House of Commons (Redistri- Bution of Seats) Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th January 1979.

Alert me about debates like this

Again considered in Committee.

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Mr John Ellis Mr John Ellis , Brigg and Scunthorpe

My speech so far has been subject to a number of interruptions, through no wish of mine. I was last interrupted when I was replying to the contribution of the right hon. Member for Down, South. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was no objection to an increase in the number of seats. I do not wish to be unfair about his argument. I seek to demonstrate that if the general cause of democracy as we know it is likely to be disadvantaged by the creation of more seats, that is a good argument for not passing this measure or the amendments.

10.15 p.m.

I do not believe that the right hon. Member for Down, South did justice to my intervention. An extraordinary state of affairs exists in Northern Ireland compared with the rest of the United Kingdom. If a substantial number of people —even if they are in the minority—view this move as a setback and a further alienation, we must oppose it.

For those reasons I am against the amendments which seek to add to the number of seats in the Bill. Those who have power and are in the majority must concede to the minority view. However, during our many discussions on the subject I have heard no word from the Ulster Unionists—who are in the majority—about what they seek to do to help the minority. When suggestions are made, whether by the Unionist majority or by the Catholic minority, they refuse to have anything to do with what is suggested.

We are not discussing democracy in the way that we normally accept democracy. When I visited that unhappy place everybody I spoke to wanted to know whether I was Catholic or Protestant. No one wished to know my political opinion.

My credentials in that respect are better than those of the right hon. Member for Down, South. I do not wish to be per- sonal but the right hon. Member has confessed many times that he belongs to the Church of England. At one time such people were Catholics. My own antecedents are different. I was brought up as a Primitive Methodist. I have had nothing to do with the Church of England. I am not an atheist, but I have doubts and I am an agnostic. We do not down arguments or people on the basis of their religious background.

Photo of Mr Jock Stallard Mr Jock Stallard , Camden St Pancras North

I am following the argument of my hon. Friend as closely as possible, because of the importance of this subject. I know of his long-standing interest in the matter and his many visits to the Six Counties. I believe that he visited the Province recently. Was he aware of any grass roots pressure for this increase in representation at West minster?

Photo of Mr John Ellis Mr John Ellis , Brigg and Scunthorpe

The subject was never mentioned. That could have been chance. There was a certain amount of pressure from some political quarters concerning Stormont.

Can those who support the amendments and the Bill honestly say that this legislation will remove the bitterness and heal the estrangement felt by the minority? Will the bitterness and the hatred be lessened? If they can honestly say that it will be, it seems that the legislation will have contributed something. If they can honestly say that, I shall reconsider my position. It is my honest and sincere conviction that those conditions which break apart the community and which result in the present unhappy state of affairs will not be helped by the Bill or the amendments.

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

I explained on Second Reading why the Conservative Party supported this Bill and why we agreed with the recommendations of Mr. Speaker's Conference. I did so in some detail and it is not necessary for me to address the Committee any further on that score. We do not support the Bill because we are in favour of integration, as has been suggested. I agree with the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) that full representation is no barrier to effective local institutions. We are not supporting the Bill because the extra seats would be a substitute for devolution. If the Minister of State wishes to resist the amendments, whether in favour of increasing the number of seats or of reducing that number, we shall support him. We want to see the Bill enacted as it stands.

It is unwise to indulge in too much speculation about the political complexion of the extra seats which may follow from this Bill. That rather detracts from the work of Mr. Speaker's Conference. It was my impression that it had no desire to entrench one community or the other as a result of its recommendations. As I understand it, the purpose of the Conference was to seek to end the existing under-representation of the Province for the benefit of all the people there. This has been the policy of the Conservative Party for a long time.

We should be judging the amendments, as we have judged the Bill, on the merits of under-representation. Attention has been drawn to the quotas—64,000 for England and 84,000 for Northern Ireland. Strong evidence was given to Mr. Speaker's Conference on this point. Since an all-party conference has come to this decision by an overwhelming majority, I do not believe that we should oppose it.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

It was said when we first set out on this group of amendments that they were narrow in scope. I hate to think what would happen if they were any wider in scope.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

On a point of order, Sir Myer. Do you have any idea of the purpose of my right hon. Friend's intervention? Will those hon. Members who have amendments tabled for discussion have the opportunity to deal with the reply given to them by the Minister? I understand that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) wishes to reply to the debate, and I, too, wish to reply to the points made on my amendment.

I seek an undertaking that the closure will not be moved by the Government and accepted by the Chair before hon. Members have had an opportunity to reply to the debate. There are many hon. Members, including my hon. Friends the Members for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) and Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas), who should be given an opportunity to make their contributions. I regret the fact that the Minister of State has taken this opportunity to address the Committee. Am I in order in asking him, through you, Sir Myer, to desist from speaking now to enable my hon. Friends to make their contributions?

Several Hon. Members rose

Photo of Mr Myer Galpern Mr Myer Galpern , Glasgow Shettleston

I shall deal with one point of order at a time. The duty of the Chair is simple. If a Minister rises to speak, the occupant of the Chair calls him.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

On a point of order, Sir Myer. I understand that immediately the Minister completes his reply to the debate, the Government intend to move the closure. Since the Committee is discussing my amendment, am I not entitled to reply to some of the points that have been made in the debate?

Photo of Mr Myer Galpern Mr Myer Galpern , Glasgow Shettleston

We must hear the Minister out, because he has already risen to his feet.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

The Committee has been debating amendments that arise from radically different points of view but have a common object in seeking to alter the number of seats appropriate to Northern Ireland, thus departing from the recommendations of the overwhelming majority of the members of Mr. Speaker's Conference.

The amendments which are in the names of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) and my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) have been discussed together. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his ingenuity in linking his name with two amendments. His ingenuity knows no bounds.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

I thank my right hon. Friend for his compliment, which I accept in the manner in which it was given. However, I believe that it would be of much more interest to the Committee to know whether my right hon. Friend, as the Minister in charge of the Bill, will be bullied into accepting the closure, thus not allowing my hon. Friends to make their contributions to the debate or to allow us to sum up our case in the light of his reply.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

I have been a member of many Standing Committees upstairs and Committees that have been taken on the Floor of the House, It is quite normal for the Minister to express his point of view when he considers it opportune to do so, and the Minister is usually called. This does not prevent the Committee stage continuing.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

I do not think that this is a point for me. I am merely exercising my right as Minister to reply to the debate.

Photo of Mr Ronald Thomas Mr Ronald Thomas , Bristol North West

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Bill is of crucial constitutional importance? Does he also agree that it would be indefensible for the Government to curtail debate on the Bill?

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

Since I have been on the Front Bench since four o'clock this afternoon, I do not think that it is correct to say that there has been any curtailment of discussion. Judging by the way things have gone so far, I do not think it can be said that there has been any curtailment of discussion on the Bill, which contains only two clauses.

The statutory level put forward—namely, to increase the number of seats from between 16 and 18 to between 21 and 24—may be described as the target figure. That would be an increase from 17 to 22. Seventeen seats would put Northern Ireland on par with the rest of the country. That seems fair. If Northern Ireland were to have 22 seats it would be more generously represented, by far, than any other part of the United Kingdom. Each Member would represent 47,000 electors compared with 54,000 in Scotland and 66,000 in England. If we had strict parity in Northern Ireland with the rest of the United Kingdom, we should arrive at 16·1 seats. Seventeen seats would produce about the same representation as in Wales and would be slightly short of that in Scotland. We are trying to right an unfairness. I am sure that hon. Members would not wish to put Northern Ireland in a favoured position and thus create another unfairness.

10.30 p.m.

My hon. Friends the Members for Belfast. West (Mr. Fitt) and for Kingston upon Hull, Central are asking the Committee to approve amendments that disregard the recommendations of Mr. Speaker's Conference. The result of their amendments would be 15 seats for Northern Ireland instead of the 17 recommended by Mr. Speaker's Conference. Instead of the possibility of a variation of 16 to 18 there would be the possibility of a variation of 14 to 16. I am not sure why my hon. Friends have alighted on 15. I thought that they were opposed to any increase in Northern Ireland representation in the House of Commons. I thought that they were opposed to the principle of increasing Northern Ireland representation and not merely to the extent of the increase.

