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Ms. Ruddock : I am sorry, but the Minister must acknowledge that it is the increase in the number of vehicles that will be dramatic. One cannot offset that by talking about vehicles in traffic queues.
Mr. Bottomley : Two thirds of the people with provisional licences are women. Under my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, the proportion of adult women with driving licences has moved from 40 per cent. to 50 per cent., and will shortly rise to 60 per cent. and 75 per cent., the figure for men. It is all very well for the Labour party to say that it is all right for people to drive cars as long as they are middle-aged, middle class and male. We should try to remember the women, the pensioners and the ethnic minorities as well. I am a one-nation Conservative, as the hon. Lady has discovered. The hon. Lady was in slight difficulty with her speech because she had obviously read The Guardian . I need to apologise to David Hencke because I only explained things to him once yesterday and, sadly, he was badly sub-edited. I want to make it plain that I was trying to explain to him--and I take all the blame myself--that we were not keen on 1991, but we were keen on 1993. I hope that when The Guardian reports this debate, it will try to report what I have said tonight, which I leaked to that paper last night.
Ms. Ruddock : Will the Minister clarify now, therefore, what will happen if there is not a qualified majority--he may expect it, but he must acknowledge that there may not be--which will agree to remove the 1991 proposals? If the Government cannot have their way on the 1991 interim proposals, will they still support the 1993 proposals?
Mr. Bottomley : Our aim, which I stated clearly, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has stated clearly and which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley), also stated clearly this afternoon, is that 1993 is to be supported. We do not support 1991. We believe that there is no qualified majority available for 1991. There is no manufacturing sense to the 1991 proposal, so we are not likely to get it. If the Council of Ministers cannot reach agreement the whole thing will be back on the boil and we can invite my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken) back into the Chamber because then the sense of his amendment will have been met. I apologise to my hon. Friend because I should not perhaps have tried to insist on intervening in his speech in the way in which he intervened in mine because then it might not have been necessary for him to say
Column 1095goodbye. What is important is to meet the last part of the amendment, which was not moved, which is to have what makes sense for the manufacturers.
It is also important to realise that the Government cannot always come to these debates with a totally open mind. I do not recall, when I was a Back Bencher, always coming to debates with a closed mind. When hon. Members, sadly, decide to leave in the middle of a debate, having obviously through extra-sensory perception come to the same view at the same time, they must allow Government to do the same thing and occasionally to try to anticipate the interests of manufacturers, as was wisely pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove and many other hon. Members, and to try to provide an indication of what we believe to be not only in the national interest, but in the wider European interest as well. I pay tribute to my right hon. and hon. Friends who have helped to make that possible and I look forward to getting agreement at the European Council on 8 June, supported by everyone who has spoken in the debate, even those who, sadly, are no longer with us.
I ask that the House support the motion and that we move forward towards having a better atmosphere in Europe as well as in Britain. Question put :- -
The House divided : Ayes 69, Noes 4.
Division No. 215] [1.26 am
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Blackburn, Dr John G.
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Currie, Mrs Edwina
Davis, David (Boothferry)
Column 1096Doran, Frank
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Hunt, David (Wirral W)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Maude, Hon Francis
Miller, Sir Hal
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Pike, Peter L.
Shaw, David (Dover)
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Waddington, Rt Hon David
Tellers for the Ayes :
Mr. Stephen Dorrell and
Mr. Tom Sackville.
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Evans, John (St Helens N)
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Dennis Skinner and
Mr. Eddie Loyden.
Question accordingly agreed to.
That this House takes note of European Community Document No. 6529/89 on vehicle emissions ; and supports the Government in its efforts to secure an agreement on emissions from small cars, taking into account environmental effects, fuel economy and the needs of industry.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Estates of Deceased Persons and Inheritances and on Gifts) (Sweden) Order 1989 be made in the form of the draft laid before this House on 14th April.-- [Mr. Lightbown.] To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Lightbown.]
Mr. Tom Arnold (Hazel Grove) : I am most grateful for the opportunity to raise the issue of school capacity. As my hon. Friend the Minister knows, I want to draw the attention of the House to the dispute that has arisen between the village of Highlane in the Hazel Grove constituency and the local authority, the Stockport metropolitan borough council.
The borough council has recently carried out a reorganisation of secondary education in the borough and, as part of that reorganisation, it has also introduced new priority areas for determining who can be admitted to particular schools. Since October of last year, I have received representations from parents in the village of Highlane, who have discovered that, contrary to the previous history of the village, they can no longer expect to send their children to the town of Marple to be educated in Marple's high school. That has come as a great shock to my constituents in that village, because hitherto Highlane has been included in the Marple priority area, and now and henceforth that will no longer apply. I have received a great deal of correspondence and I have attended a great many meetings, including at least two public meetings that were extremely well attended. The feeling in the village has run high, because it is a village community and one where a sense of cohesion has traditionally been a marked characteristic of life in the village.
The situation has been made worse by the fact that it had been widely thought in the village of Highlane that at a meeting in 1985 to discuss the council's proposals an undertaking was given by the then chairman of the education authority that, consequent upon the changes to reorganisation in the borough, parents in Highlane could continue to send their children to Marple. The parents believed that an undertaking had been given at that meeting. The local authority denies that and as there is no agreed record of what took place at the meeting, this rather odd and disturbing situation cannot be resolved one way or another. I thought it worthwhile mentioning this to my hon. Friend the Minister because it underlines once again the extent to which feeling in the village has been driven to a very high pitch by the sequence of events which has taken place.
The history of Highlane has been inextricably bound up with the town of Marple. The children of Highlane have been educated in Marple, to my understanding, since the first half of the 19th century. Certainly in recent decades the links between the village of Highlane and the village of Marple have been very strong. The issue that we are facing now relates to parental choice.
I do not believe that it was right for me to have campaigned at the last general election on the issue of parental choice only to turn round now to the parents in Highlane who are affected by this issue and say to them, "Ah well, but of course in your particular circumstances parental choice does not apply. It is administrative convenience which must rule the day." I do not accept that proposition, but the local council and councillors are urging me to accept it.