§ '. —
- (1) Paragraph 4 of the Schedule to the Restrictive Trade Practices (Services) Order 1976 (which excepts certain agreements between road passenger transport operators from the agreements which by virtue of Article 3 of the Order are agreements to which the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976 applies) shall cease to have effect.
- (2) That Act shall have effect in relation to any agreement (within the meaning of that Act) made before this section comes into force as if the variation of that Order made by subsection (1) above had been made by an order under section 11 of that Act coming into force on the date on which this section comes into force. '.— [Mr. David Mitchell.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.4.55 pm
§ The Parliamentary under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Mitchell)
I beg to move. That the clause be read a Second time.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)
With this it will be convenient to take Government amendment No. 122.
§ Mr. Mitchell
The purpose of new clause 6 is to remove the exemption from restrictive trade practices legislation that currently applies to agreements between bus and coach operators. That exemption was appropriate when bus services were regulated. It will not be appropriate following deregulation. Competition is at the heart of our policy for buses, and the purpose of restrictive trade practices legislation is to foster competition and to prevent undesirable restrictive trade practices.
In future when two or more operators enter into agreements by which they accept restrictions concerning the fares they will charge, the areas they will serve, the frequencies to the services and so on, they will be required to register such agreements with the Office of Fair Trading. Agreements that involve significant restrictions are to be referred by the Director General of Fair Trading to the Restrictive Practices Court.
However, I should add that, although the Restrictive Trade Practices Act is of general application, it allows a certain amount of flexibility. I emphasise that, of the agreements that are registrable, it is only those that contain significant restrictions that are likely to be referred to the court. It will then be open to the parties to those agreements to seek to persuade the court that, in terms of the criteria laid down in the Act, they are not against the public interest and can therefore stand. So the provision does not spell the end of all forms of agreement between bus operators. It does provide an essential safeguard for the interests of the passengers, which we regard as supreme in terms of the new legislation.
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)
The new clause is an interesting example of the muddle into which Ministers have got themselves over the entire Bill. Throughout the Bill, first and foremost we are deregulating bus services. It is clear that if the interests of the passengers were truly paramount, they would require that co-operation was one of the most important things that could be offered to the traveller.
It is extraordinary that two or more operators will be covered by the agreement. I ask the Minister why he must set the number so low. In a rural area, we shall presumably have all the tiny bus companies that the Minister has been extolling throughout the Bill, the one man with his redundancy pay buying one bus. If he comes to a sensible timetable agreement with another man with a bus that he, too, has bought with his redundancy pay, will he automatically be referred to have his careful organisation examined in case he is in some way promoting a restrictive trade practice? If it were not so embarrassingly stupid, this would be one of the funniest clauses that even this hilarious Government have introduced throughout this bizarre, thankless and unnecessary Bill.
If we are to believe the Secretary of State, the National Bus Company and all the other bus operators are to be broken down into tiny units which, in some cases, will be no longer than that operating out of one particular garage. At present the co-ordination of timetabling, particularly the co-ordination of services, is of most use to the traveller. We have been unable to persuade the Secretary of State, who is really not interested in transport, of the advantages of transport planning. Indeed, he seems to reserve some of his rudest comments for those who have made the mistake of acquiring transport qualifications, whom he seems to regard as less than the dust. If he had been prepared to accept that co-ordination is vital, he would have seen that, inevitably, many operators, even if they are independent, will want to dovetail their services with those of their competitors in areas where, for one reason or another, there is enough work to go round to provide several services.
If the Secretary of State is to be believed, we could find ourselves with many small independent operators, not large ex-National Bus Company companies. That is a valid point. We know that at present, even before the Bill becomes law, many independent companies work closely with NBC companies. They plan interchanges, dovetail their services and provide support services for each other. There is no great danger in that to the passenger. Indeed, it is to his advantage. Yet if as few operators as two could be referred, the position would become dangerous.
Is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary genuinely of the opinion that the sort of transport planning that arises from operators reaching a sensible agreement is in some way a dangerous trade practice? If so, how does he justify his attitude since passengers want well timetabled, well planned and available services? If he is genuinely considering passengers, why on earth does he set the level as low as two operators?
§ Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)
I wish to echo the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). The new clause shows what nonsense the Bill is. The proposal is to deregulate bus services completely, yet the new clause shows that the 882 Government are worried about restrictive practices emerging. It is entirely possible that in some cases that will benefit the public. I shall give one simple example.
