§ The Minister for Public Transport (Mr. Roger Freeman)
I beg to move,That the draft Channel Tunnel (Security) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 7th February, be approved.The purpose of the order is to provide the legal framework for measures to protect the channel tunnel and international train services from acts of terrorism. It seeks to do that in two ways: first, by creating a number of new and serious offences against the safety of the tunnel and trains, and secondly by providing the Secretary of State with powers to direct the concessionaires—Eurotunnel—and operators of channel tunnel trains to take measures to protect the tunnel, trains and related facilities against acts of violence. In both respects, the order applies to the channel tunnel a security framework very similar to that which applies to the civil aviation and maritime transport sectors.
Although the tunnel was built with private money and will be run as a commercial enterprise, the British and French Governments have an important role in ensuring that its security is satisfactorily provided and organised. Article 5 of the 1986 channel tunnel treaty called for aspecial arrangement between the two Governments on security matters".That arrangement has been made. The terms require each Government to ensure that the security of the fixed link, including the terminal areas, other sites and essential services, is satisfactorily provided and organised, and that the responsibilities are properly defined and exercised.
Thus, while the two Governments seek to co-ordinate policy, tunnel security is a matter for each Government separately. On the French side, it is normal for transport security to be undertaken by state agencies. In France—in the case of the tunnel, railway stations and freight terminals to be served by channel tunnel trains—most security functions will be undertaken by the police de l' air et frontières and the douanes, or customs, although the operators will provide much of the security infrastructure and equipment.
In the United Kingdom, the responsibility for security of all modes of transport rests with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. However, it is established United Kingdom practice to place a duty on the transport operator to put the necessary security procedures and facilities in place. In the field of civil aviation, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gives directions, under the Aviation Security Act 1982 and the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990, to airlines and airport operators, requiring them to carry out specified security measures. The same applies in the case of ports, ferries and shipping lines, under the 1990 Act.
The intention of the Channel Tunnel (Security) Order is to place Eurotunnel, British Rail and, in due course, British Rail's private-sector successors on the same legal footing. Each of those transport sectors is quite different from the others, and security arrangements must be tailored to suit operating circumstances and the nature of the threat; but the legal framework can and should be very similar.
963 Eurotunnel, British Rail and the French railway network—SNCF—have submitted their detailed security proposals to the two Governments, in accordance with article 5 of the 1986 treaty and clause 23 of the associated concession agreement. This order will provide the means of implementing and enforcing those arrangements in the United Kingdom under section 11 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987. In the course of drafting the order, Eurotunnel and British Rail were consulted about its terms and about the directions that the Secretary of State expects to make.
I should like to make one further point before referring briefly to the order itself. A police presence at the Folkestone terminal will be provided by the Kent constabulary, but it will be concerned primarily with law and order and not with the provision of protective security, which is the responsibility of Eurotunnel. In the event of a serious security incident, the Kent police would, of course, respond. The British Transport police, supported by the local police force, will fulfil the same role at the Waterloo international station and at Ashford international station when it opens, as well as at other stations and freight terminals throughout the country serviced by channel tunnel trains.
It may be helpful if I focus on the main provisions of the order and say a little about how they will operate in practice. The substance of the measure is contained in parts II and III.
Part II creates a number of new offences against the safety of the channel tunnel and channel tunnel trains. These are serious offences, including hijacking, seizing control of the tunnel system, destroying or damaging channel tunnel trains or the tunnel system, and other acts likely to endanger safety, including the making of threats. All of the offences created in part II provide that a person found guilty will be liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life—in each case, the same as the corresponding offence under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990. Under article 9, proceedings for an offence under part II can be brought only by or with the consent of the Attorney-General.
The primary purpose of part III is to provide for the protection of channel tunnel trains and related facilities, the tunnel system, persons and property from acts of violence. It does this principally by giving the Secretary of State powers to direct Eurotunnel, train operators and others to put in place appropriate physical security measures and to carry out sensible security procedures.
Articles 14 and 15 are of particular importance. They enable the Secretary of State to require searches of traffic to be carried out before it may enter the tunnel system or board a channel tunnel train. This includes searches of passengers and their property, goods, the trains and the tunnel system itself. Outside the tunnel system, it includes also searches of premises used in connection with channel tunnel trains, such as Waterloo international terminal, including people and property on those premises.
§ Sir David Mitchell (Hampshire, North-West)
Will searches of trains coming to the United Kingdom be carried out by French authorities or by British authorities operating on French soil?
§ Mr. Freeman
The responsibility for searching any train, whether passenger or freight, travelling through France and entering the channel tunnel will rest with the French authorities. In the case of traffic travelling through 964 the United Kingdom to the channel tunnel, all passengers and freight will be liable to search at the channel tunnel site. Anyone with freight or a car catching the Euro shuttle will be liable to be searched at Cheriton by security officers. All railway passengers will be liable to be searched at Waterloo international or at other appropriate points of embarkation. All British Rail freight will be liable to be searched at the point of origin—the point at which the container is packed—or at the consignor's premises if the consignor is an approved channel tunnel freight forwarder. I think that that should answer my hon. Friend's question. If not, however, I shall be happy to give way again.
§ Sir David Mitchell
What I am anxious to know is whether British customs or other officials will search cars and other vehicles before they enter the system on their way to the United Kingdom. I am thinking of customs, security and animal-health checks.
§ Mr. Freeman
There are three separate issues in that. The order deals with security—the threat from terrorism; it specifically does not cover customs, immigration or animal health. Those are separate issues. The order deals with security searches, and the responsibility for them will rest with the French rather than the British authorities for trains entering the tunnel from Sangatte.
I shall write to my hon. Friend to give him fuller details about customs and immigration procedures and animal health, but the general principle that applies is that the French and British authorities will carry out the same functions in their respective countries as they would carry out for airline or ferry passengers moving between Britain and France. Although the question that my hon. Friend asked is not relevant to the order, if he tables a question to me I shall give him a clear answer. It will be for the convenience of the House if my answer appears in the Official Report.
Finally, it may help the House if I speak briefly about the preparations for opening the tunnel. That is the context in which the order is set. The plan is that Eurotunnel will open the tunnel on 6 May, when Her Majesty the Queen and President Mitterrand will officiate at ceremonies. Eurotunnel's freight and passenger services are matters for the company; it will provide a private sector service and it will announce when the freight and passenger shuttles will run.
