M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

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Motion: That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Public Works Order on A

Poll ended at Thu May 13, 2021 7:59 pm

Aye
10
53%
No
8
42%
Absent
1
5%
Abstain
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 19

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Dr. James Webster
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M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

Post by Dr. James Webster »

Motion: That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Public Works Order on Airport Expansion (MS-2), dated Q2 2019, a copy of which was laid before this House on Q2 2019, be annulled.


Proposer: Dr. James Webster, Shadow Transport Secretary
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Re: M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

Post by Dr. James Webster »

Mr. Speaker,

I rise today to offer this motion to give this house a chance to vote on the Ministerial Statement before it is enacted. The Heathwick expansion plan was ill thought out, ill consulted, and rushed. Today this house has a chance to set things right and vote this plan down so that the correct decision can be made for our environment, for our economy, and for the future of Britain. It is imperative for this house to have a discussion on what is best for Britain when it comes to airport expansion. I believe that this house supports sound decisions that do not require an expensive, environmentally disastrous, mis-step to help smooth over the Government’s double u-turn. The bottom line is by nearly every expert opinion Heathwick expansion is the less desirable option. The Airlines do not want Heathwick, the environmentalists don’t want Heathwick, local residents do not want Heathwick. No one except this Government wants Heathwick. Every part of this policy is the wrong direction for Britain.

Last year this house voted for another airport plan, the Heathrow expansion plan; when the government made that decision, it had the report and findings of both the Airport commission which unanimously rejected this Heathwick proposal, and the Department of Transport report that the Secretary cited liberally in his speech announcing the policy shift, I truly am unsure if this policy was even discussed with experts. After all, it truly does not look like there are many that back the Government’s plan.

Mr Speaker, does this house believe that on the poor use of one report, that does not include the full Government plan that we should completely reverse course? I do not think so. From an economic standpoint this plan only wins in the very long term in one of two reports. Otherwise the current plan was the economically sound decision in the short term, medium term, and long term answer of the other report. However, to find out if the Government made the right choice in the long run, we have to place a large bet on stakes that are not good for anyone. Next year another report could come out indicating that we were too bullish about the long-term prospects of Heathwick, and then what? Does the Government just keep on u-turning over and over again? We have already seen the brash, thoughtless approach to policy under the “leadership” of the Prime Minister: a minister misleading the House and then resigning, the Prime Minister threatening schools with police raids and now Heathwick. We should reject this plan because it’s terrible in the short term, worse in the medium term, and a gamble long term.

The Transport Secretary tried to pitch his idea as more environmentally friendly, but all of that research did not include his gamble at destroying green spaces and homes to build their new rail line I imagine when factoring for environmental disruption to not only destroy green spaces, but construct a new rail line solely for the benefit of airports, a few things were missed by the Secretary of State. But because something slightly destroys the environment less is not how sound environmental policy is made. Sound environmental policy comes from replacing things that damage the planet, with things that help save it. Worldwide air travel accounts for a large portion of carbon emissions. What if instead of destroying the environment to build the rail line, we made a sensible investment in trying to make air travel more clean; while also promoting alternatives for short distance travel. We should be looking to roll out rail electrification across Wales and the North to improve rail travel. We should be looking to increase rail connectivity between the UK and the European Continent. This solution the Government has come up with, that no-one supports, is a solution to a problem like a sledgehammer is to a glass window - destined for disaster.

However, examining their environmentalist claim, their economic claim, we have an article in the financial times that outlines exactly what airlines think about this plan set out by the government. It points out that the only reason that the emissions numbers for Gatwick look better than Heathrow is that the airlines have no plans to stop using Heathrow even after Gatwick expansion, almost as if we are expanding the wrong airport. Not only that but that expansion comes at a cost of international connectivity to the largest international airport in the UK. Heathwick expansion will not create another international hub. The Financial Times reported that it is incredibly unlikely that would happen. Ultimately Gatwick is a regional airport and expanding it serves our regional needs, not international travel. Heathwick expansion is a fundamentally flawed expansion idea. The article went further pointing out that the rail line will not be the successful hub that the Government is trying to pitch. The airports aren’t a government run system, they are private corporations competing with others. Why would they make it easier for their competitors to get an advantage and use the rail network to send customers away? So, we have a chance to prevent the rail line from destroying green space and people’s homes to be barely used by the airports anyway. What a complete shame it would be to spend all that money, disrupt millions of people’s lives just to end up for it to be never used by it not stopping for residents to use or airports not promoting it. Mr Speaker, this plan is quickly becoming a train to nowhere.

