Power of Secretary of State to Prevent or Require Action

Orders of the Day — Wales Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th April 1978.

Alert me about debates like this

Amendment No. 229 proposed [8th March]: in page 12, line 42, leave out from 'Parliament' to 'and' in line 1 on page 13.—[Mr. Brittan.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made:

4.12 p.m.

Photo of Mr Oscar Murton Mr Oscar Murton , Poole

I remind the Committee that we are discussing at the same time the following amendments:

No. 230, in page 13, line 4, at end add— '( ) A direction under subsection (1) of this section shall be given if the House of Commons by resolution so requires, and any direction so required—

  1. (a) shall, as regards its terms and the time at which it takes effect and otherwise, be in conformity with the resolution requiring it, and
  2. (b) shall, for the purposes of subsection (6) of this section, be deemed to have been approved by resolution of the House of Commons.
( ) In the case of any direction under subsection (2) of this section that action shall not be taken, the Assembly or the Attorney-General or any other person, may, within the period of 28 days beginning on the date on which the direction is given, institute proceedings for the determination of the question whether the action proposed to be taken would be incompatible with any of the obligations referred to in paragraph (a) of the said subsection (2); and, if any such proceedings are instituted, the direction shall cease or (as the case may be) have effect only in accordance with the decision of the court in those proceedings.( ) A direction under subsection (2) of this section that action shall be taken shall not have effect until the end of the period of 28 (or, if the Secretary of State in the direction certifies that the public interest so requires, 14) days beginning on the date on which the direction is given; but the Assembly or the Attorney-General or any other person may, within that period, institute proceedings for the determination of the question whether the action so directed to be taken is required for any purpose referred to in paragraph (b) of the said subsection (2); and, if any such proceedings are instituted, the direction shall take effect (if at all) only in accordance with the decision of the court in those proceedings.'. No. 233, in Clause 36, page 13, line 29, leave out from 'Parliament' to 'or' in line 32.

No. 234, in Clause 36, page 13, line 40, leave out from 'Parliament' to 'and' in line 41.

No. 235, in Clause 36, page 14, line 10, at end add— '( ) An order under subsection (1) of this section shall be made if the House of Commons by resolution so requires, and any order so required shall, for the purposes of subsection (5) of this section, be deemed to have been approved by resolution of the House of Commons.( ) An order under subsection (2) of this section shall not take effect until the end of the period of 28 (or, if the Secretary of State in the order certifies that the public interest so requires, 14) days beginning on the date on which the order is made; but the Assembly or the Attorney-General or any other person may, within that period, institute proceedings for the determination whether the instrument which the order revokes is incompatible with any obligation referred to in the said subsection (2) or provides for any such matter as is referred to in that subsection; and, if any such proceedings are instituted, the instrument and the order revoking it shall take effect (if at all) only in accordance with the decision of the court in those proceedings.'.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

These amendments raise a number of separate issues, but one of the issues is the treatment of the House of Lords when the Government of the day try to use their override powers and cannot get their resolution through the House of Lords. It seems that they can simply come back to the House of Commons, get the same resolution through by exploiting their Commons majority and toss aside any objection which the House of Lords may have. No doubt my Front Bench would challenge me if I had got that factually wrong.

If that is the situation, had we not better forget about all that wordy constitutional theory about the second Chamber being a guardian of the constitution? Clearly, in a matter in which the House of Lords might be thought to have some right to delaying powers—an essential constitutional issue—in reality it has no powers whatever.

If those delaying powers in a constitutional matter are revealed simply not to exist and lip service paid to them turns out to be sheer cant, that would seem to some of us to be a reason for the abolition of the House of Lords, since they would be serving no useful purpose in matters in which, by their very nature they might be thought to have a useful role.

But of course I fear that if and when the Wales Bill goes to the Lords, they will make little objection to this, either by vote or by amendment. If their performance, with honourable exceptions, on Second Reading of the Scotland Bill is anything to go by and there is the same number of spineless speeches, all too clearly concerned mainly with the threat of their own abolition rather than with the merit of the Bill, I fear that there will be little murmur of protest at their treatment in Clause 35 and many others.

I turn to another aspect of Clause 35. Is it not a fact that a Secretary of State in one Parliament—namely, the House of Commons—will solemnly be able to give a direction to another Assembly, either to take or not to take action? In what way does that differ from the relations between Parliament and local government?

Before the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) leaves the Chamber, perhaps I might say that I heard him say at the end of our last debate on 8th March that it would be a case of one Parliament requiring another Assembly either to legislate or not to legislate. I have to ask what may seem to be a very ignorant question. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman right or wrong in relation to the Wales Bill?

As I understand it, whereas the Scottish Assembly will be a legislative body, the Welsh Assembly will not. If I have misunderstood the right hon. and learned Gentleman, whose comments I checked in Hansard, I will of course give way to allow him to clarify the matter, since this is an important issue.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I would have preferred the opportunity of refreshing my memory completely as to what I said, but since the hon. Gentleman has asked me a specific question about the legislative powers of the Welsh Assembly, my reply is that he is right in saying that it differs from the Scottish Assembly in having no powers of primary legislation. But it is to have certain limited powers of subordinate legislation, which will, of course, have the force of law.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

What the right hon. and learned Gentleman actually said was: It is remarkable and without precedent that the Secretary of State should be able to give a direction to another Assembly to pass subordinate legislation. If there was a precedent it would help us better to understand the position."—[Official Report, 8th March 1978; Vol. 945, cc. 1558–9.] This is a matter which should be cleared up one way or the other.

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is right, there is a burden on my Front Bench to comment and to give any precedents—in fact, to persuade us that it is workable at all. But if the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not right, Ministers must say what is being offered to Wales other than a glorified and expensive local government structure. It is one or the other, and I await the Minister of State's comment with some interest.

If the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdon is right, that raises some of the problems that we discussed on the Scotland Bill in relation to a Secretary of State ordering another Assembly to pass or not to pass laws. If that is the situation, how long can it endure?

I would ask any of the Welsh Ministers or any of my hon. Friend's who are present—like my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Hughes) or my hon. Friends the Members for Bed-wellty (Mr. Kinnock) and Aberdare (Mr. Evans)—how long they as serious politicians, would be content to sit in any such Welsh Assembly. Would any Welsh Member of Parliament or Welsh Minister think it worth his while to be a Member of a Welsh Assembly which could be treated in such a cavalier way as the Assembly can be treated under Clause 35?

I suspect that my right hon. and hon. Friends would do one of two things. Either they would decide not to seek re-election to the Assembly, or to stay in the Assembly, or they would fight tooth and nail for it to have greater power. If they were Members of the Assembly, they would not just sit there and do nothing about it. If they claimed greater powers and fought for them, the position would not be stable if they were successful. If they decided that being Members of the Welsh Assembly was not worth while, we should ask ourselves what on earth we are doing in creating yet another tier of Government.

It comes back yet again to the question, how can such a body as is being put forward in the Bill survive in that kind of form for any number of years? Once again this highlights the confusion into which some of my right hon. and hon. Friends have allowed themselves to be drawn. In view of the fact that we are under a guillotine resolution, I think it would be unfair for me to develop my argument at any greater length.

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conway

As the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has reminded us, we have touched upon a number of sensitive areas since the start of the debate, somewhat late in the day, on 8th March. My hon. and now learned Friend, the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan)—I congratulate him on his elevation—described the effect of Section 35 very succinctly in his opening speech. It refers to the power of the Secretary of State to prevent the Assembly from taking action or requiring it to take action in certain circumstances.

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) said, it is remarkable and without precedent that the Secretary of State should be able to give a direction to the Assembly to pass or not to pass subordinate legislation. The circumstances in which this power could be exercised hardly bear thinking about, yet they are real enough for the Government to have anticipated them in the Bill and sought to deal with the situation of conflict between the Government, represented by the Secretary of State, and the Assembly. I should have thought that in the event of a clash between the Secretary of State and the Assembly the right hon. Gentleman would have required the full backing and support of both Houses of Parliament for any direction that he might decide to give to the Assembly, and that he would not be content with less.

This is what makes the procedure under Section 25(6) and Section 73—to which Section 35(6) refers—so curious. Instead of being designed to secure maximum support for the Secretary of State by both Houses, the subsection allows for an alternative, which is confirmation of the original resolution by the House of Commons in the event of failure by the House of Lords to give its support. The Government thereby anticipated a situation in which the Assembly and the House of Lords are in agreement and the will of the House of Commons has to prevail against both.

I should have thought that such a situation would be bound to extend and enlarge the area of conflict and would encourage the Assembly in its defiance of the Secretary of State. The Assembly could, after all, urge that the House of Lords supported it—and it could be a very different kind of House of Lords by that time. Be that as it may, the proposition contained in Section 35(6) is wholly objectionable, as my right hon. and learned Friend said, on constitutional grounds.

The only precedent that I can find for it is in the Parliament (No. 2) Bill of 1968 "presented by Mr. Secretary Callaghan," supported by the Prime Minister and diverse Cabinet colleagues at that time. Section 15(2) of the Parliament (No. 2) Bill provides that an instrument or draft shall be treated as approved by resolution of each House of Parliament, notwithstanding that a motion for such approval is rejected by the House of Lords, if the instrument or draft had previously been approved by resolution of the House of Commons and that resolution is subsequently confirmed by that House. There is mention also in that Bill of a period of 10 days' grace given to their Lordships to approve or not approve. Therefore, it seems fairly clear to me that the antecedents of Section 35(6) of the Wales Bill are to be found in the Parliament (No. 2) Bill of 10 years ago.

My hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Sir R. Gower), at the end of our debate on 8th March, challenged the Minister to produce a precedent for this procedure of bypassing the House of Lords. He went on to say that it is most improper, in a Bill of this nature, to introduce it in this way. The Government are not merely introducing a Bill to alter the constitutional arrangements for Wales. They are also taking a step which … will alter the relationship between the two Houses which are part of our constitution."—[Official Report, 8th March 1977: Vol. 945. c. 1562–3.] I share that view, and I am sure that many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee will agree that the Wales Bill is not the proper place in which to slip in a major constitutional change.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

The hon. Gentleman has asked for a precedent. Surely there was no precedent in this country for, say, the Parliament Act 1911, which curbed the powers of the House of Lords. I do not think that the precedent argument is a sound one, whatever other argument there may be in favour of his view.

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conway

I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree with me—and with the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby—that there is nothing wrong with a motion or a Bill such as the Parliament (No. 2) Bill which concentrates upon a constitutional issue. What I am saying, very simply, is that the Wales Bill, relating only to Wales, surely is not the place in which to change the relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

4.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne

Clause 35 is a recipe for continuing conflict between the House of Commons and the Secretary of State on the one hand and the proposed Assembly on the other. If it had not appeared, it would have been impossible to believe that Clause 35 could have been drafted and presented seriously to the House of Commons, because the powers which are given to the Secretary of State in Clause 35(1) will put him and his successor in a wholly impossible position. These powers will also put the new Assembly in a wholly impossible position.

I wish to examine first the position of the Assembly if a direction were to be given by the Secretary of State. What exactly would the Assembly do if it found itself wholly out of sympathy with the political directive of the Secretary of State? Clause 35(5) provides: A direction under this section shall be binding on the Assembly. If the Secretary of State were to direct the Assembly to do something for which there was no majority in the Assembly, it would be possible—indeed, I would argue probable, and it might even be the duty of the Assembly which was ordered to do something which it thought wholly wrong—to defy the Secretary of State's direction. I can envisage circumstances in which the Assembly, elected in accordance with the provisions of this Bill—and finding itself with a Secretary of State whom it thought did not understand the real problems of Wales—was in disagreement with the hypothesis contained in paragraphs (a) and (b) of Clause 35(1) which, after all, are extremely vague.

I remind the Committee of the actual wording. Subsection 1(a) provides that any action proposed to be taken by the Assembly would or might affect a reserved matter, whether directly or indirectly". No measure which has ever reached the statute book can have been phrased in such an immensely ambiguous way. It is emphatically the duty of the Committee to seek to obviate this recipe for conflict.

Let us suppose that the Assembly disagreed fundamentally with the Secretary of State. Let us suppose that the Assembly asserted that no reserved matter would or might be affected directly or indirectly. Let us suppose that the Secretary of State took it upon himself to argue that it was "in the public interest"—to use the words in subsection (1)—to give a direction to the Assembly. What power would the Secretary of State have to enforce his direction? It is all very well simply to say that a direction under this subsection shall be binding. But let us suppose that the Assembly, democratically elected, refused to do that which the Secretary of State directed it to do. Surely the Secretary of State would not argue that simply the direction without the agreement of the Assembly, would be binding.

We are not told in subsection (5) whether the direction shall be binding with regard to the law either of this kingdom or of the Principality. The direction simply—to use the Government's words—is "binding on the Assembly". But how can we tell the Assembly that which it must do? I invite the Minister of State to consider this proposition.

Let us suppose that we were told what we had to do by some outside body. Let us suppose that the House of Commons declined to do that which it was told to do. I invite the Minister of State to look at his hon. Friends behind him. He cannot even tell them what to do. Mercifully that is the case. Even my right hon. Friends on the Conservative Front Bench—wise though they are in almost every respect—cannot direct my hon. Friends or myself what to do.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

Presumably a Secretary of State might consider the Assembly to be acting like another authority ultra vires and would, if necessary, have recourse to the courts. I assume that might be the way out of the puzzling situation which my hon. Friend has described. There would be resort to the court by the Secretary of State on the ground that this decision had been binding on the Assembly.

Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne

My hon. Friend raises an interesting point. What puzzles and perplexes me is how an order by the Secretary of State can require the Assembly to act and to vote in a certain way. As an illustration of that dilemma, I referred to the position with regard to the House of Commons. I said that even such a wise Front Bench as my own could not direct my hon. Friends. It is not possible to direct Members of an Assembly any more than it is possible to direct Members of Parliament.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarvon

Is there not an analogy in that the hon. Gentleman's own party, when last in power, tried to direct the councillors of Clay Cross to carry out a certain policy which they expected those councillors to undertake?

Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne

That is a wholly false and rather mischievous analogy. I shall not be diverted down the path of Clay Cross, particularly as the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) is not in his place.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

I would in no way seek to replace my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), but I wish to add another dimension to the analogy that was put forward by the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley). Will the hon. Gentleman take on board the fact that at the time of the rebellions against the Housing Finance Act the Bedwas and Machen Urban District Council in South Wales rebelled? Plaid Cymru promised that council its most faithful and extensive support. But subsequently, when Plaid Cymru was fortunate enough to be able to secure nearly a majority on the council, and to take positions on the council, it made no attempt whatever to alleviate the burden imposed on some of the people involved as a consequence of that rebellion. Indeed, Plaid Cymru completely reversed its word, which is entirely typical.

Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne

The hon. Gentleman referred to the Housing Finance Act. It was very much to my regret, if not to the hon. Gentleman's, that I was not a Member at the time that that Act was going through Parliament. I do not feel competent to be led astray down that path. I do not wish to be diverted either by the Labour Party or by the solitary representative of Plaid Cymru.

I come back to the main problem posed by Clause 35. I invite the Minister of State, when replying, to direct himself to this question. How can the Secretary of State direct that action shall not be taken? What would happen if the Assembly declined to conform with the directive? How will the Secretary of State decide whether something is desirable in the public interest? How will he make up his mind about whether something might indirectly be capable of affecting a reserved matter? In these respects I honestly believe that we are in the world of Alice in Wonderland.

The amendment seeks to bring us back to the world of reality. If we enact Clause 35 without amendment we can be sure, however well intentioned the burdens which will rest upon the Secretary of State, there is the prospect of continual conflict between the Secretary of State and the new Assembly, and between the House of Commons and the new Assembly, and the future is fraught with the gravest peril.

Suppose that the Secretary of State decided that it was in the public interest that a reserve matter might be affected indirectly. Suppose that he made a direction which, according to the Bill, is "binding on the Assembly". However, subsection (6) provides that even his direction, made in good faith, will cease to have effect at the expiration of a period of 28 days. What happens if we are in recess? Are we being told that no direction can be made unless there is a possibility of the House of Commons or another place approving it within 28 days? This seems to be another aspect that we must consider.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

Before the hon. Member launches too far on that line of argument, I should point out that Clause 74 provides: In reckoning any period for the purposes of section 35, 36 or 73 above, no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days.

Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne

That is exactly the point. Parliament is neither prorogued nor dissolved during the Summer Recess; it is adjourned. Therefore, the Minister's point is not valid.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

The hon. Member must have heard what I said but in case he did not I shall repeat it. I said that this applied if the House of Commons was adjourned for more than four days. This covers the hon. Member's argument. He must admit that he is on a false point on this matter.

Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne

I readily concede that on this point the Minister of State is correct. However, that does not alter the fact that this clause, if passed unamended, will be a constitutional disaster of the first magnitude.

4.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

I rise to respond to the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). Having listened to him very carefully, I find myself in some confusion. I am not sure whether I am alone in this or whether I share it with my hon. Friend. He seemed to argue that the Bill represents nothing more than a glorified county council, and what self-respecting politician would deign to serve on a county council?

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

That seemed to be the thrust of my hon. Friend's argument. Maybe I am misrepresenting him, in which case he will correct me, but that was the impression I got.

In the Scotland Bill debate, my hon. Friend argued that the Government were proposing to set up a Parliament which was almost equal to this Parliament and that, therefore, inevitably there would be clashes between two equal bodies. It seems that my hon. Friend is attempting to have his cake and eat it at the same time.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

That is not so. The argument on the Scotland Bill was in the context of the question of legislation. There are great differences between the Wales Bill and the Scotland Bill. One is tempted to ask, if devolution is about good government, why the Scots should have more and the Welsh should have less.

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

My hon. Friend mentions legislation, and that has added to my confusion. Clause 35 has nothing to do with legislation. It is concerned with the actions which may or may not be taken by the Welsh Assembly. My hon. Friend is pre-empting the arguments on the next clause, and this might have added to my confusion. I am dealing with the amendment relating to Clause 35 and the actions that might be taken by the Assembly.

Some of the discussion that we have had seemed to display a failure on the part of some hon. Members to understand the very nature of the political process and, in particular, how it is changing in order to keep abreast of social changes in the latter part of the twentieth century. What is happening is a fumbling attempt by politicians to devise a political structure that is consonant with the needs of the period in which we live.

During the period when local government organisation as we now know it was set up, conditions were static and people could take a black and white view of the picture. The local authority, whether it is Clay Cross or one of the South Wales authorities dealing with the Housing Finance Act, is strictly bound within clear-cut legal definitions. All that the Government have to do with an errant council is to ask whether it is breaking the law. If it is, clearly the Government have a policy to pursue to rectify the matter, using the whole force of the law.

It is precisely because this Assembly is not a glorified county council that there is some confusion. Hon. Members are desperately anxious to get this black and white static picture whereby we can frame a set of laws to constrain the Assembly that is proposed for Wales, because clearly the Assembly will be political in the full sense of the word.

