Photo of Mr Barney Hayhoe

Mr Barney Hayhoe (Hounslow Brentford and Isleworth)

I beg to move, That Schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 be amended as follows:—

PART I OF SCHEDULE 1

1. In the entry beginning 'Resident Magistrate' after the word 'Magistrate' there shall be inserted the words 'or Deputy Resident Magistrate'.

PART II OF SCHEDULE I

Additional Entries

2. There shall be inserted at the appropriate places:— 'The British Board of Agré ment.The English Industrial Estates Corporation.The Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland.'

Entries omitted

3. The following entries shall be omitted:— 'The Agré ment Board.The Civil Service Appeal Board.A Colonial Currency Board.An Independent Schools Tribunal constituted under Schedule 6 to the Education Act 1944 or Schedule 2 to the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.The Industrial Estates Corporations constituted in accordance with the Local Employment Act 1972.The Northern Ireland Civil Service Appeal Board.The Panel of Official Arbitrators constituted for the purposes of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act 1919.'.

PART III OF SCHEDULE I

Additional Entries

4. There shall be inserted at the appropriate places:— 'Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Civil Service Appeal Board.Chairman of the Distinction and Meritorious Service Committee for Northern Ireland.Chairman of a committee constituted under section 90 of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1960.Chairman of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Appeal Board.Chairman of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland.Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Sports Council.Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Sports Council.Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Sports Council for Northern Ireland.Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Sports Council for Wales.Chairman of the Wine Standards Board of the Company of the master, wardens and commonalty of Vintners of the City of London.Chief Scientist of the Scottish Home and Health Department.Director General of the National Economic Development Office.Medical Officer for Complaints appointed for Wales by the Secretary of State.Any member of the Mental Health Act Commission in receipt of remuneration.Member of a panel of persons appointed under Schedule 10 to the Rent Act 1977 to act as chairmen and other members of rent assessment committees.Member of the panel of persons appointed under Schedule 5 to the Rent (Scotland) Act 1971 to act as chairmen and other members of rent assessment committees.Registration Officer appointed under section 6(3) of the Representation of the People Act 1949.Rent officer or deputy rent officer appointed in pursuance of a scheme under section 63 of the Rent Act 1977.Rent officer or deputy rent officer nominated under Schedule 5 to the Rent (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.'.

Entries omitted

5. The following entries shall be omitted:— 'Chairman or Deputy Chairman of an Administrative Board constituted for the purposes of any scheme made, or having effect as if made, under section 2 or 5 of the Industrial Injuries and Diseases (Old Cases) Act 1975.Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Distinction Awards in Northern Ireland.Chairman of the Cinematograph Films Council.Paid Chairman of an Economic Development Committee.Chairman of the Mining Qualifications Board.Paid Chairman of a National Economic Development Council Working Party.Correspondent appointed by the Commissions of Customs and Excise.Director of the British Sugar Corporation Limited appointed by the Ministers as defined by section 17 of the Sugar Act 1956.Director of the Compagnie Financiè re de Suez et de L'Union Parisienne appointed by a Minister of the Crown or government department.Director of the Holding Company referred to in the Transort Act 1962.Director appointed at a salary of the National Building Agency.Examiner or member of a board of interviewers appointed by the Civil Service Commissioners.Examiner for entrance examination to, or member of a board of interviewers for entrance to, the civil service of Northern Ireland.Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales.Her Majesty's Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales.Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland.Her Majesty's Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland.Technical Adviser to the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.Juries Officer appointed under section 1 of the Sheriffs (Ireland) Act 1920.'.

Other amendments

6.—(1) In the entry beginning 'Director of the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation Limited' for the word 'Limited' there shall be substituted `p.l.c.'. (2) In the entry beginning 'Director of the British Petroleum Company Limited' for the words 'Company Limited' there shayy be substituted 'p.1.c.'.(3) In the entry beginning 'Director of Cable and Wireless Limited' for the word 'Limited' there shall be substituted the words 'Public Limited Company'.(4) In the entry beginning 'Director of International Computers (Holdings) Limited' for the words 'International Computers (Holdings) Limited' there shall be substituted the words 'ICL Public Limited Company'.(5) In the entry beginning 'Director of S.B. (Realisations) Limited' for the word 'Limited' there shall be substituted 'p.l.c.'.(6) In the entry beginning 'Director of the Scottish Agricultural Securities Corporation Limited' for the word 'Limited' there shall be substituted `p.l.c.'.(7) In the entry 'Member of a Wages Council or Central Coordinating Committee appointed under paragraph 1(a) of Schedule 1 to the Wages Councils Act (Northern Ireland) 1945' for the words 'Schedule 1 to the Wages Council Act (Northern Ireland) 1945' there shall be substituted the words 'Schedule 2 to the Wages Councils (Northern Ireland) Order 1982'.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean

Mr Paul Dean (Somerset North)

I remind the House that Mr. Speaker has selected amendments (b) and (e). I understand it will be for the general convenience of the House if we discuss the motion and the amendments together.

Photo of Mr Barney Hayhoe

Mr Barney Hayhoe (Hounslow Brentford and Isleworth)

This motion seeks the approval of the House to the amendment by Order in Council of schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975. This schedule lists those offices whose holder's are disqualified from membership of the House and it is obviously necessary to keep its detailed provisions up to date. The procedure for so doing is laid down in section 5 of the 1975 Act.

Let me explain briefly. It has been the normal practice for any legislation which establishes new offices or winds up existing offices to amend schedule 1 accordingly and the 1975 Act is reprinted from time to time, in accordance with the provisions of the Act, to incorporate such amendments. In addition, from time to time it is necessary to bring schedule 1 up to date by Order in Council to add offices which have been created by administrative action, to amend or correct existing entries, and to delete offices which are no longer appropriate.

The procedure laid down in section 5(1) of the Act has been followed on five previous occasions, the first in 1961 and the last in February 1982; the Act was then reprinted—the seventh reprint—with the amended schedule 1 in April last year.

Hon. Members will be aware that during last year's debate on the February 1982 resolution criticisms were expressed of the procedures for updating the schedule and also of some of the criteria for disqualification. I agreed then to bring the latter matter, which went much wider than the issues involved in amending schedule 1 to the 1975 Act, to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who subsequently asked officials to carry out a factual review. Their preliminary work is now being considered and some further work has been commissioned. I hope to arrange to publish their factual analysis once this further work is complete. This will take a little time, but it will give a future Parliament the opportunity to take any further action on this question as they see fit.

For the present, I have been able to meet two specific areas of criticism about the updating procedure which were raised during last year's debate. First, the present resolution was tabled some 12 months after the last debate, thus avoiding anything like the previous long delays which had attracted much adverse comment. Secondly, a detailed explanatory note prepared by officials has been made available to hon. Members and I hope that this background information has been of help in explaining and giving further information about the detailed points made in the motion before the House. Also, some six weeks were allowed to elapse between the tabling of the motion and the making available of the explanatory material so as to allow ample time to hon. Members for consideration of all the detailed matters.

Perhaps I should acid that Ministers have been individually responsible for the details of the additional entries and deletions which cover officers within their own areas of responsibility. They have based their judgment on the same general principles and criteria that have been followed in the past, as I explained during last February's debate.

I will not reiterate the reasons for the existence of the House of Commons Disqualification Act except to say that it is concerned with the maintenance of the independence of the House and the safeguarding of hon. Members from undue influence by the Executive through the exercise of patronage. Rather than say more now, it would probably be better for me to respond at the end to points made in the debate and to the amendments.

9:44 pm
Photo of Mr Enoch Powell

Mr Enoch Powell (South Down)

My hon. Friends and I, as in duty bound, have scrutinised those parts of this motion—there is a substantial number—which relate to Northern Ireland. Thanks to the explanatory matter that has been made available, and to the courtesy of the Leader of the House in responding to individual inquiries, our queries and hesitations have fined themselves down to a single point, but one that is substantial.

