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Points of Order

3.30 pm

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Now that you have had a chance to look at yesterday's Hansard , does it occur to you that it was just a little bit presumptuous of the Prime Minister to assume that permission to ask the private notice questions which he recommended to all of us would necessarily be granted by you ? On the basis of the Prime Minister's attitude, have you, by chance, had a request from him to make a statement to satisfy us in relation to Mr. Santer's statement yesterday in Strasbourg ?

Madam Speaker : No, I have had no information from any members of the Government, including the Prime Minister, that they seek to make a statement. As the hon. Gentleman is well aware, although I am often tempted by the questions put to me about private notice questions, I do not discuss them, or my decisions about them, across the Floor of the House.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) made a suggestion to the Government at Question Time about the possibility of keeping the Post Office together rather than splitting it up. I seek your guidance, Madam Speaker. The Under -Secretary of State for Technology roundly rejected that suggestion in spite of the fact that the President of the Board of Trade had said that a consultation process was in hand. The House is rising tomorrow

Madam Speaker : Order. I do not want an argument. I am not involved in political argument. I simply want a procedural point to be put to me.

Mr. Bruce : The point is that the House will rise tomorrow and will not meet again before the consultation process has been concluded. What avenues are available to hon. Members to ensure that we get guidance from the President of the Board of Trade about which Minister is in charge of the consultation ?

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Madam Speaker : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Order Paper, which shows that we are due to have a three-hour motion on the Adjournment which, if I am allowed to, I shall get to fairly shortly.

Mr. David Shaw (Dover) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Looking at the Order Paper for today, I see that the business of the day has been changed as a result of an hon. Member's action yesterday. In consequence, Back-Benchers' time in the Adjournment debates under the Consolidated Fund Bill debate will be limited and it may not be possible, because my debate is No. 16-- [Interruption.] It has been changed, I understand, to No. 15 as a result of the withdrawal of a debate by an hon. Member. However, it may not be possible for the House to discuss the very important matter of saving the Royal Marines school of music in Deal before the recess. Could we not have some arrangement whereby Back Benchers' matters are taken into account better than they have been ?

Madam Speaker : Over the past few weeks, I have heard the hon. Gentleman raise on many occasions the matter to which he refers. I am sure that his constituents are delighted by the methods he uses to bring the matter to the House's attention.


Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) (Scotland)

-- Mr. Gordon McMaster, supported by Mr. Alfred Morris, Sir David Steel, Mrs. Margaret Ewing, Mrs. Irene Adams, Mr. Thomas Graham, Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie, Mr. Adam Ingram, Mr. Jimmy Wray, Mr. William McKelvey, Mrs. Maria Fyfe and Mr. Don Dixon, presented a Bill to prohibit, in Scotland, discrimination against disabled persons on the ground of their disability ; and for connected purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 21 October, and to be printed. [Bill 159.]

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Sale of Teesside International Airport &c.

3.34 pm

Mr. Michael Bates (Langbaurgh) : I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the sale of Teesside International Airport to the private sector, and to make other provision in respect of the sale of municipally owned airports.

I am grateful to have this opportunity to introduce a Bill which would make provision for the sale of Teesside international airport and all other municipally owned airports. Currently, Teesside international airport is jointly owned by Cleveland county council, which has a 60 per cent. stake, and Durham county council, which has a 40 per cent. stake. The annual report of accounts shows that they have invested some £19 million of council tax payers' money in the airport recently.

I shall present four reasons why I believe that the sale would be in the best interests of the current owners, council tax payers, the airport itself, local business and air travellers. The first reason is the rapid growth in air travel. Teesside international airport was opened in 1964 and its first flight took place on 18 April, carrying some 10 passengers to Manchester. During the first year, passenger movements numbered 14,258. This year, the airport will achieve in the region of 500,000 passenger movements and is projecting, on its figures, an increase to some 1 million movements towards the end of the century. Clearly that growth in air passenger transport could not have been envisaged.

I turn to my second reason, which is one of the reasons why that growth has taken place : the new opportunities in air travel which have been brought about by the Government. At this stage, I pay a tribute to the role played by my right hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor), who, as Secretary of State for Transport, played a tremendous role in being the architect of the third air transport liberalisation package which gave European Union carriers free access to any international airport within the Community and allowed airlines to set their own fares. That competition will ensure that fares continue to fall and that air travel, with all its benefits, is made more accessible to more people.

