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Amendments made: 96, page 55, line 1, leave out from 'requirements' to end of line 2 and insert

'specifying entrances at or by the Palace of Westminster or Portcullis House-'.

Amendment 97, page 55, line 34, leave out from 'than' to end of line 35 and insert

'300 metres in a straight line from the nearest relevant entrance.

( ) Each of the following is a relevant entrance for the purposes of subsection (3)-

(a) Carriage Gates;

(b) St Stephen's Entrance;

(c) Peers' Entrance;

(d) Black Rod's Garden Entrance;

(e) the main entrance to Portcullis House (on Victoria Embankment).'.

Amendment 98, page 55, line 43, leave out '250' and insert '300'.

Amendment 99, page 56, line 21, leave out from second 'requirements' to end of line 22 and insert

'specifying entrances at or by the specified building-'.- (Mr. Watts.)

Question put , That the schedule, as amended, be the Fifth schedule to the Bill.

The Committee divided: Ayes 263, Noes 53.
Division No. 47]
[10.13 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Bain, Mr. William
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Caton, Mr. Martin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Cousins, Jim

Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Fisher, Mark
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Goggins, rh Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Patrick
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, rh John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hermon, Lady
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCrea, Dr. William
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, rh Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, rh James

Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, rh Joan
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, David
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, rh Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Spink, Bob
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Steve McCabe and
Mrs. Sharon Hodgson

Alexander, Danny
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brooke, Annette
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Clark, Ms Katy
Corbyn, Jeremy
Davey, Mr. Edward
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Mr. Don
George, Andrew
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan
Hemming, John
Holmes, Paul
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kramer, Susan
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Mason, John
McDonnell, John
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Öpik, Lembit
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Price, Adam
Robertson, Angus
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wishart, Pete
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Alan Reid and
Willie Rennie
Question accordingly agreed to.
19 Jan 2010 : Column 269

19 Jan 2010 : Column 270

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

19 Jan 2010 : Column 271

New Clause 57

Section 3 of the Act of Settlement

'(1) For the avoidance of doubt, the repeal in section 18(7) of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 (c. 22) of the entry in Schedule 7 to the British Nationality Act 1981 (c. 61) (entry which modified certain disqualifications imposed by section 3 of the Act of Settlement (1700 c. 2)) applied only so far as the modification made by that entry related to-

(a) membership of the House of Commons, or

(b) anything from which a person is disqualified by virtue of a disqualification from membership of that House.

(2) Section 3 of the Act of Settlement (1700 c. 2) has effect accordingly, and has done so since the coming into force of section 18 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 (c. 22).'.- (Mr. Watts.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

The Chairman left the Chair to report progress and ask leave to sit again (Programme Order, this day).

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again tomorrow.

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Income Tax

Question agreed to.

19 Jan 2010 : Column 272

European Union Documents

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 119( 1 1)),

European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan)

Question agreed to.

Business of the House

Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.

section 5 of the european communities (amendment) act 1993

Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.

19 Jan 2010 : Column 273

Electricity Transmission (North Somerset)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. -(Mr. Watts.)

10.26 pm

Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring) (Con): For those who are unfamiliar with this issue, let me briefly explain the background. In preparation for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station coming on stream later this decade, National Grid plc intends to introduce new 400 kV overhead cables to connect Hinkley C with Avonmouth. The intent is to link two coastal points by a land-based pylon system. The new pylons will be about 46 metres tall-each the height of Nelson's column-and will cut through the countryside of north Somerset.

This debate is about the villages and towns, such as Nailsea, Yatton, Backwell, Wraxall and my own village of Tickenham, the Gordano valley and other places that will be affected. It is about a consultation that is not really a consultation at all and about a definition of cost that includes only short-term financial measurements and not wider measurements of public interest such as the environment, safety, the green belt or the impact on property values. It is also about a decision-making process that has at its core a democratic deficit where decisions are made by unelected quango chiefs who are unaccountable to ordinary citizens.

We all understand the need for more electricity, and that it has to have a transmission network. The public meeting that we held with National Grid in my constituency, in Nailsea, was an object lesson in reason and good manners despite the anger felt by so many in our area. I am deeply proud of local pressure groups and local residents for the dignity and self-restraint with which they have handled themselves. The consultation process that we have been given has offered the choice between two different land corridors with overhead cables. It is not much of a consultation-the choice between being hanged and being beheaded does not boil down to much of a choice at all.

Furthermore, there is a strong suspicion that the second option-corridor two-clearly represents environmental vandalism of such a degree that it was bound to be objected to violently. That always had the potential to allow the false conclusion to be drawn that corridor one was supported, and to leave local residents split. We want to see a genuine consultation that compares the wider costs and benefits of overhead cables with undersea and underground cables.

