Skip to main content

Clyde Port Authority Bill

Volume 175: debated on Monday 2 July 1990

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

Order for Third Reading read.

7 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I seek your assistance as I am given to understand that when the Bill was scrutinised by the Committee on Unopposed Bills, counsel for the Clyde port authority mentioned amendments that were to be made to the Bill in another place. If the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) were to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would I be in order to ask him to outline the proposed amendments apparently to be made in another place?

I can neither anticipate nor comment on what might happen in another place. Tonight we are debating Third Reading and I hope that the House will stick to the normal confines of that debate and comment on what is in the Bill.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Are you aware that the Government have introduced a Command document, "Private Bills and New Procedures"? It is a consultation document, dealing with the private Bill procedure. Are you further aware that, tonight, we shall be discussing a Ways and Means resolution dealing with the levy on port privatisations, which directly affects the Bill now before the House?

I do not wish to detain the House, but given that the Government are about to change the rules and regulations by which we debate private Bills and that there is a money resolution before us that deals with the Bill, has any representation been made to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to defer the Bill pending the completion of the Government's consultation? Given that this Bill is truncated and that it will be followed by a Ways and Means resolution dealing with the same Bill, is not the Bill hybrid? Surely we should seek your protection.

My answer to the hon. Gentleman is yes and no. Yes, I am aware of the document to which he refers, but the House has yet to debate it and make decisions on it. It will be for the House to decide on any changes that may be made to the private Bill procedure. At the moment we are dealing with the procedure as it is. No representation has been made to me about the hybridity of the Bill.

The Ways and Means resolution does not deal specifically with the Bill, but is of a general nature. When we get to it the hon. Gentleman may seek to catch my eye and comment upon this Bill. He cannot do it the other way round—he cannot anticipate what the House may debate and decide later.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will recollect that we raised the question about the Bill's hybridity on a previous occasion, but tonight I am seeking your guidance on the Government's involvement in the Bill. It is supposed to be a private Bill and the Government should not be seeking to interfere. I find it rather strange, therefore, that yet again the Government have sought to ensure that a three-line Whip operates after the debate on the Bill. That ensures that they have sufficient troops—

In view of the obvious Government involvement and further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell), would not it be correct to suspend the private business until the report on private Bill procedures has been debated? That would ensure that we had a sensible and sane method of dealing with private business.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I omitted to mention in my first point of order that when I asked the Lord President of the Council on Thursday whether we could have an early debate on the document dealing with private Bills, he said that there would be no such debate. That is why I sought your protection, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as you are the only one who can protect us from debating a Bill, the basis of which will be subsequently changed by the Government.

The Bill before the House will be dealt with by the procedures as contained in appropriate Standing Orders. The question of future changes does not have any bearing on our proceedings.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are faced with a strange situation because the Bill that we are to debate will not be anywhere near the Bill that will be enacted, given that I understand that the counsel for the promoters and the sponsor said that the Bill would not be competent unless particular amendments were made. The promoters have given an undertaking that that will be put right in the House of Lords, but that means that we shall not have the opportunity to debate the Bill in the form intended by its promoters and sponsor.

The Government have said that the Bill is private, but they have said that amendments will be made to the Finance Bill to deal with 50 per cent. of the proceeds of the sale of the Clyde port authority. The Bill that we shall discuss tonight is not that which will be enacted. Is that in order?

It is not unusual for public or private Bills to go to another place and be amended. If that happens—the hon. Gentleman seems to have more information than me—those amendments will return to the House so that it will have an opportunity to comment on them. It might make sense if we allowed the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), who is in charge of the Bill, to address the House as he might be able to throw some light on these matters.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You are the Chairman of Ways and Means and we all respect that position.

In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington), you said that you did not know what was going on, but we do. Not many moments ago a broadcast was made about the Bill—the Government have struck a deal on this private Bill. You are the Chairman of Ways and Means, but you obviously do not know what is going on.

I note that you are in total agreement with me, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You are not in the picture and you must be told. The Government are pulling a fast one. The Government have whipped in a payroll vote because of the deal that has been struck. We Back Benchers need protection because that sort of thing goes on far too often. I do not represent Scotland, but I am interested in the Bill because of the unfair way in which the Government have acted.

You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, must take due note of what is going on and I am looking for some action from you. I respect your position and I support you in the many things that you do, but I hope that you will give Back Benchers support now because of the Government's fiddle on the Bill.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who, as always, gives me much more protection than I can offer him. Every day in this place I find people doing all sorts of things about which I should be informed but which I never learn about except at second or third hand. I suppose that that is part of the facts of parliamentary life. I have no responsibility for what the Government may be doing about organising votes. We should get on.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry, but some of us are confused about this. We all understand perfectly well that Bills are introduced in the House or in another place. As they proceed, amendments are moved, but if, as is suggested, a Bill is to be introduced in the House to which major amendments are, apparently with the agreement of the Bill's sponsors, to be added at a later stage, surely the proper procedure is that the Bill should be withdrawn and the amendments that have been agreed placed on the face of the Bill where we can all see them. If not, it will be a totally unreal debate.

I have no axe to grind. I do not know whether I shall vote against or for the Bill. But in exercising a choice, as we all have to do, we should be able to make our choice based on the facts of the matter and the face of the Bill. If there are deficiencies in the Bill that must be put right in another place, surely the correct procedure is to withdraw the Bill and bring it back later so that we can all see, in the Bill, what is going on. That way, we can make more progress and better sense.

The correct procedure is that laid down in the Standing Orders that we are following this evening. I have told the House that I have no knowledge of those amendments. If they are thought appropriate, they may well be moved in another place, but it is not for me to comment on or anticipate what may happen in another place. If the Bill is amended in another place, those amendments will, under Standing Orders, be returned to this House. Instead of continuing to speculate about possible amendments, it may be more sensible for the House to listen to the hon. Member for Eastwood, who might enlighten the House about what amendments may be forthcoming and their extent.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. With respect, you keep mentioning the other place, but we are dealing with this place at present, and we are not getting a fair deal. I remember when you sat on the Back Benches, at the Opposition Dispatch Box and at the Government Dispatch Box when you were a first-class Minister, and you know as well as me what goes on in here. We are asking you for help because we need a blockage as the Government are getting away with murder. It is high time that you grabbed the nettle, because we are not satisfied. We always look to the Chair for help and we are looking for help from you. We are not bothered about the other end because the Bill is not there yet. It is in here, which is where we are dealing with it right now. We want you to do something about it.

I am bound by Standing Orders, as is the House, and I am following the requirements of Standing Orders.

Is it in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for someone moving a private Bill to circumvent one of the stages of consideration in the House by agreeing to introduce major amendments that counsel for the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) said were essential for the Bill to progress? Is it in order to circumvent a stage of consideration in the House by giving an undertaking of which you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are unaware, as are most hon. Members, so that the Bill may proceed more rapidly through both Houses of Parliament? Is not that underhand?

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I have some clarification? There has been a fair amount of criticism from Conservative Members about private Bills in this place, and we have a classic example now. I stand to be corrected but I believe that when such a Bill starts off, it goes through the usual scrutiny of the Private Bill Office, is advertised and, if unopposed at 2.30 pm, proceeds to its next stage. Would not the proper place for those so-called amendments to be made be in the Committee on Unopposed Bills? Not to do so is to mislead that Committee and the House by seeking to give a defective Bill a Third Reading. Can you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, seek advice from the Clerk at the Table on whether the correct procedure has been followed and whether those amendments should have been made in the Committee on Unopposed Bills? They have not suddenly come to light, and the Government and the Bill's promoters are misleading the House and seeking to destroy your office, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I do not have the detailed knowledge that some hon. Members seem to possess of what went on and what was said in the Committee that dealt with the Bill. I can only tell the House, not for the first time this evening, that what we are doing this evening is perfectly in order, conforms with Standing Orders and is not an unusual practice. Should their Lordships find it necessary to amend the Bill, they will discuss and decide on their amendments, which will then come before this House. I repeat that I have no knowledge of such amendments, and it is not for me to anticipate what may be said or done in their Lordships' House.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is a valid point of order.

The hon. Gentleman says that it is a valid point of order. I hope that it is much more valid than some of those that I have had to endure so far.

I draw your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to "Erskine May," which states on page 861:

"If any stage of a bill is proceeded with when the notice has not been duly given, or the proper interval allowed, or if notice is taken of any other informality, the proceeding will be null and void, and the stage must be repeated."
I respectfully submit that the Government's publication of a new document invalidates the proceedings so far, in accordance with "Erskine May", page 861, and I invite you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to suspend the sitting until you have had time to scrutinise the matter carefully.

I thought that I had dealt with that point earlier. The document to which the hon. Gentleman referred and which he held up is not before the House at present. We should get on.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It arises out of your ruling. You rightly say that you are not officially aware of any amendments to be tabled in the other place. However, if the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), during his opening speech in the next few minutes, tells the Chamber that he is aware that amendments will be tabled in the other place, does not that alter the basis of your ruling?

7.17 pm

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The issue before the House this evening is fairly straight forward. The Bill received its Second Reading on 14 May with a substantial majority. There are no petitions against the Bill; in particular, there are no petitions from the riparian local authorities, which have been—

Is it or is it not the case that some hours ago the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) swore an oath of allegiance to the Secretary of State for Scotland in relation to the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Bill and, in return, was promised the payroll vote tonight?

I am not sure whether it is in order for me or not—[interruption.]—for me to reply.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is a serious matter. I think that you should find out exactly what has happened because I smell a rat here—there is a right fiddle going on. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, must find out exactly what is going on.

The best way of finding out what is going on is to listen to the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart).

I am going to. If it is in order for me to reply to the question put by the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman), I can assure him that, to the best of my knowledge, Scottish Television carried an interview with me some little time ago confirming that I propose to speak and vote against a possible guillotine motion on the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Bill. I understand that the BBC is carrying other reports, but there we are.

As I told the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow, there are no petitions against the Bill from the riparian local authorities, which are the obvious authorities to be most concerned about the Bill, and, as it happens, are all controlled by the Labour party. I understand that they do not intend to petition against the Bill in the other place, either.

The hon. Gentleman is showing characteristic courtesy in these exchanges. Greenock water front heritage association is likely to place a petition of objection against the Bill in the other place.

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman, but that does not contradict what I said, which was that none of the local authorities was going to petition against the Bill. The hon. Gentleman may wish to correct me, but I understand that Inverclyde district council has decided not to petition in the other place.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) and I attended a meeting yesterday in Kilbirnie, where one of the leading councillors on Cunninghame district council mentioned a discussion which had taken place in one of the council's committees about the Bill? He reported that Cunninghame district council was taking advice, and had not yet decided whether to oppose the Bill. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, North will agree that, at present, the councillors are of the opinion that they should oppose it.

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for that information. The point is that none of the local authorities involved has entered a petition in this House against the Bill. There is time for local authorities to petition another place if they so wish, which answers a question that the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow asked me on Second Reading.

I wish not to repeat at length the general arguments of the debate on Second Reading but to move on to deal with some of the points raised, fairly and properly, by Opposition Members since Second Reading.

Trust ports are unusual—they are independent, they are not accountable to anyone, and their powers and sources of finance are limited, which is why the private Bill is before the House tonight.

The Clyde port authority is an historic port of immense importance not only to the west of Scotland but to the rest of Scotland and the United Kingdom and Europe. The situation of the port has changed sharply over the years, partly because of the geographical shift of trade from the west to the east: the increase in the United Kingdom's trade with the European Community—it now accounts for about 73 per cent. of United Kingdom trade—has benefited ports in the east and the south rather than those in the west. Another factor is that we no longer import oil; the Clyde port authority handled some 12 million tonnes of imported crude from the middle east before North sea oil came on stream.

