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The Minister has received representations from rural interests, farming organisations, motorcycle racing and motorcycle sports organisations, all expressing reservations about the Bill and all concerned about the extra costs implied by the money resolution. He has not had any discussions with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State for Scotland or the First Ministers in Scotland and Northern Ireland. One assumes that there are significant cost implications in those areas.
All that cost and huge effort could be for a craze that may be on the way out. The Motor Cycle Industry Association says that in 2005, 144,905 units of motorcycles with engines of less than 50cc were imported from China. In February this year, we imported 672 units. On an annual basis, that is a drop of 94 per cent.
Mr. Paterson: The money resolution has huge cost implications. There is only one more Friday to debate the Bill and I cannot recommend to my colleagues, who have stayed to listen to this debate, that they should vote for the hugely disproportionate amount of public expenditure on a measure that will not work when we already have 12 effective existing pieces of legislation.
Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): We all know that a money resolution can only be moved by a Minister. I was rather expecting to see this motion moved by the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Mr. Davies), but he has not yet appeared on the Treasury Bench. No doubt he will do so shortly.
if, in its wisdom...the House gives the Bill a Second Reading, the Government would have an obligation to provide the necessary financial memorandum.[ Official Report, 10 February 1995; Vol. 254, c. 579.]
Why is the Minister doing this? I hope that he will reflect on the procedure, if not for this motion then for the future. My concern is that the current practice, under which the Minister can move the money resolution for a Bill in which he has no confidence, misleads the public into thinking that prospective legislation might get through, even though we all know that the Government intend to scupper it.
The Minister should not assume that he has to move this motion just because that is what has happened in the past, and especially not if the Government are going to kill the Bill. Why should the Government take up more private Members time on a measure that they intend to poleaxe at the eleventh hour?
That practice should be abandoned. The Government should not move a money resolution unless a clear case has been made by the sponsoring Member as to why they should. In this case, the Bill is sponsored by the hon. Member for Manchester,
Blackley (Graham Stringer), and I hope that he will tell us why he feels that his Bill should have a money resolution. Will he say where he thinks that the money will come from to fund what is a very expensive and cumbersome register?
Mr. Knight: The Minister went through the process of moving the motion, but made it clear that the Government do not want the Bill. What is he advising Labour Members to do this evening? Is he asking them to follow his procedure in moving the motion, or the opposing sentiments in his speech? Are those on the payroll vote whipped to vote this evening? If so, which way will they vote?
This money resolution should not be passed unless the Minister says that the Bill is acceptable to the Government. Even if it is acceptable, Opposition Members have every right to divide the House if we are not satisfied about where the money is to come from.
The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley has done well to get his Bill this far, but he should not have this money resolution unless he can convince us that it is necessary, and that he has identified where the money would come from. What taxes would he increase to pay for his proposals? We have heard this week that council tax has gone up 100 per cent. under this Government: is he suggesting a further increase in council tax, or that some existing expenditure should be cut? If he were to suggest that spending on flood defences should be cut back, he would be lynched in East Yorkshire.
The Bills proposals are unworkable and costly, with horrendous manpower implications. It should not be funded out of public money. I hope that the House will follow the words that the Minister used in his speech, rather than his actions in moving the motion, and that it votes to reject the money resolution.
Graham Stringer (Manchester, Blackley) (Lab): I was not intending to speak in this debate, but the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight) has provoked me. He focused on where the money for the proposals in the Bill would come from, and the simple answeras I suspect that every hon. Member knowsis probably from the Consolidated Fund. I shall not be as provocative as the right hon. Gentleman, but I am sure that hon. Members could think of many areas where cuts could be made. But that would be assuming that I agreed with the figures that were given by my hon. Friend the Minister.
I will not go through the principled arguments that were won on Second Readingthat is the real reason why the matter should be given the opportunity to be
debated in Committeebut we had a full four-and-a-half-hour debate and a huge majority were in favour of the measure. Despite the fact that my hon. Friend the Minister made a lengthy speech opposing it, he was unable to convince the hon. Members present.