I hope that my hon. Friends will recall that the membership of Mr. Speaker's Conference was 14 Labour Members, 11 Conservative Members, one Liberal Member, two Unionist Members and one SDLP Member. Conference agreed—there was only one dissenting voice—that 17 was the appropriate level of representation for Northern Ireland, subject to possible variation to 16 or 18. I ask both my hon. Friends and some hon. Members whether they have any reasons for thinking that in reaching its conclusions the Conference was guided by any considerations other than its view of what was fair and just for the people of Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Eddie Loyden Mr Eddie Loyden , Liverpool, Garston

I accept everything that my right hon. Friend has said about Mr. Speaker's Conference, but does he agree that the increased representation of Northern Ireland is a matter for the House of Commons and not for the Conference? He has suggested that the decision of the Conference should have an overwhelming influence on the decision of the House of Commons. Will he make it clear that it is a matter for the House of Commons?

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

Of course. That is why we had a Second Reading. The House decided its attitude to the Bill on Second Reading. We are now in Committee. We are considering the fair allocation of seats to Northern Ireland. There will be a Third Reading. We shall go on from there.

Photo of Mr Ronald Thomas Mr Ronald Thomas , Bristol North West

My right hon. Friend spoke about what he thought were the motives of those who took part in Mr. Speaker's Conference, which arrived at a certain decision. We have already heard that much of the proceedings of that Conference was taken in complete secrecy. There are no minutes of what was discussed. How does my right hon. Friend arrive at his assessment of the motives of those who took part in the Conference?

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

My hon. Friend seems to impugn the motives of the members of Mr. Speaker's Conference. I do not believe that the rest of the House of Commons would wish to impugn their motives in that way. Certainly, I should not wish to do so. We are following what has always been the accepted way of dealing with these matters in this place.

Several Hon. Members rose

The Second Deputy Chairman (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine):

Order. The Minister does not appear to be giving way. Hon. Members know perfectly well the way in which we behave in the House in those circumstances.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

On a point of order, Mr. Godman Irvine. My right hon. Friend has invited my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) and myself and some of our hon. Friends—

The Second Deputy Chairman:

Order. Whatever the Minister invited anybody to do is not in the hands of the Chair. If the Minister wants to give way, he can do so, in which case the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) will have his opportunity.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

I have already given way three times and would like to get on.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

My right hon. Friend asked me a question.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

I have given way quite enough, I think. My hon. Friend knows very well that it takes quite a lot to unsettle me and I will not be bullied into giving way.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

Just for my flat-mate, I will give way.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend. I ask for favours from him not on the ground of friend- ship but on the basis of the rules of the House. I have no wish to pursue the matter.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

Mr. Concannon rose

Photo of Mr Jock Stallard Mr Jock Stallard , Camden St Pancras North

Will my right hon. Friend give way? I would like to pursue the matter and I am not my right hon. Friend's flat-mate. He has said that the numbers were arrived at on the basis of the Speaker's Conference. I suggest to my right hon. Friend that, inasmuch as we have any information at all about the Speaker's Conference—

The Second Deputy Chairman:

Order. That is not a point of order. Mr. Concannon. I see that the Minister has given way. I apologise.

Photo of Mr Jock Stallard Mr Jock Stallard , Camden St Pancras North

I understand the confusion. Based on the very scant information that any of us has about what happened at the Speaker's Conference, we have been able to glean that it was mainly an arithmetical discussion. It was based on mathematical considerations about areas and electors. This Committee is entitled to go much further than that and to discuss the political implications of those mathematical calculations. That is what the discussion is about, and I hope that the Minister will address himself to that.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

Once again, I should like to remind the Committee that a Speaker's Conference is a traditional and accepted way of deciding these things. The Government have already indicated that they accept the recommendations of the Conference, and I can see no reason whatever to quarrel with them. I am content to accept the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference that Northern Ireland deserves 17 seats in the House of Commons. I hope that the Committee will also agree and will not accept either group of amendments.

Photo of Mr Walter Harrison Mr Walter Harrison , Wakefield

Mr. Walter Harrison (Treasurer of Her Majesty's Household) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Photo of Mr Ronald Thomas Mr Ronald Thomas , Bristol North West

On a point of order. Mr. Godman Irvine.

The Second Deputy Chairman:

The Question is, That the Question be now put. There can be no point of order arising.

The Committee proceeded to a Division

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

On a point of order, Mr. Godman Irvine. We are discussing an important matter concerning the future representation of Northern Ireland in the House of Commons, and it is my amendment that is before the Committee. I represent one of the largest constituencies in Northern Ireland and I am denied the right to reply to a debate initiated by the calling

Division No. 35]AYES[10.38 p.m
Anderson, DonaldFookes, Miss JanetMolyneaux, James
Archer, Rt Hon PeterFoot, Rt Hon MichaelMorgan, Geraint
Armstrong, ErnestFord, BenMorris, Rt Hon Charles R.
Ashton, JoeForrester, JohnMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Morton, George
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Freud, ClementMoyle, Rt Hon Roland
Bates, AlfGeorge, BruceMulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Bean, R. E.Golding, JohnMurray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Beith, A. J.Gourlay, HarryNeave, Airey
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodGow, Ian (Eastbourne)Noble, Mike
Berry, Hon AnthonyGraham, TedOakes, Gordon
Biggs-Davison. JohnGrant, George (Morpeth)Ogden, Eric
Bishop, Rt Hon EdwardGrant, John (Islington C)Palmer, Arthur
Blenkinsop, ArthurHamilton, James (Bothwell)Park, George
Boardman, H.Hardy, PeterPenhaligon, David
Bradford, Rev RobertHarrison, Rt Hon WalterPowell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Bray, Dr JeremyHart, Rt Hon JudithRadice, Giles
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Hooley, FrankRobertson, George (Hamilton)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Horam, JohnRoderick, Caerwyn
Buchanan, RichardHowell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Roper, John
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Ross, William (Londonderry)
Campbell, IanHunter, AdamRowlands, Ted
Cant, R. B.John, BrynmorSever, John
Carson, JohnJohnson, James (Hull West)Shepherd Colin
Carter, RayJones, Alec (Rhondda)Smith, Rt Hon John (N Lanarkshire)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)Jones, Barry (East Flint)Spearing, Nigel
Cohen, StanleyJones, Dan (Burnley)Stanbrook, Ivor
Coleman, DonaldKaufman, Rt Hon GeraldStrang, Gavin
Concannon, Rt Hon JohnLambie, DavidTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Conlan, BernardLamborn, HarryTaylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Lamond, JamesTinn, James
Cowans, HarryLeadbitter, TedUrwin, T. W.
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Lester, Jim (Beeston)Varley, Rt Hon Eric G
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)Lofthouse, GeoffreyWainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Davidson, ArthurMcCartney, HughWard, Michael
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)McCusker, H.Watkins, David
Davies, Ifor (Gower)McElhone, FrankWeatherill, Bernard
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)McKay, Alan (Penistone)Weetch, Ken
Deakins, EricMacKay, Andrew (Stechford)White, James (Pollok)
Dempsey, JamesMacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorWhitehead, Phillip
Dewar, DonaldMaclennan, RobertWhitlock, William
Dormand, J. D.McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Duffy, A. E. P.Mallalieu, J. P. W.Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Dunlop, JohnMarks, KennethWoof, RobertWoof Robert
Eadie, AlexMarshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Wrigglesworth, Ian
English, MichaelMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Evans, loan (Aberdare)Mason, Rt Hon RoyTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Evans, John (Newton)Mather, CarolMr. Peter Snape and
Ewing, Harry (Stirling)Millan, Rt Hon BruceMr. Joseph Dean.
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.
NOES
Canavan, DennisHome Robertson, JohnMikardo, Ian
Corbett, RobinKilfedder, JamesO'Halloran, Michael
Cryer, BobLitterick, TomPaisley, Rev Ian
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)Loyden, EddieParry, Robert
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)Madden, MaxRichardson, Miss Jo
Flannery, MartinMahon, SimonRodgers, George (Chorles,

of my amendment. I ask, Mr. Godman Irvine, whether you will protect minorities in this House and give the people in Northern Ireland, through their elected representatives, a chance of democracy.

The Second Deputy Chairman:

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) does not appear to be interested in any reaction to what he said, but he has no right of reply.

The Committee having divided: Ayes 150, Noes 27.

Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Skinner, DennisWhite, Frank R. (Bury)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)Wise, Mrs AudreyMr. Kevin McNamara and
Stallard, A. W.Woodall. AlecMr. Stan Thorne
Steel, Rt Hon David

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—

Division No. 36]AYES[10.52 p.m
TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rev. Ian Paisley and
Mr. James Kilfedder.
NOES
Anderson, DonaldGeorge, BruceMurray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Archer, Rt Hon PeterGolding, JohnNeave, Airey
Armstrong, ErnestGourlay, HarryOakes, Gordon
Ashton, JoeGow, lan (Eastbourne)Ogden, Eric
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)O'Halloran, Michael
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Graham, TedOvenden, John
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Grant, George (Morpeth)Palmer, Arthur
Bates, AlfGrant, John (Islington C)Park, George
Bean, R. E.Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Parry, Robert
Beith, A. J.Hardy, PeterPenhaligon, David
Bell, RonaldHarrison, Rt Hon WalterPowell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodHart, Rt Hon JudithRadice, Giles
Berry, Hon AnthonyHome Robertson, JohnRichardson, Miss Jo
Biggs-Davison, JohnHooley, FrankRoberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Bishop, Rt Hon EdwardHoram, JohnRobertson, George (Hamilton)
Blenkinsop, ArthurHowell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Roderick, Caerwyn
Boardman, H.Hughes. Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Bray, Dr JeremyHunter, AdamRoper, John
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)John, BrynmorRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Johnson, James (Hull West)Ross, William (Londonderry)
Buchanan, RichardJones, Alec (Rhondda)Rowlands, Ted
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Jones, Barry (East Flint)Sever, John
Campbell, IanJones, Dan (Burnley)Shepherd, Colin
Canavan, DennisKaufman, Rt Hon GeraldSkinner, Dennis
Cant, R. B.Lambie, DavidSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Carson, JohnLamborn, HarrySmith, Rt Hon John (N Lanarkshire)
Carter, RayLamond, JamesSnape, Peter
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)Leadbitter, TedSpearing, Nigel
Cohen, StanleyLester, Jim (Beeston)Stallard, A, W.
Coleman, DonaldLitterick, TomStanbrook, Ivor
Concannon, Rt Hon JohnLofthouse, GeoffreySteel, Rt Hon David
Conlan, BernardLoyden, EddieStrang, Gavin
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Cowans, HarryMcCartney, HughTaylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill)McCusker, H.Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Cryer, BobMcElhone, FrankThorne, Stan (Preston South)
Davidson, ArthurMcKay, Alan (Penistone)Tinn, James
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)MacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorUrwin, T.
Davies, [...]or (Gower)Maclennan, RobertVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Deakins, EricMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)McNamara, KevinWard, Michael
Dempsey, JamesMadden, MaxWatkins, David
Dewar, DonaldMahon, SimonWeatherill, Bernard
Dormand, J. D.Mallalieu, J. P. W.weetch, Ken
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMarks, KennethWhite, Frank R. (Bury)
Duffy, A. E. P.Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)White, James (Pollok)
Eadie, AlexMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)Whitehead, Phillip
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Whitlock, William
English, MichaelMason, Rt Hon RoyWilliams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Evans, loan (Aberdare)Mather, CarolWilliams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Ewing, Harry (Stirling)Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinWilson, William (Coventry SE)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.Mikardo, IanWinterton, Nicholas
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)Millan, Rt Hon BruceWise, Mrs Audrey
Flannery, MartinMolyneaux, JamesWoodall, Alec
Fookes, Miss JanetMorgan, GeraintWool, Robert
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMorris, Rt Hon Charles R.Wrigglesworth Ian
Ford, BenMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Forrester, JohnMorton, GeorgeTELLERS FOR THE NOES
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Moyle, Rt Hon RolandMr. Thomas Cox and
Freud, ClementMulley, Rt Hon FrederickMr. John Evans.

Question accordingly negatived.

The Committee divided: Ayes 0, Noes 179.

The Second Deputy Chairman:

Does the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) wish to move his amendment?

Division No. 37]AYES[11.04 p.m
Beith, A. J.Ovenden, JohnThorne, Stan (Preston South)
Canavan, DennisPenhaligon, DavidWise, Mrs Audrey
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Woodall, Alec
Freud, ClementSkinner, Dennis
Home Robertson, JohnSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mikardo, IanStallard, A. W.Mr. Kevin McNamara and
O'Halloran, MichaelSteel, Rt Hon DavidMr. Eddie Loyden
NOES
Anderson, DonaldFoot, Rt Hon MichaelMorris, Rt Hon Charles R.
Archer, Rt Hon PeterFord, BenMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Armstrong, ErnestForrester, JohnMorton, George
Ashton, JoeFowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)George, BruceMulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Golding, JohnMurray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Gow, lan (Eastbourne)Neave, Airey
Bates, AlfGower, Sir Raymond (Barry)Noble, Mike
Bean, R. E.Graham, TedOakes, Gordon
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodGrant, George (Morpeth)Ogden, Eric
Berry, Hon AnthonyGrant, John (Islington C)Paisley, Rev Ian
Biggs-Davison, JohnHamilton, James (Bothwell)Palmer, Arthur
Bishop, Rt Hon EdwardHardy, PeterPark, George
Blenkinsop, ArthurHarrison, Rt Hon WalterPendry, Tom
Boardman, H.Hart, Rt Hon JudithPowell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Bradford, Rev RobertHooley, FrankRadice, Giles
Bray, Dr JeremyHowell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Hunter, AdamRoderick, Caerwyn
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)John, BrynmorRoper, John
Campbell, IanJohnson, James (Hull West)Ross, William (Londonderry)
Cant, R. B.Jones, Alec (Rhondda)Rowlands, Ted
Carson, JohnJones, Barry (East Flint)Sever, John
Carter, RayJones, Dan (Burnley)Shepherd, Colin
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldSmith, Rt Hon John (N Lanarkshire)
Cohen, StanleyKilfedder, JamesSnape, Peter
Coleman, DonaldLambie, DavidSpearing, Nigel
Concannon, Rt Hon JohnLamborn, HarryStanbrook, Ivor
Conlan, BernardLamond, JamesStrang, Gavin
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Leadbitter, TedTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Cowans, HarryLester, Jim (Beeston)Urwin, T. W.
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)Lofthouse, GeoffreyVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Cryer, BobLyons, Edward (Bradford W)Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Davidson, ArthurMcCartney, HughWalker, Terry (Kingswood)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)McCusker, H.Ward, Michael
Davies, Ifor (Gower)McElhone, FrankWatkins, David
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)McKay, Allen (Penistone)Weatherill, Bernard
Deakins, EricMacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorWeetch, Ken
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Maclennan, RobertWhite, Frank R. (Bury)
Dempsey, JamesMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)White, James (Pollok)
Dewar, DonaldMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Whitehead, Phillip
Dormand, J. D.Mallalieu, J. P. W.Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMarks, KennethWilliams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Duffy, A. E. P.Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Dunlop, JohnMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)Winterton, Nicholas
Eadie, AlexMarshall, Michael (Arundel)Woof, Robert
English, MichaelMason, Rt Hon RoyWrigglesworth, Ian
Evans, loan (Aberdare)Mather, Carol
Evans, John (Newton)Millan, Rt Hon BruceTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ewing, Harry (Stirling)Molyneaux, JamesMr. James Tinn and
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.Monro, HectorMr. Thomas Cox.
Fookes, Miss JanetMorgan, Geraint

Question accordingly negatived.

11.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

I beg to move amendment No. 11, in page 1, line 18, leave out subsection (3).

Amendment proposed: No.2, in page 1, line 10, leave out '18' and insert '16'.—[Mr. McNamara.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 17, Noes 151.

The Second Deputy Chairman:

With this we may take the following amendments:

No. 13, in page 2, line 1, leave out subsection (4).

No. 17, in page 2, line 26, leave out subsection (6).

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

The purpose of the amendments is to explore more fully a statement made on Second Reading by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—whose absence I regret, just as I regret the absence of some of my other right hon. and hon. Friends—which seemed to indicate that when subsection (2) came into operation there would be almost a guarantee of five or six seats for the minority population within the Six Counties.

The amendments deal with the position of the Boundary Commission, which is responsible for fixing constituency boundaries. It is responsible for doing so on the same basis as that within the rest of the United Kingdom, although until the Bill becomes law it merely has the task of dividing 12—the present number of seats in the Six Counties—into the number of electors, taking various other factors into consideration, to arrive at suitable constituency boundaries.

