. Robert Kiley, has a proven track record of modernising the New York subway system and who will take on responsibility for London Underground in due course; deplores the failure of Ministers to include Mr. Kiley and Transport for London in any meaningful consultations about the contracts under negotiation; condemns the Government's lack of openness with Londoners and their representatives about the bidding process; and urges the Government to work with Mr. Kiley and Transport for London with an open mind about what is best for London Underground and for Londoners.

Perhaps it is unusual that an Opposition motion does not blame the Government for a crisis but seeks to forestall one. The motion is not about Labour's poor track record on tube investment so far. We have debated that before, and I invite the Minister to leave aside that part of his speech and, as a courtesy to the House, to deal with the motion that we have tabled. The debate is not about the merits of one proposal for the tube over another. Nor is it even about whether the public-private partnership is a good or a bad thing.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

The motion is about how the Government are conducting themselves in relation to the elected representatives of Londoners and Transport for London—a body that the Government established. The motion is not about which scheme for the tube may be the best or worst option. It is about whether the Government are so blinded by their political prejudices against the Mayor of London—I am glad to see the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) in his place—who so humiliated them in the London elections that they are making themselves incapable of rational judgment.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody Labour, Crewe and Nantwich

The hon. Gentleman says that the motion is not about privatisation. Given that decisions on that matter will affect the future of the underground, why is it not about privatisation?

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

I am inviting the House to give its opinion on a motion about how the Government should conduct themselves in relation to Transport for London as regards the PPP, or whatever other scheme eventually goes ahead. The Transport Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs, which the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) chairs, has already passed judgment on these matters, describing the PPP as a "convoluted compromise", and I hope that she would welcome input from someone such as Mr. Kiley—input that we invite the Government to accept.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Government are pursuing the London Underground PPP without proper consideration of the full range of alternatives and without proper consultation with Londoners and their representatives. They are acting without any semblance of objectivity or accountability. To cap it all, the driving force behind the scheme, and the man more closely identified with the PPP than any other Minister, will not come to the House of Commons to discuss it.

I have great affection for the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill), and it is always a pleasure to tangle with him on the Floor of the House or in Committee. I must say, however, with the greatest of respect for him, that he is not the driving force behind the policy. He is not the dominant influence at the Department. He is not the organ grinder—although my respect and affection for him prevent me from continuing with that metaphor.

The failure of the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions to appear at the Dispatch Box is not just a snub to the House of Commons; it is a snub to the British people, to Londoners and to their elected representatives. Why is he not here? Where is he? Despite the point of order raised a few moments ago by the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), I do not think that the Secretary of State has had any difficulty reaching his office today, and it is a few hundred yards from this place. He could easily be here.

The botched privatisation of the tube is the Secretary of State's baby. He is the Minister forcing the scheme on Londoners. He keeps insisting that the PPP is right. He wrote to the Evening Standard last week to say: The PPP is the only realistic way in which the long-term investment that the Tube requires can be levered in quickly and efficiently. As I shall demonstrate later, that is absolute rubbish. If, however, the Secretary of State has the time to write letters defending his policy to the Evening Standard, and to tangle with its editor and with Mr. Simon Jenkins, who writes for it, why does he not have the courage to explain himself to the people's representatives in Parliament?

I telephoned the right hon. Gentleman's office before the debate, and was informed that he had chosen to delegate this debate to his junior Minister. What a ludicrous situation.

If I raised my eyes towards the camera, I should probably be looking at the Secretary of State from the television screen in his office—but he cannot be bothered to come to the House to explain his policies. The man responsible for the policy will not debate it in the proper place and in the proper way.

This is not the first time that the Deputy Prime Minister has ducked the challenge of the House. Ten days ago he declined to show up for a debate on the September fuel crisis, when my hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Norman) challenged him about a major plank of Government policy. The right hon. Gentleman ducked that challenge as he does this one. He will duck the challenge again on Wednesday when we debate the privatisation of National Air Traffic Services.

That is odd, because only a fortnight ago, he told the House that I am constantly available to discuss such matters either in statements or other debates … There are many matters that I am prepared to debate, and I commonly come to the House.[Official Report,24 October 2000; Vol. 355. c. 150.] Where is the right hon. Gentleman commonly now? That simpering protestation says it all. The Deputy Prime Minister has lost his grip on the policy issues; he has lost his nerve, and it will only be a matter of time before he loses his office, his salary, his grace-and-favour houses, his red boxes and his chauffeur-driven Jaguar.

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Labour, South Thanet

May I turn the question back to the hon. Gentleman? Is the reason why the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Norman) does not lead debates for the Opposition on railway-related matters that, as a non-executive director of Railtrack from the day that it was privatised until the past 12 months, he is culpable for most of the disasters on the railways?

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

That type of desperate intervention does more to discredit the Government's position than anything else.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood

The Deputy Prime Minister's failure to turn up shows a wider failure of the Government, in that at business questions, I asked the Leader of the House to tell the right hon. Gentleman how imperative it was that he should exercise his responsibility as Secretary of State by attending the House for this debate. The right hon. Lady is in dereliction of her duty by not ensuring that the House is addressed by the appropriate Minister.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

My hon. Friend is right. That point shows that the Government—and especially the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions—are constantly running for cover.

I shall deal with the key elements of our motion, as I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will address the motion rather than the Prime Minister's amendment, which is a distraction from the issues that we want to raise.

There are widespread concerns about the public-private partnership—first, over value for money. The Industrial Society has produced a report, under the executive chairmanship of Will Hutton. He is no great friend of the Conservative party—rather, he is a new Labour guru—nor does he appear to be a friend of the PPP. Yet on value for money, the report states: It became clearer to us while gathering and assessing evidence that much of the anticipated efficiency gains are just that: probable rather than certain expectations … The issue is whether this initial step-change in improvement is value for money … We think there are good reasons to believe that the PPP, as currently structured, overly favours the Infracos— that is, the infrastructure companies— in terms of the distribution of risk and reward … The Infracos have an incentive to "hold up" important investment until they get paid more … The PPP proponents claim that they have designed contracts to take into account all these problems, which can be surmounted if there is genuine partnership. But that is to ignore the lessons of both theory and practice.

What about the value-for-money aspects raised by Chantrey Vellacot DFK? Maurice Fitzpatrick, its head of economics, concludes: The Government needs to rethink its strategy. If it does not, it will never be able to persuade taxpayers that PPP represents best value for money … we have published figures suggesting that the additional cost of PPP (as compared to purchasing the assets directly) is equivalent to a 30 per cent. hike in fares. Why is the Secretary of State not here to debate that point?

There has also been a failure to assess alternatives to the PPP. We are constantly given the refrain from a previous era that there is no alternative—an unlikely phrase from a member of the present Government. However, the Hutton report points out: The range of possibilities in theory extends from wholesale privatisation of LUL under a regulator to retention of the Underground in public ownership as an integrated system but offering it an autonomous capacity to finance itself by issuing its own bonds. There are many options and the report adds that the only constraint on them is the Government's manifesto commitment to retain a publicly owned and publicly accountable Underground system.

Professor Stephen Glaister points out that alternatives exist even given that constraint, which we reject. He has written: There are two alternatives to PPP. One is to simply keep the tube under the direct control of central government. This could have been accepted without more ado from the beginning. A much more sensible alternative would be to pass it to the mayor and leave him to decide how to pay for investment. There are plenty of alternatives that the Government have failed to assess.

Complexity and fragmentation have already caused concern.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

I shall finally give way to the hon. Gentleman. I do not think that he has much original to say, but it will be fun to listen to it.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

In running through the apparently logical options for management and corporate governance that are available to the Government, the hon. Gentleman has not once mentioned privatisation as a conceivable option. Is that the level of conviction that Conservative Members now have about privatisation? Because of the failure of privatisation, he does not even mention it.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Government whom the hon. Gentleman supports have gone in for a fair amount of privatisation, and the PPP is a form of botched privatisation. We have assessed every case for privatisation on its merits and against all the alternatives, and we have not rejected it in this instance. We keep an open mind. It is the Government's failure to keep an open mind on their PPP that is forcing them into terrible mistakes.

Photo of Eric Martlew Eric Martlew Labour, Carlisle

Does the hon. Gentleman think that the privatisation of Railtrack has been a success?

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

I am sorely tempted to embark on a debate about the privatisation of Railtrack—but you, Mr. Speaker, might suggest that that is not a subject for today's debate. However, if the hon. Gentleman can persuade the Government's business managers to hold a debate about the railways, we shall be delighted, because we think that this Government have a rotten record. Complexity and fragmentation have caused concern, and the Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs has already called the PPP a convoluted compromise. Mr. Bob Kiley also has doubts whether the PPP will work. He says: It could prove a physical or human impossibility on a system that is a much more intensive operation than a national railway, with trains every 90 seconds. Perhaps Ministers should listen to his argument.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that whatever the merits of his case, Members will do well to take the debate on the PPP seriously? If the Government call it wrong on the PPP, they will pay the price in the forthcoming general election in a swathe of marginals across London.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. As I run through the issues, the only case that I seek to make is that there is widespread concern about the PPP. I make no more claim than that. The Government have their head in the sand if they think that they have all the answers.

On safety, I refer the Minister to the letter that was leaked from the Health and Safety Executive and reported in The Guardian earlier this year. The headline was "'Safety at risk' in tube sell-off: Leaked memo reveals rail watchdog's concern". The report gave details of safety hazards with potentially serious consequences which had been uncovered in the Deputy Prime Minister's plans partially to privatise the London underground.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman.

The leaked letter in The Guardian was from the principal rail safety inspector, Stanley Hart, who warned of a "growing concern" about safety in the partly sold-off tube system that the Deputy Prime Minister wants to bring in next spring. It is incumbent on the Government to share their views about the safety issues that have been raised, not least with Transport for London and Mr. Bob Kiley.

Safety was also raised in the Hutton report. It referred to the leaked letter and particular problems thrown up during the shadow running of the PPP. It recommended that the HSE should invite all interested parties to submit their specific concerns about the PPP's safety regimes. These concerns should form part of the HSE's assessment criteria of the safety regime. Has that been done? If so, has it been done in consultation with Transport for London, which will ultimately have responsibility for supervising safety on the privatised London underground? I should add that the Government do, of course, take the advice of the HSE on such matters, as did the previous Government during privatisation of the railways.

The Government have established the London Mayor, the Greater London Assembly and Transport for London to take responsibility for such issues. The real consideration is that whatever the Government choose to do, they will pass responsibility for the consequences of their decisions on to Transport for London. As the Hutton report said: It will be the London government which will be ultimately responsible for any system failures, accidents and financial shortfalls—even though it did not negotiate the contracts or initiate the new structure. How can the Government proceed without consulting London's government in any way?

Then there is Mr. Robert Kiley himself. He has exactly the track record and experience that any Minister should be gasping for. I am reminded of when we brought a controversial gentleman over from an American firm to run British Steel on a high salary. He went on to run British Coal. That is the influx of fresh thinking and expertise—at considerable cost—that the London Mayor is entirely right to entice to this country.

Mr. Kiley is credited with having revived the New York underground system. As chairman of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, he rebuilt the infrastructure of the New York subway and reorganised its management. Mr. Kiley will principally take on responsibility for the operation of the PPP. As Simon Jenkins pointed out in the Evening Standard,no sooner does Mr. Kiley arrive in his office than he is stripped of responsibility for stations, track, signals, carriages, tunnels and escalators. All he can do is sell tickets and drive trains … This is quite unlike Mr. Kiley's experience in Boston or New York.

Mr. Kiley himself is mystified by the PPP. He told the Evening Standard on 6 November: I have been trying to figure it out for about five weeks now and still haven't managed it. I have a rule that anything that takes that long to understand is not going to work. Perhaps that is why Ministers are reluctant to share their secrets with Mr. Kiley: they fear an alternative point of view.

The negotiations are being conducted in an atmosphere of cloak-and-dagger secrecy, for no reason other than the Government's political convenience. The Government are on the defensive. The Deputy Prime Minister is deeply insecure about the strength of his arguments, and his judgment has become severely clouded by political considerations. We know that he has fallen out with the hon. Member for Brent, East. Personal animosities appear to be taking precedence over the interests of Londoners.

Then there is the question of how the Government will go forward. A future Conservative Government would certainly seek to work constructively with Mr. Kiley. We have our own proposals for the London underground—[Interruption.] If the Minister wants to spend this debate discussing our proposals, he would be missing the point that many of his hon. Friends will be seeking to raise with him. The Government have varying proposals; there are plenty of others out there. We will seek a constructive dialogue with Transport for London about the future of the tube because that is the only common-sense option open to any Government now that that body has been established.

This should not be about personalities, playing politics or settling old scores. It should be about what is best for London and Londoners. The motion urges the Government to put London first. I therefore commend it to the House.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions 3:55 pm, 13th November 2000

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: welcomes the Government's implementation of its manifesto commitment to create a Public Private Partnership for London Underground which will bring in £8 billion of new investment and up to £5 billion worth of maintenance over the next fifteen years—leading to faster, more reliable journeys and a safer, more attractive Underground of the kind Londoners deserve; supports the doubling of the resources available to the Mayor for transport in London over the next three years; condemns the previous Government's record of under-investment in transport and in particular their erratic investment in London Underground, which left it with a £1.2 billion backlog; and deplores the Official Opposition's plans to privatise London Underground, which will fundamentally undermine public accountability.

Before I turn to the substance of my speech, I should say that I listened patiently, as is my nature, to the fulminations of the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) on the absence of the Deputy Prime Minister from the debate. May I modestly—as is also my nature—remind the hon. Gentleman that I am the Minister for London. Indeed, I am the Minister for transport in London. In the many bouts in which the hon. Gentleman and I have engaged in this Chamber, he has so far failed to land even a glancing blow. I suggest that he needs to prove himself at bantamweight before he risks moving up the boxing league table.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

I certainly grant the hon. Gentleman that he is a harder target than the Deputy Prime Minister, which might be why the right hon. Gentleman is not present today.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

The hon. Gentleman may say that; I couldn't possibly comment.

I am delighted that this debate is taking place. I especially welcome the opportunity to contrast the Government's plans to bring in investment to modernise the tube with the flawed proposals for the railways that were implemented by the Opposition, which we are doing so much to put right, and with their equally flawed privatisation plans for the underground.

The Opposition's motion calls on the Government to have an "open mind" on the tube. That is a little rich coming from an Opposition whose mind is so closed that they still intend to repeat the mistakes of railway privatisation—not, I am bound to say, that they ever seem eager to let out that information. In September, the Conservative party published its policy statement "Believing in Britain". It was eight pages long but there was not a mention of the Conservatives' plans to sell off the tube, lock, stock and barrel. They may believe in Britain, but they obviously have no faith in their policy for the London underground.

Extraordinarily, the motion focuses on Robert Kiley, whom I understand the Mayor of London has appointed commissioner of transport for London. The motion begins by expressing concern about the viability of the public-private partnership, so I shall start by explaining not only why the PPP is needed and how we shall ensure that it is viable but why it is essential to bringing about the improvements to the tube that London so desperately needs.

When this Government came to power in 1997, the tube had suffered from year on year of Tory under-investment—including under the Greater London council—which had left it in a dilapidated state, with a massive backlog of investment. The Opposition's spending plans, which would have seen investment falling to £161 million last year and to zero this year, would have ensured that that backlog grew still further, resulting in an even greater decline in the service for long-suffering Londoners.

In March 1998, we announced an additional £365 million of funding for London Transport over and above existing plans. In July 1999, we announced that we were allocating £517 million of additional resources to London Transport over two years to help it deliver real improvements to passengers in the run-up to the PPP. In the Budget this year, we announced that a further £65 million would be allocated to London Underground in 2000–01, plus an additional £40 million to deal with claims on the Jubilee line extension.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Let me make a little progress on the substance of my argument before I give way to the hon. Gentleman.

It is clearly impossible to turn around decades of neglect overnight, but London Underground has been able to make some valuable improvements with the extra money. There have been track and tunnel upgrades on the Northern line and a 30 trains per hour service will begin on that line in January; station improvements have been carried out at Waterloo, Paddington, West Ham, Tottenham Hale and elsewhere; the gating of almost the whole network has been completed; new multi-fare ticket machines are being introduced; customer care staff have been introduced at key stations; and 24 kilometres of track have been replaced across the network, including the difficult crossover at Brixton, which was completed on time and to a very tight schedule.

Even before we took office, however, we knew that the extra money would not be enough to sort out the long-term structural financing problems of the tube. Even with the improvements, London Underground's entire investment was left at the mercy of the annual competition with other worthy causes for funds. We realised that that could not go on, which is why we said in our general election manifesto: Labour plans a new public/private partnership to improve the Underground, safeguard its commitment to the public interest and guarantee value for money to taxpayers and passengers. That is the commitment that we are honouring.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Given his enthusiastic trumpet-blowing, how does the Minister explain the fact that the number of regular tube users who regard the tube as poor value for money has more than doubled, from 32 per cent. last year to 65 per cent. this year?

