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The purpose of the Bill is to allow this House, through an amendment to the Planning Act 2008, a vote—the final say—on any new major airport in England or any new runway at a major airport in England. There are three characteristics to this Bill: it is motivated by concern about climate change; it is motivated by concern about the democratic deficit and for the rights of this House, as balanced against the authority of the Executive; and it is genuinely cross-party.

I just wish to mention the timing. My introducing this ten-minute Bill has partly been triggered by proposals for a third runway at Heathrow and the Government’s decision not to allow a full debate in Government time with a vote that will matter so that this House can exercise its genuine opinion.

However, the Bill is about far more than that. Hon. Members will know that an additional runway is proposed for Stansted airport—that issue is being addressed in the High Court today. The constraints on an additional runway at Gatwick expire in 2019, and Hochtief, one of a number of bidders for Gatwick airport, which is up for sale, has expressed its interest—other bidders probably have, too—in an additional runway at Gatwick. The Mayor of London has proposed a new estuary airport which, from the current discussion, would involve four additional runways, in addition to Heathrow, and the potential for expansion to six runways—those would be operated 24 hours a day. In addition, a number of regional airports up and down the country have proposed an expansion of their capacity—the airports at Manchester, Bristol, Bournemouth and Birmingham all have various plans to add various amounts of capacity.

When Heathrow was debated on 28 January, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change told us that it was an issue about “half” a runway. I suggest that he was being disingenuous, because this is a far broader issue. We are facing one of the biggest expansion plans for aviation capacity ever considered in this country, and we are doing so exactly when climate change is supposed to be somewhere near to the top, or at the top, of our agenda.

May I say a word or two about climate change? This House is overwhelmingly convinced of the importance of climate change as an issue—there may be one or two hold-outs, but in every region, and across every party, this is a major issue of concern. The House has also accepted that we have only an extremely limited time in which to act. Virtually every report that we receive—whether it is on the disappearance of Arctic sea ice, the rate of melting of inland ice in Greenland or the quantity of greenhouse gases emitted—suggests that the past scenarios have woefully understated the problem and that the urgency is far greater than we thought.

24 Feb 2009 : Column 171

As for the consequences of climate change, we have seen a little of the impact of extreme weather conditions in the UK and the rest of the developed world, but we know that the impact on Africa and the developing world will be far more extreme. The potential for conflict across the globe grows, as climate change leads to issues of disappearance and allocation of resources.

The House has accepted that aviation is a significant contributor to climate change. At the moment, some 13 per cent. of the UK’s contribution to climate change emissions comes from aviation, including some 6 per cent. of the UK’s CO2 emissions. We know that that figure will rise to 25 per cent. by 2038 unless we drastically change the direction of policy. Given the role that aviation plays in climate change, are we really saying that we will never again allow Members of Parliament to have a vote on such a significant issue? In effect, that is where Government legislation has left us.

We talk about the democratic deficit, but the Government say, “Don’t worry. We will require that aviation brings CO2 emissions back to 2005 levels by 2050.” But the question is how that will be achieved. The technologies do not exist and the science is not in place, never mind the investment. The Government have also said that aviation is a special case. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has said:

Must we really accept that without knowing the impact on other industries, on our regions, and on jobs in our constituencies? Indeed, must we accept that without a vote? On an issue that is crucial to the future of our country and our planet, and when every strategy is untried and uncertain, what are we doing giving up our right, and the right of this House, to decide?

This is a genuinely cross-party Bill. In fact, it is a Back Benchers’ Bill. It has three Labour sponsors, three Conservative sponsors, a Plaid Cymru sponsor and four Liberal Democrat sponsors. If I were able to add more sponsors, the list would continue to reflect the make-up of this House very directly.

I carefully read the speeches made on 28 January in the debate on Heathrow introduced by the Conservatives. Fairly or unfairly, some Labour Members could not bring themselves to vote for an Opposition motion. This Bill is not an Opposition motion, so that inhibition disappears. Some Labour Members thought that the 28 January motion was not clear enough, even though it was based on the early-day motion tabled by the hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Grogan). The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) said:

That does not apply to this Bill. Indeed, I suspect that Members who favour airport expansion but care about the rights of this House can see a way to support this Bill, because it is about the democratic deficit as much as it is about climate change and aviation.

There are times when we have to delegate our responsibilities, but when we are facing the biggest challenge of our lifetime, when our knowledge is so
24 Feb 2009 : Column 172
uncertain, and when the cost of a wrong decision is so high, we cannot say, “Oh, the Climate Change Committee will decide.” We cannot say, “The Infrastructure Planning Commission will decide.” We cannot even say that the Government should decide, unchallenged and unchallengeable by any vote. Our constituents expect us to shoulder crucial responsibilities, and on that basis, I ask hon. Members to support this Bill.