When the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) asked how the Secretary of State would decide whether something was in the public interest, a thought flashed through my mind about the precise meaning of the words "public interest". Which public? Is it the British public, the English public or the Welsh public? I shall not follow that argument, but obviously straight away there is a huge area of political issues arising from the simple assumption of the hon. Member that the public interest refers to the British public. It might be that in the Welsh Assembly the public interest would be that of the Welsh public. Often the interests of the Welsh public might not coincide with those of the British public, the Scottish public or the English public.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

Does not the point that the hon. Member has just made demonstrate the great danger of this wording? Surely it illustrates the fact that this will not be an objective judgment about public interest but possibly a very subjective judgment by a particular Secretary of State referring to the public interest in terms of the United Kingdom or Wales alone or otherwise?

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

We are living dangerously in politically dangerous times. How can the Secretary of State actually enforce this decision to instruct the Assembly to do something or not? The hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts), and others gave the example of Clay Cross, and my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) referred to the actions of a council concerning the Housing Finance Act. These are not the best examples to give, because they arise out of the old-fashioned Victorian black and white, highly regulated approach.

The best examples are those where the Government attempt, for example, to institute a wages policy. One must ask how the Government can actually instruct the public, the trade unions or private companies not to pay a certain level of wages. This is a problem confronting us arising out of the change from a vertically structured hierarchical society to a laterally structured democratic society. This creates all sorts of problems. This clause is a genuine and creditable attempt to deal in a legislative way with some of these problems.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarvon

In alluding to Clay Cross, I was trying to draw the attention of the Conservative Party to the problems arising from this Government's difficulty in implementing that sort of legalistic approach. The whole lesson of Clay Cross, Merthyr Tydfil and Machen, of which I was a councillor—one of the 11 who took a line against the Housing Finance Act—is that one cannot legislate what people will want to do. One can erect a legalistic framework, but that is all. The Conservatives made the same mistake in relation to local councils as they did on industrial relations. I am trying to point out to them that they cannot approach such matters in this way.

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

I accept what the hon. Gentleman says. It may be that, if we have in mind the old-fashioned framework of local authorities and the glorified county council approach, the system is breaking down. I am giving another example, which is more vivid, on the wages front. There are many other aspects of the same problem.

The problem is how, in a unitary State, authority can reside at the top of the pyramid in this Parliament. The plain fact is that authority or sovereignty can no longer reside at the top of that pyramid. The nature of our democracy is such that people will not accept somebody at the top telling those at the bottom precisely what to do. This is the fundamental problem with which the whole issue of devolution is concerned.

I despair when I hear some hon. Members trying to argue the merits and demerits of this matter in a legalistic, dried-up manner. Although I can make all kinds of criticisms of various proposals, both on the Scotland Bill and on the Wales Bill, nevertheless I recognise that there is serious need which the Government are attempting to meet in seeking to devise a political structure that will be appropriate for a completely new social and political situation.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

I do not want my hon. Friend to despair, and I do not want to try to dry him up in any way, but I want to ask him one simple question. From his point of view and given his assumptions, how does he think that the scheme proposed in the Bill can last in terms of years—three years, five years or much longer?

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

My hon. Friend in that intervention illustrates the difference between his view and mine. He is asking me essentially—I hope that I do not misrepresent him—how long this system will last, because he is anticipating that this structure will last for ever. I differ from him because I do not want it to last for ever. I see this structure as the start of something that will change into something else and then change into something else again. That will happen because it is no longer possible in changing circumstances to freeze a political structure. One might devise a political structure which might be regarded as the most perfect structure for the time being, but inevitably it will become outmoded. The one golden rule of politics is that nothing ever stays the same, because things change across the whole world of politics. The golden rule of politics is that one has to travel. One travels hopefully and hopes to arrive.

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire

Is not the difference on this Bill that before it even starts we know that it will not work? It is all very well to say that times will change, that amendments will have to be made and new arrangements brought in. Of course they will, but I emphasise that the point about this Bill is that we know before it starts that it will not endure and, therefore, it is unsatisfactory in principle on those grounds.

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

I would not accuse the right hon. Gentleman of being opinionated, but all he is doing on this occasion is stating his opinion. My opinion is that this system will work, and I say that for a number of reasons. It will work, first of all, because of public demand. The ultimate consideration is that of sovereignty. Sovereignty does not lie here but lies in the people. People vest sovereignty in a particular political structure. If the Welsh Assembly behaves itself in such a silly way as not to secure the confidence of the Welsh people, it will fail. But I do not think that the people appointed to the Welsh Assembly—the Assemblymen—will be so silly as not to appreciate that fact. It may be that they will not be so prejudiced by the history of events as to be baffled by archaism.

I must emphasise that I have a great respect for this place, the Mother of Parliaments, but that respect falls far short of idolatry. At the time we were sending for Sir Charles Villiers, I felt that the Serjeant at Arms should have gone on that task in his knickerbockers and with his sword as somebody representing the House of Commons in the twentieth century. The point I am making is that the whole basis of the Government's proposals is to try to devise a political structure that will cater for present-day conditions. Clearly the Government will not get the matter right first go. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] One does not reject the good on the ground that it is not perfect. When I say that they will not get it right, I am pointing out that it will not be perfect. But, even as it is now drafted, it is a far sounder proposition, than the present set-up, which involves a highly centralised unitary State.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Welsh Assembly will have no chance whatever of getting the matter right until it has found out, with the aid of lawyers, what the Bill means, what are its powers and how those powers will work? Does he not agree that there is a strong probability that many lawyers will disagree about that?

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

Clearly, in any structure the rule of law must apply. One has to have a guiding framework. I am no lawyer and I would not like to spell out the legal technical issues. My point is that the approach adopted by the Opposition, and, indeed, by my hon. Friend for West Lothian, is profoundly misconceived. If we could start off with a different approach and then see what was wrong, we might get somewhere.

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

In response to criticisms made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) and others, will my hon. Friend point out to them that, despite all the weaknesses and failings in the appalling situations in Northern Ireland, the fact is that the legislative Assembly there lasted for 50 years and that it was not a breach of the ultra vires principle that brought it down?

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who, with his customary wisdom, has put forward a sound argument.

Photo of Mr Timothy Raison Mr Timothy Raison , Aylesbury

Will the hon. Gentleman point out to his right hon. Friend that on this Bill we are not talking about a legislative Assembly and that any comparison with Northern Ireland is completely meaningless? Will he go on to explain how he thinks that it can work if laws are to be made in one place but executed by the Welsh Assembly sitting in another place? Is not the system bound to fall apart?

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

I appreciate the question, but I shall not answer it now. Clause 36 deals with the law. We are now dealing with Clause 35, and I am trying to stay within the rules of order and so far the Chair has been very kind to me. We are talking about the actions of the Assembly. We can discuss the law on the next clause.

I conclude by saying that the fact that the Government are proposing to include in the Bill some kind of provision whereby the central authority—that is to say, British Government authority—can intervene, wisely or unwisely, controversially or non-controversially, underlines the fact that what is proposed is certainly no glorified county council.

Photo of Mr Robert Rhodes James Mr Robert Rhodes James , Cambridge

I support the amendment moved by my hon, and learned Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan). I hope that the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis) will forgive me for not taking up all the points he made, but there are one or two matters which I shall deal with later in my remarks.

My hon, and learned Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby shares with the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) the considerable distinction of being regarded by The Sunday Times as people who will be making headlines throughout the 1980s. Indeed, my right hon. Friend for Cambridgeshire was described as a country gentlemen with no doctrinal hang-ups. When one looks at the record of the Conservative Party over the past 200 years one finds this very reassuring because we have been ravaged by the problems of country gentlemen with doctrinal hang-ups 5.0 p.m.

The hon. Member for Bedwellty fared even worse. He has been described as the Left-winger that every Right-winger loves. I shall not pursue the hon. Member along that avenue.

As I heard the Minister of State delivering his interesting tribute, I had a feeling of jealousy. I am wondering why the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) and myself have been excluded from this category. Here is a group which has pursued the Scotland and Wales Bill, the Scotland Bill and the Wales Bill. All are included except the hon. Member for West Lothian and myself.

I feel emotions comparable with those that I had at the Conservative Party conference when Mr. William Haigh tottered from his pram to say that in 30 years he would be here and I would not. I felt strongly about that because in 30 years I have every intention of being there and here, unless the grim rebuff following the lamentable example of the Lord President of the Council brings down the chopper before we have had a reasonable discussion on the matters at issue between us.

The point made by my hon, and learned Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby before The Sunday Times made its pre-emptive strike for a good libel lawyer, emphasised that the Bill as it stands gives to the Government the mechanism to use its override powers regardless of the House of Lords. That is the purpose of the clause and that, above all, is the purpose of Clause 73 to which the clause that we are now discussing is intimately related.

There are no doubt arguments, from the hon. Member for Bedwellty and others, for the limitation of the powers of the House of Lords. There are even arguments, I gather, for the abolition of the House of Lords. I am bound to say that my distinguished constituents, particularly in the Newnham division of Cambridge, whose adherence to the red carpet is stronger than it is to the Red Flag, will be dismayed that these kinds of arguments are brought forward too much. Every time the hon. Member produces such arguments a thrill of horror goes through that area of my constituency. If the hon. Member continues in that way I may rise to even greater triumphs on the argument to preserve the House of Lords. But where would Lord Kaldor have lunch?