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

It is because they are suffering from an inadequately invested system. The whole point of my argument is that we need sustained high levels of long-term investment in the tube system to make up for decades of neglect and under-investment. Of course the system is creaking at the limits; that is the problem we seek to remedy through the public-private partnership.

Let me emphasise the differences between the PPP and the privatisation proposed by the Opposition. For a start, the PPP is based on fixed-term contracts, rather than permanent transfers to the private sector, so assets will return to the public sector after they have been upgraded. The PPP retains clear public sector accountability from the outset: it puts Transport for London in charge of the overall planning of the service and ensures that public sector London Underground retains the crucial statutory safety responsibility for the whole network. The Opposition are contemplating breaking up the tube into five groups of lines, then selling them off for ever. Under our proposal, private companies will maintain and upgrade the network for the period of the contract, but public sector London Underground will run the network—the whole network.

In stark contrast to railway privatisation, there will be no separation between train and track infrastructure maintenance. There will be no equivalent of Railtrack being responsible for track and signalling on the one hand and separate companies being responsible for trains on the other. For each tube line, there will be one company responsible for the maintenance of both trains and infrastructure. In other words, the PPP provides for precisely the sort of integration in maintenance that was so obviously absent in railway privatisation.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

Will the same companies be responsible for employing drivers, setting timetables and ensuring the flow of income through ticket sales, or will those be the responsibility of a separate company? Would it not be sensible to opt for a totally vertically integrated system on the London underground, rather than a split between operations and infrastructure, as proposed under the PPP?

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

The companies will, in essence, be responsible for fulfilling contracts for the maintenance and modernisation of infrastructure and rolling stock. The travelling public will be comforted to know that every aspect of the London underground system with which they, as travellers, come into contact is in the hands of public sector London Underground Ltd. There will be no separation in responsibility for operating the system. There will be no equivalent of Railtrack operating the signals and a totally different company running the trains. London Underground will retain responsibility for all operational matters—from changing signals to driving trains to staffing stations—so it will be a much more unified system.

Of course, we will go ahead with the PPP only if it is demonstrably the best option. Specifically, that means that the PPP must pass two crucial tests.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

No, I have given way to the hon. Gentleman already and I must make progress. If he behaves himself, I will look upon him favourably in the future.

The first of the two crucial tests that the PPP must pass is on safety. As I said, the safety regime for the PPP retains a structure where primary statutory responsibility for the safety of the whole network remains with public sector London Underground.

While I am on the subject of safety, I take this opportunity to scotch the claim made by some hon. Members—we heard it in last week's debate—that the Industrial Society's report on the PPP claimed that our proposals might harm safety. Quite the reverse is the case. The report states: The Review does not subscribe to the argument that the PPP structure is inherently unsafe and it recognises the special effort made by Government in ensuring that safety is managed centrally and rests ultimately in public sector hands.

On the specific point —

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

I shall give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) in a moment.

On the specific point raised by the hon. Member for North Essex about the response to the Industrial Society's recommendation that the Health and Safety Executive invite all parties to submit concerns about PPP safety, let me reassure him that the HSE is in discussion with London Underground about the best manner in which third parties' views can be sought.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He said, quite correctly, that the statutory duty in relation to safety would remain with London Underground, but is he confident that London Underground will in practice have sufficient means to enforce sanctions in relation to safety? The ultimate sanction would be the removal of a contract. Does he think that it would ever be realistic for London Underground to do that?

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Of course, my hon. Friend is right that that constitutes the ultimate sanction. However, the guiding hand on safety on the system at all times will remain that of London Underground, which will monitor safety and maintain close scrutiny of the activities of the infrastructure companies, or infracos. It will be perfectly possible for London Underground to step in and ensure that any necessary action to improve safety is carried out on the spot. As I shall go on to explain, there are clear incentives in the PPP contracts that we are establishing which will encourage not only active moves to improve safety on the part of the infracos, but proactive action on safety issues as part and parcel of the PPP structure.

I give way to the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake).

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

I thank the Minister for giving way. It may be useful for him to know that on Friday I had a telephone conversation with Will Hutton of the Industrial Society, who confirmed that the PPP could jeopardise safety.

He said that if the Government implemented the safety measures that were needed to make PPP safe, it would not be value for money.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

That is an interesting observation, which I take seriously, but it is not what appears in Mr. Will Hutton's Industrial Society report. Obviously, we must go with the expert judgment of the specialists whom he brought in to write the report. Although they demonstrated no complacency, they were certainly not as alarmist as the reported exchange that the hon. Gentleman presents to the House.

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone Independent, Brent East

As the Minister seems so enamoured of Will Hutton's report, will he give the House an undertaking to make in their entirety the changes to the PPP that Will Hutton recommended?

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

We are looking carefully at the contents of the Industrial Society report, as I shall go on to explain, and we co-operated fully with the society in its preparation. Officials in the Department have subsequently held discussions with the specialists who produced it, and we are responsive to all the many positive suggestions that it contains. It is a good report and I recommend that hon. Members read it—especially the hon. Member for North Essex, who palpably has not done so.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Hutton report refers to particular safety problems thrown up during the shadow running of the PPP. It states: These are important concerns, and arise directly from the new structure and the multiplicity of companies who will be working on the Underground. I beg the Minister, lest hon. Members misunderstand him, to explain that the people who will manage the tracks and signals will be employed by different companies from those that employ the people driving the trains and operating the timetables. In that respect, the plans for the London underground involve the same horizontal fragmentation as those for the privatised railway. I was led to understand that the Government were unhappy about that.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Let me set out the views of the Health and Safety Executive on safety; after all, it is the authoritative and independent body for such matters. The hon. Member for North Essex spoke about management. Essentially, the infrastructure companies are responsible for carrying out long-term contracts for the maintenance and modernisation of the underground. To that extent, they are not responsible in any direct sense for the operation of the system, all of whose moving aspects lie in the hands of the public-sector London Underground under the PPP system. I do not know how often or in how many different ways I must explain that to the hon. Gentleman before it sinks in.

In order to ensure that safety is maintained and improved, both in the run-up to the PPP and also when it is under way, three sets of changes to London Underground's safety case are required. Two of these revised safety cases have already been approved by the Health and Safety Executive and the third is in preparation.

The transition to the PPP requires the submission and acceptance of that third set of changes to the safety case. The Health and Safety Executive has been closely involved throughout the process. It stated: HSE is content with the details of the proposed new structure. In particular, HSE believes that Opsco —that is to say, the public sector operating company, London Underground— and the Infracos will be incentivised to seek improvements in health and safety as well as maintaining current standards.

So the theory is sound, the principle is robust and it is already being put into practice.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody Labour, Crewe and Nantwich

As the Government have been considering the effect of an independent safety authority for overland railways, why are not they prepared to provide exactly such a division for underground railways? My hon. Friend will be aware that the whole population has genuine worries about the way in which the overground railways are run, precisely because their safety is not in the hands of an independent authority.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

My hon. Friend makes an important and interesting point and I dare say that it will be taken into account as we examine the matter in more detail. She is aware that we are considering these matters all the time, for the future structure. I think that the public are looking for the reassurance that the guiding hand—the overwhelming responsibility for safety in the proposed PPP structure—lies in the public sector with the public sector London Underground.

London Underground is preparing to satisfy the Health and Safety Executive that its practical arrangements meet the necessary standards before the PPP can go ahead. We have said several times that the PPP will not proceed unless and until the HSE has taken an independent view and has stated that it is satisfied with the revised safety case. We insist that the PPP must make a substantial contribution to improved safety. I see no harm in saying that again.

The second key test for the PPP is value for money. As the House will be aware, London Transport and its advisers have developed a public sector comparator against which the value for money of the PPP will be judged.

Usually, such comparators measure the value of bids against traditional, annualised public sector funding. In the case of the PPP, however, we are aware that some people think that there is a better way. They want to issue bonds. They conveniently forget that bonds are just another way of raising debt, and that he who raises the debt carries the risk. In other words, it will be the taxpayer who shoulders the financial risk of cost overruns.

Those who support the issuing of bonds ignore the fact that bonds would do nothing to bring management efficiencies to the system; that they would introduce a further delay in getting a financing regime in place—perhaps as much as two years—and, as the Industrial Society points out in its report, bonds would not be a realistic prospect without new powers to raise local taxes. We do not believe that Londoners want more delay, and we do not think that they want to have new taxes levied on them to pay the bill if there is a major cost overrun. They may be fond of Ken, but they are not that fond.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood

I am perplexed. Were the electors of London naive to believe that the Labour party was putting a costed and fully evaluated proposal to the electorate of London in its manifesto—that proposal being that "we would move very soon to a public-private partnership?" It now seems clear that the Government have doubts about the safety of the system and that they are also doubtful about cost-effectiveness.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

I am used to bizarre interpretations and utterances from the hon. Gentleman as I stand at the Government Dispatch Box, but on this occasion I am bewildered. He has it absolutely wrong. I am attempting—obviously with no success when it comes to the hon. Gentleman—to demonstrate that we are proposing to submit both the proposed safety regime and the proposed best-value aspects of the PPP to independent arbiters. That is exactly what we are doing, and it is exactly what a responsible Government should be doing in all the circumstances.

We are not dogmatically opposed to bonds, and we would not want to ignore the views of advocates of bonds. So, in addition to testing for value against the usual public sector comparator, we shall also check the bids against raising debt through public sector bonds. We have published the methodology for this comparator, which is being independently audited.

Most importantly, in August, the National Audit Office—Parliament's own financial watchdog—announced that it would bring forward its scrutiny of the comparator so that it could report on it before contracts are signed. We welcome this step because it will help to ensure that the comparator represents a fair and rigorous test of the value for money of the PPP bids.

The hurdles that the PPP will have to cross—safety and value for money—are high ones, but ones which we are confident the PPP will overcome. It is those tests, and not political considerations, that will determine whether the PPP goes ahead. Make no mistake—the Government are committed to proceeding with the PPP, as long as the bidders come up with the goods. There is a safety test for the PPP, just as there is a value-for-money test, but there is no Mayor test.

As I have said, the PPP is a manifesto commitment. The legislation stated that central Government would remain in charge of the tube until the PPP was completed. The best thing that we can do for Londoners is to pass the tube on to the Mayor with a robust financing package already in place. In that legislation, we also included duties of consultation and co-operation so that the transition would be as smooth as possible. London Transport has followed those duties. It has provided the Mayor with copies of the contract, and has consulted him on changes to them. Above and beyond those duties, we and London Transport have supplied information to the Industrial Society for its review of the PPP.

Contrary to press reports, Mr. Kiley has been provided with material on the PPP, subject to a confidentiality agreement. He has copies of the invitations to tender, the up-to-date contracts and the share purchase agreements, and he has also received the highly sensitive public sector comparator for the PPP. We are more than happy to co-operate with Mr. Kiley, and to supply him with further information, subject to our legal obligations on this point.

We have always made it clear that we must be careful about making available commercially confidential information relating to the bids themselves, which could risk damaging the public sector's position and prevent us from us achieving best value. Anyone who has ever taken part in commercial negotiations knows that one never shows one's hand to the other players while the game is in progress.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

Do I take it that Mr. Kiley has been given the commercially sensitive information, and that he has been fully apprised of the state of the negotiations? After all, he will be responsible for managing these contracts when they are in place. That is the burden of our complaint. Has the Minister handed over that information?

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

I shall reiterate what I said a moment ago, as it obviously came as a bit of a shock to the hon. Gentleman. Mr. Kiley has received copies of the up-to-date contracts.

This may be a unique occasion in parliamentary history. The Opposition have devoted their own precious parliamentary time to a motion whose essence is to demand that Ministers meet a named individual. The Opposition need only have asked to discover that I, and other Ministers, have already met Mr. Kiley and discussed with him the plans for the PPP. We did so with the full blessing and endorsement of my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister. Perhaps the Opposition will now withdraw their motion. One can only assume that they have taken bandwagonitis to a new height. Let us be entirely clear: the Government have no problem with Robert Kiley or with anyone appointed as an employee of Transport for London by the Mayor. We welcome the appointment of a man with his track record.

The tube has been underfunded for far too long, and Londoners have suffered enough. Passengers do not want to wait longer for improvements to the tube, and I do not see why they should. I want rapid and sustained investment in the tube. The PPP will deliver that, and will give Londoners the improvements they deserve—a safer, cleaner and more efficient service.

In particular, over time, the PPP will upgrade trains, track and signalling across the network, starting with major overhauls of the Victoria, District and Piccadilly lines. It will make the tube much more reliable by incentivising the infrastructure companies to repair faults that cause delays and speed restrictions. Routine maintenance will not be neglected. The PPP contracts contain a robust asset management regime, which requires the private sector to improve any substandard assets, even if they do not have an immediate impact on safety or performance. That is very different from the national railway regime that we inherited from the Opposition.

Stations will also get marked improvements. The private sector will be required to modernise almost all tube stations in the first 10 years, and there will be a programme of improvements to reduce congestion and improve accessibility at stations. Already about 20 per cent. of the network is equipped with lifts and ramps for wheelchair access, and the PPP will increase that to almost 50 per cent.

The Mayor has made it clear that he agrees with those investment priorities. Indeed, his draft transport strategy, which is currently out for consultation, includes the improvements that we expect the PPP to deliver. We can see from his transport strategy that, while the Mayor may say that he does not like the PPP, he certainly likes the improvements that it will bring and the money that goes with it.

The London Underground PPP is well on course and set to deliver substantial improvements to the system soon. That contrasts with the official Opposition's plans to break the system up and sell it off, and with other proposals based on bond financing.

We have learned from the mistakes of the dogma-driven programme of the previous Administration. It is a pity that the Opposition have not. We are working hard to put right the mistakes made on the railways, and we have developed this innovative, custom-built solution for the tube. That is the right way forward, and that is why the House should reject the Opposition motion and support the Government's amendment.

I commend the amendment to the House.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip 4:26 pm, 13th November 2000

I welcome this opportunity for another Opposition debate so soon after the Liberal Democrat debate on privatisation and public-private partnerships.

The Conservative Opposition are obsessed with this admittedly very important issue. Some boxing analogies have already been drawn today, and I shall give another. The Conservatives resemble a punch-drunk boxer: they have received so many blows to the head in their attempt to defend their privatisation policies that all they can do is to get back into the ring for another pounding.

Londoners do not trust Tory policies on the tube. They remember the Tories' lethal legacy—outstanding repairs costing £1.2 billion—and the statement that the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young), then Secretary of State for Transport, made to the House that we were considering whether we could apply the success of railway privatisation to London Underground.—[Official Report, 13 January 1997; Vol. 288, c. 10.] They also remember the understatement of the year, which was made by the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin), who said: We did not do enough for the tube—I would be the first to acknowledge that.—[Official Report, 27 January 1999; Vol. 324, c. 436.] I am afraid that that statement does nothing to convince Londoners that the Conservatives have accepted responsibility for the state of the tube.

The Deputy Prime Minister may have snubbed Londoners today by not attending the debate, but the Tories' privatisation plans for London Underground would inflict the greatest outrage on Londoners. On the other hand, Londoners are not exactly queuing up for the solution offered by the Under-Secretary. They voted decisively against public-private partnership in the Greater London Authority elections. I want to focus almost exclusively on the safety implications of the PPP.

The Under-Secretary is a nice, jovial chap. In fact, my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) asked me to be gentle with him today. I can picture myself buying him a consolatory drink when his PPP plans go belly up. However, I am afraid to say that joviality is no substitute for straight answers to tough questions. Each debate on the PPP raises a host of questions, all of which, I am afraid to say, remain unanswered by the Under-Secretary.

Many questions were raised in the most recent debate, on 6 November, to which I hope another Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin), will respond when he sums up. That would finally give us some answers. The first question involved the statement made by the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill), who said: I say that the PPP will not proceed unless and until the HSE has taken an independent view and has stated that it is satisfied with the revised safety case. That is all well and good, but when will that happen? When will we be told that the safety case is complete? A second question was raised by the Under-Secretary's statement that London Transport and its advisers have been devising a public sector comparator against which the bids for the PPP will be judged. Perhaps the other Under-Secretary—the hon. Member for Sunderland, South—or the Mayor, the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), who is in the Chamber, will say when that will happen. Finally, the hon. Member for Streatham, said that the National Audit Office would bring its scrutiny of the comparator forward. Much is happening, but there are no precise details about when the process will be completed.

Last week, the amendment that the hon. Gentleman moved to the Liberal Democrat motion stated that the Government "deplores" the previous Conservative Government's incompetent privatisation of the railways which left the network fragmented. I could not agree more. Will he therefore answer the question that he did not answer last week: how the Government can guarantee that a similar break-up of London Underground will not lead to an identical breakdown in communications? We did not hear an answer from the Minister last week; perhaps we shall hear one from him this week.

The biggest question of all is this: if the PPP fails the safety test, or the public sector comparator finds that it does not represent best value for money, what exactly is the Government's fallback position? The cash will run out in the next financial year, and we need an answer from the Minister.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

The hon. Gentleman has touched on the crux of the issue. The Government are now so politically committed to the PPP, and would suffer such loss of face if it did not proceed, that they cannot afford to allow it to fail against the public sector comparator, for political reasons. Nor can they afford to allow the Mayor to interfere with it. That is the danger of proceeding in the way in which the Government are proceeding.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

I entirely agree, but I hope the hon. Gentleman agrees with me that the Government would receive the support of the House if the public sector comparator revealed that the PPP was not the best option, and that there was a better option behind which Members and Londoners would unite.

