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House of Commons

Monday 22 May 1995

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[ Madam Speaker-- in the Chair ]

Oral Answers to Questions


Vehicle Emissions

1. Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what were the total vehicle emissions in the United Kingdom for carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen (a) in 1970 and (b) at the latest available date.     [23878]

The Minister for Transport in London (Mr. Steve Norris): Road transport emissions of carbon monoxide were 2.4 million tonnes in 1970 and 5.1 million tonnes in 1993; emissions of nitrogen oxides were 0.6 million tonnes in 1970 and 1.1 million tonnes in 1993; emissions of volatile organic compounds were 0.6 million tonnes in 1970 and 0.9 million tonnes in 1993.

Over the same period, total traffic rose from 200 billion to 410 billion vehicle kilometres.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: Do not those figures prove not only that we can meet our existing targets on emissions for the year 2005, but that if the 20-point plan outlined in the document "Air Quality: Meeting the Challenge" --commissioned jointly by the Departments of Transport and of the Environment--were implemented in full, we should do considerably better than that? Does that not show that ours is the only party with realistic policies to deal with such difficult environmental problems, and that the Labour party is bereft of such policies?

Mr. Norris: My hon. Friend is entirely right. The Conservative party has consistently shown itself to be the only party prepared to grapple with the genuinely difficult issues involved in air quality. He is also right that the air quality statement produced by the Government will enable us to fulfil our Rio targets.

Ms Walley: It is difficult to understand how the Government can claim such credit when they are merely looking through rose-tinted spectacles. People throughout the country are concerned about pollution, just as people were concerned about smog years ago. We have still heard nothing about how the Government intend to monitor emissions of PM10, which is clearly a major pollutant. What powers will now be given to local authorities so that we can start to improve the quality of life for people in both urban and rural areas?

Mr. Norris: The facts are quite the reverse. As the hon. Lady knows, it is the Government who are introducing tighter emission standards more than a year before the date when we are required to do so by the European

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Commission, and that it is her hon. Friend the well-known working-class Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) who has consistently refused to commit himself to any air quality policy; he is frightfully good at defining the problem, but pretty poor when it comes to the solution.

Sir Peter Emery: I declare an interest as chairman of the National Asthma Campaign. Will my hon. Friend consult Ministers at the Department of Health to ensure that, when there are major inversions in the weather and we experience the problem encountered four weeks ago, the Government can warn people about the conditions that are likely to result from monoxides in the air? It would be helpful if the Government took the lead.

Mr. Norris: As my right hon. Friend will know, the Committee of Medical Experts on Air Pollution study set up by the Department of Health, with input from the Department of Transport, is addressing that important question. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made it clear that, given his experience of health matters, he gives high priority to this aspect of pollution control.

As for powers to control specific episodes of high pollution, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has accepted that we should explore the possibilities and ensure that the appropriate powers are in place, with one caveat: we ought not to consider only how to deal with the rare occasions on which air quality deteriorates badly because of atmospheric conditions--we need long-term measures to improve air quality permanently.

Bus Companies, London

2. Ms Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the performance of bus companies in London.     [23879]

Mr. Norris: The overall quality of bus services in London is continuing to improve.

Ms Hoey: Has the Minister seen the excellent report by the Lambeth public transport group on route No. 133, which is the only direct route through south London to the City? Is he aware that that report refers to high staff turnover and to demoralisation among staff, leading to a decline in service on that route? Does he agree that that is a direct result of a tendering process which is not open and accountable and which leaves the public no opportunity to see the facts of the tender that was won by London General?

Mr. Norris: What I know about that report is that it is produced by the Lambeth public transport group, which is funded by that magnificent organisation, Lambeth borough council. I suspect that few objective observers will be surprised to know that that group sets all the difficulties on route No. 133--principally traffic congestion on the A23-- at the door of the dastardly robber barons who own the London bus companies. The reality is quite the opposite, but the report is an interesting insight into what the priorities of a Labour Administration might be for bus services: pay the trade union members a great deal more money and all the other problems will go away. That is nonsense.