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

If the House of Commons persists in denying the vote to the House of Lords, it can protest as much as it likes. Indeed, I hope that in many cases my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will appoint thousands and thousands more Tory Lords, all in marginal Conservative seats.

Photo of Mr Robert Rhodes James Mr Robert Rhodes James , Cambridge

I thought that the idea was to appoint more and more of my Socialist constituents to the House of Lords, thereby perceptively increasing my majority. The hon. Gentleman puts forward a view last heard in 1911 and put forward with emphasis at that time.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

The hon. Gentleman must be mistaken: 1911 was the last year in which England won the Triple Crown.

Photo of Mr Robert Rhodes James Mr Robert Rhodes James , Cambridge

The hon. Member has the capacity to degrade the serious constitutional issues which we are debating. He is not even right about that. As I remember it was in the debate in the 1960s—

Photo of Mr Robert Rhodes James Mr Robert Rhodes James , Cambridge

I wish to emphasise that Clause 73 and this clause give the Government of the day, of whatever party, override powers regardless of the House of Lords and the influence and involvement of the House of Commons. Although we may have a Welsh Assembly—I am opposed to that concept—it is ludicrous to put into the Bill a situation in which the real dominator of the Welsh Assembly is the Secretary of State and the House of Commons and another place has no involvement. This would give to the Secretary of State a power which overrides in a serious way the rights and privileges of the Welsh Assembly.

If I were a Welsh Member for Parliament instead of being merely half-Welsh as I am, I should resent intensely this provision being written into the Bill because it is indicative of the thinking behind this Bill and the Scotland Bill. One would be half giving the principle of devolution and including in it provision to retain the reality of power in the British Government and in the Secretary of State.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

Were my hon. Friend a Welsh Member of Parliament, would he not within weeks of becoming one either strive for more power and blame everything that went wrong on the English or decide quickly that he would not bother to spend his life trying to be elected to that body?

Photo of Mr Robert Rhodes James Mr Robert Rhodes James , Cambridge

I entirely agree. That is the point made also in the Scotland Bill—that either we create an Assembly with real powers or we create the present one, with very few. But if we have the latter the first thing that the Assemblies will do is to look at their powers and position and ask for a rightful place and a rightful voice in the conduct of their own affairs. That is why this Bill and the Scotland Bill are totally irrelevant to the profundity of the problems even in this nation and in Wales and Scotland.

The dominant influence will be the Secretary of State because the House of Commons majority of the time will almost inevitably, as my hon, and learned Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby pointed out, support the Secretary of State of the day regardless of the details of the argument. In this situation the qualifications and safeguards contained in the Bill as it stands are irrelevant. They do not match up to the scale of the problems involved and fall far short of what the Committee is entitled to expect in a Bill of this importance and what the people of Wales are entitled to see in a Bill of such critical importance to them.

As my hon, and learned Friend emphasised, if the amendments of the Opposition were accepted it would not drive a large gap through the Bill. It would provide the House of Commons with the opportunity—I emphasise the word "opportunity" and not the word "right"—to have a say and involvement in the initiation and control of the override procedures. At a time when the opportunities of Parliament—of the House of Commons in particular—are being ruthlessly diminished and the Executive is eagerly grabbing more powers, it is absolutely essential that this modest but significant amendment against that encroachment should be written into the Bill.

I cannot understand why the Government and the Minister of State did not intervene at the outset to emphasise how they understood the fundamental and deeply important constitutional point which my hon, and learned Friend was making, which my hon. Friends have supported and which have been supported by the Government Benches. These are important and very significant constitutional amendments. I hope that the Government, even at this stage, even in view of its record of intransigence in the past, in the discussion of this Bill and the Scotland Bill, will change their mind. The Minister of State should rise to the occasion and rise to his build-up in the Press and accept these amendments.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

When I listen to my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis), I frequently think, whilst enjoying what he has to say, naturally, in a comradely style, that I am in some kind of sociological laboratory and that the House of Commons and all other democratic assemblies to which my hon. Friend belongs are mere extensions of that laboratory to permit politicians to experiment with new forms of constitution, new systems of government, and new arrangements for the levying of taxation and the expenditure of public finances so that the people, if they have relatively little confidence in the status quo, can at least be reassured that their representatives are continually prodding and investigating every possible avenue for changing the rules under which they are governed in response to what my hon. Friend frequently describes as public opinion on public demand.

I suppose that when his other experiments come to fruition—he has already engaged successfully in one in his enthu-siam for our membership of the EEC—when the paper is lit, the water is boiled, the chemicals have mixed and an explosion occurs in the true sociological fashion, the true fashion of the experimenter and researcher, he will be able to say to the people of Wales or Britain "Well, back to the drawing board".

The matters of public emotion, relationships between nations and how people's taxes will be spent and who will be spending them and the rules governing how they are spent go beyond the luxury of experimentation. There is no university model that can be drawn. We are not engaged in an academic exercise. We are discussing people's lives, the way they shall live and whether they shall live in relative happiness or in disastrous un-happiness. We therefore have to get it right.

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

It is not so much a question of the luxury of experimenting; it is rather a question of the luxury of staying exactly as we are. It is not a question of being unfair; it is a question of profound disillusion with the present set-up.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

I have at least as much enthusiasm as my hon. Friend for change, for securing, to use the words of our election manifesto, the "fundamental and irreversible change" in favour of the working people. I accept that my hon. Friend is at least as committed in that direction, unapologetically, ideologically and in practice, as I am. I am committed because I am a Socialist but also because I understand, as a democrat, that only a totalitarian system can thrive without change. Totalitarian systems of any kind commit themselves and their resources heavily to the prevention of change, even to the prevention of those who would voice the need for change.

It is not the change that I quarrel with or even the discussion of experiments in change. What I quarrel with concerns getting the wrong changes. I say to my hon. Friend and others who support these proposals that they are supporting the wrong change. Hon. Members speak of toppling what my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham has described as a pyramid. They talk about removing this apex, of diversifying and devolving government. Yet they are still willing to support a Bill in which none of the effective resolutions of government or the important decisions of government are, in the words of the 1975 White Paper, "taken nearer the people". This is an exercise in misguiding the public, an exercise in the most contemptuous centralist condescension. That is characteristic of devolution.

What we have in Clause 35 and in this part of the Bill generally is an attempt by the Government to have their devolutionary cake and eat their centralist bread. The consequence of that, if it comes about, will be a formula for conflict, with no profit to the Welsh people.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

I say to my hon. Friend that the criterion I will apply to change, whether as advocated by him, by me or by my right hon. Friends, is whether it will advance the interests—democratic, political, social, economic, even sociological—of the Welsh people. If the changes proposed by my right hon, and hon. Friends cannot satisfy that criterion of advance and benefit, I say that it is the duty of hon. Members elected by the people in Wales to throw out those changes. That is why, unlike my hon. Friend, I am resolutely opposed to the proposals made by my right hon. Friends.

By the very nature of these proposals, government from henceforth will be a cat and mouse game, a proposition through which, by default, the Welsh people can presumably, through their Welsh Assembly, fulfil their national destiny. If the central Parliament, elected in part by those same people, cannot agree with the national Assembly, presumably again articulating the national demands of the Welsh people, that democratically elected Assembly in Cardiff will be overruled and overturned, and its decisions thrown out. The best that we can have is government from the centre by default, and the worst we can have is perpetual conflict between two democratically elected assemblies, elected by the same people, conceivably at different times, coming to entirely different conclusions about what is best for the people of Wales. If there is another formula, not for change but for disarray, followed by chaos, followed by decay of the interests of the people of Wales, I believe that we should have to spend a great deal of time searching for it.

5.15 p.m.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham is welcome to conduct his experiments. My right hon. Friends are welcome to conduct theirs, just so long as they do not have a detrimental effect on the interests of the people of Wales or on the unity of the kingdom. Whereas my hon. Friend honestly says that he considers this Bill to be a start on something different, my right hon, and hon. Friends on the Front Bench say that it is an end to something different.

My right hon, and hon. Friends on the Front Bench do not think that we shall go any further than this Bill. This Bill is here, as originally conceived, to bond the unity of the people. It is here to meet the demand for devolutionary change in Wales which, by some remarkable feat of perspicacity beyond most hon. Members, the Government have been able to discern. I have not been able to discern this demand, and neither have most of my hon. Friends, Tory Members or my constituents. But my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham and my right hon, and hon. Friends on the Front Bench are aware of this demand from Wales.

I have to explain to my hon. Friend, on behalf of my right hon. Friends—although they are extremely good at explaining things away in the devolutionary context; they are quite excellent in all other spheres, of course—that my right hon. Friends do not intend to go any further than this Bill. They intend that the permanent relationship between the people of Wales, the central Parliament and the central Government shall henceforth be that if the Assembly wishes to do something and the Palace of Westminster does not object to that within 28 days it is all right. I ask my hon. Friend to reflect on this.

What if the proposition in Cardiff should involve, say, an industrial commission of some description? It does not have to be the allocation of a grant because the Welsh Assembly does not have that power. It may be concerned with the conveniences required for the conclusion of an important commercial decision. There has then to be a pause in the whole procedure while Parliament makes up its mind.

We have to consider the effect on future generations because these are tablets of stone contained in the Bill—and they will guarantee that it will sink when subjected to the fresh water of public opinion. The fact remains that the proposition here is for a permanent system of government. To secure change will not require a simple adjustment of this measure on a future occasion or some well-meaning, articulate and amicable discussion in the Palace of Westminster. The next step beyond this is the usurpation of this measure against the interests of this House. The next step beyond this takes us towards not more devolution but a much harsher form of suppression of two systems of government.