I seek an apology from the Minister on the issue of safety. It need not be in writing; he could give it now. He has already raised the matter in relation to the Industrial Society report. In last week's debate I quoted from that report—or, more precisely, from the BBC's report on it—saying that the Government's plans for London Underground represent "poor value for money" and could put … safety at risk.—[Official Report, 6 November 2000; Vol. 356, c. 112.] The Minister said that I should have read the whole report, and the other Minister, the hon Member for Sunderland, South, also challenged my interpretation.

As the Minister now knows, on Friday I took the trouble to contact Will Hutton, the chief executive of the Industrial Society, for whom the report was written. He confirmed my understanding: he said that the PPP could—I used the word "could" in last week's debate, and I am using it again now—jeopardise safety, unless the necessary safeguards were provided. He went on to say that providing them would be so expensive, with the PPP structure, that the PPP could no longer represent good value for money.

If the Minister would like to stand up and apologise for, perhaps, misunderstanding the point that I made last week, I would welcome it. He chooses not to; perhaps he will do it later, in writing.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the National Audit Office. I am a member of the Public Accounts Committee. Will the hon. Gentleman accept the verdict of the NAO and the PAC when they have reached their conclusions—which may be in favour of bonds, or may be in favour of the PPP or, indeed, another option—or is he simply driven by ideology and dogma?

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

I do not think that I am driven by dogma. I shall be happy to look at the NAO report, and to take on board its findings; I only hope that the Minister will be in a position to do the same, and is not being driven by dogma to such an extent that the PPP is the only option that the Government are willing to adopt.

Concerns about the impact of the PPP on safety should not divert our attention from serious safety worries about the way in which the tube is operating now. Is the Minister aware, for instance, of what appears to be an increasing number of dangerous incidents involving overcrowding on London Underground platforms? I understand that both Lynne Featherstone, a Liberal Democrat member of the Greater London Assembly, and Lady Williams, who speaks for our party in another place, have been personally involved in some scary overcrowding incidents. Some 1,200 passengers have apparently been emptied on to an already nearly full platform when a train has stopped short of its destination. In addition, there are cancellations, station and escalator closures, signalling and equipment failures and poor staff morale. That feeling prevails in London Underground as a result, I am afraid, of the Mayor's indication that he would possibly sack, or threaten to sack, managers in the system. The term "managers" is general and several levels of management in London Underground are concerned about to whom the ruling applies. Does the Minister think that we have reached a point at which we should have an inquiry into the safety of the existing system, let alone into what will happen as a result of the PPP? The Minister may be reluctant to answer safety questions—although I hope not—but perhaps he will answer other questions relating to the running of the PPP, if it is ever established.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody Labour, Crewe and Nantwich

There are real problems with London Underground concerning the number of people that it carries and the age of the rolling stock. However, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will emphasise the fact that London Underground maintains a high level of safety. Indeed, the level of safety on the underground is higher than that on the overground railway. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not suggest that people using that overcrowded underground system are put at risk, because that is not in their interest.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention and am happy to reassure her that I believe that London Underground runs a safe service compared with alternatives such as overland rail—which she mentioned—or travel by car. However, that does not mean that we should not consider whether there are now sufficient problems for an inquiry to look further into the safety of the system.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

No, I should like to make progress, as many other Members wish to speak in our debate. We have already asked the Minister what the fallback position is if the PPP failed. However, what is the fallback position if a contractor fails? Will the Minister confirm that the Mayor will be required to pay significant sums of compensation to contractors whose contracts are withdrawn because they have failed to deliver on their contracts? What impact will that have on his ability to pull the plug on contractors if they are not doing their job? If one of the three companies taking over the two sub-surface lines fails, who will be waiting in the wings? Is the Minister confident that those companies will have the financial clout to survive closures—for example, of the District or Circle lines—if major tunnelling works are required?

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone Independent, Brent East

May I answer the hon. Gentleman's question about what would be done if it became obvious to Transport for London and the Mayor that one of the companies was failing to provide the required level of safety. Technically, in law, one could sack it or kick it off the contract. However, under the form of the contracts, TFL and the Mayor would have to pay the banks that funded the company the entire amount that was lent. The Mayor would have to raise between £1 billion and £3 billion to do that, so that option is not feasible, and we would be stuck with those firms for 30 years.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

I thank the hon. Gentleman very much, and I hope that the Minister will respond to that point shortly.

Finally, I am not about to make a link between the Government's PPP plans and the disaster in Austria. However, as there as not been any other opportunity, this is an appropriate point at which to ask the Minister whether he has had any discussions about tube safety since that tragedy. My researcher spoke to Colin Paton, a train guard present at the Ladbroke Grove train crash, who has talked to London Underground about the lack of fire extinguishers on its trains. He was told that they were removed because of vandalism and were not considered necessary because tube trains are not flammable. I believe that the Austrian train was also considered to be non-flammable, so has the Minister thought that it might be appropriate to review very soon the existing arrangements on London Underground to be absolutely certain that the accident in Austria has no implications for the safety of the tube?

The Minister has been asked many questions both today and in previous debates about the PPP and safety. I hope that, this time, we will extract some answers from him. The Government can no longer hide behind studies, reviews and commercial confidentiality. Londoners need straight answers to difficult questions about the future of the tube. I have heard a Labour Member describe the Government's policy of building more than 100 incinerators as the poll tax with flames. The PPP for London Underground may be the Government's poll tax with wheels.

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone Independent, Brent East 4:40 pm, 13th November 2000

I suspect that I had better declare an interest, just to be on the safe side. As Mayor of London, I will inherit the contracts in the next year or so, if they go ahead, and the underground. I also have an interest as a Londoner who uses the underground every day.

Before people assume that my opposition to the proposal is on an ideological basis, look at the way in which I have conducted myself in my office in the past six months. At every stage, I have tried to do what is best for London, rather than take any particular ideological approach. As I have looked at the issue, the question has been: what is going to work? I have been guided by the thoughts of Chairman Deng Xiaoping, the revered former leader of Communist China, who had a wonderful little saying: "It does not matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches the mice."

When the PPP was first announced, I did not rush to condemn it, as anyone who reads the Hansard for that day will see. I looked to see whether it could be made to work. Clearly, no Mayor is in the position of being able to reject an £8 billion or £15 billion deal when that office's total budget through all the organisations under the Greater London Authority is just over £3 billion a year. However, since then, there have been four major independent academic studies: by the London school of economics, University College London, the Institute for Public Policy Research, which is close to the Government, and Will Hutton's Industrial Society. All have found serious flaws in the PPP proposals.

London Transport itself conducted an investigation of 15 possible ways of dealing with London Underground over the coming years. PPP was ranked as the 14th most desirable out of the 15. I hear talk about Mr. Kiley being given all that he has asked for, but that report, now several years old, containing no contractual or commercially sensitive information, is still being withheld from me, the elected members of the London Assembly and Mr. Robert Kiley. What on earth can be the reason for withholding that? I hope that, when the Minister replies, he will indicate that he will direct London Underground's existing management to make that available. I see no reason why it should not be available to hon. Members, who have an interest in the issue. The problem with the PPP is splitting operational and infrastructural control. We are having the debate because Hatfield has brought home to us the tragic problems that arise when that happens. Gerald Corbett's comments do not need repeating.

The PPP will inflict a similar fragmentation on the tube. Control over operations and infrastructure will be split. That is accepted by the Government. When we talk about three consortiums and Transport for London—so four players—it does not sound as bad as the way in which British Rail was broken up into 150 units, but each of the consortiums will have to have a contract with Transport for London and the Mayor. Each will have to have contracts with its four or five component firms. Each of the four or five component firms will have contracts with each other.

Each of the consortiums and the firms within consortiums will have contracts across those consortiums because, in many areas, the track crosses; lines are not completely separate. Additionally, each of the consortiums' component firms will have contracts with their own subcontractors.

I estimate that, eventually, the number of different players involved in the contracts will be more than the 150 or 160 players who were involved in the break-up of British Rail. I foresee problems with that. If a cracked rail is found, for example, how will responsibility be pinned down between subcontractors, contractors and consortiums? When public safety is at stake, there has to be a clear and immediate line of responsibility. The loss of such responsibility will rumble on as a potential disaster.

The hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) mentioned the leaked letter from the Health and Safety Executive which stated that, since the start of shadow running, it had lost confidence in London Underground's systems. Let us be clear that the structural break-up of the underground has already happened. Although the underground remains within the public sector, shadow running started in September 1999, and it was completed in April 2000. The underground has now been divided into the bite-size chunks that are necessary for the PPP to proceed.

Does anyone in London think that the underground is better now than it was one or two years ago? Everyone whom I speak to in London complains that the underground seems daily to be getting worse. Every 16 minutes, there is a breakdown on the system. Sometimes, almost one in six escalators is out of order. No one seriously believes that since the start of shadow running, which is the only test that ordinary members of the public will be able to apply, things have not deteriorated further. We have already broken up the management chain.

What did the Health and Safety Executive's letter say? It said that London Underground's senior management seemed to have lost control of the lines of communication on safety.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

Does my hon. Friend accept that the primary reason why the service is deteriorating is that ever more people are using the service and that necessary investment levels are not being delivered? Is it not a matter more of need for greater investment, with more people using the system, than of structure?

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone Independent, Brent East

I completely reject my hon. Friend's suggestion. I think that the management changes prefiguring PPP are exacerbating the problems of under-investment.

A quite sinister—although, I am sure, purely innocent—coincidence is that, on 1 November, Stanley Hart, the chief railway safety inspector and author of the leaked letter, was moved from his post, so that he will not be making the final recommendations. I regret that. I hope that, even at this stage, the Government will bring him back. Confidence will be retained only if Stanley Hart signs off on the issue.

Mr. Kiley is no member of the Militant Tendency, but has a very interesting career path which started in the Central Intelligence Agency. He moved on successfully to the private sector and to running New York's and Boston's transport systems. More recently, he was effectively the managing director of New York's equivalent to London First and the London chamber of commerce.

On 20 October, we wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister, asking that Mr. Kiley be given all the information on PPP. Mr. Kiley gave a clear undertaking, which I accept, that what he was given would remain confidential. I have not asked that anything that is passed to Mr. Kiley be passed to me.

Mr. Kiley had meetings with the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill), and with the Minister for Transport, who indicated that information would be supplied. As of today, however, Mr. Kiley has not received all the information that he has requested, notably the bids from the PPP companies. He has also received no explanation of why those documents have been withheld. It is a ridiculous situation. The advice of a proven transport manager with a record of success is being offered free to the Government, but the Government are not seizing that advice.

I am specifically reiterating that Mr. Kiley wishes to see, at the earliest possible opportunity, the best and final offers from the consortiums that are due on 20 November. He would also like to see the current public sector comparator, because the copy that he has been given, which is confidential and not available to me, is dated March. By now, I suspect, it has been seriously amended. If that information is given to Mr. Kiley, I shall give a commitment to the House. If Mr. Kiley, having undertaken a full study of those documents, comes back to me and says, "This system will work", I will drop my opposition to PPP.

However, if Mr. Kiley—acknowledged to be the best mass-transit manager of modern times—says to the Government, "I do not think that this will work. There are safety implications, and financial problems for Londoners", will they accept his advice without reservation? He is a genuinely independent person, and I hope that the Government will make a clear commitment that the information that I have specified will rapidly be made available to him, and that they will be prepared to listen to the advice that he gives them.

Photo of Richard Ottaway Richard Ottaway Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury)

What is Mr. Kiley's status? Has he been hired to run London Underground? Is that a short-term measure? Is he a consultant? What will happen if the Government do not accept his advice and go ahead with the PPP?

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone Independent, Brent East

Mr. Kiley has been appointed commissioner for transport, the senior officer in the whole Transport for London mini-empire. He will be responsible for buses, the Public Carriage Office and the docklands light railway. As soon as the underground is transferred, he will become directly responsible for that as well. His contract has been agreed, and we expect him to sign it on his next visit, this Thursday. I have no doubt that he will sign it: he is desperately keen to be able to turn round transport in this city. Although we have had to pay him a considerable sum, it will be money well spent if he is able to achieve that.

Mr. Kiley is not a man who flounces away. He is a man who, having had the experience of managing vast projects, may well concentrate the minds of some of the infracos. They may have assumed that they would have to manage with some rather dull and unimaginative public transport official—like the sort of dullards who are currently negotiating the contracts. Given that those people have manifestly failed to run the underground, the idea that we should give them the power to negotiate those contracts with some of the sharpest lawyers on the face of the planet does not fill me with enthusiasm. I do not think that the consortiums are happy, having come up against someone who knows as much about these matters as they do. Perhaps they will not find such easy pickings as they had imagined.

We should also consider what the public think. I commissioned an opinion poll, the results of which I received this morning, to assist the Government in moving forward. It is interesting because it is no good simply asking questions about the tube. We asked for comparisons between the tube and the overland rail services. At the moment, 46 per cent. of Londoners are satisfied with the service on the underground, and 32 per cent. are dissatisfied, which, given all the problems, is a remarkable figure. On the overground, only 30 per cent. are satisfied, while 36 per cent. are dissatisfied. Anything that moves the management of the underground towards the management of the overground system is not something about which Londoners should be optimistic.

I asked the polling organisation to ask what Londoners would expect if the PPP went ahead. Nineteen per cent. expected safety to improve, while 42 per cent. expected it to worsen. Sixteen per cent. expected to get value for money, but 47 per cent. did not and expected the system to get worse.

The Government have not managed to persuade Londoners—whose underground it is, and who have paid for it over the best part of a century—of their case; nor have they persuaded their own supporters. The Greater London Labour party bi-annual conference met last weekend. It was not a conference dominated by my old friends. As the Evening Standard defined it, the Blairite candidate for chair won by 60 per cent. over the pro-Livingstone candidate, who got 40 per cent. So this was a conference under control, except when it discussed the public-private partnership. A motion that in the light of Hatfield, the Government should withdraw the PPP was carried so overwhelmingly that a card vote was not required. So not only have the Government not persuaded Londoners, they have not persuaded their own supporters.

The Prime Minister has often said that we should not fight the battles of the past. Why are we now facing PPP? The Government came to office with two immediate problems. The management of the underground was pretty dire—which is why we are looking forward to a clean-out as soon as I get my hands on it—and the problem of under-investment, for which the Conservative party must take responsibility, had become acute. Yet the Government had bound themselves by a promise to observe the outgoing Government's public spending limits.

The Government set out to find a revenue stream and to bring in good management. The problem now is not a failure to find a revenue stream—it is that the Treasury cannot spend the money quickly enough before the general election. Equally, the problem of management is resolved. I have resolved it by bringing in Bob Kiley, who I think will cut through the dead wood of London Underground's senior management like a scythe going through butter.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

Could the hon. Gentleman be a little more precise about how much dead wood in the organisation he means? It is causing concern among London Underground staff.

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone Independent, Brent East

I consider that there will be substantial and extensive change. We will look to promote those people who have some enthusiasm, but an awful lot of people have been ground down by years of failure. I am talking about changing not one or two people in senior management but dozens, and I regret that it has not been done before.

As I said, I did not automatically reject PPP at first. I focused on it massively in virtually everything that I did in the election campaign. Since I have been elected Mayor, it is the single biggest problem on my desk. I am honestly not persuaded that the system is safer. I genuinely fear that right hon. and hon. Members may be hearing a statement in two, three or four years' time about a major loss of life on the underground because of this system. Labour Members will not be able to blame such a disaster on the previous Government or on anyone else. This proposal is this Government's creation. Nobody else will be at fault. I beg my colleagues: is this a risk they want to take?

We already know that the Liberal Democrats will be standing at the election next May—if it is May—saying, "Liberal Democrats against tube privatisation." The contracts have slipped so that the earliest they can be signed is April. This will be a live election issue. We have not persuaded Londoners; we have not persuaded our own activists. I beg the Government to step back. Here is the face-saving way out—to offer Bob Kiley all the information that he has asked for and then accept his advice, as I have undertaken to do here today.

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee 4:58 pm, 13th November 2000

In the nature of things, the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) and I have followed each other in London debates in the Chamber on a number of occasions over the past six years. This is one of those occasions when I wish that I had spoken first and he had spoken second, because he is a hard act to follow. However, it is a privilege to speak in the debate immediately after him. I was not expecting to speak in the debate, and I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me. Like all Tories, I know that we live in an imperfect world, and therefore the unexpected happens periodically.

I shall vote at 7 o'clock on the motion so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin), but I hope that those winding up the debate will excuse me if, like Mr. Speaker, I am at that stage hauling myself into fancy dress to attend the Lord Mayor's banquet.

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone Independent, Brent East

I too apologise to the House. I do not wish to snub the new Lord Mayor, and will also miss the winding-up speeches for the same reason.

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

As ever, the Mayor and I march in unison.

