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Dr. John Cunningham: The Conservative Government did not do that.

Mr. Yeo: Yes we did, and the Minister should know it. If the right hon. Gentleman aspires to be the countryside Minister, he should do his homework.

The amendment claims that the Government believe in inclusiveness, but lovers of traditional country sports are not just being excluded; Labour Members are supporting a Bill that will criminalise them. The Government's actions contradict the fine words in their amendment. The debate gave the Government the chance to show that they understand why 280,000 people gave up their Sunday to march on London, and that they are willing to listen to the anxieties of the marchers and millions of other country dwellers. That chance was missed by the Minister, but I hope that it will be seized by the Under-Secretary.

If the Government agree to our motion, the marchers really will have something to cheer about. I commend the motion to the House.

9.51 pm

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Ms Glenda Jackson): In his opening remarks, the right hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) dubbed the debate one in which the true voice of the countryside would be heard. The Country Landowners Association may not agree. In January 1995, it stated:

In January 1995, the National Farmers Union stated:

    "Many parts of the countryside are seriously affected by unemployment, under-employment, a narrow range of job opportunities and low average wage levels."

In July 1994, the Rural Development Commission stated:

    "Declining rural services threaten village life."

In November 1994, Countryside 2000, the country life magazine, stated:

    "Protecting the countryside is something that we did well traditionally. Sadly the 1980s was a disastrous decade in this respect, thanks to the new spirit of laissez-faire that afflicted planning."

3 Mar 1998 : Column 953

    Speaking on the Conservative Government's rural record in January 1995, Action for Communities in Rural England stated:

    "Our main perception is one of neglect."

On 10 October 1996, the National Farmers Union Council passed a vote of no confidence in the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), declaring that it had

    "no confidence in the Minister's representation of the interests of the UK and its agricultural industry in the EU."

The Opposition are noted for their lack of policies, direction and principles. Tonight's debate showed their sheer opportunism. The Conservative Government would not have wanted to abolish the agriculture wages councils if they had been genuinely concerned for the rural economy and the countryside. The Conservative Government deregulated bus services and privatised the railways, leaving 75 per cent. of parishes with no daily bus service, 79 per cent. with no community minibus or social car scheme, and 93 per cent. with no rail service at any time. They also closed 450 village schools, constantly threatened rural post offices with privatisation, built 60 per cent. of new houses on green-field sites, and closed village shops, hospitals and dental surgeries.

We are dealing with 18 years of Conservative neglect, but, during their lamentable contributions, Conservative Members did not have the courtesy to apologise to the people of this country for the damage that their Government caused. I have not even touched on the relaxation of regulations which led to the introduction of BSE not only into the British beef herd, but into the human food chain. The previous Government were responsible for that disgraceful occurrence, which has had an appalling effect on the countryside and its economy.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, my hon. Friends the Members for West Lancashire (Mr. Pickthall), for Sherwood (Mr. Tipping) and for Delyn (Mr. Hanson), and the hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Inverness, West (Mr. Kennedy) dealt with the serious issues that face people in rural areas.

Several themes have recurred tonight. My hon. Friends the Members for West Lancashire and for Delyn pointed out that the Conservatives' policy was clearly "town versus country". That is not our policy. We are clear about the fact that town needs country and country needs town. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Hon. Members should listen to the Minister, who is winding up an important debate.

Ms Jackson: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but it is too late to ask Conservative Members to listen. If their own leader cannot point out to them that their arrogance and unwillingness to listen lost them the last election so resoundingly, there is nothing that anyone can do. Regrettably, their ignorance is bliss for no one in this country.

The peroration of the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) matched the opening speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) in its lack of any understanding of the real difficulties that their Government created for those living in rural areas. The hon. Gentleman castigated the present Government for their local government finance settlement, particularly in

3 Mar 1998 : Column 954

a rural context. For the first time in four years, increased funds have been provided for services delivered by a shire district. This Government have done that. We have treated all local authorities, whether rural or urban, fairly and consistently.

The pattern of gainers and losers in rural and urban areas is mixed. There are gainers and losers in both types of area. That confirms yet again that the present Government govern for all the people. We are not interested in creating artificial divisions between town and country.

Many grievous allegations were made about the Government's policy. I shall touch on only a few that we have heard, perhaps on both sides of the House but certainly from Opposition Members. A recurring Opposition allegation--

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire): Will the Minister give way?

Ms Jackson: No.

A recurring Opposition allegation related to building on green-belt land.

Mr. Paterson rose--

Ms Jackson: I said no. That is another example of Opposition Members' inability to listen.

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made clear in a statement to the House only a few days ago, we have abandoned the old predict and provide policy with regard to house building. We will work from the bottom up. We have asked for 60 per cent. of building to take place on brown-field sites. It was the Conservative party that built 60 per cent. of houses on green fields. In our 10 short months of government, we have added five times as much land to the green belt as has been lost.

Certain allegations were made about our ban on beef on the bone. Opposition Members described it as a panic measure. Let the record show, however, that independent scientists said that the material could be infected with BSE. The Conservative party banned all sales of infected material; we have done the same. It is vital to rebuild confidence in British beef at home and abroad.

More than once we were asked where was our right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment. Let me allay the fears that may be pounding in the breasts of Opposition Members: my right hon. Friend is abroad on Government business.

Our manifesto pledged to recognise the special needs in rural areas, and our policies are being designed to take account of rural interests--it is quite wrong to suggest that we do not care or understand. The Government believe in opportunity, fairness and prosperity for all--applied equally to urban and to rural areas. We realise also that people who live and work in the countryside have distinctive needs. The rural dimension is an important consideration in many of the Government's policies.

Most important, we wish to foster a strong and vibrant rural economy. New jobs are being created in the countryside.

Mr. James Arbuthnot (North-East Hampshire) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

3 Mar 1998 : Column 955

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

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

The House divided: Ayes 131, Noes 321.

Division No. 188
[9.59 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Colvin, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fallon, Michael
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacKay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Major, Rt Hon John
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Randall, John
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Wardle, Charles
Waterson, Nigel
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. John M. Taylor and
Mr. John Whittingdale.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allan, Richard
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Ashton, Joe
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Paul
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chidgey, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dafis, Cynog
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Norman A
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorrie, Donald
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr Evan
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Keetch, Paul
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLeish, Henry
McNamara, Kevin
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, Nick
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stott, Roger
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tyler, Paul
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wallace, James
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Clive Betts and
Mr. Graham Allen.

Question accordingly negatived.

3 Mar 1998 : Column 958

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):-- The House divided: Ayes 265, Noes 163.

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