§ Mr. Speaker
I must announce to the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
On a point of order. I do not know whether you are aware, Mr. Speaker, but last week when the business statement was made and in subsequent discussions—you know how they talk in this place—people said, "What is on the agenda for Monday?" They were told that it was the SLD Supply day and that its members would decide. They were told, "We can tell you on the record that it is about Hong Kong." I thought, "That sounds attractive and it might mean about 2 million or 3 million votes in the Euro elections if, perhaps, we can bring a few back." Since then, there has been a change and here we are about to discuss transport. I am not knocking that, but this place has to be regulated in a proper fashion.
Very shortly, the television cameras will be coming in and the television people will want to know on Thursday what is to be debated. They will not be satisfied with this "anything will do" approach by people who are disappearing from view. They will want to know. They will ask, "What's on?" They will be told that it is Hong Kong and they will not be very happy when they find out that it is transport. I am giving some advice for future debates.
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a matter for me. As I told the hon. Gentleman last week, we are regulated here by the Order Paper and not by rumour.
§ Mr. Richard Livsey (Brecon and Radnor)
I beg to move,That this House condemns the lack of adequate investment in public transport, which has resulted in severe congestion and low staff morale leading to the current misery for commuters; and calls for a national transport strategy which invests in the public transport network, encourages a move from road to rail travel and ensures that benefits of new investment in projects such as the Channel Tunnel are shared by the regions and nations of the United Kingdom.Given the impending chaos that will arise on Wednesday on the public transport system, especially in London, and that the transport crisis with which we are confronted is a major environmental problem, our debate today should be welcome.
The lack of investment by the Government in public transport is deplorable. In particular, the neglect of the rail system in comparison with the investment in the road system beggars belief. In the time that they have been in power, have the Government built any new railway lines? Given their admiration for Victorian values, they should be aware that the Victorians would find the Government's achievements in this respect laughable. What new rolling stock have they provided on the railway lines? What assistance has been given to staff?
This discrimination against the railway system is compounded by the loaded methods of investment criteria against the railway system in comparison with the road system. The Government only started to wake up to the problem of investment in our railways in 1983. Investment was in the doldrums from 1975 to 1983, and, at 1989–90 prices, investment dropped from £546 million in 1975 to 35 £347 million in 1983. One result of this failure has been congestion, especially in the south-east, where a massive growth in passenger traffic has resulted in misery for commuters. The Government have failed the nation with their transport policies and the congestion on Britain's roads is a direct result of the Government's failure to invest in public transport.
Daily, harassed commuters travel in overcrowded, tatty rail coaches that are a misery and, in some cases, no better than cattle trucks. These are overloaded, and it is no wonder that staff on the London Underground and Network SouthEast are at their wits' end. Only a massive investment in rail, both in the cities and in main-line electrification, will alleviate these horrendous problems. Meanwhile, behind the wheels of millions of cars and lorries, drivers are stranded in traffic.
§ Mr. Livsey
I will give way in a moment. I am trying to say something important.
Drivers are stranded in traffic jams. In London alone, this costs the economy £15 billion a year, and the cost to the environment and people's health is also enormous. My party believes that the Government must plan now for the future, for much more investment in public transport.
§ Mr. Bowis
I agree that it is important to invest in public transport and rail transport in particular, not least in the capital city. However, can the hon. Gentleman tell me which major rail schemes were started and implemented during the period when his party was in cahoots with the then Labour Government? That is the period that he has condemned as having seen no investment whatever.
§ Mr. Livsey
The hon. Gentleman is referring to only two years in that period, and the question is irrelevant in the context of the debate.
I understand that this afternoon British Rail will seek a High Court injunction to outlaw Wednesday's planned 24-hour strike by the National Union of Railwaymen on the ground that the union did not properly conduct its strike ballot. The ballot of 70,000 rail workers turned on the rejected 7 per cent. pay offer and the abolition of national pay bargaining. The NUR will argue that it acted entirely within the law. With inflation running at 8 per cent., the loss of national pay bargaining is an important issue. The case for arbitration is extremely strong.
Last Friday, Mr. Paul Watkinson, British Rail's director of employee relations, said that BR had received information that several hundred of its employees had not had the opportunity to vote in the ballot. That is a claim that requires close examination. There is considerable frustration among British Rail staff, and that is understandable when so many trains are overcrowded. I believe that wiser counsels should resolve the dispute.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)
Whatever one's views on the merits of the strike, does the hon. Gentleman agree that the action of the British Rail management, in intervening in such a way at such a sensitive time during the course of negotiations, was crass and wholly inept?
§ Mr. Livsey
I agree that its actions were extremely inept and not an example of good personal management. If it was serious about finding a constructive resolution of the dispute, it would not have behaved in such a way.
There is misery for commuters. Our motorways are jammed because of lack of investment in the railway system. It is not surprising that the motorways are overcrowded, because the number of cars on our roads has doubled in the past 12 years. An additional 2 million cars per annum are being sold and driven on British roads and as a result the environment is deteriorating rapidly. Indeed, the countryside has been laid to waste and there is increased air pollution. I understand that delays in the south-east alone cost about £15 billion.
§ Mr. Gerrard Neale (Cornwall, North)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the reasons why considerable disdain has been shown for his party over the past few days is that people such as himself say one thing when it comes to investment in infrastructure and then vote in exactly the opposite way when it comes to activating decisions? Does the hon. Gentleman accept that his late colleague, David Penhaligon, fought tooth and nail to get the road system improved in the west country on a scheme backed by the Government? There was total support for his campaign in Cornwall, as well as support from David Penhaligon's colleagues—candidates and Members alike—but when the issue was brought before us in the Chamber and we were asked to support the scheme, two of his hon. Friends voted against it—the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel) and the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes).
§ Mr. Livsey
I accept that the late Member for Truro, Mr. David Penhaligon, campaigned for an improved road system in the west country. I listened to his speeches and I supported him when the issue came to a vote, as did many of my colleagues. It was a good scheme, which led to better access to the west country. That is why I supported it.
This Government, previous Governments and planners have demonstrated over many years a lamentable lack of vision and an inability to diagnose what is happening in the movement of people and goods. Things were done rather better during the previous century. No significant new railway lines have been built during the 20th century.
§ Mr. Livsey
No, not now. I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman later. I have given way too often already.
We are now entering a new era of investment in our infrastructure, including transport. I have no doubt that the lack of infrastructure will be the biggest internal problem facing Britain over the next 10 years. The decisions taken now will be absolutely crucial.
§ Mr. Adley
The hon. Gentleman has stated that the number of cars has doubled over the past 12 years. Does he believe that that has happened because the economy has been prosperous? He also said that we are building fewer railway lines than the Victorians. Does he believe that the invention of the internal combustion engine has had anything to do with that?
§ Mr. Livsey
I am certain that the invention of the internal combustion engine has everything to do with that. 37 However, many people are turning to private transport because of the inadequacies of public transport. They are forced to get into their cars because the public transport system is unable to provide a proper, efficient or effective alternative.
The choices in transport confronting us at the moment should be incorporated in the provision of an integrated transport system which would combine rail, road, air and sea transport. We should be planning for a grand design which will link the regions of this country with each other and with the continent. We should cut congestion and pollution.
We need environmentally friendly investment, which means that we must invest more in rail than we are doing at the moment. The statistics show that, of the investment in road and rail, only a quarter goes to rail. I challenge the Minister to give us a commitment today that he will raise the level of rail investment to at least the same level as that on roads.
When we consider infrastructure, we must also consider the integrated approach. Any new road or rail investment should be subjected to an environmental audit. Cost-benefit analysis and the social implications of investment should also be taken into account for both road and rail investment. We should invoke a major 10-year infrastructure programme which should set priorities for roads and rail. The Government have proposed a scheme for a further 900 miles of road investment. Some of that is necessary. However, as we look towards the year 2000, such investment on the roads should be set against similar criteria for investment in rail.
The Government and the Department of Transport are undoubtedly too road-orientated when it comes to transport investment.
§ Mr. Livsey
No, I will not give way now.
Was the £12 billion road investment announced by the Government approximately three weeks ago compared with the possibility of investing that sum in improvements in rail infrastructure? Was that investment appraisal made?
The provision of an additional 900 miles of roads will mean the loss of 25 acres of land for every mile of motorway. That will mean a massive loss of our countryside in certain parts of the country.
§ Mr. Redwood
Is it right that the original intention of this debate on transport was to encourage stronger links to Europe in the light of the federal manifesto of the Social and Liberal Democratic party, and particularly to strengthen the links between the borders of Scotland and central Italy in the light of the election campaign by the right hon. Member for Tweedale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel)? Is it true that he is now concentrating on national issues because we saw what happened both to the federal manifesto here in England and to his right hon. Friend in Italy?
§ Mr. Livsey
The hon. Gentleman is correct, and I shall refer to 1992 and to the European Community in the latter part of my speech.
Rail is far too low on the list of priorities in respect of new track, rolling stock and staffing. There is no objection in principle—certainly not from us—to private investment 38 in track and to obtaining private finance for our infrastructure if it cannot be obtained from the Treasury. The wrong investment criteria are being used for British Rail. The one-off, return-on-capital criterion of 7 per cent. needs to be questioned.
§ Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)
Perhaps it will assist the hon. Gentleman if I mention that that figure has been increased from 7 per cent. to 8 per cent.?
§ Mr. Livsey
About a month ago, I participated in a debate in which I said there was a danger that the figure would increase to 9 per cent. Perhaps that debate served at least to reduce the increased figure by 1 per cent.
The calculation must take into account a cost-benefit analysis, which is done as a matter of course on the continent; France uses cost-benefit analysis for its rail system. All main lines should be electrified, yet by the current investment criteria they cannot show the return demanded by the Treasury. Through services must be provided to the Channel tunnel and to such formidable places as Italy. There must be direct links between all regions and countries.
We are living through an era of immense change— —
§ Mr. Livsey
Just because the hon. Gentleman is green with envy.
The United Kingdom will one day be plugged into Moscow, Istanbul, Madrid and Rome by thousands and thousands of miles of rail. That involves a wholly new dimension and requires fresh thinking. As I said in the previous debate, I should like to see a London rail bypass running alongside the M25— —
§ Mr. Livsey
—so that commuters who are stuck in their cars in the constituency of the hon. Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) will be frustrated to see high-speed trains overtaking them at twice or three times their speed of progress. That would provide a very worthwhile contrast.
The imposition of high fares to fatten up British Rail for privatisation is deplorable. British Rail fares are already the highest in Europe, and are almost double those of SNCF. Clearly, more freight needs to be moved from road to rail and there is a case to be made for repealing section 42 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987 to allow public investment in some schemes. The priorities must be new rail links for commuters, main line electrification, and direct links with the Channel tunnel.
There must also be direct links between the major London termini, especially from Paddington to King's Cross and to Waterloo, and better use made of the west London line. Links to the Channel tunnel bypassing London via Gatwick and Heathrow are also needed. Roads should be evaluated on the basis of better criteria, and there should be disincentives for people to use cars in cities. My country of Wales has little transport infrastructure and considerable investment is needed, particularly in the electrification of the north and south Wales railway lines.
In 1992 we shall join a single European market of 270 million people on mainland Europe, and we shall have tremendous problems providing transport to and from the Continent. At present, 50 million passengers and 40 million tonnes of freight travel from Britain to the 39 continent each year. We need an integrated transport system, and cheaper and more efficient public transport to attract people away from the roads. We need better pay for railway staff, and an immediate settlement of the current disputes. We must create an awareness of bottlenecks, and we need better promotion of the importance of public transport. We need public and private investment in our infrastructure, and an independent assessment and forecast of traffic growth. The woeful inadequacy of such forecasts in the past is the cause of many of our current problems.
§ Mr. Livsey
I will not give way: I am about to finish.
We need more investment in the railways: I challenge the Minister to come up with at least a doubling of current investment. The Government must face up to the transport crisis that confronts us. When, in the near future, people are decanted from the Channel tunnel into London, I believe that an already clogged city will come to a complete standstill.