I was entertained to hear the Minister open his speech by saying that he was raring to go and was extremely glad that we had tabled this motion. This is the fourth debate on the London underground that has taken place in Opposition time in this Parliament, but we have yet to debate it in Government time. That does not suggest a Government marching towards the sound of guns.

The Minister will excuse me for reminding him that I wrote to him last week about the correspondence between us on the London underground in which I drew attention to the fact that I had been waiting for a reply for four months and had already reminded him after two. He need not be upset; I have not delivered the Exocet of putting that matter on to the Order Paper, but I look forward to receiving his reply in due course.

Labour Members in London outnumber Tory Members by five to one, but Back-Bench attendance was five to four a moment ago; it has now gone back to being even steven. Earlier in the debate, Labour Members were in the minority—that looks like London Labour Back Benchers distancing themselves from a rocky policy.

I enjoyed inferring from the Minister's speech the notion that the Deputy Prime Minister can understand the Government's plan for the underground—he is not here to enable us to test that—whereas Mr. Kiley, who has experience of running large-scale municipal railroads, has, given the testimony of my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex, acknowledged that he cannot understand it.

I was much struck by the information, cited by my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) and reinforced by the Mayor, that the number of passengers not satisfied by the tube's value for money has doubled in the past year from 32 to 65 per cent. That 33 percentage point increase represents one passenger in three. I am such a passenger, and there are more underground stations in my constituency than in the rest of Greater London.

Before I explain the reason why I take that view, let me pay tribute to the Jubilee line extension—not only north-south, but east-west. Travelling to the west end, especially to Piccadilly, from Westminster has been transformed by the Jubilee line, but those who travel east-west, even those dwelling north of the river, have gained from the link on the East London line between Canada Water and Wapping. It is now much easier to go east than it used to be.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, if the Jubilee line had been a PPP, the £1 billion or so extra cost of building it and the extra cost of more than a year's delay would have been borne by the private sector through risk transfer? With hindsight, does he not think that the Jubilee line would be better off as a PPP, rather than under the traditional method adopted by the Tories?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

The hon. Gentleman should acknowledge that that would always depend on the contract. However, the fact that we have waited so long for the Government to come round does not comfort me that everything will move smoothly thereafter.

The changes involving the Jubilee line are to London Underground's credit, and I am delighted that the Jubilee line's east London stations have won so many architectural prizes.

I do not know how often the Minister travels by underground, but I travel at all times of the day and night. The phrase "rush hour" was first used in London in the 1890s, and, for 100 years, it was what it started out as—namely, a single hour, morning and night—but it now goes on all day, as I am sure all my hon. Friends who travel during the day will testify. What are the symptoms? The first symptom is the number of times people arrive on a platform in mid-afternoon or mid-morning—or last Friday at Victoria at 6 o'clock in the evening—and no trains at all are signalled for the next 10 minutes.

The second symptom is the ominous public announcement on the loudhailer that, on lines that bifurcate, passengers are advised to take the next train wherever it is going and then change trains later. The third symptom follows, as night follows day: the platform is full to overflowing and everyone on the platform seeks to get on the train when it arrives, instead of only half the passengers who are waiting.

There used to be a sad sign on continental trains saying that goods vans would take 40 people or eight horses. Perforce, and again at all times of the day, the management of London Underground, under the auspices of the Government, give the impression that they are trying to squeeze not eight, not 10, but 12 horses into an underground carriage.

By chance, two and a half weeks ago, the hon. Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Mr. Fitzpatrick)—who has just left the Chamber—and I coincided at Tower Hill station at three o'clock in the afternoon. Everything that I have just described applied. No trains were foreshadowed. A sizeable crowd was already on the platform. As we waited, the hon. Gentleman and I grinned at each other, with the dyed-in-the-wool irony of dyed-in-the-wool Londoners. The black hole of Calcutta is not a racist analogy; those imprisoned there during the mutiny were largely, if not entirely, white. By the time a train eventually left Tower Hill that afternoon, with the hon. Gentleman and me on board, conditions resembled those of the Calcuttan analogy. We were absolutely packed in.

The hon. Gentleman and I went on grinning at each other, but I shall derive no satisfaction at the general election if we win London seats from Labour simply because of what the Government have put Londoners through on the underground.

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

I am happy to endorse what the hon. Gentleman said earlier, although I must admit that when the hon. Member for Poplar and Canning Town and I stood in the black hole of Calcutta at Tower Hill at 3 pm the other day, both he and I were, I suspect, more preoccupied with our immediate personal discomfort than with larger issues of safety.

The Minister puts down my dissatisfaction to historic under-investment. I acknowledge that, and we have debated the issue previously. Under-investment is not wholly the responsibility of a single party. Londoners, however, put their dissatisfaction down to the absurd theological debate that has gone on within the governing party while the service has steadily gone on deteriorating.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington 5:06 pm, 13th November 2000

My hon. Friend the Minister said that he believed that the Government had learned from the mistakes of previous Administrations. Sadly, I do not believe that that is the case. In going forward blindly on the public-private partnership, my own Government appear to be making the same mistake as the previous Administration by sacrificing the interests of the travelling public to doctrinaire ideas.

Of all issues facing Londoners, public transport is the most important, pressing and vital. Public transport is not just of concern to those, like me, who use it every day. It is of equal concern to professional drivers, including taxi and van drivers. Some of the most passionate supporters of my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) in his quest to become Mayor of London were cab drivers who remembered the old Greater London council. Contrary to what the Minister implied, those drivers remember that public transport was better under the GLC and that there was less congestion on the roads, which made it easier for professional drivers to make a living. Public transport not only concerns unfortunate commuters, but is of interest to professional drivers, drivers in general, businesses and the City.

No one doubts that the opposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East to the PPP enabled him to amass so much support in London in the contest to be Mayor.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

I do not wish to intrude too far, but I recall that the official Labour candidate began to put caveats on his own support for the PPP as he tried to recover his position in the run-up to that election.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

I do not want to go there. Frank Dobson was a nice man who did not deserve what happened to him in that campaign.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

My right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) is a nice man who did not deserve what happened to him in the course of that campaign. I do not want to dwell on that.

Transport is the key issue for Londoners and lay at the heart of the mayoral campaign. If Ministers who lived through that campaign and saw that the people's votes went overwhelmingly to candidates and parties opposed to the PPP are prepared to dismiss the opinions of Londoners, they should not be surprised if Londoners are sceptical when the Labour party wants them to return to the polls in the forthcoming general election.

Colleagues have talked about past Conservative Governments and what they did to British Rail. It is tempting to dwell on the past, but I want to talk about the future of London Transport.

The Minister referred to the need for investment; we can all agree about that. He talked of the need to introduce greater management efficiency; we can all agree on that. That is why my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East headhunted the world's best public transit manager to run Transport for London. That is why my hon. Friend proposed sacking not one or two but dozens of London Underground managers. I point out to the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake) that nothing would be more likely to make my hon. Friend even more popular with Londoners than success in clearing out the dead wood in the management of the underground.

This morning, I travelled to Westminster on the Victoria line and hit one of the 15-minute breakdowns to which reference has been made. The fact that my hon. Friend is willing to take effective action against a management that has repeatedly failed is much to his credit. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington will get nowhere trying to make points about that.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

The only point I was making is that it is perhaps not best management practice to announce the sacking of an unspecified number of managers.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

Everybody knows that the management of London Transport has failed and is failing. Everybody wants something to be done about that. If the Mayor says that he intends to act, that offers the clearest possible signal to the travelling public. My hon. Friend's statement was welcomed by the majority of Londoners.

There is agreement on both sides of the House on the need for investment. The Government and the Mayor are certainly agreed on the need for management efficiencies. However, we have not received a satisfactory response from Ministers to the questions on safety put by Members on both sides of the House. As I pointed out earlier, it is all very well to state that responsibility for safety will lie with London Underground, but the Minister has not explained how, in practice, LU will have the sanctions to enforce its safety objectives. Although the ultimate weapon available to the company would be to pull out of a contract, in practice—because of its responsibility for financial matters—such a course would be unrealistic. Of course, the contractors will be aware of that.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, who opened the debate, has responsibility for London, so he will know how many London boroughs are entangled with the contractors that have taken on privatised services, such as housing benefit. The boroughs would like to take back the contracts, but in practice they cannot do so. Although the sanctions of the market are supposed to operate, they do not; for example, ITnet is messing up housing benefit all over London. Councillors in Islington, Hackney and Hounslow say that, in practice, they cannot pull out of the contracts. What sort of sanction does that provide?

London Underground will find itself in the same position as Railtrack in relation to private contractors. The responsibility for safety will lie with London Underground and although the ability to withdraw the contract may exist in theory, it will not be possible to put it into practice. The Mayor and London Underground will thus find themselves locked into contracts for 30 years.

The PPP proposal was fought to a standstill during the mayoral campaign. Londoners made their views clear on the matter. Every opinion poll commissioned on the subject reveals that Londoners are against the PPP. According to the most recent poll, cited in the House this afternoon, Londoners think that safety will be worse under the PPP. Londoners do not want the PPP. The London Labour party does not want it.

In an internal report produced in 1997, London Underground examined all the available options for obtaining adequate funding. The first was to retain LU as a unified system within the public sector—my preference. The second was to keep it as a unified system in the private sector—the preference of the Opposition. However, the 14th option was the one adopted by the Government. In the face of consistent public opposition and opposition from within the Labour party and in the face of the serious questions about safety that have been raised by Members on both sides of the House, it is extraordinary that Ministers insist on continuing blindly along their chosen path.

Unless a way can be found to allow Ministers to step back without losing face, the Labour party—my party—will pay a price in the forthcoming general election. Commuters have a view on the PPP and they will express it in the ballot box. If the PPP goes forward without the changes suggested by Mr. Hutton and the Industrial Society, I only hope that Londoners do not pay a price for it in the form of drastically reduced safety.

Even at this late stage, I urge my hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench to put dogma, their personal feelings towards my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East and the question of loss of face to one side and to concentrate on the interests of the travelling public. Every survey available has proved that the proposed PPP will not meet the interests of the travelling public. It is not too late for Ministers to acknowledge that and to take up my hon. Friend's suggestion and let the transport commissioner for London give his considered opinion on the proposals.

Photo of Jacqui Lait Jacqui Lait Conservative, Beckenham 5:16 pm, 13th November 2000

It is always interesting to follow the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott). I used to chair a health authority that covered her constituency and we regularly turned up at events together. However, I shall not intrude on the grief that is obvious between her and those on the Government Front Bench.

My constituency is in a London borough that does not contain any underground stations. However, my constituency has more railway stations than any other in the country. There are 14 and, if anyone wants to challenge me, I can recite them. However, Members would probably prefer me not to do that.

My constituents are primarily concerned with ensuring that their railways operate well. The railways are under considerable pressure at the moment, so my constituents do not want to be faced with congestion charging, which will lead to more people using the railways. However, my constituents also want the underground, which they use when they come into the centre of town, to run efficiently.

I was grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) for his comments about the Jubilee line. The firm of consulting engineers that was key to the line's engineering is based in Beckenham. It did an expert job in very difficult circumstances.

Many of my constituents use the underground, as do I. However, we should not ignore the fact that some of the underground's current problems are the result of the increased prosperity of the past 20 to 25 years. More and more people have more disposable income, so they are more likely to travel. That follows as night follows day. There are more cars on the road and more people use trains and the underground. The problems of London Underground cannot just be put down to a lack of investment and poor management.

The hon. Members for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) and for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington probably do not help London Underground by castigating its managers. If the good managers in any organisation feel under pressure, they will leave and the organisation will be left with poorer managers. Of course, if those in the management structure are already demoralised, the last thing that they want is more unhelpful criticism. The poorer managers will also leave and that will leave the organisation badly under-managed. London Underground has a real difficulty with that, and I hope that a more constructive approach will be taken to its managers to bolster them in very difficult circumstances.

It was an inspired decision to appoint Mr. Kiley and bring him over from New York. I congratulate the hon. Member for Brent, East on that. The most interesting fact I read was that Mr. Kiley had increased New York subway fares by 30 per cent. to create the money for investment. My first thought on learning that was how the Mayor would explain such an increase to my constituents and everyone else in London. Those of us who remember "fares fair" would find that increase difficult to understand. Mr. Kiley—poor man—is clearly completely constrained by the terms of the PPP.

It is, however, worth exploring and comparing the confidentiality agreement that the Government negotiated with Mr. Kiley with the confidentiality agreements that are signed by companies in the midst of takeovers or any other commercial transaction. As I understand it, a company that is involved in a bid for another company signs a confidentiality agreement that is sufficiently robust to allow the bidding company to look at all the books and ask all the questions necessary to get all the details. It is on the bidding company's own head if it leaves anything out. The legal agreement is so robust that there is no information that the company that is the subject of the bid cannot hand over, and it must not deliberately withhold information from the bidder.

If Mr. Kiley has signed that form of confidentiality agreement with the Government, there is no reason why all the information about the PPP cannot be made available to him. If, however, he has not been asked to sign such an agreement, the Department is at fault for not having a sufficiently robust confidentiality agreement. One way or another, the Minister has to reassure the House about the quality of that agreement and say why, if it is sufficiently robust, Mr. Kiley cannot see the information. If it is not sufficiently robust, I suggest that the Department gets some better lawyers.

We do not know whether Mr. Kiley has accepted the appointment, but we have been assured that he is likely to sign up to it this Thursday. I feel for the man. He has to come into the snake-pit of London politics and, in addition, has to deal with the hugely complex problem that is London Underground without having all the facts—and I mean all the facts—at his disposal. He will have to be an extraordinarily robust character to survive much longer than six months. It would not be right for this very experienced person to be switched off and unable to operate within six months because of Government obduracy and the snake-pit of London politics.

We have directly elected Conservative members of the Greater London Assembly in my part of the world. I have been talking to some of them about their experience of Mr. Kiley, who went to a meeting of Assembly members just after he had been to the Department. His state of mind when he returned from visiting the Department was described as "disconsolate and dismayed." If he is already giving that impression to Assembly members of his relationship with the Department and how he expects it to develop, he will not be in the right frame of mind to take on and manage the extraordinarily complex structure that the Government have imposed on the PPP.

One other clear point—it relates to the questions that have arisen about safety and financing, and to the various reports that have been required—is that there seems to be a build-up of yet more delay in the delivery of the PPP. Although many of us do not represent London constituencies, most of us use the underground at some point, so I am sure that I do not need to repeat to everybody present the fact that the amount of cash going into the capital expenditure that London Underground requires is falling significantly. If there is further delay in the delivery of the PPP, London Underground will stagger to an investment halt. The problems that have already been identified will of course multiply, as progression in such matters is never arithmetic but geometric.

I would hate to hear from the Minister in his reply that there will be further delays in delivery and execution of the PPP. For whatever good reason—safety records, or whatever—we cannot afford any further delay in the fruition of, admittedly, probably the most worst option for the London underground. We cannot afford any more delay in finding a solution in one form or another, so that at least we know there is investment, and genuine plans for it, and people will see much greater improvement very quickly.

I would not want any further delays, and I seek a guarantee that no further delays are envisaged in the creation and operation of the PPP. I hope that the Government will not use the way they have so far treated Mr. Kiley as an excuse for yet further delay. We must have improvements in the London underground, and it is now down to the Government to get on and ensure that they are made as swiftly as possible.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central 5:27 pm, 13th November 2000

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me from these crowded Benches to contribute, along with the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), the London Mayor, to the debate on the Opposition's unfortunate motion. They claim now to have an open mind on options for the London underground. Formerly, their ragbag of ideas comprised universal privatisation, which in Railtrack has proved most unsuccessful. So, I am glad that they made no attempt to present such a policy. Instead, they chose to dwell on a new policy of open-mindedness, which in the new Tory party is a contradiction in terms. The issue before us is not one of privatisation; that has not been debated. It is really that of credible options, such as issuing bonds and public-private partnership. I shall focus largely on those matters rather than following the Tory policy of kicking a person when he is down.

Hon. Members will know that I serve on the Public Accounts Committee. I am glad that it was made clear in August that the National Audit Office will be looking objectively at the different options before us and forming its verdict. I hope that everyone will take that particularly seriously. I welcome the appointment of Bob Kiley by the London Mayor. It is important to import new excellence to our public services, and I look forward to hearing his comments.

It is worth noting that the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) pointed out that some of the major problems of the PPP resulted from the multiplicity of responsibility due to the break-up of the system, which leads to confusion and could therefore undermine safety. That completely contradicts the Tories' strategy for privatisation, which in itself gives rise to a multiplicity of functions and to confusion. The hon. Gentleman's comments are tantamount to an admission of guilt for the failures of privatisation and an explanation of why it has gone so badly wrong.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

My hon. Friend has said that he welcomes the appointment of Bob Kiley. Would he therefore welcome the Government releasing to Mr. Kiley all the information that he has asked for?

