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Mr. Skinner : And the cyclists.

Mr. Adley : Yes, but the cyclists are not a charge on the ratepayer. How much does this cost? It must be a jolly good business for the manufacturers of cast iron bollards. Because local authorities have lost powers as a result of Government legislation, they have to buy huge quantities of cast iron bollards and then instal them on street corners to try to prevent coaches from using unsuitable roads.

With regard to the relationship between track costs of road versus rail, it seems that while commuter coaches park in central London and pay nothing, British Rail must pay £42 million in rates. New clause 5 refers to an obligation on local authorities to provide parking spaces for coaches. The obligation may well be on local authorities, but the coach operators should pay. There is

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no earthly reason why ratepayers should pay. The commuter coach and tourist coach operators should pay fo coach parking facilities. In the large coach park on what was until recently British Rail land in Battersea, coaches are paying 50p a day to park. That land I believe has just been sold for £49 million. If we relate the size of a coach to the value of the land which has just changed hands, instead of paying 50p a day, coaches should be paying at least £10 a day to park there.

Mr. Skinner : Who bought the land?

Mr. Adley : I am afraid that I am not an estate agent and I cannot answer the question.

Mr. Skinner : Was it Al-Fayed?

Mr. Adley : I do not think that it was the Al-Fayeds. I believe it was bought by an anonymous Swiss property company, but I am sure the information could readily be made available to the hon. Member for Bolsover. However, I do not know whether that is particularly relevant to this debate.

My new clause is concerned with coaches parking in London. I have received a letter from the deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police. His comments about the effect of Government legislation on the Metropolitan police are devastating. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West perhaps tended to criticise the police for not doing enough to deter people who park illegally. However, by allowing some of this legislation through, we have been partly guilty of placing a huge additional burden on the police by exacerbating the problem.

On 15 January 1987 Deputy Assistant Commissioner Innes wrote : "You will be aware of the fact that in the Central Area problems with coaches are quite horrendous. We have to balance the proper desire of the tourist boards to attract visitors to London alongside the vastly increased use of coaches for commuting purposes, all in streets designed for horses and carts."

Similarly, the British Railways Board wrote to me about the effect of legislation on its business. On 11 December the board's parliamentary affairs manager wrote :

"We can't hope to match their cost structure, as they pay a nominal track cost, and nothing for terminals, using the street both as a pick-up point and, in many cases, for parking."

To their credit, the Government have begun to deal with the track cost problem. However, my new clause seeks to deal with the other aspects of parking and road use problems, particularly in London. I referred a moment ago to bollards. On 26 August 1988 I received a letter from the assistant divisional director responsible for highways and environmental design at Westminster city council who stated :

"heavy duty cast iron bollards are to replace those formerly in-situ. These should prove more of a deterrent to coaches than those previously in use, which were knocked over on at least three occasions."

So the anti-social behaviour of coach drivers in London includes deliberately knocking over bollards erected to keep coaches away from certain roads and streets. Those bollards have to be used because of legislation passed by the House, which removed from local authorities their powers to regulate the movement of coaches.

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11 am

When my hon. Friend the Member replies, I hope that he will refer to the Bus and Coach Council's code of practice. In a Department of Transport press notice dated 2 March 1988, my hon. Friend in his enthusiasm said that that code of practice was

"a breakthrough, especially for Londoners".

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am very reluctant to pursue a matter that has already been gone into, but I request that when considering the matter next Monday and Tuesday, Mr. Speaker takes into account the broadcast made by the former Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) on "The World at One" yesterday, when he made important statements about how the Government and the House might conduct themselves. It is my simple request that Mr. Speaker listens to a recording of that six-mintue interview before making any further rulings.

Madam Deputy Speaker : Mr. Speaker carefully studies the Official Report and he will certainly read the hon. Gentleman's remarks.

Mr. Adley : Before that intervention, I was referring to the Department of Transport's press notice No. 93 of 2 March 1988 relating to the Bus and Coach Council's code of practice. Its four recommendations were to use only designated coach parking areas, to ensure that coaches stopped only as long as necessary when setting down and picking up passengers, to avoid driving coaches down narrow residential streets, and not to keep engines running when coaches were parked near to houses unless it was necessary. My hon. Friend the Minister described that as

"a breakthrough, especially for Londoners".