Mr. Harry Greenway: I congratulate my hon. Friend and all concerned on the definite improvement in London's bus services, but does he accept that one-person

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operated buses sometimes delay traffic enormously while the driver takes the fares of people getting on? Will he bring back the clippies on busy bus routes, and does not he think that that would have other advantages as well?

Mr. Norris: I shall ponder on my hon. Friend's last point, which raises a fascinating prospect. What my hon. Friend says is important and he is quite right to say that one-person operation tends to reduce the speed.

Madam Speaker: Order. I should be glad if the Minister would address the House and particularly the Chair. Too many Ministers turn towards the Member asking the question because they think that that is courteous, but it is not: the courtesy is to address the House and the Chair.

Mr. Norris: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I know that you, too, are interested in one-person operated buses and I am happy to follow your direction. I apologise for the discourtesy.

In London about 70 per cent. of fares do not involve cash but travelcards or elderly persons' cards. The way to develop the service is through cashless technology which allows for more rapid entry rather than going back to the inefficient days of two-man operation.

Mr. Meacher: Will the Minister confirm that, since deregulation, passenger trips in London--where bus services were not

deregulated--have scarcely fallen at all, while in all the metropolitan areas which were deregulated passenger trips have fallen by more than 35 per cent.? Will he acknowledge that deregulation has saddled Britain with a bus industry that is costing passengers more, providing a poorer service for those who need it most and using buses which are generally older, less well maintained and more polluting? Staff are disgruntled and worse off, and deregulation has virtually led to the demise of Britain's bus-building industry. When will the Minister admit that deregulation has been a disaster and that the sooner we have re-regulated bus services under a Labour Government the better?

Mr. Norris: Once again, by their words shall they be judged: I am happy to leave any objective observer to think on what the hon. Gentleman has invited me to say. The hon. Gentleman's question proves that he knows nothing about bus services. He does not appreciate the huge difference between the London market and the out-of-London market. It is perfectly straightforward: in London, the inability of those who would otherwise commute by car to find parking spaces determines the consistently high level of bus use, while outside London increasing car ownership has led to less bus use--a feature which is common throughout the European Community. However, there is now clear evidence that the process of deregulation has arrested the rate of decline and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, has led to a halving of subsidy, a reduction of a third in operating costs and 20 per cent. more route miles.

Mr. Heald: In assessing the performance of London's buses, will my hon. Friend also look at their environmental performance? Is he aware that Johnson Matthey in my constituency has developed a diesel autocatalyst which is currently being piloted on some of London's buses? Will he see what can be done to spread this excellent initiative across all bus services?

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Mr. Norris: I did indeed go to a demonstration of the continuous recircling trap product developed by Johnson Matthey. It illustrates the fact that in respect of diesel emissions, which were thought for a long time to be relatively benign, we now realise that those 10 micron particles are among the most dangerous emissions and we welcome any technical development which allows us to eliminate them from diesel engines.

Railway Rolling Stock

4. Mr. Gunnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he now expects the companies set up for the purchase of rolling stock to be able to place firm orders.     [23881]

The Minister for Railways and Roads (Mr. John Watts): No companies have been set up specifically to purchase rolling stock. The purchase of new rolling stock remains a matter for British Rail until the rolling stock leasing companies are sold later this year.

Mr. Gunnell: Is the Minister aware that the Transport Select Committee and BR chairman Bob Reid both recognise that we have the longest hiatus that we have ever had in producing rolling stock and that this year, for the first time since 1948, there has been no budget for new rolling stock? Is that not why jobs are being lost in York, Hunslet and Wakefield and what does the Minister intend to do about it? It is not sufficient to give the pat answers that we have heard today.

Mr. Watts: UK trains currently on order include Networkers for British Rail, mail trains for the Post Office, Heathrow express and channel tunnel trains and new trains for the Jubilee line and the Northern line. Once the rolling stock companies are privatised, of course, they will have access to the private capital markets and will be able to take a longer- term view of investment needs.

Mr. Bill Walker: Does my hon. Friend agree that the experience of the bus industry demonstrates clearly that when the private sector becomes involved it invests very heavily in new modern rolling stock? Indeed, in one instance, it has invested more in new vehicles in one year than had been previously been invested in 10 years. That surely demonstrates that the same will happen with the railways because new vehicles cost less to maintain.