The point arises in connection with the reference in paragraph 1 to the Northern Ireland Civil Service Appeal Board and with the words in paragraph 5 member of a board of interviewers for entrance to the civil service of Northern Ireland. It will be noted that I have not rehearsed the initial words of that phrase because they refer to an office that no longer exists, and no problem therefore arises. Both those entries are items which, under this motion, would fall to be omitted.

Upon the face of it, it is a matter for question whether a Member of this House ought properly to occupy any position on a board hearing appeals concerned with the Civil Service in Northern Ireland or a board interviewing persons submitting themselves for recruitment to the Civil Service of Northern Ireland. Therefore, we looked to see what the grounds could be on which these offices were proposed to be deleted from the list of those disqualified. We were told that the reference to the Civil Service Appeal Board follows the amendment relating to the Civil Service Appeal Board for Great Britain. But on consulting the explanatory memorandum, no reason whatsoever is given for that deletion.

We were also told in a communication from the Leader of the House that the appeal boards are not considered to be offices forming part of the judicial system—indeed, we have not been under the impression that they were—but that they were on a par with industrial and other tribunals of which the members are not disqualified. There seemed to us to be little there to explain or justify the excision of membership of that board in Northern Ireland.

I now turn to the position of interviewers of candidates for appointment to the Northern Ireland Civil Service. We are told that it is thought unreasonable to continue to disqualify those interviewers who are not civil servants, who occasionally may be asked to sit on specific boards. Apparently, the unreasonableness is thought to lie in the occasional nature of such an appointment. But very serious inconveniences could flow from even an occasional occupation of such a position by a Member of the House.

I am not sure whether that point is the same as the point mentioned in the letter from the Leader of the House, who said: where interviewers are asked to sit on specific boards the need for political impartiality is considered by those selecting the candidates. That is a somewhat obscure comment, but it takes me to the essential matter that causes anxiety to my hon. Friends and myself in connection with the two proposed deletions.

Whatever may be the corresponding position in connection with the Civil Service in Great Britain—the Imperial Civil Service—I do not think that there can be any dispute that the impartiality of those who make appointments to the Northern Ireland Civil Service, or hear appeals relating to employment in that Civil Service, is of exceptional importance, and that that impartiality ought not merely to exist but to be manifestly seen to exist.

It seems to us that if a Member of Parliament were sitting on such a board, whether of appeal or examiners, it would be virtually impossible for those concerned to regard his position on that board as impartial. The highest view might be held of his character, integrity and judgment. Nevertheless, the fact that he sat in this House as a member of a specific party in Northern Ireland and therefore was committed to a certain point of view on the politics of that Province would inevitably colour, or be assumed to colour, his exercise of his functions in those positions.

I certainly am one of those who, unless the contrary can be argued, are in favour of uniformity of the law in Northern Ireland with the law in Great Britain, and that would apply equally to disqualification for sitting in the House. In this case, however, there appear to be practical grounds relating to Northern Ireland which do not apply to the rest of the United Kingdom and which would therefore justify a variation.

We therefore wish to draw the attention of the House to the anxiety which we feel about these two amendments. We have not tabled amendments, but we would wish that the place of an amendment should be taken by an assurance by the Minister in charge of this motion, which I hope he will be able to give, that although, if this motion is passed in its present form, it will theoretically be possible in future for a Member of the House to hold either of the positions which I have mentioned, as a matter of policy the Government would not contemplate making such an appointment in practice.

I do not think that is as satisfactory as those offices remaining subject to disqualification, as they are at present, but, since the point of view which I have been putting forward is one which we hope the Government will share, there would surely be no difficulty in removing our anxiety by giving the type of assurance for which I have called and which I hope the Minister, when he comes to wind up this debate, will be able to give.

9:52 pm
Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith

Mr Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire East)

I hope it will be for the comfort and relief of the House if I say straight away that I am not proposing to address the House by way of a speech on this matter. I rise solely on a simple matter of interrogation.

Reference has been made by my hon. Friend the Minister to an explanatory memorandum. I may be unique in this regard, but I do not think so, and I have seen no such explanatory memorandum, and on inquiry in the Vote Office I am told that it is in a similar position.

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Mr Barney Hayhoe (Hounslow Brentford and Isleworth)

Perhaps I could just clarify that. The explanatory memorandum was made available in the Library of the House and has been there since about mid-February. Any inquiries that were made were, of course, directed to the Library.

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Mr Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire East)

I have been around in this place for a little time and it is novel doctrine to me that Members are supposed, by some particular instinct, to know that they must scour the Library for documents in regard to legislation which is coming before the House.

Photo of Mr Barney Hayhoe

Mr Barney Hayhoe (Hounslow Brentford and Isleworth)

The position was made clear in an answer to a parliamentary question. It is a well-established procedure of the House that Members are informed through parliamentary questions of matters of this kind and, indeed, of many others.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith

Mr Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire East)

My hon. Friend may be right. I have only been here for 11 Parliaments—and for the comfort of my hon. Friend I assure him that I shall not be here for many more.

Quite seriously, though, I really do not think I am alone in believing that this is not a very satisfactory procedure. It would be much better to place these things in the Vote Office so that when hon. Members know that the matter is coming up they can draw the document from the Vote Office and study it, and that will answer a good many of their questions. The sort of question that I have in mind is one that can be raised in the amendments proposed to the schedule on page 2511 of the Order Paper under the heading "Entries omitted". The reason for the omission of the entries is not made clear. I take at random a Director appointed at a salary of the National Building Agency. To the uninformed Member, that might have a variety of explanations. It might mean, for example, that there was no longer a National Building Agency, or it might mean that there was no longer a director of it although there was still a National Building Agency. It could conceivably mean that, albeit there is still a National Building Agency and still a director, the director is no longer in receipt of a salary.

All those matters may well be made clear in the document which is lurking in the Library, but it would have been more satisfactory—I am sure that there are good answers to these questions—if we had had the advantage of having the document in the Vote Office.

I rose solely to make those observations. In one of the selected amendments I have what could be described as a remote and contingent interest. I am not a recorder and never have been, but I am glad and proud to say that my son is a recorder. On the other hand, he does not aspire to enter this place.

9:57 pm

'Additional Entry

1A. There shall be inserted at the appropriate place:— Recorder".'.

The debate is about offices of profit and not specifically about interests outside the House, although there are well-known views on both sides of the House about their desirability or non-desirability, as the case may be. My view is that, if hon. Members wish to seek information about how life is lived, their own constituencies, national issues and local issues throughout the country to which they can lend their ears while living on their own salaries will provide them with all the information and experience that they require. I believe that a resolution was passed by the House in the 19th century that stated that nothing done in proceedings in Parliament shall be done for any gain.
As the Minister said, the debate is about a possible clash of interest, the historic control of patronage by the Crown and the risk that there will be Government hacks who are paid by the Crown for holding various offices of profit. There is a risk that that would influence them in their activities in this place. The debate is somewhat academic in that respect, although no doubt many people would talk about new forms of patronage were it in order to do so.
Amendment (b) stands in the names of myself and my hon. Friends the Members for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mr. Dobson), Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) and Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) and relates to recorders. Amendment (e), which has also been selected, stands in the names of my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore), who unfortunately has a prior engagement and is unable to be here this evening, myself and my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis).
I understand that technically recorders are not holders of offices of profit under the Crown, but I wish to add recorders to the list of additions. I suppose that there is a technical reason that bears on the history of the office that makes recorderships not offices of profit, but I think that for all practical purposes we can regard them as part-time judges. I believe that would be the view of my constituents and the public generally.
Amendment (c), which has not been selected, deals with Legally qualified holders of part-time judicial offices". These offices could include assistant recorders and temporary or part-time circuit judges or people of their ilk. It was not until a few weeks ago that I realised that some Members of Parliament occupied these positions. My interest is one of constitution rather than about the office and its monetary rewards. I understand that the monetary rewards are not significant; they depend on the number of hours put in. It is unlikely that there would be any chain of patronage. I am more worried about the propriety of some Members of Parliament sitting in a judicial capacity.
When I came to the House and found that to be the case—albeit a handful of hon. Members only—4 was shocked because I had assumed, incorrectly, that as far as possible—although I admit that there are offices that we must have—the separation of powers between the judiciary and the legislature was one of the principles of the constitution which should be breached only if there were good and sufficient reason for so doing.