From 2 March 1988 until today is one of the longest and slowest breakthroughs in history. It has not happened yet. In the realms of wishful thinking, that press notice must rate high on the Richter scale.

As long ago as 1 August 1985, my hon. Friend's predecessor, writing to me about coach parking in London, observed :

"On a wider front we have by no means been idle."

There is encouragement for us all. He also mentioned

"an urgent review of the scope for making use of publicly owned land for short and longer term parking for coaches, in order to relieve the problems caused by on-street parking".

That urgent review was supposed to have taken place four years ago. I do not know what has happened in the four years since. Perhaps my hon. Friend will be able to tell me. My hon. Friend the Minister himself gave a written reply in which he recognised the problems of pollution. He stated :

"The question of avoidable pollution from parked coaches in London has been raised at the coaches working party chaired by Westminster city council. We shall urgently consider any recommendations that they make to deal with this question."--[ Official Report, 10 December 1986 ; Vol. 107, c. 152. ]

The word "urgency" is used frequently but subsequent action is barely discernible. Over the past few years, legislation has exacerbated the situation. There have been many words recognising the difficulties but precious little action.

The head of administration, territorial operations, Scotland Yard, Mr. B. Arnold, wrote to me on 2 March 1987--these things always seem to happen on my birthday. He commented :

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"Regrettably, the overall situation has not improved. This is certainly the case regarding provision of suitable off- street parking facilities, and is not likely to get better until a large enough replacement for Victoria Coach Station is found. Any solution will also need to provide for the large number of commuter coaches which daily use the central area."

Making reference to the resources at his disposal, Mr. Arnold deals with the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West that we have placed a huge additional burden on police forces by creating, through transport legislation, problems of the kind that we are now debating.

I do not want to weary the House, but I have done a lot of work on this subject over the past few years. I discussed the matter of coach deregulation with Sir Keith Bright, former chairman and chief executive of London Regional Transport. He wrote to me on 17 November 1987, stating :

"These increases in coach services have placed pressure on the limited space for terminating and parking coaches in Central London and have increased the problem of inappropriate coach routings through London

"The 1980 Transport Act has also led to increased use of coaches for daily commuting and although these provide a lower cost alternative to the railways they do add to traffic congestion on busy inner and central London roads. Perhaps more important is the accumulation of coaches, found at such places as the Embankment, setting down in the morning and waiting to leave in the evening. This can cause severe local traffic congestion which acts to the detriment of bus services when they are particularly busy. LRT is not opposed to commuter coach operations but believes that stricter controls over their stopping on the highway are needed."

I call in aid the comments of my right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary, who, writing to me on 22 December 1986, commented : "Where coaches are illegally parked and left unattended, enforcement action is taken, although consideration has to be given to the possibility of perhaps fifty or more passengers being stranded if a coach is removed or wheelclamped. The problems of illegal parking are most acute during the early evening peak period, when the police concentrate their resources on maintaining traffic flow on the main radial routes out of London."

How much more evidence does my hon. Friend the Minister need? The police, Home Office, London Regional Transport, British Rail and local authorities in London are all telling him the same story. However, all we see are press releases making frequent use of the word "urgency" and precious little happening. A policy of clamping coaches may be inconvenient for the 50 passengers affected, but are we to condone illegality by coach companies because to do otherwise may be to inconvenience their customers? If carried to its extreme, that proposition would have horrendous consequences.

Picking up on a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West, I suggest that the Department should do a deal with British Rail, which should be permitted to develop a rail loading bay at somewhere like Olympia, to which illegally parked coaches could be towed and then transported to the nethermost points of the kingdom. Those of Scottish Coaches could be taken to St. Ives in Cornwall, and of Western National to Thurso or Wick. They would then have to return at their own expense. I suspect that that would quickly solve the problem.

