HC Deb 17 May 1978 vol 950 cc531-79

'Any sums provided under section 10 of this Act shall be payable on condition—

  1. (a) That the British Railways Board provide separate accounts of their different businesses on a basis acceptable to the Department of Transport, such accounts to begin with effect from 1980, and
  2. (b) That the British Railways Board provide an annual statement of productivity within British Rail to the Secretary of State who shall lay such statement before both Houses of Parliament'.—[Mr. Norman Fowler.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Norman Fowler

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may take Amendment (a), in paragraph (a), after 'business', insert 'regions and principal services'.

Mr. Fowler

The issues raised in this clause are twofold. The first relates to separate accounts for British Rail's services and businesses and the second to productivity. Both are central to the policy of British Rail and both were dealt with in depth in Committee.

There is a great measure of agreement among all Members about the importance of the railway industry. We Conservatives want to ensure that there is a great future for that industry. Therefore, we welcome the steps taken by Peter Parker and his Board to improve the financial position of British Rail. We believe that the Government and most important, the public have a right to far more information on British Rail than is now provided.

Peter Parker has spoken of the contract between the Government and British Rail. He is envisaging British Rail entering into an agreement with the Government to provide services which cannot be met out of fares. Clearly, there are other ways in which that idea can be expressed. The essential concept of the contract is acceptable and attractive to hon. Members on both sides of the House, provided—and only provided—that the contract is as specific as possible. What is not acceptable is a system of blanket support for the railway system which does not distinguish between the costs of the different businesses provided by British Rail and the costs of commuter and Inter-City services.

The public have a right to know how their money is being used—and that money is still being provided by the public in substantial quantities. In this Bill we are providing substantial amounts of public money for British Rail. We must also remember that even last year, when some headlines told of a British Rail profit of about £60 million, a total of over £360 million was provided to operate passenger services alone. Therefore, it is not a profit in the normally understood way.

Mr. Walter Johnson (Derby, South)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Inter-City services may well show a substantial profit, whereas commuter services show a substantial loss? Is he suggesting that those who use the commuter services should pay more because those services are losing money compared with the Inter-City services?

Mr. Fowler

The hon. Gentleman has a great knowledge of the subject, but in this instance he is mistaken. We are asking for more information about the costs of services. How we use that information takes us into another realm of activity, but it is vital for any Government, of whatever political complexion, to have available the maximum amount of financial information.

The reasons for having separate accounts are not simply reasons of public policy. They vitally affect the rail passenger, who has a right to know what services cost—none more so than the commuter. This point was made strongly by the Price Commission when the Government asked it to examine British Rail. It said: Any further discrimination against London and the South East in subsequent fares increases would be difficult to justify until improved cost analysis enables a clearer view to be taken of appropriate objectives in the balance of revenue as between London and the South East and the rest of the system. The simple and now much more accepted point, therefore, is that the public should have more information about the costs of individual services.

The question whether there should be a system of separate accounts is crucial. We have consistently argued for it. Initially, British Rail resisted the idea as unnecessary; the network was considered indivisible. That is no longer so. British Rail accepts that the accounts of the railways can be broken down and into which major businesses they would be broken down.

There are mainly six business sectors—Inter-City; London and South-East area services; Passenger Transport Executive services; other country services; freight and parcels.

The only remaining dispute is how the accounts should be presented. British Rail previously used the system of cost allocation which is used by every other major railway system. In the last few years it has developed the avoidable cost system, set out in some detail in a pamphlet earlier this year. I have always believed that that overrated the difficulties of the original system.

The important thing is not necessarily what accounting system should be used but, first, that there should be some yardstick for measuring performance and, secondly that that yardstick should be produced as soon as possible for the benefit of the Government and the public. That is the purpose of the first part of the new clause.

The second part concerns productivity. Substantial improvements have been made over the last 15 years. The railway unions have a fair point when they say that that improvement has not been as widely recognised as it could be. The total work force fell from 477,000 in 1963 to 231,000 in 1976. I pay tribute to the industry and the unions for that achievement.

6.45 p.m.

However, the importance of high productivity, on the railways as in many other transport industries, cannot be over-emphasised. About two-thirds of operating costs on the railways is made up of wages and salaries. It must follow that high productivity is the goal of the industry. That is not a controversial or party point. It has been emphasised by the chairman of British Rail, who has described productivity as the rock on which the future of the railways must be built. The same point was made in British Rail's response to the consultative document on transport—one of British Rail's most significant responses.

British Rail said: The opportunities for further staff reductions are wide-ranging. The possibilities up to the end of 1981 have been carefully evaluated on the basis of present business plans and the results are detailed in the manpower support paper. In total, these envisage a gross manpower reduction of some 40,000, provided that the changes can be successfully negotiated with the trade unions. Clearly, this programme of productivity improvement and any other major changes ensuing from the current Policy Review cannot be executed without the wholehearted co-operation of unions, management and staff. It should be emphasised that that will be achieved not by mass redundancies but by a combination of wastage and control of recruitment.

One would therefore like to know what progress has been made towards that goal—which I understand is accepted by both sides of the House—in the two years that have elapsed since that statement.

Mr. Walter Johnson

It is not accepted by the unions.

Mr. Fowler

That is an interesting comment from the hon. Member, but I understand that it is the Government's stated policy. If not, I hope that the Secretary of State will make that clear. The important thing with productivity—that is the importance of this part of the new clause—is that we know what progress is made year by year in improving it.

The new clause is not intended to be hostile to British Rail. We hope that the Government can accept it. Both separate accounts and better productivity are vital. On both, the public and Parliament have a right to be fully informed.

Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)

I wonder why a song and dance is made about British Rail's productivity, when its report for 1977 shows that its productivity has increased over the years. Further, it compares favourable with European experience. More important, British Rail starts with a handicap and at a disadvantage compared with road transport.

Road transport in effect receives a large subsidy from the Government because heavy lorries do not pay their full track costs. The chairman of British Rail, Mr. Peter Parker, has focused attention on this matter by pointing out that some heavy lorries which do 100,000 miles or more a year pay £5,000 each less than their track costs, while if we look at the Government's recent White Paper we see that it appears that the average under-payment of track costs by heavy lorries is £900 per lorry per year, which for 69,000 lorries comes to more than £62 million. That is nothing more or less than a subsidy to road transport, yet from this year on, British Rail will get no support whatever for freight.

Therefore, before we require more productivity statements by British Rail, can we not obtain an undertaking from the Government that the gap will be closed and lorries made to pay their full track costs? Only then will British Rail start without its present handicap, and on an equal footing with road transport. In an interview in The Times on Monday, Mr. Parker talked of how we can avoid tangling our roads. He said: It's no longer a joke. There's about 40,000,000 tons of traffic at least we ought to win and I think we can win it. Why can we not help British Rail to win by ironing out that discrepancy between road and rail?

Mr. Moate

I understand that with New Clause No. 3 we are discussing Amendment (a), in my name. Perhaps I can explain the purpose of the amendment which states: after 'business', insert 'regions and principal services'. I am asking that British Rail should not only provide separate accounts for its different businesses but should also, on a basis acceptable to the Secretary of State—I emphasise that—publish separate accounts for the "regions and principal services". I emphasise the qualification that this should be on a basis acceptable to the Secretary of State.

By definition, that would mean that it would have to be on a basis agreed between British Rail and the Secretary of State. That means that one would have a sensible formula worked out between the various parties to ensure that one was not asking for foolish information or information that would necessarily be damaging. Instead, one would basically be asking for much more information than is at presently given.

I also emphasise the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) that in no way should the new clause be construed as hostile to the interests of British Rail. I go to the opposite extreme and say that it was intended to be helpful. I believe that it would be helpful. In saying that I am only echoing the words used by Mr. Peter Parker in the article in The Times on Monday, to which the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Tuck) has already referred. The words that I wish to quote from that article, which seem to be wholly in line with the philosophy of the new clause, are: One of the things I am trying to do is to explain how we make up our sums in railways so people can really follow the game We want the public to follow the game. I want my commuters to follow the game, so that they can understand the problems facing British Rail, the reasons behind fare increases and, generally, have a sense of participation in our railway system and railway problems rather than the sense of alienation which has pervaded the atmosphere of railway discussions in recent years. In his very impressive article, Mr. Parker went on to say, with regard to railway problems: This problem will be best solved by exposing it, explaining it, bringing all the vested interests of commuter travel together and beginning to produce a much more co-ordinated approach. He said later in the same article: That means also explaining to them —that is, the commuter— that it is one of the most expensive parts of our system". By "it", Mr. Parker meant the South-East. It seems to me that Mr. Peter Parker was enunciating a philosophy which has gained broad acceptance, perhaps not by the unions in their public statements but by the Government and the Select Committee. General speaking, there is now a new mood that we should open up the books and have a greater publication of the vital information relating to certain services so that the public can share in the decision-making and understand the problems and opportunities that exist.

So far the consensus, perhaps with one or two exceptions, has related to the publication of accounts for the separate businesses. As I understand it, British Rail intends to do this. I see no harm in imposing an obligation upon it to do what I expect it will do anyway, namely, publish accounts for its separate businesses—the freight business, parcels, Inter-City services, the commuter services, and so on.