Photo of Mr Martin Stevens

Mr Martin Stevens (Hammersmith Fulham)

Does the hon. Gentleman include magistrates in his parade of the guilty? Magistrates perform their duties without recompense, but they are the individuals most citizens see on the bench in the overwhelming majority of cases in which they appear in court.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing

Mr Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that good point, because I presume that the definition in unselected amendment (c) Legally qualified holders of part-time judicial offices. would apply only to those who were qualified in some branch of the law as well as being JPs. I believe that justices of the peace would and should be included under the terms of my amendment.

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman's use of the word "guilty". I am not expressing an opinion about the rightness or wrongness of individuals who take those offices. I am interested only in whether it is right that it should be possible for them to do so. I hope that I am not giving any cause for anxiety about motive. I believe that there are about a dozen hon. Members involved. I circulated a notice to the hon. Members whose names I obtained from the Library, which I thought was only right. I have every reason to suppose that they discharge their important office with all the judicial abilities that they possess and I do not criticise them. I am asking the House whether it should be possible for them to be appointed to the office. Subject to any argument to the contrary, the answer must be no.

Of course, in certain circumstances we recognise that there is no separation of powers. We start with the Monarch who incorporates the three aspects of the constitution and who leads on to the Lord Chancellor, the Lords of Appeal, the Home Secretary in certain of his functions, certainly the Attorney-General and possibly the Solicitor-General. All those persons in the performance of their duties necessarily overlap two parts of the constitution.

I am reminded also that what I am saying might apply to some members of their Lordships' House who are not Lords of Appeal and who act in judicial capacities. I believe that that is equally questionable and a matter for debate. The reasons are not personal but constitutional and apply to relatively few hon. Members. I do not know how many, but I suspect that it is about 20. I concede straight away that it is an understandable practice for lawyers. An experienced member of the Bar ascending on odd occasions into the judicial chair can be regarded by lawyers much in the same way as hon. Members regard their colleagues who preside over our Committees as perfectly natural. It might not be quite so natural for those who come before them, because, while lawyers will see their colleagues in the chair, it is only hon. Members who are subject to the judicial rulings of the Chair and not the members of the public whom we represent.

I should have thought that any member of the public knowing—it is only recently through certain instances that this has come to the public view—that the person in the wig in front of them might also be a party politician would, until such issue has arisen, have thought it inconceivable. However, it would be a matter of some concern. For the lawyers themselves, it is not inconceivable that in some of their actions they might have to bear in mind their other office. It is unusual for this to happen, but it might be necessary.

My main concern is public confidence in the judicial system, which my party looks upon sometimes as being a branch of the Establishment. People outside the House regard even a Member of Parliament as a member of the upper hierarchy where it is all fixed. I do not take that view, but the House should be aware of any evidence that it presents that suggests that this is so, and therefore must look carefully at instances where accusations can be made and there is no overwhelming case to be made out for their continuation.

The only arguments that I have heard in favour of this overlap of offices is that it enables active lawyers to keep in touch with what it is like to be a judge, or legislators to keep in touch with what it is like to be a judge. I can understand that from a lawyer's argument, but the House is not here for the law. It makes the law and is not yet run by lawyers. It would not be suitable for anybody of any political party to find out that the person sitting on the Bench in judgment of them was a party political personage of another party. I can imagine the feelings of some of my constituents if they found out that the person before whom they appeared was one of those so-and-so Tory Members of Parliament. Nor would it be to his liking if a rural gentleman from the hunting shires found himself confronted by another gentleman whom he later found was a member of the Tribune group. That is also possible, although I am not saying that it happens often or at all, but that it can happen. The House would not wish it to happen and we cannot tolerate it with equanimity.

If there is any doubt, we must put the issue to the test of how it affects the public. Hon. Members have many privileges. Some of us sometimes complain about such things as hours and offices and do so without realising how many privileges we possess. We have them for a particular purpose. That purpose has to be demonstrated and anything that would put it at risk has to be questioned.

Photo of Mr Peter Bottomley

Mr Peter Bottomley (Greenwich Woolwich West)

I have met judges who are Socialists but have not had a label applied to them in court. Does not the hon. Gentleman's objection about a constituent knowing that the judge had a particular political view apply whether or not the judge is a Member of Parliament? The real question is whether there is something particular tied to the membership of the House that would make it more objectionable for a recorder to be sitting.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing

Mr Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

The hon. Gentleman has missed the point. If a judge has a party political view, to which he is entitled privately, it would not be suitable for that judge publicly to act in a party political manner other than by being a Member of this House. It would be intolerable for a judge to canvass or speak at public meetings or do the things that many hon. Members did before they came to the House. If that is so—I cannot believe that anyone would connive at such conduct—how can it be magically possible for him to do so once he becomes a Member? There are important doubts on this matter.

The Minister of State, Treasury explained the procedures of the debate. I raise this matter because it is time the nettle was grasped and the issue discussed by the House. Even if the Government were minded to accept the amendment I would hope that there would be no sudden execution of the decision of the House. If there is general agreement and there are no arguments against, and if it is the general feeling of the House that the matter should be considered, perhaps the Minister will agree to it being brought back or, if there is sufficient agreement, perhaps he can arrange for the changes in the law to be made so as to give reasonable notice to those who are affected. Anything else would be improper. This matter should be discussed and the practice should not continue. Even if we do not reach a decision tonight, the Government should give us another opportunity to come back to it, because substantial issues are involved.

In the absence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney and Poplar it is my lot to speak to amendment (e) which would add to the list of excluded offices those of Chairman or Vice Chairman or Member of the London Docklands Development Corporation. Hon. Members will know that the London Docklands Development Corporation is a new quango and that there is a similar one for Liverpool. It has been established on the model of the new town development corporations—the chairmen, vice-chairmen and members of which, I understand, are excluded offices—but there is a big difference. Unlike the new town development corporations, which work alongside local authorities, the powers of the London Docklands Development Corporation displace and in many cases replace those of democratically elected authorities. It is not only party politically controversial—that is certainly so in east London—but a constitutional innovation of questionable status. It may be the case that the remuneration for such offices is not great—I see some agreement from the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment—but considerable disbursement of Government funds is involved. In London, at least, the Inner Urban Areas Act 1978 is administered by the London Docklands Development Corporation and it is within its gift to provide large sums of money—I do not argue whether that is right or wrong—to many organisations in and about east London. That was previously the function of democratically elected local authorities. Therefore, controversy surrounds this matter.

Hon. Members may say that no Government would appoint a Member of Parliament to such an office as it would cause clashes between that Member of Parliament, particularly if he were not a London Member, and the constituency Members for the area involved. Hon. Members may question the necessity for adding the amendment to the Bill. They might say that no Government would have the insensitivity to do such a thing. It may be said that things could be worse and that a Member of Parliament who represented part of the area might be appointed. We should be told, of course, that that could never happen and that if it did the problem could be got round because he would not accept any pay.

I submit that it could happen. Hon. Members will be aware of the dangers of some of these positions. Therefore, whatever the arguments about recorders, it is clearly incompatible to be a member, chairman or vice chairman of the London Docklands Development Corporation and a Member of this House at the same time, even for a brief period.

10:16 pm
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Mr Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

I am grateful for the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and to comment on amendment (b). I thank the hon. Gentleman for his customary courtesy in informing me, among others, of his intention to move the amendment.

