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Mr. Heseltine : Mr. Gorbachev specifically wants to prevent West Germany accepting the modernisation of NATO's short-range weapons systems. He also wants western technology to help modernise his economy and thus enable it more effectively to carry the weight of the Soviet defence burden. No one should be surprised at the link in recent Soviet speeches of the nuclear defence issue with the imperative to clean up the environment.
In reality, there has been no reduction in Soviet defence expenditure and it possesses a wholly indefensible superiority of conventional weapons, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary told the House last Friday. The Soviets will seek to persuade the West Germans to legitimise that conventional superiority by failing to modernise our short-range deterrent. They will argue that they want fewer nuclear weapons so that they can spend money thus released on environmental standards. They will suggest that if the West transfers technology to them, they will speed the process of environmental enhancement. I have no doubt that the Government will expose the military fallacy, while taking care not to concede for environmental purposes what the Soviets will too easily exploit for military purposes.
We all know that the Soviet Union, through its space programme and through the sophistication of its weapons systems, is perfectly capable of developing technological excellence if it suits its long-term objectives, but while it spends 15 per cent. of its gross domestic product on a defence programme it will starve its environmental and industrial base. When we, rightly anxious to clean the environment and preserve higher standards, approach those issues, it is of fundamental importance that we do not prejudice the defence interests of the western world by too easily allowing the Soviet Union to get away with maintaining a level of defence expenditure that starves it of the resources to improve its environment. Environmental issues will have a profound effect on the arguments of the next decade. I strongly support the Government's policy of playing a proper role in that. It will be increasingly international in its approach. I very much hope that there will be a coherent statement,
Column 463preferably a White Paper, dealing with those issues in order better to inform those of us who wish to support the Government's endeavour.
Mr. Tom Pendry (Stalybridge and Hyde) : Before coming to the main thrust of my speech I wish to make a passing reference to one of the most blatantly ideological and dogmatic pieces of legislation that this Government have introduced--and for this Government that is saying a lot. I am, of course, referring to water privatisation. The Secretary of State was at his most ludicrous when he referred to that, as I am sure the whole House appreciated.
I represent a constituency in the north-west of England that is often referred to as the cradle of the industrial revolution. Much of its infrastructure was laid in the 19th century and is now crumbling. Inadequate but steady progress has been made during the last few years, despite the financial restrictions imposed by the Government, to improve the quality of water, to develop the environment and, crucially, to rehabilitate the infrastructure.
After privatisation, the income generated from water will almost certainly be creamed off into less essential areas. If other privatisation measures are anything to go by, the money will be spent on increased salaries, directors' dividends and the duplication of the National Rivers Authority. I am sure my hon. Friends will agree that the water industry needs investment, not ideology.
The water mains in my region are severely overloaded and outdated. About 600,000 homes are supplied through corroded lead pipes, and 40 per cent. of the main pipes suffer from unacceptable mineral deposits that reduce the standards of our water. Sewer collapses are the highest in the country and average two a day. There were more than 700 bad storm overflows last year, which carried raw sewage into the rivers--half of Britain's total. The problems need to be dealt with urgently, through investment, so that the region's water is at least up to 19th century standards by the time it reaches the 21st century. Public opinion shows that the majority of people oppose the Government on water privatisation. I hope that the Department of the Environment will carefully reconsider before introducing legislation.
I want to deal with one aspect of the Gracious Speech that affects millions of people. It is regrettable that my old sparring partner, the Minister with responsibility for sport, is not present. With the Minister for Water and Planning, he has the unenviable task of piloting through the water privatisation measure. But he has other interests, too. As the miniature for sport, as he is affectionately known these days, he is "irresponsible" for the idea of identity cards for football supporters. I feel slightly sorry for him, because he has the heavy hand, or, more accurately, the knee -jerk response, of No. 10 behind him, aided and abetted by the more irresponsible Ministers from Marsham street.