I should like to go a bit further, but only with the intention of being helpful. Let me quote the example of the South-East of England. My constituency has about 4,000 regular commuters. It has experienced all the problems associated with commuter fares and poor services, especially in recent years. It would be helpful to those commuters and to British Rail if the figures were published. I do not know what the figures for the South-East division would show, but I expect that they would bear out what we have been told so often by British Rail, that the South-East division is probably one of the most intensive railway systems in the world and that one is faced with major problems of the deterioration and replacement of equipment. By demonstrating those problems openly and by removing the suspicion, on some of the more crowded lines, that those lines are making a profit and that people are being severely penalised, one would reduce the sense of hostility and alienation which so often exists, and one would create a greater sense of co-operation between the commuter and the railways.

I believe it to be very important to try to secure a better atmosphere. I had the impression that the management of the South-East division was under a constant strain, which adds to its burdens, as a result of bad relations with its customers. If one could remove those bad relations one would assist British Rail.

There has been a noticeable change in the position of our railways in the last 12 months. It seems to me that there has been a definite improvement in that position. I pay tribute to management as a whole, and not just to Mr. Peter Parker, because I am sure that he would be the first to accept that the improving trends of recent months could have resulted only from decisions taken some time before. However, I believe that Mr. Parker has produced a healthy new atmosphere of co-operation.

In the past the railways have adopted a defensive attitude. I can understand that, because they have been attacked right, left and centre by so many of us, I think rightly. But whereas that criticism was nearly always regarded as destructive, it was always intended to be constructive. Mr. Parker and his board are now saying "We understand those complaints. We accept that they are justified and we are all now in this together trying to resolve them". I believe that there has been a noticeable change in atmosphere. We should give credit to all those who have taken part in it. However, it is a fragile situation, which could change overnight by a sudden deterioration in industrial relations or a series of strikes. We know that the situation is always fairly difficult between the railway unions, but let us hope that does not happen.

The situation could also change if there were a sudden increase in fares resulting from large wage increases. That is also a major problem. Nevertheless, let us for the moment accept, with gratitude, the fact that the situation seems to be improving. I want that improvement to carry on. I believe it would be helpful to that general atmosphere of co-operation, as well as the necessity to get a more widespread acceptance of the need for capital investment, if the problems were opened up.

Mr. Walter Johnson

The hon. Gentleman keeps referring to a situation in which, for example, commuter fares would be shown as a separate item. Cannot he see that there is a danger in that? For example, if the Inter-City line shows a substantial profit and the commuter line shows a substantial loss, those who use the Inter-City line will ask why they should subsidise the commuter lines in the South-East. Surely the hon. Gentleman is defeating his own argument. Frankly, I think it is a very dangerous step to take.

Mr. Moate

I think that the hon. Gentleman is over-simplifying the situation. We are faced, as we know, with the fact of life that there are heavy subsidies for the railways. One could argue that philosophically the Conservative Opposition have argued for the ending of all subsidies. However, I think the hon. Gentleman will accept that that has not been the argument which has been put forward in recent years with regard to railways.

I suggest that we are now approaching a consensus about the need for some form of public support. I say that reluctantly, but it seems to me that that is what we have arrived at. That has been expressed by Mr. Parker and the railways and is supported by the Conservative Opposition in the description of the contract. Therefore, there is now acceptance of the need for some form of public contract whereby public revenue will be provided to sustain a basic railway system.

I do not think that the hon. Member need fear that there will be major problems about passengers on the profitable Inter-City lines resenting any payments which they make to support commuters.

7.0 p.m.

Having accepted that there has to be this contract, I suggest that we have to find some other means of securing improvements in efficiency and productivity. There has to be some other discipline, because if we give a blank cheque to any organisation, the imperatives for improving efficiency are removed. British Rail has accepted that manpower could be reduced by 40,000 by 1981. Are we not entitled to find out just how successful British Rail and the unions are in achieving that manpower reduction? We are entitled to have that yardstick of productivity to which British Rail and the Government have referred reported upon every year in the railway accounts. If that does not happen, I do not see how we can impose any discipline.

It is not we who are saying that it is the yardstick of progress or of efficiency; it is British Rail itself. Let me quote from a management brief from British Rail last year, in which it said: 'So clearly there is no soft option for any of us and our productivity progress will be a yardstick by which our treatment by the Government and the country will be determined in years to come. If that is the yardstick, are we not entitled to have some measure of the progress that is being made towards that end in the annual report of the British Rail? After all, it should be proud of it. If British Rail has achievements in productivity, we ask only that it proclaims them in the annual accounts. All that this means is that we are asking for better, more open means of public accounting, and I cannot accept that that is a disadvantage to anyone.

As for the need for capital investment, I do not believe that in the arguments about subsidies and efficiency we have yet begun to grasp the major problems of renewing its capital equipment that British Rail will face in years ahead. How are we to gain a better public understanding and, perhaps, a better political understanding of the size of that problem? We can do it by opening up the accounts. We can do it with the South-East, for example, by explaining how much is needed to replace ageing equipment and by showing how little contribution is coming from fares. By opening up the accounts, we can have a better informed discussion of these matters. I stress again that it is for a healthier railway system that I argue when I put forward propositions such as this.

On the problem of manpower reductions, just as I believe that the railways, for perfectly understandable reasons, have been starved of capital investment, I also believe that railway levels of pay are far too low and that at some stage we shall have to come to grips with that problem in the context of an under-invested, heavily subsidised, over-manned industry.

Casting my mind forward two, three or four years to a time when there may be a shortage of labour and much higher pay scales, I envisage that it will be very difficult for British Rail to attract manpower to fulfil many of the unsocial jobs with inconvenient hours which make up the railway system. It is quite possible that we shall get down to the manning levels that British Rail envisages, whether by accident or design. But we can maintain an efficient railway system only if we get the necessary capital investment to take up that reduction in manpower.

All these are problems. We are making progress in solving them. By bringing the passenger much more into the picture and letting him share the game, I believe that we shall contribute to creating a healthier railway system in the future.

Mr. Tom. Bradley (Leicester, East)

I have been listening to and taking part in debates on British Rail since we first discussed the Beeching Report in this House in 1963. One of the prominent participants in that debate was my right hon. Friend the Member for Stockton (Mr. Rodgers), who is now Secretary of State for Transport.

This evening, for the first time over the years, I have detected a note of better understanding and greater appreciation of the problems of the railways in the contributions which I have heard from Opposition Members, although there are still many imperfections in their approach.

My own experience of British Rail, both as an employee many years ago and later as a trade union negotiator, has been that there is not a more open or accessible nationalised board in the country. I do not know why the Opposition complain. Only a week or two ago we had published the British Railways Board's annual report and accounts for 1977. The document is available in the Vote Office, and it deserves careful study. I am beginning to wonder whether the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) has seen it. Many of the issues about which he complained are dealt with in the annual report.

I remind the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield that running British Rail is a very complex and difficult business. He is right to say that 66 per cent. of its expenditure is taken up in labour costs, and the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate) is correct in saying that from time to time there are difficulties in industrial relations on British Rail. However, the hon. Gentleman should not anticipate them, as he seemed to do. I got the impression that he was almost tempting the situation. At present there is an atmosphere of understanding between management and the trade unions on British Rail, but frequently it is bedevilled by the interference of politicians.

Mr. Moate

The last thing that I want is to be accused of exacerbating the situation. All that I sought to do was to emphasise the fragility of the economic situation. I thought that I expressed the hope that we would not see any further friction between the unions. I am delighted to hear the hon. Member's assertion that matters are in such a healthy state.

Mr. Bradley

I echo that, and I echo it in the general sense, because I hope that we shall not have further friction in any section of our society, let alone on British Rail.

The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield acknowledged the importance of the industry and indicated that he was interested in seeing that it had a secure future. He made great play with the words "contract with Government" which Peter Parker has enunciated from time to time. However, he went on mistakenly to suggest that the railways received total blanket support from the Government. I must remind him that the days of total blanket support are over. In 1976, this Government pegged British Rail's support level to its 1975 figure, with an allowance for inflation. Even that limit was made tougher last year by a cut of £10 million, yet last year's performance beat that figure by £27 million. All these facts are available in the annual report. The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield should read it.

Mr. Norman Fowler

I did not say that there was total blanket support. I said that we should move away from a system of blanket support which substantially still existed. Of course, it is moving. But if the hon. Member insists on taking this line and seeking to challenge what I said, is he therefore challenging what the Price Commission said about the question of costs?

Mr. Bradley

I agree with the hon. Member at once that we should move away from a system of blanket support. It pleases no one in British Rail or outside, and certainly it does not help morale in the industry if railway staff read of vast sums of public money sustaining their activities. If that is what the hon. Member meant When he used the term, I accept it at once and welcome a moving away from blanket support. British Rail is moving away from blanket support. That is a matter of fact.

The hon. Gentleman then dealt with the question of performance and productivity, which are difficult to register and indicate in a service industry. Railwaymen cannot signal more trains than are running at a given time.

Mr. Tim Sainsbury (Hove)

Since I am going to refer to another service industry, perhaps I should declare an interest in it. To say that productivity is difficult to measure in a service industry is nonsense. One has only to look at the output per man. This is the commonest measure of productivity and is widely used in food distribution and in all forms of distribution. Those industries, including the co-operative movement, will not be so efficient if that measure were not used. It is equally applicable to British Rail.

Mr. Bradley

The clerical union which I once led in British Rail always found it difficult to join the other unions and the management in discussing the preparation of a productivity scheme for clerical workers. I make the point again that operating railwaymen cannot signal more trains than are running at a given time and are scheduled to run.