Will the hon. Gentleman be kind enough to draw my attention to some of the alleged defects in the Bill, which may or may not be remedied in another place? If one or two parts of the Bill need tightening up, I should be grateful for an explanation of where they are and how the hon. Gentleman intends to tighten them.

I cannot forecast what will happen to the Bill in another place. If any amendments are made, as the noble Lords are perfectly entitled to do, this House will have the opportunity to debate them subsequently.

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that he has been so badly briefed that he does not know the contents of the amendments that are to be moved in another place which the Counsel to Mr. Speaker says are essential to make the Bill competent?

I am making a perfectly fair and valid point, which is that the other place is entitled to make amendments to the Bill if it so wishes. If it does, the amendments must come back to the House to be considered. Only if no amendments are made in another place will the Bill not come back to this House.

I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman on that subject and I should like to get a little further into my speech.

The Clyde faces competition from ports on the Forth, on the east coast of Scotland, and from other west coast ports, notably Liverpool, which is privately owned but has received substantial assistance from the taxpayers, and Bristol, which is municipally owned, and which has received substantial assistance from the local authority.

The reason for the Bill—as we debated fully on Second Reading—is that the authority, like other trust ports, has to operate under the restrictions imposed by the Clyde Port Authority Order 1965. Much of the debate on Second Reading and many of the issues mentioned by hon. Members then and subsequently have centred on the question that the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) and others mentioned on Second Reading: accepting that there are legal restrictions, what has the Clyde port authority been restricted from doing? The hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie asked that in a recent letter to the managing director of the Clyde port authority. I am glad to have his confirmation that my delivery of the letter to the board this afternoon resulted in him getting the reply before the debate.

I shall spend a moment or two giving the House some practical examples of how the restrictions on the port authority's operations have hindered developments that most people would regard as highly desirable.

My first example is the development of the site bounded by Robertson street, Broomielaw and York street in Glasgow which is well known to Opposition Members who represent Glasgow constituencies. It is immediately opposite the authority's headquarters building. As landowner, the authority had the opportunity to participate in a joint development with Glasgow and Oriental Development Limited. Having taken legal advice as a result of uncertainty about its acquisition powers, the authority was unable to proceed with that joint development, and subsequently had to sell the land to Glasgow and Oriental Development Limited, which is now progressing the development without the authority as a partner. The total borrowings of the authority are restricted by statute. Any project requiring major capital investment that would result in the borrowing limit being exceeded would necessitate reversion to Parliament, with all that that entails under present legislation.

Opposition Members will appreciate that many of the projects that may have been considered involve commercial confidentiality. I shall cite a couple of practical examples of how the existing restrictions under which the Clyde port authority operates have inhibited, and do inhibit, its reasonable wish to go ahead with sensible developments. As I said on Second Reading, the authority constantly has to consult Queen's Counsel and consider whether the proposals are intra vires. That, in addition to the burden on management time, is bound to inhibit effective decision making.

As the House knows, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has announced that the authority has planning consent to proceed, in partnership with Tarmac Construction, with a development of about 200 acres of redundant land at Braehead, which is, I think, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham)—[Interruption.] I am wrong; it is in one of the Paisley constituencies and close to the hon. Gentleman's constituency.

The hon. Gentleman is aware of the concern of the local elected members about the proposal to allow the scheme to go ahead. I hope that I shall have an opportunity to say something about that later. The hon. Gentleman knows that the district council is extremely concerned about that development.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will have the opportunity to contribute to the debate. He and I, although of different political views, have often co-operated on certain projects. I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman's support concerning the problems in the Armitage Shanks Tubal works at Braehead.

That development will provide out-of-town shopping, leisure, housing, and commercial facilities. However, under current legislation there are doubts about whether the authority has sufficient powers to manage the development once it has been completed. The Bill would remove those doubts.

The authority wishes to join with other landowners, such as Glasgow district council, to develop land at Yorkhill quay with a consortium to be headed by a new company called Clyde Maritime. It would be a major scheme costing about £300 million. However, under the 1965 legislation the authority is precluded from investing in that company except by selling out to a controlling interest subsequently. It cannot realise the true potential of its land in that area. Those are examples of the real and practical problems that the authority is currently—

I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Clyde port authority is a ports authority. Can he give me any examples of restrictions on the Clyde port authority's duty as a ports authority? He has given examples of restrictions on the authority as a land developer—an exploiter of an existing asset—but other than the dock labour scheme, which is now abolished, there are no restrictions on the Clyde port authority as a ports authority. Does the hon. Gentleman now recognise that there is no need for the Bill?

I shall mention some of the statutory requirements on the authority, but first I wish to make a general point. Only if the authority can develop all its assets fully will it have the resources to enable it to act as a fully commercial harbour and port authority. It is not in the interests of the authority's port operations for it to be unable to realise fully the value of its other assets.

I would rather continue, but as the hon. Gentleman is a Front-Bench spokesman I shall give way.

I want to pursue the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie). I understand the argument that, in order to bring in the money to carry out the river functions, the authority wants to realise its assets. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that a balance must be struck? Does he have any view on what proportion of the CPA's revenue should come as manager of supermarkets, leisure parks and all the other desirable or undesirable developments on its banks? Under a different ownership, at what point would its interest in such activities cease to be to the benefit and begin to be to the detriment of its marine activities—which by that time would be subsidiary and, perhaps, even marginal?

>: The easiest way to answer the hon. Gentleman's point is to emphasise the new structure, in which there will be a holding company and a successor company. The successor company will take on all the current powers, duties and responsibilities of the authority under statute. It will have exactly the same responsibilities in relation to its port activities as it has currently.

I shall give way to the hon. Lady, but then I hope hon. Members will allow me to continue because I have already given way a number of times.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy. Will the privatised port authority continue dredging in the River Clyde?

The hon. Lady has raised a good point, which was first raised on Second Reading by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Siliars), to whom I always pay attention because I am his constituent. I shall come to the issue of dredging, but if the hon. Lady will forgive me, there is another matter that I wish to raise first because there has been some publicity about it. The hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie is usually the most courteous of hon. Members. I was a little surprised to see the press coverage of his statement when he spoke as a Labour Front-Bench spokesman on employment—

That is what it says in the press release, which has the House of Commons crest on it. I was surprised by his attack on Sir Robert Easton. If the hon. Gentleman was speaking as a Scottish Front-Bench spokesman on employment, I can only presume that that attack on Sir Robert Easton had the full knowledge and support of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), the shadow Secretary of State. That also surprised me a little because Sir Robert Easton is the chairman of Yarrow, the largest employer in Garscadden.

I shall quote what is presumably the hon. Member for Garscadden's view of Sir Robert Easton, as expressed by his junior spokesman, the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie. He said:
"Why on earth should Sir Robert Easton and his board be able to profit from this sale … Why should they be able to put their hands in the till … Why should they be able to line their own pockets by deciding how many free shares they should have?"
Sir Robert Easton has as much chance of free shares as does the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie. The Bill provides that the Clyde port authority, a holding trust, will have the power to transfer securities without consideration—that is, shares with an interest-free loan or whatever—to employees of the holding company or any subsidiary thereof. Under clause 14(4), it is empowered to
"provide for one or more employees' share schemes to be established in respect of the holding company; and any such scheme may provide for the transfer of shares without consideration."
Beneficiaries of employee share schemes can be only bona fide employees or former employees. [Interruption.] I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Sir N. Fairbairn), who has kindly handed me a letter informing me of his support for the Bill.

The hon. Gentlemen should not believe a word of it. We know that that piece of paper is the latest set of guarantees on the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Bill.

I am happy to assure the House that the guarantee that I have received is that my hon. and learned Friend will be here to vote at the end of the debate.

Sir Robert Easton and the other members of the board, except for the three executive members, are not employees. Therefore, Sir Robert Easton and the non-executive members of the board cannot get shares on any preferential basis except that available generally to residents of the area.

I draw the attention of the hon. Member to clause 8(3), which provides:

"Securities required to be issued in pursuance of this section shall be issued or allotted at such time or times and on such terms…as the Trust may direct."
The members of the trust will be Sir Robert Easton and the board of the Clyde port authority. Does that not give them the power to allocate securities to themselves?

Of course it does not. As they are members of the trust, they cannot allocate securities to themselves. If the hon. Gentleman does not believe me, he may believe Mr. Tom O'Connor, the former chairman of the local port workers branch of the Transport and General Workers Union, who has written to the managing director of the Clyde port authority. He will doubtless be well known as a stalwart of the Labour movement in the west of Scotland, although I do not know whether he is still a member of the national executive of the TGWU. The hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow is agreeing with me. I will happily pass copies of this letter to anyone who wishes one. It reads as follows:

"I was pleased to have the opportunity of discussing at the Board meeting on Tuesday the articles which appeared last week, in the Scotsman and Evening Times. Both those articles, which I understand were based on a press release issued by Tony Worthington, M.P., contained inaccurate and insulting references to the honesty and integrity of the Members of the Board, and I wish to place on record for posterity my most strenuous objection to these defamatory remarks."
I am glad to have had the opportunity to read that letter.

It is written in Mr. O'Connor's hand.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) asked me, quite fairly, about dredging. This matter has been raised by a number of hon. Members, in Committee and on Second Reading. The Clyde port authority, like every other harbour or port authority in the United Kingdom, has no express statutory duty to dredge the river. The Clyde port authority has power to dredge, as set out in paragraph 16 of the Clyde Port Authority Order 1965, which established the authority. The question is whether the successor company has any authority to dredge the river or whether there would be anything to oblige a successor company to dredge the river if it decided not to do so.

I am glad to hear the hon. Gentleman talk about the 1965 order. Paragraph 16 states:

"The ports authority may, from time to time, deepen, dredge or scour and improve the bed and foreshore of the river and upper Clyde within the port in or near any approach to the port."
I have today tabled a new clause to the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Bill that would make this power statutory. I should like the hon. Gentleman to support the new clause when we debate it in Committee.

The hon. Gentleman will no doubt confirm that members of that Committee do not always disagree. I am grateful for the many worthwhile and penetrating interventions that he made to my speech late on Thursday night, which showed a great deal of knowledge about the annual accounts of charity. However, the hon. Gentleman is leading me down another path. I doubt whether his news about the tabling of a new clause will be received with joy and delight by the Scottish Office, but I hope that there will be time to consider it. I am sure that he would be the first to object if the Government introduced a timetable motion that prevented a full and fair debate of the clause.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I was born in Govan and I have always seen the Clyde as a working river. The only way to keep it as such is to dredge it regularly so that ships can use it. Everyone, from one end of the Clyde to the other, sees it as the port authority's duty to keep the river open. Once it stopped dredging, the river would silt up and would no longer be navigable. Does not the hon. Gentleman recognise the concern of Labour Members to ensure that the river remains a working river and that dredging is carried out? The Clyde port authority has always been the recognised body to do that.

Yes. I shall now return to the specific point made by the hon. Member for Maryhill. I was diverted for a moment.

I accept that this is a serious argument. I emphasise that the fact that there is no express duty, neither in this Bill nor in any legislation affecting a harbour authority, to dredge is not the same as saying that either the authority or the successor company should stop dredging. The successor company inherits all the powers and duties of the authority. Clause 4(2) says that the successor authority
"shall … be treated for all purposes as if it were the same person as the Port Authority."
Therefore, the successor company is in the same position as the port authority.