Scheduled rail passenger services run by British Rail, SNCF and the Belgian state railway will commence this summer. Delivery of the train sets is progressing well, and testing is under way. Services from Waterloo, the only station where passengers will be able to join a train, will take about three hours to reach Paris, and the Government believe that that will offer a competitive service in terms of both convenience and pricing compared with the alternative modes of transport.
I can confirm that Railfreight Distribution is ready to commence services as soon as the tunnel is open for business. It is ready to go now. The intention is that by the end of the year about 11 freight trains a day will run in each direction, and in due course that number could increase to the capacity of the tunnel, which is 35 freight trains a day in both directions. Class 92 locos, which have been ordered by British Rail, should be available by the end of the year.
965 I plan to lay imminently the regulations concerning the concession that 44-tonne lorries with containers or swap bodies should be allowed in this country if they are moving to or from rail terminals—
§ Mr. John Gunnell (Morley and Leeds, South)
As the Minister has gone into the wider question of opening the facilities, and as freight facilities through the tunnel will be available in the relatively near future, has any firm decision been made on the freight terminal arrangements for west and south Yorkshire?
§ Mr. Freeman
British Rail has now signed agreements in connection with the Wakefield freight terminal in west Yorkshire. Its construction will depend largely on public funding, partly from the local authority concerned—as the hon. Gentleman will know, it has taken action by selling one asset and retaining the cash in the expectation of making a contribution. Other funding rests with central Government to comment upon and support, and that proposal is with me now.
When the hon. Gentleman mentions south Yorkshire I assume that he is referring to the terminal at Doncaster, which may or may not require more modest public sector funding to support it. My understanding is that it was initiated and made progress on the assumption that essentially it would be financed without European or British Government funding. British Rail has committed itself to Wakefield and not to Doncaster. That may change, as has been speculated on a number of occasions, but it has not changed so far. We shall certainly keep the situation under review.
I answered a question yesterday, which may help the Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen. It was tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Sir J. Stanley) and it concerned the intensification of use and noise on existing freight lines. I made the point that we accept that the Land Compensation Act 1973 has relevance to trains—especially freight trains—which work existing British Rail lines, where new work has been undertaken. It is a matter of legal interpretation and I simply draw the attention of the House to that answer.
I confirm that it is the intention that day and night services beyond London, principally up the east and west coast main lines, but including services to the west country and Wales, will enter service by the end of next year.
If there are points raised in the debate, I shall be happy to seek to answer them. The Government believe that the channel tunnel creates a marvellous opportunity for business men and for passengers in Britain who seek to go abroad for business or leisure. That it has been built and is ready for business is a great achievement. It will greatly benefit the rail system for passengers and freight and the order helps safeguard the tunnel and the traffic which will use it. We wish the channel tunnel well.
§ Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)
Let me start by making it plain that I strongly support the channel tunnel and I hope that it will be a success. I speak for most on the Opposition Benches, possibly not all, but I am sure that the same applies to those on the Conservative 966 Benches. We want to see that the tunnel is a success, that it brings maximum benefits to Britain and that those benefits are not confined to the south-east.
Clearly, if the tunnel is to be a success, it must be secure and safe. It is difficult to separate security from safety, although we recognise that the order is mainly concerned with security and security from terrorists. I suppose that the channel tunnel is the prestige engineering project of the remaining part of the century—perhaps not so much for France, but certainly for Britain—and it commands a great deal of public attention. As it attracts such attention, it is likely to attract terrorists and slightly potty attention-seekers who may threaten it.
§ Mr. Dobson
Only politicians on the Government Benches. However, in view of their general ineffectiveness, they could not blow up a tunnel.
We need a secure channel tunnel system and therefore we need a legal framework for it. The order provides that legal framework and I thank the Minister for his introductory remarks and for supplying briefing material. The general idea is that the approach is comparable to the security measures that apply to air and sea safety. However, the situations are not strictly comparable, an issue to which the hon. Member for Basingstoke may have been referring. While it is equally possible to blow up an aircraft, a ship and a train in a tunnel, it is impossible to blow up the air or the sea.
The order may prove to be adequate as far as it goes. It is an effort to bring the law into line with current developments and to cope with current threats. The present body of the law is not satisfactory.
It is commonplace in all systems of security that they are as strong as their weakest link. Besides the legal provisions, we need physical security measures such as adequate perimeter fencing. More importantly, we must ensure that the security system is in the hands of staff who are properly trained and adequate for the task. Without that, the system will be almost bound to fail because those who will seek to subvert it will look for the weakest point and eventually find it. We must consider, and continue to consider, the parts that may be the least secure and the arrangements that may lead to bother.
We must consider the relationship between the Kent police and the French authorities, which will be responsible, as I understand it, for the tunnel and the terminals. We must ensure that the liaison between themn is satisfactory to us and to them so that they both feel secure about the respective arrangements.
The British Transport police will be responsible for the security of the rest of the line, for the Waterloo terminal and, as I understand it, any other terminal in London—eventually, presumably, St. Pancras—and also for the freight terminals around the country. Is the Minister satisfied that the wide experience and expertise of the British Transport police, which they have acquired over the years, are being made available to the Kent police, that the Kent police are making proper use of it and that they will maintain adequate relations?
In an age in which terrorism is rife, many judgments must be made on how to respond to threats or warnings. They require assessment by some human being somewhere in the chain of command. Hundreds of warnings are 967 received about threats to the security of the railway and underground system in London. Stations are closed in response to those warnings on only a few occasions, because an individual somewhere near the top of the chain of command assesses all the information available and feels sufficiently secure to decide that it is safe not to close one or more stations in the system. If that person does not feel satisfied and secure, he closes the station.
For such a person in the chain of command to be satisfied with anything to do with the channel tunnel, he will have to be satisfied that at all stages and in all places in Britain and France, the proper procedures have been followed and the buildings and rolling stock have been properly protected and inspected. Most importantly, that person must be satisfied that the staff were properly vetted before they were appointed, are properly accredited and properly trained and have been properly supervised. If that is not the case and he does not feel secure, on receiving some warning, that person may have to take it more seriously and order the closing of the tunnel to ensure that people are safe. He must feel confident that the system is working properly.
Problems may arise. At the moment, the people in the British Transport police who make such decisions have confidence in the system because they are accustomed to working with British Rail, London Underground Ltd. and their own staff. With regard to the tunnel, they will have to feel secure that the arrangements made by the Kent police and the French police are satisfactory.
