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Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

Merchant Shipping


Legal Services Commission

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Financial Services and Markets

Question agreed to.





constitutional Affairs


Mr. Speaker: With permission, I shall take motions 12 to 16 together.

Education and Skills


Home Affairs

Scottish Affairs

European Scrutiny

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Human Rights (Joint Committee)


Housing Developments

9.56 pm

Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham) (Con): I present a petition from some of my constituents in support of the private Member’s Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark), the Protection of Private Gardens (Housing Development) Bill. While the issue of garden grabbing and increased housing density in my outer London constituency is of increasing concern to all my constituents, Mr. Peter Gwizdala and the members of the Ashmere Avenue, Oakway and Scotts Lane action group were so inspired by the Bill that they initiated a petition of support, which has been signed by nearly 200 of their neighbours, on which I congratulate them. I know that the House will take it into consideration when we deliberate on the Bill on 20 October.

To lie upon the Table.

Scarborough Hospital

9.57 pm

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale) (Con): I present a petition on behalf of the residents of Filey in my constituency, on the future of Scarborough hospital.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

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Doncaster Airport (Road Links)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Tony Cunningham.]

9.59 pm

Jeff Ennis (Barnsley, East and Mexborough) (Lab): I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak on the subject of future road links to the Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield airport. However, before doing so it would be remiss of me not to mention the untimely and tragic death of my friend and former colleague, Kevin Hughes, the former Member of Parliament for Doncaster, North, who sadly passed away over the weekend at the very young age of 53, after a long illness. Kevin played his full part in getting Robin Hood airport off the ground, and he was always proud both to come from Doncaster and to represent it in this place. The whole House will extend its sympathies to his wife, Lynda, and to his family and friends at this difficult time. Doncaster has lost one of its favourite sons.

It being Ten o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Tony Cunningham.]

Jeff Ennis: It is also timely to have a debate this week on Robin Hood airport because it coincides with Farnborough international airshow. RAF Finningley, where the airport now stands, also had a famous airshow, which was popular with many aviation enthusiasts throughout the north and the midlands.

I have the full support in this debate of the other three Doncaster MPs, and I thank the Minister of State, Department for Transport, the hon. Member for South Thanet (Dr. Ladyman), for agreeing to meet us, along with the mayor of Doncaster, Councillor Martin Winter, later this week to discuss this important subject in greater detail.

I draw to the Minister’s attention the considerable support the airport has among Labour MPs from south Yorkshire and north Nottinghamshire, including that of my three Doncaster colleagues: the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, North (Edward Miliband); the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, Central (Ms Winterton); and the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint). I am particularly pleased to be joined in the Chamber by my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley, whose constituency includes not only Robin Hood airport but the proposed route of the Finningley and Rossington regeneration route scheme, which we know in Doncaster as the FARRRS project. My hon. Friend has played an important part in the parliamentary campaigns for the airport and for FARRRS, and she represents the villages immediately surrounding the airport, which experience its present traffic.

At one time, the idea that Robin Hood airport would be a symbol of Yorkshire pride was met with indifference. However, with support from Labour Members of Parliament from Doncaster, Barnsley, Rotherham, Sheffield and the north midlands, we set out to convince the critics otherwise. Today, few would question that judgment. The significance of this debate is that it is not about just
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a slip road from a motorway to an airport, but about the regeneration of the east of Doncaster along the M18 corridor. It is about the next stage in transport integration in Doncaster, and it is about the attraction of inward investment to one of the most significant business centres in Yorkshire—Robin Hood airport.

Of all the transport schemes considered by the regional transport board, I argue that the FARRRS scheme is probably the most important in meeting the Government’s overall objectives. It will dramatically cut journey times to the key employment growth centres around the airport. It will interface with the southern end of Doncaster’s ambitious quality bus corridor and park-and-ride scheme, speeding access to Doncaster town centre and Lakeside.

I am delighted now to have been joined by my hon. Friends the Members for Doncaster, North and for Doncaster, Central. I have never felt as much pressure as a parliamentarian as I do now with my three Doncaster colleagues to my right—although I am sure that they will agree that they have always been to the right of me.

I am sure that the scheme will provide certainty about journey times for firms that want to invest in airport-related locations near Robin Hood, including those with vehicles that currently queue on minor roads. A better alternative lies before us. There has been speculation in the press that the current road infrastructure to the airport is inadequate, but that is not true. The road network is adequate and the signage has improved, but we can build on the airport’s critical mass if we improve the infrastructure. That is what FARRRS is all about. FARRRS will not only serve as a road for cars and lorries; it will also be an avenue for public transport, helping the airport to meet its target of bringing 50 per cent. of employees to work by public transport.