Clause 1(3) of the Bill alters rule 5 of the principal Act so that, in framing its first report under section 2(1), the Boundary Commission shall read rule 5, (under which the electorate of a constituency is to be brought as near the electoral quota as is practicable having regard to the other rules) in accordance with the definitions given in subsection (4) below instead of in accordance with rule 7 of those rules. Section 2(1) of the principal Act is entitled Periodical reports of Commissions as to redistribution. It states that Each Boundary Commission shall keep under review the representation in the House of Commons of the part of the United Kingdom with which they are concerned and shall, in accordance with the next following subsection, submit to the Secretary of State reports with respect to the whole of that part of the United Kingdom, either—

  1. (a) showing the constituencies into which they recommend that it should be divided in order to give effect to the rules set out in the Second Schedule to this Act ; or
  2. (b) stating that, in the opinion of the Commission, no alteration is required to be made in respect of that part of the United Kingdom in order to give effect to the said rules."
All political organisers wish that the Commission would look at section 2(1)(b) of the Act more often, because of the problems that it creates for sitting Members and parties in the reorganisation of boundaries. But democracy must have its way, and that is a proper rule.

The schedule dealing with the redistribution of seats states that The number of constituencies in the several parts of the United Kingdom set out in the first column of the following table shall be as stated respectively in the second column of that table—

Part of the United Kingdom
No. of Constituencies
Great BritainNot substantially greater or less than 613.
ScotlandNot less than 71.
WalesNot less than 35.
Northern Ireland12.
2. Every constituency shall return a single member. That is clear and precise. We tried to change that but we were ruled out of order. That was sad, but it could not be helped.

Rule 3 shows the power of the City. It reads There shall continue to be a constituency which shall include the whole of the City of London and the name of which shall refer to the City of London. Rule 4 says that So far as is practicable having regard to the foregoing rules …in England and Wales"— I shall not weary the Committee with the rule regarding county boroughs, and so on. It argued that no county district should be partly in one constituency and partly in another. That was amended to deal with the Assembly in relation to constituencies.

Clause 1 (3) of the Bill says how the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland shall read rule 5 of those rules ". Rule 5 says that The electorate of any constituency shall be as near the electoral quota as is practicable having regard to the foregoing rules; and a Boundary Commission may depart from the strict application of the last foregoing rule if it appears to them that a departure is desirable to avoid an excessive disparity between the electorate of any constituency and the electoral quota, or between the electorate thereof and that of neighbouring constituencies in the part of the United Kingdom with which they are concerned.

Photo of Mr Clement Freud Mr Clement Freud , Isle of Ely

The hon. Member has lent his name to almost every amendment. The Boundary Commission will take a long time to work out this complicated problem. Would it not be sensible if the Commission divided the Six Counties into four multi-Member constituencies in case, by the time its report comes before the House, the House is sufficiently enlightened to realise that proportional representation is the only proper answer?

The Second Deputy Chairman:

Order. None of that arises on the amendment.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

Without that ruling of yours, Mr. Godman Irvine, I might have been tempted to stray into the realms of proportional representation. Because of the way in which the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) worded his amendment on Second Reading, the House was prevented from having an adequate discussion.

Perhaps in the "clause stand part" debate it will be possible to discuss the point raised by the hon. Member without straying too far beyond the rules of order—

The Second Deputy Chairman:

Order. The opportunity will not arise on clause stand part, as this point is not part of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

Had it been included in the Bill I should have said that I have voted for proportional representation on every occasion when I felt that it should apply to Northern Ireland. I would not support it in the United Kingdom. I believe that the system should be the same in the Republic and the Six Counties

The Second Deputy Chairman:

Order. The hon. Gentleman must confine himself to the amendment.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

I very much regret that I was led astray by the hon. Member for Isle of Ely.

11.30 p.m.

We come to rule 5 of the rules under which the electorate of a constituency is to be brought as near to the electoral quota as is practicable having regard to the other rules in accordance with the definitions given in subsection (4) below instead of in accordance with rule 7 of those rules. Clause 1(4) of the Bill says: In rule 5 as it applies by virtue of subsection (3) above—(a) 'electoral quota' shall mean a number obtained by dividing the aggregate electorate (as defined in paragraph (b) below) of all constituencies in Northern Ireland by 17"; and then we see, in paragraph (b) 'electorate ' shall mean, in relation to any constituency, the number of persons whose names appear on the register of parliamentary electors in force for the constituency at the passing of this Act". If we compare that with rule 7, as we find it in House of Commons Redistribution of Seats Act 1949, we find that in the application of these rules to each of the several parts of the United Kingdom for which there is a Boundary Commission. the expression 'electoral quota' means … a number obtained by dividing the electorate for Great Britain by the number of constituencies in Great Britain existing on the enumeration date", and (b) The expression 'electorate ' means (i) in relation to a constituency, the number of persons whose names appear on the register of parliamentary electors in force on the enumeration date under the Representation of the People Acts for the constituency; (ii) in relation to Great Britain or Northern Ireland, the aggregate electorate as hereinbefore defined of all the constituencies therein'': and (c) the expression 'emuneration date' means, in relation to any report of a Boundary Commission under this Act, the date on which the notice with respect to that report is published in accordance with section two of this Act. We shall see when we come to subsection (5) of the clause that the position becomes different because of the fact that, in a sense, we are seeking to create a completely new situation by increasing the number of seats from 12 to 17, and then looking at the application of the various rules governing the Boundary Commission to effect the changes in the increased number of constituencies in Northern Ireland and seeking to push the matter ahead a little to get new boundaries by the time of the next General Election.

This is interesting, because the Bill refers also to the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, which deals with the position of the Assembly under the Act and the position of the constituencies thereunder.

That leads me to clause 1(5), which seeks to delete subsections (5) and (6) of section 28 of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act. Those subsections deal with constituencies and numbers of members.

I regret that I was unable to amend the principal Act or the Bill on the advice I received in order to give more positive reference to this group of subsections, because it would have dealt with the provision of proportional representation. But we find under subsections (5) and (6) of section 28 that An Order in Council under the said Act of 1949"— that is the principal Act— for giving effect, with or without modifications, to the recommendations contained in a report or supplementary report of the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland may amend section 1(1) of the said Act of 1973 by altering the number of members there specified and may amend the Schedule to that Act by altering the name of any of the constituencies there mentioned or the number of members there specified in relation to any constituency". Subsection (6) of section 28 says that Any provision of an Order in Council under the said Act of 1949 altering the boundaries of any constituency in Northern Ireland or the number of members specified in the said section 1(1) or the said Schedule in relation to any constituency shall not affect any election to the Assembly before the next general election to the Assembly or affect the constitution of the Assembly then in being. That is important, because at present the Assembly, as such, is suspended. As I understand it, it has not yet been abolished. The provisions of the 1973 Act would have affected the Boundary Commission in the way in which it sought to draw up the boundaries for the new constituencies and would have created a degree of confusion. As I understand it, these subsections provide a solution to any problems and conflicts that might result from the passing of the Bill and the existence of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 and the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949.

Clause 1(5) of the Bill deals with the definition.

It says: For subsections (5) and (6) of section 28 of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 (effect of Orders in Council under the principal Act on elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly) there shall be substituted the following subsections", and these are the subsections which take the place of those which I have read to the House as being in existence under the 1973 Act.

The substituted subsection (5) says that An Order in Council under the said Act of 1949 for giving effect, with or without modifications, to the recommendations contained in a report or supplementary report of the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland may make amendments conequential on giving effect to those recommendations in section 1(1) of and in the Schedule to the said Act of 1973. The substituted subsection (6) says that The coming into force of any such Order in Council shall not affect any election to the Assembly before the next general election to the Assembly or affect the constitution of the Assembly then in being. I think that the points I have made and the elucidation that I have given to the Committee of the various provisions in the subsections that we are seeking to delete are of considerable importance, because the Secretary of State, I believe, chose to indicate that, in some way or other, the Boundary Commission would draw the constituency boundaries in a way that would determine the result of elections. He may not have wished to give that impression. He may have been expressing a pious hope, namely, that with there being extra seats in Northern Ireland there might be additional opportunities to have further representation in Northern Ireland of what in the House of Commons is loosely called the minority. If that is so, my right hon. Friend should have said so.

Whether he likes it or he does not, my right hon. Friend has given conflicting impressions to various people. For example, he has apparently given the impression to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) that boundaries will be drawn that will guarantee a result to Republicans or others. He gave the impression to Members on the Government Benches, and perhaps even to members of Mr. Speaker's Conference, that with the redrawing of the boundaries there was the certainty of extra representation. Whether he liked it or not, he was doing my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) a considerable favour, almost on the basis of "This hurts me more than it hurts you".