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

I think that it is important that the Government share information with Mr. Kiley and work closely with him to get the best transport system for London. There might be marginal issues relating to timing the release of confidential commercial information during a competitive tender process, but Mr. Kiley and the National Audit Office need at their disposal a complete account of the options available for the London system.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

The hon. Gentleman, rightly, criticises the Conservatives for highlighting the problems of fragmentation caused by the PPP, and points out that that is exactly what happened under railway privatisation. Does that mean that he accepts that there is a problem of fragmentation associated with PPP?

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

No, that was not my point: I focused on the contradiction in the Conservative argument. However, I accept that if an organisation comprises too many pieces, there will be problems of co-ordination, which might lead to confusion, higher costs and, in extreme cases, problems with safety.

The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake) focused, not on the Industrial Society's report, but on a half remembered telephone conversation with Will Hutton. Having met Will Hutton, I do not believe that he will thank the hon. Gentleman for repeating apparently confidential remarks in the House of Commons, especially as he has already issued a statement for public consultation in the Industrial Society's report. I doubt that the hon. Gentleman will receive much more co-operation from Mr. Hutton.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

I am pleased to be able to assure the hon. Gentleman that I clarified with Mr. Hutton whether he thought it appropriate for me to relate his views on the subject. I also confirmed whether he was quite happy with my interpretation—he was.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

That is good to hear.

It was also interesting to hear the rendition of Mr. Hutton's views given by the hon. Member for North Essex. He claimed that in the Industrial Society report, Will Hutton said that the problems of the PPP were, first, its uncertainty—well, we all know that the future is uncertain, and we understand the complexity of the options, so that is only stating the obvious—and secondly, that the extra cost of capital could, by some arithmetic, be translated into a 30 per cent. hike in fares.

In fact, London's tube system is one of the few in the world that makes positive gross margins—about £300 million a year—but it does not generate enough to pay back the cost of capital. Therefore, one can look at the figures and say that, at the margin, the cost of capital is greater under PPP than with bonds, for example, and then translate that into fares—but the issue to be considered when comparing the options is not the cost of capital, but overall value for money in terms of risk transfer, cost of delays and so on. It is easy to make quick comments, but careful consideration is required.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

I intend to expand on those points, so it might be better to take the hon. Gentleman's intervention then.

I consider it unfortunate that the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington gratuitously linked our serious debate on the different financial options for investment in the tube with the recent Austrian disaster. There is enough scaremongering going on. Many speakers have said that the tube is safe, even though it needs more investment. The tube is a good system and we need to renew it; the question is, how do we do that for Londoners?

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

I shall give way to the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight), who tried to intervene earlier.

Photo of Mr Howard Flight Mr Howard Flight Conservative, Arundel and South Downs

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. It was on an earlier point that I wanted to ask him a question. Does not money raised by bond issue have to be repaid? The history of bond issues to finance similar investments in the United States, or other public sector undertakings, shows that when one lot of bonds matures, it can be refunded with another lot of bonds. The model for financing by bond issue does not necessarily entail fare charges to repay the capital.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

The hon. Gentleman knows that that is not always the case. In some bond issues, additional money has had to be obtained from taxpayers, because of the value of the bonds. Bonds entail an element of uncertainty and risk, which would be set against the London taxpayer—but the Mayor is currently not empowered to raise tax to cover that risk. That is one of the problems. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman made that point, so that I could demonstrate that it was wrong.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

I will certainly take an intervention from the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow). It will give me great joy to respond to this one.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He should not speak too soon, because he knows not upon what subject the intervention comes. In the light of his remarks about the need to minimise fragmentation—[Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will cease chuntering. In the light of what he said about the need to minimise fragmentation, what is his assessment of Pricewaterhouse's conclusion on the structure, upon which the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee deliberated in July 1998?

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

What a fine point! That was worth waiting for. The Pricewaterhouse analysis indeed shows a certain amount of fragmentation of the various components, the purpose of which was to generate competition and value for money. If the hon. Gentleman were not relying on a one-liner from the Library, he would know that the matter was more complex than that rather silly intervention[Interruption.] That was characteristic of the guffawing to which I have become accustomed from that small character on the Opposition Benches.

I shall move to a point more serious than such one-liners, which we have come to expect instead of reasoned dialogue. I invite the hon. Gentleman to make a proper speech, rather than resort to the one-liners that he looks up late at night, a sad man in the Library.

Moving on from that momentary, derisory distraction, the issue between PPP and bonds is not simply ideological. It is an empirical question of which is the best value for money. There will obviously be a debate about who is best equipped to analyse that. The Mayor—the hon. Member for Brent, East—mentioned a number of experts who have come forward. There are other experts with different views, and we await the verdict of the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee.

I see this as an empirical issue. Hon. Members may know that I was the leader of London's largest council, Croydon council—

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. We have had enough interventions from a sedentary position and banter of one kind or another. I should be grateful if we could get on with the debate.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

I value the dull humour of the hon. Member for Buckingham. That is a character failure of my own, I suppose.

When I was leader of Croydon council, we introduced Tramlink, which was a public-private partnership. The private sector invested some £100 million and the public sector some £125 million. As has been pointed out, there was a delay. The system was supposed to begin operating last November, but in fact it started in May. Already it is the most successful tram system in the country, moving 45,000 people a day.

The cost of the delay from November to May is being borne by the private sector. Risk transfer was built into the contract. Under PPP, a contract is drawn up, and if the private sector fails, the cost of failure in terms of delay or exceeding the budget will be transferred. That is precisely the point that I made earlier in an intervention on the right hon. Member for Chelsea and Kensington—

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Who? You are all over the shop.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

I should have said the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke). I intervened on him earlier, when he hailed the Jubilee line as a great Tory success. I pointed out that it was about £l billion over budget and a year late. That was no success. If it had been a PPP, the transfer of risk would have gone to the private sector. That is the point. The issue is about value for money.

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone Independent, Brent East

Is my hon. Friend aware that under their contracts, contractors will be fully compensated if they run only 95 per cent. of the existing service? Services can be cut by a further 5 per cent., but they will still be fully compensated. That does not build in an improvement, but allows a further margin for failure.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

That is not an a priori point, but a contingent point. The issue is the terms of the contract. Unacceptable contracts may be drawn up, and Mr. Robert Kiley, the hon. Member for Brent, East and others may produce good ideas on how they can be tightened up. I agree that there could be good arguments for doing that, and various issues have been raised in that respect. People have asked, "Why can't we untie these? Will they last the 30 years? Can't we have different options?" Those are legitimate value-for-money questions that should be considered by the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office in reaching a verdict, just as we should consider such matters in reaching our verdict. There is a proper debate in which those points should properly be included. There is nothing inherently good or bad about the proposed system. We should be discussing the contingent issue of what the contract says, and what is best for the public in terms of value for money.

Tramlink is a project in which we were able to transfer risk. As a result, we have already established the most effective tram system in the country. That shows that the proposal can work. It has been suggested that it would not work in particular scenarios, but that is obvious.

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Labour, Ealing North

Before we move away from the superficial attractions of bond issues, I have a brief question. I am sure that other hon. Members are more than aware of the answer, but sadly, I am not. I do not know any philanthropic capitalist who is anxious to invest in bonds without receiving a return. Who would service the bonds? Would it be the people of the whole country or the people of London, or would the proposal be a further drain on London Transport's small margin of operating profit?

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

As has been pointed out, it is hoped that bonds will be self-financing. The risk, however, is that they will not be. If that happens, we must then decide who pays. One would usually assume that London taxpayers would pay, but the Mayor is not empowered by current legislation to increase taxes. If it is proposed that the Mayor should be empowered to raise taxes, Londoners will have to be consulted again. Obviously, there was massive popular support for the hon. Member for Brent, East when he became Mayor, but it was not given on the understanding that he would be able to raise taxes. We are considering a different political question, to which people might respond differently.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

I do not know. My hon. Friend might be right, but the point is that we do not know. There may be a downside liability, but there is currently no cover for such liability. Again, value for money is at stake, not the cost of capital. In debates such as this, it is often said that the cost of capital for PPP is greater than the cost of bonds and public sector borrowing. I agree, but the Jubilee line is an obvious example of how other factors must be taken into account. The cost of capital would have been completely overwhelmed by the extra cost of taking the traditional route, because of the cost in terms of delay and running over budget.

Various issues, including delays, must be considered in relation to the argument of PPP versus bonds and tax raising with bonds. Those issues must be considered carefully, although it is understandable that hon. Members are saying, "Okay, we've been hanging around here for ages. When will we get something done?" One of the costs of bonds is simple to explain. If we all decided to take the bonds option, a couple of years would be added to the timetable for the tube's overall progress. That is a genuine cost. It is not merely a delayed letter or a similar hitch, but a measurable cost in terms of economic activity and disruption for the people of London. That must be factored into the analysis.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip

I agree entirely that if a bond issue were launched now, a two-year process might be initiated. However, will the hon. Gentleman contrast the two years that might be involved with such a project with the four years involved with the PPP? Had the Government embarked on bonds four years ago, the system would now be up and running.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

With respect, that is rather a silly question. As with all political choices, we have arrived where we are. That being so, what is the best thing to do? The hon. Gentleman might be able to argue that we should have done something earlier—an argument that could be taken back in time. Given where we are, should we keep going and finish PPP, or opt for bonds to see whether that approach works after another couple of years? These are the real options.

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone Independent, Brent East

The current best estimate is that work under PPP—that is, work on the lines—might start as early as next September. There is not the slightest doubt that if there were the backing of the Government through the Treasury, bonds could be around in a matter of weeks. Bonds could advance the start of the work, not delay it.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

That was an important intervention. We must be crystal clear about different options and costs. One of the variables is obviously delay. I believe that work should be brought forward by public sector direct investment if there is an acceptable gap in PPP investment when set against what the new levels of investment should be.

The hon. Member for Brent, East suggests that bonds could bring forward funding within weeks. I understood that there would be delay for years. However, it is a matter of fact rather than judgment, and I stand to be corrected. One of the issues must be the cost of time, and I am sure that that will be factored into how the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee approach the matter.

We have not talked about the third option, which is privatisation. We all know that the history of Railtrack privatisation involved the sale of about £2 billion worth of assets, which were valued at £8 billion a couple of years later. With the Tories' suggestions, we would look forward to the same thing—a rip-off sell-off, a takeover by a profit-maximising operator, who would reduce capacity, increase price and provide a worse service for Londoners. I have not dwelt on privatisation because it is such a ridiculous suggestion from the Tories.

We need sure investment now. The investment should not go up and down, as Government funding does. In reality, Governments sometimes turn down investment as they approach elections. That is precisely what the Tories did. That is why we ended up with a £1.2 billion backlog of essential investment. For self-interest rather than public interest, the Tories decided, "We'll cut that back, introduce a few pre-election tax cuts, mess around with interest rates and tamper with the political process." PPP gives a guaranteed cashflow investment into public services. That is one of the key benefits. With bonds, issues arise about different values and risks that may affect investment flows over time. That is something to be factored into the various considerations.

Different people make different assessments. Professor David Currie of the London business school thinks that PPP would be £2.3 billion cheaper, and that overall it would bring about savings of £3.3 billion. Such analyses are professional, but they are contentious. I make that point because the hon. Member for Brent, East listed people who had adopted a different argument.

Members have dwelt on safety, an issue that is important to us all. The first condition of safety is investment now. The second condition is value for money. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has said, in terms of ownership, safety will still be the responsibility of London Underground. The Government are attempting to put into place an investment stream that will be a pre-condition for safety.

I have already talked about sanctions on contractors. It is important that there are proper controls and sanctions over inadequate investment or management performance. The Mayor should have the power to act in the interests of the public. Overall, the issue is not black and white. We are having an honest debate and I welcome the opportunity to contribute to it.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood 5:49 pm, 13th November 2000

It is always a pleasure when authentic Members such as the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) and the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) participate in our debates. It is not such a pleasure to hear people who are not real, such as the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill). My hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) may consider the hon. Gentleman a cheeky chappie, but I think he is a poor imitation of Frankie Howerd, and his speech was not in any sense funny. It would have been a significant speech had it been delivered by the Deputy Prime Minister, but the right hon. Gentleman seems to have the Falconer contagion and is running away from his responsibilities to this House. Clearly, the right hon. Gentleman's policy is failing. Were that not the case, why would the hon. Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Davies) weary the House with a speech of Front-Bench proportions? As Members representing London constituencies, we demand better from the Deputy Prime Minister.

In my constituency, there are no fewer than eight tube stations serving three lines. The underground system is essential for my constituents to get to work. There is often a glitch—sometimes a major problem that delays their arrival at work by hours—or other difficulties, such as discomfort, irregular running or rudeness by staff. It is not surprising that one of the tabloids today reported that the experience of commuting is even more stressful than the worst workplace—and so it is for many of my constituents. This should not and need not be so.

In its manifesto, the Labour party led us to believe that things could only get better, and that they would, indeed, get better for London Underground, thanks to the public-private partnership. No doubt was expressed: the public-private partnership was part of Labour's fundamental commitment to the electorate not just in London but nationwide. People were led to believe that it would come into operation very shortly after Labour came to office, and furthermore that the Mayor of London, when returned to power, would have under his control Transport for London, which would include a key element of London's overall transport system, namely the underground.

When I said to the Under-Secretary that it was preposterous that the Labour party had perpetrated such a fraud on the electorate of London, and that no one in London would gain any confidence from his admission that we are going to have to wait still longer for the public-private partnership to become operational, the hon. Gentleman shrugged his shoulders and said that it was of no importance. It is of importance. Two fundamental issues seem to be causing the delay—a safety audit by the Health and Safety Executive and the basic financial question of whether the PPP will be cost-effective, which will be assessed in the National Audit Office report.

A policy as central to a party aspiring to office as the public-private partnership should have been worked out in advance while that party was in opposition. No responsible political party should put in its programme a policy that falls apart when it gets into office and does not work. We warned the Labour party throughout the sittings of the Committee which considered the Greater London Authority Bill that it would happen, and it has. That explains why so few Labour Members are present.

How wise my hon. Friends on the Front Bench are to be open-minded. We do not know the circumstances under which we will take office. We will take office either in national Government in the spring or autumn next year—it is clear, and the Mayor has made it plain, that the public-private partnership will not be up and running by then—or at a London level at the next mayoral elections. It will happen, because we have a majority of the directly elected seats on the Greater London Authority, and I do not think that the people of London will be impressed by the coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, which is frustrating the Assembly's function of keeping a check on the mayoralty, not least on transport policy for London.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

Given that the hon. Gentleman is promoting a policy of open-mindedness on the ground that there is uncertainty about the future, does he think that it should be Tory policy to be open-minded on everything? Would that not be common sense? Is it not the case that we do not know what will happen? The Tories have made U-turns on the tax guarantee. Are we entering a new era of open-mindedness from the Tories?

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood

The Conservative party is certainly in favour of common sense: that is a central theme of all our policies. As for open-mindedness, it is an engaging and rare political characteristic, which I find in my hon. Friends.

My central point is that we do not know in what circumstances we will take power. Perhaps it will be nationally at first and then in London, in which case we will be in control of the GLA and central Government. We must take things as they come. I accept the point made by the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington, who was honest in saying that the logical position is either to have the tube run wholly in the public sector or to privatise it as an entity so that at least there is a clear chain of command: people know where they stand, there is less opportunity for conflict and confusion and safety issues and risks are minimised. That was the view of London Underground when it did its study. How wrong it is of the Government not to permit that study to be in the public domain, in the Library and available to the Greater London Authority.

Secrecy in the negotiations between the mayoralty and central Government over the appointment of Mr. Kiley and the information available to him will have a profound effect on the confidence of the people of London in the Government. They expected the Government to be open and to share these basic facts with those responsible for taking important decisions on behalf of Londoners. The Government clearly do not intend to do so. They are ideologically driven, and are frightened that if the truth comes out, the can of worms will be opened in its entirety.

There is a necessity to get on with producing an effective system. This state of limbo should not endure any longer. It is an intolerable state of affairs. In my part of north-west London, we want the Croxley link to be established to connect the Metropolitan line with Watford Junction station. Other people advocate as a priority the extension of the Central line through south and west Ruislip to Uxbridge. and perhaps even down to Heathrow. Some suggest that the Piccadilly line which runs from Rayners Lane through my constituency to that of my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) should be continued in a loop to join up with the Piccadilly line at Heathrow.

Important projects should be completed but are being stymied thanks to the confusion caused by the Labour Government. This state of affairs should not be allowed to endure. That is why the critical motion tabled by my right hon. and hon. Friends is timely, and why it deserves the House's wholehearted approbation.

Photo of Mr Keith Darvill Mr Keith Darvill Labour, Upminster 5:59 pm, 13th November 2000

It is a pleasure to participate in the debate, and especially to listen to contributions from the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) and the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke), who always speak in such debates.

My constituency is at the beginning of the District line—its eastern terminus is Upminster. It is the only underground station, but it is important because my constituents benefit from the link with the underground system. They also have the alternative of using the overland system from the C2C operator—the former London to Tilbury line. My constituents have that advantage: if there is a problem with the underground, they can use alternative rail services.

