Transport Bill — 20 Dec 1999
[Relevant documents from the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee: Third Report of Session 1997-98, on The Proposed Strategic Rail Authority and Railway Regulation (HC 286-I); Fourth Report of Session 1997-98, on Air Traffic Control (HC 360-I), and the Government's response thereto (HC 843); Third Report of Session 1998-99, on The Future of National Air Traffic Services (HC 122), and the Government's response thereto (HC 794); Ninth Report of Session 1998-99, on the Integrated Transport White Paper (HC 32-I), and the Government's response thereto (HC 708); Minutes of Evidence taken before the Transport Sub-Committee, Session 1998-99, on Railway Regulation (HC 585-i); and Twenty-first Report of Session 1998-99, on the Railways Bill (HC 827), and the Government's response thereto (Cm 4538). ]
Order for Second Reading read.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
This is a proud moment for me, as Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. This Transport Bill is the first major Bill on the subject in more than 30 years. For me, improving transport goes to the heart of my politics. All issues for change in transport have been controversial but, in time, have been accepted.
I was a seaman, and I became a Member of Parliament at the end of the 1960s as one of the politically motivated few because I realised that only through Parliament could one reform and modernise the 19th century merchant shipping laws, reverse the decline of shipping and make life at sea safer. That has now been achieved.
In the 1970s, as a member of the former nationalised industries Select Committee, I recognised that public sector transport was in decline because it was restricted by silly Treasury rules and therefore unable to raise the necessary capital investment. In the 1980s, as an Opposition Front-Bench transport spokesman, I warned about the environmental consequences of just building roads to solve congestion and of ignoring the importance of public transport networks. That issue is now centre stage.
I was also an early advocate of public-private partnerships, when the major political parties--including my own--were opposed to them. Indeed, in 1991, I advocated the leasing through private finance of an order for Network SouthEast Trains. The Tory Government at that time eventually adopted the idea during the election campaign. The option not only provided new trains for the south-east through private financing, but saved the York works from closure. Unfortunately, within a very short period, we were back to old public sector financing arrangements, under which
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money was denied and the plant--which we desperately need today to enable expansion of the railways--was closed. In the 1990s, I warned of the effects of letting, privatisation, deregulation and uncontrolled markets, which ruined the bus and rail networks.
Meanwhile, the proper Minister for Transport--Lord Macdonald--is busily briefing everybody that there is no chance of car usage decreasing over a five-year period. Not only is he saying that more cars will be bought, but that, as a result of that and of what he wants to do--which is to make motoring cheaper--there will be more journeys by car. His latest statement on the "Today" programme this morning--the official Government view--was that the best that he could ever do would be to have the odd year of zero growth in car journeys, while most years would see some growth.
I beg to move, To leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
"this House, believing that government ownership and control of National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is necessary for national security, acknowledging that the United Kingdom air traffic control system is recognised internationally as the safest and most reliable in the world, and being concerned that the introduction of the private profit motive could jeopardise safety standards in the future, considers that the Transport Bill is not an acceptable measure because it contains provisions the purpose of which is to pave the way for the partial privatisation of NATS."
Question put, That the amendment be made:--
The House divided: Ayes 33, Noes 321.
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