4.39 pm

Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne) (Con): Like the majority of my constituents who live along the boundary fence at Heathrow, and like my local borough council, I support the building of another runway at Heathrow. However, as you will rightly remind me if I carry on in this vein, Madam Deputy Speaker, this is not yet another debate about Heathrow, so I shall avoid that subject for the moment; there will be plenty more opportunities.

I oppose the Bill for four reasons. First, I want to ask people to consider whether it is really necessary. For heaven’s sake, we have already had two debates and two votes recently on the questions of aviation and building new runways. How many more do we want?

The second reason why I ask the House not to support the Bill is that it refers only to airports. I would go along with the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Susan Kramer) in that I, too, think that successive Governments have undermined the power of Parliament and I believe that it is right and proper for us to debate whether Parliament should take back some of its power. The time has come for that debate. However, that is a general matter, which we should discuss in the overall pattern of things rather than simply picking on airports. Do I really need to remind the House that going after special issues and using them to make general law results in a dog’s breakfast? The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 proves the point only too well—to go after one subject and end up with a general law does damage. I would use that argument about why it is wrong simply to pick on airports, even though I support the principle of more power for Parliament.

The third reason why I invite people not to support the Bill is that, as the motion is worded, it is about major airports and the extension of runways at major airports. It states that we have to have a vote if the Government want to build or to expand a major airport. Why pick on major airports? If more flying and more runways are wrong, surely we should include all airports? If we leave out minor airports, the principle of the Bill is undermined. Let us just suppose that instead of having a debate about a third runway at Heathrow, which is undeniably a major airport, we suddenly had a debate about a second runway at Northolt, which is a minor airport and would not be covered by the Bill? Another runway at Northolt would in fact be a third runway at Heathrow, so the Bill as it stands is not sensible.

The fourth reason why I think that the House should not contemplate such a Bill is that we should reflect, just for a moment, on the consequences should the Bill become an Act. If we introduced yet another debate, yet another vote and yet another procedure into the system, we would simply have even more delay in our planning process. It would make it even harder for British airports to respond to foreign competition, and there is enough
24 Feb 2009 : Column 173
of that at the moment. We are already suffering from foreign airports’ taking business away from us. That is dangerous.

The second consequence would be that that delay would fatally undermine the fact that the United Kingdom has Europe’s No. 1 hub airport at Heathrow. We would damage Heathrow beyond repair if we allowed that to happen. If that were to happen, the next consequence would be serious damage to the national economy. I doubt that anybody in the House wants to vote for a Bill that would make matters worse for the national economy. Over and above those consequences—I refer to the people who sent me to this House—would be massive unemployment in my constituency. I was not sent here to support that or to vote for it.

The hon. Lady spoke about global warming and climate change. If the Bill became an Act, it would do nothing to help the local environment. All it would do is divert flying to some other airport somewhere else. We would achieve nothing except shooting ourselves in the foot as far as the economy is concerned.

As I have said, I support the principle of more power for Parliament, but the Bill is not the way to do it. All the Bill would do, if it became an Act, is deepen and lengthen the economic crisis that is facing this country and cause even more financial suffering for my constituents and everyone who lives around Heathrow airport.

Question put (Standing Order No. 23).

The House divided: Ayes 247, Noes 203.
Division No. 38]
[4.45 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burgon, Colin
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Challen, Colin
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cousins, Jim
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davis, rh David
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorries, Nadine
Drew, Mr. David
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Etherington, Bill
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam

Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Grogan, Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hoey, Kate
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Lynne
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kramer, Susan
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Linton, Martin
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Mason, John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McDonnell, John
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Osborne, Mr. George
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Short, rh Clare
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Syms, Mr. Robert

Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Jeremy Corbyn and
Richard Younger-Ross

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Bell, Sir Stuart
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Ms Dawn
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Paul
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Creagh, Mary
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Tony
Davies, Philip
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, rh Jim
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Mudie, Mr. George
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Phil
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Kelvin Hopkins and
John Hemming
Question accordingly agreed to.
24 Feb 2009 : Column 174

24 Feb 2009 : Column 175

24 Feb 2009 : Column 176


That Susan Kramer, John McDonnell, Mr. John Randall, Adam Price, Norman Baker, Mr. John Grogan, Justine Greening, Mr. Edward Davey, Martin Salter, Adam Afriyie, Dr. Vincent Cable and Sarah Teather present the Bill.

Susan Kramer accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 20 March , and to be printed (Bill 63 ).

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