The very basis of the identity card scheme is faulty. The Government's thinking seems to be that identity cards must be used by supporters to enter grounds ; that those guilty of hooliganism will have their cards removed ; and that therefore, by definition, football games will end up by being attended only by peaceful supporters. The fundamental weakness of that approach is that the police rarely catch or successfully prosecute hooligans who commit acts of violence, mostly outside football grounds.
Column 464The proposed legislation will not help the police, and many senior police have clearly said so. The existing provisions for exclusion and attendance orders are more effective at keeping criminals away from matches than plastic identity cards can ever be.
The Minister contradicted himself yesterday when, in an interview, he said, "Exclusion orders worked."
Later, he said that, as yet, there is
"no method to stop those excluded from one club from going to another".
Exclusion orders could do precisely that if they were implemented effectively.
Last season, 6,147 supporters were arrested at matches, and only 1, 089 had exclusion orders imposed upon them to keep them away from football. If exclusion orders are not the answer, why did the Government introduce them in the first place? Instead of the commonsense approach, the Government have hit upon a populist, tabloid-inspired approach to identity cards. With identity cards, the Government appear to be responding to the perceived problem. However, now that the population at large are being apprised of the true facts, the Government will find that they have miscalculated.
Those 6,147 arrests represented just 0.03 per cent. of the 18 million supporters who went to league games--that is, on average, fewer than three arrests per match. Put in the context of society as a whole--something that the Government have continuously failed to do with the measure--according to the Home Office's own figures, that figure is revealing when compared with the 3.7 per cent. of the adult population arrested in Britain in 1987. On the basis of the Minister's approach, the average citizen will be safer inside a football ground than outside it. It is a good job that the football authorities have not taken that view and over the past few years have taken real steps in line with the Popplewell report recommendations.
Better segregation, closed-circuit television cameras, close co-operation between clubs, the police and the community and, let us face it, Government -inspired partial membership schemes have all but removed the old problem of violence within grounds. There are still pockets to be worked at, and we all accept that, but just eight of the 2,500 matches played last season suffered reportable incidents within the grounds--I repeat, within the grounds. Clearly, the Government are tackling the hooliganism problem by using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
Mr. Carlisle rose --
Mr. Pendry : I shall not give way. The hon. Gentleman knows that I shall not give way to him. I hope that he catches your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, because I am sure that he has something useful to say, but I wish to adhere to the strictures from the Chair.
In terms of civil liberties for British citizens, Opposition Members and millions of genuine football supporters
Column 465consider the scheme to be grossly offensive. Supporters get no benefit from it. Yesterday the Minister stated that ID cards were "all for the privilege of being able to go to football." The remark is offensive to many football supporters. Until now, it has been a legitimate right for our people so to do.
However, more sinister in the report is the plan to feed into the scheme police computer files, not just of convicted criminals, but of people who are arrested, people who are suspected of foul play, and supporters who are ejected from grounds, for whatever reason. Mr. Carlisle rose --
Football supporters are clearly being used as guinea pigs to test identity cards for all our citizens. If the Government really believe in identity cards, they should be bold enough to introduce them through legislation.
Mr. Carlisle rose --
Mr. Pendry : My major objection, not only to the hon. Gentleman's interruptions, but to identity cards, is that they show how much the Government and the Minister with responsibility for sport are out of touch with football. Hon. Members should take just one corner of the capital city of London as an example. Three clubs--Spurs, Arsenal and Leyton Orient-- lucidly show the reality of football in 1988. After consultation with the police, the Tottenham Hotspur club is actually removing fences, because they are no longer needed. Clearly, the police believe that Spurs' supporters behave themselves.
At Highbury, the cup replay between Arsenal and Liverpool graphically spelt out the problems that I am trying to illustrate. At 7.15 pm on 9 November, 25,000 supporters were in the ground. At 8 pm, with the kick-off already delayed, about 54,000 were inside, and 6, 000 were locked out. The checking of 54,000 identity cards would have created utter chaos. The match would have had to kick off at midnight. The Minister will say that supporters should get to grounds earlier, but how can they do so for a mid-week game? That is the kind of nonsensical comment that we have come to expect from him. His best quote was in a recent article, when he said :
"Do you know that there are more people go fishing than go to football, and we have less trouble with fishing".