There ought to be a yardstick, if one can be prepared. It is a labour-intensive industry, but there is a great deal of loose and careless talk about overmanning. The hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) should obtain facts and figures showing how much overtime and rest-day working is taking place in British Rail which, if it were not being worked, would cause the system to grind to a standstill. This is no indication of overmanning, although in certain areas of the country there may well be room for improvement.

The sensitive issue of the reduction of 40,000 staff by 1980 has been mentioned. That may or may not be achieved. It should not be imagined that the success of British Rail could be measured by the number of staff that it is disgorging from its system. We should have a more sophisticated approach to the difficulties. Peter Parker is the most inspiring, best-informed leader that the industry has had within my lifetime. His report for this year is informative, forward-looking and encouraging. I detected a note of acknowledgment of those features in what Conservative Members have said.

We must recognise that our railway system is open and operating 168 hours a week, and more than 18,000 trains run every working day. Over the past 10 years, a slightly lower volume of freight traffic has been carried with considerably fewer resources. Last year alone, British Rail's wagon fleet was reduced by 20,000 vehicles. Over the last two years the the staff has been further reduced by 12,000, on top of the many thousands who have been disgorged since 1948.

Mr. Penhaligon

Does the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that one of the disappointing aspects of the rate at which staff are being disgorged from the railways is that the reduction in numbers appears overwhelming to apply to the trades that are responsible for cleaning, and so on? On some regions there are not enough people to clean the railway carriages successfully, because that is the area in which there is the greatest turnover of labour and in which it is easier to get rid of people by voluntary agreement.

Mr. Bradley

The hon. Gentleman has made a useful point, which I hope will be noted in the proper quarter.

Negotiations with the unions on a new approach to the question of performance and productivity are about to begin. It will be self-financing, and I think that it will be successful. I hope that Conservative Members will encourage this approach and not denigrate it. I am sure that in next year's annual report and accounts of the British Railways Board, and those for the years thereafter, we shall obtain as much information about that progress as we need, without going into the requirements of the new clause.

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch and Lymington)

It is pleasing to be able to take part in a debate which has been a constructive attempt to look at the problems of the railway industry. It is sometimes assumed, erroneously, that because Conservative Members criticise certain aspects of nationalised industries, there is an in-built hostility in the Conservative Party towards nationalised industries. That is totally false. It is true that, philosophically, the Conservative Party is opposed to the nationalisation of industries for its own sake. But when an industry is nationalised and has been nationalised for some time, the only interest of Conservative Members is to try to improve that industry for the benefit of the public and the taxpayer.

7.15 p.m.

There are people in the nationalised industries who equate criticism of the principle of more nationalisation with total hostility to everything that is nationalised. There is all the difference in the world between the two arguments. We are not sycophantic, as Labour Members sometimes are, about everything nationalised. If we were, we should be doing less than our duty as Members of Parliament. Equally, we are not hostile for the sake of hostility.

The hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr), who is, sadly, leaving the Chamber, knows that he and I share an interests in British Aerospace to see that the industry is protected as well as it can be and that what is done for that industry is in the interests of those who work in it and in the interests of the taxpayer. The same thing applies to British Rail.

Mr. John Evans (Newton)

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that we on this side of the House feel that the motive behind the new clause is that you can see which are the profitable sectors of British Rail so that you can flog them off to your friends if and when you are returned to power?

Mr. Adley

The reference to "your friends" is a matter which you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, might like to deal with. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was meaning your friends, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

My friends have not got the money to buy any sector.

Mr. Adley

If they had, it is doubtful whether they would want to buy those areas of the railway system that the hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Evans) identified. That is the sort of unhelpful, callous, uncouth comment that does not do the hon. Member justice. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman, before he goes to bed tonight, when he kneels to say his prayers, will have the heart to say "Perhaps tomorrow I shall be less unkind about the motives of others." His attribution is not the motive behind the new clause.

I add my tribute to what Peter Parker is doing. He brings to British Rail a wind of change in his approach to the job, which is wholly good. Whilst I do not expect to carry all my hon. Friends with me, I think that the current television advertising campaign which British Rail is undertaking is excellent. It will help to improve the image of British Rail. I hope that it will encourage those who work for British Rail to feel a pride in the job that they are doing.

The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Tuck) mentioned the comparisons between the cost to the British taxpayer of the British Rail system and the cost to the taxpayers of other European countries, of their rail systems. It is good to be aware of these facts.

Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith (East Grinstead)

My hon. Friend might be right to admire what looks an effective piece of advertising in public relations. Plenty of people in my constituency would like just a tiny part of that budget to be spent on cleaning carriage windows, let alone the image of British Rail.

Mr. Adley

I can well understand that point of view. I am dealing with the efforts that the chairman of British Rail is making not only to improve the image of the railways but to improve the relationship between the railways and their customers and the railways and their staff. In the long term it is vitally important that this should be done. If as a result of the advertising campaign a new mood of confidence is generated in the railway industry, that will be a price that, in time, will be seen to have been worth paying.

The hon. Member for Newton accused my colleagues of having false motives in the tabling of the new clause, but within the accounts of British Rail, some sections, such as Sealink, are already separately accounted for and certainly when a section of the industry is in a competitive area, such as the shipping division, it is right that its accounts should be organised and shown separately, in fairness to those who are operating competitive services.

Our reasons for wanting to identify the profitable and non-profitable areas of British Rail have nothing to do with wanting, as the hon. Member for Newton suggested, to flog off parts of the system. If it is shown that the line from Charing Cross to Faversham is unprofitable, no one in his right mind would suggest that it should be flogged off. That is so ridiculous that it cannot be considered seriously.

Some lines are profitable, but those that are unprofitable should be broken down into those that are socially necessary and those that are not. If there are lines that are considered to be socially necessary by the management of British Rail and the Government, public money will be made available to support them, but it is surely only fair to the taxpayer that this information should be made available openly and publicly. We are seeking better public accountability. The new clause would help the management to do its job better and it would be fair to the taxpayer. On that basis, I support it.

Mr. Robin F. Cook (Edinburgh, Central)

I have listened carefully to the three speeches of Conservative Members, but I am no wiser why we should accept the new clause or what are the purposes underlying it.

I was particularly taken aback by the specific illustration—the only one so far—of the type of information that they are seeking that was given by the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate). He said that we should be entitled to have an annual figure of manning on British Rail so that we know whether it is achieving its targets for the reduction of staff.

Any hon. Member who wishes to know the manning level of British Rail in any year has only to look up the annual report or submit a Question, as I have done many times, and he will get the exact figure. If there were ever a suggestion by British Rail that it would not announce how many employees it had, there would be a riot at Unity House. The unions would be the first to complain. We are sufficiently confident that we can force British Rail, if that is the appropriate word, to disgorge the figures on staff that we would not dream of laying a statutory obligation on it to produce figures that we are all aware of and can all easily obtain.

I am particularly puzzled by the new clause because both points mentioned in it have been catered for in Government policy statements in recent months. In the first part of the new clause there is a demand that we should have publication of an annual statement of the returns for different sections of British Rail. Only eight months ago, the Government published their response to the Select Committee's report on British Rail. They gave a plain undertaking: It has therefore been decided that the breakdown should show the forecasts for the current year of the direct expenses and earnings for each of the passenger business sectors (Inter-City, London and South East, PTE services and other provincial services) on which the claim is based. Later, it said, in due course improvements to the system should make it possible for the Board to make an assessment of the actual costs and earnings of each of the business sectors". The Government have already accepted the basic purpose of paragraph (a). We have a commitment that we shall get the figures.

It is only two months since we had the White Paper on nationalised industries and in that the Government said that they had asked each industry, in consultation with its sponsoring department, to select a number of key performance indicators, including valid international comparisons, and to publish them prominently in their annual report". Later the White Paper refers to some indicators common to most including, for example, labour productivity. There, again, we have had a Government statement covering the other subsection of the new clause.

It cannot be that the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) is unaware of these commitments and statements. Since we have been urged not to be unkind in the debate, I take issue with my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley). I am quite confident that the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield has read the annual report of British Rail and the White Papers to which I referred. There can be no hon. Member who ever goes into the Library, whether strolling in after dinner or while hurrying out after the Adjournment has been called, who could fail to have been impressed by the silent, motionless figure of the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield, in his shirt sleeves, bent over the largest pile of blue books in the Library. Clearly, he was aware of the White Papers and the Government commitments.

Why is the sole new clause relating to British Rail that we are likely to debate at any length couched in this form of demanding further information and placing a statutory obligation on British Rail to provide it? The answer is simple. It is a ruse that will be known to any of us who has served on a local authority or any other public body. When one wants to avoid committing oneself to a painful policy decision, one calls for further information or demands a further report from the officers.

It was interesting that when my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Johnson) persistently interrupted hon. Members opposite to ask what they would do with the information, how they would change the subsidy, whether Inter-City travellers would have to pay more to subsidise commuters or whether commuter lines would be closed, the hon. Members consistently avoided giving a response. The demand for further information is to paper over the fact that they do not have a policy to do anything with that information once they have it.

Mr. Adley

Has the hon. Gentleman ever occupied a managerial position in industry? Does he believe that he could do his job properly without knowing the profit or lack of profit in an individual plant, factory, hotel or railway line? Does he not believe that when we are responsible, as the House is ultimately, for hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money, it is right that we should know what is going on and make our decisions accordingly?