The authority has a duty, under paragraph 13 of the 1965 order,
"to take such steps from time to time as they may consider necessary for the maintenance and improvement of the port and the accommodation and facilities (including navigational facilities) afforded therein or in connection therewith".
Therefore, the authority must carry out those steps with the benefit of the port undertaking in mind. If dredging is necessary to maintain or improve the port, the authority should dredge. Exactly the same principles apply to the future activities of the successor company established under the Bill. Nothing in the legislation imposes on the successor company any less onerous obligations in relation to dredging than those that exist for the present authority.

There is a characteristic difference between the future and the present. At present we are talking about a public undertaking which has implicit obligations to the public good. In future we shall be talking about a private company which, at some later date, may claim that Parliament did not impose a specific obligation. There may have been some residual implied responsibility. I am not splitting hairs or words, but that is entirely different from imposing an obligation.

Given that the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) is involved in the drafting and the arguments, can he give us an assurance that there is no reason why the promoters of the Bill would resist an amendment in the other place that eliminated all doubt about the future and imposed an obligation as distinct from some residual responsibility which the successor company could claim was not in the Act and did not necessarily have to be carried out?

I shall not speculate on what might or might not happen in another place. I was not claiming that I had been involved in the technical drafting of the Bill. The hon. Member for Govan, who is my Member of Parliament, is quite right to say that I am involved in the argument.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I have an assurance from the Chair that the Bill is technically correct and that no technical amendments will be made? If we pass the Bill, it is important that it is technically correct. If it is technically defective, we should question whether the Clerks have given it sufficient scrutiny.

The Bill is in order. It would not be before the House if it were not.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry to delay the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), but may we take it that all the technical details necessary to make the Bill presentable have been scrutinised and are correct? It may well be that another place will seek to amend the dredging provisions—

Order. If the Bill were technically defective, it would not be before the House. It is for the House to listen to the debate and make up its mind. It is a matter for the House to decide at 10 o'clock.

Let me return to the point of substance raised by the hon. Member for Govan. Of course I cannot speculate on what might or might not happen in another place.

Essentially I am making two key points. First, the successor company has exactly the same obligations that the Clyde port authority has at present. It has exactly the same powers, duties and responsibilities.

First, I shall finish my response to the hon. Member for Govan.

The successor company has exactly the same duties and responsibilities as the Clyde port authority has at present. As I have told the House, to the best of my knowledge, no port authority has an express duty in legislation to dredge a river. The legislation covering the Clyde port authority is in line with legislation that applies elsewhere. The hon. Gentleman will know that some port authorities are trusts and others are in the private sector. Some, such as Bristol, are owned and run by the local authority.

I have been generous in giving way, so I fear that this will have to be the last time.

Will the hon. Member enlighten the House? He has given repeated assurances that the responsibilities will be exactly the same, but he has the opportunity to write the Bill as he pleases. Why has he decided not to write the Bill in a manner that will ensure that dredging is carried out by imposing a clear duty?

I emphasise that the responsibilities being taken over by the successor company are the same as those held by the Clyde port authority. That seems to be a perfectly reasonable and proper way to proceed.


As I have explained to the House, the fact that there is no express duty in legislation does not mean that the authority or the successor company can stop dredging because of the duties that I have outlined to the House.

I have taken up quite a lot of time of the House and a large number of hon. Members wish to speak. Other points have been raised, and I hope that the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie will outline some of the points to which the Clyde port authority responded, for example, on the structure. The Bill was sought by the authority and the board was unanimous. There were no petitions against it, and I understand that the Transport and General Workers Union has not attempted to stop the restructuring proposal in Scotland, although it has taken a different position in regard to Bills applying south of the border.

I hope that the House will feel that I have dealt with some of the major questions that have been raised and will agree to give the Bill a Third Reading tonight.

7.57 pm

I should like to point out to the House that recently the Secretary of State for Scotland has decided to give Braehead, a monster project, the go-ahead. That concerns me and the people in my constituency. I represent a huge area of the Clyde, as every Member of Parliament knows. Renfrew district council vigorously opposed the Braehead development, which will destroy the infrastructure of Renfrewshire. It will cause immense problems for the town of Paisley, destroying the new shopping centre which would have been built there. We have recently agreed to the Tilbury operation in Linwood.

You may well ask, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what this has to do with the Bill—

Order. On Third Reading, the House is required to confine itself to what is in the Bill.

I am trying to confine myself to what is in the Bill. The Bill has immense repercussions for my constituency. If the Bill is passed tonight, my constituency will suffer.

Of course the hon. Gentleman is right in the technical sense that the Bill gives the Clyde port authority powers to manage the Braehead development, for example. Will he be a little more explicit as to precisely why he is so opposed to that development? The hon. Gentleman, Renfrew district council and I see eye to eye on many issues.

The Bill is amazingly damaging to Scotland, and certainly to Renfrewshire. It will cause incredible problems.

There is much concern among people who live on our side of the river that dredging will not be carried out. The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) says that if the Bill goes ahead there will be no change, but there must be change. The board will be responsible to shareholders. A commercial decision will be taken not to dredge the River Clyde because it will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. The authority will say, "We do not have the money so we will not dredge it."

When I was on Strathclyde regional council, we gave Clyde port authority financial help to allow it to dredge the river. The authority will still be responsible for keeping the river clear. It is crazy for it to be privatised. It should remain a public corporation, looking after the interests of the Clyde and of the folk who live on its banks.

Braehead has been given the go-ahead, but it will do so much damage to the Renfrewshire area that it could make ghost towns of communities such as Erskine and Renfrew and it will certainly hammer Paisley shopping centre. That is a genuine concern about what is happening in the Clyde port.

I am sorry that the Secretary of State for Scotland is not here because it appears that there has been a bit of collusion. The other week, the Secretary of State dug a hole at Tilbury and said, "Linwood will rise from the ashes—there will be a big new shopping centre, factories and retail units." The Braehead development, which was refused by the council, got the go-ahead from the Secretary of State. He knows that Renfrewshire cannot take a monstrosity of a project like Braehead. What will happen to the Tilbury site at Linwood? It will end up as only housing, with no works, no factories, no warehouses and no shops. It will become a residential area because of the decision to privatise the Clyde port authority.

When the Secretary of State came to dig a hole in the ground at Tilbury in my constituency he knew that the planned development would not take place because of Braehead. That calls into question any future development in the Linwood area and at Inverclyde. Recently, a decision was taken to go ahead with a shopping centre at Inverclyde. That has a lot to do with what is happening to the Clyde port authority, because anything that it does in the Govan area has a massive impact on Renfrewshire and, in effect, deprives Inverclyde of a genuine development opportunity and makes nonsense of the Inverclyde enterprise zone.

I wish that the Secretary of State was here so that I could challenge him and ask whether he knew that he was going to give planning permission for the Braehead site. Did he tell the Tilbury developers, who are spending vast sums in my area, that he was going to give the go-ahead for the Braehead site? Did he tell the developers in Inverclyde that he was going to give the go-ahead for the Braehead site?

The Bill should be thrown out. It seems that there has been collusion between the Secretary of State and the developers of Braehead and Clyde port. He is fattening up the authority for the kill and for somebody to make a lot of money. At the end of the day, the people of Renfrewshire will suffer. I note that the Minister is smiling—he can smile all he likes, and he may smile to the bank, but our folk have suffered enough from the crazy plans of this Government. This is certainly a crazy plan. It is not a plan to help the people of the Clyde or my constituents—it is a plan to make a wee bit on the side to give to the Government's friends, but they will get a resounding no from the people of Renfrewshire at the next general election. It is another gift for the Government's friends, taking from the ordinary men and women who made the Clyde what it is.

8.5 pm

The hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham) spoke with great passion but told us little about how the development of 200 acres at Braehead will affect his constituents. He seemed to think that those 200 acres, whether they were used for housing or whatever, would not help the local economy.

One of the encouraging aspects of the past few years has been how derelict areas of dockland have been given a new lease of life. Throughout the old major ports of the United Kingdom, buildings that previously had been standing derelict for some years have been brought back into use, establishing living, vibrant and healthy economies. That is what happens when one is able to develop and is free of the shackles of socialism and socialist practices.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) said, the Bill received substantial support on Second Reading on 14 May. There were no petitions against it, and none from the riparian local authorities. The hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde, who spoke with such passion, realised that the riparian local authorities are controlled by the Labour party. I accept that Cunninghame district council is still obtaining advice on the Bill. Under our democratic system, if it has an interest in the Bill and believes that its benefits are not what it imagines, it will take action. That is the democratic system functioning. Indeed, the Bill is an example of how the democratic system works. It must go through this House and the other place, and there are opportunities for those interested enough to take action.

The reason for the Bill is that the authority, as currently structured and confined by statute, cannot realise its full potential. Its sources of funding and finance are limited and it is unable to enter into joint ventures to develop land that it owns. Borrowing is limited by statute. If it were in the marketplace, borrowing would be restricted by the risk involved, which would be sensible.

It appears that some areas should and could be developed. I do not have enough local knowledge to comment on the proposals and schemes, but anything that brings life back into our docklands and our riversides must be good. If decision making is affected by statutory limitations on the authority, changes should be made. Only if the authority can utilise and manage its resources and assets will it be able to carry out its core area responsibility for the river and marine activities. That is a sensible use of assets in any organisation. The setting up of the holding company, with the successor company assuming all the responsibility and being accountable, means that, in that sense, nothing will change.

I welcome the fact that employees and former employees will be able to obtain shares. Giving people the opportunity to buy shares in the companies in which they work is my idea of spreading the nation's wealth. There is no greater motivator for an employee than the feeling that he owns part of the company in which he works and there is no greater discipline on a board than the knowledge that the employees are shareholders.

I understand that the Opposition are worried about dredging of the river. All United Kingdom rivers are covered by the same legislation, so the Clyde port authority under the successor company will not be in a different position. It is covered by the Clyde Port Authority Order 1965. I look forward to debating—if we ever reach that stage—the new clause tabled by the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) to the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Bill. We could go on for ever with that Bill, but I should step out of line in this debate if I said more. I wish simply to respond to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow. That new clause will affect the responsibilities of the authority or its successor company.

The River Clyde should never be downgraded. It is vital to Scotland's economy and to the welfare of her people. As I said on Second Reading, the Clyde has changed and developed to meet Scotland's needs at each stage—throughout the industrial revolution until today. Who can say what the future holds for that great river and for the successor company that will have the responsibility for management and navigation on the river? Few of us can say where we shall be 10, 20 or 30 years ahead. Who can say what the trade patterns will be?

As everyone knows, handling of imports and exports has changed dramatically and substantially over the past 40 years. Much of the Clyde traffic 40 years ago was handled by port authority workers who carried much of the cargo on their broad shoulders. Today, with containerisation, bulk cargo handling and the shift of trade from north America towards Europe, the Clyde port authority has been faced with substantial changes in work practice, a massive reduction in the labour force and a huge drop in the traffic to and from north America.

The container terminal was constructed, as I said on Second Reading, on the site of Princes pier at Greenock and received its first ship on 15 March 1969. The terminal, with its depth of 42 ft. at low tide, with a back-up area of 42 acres and with rail connections to the major industrial centres of the United Kingdom, had by 1973 attracted 13 shipping lines. Sadly, events overtook the north Atlantic trade and the container terminal ran into difficult times, and it is still experiencing difficulties. At the same time, there has been a substantial change in the old smokestack-related heavy industries throughout Scotland, which led to a major drop in the volume of trade involving the port and the authority. In addition, with the reduction in oil imports—because we have our own oil off the north-east coast—there has been a substantial drop, in the Clyde and other ports, in the trade in imported oil.