The Minister has not touched on something that is quite possible under the order—the contracting out of some of the security duties to private sector security firms. A feeling of security and safety is crucial to the success of the tunnel. If the Minister and Eurotunnel want to contract out security duties to people like Group 4, they can write off any thought of profits because no one will use the tunnel if such people are involved. The Minister and Eurotunnel must stick with the British Transport police—the BTP—and others of our police forces. They must not try to save money by contracting out the basic duties of the state and the organs of the state. That is why we believe that no one other than the BTP should be involved in such matters all over the system in Britain. It seems that the responsibility of the British Transport police will range from the tunnel up to, and including, the Waterloo terminal.
What about the arrangements for freight and the security of freight terminals? As my hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Gunnell) pointed out, it is far from clear whether some of the terminals will ever exist. The terminal in Wakefield that the Minister confidently proclaimed was going ahead is but a theory at the moment. We do not know what security arrangements are being made there.
The House must be satisfied that there will be proper security arrangements wherever freight is assembled. If that is not the case, the well-informed terrorist will be able to load something on to the freight train, time it properly and explode it in the tunnel. As I said at the outset, the strength of any security system depends on the strength of its weakest link. If terrorists can gain access because of shoddy and slipshod approaches to security in parts of the country well away from the tunnel, they will exploit those arrangements.
Does the Minister intend that the Secretary of State should exercise his power to require restricted zone status on all or part of the freight terminals around the country? 968 Given that, as a result of the Government's obsession with the private sector, some freight terminals may be privately owned, will the Minister guarantee that the BTP will have the right of entry and search in respect of all those terminals and that there will be no question of a challenge to their authority in that respect? Will the Minister guarantee that there will be secure perimeters? Will he guarantee that staff will be properly vetted and that no dodgy outfits will supply security guards for those premises? People inside and outside the House, and everyone who wants to use the channel tunnel, must be interested in getting reassuring and honest answers to those questions.
We realise that there are problems about public disclosure of certain security measures and arrangements. However, security is related to safety. When it comes to safety, there is an obligation to disclose, to the public and to those who are interested, what safety arrangements exist. I do not believe that that duty of disclosure has been met by Eurotunnel, by the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority or by the Government. There has been far too much secrecy and much of that secrecy has been bad for the tunnel's reputation. It has not protected the reputation of the tunnel. I have always believed in the old but good saying, "Tell the truth and shame the devil."
There is also concern, among people who are bothered about such things, about the independence of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority. The authority will have authorised the safety system and it might then supervise it. It will not be keen to point out shortcomings in the system that it has helped bring into being.
Information on safety tests has been kept secret. It was extremely foolish of Eurotunnel not to allow television cameras in during the quite proper and deliberate overloading of the electricity circuits when one of the insulators collapsed. The television cameras should have been there to show that a great deal of damage was not caused. I cannot understand why the television cameras were kept out.
If what Eurotunnel was saying was true, it would have been better to say that what happened was a minor incident and almost an automatic part of the testing. Instead, Eurotunnel created an aura of secrecy and all sorts of harum-scarum stories have been told and that is to the disadvantage of the company and to all of us who believe that the tunnel should be working safely as soon as possible.
As the Minister knows, there has been disquiet all along about the decision that drivers and passengers should travel with their vehicles on the shuttles. There is also still disquiet about the open-sided wagons which are intended to carry lorries. They are not thought to be very safe. I have received expressions of concern from the Fire Brigades Union—the FBU—about aspects of fire safety in the tunnel.
People may say that the FBU has a vested interest, and it does. Members of the FBU will have to enter the tunnel and fight an inferno if one occurs. Everyone else will be running away, but FBU members will be entering the tunnel to try to put things right. The Government should have taken more notice of the Fire Brigades Union than of some alleged safety experts, sitting comfortably in their offices, who will be sitting comfortably there if there is a catastrophe.
At the moment, fire fighting arrangements are to be provided by the Kent fire brigade. As I understand it, it 969 would be possible for Eurotunnel to provide its own private fire fighting arrangements under the law as it stands. I do not think that that is sound. It would damage the reputation of the tunnel and the Minister should guarantee that the Government will not permit Eurotunnel to use any fire services other than the Kent fire service on this side of the channel and its opposite number in France.
We must also consider the arrangements for the control of goods carried through the tunnel. What will happen to hazardous substances? As all hon. Members will be aware, there is no hazchem code in Europe. As that code has been very effective here, what efforts have the Government been taking to extend it to Europe? I hope that the Government are not back-tracking on the code or regarding it as a burden on business. It is a good idea, it adds to safety and it helps business.
I accept that I have referred to safety matters, but they affect security. If the system is intrinsically less safe than it might be, what might have been a relatively minor incident could turn into a catastrophe as a result of some inherently unsafe aspect of the operation of the tunnel.
We do not have enough information to judge the order entirely, partly because safety studies have been kept secret. As I understand it, Eurotunnel has still to present the full safety case to the safety authority. I understand that it has yet to carry out the full dummy runs with live passengers. The safety case cannot be approved by the safety authority until those dummy runs have been carried out to the safety authority's satisfaction.
I am told that similar runs have not yet been carried out in respect of the shuttle. It is getting rather late. If those tests are not carried out in the next few months, it will be very difficult for the authority to stand up and say that it is not satisfied when that might defer for a month or so the opening of the tunnel. Sufficient progress in that regard has not been made.
Recent delays in the commercial use of the tunnel are as yet largely unexplained by Eurotunnel. Whenever something happens and a swift, honest and straightforward explanation is not proffered, that damages the tunnel's reputation. The best way to calm people's fears is to tell the truth and get it out as quickly as possible.
I believe, and have always believed, that the channel tunnel should be a great boon to this country, giving us access to the benefits of the European railway network. That would be of advantage to those who want to travel to Europe and to those who want to shift their freight there. If the tunnel is going to work, it is necessary absolutely to convince potential users that it is secure and safe.
I welcome the order, but I am not entirely convinced that it is fully satisfactory. The Minister must, in all honesty, answer several questions to the House and to the people who desperately want to travel through the tunnel and send their goods through it.
§ Sir Roger Moate (Faversham)
The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) understandably made the point that it is very hard for the Opposition and, indeed, others to judge the adequacy of security and safety arrangements for the tunnel. I underline the hon. Gentleman's comment; we all have to accept what is being offered to us. The British public and others who will use 970 the tunnel must place their faith in the safety arrangements. The order has hon. Members' agreement and support. The Chamber is very quiet—it is almost empty. My right hon. Friend the Minister will have little satisfaction in knowing that if the Government have got it wrong and if anything should go wrong, the Chamber will be very full indeed. A tremendous amount is at stake and there is great public interest in making sure that the Government have got it right.