Photo of Mr Robert Ellis Mr Robert Ellis , Wrexham

Does my hon. Friend accept that in the political process there are no tablets of stone? In the nineteenth century, a very slow moving century, there were enormous changes. I take it from the thrust of his argument that he accepts the need for change in the political structure of this country, but rejects this set of proposals. Would he like to elaborate OP the proposals for changes in the political structure which he would like to see?

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

With your indulgence, Mr. Murton, I should be glad to address the Committee for the next hour on the abolition of the House of Lords, the introduction of worker control—

Photo of Mr Oscar Murton Mr Oscar Murton , Poole

Order. The Chair has been tolerant up to now, but it cannot be as tolerant as all that.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

I am sure that I can stay entirely within order and answer the first point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham about the pace of change, since it directly involves the principle of this Bill. My hon. Friend would be the first to recognise, as an erstwhile Marxist of some description, that the pace of change of the last century was faster than that accomplished, certainly in social and political terms, in any other century in the history of mankind and that it was prompted and dictated by the incessant demands, inspired by the economic purposes, of an organised working class. That was the first time this had occurred.

The consequence of that was that we now have a most remarkable and advanced social democracy in this country. In pursuant of economic emancipation, people understood that they had to have constitutional change and an extension of their civic rights. They fought for that. There is no economic demand inspiring the Bill and no economic response provided by it. If my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham is saying that there is nowt as permanent as change and that this is his reason for saying that there are no tablets of stone, that is fair enough. However, in the Bill and the continued professions of the Government we have an answer to the demand that my hon. Friend, and those who think like him, believe has come from the people of Wales for the decentralisation of government and devolution of decision-making.

That is the proposal contained in the Bill and if it is calcified and turned into stone, it is because of the Government's protest that this is not the beginning of the slippery slope but that this is as far as we are going. That is what makes the proposals tablets of stone. My hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham and I think that change is permanent—

Photo of Mr Oscar Murton Mr Oscar Murton , Poole

Order. I have given the hon. Member long enough to answer his hon. Friend. We are dealing with the powers of the Secretary of State and we must not go so wide as to talk about tablets of stone. The Chair is getting a little stoney hearted now and I think that we must return to the amendment.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

I should not like to see that hardening of the arteries, Mr. Murton.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham and I are at one on the need for change, but we are not at one on the need for this change or the direction in which it will take us.

I ask my hon. Friend, the Committee and the Government to understand that some people in Wales have demands that could be answered by the separation of powers and some have demands that would be satisfied by the status quo, but none will be satisfied by the condescending powers contained in this clause to which hon. Members opposite have offered amendments.

The simple reason for this is that we cannot have halfway houses in democracy. We cannot have a shuffling of powers and create a national Assembly with the status, pomp and apparent power endowed in that Assembly and simultaneously have a supervening, superimposing, superintendent centralist Parliament which can make up its mind, after pretending to have awarded substantial powers to the Assembly, when and on which powers it wants to withdraw the effective decision making of the Assembly.

If we were talking about the devolution of powers throughout the United Kingdom or the establishment of a constitution on that quasi-federal basis, this argument could not arise because there would be an understanding of the relationship between the central Government and devolved government. However, the formula in the clause is a formula not for understanding, but for frustration, misunderstanding, chaos, confusion and conflict. It should not be supported.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

My hon. Friend is making an attack on the whole concept of the clause. I shall be happy to reply to that later, but he also referred to the Opposition amendments. Does he not agree that they do not propose a radical alteration to the clause but are an attempt to preserve the powers of the House of Lords?

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

I think that I have said enough about my general opinion of the House of Lords and I hope that, in his reply, my hon. Friend will agree with my view. Obviously any proposal for an extension or endorsement of the powers of the House of Lords, as applied to devolution or any other matter, would not have my support. The usefulness of this amendment and succeeding amendments is that they give us the opportunity to expose the dichotomy and delusion in this clause and this general area of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) made the astonishing statement that there are no halfway houses in democracy, but surely the growth of democracy has been nothing but a succession of halfway houses. The hon. Gentleman, when arguing against the Common Market, said that our accession to the Treaty of Rome was a halfway house to the sort of Europe of which he did not approve. The entire thrust of his argument was misconceived, but at least he made no bones about the fact that he was attacking the clause because he attacks the entire concept of devolution as presented in the Bill.

I had not intended to speak on these particular amendments, but the attacks on Clause 35, through the basis of the amendments, are virtually attacks on the Bill itself. We have heard the most astonishing arguments put forward. There has been a gross exaggeration of the chaos that will exist if the Bill becomes law and the Welsh Assembly is set up. I do not believe them for a moment.

The British constitution would not work at all if it were not that we have evolved constitutional functions and then paid due regard to them. Anybody who is sensible about this realises, for example, that if we have a federal constitution—and I am a believer in federalism—one of the advantages is that there is a separation of powers. Certain powers are given to the subsidiary Assembly and certain reserve powers are kept at the centre, and there is generally a constitutional court of some kind to give decisions where there is a matter of dispute.

In the concept of devolution whereby the House of Commons and the Secretary of State devolve certain powers to an Assembly in Wales, clearly there are difficulties about the override provision. It is necessary to have an override provision, otherwise the Welsh Assembly may do something outside its powers which is undesirable in the interests of the country as a whole. There must be someone who is allowed to intervene. That is what Clause 35 is concerned with.

However difficult it may have been to frame Clauses 35 and 36, I think the Government have made a fair attempt at it. I do not think they can be greatly improved. I can understand those people, like the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James), who attack Clause 35 because they dislike the whole concept of devolution as expressed in this Bill. That is one thing. But when I look at the amendments and ask whether they would be an improvement on what is proposed, the answer is "No".

In the end it depends on the good sense of the Secretary of State, the people who are running the House of Commons, and the elected Members of the Welsh Assembly. This is how we have always run our affairs. I disagree with the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis), who suggested that in the last century everything was clear cut and was put forward in black and white. That is not my understanding as a student for some time of constitutional history and the constitutional development of this country. That is not how it happened at all. There were very often gross deficiencies in many of the Acts, yet they worked because the people democratically elected to various bodies observed conventions and evolved them.

Compared with the amendments, the clause is a good provision for resolving disputes that are likely to arise between the Assembly and this House.

The critics seem to imply that the Members of a Welsh Assembly will be a lot of barbarians, anxious to break out of the United Kingdom at the earliest opportunity. Only a small minority of people in Wales want to break up the United Kingdom. The vast majority of elected representatives will want to maintain the unity of the United Kingdom; they will want the Assembly to run well and will want a good relationship between the Assembly and this House and between the Assembly and the Secretary of State. If it had been left to me, I should have abolished the position of the Secretary of State and had a much more forthright form of devolution. However, that would not have carried support in this place as at present constituted.

We must proceed bearing in mind the insistence of the Opposition and many of the critics of the Bill on the Government Benches that the position of the Secretary of State be maintained. Therefore, it seems sensible that he is given the override provision. The only question is how he is to exercise it. The thrust of the argument of the Opposition is that the other place should be brought in. As I understand the argument, it is said that it would be wrong by means of a side-wind to alter the constitutional relationship between another place and this place. It is said that that should be done by means of a direct Bill that deals specifically with the powers of another place. I hope that I am not misrepresenting the argument advanced by the Opposition, even though I am not putting it as precisely and eloquently as the hon, and learned Member for Whitby and Cleveland (Mr. Brittan).

5.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

To revert to the hon, and learned Gentleman's earlier points, they are not barbarians but people who would be extremely dissatisfied with the lot into which they had come as members of the Welsh Assembly. Short of a federal State, which is what the hon, and learned Gentleman wants, is it his idea of an Assembly that Assemblymen are to be full-time or part-time for 37 weeks or more in a year, five days a week? Are they to be full-time or are they to be parttime with other jobs? That is the sort of earthly consideration that is rather pertinent.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

That question has nothing to do with that which we are discussing. I reply to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question. There are Members of this place who are Marxists. There are Members of this place who believe in the separation of Scotland from England and Wales. There are Members who believe in the separation of Wales from the United Kingdom. Do they get their own way? Do they fail to obey the conventions of the House of Commons or do they observe the law, the conventions of the House of Commons and the way in which we conduct our affairs in Parliament? There is a general misconception that if we have a Welsh Assembly suddenly everyone within it will take leave of his senses. In fact, they will do what the vast majority of the British people always do: they will obey the law follow the conventions and establish a good working relationship with the House of Commons. If in future they want to improve that relationship, they will make representations through their Members of Parliament.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

The hon, and learned Gentleman is exaggerating and misunderstanding. The proposition advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) is not that people would become barbarians or take leave of their senses. There is no parallel with the conduct of this place. The proposition that the hon, and learned Gentleman must answer is that by the very nature of Assemblymen holding the office of representative in an Assembly in Wales their will, their hopes and their decisions will be frustrated by the blocking mechanism of central Government and they will become resentful in a way in which only minorities can become resentful They will become zealots in a way in which only minorities can become zealots. The hon, and learned Gentleman must put his remarks into a devolved context within the realities of the Bill and not base them on his imagination of what could happen in the House of Commons and draw analogies from that.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

The hon. Gentleman cited the case of the Bedwas and Machen Council which disagreed with an Act passed by Parliament. It expressed its protest by refusing to obey the law, but in the end it had to do so because that was the law of the land. No doubt those councillors would have liked the power to carry out the law as they thought it should be, but they could not do so. People accept that relationship. They accept that a council is a subordinate body and they would accept that an elected Assembly would be a subordinate body to this place. I see no difficulty in that respect.