§ The Minister for Public Transport (Mr. Michael Portillo)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and add instead thereof:congratulates the Government on the record levels of capital investment in all forms of transport infrastructure since 1979 while at the same time reducing the burden on the taxpayer; welcomes their plans to increase this investment further over coming years with both public and private money to meet the forecast growth in demand which is the result of the economic success of this country under the Conservative Government; welcomes the Government's success in creating the conditions in which the private sector could both finance and build the Channel Tunnel; congratulates the Government on its determination that the whole of the United Kingdom shall share in its benefits; applauds the high priority that they give to all matters of safety on transport; and welcomes their recognition of the importance of environmental conditions in transport policy.I congratulate the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) on his courage in coming to the House today. It is brave indeed to appear on the day after what was described by his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) as "a blinking awful result".
I was delighted to learn that today's debate was to be about investment in transport—delighted, but slightly puzzled. It is usual on Opposition days for the Opposition to pick a subject on which they can point to their own strength and find something that is embarrassing to the Government. The subject of transport investment, however, does not fall into that category by any stretch of the imagination.
I do not want to pretend that everything in the transport garden is lovely; it is not. We have plenty of problems to contend with. There is the perennial problem of maintaining and improving safety standards. There is the threat posed to air transport by international terrorism. There is the problem of congestion on Europe's air lanes, on our key motorways and in our city centres. There is the problem of catering for rapidly growing demand for transport while respecting our environment. All those are real problems, and the solutions are not easy. 40 The level of investment, however, is not a problem. There is no question of investment in any form of transport, public or private, being inadequate.
§ Mr. Neale
Can my hon. Friend confirm that he is astonished—his astonishment is reflected on the Conservative Benches—that, having seen the massive exodus from the Social and Liberal Democrats to the Green party in the elections over the past few days, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) did not once mention environmental considerations? Will he also confirm that, whenever a new scheme is launched, the Government take major steps to ensure that the environment is catered for—in terms of tree cover, for instance?
§ Mr. Portillo
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I intend to make a number of references to the environment, because it is very much at the forefront of our thinking on transport.
The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor asked me to say something about investment levels. Let me start by giving some of the bald facts. Since 1979 the Department of Transport has completed 264 road schemes, adding 900 miles to the national network. Last year, our expenditure on motorways and trunk roads totalled more than £1 billion. This year we have a budget of £1.3 billion, which represents a real increase of more than 60 per cent. since 1978–79—in other words, a quantum leap in investment since the hon. Gentleman's party last participated in government at the time of the notorious Lib-Lab pact.
§ Mr. Anderson
The Minister has presented the figures for real investment in roads over the past decade as an increase of 60 per cent. Will he give the comparable figures relating to a real increase in rail investment?
§ Mr. Portillo
I shall come to them in due course, and they will be just as uncomfortable for the hon. Gentleman.
The road investment figures take no account of the further increase in investment foreshadowed in our White Paper "Roads for Prosperity", which has proposed more than doubling the roads programme; nor do they take account of our investment in maintenance—making good the backlog of neglect that we inherited—of local authority investment in local road schemes, or of the growing role of the private sector. It simply is not possible to sustain the argument that road investment is being neglected.
The dramatic increase in road investment has been accompanied by increases in other investment. For example, British Rail has invested £2.5 billion over the past five years, and 31 major schemes have been approved since 1983. It plans to spend more than £3.7 billion over the next five years. It is in the middle of the biggest renewal programme since the transfer from steam to diesel, and investment is at the highest level in real terms since 1962 —well above the levels of the late 1970s.
§ Mr. Redwood
Drawing on his experience of the pressures affecting the choice of the new Kent rail link for the Channel tunnel, can my hon. Friend confirm or deny the Liberal suggestion that planning new railway lines across country or near houses is environmentally easy, whereas planning new roads is environmentally difficult? Has he received any submissions from the Liberal party nominating routes across green fields or near people's houses for new railway lines?
§ Mr. Portillo
My hon. Friend has made a good point. As I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor, it passed through my mind that it would be interesting to look at the manifesto commitments of all the SLD candidates in Kent for the county elections. I suspect that we should find that they are not quite so strongly in favour of new railway lines as they would claim when there is a specific proposal before the country.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)
Before the Minister leaves the subject of relative investment in rail and roads, will he confirm that, although there has been substantial investment in the road network, there has been a real decrease in investment in the rail network since 1979? Why is that, and why will the Government not ensure the investment of a similar amount in the rail network?
§ Mr. Portillo
I have already made it clear that we are now investing more than was invested in the late 1970s. There is an upward trend from year to year, and the amounts already earmarked for the years ahead are higher still. The current level of investment in the railways has not been seen since the early 1960s, and certainly far surpasses any amount invested in the late 1970s.
§ Mr. Adley
My hon. Friend will know that I always take a fair and objective stance on these matters. Can he confirm that the figure that he gave for the proposed level of investment for British Rail, over the next five years—sanctioned by the Government, although British Rail will be spending its own money—is about the same as the figure for West Germany's investment this year?
§ Mr. Portillo
I do not have the figure for West Germany. Perhaps I can address that point when I wind up the debate, as I am not sure that my hon. Friend is correct. Certainly our current investment levels are historically extremely high. I have said that they are the highest since the early 1960s, and, as my hon. Friend will know better than anyone else, the rail network at that time was very much larger than it is today. Even the same amount, spread around a smaller system, would today imply a much higher level of investment.
This year, £300 million is being invested in London Underground, which is double the level under the last year of GLC control. There is also investment in the Channel tunnel. Moreover, there is a host of schemes for light rail transit systems up and down the country, to which I shall refer in due course. I do not see how any of that can be represented as under-investment in our infrastructure.
§ Mr. Bowis
Will my hon. Friend be very wary, though, of the suggestion by the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) that the west London line should be used increasingly for Channel tunnel freight? Many people in south London will note that that is SLD policy. They would much rather that the freight that is destined for the north-west and elsewhere should go on the Reading line and bypass London altogether.
§ Mr. Portillo
My hon. Friend will no doubt want to point out to his constituents that that is SLD policy. In due course, the Government will see what proposals British Rail makes for its services direct from the regions to the continent.
There is no under-investment, either, in airports. Heathrow has acquired a fourth terminal. Stansted is 42 being developed as London's third airport. New terminal capacity is being added at Birmingham and Manchester airports. The Civil Aviation Authority has a major investment programme to increase air traffic control capacity. There is no shortage of new investment in our ports. Bus operators have also been investing heavily— witness the rapid growth in the total size of their fleets.
Wherever we look, there is no shortage of investment in transport. It is buoyant. The charge of under-investment today is plain silly. Furthermore, in the hand of the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor, the charge is a boomerang because we are recovering from years of under-investment when the Liberals and the International Monetary Fund shared power with Labour.
However, it is not just the total level of investment that matters: it is also the way in which the money is spent. Our aim is perfectly simple. We want to do all that we can to accommodate the rapidly growing demand for transport —safely, efficiently and with proper respect for the environment.
§ Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh)
Does my hon. Friend not agree that our ports are very badly treated by the Government? Light dues are still imposed on them. None of our continental competitors has to pay light clues. It would be far better if we could compete freely with Europe. We could do so if light dues were abolished.
§ Mr. Portillo
I am sure that we should all welcome free competition, but it is a moot point whether we should ask taxpayers to bear charges that really ought to fall on those who make use of the services or whether we should try to persuade our continental partners to come into line with us. I am sure that my hon. Friend welcomes the greatest gift that the Government have given to our ports industry —the abolition of the national dock labour scheme. That will help our ports industry to be competitive.
There are other approaches to transport policy. The Green party, for example, clearly takes the view I hat environmental considerations must lead us to a shrinking economy, with less for everyone, rather than an expanding economy. The car, the lorry and the plane must go and Britain must become dependent on transport by rail and inland waterway. Even judged on its own terms, the Green party's policy is not very sensible. Anyone who imagines that the construction of a new railway line can be achieved with zero impact on the environment should speak to my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) or to any of my hon. Friends with constituencies in Kent. They will quickly put him right about that.
To forgo investment in new infrastructure, with resulting increased congestion, is not an environmentally sensible policy. On our roads, slow-moving, stop-start traffic generates more pollution than free-flowing traffic. If we asked those who suffer from traffic jams day and night outside their homes whether we should close our minds to relieving their plight by building new roads, of course they would say that we should not do so. As I have trespassed into this area, perhaps I should say that the recent European Community decision on vehicle emissions shows that we are determined to reduce the damage to ourselves from vehicle fumes.
It is against that background that I intend to give some practical examples of investment in transport and to explain how they have helped to improve the quality of life. We have targeted expenditure on road schemes that 43 bring the maximum benefit to both road users and the local community. In particular, we have concentrated on plugging gaps in the existing motorway network and on schemes to take traffic around built-up areas. These range in scale from short stretches of bypass around small towns and villages to major orbital motorways round London and Manchester. Across the board, every £1 that we spend on roads now yields £2 in measurable benefits to road users and the local community. That has to be a good investment, judged by any standards.
One element in the tally of benefits is the improved safety of new roads. In the recent report on road safety in the European Community, the Belgian Institute for Road Safety cited the high quality of Britain's roads as one reason why we have the best safety record of the 12 member states.
§ Mr. Livsey
If the Minister can quantify the benefits of investment in roads, surely he should be able to do the same for investment in railways and say what the pound-for-pound benefit would be if the rail system were improved.
§ Mr. Portillo
I partly blame myself for this. Over a period, the hon. Gentleman has consistently misunderstood our investment criteria for the railways. I intended to allude to that matter later in my speech. He believes that we apply a commercial rate of return to all investment decisions relating to the railways. That is absolutely untrue. We do not apply a criterion of that sort to investment in the non-profit making and non-commercial sectors, such as the provincial sector. There we are concerned with cost-benefit analysis and with what investment will yield the best results in terms of keeping the railways functional.
We never consider the possibility of closing the railways down. When we assess investment in provincial railways, we give a benefit over and above what we give to roads. Roads have to pass the cost-benefit test, whereas we assume that the provincial railway service will continue. We are simply trying to find a means by which renewal can be achieved most efficiently. In that respect, the railways have a considerable advantage over road schemes.
§ Mr. Snape
I congratulate the Minister on the artful nature of his reply, which covers only a very small proportion of the railway network. Is he unable to tell us whether British Rail has to justify investing its own money in InterCity and freight transport? The hon. Member for Brecon `and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) was suggesting that a very different picture would emerge if the same criteria that are applied to roads were to be applied to those two parts of the railways industry.
§ Mr. Portillo
Those sections of the railways that are commercial—including rail freight and InterCity—have to meet, for their new investment, a rate of return criterion, but the hon. Gentleman will recall that I have just said that for every £1 that we spend on roads we get a £2 yield. He will recognise that that is a different order of magnitude from the rates of return that I am talking about on the railways. There is no shortage of road schemes that would qualify, using the cost-benefit basis.
§ Mr. Snape
The £2 benefit for £1 expenditure includes the saving of motorists' time—which is regarded as more 44 important than the saving of time for those who travel on public transport—and also a calculation of the number of road deaths that have been saved as a result of constructing new roads. The problem with the railways is that they do not kill enough passengers to justify expenditure on the same basis as roads.
§ Mr. Portillo
The hon. Gentleman refuses to recognise that roads and railways are different and that they have to be assessed on different bases. However, we try to make the basis of assessment as similar as we possibly can. I believe that we have achieved our aim. The hon. Gentleman's tasteless remark about deaths on railways and roads does not help us forward with that argument.
§ Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)
I am interested in my hon. Friend's argument about orbital or circular routes. Why, after six years, has the Secretary of State thrown into the air the Birmingham north orbital route? Ten million pounds have been spent on engineering investigations and a public inquiry, the report of which has been delayed. Its planning has taken six years. Why has there been this delay when the benefits to be derived from additional roads have been spelt out? When will the Birmingham north orbital route be completed? This is also a cause of concern to the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape).
§ Mr. Portillo
I am not convinced that there will be a delay. If there is, I hope that the delay will not be long. The time and effort that have been invested in planning the route will not be wasted. The Birmingham northern relief road, as proposed by the private sector, might easily follow the same route as the one that was proposed at the public inquiry. Although we have received the inspector's report, there is normally a considerable delay before the Department is able to respond to a report. I hope that we can now establish a timetable for the competition for that private sector road to minimise delay and to minimise any nugatory expenditure.
§ Mr. Adley
My hon. Friend is very generous to allow me to intervene again. He takes great trouble to answer questions and the fact that he is taking so many interventions means that we can have a discussion with him on these important matters.