Mr. Cook

Nothing has messed up the nationalised industries more than the idea that politicians should be in the executive position of running those industries. The people in the managerial position to run British Rail are those on the board of British Rail and those who are answerable to it. They have perfectly adequate access to the figures they need to take policy decisions. The decisions that we need to take are those related to the subsidy. Hon. Members opposite have failed to explain how they would use the additional information that they are demanding to alter the distribution of that subsidy. That is what they have to answer.

The debate is unfortunate because it comes after the most comprehensive report we have seen from British Rail. It is also the first readable report that I have seen. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East referred to a number of figures from the report. I do not want to go over them again, but I should like to take the House back to the report of the previous year, for 1976, which was particularly interesting because it contained an international comparison of productivity of British Rail. Not only did it show that its productivity can stand comparison—and I shall come back to the figures—but it showed conclusively that as a proportion of its total income, British Rail receives less in Government aid than any other European railway system.

In 1976, British Rail received 30 per cent. of its income in State aid. French railways received 44 per cent. of their income in State aid, German railways received 51 per cent. and the Italian railways received 55 per cent. Of all the major European railway networks, British Rail receives the lowest State aid as a proportion of its income.

Figures in the parallel table of productivity include figures for productivity per man. British Rail employs fewer men per track-mile and fewer men per locomotive-unit than any of the other European countries included in that table. We also find that passenger-kilometres in British Rail are higher per member of the staff and per pound of Government subsidy. British Rail can be proud of this comparison. It can hold its head up high as the comparison reflects great credit on the British Railways system.

7.30 p.m.

Of course, if one takes the separate freight figures it is a different picture. That takes us back to the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Tuck) in his earlier comments about intermodal competition between railways and heavy lorries. Successive Governments of both parties have chosen to channel freight through heavy lorries rather than the railways. They have chosen to do that, avoiding many of the ways of managing the market as is done in Continental countries, and as a result of that we have far more freight on the roads than on the railways.

Having chosen that as a policy we cannot turn around and say that we are outraged and disappointed to see that British Rail's productivity in shifting that freight is lower that that of Continental countries which use a whole battery of devices in order to encourage freight to travel by rail.

I turn to the issue of manning. The debate had not gone very far before it became clear that it was essentially a debate on manning, or as the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate) put it, over-manning. Nobody who has looked at the figures for the past 30 years can fail to see that the unions within British Rail have consistently recognised the case for reductions in staff wherever these can be sensibly and economically achieved.

In recent years there has been a specific agreement between the unions and British Rail under which 7,000 jobs a year have been shed. Yet at the end of that process we find that hours worked in some of the sectors in which jobs have been cut away have remained the same. As a result of some men being freed from employment and of some posts not being filled, other men—those who stay on—have to work longer hours. In the guards section, for example, 68 per cent. of rest days are worked in order to keep the trains moving. This is inevitable because what we see at present is pressure on British Rail to reduce manning and at the same time pressure to reduce investment. One cannot increase productivity unless one is getting the money to produce the equipment with which one can increase productivity.

Given that money no one in British Rail will resist consequent reductions in manpower. In my constituency in the last 18 months 150 jobs in signal boxes have disappeared entirely. This occurred without the least resistance from the union because it recognised that investment in the new signalling system was sensible, was in the long-term interest of British Rail and made the railways more competitive. Given investment, the unions will accept and welcome this process.

To achieve greater productivity British Rail must have money. It must also have the trust and confidence of this House. We shall not demonstrate that trust and confidenece by laying on British Rail a statutory obligation to produce figures and information which we do not lay on any other nationalised industry. For this reason the House can best demonstrate its trust and confidence by kicking the new clause out into the Central Lobby.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

The last sentence of the speech of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook), whose views on British Rail I so often respect, makes me rather puzzled. I wonder why, when we are about to give compensation to British Rail for periods after the end of 1978, exceed £1,750 million or such greater sum not exceeding £3,000 million as may be specified by Order in Council. he should feel that it is wrong for the Opposition to require British Rail to give a specific breakdown of how it will spend taxpayers' money. It is difficult to understand.

If I had been persuaded that Mr. Peter Parker, who is rapidly becoming canonised by the House of Commons, had managed to solve the problems of British Rail and was giving the information which my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) has requested so often and which the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries has also called for, I would not support my hon. Friends in the Lobby tonight if we do divide the House.

But in the era of Mr. Peter Parker we have received a booklet called "Measuring Cost and Profitability in British Rail" published this year. In this rather strange publication—it is somewhat anodyne to say the least—it says: In industries with less complicated operational and cost structures the decision to engage in or continue an activity is made against the simple criterion of profitability—defined in the usual sense of being the margin available for reserves or distribution after meeting all expenses. A simple rule of this kind cannot exist for railway traffics. Why not? What is so special about the railways that makes it impossible for ordinary men and women who provide their hard-earned income for that organisation to know how the money is being spent? There is nothing special about British Rail or any other railway system which puts it above the reach of a good accountant. Therefore we have the right before we hand over vast sums of money to know just how it is to be spent.

Mr. Parker has said that British Rail is meeting its financial objectives. In a little documents called "Report'77" he said: Despite continued national recession we met our financial objectives. In the realm of passenger business we beat the contract price agreed with Government by £27 million. Hooray. But what was the contract price? When was it agreed and what was it when it was agreed? Was it agreed in such a way that British Rail can make that proud claim? That is an invidious thing for me to say and I do not for one moment believe that Mr. Parker would stoop to that level. But just the same, I have three figures in front of me about the amount of Government support that British Rail has had—one from a Government document, produced by the Ministry of Transport and the other two from the British Rail document.

I am an absolute ignoramus about financial matters so perhaps I have misunderstood the figures and what they purport to tell me. However, in the Government's response to the First Report of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries, Session 1976–77, HC 305—"The Role of British Railways in Public Transport"—for the first time there is set out the British Rail Board's forecast passenger railway business sector costs and the support requirement for 1977. On page 22 there is a figure under Table 3 of Government support of £355.9 million. If we leave out the PTE income, the sum is £392.3 million. That is the Department of Transport's figure for 1977.

In the current edition of British Rail's annual report the sum given is £364 million. In "Report'77" support payments are put at £360.8 million. I do not know how the figures are arrived at, but it seems that anyone trying to discover the exact support figure given to British Rail in the past year will be faced with a difficult task. He will wonder whether British Rail made £27 million or some quite different figure. Therefore, when my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield says, as he does through the new clause, that we require to know how British Rail spends its money, he asks for no less than the minimum that any responsible Opposition, let alone Government, have a duty to require.

I hope that the Secretary of State will tell me and the House exactly which figure we should believe, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman to go one stage further. If Mr. Peter Parker is to say that British Rail met its financial objective, will the right hon. Gentleman say at what figure the contract will be put for 1978–79? Will he stand by the sum of £403 million? Is he prepared to tell the House that whatever happens British Rail will receive no more in support than £403 million? If he is not prepared to do that, the contract is variable, the support is variable and presumably the profit is a profitable loss, or some further strange anomaly that can be devised by government for nationalised industries to persuade the general public that all is better than in fact it is.

Although my comments appear to be strictures against British Rail, I have genuinely sought to ascertain the support figure and I do not know which figure to believe. However, this I do know, that as Mr. Peter Parker and his team seek to make more information available to the public—they have said that they want to do so—and as the Government press them to make more information available—they have said that they want to do so—we shall demand a more scrupulous and precise form of accountancy than we have seen hitherto. We shall not be convinced by booklets that British Rail's profitability is a matter that is so complicated and so difficult to calculate that no reasonable man may expect to be provided with that information.

I shall make one or two brief comments about productivity. I share the belief of my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield that we have a right to know how British Rail is doing. I quote from some questions that I asked Mr. Rose, who is the personnel director of British Rail, when he apeared before the Select Committee in March 1978. I asked him two questions. I asked him whether he could envisage any improvement in the number of hours that drivers actually drove in the eight-hour day and whether there had been an improvement on the present three and a half hours actually driven within the driver's working day. In other words, for well over 50 per cent. of their driving day drivers are not driving trains.

Mr. Rose replied: We can certainly let you have the up-to-date figures. Again, this is another example of the way in which we are working towards better utilisation of train crews. It does depend on better means of preparing rosters and train crew workings and, of course, we are working in this context on some computer-aided programme preparation which will give us a further boost in this direction.

Mr. Johnson Smith

What an answer!

Mr. McNair-Wilson

My hon. Friend is right. We are not talking about brand new technology. Trains have been chugging around the country for 100 years or more. It does not take 25 years for British Rail to find out a bit more about roster workings and how to get rather more than three and a half hours out of an eight-hour day.

7.45 p.m.

I pressed Mr. Rose further and asked him whether we could look forward to something much more considerable. He replied: We would estimate if we could get between 4½ and 5 hours we would be making a very big improvement and a very worthwhile improvement. Hear, hear, so say all of us. However, until British Rail is getting 50 per cent. of a driver's working day spent actually driving we have a responsibility to ask about productivity in British Rail.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

There is one factor that Opposition Members frequently forget when they speak about increasing productivity. Productivity would increase much more quickly if the existing equipment, railway lines and locomotives, were used to a greater extent. If we use fewer trains it often means that drivers are stranded and there is no train to take them back. In that situation the number of hours spent driving per day will fall. If vie increase the number of locomotives working on the system, the existing drivers will be used for a greater number of hours. Part of the difficulty is to get locomen back to their depots. If a train is cut out, the driver has to wait for a later one and his driving time is reduced.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

The hon. Gentleman makes it clear that the business of running trains is complicated. He is right to do that. It is a specialist business. It is too easy for someone like myself to say that all sorts of improvements should be made and that we want to see improvements take place overnight. However, British Rail has had a long time to get some of the problems ironed out. Until it can persuade the House, taxpayers and passengers that it is on top of the problem, it is only right that we should demand more information from it about the way in which it spends its money and how its staff work.