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire

The debate has shown, once again, that there is a remarkable lack of genuine support for the Bill in the House of Commons. The Bill has had a certain amount of support from the hon, and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). It has had halfhearted support from the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis). The hon. Gentleman linked that limited support with half-hearted apologies for the shortcomings of the Bill and forecast that it could not last long. He seemed to be saying that he wanted to change things for the sake of change. I think that that is a sort of anarchy.

The clause relates to the override provisions which empower Westminster to override the Assembly. If that is not to lead to dispute and disharmony within the United Kingdom, I do not know what is. The hon. Member for Bed-wellty (Mr. Kinnock) thought that that would happen, and I entirely agree with him. Even the hon, and learned Member for Montgomery thought that it would lead to difficulties. Of course it will. Surely we should be concentrating upon finding a way of binding the United Kingdom together more harmoniously and not bringing forward Bills that are bound to damage the unity of the United Kingdom.

I, too, offer my congratulations to my hon, and learned Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan). I am glad that I can call him that. Although I have never been able to call him that before, I have always thought of him as that. My hon, and learned Friend concentrated on two of the main issues that are raised by the clause. There are a number of issues to which the Minister will have to reply, but surely the most important is the proposed procedure in Parliament, especially the procedure as regards another place. That is because the power is taken in the clause to overrule not only the Assembly in Wales but another place. We come to the issue properly in Clause 73, but even then I do not think it will be the appropriate time to take up the point made by the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) and to deal properly with the constitutional implications of another place.

In Amendments Nos. 229, 233 and 234, the Opposition seek to expunge from the clause the Government's flight into unicameralism. After all, that is what it is. The Government like to make it sound innocent and to dress it up, but what is proposed is the overruling of another place should it come to an inconvenient decision. If it should come to a decision that the Government do not like, they want the power to override. They are saying "We are masters now and we shall take no notice of what another place has decided". The Opposition are utterly opposed to that attitude, Whatever changes are required in another place—and we agree that changes are necessary and desirable—that is not a change that we can possibly accept.

However, that approach suits the Labour Party very well at the moment. In a way, I suppose that it is the beginning of its programme leading to the demolition of another place, which is what it comes to. I find it surprising that the Government should be worried in any way about the powers in another place. They are used very seldom. I suppose that that is part of the difficulty. As regards subordinate legislation, I think that it has used is powers only once, and that was 10 years ago on the Rhodesian sanctions. Its powers have been used hardly ever before or since. I do not know why the Government should be worried about needing to exclude whatever another place may decide on the basis of a whipped vote in this place.

However, in the clause the overruling of another place would be bound to fuel the flames of controversy between the House of Commons and the Welsh Assembly. In such circumstances the other place would be supporting the Assembly against the Secretary of State. The circumstances would be that those in another place would be refusing to pass an order that prevented the Assembly from doing something that it wanted to do, or directing it to do something that it did not want to do—the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts). Whatever else would be the consequence of that, it would increase the tension and conflict that will arise between the House of Commons and the Assembly.

I regret that there has not been a proper or adequate public debate in the country about these issues and that there is a completely inadequate appreciation of the implications of the Bill. If it is passed—I hope that it is not—and if in due time it comes to a referendum, I believe and forecast that there will, even at that time, be too little public understanding in Wales and anywhere else about the true meaning and implications of the Bill.

In the context of the House of Lords, it is wrong to play about with the constitution of the United Kingdom in the course of trying to pass a Bill dealing with the constitution of Wales.

The second main matter dealt with by my hon, and learned Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby was the need to give Parliament the right to express a view on these override questions and the power to initiate the use of the override provisions. In the Bill only the Secretary of State has that right. Of course, he will be subject to all manner of political pressures. All kinds of influences and considerations will be brought to bear upon him, and naturally they will have a powerful effect on his decisions.

It seems that in future there will be nothing to stop a Secretary of State altering or expanding the powers of the Assembly without any reference to Parliament. He could do it by not exercising his powers under Clause 35. The mere inactivity of the Minister will change the powers of the Assembly.

It appears that the intention of the clause, if passed in its present form, is that if, in the opinion of the Secretary of State—and only the Secretary of State—an Assembly action would or might affect a reserved matter, whether directly or indirectly and that action is not in the public interest, again, in the opinion solely of the Secretary of State, that action would be stopped.

It is not a question of vires. The courts cannot intervene. They have no power, authority or means of intervening. It is left solely to the discretion of the Secretary of State, because no one else can operate these powers—not even the House of Commons. We think that is wrong.

Parliament has a say only if the Secretary of State takes certain action. It cannot have any say if the Secretary of State fails to take any action or decides not to take any action. Therefore, is it not possible in this way to change and extend the powers of the Assembly, as it were, by default either deliberately or otherwise? If the powers in the clause were not used on an occasion when many people thought that they should be used, we should establish a precedent for non-use of the powers. Therefore, there is here a great deal of anxiety. I hope that the Minister will comment on that aspect of the matter.

A third major matter, which has hardly been touched upon in the three hours of debate, relates to Amendments Nos. 230 and 235. They are concerned with powers of override in relation to our European Community and international obligations.

If the Government believe that the arrangements for overruling the Assembly in instances where its actions might affect a reserved matter are right, why did they choose not to use them in instances of alleged incompatibility with European Community or international obligations? Under the Bill the Secretary of State, acting on his own, will be able to veto any action of the Assembly which appears to him to be incompatible with a Community or other obligation. That does not seem to the Opposition to be a satisfactory arrangement.

First, there is the parliamentary point. Should not the Secretary of State have to seek parliamentary approval for his decision? There is no provision for that in subsection (2). Should there not be an opportunity for Parliament to question any action of the Assembly which it believes to be potentially incompatible?

Secondly, there is the legal point. International obligations are matters of fact and of law and, therefore, are capable of resolution by the judicial process. It seems to us that that process would be the most appropriate way of deciding whether, in the words of subsection (2) (a), any action proposed to be taken by the Assembly would be incompatible with Community obligations or any other international obligations of the United Kingdom". Indeed, the Government took that view in their White Paper "Our Changing Democracy", published in 1975. That states in paragraph 91 that international obligation is essentially a matter of fact and law (often involved and technical) rather than of general political judgment". I agree. So why not refer it to the body most experienced in making such judgments—the courts? It seemed that at one stage the Government thought that, but they have now changed their mind. I wonder whether the Government's experience in relation to their appearances in court in connection with television licences, Laker Airways or comprehensive schools has anything to do with their change of mind. It certainly seems to the Opposition that the matters referred to in subsection (2) could and should be resolved by the courts.

5.45 p.m.

Fourthly—I shall not dwell on this matter because of time—there is the question of enforcement, which has been raised by a number of hon. Members. It is not the same as with a local authority. The House of Commons has imposed upon local authorities duties and responsibilities which they are expected and, indeed, required to carry out. What is more, the House of Commons took powers to enforce the law in that respect and to insist that those duties and responsibilities were carried out. For example, there is the power to surcharge councillors who are found to have failed in their responsibilities. Apparently there is no machinery here to enforce that what is required to be done will be done. That point was made by a number of hon. Members of trust that the Minister of State will have something to say about that matter.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me on this occasion if I do not give way to him. I said that I would sit down at quarter to six, and I must do so in one minute to be fair to the Minister of State, unless, of course, he is prepared to give us another day or days so that we may debate these matters more fully.

The main objection must be the effect of the Bill on Parliament, and particularly on the House of Lords. We think that the seemingly innocent, minor-sounding proposals in the clause are sinister and highly significant and certainly ought not to be in the Bill. Our amendments seek to remove them.

There is the further important point about placing sole reliance on the Secretary of State and excluding Parliament in the way proposed. Our amendments are designed to try to remedy those weaknesses and to improve the clause, with the whole of which we disagree, as the Committee knows. I hope that in that spirit, minor though in a way the amendments are but not minor in relation to the House of Lords, the Government will feel able at this stage to show a certain amount of sympathy with and understanding of our point of view, other than their own, and to accept the amendments.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

Before I deal with the main points raised by right hon, and hon. Members, I should like to add my congratulations to the hon, and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan). We always knew that he was learned, but it is nice to have that view confirmed by another body which permits us so to describe him.

The hon, and learned Gentleman introduced this series of amendments. Having congratulated him, in the best spirit of the House of Commons I now seek to criticise him. I was puzzled why he made no reference to Amendments Nos. 230 and 235. Having dealt with some other points in his speech, the hon, and learned Gentleman left his right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) with the invidious task of trying to gallop through an explanation of amendments which cover a fair part of the Notice Paper, which are very complicated and which the Opposition did not think were important enough to deal with at the beginning of the debate. It was open to the hon, and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby to address his mind to Amendments Nos. 230 and 235 as well as to the other amendments which he introduced. Indeed, it is common practice in Committee of the House, when introducing a batch of amendments, if they are of any importance at all, to refer to all the amendments so that the Committee clearly understands what is in the mind of the Conservative Party.

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire

That is a monstrous complaint. Apart from the fact that we are limited on time, numerous amendments of a genuine kind from another part of the Committee will not be debated at all. If we were to take time going into the details of the selected amendments, that would delay matters even further. It is not a fair point for the Minister to make.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

The right hon. Gentleman must know that it is a perfectly fair point. Amendments Nos. 230 and 235 must be of less importance than the other amendments or they would have been referred to. The right hon. Gentleman should not get too shirty about it. If he wants amendments to be taken seriously by the Government, he should not introduce the arguments for them towards the end of a fairly rapid speech. There was plenty of time in the debate. Indeed, he probably missed the opportunity of hearing the valuable comments of other hon. Members who have taken part in the debate, because these matters were not referred to earlier.

