Skip to main content

Rail Dispute

Volume 156: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1989

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

4.18 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"today's rail strike."
The matter raises a number of issues that deserve urgent debate, not only in respect of one-day stoppages but in the event of escalation of the present dispute. First there is the recalcitrant attitude that management and unions have adopted about negotiating terms. While they argue not about whether to talk but about where, the rest suffer.

Secondly, there is the question of the future of monopolies such as the railways and London Transport. Can we tolerate being held to ransom in this way? Should we not urgently discuss alternative structures? Is it not time to get on with opening up competition by privatising London Buses?

Thirdly, we must discuss how best to combat the effects of the stoppages. Extra car parking space merely exacerbates the problem of heavy traffic. More radical solutions are surely necessary if we are to fight back.

We need to establish a political consensus in tackling the wildcat strike, in the growing belief that such action by public service employees should be illegal. That means ascertaining the Opposition's views. If that leads them to a new set of principles, as with that adopted on nuclear weapons, it is all the more welcome.

Millions of our citizens are facing transport difficulties each week, with no apparent end in sight. Those difficulties and how to overcome them should be discussed by the House. Nothing is more urgent or relevant.

The hon. Member seeks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"today's rail strike."
I have listened to the hon. Member with care. As he knows, my sole duty in considering an application under Standing Order No. 20 is to decide whether it should be given priority over the business set down for today or tomorrow. I regret that the matter that the hon. Member has raised does not meet the criteria of the Standing Order. I therefore cannot submit his application to the House.