Mr. Atkins

Our objection to the clause is that it begs the question. It gives the impression that if it were accepted it would help to solve British Rail's problems. In fact, it will not add one iota to the solution of the problems. It also gives the impression that existing productivity figures and existing accounts are below the level that would be required. That is not so.

The financial assessments and forecasts of British Rail are much more stringent and severe than those, for example, for motorway projects. That was made clear in the Leitch Report, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley) observed.

There is an extremely detailed analysis of railway accounts. I remember that many years ago, when I was a railway clerk, it was necessary to compare all receipts in every department. They were compared with the receipts of the year before, and the year before that. Even with lavatory receipts we had to explain why the receipts for one year were lower than for another.

At that time we had to give an account of every train in the month if at the end of the month we were one shilling down. I used to reduce the lavatory receipts, as they were the only ones that were not checked. In that way I did not have to give a long and silly explanation of every train throughout the month. If we ask for too many analyses and ask too many stupid questions, we shall have to employ extra staff, and we are supposed to be considering ways of reducing British Rail's staff.

I hope that it is not the Opposition's intention, but by tabling the new clause they imply that somehow there is something lacking in British Rail. It may or may not be their old habit of bashing British Rail, of making British Rail their favourite Aunt Sally. If it is, I admire them for their sophistication, because they have used an entirely different method of bashing British Rail. It is unfortunate that they should have done it at this time because not only are British Rail's account pretty detailed; British Rail is now even trying to involve the men on the trains in its reports for 1977.

Those reports refer to some very relevant facts. For instance, when they are comparing rail freight resource productivity between 1967 and 1977, they show that the number of wagons was reduced in those 10 years by 62 per cent. They show that the number of locomotives was reduced by 41 per cent., that the number of terminals was reduced by 49 per cent., and that freight traffic was reduced by 33 per cent. There are some very impressive comparisons there.

What I am sad about—the House is not paying sufficient attention to this matter—is that the present tonnage, which was reduced in those 10 years by 17 per cent., is the lowest figure in our history. What I am concerned about is that we should increase traffic, because that is the best way to increase productivity.

The easiest way to increase the productivity of the signalman is to run more trains over his line. For the passenger locomotive driver, it is to give him 200 passengers instead of 50. For the locomen, it is to give them more locos to run and greater goods traffic to carry. That is the way to increase productivity. It will not be increased by always harping about reducing staff, particularly when criticisms of the system for not being run properly because there are not enough staff come from those people who keep asking for reductions in staff. One reason why trains are dirtier is that British Rail has been forced to employ fewer cleaning staff.

The return speeds would be greater, despite the considerable increase in speeds, if capital were provided to get the best use out of the high-speed trains. Carriage of freight would be much more efficient if we had more air-brake wagons. Productivity would increase immensely if they were carrying more goods.

Many people have been praising Peter Parker tonight, and quite rightly so. He is the only chairman of the Board I can remember who is really interested in the job. Previously one got the impression that chairmen had only an academic interest in the job. But it would be foolish—and Peter Parker would be the first to say this—to attribute the success that the railways have had over the last year to Peter Parker. He is aware of the reasons why there have been an improvement. That is why he is asking for more capital to spend on more equipment.

If hon. Members think so much of Peter Parker and what they think he has done—no doubt he has done a lot—they should take notice of what he says. He wants more capital to get more of the equipment which has increased productivity very considerably. He wants more high-speed trains and, incidentally, more electrification—British Rail is now asking for that—greater use of TOPS, more money spent on air-brake wagons and, most of all, more money spent on the track to bring it up to a state of perfection.

Now that Freightliners has gone back to British Rail, let us give British Rail the same opportunities that the National Freight Corporation has—an opportunity, for instance, of benefiting from the Section 8 grants for rail sidings. Let us give British Rail those opportunities. It will be difficult enough, anyway.

I read in one journal that Sir Daniel Pettit was not too sad about losing Freightliners because of the enormous amount of new capital that needs to be spent on it. It would be most unfortunate if at this time, when the terminals are wearing out and we need new equipment for them, Section 8 grants were not available. If we want Freightliners to expand, we shall have to see that more terminals and more sidings are provided. If we want British Rail to have a go-ahead attitude on this matter, we should give it the opportunity of encouraging private businesses to share in the erection of new sidings. It would be a great mistake if British Rail were robbed of this opportunity.

Increasing productivity is our biggest problem, particularly in regard to British Rail freight traffic. In the past, three out of four of the old systems, the smallest being Southern Railways, relied for their profits on freight traffic. British Rail will never be free of problems unless it can increase its freight traffic.

One of the reasons why we have not increased freight traffic was given by my hon Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Tuck). It is inconsistent of us to decide, on the one hand, that there shall be no subsidy for freight, and, on the other hand, not to implement a promise made even in the consultation document that the question of heavy goods vehicles not paying their attributable costs would be dealt with. These matters should have been dealt with at exactly the same time, particularly as at present road freight is being favoured by relatively cheap petrol. When that cheap petrol is removed, it will make competition between rail and road very difficult.

If we lose traffic now and do not see the need for retaining and increasing it because of future fuel shortages, we are being very stupid. Even Pryke and Dodgson, in "The Rail Problem", a book generally regarded by most of us as pro-road, said that the pattern and the mode of transporting freight as between road and rail is not always related to free market forces and that for one reason or another there was a good deal of traffic that should be going by rail but which for economic reasons was not doing so.

Various reasons have been given. For instance, a declining system, such as railways, is at a disadvantage compared with a growing system, such as roads. Road freight has the advantage of impetus. There are always economies that come from growth, but that is not so with a declining industry. This trend must be arrested.

On the other hand, there is lethargy. Some traffic managers are probably not using the most efficient system. It is imperative that these problems, including that of taxation of heavy goods vehicles, are dealt with according to their attributable costs.

We shall never solve this problem unless we tackle the problem of freight. I hope that the recommendations that have been made to my right hon. Friend will be heeded and that we shall get down to the most difficult problem of all—increasing freight traffic and, through that, productivity.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Forman

I shall support as briefly as possible the new clause which was persuasively moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler). My constituency contains at least 4,000 commuters in the Greater London area and I have a strong interest in the future and success of the railways. I pay a warm tribute to Mr. Peter Parker and his management and union staff for their work and achievements.

What we have been saying from this side of the House tonight is nothing revolutionary. We have said nothing to which Labour Members should take exception because it is already part of Government policy. The objectives of transparency and greater accountability are incorporated into British Rail thinking and are mentioned in its reports. The chairman of British Rail has said on a number of occasions that increased productivity is the rock upon which the future of British Rail should be built. We should accept that this is a slightly false debate and that the main question at issue is how best to achieve our common objectives.

It is important to draw a distinction between increased productivity, which is mentioned in the new clause, of a positive kind and productivity of a negative kind. In recent years British Rail has had considerable success in increasing its productivity in the negative sense. By that I mean that the number of people working for British Rail has diminished faster than the passenger-miles or any other indicator that one might take.

That is fine and dandy, but it is an insufficient basis on which to increase British Rail's productivity. A sufficient basis would entail first, British Rail's management trying to ensure that its costs are not allowed to increase faster than its revenue. Otherwise the House knows that fares must be increased to the detriment of my constituents and others throughout the country or the quality and frequency of the services must be reduced. I have received a number of letters recently about the services in the Carshalton and Wallington area being cut back. The third leg of the tripod is greater efficiency based on a fuller and greater use of the railway system. It is upon that that I can establish the greatest area of agreement with the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Atkins).

One wants to see more passenger-miles in the system. One wants to see sensible new investment installed as quickly as possible. I think of investment—not so much the prestige and glamour variety but that which is designed to lure more people out of their cars or off their bicycles on to the railway system to travel in conditions of comfort and efficiency. There is no doubt that increased electrification has a major role to play.

I was interested to see in the annual report the limited extent of the electrification on the national network. It is about 21 per cent. of the network. That could and should be increased for energy efficiency and other reasons up to about 80 per cent. over a long period.

I am concerned because the chances of achieving that objective will be limited so long as we have a Government, as we now have, who are not presiding over a significant rate of economic growth. As a result of that, extra capital investment is not forthcoming.

We want to see a thriving, competitive and attractive railway system. But it is sometimes difficult to explain to our constituents that that is what we are supporting and fighting for in Parliament and as that made in the annual report this elsewhere when we see statements such year. It reveals that British Rail is doing everything possible to replace its old, clapped-out rolling stock—which is one of the main bones of contention among my constituents who complain about travelling in cattle truck conditions—but there is an ominous warning in the report that some of this replacement cannot take place on schedule. The result is that some rolling stock will be 40 years old before it is taken out of service.

If we want to run a museum railway, that is fine. But we want a thriving, competitive and modern railway system. The Government should be urged to do everything possible to achieve that. A new Conservative Government might be required to set the conditions for a railway system which can invest in the new equipment which will increase traffic and improve productivity and profits.