That shows just how out of touch the Minister is to compare a solitary participatory sport with by far the biggest spectator sport in this country.
At Leyton Orient, the last of my examples, the problems are different. Like many small clubs, it will be driven to the wall by this scheme. It already has difficulty making ends meet. The estimated 56 per cent. fall off in support, according to a national opinion poll this weekend--which, incidentally, showed that twice as many genuine supporters oppose the scheme as support it--could shut
Column 466down Leyton Orient once and for all. That is why clubs have pledged support for all hon. Members who oppose the planned legislation. Identity cards for football supporters are opposed from every quarter. Many hon. Members stand alongside 91 of the 92 clubs which consider identity cards to be costly and irrelevant. The 92nd club--
Mr. Carlisle : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman has referred--albeit in a roundabout way--to my constituency. Is it not the custom of the House that those hon. Members who have a constituency involvement should be allowed to make some sort of reply?
Mr. Carlisle : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy, albeit a little late. As he rightly said, the representatives of Luton Town are in favour of the scheme. He must accept that the situation at Luton Town is different from what it was two years ago when we introduced the membership scheme. He must also accept that millions of our people are worried about safety in their towns, let alone at their football grounds. Luton is now a safe place for young and old people, even when a football match is going on, and that is purely because of the membership only scheme. Is the hon. Gentleman concerned only with the interests of football clubs, or is he also concerned about people outside football clubs?
Mr. Pendry : If Luton Town wishes to pursue its present policy, it should be entitled to do so. No two clubs are the same, and there should be flexibility so that Luton Town can pursue its present policy, however mistaken we may think it is.
I shall now deal with why I think Luton Town is wrong. The Minister is always quoting Luton Town, and he has claimed that the club has saved £100,000 on police bills. However, if one reads the reports from Luton Town, one finds that during the first two years of its 100 per cent. scheme police costs rose dramatically, and that only last season did those costs fall from their high peak.
The Minister also claims that attendances by home supporters have risen by 38 per cent. Last year, attendances at Luton Town fell by 27 per cent. That was in a season when the club won the Littlewoods cup, reached Wembley three times, was ninth in the league and reached a cup semi-final. Many clubs which do not have such a record, and which have the sort of gates that Luton has, which on average are below second division level, will
Column 467go to the wall. Hon. Members who represent constituencies with small clubs should remember that this scheme will almost certainly see the demise of those clubs.
The Minister said that the only arrest at Luton last season was outside the ground. The Minister is not in the Chamber, but will the Secretary of State for the Environment ask him to break down, on the same basis, the national figure of 6,147? Will such a breakdown prove that the vast bulk of arrests elsewhere are also not within grounds? The Minister bandies statistics about, so he has a duty to give us that breakdown.
Supporters are united in their opposition to the scheme. Rogan Taylor of the Football Supporters Association was speaking for millions of genuine football supporters when he said :
"This is a plan for football from people who have never passed through a turnstile, they have taken no advice from us the supporters."
Earlier, the Minister with responsibility for sport was wearing his Charlton Athletic tie. He does that when he deems it to be advantageous. He falls into the category of not understanding the game, and his oft-quoted example of hooliganism at the recent Millwall v . Newcastle game highlights that. I am informed by those who were near the Minister at that time that his main concern was to be photographed with Dee Jay Bear, and that the incident to which he referred was hardly noticed by those closer to the occurrence than he was. An identity card scheme would have been of little use at that game, as there were no arrests inside the ground that day. Finally, and perhaps most damning of all, most police forces oppose the identity card scheme.