A town bus service may follow a route but not go to the extremities of a town because it is not worth it. A second bus operator may have a route part of which is the same as that of the first operator. Both operators may find it unprofitable to go to the extremity of the town, for example, to a housing estate, although they may both find it profitable to work the route inside the town. They could reach an agreement under which one would operate to the town's extremities on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and the other on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. That would be in the interests of the public, and the operators might be able to get a return for their services if they operate alternately, although they could not if they both operated the service every day. There would be profit in it and, as we know, the Government are interested only in profit, not whether passengers can get on buses. In that example, I would be in favour of a restrictive practice. The philosophy of the Labour party is along those lines.
Because of the position in the stage carriage services today, it is necessary to have something called integration. I shall not dwell on that, but it is symptomatic of the difference of attitude between the Opposition and the Government.
§ Mr. Eric Forth (Mid-Worcestershire)
Lest the House should be mistaken in this matter, will the hon. Gentleman explain from his perception how it is that over the decades an inexorable loss of passengers from the buses, a decline in the level of services and massive increases in fares and subsidies, which we seek to sort out, show a healthy bus industry, as opposed to the picture that he paints?
§ Dr. Marek
My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) said that there had not been a decline in passengers in Yorkshire. [HON. MEMBERS: "We know why."] I am sorry that Conservative Members say that they know why. The answer is that "Fares fair" has been sufficiently low to provide a good bus service of which everyone can take advantage without having to worry whether he can afford to pay for it.
§ Dr. Marek
I shall certainly give way in a moment.
The costs of that service are taken from general taxation and paid for by the people of Sheffield. That is their choice, and as members of the electorate in Sheffield they should be allowed to make that choice. It is wrong for the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) to deny the citizens of Sheffield the type of service they want. He may well have some technical arguments about taxation with that money coming from the general pool and then being distributed, but that is not necessarily relevant to the new clause. Some changes may be necessary — we discussed that in Committee — to ensure that the responsibility for providing services falls on the people in those areas, subject to a minimum standard of support dependent on the prosperity of the area.
§ Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that Sheffield, like many other cities, has nearly half of its rates paid by the Treasury through rate support grant, that that money is garnered from every corner of the country and, therefore, that authorities and people in other parts which do not choose to subsidise their 883 bus services but run them economically are subsidising the people of Sheffield? Why should they be subsidised at the expense of the rest of the country?
§ Dr. Marek
The hon. Gentleman must know that rate support grant is at a certain percentage throughout England and at a different percentage throughout the whole of Wales, and that different arrangements apply in Scotland. Therefore, the argument could easily be turned the other way. It could be argued that the citizens of Sheffield are paying for the bus services in Lancashire and Mid-Worcestershire.
§ Mr. Richard Caborn (Sheffield, Central)
Does my hon. Friend agree that, if the transport policy for the Falklands were applied to south Yorkshire, the cost to the Government would be about £500 million, which is about 50 per cent. of that which is provided to the Falklands? Does he further agree that there is a slight disparity between the transport policy for the Falklands and that for the United Kingdom?
§ Dr. Marek
Obviously, as my hon. Friend has produced those figures, I agree.
There is complete disparity and lack of judgment by the Government about which policies should be given proper weight in this and many other areas. For many years it has been evident to Opposition Members—it is also clear from the opinion polls, if they are anything to go by—that the Government will not sit on those Benches for much longer.
It is curious that the Government introduced the new clause because they are worrying about restrictive practices. During all our Committee proceedings they talked only about deregulation, people doing whatever they liked, and not wishing to stop an operator doing anything if he could make money from it. It was immaterial whether the public were served by such practices.
I support the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich: the fact that the Government must introduce such a new clause on report shows the stupidity of the Bill.
§ Mr. Gordon Oakes (Halton)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek), I also wonder, when so much thought has apparently been given to the Bill for so long, why the new clause has been introduced. Why was it not introduced in Committee or, indeed, inserted in the Bill from the start? What events, what train of thought, and what events have made the Government table the new clause now?
As my hon. Friend said, agreements between operators are not per se against the public interest. Indeed, they can be in the public interest. It is perfectly sensible for an operator to agree with another operator, especially in rural areas, as my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) pointed out, to divide the services between them. The public do not want queues of competing buses, but a bus. The Opposition fear that in many suburban and rural areas, especially at weekends, there will not be a bus. There will be no bus, for sound, private enterprise reasons: it will not pay the operator to send out a bus. That will be the result of the Bill.
