Transport Infrastructure

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:04 pm on 15th January 2009.

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Photo of Geoff Hoon Geoff Hoon Secretary of State, Department for Transport 12:04 pm, 15th January 2009

I am sorry that the House had to listen to that tirade of observations, which did not deal with any of the issues, but I suppose we get used to that from the Liberal Democrats. The party is not back to the future but back to the past.

It is a great shame that the hon. Gentleman could not address the issues that we must tackle. Sadly, like Conservative Front Benchers, he concluded that his party is prepared to put the British economy's long-term competitiveness second to that of European countries with hub airports. That is the reality of both parties' policies. They say that, through the European trading scheme, they will allow other airports, which compete directly with Heathrow, to expand at the expense of this country. That is already happening. I can demonstrate that to him and send him the statistics, if he needs them and is interested in the facts. Continental hub airports already provide the capacity that is not available at Heathrow. If he wants to ensure that British jobs are transported to the continent, his policy is the perfect vehicle for doing so. If he pretends that in doing so he will somehow save carbon, he needs to understand more about the agreement on the ETS, which his party supports. He supports the approach that we have set out and agreed on the European trading of carbon. That policy will allow continental hub airports to expand at Heathrow, so he really needs to think through what he is arguing for if he has any interest whatever in jobs, the economy and employment in this country, which I doubt he does.

Let me deal with the two or three other points that the hon. Gentleman made. Clearly no developments will take place without safety. On green slots, I have indicated that we will set out a legal regime for determining the expansion of capacity at Heathrow, so there is no doubt that it will be governed by the law. We will bring forward legislation where necessary that will govern the extra capacity, so there can be no doubt of our absolute commitment to ensure expansion consistent with our environmental objectives, as set out in the White Paper and as brought up to date today, in the light of our determination to save carbon and put this country at the forefront of carbon saving around the world.

As for the hon. Gentleman's point about a vote in the House, he well knows the position in the United Kingdom and in Parliament. If he is saying that every major transport decision, infrastructure decision and planning decision will henceforth be subject to a vote in the House of Commons, he had better make clear his party's policy.

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