The hon. Gentleman said that he supports the concept of the channel tunnel and that he wishes it success. I am not a supporter of the channel tunnel, but I wish it success. Many years ago, before our first application to join the European Community, somebody said to me:What is this ditch that us from France divides? 'Tis but a moat.I wish that a major geological fault had been found in the channel which would have prevented us from even dreaming about the tunnel linking the continent with the United Kingdom. However, the tunnel is built. One of my fundamental objections to it was and remains that the main users will be heavy lorries and many motor cars which will use it as a rolling motorway. That will inflict considerable environmental damage on the county of Kent. The major source of tunnel revenue will be traffic using our roads and that short stretch of tunnel as a rolling motorway.
It is obviously vital to have got safety and security right. I am aware that a tremendous amount of work has been done by the Department of Transport and by authorities in Kent in ensuring that ambulance, fire and police arrangements are adequate. I have the utmost faith that they have got them as right as they possibly can. I have no wish to intrude upon the continuing negotiations to get the arrangements right. Although my constituents and all the people of Kent want to make sure that services are well provided, they want reassurance that the costs of providing such services will be borne fully by the channel tunnel authorities. I would welcome such reassurance from my right hon. Friend on that point.
Another point that is just as important as cost is the capacity of the services to deal with an emergency in the tunnel without overstraining available resources for my constituents and other people in the county. Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friend to comment on that point in particular.
Let us consider, for example, ambulance services. I have no doubt that training will be adequate to cope with emergencies in or at the end of the tunnel, but it would not be acceptable if, in an emergency, many ambulances from the county were suddenly taken away from their normal duties and other emergencies could not be covered. Will my right hon. Friend give a specific assurance to me and to the people of Kent that they will not be deprived of emergency ambulance, police and fire cover in the event of anything going seriously wrong in the tunnel? I am sure that my right hon. Friend will understand the importance of that matter in terms of cost and capacity and that he will reassure us accordingly.
I now raise another small point on which I doubt whether we will be able to have a full and satisfactory answer now. The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras made a very important point about bomb scares. One hopes that the security arrangements will prevent real security problems, but the biggest problems will be threats. If the authorities are to take a threat seriously, they will have to close the tunnel and the ensuing congestion at either end 971 and the chaos would be great. As the hon. Gentleman said, there will be the problem of potty individuals issuing threat after threat. It will require considerable judgment on the part of people in control to decide when such individuals are potty and when they are serious.
My right hon. Friend mentioned penalties for threats and said that life imprisonment could be the maximum sentence. The travelling public need to know a little more about just how the channel tunnel authorities will try to prevent frequent disruption of traffic in the face of such threats. I suspect that the answer is to emphasise the nature of penalties and the steps that will be taken to trace the idiots who make such threats. We must be serious about imposing very tough penalties, because the consequences for the travelling public will be great. Reassurance on that point would be most helpful.
My right hon. Friend mentioned that people and cars would be liable to search and that freight could be searched at certain points. Will being liable to search mean that people will be regularly searched? Will there be an automatic search process as is applied when one travels on an aircraft or, indeed, when one enters the Palace of Westminster? Will there be automatic scanning? One hopes that people will not be delayed and subjected to rigorous searches, but it is obvious that there must be some security checks.
This matter is hardly relevant to the order, but I now refer to my right hon. Friend's parliamentary answer on the intensification of noise on existing routes which will be used for freight transport. I certainly welcome progress in helping people on such routes, but, unfortunately, the problem always lies in the small print. Even my right hon. Friend's answer on that point today referred to where new works had taken place. Thank heavens my constituency will not be affected in that way—I hope. Existing routes in my constituency could be affected, but they are not designated as freight routes. I feel strongly that we must not be too legalistic or small-minded. If we are going to make the tunnel work, we have to be fairly generous with compensation arrangements and noise insulation for routes that are affected by intensification of use, but which have not necessarily been created by extensive new works in the legal sense.
My right hon. Friend mentioned 44-tonne vehicles and the order to allow them to travel on roads to the freight terminals. I am very suspicious of that. I voted against an increase in lorry weights and I will do so again. I can understand the argument for 44-tonne vehicles going only to terminals, but I should like to know how tough we will be on restricting routes to freight terminals. I find it difficult to understand, under our system of road transport, how tough we can be in preventing vehicles from using certain routes. Are we satisfied that they will not cross inadequate bridges or that money will be made available to strengthen bridges? I am a great believer in freight routes. Are we to have freight routes and heavy lorry routes and will rules be applied to the 44-tonne vehicles? I fear that that could be the thin end of the wedge and that we might see an order increasing lorry weights more generally.
Of course one welcomes the order. One hopes that the channel tunnel will be a transport success. It is vital that we get the security and safety arrangements right. One hopes that this order contains arrangements that will prove entirely satisfactory.
§ 5.9 pm
§ Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)
Like other hon. Members, I welcome the order. I have an interest to declare as a member of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers and, for many years, I was the co-chairman of the all-party channel tunnel group.
I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Faversham (Sir R. Moate). Although I agreed with some of what he said, I thought that he was somewhat unrealistic. I understand his good constituency argument that the Government must ensure that, in the event of an accident in the tunnel, the emergency services of Kent should continue to function as if nothing had occurred. Heaven forbid that it should happen, but if a Boeing 747 crashed in Kent at the same time as he had an accident in his car on the M20, there might be some delay before the ambulance arrived to pluck him from the wreckage. What he asked for was unrealistic, although I am sure that it will read well in his local paper.
I agreed with what the hon. Gentleman said about 44-tonne lorries. Like him, I have always voted against heavy goods vehicles during my parliamentary career, such as it is. I have usually been on the losing side in those votes. I would also like to know how the Minister proposes to enforce the Government restriction that 44-tonne vehicles should be used only to and from rail terminals. Like the hon. Member for Faversham, I support lorry routes. If a lorry route went through the middle of his constituency, the hon. Gentleman might change his mind. The enforcement of restrictions on heavy goods vehicles is a difficult problem. We are entitled to some assurances from the Minister about how the restrictions will be enforced.