My third reason is that, following the welcome decision of the local government commissioners, which was endorsed by the High Court recently, Cleveland county council is due to be abolished, and there will be substantial changes to Durham county council. At present, the board of Teesside international airport consists of councillors from the two authorities. These decisions will ensure that in future, if the airport is not sold, the board of an international airport in a highly competitive and technical field will be made up of representatives--councillors--from six authorities. The probability or possibility of that being an asset to the excellent managing director and the highly motivated and highly professional staff at Teesside international airport is unbelievable.

That brings me to my fourth and final reason--the opportunities that exist for the development of Teesside international airport. The airport stands on a huge 720-acre site. With investment of about £3 million, a new road could provide access to the southern side of the airport, with 250 acres of land ripe for development. That would bring much-needed jobs and investment to the area.

Improvements to the rail link, with the east coast main line only a few miles away at Darlington, is another

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significant investment which is long overdue. The hotel and conference centre could also be improved. At present, the hotel is the former officers' mess. In the latter part of the 21st century, an international airport should have a level of investment and a hotel and conference centre befitting the thriving hubbub of commercial activity which is Teesside.

Also, if our regional airports are to be able to compete in this new and exciting highly competitive market, they will require massive investment in runways, hangars, hotels, terminals, baggage handling and security. The big question arises : who will pay for all that while the airports remain under local authority control ? I venture to suggest that, if my constituents from Loftus, some 40 miles away, were asked whether they should provide funding for repairs to a runway, they would point, rightly, to the parlous state of the roofs on their council homes, or to the school with its temporary prefabs which have now been there for 30 years. Local authority investment should be channelled into such work and not into an international airport, which could attract private capital and do a far better job in the process.

The councillors and aldermen who took the courageous decision in 1964 to convert RAF Middleton St. George into Teesside international airport could not, in their wildest dreams, have anticipated the growth in air travel that has occurred. That growth demands investment. The world has also changed and regional airports have outgrown the authorities that own them. If those authorities continue to cling on to them, they will stifle those airports' development, but if they set them free they can take pride in the role that they have played.

3.39 pm

Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough) : It is always a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Bates). It was interesting to listen to the spirited way in which he expressed his wish to take from our local community another asset that is one of our family heirlooms. As the Earl of Stockton said, privatising a nationalised industry is equivalent to selling the family silver.

The hon. Member for Langbaurgh pointed out how successful Teesside international airport has been since 1964 and then gave a trailer not only for its privatisation, but for the privatisation of all the municipal airports. One can see how the Government are scraping around trying to find other assets to privatise. I predict that, once they have discovered that those airports represent an asset to be sold for profit, they will look at municipal golf courses. The doctrine of privatisation has not been the success that the Government like to claim it has been. United Kingdom plc used to own revenue-earning, income-earning, profit-earning assets, but they were taken away from it. [Hon. Members :-- "You must be joking."] British Telecom made profits, did it not ? British Gas and the electricity companies made profits, did they not ?

All those profits went to the state--United Kingdom plc. The day that those companies were privatised, that revenue was lost to the state. As a consequence, the Government are now looking for additional revenue to supplement that lost revenue, so we have ended up with VAT on fuel. When one privatises an asset, one deprives

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the state of its income and tax revenue and ends up taking that lost money from pensioners' pockets. That is a travesty.

The hon. Member referred to the people of Loftus, but if we asked those people whether they wanted to contribute to their local economy or wanted to pay VAT on fuel, I know what the answer would be. Durham county council and Cleveland county council have successfully managed Teesside international airport. They have demonstrated how local municipal councils can create a success story. Those councils should not be replaced by yet another quango, not least because, as quango after quango has been established, 70 per cent. of our revenues are handled by them rather than elected bodies which are democratically accountable.

The hon. Member, who is a Parliamentary Private Secretary, is looking for promotion to the Front Bench. Although it may be easy to get to that Bench, he will learn that it is even quicker to go from it to the Back Benches, as his hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) can tell him. The hon. Member for Langbaurgh is trailing yet another privatisation for the Government. The Treasury views the outcome of that privatisation as it did the privatisation of our ports--it sees little pots of gold that it can keep, and why not ? With a £38 billion deficit to cover in its Budget per year, those pots of gold are very attractive.