I was interested in the statistics that the hon. Member for Brent, East gave about satisfaction rates among London Transport users. In current circumstances, and bearing in mind the troubles of recent weeks, 46 per cent. is an incredible statistic. However, it does not surprise me because the most common comment is that the underground system is basically a good one on which people rely. Hon. Members and the travelling public rely on it to get to work each day, and their experience is usually good. However, there has been a deterioration in the service, which was caused by increased usage and people's different life styles and different working hours. My experience—I use the tube most days—is that it is operating over capacity. I frequently leave the House after 10 pm, and find that the trains are full. Capacity is important.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Given that the hon. Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Davies) slavishly read out a brief for 22 minutes but failed to say anything coherent about value for money on the tube network, will the hon. Gentleman who has the Floor be kind enough to tell the House what he thinks explains the increase from 32 per cent. to 65 per cent., revealed in the MSB survey, in the proportion of regular tube users who believe that the tube does not provide good value for money? The change occurred between one year of the Labour Government, 1999, and another, 2000.

Photo of Mr Keith Darvill Mr Keith Darvill Labour, Upminster

There are several reasons for that. Last year and the year before, there was a significant deterioration in several services, involving escalators, which caused significant difficulties. The delay in the completion of the Jubilee line extension was another factor. However, the main factor is the lack of sustained investment over several years. This is not a party political point, but investment in the underground system pre-war—

Photo of Mr Keith Darvill Mr Keith Darvill Labour, Upminster

The second world war. There was significant investment in the underground system before the war. Had that rate of investment been maintained during the latter part of the century, we would not be facing today's difficulties. The major part of the blame for the failure to maintain investment must rest with the party that was in power for most of that period. I do not deny that the Labour party was in power for some of that time, and bears part of the responsibility, but the Conservative party was in power for most of the period during which such investment could have been maintained. That failure has to be reversed.

Whatever the organisational or ownership system for the underground—whether it is privatised, whether a PPP is involved or whether the situation is left as it is—investment is crucial. My constituents are concerned about the tube's future, but the Opposition motion only expresses concern about the PPP.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central

Does my hon. Friend agree that one reason for the deterioration, and for the increase in the number of people expressing concern about value for money, is that more people are using the tube because the Government are putting more people into work, and those people have to travel?

Photo of Mr Keith Darvill Mr Keith Darvill Labour, Upminster

My hon. Friend makes a good point about a contributory factor. Other factors include the effect of congestion on our roads and pricing on the underground. Travelcards, which I know are not available to rush-hour travellers, represent good value for money and are used by many of my constituents, who can travel after 9.30 am from Upminster to the other side of London for a good price. That has led to an increase in the use of the underground system. Although it is possible further to expand that use, expansion is limited by capacity problems. We therefore need increased investment, which will help to develop integrated transport policies. Important environmental issues are also involved. We should not consider any of those problems in isolation, and we need to deal with them quickly.

My constituents tell me that, however we decide to attract investment, we must get on with the job. They want investment sooner rather than later and I am happy to examine the PPP, which is a way forward. Although I appreciate that there are concerns about it, some of them are the result of scaremongering. The underground system should be comfortable, clean, reliable and safe—that is what constituents want and, when the investment goes in, that is what will be delivered.

The Opposition motion refers to the appointment, which I welcome, of a senior management official. I urge the Government to provide any information necessary for him to do his work properly—subject, of course, to the consideration that commercial confidentiality should be protected. If we are going through a bidding process and trying to get best value for the public purse, commercial confidentiality is important. Subject to that consideration, all the information should be made available.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

My hon. Friend cites the importance of commercial confidentiality. Is he aware that Mr. Kiley gave an undertaking about the confidentiality of the material? Does my hon. Friend not believe Mr. Kiley, given that Mr. Kiley spent 10 years in the CIA?

Photo of Mr Keith Darvill Mr Keith Darvill Labour, Upminster

I am afraid that I cannot answer my hon. Friend's question. If I were responsible for commercial contracts and I wanted to get the best bid, I would want to secure commercial confidentiality. Subject to that consideration—it may be possible to extract the information from the relevant documents—my view is that information should be passed on as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

The Opposition motion is ill timed because the Government have already said that they are having meetings with Mr. Kiley. Legislation involving the PPP is on the statute book, and the problem, as I see it, lies with its implementation. The sooner we introduce the arrangements, the better. I urge the House to reject the Opposition motion and to support the Government amendment.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Opposition Whip (Commons) 6:08 pm, 13th November 2000

I am delighted to take part in the debate not only because I see many veterans on both sides of the House from the Standing Committee that considered the Greater London Authority Act 1999, but because, although I often describe myself as an inhabitant of Middlesex, I am also a Londoner. In this instance, I feel that I am an inhabitant of Metroland: Uxbridge is the sort of area that was described by Sir John Betjeman.

The fact that no main line runs through Uxbridge is, apparently, as a result of the love of non-conformism among inhabitants of Uxbridge, who were not keen for trains to travel through the area on a main line on Sundays. I like to think that such non-conformism is still present in Uxbridge and surrounding areas.

No doubt hon. Members on both sides of the House will be well acquainted with the journey to Uxbridge. They will know that my constituency contains three underground stations: Uxbridge, Hillingdon and Ickenham. I used to travel to school on the underground—

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Labour, Ealing North

Tell us about it, John.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Opposition Whip (Commons)

And I used to travel on the underground when I was at university. So I have a certain affection for the experience of being bumped around on the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines at various times of the day and night.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way.

Will my hon. Friend accept from me that the most pleasurable journeys on the London underground to the Uxbridge station that I have ever in my life undertaken took place during the July 1997 by-election campaign, in which he was so triumphant?

Photo of John Randall John Randall Opposition Whip (Commons)

I thank my hon. Friend. I am sure that he enjoyed that time as much as every other Member.

Many of my constituents use the underground to get to work, and many aged over 60 or 65 are very grateful for the free pass that enables them to travel to London: it is often used.

We are very interested in the future of the underground. I agree with the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) that many people will think about it carefully when casting their votes at the forthcoming general election. It might therefore be in my interest to encourage the Government to continue their present line on the PPP, which is deeply unpopular throughout the area, but I think that if I did so I would do a disservice to my constituents, and to fellow Londoners.

As I said earlier, many Members who are present today were involved in the Committee stage of the Greater London Authority Bill. We had hardly any time for discussion, and what we discussed was not what happened in the end.

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Labour, Ealing North

It was because of the Liberals.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Opposition Whip (Commons)

Most things are.

I am glad that our motion allows such open-mindedness to operate in today's discussion. The hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) offered the Government a very fair option: to let Mr. Kiley himself decide what was preferable. It was refreshing to hear the hon. Gentleman propose a solution in which dogma would not decide the issues that matter to London.

As we have elected a Mayor, I think it fair to say this: most people voted for him thinking that he would sort out London's transport problems, and most of them would like the Mayor and his office to get on with the job with which they believe they entrusted him. Many of my constituents will be sad to learn that he has been constrained by the Government. If the Government really are frightened of an independent assessment, as they seem to be, that is a sad indictment.

As I think is recognised, what we need is real investment. The infrastructure is not in a good state. I want to look to the future: I want to see imagination being used. My hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) mentioned projects to extend the tube in his constituency, and I ask the Minister again to consider the possibility of extending the Central line to Uxbridge.

On one occasion, during Question Time, I asked the Deputy Prime Minister whether he had considered that option. He told me that it had been looked at and rejected when the Government came to power. Subsequently, correspondence—delegated to the Minister, I believe—revealed the interesting fact that the Government had neither examined nor discussed the possibility, but had they done so they would no doubt have rejected it.

Another subject that crops up frequently during discussions about the underground is further access for disabled passengers. That too will require investment. In the case of some stations there is access to platforms, but getting on to trains is less easy, and there is always the problem at the other end: disabled people will probably want to get out of trains at a point where they cannot possibly do so.

The problem with Uxbridge is that it is a terminus, and for many years there has been no planning for car parking. There is no incentive for drivers to go to Uxbridge or, indeed, other stations in my constituency, and then to continue their journeys to the centre of London.

We have a problem. The service has been deteriorating. It is slow, and somewhat dirty; it is certainly not particularly attractive in the evenings, and we are subject to increasing delays. I hope that the Government will listen to Londoners of all political persuasions—and probably, the way things are now, of none—give the Mayor and his director of transport a level playing field, and give us the underground in London that we all want.

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Labour, Ealing North 6:16 pm, 13th November 2000

It is always difficult to follow the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall). He oozes decency to such a degree that it is almost impossible to disagree with him—but we must struggle to do so, in the name of the people.

I have to say that there are occasions on which I do disagree with the hon. Gentleman. Given that he has issued a wish list for tube and infrastructure improvements in London Transport, however, I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will recall that I may have written to him about the absence of a down escalator at Greenford station.

The hon. Member for Uxbridge made an important point about access for people with disabilities. The footings for the Greenford station escalator were installed in 1943, but because—sadly—the steel was needed elsewhere at the time, we now have footings but no escalator. Since then the people of Greenford—men and women carrying babies, shopping, luggage and now, under the present Government, enormous pay packets—have struggled personfully down the stairs, without an escalator, but knowing each time that the footings exist beneath their very feet.

The point made by the hon. Member for Uxbridge should not, however, distract us from some of the more unpleasant and, I have to say, overly politically partisan points made by other speakers who have not considered the issue of transport provision for London except in the narrowest of party political terms. The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) made an extraordinary speech, in which he was unkind—indeed, beastly—to my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Davies). He simply did not behave like a gentleman. I would expect better from one with his record.

I wish I could have asked the hon. Gentleman of what towering achievements during the 18 years of Conservative Government he was most proud. What were the enormous infrastructure improvements? What were the new track, signalling and equipment financing arrangements? What new tube stations were built? What, apart from the Heathrow loop, was done to improve London's transport during those 18 dark, dank, dismal years?

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Labour, Ealing North

I recall them not, but I am sure I will be given a list now by the hon. Member for somewhere miles from London.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Shadow Minister (Transport)

We completed the Victoria line, we ordered the Jubilee line extension, we built the docklands light railway, we ordered the Croydon Tramlink—would the hon. Gentleman like me to go on?

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Labour, Ealing North

The hon. Gentleman is good at saying what he "ordered"; he is less good at saying what was actually delivered during that period. [Interruption.]

The hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) leads me to sympathise with the point made by the Leader of the Opposition in the popular press today that Scottish Members of Parliament should never be allowed to comment on matters relating to England. Perhaps bumptious bumpkins from Buckinghamshire should not be able to comment on issues relating to London. A prerequisite for participating in our debate tonight should be the possession of one, two or, in my case, three and a half tube stations.

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Labour, Ealing North

Yes, let us trade insults.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, I really am. I represent Buckingham, which is close to my heart. I have an agreeable residence there, to which I do not intend to invite the hon. Gentleman. However, he is woefully ignorant of the fact that I have had a home in London for 37 years. I probably know more tube stations than he has forgotten, and have forgotten more tube stations than he knows.

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Labour, Ealing North

It is well known that the hon. Member for Buckingham arrived at his selection meeting in a borrowed helicopter. I would suggest that the sort of a chap who borrows a helicopter to go to a selection meeting is not overly familiar with London Transport.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I do not wish to delay proceedings unduly, and am greatly enjoying the hon. Gentleman's speech. However, is it in order for one hon. Member to accuse another of borrowing something for which he paid and which left a large hole in his pocket?

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware that that is not a matter for the Chair.

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Labour, Ealing North

I did not imply that the hon. Member for Buckingham managed to nick a helicopter from helicopter parking in Buckinghamshire. I was merely saying that the helicopter was not the hon. Gentleman's own.

Moving on to the substantive issue, I have a great deal of sympathy for the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Upminster (Mr. Darvill) for an end to the arcane nonsense of angels dancing on the head of a pin, and an improvement in the service. I represent the western end of the District line where the position is intolerable—if it is not, I do not know the meaning of the word. We are pressure-cooked and steamed in the morning—if we are lucky enough to get on the damned train. When we get out of the train at the other end—assuming that we do, as I believe that many of my constituents do not emerge from that black hole—we are reamed, steamed and dry-cleaned.

That appalling and outrageous situation is matched in horror only by the sheer brass neck and utter effrontery of the Conservative party which, for 18 years, did virtually nothing to improve the situation, left us with a black hole of £1.2 million underfunding, cut all funding in the year before the election and required London Underground to break even at the end of every financial year, in one of the most ludicrous pieces of accounting practice ever seen in the world. Now, the Conservative party suddenly appears to be the champion of the tube passenger, which is amazing, considering that its former leader, Baroness Thatcher, memorably said that anyone over the age of 30 who travels on public transport is a failure. The Opposition motion on the Order Paper has, as we say round my way, more front than the Hoover building. It is outrageous for the Opposition to suggest that they are seeking to do anything other than score party political points and drive a wedge between the Labour party and our good friend the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone).

The hon. Member for Brent, East made a well-informed, cogent and important contribution in addressing the issue of safety. To be perfectly honest, I am agnoistic about funding, and do not care where the money comes from, as long as it comes. I would be quite happy if an Opposition Member chipped in and gave us a capital injection. The important things are the ownership of the underground system and its safety record.

I see no causative link between these two factors, but within six months of my being elected, there was an enormous train crash at Southall, which adjoins my constituency. When I went down there, I found that people were dealing with 21 different companies. Because of the fragmentation, it was impossible to try and identify any lines of control, command and communication. If the majority of Government Members wanted to privatise London Underground, fragment it and carve it up into a British Rail-type disaster, I could not bring myself to vote for that. Thankfully, that is not the case, and there is no suggestion that London Underground will be anything other than a single entity that is a publicly controlled and owned company.

The hon. Member for Brent, East made an important point, which must be addressed. He agreed that there will be one publicly owned, accountable, strategic company for the whole city. However, what about contractors and subcontractors? How can there be accountability, when contractors are subcontracting, as are the subcontractors themselves? Even the most monopolistic public body has contractors and subcontractors. To try to make the point that a public company is not a public company because it may occasionally employ a subcontracted sparks on the signalling system is, if not mendacious, certainly whipping up scares without any valid ground.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

With the greatest respect, my hon. Friend does not seem to understand the Government's proposals. The Government are putting in place proposals whereby three infracos are bidding for three separate contracts. There will not be a unified company in the way that my hon. Friend described.

My hon. Friend was flippant about the use of subcontractors. However, all the comments on the Hatfield disaster that I have seen have suggested that it was precisely because Railtrack hollowed itself out and contracted and subcontracted responsibilities for maintenance, that repairs were not done as quickly as they should have been.

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Labour, Ealing North

I thank my hon. Friend for that. One of the hardest things is to try to have a sensible, logical debate in the long shadow of British Rail privatisation, which is an example of how not to privatise. It is unfortunate when people try to extrapolate from the splintered privatisation involving British Rail and Railtrack and compare that to London Transport. However, the proposals for London Transport are not comparable to those for British Rail, as we are not talking about several companies running tubes on a system owned by a different company. With respect, there is no comparison.

We have a transport system for our capital that is creaking at the seams because of under-investment over many years. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central made the point that more people may be using the tube, and I agree that capacity is an issue. However, London Transport was privately funded in the middle of the 19th century, mostly by American money. It was built privately, was used and cherished by Londoners, and did not even come into the public domain until after the first world war. The system was one in which ownership was not as important as reliability, punctuality, efficiency and safety, and we must concentrate on those factors now.

Under the Government's proposals, the idea is that assets will return to the public sector after they have been upgraded. I appreciate that, in politics, one should always look a gift horse in the mouth. However, in this case, we have as good a financial deal as we are going to get, and the only realistic alternative is for the entire country to pay to upgrade London Transport through taxation. I do not think that hon. Members could reasonably propose to do that. Bonds are an attractive option, at which we should look. However, that is not a free option, and the idea that a bond issue could be wholly self-financing is theoretical rather than practical. No one will fund a bond issue with nil return, as risk and exposure are involved and interest payments have to be met. The idea that such an issue could be completely ring-fenced and self-financing is more hopeful than practical.

The key issue is the need to take action now in the names of Londoners and to make safety paramount. The scares about fragmentation leading to Hatfield-type disasters are not appropriate, as that is not what is being proposed.

The motion deserves to be voted down. Any Opposition Member who supports it in the Lobby should hang their head in shame and ask themselves: what did we do during our 18 years that made the situation better? From where I stand—not the man on the Clapham omnibus, but the man on the District line in the morning—I see an underfunded tube system that is just about on the edge of disaster. We must rescue it. Let us do it in the name not of ideology, but of practicality and, above all, urgency.

Photo of Mr Howard Flight Mr Howard Flight Conservative, Arundel and South Downs 6:30 pm, 13th November 2000

Surely what is right is what will be the right structure to secure quality of service, value for money and safety, not fatuous debates about who did what.

In the United States, bonds have been a successful way for municipalities, particularly the New York subway, to fund themselves. An interesting irony has not been drawn out. When politicians use bond funding, in essence it makes them and the organisation capitalist because their success rests on the efficiency and success of the operation. If a mayor of a major city faces the prospect of that city financing a collapse and refunding bond lenders, he and his party will not get elected again for a long time, so bond funding puts into politics and civil transport a strong capitalist motive.

