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Mr. Spearing: The Minister said "unanimity". In the draft treaty, it says unanimity as to permission for action. Do the Government believe that unanimity goes beyond that in terms of execution, particularly on matters such as rules of engagement, if peacekeeping gets hot?

Mr. Davis: The hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not get too drawn into what is still a hot negotiation, to use his term, but our position is fairly clear. The point of unanimity at the start of any policy discussion is that it gives the leverage required for the next step.

As for the so-called third pillar--justice and home affairs--we have argued, and will continue to argue, for the improved co-operation in the fight against drugs and international crime. The federalists--the centralisers--wanted to communitise some of these areas, arguing that the third pillar has not worked. That is simply not true. It is new, and much has been achieved in practical terms since its inception. There have been seven major conventions, three protocols and much useful co-operation between national law enforcement agencies.

To give an example, in 1995, Europol dealt with nearly 1,500 requests for information, and its action led to arrests and seizures in crimes as diverse as immigrant smuggling and drug trafficking. There is still scope for streamlining decision-making procedures in this area, but it must remain firmly intergovernmental.

Communitisation would not save a single life. Nor would it stop a single drugs trafficker. It would complicate and probably delay practical progress. How can it help the people of Europe to have every bogus asylum seeker thinking that he or she can appeal to the European Court of Justice? How does it improve the acceptability of those policies to give the Commission the monopoly of initiative in them? It cannot, of course. We must concentrate on the substance of third pillar co-operation; on practical improvements, not institutional change. Only in that way can we deliver results for the people of Europe.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) raised some interesting points on employment, because the document contains a proposal for a chapter on employment. Some try to accuse the British Government of failing to pay proper regard to the importance of employment because we oppose treaty changes to bring in an employment chapter. Ironically, those same people are among those who want to impose the job-destroying social chapter on Britain.

The United Kingdom has an outstanding record in Europe on creating jobs, a point made by my right hon. Friends the Members for Wokingham and, indeed, for Hove (Sir T. Sainsbury) in his excellent speech. Since 1979, the United Kingdom has created as many jobs in the private sector as the whole of the rest of the European Union. That is no accident. It comes from an approach based on free trade and competition, reform of inflexible labour market regulations, reduction of non-wage costs, investment in skills and sound macro-economic policies.

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That is also one reason why Britain is successful at attracting overseas investment. Britain accounts for a massively disproportionate share of inward investment in the European Union. We are also the number one destination for German overseas investment. We heard the point of view, represented by the Labour party, of one German business man. It might be a little more representative if I quote the president of the German equivalent of the CBI, Mr. Henkel, who has drawn attention on more than one occasion to the British Government's record--our success in dealing with unemployment, in reducing state interference, in privatisation, in reducing the state share of national income and in the low taxation of profits. He said:

The Government prefer to let results speak for themselves, but we are prepared to listen to the views of others. I listened very carefully to a speech on Europe that the French Prime Minister Alain Juppe made in the Assemblee Nationale at the end of November. He said:

    "The spectacular results which the UK has obtained on employment are less the result of changes in her exchange rate. . . than of the structural reforms undertaken over the last 15 years."

If one knew as much as one ought about the French tradition in these matters, one would know that that was an outstanding statement, and a compliment to our policies.

The results that Mr. Juppe was referring to were not achieved by writing empty words into the European treaty. Fine words in the treaty will not create a single job. Businesses create jobs. They would be able to create more of them if they were left to get on with it without bright new initiatives from Brussels.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield pointed out, earlier this year the United Kingdom Government lost their case in the European Court against the application of the working time directive--the so-called 48-hour week. The directive was brought under article 118A, the health and safety article.

It is difficult to compare health and safety statistics between countries, because there are different definitions, and some countries are slow to produce the figures, but it is possible to make the important comparison of fatal accidents at work, which are measured in deaths per 100,000 employees. The latest comparisons show that the United Kingdom has about 1.4 deaths per 100,000 employees, whereas Germany has twice that number, France has three times and Spain has six times that number.

Britain can easily show that it takes safety at work at least as seriously as any other country in Europe. Any attempt by anybody else to change our laws had better be pretty well argued.

What does the European Court judgment say? In effect, it says that so-called health and safety legislation does not have to be based on scientific evidence. That is an open door to all those in Europe who would wrap labour law in bogus health and safety clothes, and who seek to impose competitive burdens on our industry, big or small. That is why we are demanding that the directive be disapplied to the United Kingdom, and even more important, that the loophole in our opt-out be shut once and for all.

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The next six months--from Dublin to Amsterdam--will see some of the most important negotiations on the future of Europe since the treaty of Rome. Amsterdam will decide whether Europe stays a partnership of free nations, as we advocate, or whether a core group pushes ahead to further political union. The question for the British people will be who they can trust to stand up for Britain at Amsterdam.