Why have the Government introduced this new clause so late, and why do they believe that fair agreements, 884 which are made in other trades and industries, must automatically operate against the interests of the travelling public?
§ Mr. Forth
I cannot understand why the Opposition are puzzled about the introduction of the new clause. Having spent all the hours that we did together in Committee, there is every good reason for the Government to come to the House now with a reasonable measure that no doubt emerged from our dialogue in Committee—
§ Mr. Forth
I said "dialogue". I can understand why the hon. Lady is surprised, bearing in mind the one-sidedness of the proceedings in Committee. However, if Labour Members wish it, we can return to that subject later.
The Bill will introduce a new approach to transport. not the uniform approach of the past. The uniformity of attitude, techniques and vehicles—any uniformity that one cares to think of—has utterly failed us in the past, has caused a decline in the bus sector and has not provided the travelling public with what they want. We need only examine the inexorable decline in the number of travelling passengers during the years to understand that they have made their judgment on the inadequacy of bus services. The Bill and especially the new clause address that problem. We wish to ensure, as far as reasonably possible, a new approach to the provision of bus services.
§ Mr. Jim Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)
In the light of what the hon. Gentleman told us about the reduction in, the number of people travelling by bus, how does he account for the reduction in the number of people travelling by bicycle during the same period?
§ Mr. Forth
I doubt whether that is true. Recently, there has been a great revival in the use of bicycles, and one need only consider the number of bicycles on the premises to prove the point. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) has recently taken to the bicycle; even among us, there are living examples of people who are taking to two wheels to get around.
§ Mr. Forth
I am grateful to my hon. Friend.
I am glad that my hon. Friend the Minister introduced the new clause, because he has understood, as he invariably does, the necessity to make the Bill work for the benefit of the travelling public. In doing so, we must ensure the provision of a variety of flexible services by private operators who know their localities and the needs of local passengers. They will provide the sort of service to which passengers will respond by paying their fares, which will provide revenue and profit to the operators. Everyone will be satisfied.
§ Mr. Craigen
The hon. Gentleman need not consult the House doctor. He need only read the first report of the Select Committee on Transport, which shows that the share of passenger travel by bicycle decreased during the period about which we are talking.
§ Mr. Forth
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but I thought that we were here to discuss the provision of bus services. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not bring 885 bicycles into the discussion too often. Perhaps he has taken to heart the words of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
I welcome the new clause, which is a demonstration of the extent to which the Government listened to the debates in Committee and were prepared to introduce several measures, responding to requests made from both sides of the Committee, to improve the operation of the Bill and to achieve its aims. In that spirit, I wholeheartedly support the new clause.
§ Mr. Peter Pike (Burnley)
The new clause shows how ill thought out the Bill is and how quickly the Government have tried to get it on the statute book. I still do not believe that they are aware of the problems that will arise, especially in the provision of rural and off-peak services. No doubt, when the Minister replies to this debate, he will say that the new clause was introduced to ensure unfettered and fair competition. But if the Government were sincere about that, they would have introduced amendments to ensure that terms and conditions of service are laid down when tenders are invited. There is no such provision in the Bill as drafted. The Government intend to make the Bill work by worsening the working conditions of employees in the bus industry. That is the only way in which they can hope to achieve a sensible operation of the Bill.
If the Government are moving the new clause to try to secure fair competition, they should have tabled another amendment to ensure that the terms and conditions of employment will be at least equal to those in the municipal undertakings, the National Bus Company and all passenger transport authorities.
It is for local electors to determine by how much they wish to subsidise their public transport services. That should not be determined by national Government. I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) said: if the people of Sheffield wish to pay that subsidy in their area, they have the right to do so. I know that Conservative Members will talk, as they did in Committee, about the large subsidy from the Government in rate support grant and the fact that most rates are raised from business and commerce. However, at the end of the day, the people determine who they want to serve in local government. It is a retrograde step to remove from local authorities the power to determine what transport they want in their areas, what fares they wish to charge and the subsidies that they wish to give.
Conservative Members do not accept that view; nor do they accept that public transport is a public service. My hon. Friends and I wish it to develop in that way. During our debates today and tomorrow, there will be many conflicts, because, after all the hours of debate in Committee, the Government will not budge an inch. They do not recognise the need to safeguard transport, especially for the young, the elderly, the disabled, and those who need off-peak, Sunday and rural services.