Mr. Sainsbury

Government Members seem to find it difficult to understand the purpose of the new clause. I find that strange. The purpose was set out clearly by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler). The new clause promotes understanding. British Rail is spending a great deal of money on advertising which appears to be intended to improve public understanding of the role and work of British Rail. Its purpose is to reassure the public and the taxpayer and to seek information from British Rail on its financial results. That is no more—and indeed rather less—than that which would be demanded of any private company which was not seeking subsidies from the taxpayer for its operation.

If a private company sought fresh funds it would be required to set out a great deal more information than that which is required in the new clause and the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate). For hon. Members to suggest that we are knocking British Rail by asking for this modest amount of information is a total distortion.

I emphasise the need for reassurance. The travelling public and the taxpayer are entitled to reassurance. Unfortunately, many doubts have been expressed about the quality of the service. My hon. Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Mr. Johnson Smith) spoke about the difficulty of looking out of a window on a train. That difficulty is certainly experienced on the Littlehampton, Brighton and Uckfield lines.

Mr. Atkins

What exactly do Opposition Members have in mind? Some of us argue that we already have the information which he requires. No doubt he will be able to pinpoint those parts of the accounts which are lacking.

Mr. Sainsbury

I do not wish to detain the House for long. If the hon. Member read the new clause carefully, examined the requirements of the Companies Act and then looked at the information with which British Rail provides us he would find that for which we ask.

There are doubts about the service that is provided. Those doubts could be lessened by more information about the financial and productivity performance of British Rail. There are doubts about the costing of services. There are profound doubts in the light of the Price Commission report. This does not mean that if the cost of various services is reviewed, some will be closed down. It means that if line A is making a profit and line B is running at a substantial loss, one does not put up the fares equally on those lines. One might consider alternative ways of solving the problems of line B. One might consider the amount of taxpayers' and ratepayers' money which is justified to support the continued operation of line B at that level. One might consider whether it is better to replace that service with a road service.

Mr. Johnson Smith

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that many commuters in the South-East—and this is true of my constituents—feel that they are captive and that because of that they have to bear an unfair proportion of British Rail's costs?

Mr. Sainsbury

My hon. Friend is perfectly right about that. He knows, as do others of us who represent constituencies in the South-East, of the number of representations that are made about the level of fares that the captive commuter pays. The commuter suspects—and his suspicion may be unfounded, but we do not know—that he is being asked to subsidise other less well used and in some cases even unnecessary lines.

Perhaps more than anything, all taxpayers would like some reassurance that the subsidies given are not used to support inefficient practices. Productivity improvements have been made, and we recognise that they are continuing. However, Labour Members do not seem to understand productivity.

Mr. Adley

Does my hon. Friend agree that it would be useful to see separate accounts for Travellers' Fare?

Mr. Sainsbury

That is a very good example.

Output, in terms both of quantity and quality, must be related to input in terms of capital. There may be sound justification for injecting further capital in certain areas. I am sure that this relationship can be achieved, and I am sure that British Rail is conscious that it can be done. Running British Rail is no more complicated than running most large organisations, and it is a good deal less complicated than running some. British Rail has a statutory monopoly and does not have to worry about a competitor's activities. That is one advantage it has over most companies.

It is possible for British Rail to improve its productivity. It has done so and it should continue doing so, particularly since it is asking for subsidies from the taxpayer and ratepayer to support its current level of activity.

One of the best reasons for supporting the clause moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield and the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham is that if this additional information had to be made available—and I can see no reason why it should not be—British Rail's management, if not the entire work force, would have that extra spur to improving its performance. It would know that the public and this House would know just how well it had done. Successful businesses are those in which the work forces have a pride in their achievement. That is what I hope we can secure with British Rail. If there is good news, let us make sure that everyone hears about it. Let us make sure that by accepting the new clause and the amendment we make it more probable that there will be good news about the performance of British Rail.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Penhaligon

I have never worked for British Rail. However, I claim to spend more hours per week on a train than does any other hon. Member in the House at the moment. I spend about 12 hours a week bumping from here to the South-West and back on British Rail. On the whole, I think the service is good. I have never bothered to keep a record of the number of occasions when the trains have been dramatically late arriving at Paddington. Such occasions are few and far between.

My main criticism is that the trains are filthy. It is time someone did something about it. When I hear about all the fancy investment programmes advocated by some members of the railway lobby in this House, I hope that included in that investment will be a new bucket, spade, bar of soap and a couple of vacuum cleaners for cleaning out the carriages. The dirty condition of the trains is unacceptable. Other than that, the service is acceptable.

In my part of the country, and in many other parts that are on the periphery of the British Rail network, there is a continuing worry whether the railway lines will be closed. Judging from today's debate, that worry is well justified. In effect, my county has one railway line with two small branch lines. It is important for the economy of the county that the line should be maintained. Male unemployment there is already at 14 per cent.

One of the things that I do now that I did not do before I was elected to this House is to read regularly the London newspapers. I have been following the considerable correspondence that appears about the railways, and I understand how important the railways are to the people who commute daily to London. I suspect that the clause is a reflection of the considerable number of letters and articles that have appeared in the Press concerning the price of commuting to London.

I believe that the Conservative Party is being slightly Poujadiste by claiming that provision of the figures it seeks will in some way reduce the increase in fares that people in the London area have to pay. The Conservatives must face one fundamental point. There is only one way of relieving pressure on the commuters in London. That is to close down the railway lines in Cornwall, Norfolk and Wales and to ensure that further areas of Scotland never again see a railway train. If that is Tory policy, that is all very well, but the Tories should spell it out as much in those areas that would be affected as they spell it out in the London evening newspapers night after night.

Mr. Younger

Will the hon. Member oblige us by not attributing to us ideas that have never been in our minds? Further, will he say how on earth such a drastic operation would help the people in London?

Mr. Ronald Atkins

It was said.

Mr. Younger

It was not said.

Mr. Penhaligon

That is the whole point. It was said, and more than once.

Mr. Younger

By whom?

Mr. Penhaligon

The hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) said it, in effect. He said that if there were two lines, one of which was breaking even or making a slight profit while the other was losing money, at the next fares review both should not suffer the same increase. He said that one line might be closed. In Cornwall there is only one railway line left, and if that were closed we would be in real trouble.

Mr. Sainsbury

Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman about what I said. The suggestion that fares might not go up by the same amount on both lines would follow naturally if it were discovered that one line was making a profit. If the fares were increased on that line the traffic might be discouraged, thus reducing the profit. I believe that it is necessary to look for the best way of providing the service that is required. That is surely what we all want.

Mr. Penhaligon

Let us accept—I do not know whether it is so—that there are railway lines that are making a substantial profit. The hon. Member's argument was that such railway lines should have only to achieve a balance in contributing towards British Rail funds; that would then reduce the income from that line, and if that income were reduced the income from another line would have to be increased, or the line would have to be closed. That is the vicious and nasty circle in which we find ourselves—unless the Conservative Party is arguing for a substantial increase in public expenditure and in the general subsidy to British Rail.

Mr. Adley

I think that the hon. Member will see tomorrow morning in Hansard that he said that there were only two branch lines left in Cornwall. Is the St. Ives Branch line open? I think the answer to that is "Yes". What about the Newquay line, the LiskeardLooe line, or the Plymouth-Gunnislake line? I think the answer on all those is "Yes." Those are four lines, which is a 100 per cent. increase on what the hon. Gentleman claimed. That is without going into the question of services to Falmouth, and so on. Before the hon. Gentleman starts accusing my hon. Friend of inaccuracy, he ought to do his homework more carefully.

Mr. Penhaligon

The crucial point for the Cornish railway lines is the bridge at Plymouth. There is one bridge at Plymouth, which takes the line through the middle of Cornwall, and the very small lines to which the hon. Gentleman referred disappear off it in various directions.

Let us assume that the clause is written into the Bill and that the figures are produced. Let us assume that we get more useful information than we had before. I suspect that in those circumstances the next debate we had on British Rail would be a vicious argument—and I might be one of the participants—about the method of calculation of the various losses or profits allocated between the various lines. The next debate would see demands for a great deal of in-depth information on precisely how the calculations were made and the costs distributed between the various lines.

We are faced with the ludicrous proposition that we should be allowed to start running British Rail. I cannot believe that there is any necessity for or possibility of our doing that. I do not believe that we could come anywhere near doing it, even if we tried.

There is no doubt that productivity gains could be made within British Rail, but I suspect that that state of affairs is by no means unique to British Rail. I find some difficulty in thinking of one industry, other than tin mining where an increase in productivity is a reasonable possibility.

I am impressed by the efforts made to reduce staff. However, it seems to me that the really effective reductions in staff are at one end of the job spectrum. We are talking about cleaners. These are the easy ones to deal with. One does not have to dimiss cleaners. There is an enormous turnover in them, so one just stops recruiting for a while and the number goes down. I suspect that the staff reductions are not as impressive as the figures suggest, as they are largely, far too largely, coming from one section of British Rail employees.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

Not true.

Mr. Penhaligon

If that is not true, I say "Thank goodness", because if it were so I dread to think how dirty the railway wagons would be.

I have no intention of supporting the new clause. I do not believe that in real terms—

Mr. Norman Fowlerrose

Mr. Penhaligon

Sit down for a minute.