The Government will continue arguing for a strong Europe that remains a Europe of nation states. We have shown that we are prepared to stand alone in defending Britain's interest, and have fought for our opt-outs. The Prime Minister has made it clear that if the rest of Europe goes federal, Britain under the Conservatives will not follow.

It is crystal clear why this country needs a Conservative Government fighting hard in the IGC for Britain's national interests. People should be in no doubt what the election of a Labour Government would mean. If there were a general election on 1 May, within six weeks there would be a summit at Amsterdam to finalise the new treaty. If there were a Labour Government, in those six weeks there would be a sell-out of Britain, and 17 years of Conservative achievement would be wiped out at a stroke.

Labour would unconditionally surrender the British veto in four important areas: regional, industrial, social and environmental policy. Labour would sign up to the madness of the social chapter and accept the working time directive, which would be a disaster for the British economy. Labour would back a new treaty chapter on employment, thus opening the door to more interference and regulation from Brussels. Labour would support an increase in the powers of the European Parliament at the expense of the House of Commons.

All that would be the consequence of the Labour Leader's fear of "being isolated" in Europe--a six-week sell-out; a six-week surrender.

The Labour party has no principle in European politics, other than the dubious principle of not being isolated. It stands for nothing--and those who stand for nothing will fall for anything. That is why, when we count what is at stake in Amsterdam, British people will decide that they cannot risk a Labour Government.

The federalists think that, if Europe does not go somewhere it will go nowhere, and that if it does not integrate it will disintegrate. That is the line that Labour is falling for. That is why we hear endlessly about catching buses, riding trains and missing boats: those are metaphors designed to serve a misconception. Unless we like the destination, we will not buy the ticket. The Labour party, however--

It being Ten o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

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M20 (Widening)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.--[Mr. Peter Ainsworth.]

10 pm

Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge and Malling): The M20 motorway is the main motorway route to the channel tunnel, and therefore to the rest of Europe. Junction 3, at Wrotham in my constituency, is the point at which the two major motorway arms funnel traffic from the rest of England--and therefore from Britain--through to the channel tunnel, along the final section of the M20 through Kent.

The first stream of the motorway comes from the M20, taking traffic from the north of London and East Anglia, and the second stream takes traffic from the M26 spur off the M25, from the south of London and the west of the country. From junction 3 to the east was always going to be an extremely heavily used section of motorway, and for that reason--this was relatively unusual at the time when this section of the motorway was built; it was opened in December 1971--it was built to three lanes in each direction.

Then, in the 1980s, along came the channel tunnel--or, rather along came the channel tunnel again. The channel tunnel project had been signed and sealed under a Conservative Government in the early 1970s, only to be scrapped by a Labour Government in 1975--a decision that seemed extremely short-sighted at the time, and looks even more short-sighted with the benefit of hindsight.

By the late 1980s, it was clear that this section of the motorway, with the channel tunnel then being built, simply would not be able to meet the volume of traffic that would be taken on it. On 18 May 1989, the then Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon), announced in his White Paper "Roads for Prosperity" that the motorway would be widened to four lanes in each direction between junctions 3 and 5.

I might say to my hon. Friend the Minister that I have kept our right hon. Friend's White Paper, and also the statement that he made on 18 May 1989 in introducing it. It seems to me that the case he advanced about the inextricable link in this country between prosperity and a decently functioning road system holds good today.

Following the announcement that that section of the M20 would be widened to four lanes in each direction, there ensued what I can only describe as an extraordinarily unhappy saga for my constituents.

The immediate effect of announcing the widening of that section of the M20 was to create a swathe of blight along both sides of it. That resulted in some 300 houses having to be compulsorily acquired under statutory blight purchase procedures.

It turned out subsequently that virtually none of those houses was going to be required for the widened motorway. That meant that some £30 million of taxpayers' money was unnecessarily expended on the purchase of those properties, and that the lives of several hundred of my constituents were made a misery as a result of secondary blight. The standard of the estates of people with houses immediately adjacent to the statutory blight deteriorated as houses were kept empty. Some unsuitable

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tenants moved into properties. There was vandalism, and so on. I was obliged to refer the whole matter to the Comptroller and Auditor General for a formal investigation by the National Audit Office.

Amid all the difficulties for my constituents, the statutory procedures continued. There was a long public consultation exercise, an exhibition showing how the widening scheme would take place, a full-scale public inquiry and a final definition of the scheme. A detailed noise mitigation programme was built into the scheme. Everything was finalised and ready to go. Then, a fortnight ago, on 26 November, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport delivered what was in our area a killer blow to the scheme, announcing that it would be abandoned altogether.

The deeply unhappy history of the past seven and a half years is that, since the widening was announced, some tens of millions of pounds of public money has gone down the drain and the lives of many hundreds of my constituents have been made difficult and in some cases miserable as a result of secondary blight. Heaven knows how many tens of thousands of man hours worked by civil servants, local government and housing officers have been devoted to progressing the widening scheme, apart from the enormous involvement by probably thousands of my constituents in their representations on it.

