The hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) raised the question of collusion. I intervened on him to refute that, and I covered the point a moment ago. He suggested that the emissions trading scheme would stifle flights. It may have an impact, but it is designed to deal with the predicted increase in aviation in the years ahead to ensure that the industry pays for the increase expected, not to strangle it and kill it off. We have laid down our targets in the Climate Change Bill and the ETS for
aviation will play its part. He also raised the question of NOx, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State outlined how we intend to comply with the directive.
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman), the Chair of the Transport Committee, recalled its conclusions about the difficulties of passengers at Heathrow in 2003 and outlined why it agreed in principle with the Governments position. However, she also raised important issues including alternative fuels, the impact of the economic climate and, especially now, the importance of Heathrow as an international hub.
The hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) explained that he was in a dilemma about whether to support those on his Front Bench. As a former Whip, that must have indeed taxed him. However, he explained the arguments that persuaded him. He said that he wanted a better Heathrow, not just a bigger one, and used terminal 5 to illustrate his point. He expressed his confidence in and experience of improved noise and emissions, but explained that the environmental impacts and protections were still critical for him.
My hon. Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Alan Keen) expressed concern about the ending of alternation and, as I have said, the Secretary of State covered that as part of the consultation. My hon. Friend mentioned that he would be flying to Teesside for a Boro game soonI wish him a safe trip, if not the three points, especially if they are playing West Ham. I am sure that he is right to say that the world economic situation will have an effect on aviation, but that may be short term, and it remains to be seen how great that effect will be.
The hon. comrade for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) complimented the speeches of his neighbours and put his own views strongly, as he has done on several occasions. He also referred to his Whips dilemma and the conclusion that he reached, which was to oppose the third runway.
My hon. Friendand former ministerial colleaguethe Member for Glasgow, South (Mr. Harris) outlined his belief in an economic impact if Heathrow does not improve, and said that the business community would give up on Heathrow over delays, stacking and poor service. He expressed concern about the delivery of the Crossrail project if additional capacity at Heathrow did not proceed.
The hon. Member for Windsor (Adam Afriyie) mentioned the quality of the passenger experience at Heathrow and cited terminal 5 as a good example of the way forward. Terminal 3 has had its facelift, terminal 4s refurbishment should be finished next year, and terminals 1 and 2 will be replaced by Heathrow Easta change scheduled for 2012. That is a multi-billion pound investment, which I am sure that he would welcome. He asked for evidence about the negative impacts on Heathrow. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State outlined in his speech that they would include fewer destinations, reduced access for UK airports and more citizens moving to Europe.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) made a strong plea for more use of regional airports. She argued for the development of airports such as Cardiff. She is right, of course. The 2003 White Paper supported the development of UK airports, including Cardiff, and they have grown significantly in the years since then. The Government are keen that regional
airports should grow to support local demand, as well as to reduce demand at Heathrow, but they will not do that at the levels that could reduce the need for expansion at Heathrow.
The hon. Member for Richmond Park (Susan Kramer) raised the subject of alternation. She also asked me to secure a meeting with my noble Friend the Minister responsible for railways. I will ensure that he is aware of her request. She raised the subject of schools. A third runway would impact on 25 schools and nurseries, and mixed mode would impact on 43, not the 20,000 that she mentioned.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford) mentioned continuous descent approach. CDA would be reduced, in all probability, by mixed mode, but the benefits of CDA are largely outside the 57 dB noise contour. I am advised that there would not be a huge increase in noise, as alleged. He also mentioned noise impacts in terminal 5, as raised by Roy Vandermeer QC. The precautionary principle led Roy Vandermeer to recommend a noise contour of 145 sq km at 57 dB by 2016. The area is now about 120 sq km, and it is important to acknowledge the improvement in the noise climate that has already been delivered. We are committed to not exceeding the 127 sq km contour in the future.
My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter) raised the question of conflict between noise and safety, and the potential impact of added capacity. My right hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West and Royton (Mr. Meacher) outlined why he is not convinced. He unfairly said that the Secretary of State was not concerned with environmental targets, when the Secretary of State had clearly covered the point in his opening speech.
