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Mr. Yeo: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms Jackson: No, I will not.

Mr. Yeo: Give way.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Lady is not giving way.

Ms Jackson: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Despite being exhorted by their leader to listen, Opposition Members are totally incapable of doing so. When I say no, I invariably mean no.

Opposition Members have dwelt on the issue of the Government overruling local councils that want to build on the green belt. Their assertions were untrue. The Tories

29 Jul 1998 : Column 470

overruled councils and approved building on green-belt land in Manchester, South Bedfordshire, Kent and Woking. In one of his last decisions as Secretary of State for the Environment, the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) approved development on 50 hectares of metropolitan green belt in Surrey.

I hope that the hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) expressed her concern to the previous Administration. As I have said, Berkshire was one of the three counties that the previous Government directed to change its plans by increasing the number of houses to be built by 3,000. That direction resulted in adjustments to Berkshire's green-belt boundary. The hon. Lady spoke about the number of houses that the south-east regional planning conference has announced, but those are for consultation only. She also asked about motorway service areas. I am sure that she is aware that my noble Friend the Minister for Roads was paying particular attention to that issue and examined it in no small detail.

The hon. Member for Maidenhead castigated the Government for what she decried as a policy for the closure of rural schools. We have made it abundantly clear that a proposal to close any rural school will have to be submitted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment for a decision. The hon. Lady may be interested to know that, in 1997, a rural council survey highlighted the fact that, in 49 per cent. of rural areas, there was no school at all.

In a sense, the debate began with the contribution by the hon. Member for Truro and St. Austell (Mr. Taylor) who touched on the issues that are genuinely important to people in rural areas. We would argue that they are also important to people in urban areas. Those issues relate to improving the quality of life. The hon. Gentleman made a valid point to which the Government have paid, and will continue to pay, particular attention. It was about how the previous Administration for 18 years allowed the quality of life in urban areas to deteriorate so lamentably that people moved from towns to rural areas. That happened despite loud pronouncements by the then Prime Minister, now Baroness Thatcher, that that Government had to take action on the cities. They markedly failed to do that. That is an issue to which we are, indeed, directing attention.

The hon. Gentleman will know of Lord Rogers's task force. The whole thrust of our transport policies, as the hon. Gentleman will know, is to offer genuine alternatives to over-dependence on the private car. We are looking at issues such as home zones and the use of information technology to ensure that traffic does not pollute urban areas to such an extent that not only people but industry, business and retail outlets wish to move from urban areas.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: I touched on rural homelessness. I have now had information that, in Devon and Cornwall, the Government office has confirmed a 23 per cent. increase in homelessness acceptances. There seems to be a genuine problem, with the increase in homelessness perhaps linked to the increase in repossessions and to benefit changes. I hope that the Minister will ask some of her team to look at that problem.

Ms Jackson: I have little doubt that my colleagues will read this evening's debate because, as I have made abundantly clear, rural issues and the quality of life in rural areas are of prime importance to this Government, but I will certainly draw the hon. Gentleman's point to my hon. Friends' attention.

29 Jul 1998 : Column 471

It was Labour Members, who have direct experience of life in rural areas because they represent those areas, who touched on the issues that are of real concern to people who live in rural areas. As my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) pointed out, those issues include unemployment. He paid tribute to the Government's policy on the new deal. He also touched on the health needs of rural areas, again an area which was mercilessly attacked by the previous Administration, and highlighted again the Labour Government's health action zones.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lancashire (Mr. Pickthall) also raised many precise, particular and detailed points as they affect his constituents in a rural area. He again made the point that it is only Conservative Members who have a desire to foster the entirely false premise that there is a difference between rural and urban. He made the point, as he has on previous occasions, that town and country are mutually dependent. It is certainly this Government's policy, as we have said on more than one occasion, to govern for all the people, which is why we are targeting so many of our activities and, indeed, so much of our finance, towards redressing the appalling damage that was inflicted on rural areas by the Conservative party. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. There is far too much noise in the Chamber. Too many conversations are going on.

Ms Jackson: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I repeat that it was left to Labour Members to introduce into the debate the issues that are of real importance to people in rural areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) touched on the total lack of transport in many rural areas because of the previous Administration's approach to public transport as a whole. They deregulated the buses and privatised our railways, leaving many rural areas totally isolated.

My hon. Friend touched on social exclusion, which was introduced by the previous Administration: they denuded many rural areas of affordable housing and refused to allow rural housing associations to attempt to redress the balance. My hon. Friend paid tribute to the historic introduction by this Government of a national minimum wage, which will do much to redress the appallingly low pay that exists in rural areas.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Todd) again touched on the real issues--it was my hon. Friends who raised many of them for the first time in the debate--including crime. That is an issue, as this Government are aware, which is and can be as prevalent in rural areas as it has been in urban areas. Here, too, we are taking steps to attack and tackle the problem so that the quality of life in the rural environment can be improved.

The Government are determined to address the real, everyday concerns of people in rural areas. They are the same concerns as those of their neighbours in towns and relate to jobs, schools, health, transport and the provision of services. As my right hon. Friend said earlier, the Government have a clear vision for rural areas--a living, working and sustainable countryside that contributes to the general prosperity of the country.

29 Jul 1998 : Column 472

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

The House divided: Ayes 159, Noes 304.

Division No. 352
[9.59 pm


Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Clappison, James
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorrie, Donald
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paisley, Rev Ian
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thompson, William
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Wardle, Charles
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Nigel Waterson and
Mr. Stephen Day.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Stephen
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Ms Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Doran, Frank
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Gapes, Mike
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
McLeish, Henry
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Peter
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Paul (Torfaen)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
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
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Jeff
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
White, Brian
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. David Clelland and
Mr. Jim Dowd.

Question accordingly negatived.

29 Jul 1998 : Column 475

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments) and agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


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