These impressions are totally misleading. It is wrong that they should have been given in the first place. If we are to have elections in the Six Counties based on our system, they will have to be based on the system that now operates, of one man, one vote. We must not have a constituency boundary that is drawn to ensure that a certain group is certain of being returned. A serious reflection would be cast on the Northern Ireland Boundary Commission if it were felt that its integrity was being impugned by the suggestion that there were certain to be ways of boundaries being drawn to ensure a certain result—in other words, if it were to lose its impartiality. Secondly, it would be serious if it were felt that it was being leaned upon so as to achieve a certain result.

Outside certain specific areas where the minority population may or may not have a majority—it varies from area to area and from place to place—I do not believe, even with electorates of the size that will be produced with about 17 seats, that it will be possible to draw boundaries without a degree of what used to be termed gerrymandering. That would be reprehensible.

If I have been accurate in what I think is happening as a result of the amendments, I hope that when my right hon. Friend replies he will try to reverse what I believe is the unfortunate impression given by the Secretary of State of the results of elections for certain seats. The forecasting of such results is always a strange and difficult task because of what may happen as a consequence of the number of candidates. If there is more than one candidate of a particular hue in a particular constituency, it could affect the election for that seat.

11.45 p.m.

We have read with interest in the newspapers how various alliances have been formed and have not been formed on what is usually called the Unionist side of the divide, with threats and counter-threats and cutting up, and the withdrawal of candidates in one form or another. That has also applied on the minority side. It is very foolish for anyone to suggest, therefore, what any particular result will be.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to say that he feels that the Secretary of State may have been in some way a little impetuous in what he said, and that perhaps a more considered opinion would be that there is a chance for any candidate for any seat to be elec- ted if he can persuade a majority of the electors to vote for him. That would be a much better way of looking at the matter. It is important that the Boundary Commission should have its integrity completely untarnished.

The amendments that are made by the subsections in Clause I have necessitated our glancing again at the Northern Ireland Constitution (Amendment) Act 1973. It should be borne in mind that that is still on the statute book. That is a very important matter. I see that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State nods his head. It is on the statute book. I suggest, however, that this Bill and its provisions are a dagger in the guts, and that as a result of this measure it w ill not he seen in operation again. Little by little it will disappear from the statute book as integrationists on the Unionist side get their will.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

As subsection (4) of Clause 1 is among the subsections being considered in this group of amendments, perhaps I may take the opportunity of putting to the right hon. Gentleman the difficulty of construction, of which I have given him notice, by which I am not the only person to be puzzled.

In subsection (4)(a) there is an instruction for the calculation of the electoral quota by using the figure 17 as a divisor. One understands why that is appropriate, assuming that it is 17 constituencies with which, under subsection (2), the Boundary Commission is dealing. However, under subsection (2), if it appears to the Commission that for the time being there should be 16 or 18 constituencies, it may make recommendations for either of those figures. There must, somewhere in the Bill, presumably, be something which in that case enabled either 16 or 18 to be substituted for 17 in the application of subsection (4)(a). I can only apologise for not having been able to find it, but I assume that it must be here somewhere, since it would be irrational, if the Boundary Commission were providing for 18 seats, for it to work on an electoral quota produced by dividing the electorate by 17.

I hope that I have sufficiently explained my difficulty to the right hon. Gentleman for him to be able to clear it when, he replies.

Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne

The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), not for the first time, has drawn the attention of the Committee to an important point. I take it that the Minister of State will undertake that if, as I suspect, the right hon. Gentleman is on to a good point, an appropriate amendment will be moved in another place. It seems to me that line 5, page 2, should read "17, 16 or 18 as the case may be". No doubt the Minister will direct his remarks to that point when he replies.

It seems to me that this series of amendments falls because of the decision on the earlier series of amendments. The subsections that these amendments seek to remove are essential to the Bill, assuming that we have rejected, as we have, the first series of amendments. I believe that an inevitable consequence of having rejected the first series of amendments is that we should reject the second series.

During our proceedings today the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) and others have drawn the attention of the Committee to the fact that the Speaker's Conference comprised only 29 Members of the House of Commons. The hon Gentleman, in particular, said that we should not be so powerfully influenced as the right hon. Member for Down, South suggested we should be by the overwhelming recommendation of the Speaker's Conference. But, when considering this series of amendments, it is relevant to remind the Committee that it was by 22 votes to one that the Speaker's Conference made its recommendation, that on Second Reading the voting was 350 to 49 in favour—a majority of seven to one—that on the first amendment the voting was 179 to none and that on the second amendment the voting was 151 against and 17 in favour—a majority of nine to one.

I believe that the Committee would be well advised to reject these amendments. Indeed, if the Committee were to accept them it would make nonsense of the Bill. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will join the Government in resisting these amendments. I hope, too, that the Minister of State will deal with the important point about subsection (4)(a).

Photo of Mr John Ellis Mr John Ellis , Brigg and Scunthorpe

I find the amendments textually complicated. I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) if I do him an injustice, but I am bound to say that the purpose of his amendments seems to be in line with what the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) said—namely, wrecking.

Photo of Mr John Ellis Mr John Ellis , Brigg and Scunthorpe

I hear my hon. Friend say "No". I followed the point made by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), and I am sure that that will be answered. Whatever my feelings about the Bill, at least I could follow that point. But I did not follow the argument deployed by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central for the amendments. It may be that, as he opposes the Bill—indeed, I do—they are wrecking amendments.

My decision on the amendments rests on the sole criterion: do they help? That is my main consideraton. Will the Bill, if we must have it, help or hinder the selection of seats?

Will it lessen the sectarian divide in the whole community? Will it help to improve the position?

If this be a wrecking amendment, that I understand. But if there is something to be said for the amendment—if it is a criticism, so must it be—and it will help in the central purpose which is so important, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central and the Minister of State will say something to persuade me when they sum up.

Photo of Mr Gerry Fitt Mr Gerry Fitt , Belfast West

I have appended my name to the amendment for a reason that is different from that which led my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) to move it. I did it because I have a first-hand knowledge of the situation in Northern Ireland.

I live in Belfast. I know the different areas where the constituencies would be likely to be drawn. I know the political complexion of those areas. For example, in my constituency there is a very deep religious and political divide. The people at Mr. Speaker's Conference could not be aware of the very serious divisions in Northern Ireland and the political atmosphere that prevails there.

Mr. Justice Murray appeared before the Conference. I asked him specifically what would be the work of his Commission, what it would be entitled to do, and what consideration would be given to various aspects of life in Northern Ireland. At paragraph 108 of his submissions, I said to him: Could your Commission in any circumstances take into account the political complexion of the various constituencies? And could you in any way, in drawing up boundaries, take into account the political complexion of the various constituencies? Mr. Justice Murray replied: As I understand it, as a quasi-judicial body giving effect to these rules the political complexion of constituencies certainly would not be for the considerations within the rules. Mr. Justice Murray makes it quite clear that all he is concerned about is the number of heads to be counted.

Later in my questioning of Mr. Justice Murray I asked him whether he was aware that the vast majority of the population in Northern Ireland lived in the city of Belfast and within a radius of about 30 miles of Belfast. He agreed that that was so.

That area, therefore, is the area where the constituencies will be created. There will not be an extra seat for Fermanagh and South Tyrone or for Mid-Ulster. The possibility is that there will be an extra seat in the county of Londonderry. One cannot see a constituency boundary being drawn around a part of Belfast and then stretched way out into the rural areas of Northern Ireland. Therefore, in effect, the seats to be created will be in the city of Belfast.

We are all aware—particularly those of us who represent Belfast—of what is regarded in Northern Ireland, especially in Belfast, as a Loyalist area or an anti-Loyalist area. We all know very well the political and religious complexions. We are all tragically well aware of them. I wish that I did not know how many Protestants there were in Northern Ireland. But given the basis on which the Province was founded and the politics there since the setting up of the Stormont Government in 1920, we are all only too well aware of the terrible divisions that exist.

12 midnight.

In Mr. Speaker's Conference, the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) asked the Leader of the House: With respect, the question of the work of the Boundary Commission arises only after the necessary statute has been put on the statute book—is that not so? My right hon. Friend replied: "Yes, that is right." But the Boundary Commission will begin work only after the Bill becomes law. Yet when he announced this legislation a few months ago, the Prime Minister said that the Commission could start right away, without waiting for the Bill to become an Act. That is another concession in the haste to get the Bill through.