The main burden of the debate has been on the question of the House of Lords. There is a provision in the Bill that if the House of Commons approves an override order or direction made by the Secretary of State and the House of Lords disagrees with it the House of Commons can overturn the House of Lords decision.

Let us examine the consequences of deleting the provision from the Bill. It means that if the House of Commons approves a resolution made by the Secretary of State and the House of Lords declines to approve the motion in that House we should have a real recipe for conflict. This Parliament would be being overruled by the unelected House of Lords. That appears to be the position that the Conservatives wish to see.

The hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts) referred to the appearance of this proposition in the Parliament (No. 2) Bill. The hon. Member is correct to say that that provision is substantially the same as the one in the Bill. I do not follow the argument that we should preserve intact the powers of the House of Lords in this Bill until there is a general review of the relationship between the two Houses. I do not see why, until that happens, all the privileges, justified or unjustified, in the other Chamber should remain intact, especially when we are introducing an important constitutional change which affects the relationship between subordinate Assemblies in Scotland and Wales and Parliament. This seems to be an excellent time to review the powers of the House of Lords.

We have been accused of a flight into unicameralism. That was the description used by the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire. I should have thought that this was a sensible preservation of the rights of the elected House in relation to the other Assemblies. We have heard much about recipes for conflict in these devolution debates and I can think of nothing more redolent of conflict than to allow a situation to develop between the elected House and the unelected Chamber along the Corridor which cannot be resolved when they reach different conclusions.

There are provisions in the Bill for dealing with conflict arising because of an action taken by the Assembly on a reserved United Kingdom matter. Action can be taken by the Secretary of State which requires the approval of the House of Commons.

Once again we see the Conservative Opposition making a last-ditch attempt to try to preserve for ever and a day the powers of the House of Lords. They know that the House of Lords will always operate in favour of them. They know that the House of Lords is a check, not on them, but on this side of the Committee.

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conway

The Minister does not seem to be addressing himself to the situation where the House of Commons is in conflict with the House of Lords and the Assembly.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

We are dealing here with the situation in which there is a resolution approved by the House of Commons but not approved by the House of Lords. The Bill provides that the House of Commons shall prevail. I should have thought that it was now elementary democratic politics that where there is a conflict between the Lords and the Commons the House of Commons should prevail.

The Conservative Party is seeking not only to deny that proposition—which I should have thought it might be moving towards these days—but to allow a situation to develop where a conflict is bound to arise and which is incapable of resolution.

Photo of Mr Leon Brittan Mr Leon Brittan , Cleveland and Whitby

The Minister is ignoring an important point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts). It is not a question of one's constitutional views simply as between the House of Commons and the House of Lords; one is talking about a difference of opinion between an Assembly, which is in itself an elected body, and another elected Assembly. This brings a completely new dimension into the debate. It does not automatically follow that when the will of the House of Commons is not shared by the House of Lords the will of the Commons prevails. That means that one is saying that the Welsh Assembly is not a democratic body and is one whose views can be ignored.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

I find it hard to believe that the hon. Member can seriously advance such a proposition. We are dealing with a situation where the Secretary of State has obtained the approval of Parliament for taking corrective action on something which the Assembly has done which affects reserved matters and something for which the United Kingdom Government remains responsible. We are dealing with how that parliamentary control is to be exercised.

If we accepted the Conservative amendments there would be two forms of parliamentary control—a House of Commons control and a House of Lords control. We have a provision to resolve conflict.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

Are not the Opposition trying to promote a potentially unholy alliance between the Assembly in Cardiff and the House of Lords?

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

I thought that that might have been behind the reasoning of the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby, but I came to the conclusion that he was too sensible to adduce such an argument. The Conservative Party arrives at some odd views by accident rather than by design. That might be the situation in this case.

I was staggered at the prominence given to this amendment by members of the Conservative Front Bench. I was staggered to find that they were so uneducated in the ways of democratic politics that they do not see the obvious necessity not only of overcoming conflicts but of securing that proper control rests with the Secretary of State and the House of Commons.

I believe that the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby suggested that we should dispense with the House of Lords completely. There is some force in such an argument. But the Opposition have not put down such an amendment. However, the Conservatives are seeking to strengthen the power of the House of Lords in a way which we believe to be unreasonable in relation to the Bill.

The argument put forward by the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire towards the end of the debate involved our international and European obligations. The Government's attitude is that we do not believe that it would be appropriate for the international obligations of the United Kingdom, compliance with which are day-to-day matters to be referred to the national courts. We believe that it would be better for the Secretary of State to make the decision about whether something that the Assembly is doing is or is not in compliance with the international obligations of the United Kingdom Government. It would be the Government's obligations that would be at issue, and we do not believe that it would be right to refer them to a national court, particularly in the way suggested in the amendment—by action instituted by the Attorney-General. If the hon. Member thought that this matter was more important, no doubt he would have addressed himself to it when he began the debate.

Opposition Members should not feel so guilty when they find that they are caught out. Someone forgot to move the amendment and someone else had to move it later on. That is the most likely explanation and hon. Members opposite should not try to cover it up.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

If that is not true, I withdraw the suggestion and I substitute the alternative charge—to which I hope the right hon. Member will plead guilty—that he thought it so unimportant that he did not address himself to it.

Photo of Mr Leon Brittan Mr Leon Brittan , Cleveland and Whitby

The question is incapable of being answered.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

It is capable of answer. We believe that it is more appropriate for international obligations to be decided by the Government responsible to Parliament than to be referred to the national courts.

The other argument was that there should be an initiative in Parliament to decide whether an action of the Assembly should be overruled. A number of hon. Members who have spoken in the debate greatly overestimated the powers of control contained in Clause 35. They do not entitle the Secretary of State to act on each and every occasion on which he has a disagreement about policy. Clause 35 makes it clear that any action must relate to a reserved matter for which the United Kingdom remains responsible.

If the Assembly takes action which is contrary to a United Kingdom interest there must be control. There must be control of this type in any shared Government such as that proposed by devolution. The Secretary of State would also have to obtain the approval of Parliament. That would be a disincentive to him making frequent use of it. We do not

envisage that the power will be used frequently, but it is necessary as a constitutional longstop.

The opportunity has been taken in the debate to make wide-ranging comments on the whole concept of devolution. But here we are dealing with specific amendments to the override clauses. I see no merit in the proposition that seeks to increase the powers of the House of Lords beyond those contained in the Bill. The House of Lords has a role to play, but it should not be in a position to block the will of the House of Commons in this matter.

The other matters that have been advanced—

It being Six o'clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order [16th November] and the Resolution [1st March], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 145, Noes 170.