I should like to echo the question asked by the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape): why are road and rail assessed in different ways? Can my hon. Friend justify one piece of information that his Department has given me? As he knows, I have pursued the criteria employed by his Department in assessing the costs and benefits of road schemes. I was informed that 7 per cent. of the cost of a traffic warden is assessed as allowable to the cost of building and running our road schemes. Where on earth does the other 93 per cent. go? If a traffic warden is not 100 per cent. costed to the roads, how on earth is the other 93 per cent. costed?
§ Mr. Portillo
My hon. Friend is very generous in his opening remarks. As far as possible, we try to make the criteria equivalent between road and rail. It is not possible to make them 100 per cent. equal because they are different. I do not know the answer to his other question, but I shall write to him about the 7 per cent. and the 93 per cent. of the traffic warden. However, I very much doubt 45 that the costing of a traffic warden is the critical factor in most investment decisions. I had better make progress if I am not to take up too much of the time of the House.
Let me give an example of the way in which road investment can be beneficial. Last summer, we completed the Blackwater, Okehampton and Saltash bypasses, and there are plenty of further improvements to the three trunk roads into Cornwall—the A30, the A38 and the A39. That improvement in road communications is vital for the Cornish economy. That would be appreciated by the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) if he were in the Chamber. It has also benefited local communities by taking traffic from town centres—making them cleaner, quieter and safer places in which to live, work and shop. In the case of the controversial Okehampton bypass, for instance, the 1,200 trees which had to be felled to make way for the road are being replaced by 100,000 trees—all of them indigenous species—which will restore the valley to its original splendour, making good the damage done over generations.
There is no doubt in my mind that we must invest in road and rail. There are few cases where one is a direct substitute for the other. It is simply not right for Opposition Members to pretend that there is a realistic prospect of relying on rail transport for the movement of goods and passengers, when over 90 per cent. of passenger transport and 60 per cent. of freight transport is currently carried by road. If we were to assume that, overnight, by some miracle the traffic on our railways doubled, that would remove less than 10 per cent of traffic from our roads. Given that road traffic increased by 6 per cent. over the past 12 months, it would not take long for that additional road capacity to be used up.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
Can the Minister give the House his Department's projections for the maximum capacity of the rail network in terms of its percentage of passenger traffic? He said that it is 10 per cent. at the moment and I accept that. What could it be if more investment were made?
§ Mr. Portillo
I suppose that that would depend on what investments were made. Many railway lines are currently very close to capacity, as the hon. Gentleman will know, but, particularly if freight trains were to operate around the clock, there is clearly scope for substantial increases in the amount of freight. Those opportunities will be opened up by the Channel tunnel, and if that comes about it will be interesting to note the attitude of the hon. Gentleman's party.
Congestion in central London is a key target. It has come about because of an unprecedented reversal in the long term declining trend of commuting to London. The economy in our capital has prospered and London has proved to be still one of the most magnetic cities for international business. Curing congestion is expensive, takes a long time and is disruptive. But the Government have not hesitated to set the necessary work in hand. On London's Underground, major station improvements are under way, many more are planned and the Central line is to be upgraded at a cost of more than £700 million. The central London rail study has recommended further renewals to the present system which would cost about £1.5 billion, and new lines running from east to west and north to south. Consultation with affected interests on the east-west crossrail have begun so that a Bill could be presented to Parliament in November.
46 Another welcome symptom of the attractiveness of London to world business is the development of docklands. Its phenomenal expansion qualifies it to be regarded as a city in its own right. It must have the transport links that such a city merits and we are determined to ensure that it is readily accessible by road and rail and by air and water.
A committee which I chair now co-ordinates the work of the London Docklands development corporation, the London boroughs, the developers, contractors, statutory undertakings, and representatives of local business. We work together with a single purpose to provide the new infrastructure while minimising disruption to traffic, to business or to local communities. Our efforts are presently focused on three objectives: to maintain progress on the Limehouse link and other vital road projects; to improve and to expand the docklands light railway and to see a new Underground line built to docklands and east London.
The east London rail study is in its final stages and we are expecting the consultants' final report shortly. They will be recommending as the best option for improving rail access from central London to docklands an extension of the Jubilee line via London bridge and the Isle of Dogs and ultimately to Stratford. In central London, the study has established that two alternative routes are technically feasible: an extension of the Jubilee line via Westminster and Waterloo, or a continuation of the existing line from Charing Cross via Ludgate Circus.
The Government will be considering that report, and further work will be required before decisions can be taken. Approval of the new line and decisions on its alignment and phasing will depend on how it would be financed and in particular on the negotiation of satisfactory contributions from the developers who strand to benefit. Subject to those considerations, the Government would wish to see a Bill for a new line deposited in November. To facilitate preparation of a Bill, I can announce today that London Regional Transport will, without prejudice to final decisions, begin consultations immediately with local authorities and others directly affected by the alignments being examined.
In case I should be accused of any bias as a London Member, let me add that there are many other city projects up and down the country. The plans for Manchester Metrolink are well advanced. On Friday evening, in the west midlands, I heard more of how the passenger transport executive there is working hard on its proposals for a light rail network centred on Birmingham and the black country. It hopes to obtain powers soon to permit construction of the first line between Snow Hill and Wolverhampton, and I am sure that it will not be long before it is knocking on my door with a proposal for grant towards the new system.
§ Mr. Snape
I am anxious that my colleagues from Birmingham should not embark on yet another wasted journey by being turned away by the Minister when they knock on his door. As he has just changed the rules for urban transport, to get the go-ahead for the Midlands Metro it will be necessary to prove its benefit to non-users of the system, which is directly contradictory to the system that appertained until a few weeks ago. Will the Minister assure the House and those who are responsible for planning the Metro that that last-minute change in the rules will not unduly delay that worthwhile project which has been sought for so long?
§ Mr. Portillo
This afternoon, I was able to announce to the House that we have taken a further step forward on the south Yorkshire super-tram project, where the aim is to get the new system in place in time for the world student games in 1991. I have decided to make a 50 per cent. grant available now, so that the evaluation of this project can be completed as quickly as possible. If the evaluation confirms the PTEs' initial calculations, and if the financing and other issues are satisfactorily resolved, I see every hope that this project will benefit from our financial assistance. As many hon. Members will be well aware, there are many other light rail projects in the pipeline.
§ Mr. Portillo
The hon. Gentleman will be able to read in Hansard what I have said. I said that there will be a 50 per cent. grant for the feasibility study and that I see every hope that the project will benefit from our financial assistance.
I now turn to rail freight. The key factor is the Channel tunnel. British Rail's Railfreight business has already substantially improved its performance, of course, but the tunnel is the new factor in the freight transport equation which is causing customers to look again at the rail option.
Last Friday, my right hon. Friend was in Cleveland to open a new Railfreight depot—a joint venture between British Rail and ICI. From that depot, the tunnel should allow British Rail to offer a direct freight service to destinations such as Paris and Brussels, taking less than 24 hours. A direct rail service like that, straight to the heart of the European Community, will be an enormous boost to business throughout Britain. So let me, yet again, stress that there is no question of the tunnel being a perk for the south-east, with businesses elsewhere ignored. British Rail estimates that 75 per cent. of the freight carried through the tunnel will originate from points beyond London. As far as freight through the Channel tunnel is concerned, the regions are not the tail but the dog, and the dog will wag the tail.
British Rail is now engaged in detailed consultation on the direct services that it will offer. The British Rail freight network will stand comparison with the best in Europe, and I have no doubt that British Rail will be able to deliver the service that its customers demand. It will publish its plans at the end of the year, as required by law, and I regard that timing as absolutely right.
The area where there is a clear case for a new line is in Kent, where a high-speed rail link will be needed at some stage to ensure that Britain makes the best possible use of our access to the European railway network. That line will be for passenger traffic, but it will, of course, free capacity on other lines to handle freight. The House will have an opportunity to consider the case for this line and British Rail's detailed proposals in due course. I have no wish to pre-empt that debate, but I think that, even now, it is clear that British Rail's proposals show a willingness to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on protecting the environment—vastly more than is being committed on the other side of the Channel.
Nor is British Rail neglecting what may appear to be the less glamorous but important provincial sector. As I 48 said, the SLD sometimes misunderstands the investment criteria that apply. We certainly do not apply the commercial-rate-of-return rule to investments needed to maintain a subsidised service. As a result, the proof of the pudding being in the eating, it is planned that, by 1991, 82 per cent. of provincial rolling stock will have been renewed over an eight-year period. All the moneys that I have talked about are over and above what our two railways are spending on safety.
Over a three-year period, London Underground is spending £226 million on safety matters arising from the Fennell report. British Rail has been considering the installation of automatic train protection for some time. Unfortunately, we cannot buy such a system off the peg, but the Government have approved the installation of pilot schemes. If they are successful, the Government will give sympathetic consideration to a national scheme, if a satisfactory scheme emerges.
Before I leave the subject of railways, let me confirm that the Government are examining how and whether to privatise British Rail, sensibly recognising that decisions on how and whether must be taken together. Our consultant's analysis is progressing well, but that work is not yet at a sufficiently advanced stage for us to reject any options now. All five options set out in speeches made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State remain on the table.
It pains me to say that there is a fundamental dishonesty underlying the policy of the SLD. This motion refers to under-investment today and calls for greater investment tomorrow, yet, as every one of my hon. Friends knows, so often, when any specific road or rail scheme is proposed, the local Liberal or SLD candidate is against it and allies himself with any protest group determined to stop the development. If there are roads, railways or runways unbuilt today that are needed, the SLD is probably much to blame.
In transport today, there are clear issues. One is whether we follow policies for economic growth, without which heavy public sector investment is impossible. The second is whether, by relying on ever greater subsidies, we pauperise our transport operators, or whether we encourage them to operate more commercially, to attract passengers and so to generate the revenue for new investment. Between those two clear policy approaches, the SLD vacillates and prevaricates. It is now reaping its just rewards at the polls.
§ Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)
The concluding paragraph of the Minister's speech, with its ringing phraseology, was about seven days too late. His speech was obviously written with the European elections in mind. It ended with a ringing plea for support at the polling stations. Regrettably, his speech was no more successful a week later than it would have been last Thursday. I must tell the hon. Gentleman that the election is over. For all the resounding phrases that we heard, on Thursday evening the electors in this country gave a thumbs down with a vengeance to the Government and, sadly, to some of those who are responsible for the motion.
I do not want to intrude on the private grief of the SLD. I do not want to be accused either of promoting or attacking the future career and prospects of the the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey), but, 49 looking at the motion, I find a lot more relevance coming from the SLD or the alliance, or whatever they call themselves in the wake of Thursday evening's drubbing, than in the amendment tabled by the other losers of the election on Thursday night, Her Majesty's Government. If there are two words that sum up our transport industries after a decade of Thatcherism, they are "chaos" and "congestion". They apply to road, rail and air and, to a certain extent, other problems. Regrettably there is not congestion, but there is certainly plenty of chaos in our merchant shipping fleet.
The air of smug self-congratulation with which the Minister surrounded himself was somewhat unreal. He made great play of what he called the Government's progress in transport over the past decade. He trotted out the usual, largely false, statistics about justification for road building compared with public transport. Opposition Members and, to be fair, one or two more knowledgable Conservative Members will continue to press for fairness in the evaluation of public transport schemes. Not for the first time, we pray in aid the conclusions of the Leitch committee back in 1977, which asked that such schemes be treated in a comparable fashion. It pointed out that there was no real reason why public transport investment should not be treated in exactly the same way as investment in our road network. Nothing that I have heard this afternoon or previously from the Minister shakes my belief that the Leitch committee was right 12 years ago, and it is right now.
The Minister may have felt that my remark about the number of deaths within the railway industry being considerably less than those on our roads was tasteless. That was the word he used. It is a fact, anyway, and it is also a fact that, when putting forward financial justifications for road schemes, the Department of Transport justifiably and understandably points to the reductions that can be made in the number of deaths and serious injuries. Of course it is impossible to put forward similar savings for the rail network. Thankfully, with a few tragic exceptions, some of which have taken place in recent months, travelling by train in this country is probably the safest mode of transport in the world. Therefore, it is impossible to quantify the number of lives that will be saved by increasing the frequency, reliability or number of services of that mode of transport.
