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Mr. MacGregor: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is perfectly reasonable to undertake research inquiries into various options? However, the lessons of those were that we should not pursue congestion charging for all the reasons that I set out in my speech.

Mr. Prescott: What about the Green Paper?

Mr. Hill: I was coming on to that. The Conservative Government also commissioned a study by the university of Westminster on transport and the environment, which it published in April 1996 to coincide with their Green Paper on transport. The then Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young), said in a press release:

20 Dec 1999 : Column 628

There was a growing political consensus. As I have said before, in seeking to politicise the issue of congestion charging--

Sir Brian Mawhinney: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hill: No, I have passed on; history has passed the right hon. Gentleman by. [Interruption.] Okay, I will make an exception--[Interruption.]

Madam Speaker: Order. I call Dr. Strang.

Dr. Strang: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Madam Speaker: Is it your pleasure that the amendment be withdrawn?

Hon. Members: No.

Madam Speaker: I must put the Question at the appropriate time. I believe that the Minister was about to give way to the right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney).

Sir Brian Mawhinney: I am grateful to the Minister for his courtesy in giving way. If he had read my evidence to the Select Committee about charging in inner-city areas--evidence which included the questions that I put today--he would be able to tell us why this legislation was introduced without answering any of the fundamental questions that must be dealt with before congestion becomes nothing but another Labour stealth tax.

Mr. Hill: Not only did I read the observations that the right hon. Gentleman made before the Select Committee, I was on the Committee when he made them. Notwithstanding the mounting evidence and the research undertaken by his Department, he did not have the courage to introduce congestion charging. The Labour Government have that courage.

The right hon. Member for Wokingham claims that the Government's proposals for congestion charging are anti-car. Anti-car? Do we hear that from the party that brought in the automatic fuel duty escalator and increased fuel tax from 7 to 42p a litre? What could be more anti-car than that? Anti-car--from the party that invented road congestion at 70 cars per mile. The Conservatives spent £70 billion on new roads and ended up with 100 cars per mile. What could be more anti-car than that? Anti-car--from the party that cut road maintenance by 9 per cent. over four years and left Britain's motorway and trunk road network in its worst state of maintenance since records began. What could be more anti-car than that?

The Labour Government are the pro-car Government. This year, we are spending £765 million on road maintenance--40 per cent. more than in the last year of Tory rule. This Government have ended the automatic fuel duty escalator and ring-fenced any further real increase for improving roads and modernising public transport. This Government are tackling the biggest

20 Dec 1999 : Column 629

problem facing drivers in urban areas--congested roads--because we realise that the most pro-car action a Government can take is to reduce congestion on our roads. The Government are pro-car in tackling congestion. We are pro-choice in transport, because we have guaranteed that the net revenues of congestion charging will be put into local transport improvements--both public transport and roads.

The Government believe that local people are best placed to find local solutions to local transport problems. In general, we received an excellent response to the first and provisional round of local capital transport plans. Last week, we were able to give tangible expression to our commitment to local decision making in transport in a settlement which, at £755 million, represented a 20 per cent. increase over last year. Over the next three years we shall be allocating a massive extra £700 million to local transport plans. Because of that success, the Bill will place those plans on a statutory footing.

However, if local solutions are right for local transport problems, we need a strategic and national vision for our railway network. From the confusion and fragmentation of rail privatisation, we need to bring order, co-ordination and accountability. The Bill provides for that. We shall establish a new Strategic Rail Authority and we shall strengthen the powers of the rail regulator. Furthermore, we shall strengthen the consumer's voice by giving a new structure and new powers to the rail passengers committees.

In 1997, we inherited a crumbling transport systemthat failed to provide real choice. We inherited underinvestment in road maintenance and a long list of frozen road building schemes. We inherited a rail system that had been broken up into a hundred pieces and flogged off at a massive loss to the taxpayer. Under the plans of the previous Administration, we would now be spending nearly £1 billion less on transport each year. We are investing in London's underground, in local authorities' transport plans and in national roads. We need no lessons on transport policy from the party that gave us road congestion, the party of rail privatisation, the party that would privatise the--

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 33, Noes 321.

Division No. 21
[10 pm


Allan, Richard
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Baker, Norman
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burstow, Paul
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cotter, Brian
Dafis, Cynog
Fearn, Ronnie
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Hancock, Mike
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Keetch, Paul
Kirkwood, Archy
Livsey, Richard
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Webb, Steve
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Oliver Heald and
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
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
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Church, Ms Judith
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
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, 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
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
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)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
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)
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
Osborne, Ms Sandra
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
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rapson, Syd
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
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Savidge, Malcolm
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
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
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
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 Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. David Jamieson and
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.

Question accordingly negatived.

20 Dec 1999 : Column 632

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 62 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading):--

The House divided: Ayes 358, Noes 163.

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