Mr. Watts: My hon. Friend is right, although I should remind him that British Rail has invested more than £4 billion in new rolling stock since 1979 and that in the past 10 years more than 4,000 new vehicles and locomotives have been brought into use.

Roads Programme

5. Mr. Mudie: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in the Government's review of the roads programme, following the report of the standing advisory committee on trunk road assessment.     [23882]

Mr. Watts: All schemes in the planning stages are being reassessed at their next key decision stage.

Mr. Mudie: The Minister will be aware that the House welcomed the sensible conclusions of the advisory committee that continuous road building was no answer to congestion. How long will it be before the Department

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brings forward a serious response to the problem, particularly the pollution and environmental aspects of road building?

Mr. Watts: Last December my Department accepted the key recommendations of the SACTRA report. As I have said, we are assessing all schemes in their planning stages for the possibility of traffic generation. The committee did not conclude, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, that road building leads only to congestion.

Mr. Hicks: Does my hon. Friend agree that while it may be fashionable in some quarters not to approve of new road schemes there are two improvement schemes for the A38 trunk road in south-east Cornwall which are not only needed but for which there is unanimous support? Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that where people want such schemes, that fact will be taken into consideration?

Mr. Watts: It has become clear to me since I have had my present job that there are many more road schemes throughout the country which are welcome both to my hon. Friends and, indeed, to Opposition Members and their constituents than there are schemes which cause them concern.

Private Vehicles, London

6. Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will bring forward proposals to limit the use of private vehicles in central London.     [23883]

Mr. Norris: Our approach is already laid down in the document, "Traffic Management and Parking Guidance", which we issued in 1993.

Mr. Banks: That simply is not good enough. Does the Minister share the concern of the Opposition--and, I am sure, that of Tory Members--about the appalling air quality in London? There is congestion in the streets, with clapped-out old buses, lorries and cars spewing filth into the atmosphere which we then have to breathe. What are the Government doing about that? Where are the monitoring stations? What is being done about checking the emissions from filthy cars, lorries and buses and taking them off the roads? Is the Minister waiting for people to start dropping dead in the streets of London before he acts?

Mr. Norris: If the hon. Gentleman wants to tackle the issues, he must accept that campaigning on the slogan that one is about to restrict the use of private cars in London is unlikely to make him attractive even to the electors of Newham. The reality is that we have to ensure that economic and social activity continues while we come to terms with the very real issues of air quality and congestion that he raises which, as is widely accepted not only by the political parties but by the pressure groups, need to be resolved by using the carrot and the stick, by ensuring the accessibility of public transport and a number of measures to manage traffic demand in a way that improves air quality and the quality of life. I do not believe that arbitrary bans on the number of vehicles coming into major cities is either right or acceptable.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: How about closing the House of Commons car park for an experimental period, giving each hon. Member a week's bus pass and putting a bus lane up and down Whitehall?

Mr. Norris: Someone told me that when my hon. Friend was a Northern Ireland Minister he once jumped

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out of his ministerial car to ask a couple of taxi drivers to put on their seat belts. That same brave attitude towards policy formulation perhaps lies behind his offer today, which I will leave on the table for hon. Members to consider.

Mr. Corbyn: Would the Minister consider a number of proposals, such as making parts of central London entirely car free and tackling the questions of tax relief for business motoring in and out of the centre of London, car parking in central London and a subsidy for public transport so that people are encouraged to use it rather than facing the current exorbitant fares?

Mr. Norris: Subject to the fact that there is already a substantial subsidy for public transport--the largest that there has ever been--to assist operations such as London Underground and London Buses, it might surprise the hon. Gentleman to know that my answer to his question is yes. All the matters that he raises need to be properly explored; I only wish that he would put some pressure on his Front-Bench colleagues to start talking seriously about them rather than hiding behind a great mountain of waffle.

Network SouthEast

7. Dr. Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will next visit Network SouthEast.     [23884]

Mr. Watts: As part of the Government's plans for privatisation, Network SouthEast was reorganised into 12 separate train operating units on 1 April 1994. I visited the London-Tilbury-Southend train operating unit last Thursday.