British Rail should be given at least a notional financial benefit for its success in carrying passengers millions of miles a year in perfect safety. Without such a notional monetary advance being made to BR, dependence on the newly revised investment rules—the 8 per cent. return on capital—means that all too often British Rail does not put schemes forward. Of course, Ministers—not just this one —and their colleagues in the Department say to the House time and again that there are no investment proposals before them. The Minister's predecessor often said that, under this Government, investment proposals were dealt with and agreed faster than under any previous Government.
We all know that talks take place between the Minister's officials and British Rail's investment committee. It would be a strange world in which British Rail put forward schemes that did not meet the previously laid down criteria of Her Majesty's Government. Life is not like that. If investment schemes were continually put forward and rejected by the Department of Transport because they did not meet those investment criteria, one 50 could well imagine, at the start, a few irritated telephone calls between the Department of Transport and British Rail headquarters. Following that, there might be a strongly worded missive saying that something was amiss and that the schemes were being put forward without meeting the laid-down investment criteria. Finally, one can imagine an ascerbic telephone call with the demand that someone be fired for being silly enough to put forward such schemes in the first place when the Minister was unable to accept them because they failed to meet the criteria. We all know, accept and acknowledge that. That is how things work in the modern world.
The reality is that many of the more marginal schemes—those that approach the laid-down investment criteria —are not put forward because of British Rail's misgivings that a way will be found to reject them and that if they are rejected odium will somehow fall on those who put them forward. That is amply illustrated by the experience, if I may again be parochial, of my own part of the world and of the Birmingham cross-city railway line. It does not run through my constituency, but it covers the west midlands from Redditch to Lichfield. We have been hearing and have read in regional newspapers for the past two years, that the go-ahead for the electrification of the line is anticipated at any moment. Much of the line, such as the central core around Birmingham New street station, is already electrified. In a written answer only last week the Department told me that no such scheme had been formally presented to it. When asked what discussions had taken place about the scheme, the reply was—it has appeared in Hansard and I am paraphrasing it to save time —that unofficial discussions had taken place twice but that the scheme had yet to be formally submitted.
Those unofficial discussions will presumably take place for as long as the Department likes and while they are taking place the Department will repeat its parrot cry, "No formal investment scheme has been submitted." Like many people in the Birmingham area who are concerned about the scheme, I find such conduct unacceptable. I am sure that that example could be repeated for other schemes across the country. It illustrates the difference between two years of unofficial consultation about a railway electrification scheme that is relatively minor in the financial sense but which is significant to us in the west midlands, and the out-of-the-blue £10 billion White Paper "Roads for Prosperity"—its title is a misnomer to many of us—that was produced from under the Secretary of State's desk, a few days ago, much to the surprise of many of us, and probably to him as well.
§ Mr. Adley
Will the hon. Gentleman ask the Minister to comment on the policy of "bustitution", that revolting word? Will he ask the Minister to deny that British Rail has been asked to find 20 or 30 routes where it might be possible to close railways and to replace them with buses? Will he also ask the Minister to deny that, while that is going on, no investment is being put into the lines by British Rail, which means that those lines are becoming less attractive as the weeks go by?
§ Mr. Snape
I would, if I thought that I could ask questions as perceptive as those of the hon. Gentleman. He has asked a relevant and valid series of questions that I am delighted to pass on. We can all guess the reply—that the Government have no intention of demanding that certain lines be put forward for what is meant by that dreadful 51 word "bustitution". Of course, there is no such intention because what will happen is that the same unofficial talks that have taken place about cross-city electrification will take place about certain railway lines. Across a desk, or perhaps even over a good lunch at L'amico restaurant down the road or at somewhere expensive—certainly not in a Traveller's Fare restaurant in a provincial station—some highly placed person in the Department of Transport will say to someone from British Rail, "Look here, old chap, what about bustitution?" They will order a round of brandies and once the PR man has got over that, he will be told that although the Minister does not want to say anything formally, "We in the Department feel that there is scope for just that sort of thing for some of the less well used routes."
As the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) has just said, while those unofficial discussions and that series of lunches are taking place—costing the taxpayer a great deal of money—there will be no investment of any sort in that line. Indeed, the position might even be worse. Other lines might well see a repeat of the Settle-Carlisle line experience. Although British Rail and the Department will say that no such discussions are taking place, minor adjustments will be made to the timetable to ensure that connections are missed here and there. Early morning trains will be withdrawn because "They're not particularly remunerative, you know" and in no time at all, over yet another lunch, perhaps at Lockets on this occasion if the two participants have become bored with the menu at other restaurants, it will be suggested that the lines are so unprofitable that bustitution may be the only answer because it is not possible to run an economic service on the existing railway line.
§ Mr. Peter Fry (Wellingborough)
I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument carefully. As I understand it, like the proposer of the motion, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey), he is in favour of an integrated transport system, which would seem to imply that investment should be made where it will have the greatest return. If that is the case, does it not make sense to invest in British Rail routes with more passengers instead of concentrating on routes with few passengers?
§ Mr. Snape
The hon. Gentleman seems really pleased with himself. He has sat back with a wonderfully smug look on his face as if saying mentally, "That has put one over the Opposition."
To a certain extent, the hon. Gentleman is right. The problem about defining the right place for investment is that, like the hon. Gentleman, with whom I have crossed swords on these matters for a good many years, the Government believe that the only place to put money is where the 8 per cent. return is readily achievable. The Opposition believe that investment in public transport, especially in a railway network, brings environmental and energy-saving benefits, as well as the not readily quantifiable benefit of not killing on the roads the number of people that we kill at present. The problem with the hon. Gentleman is that he is obsessed with the contents of his and the Government's wallets rather than with the environmental realities of public transport, which are enormously beneficial in terms of these other not readily quantifiable matters.
§ Mr. Anderson
Does my hon. Friend remember the unhappy precedent of this symbiotic relationship between the Department of Transport and British Rail? When the Department of Transport said that it would like InterCity to break even within five years, British Rail rolled over like a lapdog and said, "No, we can do it in three."
§ Mr. Snape
British Rail's likeness to a lapdog has been referred to in the House many times before, but my hon. Friend is quite right. It is a matter of pride for the InterCity management that it is now running a profitable railway. To an extent, the management of that sector of the railways known as provincial services feel an understandable pride that they are not losing as much money as they used to and that they are expanding some provincial services in a way that I, and I think the House, regard as entirely creditable.
§ Mr. Snape
The Minister says, "Let us privatise." That is a parrot cry. We have not got round to that yet. His advisers have not yet done their sums. Railwaymen and women must pay today's bills with yesterday's money, without tomorrow's promises coming to reality. Their problem is that they are continually being told how successful the railway network is. It is much more profitable now than it used to be. Then those railwaymen and women say, "We work considerably longer hours than most people." They work considerably longer hours than most people in the House.
§ Mr. Snape
The hon. Gentleman says that that is not true. I do not know the hon. Gentleman particularly well, but he should be careful. If he clocks up some of the hours that I know are clocked up by signalmen and drivers, he is working far too hard and should go and have a lie down.
Railwaymen and women say, "If we are doing so well, surely we should be allowed to share in the prosperity." Instead, they have been told, "You are taking the 7 per cent." They have been told not to take it or leave it, but that it will be put in their pay packets regardless of the view of their negotiators. They have been told that, before any industrial action, there must be a ballot. They have held a ballot, and a majority—not a massive one, but one larger than that enjoyed by many hon. Members in the popular vote—voted for some sort of industrial action. During supposed last-ditch talks at ACAS only last Saturday, they were told by the same management, which has been boasting of its economic success on running the railway industry, that it would apply for a court injunction to prevent any industrial action next Wednesday.
§ Mr. Snape
If it is necessary, my declaration of interest has been in the Register of Members' Interests since I was elected to the House. I do not think that it is necessary for me to say when I am at the Dispatch Box that I am a member of the National Union of Railwaymen. At this 53 Box I speak not for the National Union of Railwaymen but for the Labour party—[Interruption.] No, it is not the same thing. Conservative Members constantly and deliberately misinterpret the relationship between the Opposition and the trade union movement.
I believe that most fair-minded people would think that those who have delivered in terms of economic performance on the railways deserve a better reward than that offered them at present. The feeling among those who work in the railway industry is one of widespread dissatisfaction with the way they are being treated.
If I might have the attention of the Minister for a moment, I should like to put to him a number of points about the railways. I make no apology for asking him to explain to us once again the reason for the differences in the criteria that he uses to judge the merits of road and rail schemes. Although he attempted partially to answer that point earlier, I ask him to reconsider the recommendations of the Leitch committee in 1977 and, in some subsequent debate, to give us detailed answers as to why the Government have not implemented those recommendations. Before he says that the Labour Government did not either, I should tell him that I asked them to do so at the time. Of course, then the transport team was led by those well-known raving moderates, Messrs. Bill Rodgers and John Horam, who, of course were most highly regarded by the popular press. One of those has since found his rightful home in the Conservative party, by way of the Social Democratic party, and the other has left politics altogether —which is a tragic loss, I must say. I did my best at that time to convince them that the recommendations should be accepted, although they were not.
Will the Minister look again at the cross-city electrification scheme in Birmingham and tell us if and when a decision is likely to be forthcoming? Perhaps he can jog the elbows of those responsible in his Department for the unofficial talks that are taking place about that scheme.
The Minister said a few welcome words about the Channel tunnel and how much the Government wanted to see the benefits of that scheme spread throughout the country. I understand that an investment submission is being prepared for a number of passenger trains to be used in connection with cross-Channel services, which must carry some, if not substantial, accommodation for customs and immigration, depending on agreement finally and belatedly being reached about such matters being dealt with on the trains.
Will there be any leeway in the 8 per cent. investment criterion for those trains, because much will depend, at least initially, on the total number of through services that will be run from the Channel tunnel to provincial cities, such as Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and into Scotland? Obviously, if that 8 per cent. criterion is to be adhered to rigidly, there will be a reduced number of train sets, because they are obviously sets that cannot be used for any other purpose. Presumably, the fact that they can be used only for that purpose may weigh against them in terms of investment criteria.
We welcome the fact that the Minister has pointed out the contribution that the Channel tunnel can make, not to transferring existing freight from road to rail—regrettably, at present, there is not much rail freight—but to mopping up some of the projected increase, at least in the next few years, and perhaps making deeper inroads into reducing the number of juggernaut lorries cluttering up the roads in the south of England.
54 The Minister will be aware of the falling number of section 8 grants in recent years. Will he look again at the criteria for section 8 grants, especially those referring to lorry-sensitive miles? As I understand the system, if it is possible to show that a number of lorries can be taken away from unsuitable roads—however unsuitable roads are defined—obviously it becomes easier for the applicant to receive a contribution towards the provision of private rail sidings. The problem is that the more motorways and dual carriageways we build and the more road improvements we carry out, the fewer lorry-sensitive route miles there will be. I should have thought that, given the problems of congestion, for example, on the M25 and on some of our other motorways, anything that helps to reduce the number of lorries on those motorways—although I accept the fact that that is why motorways were built in the first place—would be welcome.
Will the Minister assure us that he will at least look at the rules on section 8 grants to see whether they can be widened, so that the graph of grants for section 8 private sidings starts to turn up again instead of falling away as dramatically as it has in the past few years?
If we confine our interest to reading the newspapers, we would think that all our roads and motorways are absolutely choked and that the forecasts about road traffic are invariably understated. Of course, in some cases, they are. No one needs reminding of the congestion on the M25. There are those of us, however, in the Opposition who believe that there are better ways of alleviating congestion than spending £10 billion on new motorways or widening existing ones. A transport package would be much more beneficial than the usual behaviour of the Department of Transport, which appears to act more as a Ministry of Transport than as a Department.
Does the Minister agree that many roads are being built on the basis of traffic forecasts that have been greatly overpitched? For many hours of the day and night it is possible to picnic in comparative safety on the outside lane of the M45 from the M1 to Coventry because there is little traffic. The M18 is another road that was built to motorway standard but, for much of the day and night, appears to be under-utilisied. It was built on the basis of projections that have not yet come to fruition and, in the opinion of many, never will.
§ Mr. Snape
Of course. If the Conservative party is trying to tell us that at no time has it produced figures to back up a political necessity, I do not believe it. The Conservative party should reconsider the problems caused by congestion and tolls. I hope that, now that the Minister has made his political pitch, he will agree that the projections that were made to justify building those roads have frequently not come to fruition.