John Penrose (Weston-super-Mare) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that option two is not just environmental vandalism, leaving option one as a false choice? Option one would cause environmental damage and vandalism, too, particularly as it goes through the area of outstanding natural beauty in my constituency, where there is no provision, as the option stands, to put the cables underground-a possibility that he has just mentioned.

Dr. Fox: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why there is no real choice between one type of environmental vandalism and another. It does not boil down to any meaningful choice.

The optioneering report shows that National Grid discarded a number of undersea options before the public consultation started. Despite asking for further
19 Jan 2010 : Column 274
information about the technical, environmental and cost considerations of placing the cables undersea, we still have not been given answers that explain clearly why two coastal points should be linked by overland power lines.

We understand that there are technical issues, but if these can be overcome elsewhere, why not here too? National Grid's depreciation policy states that assets such as cables and pylons are depreciated over a period of up to 50 years, so investment needs to be assessed not simply as initial cost, but spread over all consumers who benefit, and over 50 years.

One overground option that has been trailed is to follow the M5 route. That, to me, is no solution at all and simply moves the problem on to the residents of the Gordano valley and Portishead, who would have their local environment permanently damaged. Likewise, I cannot support the addition of a 400 kV line parallel to the two existing 132 kV lines.

For a decision of such importance and magnitude, we do not believe that National Grid has carried out as thorough and adequate a consultation with the public as it should have done. If an inappropriate decision is reached as a result, we believe that National Grid's approach would be challengeable. I would like the Minister to set out the Government's views on the matter tonight. What would be the process of judicial review, at what point could it be triggered, how and by whom?

We expect Government to ensure that the rights of small communities are not steamrollered by the short-term interests of large utilities. No one questions the right or even the duty of National Grid to find the best deal for its shareholders, but the short-term benefit of shareholders cannot be bought at the long-term cost to individuals, communities and the environment that the proposal brings. A Severn estuary route or a route underground cannot be ruled out purely on cost grounds. Those options need to be properly explored and communicated.

Another issue is the unknown quantity of safety. The height of the proposed pylons is 46 metres. We all recognise that the issues concerning the impact of electric and magnetic fields are complicated and potentially open to a range of interpretations. Given the confused nature of the advice currently available, we believe that it would be sensible for National Grid to approach the matter with caution-to adopt the precautionary principle. This would avoid the positioning of pylons and power lines in close proximity to homes, public rights of way, community routes, schools and colleges where land-based lines are in use. We welcome National Grid's assurances on this, but that should not be interpreted in any way as an acceptance in principle of the proposed routes.

Finally, we come to the democratic deficit. I am extremely grateful to Mr. Speaker for granting time for the debate tonight. Under current legislation, no Minister is responsible for these decisions. It is left to the unelected chairman of a quango to take the environmental, safety and economic decisions that will affect the well-being of our constituents. What sort of democracy do we live in? If there is a change of Government at the election, a future Conservative Government will restore the democratic link and ensure that such decisions are taken by a Secretary of State accountable to the people through Parliament.

19 Jan 2010 : Column 275

Before resorting to above-ground routes, the company should be obliged to investigate other options, including undersea and underground corridors, fully and properly.

Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con): My hon. Friend is making an extremely powerful case, which applies just as much to other parts of the route, such as the Somerset levels. He referred to the need for further studies. Should there not be an attempt to find a monetary value to attribute to the preservation of the environment and the avoidance of the health effects that he described? If that were done, the submarine option might well be found to be not the most expensive, but the cheapest option.

Dr. Fox: My right hon. Friend makes a valid point, because much of the argument boils down to cost, and I am afraid that the values and the units of cost that are being used simply do not take account of the cost in other terms-in environmental terms, in safety and in terms of the impact upon the area in which we live. It will be changed beyond recognition for many years to come, and that very important issue lies at the heart of the matter.

We need a better explanation, because we simply do not understand the logic of a project that seeks automatically to connect two coastal points by a land-based route, especially when National Grid's own chief executive has described the proposed western undersea grid, linking Merseyside and Scotland, as a "no-brainer". The feasibility of an undersea route along the Severn channel has to be properly explored. Money should not be the critical factor in determining this matter, particularly when costs can ultimately be shared among the consumers who will benefit from the grid connection over a longer period.

Those of us who are in the Chamber tonight simply cannot and will not stand by and watch our countryside ravaged by the 46-metre-high graffiti of that pylon scheme, or the property values of our constituents threatened. All Members should take note of this debate. Today, north Somerset is in the firing line. Other areas will follow.

John Penrose rose-

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): Order. I am sorry, but does the hon. Gentleman wish to speak? Has he checked with the Minister that it is all right to contribute?

John Penrose: I have not.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Mr. David Kidney): I have not been asked at all, but I certainly would not object if the hon. Gentleman wanted a minute or two to speak.

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