The hon. Member for Faversham mentioned putting freight on existing rail lines. I should have thought that at least some hon. Members would vaguely support such a policy. The horrific scenario is painted that putting freight on rail will cause enormous noise problems for people living beside railway lines. It has always fascinated me that people who buy houses alongside railway lines promptly write to their Member of Parliament to complain about the noise that trains make. I would be delighted to send the hon. Gentleman a working timetable of British Rail's freight division, as it was called in the 1960s. He will discover that considerably more freight ran on the lines of Kent than today. It consisted mostly of loose-coupled vehicles, which used to clank and rattle along at 25 mph and caused considerably more noise than the roller-bearing airbrake rolling stock that is used today.
§ Sir Roger Moate
I trust that the hon. Gentleman will accept that he is being somewhat flippant. He is older than many of my constituents, but even he must recognise that the early 1960s were more than 30 years ago and that things have become quieter. The serious argument, however, is that much of that freight traffic will be travelling at night—freight trains are noisier than many modern passenger trains—causing considerable disturbance, particularly for people who are not used to trains travelling at that time. It is a new disturbance. All that we are asking for is some help through insulation grants.
§ Mr. Snape
Those grants involve a few thousands of pounds of public money. It is the sort of expenditure that the hon. Gentleman and his party regularly vote against when it is directed at other hon. Members' constituencies. 973 We should wait and see—I do not accept that trains passing through Kent at night will disturb those who live alongside railway lines. [Laughter.] The hon. Gentleman has just accused me of flippancy, but now he is having a little giggle. Two major motorways run alongside my constituency, which also contains Bescot marshalling yard. That yard was tipped to be one of the channel tunnel freight terminals, but unfortunately that has not proved to be the case.
In the 20 years that I have represented my constituency, I cannot remember a single complaint about that yard, although wagons regularly shunt up and down it. I receive many complaints about motorway noise because of its all-pervasive nature. Before some of the people for whom the hon. Gentleman speaks rush to judgment about the additional noise of modern freight trains, they should wait to see what happens when those trains are introduced.
It is strange for a prominent member of the Conservative party such as the hon. Gentleman to propose spending public money on a hazard that has not yet occurred. If Labour Members ever called for such expenditure, the cry of the Conservative party would be, "Where is the money coming from?" It seems that plenty of public money is available when hypothetical problems are forecast.
If we go down the road of placing additional costs on rail freight, if I can use that ill-timed simile, there is a danger of increasing costs to such an extent that we shall never achieve the much-vaunted transfer of freight from road to rail. If we make things too expensive, carriers and hauliers will use other methods. I do not know the hon. Gentleman's views on additional road traffic, although he advanced the relevant and valid argument that, if the channel tunnel were used as a shuttle service for cars and heavy goods vehicles, considerably more traffic would be created in his part of the world. But he should bear in mind my argument when he talks about loading additional costs on Britain's much under-utilised railway system.
My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) talked at considerable length about safety. I understand the fears that he expressed, but some of them were exaggerated. Having spent some of my life on the Committees that discussed the two hybrid Bills on the channel tunnel project, and on the Select Committee that considered the project on the last, successful occasion, I can say that a considerable amount of our time was devoted to safety. During the passage of those Bills, we sought and received assurances that the intergovernmental safety committee, to which my hon. Friend referred, would consist of not only railway experts, but representatives of the fire brigade and the police. Those services will be directly involved in safety matters once the great project is completed. We should keep matters in perspective.
The project does not approach the limits of human technology; it does not involve sending people in capsules around the moon. People will be making a train journey that has been made possible by the completion of a great project. The people who say, "You'll never get me down there", are the same people who put their trust in someone else when they climb in a silver tube and fly through the air at 35,000 ft at 400 mph. Given the consequences of 974 anything going wrong, I know which vehicle I would prefer to be in. The safety level of railways nationwide and worldwide is recognised in the order.
My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras referred to hazardous goods. I understand that the hybrid Bill Committee that gave the go-ahead for the project some years ago received an assurance that goods classed as dangerous would not be allowed through the channel tunnel. If my hon. Friend stands at St. Stephen's entrance, he will see fleets of petrol tankers and other vehicles—which, I hasten to add, are not driven by hon. Members—which carry hazardous materials within yards of the building. We accept those vehicles, despite the fact that there is no signalling system to prevent one from running into another. We should not worry too much about such matters in the context of the orders because petrol tankers and other vehicles that carry hazardous goods will not pass through the tunnel.
§ Mr. Dobson
I recall my hon. Friend describing in graphic detail the long hours that he spent in Committee discussing the channel tunnel Bill. There is some doubt as to whether the undertakings given about hazardous substances will be complied with. Those undertakings were given to my hon. Friend and his colleagues in Committee because they thought that hazardous substances should not go through the tunnel. Some doubt has now been raised about whether they should be permitted to do so.
§ Mr. Snape
The assurances to which my hon. Friend refers were given before they were sought. At the outset, we were told that hazardous goods—we attempted to define some of them—would not pass through the tunnel. At the risk of offending my hon. Friend, I must say that I would be fairly relaxed if hazardous goods passed through the tunnel. As a former railway signal man, I would prefer to take my chances on a train passing through the channel tunnel followed by a fleet of tankers because the train would be protected by the signalling system, rather than looking in the mirror of my car while travelling on the M40 and seeing a petrol tanker flying up behind me. The Minister should tell us whether the assurances that we received are still valid today. If so, we may be concerning ourselves unnecessarily.
In debating this order, we must reflect on the fact that we are not talking about a channel tunnel or Eurotunnel, as it is sometimes known. We are talking about three tunnels: a tunnel for trains travelling in one direction, a tunnel for trains travelling in the other direction and a service tunnel. I accept my hon. Friend's point that, in the event of a bomb outrage in the tunnel, considerable damage could be done. However, I understand that to pierce the walls of the tunnel would take something equivalent to the sort of bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki or Hiroshima. We do not envisage terrorist organisations possessing such weapons, or at least getting them into the tunnel.
I hope that the Minister will reassure us that the penalties on people making malicious calls will be severe and will be invoked in the event of their being found guilty of perpetrating such calls. Before I left the railways 20 years ago, it became the fashion to telephone main line railway stations with bomb threats. Initially, because it was a new fashion, the station was invariably closed. However, the British Transport police acquired the expertise to separate the nutcases from the likely genuine calls. I 975 endorse what my hon. Friend said. I hope that that expertise will be used in this project. Undoubtedly, the sort of sad characters who perpetrate such outrages will be attracted to do so by such a great civil engineering project. We have a much better means of tracing such calls because of the new electronic exchanges. There is nothing like a salutary punishment for the perpetrators who are caught to dissuade other people from behaving in that way.