The Clyde is in competition with other ports throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, including Leith and Grangemouth in Scotland. Unless the Clyde can change to meet the changes in the marketplace, and unless the port authority has the flexibility and ability to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, it is clear that it will not be able to compete effectively with other ports in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Like other hon. Members, I am worried about Hunterston, which handles 50 per cent. of the Clyde port authority's traffic, representing 43 per cent. of the authority's revenue. We all know that the well-being and future of Hunterston are very much tied up with the well-being and future of Ravenscraig. We all know that many questions need to be asked and many have not yet been answered. We in Scotland want to know the answers. We shall have opportunities in our different ways to obtain some. Unless we can get some answers, Hunterston's future will have question marks over it. That cannot give any delight to anyone other than those who do not want the Scottish economy to do well. The deep-water port at Hunterston has great facilities that should be maximised.

The hon. Gentleman's point about Hunterston is of interest to all of us and particularly to me from a constituency point of view. Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that anything in the Clyde port authority's existing powers has contributed over many years, and certainly over the authority's lifetime, to the disappointing underdevelopment of Hunterston?

The hon. Gentleman has an edge on me as a constituency Member. If I put a question to him about the well-being of the whisky industry in my constituency, I think that I should have the edge on him. I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to comment on details, and I should not wish to do so.

My concern as a Scottish Member of Parliament is to ensure that Scottish ports can compete effectively, efficiently and on equal terms with other ports throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. The Bill will give the people who run the authority the opportunity to do just that. That is why I have no hesitation in supporting the Bill.

8.17 pm

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker). He has one characteristic in common with members of his Front Bench—he views with distaste awkwardly honest critics on the Labour Benches as much as he views with loathing honestly awkward critics on the Conservative Benches. Many of us have constituency interests and concerns that we wish to defend with the same vigour with which he defends his constituents who work in the whisky industry. The hon. Gentleman should not forget that.

I think that you were fortunate to miss the earlier exchanges, Madam Deputy Speaker—

I beg your pardon, Madam Deputy Speaker. I certainly do not wish to cross swords with you.

As you are well aware, Madam Deputy Speaker, when Mr. Deputy Speaker was in the Chair we discussed amendments to the Bill which are to be tabled in the other place. I cannot discuss them now because I do not know what they are, but if amendments are made in another place, I shall presumably have the opportunity to scrutinise and discuss them when the Bill comes back. I should like some amendments to be made.

First, I should like clause 4 to be amended so as to require the head office of the Clyde port authority always to be located in Glasgow. The CPA occupies one of the finest buildings in Victorian Glasgow. I have said that to John Mather on a number of occasions, and I believe that he has invited my wife and me to visit the building and examine the architecture.

I do not think for one minute that John Mather will give me lunch after what I have to say today, although I may be able to appeal to Sir Robert Easton for a cup of coffee. The head office of the CPA should remain in Glasgow. If it cannot be in Greenock or Port Glasgow, it must be in Glasgow.

My hon. Friend should realise that the main activity of the Clyde port authority is in Cunninghame. Its headquarters should be in Ardrossan and nowhere else.

My old and hon. Friend has a point and he has made it in his usual powerful way. But I am trying to be diplomatic. I should like the headquarters to be located in Greenock, but I am perfectly willing to accept that the head office should stay in Robertson street, Glasgow.

I should also like the Bill to be amended to require that the present directors shall not be major shareholders in any successor company.

Clause 4 deals with the duties, liabilities and responsibilities of the authority. The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) mentioned Inverclyde district council's position on the Bill, so in fairness I ought to say something about that. I would be the last person to impugn the hon. Gentleman's honour or character, but it seems to me that a deal may have been struck with the Secretary of State for Scotland over the passage of the Bill today and the hon. Gentleman's conduct on the Standing Committee considering the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Bill.

I can give the hon. Gentleman an absolute assurance that that is not so. I have repeated today that I intend to speak and vote against a guillotine on that Bill if a guillotine motion is introduced.

The hon. Gentleman is a man of his word. I readily accept what he has said and withdraw my criticism.

As I said, the hon. Gentleman referred to Inverclyde district council. It is only fair that I should mention the fact that today I received a letter from John Thompson, the director of administration for that council. Mr. Thompson wrote:
"The District Council at its meeting yesterday decided not to lodge in the House of Lords a petition objecting to the Bill."
In that regard, the remarks of the hon. Member for Eastwood were accurate. Mr. Thompson continued:
"However, the District Council has resolved to seek the support of the Clydeside MPs in opposition to the Bill."
I can well understand why the council is reluctant to petition in the other place. Like most councils in Scotland, it is strapped for cash and the procedure for presenting a petition of objection to an Opposed Private Bill Committee can be an expensive activity.

Mr. Thompson went on to say:
"As you know, the District Council opposes the Bill on the grounds that its consequences, if enacted, could potentially be of significant detriment to the District."
My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham) made that point in his inimitable way. Mr. Thompson then said:
"In particular, the continuation of the present dredging operations of the River Clyde is extremely important to the economic wellbeing of the whole Clyde area and in particular are of considerable significance to commercial and industrial users of the River. Upon privatisation, it may be the case that a private Company would consider from a commercial view that the dredging operations should be discontinued on the grounds of commercial expediency."
That was what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) suggested in his intervention.

Mr. Thompson went on:
"Although at present there is no strict legal obligation imposed on the existing Clyde Port Authority to require the dredging of the River, the Clyde Port Authority does part finance the dredging operations in the wider public interest."
It is right and proper that Mr. Thompson should acknowledge the part played by Clyde port authority at present. His letter continued:

"A privatised Company may decide to take a narrower short term commercial view that the dredging operations are not commercially attractive and discontinue these in the future."
Mr. Thompson made some further criticisms. He said, for example:
"The Bill would emphasise the property development aspects of the privatised Companies rather than the importance of the Clyde for employment, tourism, commerce and industry, leisure and the environment in general. Such an emphasis on property development may result in short term windfall profits being taken outwith the area of the Clyde without any obligation on the part of the shareholders to re-invest in the local area having regard to any consideration of public interest."
That is what I have said all along about clauses 1 to 5. No matter how estimable Sir Robert Easton and John Mather are—I have respect for both gentlemen and for their officials—a predator company based in London, Dusseldorf, Tokyo or New York may come along and sweep them into the Clyde. Would such people have any commitment to the Clyde and its people? I think perhaps not. That is why I want the Bill amended to require the head office always to be located on the Clyde. My hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, South may argue that it should be in Sa1tcoats, but I would settle for Glasgow.

No. If it is not Glasgow, it has to be Greenock.

Did the hon. Member for Eastwood support the Eurowestport concept put forward by the late John Davidson, formerly director of the CBI in Scotland, who had a vision within which the Clyde port authority had a major role to play? A couple of years ago, in talking about the channel tunnel—I relate my remarks to clauses 4 to 6 of the Bill—he argued the case for Eurowestport:
"The Channel Tunnel will be in operation in seven years. The west of Scotland will be then connected, without transshipment break, to the European transport network—a potential advantage we have never enjoyed before. It is that absence of any need for transshipment that alters so dramatically the situation.
The scale of port developments on the European continent has been a major feature of development in the past quarter century. They have established an enviable reputation for economic, uninterrupted service. But it surely ought to be possible to break that mould by detailed forward planning, a positive approach and determined marketing. We must not accept that others have a prescriptive right to the advantages."

The late John Davidson was my successor as director of the Scottish CBI. I thought a great deal about his proposal.

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's graceful intervention about the late John Davidson.

I quoted the late John Davidson because, with regard to clause 4 of this Bill, in the light of his comments about the Eurowestport concept and the traditional maritime activities carried out on the Clyde, it is essential that the CPA retains more than just a foothold in those industrial maritime activities. The CPA should not become a property company.

The Minister for Aviation and Shipping is listening to me in his usual attentive way. On Thursday 29 March I asked him to give us the names of the chairman, chief executive and directors of the CPA. One or two of those gentlemen have been mentioned. Needless to say, there are no women on the board. I wonder whether there will be women on future boards.

What about friends of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth)?

I am not sure whether Tommy O'Connor of the Transport and General Workers Union would want to find himself in such company. In addition to Tommy O'Connor and the then councillor Lawrence McGarry, one of the board members will be the managing director of Scottish Metropolitan Property plc. I wonder what ideas that CPA director has about property developments along the Clyde.

I do not want to speak for much longer because other hon. Members wish to speak. However, I want to consider dredging. It has been readily conceded by John Mather, chief executive of the CPA, by Bob Easton and by others that dredging is a major and vital task. We know that the costs of the dredging are disputed. When the Norwegian company Kvaerner sought to acquire the shipyard in the constituency of the hon. Member for Govan it was unhappy about its responsibility for meeting a share of the dredging costs. Clause 4 (3) refers to the port authority's obligation in relation to the dredging operation.

The other day I saw the dredger in the middle of the river, not far from Lymebank. By any standards she is an ancient vessel, long past her prime, and she needs to be replaced.

I hear what my hon. Friend the Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington), says and I suspect that the Government Whip, the hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight), might say the same thing.

The dredger is an ancient vessel. She does a fair turn of work, but she needs replacing. I estimate that, to do that job effectively, a new vessel will cost upwards of £12 million. I would like to see such a vessel built on the Clyde.

Where else but at Kvaerner Ferguson of Port Glasgow? The Norwegians are moving in everywhere.

The new company that will be formed if the Bill is enacted will have to find the wherewithal to replace the dredger if the company is to continue the dredging operation. In addition to that capital outlay, over the past two or three years the CPA's annual dredging costs have been in excess of £600,000. In terms of the liability under clause 4, I believe that some assistance is given to the CPA by the Strathclyde regional council, Glasgow district council, Kvaerner of Govan and Yarrow.

While I respect the people who run the CPA's trust board, in terms of clause 4(3) I have tried to change section 16 of the Clyde Port Authority Order Confirmation Act 1965 which reads:
"The Port Authority may from time to time deepen, dredge, scour and improve the bed and foreshore of the river and Firth of Clyde".
I have tried to change that power to a duty so that section 16 of the 1965 Act would read:
"The Port Authority shall from time to time".
I have sought to do that through a new clause that 1 have tabled to the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Bill because I am given to understand that nothing in this Bill abrogates the provisions of the 1965 Act. Does the Minister wish to intervene?

I thought that the Minister might tell me that I was wrong about that. If I am right, I have every right to table a new clause to a miscellaneous provisions Bill so as to change the 1965 Act. There may be a technicality with which I am not familiar, but I hope that I can change a power to a duty.

The hon. Member for Tayside, North referred to the container terminal. He was right to say that in terms of activity and vessel turn-around the terminal is a shadow of its former self. Nevertheless, there is work there. Ships are coming into the terminal. It is one of our finest deep port facilities—about 42 feet.

If the Bill is successful, the container terminal should continue as a container terminal and the land should not be regarded as a site for executive-style housing in landscaped gardens. Again referring to the late John Davidson's concept of Eurowestport, it is essential to retain that container terminal not only for the people of Greenock and Port Glasgow who work there but for the maritime link to what I hope will one day be a dedicated high-speed link through the channel tunnel and be connected with the European railway network.