I shall he brief. First, I declare an interest as a recorder as well as a Member of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman said that he did not know exactly how many recorders now sat in the House. As he is no doubt aware, his colleague the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis) takes a special interest in these matters and periodically puts down parliamentary questions asking the Law Officer of the day to state the names of Members who hold part-time judicial appointments and the salaries that they receive as a result. According to the most recent answer, 15 Members are recorders, assistant recorders or assistant circuit judges and they include representatives of all three political parties in the House.

The hon. Member for Newham, South is right to say that this is an important matter which should reasonably be debated at this time. He is also right in saying that many of us strongly believe in the separation of powers under our constitution, although he agreed that the separation was blurred in many ways.

I wish briefly to respond to the hon. Gentleman. Sometimes these occasions are looked upon as open season for shooting at lawyers. Far from suggesting that membership of the House should disqualify a person from being a recorder, or vice versa, I believe that there is a serious argument for encouraging Members of the House qualified to sit as recorders to do so. In the same way, to take up the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stevens), Members of Parliament should also be encouraged to sit as magistrates.

I say that for the following reasons. The House spends a good deal of time, especially in Home Office debates, discussing issues of penal policy involving the courts, the adequacy or inadequacy of the penalties available to the courts and the type of penalties imposed by those who sit in the courts, and from time to time making various criticisms of particular sentences passed by the courts.

I say with great respect to the hon. Gentleman that I believe that being a recorder and attempting to sit the 20 days a year that the Lord Chancellor requires of recorders gives one the advantage of an insight into the problems of sentencing and sitting in court, which I do not believe, for example from my own profession, other aspects of legal work provide. The hon. Gentleman rightly said that we are not debating whether people should have outside interests.

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Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

I am listening closely to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument about bringing knowledge and expertise to the House of Commons, and the extra knowledge acquired through being a recorder. Would he apply the same argument to a teacher or a dustman who has special expertise and knowledge about the work that must be done in local government, yet is debarred from serving in that capacity?

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Mr Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

There is a strong argument for saying that those who are involved in the teaching profession can bring a knowledge of education that justifies and qualifies them to serve in a local authority. I think that I am right in saying, if my recollection is clear, that there is nothing that prevents a teacher from standing for local government, but he is debarred from standing for membership of the authority that is his employer. However, there are many people involved in the educational service—and I welcome this—

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Mr Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

I shall try to answer the hon. Gentleman's question. Many people in the education service take an active part in local government. I think that the argument that I am about to advance applies to them.

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Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

What about the teacher or employee of a local authority who would like to take advantage of the option that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has related to the House and serve in another local authority, but is debarred from serving in that other local authority because he is not on the appropriate election register?

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Mr Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

With great respect to the hon. Gentleman, that is a bad argument. Whereas—

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Mr Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

The hon. Gentleman should let me deal with the question that he asked. In the non-metropolitan areas there is a two-tier level of local authority. One tier provides the education. Wherever one lives within that local authority, one is entitled to stand for the other tier of the local authority.

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Mr Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

I shall not give way, because I want to make a short speech. I know that the hon. and learned Gentleman is a recorder. He is one of the 15 in the House. I have said that they come from all parties. I accept the point that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) made, that the argument that I am advancing applies equally to teachers.

I repeat that I believe that with the opportunity to sit for about 20 days a year in the criminal court trying criminal cases and having to apply one's mind to the problems of passing, where necessary, an appropriate sentence, one can say, I hope without arrogance, that that gives one a unique knowledge and understanding of the judicial system, and the problems of sentencing which other aspects of practice in a legal career do not.

I have never believed that sentencing is other than a most serious and extremely difficult task. It is only when one is faced with trying to adjudicate and decide, in the responsible situation of acting on behalf of society, the appropriate way to deal with an individual who appears before the court that one realises more than ever the adequacies or inadequacies of the sentences that the House makes available to the courts. I believe, I hope without arrogance, that that experience enables one to bring some expertise, understanding and knowledge to debates on Home Office affairs involving penal policy which without that experience one would not have.

Although the hon. Member for Newham, South does not, many hon. Members on the Left of his party tend from time to time to criticise the judiciary for being unaware of the day-to-day problems that ordinary people face. I do not for a moment accept the validity of that criticism, but the hon. Gentleman will agree—he said so at the beginning of his speech—that anyone who is a Member of Parliament has a good knowledge and understanding of many of the problems in our constituencies through his activities as a Member of Parliament. Therefore, to a certain extent, we carry that knowledge with us in regard to the problems of sitting as a part-time member of the judiciary.

The hon. Member for Newham, South said that there was a danger of political bias. Of course there is. We are all conscious of what he said about whether someone is being tried by an active party politician who is a member of a different party. As a barrister, I have on occasion acted for bodies that belong to the hon. Gentleman's party. That has happened to hon. Members on both sides of the House. The same argument can be advanced for magistrates. Many of them are active party politicians. The magistracy is not harmed by the fact that its members are drawn from people who are active in various parties.

I hope that as this issue has been aired the House will feel that, anomaly in some ways as it may be, there are real and practical advantages to the House and that the House would be weakened rather than strengthened if those of us who are members of the legal profession were unable to carry out responsibilities here which we would be able to perform if we were outside the House provided that we had adequate qualifications to be appointed recorders and sit for the relevant period of time.

10:26 pm
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Mr Frank Dobson (Camden Holborn and St Pancras South)

My approach to the subject will be slightly less higher minded than that of my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), in that I regard the amendment as a parliamentary campaign against parliamentary moonlighters, of which the legal profession is the supreme example. To some extent, the organisation of the legal profession and the organisation of the House are intended to mesh together to make it rather easy for some members of the legal profession to be Members of Parliament and practice at the Bar. I support anything which makes that difficult for them.

I support the amendment because we are discussing offices of profit under the Crown. Recordership is an office, it is under the Crown and it is certainly of profit. I have never heard of a lawyer doing anything that was not for profit. It is certainly not intended to be an office of loss. Recordership is clearly an office under the Crown and of profit to these who hold it.

Defenders of the arrangement may say that it is hallowed by time. If one looks back, one may find that the Member of Parliament for Chester, for example, was Member of Parliament, mayor, recorder and probably high sheriff of the county and all sorts of other things at the same time. It was customary for such offices to be held by one person. It is no longer reasonable for those offices to be held by one person. I understand that some members of the Bar find it difficult to get employment. If we go in for a little job splitting, there will be a few more jobs for lawyers if they are not taken up by parliamentary lawyers who have two jobs concurrently. To say that something should be continued because it is hallowed by tradition is unreasonable. Torture and trial by ordeal were at one time hallowed by tradition, but they were rejected as values changed. I hope that the values of the House will change towards getting rid of the lawyers who spend some time in the House and some time practising at the Bar.

In his cogent argument, the right hon. and learned Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) suggested that it is of value to the House—it may be of some value—to have the expertise of part-time judges when we consider sentencing. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) said that other people are not in the same position, because, although one is not disbarred from the House if one is a schoolteacher, it is rather difficult to get a job as a schoolteacher that one can reconcile with being an active Member of the House, but the legal profession and the affairs of the House are organised so that the two can be brought together. I do not know how many of those admirable recorders take part in debates on sentencing, and it would be interesting to know how many of the distinguished 15 take part in the Committee stage of any Bill relating to sentencing and whether they allow the House to benefit from their experience.

There is an element of separation of powers in the debate tonight. In the office of recorder there is no separation of powers but an all-time amalgamation of powers, because a recorder is someone with a minor role in the judiciary, appointed by the executive and a member of the legislature. It is a three-in-one combination that we should avoid.

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Mr Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

I hesitate to interrupt the hon. Gentleman's high-minded speech, but can he tell us whether he is a Member sponsored by the National Union of Railwaymen?