My final comment is about the additional pollution caused by parked coaches whose drivers keep their engines running. That horrendous practice forces diesel fumes into the nostrils of pedestrians, cyclists, and people living nearby. It is an anti-social and wholly unacceptable practice that is willingly practised by coach companies all

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the time. The managing director of Southend Transport Ltd., writing to me on 3 February 1988, indicated that he was quite happy for his coaches to park on double yellow lines at Hyde park corner. He further writes :

"The road west of Hyde Park Corner is part of the Company's registered X1 route to and from Heathrow Airport. The vehicle would, therefore, have been in service between the Airport and Southend. It would have been waiting time to operate as per the public timetable. It is not the practice to turn off engines in such a situation." That practice is disgraceful and deliberately creates pollution. It is, of course, contrary to the Bus and Coach Council Code of Practice. The Government should take immediate action to make it illegal. A former Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Hampshire, North-West, in a letter to me, commented :

"The Road Vehicle (Constructon and Use) Regulations 1986 make it an offence to leave the engine running if the driver is not in the cab."

We all know what goes on. The drivers are not in their cabs but sit with other staff, very often for two or three hours at a time, playing cards, taking their meals, or sleeping in their coaches.

Mr. Skinner : The problem does not only apply to coaches. I have noticed it outside the House of Lords. As the hon. Gentleman knows, their lordships need only come in, nod to the bobby, get signed in and pick up their £40 or £50 a day tax free. Sometimes when they do not want to stay but just want to clock in for the money, the chauffeurs keep their engines running. If hon. Members have a look any day at 2.30 they will see a car with the engine running and the lord trotting out--well, not really trotting--knowing that he will be in the place for only about three minutes. We could do with some decent statistics on that, seasonally adjusted.

Mr. Adley : The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. As he says, vehicles waiting for people--sometimes for three minutes, but in the case of coaches often for two or three hours--with their engines running are a serious cause of pollution, particularly large diesel vehicles.

On the Embankment 10, 15 or sometimes 20 coaches park for hours on end. One driver stays to look after all the coaches. If the clamping man or the parking meter man comes along, the "duty driver" can get into whichever coach the man is looking at and say, "Look, I am on board. You cannot possibly do anything to me, because the vehicle is not unattended." That is part of the abuse--day in, day out--that is perpetrated by coach operators. Parked coaches are pouring diesel fumes all over our towns and cities.

In a Sunday Times article last week, Colin Dryden, referring to the 1984 Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, reported that smoke from diesel vehicles was

"in many circumstances at an unacceptable level the vehicles themselves have got bigger and more powerful".

We all know that to be true. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West did not use the phrase "tower blocks on wheels" to describe some of the coaches that are polluting our cities today, so I shall do so now. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has rightly pointed out that they are responsible for intimidatory driving.

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I cannot always find it in my heart to praise the Americans, but, as the Sunday Times article rightly says,

"American requirements are far tougher, particularly for buses, on the grounds that they put health more at risk through operating in cities."

I have reserved the last word for Deputy Assistant Commissioner Innes of the Metropolitan police. In one simple sentence he sums up what has been going on in London, and the problems created by recent legislation. After all, we have Mr. Gorbachev here today. He will be gone tomorrow, but transport problems, like the poor, are for ever with us and will get steadily worse. My hon. Friend the Minister must know that transport will be a major issue in the next general election.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Innes says :

"You will be aware that in the Central Area problems with coaches are quite horrendous."

They are indeed. My little new clause tries to deal with them, and I hope that my hon. Friend will find it acceptable.

11.15 am

Mr. Tom Cox (Tooting) : I am sure that all hon. Members who have listened to the debate will congratulate the hon. Members for Lewisham, West (Mr. Maples) and for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) on their interesting speeches, which provided plenty of statistics and plenty of food for thought. I support the new clauses, especially new clause 5, which requires that a

"Local Authority shall provide off-street parking facilities for buses and coaches."

That is long overdue.

The hon. Member for Christchurch rightly cited the problems in this area and adjacent to this building. Coaches used to come into London in great numbers only in the spring and summer months, but they now do so throughout the year. Because of the lack of proper parking facilities they park as far away as Lambeth and Wandsworth for hours on end, causing traffic chaos in those areas. Residents would no doubt welcome the proposals in the new clause, and

progressive-thinking local authorities would probably consider the provision of such facilities to be one of their responsibilities. Traffic problems are getting worse not only in London but in all our major cities. We hear a good deal from the Department of Transport in the form of press releases and so on but there is precious little hard evidence of real improvement to back it up. Today's debate has highlighted the absence of a proper integrated transport system, not only in London but in the whole country. Although it may be unpopular with some motorists, there is an urgent need for us to consider the requirements of the country and especially those of people who live in areas that suffer hour by hour, day by day, from the problems caused by all kinds of traffic. When I hear statements from the Department of Transport followed by statements from the Department of the Environment, I sometimes wonder just how much co- ordination there is of the thinking of those Departments on issues in which both are involved. Judging by correspondence that I receive from my constituents, there is virtually none.

