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Mr. Prescott: Let me make an immediate reference to the comments of the previous speaker, the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond). It is well known in the House that I have advocated public-private partnerships for 10 to 15 years. I am sure that not everybody, including my hon. Friends, agreed with me. However, I held that view; it has not been forced upon me. I believe that that form of financing and organisation can contribute to a better public service. That is the argument that we are holding today. However, it is not the subject that is before the House for debate. The amendments deal with delaying the process for three months or until after the next general election. We can vote only on those amendments.

The hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) claimed that there was no mandate for the public-private partnership. He is right that it does not appear in the manifesto for the last general election. However, there is no doubt that references were made to it, for example in a statement that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then shadow Chancellor, made at the time.

We made it clear that, to balance public finances correctly and reduce the debt, we would accept the two-year public expenditure programme of the then Government. Of course, there was great anxiety about that. It meant that we had to accept the previous Government's expenditure plans and it was argued that, if the receipts involved in balancing the accounts came from the sale of NATS, there would be a hole in Labour's finances. That was a matter for debate; that is shown in the press reports of the election campaign.

28 Nov 2000 : Column 926

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor made it clear that he would be prepared to consider public-private partnership and the sale of some receipts to make up for the difference in the accounts. The alternative to that would have been to argue for higher taxation. That is the context in which the matter was approached and publicly debated. Frankly, everybody knew that, because they thought it was a difficulty for Labour. We had to argue the case, which is how the policy was born. As to whether it became party policy in the manifesto, may I develop this point?

Dr. Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak): Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Prescott: In a second. We should look to the manifesto argument. As has been pointed out, the poll tax was never in the Tory manifesto, yet the Tories implemented it. The Tory manifesto did not refer to doubling VAT, but the Tories did that. All Governments, including Labour Governments, have introduced a number of measures that were not necessarily in the manifesto. That point has to be taken into account.

Labour Members are accountable to our party and we have to convince the party of that policy. Let me quote from the policy document that was determined this year and confirmed by my party's conference, which therefore makes it party policy:


That proposal was passed by our policy forum and by the Labour party conference, so we are entitled to call it Labour party policy. That is one way in which we have given serious attention to these matters.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East and Musselburgh (Dr. Strang) made great play of saying that this is the last opportunity to deal with the public-private partnership that he has always, since being out of office, campaigned against. [Hon. Members: "Oh!] That is the case. As he knows, statements were made to the House that he was improving the PPP, but I have made that point before.

The question whether the proposal is a PPP is not the issue before the House. We are discussing amendments, not legislating on whether to change the PPP. We are deciding whether to delay the decision for three months or wait until after the next election. It is quite wrong, and a constitutional outrage, for the Tories and Liberals in another place to say that we should have to face such conditions. Let us be clear about what the issue is.

As for the Liberal spokesman saying that the debate should be about an independent publicly owned company or a trust, there have been debates in this place and another place. Each time, that idea has been defeated in the vote. I am entitled to say that that is what happens in a representative democracy. People argue their case, take the vote and live with the result. I claim, therefore, that the House and another place have rejected an IPOC and a trust solution. Those are the facts, and people should consider them.

As for the argument about a £180 billion investment in our transport system, the Liberal spokesman rightly pointed out that that has a lot to do with PPPs--a

28 Nov 2000 : Column 927

combination of public money that multiplies private capital to increase investment to a scale never seen before in transport, to deal with the massive disinvestment brought about by the previous Administration.

Mr. Jenkin: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Prescott: I do not have time.

My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) made the point that Members of the House are ordinary people and, therefore, can make mistakes. I presume that the same logic applies to her Select Committee. I do not suppose that she is extraordinary; I presume that she is ordinary. She may have got it wrong. If the logic applies one way, it applies the other. I say to her that the current system has reduced investment and caused delay in its implementation. The administration is not adequate to meet the requirements of the public sector. The system needs to be changed, and the number of near misses has increased. It is necessary to get the technology to make those improvements.

Mr. Jenkin: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Prescott: No, I am not giving way. There is a shortage of air traffic controllers, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich has referred from time to time. That was brought about by this old system, which we intend to change to make it safer.

Mr. John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) rose--

Hon. Members: Give way!

Mr. Prescott: The hon. Member for Vale of York--[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. The right hon. Gentleman is not giving way.

Mr. Prescott: I have always believed in and campaigned for--

Mr. McLoughlin: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Deputy Prime Minister says that he cannot give way because he has insufficient time to do so. Can he table a manuscript amendment to give us extra time to discuss this matter?

Mr. Speaker: That is not possible.

Mr. Prescott: Shortage of time has been a difficulty for me in the past 10 days.

11 pm

The hon. Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh) said that she had always wanted operations involved in the provision of services to be separate, but in the case of Railtrack she voted to keep the two elements together, and we are paying the price. In the context of aviation we are

28 Nov 2000 : Column 928

separating them, as recommended by the Select Committee. That is right, it is a consistent policy, and it will make the system safer.

The choice that the House must make tonight is not about the PPP, but about whether we should allow three months or act after the election. It is entirely wrong for an unelected House to force a condition on us involving action after the election, and to talk of a manifesto.

Question put:--

The House divided: Ayes 305, Noes 217.

Division No. 359
[11.1 pm


AYES


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Adrian
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
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
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon
(Dunfermline E)
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Burden, Richard
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
(Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Denham, John
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
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
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McFall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
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
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Singh, Marsha
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill
Vaz, Keith
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mrs. Anne McGuire and
Mr. David Jamieson.


NOES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Ballard, Jackie
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
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
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clapham, Michael
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Curry, Rt Hon David
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Day, Stephen
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Godman, Dr Norman A
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
Kilfoyle, Peter
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Leigh, Edward
Lepper, David
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonnell, John
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNamara, Kevin
Madel, Sir David
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Maples, John
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prior, David
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Salmond, Alex
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shaw, Jonathan
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Townend, John
Trend, Michael
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wareing, Robert N
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winnick, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. John Randall and
Mr. Peter Atkinson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

28 Nov 2000 : Column 931

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Motion made, and Question put, That amendment (a) in lieu of Lords amendment No. 27 be made.-- [Mr. Raynsford.]

The House divided: Ayes 302, Noes 205.

28 Nov 2000 : Column 932


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