Mr. Pendry : No, I shall not give way. I dare not say too much about Stockport County, because it is close to my constituency. As I was saying, most police forces oppose the identity card scheme. Those at the sharp end who are in charge of policing football matches condemn identity cards. The chairman of the Police Federation said :
"Surges at big matches will create injuries and possibly fatalities it will create more trouble on the streets."
Opposition to the scheme could hardly be blunter. I feel sorry for those who live around football grounds, because their problems will multiply if the scheme goes through. Football is a vital part of our way of life and, as an industry, it generates hundreds of millions of pounds for the Exchequer. More important, it gives hours of pleasure to millions of genuine football supporters. The Government are out to destroy our national game with this plan.
Twenty years ago, in his classic book "The Football Man", Arthur Hopcraft wrote :
"It has not been only a game for eighty years. What happens on the football field matters, not in the way that food matters but as poetry does to some people it engages the personality." Bill Shankly perhaps overstated its significance when he uttered the immortal words :
"Football's not a matter of life and death, it's more important than that."
It is clear that the Minister with responsibility for sport has got it wrong. He and his boss in No. 10 are the real hooligans and are setting out to destroy football with this
Column 468idiotic scheme. The survival of our national game is at stake. The Government should drop this monstrous proposal before it is to late to save our game.
Mr. Kenneth Warren (Hastings and Rye) : I enter this field of combat with some trepidation. I sensed that my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) had gone through the yellow card barrier and was approaching the red card. I am slightly disconcerted to find that my old friend the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) has become a poet in the later years of our parliamentary acquaintance.
The Gracious Speech says :
"My Government will continue to promote enterprise and to foster the conditions necessary for the sustained growth of output and employment."
Competitiveness is the biggest challenge that faces industry. I should like to identify three areas where the Government, who are non-interventionist, have a duty to understand a little more clearly their relationship with trade and industry. They also have a duty to realise that they have a duty as entrepreneurs and promoters of enterprise.
There is no doubt that the Government have helped in industry's remarkable recovery. There are basic relationships between Government and industry that I commend to my right hon. and hon. Friends because they need special attention. First, I shall identify where I think trade and industry and the environment meet. They meet in the area of the needs and problems of transportation. The Government brought more private investment to British Airways, to the British Airports Authority and to other companies through the privatisation process. I should like to see the Government identify their responsibility more clearly to ensure that our trade flows smoothly.
There is a consequential cost to our business efficiency caused by the unacceptable, inaccurate forecasting techniques employed by the Department of Transport. The problem is made worse by the permanent lack of understanding by the Treasury of the duty of the Government to invest taxpayers' money to enable citizens to go about their business efficiently and effectively. That combination does not show the priority that is essential for Britain to be able to trade more effectively. We have only to look at the extraordinary chaos of the London traffic jams to see that the police and traffic wardens do not give priority to making sure that our main traffic routes are kept clear of illegally parked vehicles.
The year 1992 is getting closer, and on 1 January 1993 we shall all be expected to rush forward with new enterprise and to take advantage of new opportunities. There is no doubt that Britain's transport problems are growing faster than the solutions. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in my part of the country in south-east England where we are very much aware that the east-west routes south of London--the M20, the M2 and the M25--are already over the limit at most times of the day and night. The alternative south coast route, which has been promised and which will run through my constituency, will be a series of single carriageway bypasses until the 21st century. That will be the main alternative route, however, for Channel tunnel traffic to reach the south and west of the country. We are faced with the paradox of the Treasury, which is awash with taxpayers' revenue, failing to invest in
Column 469worthwhile enterprises and yet urging the public to invest in such enterprises. With transport, demand is far greater than supply. We are also faced with the extraordinary situation that money is allocated to projects, such as the bypass around Pevensey, and yet that money is not spent. My neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Mr. Wardle), and myself, together with other Members representing Sussex, discussed this matter only last week. It highlights the problems that can arise if integrating the needs of different Government Departments goes too far, but the Government must understand the multi-responsibilies of the Departments of Trade and Industry, Transport and the Environment. They must get things going so that our people are ready to offer good transportation services by 1 January 1993.