The hon. Gentleman is making a fair point. Is he reassured by the fact that the Clyde port authority is investing about £1 million in the terminal for new storage and so on? There will be a real commitment.

Yes, indeed. I have seen the facilities. Not long ago, I talked to Phil Cannie and the other ex-dockers who have formed the company which rents the terminal from the CPA. I urged on them a workers' co-operative, but they settled for a private company.

I am concerned that the Clyde port authority will be regarded as a juicy financial morsel by some predator company that has no commitment to Scotland, let alone to the Clyde and the Firth of Clyde.

I am being an awkward customer with this Bill because of my constituency and Clyde-wide interests. In addition to the container terminal, the James Watt dock is in my constituency. Vessels that carry raw cane sugar from the African Caribbean and Pacific cane sugar producing countries are unloaded. There are only two such refineries left in the United Kingdom now—one on the Thames in London and one on the lower Clyde. About 300 of my constituents work in the Tate and Lyle cane sugar refinery. Apart from providing work for constituents, the House of Commons should honour its obligation, under the Lomé sugar protocol, to impoverished countries which produce that crop. In addition, in my constituency there is a ship repair firm which, I am pleased to say, employs 80 men. Its managing director, Mr. Sinclair, wrote to me the other day after he saw my interview with Miss Margo McDonald on Scottish Television. He expressed his serious concern for the future of the James Watt complex.

My hon. Friend will be aware also that constituents who work in the Caledonian MacBrayne shipping company are concerned about what is happening on the Clyde.

>: They are indeed. That concern extends along the river and the Firth. Many of those who work around the constituencies of Greenock, Port Glasgow, Inverclyde and Renfrew have some trust in the CPA as it is currently formed, but they are deeply worried about the future ownership of the Clyde port authority and where its head office will be located in 10 years time. If it is to be located in Robertson street in Glasgow and the container terminal is still to receive investment from the Clyde port authority, I shall be a much happier man. However, I have my doubts about the implications for my constituents and many other people and, as one who is directly affected by the Bill, despite the hon. Gentleman's assurances, I shall urge hon. Members to vote against the Bill.

8.45 pm

It might be convenient if I said a few words about the Government's position on the Bill. On Second Reading on 14 May I clearly stated the Government's position.

The slight bombshell that the Minister dropped on Second Reading was the fact that the Treasury is to run off with 50 per cent. of the slack and that that would apply to all port privatisations. A report in Lloyd's List last week suggests that, under an amendment to the Finance Bill, the Treasury would not only take 50 per cent. but would then impose a corporation tax of 35 per cent. on the remaining 50 per cent., and that there would then be a further cascading of corporation tax, which could mean that the Government could claw back a still greater proportion of the total revenue. I understand that amendments to the Finance Bill have been reintroduced. As the matter is of substantial significance to any port authority that is thinking of privatising itself, will the Minister clarify the Government's position? If he cannot do so tonight, will he write to me?

The position remains as I stated it on Second Reading. As, in the past, the Government put various moneys into trust boards, it is felt right that a proportion should go to the Government. On the hon. Gentleman's specific point, it would be better if I looked again at the report in Lloyd's List and wrote to him with further clarification. That issue will be debated later this evening and when the Finance Bill returns to the House. That may be the best time to clarify the Government's position.

The Bill has come back to the House without any amendments. It has my support, so I hope that it has the support of all hon. Members.

8.47 pm

The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) will correct me if I am wrong about the structure of the new authority and holding company. As I understand it, the successor company will be the functional arm of the holding company carrying out the functions of a port authority. The holding company will be the entrepreneurial, bustling, dynamic business organisation that will capitalise upon assets that are currently held by the Clyde port authority. Hon. Members cannot object to joint ventures between public authorities and private capital to develop ports in Glasgow or in any other part of Scotland. The Scottish Development Agency has engaged in that practice, Glasgow district council has encouraged it, and Strathclyde regional council also encourages it.

However, I fail to understand why we do not have a Bill to extend the powers of the present Clyde port authority to engage in joint ventures with private enterprise partners, and why it is necessary to go all the way to a private shareholding company, which is the holding company. For the life of me I cannot accept that someone has his eye on the massive asset stripping of the Clyde port authority's substantial holdings. The Clyde will by no means be a dead river, and certainly not on the banks where there is considerable development. Some people have great visions of capitalising on the assets on the north and south banks of the river. I share the anxieties of Opposition Members about the preparations that are taking place for massive asset stripping.

I have registered my concern about dredging. I do not think that the hon. Member for Eastwood was trying to mislead us when he said that there was no obligation on the successor company to dredge the Clyde. Clause 4 says that there will be transferred from the present port authority to the successor company
"all the property (whether heritable or moveable) of the Port Authority, and to all rights liabilities and obligations of the Port Authority".
What is the obligation if it is not dredging? The explanatory statement from the Bill's promoters suggests that the obligation rests upon the general duty of the port authority, expressed in section 13 of the 1965 Act, to take such steps from time to time as it may consider necessary for the maintenance or improvement of the port and the accommodation and facilities afforded therein or in connection therewith.

The crucial term in that obligation is not "general duty" but "port". What will be the future legal definition of a port? Not long ago such a definition would have been easy on the Clyde because from almost one end to the other it was a series of ports and it could have been said that the whole of the Clyde was a single port. However, that will not necessarily be the case in future because there has been a devastating reduction in commercial and industrial activity on the Clyde. I do not doubt that a container terminal would still be defined as a port and the same definition could be applied to the James Watt dock. But could the definition of a port be applied to the Kvaerner shipyard in Govan? It is a separate undertaking and a private enterprise company. It certainly relies upon the river, but it could not be argued that it relies upon a port.

I am worried about what may happen if we become involved in litigation. Clause 5 makes it ultra vires for the successor company to act beyond not the responsibilities or obligations of the Clyde port authority, but the present power of that authority. It does not impose any responsibilities or obligations. We are talking about the holding company being transferred to shareholders who are concerned solely with maximising profit irrespective of the effects of any of their policies on the Clyde or its immediate environs in Glasgow or the Greenock area. Some people and organisations would protest if it was decided to stop dredging the Clyde. If the matter went to court, there would be no point in quoting the words in Hansard of the hon. Member for Eastwood because it is a rule of the courts in Scotland and England that Hansard cannot be used as guidance to the meaning of an Act.

Some of my constituents genuinely believe that the Clyde port authority does not own waterfront properties in Greenock. They argue their case on the basis of a few contracts signed in 1772 in Edinburgh, which gave to the people of Greenock in perpetuity that area of the waterfront.

I foresee litigation arising and it will make the Court of Session interesting. [Interruption.] If the Bill becomes an Act and a case comes to the Court of Session, the judges will be compelled to interpret the Act. The hon. Member for Eastwood says that he expects the Clyde port authority to continue dredging. He should look again at the explanatory memorandum. It says that the successor company would succeed to the property rights and liabilities of the port authority. Clause 5 is about power only and has nothing to do with rights and liabilities, and it is arguable whether dredging is a legal, contractual liability on the Clyde port authority. If the hon. Gentleman says that it is not an obligation, it lies somewhere in the realm of ambiguity. If a case went to the Court of Session, the judge would say that if Parliament meant the authority to have a specific obligation, it would have written it into the Act. If Parliament does not do that, the matter will be debatable and a judge could well come down against the argument that the authority has a responsibility, a liability and an obligation.

I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument with interest. The duties and powers of the authority are laid down in section 13(3) of the 1965 Act and the successor company takes over those duties and powers.

The authority has the power to dredge the Clyde but, as the hon. Gentleman says, it does not have a legal obligation to do so. If we went to the Court of Session to try to stop the authority dredging the Clyde, it would win the case because it has the power. However, if we went to the Court of Session to make it dredge the Clyde, we should be engaged in an entirely different legal argument.

In order to help us follow the hon. Gentleman's line of argument, can he tell us of any other river in the United Kingdom where an authority or a private company has a statutory obligation to dredge the river?

I do not know of any cases that have been tested in the Court of Session and that is what worries me. We have a responsibility to make sure that legislation is absolutely clear and that liabilities and responsibilities are clearly defined in the Act.

All dredging operations in the former inner harbour on the Clyde between Victoria and Glasgow bridges ceased about a quarter of a century ago. I assume that at some stage that was defined as part of the port, that it is no longer so defined and that if it is possible for the port authority to walk away from the inner harbour, it is possible for it to walk away from anywhere.

I am worried that it is possible for the authority to walk away from the part of the Clyde that serves the important shipyard of Kvaerner and its substantial work force. For the life of me, I cannot understand why those who are arguing for the Bill are not prepared to say that they would advise the promoters, when the Bill goes to the other place, to remove any doubt whatever about the obligations of the successor company.

Having registered my anxiety on that matter, my final point is about the public benefit. I accept that the chairman cannot get free shares and that the hon. Member for Eastwood told us that free shares will be available to the employees. I have never understood the logic of that. I could never understand why, if one happens to be lucky enough to work for the gas board or the Clyde port authority at a certain time, one receives a bonus benefit, whereas if one is unlucky enough because of the labour market not to work for such a company one is denied that benefit. Also someone who worked for such a company but who has left or retired is denied that benefit.

I am worried that the local authorities will not benefit from the privatisation. The local authorities should have what is known in the oil industry as a carried interest, a set number of shares in a company that would become revenue earning. My argument is that if there are developments along the banks of the Clyde both north and south, such as housing and various other developments, the local authorities will be called on to provide a range of services that will add to their financial burden. Therefore, if anyone is to be cut in on free shares, there is a clear case for giving them to local authorities up and down the Clyde. At least in that way they would get something out of the asset stripping of public assets that I fear is inherent in the Bill.

Like the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow, I hope that there will be amendments in another place to tighten the Bill and produce a better balance in the public interest. That balance in the public interest is missing, so I shall join others in the Lobby in voting against Third Reading.

9 pm

I shall make only a brief speech.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why the hon. Members for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) and for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) get so worked up about dredging. Of course, dredging is important. That is why the Labour Government in 1969 wrote into the legislation that the Clyde port authority had a duty—I emphasise duty—to take such steps as from time to time
"they may consider necessary for the maintenance or improvement of the Port".
One cannot run a port unless from time to time dredging, if it is necessary, is carried out. That duty is carried over from the 1965 legislation into the Bill. Hon. Gentlemen are trying to race a hare that is a non-runner. The powers in the Bill are exactly the same as those in the current legislation. If dredging is required, the authority will have the right to carry it out.

The attitude of Opposition Members is disappointing. They believe that to continue as we are will help the Clyde port authority to run an efficient port. It is obvious that times have changed dramatically since 1965 and the port needs a great deal of support to go into new ventures to maintain its income with which to enhance the port and the community that it represents. One needs only to consider the market decline in trade on the west coast and the move towards the east coast, the restrictive powers in the Act and the way in which heavy engineering has disappeared. The hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow knows better than anyone how things have changed in his constituency and that the Clyde port authority must find new ways of developing the port.

New technology that has come into the west of Scotland does not require the same type of shipping as heavy engineering did years ago. We have also lost the oil shipments from the middle east because of north sea oil, which is welcome. Also imports of grain previously came into the west coast of Scotland from Canada and the United States, not only for whisky distilling but for agriculture. Cereals were imported for feedstuffs. Containerisation has moved to the south and east of the United Kingdom rather than develop on the west coast.

In simple terms, the authority is asking us to give it much greater flexibility to give it the powers to develop the port in the way that it feels necessary. It has had general support from a wide range of people who know what they are talking about. The main opposition to the Bill has come from Opposition Members who seem determined to prevent the port from developing and to drift on into stagnation.