In this short debate, I and my colleagues want to highlight to the Minister the need to reach a quick decision on programme entry for the FARRRS scheme. That decision alone will enable Doncaster to recruit a project partner to complete detailed design and commence the statutory processes. The project has partnership funding from Peel Airports, Yorkshire Forward and, we hope, from the Department for Transport. However, the key to unlocking Yorkshire Forward’s contribution is programme entry, which is what the debate is about. Without programme entry, Doncaster will be unable to secure a partner or obtain early funding from the regional development agency and the scheme will be delayed.

Delay is the enemy of good transport and regeneration policy. People always assume that road projects in the UK will take longer than planned, but there is a price to be paid for that in jobs and investment, and we do not believe that delay has to be inevitable. As we have said for years, Robin Hood airport has proved its critics wrong, delivering more than 950 jobs and serving 1 million passengers in just over a year; it serves more than 40 routes, including the first transatlantic routes from a Yorkshire airport. The airport is a Yorkshire success story, but it requires FARRRS to enable it to reach its full potential.

We know that the scheme has statutory hurdles to overcome, including a possible public inquiry. For that reason, if Doncaster is to have any chance of meeting the intended 2009 construction start date, we need programme entry in weeks, not months, so I hope that
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the scheme will run ahead of schedule. Doncaster’s mayor, Councillor Martin Winter, will try to ensure that Doncaster council does everything in its power to make swift progress, within the usual constraints.

I would welcome the Minister’s confirmation that if that regional priority scheme gets programme clearance the Department will not contribute to any delay during the later stages. Will he give us that reassurance in his response? Will he also confirm that the Department’s funding contribution will be brought forward if the scheme makes swifter progress than expected?

We are aware that for some years there have been concerns about capacity limitations on the M18. Doncaster’s intention to dual the White Rose way, which experiences tailbacks to the M18 at peak times, will help to resolve the problem, as will the quality bus corridor initiative. The M18 will require widening between junctions 2 and 3 sooner rather than later to resolve capacity problems that were identified several years ago by the Highways Agency and prioritised in its submissions to the regional transport board. We urge the Department to give a commitment that funding for the widening of the M18 will be agreed in due course.

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): My hon. Friend is making a compelling case. I do not think that I have ever seen three Ministers sitting on the Back Benches in an Adjournment debate, keeping mum and unable to speak, but passionately committed to the case being made. The airport is an extraordinary success story, which needs adequate road transport if it is to be fulfilled. I have raised the issue in written questions and received the usual not terribly helpful reply from the Department—I expect that. But tonight, three weighty Ministers are backing Back Benchers from the region, saying “Do it—connect Robin Hood airport to the rest of the region and make this a success story for the regeneration of the north of England.” I have every confidence that my hon. Friend the Minister, who is a southern MP, will answer yes to every point put by my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, East and Mexborough (Jeff Ennis).

Jeff Ennis: I feel really humble at this point, having the backing of my right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane). That underlines the fact that we are not talking about a Doncaster issue. We are talking not just about a south Yorkshire issue, but about a Yorkshire regional issue and a project that has the capability to be a flagship project not just for Doncaster and south Yorkshire, but for Yorkshire and the Humber in general.

The council is committed to resolving problems associated with the developer-led proposals near junction 5 of the M18 to reduce any adverse impact on the FARRRS scheme. That is the area of the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, North. The establishment of a link road at junction 5 of the M18 to bring the former Hatfield colliery site forward as a new power park has the support of all my hon. Friends from Doncaster, but it will have to meet the tests of the statutory planning processes. However, as we stand, FARRRS is before us as a major regional transport and regeneration initiative and awaits the ministerial green light to proceed.

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To conclude, I invite the Minister to use the experience of Robin Hood airport to look forward. The Government were right to sell the RAF Finningley air base for aviation and the Tory Government were wrong to earmark it for a prison or a massive gravel pit, which is as far as their aspirations for the site went. This Government were right to give approval to the airport after a public inquiry and the critics who said that the airport would simply divert jobs and add no value have been proved wrong. The Doncaster MPs were right in believing that this could be one of the biggest economic wins for our region, and the Government have been right to invest in good integrated transport initiatives across Yorkshire. If the Minister recognises the regional importance of FARRRS and gives programme entry to this scheme, he too will be proved right and it will be a decision that he will look back on with pride in future years.

Mr. MacShane: Straight into the Cabinet.

Jeff Ennis: Absolutely. I am sure that the Minister will have heard the old expression, “So near and yet so far.” What we would like the Minister to say tonight is, “So near and yes to FARRRS.”

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