Dr. Spink: Does my hon. Friend agree that rail travel in south-east Essex, especially on the Fenchurch Street line that he visited, has never been rosier following the £150 million investment in resignalling that was completed last year and in view of the 25 replacement trains coming next year and the new management and worker ethos which is bringing so many benefits? Does he agree that since 1948, when it was nationalised, the line has suffered and failed? What hope can he bring to my constituents that, after franchising, the line will never be renationalised?

Mr. Watts: I am sure that none of my hon. Friend's constituents would want the line renationalised once they have tasted the benefits of privatisation. On my visit, I, like my hon. Friend, was impressed by the benefits that will come to his constituents from the investment in the new signalling and other management improvements introduced into LTS Rail.

Mr. Mackinlay: Will the Minister assure commuters on the London- Tilbury-Southend line that, following franchising, there will always be as many trains as there are under the current timetable and that all the stations and the Tilbury loop will be maintained?

Mr. Watts: As the hon. Gentleman knows, passenger service requirements will protect every station and route, including the LTS line. He will also know that PSRs are not timetables. He will be aware, however, that far from looking to reduce the services provided, the management of LTS Rail is looking for opportunities to develop them further.

Mr. Gale: When my hon. Friend next meets Network SouthEast, will he ask for reassurance that the recent

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sound bite offered to Meridian Television by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) concerning Networker trains was wholly fallacious? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Networker trains ordered for the coast line are on schedule and will be in service by the end of the year and that the remaining trains are out to tender? Is that not very good news for Kent commuters?

Mr. Watts: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He will be aware that there is a further invitation to tender for 44 Networker train sets. Those tenders are due to be returned by the end of this week.

Rail Franchising

8. Mr. Jacques Arnold: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on progress in the franchising of rail services.     [23885]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Dr. Brian Mawhinney): On 17 May the franchising director issued invitations to tender for the first three franchises. He expects to issue invitations to tender in respect of five further franchises later in the year.

Mr. Arnold: My right hon. Friend will know that the nationalised British Rail has a very warm place in the heart of the British nation. For decades it has been the butt of jokes about leaves on the line resulting in train cancellations, or trains not running due to staff shortages despite considerable unemployment. Moreover, the record of the nationalised British Rail has been, and clearly still is, close to the heart of the Labour party. Does my right hon. Friend agree that once privatisation comes and the British people see proper private sector companies bringing about improvements--such as those brought about by British Airways and by long- distance bus services--they will never again want a return to nationalisation and the Labour party will then claim that privatisation was all its own idea in the first place?

Dr. Mawhinney: It would be difficult for the Labour party to make such a claim. However, I agree that the injection of private finance and investment decisions, private management skills and the private sector's well-known sensitivity to what the customer actually wants will produce, over time, a better railway which is more focused on bringing benefits to the passengers. I assume that that will be welcomed across the House.

Mr. Snape: If artificially holding down fares in the newly privatised sectors of British Rail will bring about greater passenger use of the railways, why have the Government been doing exactly the opposite for the past 16 years?

Dr. Mawhinney: I hope that the House has noted the hon. Gentleman's antagonistic reaction to passengers benefiting from the unique benefits which will flow, for the first time, from the railways moving from the public sector to the private sector. I understand that Labour Members have difficulty in getting their minds around the concept that great benefits will flow from privatisation. Even ignoring the history of every other privatisation since 1979, they should accept that it is from the very act of privatisation that benefits will flow, and that those benefits should be shared by the passengers. That is our view, but we note that it is not the view of the Labour party.

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Mr. Haselhurst: Does my right hon. Friend think that the franchisees in the new railway sector will attract more customers if they can achieve the right balance between security at their station car parks and the charges that they make to park there? Should not the name of the game be getting more people to travel on the railways in the sure knowledge that their cars will be safe?

Dr. Mawhinney: I share that perception with my hon. Friend. I think that I am right in saying that in those car parks where British Rail has installed an element of security the phenomenon referred to by my hon. Friend has already been observed.