I wish that every hon. Member would read the evidence of the Leader of the House. I questioned him closely about the political situation in Northern Ireland and the political considerations over the number of seats. I asked whether it would be possible to discuss the religious affiliations of different areas. Repeatedly, I was told that these were matters for the House of Commons—" That is interesting, but it is a matter for the House, not for Mr. Speaker's Conference." But whenever we try to mention these matters we find that clauses 1 and 2 are so tightly drawn that such discussion is impossible.

I shall not mention PR, Mr. Godman Irvine, because you would rule me out of order, but the form of election is relevant. When I asked the Leader of the House whether we should be able to discuss it, he said that that was certainly a matter for the House of Commons.

Last year, I led a delegation to meet the Secretary of State and his Ministers at Stormont Castle, when we raised the subject of the form of election to be used if the seats were increased. My political friends and I are not backward children. I left that meeting with the distinct impression that consideration would be given to the form of election. Perhaps the Secretary of State is shrewder than I am—

The Second Deputy Chairman:

Order. I was hoping that the hon. Gentleman would come somewhere within range of the amendments that we are discussing.

Photo of Mr Gerry Fitt Mr Gerry Fitt , Belfast West

I digressed for a moment, Mr. Godman Irvine. The amendments relate to what the Boundary Commission will do and will not do. References to various clauses and schedules are not sufficient to allow it to deliberate on all aspects of political life in Northern Ireland so as to allow it to come to a decision based on a head count. The Leader of the House said that all these things could be discussed and that the Boundary Commission would discuss them. He said that the Boundary Commission would discuss many other matters, apart from the number of people residing in an area. Now we find that the Boundary Commission will not discuss anything except the question of the number of people living in a particular geographical area.

I agreed with my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central when he said that the Secretary of State and his colleagues somehow were able to predict the political complexions of these constituencies after the elections had taken place. How can he do that? How can he know that three or four seats will be non-Unionist? How can he say how the people will vote, or what the atmosphere will be at the time? The only way to gauge the political complexions of the constituencies in Northern Ireland is by referring to religion. In the Province it is generally accepted that the minority—people of the Roman Catholic religion—will normally support the anti-Unionist candidates, while the majority—the Protestants—will normally support the Unionists, whether they are Official, Democratic, or Protestant.

Is the Secretary of State saying that it is possible that the Boundary Commission will engage in deliberate gerrymandering, and that it will count the heads of the Catholics, Protestants and the few agnostics scattered around the place?

The Second Deputy Chairman:

Order. The hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) has pointed out how inadequate some of these provisions are. but it is not in order for him to continue with that line of argument.

Photo of Mr Gerry Fitt Mr Gerry Fitt , Belfast West

I am absolutely delighted that you, Mr. Godman Irvine, accept that these provisions are inadequate. They are grossly inadequate. That is why the amendments have been moved. If these amendments were accepted they would kill the Bill. That is why they have been tabled.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

Much as I appreciate the legal knowledge of my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) and that of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), I do not think that the amendments actually kill the Bill. If that were the case they would not have been selected. They may make the operation of the Bill more difficult if the alterations contained in these subsection do not apply and we must go to the principal Act of 1949 for the rules and regulations. The reason why the amendments should be accepted is that they make it easier for the Boundary Commission to carry out its task, subject to the difficulty that was indicated to the Committee by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell).

Subject to that, it would be relatively easy. Otherwise, my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West must accept that we would be governed by the provisions of the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949.

Photo of Mr Gerry Fitt Mr Gerry Fitt , Belfast West

I accept what my hon. Friend said. I listened with a good deal of attention as he quoted various schedules to the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act and the Representation of the People Act.

It has been proved conclusively over a number of years and a number of elections that the criteria embodied in the quotations that he has read to us may be very good criteria—I would say they are very good criteria—for use in England, Scotland and Wales, but they are not very good criteria for use in Northern Ireland, because of the whole history of Northern Ireland, because of the fact that Northern Ireland is part of a divided Ireland, and because of the history of the creation of Northern Ireland. Sometimes English politicians are inclined to think that the standards they have in their elections could easily be transferred to elections in Northern Ireland. It does not happen.

I hope that in speaking on these amendments I have drawn sufficient attention to the gross inadequacies under which we are labouring in discussng a Bill of such major constitutional importance as this. Even at this stage, if the Minster considers what is likely to happen in the drawing of these boundaries he will be forced to the conclusion that it is no easy matter for a Boundary Commission to be given the task of increasing the number of seats in Northern Ireland. If we are to increase the number of seats in Belfast and the area around it, all those seats will undoubtedly go to one political party.

It is not yet too late for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to inform the House how sure he is that the Boundary Commission will be able to perform the impossible and create non-Unionist seats in a Unionist electorate and a Unionist area. I do not think that it is possible. That is why I support these amendments.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

Does my hon. Friend agree that the point made by the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) was relevant? He said that if the Government had felt serious about representation and about giving the Boundary Commssion a job to do, they would have considered the possibility of creating—

The Second Deputy Chairman:

Order. I have already drawn the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the fact that that does not relate to these amendments.

Photo of Mr Gerry Fitt Mr Gerry Fitt , Belfast West

I agree with my hon. Friend. This little, two-clause Bill was drawn so tightly that it left those opposed to it to try to find an ingenious way of changing the content. The whole House, Government and Opposition, should have been quite open in saying what they were going to do in setting up a Speaker's Conference. I heard an hon. Member on the Opposition side say that nobody knew what the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference would be. I knew as soon as I saw the names of the members of the Conference. I was the only one to oppose the recommendations. They were no surprise to me.

The Government would have been more honest if they had said that they had promised the Unionist Party that it would get five more seats and that they intended to set up a Boundary Commission that would take a head count but would not be allowed to take into consideration the religious and political affiliations of the people of Northern Ireland. That would have been honest. Instead, the Government have said they are worried about justice and equity and the number of people in Northern Ireland who are not represented at Westminster. The Minister of State, in a hole-in-the-corner fashion, wrote to Tribune claiming that the seats would go to non-Unionists. Does he think that all the people of Northern Ireland are stupid? I can assure him that we are not.

12.15 a.m.

Photo of Mr Stanley Thorne Mr Stanley Thorne , Preston South

I seek clarification of subsection (3) in order to be able to determine an attitude towards the amendment. I understand that the present rules under the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949 are to be changed in the way spelt out in that subsection.

What is there in the proposed new rules for the determination of these seats that is more favourable than the present rules, in terms of fairness, democracy and various other qualities that we are alleged to be seeking in the Bill? The Government have the responsibility to establish beyond doubt that there are advantages in democratic terms before the Committee can legitimately pass subsection (3).

I also seek guidance about the way in which the Boundary Commission will do its work. Commissions listen to the views of political parties involved in the electoral system, whether in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. My experience of the Commission at work and in consultation with political parties is that it does a deal—I hope that that is not an unfortunate term—on the wishes of those parties and something like horse-trading can develop. I do not believe that either of the two main parties in the House has been free from that sort of trading for a long time.

There is reason to believe that under a Boundary Commission report that will affect a number of constituencies in England after the next General Election changes in representation will occur that will not unduly affect the balance in those areas, and the political parties have been signifying in recent months whether they will accept those recommendations.

That could also happen in Northern Ireland, and when the Boundary Commission starts work it will no doubt take into account representations of various political parties about the location of the new constituencies, even given the words in the Bill: as near the electoral quota as is practicable I am concerned that when representations are made by the existing political parties in Northern Ireland to the Boundary Commission, the weight of the various factions of the Conservative-Unionist parties there is likely to have far more effect on the final decisions of the Boundary Commission than, for example, the representations of the SDLP, not to mention the Northern Ireland Labour Party.

The Second Deputy Chairman:

Order. The hon. Gentleman is straying wide of the amendment. What we are waiting to hear is why the amendment would be of any assistance to his case.

Photo of Mr Stanley Thorne Mr Stanley Thorne , Preston South

Ths is part of the question that I am trying to illustrate and that concerns me, in terms of whether I accept subsection (3) or vote for the amendment. It seems to me that the amendment merely seeks to leave out the subsection, and that means that rule 5 under the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949 would apply, as distinct from the proposal in this Bill. I am attempting to understand—I am posing the question accordingly—what virtues the proposed change has that would ensure that the sort of representation that emerges following the work of the Boundary Commission would be of more or less value than what would obtain under rule 5.