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Mr Frank Dobson (Camden Holborn and St Pancras South)

I am, but I do not work at the union offices for three or four hours a day, as some lawyers on both sides of the House work in the courts. I spend my time here, and that is what Members of Parliament should do. they should not have two jobs at once.

I support the amendment, and I believe that we should do everything in our power to ensure that lawyers are not in a unique position. We do not believe that accountants should be able to work for the Government and be Members of the House, nor that members of any other profession or trade should be allowed to receive money directly from the Government and be Members. Lawyers can do that. I am against the principle, and any move against it is a move in the right direction.

10:32 pm
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Mr Martin Stevens (Hammersmith Fulham)

The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) said that this was not a debate about part-time jobs outside the House for Members of Parliament, but it cannot be anything else. It may be sensible to restate my view of the role of Parliament. We are not imitation civil servants but representatives of ordinary people, living as ordinarily as we can, so that in the cockpit of the nation's debate those taking part should be as close as possible to their neighbours whom they represent. We do not wish to be grey mandarins or distant theorists unacquainted with the changes and chances of ordinary life.

In considering the Act that we are debating tonight, the principle on which I rely is that the minimum number of people possible should be excluded. The wider the range of extra-parliamentary jobs undertaken by Members of Parliament, the better parliamentarians they will be and the better decisions the House will reach.

If hon. Members accept that definition, they will then ask what type of jobs should be excluded from the range of options available to Members of Parliament. The type of jobs must be those in which there is or could be a clear clash of interest. That is why some jobs are, quite properly, excluded. Do the exclusions apply to those practising part-time judicial duties and to members of the London Docklands development corporation? My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) has said that the magistracy is wisely drawn from prominent local political figures. The horror and alarm of defendants who appear before judges who support the opposite political parties to their own would be rife in every court in the land if that anxiety were well founded.

It is not only Members of Parliament who have known political views. Many of those who serve on elected bodies outside Parliament have more extreme views than hon. Members. Equally, in the case of the London Docklands development corporation, the hon. Member for Newham, South declined to accept as a factor in that argument the question whether or not the individual was in receipt of a salary. My understanding is that the chairman of the corporation, if in receipt of a salary—it may be that the present chairman is not—would be debarred from membership of Parliament, as would the deputy chairman, under the present rules. If either of those directors chooses to reject the salary so that he would not have a pecuniary interest in any decision he makes can a Member of Parliament bring special qualifications to bear on the operation of that corporation?

The erstwhile right hon. Member for Bermondsey, Mr. Mellish, whom no doubt the hon. Member for Newham, South and other hon. Members have in mind, brought a wealth of experience and local knowledge to the London Docklands development corporation and his service has been and remains of great value. Hon. Members should not, in my opinion, bar any Member of Parliament from any office unless there is a direct conflict of interest between that hon. Member's outside activity and his parliamentary duty. The list of offices from which hon. Members are excluded should be as narrow as possible.

10:38 pm
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Mr Charles Morris (Manchester Openshaw)

It is undoubtedly right, but a somewhat salutary thought for parliamentarians to note and remember, that in a job where some may think madness and bankruptcy are distinct possibilities, perhaps occupational hazards, to come here with either involves an infringement of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975.

I accept that the additions and deletions to parts I, II and III of schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 are submitted for our consideration in keeping with section 5(1) of that Act. The Opposition in general accept the arguments advanced by the Minister for his amendments. I carefully noted that the Minister said that this review was based on a report prepared for Ministers by officials and that a factual paper is to be considered and further work undertaken. In that context, I hope that the officials who undertake this further work will take into account some of the issues posed in the amendments, irrespective of their fate if the House divides.

Some of the amendments contain major issues of principle. I wish to make three brief points. First, I should like to comment on the point posed in amendment (d) —which has not been selected by Mr. Speaker—in relation to the Chairman or Chief Executive of any TV programme contractor under the Broadcasting Act 1981.

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Mr Ernest Armstrong (North West Durham)

Order. The right hon. Gentleman must not debate unselected amendments.

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Mr Charles Morris (Manchester Openshaw)

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your guidance in that regard. I seek not to debate the issue as such but to refer briefly to the general principle. Hon. Members on both sides of the House might speculate why that unselected amendment was tabled, but it may well have arisen from the recent dramatic boardroom changes at TV-AM

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Mr Charles Morris (Manchester Openshaw)

I accept your strictures, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall leave the issue of that company. However, I hope that my brief comments will be taken into account by the officials who undertake the further review.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) referred to amendment (e), which refers to the appointment of the Chairman or Vice Chairman or Member of the London Docklands Development Corporation". My hon. Friend was right to say that that corporation was modelled on the new town corporation. He was right to refer to the fact that that organisation disperses appreciable sums of Government money. In the list of omissions referred to in the motion, I noticed a proposal to omit the paid chairman of any economic development committee. I should like to hear the Minister explain why the Government propose to delete that office. I should be grateful if the Minister could give us the detailed reasons for the omission of those paid posts. Economic development committees make decisions affecting considerable sums of Government expenditure.

Correspondence has taken place between my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley) and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland about the interesting matter of a senator in the Irish Republic and his qualifications for standing for election to the Northern Ireland assembly.

Can the Minister give us an assurance about the consequences that this Act will have on the Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act? I look forward to the Minister's considered comments on the matters that I have raised.

10:44 pm
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Mr Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

I do not yet have an interest to declaure if I talk about amendment (b)—or, if I have an interest, it is one that I think my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) would call an interest "ad futurum", rather than an interest "ad praesentem", because although I am not a recorder I am about to be trained to become an assistant recorder. I do not know whether I shall qualify for that illustrious post in due course, but I very much doubt whether it will add very substantially to my income.

The amendment was moved in a barely veiled attempt to use this opportunity to kick the legal profession yet again. I say that, not because I intend any discourtesy to the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) but because he was prepared to mention the amendment not selected, which is very much "ad hominem" and referred to the person of the former right hon. Member for Bermondsey, and for two specific reasons concerning recorders. First, he claimed that he moved the amendment for constitutional reasons, but surely the constitution has honoured over the years the very blurring of the boundary between the executive and the judiciary of which we are talking. It is part of the constitution, in so far as it is part of the accepted constitutional practice of this country, and has been for many years, that Members of Parliament may sit in a judicial capacity. Therefore, the hon. Member's attempt to call his amendment a constitutional amendment is somewhat thin.

Secondly, the hon. Gentleman claimed that he accepted that the purpose of this debate is to establish the independence of Members of Parliament against the control of the state. In other words, paid members of the state should not conduct their affairs, as it were, through Parliament. However, that denies yet another fundamental constitutional precept of our system, that the judiciary, although paid by the state, is independent of it. Once the hon. Gentleman accepts the independence of the judiciary as a fundamental precept, he argues against his amendment, because, if the judiciary is independent, it follows that recorders who are Members of Parliament who operate as members of the judiciary operate not as the vassal of the state who take their state concerns into Parliament but as independent members who are part of a constitutionally honoured procedure.

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Mr Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

In a moment. That is why I say that the hon. Gentleman's speech is a thinly veiled attempt to revert again to the game of "Let's kick the lawyers round the House at a late hour".

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Mr Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the fact that the judiciary are independent when they are on the bench. I went out of my way in my speech to say that that, I think, would be the wish of every hon. Member, but the point I was making was: would that be believed by the public as a whole? I understand that there is a legal maxim that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. I question whether the constitutional fact he has mentioned would be found acceptable.

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Mr Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

In answer to that I would say that this is not a subject which I have ever heard the public in my constituency talking about. To say that they talk of nothing else—

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Mr Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

—would be rather stretching the subjects of conversation in Burton or any other constituency of which I have any knowledge.

