|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, as I am sure my noble friend would agree, we spent many hours, during both Committee and Report stages of the Bill in this House, on matters which, as the Government constantly said in replying to amendments, were matters for the House and for its committees rather than matters for an Act of Parliament. We have consistently taken that position on the question of the relevance of club privileges to membership of this House. I am sure that my noble friend will not be surprised to hear me reiterate the point I made many times during our debates on the Bill that this is indeed a legislature, not a club.
Lord Hooson: My Lords, as a point of information, am I not correct in supposing that ex-Members of another place enjoy no privileges once they have lost their membership, save unless they become Members of this House?
Baroness Young: My Lords, for many people this is a serious issue. When the Offices Committee comes to report to the House, will the noble Baroness consider the feelings of many Peers who have served in the House and whose families have served in the House for a long time and who have given distinguished service to the country? That cannot be equated with having some kind of club principle or privilege. No one, so far as I know, thinks of the House of Lords as a club, but there are many organisations which give to former members certain recognised privileges on leaving. If that principle were not considered properly, it would lead to a great deal of discredit for the whole House of Lords.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I have no doubt that the principle will be considered properly. In response to the noble Baroness, I reiterate my remarks to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. Many individual hereditary Peers will be remembered for their great contributions to this House and to previous Houses. Personally, I do not see that that should necessarily be associated with use of the cafeteria.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I agree with the noble Baroness the Leader of the House that the decisions must be taken by the new House. However, does she agree that it is right that the various committees of the present House should at least look at the position so that the new House will be able to reach a decision quickly after it comes into being? Does she further agree that it would be sympathetic and in keeping with the way in which the other place treats ex-colleagues if, when the new House comes about, our ex-colleagues were treated with a great deal more sympathy than--dare I say--the noble Baroness sometimes exhibits?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I challenge the noble Lord to identify anything in my remarks today which could not be described as sympathetic. The point I am making is that that is irrelevant to the present House. As I said in my original reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Park, the matter has been considered by the relevant committees, is being considered--and, in response to the noble Baroness--has, in my view, been properly considered. The next meeting of the Offices Committee, I understand, will be at the end of the month, but although it may make recommendations to this House, it is not empowered to make decisions either for this House or the next.
Lord Monson: My Lords, will the noble Baroness confirm that, contrary to recent press allegations, the taxpayer does not subsidise food and drink in this House, whether consumed by hereditary Peers or life Peers?
Lord Colwyn: My Lords, I too am tempted to give a reply to that last question. Will the noble Baroness please confirm that the role of the sub-committee, despite the leaking of our conclusions to the Daily Telegraph, is purely advisory in providing options for consideration by the Offices Committee and later by the whole House?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: Yes, my Lords. I am sorry if I was unclear in my response to earlier questions, notably the question of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. Of course that is indeed true.
Lord Montague of Oxford: My Lords, is there not a risk that the country at large, with the benefit of a media which are not always helpful, might say that this House is merely a club and make mischief by suggesting that if hereditaries continue to possess club membership it is nothing more than a gigantic old boys' network at work? On the one hand, they have gone; on the other, they are still there.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I should always hesitate to prejudge any position taken by the media. However, it is interesting to see that that was the position taken by the editorial in the Daily Telegraph at the end of last week.
The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): My Lords, we have made it clear that we wish to see much higher levels of rail investment. We are confident that in the next 10 years we shall see the largest investment in the railways for a long time.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that answer. I should declare an interest as chairman of the Rail Freight Group. Does he agree that the £6 billion which Railtrack has committed of its own money over 10 years of investment is nothing like enough? Under the principle of creating a sustainable transport network, will the Government consider that
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, Railtrack's plans for investment are under review by the Rail Regulator. That review should be concluded by next summer. Rail investment has totalled over £1 billion per year over the past decade. Last year it totalled £1.7 billion. The indications are that this year it will exceed £2 billion. We are looking at a great increase in rail freight grants, which will rise to around £50 million available this year.
On the question of whether any road-charging moneys might be invested in rail freight, I cannot presume on legislation which may be coming before the House. However, given the precedent being set in London, the money raised locally is hypothecated to be spent locally.
Lord Islwyn: My Lords, does the Minister appreciate that, whereas all noble Lords might agree that £80 billion is an awful lot of money, it is nevertheless only a small proportion of the amount that the motorist has paid and is paying over the years in taxation? Does he further appreciate that £80 billion, measured per capita or as a share of gross domestic product, is far less than is being spent in Germany, Italy, France or the Netherlands? That is why we have a poorer service here.
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, the £70 billion which as I understand it was spent over the lifetime of the previous administrations resulted in the end in traffic being kept moving, but for every mile of road there were 100 cars at the end of that period for every 70 cars which had been there at the beginning.
Therefore, I believe that the conclusion of our analysis, and indeed implicit in the Green Paper produced by the previous administration, is that we cannot build our way out of congestion any longer through investment in new roads. We believe that the integrated transport policy which we are putting forward will allow us to keep Britain moving and to ensure also that a proper balance is maintained between public transport on the road, on rail and indeed on freight.
Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, does the Minister agree with what is said in the Question: that the construction of the motorway network has been completed? Does that mean that we shall not have any more motorways built or further improvements to the motorway system?
Will the Minister say that the Question is not comparing like with like because the motorway network was started from scratch whereas the rail infrastructure consists mainly of improvement to existing rails? No one would believe that a completely new rail network should be built.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|