I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) has done some research and has established, at least to his own satisfaction, that to accept this provision in the Bill would militate against an improvement—given that we are to have these extra seats at all—in the method of determining the electoral constituencies that would obtain under rule 5. I am prepared to give way to him if he can enlighten me as to the results of his research, because this aspect seems to me to be relevant.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for dignifying what I have done by calling it "research", which, however, I think stretches the bounds of definition even more than some of the other speeches that we have heard.

The answer that I must give is this: these amendments are really amendments to Government amendments to legislation.

The legislation governing the drawing up of boundaries is contained in the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Acts for the general principles, but with regard to the seats for the Assembly, established under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, particular rules are laid upon the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland in relation to reports that it must put forward and to the way in which boundaries must be drawn for Assembly seats in cognisance of parliamentary seats in the United Kingdom, based upon the principle, contained in the 1949 Act, that there will be 12 Northern Ireland seats.

Basically, what this Bill—the Government's amendments to those Acts—seeks to do is to do away with some of the provisions contained within those two earlier Acts and to speed up the procedure by which the Boundary Commission may operate, and make it perhaps more efficient. As my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) pointed out, amongst the things that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said when announcing his intentions with regard to a Speaker's Conference and so on was that there was nothing to stop-the Boundary Commission from working straight away.

I say that the Boundary Commission should operate for Northern Ireland under the same rules and procedures as apply in the rest of the United Kingdom, and under the rules and procedures laid down by the 1973 constitution Act. Failure to do that would be the first step towards throwing that Act out of the window and would defeat the object of some of the integrationists.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

On a point of order, Mr. Godman Irvine. Which hon. Member has the Floor?

The Second Deputy Chairman:

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull. Central (Mr. McNamara) has made a number of speeches during the evening. I thought that he was now making an intervention. Interventions must be brief. I think that the hon. Gentleman has had his turn.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

With the greatest respect, Mr. Godman Irvine. I thought that we were in Committee. Secondly, I thought that you were in the Chair and not the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison). Thirdly, when the hon. Gentleman raised his point of order I thought that he was referring to conversations on the Front Bench, and that he was unable to hear me.

I trust that what I have said in my intervention meets the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne).

Photo of Mr Stanley Thorne Mr Stanley Thorne , Preston South

The intervention, which I welcomed, has been helpful in clarifying certain of the issues that arise when one considers amendment No. 11. Therefore, I have little alternative but to return to my original point. I do not want to be guilty of undue repetition, but it seems to me that the Government have a considerable responsibility to convince us that doing away with rule 5 of the 1949 Act and establishing the rules envisaged in the Bill will be advantageous to the people of Northern Ireland.

I should be interested, for example, to hear the views of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) on this issue. I respect his knowledge of the procedures of the House and the electoral machinery established by it over a long period. Does he consider that after we have got rid of rule 5 the people of Down, South will—if Down, South exists after the passage of the Bill—have improved prospects in terms of the democratic right to elect a Member on the sort of basis that would give the equality with the United Kingdom that he and colleagues of his from Northern Ireland have mentioned?

We read at the bottom of subsection (3): given in subsection (4) below instead of in accordance with rule 7 of those rules". It is difficult readily to see what rule 7 says in detail, because it is not quoted in full in the Bill. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to tell us what is involved. It would be easier for hon. Members to address themselves realistically to this problem if rule 7 were in the Bill. There is no schedule to the Bill. Therefore, it is difficult to know what rule 7 says. It is difficult to understand how the rule supplements rule 5.

The Minister will have to give my hon. Friends and me some good material, which establishes the advantages following from the substitution of subsection (3) for rule 5, before we can accept it. Amendment No. 11 attracts me because of the misunderstanding arising from this part of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

These amendments are not wrecking amendments, but they would hamper the work of the Boundary Commission.

I shall deal first with those amendments that seek to delete subsections (3) and (4). These would make the job of the Boundary Commission more difficult. The Commission would have to base its calculations on an outdated electoral register.

12.30 a.m.

I shall explain why these subsections, are in the Bill. As the law stands the Commission is bound to approach its task in the way that is laid down in the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949, as amended by the 1958 Act.

One of the first acts of the Commission is to find the electoral quota for Northern, Ireland—that is, the figure which represents the ideal size for all the Northern Ireland constituencies. There is a figure at which the Commission should aim, in so far as it is practicable, and given its other rules, when drawing constituency boundaries.

The Commission will never be able to achieve an equal size of constituency, but the quota provides a target. At present the electoral quota is achieved by dividing the Northern Ireland electorate by the number of seats. If the law is not amended the Commission will have to divide the electorate by 12.

The resulting figure of about 86,000 would not be helpful, since with 17 seats the true average figure would be about 61,000. The Commission by statute would be provided with a target which it and everybody else would know to be impossible.

The Commission could still do its job, but only by aiming at a point 25,000 electors distant from the statutory bull's eye. That would be less than desirable, so we have provided that for the Commission's first review it will use as its base figure not 12 but 17. That will ensure that it will achieve the target.

In future reviews there will be no need to do other than divide the electorate by the number of seats. That covers the argument of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell).

In the first review the quota will be reached by dividing the electorate by 17. That is what subsection (4) is about. Dividing by 17 is sensible, since that is what the number of constituencies will be, unless the Commission decides that it should be 16 or 18. Dividing the electorate by 17 does not bind the Commission to deciding upon 17 constituencies. The quota is a target.

Obviously the Commission will not be able to hit the target if it does not go for 17 constituencies. The law does not require it to hit the target; it has only to get as near to it as possible, taking into account all of the rules that it has to observe. In reviews after the first review, subsections (3) and (4) will cease to be relevant. The Commission will revert to the ordinary rules laid down in the 1949 Act.

To reach the quota then, the Commission will divide the figure by the number of constituencies, which will be either 17, 16 or 18. As in the first review, the Commission will have a target at which to aim, leaving it with the same freedom to diverge—

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

It would appear that if the Boundary Commission decides that 16 seats is the right number, that figure will not vary. There is no room for movement unless the Commission returns to the House. That is my interpretation of what my right hon. Friend said. He said that we take the existing number and divide it by 17—a desirable number in terms of Mr. Speaker's Conference report. We fix the number and forget subsections (3) and (4). After that, we come back to the number of seats that we have, for example, 17.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

My hon. Friend is right, but at the next review the Commission will obtain the quota from the number of seats in existence. This measure will still be in existence. The recommendation of 17 was made to give the Commission the chance of going one below or one above. If there are 17 seats on this occasion, that figure will apply. If the Commission recommends otherwise to the House, the position will be different. There might be other considerations—

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

I am sorry to pursue my right hon. Friend. Suppose that the Commission on this occasion decides that 18 is the right number. Will it be stuck with 18?

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

No. Perhaps I am not making this clear. My hon. Friend is probably mixing up the quota with the number of seats. The quota is something to be aimed at. Mr. Speaker's Conference has said that 17 must be the figure to be aimed at to reach a quota of 60,000. This gives the Boundary Commission an option, because it has other things to consider in going for either 16 or 18 seats. Whether the Commission goes for 16, 17 or 18 seats, or whether Parliament accepts those figures, we know that to obtain the quota for the next Boundary Commission the electorate must be divided in accordance with the number of seats then in existence. But that does not prevent the Boundary Commission recommending 16, 17 or 18 seats for the next Boundary Commission.

The second job of subsections (3) and (4) relates to the calculation of the electoral quota. That quota is reached by dividing the electorate by a number of seats. As the law stands, one decides the electorate by examining the date when the Boundary Commission gave notice of its intention to embark on a review. The electoral register then in force is used by the Commission for all the necessary calculations.

However, the Northern Ireland Boundary Commission is in an unsual situation. It gave notice of an intention to start a review in February 1976. When it was known that a Speaker's Conference was to be set up to consider the level of Northern Ireland representation, the Commission sensibly decided not to take its work—based on the premise that there would be 12 seats in the Province—any further. It preferred to wait to see the outcome. As the law stands, it would have to calculate the electoral quota by reference to the electorate shown in the electoral register which was in force in February 1976.

The effect of subsections (3) and (4)(b) is to instruct the Boundary Commission to refer instead to the electoral register in force on the passing of the Bill, for the purpose of its first subsequent report, thus giving it access to up-to-date figures.