Finally, is the most desperate area in need of more regional air traffic the Southeast of England? We have many airports in this country that serve regional traffic, because regional traffic is more targeting for short trips and outings to a small region. International travel comes to London to see the whole UK. I think it is fundamentally flawed to provide extra benefit to one region, instead of trying to make the whole country stronger. Whether you backed Heathrow expansion, I did not, you can understand the economic benefit to the whole country by making it easier to get long international flights to this country, better regional flights from Europe and other close regions hurt other regional airports in this country, highlighted by the Honorable Member from Hazel Grove, if the plan is as successful as the government says it will be, then it will hurt regional airports in North England, Scotland, and Wales, to the benefit of the South East and London. We chose previously to increase the economic benefit of the whole country, the government is trying to go back on that, and benefit a small region.

Mr Speaker, the Heathwick proposals from the Government fail on all areas of scrutiny. It is not economical and expects us to take a massive risk for a future benefit that may never occur. It destroys tracts of the green belt, destroys communities and homes with the platriest of promises from this Government. It is not even supported by the industry the Government wants to encourage. This plan is just another example of the incompetence of this Government - a train to nowhere dreamt up by a Minister with no clue. Mr Speaker, I urge all colleagues to support this motion and demand better from this Government. If this is the best they can come up with, then they should get out of the way for a party that can. I commend this motion to the House.
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Re: M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

Post by Sir James McCrimmon »

Mr. Speaker,

I would say it's a joy to be condescended to by the Hon. Shadow Secretary, but considering the party he represents, it smacks more of hypocrisy. Why, Mr. Speaker, his party is more than willing to initially support only to then cancel or change! I had hoped, as an environmental economist, he would remember some of the more recent investments supported by his party that did not pan out - the Bristol Supertram, London's Cross River Train, the Leeds Supertram, Merseytram, and West London Tram just to name more than a few. The nature of transport is never stable, even when it's just one party making the choices!

I also have to note the irony in our positions today. The Labour frontbencher is speaking in favour of big business, and the Tory is supporting the average citizen. Certainly, a departure from what his previous leaders would have expected from a comrade. Allow me to brush off my dusty Russian for a brief second: Джон, вас всегда ждут в консерваторах, если вам это слишком неудобно. (Trans: John, you are always welcome in the Conservatives if this is too uncomfortable for you.)

Just today, Mr. Speaker, just today we have seen our friends in local government, in Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead come out in favor of this proposal. Is this exactly what they wanted? Not at all. But this, Mr. Speaker, is the only option we have left. Expanding Gatwick by itself does not increase connectivity and Heathrow expansion is anathema in the area. This is about our economy, creating jobs in the local areas, and protecting our environment.

The facts are clear cut - and they say that expanding at Gatwick is better for the environment. Certainly, high speed rail does not help that even more, but our response to it is. As I previously announced, we will be expanding green belt land so that when this is over, there is more land in our green belt than there is right now. The Great Defiler, Lord Adonis, as Transport Secretary, approved a plan that would have HS2 between Birmingham and London cut directly through virginal green space in my own constituency. The Rt. Hon. Leader of the Opposition voted for it. The Hon. Shadow Secretary voted for it. Now they stand before you, aghast, that high speed rail should be allowed to cut through a greenbelt which will be replaced and then some. This is rank hypocrisy, Mr. Speaker, and I. Will. Have. None of it.

Adonis has killed the virgin Hippolytus, which makes me Artemis, and I am more than willing to strike back at his heart. In the myths, Artemis asked Asclepius to resurrect him, and it was so. I stand here willing to resurrect and grow our green belt today with our pledge to expand in excess of the amount that we disturb, something that will become law in the upcoming Environment bill. Will the Hon. gentleman opposite join me?

