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31 Mar 2003 : Column 742—continued

Miss McIntosh : I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

It gives me great pleasure to speak to new clause 4, which calls for the reinstatement of rail freight facilities grants and track access grants. The Minister will be aware of the significant damage that is being caused by the suspension of the two sets of grants for the next financial year, 2003–04, especially to those who have been left high and dry without alternative means. Initially, the conservative estimate—

Mr. Bercow: With a small "c".

Miss McIntosh: My hon. Friend is right. The conservative estimate was that, over the coming 12-month period, 2.75 million tonnes of freight are at risk of being moved by road. All hon. Members will deplore that fact, not least because those freight movements will come from the aggregates, construction and metals sectors. The combined impact of the freight facilities grants and track access grants awards that were made in the years for which the most recent figures are available—2000–01 and 2001–-02—is considerable. To move the same volume of freight by road each year would require a fleet of 3,000 heavy lorries, which is

31 Mar 2003 : Column 743

equivalent to more than 3 per cent. of the total UK heavy goods vehicles fleet. For the financial year 2002–03, nearly 17 million lorry journeys will have been removed from the road network as a result of the two grants. For the same period, 1 million tonnes of toxic emissions will have been removed from the atmosphere for the same reason. For the period 2003–04, it was expected that more than 12 million lorry journeys would have been removed from the British road network had the two grants proceeded.

Those reductions can no longer be achieved, which will result in increasing road congestion, increasing emissions and increasing numbers of accidents and casualties on the road network. We therefore request that the Government think again about the withdrawal of the freight facilities grants and track access grants for the coming 12-month period. Will they give an early indication that they might reconsider the position for 2003-04 and reinstate the grants at the earliest opportunity, but at the very latest for the financial year 2004-05?

Mr. Don Foster: I very much welcome the new clause and the hon. Lady can be assured of our full support for it. In some senses, it is a shame that it does not go further, because, tragically, the Government have scrapped other freight schemes, including the incremental output statement and the small freight grant, both of which we should like to have been included. Other grants that have been cut include the rail passenger partnership schemes, which would have brought significant improvement to passengers in the same way that the freight grants would have improved the availability of freight by rail, thereby reducing the need for freight on our already congested roads.

The new clause would place a financial burden on the Government, but, as I am sure that the hon. Lady is aware, the Chancellor's capital modernisation fund contains some £2.3 billion that will be available over the next two or three years. That would be an eminently sensible source of funding. The Government would have no excuse for not making the money available, because it already sits in the Chancellor's piggybank and could be used to ensure that this sensible and modest new clause can be accepted.

Mr. Spellar: There are issues of substance in the sentiments that hon. Members expressed, but this is not the right way to process them. A declaration of policy is not the appropriate mechanism for enshrining such a matter in a Bill. There are many other ways of arguing about such policy issues outside the context of what should strictly be a consideration of powers and legal mechanisms, which is what the law is for.

I appreciate the concerns that hon. Members on both sides of the House have recently raised about short-term provision for rail freight grants. The management of the freight grant schemes, including the level of funding that is made available, is primarily a matter for the Strategic Rail Authority. As the authority has made clear, its suspension of freight grants for next year does not mark a change in policy, but is a short-term budgetary decision and, as such, a matter on which hon. Members need to reflect as to whether the Government should seek to intervene. The SRA has responsibility for the global budget that the Government have allocated to it.

31 Mar 2003 : Column 744

The Government recognise that the Strategic Rail Authority's decision to suspend its freight grant scheme for the time being has been a difficult one, but it must be a judgment for it to make in the light of available funding and the balance between income and expenditure. The SRA is conscious of the considerable effort that its partners, including local authorities and freight customers, have made to put together viable funding packages, and it is aware that concerns will exist about ongoing support. That is why it sought to avoid wasted effort and expense on the part of stakeholders by informing them of the decision at the earliest possible opportunity. The authority has also taken the opportunity to assure those who already receive awards that it will honour its contractual commitments, and it will continue to provide an advisory service through its internal expert teams.

I accept that a result of the decision will be to halt or delay the development of a number of potentially useful local projects, but I assure hon. Members that the Government and the SRA remain committed to our sustainable distribution objectives. That includes seeking a significant increase in modal share for rail freight where it provides value for money.

8.30 pm

Mr. Foster: Earlier, the Minister acknowledged that responsibility for gritting motorways lay with the Highways Agency. Nevertheless, the Government made it absolutely clear that they were unhappy with the decision of the Highways Agency with regard to the problems of 30 January. In a similar spirit, even though the Strategic Rail Authority is responsible for this particular decision, does the Minister support it, or disagree with it?

Mr. Spellar: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will accept that that is not an exact analogy. The problem with the Highways Agency was that it was already spending money but people were not getting the service required. The travelling public on the M11 were not getting a service either from the agency or from the county police forces. On this issue, the SRA has to consider its overall budget and its budgetary constraints and priorities. It says that it has had to take temporary decisions on some of its schemes. It has done that and made announcements as soon as possible so that many stakeholders did not have to incur unnecessary expenditure. However, it will consider how it can get back to its schemes.

Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East): Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Spellar: The matter is of considerable concern in the railway community but, to be frank, the SRA is addressing it. It is certainly not a matter for inclusion in a clause in a Bill.

Sir Teddy Taylor: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way.

Mr. Spellar: I have finished my speech.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): Order. The Minister had sat down and will not be responding to the intervention.

Sir Teddy Taylor: I hope that the Government will think about the implications for the opencast coal

31 Mar 2003 : Column 745

industry, where strenuous efforts have been made to transfer freight on to the railways, thereby reducing the enormous problems on the roads in some already congested areas. I hope that the Government will consider whether they should intervene—especially in view of the massive increase that there will be in the transportation of coal by road. That is one of our biggest and most dangerous problems.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 155, Noes 282.

Division No. 150
[8:30 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, rh Michael
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Cash, William
Chidgey, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cotter, Brian
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mark
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hague, rh William
Hammond, Philip
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, rh Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Pickles, Eric
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Weir, Michael
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Wishart, Pete
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Desmond Swayne and
Hugh Robertson


Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Caborn, rh Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, David
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Darling, rh Alistair
David, Wayne
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Miliband, David
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Nick Ainger and
Mr. John Heppell

Question accordingly negatived.

31 Mar 2003 : Column 748

New Clause 11

Annual report on road safety statistics

'.—(1) The Secretary of State shall prepare and lay before Parliament an annual report on the incidence and causes of major road traffic accidents that have occurred in the preceding 12 months.
(2) For the purposes of this section "major road traffic accident" shall mean any road traffic accident involving a fatality or a serious injury likely to lead to permanent disability.
(3) A report under subsection (1) shall include—
(a) a summary and analysis of the statistics collected by the relevant bodies responsible for road safety or for investigating road traffic accidents, and
(b) an assessment of those statistics for improving the safety of road design.'.—[Miss McIntosh.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 159, Noes 281.

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