§ Mr. Hind
I welcome the new clause, which is a sensible improvement to the Bill. We have heard the stock response from the Opposition that any change in the Bill constitutes a muddle, not an improvement. But this clear improvement has arisen from our discussions in Committee. The Opposition do not understand the essence of the Bill, which is to give the public a greater and 886 cheaper choice of public transport. That inevitably means the introduction of more operators to fill existing gaps, especially in rural areas. They can be filled by the one-man bus operations that the Opposition are so fond of knocking and for which they express so much contempt.
The clause protects the choice which it is essential to preserve under the Bill by allowing small operators to stay on the road. The simple pilot scheme in Hereford and Worcester provides a reason for the clause. The National Bus Company, by introducing buses from other parts of the country, attempted to drive out the new small operators. The new clause will prevent two large operators from getting together to drive out competition that may be in the public interest.
§ Mr. Hind
I shall give way in a moment.
The hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) commented with contempt about the referral by the Director General of Fair Trading to the Restrictive Practices Court, but it must be borne in mind that the Director General of Fair Trading and his office will be a filter to consider all the agreements and to decide whether an agreement is fair. If he finds that an agreement is in the public interest, it will not be referred to the Restrictive Practices Court. That gets over the criticism of two one-man bus operators working together to run a service by themselves. The clause will provide an essential legal safeguard. This is a piece of the jigsaw that was missing from the Bill originally. It is essential protection for the general public.
§ Dr. Marek
The hon. Gentleman referred to the Hereford trial area. He should know that competition is now confined to just one corridor on the east of the city. The lesson is clear: everyone has run at a loss in the trial area and nobody produced conclusive evidence that there has been a profit. Does the hon. Member also know that services to Kington and Presteigne are not as good as they were before and that no new routes have been created? If the hon. Gentleman says that is a good result of the Hereford trial, heaven help us.
§ Mr. Hind
Perhaps the hon. Member will bear in mind that during the pilot study the National Bus Company reduced fares to virtually nothing. How can that possibly mean that it ran an economic service? Can it have had any intention other than to drive off the road any competition that was already there? I do not accept that the bus service in Hereford and Worcester is worse than it was before but, if it is, the people in the area can put it down firmly to the reaction of the National Bus Company in cross-subsidising the Hereford and Worcester operation with fares collected elsewhere from bus users who were not paying economic fares.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
The hon. Member for Lancashire, West has raised some interesting points, not least because Midland Red was competing and using industrial muscle. Is he aware that the National Bus Company has made it clear that if the Bill becomes law one of the first things that will happen is that there will be a 30 per cent. cut in services, and from that moment on it will compete in any way possible with anybody who wishes to run services in the same area? Will he not accept that that will happen and that Hereford gives a clue? Where people are prepared to compete on small town routes there may be more buses initially but that does not mean better services. Now we know that in Hereford the people have worse services than they had previously.
§ Mr. Hind
The hon. Lady should consider the name of the office which will oversee this sort of thing; it is the Office of Fair Trading. I take the view that what happened in Hereford and Worcester was unfair trading. The purpose of the new clause is to make sure that the competition is fair. Unlike the Opposition, we do not believe that competition is de facto bad. We see it as the essence of the Bill. I hope that the voters of Hereford and Worcester will remember what has happened. Certainly the competition there was not fair.
§ Mr. Caborn
The new clause indicates clearly that the Government are fishing around in regard to competition. The only restrictive practice will be that passengers who hitherto had buses to travel on will no longer have them. The hon. Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) indicated the philosophy behind the Bill—profitability and fair trading. At no stage did he talk about producing a service for the people, whether in Hereford or anywhere else.
It should be understood that the basis for the Bill revolved around the Hereford trial area. It has been in force for about two and a half years and has been an unmitigated disaster from every point of view, so much so that when the Tories were trying to sell it to the public in a party political broadcast they had to film two dear old ladies of 30 years' standing in the Tory party.
§ Mr. Caborn
I shall give way in a moment.
We have tried to analyse seriously what is happening in Hereford and in other areas, particularly south Yorkshire. We have never tried to hide the fact that south Yorkshire gets subsidies from central Government but they are being used most responsibly to provide a proper public and integrated transport system, unlike the service in Hereford. If the Government try to include new clause 6 in the Bill they will be doing the people further injustice. It will have considerable effect on the disadvantaged.