Those who have been involved at any length with the project will be aware of the question of rabies. I am not sure whether that matter is covered by the terms of the order. A great number of people in this country appear to believe that the continent is full of rabid dogs and foxes. Whether or not it is covered by the order, I hope that the Minister can assure us that that is not the case. I hope that proper precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of rabies to the United Kingdom.
I understand that about 330 frontier control staff are being provided for the complete system, including the Folkestone and Calais terminals. That is a considerable reduction from the 800 or 900 staff originally envisaged. How does that number compare with the number of staff responsible for those matters who are employed by the competition, especially the ferries? I hope that I can take with me Tory Members who espouse a belief in free enterprise and competition. It would be unfair if this great project was hampered by having to meet the costs of an excessive number of security and customs staff, compared with those employed by other modes of transport.
My hon. Friend rightly reminded us of the lack of freight terminal facilities in Yorkshire, let alone the security to protect them. We are in a similar position in the west midlands, although the Minister will probably tell me that the existing Landaur street terminal in Birmingham is sufficient in the short term. Living fairly close to that terminal, I have to tell him that I will not believe him. I give him that warning in advance.
The Hams Hall project has been brought forward. I hope that the Minister can reassure us that the project will be completed and up and running—if that is the right term—sooner rather than later because people in the west midlands also wish to benefit from this project.
§ Mr. Robert Ainsworth (Coventry, North-East)
My hon. Friend will be aware that, although the Hams Hall freight terminal project has been approved, that approval depends on the completion of the new Birmingham north relief road. That will create a considerable delay and ensure that what my hon. Friend fears most will happen—there Will not be adequate freight rail terminal facilities in the west midlands for a number of years, well after the tunnel is up and running.
§ Mr. Snape
I appreciate what my hon. Friend says. I know that the Minister will do his best to respond later. My hon. Friend has emphasised a problem that concerns us greatly. Many of us could not understand why Bescot siding was not chosen as the channel tunnel terminal. Having had only about 120 years to measure it, British Rail has now discovered that it is too small for its purpose. The quicker these matters are resolved and adequate security under the terms of the order is installed, the better it will be for the economy of the west midlands and for the successful running of this great project.
I conclude by saying that I welcome the order and the project. To all those who have expressed fear about 976 travelling through the tunnel, I can say making five return journeys in a fairly short time along the west coast main line passing through Kilsby tunnel just south of Rugby—as my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Ainsworth) and I have done—is the equivalent of travelling through the channel tunnel. I have been making the journey for 20 years and my hon. Friend has been doing it for a year or two, and we are relatively unscathed. Although we have aged considerably while we have been here, like the hon. Member for Faversham (Sir R. Moate), I do not think we can blame that on passing through a tunnel. The project will be an enormous success and I welcome it.
§ Mr. John Horam (Orpington)
Obviously, the focus of this debate is security, which is an important matter, but I shall touch on the more mundane matter of noise which is a concern to my constituents, as it is to many of my hon. Friends. The hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) took to task my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Sir R. Moate) for being so concerned about noise. The hon. Gentleman was asking what people expected if they bought a house next to a railway line.
Are not we all in favour of getting more freight off the roads and on to the railways? Indeed, we are. There is a price to pay for that. It is not a simple matter of people buying a house by a railway line and knowing what they are in for. If the hon. Gentleman came to my constituency and saw the way in which British Rail has taken down trees, shrubs and so on—the protective barrier between the existing railway line and the back of houses, especially when the railway line is on a viaduct and the noise tumbles down to the back gardens in my constituency—he would realise that it is a different matter from simply buying a house next to a railway line and taking what one gets.
It is not a matter of people anticipating a future noise problem, unaware of exactly how bad it will be. The hon. Gentleman may not know this, but British Rail has already undertaken trial runs of freight trains and international passenger trains through south-east London and Kent. My constituents are already aware of the sort of noise that they will have to put up with at night—sometimes it will be? fivefold or tenfold—when the channel tunnel freight trains start in earnest. Therefore, it is not an unanticpated and unknown problem—people are beginning to be aware of it.
I should be grateful if the Minister could tell me and my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham the present thinking on the intensification of use of existing lines, as opposed to entirely new railway lines. We know that draft noise regulations affecting this matter are being considered at present, and consultation is taking place.
May I also raise a point that my right hon. Friend may have touched on in a written answer to a question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Sir J. Stanley)? I think that the answer was given yesterday or the day before, but it has not yet been printed in Hansard. My right hon. Friend asked about the interpretation of compensation claims under the Land Compensation Act 1973.
My right hon. Friend the Minister may be aware that my constituency, and no doubt others nearby, has recently been flooded with letters from people claiming to be compensation consultants who are saying that people who have houses alongside the line that is to be used for freight 977 and passenger services for the channel tunnel have a good case for getting compensation under the Act: A letter that my constituents have received—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)
Order. The hon. Gentleman has had a free run about noise. This debate is about security.
§ Mr. Horam
The Minister raised the question of noise in his opening remarks, and suggested that he would be prepared to say something about it.
I conclude by saying that the compensation experts say:The Act also specifies that the Railway Authority must pay all surveyors and legal fees.In other words, there is no cost to anyone who takes up the offer made by those people to pursue a claim for compensation against British Rail. I am surprised by that. My right hon. Friend answered an Adjournment debate initiated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling and said that he would look into the legal basis for the view taken by the compensation experts. I should be grateful if he could refer to that in his winding-up speech.
§ Mr. John D. Taylor (Strangford)
Some years ago, I was embarrassed on the subject of Eurotunnel in Northern Ireland. A constituent met me and said that he was glad to see that I owned 10 per cent. of Eurotunnel. "Pardon?" I said. He told me that he had read that information in a diary piece in a London newspaper when he had visited London.
I investigated the matter, and discovered that I had incorrectly declared my handful of shares in the company in the Register of Members' Interests. Apparently, an hon. Member is only supposed to register shareholdings if he has 10 per cent. of a company. I have since calculated I own about 1 ft out of the 32 miles of the tunnel. I declare my interest on that basis.
I apologise to the Minister for not being here for his opening speech, but I was delayed and have just flown in from Belfast. It would be foolish for anyone to think that the tunnel will not be a major target for terrorism, and it must be treated in that context.
Will there be the same rigid security controls at the tunnel as there are, for example, at airports for passengers and freight? A person cannot put baggage on an aeroplane unless he gets on the plane. Will a person be able to put baggage on the train going through the Eurotunnel without being on the train as a passenger?