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has listened to what Opposition Members have said. We recognise the potential benefits of a joint venture and we have argued that it should take place, but why is it necessary to have a wholly privatised Clyde port holding company? Why cannot the present authority have its powers extended so that it can go into a joint venture? What would be wrong with that? That would comply with the development of the Clyde, and we are all in favour of that.

If obtaining finance and venture capital were as simple as the hon. Gentleman seems to think, no doubt the port authority would have gone down that road. In fact, the authority needs wider powers to deal with what it thinks is the best way forward in developing the Clyde.

I am not sure whether Opposition Members have mentioned responsibilities for lights, buoys and recreation facilities. I am sure that many of us have sailed on the Clyde. In war time, I operated upon it and came to know it reasonably well. There is still a great future for developing recreation on the Clyde, but the port authority needs additional powers. There is the need also to remove any questions of doubt, and that the authority has raised with us from time to time.

The hon. Member for Govan has referred to the narrow issue of venture capital. It would be a pity to lose the opportunity that is presented by a much wider approach to the development of the Clyde because of the opposition of Opposition Members. The port authority has given close attention to the possibilities and opportunities that are available to it and it will proceed with confidence, provided that the Bill is passed, to develop the Clyde in the best interests of Scotland as a whole but particularly of the west coast and the Firth of Clyde.

Is it not also relevant to the argument that my hon. Friend is advancing that the board of the port authority, which was unanimous in bringing forward the proposals, includes the former councillor, Lawrence McGarry, who was chairman of the economic development committee of Strathclyde regional council?

That adds force to the support that should be given to the Bill. I understand that the trade unions are enthusiastic that the Bill should proceed.

I have always believed, as does the regional council in my constituency, that economic development committees are constructive and submit positive ideas to enhance the regions in which they operate. That, of course, must take place in conjunction with the Scottish Development Agency, enterprise trusts and the Scottish Industry Department. All these organisations seem keen to go forward together to support the port authority's initiative, and I cannot understand why Opposition Members are so antagonistic to it. We should speak out for Scotland and for the Clyde and give the Bill every encouragement.

9.9 pm

I am grateful for the opportunity to intervene briefly in the debate. I spoke on Second Reading and voted in the Noes Lobby. Since then I have not heard any arguments which have persuaded me to change my mind, so I shall vote against Third Reading.

The hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) is being unfair to Opposition Members, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) has said. We have been speaking for Scotland in general and for the Clyde in particular. Our only interest in the proposals set out in the Bill is that we consider that the Bill does not speak up, as it were, for Scotland, and especially for the Clyde.

> The sixth paragraph of the statement issued by the promoters in support of Third Reading states:
"The Port Authority would wish their business to have a commercial freedom beyond the severely restricted scope of the present powers of the Port Authority. The aim of the Bill is therefore to free the conduct of the Port Authority's business from the restrictions arising from their present limited powers."
The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) outlined a series of restrictions and I intervened to remind him that the main function of the port authority was that of a port and harbour authority. He had not given one example of a restriction that affected the port and harbour activities of the port authority. He gave us a lot of restrictions that could be suffered by property and commercial developments if the Clyde port authority constitution is not changed.

In common with other Opposition Members, I realise that things change on a river. Former assets may become liabilities for ports and harbours, but similarly those assets may be attractive as potential property and commercial developments. I appreciate that, given the changes over the years, there must be a restructuring of the Clyde port authority to enable it to sell its assets to realise money to develop its port and harbour facilities. Opposition Members are afraid that those assets will be stripped by the Clyde port holding company and will be used not for the benefit of the remainder of the Clyde port authority, but for the benefit of that company's directors and shareholders.

I laughed when the hon. Member for Eastwood read the comments made by a colleague and political friend, Tom O'Connor, in support of the Bill. One of the benefits of being here for a long time is that one can remember people and what they did. My political and trade union colleague, Tom O'Connor, was one of the men who prevented the port of Hunterston opening for six months because of a dispute between the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, the steel workers' union, the Clyde port authority and the Transport and General Workers Union. That man now supports the development of the Clyde when he spent a large part of his life restricting such development. I will not take him as my guide.

I should have thought that that meant that Mr. O'Connor's credentials in the Labour movement were fully established. Would the hon. Gentleman care to enlighten the House on his views of Lawrence McGarry?

I am in enough trouble with Strathclyde regional council, and now with the TGWU, without rising to that bait.

I realise that the Clyde port authority has been subject to restrictions for many years, but the major restriction has been withdrawn by the Government. The major restriction on the port's activities was the national dock labour scheme, which prevented it from developing the Clyde as it should have done. That scheme prevented the authority from developing the concept of a Euro-port, a transshipment port for Europe—as suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman)—based on the port of Hunterston. The authority is no longer restricted by that scheme and if it was able to realise its assets from sales on the upper Clyde there would be nothing to stop it, even under the present set-up, from developing a major port on the Clyde.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the national dock labour scheme was developed to protect registered dock workers from employers who were, in many instances, rapacious?

I accept what my hon. Friend says about the reasons for its establishment, but I am talking about the effects that that scheme had, until last year, on developments on the Clyde.

I accept that there is a need for reorganisation. As we have been told, the Clyde port authority has three constituent parts—the upper Clyde, the lower Clyde, and the firth of Clyde, with the ports of Hunterston and Ardrossan. The port and harbour facilities at upper Clyde are finished. Those are the assets that are to be sold. The upper port is important for its shipbuilding assets, of which the hon. Member for Govan spoke. I may get into trouble with my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow by saying that, at the end of the day, maybe even Greenock and Port Glasgow are finished and the full and future development of the Clyde should be in the ports of Hunterston and Ardrossan, especially Hunterston.

In Greenock, we have Kvaerner Kincaid, which produces the engines for the vessels built at Kvaerner Govan in the constituency of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars). Kincaid employs more than 500 people and Ferguson builds vessels for Caledonian MacBrayne. Greenock and Port Glasgow are far from finished.

I accept what my hon. Friend says, but I am talking about port and harbour facilities. He is talking about manufacturing and shipbuilding facilities, which I hope will continue because a number of my constituents work in those industries.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. As he knows, I was trying to intervene a few minutes ago, but I did not want to interrupt his flow.

I agree with everything the hon. Gentleman said about the dock labour scheme. My memory may be defective, but I do not recall him voting for the Government measure to abolish it.

Sometimes one has to follow the party Whip. In the end, I voted as I did because of the argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow. In the 1940s and 1950s, following the bad history of how the dockers and their families were exploited by the dock owners, there was a need for the scheme, but in the end it became a restriction on the activities of the Clyde port authority.

I am sorry that the Minister spoke so early. I thought that he would have taken the opportunity to speak at the end of the debate to answer the points made in it. If, as have been told, the Government are enforcing a Whip on the Bill, the Minister should have the courage to defend the Bill against the arguments that have come mainly from the Opposition.

Recently, in the Scottish press and media, there have been stories that Sir Robert Scholey—my old friend "Black Bob" Scholey—is interested in building an electric power station at Hunterston to develop it as a major coal port, using the coal to generate electricity in an area earmarked for a new steel mill. I know that it is difficult if it is not in the Minister's brief, but I hope that he will intervene to inform the House whether a Scottish Minister or himself, as Minister with responsibility for ports, has taken part in the plans that we are told have been put forward by British Steel to develop the port of Hunterston, a major part of the Clyde port authority.

In the port of Hunterston there are two direct reduction plants, built by British Steel, which were mothballed the day they were finished. If the Bill is enacted, will it mean that the steel developments for which we are hoping at Hunterston will be stopped because a private company will not be interested in a steel industry for Scotland or that industry's future? Will the Minister inform the House whether the Government are taking part in such negotiations, and can he confirm the statements that have been published in the Scottish press?

Order. I have allowed the hon. Gentleman to range widely, but I must remind him that we are debating Third Reading, which is extremely narrow, and that he can refer only to what is in the Bill at present.

I am trying to do that, Madam Deputy Speaker. I want to know whether the Clyde port authority will be obliged to continue with steel and other developments at Hunterston when the Bill becomes an Act. My hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) and I are interested in the future of the ports of Hunterston and Ardrossan, as they are the only real sources of revenue for the Clyde port authority—excluding asset sales.

I hope that the Minister will intervene to inform the House whether, if British Steel intends to build an electricity-generating station at the port of Hunterston, it will be prevented from doing so if that interferes with the steel-making capacity that we hope will be built at Hunterston.

The Bill will be bad for the future of the Clyde and it will be bad for the ports of Hunterston and Ardrossan. That is why I shall vote against Third Reading.

9.21 pm

It is unfortunate that the sponsor of the Bill, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), did not mention the amendments which it was agreed were necessary to the Bill, and which should have been discussed in Committee. The amendments are not enormously important, but they are significant for the future development of the Bill. The reason why we have not heard about them is that the promoters of the Bill want to avoid a Report stage and to accelerate proceedings on the Bill. That sort of manoeuvre causes a loss of trust.

It was clear from the speech of the hon. Member for Eastwood that the Bill is not necessary in this form. All Opposition Members believe that the port authorities are unsatisfactory at present. There is something questionable about a body when its owners and who it is accountable to are unknown. To say that the port authority needs amending powers is not the same as saying that it needs the Bill.

One of the disappointing aspects of tonight's debate is the fact that no one has considered the structure of the proposed company, and I shall do so later. There is confusion about the Clyde port authority, and it should be cleared up. The authority has been cosy and unexamined since the 1965 order. It is controlled by the CPA board, which is wholly appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport, who claims that he is not responsible for its activities—which I find questionable.

As far as we can tell, the chairman of the board receives £10,000 a year and each of its members £3,500 a year. Appointment to the board involves an important element of trust. The word "trust" keeps cropping up. It is a trust port, and the idea is to have some sort of mandate to safeguard the Clyde on behalf of the people. That means, for example, that the board, quite rightly, is dominated by people who have a central interest in the Clyde. It includes the managing director of Yarrow, the chief executive of Caledonian MacBrayne, a Bank of Scotland representative, a representative of a major property company and representatives from trade unions. Local authorities are represented, but they are not really represented. They are represented in the sense that it would be wrong if their representatives were not on the board, but they are there in a personal capacity, not mandated by the local authorities.

The managing directors of Yarrow and Caledonian MacBrayne would not dream of using their position in that trust port to benefit their companies. It would be unethical to use their position on the board of the Clyde port authority to their personal advantage or to the advantage of their companies. If they were to do so, the whole basis of that trust would break down.

When a new board is established but it keeps the members of the previous board and changes from a trust to a profit-making organisation, we must question the future relationship. It goes back to ownership. In this case, quite clearly the ownership is being transferred to the private sector. The Clyde port authority believes that the Government do not own it, and its chief executive said:
"If so, why should it share in the proceeds?"
Why should the Government share in the proceeds? That legitimately raises the question, why should anyone share in the proceeds? That must be justified in how the resources of the port authority are shared.

The chief executive said—and I hope that the press is correct:
"The board has only God above it."
That is a profound statement that raises serious questions about responsibility and accountability.

All Opposition Members accept that there should be reforms and increased accountability, but there should not be an automatic right of succession to a new company. Those who were appointed to the board of the port authority in trust should not have an automatic right of succession to the new company.

This privatisation is unlike any other. If it were the privatisation of gas, water, electricity or British Steel—which we regret—it would be under the supervision of the Government, who would then market the shares at a certain price. There would be an open door for those shares.