Division No. 154]AYES[6.00 p.m.
Adley, RobertFinsberg, GeoffreyMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Alison, MichaelFletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Forman, NigelMates, Michael
Atkinson, David (Bournemouth, East)Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)Mather, Carol
Awdry, DanielFox, MarcusMaude, Angus
Bell, RonaldFry, PeterMawby, Ray
Bendall, Vivian (Ilford North)Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)Glyn, Dr AlanMeyer, Sir Anthony
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)Godber, Rt Hon JosephMiller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Benyon, W.Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Berry, Hon AnthonyGower, Sir Raymond (Barry)Monro, Hector
Biffen, JohnGrant, Anthony (Harrow C)Moore, John (Croydon C)
Biggs-Davison, JohnGray, HamishMore, Jasper (Ludlow)
Blaker, PeterGrist, IanMorris, Michael (Northampton S)
Boscawen, Hon RobertHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Bottomley, PeterHampson, Dr KeithMorrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)Mudd, David
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Havers, Rt Hon Sir MichaelNeave, Airey
Brittan, LeonHayhoe, BarneyNelson, Anthony
Brooke, PeterHicks, RobertNeubert, Michael
Brotherton, MichaelHolland, PhilipNewton, Tony
Bryan, Sir PaulHordern, PeterOnslow, Cranley
Buck, AntonyHowe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyPage, John (Harrow West)
Budgen, NickHowell, David (Guildford)Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Channon, PaulHunt, David (Wirral)Page, Richard (Workington)
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Percival, Ian
Clark, William (Croydon S)Hutchison, Michael ClarkPink, R. Bonner
Cockcroft, JohnJames, DavidPowell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd)Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Cope, JohnJessel, TobyPrice, David (Eastleigh)
Cormack, PatrickJones, Arthur (Daventry)Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Dodsworth, GeoffreyKaberry, Sir DonaldRaison, Timothy
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesKitson, Sir TimothyRees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Drayson, BurnabyKnox, DavidRenton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Dunlop, JohnLamont, NormanRenton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Dykes, HughLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Rhodes, James R.
Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnLloyd, IanRidley, Hon Nicholas
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Luce, RichardRidsdale, Julian
Emery, PeterMcAdden, Sir StephenRoberts, Wyn (Conway)
Fairgrieve, RussellMacfarlane, NeilRoss, William (Londonderry)
Fell, AnthonyMacmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)Sproat, IainWarren, Kenneth
Royle, Sir AnthonyStainton, KeithWeatherill, Bernard
Sainsbury, TimStewart, Ian (Hitchin)Wells, John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Stradling Thomas, J.Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Shepherd, ColinTebbitt, Norman
Sims, RogerTemple Morris, PeterTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Skeet, T. H. H.Thatcher, Rt Hon MargaretMr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Speed, KeithTownsend, Cyril DMr. Michael Roberts.
Spence, JohnViggers, Peter
NOES
Allaun, FrankGrant John (Islington C)Palmer, Arthur
Anderson, DonaldGrimond, Rt Hon J.Pardoe, John
Armstrong, ErnestGrocott, BrucePark, George
Ashton, JoeHarper, JosephParker, John
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Harrison, Rt Hon WalterPenhaligon, David
Atkinson, NormanHayman, Mrs HelenaPhipps, Dr Colin
Bain, Mrs MargaretHeffer, Eric s.Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Hooiey, FrankPrice, William (Rugby)
Bates, AlfHooson, EmlynRadice, Giles
Bean, R. E.Horam, JohnRobinson, Geoffrey
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodHowells, Geraint (Cardigan)Roderick, Caerwyn
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Huckfield, LesRodgers, George (Chorley)
Bidwell, SydneyHughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Rogers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Blenkinsop, ArthurHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Rooker, J. W.
Booth, Rt Hon AlbertHughes, Roy (Newport)Ross, Paul B.
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurHunter, AdamRoss, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Boyden, James (Bish Auck)Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)Rowlands, Ted
Bradley, TomJanner, GrevilleSandelson, Neville
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Jeger, Mrs LenaSedgemore, Brian
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Campbell, IanJohn, BrynmorShore, Rt Hon Peter
Carmichael, NeilJohnson, James (Hull West)Silverman, Julius
Cartwright, JohnJohnston, Russell (Inverness)Skinner, Dennis
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)Jones, Alec (Rhondda)Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Cohen, StanleyJones, Barry (East Flint)Snape, Peter
Coleman, DonaldJones, Dan (Burnley)Spearing, Nigel
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Kaufman, GeraldSpriggs, Leslie
Cowans, HarryKelley, RichardStallard, A. W
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill)Kerr, RussellSteel, Rt Hon David
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)Kilroy-Silk, RobertStewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)Lamborn, HarryStoddart, David
Davidson, ArthurLamond, JamesStott, Roger
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)Leadbitter, TedTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Lee, JohnThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Deakins, EricLewis, Ron (Carlisle)Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Litterick, TomThorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Dempsey, JamesLyon, Alexander (York)Tierney, Sydney
Doig, PeterMacCormick, IainTinn, James
Dormand, J. D.MacFarquhar, RoderickVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Edge, GeoffMacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorWainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)Mackintosh, John P.Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
English, MichaelMadden, MaxWatkins, David
Ennals, Rt Hon DavidMallalieu, J. P. W.Watkinson, John
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Weetch, Ken
Evans, Ioan (Aberoare)Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Whitehead, Phillip
Evans, John (Newton)Maynard, Miss JoanWhitlock, William
Faulds, AndrewMeacher, MichaelWigley, Dafydd
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.Mendelson, JohnWilley, Rt Hon Frederick
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Mikardo, IanWilson, William (Coventry SE)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMolloy, WilliamWoof, Robert
Ford, BenMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Wrigglesworth, Ian
Forrester, JohnMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Young, David (Bolton E)
Freud, ClementOakes, Gordon
George, BruceOrme, Rt Hon StanleyTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Golding, JohnOvenden, JohnMr. Thomas Cox and
Grant, George (Morpeth)Padley, WalterMr. Frank R. White.

Question accordingly negatived.

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the Business to be concluded at Six o'clock.

Question put, That part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 167. Noes 145.

Division No. 155]AYES[6.13 p.m.
Allaun, FrankAshton, JoeBain, Mrs Margaret
Anderson, DonaldAtkins, Ronald (Preston N)Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)
Armstrong, ErnestAtkinson, NormanBean, R. E.
Beith, A. J.Hooley, FrankParker, John
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Hooson, EmlynPenhaligon, David
Bishop, Rt Hon EdwardHoram, JohnPhipps, Dr Colin
Blenkinsop, ArthurHowells, Geraint (Cardigan)Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Booth, Rt Hon AlbertHuckfield, LesPrice, William (Rugby)
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurHughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Radice, Giles
Boyden, James (Bish Auck)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Robinson, Geoffrey
Bradley, TomHughes, Roy (Newport)Roderick, Caerwyn
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Hunter, AdamRodgers, George (Chorley)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)Rogers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Campbell, IanJanner, GrevilleRooker, J. W.
Carmichael, NeilJeger, Mrs LenaRose, Paul B.
Cartwright, JohnJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)John, BrynmorRowlands, Ted
Cohen, StanleyJohnson, James (Hull West)Sedgemore, Brian
Coleman, DonaldJohnston, Russell (Inverness)Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Jones, Alec (Rhondda)Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Cowans, HarryJones, Barry (East Flint)Silverman, Julius
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Jones, Dan (Burnley)Skinner, Dennis
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill)Kaufman, GeraldSmith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)Kelley, RichardSnape, Peter
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)Kerr, RussellSpearing, Nigel
Davidson, ArthurKilroy-Silk, RobertSpriggs, Leslie
Davies, Denzil (Llanelll)Lamborn, HarryStallard, A. W.
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Lamond, JamesSteel, Rt Hon David
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Leadbitter, TedStewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Lee, JohnStoddart, David
Dempsey, JamesLestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)Stott, Roger
Doig, PeterLewis, Ron (Carlisle)Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Dormand, J. D.Litterick, TomThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Edge, GeoffLyon, Alexander (York)Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)MacCormick, IainThorne, Stan (Preston South)
English, MichaelMacFarquhar, RoderickThorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Ennals, Rt Hon DavidMacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorTierney, Sydney
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)Mackintosh, John P.Tinn, James
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)Madden, MaxVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Evans, John (Newton)Mallalieu, J. P. W.Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Faulds, AndrewMarshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Watkins, David
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Maynard, Miss JoanWatkinson, John
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Mikardo. IanWeetch, Ken
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMillan, Rt Hon BruceWhitehead, Phillip
Ford, BenMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kllbride)Whitlock, William
Forrester, JohnMolloy, WilliamWigley, Dafydd
George, BruceMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Golding. JohnMorris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Grant, George (Morpeth)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Grant, John (Islington C)Oakes. GordonWoof, Robert
Grimond, Rt Hon J.Orme, Rt Hon StanleyWrigglesworth, Ian
Grocott, BruceOvenden, JohnYoung, David (Bolton E)
Harper, JosephPadley, Walter
Harrison. Rt Hon WalterPalmer, ArthurTELLERS FOR THE AYES
Hayman, Mrs HelenaPardoe, JohnMr. Frank R. White and
Heffer, Eric S.Park, GeorgeMr. Alf Bates.
NOES
Adley, RobertCope, JohnHavers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Alison, MichaelCormack, PatrickHayhoe, Barney
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Dean, Paul (N Somerset)Hicks, Robert
Atkinson, David (Bournemouth, East)Dodsworth, GeoffreyHolland, Philip
Awdry, DanielDrayson, BurnabyHordern, Peter
Bell, RonaldDuntop, JohnHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Bendall, Vivian (Ilford North)Dykes, HughHowell, David (Guildford)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnHunt, David (Wirral)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)Edwaras, Nicholas (Pembroke)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Benyon, W.Emery, PeterHutchison, Michael Clark
Berry, Hon AnthonyFairgrieve, RussellJames, David
Biffen, JohnFell, AnthonyJenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd)
Biggs-Davison, JohnFinsberg, GeoffreyJessel, Toby
Boscawen, Hon RobertFletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)Jones, Arthur (Daventry)
Bottomley, PeterForman, NigelKaberry, Sir Donald
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)Kitson, Sir Timothy
Coyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Fox, MarcusKnox, David
Brittan, LeonFry, PeterLamont, Norman
Brooke, PeterGilmour, Sir John (East Fife)Le Marchant, Spencer
Brotherton, MichaelGlyn Dr AlanLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Bryan, Sir PaulGodber Rt Hon JosephLuce, Richard
Buck, AntonyGow, Ian (Eastbourne)McAdden, Sir Stephen
Budgen, NickGower, Sir Raymond (Barry)Macfarlane, Neil
Channon, PaulGray, HamishMacmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Grist, IanMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Clark, William (Croydon S)Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Cockcroft, JohnHampson, Dr KeithMates, Michael
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)Mather, Carol
Maude, AngusPink, R. BonnerSkeet, T. H. R.
Mawby, RayPowell, Rt Hon J. EnochSpeed, Keith
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinPrentice, Rt Hon RegSpence, John
Meyer, Sir AnthonyPrice, David (Eastleigh)Sproat, Iain
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)Pym, Rt Hon FrancisStainton, Keith
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)Raison, TimothyStanbrook, Ivor
Molyneaux, JamesRees, Peter (Dover & Deal)Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Monro, HectorRenton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Moore, John (Croydon C)Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)Stradling Thomas. J.
More, Jasper (Ludlow)Rhodes, James R.Tebbit, Norman
Morris, Michael (Northampton S)Ridley, Hon NicholasTemple Morris, Peter
Morrison, Charles (Devizes)Ridsdale, JulianThatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Mudd, DavidRoberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)Townsend, Cyril D.
Neave, AireyRoberts, Wyn (Conway)Viggers, Peter
Nelson, AnthonyRoss, William (Londonderry)
Neubert, MichaelRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)Weatherill, Bernard
Newton, TonyRost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)Wells, John
Onslow, CranleyRoyle, Sir AnthonyYoung, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Page, John (Harrow West)Sainsbury, Tim
Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Page, Richard (Workington)Shepherd, ColinLord James Douglas-Hamilton and
Percival, IanSims, RogerMr. Peter Morrison.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 35 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 36 and 37 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 4 agreed to.