People from the trade unions who came to London to discuss the matter with Back-Bench Tories were appalled 888 at the lack of knowledge among hon. Members who will be voting on the Bill. The only conclusion they could reach was that Government Back Benchers, knowing very little about the matter, had been conned either by hon. Members who were on the Committee or by the Government Front Bench. When the implications were spelled out to some of the Back-Bench Tories, they were having different thoughts. Whether they have the guts to go through the Lobby later, we shall see.
§ Mr. Matthew Parris (Derbyshire, West)
The procedure for referral under the restrictive practices legislation gives ample scope for filtering out complaints of what may seem to be restrictive practices where there is a good argument in the public interest that those practices should take place. I am happy about that, and the House should be happy.
New clause 6 is a welcome addition to the Bill because it is a better way of filtering out such complaints than clause 55 and subsequent clauses. That clause obliges authorities
so to conduct themselves as not to inhibit competition between persons providing or seeking to provide public passenger transport services in their area.That would not be determined under the restrictive practices legislation, and the fact that there was a good argument in the public interest for practices that inhibited competition would not be a defence to a charge that an authority had so conducted itself. It is better to do this through restrictive practices legislation than through the ordinary courts in the way envisaged by clause 55 and subsequent clauses. I shall be interested in the reaction of my hon. Friend the Minister.
§ Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)
The remarks of the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) about the decline in public transport were misleading. We all know why people no longer use public transport, and the Bill will do nothing to change that. It will make the situation worse, because people will have less access to public transport.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek) that agreements between companies can work in the public interest and to the benefit of the companies and their employees. A classic example of this is the situation in Strathclyde, where British Rail, the Scottish Bus Group, the Strathclyde PTE and a number of independent operators are all working in a harmonious relationship. I do not know whether there is a formal agreement or just a gentleman's understanding, but the system works reasonably well.
Under the new clause, the law of the jungle will prevail. The Scottish Bus Group has already made its attitude clear. It will compete by whatever means it takes to maintain and increase its share of the market. The big strong company will, in many cases, eliminate the small independent companies, some of which have been long established. There will be a further increase in the ever-growing number of companies that go bankrupt under the Government's policies. The companies and their employees will suffer. I see no benefit from the new clause. Therefore, I shall join my hon. Friends in opposing it.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
The House should be indebted to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) for 889 his intervention because he drew attention to what he referred to as pedal power—those who move about by bicycle. Unfortunately, he misread the document to which he was referring. Table 1 of the White Paper on buses shows that travel by pedal cycle went up from 4 billion passenger kilometres in 1973 to 5 billion in 1983, an increase of 25 per cent. That increase has been due to the deterioration of the availability of buses under the existing system—one of the profound reasons why we have had to introduce this legislation.
The increase in the number of people using bicycles is a mirror image of the decline of 28 per cent. in bus passenger numbers over the past decade, reflected in the huge decline in the number of jobs in the bus industry. That should be a cause of concern to the hon. Member and his hon. Friends.
The hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) said that the Government were in a muddle. It is not the Government who are in a muddle, but the hon. Lady. She said that two operators who harmlessly co-ordinate their services will be caught by the provisions of the new clause, but they will not. I referred specifically to the problems that would arise if the case involved rigging fares or areas of service, or dividing up the market between operators. Even then, it has to be shown that such practices are against the public interest. Therefore, the hon. Lady is quite mistaken in her perception of the effect of this new clause.
Planned interchanges are beneficial and it is for the Director General of Fair Trading to decide in the first instance what is significant in the terms of that phrase, which I used in my earlier explanation of the purpose of the new clause.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
Is the hon. Gentleman saying in effect that such decisions, which will have major implications for transport planning, are to be left entirely to the director general and that he will suddenly find himself constituting a detailed court of transport planning?
§ Mr. Mitchell
Almost all the industry is subject to the Office of Fair Trading and the legislation surrounding it. We are taking away the special, privileged position of the bus industry and making it like any other industry, in that it has to compete, and compete without cartelisation, price rigging and the other practices with which this new clause seeks to deal. The hon. Lady claimed that this was a hilarious new clause to introduce, but she gave no explanation of why it is hilarious to apply to the bus industry that which applies to all the industries in which hon. Members worked before they came here.
The hon. Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek) claimed that two operators would be at risk for providing alternative services. In assessing the significance of any particular agreement, the director general will take a pragmatic approach. Clearly, the sort of practices about which the hon. Gentleman was referring will not get anybody into trouble.