The hon. Member for Lewisham, West made some telling points about parking, which are also touched on in his new clauses. He mentioned the problems caused by commercial vehicles, but many of the problems that I have observed are caused by private cars, especially when they

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are parked in residential areas. I can speak only for London, but this may also apply in many other parts of the country. More and more private motor cars are double parked throughout the day and night. They are often not lit, and they cause enormous annoyance to residents as well as potential dangers. There seems, however, to be no policy on the matter. The police in my area say, "Well, sir, it is very difficult. What do we tell them to do?"

To a large extent I go along with the view of the hon. Member for Lewisham, West that penalties for illegal parking are not high enough and do not deter. Regrettably, however, throughout London--and, again, possibly in other major cities--there simply are not sufficient parking facilities, and matters will get worse as more and more cars come on to the roads. Until the problem is tackled, perhaps by the Department of Transport in co- operation with local authorities, indiscriminate parking will undoubtedly continue.

Mr. Dykes : The hon. Gentleman's remarks on the scourge of double parking will be welcomed by every sensible listener. Does he agree that the disease of recent years is becoming a scandal which must be dealt with as soon as possible? Should not double parking be made an absolute offence which should be prohibited full stop, except of course in the case of public service vehicles dealing with an emergency? Could we not also follow the example of Tokyo--albeit with a different street pattern--and require developers building new flats and blocks of flats to provide off-street parking spaces? Usually they do not bother, and, as with the coach problem, ratepayers, suffering residents and local authorities are left to pick up the tab.

Mr. Cox : The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. All hon. Members will endorse his comments. He referred to property development. Those hon. Members with inner London constituencies know that there has been a great increase in the number of property conversions. Five or 10 years ago large houses were occupied by one family. Three or four families now live in them. Each family has a motor car and there are insufficient parking facilities. That issue must be tackled. If people say, "To hell with the regulations, I'm going to park here" that should be made an offence. People should lose points for doing that. Their cars are a potential danger to those who live in the area and to other motorists.

The Tooting Broadway area of my constituency used to be one of the most profitable commercial areas in Wandsworth. Putney, Clapham Junction and Balham were all popular but the money-making area was Tooting Broadway. It is fast going into a decline. The quality of the shops has not declined, but people no longer shop there because there are no parking facilities in the area.

The Underground station at Tooting Broadway and other underground stations in the area service the Northern line. Many commuters park their cars there between 7 and 8 o'clock in the morning and leave them there until 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening. Local residents who want to use the facilities in the area in which they live and in which they are ratepayers are unable to do so because they can find nowhere to park. If they park on the highway, a traffic warden slaps a parking ticket on the car. Residents therefore say that they cannot run that risk. My area--and, I am sure, many other areas in London--is suffering as a consequence.

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Big shopping developments have also caused problems. At Colliers Wood, the Savacentre has parking facilities for about 2,000 cars. There is no charge for parking cars there. The result is that long-established, thriving commercial areas are suffering because of the lack of parking facilities. Has any thought been given to that problem? I have taken up the matter with Wandsworth council. It has told me that it will think about it. It has been thinking about it for the past four years, but has done absolutely nothing about it. It is another example of uncontrolled traffic problems in London becoming a great menace.