There is a twin problem because, by its nature, traffic forecasting is an inexact science. I ask the Minister about the saga of the M40 from Oxford to Birmingham. In the mid-1970s, under the two moderates to whom I have referred, the Department of Transport decided that no motorway was necessary between those two cities. The Department talked, justifiably, about the need to improve 55 the existing trunk roads, the A34 and the A41, and to bypass towns and cities such as Banbury and Warwick. The Department costed the exercise and said that it would do all that was necessary to cater for traffic growth in the foreseeable future.
By the early 1980s, it had been decided that that was all a mistake and that a motorway was needed. Because of the traffic projections, it was decided that a two-lane motorway was needed for much of the road's length. It was then decided that the projections were wrong and that a three-lane motorway was necessary. In a decade we have gone from no motorway to a three-lane motorway.
Earlier this year, a public inquiry was set up to consider the possibility of setting up a service area on that road. The inquiry sat for some months, and these things do not come cheap. Recently, the inquiry was adjourned because someone in the Department of Transport decided that the traffic projections were 42 per cent. too low.
This is a saga worthy of the late Mr. Peter Sellers. How does the Department justify such wide fluctuations of opinion between no motorway and a three-lane motorway, the traffic forecasts for which will be exceeded by 42 per cent. by the early 1990s? What kind of computer is used to produce such fluctuating forecasts?
§ Mr. Snape
As the hon. Gentleman says, a fairly slow Peter Snow swingometer—with a vengeance. The Minister will forgive me if I sound somewhat cynical about some of the projections from his Department, given the saga, as yet incomplete, of the M40. Is the public inquiry to be resumed later this year? Will the hon. Gentleman give us accurate projections on road traffic between Oxford and Birmingham?
Little mention has been made so far of congestion in the air, or on the ground for those waiting to take to the air. The experiences of last summer and the likely experiences of this summer are no cause for the Government to congratulate themselves. I do not suggest that it is all their fault, but some of it certainly is. Patting themselves on the back when would-be travellers spend hours at airports is no way to impress either the House or the electorate. We need greater investment in our air traffic control facilities and greater involvement in Euro-control. It is a pity that it takes at least one and probably two summers of discontent for air travellers before the myth of sovereignty of the air is dissipated. Euro-control is largely nominal. In addition, there are 42 centres and 22 different control systems in Europe. This makes no sense, and certainly will not make any sense this summer, for those who are sitting in extremely overcrowded airports.
§ Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside)
The hon. Gentleman and I have taken an interest in this matter and, in fact, visited Gatwick together to discuss air traffic control, among other matters. He should be gracious enough to acknowledge that the Government have taken the lead during their presidency to persuade the EEC to broaden the scope of Euro-control. There is a good reason for that—the United Kingdom has more to gain from the liberalisation of air services in Europe and the streamlining of air traffic control than any other country, because we have about 20 airlines that provide international services. We are taking the lead in Europe.
56 I should like the Government to speed up their programme of investment. Expenditure of £600 million in air traffic control sounds like a lot of money, but it is peanuts compared with investment in roads and rail. Failure to make that investment will result in Charles de Gaulle airport becoming a main European hub from which one can travel to London in about two and a half hours. To preserve our lead in civil aviation, we must do more to improve the capacity of our airports in the south-east.
§ Mr. Peter Fry (Wellingborough)
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Three speeches have been made in an hour and a half and, with the greatest respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin), we have had virtually a miniature speech from him. Some of us have been waiting to make our contribution. There is little time for Back Benchers to speak in the debate, so I ask for your protection.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)
I think that the hon. Member is asking me to make an appeal for shorter speeches so that as many hon. Members as possible can contribute. I gladly accede to that request.
§ Mr. Snape
I gladly accede to it, too. I apologise if we have all been deprived of the doubtless wise words of the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry). Perhaps I allowed myself to be led astray by the number of interventions during my speech.
I agree with much of what the hon. Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin) said. I wish that we could get away from the idea that we have to take the lead over the rest of Europe. That justifiably irritates people. The thought of the Prime Minister appearing through the door of any conference centre brandishing her handbag and threatening to take the lead would be an instant turn-off in many EEC countries. I hope that the hon. Gentleman agrees that, whoever takes the lead, the present system is unacceptable. As he rightly said, £600 million sounds like a great deal of money, but it is peanuts compared with the amount required to do something about the ever-mounting delays and congestion in European air travel.
Bearing in mind your strictures, Madam Deputy Speaker, I shall not produce the statistics to refute some of the Minister's boasts about the level of investment in railways since the Government took office in 1979. It is true that investment for the current year is fairly high, as it was last year, but the early years of the present Administration mark some of the lowest levels of investment within the railway industry for 20 years or so. If one takes the global figure, the public service obligation and investment, the Government are still a long way behind their predecessors. Current expenditure is a fraction of that spent on the railway network throughout Europe. In relation to the more developed countries of the EC, we are eighth out of eight in terms of the proportion of GDP which is spent on railways, which is no cause for self-congratulation.
Our transport system suffers from chaos and congestion, and the sooner the Government lose their air of smug self-satisfaction, which has been typified by the Minister, and the sooner they acknowledge that a deep-rooted problem exists which only money can solve, the better.
§ Mr. Peter Fry (Wellingborough)
I am most grateful, and I only hope that the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) will regard my comments as words of wisdom. I always enjoy listening to his contributions. He is always worth listening to and bullish. I understand why he is so cheerful today. If I were a member of the Labour party and had had his majority at the last two elections, I should be happier than usual today.
The debate has developed in a disappointing way. The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) began by giving a blinkered view. One would always think that the only mode of transport worth considering was railway. The debate so far has centred on road investment versus rail investment, but the argument should be opened up.
I came to the House as a member of what was loosely called the road lobby, but I consider myself as good a friend of British Rail as of the British Road Federation, because I have come to the well-thought-out conclusion that as the pressure on transport in this country is increasing, and has been increasing for a number of years, it is pointless to have futile arguments about whether we should invest more in road than rail or more in rail than road when we all realise that, particularly in large urban areas, all modes of transport have a contribution to make if we are to ease the pressure on our cities and means of communication. There is little doubt that today's problem will become considerably worse before it gets better, despite the record levels of investment listed by my hon. Friend the Minister this afternoon.
We are suffering not merely from what the Opposition describe as the neglect of investment in transport infrastructure, which has occurred even during this Administration, but from a lack of investment which goes back 15 or 20 years. A major new road project probably takes 15 years from initial concept to completion. One of the problems of today's debate is that, even if someone in the Department of Transport were to bring forward a wonderful plan and persuade the Treasury that it could be implemented, and even if the finance were advanced, it would take many years to tackle the growing congestion and the tremendous problems that we face. That is why I am sad that the debate so far has concentrated on what has gone before rather than on arguments for the future.
My hon. Friend the Minister and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State have shown determination and flexibility, which were sadly lacking in the Department of Transport for several years. The team at the Department of Transport is determined that there should be extra investment. One aspect that I particularly commend is that, unlike those of other Administrations, the team is prepared to consider virtually any option if it will improve the overall position.
It is all very well to dismiss spending on roads, but we are told that the number of motor cars is to double by early next century. It is all very well telling people that they should not have a motor car and should travel by public transport, by rail, but once the average person has bought a motor car, he or she will continue to use it and to want to use it because it is the most convenient form of transport. Any Government who fail to recognise that and suggest that people's use of motor cars should be too greatly inhibited will find themselves on the receiving end of public dissatisfaction whenever the next election takes place.
§ Mr. Fry
We cannot build our way out of trouble. I have just returned from a visit to the United States, where it is now accepted that it is impossible to build enough roads to satisfy the overwhelming demand. That does not mean, however, that we should do nothing but consider what each mode of transport contributes. We might find that it is best to concentrate on light rail, heavy rail underground, British Rail services or using car sharing more than we do at present. We may need some road improvements or even to build new roads. It would be taking a blinkered view to pass today's motion, as though voting more money for the railways would solve the problem.
As I said earlier, the difficulty arises because the problems are increasing. One interesting aspect of modern travel, particularly travel for work, is how much more complex it is becoming. More and more people travel, not merely in a radial line from outside the city into its centre, but across the city and its suburbs. Yet our public transport systems are nearly all based on radial lines of communication.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
Does not the hon. Gentleman accept that one measure that should be taken is to charge motorists who insist on driving into towns and city centres unnecessarily, and even to charge those who drive in as a matter of course? A leader in today's Evening Standard suggests two methods of doing this in London as the only way of preventing unnecessary congestion from bringing the capital city to a standstill.
§ Mr. Fry
It is possible to use a more rigid parking policy to deter the motorist. The number of commuters coming into London by car is a small percentage of the total number of people coming into the city. Many would argue that that percentage comprises essential users, perhaps Members of Parliament who cannot travel home any other way if the House sits late. It is all very well saying that we should make them pay, but most of them, because they are in business, would pass on the cost to someone else and the charges would hit and therefore penalise people at the lowest end of the income scale.
The problem has been exacerbated recently. Yesterday's Sunday Telegraph states:Between 1983 and 1988 daily rail journeys into London during the morning rush hour.… increased from 380,000 to 460,000 … During 1981–82 there were 498 million journeys completed on London Underground rising to 798 million in 1987–8".Increases on this scale have come upon us remarkably quickly, and the decisions needed to deal with them must be made as early as possible because they take so long to implement. The Government, the Secretary of State and the Minister have at least come forward with some imaginative ideas, such as the central London rail study, for which we have been waiting a long time. Even if we agreed all the studies and decided to go ahead with all the projects, the difficulties would continue to multiply.
The Minister and I had an interesting Adjournment debate a few weeks ago about the contribution that private capital can make to transport infrastructure shortages. We differed, in that he felt that private investment could be encouraged to come in without any sweeteneers from the 59 Treasury or the Government. I welcome the Green Paper; I am not entirely sure how the ideas expressed in it will work out in practice, but I remain convinced that many projects, especially road projects, cannot stand on their own without some form of tax relief on the money invested or some sort of payment by way of shadow tolls. I do not especially commend either form of assistance, but something is needed.
The Government have had the courage to think much more adventurously than their predecessors, but if my hon. Friend discovers, as he undoubtedly and unfortunately will, that the considerable investment now being made is insufficient to deal with the congestion, now and in the future, I hope that he can assure me that the Government will keep an open mind when considering alternatives. I am all in favour of my hon. Friend trying to encourage the private sector to come in, as the Green Paper suggested, but it would be wrong to close off all the alternatives.
We are on the verge of a tremendous explosion in the movement of people. It is a fundamental responsibility of any Government to safeguard the freedom of that movement, which is one of our basic liberties. It has taken a long time for Governments in this country to give transport and expenditure on it the high degree of attention that it enjoys today. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and to my hon. Friend the Minister for recognising the challenges that transport problems pose. Given the extra expenditure that they have already announced, I am confident that they will have the determination to deal with this problem and to bring relief —if not tomorrow, perhaps in a few years—to the people of this country.
§ 6.3 pm
§ Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)
The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) asked some basic questions about transport policy and outlined the great explosion in transport use that will happen over the next few years. I wonder whether he and other hon. Members are prepared to face the implications of, for instance, making motorists pay the marginal social costs involved in relieving inner-city congestion. The hon. Gentleman also asked why there had been so much concentration in the debate and in the motion on rail, as opposed to road. He said that transport should be seen as a whole. The answer to the hon. Gentleman's question is that hon. Members have concentrated on rail because its potential contribution to our transport system has been consistently devalued over the years. That is why we seek positively to put the case for rail.
Having heard the Minister's speech I am tempted to ask: if things are so good, why are they so bad? People like me who use public transport in London expect that at least one of the lifts in an Underground station will not work and that, when they change tubes, at least one of the escalators will not work. We expect the honeyed words over the loudspeaker—at least they tell us now why things are wrong—informing us of delays.