My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West raised the problems with Thames valley surface access to Heathrow. He quoted liberally from the Labour party briefing, which amused right hon. and hon. Members in the Opposition but stated the case: no decision has been taken, and environmental protections must be met.
My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Graham Stringer) expressed some discomfort about supporting additional capacity as a north-west MP, but explained how he arrived at his conclusion. In a thoughtful speech, he explained how his experience at Manchester airport helped his conclusions.
The hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening), who has been consistently opposed to any increased capacity, raised the ANASE report, public transport and surface access, access to information, joined-up governmentor what she saw as a lack of itand the risks as she sees them.
I apologise to the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Hurd), the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer), my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews), the hon. Member for Hammersmith and Fulham (Mr. Hands), my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush (Mr. Slaughter) and the hon. Members for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) and for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) for being unable to respond in detail to their contributions.
In conclusion, to round off the comments on the economic impact, I want to refer to the CBI briefing for this debate [ Interruption. ] It states on page 2
[ Interruption. ] I know that Opposition Members do not want to hear this, but it states:
Surveys of business opinion have consistently demonstrated the importance of Heathrow...Nine out of ten companies surveyed in London or in areas close...said that they regarded the airport as either vital or very important...80 per cent. of businesses
The case for giving Heathrow the capacity it will need for future growth is very strong, with the future prosperity of London and the wider UK economy depending on it.
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that the UK has the infrastructure it requires to play its full part in a global economy. I know that both sides of the House will wait eagerly for the conclusions of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. He has assured the House that he will review all the evidence on the built-in environmental safeguards in great detail. He will do so as quickly as possible in the best interests of everyonenot just of BA, BAA, the unions, the business community or local opinion. He will make his decision in the best interests of the whole of the UK.
That this House has considered the matter of adding capacity to Heathrow.
That the draft Legal Services Act 2007 (Functions of a Designated Regulator) Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 22nd October, be approved.[ Mr. Ian Austin.]
The Petition of residents of Chorley and others,
Declares that the Post Office Card Account should be renewed.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to renew the Post Office Card Account as soon as possible.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
I have more than 3,000 cards signed by people in Chorley who want the post office card account to be renewed, with the Post Office. The card account is
important not just because there are 4.2 million cardholders, but because it is used by some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
In addition, the closure of post offices around the country would leave many communities without a post office. I believe that POCA can be delivered only by the Post Office. I support the campaign and urge the Government to renew the POCA with the Post Office. I want Royal Mail to remain in public ownershipunlike the Liberal Democrats, who do not believe in the public ownership of Royal Mail.
Norman Baker (Lewes) (LD): I have been asked to present a petition from London Global Table that advocates a new non-inflationary financial mechanism, free from interest, and the use of national bank-issued interest-free loans is such a mechanism. It draws attention to the fact that such mechanisms are in applicable and in use in Canada, New Zealand, Guernsey and Malaysia, and urges the Government to bring forward legislation to enable the Bank of England to issue interest-free loans for public, environmental and cleaner-electricity capital projects.
Declares that the United Kingdom uses interest-bearing money to fund public capital projects thereby increasing the National Debt; requires a new non-inflationary financial mechanism free from interest; the use of national bank-issued interest-free loans is such a mechanism.
Further declares that in the past such a mechanism (using national bank-issued interest-free or low-interest loans) has been successfully used for public capital projects in Canada, New Zealand, and Guernsey and is believed to be currently in use in Malaysia .
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to bring forward legislation to enable the Bank of England to issue interest-free loans for public, environmental and clean electricity capital projects, such loans to be repaid and, on repayment, cancelled, thereby halving or more the usual cost in a non-inflationary way.
David Mundell (Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale) (Con): I am pleased to have the opportunity to raise my constituents concerns about services, or the lack of them, at Lockerbie station. I have to say at the outset that I am extremely disappointed that after one long battle at Lockerbie station was wonwith the provision of a state-of-the-art footbridge to allow disabled access to the southbound platform, following a 10-year campaign that was so ably led by Wyn Deamer of the Annandale and Eskdale Coalition for the Disabledthose who use the services at Lockerbie station or who are concerned about the economy of the south of Scotland appear no closer to a resolution of the equally long battle to ensure that the train services operated from the station meet local needs.