When the hon. Member for Christchurch referred to motorways the Minister intervened. He criticised the scare stories that are being put about by various pressure groups and local authorities, such as Wandsworth and other south London boroughs, about major road development proposals. We may differ about whether they are motorway development proposals, but even the Minister must agree that they are major road development proposals that will affect areas such as Lambeth, Wandsworth, Fulham and Hammersmith and Richmond. There have been a number of public meetings in the London borough of Wandsworth, which is Conservative controlled. I do not exaggerate when I say that hundreds of people attended those meetings. I chaired a meeting in my constituency on Wednesday of this week--one of the worst evenings that we have had so far this year--which was attended by over 300 people. They were there simply because of their serious worry about what they understand may happen in the area. I am referring to the western environmental improvement route.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : I am fascinated by the hon. Gentleman's argument, but I hope that we shall eventually return to parking. If the western environmental improvement route goes ahead, it will create two lanes of traffic towards the north end of Wandsworth bridge. The national taxpayer has paid half the cost of the York road improvement that has created four lanes coming in from Wandsworth Town station and two lanes coming in past the heliport from the other side. A degree of modesty by Wandsworth would appeal to those who are trying to solve the casualty and the environmental problems and who are trying to build in the economic advantages that may come from separating through traffic from those who live and work around the present Earl's Court one-way system that carries 100,000 vehicles a day--a greater volume of traffic than on some parts of the M25 and the M1.

Mr. Cox : The Minister would have been well advised not to say that. His comments will create a furore in the London borough of Wandsworth. That is a classic example of the lack of interest that many people believe the Department of Transport shows in Wandsworth's problems.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Will the hon. Gentleman, then, say how many pedestrian casualties are created by the Earl's Court one-way system? Has Wandsworth given him that figure?

Mr. Cox : No.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Until he knows, I suggest that the hon. Gentleman leaves it there and gets back to parking.

Mr. Cox : It is all very well for the Minister to say that I should leave it there and get back to parking but I

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referred to the western environmental improvement route because it concerns parking, congestion, pollution and the standard of living of the people in the area. It does the Minister's case no good to dismiss the anxieties of my constituents and those in Richmond, Fulham and Hammersmith and Lambeth. If that is his attitude, he is in for a very rough ride from local people. Of course we want road improvements, but we do not want road improvements that lead to traffic from the Earl's Court area coming into Wandsworth and Lambeth. The Minister says, "Let's get the traffic out of Earl's Court. We won't worry too much about the problems that it will cause in Wandsworth and Lambeth."

I refer the Minister to statements by the Conservative controlled Wandsworth council. The Minister may say that he does not care about what Wandsworth council says, but he will start to care about what the residents of the borough are saying. All the evidence proves--it has not been disputed--that thousands and thousands of additional vehicles will come into our area every day, resulting in the problems to which the hon. Member for Lewisham, West referred. The issue will not go away. It is not a party political issue. All the political parties in Wandsworth are united about fighting any attempt to destroy our community. However, in his two interventions the Minister has displayed arrogance about our fears.

11.30 am

Mr. Peter Bottomley : On the day when we announced the result of stage 1 of the assessment studies, I attended a meeting organised by the Wandsworth Society to discuss the proposals. The Wandsworth Society was interested in the northern, rather than the southern, part of the borough, and at that point people were rather keen that risk to local residents, whether north or south of the Thames should be reduced. On the wall of the local library were hung the Wandsworth Society's own tentative plans for taking through traffic out of the main shopping area of Wandsworth.

The hon. Gentleman should try to address the question more quietly, and, if he has any influence with the people of Wandsworth, he should try to persuade them into discussion rather than adopting a somewhat casual attitude both to the environmental impact of existing through traffic and rat-running, and to the Department's proposals. He should do that rather than exaggerating and thus casting a cloud of fear over those who seek improvements that they have failed to achieve in the past few decades.

Mr. Cox : I met four members of the Wandsworth Society in the House last night. I understand that they are shortly to meet the Minister. Now that they have examined the proposals in detail, they are very worried about what may happen in the borough. I am sure that the Conservative- controlled borough of Wandsworth will read the Minister's comments with great interest.

Let me deal with another aspect of the matter which, sad to say, has not been dealt with adequately in this debate. We all know the problems that an increased volume of traffic causes. If we are to tackle the problem realistically in London, we must give much more thought to the development of public transport. I believe that in the not-too-distant future we shall have a different pricing

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policy for motorists coming into London. I think that that will happen, even though it may not be a popular development. We must develop our bus and train services in and out of London and within London in a way that we have not developed them in recent years. The Northern line, a major Underground line, runs through south London and my constituency. There are enormous problems with that line. We could reduce the volume of traffic greatly if we provided services that the general public wanted to use because they were confident of their punctuality and quality. Then the problems to which hon. Members have referred today would start to decrease. The new clauses are valid, and I support them, but we must face the fact that we shall have to improve the public transport system in London. At present, people are unhappy about using the services. In my area, one of the great problems is that the escalators often do not work. People say, "I shall not use the Underground because I cannot walk up and down those enormous flights of stairs." There are not sufficient staff at stations to look after passengers, and we all know of the violence that takes place. If we could start to tackle those problems and invest more in public transport and improve public confidence in it, greater use would be made of it. The problems of congestion and pollution referred to today would start to be greatly reduced.