I do not believe that in any real sense the clause would increase the information at our disposal. It would not answer the fundamental question. The difficult fundamental question that the House should face is just what it will do about those railway lines that lose a substantial amount of money and are undoubtedly a considerable strain on the total service. I do not believe that the idea that one can charge significantly less for commuters can mean anything other than the annihilation of the railway service in the peripheral areas of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Fowler

If the hon. Gentleman had been courteous enough to give way just now he could have been told that anyone who listened to his speech will confirm that it was probably the biggest load of old rubbish that we have heard for years in a speech about transport matters. The Liberal Party should get a new transport spokesman after this. Is the hon. Gentleman opposing what we are saying on productivity? If he is, why did he vote for it in Committee?

Mr. Penhaligon

I am certainly not opposing what the hon. Gentleman said.

I am very successful in one way as the Liberal spokesman on transport. All I have to do is to get to my feet for five minutes and the Conservative Benches erupt with anger and general dismay. I suspect that the truth is that Conservative Members recognise that in the Bill the first real progress has been made for rural transport for many a long year. They recognise that this could well be a great embarrassment to them in the rural constituencies at the next election. The battle in the rural seats is not between them and the Government but between them and us, and the Bill will help us substantially.

Mr. William Rodgers

For a moment I hesitated to rise, because I thought that the debate was ending on a highly satisfactory note. There was very little of what the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) said with which I could take issue. I thought that he got to the heart of the matter, if we are to be controversial—and I have been divided whether we should or should not be—in illustrating the real dilemma of the railways: in so far as they do not always pay their way, by what formula do we maintain them, if that is what we intend to do? As the hon. Gentleman rightly said, we do it by increasing fares or subsidies or by cutting out railway lines, except in so far as we can make a substantial contribution to higher productivity.

I do not think that there is any disagreement on either side of the House about the need to achieve higher levels of productivity, which are always within the compass of any enterprise, even a distinguished enterprise such as that of which the hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) is in one sense a representative.

Mr. Johnson Smith

In addition, less cross-subsidisation can play its part.

Mr. Rodgers

Were it possible to spell out precisely what some of the commuter lines cost, and were the assumption then that, the cost being so high, they must be eliminated or the fares might be increased, the prospect would be very alarming and displeasing to hon. Members. Cross-subsidisation and a certain veil over the details of figures may well be the best way of avoiding great embarrassment to hon. Members and their constituents, so perhaps for their own sake it would not be wise to press the new clause.

I find my case against the clause and the amendment very much made in the speeches of my hon. Friends. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley) has been my mentor since he and I both arrived in the House about 16 years ago. He spoke of a note of better understanding of the railways and of no British Rail Board's being more accessible than today's.

I share in the tribute paid to Mr. Peter Parker on both sides of the House, by the hon. Members for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) and Carshalton (Mr. Forman) as well as by my hon. Friends. I think that only the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) was a somewhat dissenting heretic. At least he reserved his position whether, if Mr. Peter Parker were ever to be canonised, he might retire himself to a schismatic situation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) also raised the question of motive. He was very interesting when he said—and I think that this was reflected in the remarks of the hon. Member for Truro—that the call for more information was sometimes a way of avoiding policy decisions. How very right he was! My hon. Friend illustrated in his typically forceful speech the nature of the problems that the railways face and the need to approach them in a temperate and sensible way.

I am glad that on both sides of the House there is good will towards the railways. I am glad that we are moving towards a situation in which the need for a continuing and central role for the railways is acknowledged. But I am a little doubtful whether, when we get away from the figures and the argument that there should be more, Opposition Members are at heart quite the figures of generosity, kindness and good will that they seek to be in the present period of debate of railway matters. We might see—I hope that we shall not—that they are not quite the sheep that they pretend but are wolves in sheep's clothing.

I turn to the question of disclosure. The hon. Member for Newbury illustrated some of the arguments against the clause. I am very much for more openness. This view has been expressed by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and myself not only in the course of the Bill's passage but in the House on many occasions. This is also the view of the chairman of British Rail. But I must say to the hon. Gentleman that it is a matter not only of publishing figures but of getting people to read them. I have been looking at the Board's annual report for 1977 and comparing it with the annual reports of 1976 and 1975. It is a great advance in disclosure. But I fear that the hon. Gentleman has not read the report, or that if he has read it he has forgotten it or has not read it all.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the price variations. It was a fair question, one to which I would be prepared at any time to give a considered and—although not tonight—lengthy reply. But on page 15 of this year's annual report there is a paragraph dealing with the specific circumstances in which there can be price variations. All that is there. If the hon. Gentleman is not satisfied. I suggest that he will not be satisfied by further figures unless there is a complete understanding of them.

Therefore, I do not assume that disclosure and more disclosure, although I should like it, will either solve the problems of the railways or, on occasion, solve problems of comprehension. I do not blame the hon. Member for Newbury. The fault can lie in myself and other hon. Members as much as in him. I think that the information is there. If he wishes to pursue it in greater detail, since this is probably not the right moment I shall be glad to do so with him on some other occasion, should he seek the opportunity to raise the matter further in the House.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

Since the right hon. Gentleman has accused me of failing to read the report, he must allow me one word. Will he explain how, on the estimated results for 1977, the total payable by the Government is £364 million, and how in the Department of Transport's own document the figure of central Government support is £355.9 million? That does not seem to be beyond the wit of man to answer. I am sure that the Secretary of State has the answer ready on his tongue and he need not refer to his civil servants.

Mr. Rodgers

If the hon. Gentleman and the House wish me to pursue this at greater length, I am happy to do so. The hon. Gentleman asked whethere there was a conflict in the figures. I am saying—he will see this on page 15 of the annual report—that there are circumstances, carefully specified, in which the claim can be adjusted, and the figures which he mentioned represent the adjustments in the claim made according to a specified formula. The hon. Gentleman asked me for the figure for the current year. If I recall aright, I gave it to the House on 3rd May—a figure of £403 million—and I gave some further details about it. That figure is subject in the same way, in specified circumstances, to adjustments if need be.

8.30 p.m.

I have considered very hard whether the new clause and the amendment present proposals which, in their spirit, I could accept. I regret to say that I regard them as either superfluous or not likely to lead to the provision of additional meaningful information which would enable the House better to make its decision.

I have stated my intention—I have agreed this with the chairman—about the publication of further detailed information. The hon. Member for Newbury—I think that it was he—spoke slightingly about the little booklet which British Rail published in an effort to help us all to understand the complications of railway costings. They are complicated, and the debate continues. It will continue as long as there are philosophers. It has gone on for at least 30 years. There is no absolute measure of rightness. It is a matter of judgment and of calculation at every stage.

I have considered whether there was any more information which I should be required to give to the House of Commons. I hope that, over a period of time there will be the sort of disclosure which will substantially satisfy hon. Members. I shall certainly take note, as the chairman will, I know, of all that has been said this evening. I want to move towards a situation, uncomfortable though it may be for some hon. Members, where there is the maximum information available upon which the House can debate policy. But I honestly do not believe that there is any point in putting on the Board a statutory requirement of the kind here proposed. I hope that the new clause and the amendment will not be pressed. If the new clause is not withdrawn, I shall ask the House to reject it.

Mr. Younger

I am totally mystified why the Secretary of State did not agree with us and accept our proposal. Everything he said, save the statement that he did not think that he could accept it, seemed entirely to support the new clause. He said that he was in favour of more openness. He said, so far as we understood him, that all the information which has been asked for is to be provided. The only thing he seems to be against is having it provided in this way, purely because we have suggested it. If I may say so, that is something of a dog-in-the-manger attitude on the right hon. Gentleman's part.

We have been greatly assisted in the debate by one or two contributions from those who either have a deep interest in the railways or have been employed or involved in them. I think here of my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) and of the hon. Members for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) and for Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley).

At this point, perhaps I may briefly raise a House of Commons matter. I hope that hon. Members will not mind my making the point, and I think it worthy of mention. It is normal to declare an interest when one has an interest. We were delighted to have the hon. Members for Edinburgh, Central and for Leicester, East here, and I should not normally worry in the slightest about this matter, but as there is such a monstrous fuss when any of us on the Opposition Benches has an interest to declare, I feel that it would have been a good idea if that had been done.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

I should have been perfectly happy to declare my NUR sponsorship, but when I spoke there was not, I believe, a single Member present in the Chamber who was not well aware of it.

Mr. Younger

I entirely accept the truth of that, but that is not the issue, as the hon. Gentleman well knows. There is an immense fuss made by his hon. Friends when any one of us speaks and there is a question of interest, and I feel that there should be equality in these matters. If we are required to do so, so should hon. Members on the Government Benches.

Our debate today has not been, or ought not to have been, about the financial results of British Rail or about its productivity, because the issue before us is purely whether it would help to have these particular pieces of information spelt out in the way suggested in the new clause before the money is produced for the support of the railways. Therefore, the true issue before is not whether we should support British Rail, whether we want more productivity, whether we think that the railways are being well run, or even whether Mr. Peter Parker should be canonised. The issue is whether it would help to have this information required by statute to be spelt out before further support is provided for the railways. That seems a clear and specific issue.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) made an extremely telling point when he said that the information requested in the new clause is no more, and indeed considerably less, than is required to be produced under the Companies Acts by virtually every public company, both large and small. It is strange that there should be such an instinctive resistance by British Rail to publishing information in this way when there is such a correct insistence that there should be more disclosure for the benefit of workers and shareholders in public companies. I support that process, but I cannot understand why Labour Members seem reluctant to support it when the information is required from a nationalised industry.

