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Column 785Rendel, David
Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Chris (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Strang, Dr. Gavin
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Wareing, Robert N
Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Young, David (Bolton SE)
Tellers for the Noes: Mr. Eric Clarke and Mr. John Cummings.
Column 785Question accordingly agreed to.
Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 61 (Committal of Bills).
Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. At about 20 minutes to 10 o'clock this evening, there was a road traffic accident on the pedestrian crossing between Victoria Tower and the roundabout at the end of Lambeth bridge. It appeared to involve at least one motor cycle, which ended up underneath another vehicle and I do not know whether anyone was injured.
The street lighting on that stretch of road is particularly bad. The House authorities are going to quite extraordinary lengths to protect Members of Parliament and their staff--for example, there are eight fire doors between my office and the front door in Millbank. However, as soon as one ventures outside, one takes one's life in one's hands.
Madam Deputy Speaker, will you request the Serjeant at Arms to talk to Westminster city council and/or the Minister for Transport in London about securing better lighting on that stretch of road? That will ensure that we have some hope of surviving when conditions are as treacherous as they were tonight and when drivers are going recklessly fast.
Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I witnessed the aftermath of the same incident to which the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) referred and I strongly endorse what he said. I do not distinguish between the safety of members of the public and Members of Parliament, but many people go backwards and forwards across that stretch of road at speed--particularly when there are votes in the House--and the lack of safety arrangements is very disturbing.
Tonight the conditions were extremely hazardous. Cars were driving across that pedestrian crossing at speeds of 50 and 60 mph, even while the police were present. It is a tragedy waiting to happen. Since the extension of the parliamentary offices to Millbank, many hon. Members have been aware of the situation. We do not want to investigate a tragedy; we want to pre-empt one.
I ask you, Madam Deputy Speaker, to accept the recommendation of the hon. Member for Salisbury that there should be urgent discussions with the police and with Westminster city council about traffic-calming measures in order to secure effective safety arrangements.
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes): I am concerned to hear what the hon. Members for Salisbury (Mr. Key) and for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) have said. I will certainly ensure that the proper authorities are informed and asked what action they might be prepared to take. We must now continue with the money resolution.
Queen's recommendation having been signified--
Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Order [19 December],
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Atomic Energy Authority Bill (`the Act'), it is expedient to authorise-- (1) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of the following, namely--
(a) expenses incurred by the Treasury or the Secretary of State in consequence of provision made by the Act for the acquisition of, or of rights to subscribe for, securities of successor companies; (b) any increase attributable to the Act in the administrative expenses of the Secretary of State or the Treasury;
(c) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums which under any other Act are payable out of money so provided;
(2) the extinguishment of liabilities of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (`the Authority') in respect of the principal of such relevant loans as may be specified by order to such extent as may be so specified;
(3) the extinguishment of liabilities of a successor company in respect of the principal of such relevant loans as may be specified by order to such extent as may be so specified at a time when the company is wholly owned by the Crown or a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Authority;
(4) the issuing out of the National Loans Fund of sums required by the Secretary of State for making loans to any successor company which is wholly owned by the Crown;
(5) the charging on and issuing out of the Consolidated Fund of sums required by the Treasury for fulfilling such guarantees given by them for the discharge of financial obligations in connection with sums borrowed by any successor company which is wholly owned by the Crown;
(6) the payment of sums into the Consolidated Fund or the National Loans Fund.
In this Resolution--
(a) in relation to the Authority, means the Authority's commencing capital debt and any loan made to the Authority under section 4 of the Atomic Energy Authority Act 1986,
(b) in relation to a successor company, means any debt or loan mentioned in paragraph (a) above (if and to the extent that the liability to repay it is transferred to the company in accordance with a scheme under the Act) and any loan made to the company by the Secretary of State under the Act;
`successor company' means any company which, at a time when it is wholly owned by the Crown or a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Authority, becomes entitled or subject, in accordance with a scheme under the Act, to any property, rights or liabilities of the Authority.-- [Mr. Andrew Mitchell.]
Question agreed to.
That the draft Miners' Welfare Act 1952 (Transfer of Functions of Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation) Order 1995, which was laid before this House on 23rd February, be approved.
The immediate purpose of the draft order is to facilitate a change in the organisation and arrangements for coal industry social welfare. Instead of having a Companies Act company, the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation Ltd.--CISWO--at the centre of those arrangements, the aim is to have a charitable trust, the CISWO trust.
This is not a new idea. When CISWO Ltd. was formed in 1952, it had been the intention to register it as a charity, but there was some nervousness that its aims and objectives would conflict with charity law at the time. So the draft order is perhaps implementing the intentions of some 43 years ago. On 10 March, some four days ago, the directors of CISWO Ltd. decided to take that step as part of wider changes consequent on the privatisation of British Coal.