Less veiled was the attack made by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mr. Dobson); I am sorry that he seems to have left us for the moment. He more or less said that, if this was another occasion for kicking the lawyers, he wished to rejoice in that opportunity. It hardly lies in the mouth of a sponsored trade union representative who, although he may not work three hours a day or three days a month in the offices of the local union, nevertheless brings to this place the influence of his union and speaks for his union or the trade union movement in the course of parliamentary proceedings, to complain about lawyers who in my experience very seldom take the sort of opportunity we are taking tonight to speak up for lawyers in their own defence. Certainly it is seldom in my experience that lawyers deliberately advance the cause of lawyers by anything very much that they do in this place. [Laughter.] If my hon. Friends, to whom I seem to be causing a great deal of hilarity, would care to look at any speeches I have made in this place they will see that time and time again I have said that we should not go ahead with a piece of legislation which is only going to provide work for lawyers. That has been the gravamen of many arguments I have advanced at late and early hours. Certainly my hon. and learned Friends and colleagues often speak against the interests of lawyers in this place.

It is extremely important that we should have lawyers, and I mean practising lawyers, taking part in what is, after all, a law-making process. If lawyers were not here to give some indication from time to time of the likely effects that legislation will have in the courts, we would produce even more nonsensical legislation than we often do.

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Mr Alan Clark (Plymouth, Sutton)

Does my hon. and learned Friend ever ask himself why it is that this place is so anxious from time to time to kick lawyers around? Could it not be that the House of Commons finds them long-winded and self-satisfied, speaking largely to establish their own mutual self-esteem and almost inevitably with excruciating boredom?

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Mr Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

My hon. Friend could not have described his own speeches in this place more accurately. Certainly that does not apply to most of my hon. and learned Friends. He is particularly unkind tonight. Perhaps he would like to go out and leave us if he is not enjoying the debate.

It is important to declare that lawyers in this place have an independence which many other hon. Members do not have, particularly sponsored trade union Members. I am able because it is possible for me to revert to my legal profession in due course, should I ever lose my seat, or lose the confidence of my electorate or of my supporters in the constituency, to go out and earn myself a living with an income somewhat more substantial than we provide for Members of Parliament. That gives me a certain independence which does not always apply to hon. Members, particularly on the Opposition side of the House, some of whom might find it difficult to get work if they were not Members of Parliament.

There are on both sides of the House a number of hon. and learned Members who serve in a part-time capacity the judiciary with considerable distinction. If the argument of the hon. Member for Newham, South were to prevail, it would possibly deprive the House of the services of a long list of distinguished Members, including my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle). Alternatively, it would deprive the courts of the services of distinguished and eminent lawyers.

There does not seem to be any point in making the system or the situation worse. We should, in this place, be trying to improve matters. To take away good men from useful functions that they do at very little cost for society would be an adverse step.

What about the positions of Attorney-General and Solicitor-General? It often happens that Law Officers of this place become Lord Chancellors. It would be difficult adequately to staff the post of Attorney-General or Solicitor-General, or even a future Lord Chancellor—and I see many around me tonight—if we were deprived of our legal or judicial activities while Members of Parliament. It would be difficult to imagine the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South as a possible Solicitor-General giving advice on the law for many of the Bills that come before the House. To ensure that the calibre of Attorney-General and Solicitor-General is high, we must have practising lawyers of seniority, many of whom sit as recorders in the course of their legal activity.

I know that other hon. Members wish to speak, so I shall not prolong the debate further. It is quite clear that the traditional argument for maintaining the inter-play between the judicial system and the legislative system that makes some provision for justice in our country is honoured not only by tradition but by common sense. It is anti-constitutional to seek to disrupt it, and it is anti the traditions and habits of the House.

To answer the point raised by the hon. Member for Newham, South, I doubt very much that, if the matter was put to the people, they would want to see the end of a time-honoured and valued system such as is proposed in the amendment.

10:58 pm
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Mr Frank Allaun (Salford East)

I wish to seek your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I had intended to make a brilliant speech, which would have held the House spellbound this evening, about amendment (d), but you have ruled that this amendment, relating to the chief executive or chairman of a contracting television programme, is out of order. Yet it is a far more serious case than that of lawyers. The Independent Broadcasting Authority, as a condition of franchise, lays down that the programme contractor must be completely unbiased and impartial. It is impossible for a Member of Parliament of any party to be that.

Before you interrupt me Mr. Deputy Speaker, which I fear is imminent, I must ask a question. If you rule against amendment (d) being taken this evening, and I for the life of me cannot see why, how or when can this important matter be raised? If the press is biased, as it is, surely it is vital that television provides some balance. Unless we are able to pursue the amendment, I do not see how that balance can be provided. Can you tell me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, how or when I can move such an amendment?

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Mr Ernest Armstrong (North West Durham)

It would be out of order to discuss amendment (d), as it has not been selected. The hon. Member has been a Member of this place for longer than I have and he knows that there are various ways of raising matters that are of concern to him.

11 pm

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Mr Peter Bottomley (Greenwich Woolwich West)

It seems that the main purpose behind this Act is not served by the exclusions, inclusions, omissions, deletions and additions that we are discussing, although I am delighted that correspondents who may earn 20 a year in the Isles of Scilly will be able to be elected to this place. The hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) argued that there should be impartial broadcasting. Parliamentary candidates could be subjected to a quiz on which of the very many offices are disqualified in which they have worked. That might be more entertaining than some stages of the debate have proved to be.

Amendment (e), which relates to membership of the London Docklands Development Corporation, seems rather misplaced if someone can be a Member of this House and leader of a county council, for example. The same public funds are available. There is also the issue of whether the taking of money for the holding of offices is relevant. One of the limitations on Government patronage is the restriction on the number of Ministers. In the recent past Ministers have been appointed when the total number has exceeded the limit. Apparently that was all right if the additional Ministers did not take a salary.

The question of whether money is involved and whether a similar function is being performed by someone else who could be a Member of this place is one that is worth considering. The previous Member for Bermondsey suddenly stopped being Opposition Chief Whip and that led hon. Members to believe that they should no longer do what he said and to contend that he should not have been able to take the chairmanship or vice-chairmanship of the LDDC while he remained a Member of this place.

It seems that over the next year or so it is worth considering the position of recorders. I tended to think of people such as Tom Williams when I was asked whether Members who sat as recorders could properly fulfil that work. My experience of parliamentary colleagues to whom I have spoken and who are recorders has suggested to me that it is reasonable that they should continue to do that work occasionally.

I have never believed that the House sits in the afternoons and evenings for the convenience of lawyers. It does so much more for the convenience of Ministers, who have large Departments to run. I remember the wife of a Labour Member saying that she thought that the best reason for sitting late in the evenings was to ensure that Members were here and not wandering around on their own.

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Mr Peter Bottomley (Greenwich Woolwich West)

My hon. Friend can make his own speech on his own experience.

The major issue is the extent of Government patronage. It would be much more sensible, if we wanted to go this far, to consider placing restrictions on the sorts of job to which the Government could appoint retired Members. It is far more likely that a Member could be seen as having done things during his membership of the House which would lead to him being appointed chairman of the National Coal Board, for example. Leaving that consideration aside, there is a far greater problem for those in my position who are Parliamentary Private Secretaries. Although the number of Ministers is limited, the convention has developed that PPSs should do what the Government want the whole time irrespective of whether their actions have an effect on their Departments.

As we are close to a general election, it is not for me to spell out exactly which part of the Government's policy I thoroughly support and which part I support, especially as the debate is to end at half past 11. Perhaps those who are in my position should say to the Government "If you want our continued support of Government policy, you might give some thought to our views on policy."

The inducement to vote in a particular way is behind the disqualification procedure and restrictions. I believe that the amount of power that Governments have been allowed to take by members of their parties has grown too far. There are an unnecessary number of three-line Whips, and too much legislation is pushed forward without consideration of whether it is necessary. Once it gets caught up in the parliamentary procedure the Government tend to force it through because that is the nature of the system that has developed.

It would be far more sensible if the House and its Members were willing to demonstrate the kind of independence that the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 is supposed to induce.