My feelings about the increases in interest rates are best illustrated by quoting the experiences of two young gentlemen in my constituency who have set up a shopfitting business. It has a turnover of just over £50,000 a year and it is moving ahead. Those men have families and both own small houses. In the past six months, however, their mortgages have just about doubled. They were counting on the cash that they must now pay in extra mortgage interest to further their business.
When the Government consider the macro-economic scale and the value of higher interest rates, I hope that they will consider the plight of the young people whom we have encouraged to be enterprising, to develop their business spirit, and to go out to the market place to sell their endeavours. They are paying a high price for their enterprising spirit. I am sure that the Government will think about those people who are working hard five or six days a week. We have a non-interventionist Government who have made rapid strides in reducing the size of the Civil Service. In common with my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls), I believe that the Government should consider the burden that is placed on young people because of Government requirements for fiscal returns and information and data of all kinds. Providing that information often consumes between 12 and 15 hours of a working week for a small business.
What will 1992 mean? It is not just a matter of one single, large trade area in Europe which will enjoy all the opportunities that have already been identified. The European Economic Community must be capable of combating the great and growing surge of enterprise from east Asia, and, in particular, from Japan.
There is no doubt that, in 1992, some of our strong industries, such as steel and retailing, will become stronger and that their success will pull other companies through. We must heed the warning of what happened, however, in 1973. Then we thought that we would do well from our membership of the Community, but we found that other countries did better than we did from our entry.
Post 1992, the problem that will face the EEC will be the competitive and economic strength of eastern Asia. Presently, our export record within the EEC is a problem and we must seek to solve it in the next few years. There are only three countries within the EEC--Greece, Ireland and Spain--with which we are in surplus in export manufactures. Our deficit with West Germany is now running at more than £14 million a year, which represents
Column 470more than half of our total deficit with the EEC. That is worrying when one considers that West Germany has a high wage economy in comparison with our own.
In the 1980s we drifted from surplus to break even and on to the stage where we now have a serious trade deficit, principally with the EEC. If we consider the way in which our industry has changed since the 1970s, we may learn how to conquer the problems of the 1990s. In 1973, nine companies produced television sets--seven of them were British. The production and design of a television set requires, at best, medium grade technology ; it is not the world's most difficult task. Nevertheless, since 1973, all the British companies have gone. Now 11 companies manufacture televisions in Britain and nine of those companies originate from east Asia, principally Japan. In the same period the share of world trade held by eastern Asia has increased from 10 per cent. to 20 per cent.
Technology, even that required to make televisions, is a world growth industry whether it is applied to the environment, transportation, health or Government standards. Although our industries improved during the 1970s and 1980s, they have not kept up with the rest of the world competitively. There must be discussions between Government and industry about how our joint resources can improve our export competitiveness, but that must be done without bearing down on industry or intervening in its strategy.
Nowadays, far too few of our people are coming forward to train as scientists and engineers. The latest information reveals that a quarter of the engineering course opportunities have not been taken up in this academic year. In 1960, we had as many qualified engineers as the Japanese, 250,000. By 1992, the number of our graduate engineers will have doubled, which is commendable until one discovers that, in Japan, that number will have increased seven times over. One cannot ignore the tremendous drive for quality and for research that is now sweeping, almost like a plague, through most of the east Asian countries. The CBI recently pointed out that skill shortages are becoming a major constraint on output. In 1980 only 3 per cent. of the companies polled said that they faced problems because of skill shortages, but in 1987 that number had grown to 15 per cent. and it is still increasing. We need world quality scientists and engineers to increase our competitiveness, but we are not producing them at the necessary rate.
After 1992, the United Kingdom, as part of the EEC, will face an enormous battle. Presently the export deficit between the EEC and Japan stands at about $18 billion a year. By 1992 that deficit is forecast to rise to $38 billion. That is the deficit with Japan alone, but in 1992 our deficit with the other newly industrialised nations of east Asia will be well in excess of $20 billion.
