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Mr. Speaker : Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Lady again, but I appeal to the House to give her a fair hearing. It is very difficult to hear what is being said at this end of the Chamber.

Mrs. Bottomley : My hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) referred to the arbitration procedure that has been recommended by the Social Services Committee. The Government believe that unilateral access to arbitration would be unhelpful in NHS pay negotiations. The management must ensure that pay awards do not divert resources away from patient care. That is the crucial point. NHS resources, secured by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State, are at a record level. The Government have to consider the needs of patients. They do not have trade unions to act on their behalf. They look to the Government to protect their interests and to secure their wellbeing.

A number of Opposition Members referred to the service that is being provided by the police and the Army. It is an effective and competent service, but all of us would prefer ambulance men and women to return to work. That is what we shall seek to achieve. In the meantime, the police and the Army are providing a dedicated and, in many cases, an experienced and skilled service. I went to Chelsea barracks to meet an Army ambulance crew. I was most impressed by their competence and skill in responding to the task that they have been asked to fulfil.

Mr. Nellist : Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Bottonley : No.

The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) referred to the willingness of crews to be available for work. Union leaders made that commitment, but today n crews in West Sussex have walked out. They are also refusing calls in Oxfordshire, Cheshire, London, Essex and Surrey. That makes the commitment to provide an accident and emergency service sound fairly hollow.

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My hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) referred to the letter that he had received from the chairman of the South West Thames regional health authority. I am pleased that my hon. Friend referred to that letter, in which the regional health authority's chairman made three points. She said that to increase the management side's offer was no answer to the present dispute. She also made the important point that her authority supports efforts only to make pay awards that can be afforded. That is a crucial task within the National Health Service.

During the past two years, an additonal £5 billion has been spent on the NHS. There have been record achievements by the NHS and it employs 1 million workers. The Government have made effective and clear commitments. Few of us can have confidence in the innuendoes and allegations of the Labour party, which so clearly demonstrated its inability to run the NHS adequately when it was in power. We very much hope that this needless and sad dispute will shortly be over. Ambulance men and women are an essential part of the NHS. We hope that they will soon return to work. They provide a skilled, qualified and admirable front-line service for the people of this country. It is important that they should recognise that they are valued by the Government.

We hope that the Government will be successful in an early resolution of the dispute. I urge right hon. and hon. Members to well and truly reject the motion, which does nothing to help the ambulance men but only stirs up misunderstanding, misinformation and hostility.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question :--

The House proceeded to a Division--

Mr. Terence L. Higgins (Worthing) (seated and covered) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You had to call for less noise in the Chamber twice during the wind-up speeches. With respect, the noise was not very great, but the amplification is virtually non-existent. My colleagues and I were unable to hear although the Minister was speaking perfectly adequately. Further to the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell) this afternoon, it is very important that the equipment should be replaced as soon as possible.

Mr. Speaker : I take note of what the right hon. Gentleman has said. I have a preliminary report on the amplification here and I assure the right hon. Gentleman that the matter is being looked into.

The House having divided : Ayes 223, Noes 303.

Division No. 34] [10 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Adams, Allen (Paisley N)

Allen, Graham

Alton, David

Anderson, Donald

Archer, Rt Hon Peter

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashley, Rt Hon Jack

Ashton, Joe

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)

Beckett, Margaret

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)

Bermingham, Gerald

Bidwell, Sydney

Blair, Tony

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul

Boyes, Roland

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)

Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)

Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Buchan, Norman

Buckley, George J.

Caborn, Richard

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Column 1185

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Canavan, Dennis

Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)

Clark, Dr David (S Shields)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clelland, David

Cohen, Harry

Coleman, Donald

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbett, Robin

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cousins, Jim

Cox, Tom

Crowther, Stan

Cryer, Bob

Cummings, John

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Cunningham, Dr John

Dalyell, Tam

Darling, Alistair

Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth

Eastham, Ken

Evans, John (St Helens N)

Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)

Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)

Fatchett, Derek

Faulds, Andrew

Field, Frank (Birkenhead)

Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)

Fisher, Mark

Flannery, Martin

Flynn, Paul

Foot, Rt Hon Michael

Foster, Derek

Foulkes, George

Fraser, John

Fyfe, Maria

Galloway, George

Garrett, John (Norwich South)

Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)

George, Bruce

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Gordon, Mildred

Graham, Thomas

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Grocott, Bruce

Harman, Ms Harriet

Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy

Healey, Rt Hon Denis

Heffer, Eric S.

Henderson, Doug

Hinchliffe, David

Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)

Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)

Hood, Jimmy

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)

Howells, Geraint

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hoyle, Doug

Hughes, John (Coventry NE)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Illsley, Eric

Ingram, Adam

Janner, Greville

Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)

Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Mo n)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)

Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald

Kilfedder, James

Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil

Kirkwood, Archy

Lambie, David

Lamond, James

Leadbitter, Ted

Leighton, Ron

Lestor, Joan (Eccles)

Lewis, Terry

Litherland, Robert

Livingstone, Ken

Livsey, Richard

Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)

Lofthouse, Geoffrey

Loyden, Eddie

McAllion, John

McAvoy, Thomas

McCartney, Ian

Macdonald, Calum A.

McFall, John

McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)

McKelvey, William

McLeish, Henry

Maclennan, Robert

McNamara, Kevin

McWilliam, John

Madden, Max

Mahon, Mrs Alice

Marek, Dr John

Marshall, David (Shettleston)

Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)

Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)

Martlew, Eric

Maxton, John

Meacher, Michael

Meale, Alan

Michael, Alun

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)

Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)

Moonie, Dr Lewis

Morgan, Rhodri

Morley, Elliot

Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)

Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)

Mudd, David

Mullin, Chris

Murphy, Paul

Nellist, Dave

Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon

O'Brien, William

Orme, Rt Hon Stanley

Parry, Robert

Pendry, Tom

Pike, Peter L.

Powell, Ray (Ogmore)

Prescott, John

Primarolo, Dawn

Quin, Ms Joyce

Radice, Giles

Randall, Stuart

Redmond, Martin

Reid, Dr John

Richardson, Jo

Roberts, Allan (Bootle)

Robertson, George

Robinson, Geoffrey

Rogers, Allan

Rooker, Jeff

Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)

Rowlands, Ted

Ruddock, Joan

Salmond, Alex

Sedgemore, Brian

Sheerman, Barry

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