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6.50 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. Chris Mullin): It is a pleasure to serve before you today, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is unable to be here today, but he has sent his A-team along in the shape of the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill), and me.

We have had an interesting tour of the underground from Upminster to Uxbridge by way of Ruislip, Ealing and Putney. The hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) wisely chose not to discuss his party's own plans, but chose instead to place his talents at the disposal of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone). The hon. Gentleman was, I am sure, grateful, but as he has so often demonstrated, he is perfectly capable of looking after himself.

Let me reiterate the point made by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary: public-private partnerships are very different from the wholesale privatisations on which the Conservative party is still hooked. In the London Underground PPP, strategic control will be maintained by the public sector, which reports to the Mayor. Private companies will maintain and upgrade the hardware. London Underground will run the network, signals, stations, trains and safety. The Government believe that is the right way to lever in private sector investment and project management expertise while preserving the necessary safeguards that the travelling public need and deserve.

13 Nov 2000 : Column 700

As in so many areas of the public sector, the Conservatives left behind a massive backlog of investment on the tube. They planned to cut tube spending still further, down to £161 million last year and to nought for the current financial year. They were also committed to repeating many of the mistakes that they made with the national railway system. They are so keen on selling off the tube that they have relaunched the policy twice in opposition, making it clear that they intend to break the tube into as many as five pieces.

As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary said, we have already provided considerable extra funding to London Transport over the past three years.

Mr. Jenkin: Less than us.

Mr. Mullin: I shall come to that point in a moment. We have prevented any further increase in the investment backlog. We have invested on average more than £500 million in the core of the underground network in each of the past three years, compared to an average of £370 million a year over the lifetime of the previous, Conservative Government. With the additional funding that we have provided, London Transport will be able to invest £3.4 billion in the underground between 1997-98 and 2000-01.

Most important, we have rejected outright privatisation in order to put in place a funding regime that will genuinely deal with the long-term needs of the underground. The London Underground PPP will enable us finally to reverse the historic decline of the tube. In contrast to the fragmented scheme proposed by the official Opposition, our scheme will preserve public accountability and a unified safety structure. Again in contrast to their "flog it and forget it" proposal, the assets will return to the public sector at the end of the contract in a much improved condition.

I shall try to address, in the short time available, some of the points raised during the debate. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake) asked what would happen in the event of a contract failure. Should an infrastructure company fail, there would be a mandatory sale procedure under which the contract would be offered in the market. Ultimately, London Underground could take it back. The hon. Member for Brent, East is right to say that the banks would be recompensed, but he omitted to say that the entire shareholders' equity would be forgone. There would be no question, therefore, of anyone making a profit out of a failure.

On the timing of the safety case, London Underground expects to submit the case in December. It will be up to the Health and Safety Executive to improve it, and we expect that to be done by March 2001. Regarding the timing of the National Audit Office's audit of the public sector comparator, the NAO work will be completed before the selection of a preferred bidder, and it will be published. [Interruption.] Hon. Members have asked some questions, and I am doing my best to reply to them. That is a fairly unusual feature in some winding-up speeches.

13 Nov 2000 : Column 701

The hon. Member for Brent, East mentioned that Mr. Kiley had not yet seen the bids. I hope that the hon. Gentleman--who is not in his place, for reasons that he explained earlier--will understand that this is an evolving relationship involving powerful market sensitivities, and we shall assess our approach in the light of those considerations. As was made clear at the outset, we are anxious to work closely with Mr. Kiley, and we shall do so.

The hon. Members for Brent, East and for Poole (Mr. Syms) suggested that the public sector comparator was out of date. The comparator was produced in March, and it was proper that that should have been done before the receipt of the bids. Obviously, work needs to be done to update the comparator and to reflect changes to the contract documentation. London Underground has offered to take Mr. Kiley through those issues.

The hon. Member for Brent, East said that companies had to meet only 95 per cent. of their performance targets. That is not strictly the case. The 5 per cent. starting benchmark is not a target indicating the level of performance that we expect from the PPP; it is merely a point of reference for determining rates of payment or abatement. To obtain the levels of return that they expect, bidders will need to achieve a substantially higher performance, and to have committed to doing so. The 5 per cent. benchmark applies not to performance across the board but to delays caused by asset failures such as train breakdowns or signal failures. Those vary enormously from year to year. In other words, the benchmark applies not to all the criteria, but only to one.

The hon. Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) said that she did not expect any delays, while suggesting a number of ways in which the proposals could be delayed. We do not expect any delays in the PPP programme, but we are not going to be held to a timetable that would allow bidders to hold us to ransom. I am sure that when Opposition Members reflect on that, they will realise that it is sensible.

The hon. Member for Brent, East said, surprisingly, that bonds could be organised in a matter of weeks. I am advised that that is doubtful. Even the Industrial Society's report suggested that it could take up to two years. As the hon. Member for Beckenham said, we cannot afford delays of such length.

The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) was a little cheeky, I thought, in coming forward with a shopping list of projects, given that the previous Government contributed so little to investment in the underground.

The London Underground PPP is well on course to deliver around £13 billion worth of new investment and maintenance during the first 15 years of the contract, with more to follow after that. It will lead to reduced journey times, greater reliability, brighter stations, better trains, more capacity and, above all, greater safety and security. It means that the tube will be publicly owned, publicly run and publicly accountable. The difference is that now it will be properly funded as well.

13 Nov 2000 : Column 702

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

The House divided: Ayes 180, Noes 287.

Division No. 326
[7 pm


AYES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
(Rushcliffe)
Collins, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
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
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
May, Mrs Theresa
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soames, Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Wardle, Charles
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Stephen Day and
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.


NOES


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Atherton, Ms Candy
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon
(Dunfermline E)
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
(Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. David Clelland and
Mr. Mike Hall.

Question accordingly negatived.

13 Nov 2000 : Column 705

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

The House divided: Ayes 283, Noes 177.


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