I hope that I have identified the enormous task that lies before the Government and the European Economic Community. I am not an interventionist, but surely everyone can see that, although the Government may wish to be non-interventionist, they are entwined in the industrial fabric and future of our nation. I ask Ministers to heed that fact and recognise the Government's essential role as an entrepreneur and partner in the progress of our trade and industry.
Column 4715.59 pm
Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon) : My hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) described the Queen's Speech as one of "missed opportunities." That is particularly true with regard to environmental issues, and the Secretary of State's speech perhaps explained why.
The Queen's Speech reads :
"My Government will continue to attach very great importance to protecting our environment, both nationally and internationally." I stress the word "continue" because, as progress and action on that front have so far been extremely laggardly, this is not a particularly encouraging commitment from the Government. The attempt to suggest that the privatisation of water and electricity is specifically designed to achieve environmental benefits would be laughable if it were not such a serious matter.
The right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) gave what I can only describe as an excuse rather than a justification for the privatisation of water. It was unfortunate and regrettable that he chose to smear the environmental lobby as some kind of Communist fellow travellers. If that is to be the stuff of leadership from the Conservative party in the future, then it will be the kind of rhetoric that we hear from one-party state dictators rather than from people who are prepared to engage in democratic debate.
The privatisation measures have been in progress for several years, but not once, until the Prime Minister shocked her colleagues with her sudden announcement that she had been converted to concern on green issues, have we been told that they were being brought forward for environmental benefits and that, apparently, that is now the prime reason for the exercise. Ministers must think that the British public are green in the old -fashioned sense if they think that we will swallow that one.
In the days following the Prime Minister's unheralded change of heart, those of us who watched news broadcasts could see that her Environment Ministers were rushing around like headless chickens trying to convince themselves, let alone the public, that they were taking action on the environment and that they had anything in the cupboard that could be portrayed as positive action. They knew full well that, hitherto, their job was to slow down, delay, obstruct and resist in any way possible measures being proposed by others in the United Kingdom and the European Community and internationally to deal with environmental problems. Suddenly, they were putting a green gloss on everything, trying to kid a gullible public that real action was taking place when, in reality, nothing had changed.
The Government will find it hard to get away with that for long because those people who are genuinely concerned about the environment have given the matter a great deal of thought over a long period and know that getting to grips with the environment requires fundamental and philosophical changes. In short, positive action on green issues is incompatible with Thatcherism, and the Prime Minister must confront that problem.
The privatisation measures are included in the Queen's Speech simply for ideological reasons. The Government are as ideological as any Marxist or Socialist regime. The rhetoric from the Tories that now refers to the discipline of the market place and the stimulus of commercial pressure is hollow because the mechanisms for bringing those pressures to bear in respect of basic commodities, such as
Column 472power and water, simply do not exist. There is no serious suggestion that consumers will have a choice of where they get their water or electricity supplies. In practice, they will deal with a monopoly supplier, no longer one whose prime concern is public service, but one whose prime interest is profit.
Costs will rise. That is admitted, even by the Government, and it is undeniable. Even before the transfer takes place, the enterprises will be fattened up at the taxpayer's expense and charges for water and electricity will be jacked up.
Mr. Richard Livsey (Brecon and Radnor) : Is it not true that the privatisation measures for water in particular are breaking the Government's philosophy, as they are not creating competition but are transferring public monopolies to private monopolies, and that the only way that they will achieve profitability is by milking the consumers who will pay for the privatisation? Does my hon. Friend also agree that the Secretary of State for the Environment excelled himself last week when he said in even more flowery language than he used today that he would float the 10 private water companies after privatisation?
Mr. Bruce : My hon. Friend is anticipating what I was about to say. He is right because the Government's excuse for jacking up prices in advance of privatisation is to secure revenue for investment. Perhaps Ministers can tell us what other enterprise could increase prices to its customers to finance future investment. Surely the essence of risk taking is that the shareholders and the City institutions put up the risk capital in the belief that the market will sustain a sufficient return to make it worthwhile.