I have no doubt about the ability of London, if politically endowed, to raise the money. Do not forget that it is as large as Switzerland. London's credit-worthiness would be undoubted. We are in an age where there is a great shortage of bonds. The problem with pension funds and annuities is that there are not enough bonds to invest in, so there would be ready demand for issued bonds.

The operation must service the interest—that goes without saying—but, stepping back, that option is likely to be cheaper than the public-private partnership investment option because there is no profit element involved. The crucial thing is: if it stayed wholly within the public sector, could the service be run as efficiently and as safely, and better, than under the PPPI structure that is proposed? I share the doubts of many. What has happened is that the Government have funked the full option of privatisation for a halfway house, which may not be the right way to run a major subway system.

I close by saying what others have said. The public want to know what the recommendations are. The United States has one of the best records in turning around past failures and making a success of them. No one can go to New York without feeling that it has a thoroughly efficient subway system, which, unlike many of those in continental Europe, is not a huge drag on the taxpayer, but there is one caveat: such bond issues must not have any central Government guarantee. That would undermine the whole discipline and process. To look at it the other way round, a risk of PPPI is that the Government are potentially more exposed to picking up the tab than they are by a municipal bond issue that is ring-fenced. As has tended to happen in rail and other sectors, it becomes irresistible for the Government to get involved in providing public sector money when things start to go wrong.

We have a new political situation. For better or worse, the new Mayor was elected on a particular mandate. We have staggered to where we are in terms of the proposals. It is so important for the long term that the position should be looked at anew, particularly in the light of the recommendations of Mr. Kiley, perhaps the world expert, on how it will be most practical to run London's subway for the future.

Photo of Mr Tony Colman Mr Tony Colman Labour, Putney 6:34 pm, 13th November 2000

I declare an interest as a current director and founder chair of Public Private Partnerships Programme, which is the local government private finance initiative company and which began to operate in 1996, under the previous Government. It is all party. We have Conservative Members, including a Member of the other place, Liberal Democrat Members and Labour Members. It has been uncontentious and an avenue for the investment of some £20 billion of funding, which is flowing into local government in a wide range of sectors, including education and social services.

We have public-private partnerships for hospitals. I was pleased that, today, the Secretary of State for Health has announced the PPP for my local hospital, Queen Mary's. I mention those to show that we are talking about something that, other than in respect of the underground, appears to have broad support. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Davies) has mentioned Tramlink. One end of it was in Croydon. The other end was in Merton, where I had the great honour to serve as the leader of the council. I was pleased to see that PPP go forward.

I was not able to be in the House to listen to the contribution from the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), but it surprises me that the number of PPPs that Brent council has had over the past three years has not been commented on by him, as far as I know, in the House at any time, so the problem does not seem to be the concept of PPPs.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

My hon. Friend will be aware that people who object to the PPP do not object to PPPs in principle. They object to this misbegotten PPP.

Photo of Mr Tony Colman Mr Tony Colman Labour, Putney

I am glad that my hon. Friend believes that with all other PPPs, which run into many billions of pounds, there is no problem, but that there is a problem with this one. All of us—well, perhaps all of us; all sane Members— [Interruption.] I withdraw that. All Members who can see the clarity of the situation would oppose the view that has again been expressed by the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight), who I think I am still able to claim as a constituent—but perhaps he has moved on. The Conservatives' view appears to be based on privatising the underground. It is unvarnished—they see it disappearing into the private sector. We all know—it has been mentioned by other Members—what has happened in the past three years and the huge number of additional accidents that have occurred through privatisation of British Rail.

The second alternative, which seems to be espoused by Liberal Democrat Members, is bonds. What we opt for must provide best value, but the key point about bonds is that the risk is retained within the public sector; the risk is retained by the council tax payer and taxpayer. I am not keen that the risk be held by those taxpayers. That is not the way forward, especially given that such experience and expertise has built up over the past three years of the Labour Government.

Incidentally, I was pleased that the first legislation that we passed in the House in the current Parliament was the Local Government (Contracts) Act 1997, which sorted out the mess that the Tories had made of PPP. It sorted out who was going to do what and on what basis we could go forward to ensure that subsequent decisions were not deemed ultra vires. Our proposal went forward based on the utmost clarity.

My involvement with PPP came when I was elected as leader of Merton council. I had to travel from Morden to the City on the Northern line, which at that time was in a deplorable state. I am therefore pleased that, with colleagues, I have been able to persuade my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions to go forward with a PFI PPP for the Northern line trains. That took some eight years to get through but the trains started to run under that arrangement last year. That success shows the incompetence of the Tories in trying to sort that out. I hope that, after the three to four years that we have had in government, the PPP that will emerge shortly for the underground will be something with which we are all happy on the basis of best value for taxpayers and the safety of London.

Photo of Mr Tony Colman Mr Tony Colman Labour, Putney

There were a number of issues in those elections: PPP, privatisation or bonds. We are now studying that range of options.

Other hon. Members have mentioned their constituencies. I give two vignettes about the District line, Wimbledon branch. East Putney station had to be restored after decades of dereliction under the previous Government. The work overran by nearly a year. I tried to obtain compensation for my constituents who live next to the station, but was informed by London Underground that, as it was itself performing the contract, it was unable to offer compensation.

In the other case, about two weeks ago, there were great delays, which were attributed to flooding, on the track between Wimbledon Park and Southfields. Although the reason given for the delays would seem to make sense, the track is on a 30 ft high embankment.

Clearly, in both cases, the contractor organised by London Underground failed to deliver that which it should have delivered. I want a public-private partnership that keeps accountability in the public sector, but enables private finance and management to be used on the infrastructure. I believe that such an arrangement would be the right one for the people of London.

Photo of Robert Syms Robert Syms Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Transport and the Regions) 6:40 pm, 13th November 2000

This has been an important debate, and we have had some good speeches from hon. Members on both sides of the House. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) said, not only is this the fourth time that we have debated the tube, but all those debates have been held in Opposition time. It is a pity that the Government, who control so much of the House's timetable, have not initiated a debate on this topic and allowed hon. Members to have their say. One half-day Opposition debate is probably not sufficient to allow all hon. Members who wish to speak on the subject to do so.

We are all disappointed that the Deputy Prime Minister has not attended the debate, to speak and to listen. However, perhaps his absence is understandable, as the Government seem to have some "good news" Ministers and some "bad news" ones. The Deputy Prime Minister, when he is not in Tokyo or Delhi, seems to be one of those who attends when he has good news or there is money to give out, whereas the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill), and his sidekick the other Under-Secretary the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin), are wheeled out when there is a difficult debate or an Opposition day to deal with. Those two Ministers do their best, but perhaps their best is not good enough.

Today, the more the hon. Member for Streatham tried to describe the PPP, the glummer Labour Members became. They all seemed to realise that, at the next general election, they will have to explain the proposals on the doorstep, and that there is no way the proposals can be explained simply. Recently, while electing a new Blairite leader, even the modernised London Labour party could not stomach this PPP. I therefore tell Ministers to look not at those who are in front of them, but at those who are behind them. It is from behind them that their difficulties will come.

The London underground caters for 3 million trips per weekday, including journey-to-work trips made by 35 per cent. of people in central London. Additionally, about 90 per cent. of tourists use the tube during their stay. The tube annually generates more than £1.1 billion in fare revenue. It is a very important part of our capital's transport infrastructure, and it truly is the only real method of rapidly transporting large numbers of people around London.

We all want London to have good public transport. London is a world-class city and it deserves world-class transport. However, what is the Government's record? Although Ministers have been slow in dealing with the tube, that should not surprise us, as the hallmark of the Government's transport policy has been to think about things rather a lot, but to do very little. We are now three and a half years into this Government, but we are still discussing what Ministers will do to try to improve the situation.

As we learned on the previous Opposition day, this year the tube will receive £753 million—which is a substantial reduction on the £1,035 million that the previous, Conservative Government were investing in 1996–97. The tube needs more investment, but successive Governments have not invested enough in it. The fact, however, is that state-owned enterprises have to compete with hospitals, schools, social services, pensions and many other priorities. Therefore, as we have heard in previous debates, it is no wonder that the tube has occasionally been starved of investment.

A recent MSB survey stated: the number of regular users who see the Tube as poor value for money has doubled in a year, from 32 per cent. in 1999 to 65 per cent. As the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) said in his speech, there are significant problems with the tube. He cited the examples of one in six escalators not working, and a breakdown in the system every 16 minutes.

In a very thoughtful speech, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster likened being caught in the tube to being in the black hole of Calcutta. I think that we can all appreciate the difficulties that tube travel sometimes entails.

There have been criticisms that the PPP is over-complicated, and I think that hon. Members, after hearing the Minister try to explain the PPP, will agree with those criticisms. There is a question mark over whether the PPP structure will generate sufficient cost savings, and whether the proposals will provide value for money. The Library brief points out that fees for consultants working on the proposals already amount to £60.3 million. Originally, and optimistically, London Transport estimated that the total cost to establish the PPP would be £65 million.

There will also be significant costs involved in monitoring the PPP and negotiating and administering contracts. The hon. Member for Brent, East estimates that the PPP will entail more than 150 various contracts, all of which will provide very substantial work for the lawyers. Additionally, an endemic problem in such proposals is the difficulty of dividing risk between the private sector and the public sector. We also do not know how the proposed penalties and incentives will work.

The length of the contracts—30 years—has also come in for substantial criticism. As it is unrealistic to specify service levels for the next 30 years, there will have to be formal reviews. As Professor Stephen Glaister has argued, there are fundamental difficulties with 30-year contracts.

The hon. Member for Brent, East also made the very good point that some contracts will allow only 95 per cent. of performance targets to be met. There could, therefore, be reductions, in addition to the hoped-for improvements, in performance levels. It is a potential difficulty.

What assumptions have been made about the PPP? London Transport expects that, in the next 20 years, peak-time traffic will grow at 1 per cent. per annum, and that off-peak travel will grow quite significantly. It also assumes that fare income will increase by 40 per cent., mainly because of a greater volume of passengers. The assumptions are key ones. If the increase in passenger numbers occurs at peak time, there will be gridlock. Moreover, I am not quite sure how anyone can argue that there will be a very small increase at peak time and a substantial one at off-peak times.

As my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) said, the Jubilee line, which the previous, Conservative Government promoted, is an excellent line which has air conditioning and which demonstrates the tube's potential. The PPP does not seem to provide for new lines—new link lines such as the Croxley link line which my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) mentioned. We all have a shopping list for how best to increase the tube's capacity. I think, however, that the Government's PPP proposals will not deliver the substantial tube improvements that we all want.

Mr. Bob Kiley has been central to today's debate. On the PPP, he said: I have been trying to figure it out for about five weeks now and still haven't managed it. I have a rule that anything that takes that long to understand is not going to work. The Minister said earlier that the Government had given information to Mr. Kiley. However, the hon. Member for Brent, East questioned that and said that Mr. Kiley had not been given the most up-to-date contract information. I hope that the Minister will be able to clarify what information has been given to Mr. Kiley. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster said, it is interesting that the person who knows how to run such networks is being shut out by the Deputy Prime Minister, who has not had any experience of running such networks.

The Economist has described the PPP as half baked and either naive or dishonest, and the Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs called it a "convoluted compromise". It is not a proposal that finds great favour with many of the bodies that have examined it.

There is a genuine lack of accountability. The Government do not seem to have obeyed the logic of their own arguments on devolution and the restructuring of government. We have a Mayor and an Assembly, and the responsibility for running most services will rest with them. It makes sense that the professional individual employed to run the services should have some input into the setting up of the organisation. I understand Ministers' worries that information may have to be provided. It is strange that we have a former employee of the CIA to whom the Government do not wish to give information.

This ill thought out proposal does not find favour with many people and I would be surprised if it became a reality. The electors of London will have ample opportunity to give their views on it at the next general election.

Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions 6:50 pm, 13th November 2000

It is a pleasure to serve before you today, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is unable to be here today, but he has sent his A-team along in the shape of the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill), and me.

We have had an interesting tour of the underground from Upminster to Uxbridge by way of Ruislip, Ealing and Putney. The hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) wisely chose not to discuss his party's own plans, but chose instead to place his talents at the disposal of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone). The hon. Gentleman was, I am sure, grateful, but as he has so often demonstrated, he is perfectly capable of looking after himself.

Let me reiterate the point made by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary: public-private partnerships are very different from the wholesale privatisations on which the Conservative party is still hooked. In the London Underground PPP, strategic control will be maintained by the public sector, which reports to the Mayor. Private companies will maintain and upgrade the hardware. London Underground will run the network, signals, stations, trains and safety. The Government believe that is the right way to lever in private sector investment and project management expertise while preserving the necessary safeguards that the travelling public need and deserve.

As in so many areas of the public sector, the Conservatives left behind a massive backlog of investment on the tube. They planned to cut tube spending still further, down to £161 million last year and to nought for the current financial year. They were also committed to repeating many of the mistakes that they made with the national railway system. They are so keen on selling off the tube that they have relaunched the policy twice in opposition, making it clear that they intend to break the tube into as many as five pieces.

As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary said, we have already provided considerable extra funding to London Transport over the past three years.

Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

I shall come to that point in a moment. We have prevented any further increase in the investment backlog. We have invested on average more than £500 million in the core of the underground network in each of the past three years, compared to an average of £370 million a year over the lifetime of the previous, Conservative Government. With the additional funding that we have provided, London Transport will be able to invest £3.4 billion in the underground between 1997–98 and 2000–01.

Most important, we have rejected outright privatisation in order to put in place a funding regime that will genuinely deal with the long-term needs of the underground. The London Underground PPP will enable us finally to reverse the historic decline of the tube. In contrast to the fragmented scheme proposed by the official Opposition, our scheme will preserve public accountability and a unified safety structure. Again in contrast to their "flog it and forget it" proposal, the assets will return to the public sector at the end of the contract in a much improved condition.

I shall try to address, in the short time available, some of the points raised during the debate. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake) asked what would happen in the event of a contract failure. Should an infrastructure company fail, there would be a mandatory sale procedure under which the contract would be offered in the market. Ultimately, London Underground could take it back. The hon. Member for Brent, East is right to say that the banks would be recompensed, but he omitted to say that the entire shareholders' equity would be forgone. There would be no question, therefore, of anyone making a profit out of a failure.

On the timing of the safety case, London Underground expects to submit the case in December. It will be up to the Health and Safety Executive to improve it, and we expect that to be done by March 2001. Regarding the timing of the National Audit Office's audit of the public sector comparator, the NAO work will be completed before the selection of a preferred bidder, and it will be published. [Interruption.] Hon. Members have asked some questions, and I am doing my best to reply to them. That is a fairly unusual feature in some winding-up speeches.

The hon. Member for Brent, East mentioned that Mr. Kiley had not yet seen the bids. I hope that the hon. Gentleman—who is not in his place, for reasons that he explained earlier—will understand that this is an evolving relationship involving powerful market sensitivities, and we shall assess our approach in the light of those considerations. As was made clear at the outset, we are anxious to work closely with Mr. Kiley, and we shall do so.

The hon. Members for Brent, East and for Poole (Mr. Syms) suggested that the public sector comparator was out of date. The comparator was produced in March, and it was proper that that should have been done before the receipt of the bids. Obviously, work needs to be done to update the comparator and to reflect changes to the contract documentation. London Underground has offered to take Mr. Kiley through those issues.

The hon. Member for Brent, East said that companies had to meet only 95 per cent. of their performance targets. That is not strictly the case. The 5 per cent. starting benchmark is not a target indicating the level of performance that we expect from the PPP; it is merely a point of reference for determining rates of payment or abatement. To obtain the levels of return that they expect, bidders will need to achieve a substantially higher performance, and to have committed to doing so. The 5 per cent. benchmark applies not to performance across the board but to delays caused by asset failures such as train breakdowns or signal failures. Those vary enormously from year to year. In other words, the benchmark applies not to all the criteria, but only to one.

The hon. Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) said that she did not expect any delays, while suggesting a number of ways in which the proposals could be delayed. We do not expect any delays in the PPP programme, but we are not going to be held to a timetable that would allow bidders to hold us to ransom. I am sure that when Opposition Members reflect on that, they will realise that it is sensible.

The hon. Member for Brent, East said, surprisingly, that bonds could be organised in a matter of weeks. I am advised that that is doubtful. Even the Industrial Society's report suggested that it could take up to two years. As the hon. Member for Beckenham said, we cannot afford delays of such length.

The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) was a little cheeky, I thought, in coming forward with a shopping list of projects, given that the previous Government contributed so little to investment in the underground.

The London Underground PPP is well on course to deliver around £13 billion worth of new investment and maintenance during the first 15 years of the contract, with more to follow after that. It will lead to reduced journey times, greater reliability, brighter stations, better trains, more capacity and, above all, greater safety and security. It means that the tube will be publicly owned, publicly run and publicly accountable. The difference is that now it will be properly funded as well.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 180, Noes 287.