Conservative Members live in a dream world. They have built an image for themselves of a successful economy and of a successful series of privatisations. What they have created, however, is a series of monopolies, which have ended up taking more money from the pockets of our people than was ever taken from them when those industries were nationalised.

We should oppose not only the proposal to take a local asset from Teesside, but the idea of privatising our municipal airports and the entire concept of privatisation. The family heirlooms have been sold, North sea oil has been used and we have a deficit of £38,000 million. That is a failure, not a success. I ask the House to oppose the Bill.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No.19 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business) :

The House divided : Ayes 63, Noes 132.

Division No. 300] [3.44


Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)

Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)

Ashby, David

Banks, Matthew (Southport)

Banks, Robert (Harrogate)

Beresford, Sir Paul

Booth, Hartley

Butcher, John

Butterfill, John

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)

Deva, Nirj Joseph

Devlin, Tim

Dicks, Terry

Dover, Den

Duncan, Alan

Duncan-Smith, Iain

Dunn, Bob

Durant, Sir Anthony

Dykes, Hugh

Fabricant, Michael

Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)

Fry, Sir Peter

Gale, Roger

Gill, Christopher

Gorst, Sir John

Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW)

Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)

Harris, David

Haselhurst, Alan

Hawksley, Warren

Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)

Jenkin, Bernard

Jopling, Rt Hon Michael

Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)

Knox, Sir David

Lawrence, Sir Ivan

Lidington, David

Mates, Michael

Moate, Sir Roger

Neubert, Sir Michael

Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley

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Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey

Pawsey, James

Porter, David (Waveney)

Shaw, David (Dover)

Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)

Shersby, Michael

Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)

Spink, Dr Robert

Spring, Richard

Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John

Stern, Michael

Sweeney, Walter

Temple-Morris, Peter

Thurnham, Peter

Twinn, Dr Ian

Walker, Bill (N Tayside)

Waterson, Nigel

Whittingdale, John

Wilkinson, John

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. Michael Bates and

Mr. Charles Hendry.


Adams, Mrs Irene

Alton, David

Austin-Walker, John

Barnes, Harry

Bayley, Hugh

Beggs, Roy

Beith, Rt Hon A. J.

Bell, Stuart

Bennett, Andrew F.

Bermingham, Gerald

Berry, Roger

Blunkett, David

Boyes, Roland

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Burden, Richard

Byers, Stephen

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)

Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Chisholm, Malcolm

Clapham, Michael

Clark, Dr David (South Shields)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corston, Ms Jean

Cousins, Jim

Cox, Tom

Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)

Dafis, Cynog

Dalyell, Tam

Darling, Alistair

Davidson, Ian

Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Denham, John

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Eastham, Ken

Faulds, Andrew

Fisher, Mark

Foster, Rt Hon Derek

Fyfe, Maria

Gerrard, Neil

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Golding, Mrs Llin

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Grocott, Bruce

Hanson, David

Hardy, Peter

Harman, Ms Harriet

Harvey, Nick

Henderson, Doug

Hill, Keith (Streatham)

Hoey, Kate

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Hoyle, Doug

Hutton, John

Illsley, Eric

Ingram, Adam

Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)

Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)

Jamieson, David

Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)

Jowell, Tessa

Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald

Keen, Alan

Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)

Khabra, Piara S.

Kilfedder, Sir James

Kilfoyle, Peter

Livingstone, Ken

Loyden, Eddie

Lynne, Ms Liz

McAllion, John

McAvoy, Thomas

McFall, John

McKelvey, William

McMaster, Gordon

MacShane, Denis

Mahon, Alice

Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)

Maxton, John

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Milburn, Alan

Molyneaux, Rt Hon James

Morgan, Rhodri

Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)

Mowlam, Marjorie

Mullin, Chris

O'Neill, Martin

Orme, Rt Hon Stanley

Pendry, Tom

Pickthall, Colin

Pope, Greg

Powell, Ray (Ogmore)

Primarolo, Dawn

Purchase, Ken

Radice, Giles

Raynsford, Nick

Robertson, George (Hamilton)

Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)

Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)

Roche, Mrs. Barbara

Salmond, Alex

Sedgemore, Brian

Sheerman, Barry

Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert

Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)

Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)

Spellar, John

Straw, Jack

Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)

Tipping, Paddy

Trimble, David

Tyler, Paul

Vaz, Keith

Wallace, James

Walley, Joan

Wareing, Robert N

Wigley, Dafydd

Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)

Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)

Wilson, Brian

Winnick, David

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