11:05 pm
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Mr Barney Hayhoe (Hounslow Brentford and Isleworth)

I am glad that the details of the motion have attracted so little criticism. I hope, therefore, that the detailed provisions and the changes that are being made in schedule 1 have the general support of the House. A number of detailed points have been raised and I shall try to deal with them before I come to the amendments which have been selected.

In my initial remarks I referred to the historic reasons for the disqualification provisions which deal with the independence of the House and the protection of Members against the patronage of the Executive. However, one must be aware also that the disqualifications, to which over the years the House has agreed, exclude from membership of the House substantial numbers of our fellow citizens. It is right, therefore, that we should keep those disqualifications continually under review to ensure as far as we can that people are not disqualified from the House when there is no need for such disqualifications.

The points raised by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) fell somewhat into that category. He referred to the chairman of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Appeal Board and the examiner for the entrance examination or member of a board of interviewers for entrance to the Northern Ireland Civil Service. They were omitted from the provisions. They are not appointed by Ministers, so no patronage is involved, and it was thought therefore that people holding those positions should not be disqualified from membership of the House. I accept what the right hon. Gentleman said about the need for political impartiality in people holding such appointments. I gladly give him the undertaking in respect of this Parliament that no Member of Parliament will be appointed to the positions to which he referred.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) referred to the Director appointed at a salary of the National Building Agency. He speculated on the reasons for that omission. He was right in one of the alternatives that he put forward, because the company has gone into voluntary liquidation and the position no longer arises.

I am sorry that my right hon. and learned Friend did not see a copy of the explanatory note. I assure him that the note was produced for the assistance of hon. Members. I am not sure why it went to the Library instead of the Vote Office, but I shall inquire into that and try to ensure that those who should have such notes are left in no doubt as to how they should be obtained.

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Morris) referred to the chairman of an economic development committee and wondered why such a person should be excluded from the schedule. This is because such chairmen are no longer appointed by Ministers and receive only a small honorarium. In making that omission from the schedule, we have provided that two of the present office holders will be released from the existing disqualifications, and therefore would be available for membership of the House if they so wished and the electorate so decided.

The right hon. Member for Openshaw also referred to the Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act; there is a lose link between the criteria for the membership of the Commons and those for the Assembly, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said in the House on 26 July last year. Thus, any consideration of changes in the Assembly disqualifications criteria, which are a matter for my right hon. Friend, clearly needs to take account of any discussion of the disqualification criteria for the House of Commons. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that the amendment to the schedule deals with the link between the two.

The main content of the debate has centred on the amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), the first of which deals with recorders. It has long been recognised that the full-time judiciary must be disbarred from being Members of this legislature, and part I of schedule 1 achieves that aim.

My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stevens) referred to lay justices and magistrates. As he knows, a number of right hon. and hon. Members hold such positions. Although the hon. Member for Newham, South seemed disturbed by that, I believe—I am glad to have the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham on this—that most people would see no objection to Members of this House being justices of the peace.

The position of recorders is somewhat different. I listened carefully to the points made by the hon. Member for Newham, South, and by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle). My right hon. and learned Friend said that perhaps that was something of an anomaly. If it is, it is an anomaly that the House has tolerated for many years, no doubt appreciating that coresponding benefits flowed from it. Throughout this century, recorders have been appointed by Her Majesty the Queen, originally on the recommendation of the Home Secretary, and since 1950 on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor.

In that time, part-time recorders have been Members of Parliament, provided that the places where they sat as recorders and as Members of Parliament were not the same. They have been paid from central funds since 1972, when the Courts Act 1971 transferred this responsibility from local to central Government. The then Attorney-General made it clear during the debates on the Courts Act 1971 that he thought it right that recorders should be able to sit as Members of Parliament. He considered that recorders brought valuable experience to the House. As far as I know that view was not challenged then, and it has been reiterated firmly this evening by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn.

I understand that 16 right hon. and hon. Members are recorders or assistant recorders, and their practical experience in the administration of justice in different parts of the country is of value in our debates on law and order. They do not by custom, either sit in their constituencies or hear cases remitted from their constituencies. In this sense there is therefore no conflict of interest. Supporters of the amendment have not succeeded in persuading me that that long-established custom should now be changed.

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Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Will the Minister address himself to the question I put to his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) about the double standards that operate at parliamentary and local level, with Members who are part-time recorders being allowed to remain Members of Parliament while teachers or dustmen working in local government are unable to serve on the authority by which they are employed? It is true that they may be allowed to serve when there is a two-tier operation, but they may wish to serve on that authority and to use their expertise in the services rendered.

I have another point which applies directly to the difference. In 1974 the then Member for Hazel Grove, Dr. Winstanley, was involved in a part-time capacity with the medical section of the judiciary dealing with tribunals. Because he obtained money in that part-time capacity, in the same way as a recorder, but was not in that area of the judiciary but on the medical side, he was subject to disqualification unless the then Leader of the House brought before the House a special Bill to relieve him of those difficulties. Why are these double standards operated?

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Mr Barney Hayhoe (Hounslow Brentford and Isleworth)

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn dealt effectively with the position of hon. Members who are recorders or assistant recorders and that of members of local authorities who may be employed by that authority. My right hon. and learned Friend spoke with the authority of a former Secretary of State for Education and Science, knowing very well what contribution has been and is being made by teachers to local authorities. The custom that they should not be elected to the authorities by which they are employed is well established and broadly accepted. But it having been said that it is broadly accepted, it is not surprising that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) should take a different view. As on so many other matters, he has managed to be out of step with the vast majority of his fellow citizens.

I will bring the arguments about recorders to the attention of my right hon. and hon. Friends who have specific responsibilities for these matters. I have no doubt that they will bear in mind the points that have been made.

I should like now to deal with amendment (e), which was discussed but not moved by the hon. Member for Newham, South. The amendment refers to the London Docklands development corporation. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the chairman, vice-chairman and members of the corporation are already covered by an entry in part III of schedule 1 of the Act which disqualifies Any member, in receipt of remuneration, of an urban development corporation (within the meaning of Part XVI of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980). I believe that the existing disqualification is an adequate protection of hon. Members' independence. The effect of the proposed amendment would be to extend this disqualification, for the London Docklands development corporation only, to those who are not in receipt of remuneration.

I cannot accept the amendment. Not only is it inconsistent, in that it applies only to London, but the whole idea of excluding hon. Members from taking part as unpaid members in the work of the corporation seems entirely wrong. It is important that corporation members have close links with the people in the areas involved. In fact, the legislation setting up the urban development corporations requires the Secretary of State for the Environment to have regard to the desirability of securing the services of people having special knowledge of the locality. Members of Parliament, as well as members of local authorities, can play an important and active role in the work of the corporations, as was instanced by the contribution of Mr. Mellish to the London Docklands development corporation during the time that he was a Member of the House. I believe that that former right hon. Member deserves the thanks of the House rather than criticism from the Opposition for the public service that he carried out with the corporation for so long on an unpaid basis.

I hope that the amendments will not be pressed, but if they are I must advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against them. I commend the motion to the House.

11:20 pm
Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing

Mr Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

With the leave of the House, I shall speak again very briefly.

The right hon. and learned Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) gave an elegant presentation of the one argument that I have heard, and he did very well. If we are to rely on work experience for all the matters about which we legislate, however, there must be special pleading for the special facilities and for the anomalies that the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself admitted. We should then find ourselves in very deep water.

As regards remuneration, the Minister says that the Crown has been responsible for the payments only since 1972. That may be the technical reason why the anomaly has persisted for so long. Nevertheless, it is an anomaly and I am not sure that it is in the best interests of Parliament or of our democratic institutions that it should continue.

The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stevens) mentioned justices of the peace. Of course there are people engaged in party political activity who operate in a lay capacity locally, but with very few exceptions they are not Members of Parliament as well. That is the distinction that I sought to make.