International comparisons provide some indication of the Government's neglect. In an editorial on 19 May, The 60 Independent said something that might be labelled Marxist by Conservative Members. Under the heading "Neglected transports of horror" it said:For nearly 10 years, Margaret Thatcher paid scant attention to transport. Nor did she give any Cabinet Minister a long enough term of office at the Department of Transport to master the subject and push through major reforms. Six men, several of them distinctly second-rate, have succeeded one another during a period which has seen a single Prime Minister and two Chancellors of the Exchequer. This was a sign that Mrs. Thatcher regarded transport as a relatively unimportant portfolio, an error to which her own access to special travel facilities, coupled with her well known antipathy to railways, made her especially prone. The nation is suffering for this lack of interest.No hon. Member, based on his own experience or on talking to his constituents, can gainsay this lack of interest from on high in transport in this country. Our people travel nowadays. They see the quality of the railways in France and Germany and can compare them with ours. They can compare the glistening newness of the underground in Paris with the squalor and age-old feeling of the Underground in London.
Comparisons of projected investment over the next few years show that West Germany plans to spend £12 billion on major rail programmes. France plans to spend £1 billion a year until the end of the century. These countries display a far more bullish attitude to their railways, and that is reflected in staff morale and usage by passengers. Spain intends to spend £10 billion; Italy proposes investment of up to £18 billion. Even Holland, a small country, is spending £3 billion. The current investment programme of British Rail is £3.8 billion over five years.
Britain is virtually at the bottom of the table of European countries when it comes to building urban railways to relieve inner-city congestion. We plan to build only 1.5 km of such rail, in the form of the Bank extension of the Docklands light railway in London. That is the only domestic urban rail project under construction, and it compares with West Germany's 116.1 km, Italy's 79.7, and France's 62.8. The Railway Gazette International year book survey, published in May of this year, showed that the United Kingdom was sandwiched between Finland, with 1.6 km, and Greece, with 0.9. We should be seeking ways of using rail positively to relieve inner-city congestion.
The schemes for 752 km of urban track have been held up because of the Government's insistence that a large proportion of expenditure must come from the private sector—yet it is clearly not providing enough. High-speed railways can fuel the arteries of the new Europe. We have seen a difference of attitude among our European partners in this respect. Rail can also be a major solution to congestion in our inner cities.
I accept that the Government have, in principle, welcomed the central London rail study. I have no doubt that the Minister and his colleagues are seeking additional cash for LRT and British Rail from the Treasury, but, in response to the study, which was published in January, the Treasury has yet to provide additional sums on a scale remotely comparable with what is available for roads.
All in all, the comparisons speak badly for the attitude to rail in this country. Vision is lacking, at a time when our constituents can see increasing squalor in the rail network. The Government's narrow theme is that the passenger must pay. That is rather different from the criteria for investment in roads. They seek to maximise property sales, selling assets as part of their major rail policy.
61 Environmental and safety considerations have constantly been downgraded. France has certainly shown how high-speed rail can spread growth and investment to the regions and at the same time protect the environment. The result of the Government's policy has been poor staff morale. I invite hon. Members to speak to railwaymen in their constituencies about how they feel about their future. Morale now is very different from what it was under Sir Peter Parker. At that time, ordinary railwaymen felt that at least there was someone fighting their corner—if that is the appropriate word after the European elections. They felt that at least someone was banging the drum for rail.
The uncertainties that derive from privatisation are another major factor affecting morale. Think tanks were at the margins of government a decade ago, but now they are front centre stage and there is talk about bringing back the Great Western and the LMS. The Government's road and rail investment policies are constantly out of balance. Surely a sensible policy would be for the Government to recognise that, even though the railway system cannot make a contribution on the scale that some of the advocates would like, it is there and a major but under-utilised national asset. It could make a major contribution to regional development and could reduce congestion in the cities.
We can anticipate regional demand. For example, in my part of the world in south Wales the heads of the valleys road was built at a time when there was little demand for it. However, we are told that there is no prospect of the electrification of the main line from Paddington to south Wales, because the investment criteria cannot be met. As my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) showed in his example, although the Government put their hand on their heart and say that they had accepted every project put up, only those projects are proposed by British Rail which they know will satisfy the artificially high criteria imposed by Government.
Government have to take seriously the regional implications of the Channel tunnel. In all their transport policies, they have shown the hallmark that led to their massive defeat in the European elections. They have shown themselves to be out of step with our European partners. They are on their own in a corner in terms of their assessment of the contribution that rail can make to an overall transport policy. They have shown themselves to be environmentally unconscious by failing to understand the contribution that rail can make. One sees in their transport policy, as in their European policy, the personal stamp of the Prime Minister, which proved so disastrous for the Conservatives over the past few days. The Prime Minister never travels by rail and has consistently downgraded the contribution that rail can make. That prevents a serious and sensible policy on rail from being adopted by the Government.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson). I do not disagree with much of what he said. One of the advantages of a transport debate is that it shows the growing consensus—if I am allowed to use that word—not only about the causes but about the need for a solution to many of our transport problems.
62 The motion moved by the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) would have us believe that severe congestion is caused by inadequate investment in public transport. It is actually caused by increasing prosperity. The hon. Gentleman failed to answer my intervention. There is no point in saying to people who have become prosperous that they cannot have cars because there are enough already. Prosperity has created the congestion and we have to find ways to solve it.
I agree with hon. Members who have said that better public transport is the only sane solution to the problem of congestion. At one time it seemed that the motor car would sound the death knell of the railways. However, by its very proliferation the car is the cause of the revitalisation of our railway system. We must take that on board. The Government's economic policies have caused congestion but they need not be ashamed of that because they created the prosperity.
My hon. Friend the Minister of State has been gracious enough to listen to many of my comments about coaches in London. Some of the policies of the Government, such as coach deregulation, have created micro-problems of traffic congestion and pollution in London. That applies especially to commuter coaches which come in and out during rush hours and park all day, often with their engines running and polluting the atmosphere with diesel fumes. We have deprived London's local authorities of the right and duty to designate coach routes. If we had the courage to re-examine some aspects of the deregulation policy, we might be able to deal with small but important parts of the congestion.
I should like to speak about two points made by my hon. Friend the Minister. The first is about the docklands light railway. Yes, we welcome that railway but no, we do not welcome the thinking that caused the Government to insist that the railway be built so cheaply that it was incompatible with the rest of London Regional Transport and British Rail. In a city such as London it is futile to try to save money by building bits of a railway that do not fit in with the rest of the railway system. I hope that we shall not make that mistake again.
When the Minister spoke about Snow Hill to Wolverhampton my heart leapt. There used to be a railway line from Snow Hill to Wolverhampton. It was called the Great Western Railway. A few weeks ago I went to look at Wolverhampton low-level station which had just been saved from destruction and is now being revitalised by Wolverhampton council. I shed tears when I thought of the investment in infrastructure that was put into our railways by our forebears and which we have thrown away.
I make a specific plea to my hon. Friend the Minister, to my hon. Friends and to the Opposition and I hope that the House can unite on it. Because of changing patterns of traffic it may be necessary on occasions to discontinue a rail service. However, there is never a case for destroying the track bed by selling it off, thereby preventing our descendants from reinstating a rail service should condition change. Can we please stop selling off temporarily redundant railway tracks? It was possible to build the docklands light railway only because, by sheer chance, the tracks and land had not been flogged off by British Rail.
There was the old Great Central railway; and the Somerset and Dorset joint railway line which everybody used to laugh at, which stretches forlornly between the 63 great growth areas of Avon in the north and south-east Dorset in the south. Barbara Castle sanctioned the closure of such lines and if she had not done so we would now be able to reinstate our rail services and see more motions on the Order Paper by my hon. Friends congratulating British Rail on reopening services. There was one recently about the reopening of the line between Burton and Leicester, but that service would never have been reinstated if it had not been for the quirk of fate that kept the track bed in existence.
§ Mr. Snape
May I reassure the hon. Gentleman about the line that moved him to tears? The track bed between Snow Hill and Wolverhampton was preserved by the former and, sadly, now abolished West Midlands county council. In the county structure plan it had the foresight to envisage that that line would reopen in the 1990s—as indeed it will, albeit as a metro line.
§ Mr. Adley
Perhaps that local authority would like to move down to Dorset to give a few lessons to Dorset county council, which believes that transport means roads. The rail infrastructure in and around my constituency were destroyed in the 1960s by the Labour Government. I am not being partisan. One could weep at the opportunities lost then.
There have been references to the European election, if it was an election—a non-election to a non-Parliament.
§ Mr. Adley
No, I think that the Conservative candidate in our European constituency increased his share of the vote. That is beside the point.
The substantial vote for the Green party could not and should not be ignored. It was a quiet message to the Conservative party, the Labour party and the Liberal and Alliance party, or whatever it is called this week. That vote is a clear message to all of us that environmental matters are of growing concern to the British electorate. Transport plays a major part in that environmental concern. In a brief debate, it is not possible to go into all the policies that one would like to see pursued but, in California of all places, the home of private enterprise, the state is legislating to ban the internal combustion engine by early in the next century.
Surely we in western Europe must recognise that we have to tell the oil companies and the motor car manufacturers that, if we can send men to the moon, we must be able to develop the electric motor vehicle to a non-polluting form of transport, that we must get on with this and not allow the pace to be dictated by those who have a commercial investment and interest in continuing to provide forms of land transport that fill our air with fumes. It must be technically feasible, and sooner or later Parliament must do something about it.
There is a similar problem about the railways. Electrified railways are clean and they are much the most economical to operate, but they cost a certain amount of money in capital investment. Why do we always have to look longingly across the Channel to see the attitude that our colleagues there take towards public investment in general and in particular towards public investment in their railways? The French provided and built the original 64 train grand vitesse—TGV—to Lyons. They thought that it would be 15 years before there was a return on their investment, but that was achieved in six and a half years. We should take a leaf out of their book, and instead of looking for reasons not to invest in our railway system look at the options available to us and the benefits that can flow from bold decisions. If we did, we would go some way towards alleviating the aggravation and concern felt by many of our fellow citizens.
We have discussed also the vexed question of rail investment versus road investment. My hon. Friend the Minister knows my views on this matter. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State came here a couple of weeks ago and announced what I can only describe as a roads bonanza. In that beautiful glossy document, among the proposals was a motorway from the Channel tunnel to Southampton. That will be marvellous, except for those who find that the road goes past their front door, but we shall not discuss that aspect of the matter now. However, a railway line already runs between the Channel tunnel and Southampton. A tiny piece of it on the stretch between Ashford and Hastings is the only part not electrified. It is a few miles long, but British Rail is unable to satisfy the Government and meet their investment criteria so as to link up the entire line to through traffic by putting down a third piece of metal to form an electric railway line. It is grotesque that we have these double standards in assessing road versus rail investment criteria.
The hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) talked about the unofficial meetings that we all know take place between British Rail and the Department of Transport, and the hon. Member for Swansea, East mentioned this too. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Minister will be honest and straightforward. They must stop pretending that every single piece of new investment that British Rail wants to undertake it can undertake. We all know what that means. It is that when the private meetings have taken place, only when British Rail satisfies the Department's officials does it put in a formal proposition. However, dozens of schemes are thrown out informally. Occasionally, a scheme such as the one between Blackpool and Manchester gets thrown out even after it has been put forward by BR. There can be no justification for a short-sighted decision to throw out a scheme that would complete a whole railway system by electrifying one small section.
The motion refers to the Channel tunnel. I am sure that the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor will have read my excellent booklet called "Tunnel Vision". In it, I set out to discuss these problems a year or so ago. Have hon. Members thought about what will happen when the Channel tunnel opens? The result will be the M25 in spades. Who realises that all the rail traffic coming to London from the Channel tunnel will, in the initial years, use Waterloo, but will have to operate on a single track of railway line between Vauxhall and Waterloo? It is not even a double track. Hon. Members should think what that means in terms of congestion and delay. If my hon. Friend the Minister thinks that he has difficulties and troubles now with congestion and delay on the railways, to paraphrase a politician on the other side of the Atlantic, "he ain't seen nuthin' yet", because there will be serious problems.
§ Mr. Adley
The hon. Gentleman must not distract me!
We are desperately short of experiments in public transport. I shall mention one phrase, which may cause the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East to smile. It is slip coaches. In the old days the Great Western Railway experimented with, and then ran extensively for many years, a system of slip coaches. In it, trains slipped a coach off the back of an express, which then came to a halt at a designated station without causing the main train to stop. That was the only way to do it with a steam engine, but now, with electric tracks and light diesel traction, a whole new world would be opened up by an experiment into powered slip coaches. What people want is the opportunity to travel on a through train without having to change. This applies particularly to the Channel tunnel and to people travelling to airports. Will my hon. Friend the Minister ask British Rail how much it would cost to carry out an experiment into powered slip coaches to see whether they could be used as a way to help to alleviate transport problems?