However, the Government are turning all that on its head. The investors are being given cast-iron guarantees of assured profits for no risk. That is immoral and it turns the public, as consumers of essential utilities, into captive milch cows for international capital. That is the exact opposite of what an enterprise culture is supposed to be about.
It is important to record that the electricity supply industry has been built up as a great enterprise in the public sector. The national grid and its operation is a magnificent achievement, and no one can deny that. Certainly there is room for restructuring. The relationship between the generation and distribution sides can certainly be changed and the dictatorial power of Lord Marshall should be curtailed, but that is no case for privatisation. If the Government's rhetoric were being followed through, all forms of electricity generation would be put on an even footing so that the market could operate. In reality, for strategic reasons, nuclear power has enjoyed massive subsidy and protection, and it will continue to do so.
In the United States, where nuclear power has to take its chance commercially, the industry is dead. No one is prepared to finance new nuclear power stations. Indeed, in the United States, no one is financing any new power stations. Yet the British Government are proposing to force the industry to continue to buy in nuclear power for almost 20 per cent. of the total rather than make its own decisions simply on commercial factors.
However, not even that is sufficient for the Government. They are pledging an open blank cheque from the taxpayer to cover all risks associated with the industry, nuclear waste disposal and insurance against
Column 473accidents. In other words, the taxpayer takes all the risks and the investor secure all the profit. No Socialist Government would have ever dared to try such effrontery.
The position is even worse because there is no doubt that, even on the basis of existing technology, using energy more efficiently and backing viable alternative forms of generation could more than replace all the electricity that we obtain from nuclear power and do so within less than a decade. That is a technical and economic fact that the Government refuse to accept.
Pursuing such a course is the one measure that would do most to reduce the pressure of the greenhouse effect and all other forms of air pollution related to the generation of electricity. We should, at the same time, become full members of the 30 per cent. club. The Secretary of State may boast, but Britain is doing less later than any other country, and no one believes that that is something to be proud of. The Secretary of State is proud of the fact that he will host an international conference on the threat to the ozone layer. That could rebound on him if we have not taken steps to phase out CFCs by the time it takes place.
Research and development of renewable energy sources has not only been starved of resources, but has been under the control of the nuclear lobby which has a vested interest in showing that they cannot work. Why else was the wave research programme curtailed just when it was about to become commercially viable? Why have we not made positive progress on a commercial tidal barrage?
We pioneered the development of modern wind power turbines, so why is it that the development has proceeded faster and on a greater scale in California, Denmark, Sweden and Greece? I suggest that wind power is one of the technologies that can create jobs and use traditional skills, especially in some of the older industrial areas. Unfortunately, the rules are heavily stacked against these technologies. For example, wind turbines are rated more highly than conventional units of generation--1.8p per kilowatt of installed capacity as against 1.7p for conventional power stations. Electricity boards will not pay a competitive price for surplus electricity from wind turbines.
The firm of James Howden of Glasgow is just outside the constituency of Govan. It is a pioneer of wind turbines. It is looking forward to building one of the Department of Energy's sponsored wind farms. It will be interesting to be given details of when these projects will go ahead. We await the presentation of a timetable. Representatives of James Howden have told me of the business that the firm could secure from wind farms, coupled with a change in the rating and a simple amendment to energy legislation. It estimates that it could create no fewer than 700 jobs in Glasgow and Renfrew within 12 months. That practical action will follow only if the Government do things instead of talking about them.
How do the Government propose to control the movement of shares after the privatisation of the electricity industry? The Secretary of State for Scotland has given assurances that the separate concerns that he is selling in Scotland will continue to be Scottish and Scottish controlled. How can that be achieved? With the phasing out of the social clause that relates to the hydro-electric board, how can we ensure that remote and rural communities will not lose out in future? These questions