The right hon. Member for Halton (Mr. Oakes) asked what brought about the train of thought that led to the introduction of the new clause at this stage. Partly, it was brought about by listening to Labour Members in Committee. That led us to recognise that many of them 890 were deep adherents to the concept of cartelisation and putting the public and the passenger low on the list of priorities.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
What an abuse. The Minister should come to south Yorkshire.
§ Mr. Mitchell
I shall be happy to deal with the hon. Member and south Yorkshire at an appropriate moment. I am not sure that now is an appropriate moment, but if the hon. Gentleman makes a speech I am perfectly happy to reply to it.
§ Mr. Mitchell
I have been to south Yorkshire. I shall happily reply to any point the hon. Gentleman makes because south Yorkshire is one of our major problems.
The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) talked about removing the power of local government to decide the level of subsidy. He knows that one thing. the Bill does in cross-subsidisation is take away from the bus operators their allocation of subsidies and put it into the hands of the local authority, which will decide which routes are necessary and which are not. There will be a new responsibility for local government and a new opportunity to co-ordinate looking after the public interest.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) dealt trenchantly with the case for competition, and I welcome his support.
My hon. Friend the Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) asked particularly about the predatory pricing policies pursued by Midland Red in the trial area of Hereford and Worcester. The Competition Act will apply to deal with such a situation. The Director General of Fair Trading, in fulfilment of his powers under the Competition Act, is empowered to discuss with the parties, and if not satisfied to bring action against, any such activities.
It is a great pity in many ways that that part of the law was not brought to bear in the case of Hereford and Worcester. Had it been brought to bear, the number of new competitors would possibly be greater and doing well, because Midland Red could have been stopped by means of the Competition Act 1980. Nobody sems to have recognised that fact. I am glad of the opportunity to say that if in future anybody seeks to copy Midland Red by introducing predatory pricing to drive out competition, he will face the full weight of the Competition Act.
§ Mr. Craigen
The independent bus operators in Scotland are also concerned about the speed of action, lest they should go out of business before the Office of Fair Trading can dispose of their case. Will the Under-Secretary comment on that aspect of the interim interdict that is available under Scottish law, so that a breathing space can be made available to companies facing the situation that he described?
§ Mr. Mitchell
My hon. Friends who come from north of the border inform me that the position is exactly the same as with the injunction procedure. Although I am of Scottish extraction, I am not resident in Scotland, so it would be dangerous if I tried to interpret Scottish law. However, I am assured on good authority that that is the case. I am interested to note the implicit support of the hon. Member for Maryhill for the Government's new clause. He has expressed anxiety that it will not be applied quickly enough. Therefore, he ought to join us in the Lobby if there is a Division.
§ Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:-The House divided: Ayes 271, Noes 153.893
|Division No. 215]||[5.45 pm|
|Adley, Robert||Eyre, Sir Reginald|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Fallon, Michael|
|Alexander, Richard||Farr, Sir John|
|Amess, David||Favell, Anthony|
|Ancram, Michael||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Arnold, Tom||Fletcher, Alexander|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Forth, Eric|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Franks, Cecil|
|Baldry, Tony||Freeman, Roger|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Freud, Clement|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Fry, Peter|
|Beggs, Roy||Gale, Roger|
|Beith, A. J.||Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Bendall, Vivian||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Benyon, William||Goodhart, Sir Philip|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Gorst, John|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Greenway, Harry|
|Blackburn, John||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Grist, Ian|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Grylls, Michael|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Gummer, John Selwyn|
|Bottomley, Peter||Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Hancock, Mr. Michael|
|Boysoa Dr Rhodes||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Hannam, John|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Hargreaves, Kenneth|
|Bright, Graham||Harris, David|
|Brinton, Tim||Harvey, Robert|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Browne, John||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.||Hawksley, Warren|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Hayes, J.|
|Budgen, Nick||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Hayward, Robert|
|Burt, Alistair||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Butcher, John||Henderson, Barry|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Hickmet, Richard|
|Butterfill, John||Hicks, Robert|
|Carlisle, John (N Luton)||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hind, Kenneth|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Hirst, Michael|
|Carttiss, Michael||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Cartwright, John||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Cash, William||Holt, Richard|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hordern, Peter|
|Churchill, W. S.||Howard, Michael|
|Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Howells, Geraint|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Coombs, Simon||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Cope, John||Irving, Charles|
|Cormack, Patrick||Jackson, Robert|
|Critchley, Julian||Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)|
|Crouch, David||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Jones, Robert (W Herts)|
|Dicks, Terry||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Kennedy, Charles|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Kershaw, Sir Anthony|
|Dover, Den||Key, Robert|
|Dunn, Robert||King, Roger (B'ham N'field)|
|Durant, Tony||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Dykes, Hugh||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)||Knight, Gregory (Derby N)|
|Eggar, Tim||Knox, David|