Mr. Tyler: Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that under the instructions issued to the franchising director by his predecessor in accordance with section 5 of the Railways Act 1993--that the service specifications for loss-making lines and services must be included in criteria which are put to the Secretary of State, agreed by him and then published--have been carried out and will be completed, including publication?

Dr. Mawhinney: I can confirm that all the arrangements which are duly in place for moving forward the privatisation of the railways are being carried through.

Mr. Waterson: Will my right hon. Friend confirm that a level of public subsidy has always been part of the Government's privatisation plans and that it is more than likely that, with a cap on fares charged to passengers, revenues will increase due to greater use?

Dr. Mawhinney: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. As I told the House in the debate last Wednesday, subsidy was always part of the privatisation process, as was made clear in the White Paper, in the debates on legislation and by Ministers subsequently. Conservative Members recognise that subsidies are very important. Only the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) is raising questions about the continuation of subsidy in the unlikely event of a Labour Government.

Mr. Meacher: Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why, in the bidding for the channel tunnel rail link, he permitted a bid to proceed from Eurorail which broke the terms of the tender document? Is he aware that the rules of the process, which were published last year, state unequivocally that all tenderers must submit a document on the basis of the reference specifications; yet Eurorail failed to do so and there was no mention in the rules of any tenderer being allowed to submit a fresh bid. Is it not clear that the Secretary of State bent the rules by allowing Eurorail to make a fresh bid because the consortium is led by one of the Government's friends and associates, Lord Parkinson?

Dr. Mawhinney: First, that has nothing to do with the question before the House. Secondly, as I should have thought the hon. Gentleman understood, all those documents are commercial in confidence-- [Hon. Members:-- "Ah."] I hope that the Hansard will record that surge of contempt for legal contracts signed by those who have a desire to take part in a channel tunnel rail link project. Unlike the hon. Member for Oldham, West, I am not going to flirt with the law in that regard.

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Rail Privatisation

9. Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the privatisation of British Rail.     [23886]

Dr. Mawhinney: Privatisation is moving forward. Most of the restructuring of British Rail is now complete. During the next 18 months or so, most of the railway will be transferred to the private sector.

Mr. Shaw: Can my right hon. Friend assure me that the time-keeping problems on the south Kent coastal route, the quality of service and the lack of up-to-date rolling stock will be dealt with by privatisation? My constituents are fed up with the public sector British Rail and want a privatised British Rail.

Dr. Mawhinney: I am sure that my hon. Friend is absolutely right that passengers are looking for maximum benefit from the railway services to which they contribute through their taxes and fares and on which so many are dependent. I am greatly encouraged by his support to move the railway into the private sector as quickly as possible and, on behalf of his constituents and those of other right hon and hon. Members, I will do just that.

Mr. Dalyell: Even though we have just been told that it is not the Secretary of State's style to flirt with the law, how does he get his mind around the considered judgment of senior judges of the Court of Session in Edinburgh that what happened in relation to the London to Fort William sleeper service was illegal? What are the Government's reflections on that?

Dr. Mawhinney: Were I even tempted to answer that question, Madam Speaker, I think that you would remind me that the matter is sub judice.

Mr. Garnier: Has my right hon. Friend had the misfortune to see the press release issued by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) on passenger service requirements? Does he agree that that press release was no more than black scaremongering propaganda and will he confirm that his Department and the Government fully confirm that the rail network is a public service and that it will continue, not only for the use of people throughout the United Kingdom, but particularly for my constituents in Market Harborough?

Dr. Mawhinney: My hon. and learned Friend is right. I have seen that press release, just as I have heard about a press release about Peterborough, issued by the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson), in which she even got the date wrong. Last Wednesday week, Opposition Front-Bench Members issued a press statement which said that a new fares structure for the railways had been postponed indefinitely. It was announced the following Monday. They said that new passenger service requirements for four further lines had been postponed indefinitely; they were announced last Tuesday. They also said that the tendering arrangements for the first three franchises had been postponed indefinitely; they were announced last Wednesday. Given that record of accuracy, my hon. and learned Friend can reassure his constituents that, as everyone on this side of the House already knows, they should not be even remotely worried by what the Opposition Front Bench says.