These are issues that I have raised with the Ministers predecessors, most recently the hon. Member for Glasgow, South (Mr. Harris). I have also raised them with Scottish Ministers, most recently at a meeting with Scotlands Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson on 28 October. Indeed, as far back as 20 June 1999, I sponsored one of the first Members debates held in the Scottish Parliamentthey are the equivalent of Adjournment debates in this Housein which the issue at the very heart of tonights debate, a direct early morning service between Lockerbie and Edinburgh, was raised. Nearly 10 years on, no such service has been delivered. I contend that the introduction of the new timetable on 15 December will lead to the package of services at Lockerbie, especially between Glasgow and Edinburgh, being significantly reduced. That is totally unacceptable to me and my constituents.
Some will wonder why the services to a station in Scotland are being debated on the Floor of the House, when transport is a matter devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but not, I am sure, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Gillingham (Paul Clark). He will be familiar with the provisions of the Scotland Act 1998, which mean that cross-border services remain the responsibility of the Department for Transport. Lockerbie is in a unique position: although the station is within the ScotRail franchise, currently operated by First ScotRail, no services operated by First ScotRail stop there. The station is manned by ScotRail staff, and I want to use this opportunity to pay tribute to their professionalism and dedication, which is much appreciated by all my constituents who use the station.
To reiterate, all the Lockerbie services are provided under a franchise arrangement over which Scottish Ministers have no direct control. That does not mean that they have no influence. As Stewart Stevenson points out in his letter to me of 7 November, Ministers in the Scottish Government are able to provide non-binding advice to the UK Government on such cross-border services. I will return to the advice that was given.
I am sure the Minister will appreciate that my constituents find the complexity of the arrangements unsatisfactory. They believe that that contributes to their needs not being given the priority that they deserve. What better
example is there than the new timetable for Lockerbie station? It is not a coherent set of services, designed to meet the needs of station users, and their oft-expressed wish for commuter services, shopping services and evening leisure services to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Instead, it is a random set of services, designed, one suspects, to tick rail industry boxes, with little thought for the customer. It is no wonder that my constituents feel that Lockerbie is a forgotten station, caught in a no-mans-land between Scottish Government and UK Government responsibilities, with nobody actually focusing on the needs of Lockerbie station users.
It would be churlish to suggest that there are no improvements to services in the new timetable, which is to be introduced in December. The services to Manchester airport and central Manchester are to be welcomed. My son and I recently used that service, which is operated by First TransPennine Express, and it was excellent. Indeed, services to the south generally allow people relatively straightforward connections to most destinations in England and Wales. That is despite the many unwelcome changes to direct services brought about by the break up of the previous cross-country franchise, operated by Virgin Trains. I was extremely unhappy about those changes at the time, as I believed that they would adversely affect services at Lockerbie, and that has proved to be the case.
However, whatever the issues about services to the south, I return to the point that it is services to Edinburgh and Glasgow that are of most concern to my constituents. After all, as I hope the Minister will appreciate, it is not practical for my constituents to jump in their cars and drive to the next station north, given that it is some 48 miles away. It is the longest section of railway line in Great Britain without an intermediate station. I am not proud that my constituency can boast that statistic, but the arguments for reopening the Beattock and Symington stations along the route are for another day.
Naturally, it is also welcome that the first proposed new service of the day, the 08.15 from Lockerbie to Edinburgh, does not require a stop at Carstairs. Even my constituent, the hon. Member for Lanark and Hamilton, East (Mr. Hood), would concede that Carstairs station is not an attractive prospect on a cold and wet Scottish winter morning. However, there should never have been a need for a change there in the first place. It was another example of the interests of Lockerbie station users being compromised and, disappointingly, of Virgin not being totally transparent in its dealings with me and other local stakeholders when proposing that service, which it originally pitched as the much sought-after early morning service to Edinburgh.
Specifically on that issue, as I have said, on numerous occasions over the past 10 years a direct early morning service to Edinburgh has been promised but never delivered. There is widespread recognition of the economic benefit of such a service, as indeed there is of a service to Glasgow, particularly in an area that has some of the lowest wages in the United Kingdom and suffers from a constant drain of young people to urban areas. In its regional transport strategy 2008 document, the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership rightly identifies the fact that such services are