It may be helpful if I remind the House of some of the wider background. The Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation embraces a wide range of activities. To take a few examples, there are between 4,000 and 5,000 recuperative convalescent placements annually, and we know how much those facilities are cherished, such as those at the Bournemouth convalescent home for south Wales miners. There are nearly 12,000 counselling sessions and visits each year by 17 CISWO social volunteers, supported by a virtual army of voluntary helpers and CISWO's organisation of sports and competitions--in part through company sponsorship--for the seriously disabled, as well as the able-bodied, involves an ambitious range of activities.
CISWO provides administrative support to independent miners' welfares and convalescent homes and trusts, including more than 4,000 grants, primarily to widows, from the coal industry benevolent trust for the relief of hardship, and more than 400 grants to miners and dependants pursuing full- time education from the education trust fund.
It was clear from debates in the House last year on the Coal Bill that those services, especially services for the disabled, the old and the infirm were greatly valued.
Mr. Paddy Tipping (Sherwood): The Minister has given us a list of CISWO's functions, but he has not mentioned sport and recreation grounds. That issue is yet to be resolved. During tonight's debate, will the Minister give us some indication of his present thinking?
Mr. Page: I made a short reference to CISWO's organisation of sport and competition, but matters dealing specifically with recreation grounds have not yet been decided, although the Government are fully conscious of the importance of recreational grounds. Debates and discussions are taking place between the National Playing
Column 789Fields Association, CISWO and British Coal to find a satisfactory solution as to how they can continue to be operated and retained for recreational use.
Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian): Will the Minister confirm that all lands which are run by or on behalf of CISWO will remain under the control of the new trust, or is there any risk that such lands, including sports grounds, may be sold off as part of British Coal's plans to privatise its land?
Mr. Page: The land under the control of CISWO will remain under its control unless it reaches a particular agreement with the National Playing Fields Association for that organisation to look after the land. Any terms and arrangements would have to be satisfactory with such an agreement.
Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda): The issue is of great concern to mining communities, because for many years miners have contributed to creating that particular wealth and resource. Miners in many of our villages are afraid that the land will be transferred into the general package of sale by British Coal. For instance, the ownership of some land is a little ambiguous because during particular periods miners cleared land and created playing fields on land that then belonged to the private coal industry. The ownership has never been established. Will the Minister either examine the matter very closely or give us some assurance tonight that the facilities that belong to mining communities will not be sold off?
Mr. Page: The Government have given assurances that the land will be maintained for recreational use. As I have said, discussions are taking place between those three bodies. It is a highly complex issue, as hon. Members accept and appreciate, and it has not yet been resolved, but the Government have given a commitment that the land will be retained for recreational use.
Mr. John Cummings (Easington): The Minister mentioned in the preface to his remarks that CISWO was instituted in 1952. CISWO was founded on previous welfare schemes, which were developed by the likes of my grandfather with his halfpennies, my father with his pennies, and me with my shillings when I worked in the industry. Will the Minister consider the tremendous progress made in the county of Durham, where most of those facilities have been transferred at a peppercorn rent to parish councils to be used by miners and their future generations in perpetuity? We believe that that is the best way forward. We have contributed to and maintained those facilities, and we wish to maintain them for future generations.
Mr. Page: I can only agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I have said nothing that does not recognise the tremendous work that CISWO and its predecessors have done in that area. I shall elaborate on that recognition a little later in my speech.
Column 790held with local authorities in those areas about the possibility of their taking over the recreational grounds and welfare halls?
Mr. Page: Certain local authorities have leasehold agreements on that land and will be consulted on the best way forward. The Government have given a clear and firm commitment. I understand hon. Members' concerns, but I can take the matter no further than to say that CISWO is currently negotiating the best way forward.
Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth): I am grateful to the Minister for giving way yet again. There are two matters that he does not appear to cover. The first is the serious concern of allotment holders on British Coal land. I asked a question of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which responded this morning by saying that it is the business of the Department of Trade and Industry. Will the Minister therefore clear up the whole question of allotment holders? The second, which is tangential but has not been mentioned and is clearly not central to the parties involved, is brass bands.
Mr. Page: I recognise that there is a great deal of concern about allotments. No decisions have yet been made, as discussions are still taking place. The views expressed by the hon. Gentleman are of the kind being taken into consideration in the current discussions. On brass bands, I shall not try to pre-empt the negotiations, but I believe that CISWO is taking a particular interest in that matter and may come forward with an announcement on it.