Previous SectionIndexHome Page

23 Oct 2002 : Column 371—continued

Mr. Miller: It would put the minority at a great disadvantage. My 70,000 constituents also have rights, and I appeal to the House to protect those rights.

Mr. Colin Pickthall (West Lancashire): Does my hon. Friend accept that West Lancashire's citizens are in precisely the same position? Although I concede that not

23 Oct 2002 : Column 372

quite so many people move through the tunnel from the north of Merseyside to the south, a substantial number do.

Mr. Miller: But minorities are not considered in the context of the Bill. If we add all the minorities together, it surely becomes clear that the argument that the great Merseyside interests should take precedence over those of the rest of the people in the greater Merseyside area is grossly unfair.

Mr. Don Foster: My local authority, Bath and North East Somerset council, recently introduced a highly controversial priority access point that has restricted the movement of vehicles through certain parts of the city. No doubt many of the hon. Gentleman's constituents visit Bath from time to time. Does he believe that they should have been consulted about that decision?

Mr. Miller: I visited Bath the other day—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. Once again we are in danger of wandering wide of the scope of the debate.

Mr. Miller: I appreciate that, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I was going to confine myself to a quip about Bath. Your interventions, however, underline the concern felt by my constituents. We have no opportunity to set out, in a structured way, arguments relating to the Bill, as we would if the Bill were re-presented in the normal way, or—as my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, West (Stephen Hesford) suggested—if a revival motion were introduced in the new session.

Stephen Hesford: Or a resurrection motion.

Mr. Miller: I think Xrevival motion" is the appropriate term. I understand that that would, by definition, incorporate stages that are missing as a result of the motion.

I am open to suggestions about solutions to the problems of the passenger transport authority, but I cannot become involved in discussion of that tonight. I strongly urge the House to reconsider its position, and support those of us who oppose the motion.

Mr. George Howarth: Between Second Reading and now, has my hon. Friend made any approach to the passenger transport authority to discuss the matters that he has raised?

Mr. Miller: That is interesting because a letter was sent to hon. Members. I accept that my office occasionally makes an error, and so do I, but to the best of my knowledge the letter of 17 October that was sent to all hon. Members was not sent to my office. That letter sets out some important considerations in respect of tonight's proceedings.

Mr. Howarth: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way, but that was not the question that I asked him. Has he personally made any efforts to contact Merseytravel to raise these concerns?

Mr. Miller: Not since the Bill received its Second Reading as I was unaware of tonight's motion,

23 Oct 2002 : Column 373

not having received the letter of 17 October, which was kindly given to me by a colleague. The issue spins both ways. I accept my hon. Friend's point, but there must be negotiations to resolve the problem.

Mrs. Dunwoody: If my hon. Friend will allow me, I shall put the same question to him as I put to the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien). Is he likely to suggest to his constituents that they fund some of the expense of running the Mersey tunnel?

Mr. Miller: My hon. Friend, who is also a dear friend, knows full well that my constituents do fund it. They contribute huge sums of money. We heard from the passenger transport authority that non-Merseysiders put in 97 per cent. of the income. I suspect that a lot of that comes from my constituents who are locked into proceedings covered by the tonight's order in which the phrase Xthey think fit" refers entirely to one part of the equation. The other part refers to people who pay tolls on a regular basis and who must also be considered.

Stephen Hesford: Can I run down a hare that has been constantly set running tonight? My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) repeatedly asks my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) and others to put it to their constituents that they should pay the deficit. There is no deficit. Does my hon. Friend—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I repeat that we are now getting into the detail of the Bill rather than the motion on the Order Paper.

Mr. Miller: That is why I shall not answer my hon. Friend's question, which underlines my point about the unfairness of the procedure that we are considering whereby my constituents, among others, will not have the right to have their point of view aired in this House on such a controversial matter—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) says from a sedentary position that I am doing it, but that could not be the case as I would certainly be ruled out of order.