The distinction is that, with the gas privatisation, the new company had to have a memorandum and articles of association that laid down clearly its purposes and objectives. Here we are asked to endorse the setting up of a private company whose memorandum and articles of association, and therefore its purposes and objectives, we know nothing about.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. It is highly unsatisfactory that we have no details about the successor company when we could be given those details because the people who will decide about the future company are the board members of the Clyde port authority—no one else, because no one else can get in. Three bodies are to be set up—the Clyde port trust, the successor company, and the holding company. The Clyde port trust will extinguish itself. It will be in existence for only a while in order to set up the successor company and the holding company. The Bill says:

"The Trust shall consist of a chairman, a deputy chairman, and not less than eight nor more than eleven other members."
These people will be the chairman, deputy chairman and other members of the port authority, who shall become the chairman, deputy chairman and other members of the trust. This body will set up the successor company and will dispose of the securities of the holding company.

The hon. Member for Eastwood challenged me about my statement that the employee share ownership scheme applied only to the non-executive directors of the port authority. I was drawing his attention to another clause, which allows the securities to be distributed as the port trust wishes. Who has ever heard of a company in which the workers got shares but the directors did not? That would be a first. I am willing to withdraw all that I have said on this issue if the hon. Member will assure me that none of the non-executive directors, who are appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport, will benefit from privatisation.

If the general public are allowed to take up shares in the new holding company, then the directors, or the hon. Gentleman, or I, or anybody else, could apply for shares. The point is that the interest-free loan for shares is limited solely to employees or past employees of the company, so that that includes the executive directors, who are employees, but not the non-executive directors.

That was not the assurance that I was seeking, but it takes me on to another point. The hon. Member is implying that shares in this company will be issued on the basis of a public issue of shares. We know nothing about this. He said that it would be open to me, on my humble income, to apply for shares alongside all other members of the public and to be allocated shares. Will there be a public issue of shares or will shares be issued by invitation?

That is a possibility. The board made it quite clear that it wanted to place shares with Scottish financial institutions. That is its preference.

That is why we should be examining the Bill. Apart from a press release which was produced in about November containing a stated wish that the shares should be placed with Scottish financial institutions, I was not aware that there had been any commitment about who would get the shares or in what form. No details whatsoever have been issued about how the company is to be launched, but it is now quite clear that it will not be a public issue of shares with a listing on the Stock Exchange. There has been no attempt at that, but in some mystical way the company will be launched and people will be given the opportunity to have shares.

With regard to the non-executive directors of the present board, let me point out to my hon. Friend that there is no representative from Strathclyde regional council.

That is correct. There never was a representative of Strathclyde regional council in a formal sense; there was a person who also happened to be a councillor on Strathclyde regional council.

Is it not the case that, when the Secretary of State makes appointments to quangos, nominations are requested from the Scottish Trades Union Congress, for example, and the local councils?

No doubt the Department of Transport constructs such boards in a way similar to the way in which the Scottish Office constructs the boards for quangos under its control. However, I want to stick with my principal point.

If we give the Bill a Third Reading today, we shall be giving a blank cheque to a number of nominees of the Secretary of State for Transport to set up the successor company in whatever form they want. It may or may not benefit them, but it will not have to be in a detailed form approved by the House. We have an extremely vague Bill. We could have been given much more detail because the people who will shape the Clyde board trust, the holding company and the successor company are all in post in the Clyde port authority. Only they will be able to determine the shape of the new company.

The Bill is of considerable importance to the west of Scotland. The Opposition are disappointed that there has been so little interest in an issue of such importance to the future of the Clyde area. The Clyde has considerable symbolism. The port has economic, leisure and general social importance to the health of the area. Those who are in control of the Clyde must be checked to ensure that their interest in the Clyde and the people of the west of Scotland is central. If we give the Bill a Third Reading tonight, there will be no restrictions on who may own the companies and develop them in future.

There has been much reference to dredging. Through the process of debate we have clarified that issue. We now have a different answer from the first answer we received from the hon. Member for Eastwood. When the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) asked him whether the successor company would be responsible for dredging the river, the hon. Member for Eastwood replied that that was a fair question and that the answer was yes. The answer is not yes; the answer is maybe. The existing legislation allows the port authority to withdraw from dredging, and it will allow the future company to do so. Labour Members are concerned that because the authority will be privatised a commercial judgment will be made about whether it is profitable to dredge the Clyde. There are far more profitable activities for the successor company than to dredge the Clyde; that is a cost, not a profit-making exercise.

The regional council, the port authority and others commissioned studies which showed that the withdrawal of dredging would have consequences such as flooding and restricting access up the Clyde. An article on the consequences of global warming for the Clyde appeared in Scotland on Sunday on 10 June. There are many low-lying areas—Langhank on one side and Bowling on the other, which has the holding tanks for oil—where the consequences of flooding would be considerable.

A major port, its drainage, sewage and general environment, is much better controlled by a body that has as its central interest the welfare of the people of the area rather than by a private company, just for the time being and only if it is profitable. That is why I shall oppose the Bill.

9.41 pm

To a large extent, today's debate has been a re-run of the Second Reading debate, without much more light being shed, certainly by the sponsor of the Bill.

We have had one or two additions. We were pleased to see the occasional presence of the Secretary of State for Scotland, anxiously surveying his disparate little flock like the good shepherd to ensure that they are in good working order and all present and correct. We heard the same speech in three different forms from Scottish Conservative Members, which is possibly better than having no speech from the Minister.

To a large extent, we are being asked to accept the Bill without the case being spelt out meaningfully by the Government, who later will whip in sufficient Members to see the Bill over this hurdle.

It is important to spell out, as my hon. Friend the Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) has been doing so eloquently and on the basis of much research and knowledge, the fact that we are not considering a trivial measure or some matter peripheral to the Scottish economy. We are debating a Bill which will convert a public body which is a trust—a word that should have a rather special meaning—in name if not in nature, with assets worth £53 million, into a private company. In any other age, and under any other Government, that would be a remarkable piece of effrontery and a remarkable achievement for those involved in converting into private property assets that they have certainly not created or earned. That is what is being done, and outside the House there are names for such practices.

Does the hon. Gentleman associate himself 100 per cent. with the remarks in the press release of the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington), to which I referred earlier?

I am capable of making my own remarks.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the debate has been the unlikely sanctification by the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) of Mr. Tom O'Connor and Mr. Lawrence McGarry—gentlemen whom I have not in the past heard the hon. Gentleman speak of in terms of admiration. In opening his speech, the hon. Gentleman said that he did not want to repeat at length the arguments made on Second Reading. That would have been difficult, as he did not make them at length then. I suppose that the only relief today was that he did not quote Harry Lauder to flesh out his remarks as he did on Second Reading.

The hon. Gentleman may wish to remedy that now, but I do not have time for such diversions.

Questions are unanswered. Why is the Bill needed? Why do we need a private company? If there are powers which are not at present beyond the reach of the Clyde port authority, why cannot those powers be obtained through legislation while maintaining the existing framework? By legislating in this way, we do not create a pot of gold or a private company out of public assets. That is why the Bill is being pursued.

I welcome the relatively benign presence of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Another curiosity that I have noticed in the past few minutes has been the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) flitting around the Chamber, advising all whose ear he can catch about how to proceed in the closing stages of the debate. That is exactly the kind of grubby measure in which one would expect the hon. Gentleman to be actively involved. It is certainly not the wellbeing of Clydeside communities that has motivated him to be with us at this hour.

All the examples quoted by the hon. Member for Eastwood in terms of the alleged need for the extended powers of the newly privatised company relate to speculative development—not the functions of a river authority. Labour Members accept that there are occasions when development should take place and when partnership between the public and the private sector is desirable, but we certainly do not accept that it is beyond the wit of the existing authority to enter into such relationships to achieve specific ends. We do not believe, however, that it is self-evidently true that a harbour authority should take unto itself powers which put it, as a private company, in a position of what might be regarded as unreasonable strength, with the advantage over all other developments.

The example quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham) is relevant. We have public bodies and private developers advancing supermarket and commercial development schemes in Renfrewshire—exactly the kind of developments to which the hon. Member for Eastwood referred. The Clyde port authority, because of its advantageous position as a holder of the riverside sites, will cut across everything else being done. By gaining access to these sites as a public body, it will take unto itself power to override the wider planning considerations of Renfrewshire. I can well understand the fury with which that proposal has been received by local authorities—which, presumably, the hon. Member for Eastwood would regard as wicked, anachronistic institutions—and by private sector developments which are intensively involved in these developments. The Clyde port authority has ridden roughshod over them in the deal that has been struck with the Scottish Office over the Braehead development.

The hon. Gentleman should withdraw that comment. I specifically said that Renfrew district council, which is controlled by the Labour party, the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham) and I see eye to eye.

In his guise as a reasonable man—I am familiar with that guise and have been known to value it at times—the hon. Gentleman has repeatedly said how often he finds himself agreeing with Renfrew district council and, by association, what a fine bunch of chaps they are. What he has not told us is why, on this specific issue, he finds himself in direct conflict with Renfrew district council and why he is sponsoring a Bill which runs directly contrary to the interests and wishes of that council. I do not see the hon. Gentleman rushing to intervene at this stage.

The hon. Gentleman alleged that I was making a blanket condemnation of Renfrew district council. That is simply not the case. Of course there are issues on which I disagree with Renfrew district council—but not all the time.

No, but this is such an issue, and we note that the grounds for the disagreement have not been explained.

Inverclyde district council said in its letter to Opposition Members:
"The Bill would emphasise the property development aspects of the privatised Companies rather than the importance of the Clyde for employment, tourism, commerce and industry, leisure and the environment in general. Such an emphasis on property development may result in short term windfall profits being taken outwith the area of the Clyde without any obligation on the part of the shareholders to re-invest in the local area having regard to any consideration of public interest."
That, in a nutshell, is one of our objections to the Bill: the Clyde port authority will become primarily and overwhelmingly a property development company, to the exclusion—certainly the subordination—of marine interests.

My hon. Friend is aware that it took us years and years to make plans for the old factory site at Linwood, where we had lost 9,000 jobs. We were going to build warehouses, factories, retail outlets. Along came Tilbury, and now the plans are in jeopardy as a result of the present scheme.

I well understand the strength of feeling that my hon. Friend expressed, and we note the failure of the hon. Member for Eastwood to reconcile such feelings with his support for the Bill, which will precipitate the Braehead development and others like it.

On dredging, the point has been made well and often that there is a difference between powers and duties. Everyone knows that. Everyone knows that the Clyde port authority has a power to dredge. It exercises that power—indeed, it regards it as a duty. That is what it is in business for. Equally, everyone knows that if we do not write a duty into the constitution of the private authority—which, as I have explained, will have a different role and a different order of priorities, although perhaps not in the immediate future—the power will not necessarily be acted upon. Our concerns on this subject have been added to rather than diminished by the conspicuous refusal of the hon. Member for Eastwood to give any assurances on the matter. All that the hon. Gentleman has incanted and all that the hon. Members for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) and for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) have said is that the powers will not change. We all know that the powers will not change, but that means that no duty will be imposed on the new company to carry out dredging.

I share precisely the view expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) about the industrial relic that now floats about dredging the Clyde. It is not unreasonable to estimate that £10 million or £12 million worth of capital will be required to renew the vessel which dredges the Clyde. We have heard nothing from the hon. Member for Eastwood about where that capital is to come from when the time comes, as it presumably soon will, to replace the dredging vessel.