Drivers of freight lorries will not be with their lorries, but in separate compounds. What distance will the drivers be from the lorries? If the distance is considerable, the risk is that an evil minded person could place a bomb in his vehicle and then be quite a distance away from it in a compound of the train.
Eurotunnel was built by a large number of Irish workers from the Republic. I do not want to be seen to be Irish-bashing this afternoon, but it is important that we recognise not only the great contribution made by Irish construction workers, but the fact that, while they were in the south of England, they created their own community. Those workers had their own community activities, their own chaplaincy and, of course, their own Irish pubs. It is not generally known that, at those pubs, there were 978 considerable collections taken for IRA funds during the construction of the tunnel. That did happen, and has been reported.
I mention that because it is not just Eurotunnel which is operating the system, and many subcontracts have been allocated. I have read of two that have gone to southern Irish firms. The catering has been subcontracted to an excellent catering firm from Dublin called Bewley's Anyone who was at the Welsh match last Saturday week may have thoroughly enjoyed a cup of coffee in Bewley's in Grafton street. None the less, it is a southern Irish firm. I think that a subsidiary called Campbell's will be doing the catering for Eurotunnel.
I understand that another southern Irish firm may be about to be allocated the contract for duty-free shopping.
§ Mr. Taylor
That has taken place. Will there be proper screening and vetting, not just of the staff employed by Eurotunnel, but of all the staff employed by subcontractors in catering, shop sales and other matters connected to the operation of the tunnel?
The Eurotunnel is a magnificent project, and the civil engineering and construction industry deserves congratulations. I hope that the tunnel brings benefits not just to the south of England, but to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Sir Alastair Morton, the chairman of Eurotunnel—I say this as a shareholder—deserves congratulations on his determination to see the project through to a successful conclusion.
§ Sir David Mitchell (Hampshire, North-West)
I start by saying to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) that I ceased to be the hon. Member for Basingstoke 10 years ago. He is that much out of date.
I raised earlier the matters of customs and animal health, as well as security. My right hon. Friend the Minister rightly said that the order was concerned only with security, and that he would write to me on the other matters.
There ought to be close co-operation between those who carry out searches of vehicles to ensure that there are no rabid animals—or non-rabid animals, such as family pets—being smuggled in cars, and those who carry out animal health checks. Those concerned with customs should work in close co-operation with those who are involved in security. There are different skills involved, but a sense of alertness and awareness is needed, and all those functions ought to be closely linked.
I do not know whether the checks will carried out in the same building or in the open air. Those involved should be linked by radio telephone, and I regard it as being of considerable importance that they should each have some understanding of the others' work. That is not to decry the expertise that is particularly required in security. I hope that my right hon. Friend will take that on board.
I agree with the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East about those who fear travelling in the tunnel, and who talk about claustrophobia. I have asked people who express that view whether they had ever travelled from Sloane square to King's Cross, as that is just about equivalent to the length of time they would be travelling through the Eurotunnel. They do that daily, without a murmur of worry 979 or concern, but they appear to believe that they will suffer from claustrophobia if they spend the same amount of time in the channel tunnel.
I should also like to congratulate, through my right hon. Friend, all those who worked so hard behind the scenes to ensure that safety and security have the absolute priority. I wish my right hon. Friend, and the tunnel, great success.
§ Mr. John Gunnell (Morley and Leeds, South)
I rise to make a quick point about the costs of the service, which were mentioned by the hon. Member for Faversham (Sir R. Moate) and by my hon. Friend the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape).
It is clear that hon. Members on both sides of the House take security seriously and that we are anxious to have a first-class security service for the tunnel. Obviously, the quality of the service depends on the money and personnel that we are willing to put into it to carry out the tasks. I want to ask some questions about the distribution of the costs of the service.
It is clear that the service will have to be co-ordinated and that there will have to be some unity between the security on each side of the channel and between the United Kingdom security services provided in the tunnel, at the freight and passenger terminals around the country and on the line. The costs of security in the tunnel will be borne by Eurotunnel, but were the terminals or stations come into private ownership, the costs will undoubtedly be borne by the owners of those sites. I am worried about the costs that will apply to the line as a whole. I assume that those costs will be absorbed by Railtrack. I assume that Railtrack, through the franchising director, will have the job of sorting out where those costs fall.
I ask the Minister to ensure that the costs that apply to the line are not spread generally around the costs of Railtrack. He will know that we have had a considerable shock in the past few hours in the revelation of the costs that Railtrack will seek to impose, in my case in West Yorkshire. The Minister said that, on privatisation, there would be an increase of some 50 per cent. in the costs. As I understand it, the charges have now been multiplied by a factor of four. I hope to raise that matter with the Minister separately.
It is important that the costs of safety, which ought to be high because the channel tunnel must be a quality service, are borne by that service and not by users of the rail system as a whole.
§ Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North)
I endorse the final point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Gunnell). The seriousness of yesterday's announcement of Railtrack charges has not yet begun to soak in, but I assure the Minister that it will be well advertised long before the charges take effect.
I should say to the right hon. Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor) that one of the most attractive advertisements for the channel tunnel that I have heard so far is that Bewley's will provide the catering. That will ensure a good cup of coffee and soda bread when one arrives at the terminal at either end. It is a remarkable achievement that Aer Rianta, the Irish state duty-free firm has snatched the duty-free rights from under the nose of other companies on both sides of the channel tunnel. It just shows what a 980 state-owned enterprise can do when it is given the freedom to operate commercially outside its own territory. What a slap in the face to Conservative Members that every time they go into the channel tunnel they will pass through the Irish Government's duty-free shops. That is what I call good public enterprise, and it is a pity that the Government despise it in the way that they do.
We are here, as I am sure that you will remind me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to discuss security in the tunnel. We are here almost on a technicality. It is pointed out at the end of the order that the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments accepted the advice of the legal adviser that the existing orders had to be revised to take account of the new circumstances of the channel tunnel. For example, paragraph 4 creates a new offence of hijacking a channel tunnel train. That opens up all sorts of mental images—a sort of "Take me to Cuba". If one did that with an accent, it would probably be racist.
On the surface, the order is a technicality, but, as the debate has shown, there are many serious worries to be taken into account. As my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) and others have done, it is proper to place the legitimate worries on record. I am sure that they will be read and considered, and that the necessary steps will be taken. There is no question of doubting the good faith of any of the parties involved. It is in everyone's interest to get it right.