I understand the Minister's reluctance and I am sure that he will get his way today, but because the anomaly remains I wish, time permitting, to press amendment (b).

On amendment (e) relating to the London Docklands Development Corporation, I was interested to hear the Minister say that that was already covered but only if, as in the case that he instanced, no remuneration is taken. That seems an even bigger anomaly. I am sure that he is not suggesting that if the Minister responsible for sport appointed my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) chairman of the Sports Council that would be all right so long as my right hon. Friend did not draw a salary, but that is the logic of his argument. He says that it is all right for people to be appointed to these offices of profit under the Crown so long as they do not receive the remuneration. Nowadays, however the attraction is not so much the remuneration as the functions of the office and the opportunities and position that it gives the person concerned. As for the Minister's comments about a former right hon. Member of the House, he will concede that I did not refer to that appointment at all.

Therefore, for those who wish to do so as a demonstration, I wish to press amendment (b).

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 7, Noes 92.

Division No. 110][11.23 pm
AYES
Allaun, FrankWainwright, E.(Dearne V)
Hardy, Peter
Haynes, FrankTellers for the Ayes:
Lofthouse, GeoffreyMr. Frank Dobson and
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Mr. Nigel Spearing.
Skinner, Dennis
NOES
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBright, Graham
Alton, DavidBrinton, Tim
Ancram, MichaelBrooke, Hon Peter
Aspinwall, JackBrown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n)
Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne)Bruce-Gardyne, John
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Buck, Antony
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyBudgen, Nick
Berry, Hon AnthonyCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Bevan, David GilroyCarlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnClark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnCope, John
Blackburn, JohnCranborne, Viscount
Boscawen, Hon RobertDorrell, Stephen
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)Dover, Denshore
Dunn, Robert (Dartford)Neubert, Michael
Dykes, HughNewton, Tony
Eyre, ReginaldOnslow, Cranley
Fairbairn, NicholasOsborn, John
Fairgrieve, Sir RussellPage, Richard (SW Herts)
Fenner, Mrs PeggyParkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Fox, MarcusPercival, Sir Ian
Gardner, Sir EdwardPrentice, Rt Hon Reg
Goodlad, AlastairRhodes James, Robert
Gorst, JohnRossi, Hugh
Greenway, HarrySainsbury, Hon Timothy
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Gummer, John SelwynShelton, William (Streatham)
Hamilton, Hon A.Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hawkins, Sir PaulSkeet, T. H. H.
Hawksley, WarrenSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Henderson, BarrySpeller, Tony
Hicks, RobertStanbrook, Ivor
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Stevens, Martin
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)
Howells, GeraintThompson, Donald
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelThorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Knight, Mrs JillWaddington, David
Lang, IanWalker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Lawrence, IvanWatson, John
Lester, Jim (Beeston)Wells, Bowen
McCrindle, RobertWheeler, John
MacKay, John (Argyll)Wickenden, Keith
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)Winterton, Nicholas
Major, JohnWolfson, Mark
Marlow, Antony
Marten, Rt Hon NeilTellers for the Noes:
Mather, CarolMr. David Hunt and
Moate, RogerMr. Tristan Garel-Jones.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after half-past Eleven o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the main Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted Business).

Question agreed to.

Resolved,That Schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 be amended as follows:—

PART I OF SCHEDULE 1

1. In the entry beginning 'Resident Magistrate' after the word 'Magistrate' there shall be inserted the words 'or Deputy Resident Magistrate'.

PART II OF SCHEDULE 1

Additional Entries

2. There shall be inserted at the appropriate places:— 'The British Board of Agrément.The English Industrial Estates Corporation.The Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland.'

Entries omitted

3. The following entries shall be omitted:— 'The Agrément Board.The Civil Service Appeal Board.A Colonial Currency Board.An Independent Schools Tribunal constituted under Schedule 6 to the Education Act 1944 or Schedule 2 to the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.The Industrial Estates Corporations constituted in accordance with the Local Employment Act 1972.The Northern Ireland Civil Service Appeal Board.The Panel of Official Arbitrators constituted for the purposes of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act 1919.'.

PART III OF SCHEDULE 1

Additional Entries

4. There shall be inserted at the appropriate places:— 'Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Civil Service Appeal Board.Chairman of the Distinction and Meritorious Service Committee for Northern Ireland.Chairman of a committee constituted under section 90 of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1960.Chairman of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Appeal Board.Chairman of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland.Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Sports Council.Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Sports Council. Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Sports Council for Northern Ireland. Chairman or Vice- Chairman of the Sports Council for Wales. Chairman of the Wine Standards Board of the Company of the master, wardens and commonalty of Vintners of the City of London.Chief Scientist of the Scottish Home and Health Department.Director General of the National Economic Development Office.Medical Officer for Complaints appointed for Wales by the Secretary of State.Any member of the Mental Health Act Commission in receipt of remuneration.Member of a panel of persons appointed under Schedule 10 to the Rent Act 1977 to act as chairmen and other members of rent assessment committees.Member of the panel of persons appointed under Schedule 5 to the Rent (Scotland) Act 1971 to act as chairmen and other members of rent assessment committees.Registration Officer appointed under section 6(3) of the Representation of the People Act 1949.Rent officer or deputy rent officer appointed in pursuance of a scheme under section 63 of the Rent Act 1977.Rent officer or deputy rent officer nominated under Schedule 5 to the Rent (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.'.

Entries omitted

5. The following entries shall be omitted:— `Chairman or Deputy Chairman of an Administrative Board constituted for the purposes of any scheme made, or having effect as if made, under section 2 or 5 of the Industrial Injuries and Diseases (Old Cases) Act 1975.Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Distinction Awards in Northern Ireland.Chairman of the Cinematograph Films Council.Paid Chairman of an Economic Development Committee.Chairman of the Mining Qualifications Board.Paid Chairman of a National Economic Development Council Working Party.Correspondent appointed by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.Director of the British Sugar Corporation Limited appointed by the Ministers as defined by section 17 of the Sugar Act 1956.Director of the Compagnie Financiére de Suez et de L'Union Parisienne appointed by a Minister of the Crown or government department.Director of the Holding Company referred to in the Transort Act 1962.Director appointed at a salary of the National Building Agency.Examiner or member of a board of interviewers appointed by the Civil Service Commissioners.Examiner for entrance examination to, or member of a board of interviewers for entrance to, the civil service of Northern Ireland.Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales.Her Majesty's Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and WalesHer Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland.Her Majesty's Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland.Technical Adviser to the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.Juries Officer appointed under section 1 of the Sheriffs (Ireland) Act 1920.'.

Other amendments

6.—(1) In the entry beginning 'Director of the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation Limited' for the word 'Limited' there shall be substituted 'p.1.c.'. (2) In the entry beginning 'Director of the British Petroleum Company Limited' for the words 'Company Limited' there shayy be substituted 'p.1.c.'.(3) In the entry beginning 'Director of Cable and Wireless Limited' for the word 'Limited' there shall be substituted the words 'Public Limited Company'.(4) In the entry beginning 'Director of International Computers (Holdings) Limited' for the words 'International Computers (Holdings) Limited' there shall be substituted the words 'ICL Public Limited Company'.(5) In the entry beginning 'Director of S.B. (Realisations) Limited' for the word 'Limited' there shall be substituted 'p.1.c.'.(6) In the entry beginning 'Director of the Scottish Agricultural Securities Corporation Limited' for the word 'Limited' there shall be substituted `p.1.c.'.(7) In the entry 'Member of a Wages Council or Central Coordinating Committee appointed under paragraph 1(a) of Schedule 1 to the Wages Councils Act (Northern Ireland) 1945' for the words 'Schedule 1 to the Wages Council Act (Northern Ireland) 1945' there shall be substituted the words 'Schedule 2 to the Wages Councils (Northern Ireland) Order 1982'.