My second principal reason for opposing the motion relates to changing circumstances. As has already been said, this is the second attempt at a Mersey Tunnels Bill. Changing circumstances were referred to in the Second Reading debate, but they have not been developed fully and the Bill does not cover their full financial implications. My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich would no doubt jump up and say that that could be dealt with by amendment. The changing circumstances are referred to in the statement presented by the passenger transport authority. I believe that those changing circumstances, together with the interests of my constituents, cannot be met by amendments to the Bill. I suspect that that would be extremely difficult to achieve. Reference is made to the additional burden that will fall on the authority, stemming from changing fire safety regulations after some tragic tunnel incidents throughout Europe. These substantial changes have altered the way in which the House should view the matter and, on that basis, we need to find an alternate mechanism.

23 Oct 2002 : Column 374

My constituents fully recognise that, one way or another, they will contribute to the costs of the tunnel, and that is right. But the mechanism in the Bill that we are being asked to carry over is wrong and excludes the rights of my constituents.

I would question some of the technical procedures set out in the motion—for example, that

That may well be standard procedure, but given some of the issues about which there ought to be local negotiations, the motion does not give us the kind of time—

Mr. George Howarth: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Could you again confirm, first, that if the Bill proceeds tonight, it is amendable, and secondly, that the procedures for amending the Bill are those that have been used in the past and will be perfectly open to my hon. Friend and others to use?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I am certainly prepared to confirm that that is absolutely right.

Mr. Miller: I do not doubt that point.

Mr. Howarth: Can I take it then that my hon. Friend feels so inadequate that he would not feel capable of using the procedures of the House to table suitable amendments?

Mr. Miller: My hon. Friend's sarcasm does not do him any justice; he usually makes far more intelligent comments than that. I have said that the provision would preclude a contribution at Second Reading and because of the costs that—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman is repeating some of the arguments that he has already made. Is he able to move on with regard to the motion?

Mr. Miller: My hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South (Mr. Chapman) referred to the costs involved. Because of those costs, there is a need for sensible negotiations on whether a resolution can be found. That is not possible within the time available to us.

My arguments in summary—[Interruption.] My arguments in summary are that my constituents' rights are being abused by the motion.

John Robertson (Glasgow, Anniesland): Aww!

Mr. Miller: I believe that we are here to represent our constituents and I hope that the House will give my constituents their rights when dealing with the matter. My second point concerns the changing circumstances and my third is that, as a result of the need for a sensible way forward, it would be inappropriate to squeeze the time for any potential negotiations on the content of the Bill into the tight time between now and the fifth sitting day.

23 Oct 2002 : Column 375

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 164, Noes 64.

Division No. 329
[10:05 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Adrian
Barrett, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Benn, Hilary
Berry, Roger
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burnham, Andy
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, rh Menzies (NE Fife)
Caplin, Ivor
Carmichael, Alistair
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Chidgey, David
Clark, hon. Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Cotter, Brian
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doughty, Sue
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Fabricant, Michael
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gilroy, Linda
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Hain, rh Peter
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Healey, John
Heath, David
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Heppell, John
Hermon, Lady
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Holmes, Paul
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Ingram, rh Adam
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby)
Kirkwood, Archy
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, David
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Moore, Michael
Moran, Margaret
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Neill, Martin
Picking, Anne
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Portillo, rh Michael
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, rh John
Pugh, Dr. John
Purnell, James
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Rooney, Terry
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Soley, Clive
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Joe Benton and
Tony Cunningham


Amess, David
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Barnes, Harry
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Bercow, John
Boswell, Tim
Burnside, David
Cash, William
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chope, Christopher
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Drew, David (Stroud)
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Forth, rh Eric
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mark
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hanson, David
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Hinchliffe, David
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Lidington, David
Llwyd, Elfyn
McAvoy, Thomas
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Martlew, Eric
Moran, Margaret
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Rosindell, Andrew
Selous, Andrew
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Syms, Robert
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Wareing, Robert N.
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Andrew Miller and
Stephen Hesford

Question accordingly agreed to.

23 Oct 2002 : Column 376


23 Oct 2002 : Column 377

Next Section

IndexHome Page