We know that, at some future time, the privatised Clyde port authority will say, "There is no duty upon us to dredge the Clyde and it is not economic to do so." The bill will then land up with the local authorities and if the local authorities do not pick up the tab, the Clyde will no longer be dredged, although dredging is vital to its role as a marine thoroughfare. We know that Kvaerner has balked at the contribution that it is asked to make to meet the dredging costs. What will happen if that company refuses to contribute its part of the dredging costs? Is Yarrow's—perhaps by then no longer under Sir Robert Easton—to continue to contribute to the dredging costs? If not, who will pay to dredge the Clyde? That such questions have gone unanswered by the hon. Member for Eastwood is, to say the least, disappointing.

I met an old friend of mine recently, Mr. Finlay McNeil, a distinguished piper and Gaelic singer, who had childhood memories of the area. He was a member of what might be known as the Gaelic diaspora in Greenock. His father served on vessels which had the duty to maintain the lighthouses on the Clyde. He happened to tell me that that function now belongs to the CPA. Is that a power or a duty? What undertakings can the hon. Member for Eastwood give us that the CPA will continue to maintain the lighthouses on the Clyde? If that function is not fulfilled by the CPA, who will fulfil it? I should be pleased if the hon. Member for Eastwood would intervene and reassure me on that point.

The financing of the CPA is, to say the least, dodgy. It is only a few weeks since we heard of the distress in the ranks of the CPA about the prospect of the closure of Ravenscraig. We shall all resist that closure, but if it happens, it will have a drastic effect on the finances of the CPA. Some 50 per cent. of the CPA's profits come from its Hunterston's operations. The Opposition will fight to ensure that Ravenscraig survives, but if through the carelessness of the Government that plant does not survive, what will be the impact on the overall finances of the CPA?

Earlier, I asked the Minister what would happen to a privatised CPA if a report in Lloyd's List is correct and it will not be 50 per cent. of the takings that is seized by the Treasury but corporation tax on that amount, which could mean 65 per cent. or more of the revenue from the privatisation of the CPA being taken by the Treasury. What would happen if the CPA does not, as envisaged, have a healthy capital position at the outset and guaranteed revenue from the activities at Hunterston? What if the CPA loses much of the capital and much of the revenue? None of those questions has been answered. Even more disgracefully, no attempt has been made by the Bill's sponsors to answer them.

It has been the responsibility of Labour Members to lead public opinion on this issue. Over several months my colleagues and I have tried to interest public opinion in Scotland about this matter. We have repeatedly drawn attention to the possible implications for the CPA. I would not be anything other than honest if I did not say that I am disappointed by the response.

We are somewhat inured to such measures if we can allow a public trust with assets of £53 million to be converted into private property without more of a reaction than there has been in Scotland in recent months. I am disappointed that there has been no reaction from Strathclyde region, which is the major local authority with statutory powers involved in the CPA. Many of the district councils have the gravest reservations about the proposal, but in the absence of a lead from the major local authority, they do not feel that they can take a stand on their own, although many have expressed reservations.

It is inexplicable that, while the Transport and General Workers Union opposed the Teesside legislation vigorously, it has taken no such stance over the Clyde—

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 178, Noes 47.

Division No. 274]

[9.58 pm


Aitken, JonathanAtkins, Robert
Alexander, RichardBaker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Allason, RupertBatiste, Spencer
Amess, DavidBeaumont-Dark, Anthony
Arbuthnot, JamesBeith, A. J.
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Bellingham, Henry

Bendall, VivianKirkwood, Archy
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Knapman, Roger
Benyon, W.Knowles, Michael
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterLawrence, Ivan
Boscawen, Hon RobertLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Boswell, TimLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Lightbown, David
Bowis, JohnLilley, Peter
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Brandon-Bravo, MartinLord, Michael
Brazier, JulianLyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Bright, GrahamMacfarlane, Sir Neil
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Browne, John (Winchester)MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Buck, Sir AntonyMaclean, David
Budgen, NicholasMcLoughlin, Patrick
Butterfill, JohnMalins, Humfrey
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Carrington, MatthewMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs LyndaMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Chapman, SydneyMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Chope, ChristopherMiller, Sir Hal
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Mitchell, Sir David
Colvin, MichaelMoate, Roger
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Monro, Sir Hector
Cran, JamesMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Currie, Mrs EdwinaMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Moss, Malcolm
Davis, David (Boothferry)Mudd, David
Day, StephenNeale, Gerrard
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesNeubert, Michael
Dunn, BobNicholson, David (Taunton)
Durant, TonyNorris, Steve
Fairbairn, Sir NicholasOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Fallon, MichaelOppenheim, Phillip
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Paice, James
Fishburn, John DudleyPatnick, Irvine
Fookes, Dame JanetPatten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Forth, EricPawsey, James
Fox, Sir MarcusPorter, David (Waveney)
Franks, CecilPrice, Sir David
Freeman, RogerRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Fry, PeterRedwood, John
Gale, RogerRenton, Rt Hon Tim
Garel-Jones, TristanRhodes James, Robert
Gill, ChristopherRiddick, Graham
Glyn, Dr Sir AlanRidsdale, Sir Julian
Goodlad, AlastairRifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesRowe, Andrew
Gorman, Mrs TeresaShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Gow, IanShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Sims, Roger
Ground, PatrickSkeet, Sir Trevor
Grylls, MichaelSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Hanley, JeremySquire, Robin
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Stanbrook, Ivor
Harris, DavidStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Hayes, JerryStern, Michael
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyStevens, Lewis
Hind, KennethStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Howard, Rt Hon MichaelStewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreySummerson, Hugo
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Irvine, MichaelThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Jack, MichaelThorne, Neil
Janman, TimWaddington, Rt Hon David
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Key, RobertWallace, James
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Waller, Gary
Kirkhope, TimothyWatts, John

Wells, BowenWood, Timothy
Widdecombe, Ann
Winterton, Mrs Ann

Tellers for the Ayes:

Winterton, Nicholas

Mr. Tim Devlin and

Wolfson, Mark

Mr. William Hague.


Armstrong, HilaryLambie, David
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Leadbitter, Ted
Beckett, MargaretLofthouse, Geoffrey
Bell, StuartMcAllion, John
Bermingham, GeraldMcCartney, Ian
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)McFall, John
Buckley, George J.McKelvey, William
Carr, MichaelMahon, Mrs Alice
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Michael, Alun
Clelland, DavidMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Cohen, HarryNellist, Dave
Crowther, StanPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Cryer, BobRedmond, Martin
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Sillars, Jim
Dixon, DonSkinner, Dennis
Dunnachie, JimmySpearing, Nigel
Eadie, AlexanderStrang, Gavin
Evans, John (St Helens N)Wareing, Robert N.
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Flynn, PaulWilson, Brian
Foster, DerekWorthington, Tony
Godman, Dr Norman A.
Graham, Thomas

Tellers for the Noes:

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Mr. Mike Watson, and

Haynes, Frank

Mr. Maria Fyfe.

Ingram, Adam

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House proceeded to a Division

(seated and covered): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wish to say—

Order. The hon. Lady would do herself a great justice—[Interruption.] Order. I am trying to speak. The hon. Lady will do herself justice if she waits until the Division is over so that I can hear her properly and the entire House can hear her.

The House having divided: Ayes 173, Noes 43.

Division No. 275]

[10.09 pm


Aitken, JonathanBowis, John
Alexander, RichardBraine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Allason, RupertBrandon-Bravo, Martin
Amess, DavidBrazier, Julian
Arbuthnot, JamesBright, Graham
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Atkins, RobertBrowne, John (Winchester)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Buck, Sir Antony
Batiste, SpencerBudgen, Nicholas
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyButterfill, John
Beith, A. J.Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Bellingham, HenryCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Bendall, VivianCarrington, Matthew
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Benyon, W.Chapman, Sydney
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterChope, Christopher
Boscawen, Hon RobertClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Boswell, TimClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Colvin, Michael

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)McLoughlin, Patrick
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Malins, Humfrey
Cran, JamesMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaMarshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Davis, David (Boothferry)Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Day, StephenMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMiller, Sir Hal
Dunn, BobMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Durant, TonyMitchell, Sir David
Fairbairn, Sir NicholasMoate, Roger
Fallon, MichaelMonro, Sir Hector
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Fishburn, John DudleyMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Fookes, Dame JanetMoss, Malcolm
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Neale, Gerrard
Forth, EricNeubert, Michael
Fox, Sir MarcusNicholson, David (Taunton)
Franks, CecilNorris, Steve
Freeman, RogerOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Fry, PeterOppenheim, Phillip
Gale, RogerPaice, James
Garel-Jones, TristanPatnick, Irvine
Gill, ChristopherPatten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Glyn, Dr Sir AlanPattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Goodlad, AlastairPawsey, James
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesPorter, David (Waveney)
Gorman, Mrs TeresaPrice, Sir David
Gow, IanRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Redwood, John
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Rhodes James, Robert
Ground, PatrickRiddick, Graham
Grylls, MichaelRidsdale, Sir Julian
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Hanley, JeremyRowe, Andrew
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Harris, DavidShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hayes, JerryShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneySims, Roger
Hind, KennethSkeet, Sir Trevor
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Howard, Rt Hon MichaelSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Stanbrook, Ivor
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Stern, Michael
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Irvine, MichaelStewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Jack, MichaelStradling Thomas, Sir John
Janman, TimSummerson, Hugo
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Key, RobertThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Kirkhope, TimothyThorne, Neil
Kirkwood, ArchyWaddington, Rt Hon David
Knapman, RogerWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Wallace, James
Knowles, MichaelWaller, Gary
Lawrence, IvanWatts, John
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkWells, Bowen
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Widdecombe, Ann
Lightbown, DavidWinterton, Mrs Ann
Lilley, PeterWinterton, Nicholas
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Wolfson, Mark
Lord, MichaelWood, Timothy
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Macfarlane, Sir Neil

Tellers for the Ayes:

MacGregor, Rt Hon John

Mr. Tim Devlin and

MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)

Mr. William Hague.

Maclean, David


Armstrong, HilaryClarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Cohen, Harry
Beckett, MargaretCryer, Bob
Bell, StuartDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Bermingham, GeraldDixon, Don
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Dunnachie, Jimmy
Buckley, George J.Eadie, Alexander
Carr, MichaelEwing, Harry (Falkirk E)

Flynn, PaulNellist, Dave
Foster, DerekPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Fyfe, MariaRedmond, Martin
Godman, Dr Norman A.Sillars, Jim
Graham, ThomasSkinner, Dennis
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Spearing, Nigel
Haynes, FrankStrang, Gavin
Hinchliffe, DavidWareing, Robert N.
Ingram, AdamWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Lambie, DavidWilson, Brian
Lofthouse, GeoffreyWorthington, Tony
McFall, John
McKelvey, William

Tellers for the Noes:

Mahon, Mrs Alice

Mr. Mike Watson and

Michael, Alun

Mr. Ian McCartney.

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

10.21 pm

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Since I do not have a bow tie, cane or tap shoes with me, you can understand my reluctance to don the top hat and go into a Ginger Rogers routine, although the top hat is disreputable enough for the "We're a couple of swells" routine. Given the propensity of former Cabinet Ministers to acquire lucrative directorships, have we any idea how many Conservative Members will profit from tonight's proceedings and when?

The hon. Lady waited a long time to put that point of order to me, but I must disappoint her by saying that it has nothing to do with the Chair.