It is important to stress that, in raising our worries, the priority for Opposition Members and, I am sure, for Conservative Members is that there should be no impediment to the success of the tunnel project. We want it to succeed. We want to encourage people to use it. We want it to be established. We also want to get rid of initial understandable but irrational fears about the safety of using the tunnel. It is immensely in everyone's interests that the necessary precautions are put in place to prevent anything from happening that would undermine public confidence in the tunnel.
It is human nature that people have fears. We are dealing with the concept of going into an enclosed space—with something hitherto unknown to many people. It is interesting that a high proportion of people say that they would not use the tunnel. Of course, as with everything that is new, they will use it. Many of them will use it and, having used it once, will use it often. That will be the case only if the tunnel can operate in a safe and incident-free manner. It is immensely in everyone's interest, not least the operator's interest, that that should be achieved. It is in that spirit that we hold the debate tonight. Let us recognise the problems, if they exist. Let us make sure that proper precautions are taken. Let us get it absolutely right.
In the context that I have set out, it is important to note that the channel tunnel is probably the first tunnel of its scale which has been built in the age of the terrorist. It has been built at a time when everyone is aware of the problems that could arise. The necessary safeguards have been built in. I hope that the necessary human dimensions to back them up will also be built in.
In the short time available, I emphasise one point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras and other Opposition Members. Let us give British Transport police their proper role in the operation. They are a force of immense experience. They are a public body. They are the right people to do the job and to advise others who do the job. Let there be no suggestion at any point of diluting their responsibility. Let us give them a job to do.
981 They will work well with Eurotunnel and the other police forces. They have been used for a long time to defend our railway system against terrorism and other security threats. They have an important role to play.
I wish the channel tunnel project well. It is a fantastic opportunity for Britain. I want it to be a great national project. We must get security right if those hopes are to be fulfilled.
§ Mr. Freeman
I have been asked 23 questions and I have six minutes in which to respond. Obviously, I cannot answer all the questions, but I shall write to all hon. Members.
§ Mr. Freeman
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's mathematics is any good—rather like his politics. I shall deal with the two points that he made in a bipartisan spirit. The first was on the role of the British Transport police. There is no question of the British Transport police having anything other than their present status as a separate national public sector police force responsible for looking after law and order on Britain's railways. That will extend to the channel tunnel services.
The hon. Gentleman was right to mention that matter,but it can assure him that the expertise and services of the British Transport police will be at the disposal of the operators of the channel tunnel services. There is no question of compromising security and their advice will be available to the operators of the freight terminals, which will be restricted zones, and the passenger services.
I look forward to debating Railtrack charges with the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North. There is no question of those charges affecting fares, services or investment in any way.
§ Mr. Freeman
The hon. Gentleman has obviously not read the answer to the parliamentary question. We will return to that matter, and I shall prove to the House, and to everyone's satisfaction, that he is wrong.
§ Mr. Freeman
No; I have only five minutes left. Perhaps I can answer the hon. Gentleman's question about West Yorkshire. I can assure him that, as far as the passenger transport executive is concerned, the additional costs of running domestic rail services will be directly and fully recompensed by a special grant and thereafter by increases to the revenue support grant payments.
The Government accept that it will take some time to make European passenger services and rail freight distribution profitable. In the meantime, they will be properly supported—directly by British Rail and indirectly by the Government.
My hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Sir R. Moate) asked who will finance security. Security costs will be borne by the operator and will not fall upon the citizens of Kent. Will emergency cover for the people of Kent be taken away? No more so than through the operation of the port of Dover. We do not intend to place unnecessary burdens on the ambulance, fire and police services to the 982 detriment of the citizens of Kent. Who will be liable to a search? I am sure that my hon. Friend will not invite me to go into detail for security reasons, but everyone will be liable to search and searching will be appropriate to the threat. Clearly we must balance security with ease of travel.
On the enforcement of the regulations on 44-tonne lorries travelling to the tunnel, such lorries will not be allowed on the roads of Kent to or through the tunnel. That concession relates to rail terminals; the channel tunnel terminal does not count as such. Rail freight terminals were designed to collect traffic bound for the channel tunnel. Officials from the Department of Transport will enforce the regulations when they check vehicle weights, as they do regularly. A consignment note, showing that the lorry is bound for a freight terminal, will be the appropriate evidence. Lorries with six axles will not cause any more wear and tear on the bridges and roads than is caused at present.
The hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) asked about threats. I assure him that penalties are available under article 8 of the order, and that threats will be pursued vigorously. He also asked about rabies. Schedule 3 of the Channel Tunnel International Arrangements Order 1993 sets out the duties of the concessionairesto construct and maintain installations, to prevent animals straying into the tunnels",and imposes requirements on them to ensure, for example, that the tunnels are kept clear of anything likely to attract animals. There will be regular checks to ensure that the requirements are met. My mailbag on the subject is probably a little larger than the hon. Gentleman's and I assure him that we take the matter seriously.
I shall write to the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East on the subject of staffing compared to the ferries—I think that he mentioned 330 staff. I shall look into the figures.
On the successor to Landor street, I hope that Hams hall can make progress; it has planning permission, subject to one major constraint. The speed of progress is obviously up to the promoters, but clearly Landor street capacity is limited and it will not be able to provide the west midlands with the service that will be required in due course.
My hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Horam) asked about the regulations for new lines and for the intensification of use. [Interruption.] Is the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North having difficulty hearing the answers? In my answer to the parliamentary question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Sir J. Stanley), I said that those people affected by intensification of use have the right, under the Land Compensation Act 1973, in appropriate circumstances to claim compensation. If my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington refers to that answer, I hope that he will find it helpful.
I can tell the right hon. Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor) that security at the tunnel will be comparable to that of airlines and at airports, commensurate with the threat. He did not have the opportunity to hear what I said at the beginning of my remarks, but if he studies the record I hope that he will be satisfied. Yes, Eurotunnel catering and shop staff will be screened.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir D. Mitchell) asked about close co-operation between the security services, customs and 983 immigration. That is extremely important and we take my hon. Friend's point. Safe passage is absolutely vital. Under the Channel Tunnel International Arrangements Order 1993 arrangements have been made for juxtaposed frontier customs controls. United Kingdom customs officers may inspect traffic boarding the shuttle trains at the Eurotunnel terminal at Coquelles. I hope that that information is helpful.
I commend the order to the House and will respond to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) with answers to the detailed questions with which he opened the debate.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the draft Channel Tunnel (Security) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 7th February, be approved.