We have nothing to fear from having the maximum information on these matters. Indeed, if there were any genuine doubt whether it was an eccentric view expressed by the Opposition, we have the comments of the Price Commission after its investigation into commuter fares. It could not have been more specific. For instance, in page 2, paragraph 7, of its report states: But in our view, it is highly desirable that the Board's proposed developments in this area should be accelerated and present target dates for completion brought forward from 1980–81. We could not get much closer than that to the intention of New Clause No. 3.

The Commission's further comments in paragraph 9 regarding London and the South-East underline that point: Any further discrimination against London and the South East in subsequent fares increases would be difficult to justify until improved cost analysis enables a clearer view to be taken on appropriate objectives in the balance of revenue as between London and the South East and the rest of the system. The Opposition are not alone in requiring this information and in considering that it would help to increase understanding in the public's mind of what the taxpayers' money which is provided to support British Rail services is used for and where.

My experience, which admittedly is mostly at the Scottish end of the operations of British Rail, is that the trend in recent years of publishing the amount of public money which is spent on individual services has in no way acted against the interests of those services, of the public or of British Rail. The maximum amount of information has been helpful, and that is the intention of the new clause.

The other point regarding productivity led to some interesting discussion about the need for further productivity. I entirely agree that the railways have had a good record in trying to improve productivity. But I also agree, as I think most hon. Members would, that there is still a long way to go. Indeed, the British Railways Board has made clear that, in its view, there is scope for the reduction of a further 40,000 jobs over the next few years.

In this matter one does not have to be either for or against British Rail to wish to see public money spent as tellingly and wisely as possible, and therefore to ensure that it is not wasted by too slow progress on productivity, if that were to happen. If I were employed by or involved in the management of British Rail, I should be anxious to feel that I had a certain amount of pressure all the time to enable me to increase the progress towards better productivity. The only way for British Rail to be successful against its competitors here and internationally is to ensure that its productivity standards are as high as possible.

I believe that the new clause is in every respect in the interests of British Rail, of those who use its services and of the taxpayers whose money is used to support the services. Therefore, I find it difficult to understand why the House should not agree with the clause.

There is one final point I wish to put on record, and it arises from the remarks of the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) about subsidising the railway services as a whole. Nobody with any great knowledge of running railways would suggest that they could be run without some element of public subsidy. I know of no railway system in the free

Division No. 215] AYES [8.42 p.m.
Adley, Robert Eyre, Reginald Latham, Michael (Melton)
Aitken, Jonathan Farr, John Lawson, Nigel
Alison, Michael Fisher, Sir Nigel Le Marchant, Spencer
Arnold, Tom Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Fookes, Miss Janet McCrindle, Robert
Atkinson, David (Bournemouth, East) Forman, Nigel Macfarlane, Neil
Bell, Ronald Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) MacGregor, John
Bendall, Vivian (Ilford North) Fry, Peter McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Madel, David
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Marten, Neil
Benyon, W. Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Mates, Michael
Biffen, John Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Mather, Carol
Biggs-Davison, John Glyn, Dr Alan Mawby, Ray
Body, Richard Goodhart, Philip Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Goodhew, Victor Mayhew, Patrick
Brittan, Leon Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Brooke, Peter Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mills, Peter
Buck, Antony Grist, Ian Miscampbell, Norman
Budgen, Nick Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Bulmer, Esmond Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Moate, Roger
Burden, F. A. Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Montgomery, Fergus
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Haselhurst, Alan Moore, John (Croydon C)
Carlisle, Mark Hastings, Stephen More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Channon, Paul Havers, Sir Michael Morgan, Geraint
Churchill, W. S. Hicks, Robert Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Hodgson, Robin Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Holland, Philip Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Clegg, Walter Hordern, Peter Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Cope, John Howell, David (Guildford) Mudd, David
Costain, A. P. Hutchison, Michael Clerk Nelson, Anthony
Crouch, David Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Newton, Tony
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Onslow, Cranley
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Page, John (Harrow West)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Kaberry, Sir Donald Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Durant, Tony King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Page, Richard (Workington)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John King, Tom (Bridgwater) Pattie, Geoffrey
Elliott, Sir William Knox, David Percival, Ian
Emery, Peter Langford-Holt, Sir John Price, David (Eastleigh)

world which has the remotest chance of running without public subsidy. The argument is not whether one Government or another will subsidise railways but whether we can devise a system under which the railways can be run in such a way as to have public support to enable them to run efficiently to give good service.

We maintain that if the railways wish to achieve these objectives, they will be helped in that task if they have to present to Parliament and the Minister a clear statement of the financial results broken down into the various services and areas, and also if they make a statement showing steady progress in productivity before the services are given further support from public funds. That surely will be to everybody's advantage.

We believe that the Minister is making a great mistake in turning down, without giving any good reason, an acceptable and useful addition to the statutory backup of British Rail. I hope that the House will support the new clause.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 163, Noes 217.

Raison, Timothy Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Rathbone, Tim Shepherd, Colin Trotter, Neville
Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Shersby, Michael van Straubenzee, W. R.
Rees-Davies, W. R. Silvester, Fred Wakeham, John
Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Sinclair, Sir George Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Skeet, T. H. H. Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Rhodes James, R. Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield) Wall, Patrick
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Speed, Keith Weatherill, Bernard
Ridsdale, Julian Sproat, Iain Wells, John
Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Stalnton, Keith Whitney, Raymond (Wycombe)
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Stanbrook, Ivor Wiggin, Jerry
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree) Younger, Hon George
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Stokes, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Royle, Sir Anthony Stradling, Thomas, J. Mr. Anthony Berry and
Sainsbury, Tim Tebbit, Norman Sir George Young.
Scott, Nicholas Temple-Morris, Peter
Abse, Leo Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Allaun, Frank Flannery, Martin Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Anderson, Donald Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston) Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Archer, Peter Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Maynard, Miss Joan
Armstrong, Ernest Foot, Rt Hon Michael Meacher, Michael
Ashton, Joe Ford, Ben Mendelson, John
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Forrester, John Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Atkinson, Norman Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Mitchell, Austin
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Freud, Clement Moonman, Eric
Bates, Alf Garrett, W. E. (Wallaend) Morris, Alfred (Wythenahawe)
Bean, R. E. Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Morris, Rt Hon Charles R.
Beith, A. J. Golding, John Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Gould, Bryan Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Bidwell, Sydney Gourlay, Harry Noble, Mike
Bishop, E. S. Graham, Ted Oakes, Gordon
Blenkinsop, Arthur Grant, George (Morpeth) Ogden, Eric
Boardman, H. Grocott, Bruce O'Halloran, Michael
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Bradley, Tom Hardy, Peter Ovenden, John
Bray, Dr Jeremy Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Palmer, Arthur
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Pardoe, John
Buchan, Norman Heffer, Eric S. Park, George
Buchanan, Richard Hooson, Emlyn Parker, John
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Horam, John Parry, Robert
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Pavitt, Laurie
Canavan, Dennis Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Pendry, Tom
Cant, R. B. Huckfield, Les Penhaligon, David
Carmichael, Neil Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Price, C. (Lowisham W)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Price, William (Rugby)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Hughes, Roy (Newport) Radice, Giles
Clemitson, Ivor Hunter, Adam Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cohen, Stanley Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Robinson, Geoffrey
Coleman, Donald Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Roderick, Caerwyn
Conlan, Bernard Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Janner, Greville Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Corbett, Robin Jeger, Mrs Lena Rooker, J. W.
Cowans, Harry Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Roper, John
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) John, Brynmor Rose, Paul B.
Cronin, John Jones, Alec (Rnondda) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Cryer, Bob Jones, Dan (Burnley) Rowlands, Ted
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Kaufman, Gerald Ryman, John
Davidson, Arthur Kerr, Russell Sandelson, Neville
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil Kilroy-Silk, Robert Sedgemore, Brian
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kinnock, Neil Sever, John
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Lambie, David Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Deakins, Eric Lamond, James Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Silverman, Julius
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Lee, John Skinner, Dennis
Dempsey, James Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Snape, Peter
Dewar, Donald Lever, Rt Hon Harold Spearing, Nigel
Doig, Peter Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Spriggs, Leslie
Dormand, J. D. Loyden, Eddie Stallard, A. W.
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Stewart, Rt Hon W. (Fulham)
Duffy, A. E. P. McCartney, Hugh Stott, Roger
Dunnett, Jack McDonald, Dr Oonagh Strang, Gavin
Edge, Geoff McElhone, Frank Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) MacKenzie, Gregor Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
English, Michael Maclennan, Robert Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Ennals, Rt Hon David Madden, Max Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Magee, Bryan Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Mahon, Simon Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Evans, John (Newton) Marks, Kenneth Tierney, Sydney
Tilley, John (Lambeth, Central) Weitzman, David Woodell, Alec
Tinn, James Wellbeloved, James Woof, Robert
Tuck, Raphael White, Frank R. (Bury) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V) Whitehead, Phillip Young, David (Bolton E)
Wainwright, Richard (Colne V) Whitlock, William
Walker, Harold (Doncasler) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Walker, Terry (Kingswood) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch) Mr. Joeseph Harper and
Ward, Michael Wilson, William (Coventry SE) Mr. Thomas Cox.
Watkins, David Wise, Mrs Audrey

Question accordingly negatived.