I shall finish by dealing with railway privatisation. I am afraid that some of my colleagues know more about party politics than public transport. The two make uneasy bedfellows. I am delighted to hear that the confrontation of reality against expectation on the privatisation of the railway has meant that the timetable originally agreed by my reluctant right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for publishing his proposals has now to be delayed. I am prepared to be convinced that somehow we can discover what nobody else in the world has discovered—the way to run a private passenger railway system profitably. There may be reasons why the best railways in the world, in France, West Germany, Switzerland or Italy, are state-controlled and the worst passenger railway system in the world, that of the United States, is owned privately. There may he some hidden message there, which misleads me, and that may be an argument for privatisation.
I am waiting patiently, and I have an open mind about railway privatisation because, as a Conservative, I am in favour of the principle of privatisation. However, I am not prepared to allow political dogma to dictate my view as to whether we should privatise the railways purely for the sake of privatisation. If my hon. Friend the Minister can convince me that the criteria laid down by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—that it will provide a better service for the public—will be achieved, I shall support it. Unless and until he does, I shall not.
§ Mr. Gerald Howarth (Cannock and Burntwood)
It is a great pleasure to take up the remarks of the train-spotter's friend, my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley). That term takes me back to the days when I was the chairman of my school's railway society, and the concept of powered slip coaches had us all extremely excited. I am sure that my hon. Friend has done more than probably anyone else in the House to advance the cause of the railways throughout our land. I am only sorry that in his strictures to my hon. Friend the Minister he was not able to congratulate him on having done the decent thing with the Ribblehead viaduct.
§ Mr. Howarth
I am sure that my hon. Friend has congratulated my hon. Friend the Minister on other occasions. For the record, I thank the Minister for what I consider to be a sensible and wise decision.
§ Mr. Howarth
The hon. Gentleman may say that, but I think that we are getting used to the idea of private money in the railway system. I think that the privatisation of the railway system will be advantageous when it comes to introducing improved services.
I agree with the Minister that it is astonishing that the "Salads", or whatever they are called, decided on this topic for debate. They are surely on uncertain ground. Almost invariably, those who call for more investment in roads, bypasses and the infrastructure generally are those who organise residents' action committees to prevent developments from taking place. They tend to speak with forked tongue on matters on which my right hon. and hon. Friends have a good story to tell. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch feels that more could be done for the railways, but the railways have benefited from the £3,000 million that has been invested in them so far, and they will benefit further from the substantial programme that is to be implemented.
Those of us who use the InterCity services cannot fail to have noticed the vast improvement that has taken place. The services are fast, comfortable and generally punctual. I pay tribute to the friends of the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) who are responsible for manning our railways for what they have done. I warmly welcome the significant improvement that has been made.
§ Mr. Howarth
The hon. Gentleman knows that any change brings in advance of its implementation a degree of uncertainty. If his friends and hon. Friends were to consult those who were employed in nationalised industries and have now been liberated by being brought into the private sector, they would find generally that they are happier in the private sector. They find it more fulfilling and more rewarding than employment within the state sector.
§ Mr. Howarth
No, I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field) wishes to make a contribution to the debate, and I do not wish to impede him.
My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch will be pleased to know, as will the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East, that after 25 years the Walsall-to-Hednesford line, which runs substantially through my constituency, has recently been reopened. I pay tribute to Staffordshire county council for using the ratepayers' money to back the project, and I hope that ratepayers will support the line and enable it to become a financially viable service. New lines are being opened, and the railways are increasingly responding to the needs of the passenger. Those responsible for the inter-city services have announced that they are running earlier trains from various parts of the country to enable business men to 67 arrive in London by 9 am. We are beginning to see a concentration on the needs of the customer and a willingness to respond to those needs.
The deregulation of inter-city and local bus services has led to substantial improvements. The inter-city services are fantastic. The coaches are marvellous—they are fast, efficient and pleasant vehicles in which to ride. Minibuses are in profuse supply throughout the country. They offer frequent and comfortable journeys and are a substitute for using the car.
The Government have tried to grapple with the problems of London's third airport but I do not believe that the solution is entirely adequate. The Civil Aviation Authority's call for another London runway can be answered only by a second runway at Stansted to meet the demand that unquestionably will follow. The nettle had to be grasped in the first place.
Some of my hon. Friends in neighbouring constituencies are concerned about the Birmingham northern relief road. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State produced a splendid document setting out new proposals for the road system. It referred to the provision of "New Roads by New Means", including the introduction of private finance. It was only when I arrived back in the House about three weeks ago that I picked up the document and found encompassed within it a letter from my right hon. Friend telling me that the relief road was to be what amounts to the first toll motorway project.
Initially, I welcomed the concept. I am not opposed in principle to toll motorways. Most of our fellow citizens who travel on the continent are happy to pay the French Exchequer for the benefit of using the French motorway system, but of course, there is a choice. I usually use N roads to avoid contributing to the French Exchequer. When French motorists come to Britain, I do not see why they should enjoy our fine motorway network without making any contribution to our Exchequer. Toll motorways can make a good contribution.
After five years of deliberation, characterised by the closest consultation between Ministers and the Members of Parliament who represent the affected constituencies, it is distressing that a sudden announcement has had the effect of causing considerable consternation in south Staffordshire. My hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) will see his constituency affected by the Birmingham northern relief road. It will suffer particularly because all the options that have been canvassed go through his patch and will upset one section of his constituents or another.
The project has been five years in development. As I have said, there has been substantial consultation with Members of Parliament as well as with local authorities and local people. The Department's preferred route, the so-called green route, was accepted with enthusiasm or resignation by the people in the area, there was a public inquiry and we were awaiting the inspector's report, which would have confirmed the go-ahead. It was then that we were told that all bets were off, and it appears that the issue is to be opened up again. There is to be competition, with tenders invited for an unspecified route. Those who sold their houses under planning blight arrangements could well find that their houses will not come within the new route; there is great uncertainty.
68 The relief road was widely accepted by my constituents as a necessary development, and the same position was taken by the constituents of my hon. Friends. I have no doubt that the same view was taken by the entire nation. There is no doubt that the part of the M6 which runs through Birmingham is a grossly over-used road. The idea of a diversion was sensible. In my constituency, we can visualise substantial economic benefits deriving from the relief road, and many exciting projects have been put together. For example, the Poplars site—it is owned by Staffordshire county council—has produced a most imaginative scheme in partnership with the private sector. That scheme and others are threatened: everything has been put into the melting pot, and I cannot see what the gain will be.
If I could see that there was to be a clear gain, I would be in favour of it. However, I doubt whether there will be a gain. Many of the new exciting projects are likely to be put at risk. More especially, the Burntwood western bypass is under threat. Similarly, the Cannock eastern bypass is threatened because, unless the new road goes ahead, that bypass will go nowhere. That would be a lot of public sector investment for nothing.
At the very least, my hon. Friend the Minister should tell us that he will confirm the Department's preferred route and ensure that, if there is to be competition, it will be competition on the preferred route. He cannot tell us that there will be no delay. The Birmingham northern relief road is not the same as the Dartford-Thurrock route, which has only two points, one at each end of the river. The Birmingham northern relief road has no fewer than four intersections planned in my constituency. Will a private sector developer have four intersections? I suspect that a private sector developer would be unable to afford four intersections and would have only one mid route. Therefore, we are likely to lose out.
Although my constituents have not expressed this concern yet, they may be concerned that while Londoners have benefited from a great deal of public sector investment in the M25, my constituents may have to pay for the privilege of having a road which elsewhere in the country would have been provided from the public sector.
I understand that time is short, but I hope that I have been able to endorse much of what my hon. Friend the Minister has done and has plans to do. The Government's record on transport has been first class. There is nothing of which we should be ashamed. Unquestionably, more must be done and the Minister must consider air transport. However, I congratulate him and plead that he will have more consultations with his hon. Friends.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)
During this debate news has reached the House that the Hight Court has ruled in favour of the National Union of Railwaymen, and that Wednesday's rail strike will go ahead at the same time as the strike on the London Underground. The fact that London Transport is coming to a standstill is a reflection of the Government's policy on transport in the capital. Commuter chaos on a regular basis is a continuing capital crisis. The Minister appears to believe that the Government should not interfere with that chaos or even be concerned about it. The Minister hardly referred to the fact that there was any problem on the public transport system.
69 The Government have that blinkered view because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) said, they assert that they are investing enough on transport. Our motion alleges that the Government are so significantly under-investing in public transport that they are condemning the country to an extremely uncomfortable and precarious economic future. When the Minister replies, we would like him to tell us whether he is prepared to consider some of the advice given to him by his hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley), who referred to other countries where the evidence was that privatising and pretending that Government could have a hands-off policy was a receipe for a deteriorating transport system.
It was interesting to note that the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Mr. Howarth) was in favour of privatisation of roads except where it affected his constituency. The Minister alleged that my hon. Friends and I and our party complain if schemes to invest in transport are proposed in our areas or near our constituencies. That is completely untrue. For example, on a consistent basis, my colleagues have campaigned for the Settle-Carlisle railway. My colleagues have also consistently campaigned for the Cambrian coast railway to remain open, and only today my colleagues are heightening their campaign to keep open the Lewes-Uckfield line.
We must remind the Government that communities comprise people, many of whom do not have private transport. There must be sufficient public transport. That does not mean a service like that which has arisen from deregulating the buses, where the system is fine if someone wants to travel at a peak hour in the morning or afternoon, but no good if someone wants to go off the main route at off-peak hours. There must be sustained investment in a public transport system because that is the only way to deal both with our macro-economic problems and ensure a public service.
§ Mr. Gerald Howarth
I want to help the hon. Gentleman to understand something which he clearly did not understand in my speech. Had it been proposed to us at the outset that the Birmingham northern relief road was to a toll motorway, I would have welcomed it warmly. However, my constituents and I find it difficult to accept, after a public inquiry and five years of agony, that that whole can of worms is to be reopened.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. If he supports a Government who will land their new ideas for privatised roads somewhere and that somewhere happens to be in his constituency, he cannot really complain about it. If he complains now, I assume that he would complain about something similar happening elsewhere. He cannot expect the rest of the country to put up with something which he would not want in his back yard.
As a proportion of our national expenditure, expenditure on transport has dropped consistently throughout the 10 years of this Government. It was 4.9 per cent. in 1978–79, 4 per cent. in 1986–87 and it is projected to be 3.7 per cent. in 1990–91. The Government are doing that clearly as a matter of policy. In his announcement today about the extension of the Jubilee line through my constituency, the Minister made it clear that the plan would go ahead provided that the private sector invested 70 in it. I am not against private sector investment, but the idea that we can regularly and consistently reduce as a proportion of our national expenditure the amount of Government money spent on public transport and sustain a decent public transport system is not credible.
§ Mr. Adley
I cannot allow the travesty of truth which the hon. Gentleman has just espoused to remain on the record. He cannot claim that his party led the campaign for the retention of the Settle-Carlisle line. Will he confirm that the formation of the all-party group to retain the line took place entirely as the result of the efforts of Conservative and Labour Members and that not one member of his party joined that group?
§ Mr. Hughes
I did not claim that my party led the campaign. I claimed that my party was involved from the beginning in that campaign with local county councillors and district councillors at both ends of that line on a sustained and regular basis. We have argued the case in this House and outside, as the hon. Gentleman well knows. The record shows that we have consistently argued that the Settle-Carlisle line and others should be retained, while for a very long time the Government have prevaricated. We have had to wait months and years for them to make a decision on what was clearly a crucial matter for the environment and the communities concerned.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor also made it clear that one of the reasons why it is important to invest substantially more in public transport than we do now is that in only that way would we have an environmentally acceptable transport policy.
Private transport cannot increase at its present rate, with all the inevitable consequences for pollution and congestion, let alone mental illness and frustration, without severely harming the personal and the local environment. It is better by far to invest in the national rail network and, in urban areas, in an underground, a rapid transit network and a bus service. In that way, one maximises transport efficiency, especially if the subsidy system is properly regulated, with the consumption of the minimum amount of fuel and maximum travel occurring at the most convenient times. Encouraging and permitting private transport to grow, building roads to meet that demand, and in so doing automatically increasing demand —the M25 is the best example of that—is an unacceptable solution.