And I know the Hon. Shadow Secretary had some things to say about regional investment and increasing high-speed rail. I am not a White Queen reigning like Artemis or others. I cannot believe six impossible things before breakfast. I cannot even begin to tackle two mostly-impossible things in the few months I've been on this job! It is, as all my predecessors will attest, a hard position. So let me speak to the Hon. Shadow Seceretary in the voice of Aslan, and I do want to assure this House before that that I do not have a God complex, just a literary reference one - "Patience, dear heart." We still have three more years, and we will make the most of them for all Britons, for this green and pleasant land we have inherited, and for our country as a whole.
Sir James McCrimmon
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First Secretary of State
Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury
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Re: M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

Post by Blakesley »

ORDER! The Rt Hon Member for Chesham and Amersham will limit his spoken work in this chamber to the English language!
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Re: M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

Post by Dr. James Webster »

Mr. Speaker,

Let me check my notes for a second, I believe that the discussion we were having was related to the Government’s disastrous Heathwick proposal. Honestly from his response the Member opposite seems to want to discuss anything else. I promise to keep my response metaphor free, I have no plans to compare myself so boldly to goddesses, fictional or mythological characters, or anything else the Member opposite of me can come up with. We are talking about a proposal that affects all the United Kingdom. I have to ask, does the average Brit, whose home gets bulldozed to build your rail line, benefit? No, they don’t. I implore you in the future to consider the people most negatively impacted by your proposal before calling yourself a defender of the average Brit. However before continuing to argue the facts and how they fail to show the benefits that the Member opposite promises are false.

Starting with that analysis recently released by his office. Firstly and arguably most importantly shows that the Gatwick expansion would cost closer to 10 billion pounds than 7 billion, I think the Member opposite claimed that it would cost no more than 8.2 billion pounds. Now 8.2 billion is closer to 7 billion than 10 billion, however I will concede he was citing a report that is a few years old. I question why the use of an older outdated cost, when he had access to a new more accurate one from his own office. I further continue to dispute the Member Opposite’s use of the environmental impact being lower for Gatwick expansion, as those reports did not include a full analysis of the Heathwick plan. Other sources claim that the only reason the Gatwick expansion proposal had less environmental impact, and, at this point, I am directly quoting the article in the financial times about the Government’s proposal: “The lower carbon numbers from Gatwick expansion are a result of fewer long-haul flights and less global connectivity[.]" Now remember the pitch around Heathwick is that it is supposed to clear up capacity for more long haul flights for Heathrow. Do you know what that means? More carbon emissions.

This hasn’t even mentioned the fact that his own office estimates that a lot of lower priced airlines will be priced out of Gatwick, even at the lower 7 billion pound figure. However, the report did inform us one thing as to why Luton was added to the proposal: to deal with that displacement. You have to love the Government’s belief that somewhere the easy solution is just right around the corner, and somehow they will find the one proposal with no consequences. However here we haven’t. Each home that is destroyed by this proposal, each greenspace torn up is another failure of policy by this government. It should not be lost that the Government chooses which airport gets the biggest economic advantage alongside Gatwick. They chose Luton over Stansted, and Stansted and other smaller and medium airports are going to struggle compared to the conglomerate the Government is trying to create.

I think it is quite telling that the Member opposite devoted more time to discuss anything else, but to defend his proposal. He rambled on about which mythological figure he was metaphorically speaking, or tried to point to anything that was not Heathwick expansion. If I recall correctly he uttered two, maybe three sentences in it’s defense. I hope that the Member opposite can endeavor to do better in the future. However, I must make sure that I do my due diligence. On his point about Heathrow, I’d like to remind him that Heathrow expansion already passed this house when the previous Prime Minister put it up for a vote last year. Either way, I believe that it is quite clear that this is the wrong decision for our environment, for our economy, for our country. I once again implore the House to reject this proposal.
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Re: M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

Post by Macmillan »

DIVISION! CLEAR THE LOBBIES!
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Re: M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

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Re: M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

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no
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Re: M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

Post by Dr. James Webster »

You need to vote in the poll
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Re: M-3 Motion to Rescind Public Works order on Airport Expanion

Post by Macmillan »

ORDER:

The Ayes to the Right - 345
The Noes to the Left - 297

The Ayes have it, the Ayes have it
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