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Mr. Pike: Surely the hon. Lady is misleading the House because, at the end of the day, it is not for the Administration Committee to say that, without charging, we cannot reopen the Line of Route in August and September. It is for this House and democracy to do so. If we say, "Take the proposal back, have another look at it and come up with another one," the Committee will have to take note of that.

Mrs. Roe: I accept the hon. Gentleman's point. He will recall that I said that, at the end of the day, the House will decide. In no way would I undermine the House's final decision. We have very seriously considered the figures over much time and come to the conclusion--reluctantly--that in order to make reopening feasible, we will have to charge.

I hope that I have covered all the points raised. I again thank hon. Members for their courtesy and their kind comments about the report. The Committee felt that this

26 May 1999 : Column 409

was the best way to bring the issue into the open so that everyone would be given an opportunity to see exactly what it was proposing and why. Of course, the matter is for the House to decide, but I urge my colleagues to reject the amendment, thus giving those who at the moment do not have access the opportunity to enter this wonderful Palace.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 119, Noes 36.

Division No. 199
[6.57 pm


AYES


Allan, Richard
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ballard, Jackie
Barnes, Harry
Battle, John
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bennett, Andrew F
Bermingham, Gerald
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Breed, Colin
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Chidgey, David
Clappison, James
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
(Rushcliffe)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Day, Stephen
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Fabricant, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Garnier, Edward
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibb, Nick
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorrie, Donald
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Hammond, Philip
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Healey, John
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Lansley, Andrew
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Loughton, Tim
Love, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Nicholls, Patrick
Oaten, Mark
Olner, Bill
Ottaway, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Pike, Peter L
Pope, Greg
Prior, David
Randall, John
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Savidge, Malcolm
Sayeed, Jonathan
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Trend, Michael
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. David Heath and
Mr. Adrian Sanders.


NOES


Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Betts, Clive
Boswell, Tim
Caplin, Ivor
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Crausby, David
Dowd, Jim
Gapes, Mike
Heald, Oliver
Hill, Keith
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Key, Robert
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
MacShane, Denis
McWalter, Tony
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Maxton, John
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Raynsford, Nick
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Ruffley, David
Spring, Richard
Tipping, Paddy
Whittingdale, John
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:


Mrs. Marion Roe and
Dr. Nick Palmer.

Question accordingly agreed to.

26 May 1999 : Column 410

Main Question, as amended, agreed to. Resolved,


26 May 1999 : Column 411

Members' Travel

7.10 pm

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett): I beg to move,



(1) the amount payable to a Member in any year, beginning with 1st April, shall not exceed the aggregate of--
(a) the cost of a return business class airfare for the journey on the assumption that the journey begins and ends at a London airport and that the destination is any of the three cities mentioned above or the location of the national parliament of a European Union member state; and
(b) twice the corresponding civil service class A standard subsistence rate for the time being in operation; and
(2) expenditure in pursuance of this Resolution within financial year 1999-2000 shall not exceed the total currently planned for expenditure on travel by Members to European Union institutions within that year.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): I must tell the House that Madam Speaker has selected the following: amendment (a), to leave out the first reference to '1st April' and insert '1st November'.

Amendment (k), after subsection (1), insert


Mrs. Beckett: This is a classic, although relatively minor, House matter, which has a slightly odd history. It would be wise to point out to the House--and, indeed, to one or two people from the media who seem to have been misled about it--that this is an issue in relation to which members of the Government have nothing whatever at stake.

The motion proposes to vary the scheme introduced nearly 10 years ago by the Conservative Government, which offers Members funding to make one journey a year to familiarise themselves with the workings of the European institutions--that is, the European Parliament or the Commission.

If the motion is passed, the funding made available--which has, I understand, never been increased, and in which no increase is proposed today--would be available either, as now, for one visit a year to those institutions, or, at the choice of a Member, for one visit a year to the Parliament of another member state instead. The low take-up of the fund suggests that at present it is of less use to Members than, presumably, its originators expected.

I see no particular virtue in preserving unchanged a scheme of little use or value if quite a minor change might make it more useful; and when the change was suggested, I was perfectly willing to see whether it would increase the value of the scheme to Members.

26 May 1999 : Column 412

The motion has appeared on the Order Paper several times now. I freely confess that I had, mistakenly, assumed it to be non-contentious, as it involves a minor rule change and no--I repeat, no--extra funding. When an objection was first made, I therefore imagined that there was a misunderstanding as to what was intended. However, it now appears that there was no misunderstanding, but some real objection, and that is why the matter now comes before the House for debate as well as decision.

Before those who wish to see the matter debated get too excited or carried away, let me set out why I thought that this was not a matter of contention across the Floor of the House. The basic scheme was introduced under the Conservative Government--incidentally, all those who have objected so far were Ministers in that Government--and there is no extra funding to arouse concern.

Initially, it appeared that the objection might be based on a misunderstanding, as it was first suggested that the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee had objected because his Committee had not been consulted. I wrote to the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis) expressing dismay at any perceived discourtesy, but also some surprise, because the PAC seemed to have had no role hitherto in the setting up or administration of the scheme. Indeed, it is a little hard to see why it would.

Press reports have since suggested that some other objection is in fact entertained, and that can be aired here today.


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