Mr. Knight: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, although there was a comprehensive debate on Second Reading that covered all aspects of the issue in terms of the nuisance caused to communities, there was very little debate about the financial implications? That is why we should debate them now.
Graham Stringer: With due respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I thought that that was what we were doing. Madam Deputy Speaker has reminded him and others that that is what we are doing. That is precisely the point that I was getting to. I do not have confidence in the figure of £80 million, which was given by my hon. Friend the Minister. The Bill is about extending a current registration scheme to off-road bikes.
Stephen Pound: I am convinced that my hon. Friend entered the process with the best will in the world. I have no doubt as to his good intentions. He kindly spoke to the all-party motorcycling group, which is so ably led by the hon. Member for Leominster (Bill Wiggin). After that meeting, is my hon. Friend still convinced in his heart that the best possible value for money would be achieved by the Bill proceeding in this form with this money resolution tonight?
The Bill is about extending a current registration scheme, on a computer system that already exists. It is unlikely, even given the inflated figures from the Department for Transport and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, that one could get a scheme that cost £80 million. I suspect that if that went before the Public Accounts Committee or the Transport Committee, those costs would be very quickly reduced.
To answer my hon. Friends point about whether I ever thought that this was a perfect Bill, there are many ways in which the Bill could be improved. Exemptions could be made [ Interruption. ] Exemptions could be made that would reduce the costs, Madam Deputy Speaker. I do not like anticipating what you are going to say, but I suspect that you were going to bring me back to costs, which is precisely where I was going to come back to. In Committee, there would be many ways in which the costs of the Bill could be reduced.
Graham Stringer: I have to admit that I did not have that precise costing in mind, either on Second Reading or when I started this speech, but it is an interesting point. That is why the opportunity should be given, in Committee, to reduce the costs. Every single right hon. and hon. Member will have received many representations from the motorbike lobby, many of them making wild accusations about the costs of the Bill. Many exemptions would be made. For example, it has been said that every speedway bike would have to be registered and licensed, but it would be possible to exempt such bikes. Following detailed discussion, it would be possible to make many exemptions that would reduce the cost of the Bill.
Stephen Pound: T.E. Lawrence, who was known as Aircraftman Shaw, died while riding a Brough Superior motorcycle. That very Brough Superior, which is in the London motorcycle museum in Greenford, is threatened by the Bill. Does my hon. Friend consider that threatening that glorious piece of British motorcycling machinery, albeit one with a tragic history, is a good use of public money?
Graham Stringer: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that intervention because it gives me the opportunity to say that the registration of bikes in museums would be precisely one of the areas of expenditure that it would be possible to cut. Again, such a claim is one of the pieces of mischief that is being put about.
Hugh Bayley (City of York) (Lab): My hon. Friend generously admits to the House that £80 million would be too high a price to pay for his Bill. What would be a reasonable price at which the Committee might aim?
Graham Stringer: I suspect that if my hon. Friend talks to many of the communities that have been affected by antisocial behaviour and the families who have lost young children because of the problem, they will say that no price would be too high to pay. If he, as I have done, talked
The House cannot always take the view that no price is too high because it must consider every cost in detail. As I said, through detailed discussion in Committee, it would be possible to make many exemptions and thus reduce the cost of the Bill.
Dr. Ladyman: With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The House expressed its will on Second Reading: it wanted the Bill to be discussed in Committee. I made the Governments opposition to the Bill very plain then, and I make it very plain now: the Government do not want the Bill to get on to the statute book. We do not even believe that it could be amended in a way that would make it acceptable.
The simple fact is that only a Government Minister can move a money resolution, and a substantive discussion in Committee cannot take place without that resolution being passed. We have reflected the will of the House by moving the money resolution tonight. In my view, Opposition Memberswho have had their funought to allow the Bill to go into Committee, where the will of the House can be done and the Bill can be discussed in detail. In Committee, I hope, we will be able to expose it for the failed piece of attempted legislation that it is and ensure that it does not reach the statute book. However, the money resolution should be passed tonight.
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