Today's issue of the Financial Times makes it clear how ridiculous are present policies. Writing about London Regional Transport in an article headedRaising fares and hackles on overcrowded Tube",Rachel Johnson observes:Here's the good news for Tube travellers. London Underground is tackling its biggest problem—overcrowding —which has now reached dangerous levels … Now for the bad news. London Underground's proposed solution to the problem, outlined to the Commons transport select committee, is to raise fares to such high levels that people are forced off the system.Even the Transport Secretary expressed his doubts:'I would have to hear convincing arguments from London Underground before I agreed to pricing people off the Underground'.I am glad to know that even the Secretary of State has doubts.
The reason why our capital will completely clog up is that in a city in which 35 per cent. of commuters use the Underground—which represents a total of 2.6 million 71 passengers and a 60 per cent. increase in five years, with a further 30 per cent. increase projected over the next five years—the amount of subsidy and public money being spent on it is being reduced. The new managing director of London Underground seems to think that that is perfectly acceptable:We have to get the best out of our troops",he said, justifying less expenditure, adding:McDonald's has shown the way in this. You don't have to have very highly paid and highly educated people to treat the public properly.Although one often feels like a McDonald's burger squeezed between two halves of a bun when one goes on the Underground, none the less that is no way to treat the travelling public, be they commuters, visitors from other parts of the country, or tourists from abroad.
Comparisons with expenditure in other parts of Europe make it obvious that not enough is being spent. Government funds account for 52 per cent. of public transport costs in Paris. The subsidy in Rome is 82 per cent.; London's subsidy is just 30 per cent. and falling.
The same applies to British Rail, which transports 40 per cent. of London's commuters and which, as with London Underground, has seen a 25 per cent. increase in demand. But has there been increased investment to meet it? No, instead the Government cut investment in British Rail by 25 per cent. over the past seven years, and cuts totalling a further 25 per cent. in the three years 1986–89 were recently announced.
The Minister carefully avoided quoting figures showing a cut in investment in real terms since 1979, though there has been increased expenditure in cash terms. Given the inflation over which the Government preside, it would be difficult for there not to be an increase in cash terms. Presumably increased expenditure in cash terms will continue as inflation endures.
§ Mr. Hughes
Not necessarily, as my hon. Friend says —because the Government could continue to cut public expenditure. They always gave the reason for inflation as too much spending from the public purse, yet inflation continues.
The third option of building urban railways to reduce inner-city congestion is also being ignored. Germany and Italy, for example, have substantially more urban railway track than we do. We are at the bottom of the league, with only Finland and Greece having as little urban railway track as we do. I challenge the Minister to deny that the following figures are wrong.
Network SouthEast, which is the most overcrowded sector of the British Rail network serving the capital, had its public subsidy reduced from £350 million in 1983 to £165 million in 1988. It is proposed to cut the subsidy to £85 million in 1992. It is unbelievable that, with demand for some provincial services growing by 50 per cent. and for London commuter services by 25 per cent., the Government respond by spending £7 billion on roads and cutting railway investment from £1 billion in 1983 to half a billion in the last financial year.
Our public transport system problems must be overcome. They include endemic overcrowding, appalling security, and ridiculous safety provisions. In last 72 Wednesday's debate my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Sir C. Smith) demonstrated that, if one happens to be large, overweight, disabled, carrying luggage or accompanied by children, it is impossible to make one's way through the new-style safety gates. The situation is so problematical that there are now more staff supervising the gates than there were before they came into existence.
Massive strategic investment in public transport is required. Only then will we have a safe, cheap, environmentally pleasant and clean public transport system. Without strategic planning, which the Government abolished, it will not work. The transport system has been left to fend for itself, with both London Regional Transport and British Rail left to pay their own way. The Government are willing to announce massive road plans inside or outside the capital, but public money should be spent instead on public transport, to relieve congestion in our capital.
If the Government believe in improving the environment for the majority of British people living in urban areas, they should invest in public transport. The Minister dare not pretend at the Dispatch Box that the Government have been doing that. They cut public expenditure and have heaped misery on the public.
When on Wednesday the public complain about the lack of Tube trains and railway services, they will be criticising not those who are on strike but the Government who imposed that chaos as the penalty for lack of investment over many years.
§ Mr. Portillo
The complete inability of the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) to understand the difference between subsidy and investment is depressing. Subsidy is a measure of how much money a railway is losing. Fortunately, our railways lose less money year by year. Investment is a measure of how much money goes into renewing the railways' facilities. The highest figure ever reached in real terms between 1974 and 1979 was £546 million. The figure for 1987–88 was £594 million, for 1988–89 it is £629 million, and for the next four years it will be £781 million, £865 million, £928 million and £865 million.
In contrast, valuable speeches were made by my hon. Friends. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) for pointing out the absurdity of telling the public that at this stage in our economy we can allow no more cars on the roads. That would mean the predominantly white middle class which currently owns cars saying, "Enough is enough," and denying aspiration to car ownership to the working class, to blacks, and to the elderly—all of whom are increasingly the new road users.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough expressed doubts about getting private finance under way without subsidy. I do not regard private finance as a substitute for the public sector. We made it clear that there will be no scheme by scheme deductions for successful private sector schemes. We are experimenting with private finance and our minds are not closed.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Mr. Howarth) expressed concern about the Birmingham northern relief road. I can reassure him that the time spent on the public inquiry was not wasted, because the work done will be useful to private sector applicants. We shall establish a short timetable for the 73 competition, and we have every reason to believe that the private sector is likely to follow the route already examined. The public inquiry report can be kept on ice, and that route can be used again in the public sector if the private sector scheme does not bring a result.
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) for making a most interesting speech. I shall, of course, bring his point about powered slip coaches to the attention of British Rail. I feel, however, that it is a bit misleading to consider only the initial cost of the docklands light railway. Immense investment has been put into it since, and it is capable of great expansion.
I wish to pick up a couple of points made by the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape). The hon. Gentleman mentioned bus substitution. British Rail is using taxpayers' money to subsidise transport services when that is merited on social grounds, and it must be right to test the use of that money against the cost of providing equivalent service by road. There has been only one case of bus substitution so far. I have not requested any particular number of such cases, and I point again to the substantial figures for provincial investment.
As for the cross-city electrification in Birmingham, the rolling stock there is very old. The question is how to replace it. Diesel would be cheaper, but it would be more expensive to maintain and also less reliable, while electric stock, despite its higher capital cost, would provide gains in maintenance and reliability. The sums must be done thoroughly—that is all that we require. I shall be happy to approve the most cost-effective replacement scheme when I receive a submission from British Rail.
The hon. Member for West Bromwich, East also mentioned section 8 grants. He will know that the Freight Transport Association has made a submission recommending an expansion, and I am considering that.
The Government recognise the problems of transport congestion. We have produced plans for investment in roads and public transport. As a Government, we do not wish away the difficulties—we seek to meet them. In particular, we recognise that no project is without its environmental impact, but many projects are beneficial to the environment overall. That is why we are willing to approve them. Our policy is balanced and determined. Of course, any transport policy faces real problems, but the problem today is certainly not any reluctance on the part of the Government to invest in transport. That is why I invite the House to reject the motion.
§ Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—
§ The House Divided: Ayes 65, Noes 213.75
|Division No. 246]||7.2 pm|
|Alton, David||Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Dixon, Don|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)||Eadie, Alexander|
|Beith, A. J.||Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Fisher, Mark|
|Boateng, Paul||Foster, Derek|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Foulkes, George|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Galloway, George|
|Cartwright, John||Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)|
|Clelland, David||Golding, Mrs Llin|
|Cohen, Harry||Gordon, Mildred|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Haynes, Frank|
|Cook, Robin (Livingston)||Howells, Geraint|
|Cousins, Jim||Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)|
|Darling, Alistair||Hoyle, Doug|
|Hughes, John (Coventry NE)||Prescott, John|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Johnston, Sir Russell||Reid, Dr John|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Ruddock, Joan|
|Livingstone, Ken||Salmond, Alex|
|Livsey, Richard||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|McCartney, Ian||Short, Clare|
|McFall, John||Skinner, Dennis|
|McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)||Snape, Peter|
|Maclennan, Robert||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Martlew, Eric||Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis|
|Maxton, John||Wareing, Robert N.|
|Meale, Alan||Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)|
|Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)||Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Pendry, Tom||Mr. Archy Kirkwood and|
|Pike, Peter L.||Mr. Ronnie Fearn.|
|Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Alexander, Richard||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Goodhart, Sir Philip|
|Amess, David||Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles|
|Amos, Alan||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Gorst, John|
|Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)||Gow, Ian|
|Ashby, David||Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)|
|Atkins, Robert||Gregory, Conal|
|Atkinson, David||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Ground, Patrick|
|Batiste, Spencer||Grylls, Michael|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn|
|Bellingham, Henry||Hague, William|
|Benyon, W.||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Hannam, John|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')|
|Boswell, Tim||Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Harris, David|
|Bowis, John||Hayes, Jerry|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Hayward, Robert|
|Brazier, Julian||Heddle, John|
|Bright, Graham||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)||Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)|
|Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)||Hind, Kenneth|
|Butler, Chris||Holt, Richard|
|Butterfill, John||Hordern, Sir Peter|
|Carlisle, John, (Luton N)||Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)|
|Carrington, Matthew||Hunt, David (Wirral W)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Chope, Christopher||Hunter, Andrew|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Irvine, Michael|
|Conway, Derek||Jack, Michael|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)||Jackson, Robert|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Janman, Tim|
|Cope, Rt Hon John||Jessel, Toby|
|Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Jones, Robert B (Herts W)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine|
|Durant, Tony||Kilfedder, James|
|Dykes, Hugh||Knapman, Roger|
|Evennett, David||Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)|
|Fallon, Michael||Latham, Michael|
|Favell, Tony||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Fenner, Dame Peggy||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Fishburn, John Dudley||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Forman, Nigel||Lightbown, David|
|Forth, Eric||Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)|
|Fox, Sir Marcus||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Franks, Cecil||Lord, Michael|
|French, Douglas||Lyell, Sir Nicholas|
|Fry, Peter||McCrindle, Robert|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Macfarlane, Sir Neil|
|Gill, Christopher||MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)|
|Maclean, David||Shersby, Michael|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Sims, Roger|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Mans, Keith||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Maples, John||Speed, Keith|
|Marlow, Tony||Speller, Tony|
|Marshall, John (Hendon S)||Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Stern, Michael|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Stevens, Lewis|
|Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick||Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)|
|Mellor, David||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Summerson, Hugo|
|Miller, Sir Hal||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Mills, Iain||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Moate, Roger||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Thorne, Neil|
|Morrison, Sir Charles||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)||Tredinnick, David|
|Moss, Malcolm||Trippier, David|
|Mudd, David||Trotter, Neville|
|Neale, Gerrard||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Neubert, Michael||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Waddington, Rt Hon David|
|Nicholson, David (Taunton)||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Norris, Steve||Walker, Bill (T'side North)|
|Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley||Waller, Gary|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Walters, Sir Dennis|
|Page, Richard||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Warren, Kenneth|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Watts, John|
|Porter, Barry (Wirral S)||Wells, Bowen|
|Porter, David (Waveney)||Whitney, Ray|
|Portillo, Michael||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Raffan, Keith||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Wilkinson, John|
|Redwood, John||Wilshire, David|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Riddick, Graham||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Roe, Mrs Marion||Wolfson, Mark|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||Wood, Timothy|
|Rowe, Andrew||Yeo, Tim|
|Sackville, Hon Tom||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Shaw, David (Dover)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory|
|Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)||and Mr. Alan Howarth.|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 30 (Questions on amendments) and agreed to.
§ MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.
That this House congratulates the Government on the record levels of capital investment in all forms of transport infrastructure since 1979 while at the same time reducing the burden on the taxpayer; welcomes their plans to increase this investment further over coming years with both public and private money to meet the forecast growth in demand which is the result of the economic success of this country under the Conservative Government; welcomes the Government's success in creating the conditions in which the private sector could both finance and build the Channel Tunnel; congratulates the Government on its determination that the whole of the United Kingdom shall share in its benefits; applauds the high priority that they give to all matters of safety on transport; and welcomes their recognition of the importance of environmental conditions in transport policy.