Division No. 326][7 pm
AYES
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)Gray, James
Allan, RichardGreen, Damian
Amess, DavidGreenway, John
Ancram, Rt Hon MichaelGrieve, Dominic
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon JamesGummer, Rt Hon John
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Baker, NormanHammond, Philip
Ballard, JackieHancock, Mike
Beith, Rt Hon A JHarvey, Nick
Bercow, JohnHawkins, Nick
Beresford, Sir PaulHayes, John
Blunt, CrispinHeald, Oliver
Boswell, TimHeath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs VirginiaHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Brady, GrahamHoram, John
Brake, TomHoward, Rt Hon Michael
Brand, Dr PeterHughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Brazier, JulianHunter, Andrew
Breed, ColinJackson, Robert (Wantage)
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterJenkin, Bernard
Browning, Mrs AngelaJohnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, SimonKeetch, Paul
Burstow, PaulKennedy, Rt Hon Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife)Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Cash, WilliamKirkbride,Miss Julie
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)Kirtwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Chidgey, DavidLait, Mrs Jacqui
Chope, ChristopherLansley, Andrew
Clappison, JamesLetwin, Oliver
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Lidington,David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Collins, TimLloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Cormack, Sir PatrickLlwyd, Elfyn
Cotter, BrianLoughton, Tim
Cran, JamesLuff, Peter
Curry, Rt Hon DavidLyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Davey, Edward (Kingston)MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)McIntosh, Miss Anne
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Dorrell, Rt Hon StephenMaclean, Rt Hon David
Duncan, AlanMaclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Duncan Smith, IainMcLoughlin, Patrick
Emery, Rt Hon Sir PeterMadel, Sir David
Evans, NigelMalins, Humfrey
Faber, DavidMaples, John
Fabricant, MichaelMates, Michael
Fallon, MichaelMay, Mrs Theresa
Fearn, RonnieMichie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Flight, HowardMoss, Malcolm
Forth, Rt Hon EricNicholls, Patrick
Foster, Don (Bath)Norman, Archie
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir NormanOaten, Mark
Fox, Dr LiamO'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Fraser, ChristopherÖpik, Lembit
Gale, RogerOttaway, Richard
Garnier, EdwardPage, Richard
George, Andrew (St Ives)Paice, James
Gibb, NickPickles, Eric
Gidley, SandraPortillo, Rt Hon Michael
Gill, ChristopherPrior, David
Gillan, Mrs CherylRandall, John
Gorman, Mrs TeresaRedwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, DavidThomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Robathan, AndrewTonge, Dr Jenny
Robertson, LaurenceTredinnick, David
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)Trend, Michael
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)Tyler, Paul
Ruffley, DavidTyrie, Andrew
Russell, Bob (Colchester)Viggers, Peter
Sanders, AdrianWardle, Charles
Sayeed, JonathanWaterson, Nigel
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs GillianWebb, Steve
Shepherd, RichardWells, Bowen
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)Whitney, Sir Raymond
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)Whittingdale, John
Soames, NicholasWiddecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Spicer, Sir MichaelWigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Spring, RichardWilkinson, John
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir JohnWilletts, David
Steen, AnthonyWillis, Phil
Streeter, GaryWilshire, David
Swayne, DesmondWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Syms, RobertWinterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Tapsell, Sir PeterYeo, Tim
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Tellers for the Ayes:
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)Mr. Stephen Day and
Taylor, Sir TeddyMr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.
NOES
Ainger, NickColeman, Iain
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Colman, Tony
Allen, GrahamConnarty, Michael
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)Corbett, Robin
Atherton, Ms CandyCorston, Jean
Banks, TonyCousins, Jim
Barnes, HarryCox, Tom
Barron, KevinCrausby, David
Battle, JohnCryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Bayley, HughCryer, John (Hornchurch)
Beard, NigelCunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew FCunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Benton, JoeDalyell, Tam
Bermingham, GeraldDarling, Rt Hon Alistair
Berry, RogerDarvill, Keith
Betts, CliveDavey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Blackman, LizDavies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Blears, Ms HazelDavies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Blizzard, BobDavis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)Dean, Mrs Janet
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)Denham, John
Brinton, Mrs HelenDismore, Andrew
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon (Dunfermline E)Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Burgon, ColinDoran, Frank
Butler, Mrs ChristineDowd, Jim
Caborn, Rt Hon RichardDrew, David
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Campbell-Savours, DaleEagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Caplin, IvorEagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Casale, RogerEfford, Clive
Caton, MartinEllman, Mrs Louise
Cawsey, IanEnnis, Jeff
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)Field, Rt Hon Frank
Chaytor, DavidFisher, Mark
Clapham, MichaelFitzpatrick, Jim
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)Flint, Caroline
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)Flynn, Paul
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Follett, Barbara
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Clwyd, AnnGapes, Mike
Coaker, VernonGardiner, Barry
Coffey, Ms AnnGeorge, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, NeilMactaggart, Fiona
Gibson, Dr IanMcWalter, Tony
Gilroy, Mrs LindaMcWilliam, John
Godman, Dr Norman AMahon, Mrs Alice
Godsiff, RogerMallaber, Judy
Goggins, PaulMarsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Golding, Mrs LlinMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Martlew, Eric
Grocott, BruceMaxton, John
Grogan, JohnMeacher, Rt Hon Michael
Hain, PeterMerron, Gillian
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Harman, Rt Hon Ms HarrietMitchell, Austin
Healey, JohnMoffatt, Laura
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)Moran, Ms Margaret
Hepburn, StephenMorgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Heppell, JohnMorris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms PatriciaMorris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, DavidMountford, Kali
Hodge, Ms MargaretMudie, George
Hoon, Rt Hon GeoffreyMullin, Chris
Hope, PhilMurphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Hopkins, KelvinMurphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)Naysmith, Dr Doug
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Norris, Dan
Howells, Dr KimO'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)O'Hara, Eddie
Hurst, AlanOlner, Bill
Hutton, JohnO'Neill, Martin
Iddon, Dr BrianOrgan, Mrs Diana
Illsley, EricPalmer, Dr Nick
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)Pearson, Ian
Jamieson, DavidPendry, Tom
Jenkins, BrianPerham, Ms Linda
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)Pickthall, Colin
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)Pollard, Kerry
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)Pond, Chris
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms TessaPope, Greg
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldPound, Stephen
Keeble, Ms SallyPrentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)Prescott, Rt Hon John
Kemp, FraserProsser, Gwyn
Khabra, Piara SPurchase, Ken
Kidney, DavidQuin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Kilfoyle, PeterQuinn, Lawrie
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Kumar, Dr AshokRaynsford, Nick
Ladyman, Dr StephenReed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Lammy, DavidReid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Lawrence, Mrs JackieRobinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Laxton, BobRoche, Mrs Barbara
Lepper, DavidRogers, Allan
Leslie, ChristopherRooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Levitt, TomRooney, Terry
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs HelenRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Linton, MartinRowlands, Ted
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)Roy, Frank
Lock, DavidRuane, Chris
Love, AndrewRuddock, Joan
McAvoy, ThomasRyan, Ms Joan
McCabe, SteveSalter, Martin
McCafferty, Ms ChrisSavidge, Malcolm
McDonagh, SiobhainSawford, Phil
McGuire, Mrs AnneSedgemore, Brian
McIsaac, ShonaShaw, Jonathan
Mackinlay, AndrewSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McNamara, KevinSimpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
MacShane, DenisSingh, Marsha
Skinner, DennisTurner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Soley, CliveTwigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Spellar, JohnWalley, Ms Joan
Starkey, Dr PhyllisWard, Ms Claire
Steinberg, GerryWareing, Robert N
Stevenson, GeorgeWhite, Brian
Stewart, David (Inverness E)Whitehead, Dr Alan
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)Wicks, Malcolm
Stoate, Dr HowardWilliams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Strang, Rt Hon Dr GavinWills, Michael
Straw, Rt Hon JackWinnick, David
Stringer, GrahamWinterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Stuart, Ms GiselaWood, Mike
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Taylor, David (NW Leics)Worthington, Tony
Temple-Morris, PeterWright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)Wyatt, Derek
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, DonTellers for the Noes:
Trickett, JonMr. David Clelland and
Truswell, PaulMr. Mike Hall.

Questions accordingly nagatived.

Questions, that proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on Amendments):—

The House divided: Ayes 283, Noes. 177.

Division No. 327][7.15 pm
AYES
Ainger, NickClarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Allen, GrahamClarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Clwyd, Ann
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)Coaker, Vernon
Atherton, Ms CandyCoffey, Ms Ann
Banks, TonyColeman, Iain
Barnes, HarryColman, Tony
Barron, KevinConnarty, Michael
Battle, JohnCook, Frank (Stockton N)
Bayley, HughCorbett, Robin
Beard, NigelCorston, Jean
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)Cousins, Jim
Bennett, Andrew FCox, Tom
Benton, JoeCrausby, David
Bermingham, GeraldCryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Berry, RogerCunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland)
Betts, Clive
Blackman, LizCunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Blears, Ms HazelDalyell, Tam
Blizzard, BobDarling, Rt Hon Alistair
Bradley, Keith (Withington)Darvill, Keith
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Brinton, Mrs HelenDavies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Burgon, ColinDavis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Butler, Mrs Christine
Caborn, Rt Hon RichardDean, Mrs Janet
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Denham, John
Campbell-Savours, DaleDismore, Andrew
Caplin, IvorDobbin, Jim
Casale, RogerDonohoe, Brian H
Caton, MartinDoran, Frank
Cawsey, IanDowd, Jim
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)Drew, David
Chaytor, DavidEagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Clapham, MichaelEagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)Edwards, Huw
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs LouiseLiddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Ennis, JeffLinton, Martin
Field, Rt Hon FrankLloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Fisher, MarkLock, David
Fitzpatrick, JimLove, Andrew
Fitzsimons, Mrs LornaMcAvoy, Thomas
Flint, CarolineMcCabe, Steve
Flynn, PaulMcCafferty, Ms Chris
Follett, BarbaraMcDonagh, Siobhain
Foster, Rt Hon DerekMcGuire, Mrs Anne
Gapes, MikeMcIsaac, Shona
Gardiner, BarryMackinlay, Andrew
George, Bruce (Walsall S)McNamara, Kevin
Gerrard, NeilMacShane, Denis
Gibson, Dr IanMactaggart, Fiona
Gilroy, Mrs LindaMcWalter, Tony
Godman, Dr Norman AMcWilliam, John
Godsiff, RogerMahon, Mrs Alice
Goggins, PaulMallaber, Judy
Golding, Mrs LlinMarsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Martlew, Eric
Grocott, BruceMaxton, John
Grogan, JohnMeacher, Rt Hon Michael
Hain, PeterMerron, Gillian
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Harman, Rt Hon Ms HarrietMitchell, Austin
Healey, JohnMoffatt, Laura
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)Moran, Ms Margaret
Hepburn, StephenMorgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Heppell, JohnMorris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms PatriciaMorris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, DavidMountford, Kali
Hodge, Ms MargaretMudie, George
Hood, JimmyMullin, Chris
Hoon, Rt Hon GeoffreyMurphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Hope, PhilMurphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Hopkins, KelvinNaysmith, Dr Doug
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)Norris, Dan
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Howells, Dr KimO'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)O'Hara, Eddie
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)Olner, Bill
Hurst, AlanO'Neill, Martin
Hutton, JohnOrgan, Mrs Diana
Iddon, Dr BrianPalmer, Dr Nick
Illsley, EricPearson, Ian
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)Pendry, Tom
Jamieson, DavidPerham, Ms Linda
Jenkins, BrianPickthall, Colin
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)Pike, Peter L
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)Pond, Chris
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)Pope, Greg
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms TessaPound, Stephen
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldPrentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Keeble, Ms SallyPrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)Prescott, Rt Hon John
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)Prosser, Gwyn
Kemp, FraserPurchase, Ken
Khabra, Piara SQuin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Kidney, DavidQuinn, Lawrie
Kilfoyle, PeterRadice, Rt Hon Giles
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)Raynsford, Nick
Kumar, Dr AshokReed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Ladyman, Dr StephenReid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Lammy, DavidRobinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Lawrence, Mrs JackieRoche, Mrs Barbara
Laxton, BobRogers, Allan
Lepper, DavidRooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Leslie, ChristopherRooney, Terry
Levitt, TomRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, TedThomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Roy, FrankThomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Ruane, ChrisTipping, Paddy
Ruddock, JoanTouhig, Don
Ryan, Ms JoanTrickett, Jon
Salter, MartinTruswell, Paul
Savidge, MalcolmTurner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Sawford, PhilTurner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Sedgemore, BrianTurner, Neil (Wigan)
Shaw, JonathanTwigg, Derek (Halton)
Sheldon, Rt Hon RobertTwigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Singh, MarshaWalley, Ms Joan
Skinner, DennisWard, Ms Claire
Smith, Angela (Basildon)Wareing, Robert N
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)White, Brian
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)Whitehead, Dr Alan
Soley, CliveWicks, Malcolm
Spellar, JohnWilliams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Starkey, Dr PhyllisWills, Michael
Steinberg, GerryWinnick, David
Stevenson, GeorgeWinterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Stewart, David (Inverness E)Wood, Mike
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)Woodward, Shaun
Stoate, Dr HowardWoolas, Phil
Strang, Rt Hon Dr GavinWorthington, Tony
Straw, Rt Hon JackWright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Stringer, GrahamWright, Tony (Cannock)
Stuart, Ms GiselaWyatt, Derek
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Tellers for the Ayes:
Taylor, David (NW Leics)Mr. David Clelland and
Temple-Morris, PeterMr. Mike Hall.
NOES
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Allan, RichardDavis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Amess, DavidDorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Ancram, Rt Hon MichaelDuncan, Alan
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon JamesDuncan Smith, Iain
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Baker, NormanEvans, Nigel
Ballard, JackieFaber, David
Beith, Rt Hon A JFabricant, Michael
Bercow, JohnFallon, Michael
Beresford, Sir PaulFearn, Ronnie
Blunt, CrispinFlight, Howard
Boswell, TimForth, Rt Hon Eric
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)Foster, Don (Bath)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs VirginiaFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Brady, GrahamFox, Dr Liam
Brake, TomFraser, Christopher
Brand, Dr PeterGale, Roger
Brazier, JulianGarnier, Edward
Breed, ColinGeorge, Andrew (St Ives)
Browning, Mrs AngelaGibb, Nick
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Gidley, Sandra
Burns, SimonGill, Christopher
Burstow, PaulGillan, Mrs Cheryl
Butterfill, JohnGorman, Mrs Teresa
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife)Gray, James
Green, Damian
Cash, WilliamGreenway, John
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Chidgey, DavidHamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Chope, ChristopherHammond, Philip
Clappison, JamesHancock, Mike
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)Harvey, Nick
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Collins, TimHeald, Oliver
Cormack, Sir PatrickHeath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Cotter, BrianHeathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Cran, JamesHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Curry, Rt Hon DavidHoram, John
Davey, Edward (Kingston)Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)Rendel, David
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)Robathan, Andrew
Hunter, AndrewRobertson, Laurence
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Jenkin, BernardRuffley, David
Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyRussell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Keetch, PaulSayeed, Jonathan
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness W)Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Key, RobertSimpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Kirkbride, Miss JulieSpicer, Sir Michael
Kirkwood, ArchySpring, Richard
Laing, Mrs EleanorStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lait, Mrs JacquiSteen, Anthony
Lansley, AndrewStreeter, Gary
Letwin, OliverSwayne, Desmond
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)Syms, Robert
Lidington, DavidTapsell, Sir Peter
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterTaylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Llwyd, ElfynTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Loughton, TimTaylor, Sir Teddy
Luff, PeterThomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasTonge, Dr Jenny
MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnTredinnick, David
McIntosh, Miss AnneTrend, Michael
MacKay, Rt Hon AndrewTyler, Paul
Maclean, Rt Hon DavidTyrie, Andrew
Maclennan, Rt Hon RobertViggers, Peter
McLoughlin, PatrickWalter, Robert
Madel, Sir DavidWardle, Charles
Malins, HumfreyWaterson, Nigel
Maples, JohnWebb, Steve
Mates, MichaelWells, Bowen
May, Mrs TheresaWhitney, Sir Raymond
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)Whittingdale, John
Moss, MalcolmWiddecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Norman, ArchieWilkinson, John
Oaten, MarkWilletts, David
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)Willis, Phil
Öpik, LembitWilshire, David
Ottaway, RichardWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Page, RichardWinterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Paice, JamesYeo, Tim
Pickles, EricYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prior, DavidTellers for the Noes:
Randall, JohnMr. Stephen Day and
Redwood, Rt Hon JohnMr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

Question accordingly agreed to.

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House welcomes the Government's implementation of its manifesto commitment to create a Public Private Partnership for London Underground which will bring in £8 billion of new investment and up to £5 billion worth of maintenance over the next fifteen years-leading to faster, more reliable journeys and a safer, more attractive Underground of the kind Londoners deserve; supports the doubling of the resources available to the Mayor for transport in London over the next three years; condemns the previous Government's record of under-investment in transport and in particular their erratic investment in London Underground, which left it with a £1.2 billion backlog; and deplores the Official Opposition's plans to privatise London Underground, which will fundamentally undermine public accountability.