|Evennett, David||Lamont, Norman|
|Latham, Michael||Price, Sir David|
|Lawler, Geoffrey||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Raffan, Keith|
|Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Rathbone, Tim|
|Lester, Jim||Renton, Tim|
|Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Lightbown, David||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Lilley, Peter||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Lord, Michael||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Luce, Richard||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|McCrindle, Robert||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|McCurley, Mrs Anna||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Rowe, Andrew|
|MacGregor, John||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Maclean, David John||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Madel, David||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.|
|Major, John||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Malins, Humfrey||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Malone, Gerald||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Maples, John||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Marland, Paul||Sims, Roger|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Mather, Carol||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Speed, Keith|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Meadowcroft, Michael||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Merchant, Piers||Steen, Anthony|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Stern, Michael|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Mills, lain (Meriden)||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)||Sumberg, David|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Mitchell, David (NW Hants)||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Molyneaux, Rt Hon James||Thompson, Donald (Caider V)|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Thurnham, Peter|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)||Tracey, Richard|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Neale, Gerrard||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Needham, Richard||Viggers, Peter|
|Nelson, Anthony||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Neubert, Michael||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Normanton, Tom||Wallace, James|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Watson, John|
|Osborn, Sir John||Watts, John|
|Ottaway, Richard||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Wheeler, John|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Parris, Matthew||Wood, Timothy|
|Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Pawsey, James||Yeo, Tim|
|Pollock, Alexander||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Portillo, Michael||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)||Mr. Peter Lloyd and|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Mr. Ian Lang.|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Abse, Leo||Bray, Dr Jeremy|
|Adams, Allen (Paisley N)||Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Buchan, Norman|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Caborn, Richard|
|Barnett, Guy||Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Campbell, Ian|
|Bell, Stuart||Campbell-Savours, Dale|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Canavan, Dennis|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Clark, Dr David (S Shields)|
|Blair, Anthony||Clay, Robert|
|Boyes, Roland||Clwyd, Mrs Ann|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||McNamara, Kevin|
|Cohen, Harry||McWilliam, John|
|Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)||Marek, Dr John|
|Corbett, Robin||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Martin, Michael|
|Cowans, Harry||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Craigen, J. M.||Maxton, John|
|Cunningham, Dr John||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||Meacher, Michael|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I)||Michie, William|
|Deakins, Eric||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Dewar, Donald||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Dixon, Donald||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Dobson, Frank||Nellist, David|
|Dormand, Jack||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Dubs, Alfred||O'Brien, William|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||O'Neill, Martin|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Eastham, Ken||Park, George|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Patchett, Terry|
|Faulds, Andrew||Pike, Peter|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Prescott, John|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Radice, Giles|
|Fisher, Mark||Randall, Stuart|
|Flannery, Martin||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Forrester, John||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Foster, Derek||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Foulkes, George||Robertson, George|
|Fraser, J, (Norwood)||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Rooker, J. W.|
|George, Bruce||Rowlands, Ted|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Ryman, John|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Golding, John||Sheerman, Barry|
|Gould, Bryan||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Gourlay, Harry||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Short, Mrs R. (W'hampt'n NE)|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Skinner, Dennis|
|Haynes, Frank||Smith, C. (lsl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Snape, Peter|
|Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)||Soley, Clive|
|Home Robertson, John||Spearing, Nigel|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)|
|Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)||Strang, Gavin|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Straw, Jack|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport East)||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|John, Brynmor||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Tinn, James|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Wareing, Robert|
|Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil||Weetch, Ken|
|Lamond, James||Welsh, Michael|
|Leighton, Ronald||White, James|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Lewis, Terence (Worsley)||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Litherland, Robert||Wilson, Gordon|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Winnick, David|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|McCartney, Hugh||Tellers for the Noes:|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Mr. Sean Hughes and|
|McKelvey, William||Dr. Roger Thomas.|
|MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.