The new clauses are to be welcomed, but, rather than the piecemeal approach that they represent, we need a real attempt by the Department of Transport to produce a coherent policy to tackle the problems of transport in London. The sooner that is done, the better it will be, not only for those who live and work here but for the country as a whole. That is what we should be discussing.

Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne) : I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Mr. Kirkhope). He has had the good fortune to come top in the ballot. That could happen to any of us, but my hon. Friend has chosen a matter of the greatest importance and has succeeded in making progress on Second Reading and in Committee in what must almost be record time. It is a tribute to my hon. Friend that there was no debate on Second Reading because there was such broad assent to the Bill. It is a further tribute to my hon. Friend that the Committee stage was completed in 75 minutes.

The hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) is well qualified to address the House on this subject. He is a former alderman of the borough of Fulham ; he used to represent Wandsworth, and he now represents Tooting. I listened with great attention to what he said. You will remember vividly, Madam Deputy Speaker, that 49 weeks ago today we celebrated the 87th birthday of the late emperor of Japan. You may remember that date : it was 29 April 1988, and you were in the Chair. Just after you had climbed into the Chair, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department made these immortal comments :

"We need to know who is in the Chamber."--[ Official Report, 29 April 1988 ; Vol. 132, c. 628.]

That is my view, although they were not my words. They were the words of one of Her Majesty's Ministers. That opinion was not challenged by the occupant of the Chair. It was not challenged a year ago by anyone seated on the Opposition Front Bench or even by anyone sitting below the Gangway. It is true that my hon. Friend the Member

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for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) was not in his place ; perhaps he would have dissented from the views then expressed by my hon. Friend.

I wish to follow the advice given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under -Secretary of State for the Home Department. It is in accordance with that advice, not challenged at the time from any part of the House, that we may legitimately draw your attention, Madam Deputy Speaker, to a phenomenon that is not unknown. At no stage in our proceedings today has there been present a single representative of the Liberal party or a single representative of the Social and Liberal Democrats--not one. I have been vigilant. The Comptroller of Her Majesty's Household is not in his weekend attire this morning, the only concession made to the fact that it is Friday being the brown shoes upon his feet. My hon. Friend is not always visible--

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd) : Order. The hon. Gentleman always make a most amusing speech and takes his time with the preamble. I hope that he may be reaching the end of his preamble and that we shall soon hear the fascinating comments that he has to make about the new clauses.

Mr. Gow : The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) does not dissent from my assertion that not a single representative of both minority parties lhas been present, even though they claim to be champions of the people. Naturally, the Ulster Unionist party has been well represented. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) was present, and the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) contributed to our debate. The House will have noted that the hon. Member for Bolsover shares a hobby with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North -East. Each is a keen player of the ancient game of tennis. The hon. Member for Bolsover may have left the Chamber to play tennis. He cannot be playing with my hon. Friend as my hon. Friend is vigilant and is in his place.

I hope that the new clause will be accepted by my hon. Friend, although I fear that it may not be. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister, whose wife's presence we all deplore--

Mr. Peter Bottomley : What?

Mr. Gow : I apologise. We deplore her absence. Please forgive me. It is most uncharacteristic of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Surrey, South- West (Mrs. Bottomley), not to be present.

Mr. Bottomley : She will be here later.

Mr. Gow : Then my hon. Friends and I will stay. The hon. Member for Tooting will stay, and so will my hon. and reverend Friend from the Province, the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth).

Mr. Bottomley : I went to another place two days ago to listen to a debate on road users and the law. I had an opportunity to hear an interchange between Baroness Masham and her noble kinsman the Earl of Swinton when he was correcting her. I shall not do that today, so one need not wait for a similar occurrence.

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