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Dr. Marek: Is the Secretary of State aware that the travelling public would be much more likely to have a better deal if British Rail was allowed to bid for the first three franchises? The fact that it is not allowed to do so shows that the Government and the franchising director care not one whit for the benefits that accrue to the travelling public.

Dr. Mawhinney: The declamation does not constitute evidence. The franchising director has taken a view, and I am very comfortable with it.

Mr. Hawkins: Does my right hon. Friend agree that, as privatisation proceeds, as the travelling public and our constituents want, it is crucial that all those in the private sector who wish to run trains should have the fullest opportunity to develop their services? Will he look carefully at the proposals by Statesman Railways to re-introduce the direct through service to Blackpool, which was withdrawn by nationalised British Rail?

Dr. Mawhinney: My hon. Friend is right that passengers will want to see the maximum benefit to them arising from the privatisation process. He will understand that those interested in making a bid will be able to do so in the normal and appropriate way.

Mr. Llwyd: The Secretary of State has given assurances that fares will be pegged in line with inflation for the next four years. What assurances has he had from the Treasury? If the cash is not there, will not it mean a cut in services?

Dr. Mawhinney: I am not sure where the hon. Gentleman has been for the last week, but I have made it clear on a number of occasions, not least in last Wednesday's debate, that the Government will provide the appropriate and necessary subsidy, including that arising from the fares policy.

Aston Clinton Bypass

10. Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish his inspector's report on the A41 Aston Clinton bypass.     [23887]

Mr. Watts: The inspector's report will be published concurrently with the decision following last November's public inquiry. The announcement will be made as soon as possible.

Mr. Lidington: May I remind my hon. Friend that that bypass was first proposed by his predecessor in 1937 and that my constituents in Aston Clinton have had to put up with vastly increased volumes of traffic through their village since his Department completed the Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted bypasses? May I urge him and his officials in the Highways Agency to give that project the highest possible priority?

Mr. Watts: My hon. Friend reinforces the point that I made earlier about the popularity of many schemes in the programme.

Manchester Airport

11. Mr. Nigel Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many passengers used Manchester airport in 1994.     [23888]

Dr. Mawhinney: The number is 14.3 million.

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Mr. Evans: Manchester airport is one of the finest regional airports in Europe. Its popularity can be evidenced by that figure, which is due to grow to 15.5 million by next year. I was extremely gratified when my right hon. Friend announced the open skies policy with the United States of America last year as it is good news for regional airports. Will he take the liberalising spirit a step further and extend the open skies policy to the rest of the world so that more aircraft can use airports like Manchester?

Dr. Mawhinney: I agree with my hon. Friend that Manchester is a very fine airport and that it has a bright future. Like him, I am pleased that Continental has announced its plans to initiate a flight between Newark and Manchester, arising out of the liberalisation process that I announced last October. That will be good news for passengers and for the Greater Manchester region and its economy. I shall certainly consider carefully any other suggestions that are made to me in that regard.

Mr. O'Hara: The hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) referred to the expected increase in traffic through Manchester airport in the next decade. Manchester airport seeks a second runway to cater for that capacity. It pitches the capacity of its present runway at 18 million whereas Gatwick copes with 24 million passengers on one runway.

Would not it make more sense, instead of building a new runway in Manchester where there will be at most 12 million or possibly only 6 million extra passengers, to develop Liverpool airport, where there is already a runway that can cope with 12 million passengers, and where meteorological conditions and safety conditions are better? There is less environmental impact, and 20 per cent. of the people who use Manchester airport find it as convenient, or more convenient, to go to Liverpool.

Dr. Mawhinney: At least the hon. Gentleman's constituents will recognise that he is doing the job that he was sent to this place to do on their behalf. The House will understand that public inquiries are in place relating to both Manchester airport and Liverpool airport, and I am one of only two people in the country who cannot comment about either at the moment.


Crown Prosecution Service

29. Mr. Hendry: To ask the Attorney-General what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the working relationship between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.     [23908]

The Attorney-General (Sir Nicholas Lyell): It is of fundamental importance to the Crown Prosecution Service that there should be close co- operation between each of its 104 branches and the local police, usually via their crime support units, and that is becoming increasingly effective.

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