Seven and a half years after the scheme was announced, they have ended up with absolutely nothing, and the whole thing has been a total waste of time and money. My hon. Friend the Minister and I are familiar with the expression, "It's a funny way to run a railway." I can say only that it is a funny way to run a road programme.

I am aware that the Labour and Liberal parties have consistently opposed a decent road programme in Britain, although, on this issue, the Liberals tend to face both ways at once. Locally, they advocate road and village bypass schemes, but nationally they oppose such schemes. It is a matter of great regret and considerable concern that the Government appear to have largely followed the direction of the Opposition parties. I have considerable anxieties and doubts as to whether that is the right course.

I may now be in a very small minority in the House, but I believe that a proper functioning main road system is part of the essential economic lifeblood of Britain. With its small land area and huge range of businesses and economic activity, it will never be economic to shift goods transported in Britain from road to rail. For the great majority of goods, that will never be an economic proposition.

I believe that it is absolutely essential for our competitiveness, for our prosperity, and therefore for our job prospects, that we continue to have a properly functioning motorway system. The Government should consider very carefully the long-term implications of their policy--the impact of which has been felt by those who live between junctions 3 and 5 of the M20.

I was very struck by an article that appeared in the 8 December 1996 issue of The Sunday Times, headed "Warning: 20 years of gridlock ahead as new roads are axed". The article contained two diagrams of England and Wales. One was headed "Motorway Congestion Now", and the other "And in 2015". Each contained black spots in places where traffic grinds to a halt on more than half

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the days in a year. The first diagram, on current traffic congestion, showed that there were 21 black spots, whereas the diagram for 2015 showed 86 black spots. Based on that forecast, in less than 20 years such areas will quadruple.

I was not surprised to see that a black spot had been placed on precisely the part of the motorway that we are debating tonight, between junctions 3 and 5 of the M20. If that article represents what is likely to happen to the motorway system, there will have to be a fundamental reconsideration of Government policy.

Where does the current position leave my constituents? It leaves them still facing huge growth in the volume of traffic using that section of the motorway. I have obtained, through parliamentary questions, with the assistance of the Highways Agency, projections for the daily average number of vehicles that will use the M20 between junctions 3 and 5 over the next 20 years if--as is now Government policy--the widening scheme is not implemented.

The figures are set out in Hansard, 2 December 1996, column 477, and show that--for the section between junctions 3 and 4 for which a complete set of figures is available--in 1993 there were 66,000 vehicles per day, but that, by 1995, the figure had already risen to 83,100. There were two projections for 2012--a low-growth projection, at 110,000, and a high-growth projection, at 131,000--which effectively show that, according to the Highways Agency's 20-year projections, traffic will double on that section of motorway. I fear that even the high-growth estimate is conservative.

Therefore, my constituents face a serious increase--a doubling--in the volume of traffic using that section of the motorway. Moreover, they also face the loss of the noise mitigation measures that would have been implemented had the widening scheme proceeded. I should be grateful if my hon. Friend, in his reply, will tell me how the noise mitigation measures which were part of the widening scheme can be salvaged from the wreckage of that programme.

I have four specific questions that I wish to put to my hon. Friend: I gave a copy of them to his private office earlier today, so I hope that he will be able to give precise replies.

First, what are his Department's resurfacing plans for the M20 between junctions 3 and 5, and may I have his assurance that the resurfacing materials that will be used, whether porous asphalt or any other material, will be chosen with noise reduction as the top consideration--after, of course, road safety?

Secondly, can my hon. Friend confirm that the legal effect of his written answers to me of 29 November at column 417 and of 10 December at column 103 is that, although the Department of Transport as the highway authority for motorways has a discretionary power under section 282 of the Highways Act 1980 to fund noise barriers on existing motorways--whether constructed before or after 17 October 1969--as a matter of policy it uses that power only in exceptional circumstances for motorways that were constructed before that date? If that is the case, will my hon. Friend consider a change of policy to permit the funding of noise barriers for the M20, given the traffic forecasts and the serious impact that the noise from that motorway is already having on the lives of people who live adjacent to it?

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Thirdly, are there any powers under which Kent county council could fund noise barriers along that section of the motorway, on its own or in conjunction with his Department?

Fourthly, I ask my hon. Friend for an assurance that, if Kent county council is able to proceed with a noise mitigation scheme along the section of the motorway between junctions 3 and 5, his Department will give the council all possible assistance, and provide access for the necessary works on the Department's land.

I cannot stress too strongly how deeply I and my constituents feel about the issue. They were told that that section of the M20 was to be widened, and they have suffered blight and ever-increasing noise disturbance. They have devoted time and effort to the public consultation process and to the public inquiry and now they have been told that the whole scheme has been abandoned, even though the volume of traffic will double. I and my constituents insist that noise mitigation measures are preserved, and I look to my hon. Friend to say how that can be achieved.

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