Let me tell the Committee what are the rules of the Boundary Commission in Northern Ireland. The Boundary Commission, under the rules set out in the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Acts 1949 and 1958, first has to publish in the local press initial recommendations for the various constituencies. If more than 100 electors in a proposed constituency object to the recommendation—and a political party is taken to represent at least 100 electors—a local inquiry is held. If, as a result of that inquiry, it is felt necessary to modify the recommendation, the new recommendation has to be published and a further local inquiry may—not "must"—be held.

When this process has been completed for all the constituencies, the Boundary Commission submits a report to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The whole procedure, if there are objections to the initial recommendations, could take about two years.

The eventual report to the Secretary of State contains only recommendations. It is for the Secretary of State then to lay the report before Parliament and to introduce an Order in Council giving effect to the recommendations, with or without modification. Thus, it is Parliament, not the Boundary Commission, that has the final decision on what a constituency's boundaries should be.

The statutory criteria that the Boundary Commission must follow in deciding the area covered by constituencies are set out in statutory form. These criteria are that the electorate should be as near to the electoral quota as practicable, but that in Northern Ireland no ward shall be included partly in one constituency and partly in another. The Commission must also take account of local ties and special geographical considerations, such as the size, shape and accessibility of the constituency. Therefore, one can see that although the Boundary Commission has guidelines, what happens eventually will be decided by Parliament.

I turn to the amendment that seeks to delete subsection (6). The deletion of this subsection, which parallels provisions in subsections (3) and (4), would mean that the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland, in drawing up its first supplementary report on the number of members which each constituency should return to the Northern Ireland Assembly, would be compelled to use the electoral register in force on 16th February 1976 rather the register in force at the passing of this Bill for the purpose of calculating the size of the electorate. The latter will, of course, be much more up to date. That would mean that the Boundary Commission would not be able to prepare its first supplementary report on the most accurate possible basis. It would not prevent the Commission from doing its job but would prevent it from undertaking that job in the way which it and everybody else would wish.

What the Committee is being asked to do by these amendments is to complicate life for the Boundary Commission in two ways. First, it would be given a target for the size of constituency that it could not possibly hit, since it would divide an out-of-date figure for the electorate by an irrelevant number of constituencies. Secondly, it would be prevented from using an up-to-date register when preparing its next supplementary report.

On those grounds, I urge the Committee to reject the amendments.

12.45 a.m.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

The Committee is indebted to my right hon. Friend for what he said. However, I do not believe that the amendments would complicate life for the Boundary Commission by any degree greater than my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has done by what he said on Second Reading.

When I moved the amendment I drew attention to what my right hon. Friend had said on that occasion about what would happen in the constituencies. He had suggested that certain electoral results would ensue, and I wanted an answer from my right hon. Friend the Minister of State as to how and why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State could guarantee certain results. No reply has been forthcoming to the question that I asked.

We have my right hon. Friend the Minister of State saying that we are making the position more difficult for the Boundary Commission by suggesting that we operate the rules as they are at the moment, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, by suggesting that certain results will follow in any case, is saying that we should pay no attention to the rules. On balance, I think that I prefer to complicate life for the Boundary Commission to ensure that a fair system operates rather than to complicate things in the way suggested by the Secretary of State, namely, by saying how certain results will be achieved following the boundary changes.

I am not prepared to withdraw the amendment. My hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis) asked about the effect of the amendments and was at that time of the view that he might not support them because he did not quite understand the position. When my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne) raised the matter I tried to explain the situation and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State agreed with my interpretation of it.

Division No. 38]AYES[12.49 p.m
Canavan, DennisMahon, SimonThomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Cryer, BobMikardo, IanThorne, Stan (Preston South)
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)O'Halloran, MichaelWoodall, Alec
Flannery, MartinParry, Robert
Home Robertson, JohnRichardson, Miss JoTELLERS FOR THE AYES
Litterick, TomSkinner, DennisMr. John Ellis and
Loyden, EddieSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)Mr. George Rodgers.
McNamara, KevinStallard, A. W.
NOES
Archer, Rt Hon PeterEwing, Harry (Stirling)Morton, George
Armstrong, ErnestFernyhough, Rt Hon E.Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Fookes, Miss JanetMulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMurray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Bates, AlfFowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Neave, Airey
Bean, R. E.George, BruceOakes, Gordon
Beith, A. J.Golding, JohnOgden, Eric
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodGow, Ian (Eastbourne)Paisley, Rev Ian
Berry, Hon AnthonyGraham, TedPark, George
Biggs-Davison, JohnHardy, PeterPendry, Tom
Bishop, Rt Hon EdwardHarrison, Rt Hon WalterPenhaligon, David
Bradford, Rev RobertHart, Rt Hon JudithPowell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Radice, Giles
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)John, BrynmorRobertson, George (Hamilton)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Jones, Alec (Rhondda)Roderick, Caerwyn
Campbell, IanJones, Barry (East Flint)Roper, John
Carson, JohnKaufman, Rt Hon GeraldRoss, William (Londonderry)
Carter, RayKilfedder, JamesRowlands, Ted
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)Lamond, JamesSever, John
Cohen, StanleyLeadbitter, TedSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Coleman, DonaldLester, Jim (Beeston)Smith, Rt Hon John (N Lanarkshire)
Concannon, Rt Hon JohnLofthouse, GeoffreySnape, Peter
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Spearing, Nigel
Cowans, HarryMcCusker, H.Strang, Gavin
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)McElhone, FrankTinn, James
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)MacFarquhar, RoderickUrwin, T. W.
Davidson, ArthurMcKay, Alan (Penistone)Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)MacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorWalker, Terry (Kingswood)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)White, James (Pollok)
Deakins, EricMallalieu, J. P. W.Whitehead, Phillip
Dempsey, JamesMarks, KennethWilliams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Dewar. DonaldMarshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Dormand, J. D.Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Duffy, A. E. P.Mason, Rt Hon RoyWoof, Robert
Dunlop, JohnMillan, Rt Hon BruceWrigglesworth, Ian
Eadie, AlexMolyneaux, James
English, MichaelMorgan, GeraintTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Evans, loan (Aberdare)Morris, Rt Hon Charles R.Mr. James Hamilton and
Evans, John (Newton)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Mr. Joseph Dean.

Question accordingly negatived.

That being the case, and bearing in mind that the Boundary Commission's job has to some extent been simplified, in that it does not have to follow the ideas of the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) and consider the question of proportional representation, because that is outwith the scope of the Bill, I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends, despite the eloquence of my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, to support the amendment. I believe that we should keep to our good, old, well-tried and established British system, which we know works fairly and works well, for giving extra seats to Northern Ireland.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 19, Noes 113.

1 a.m.

THE CHAIRMAN, being of the opinion that the principle of the clause and any matters arising thereon had been adequately discussed in the course of the debate on the amendments proposed

Division No.39]AYES[1.01 a.m
Archer, Rt Hon PeterFernyhough, Rt Hon E.Morton, George
Armstrong, ErnestFookes, Miss JanetMoyle, Rt Hon Roland
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Bates, AlfGeorge, BruceNeave, Airey
Bean, R. E.Golding, JohnOakes, Gordon
Beith, A. J.Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)Ogden, Eric
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodGraham, TedPaisley, Rev Ian
Berry, Hon AnthonyHamilton, James (Bothwell)Park, George
Biggs-Davison, JohnHardy, PeterPendry, Tom
Bishop, Rt Hon EdwardHarrison, Rt Hon WalterPenhaligon, David
Bradford, Rev RobertHart, Rt Hon JudithPowell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Radice, Giles
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)John, BrynmorRobertson, George (Hamilton)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Jones, Alec (Rhondda)Roderick, Caerwyn
Campbell, IanJones, Barry (East Flint)Roper, John
Carson, JohnKaufman, Rt Hon GeraldRoss, William (Londonderry)
Carter, RayKilfedder, JamesRowlands, Ted
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)Lamond, JamesSever, John
Cohen, StanleyLeadbitter, TedSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Coleman, DonaldLester, Jim (Beeston)Smith, Rt Hon John (N Lanarkshire)
Concannon, Rt Hon JohnLofthouse, GeoffreySpearing, Nigel
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Strang, Gavin
Cowans, HarryMcCusker, H.Tinn, James
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)McElhone, FrankUrwin, T. W.
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)MacFarquhar, RoderickWainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Davidson, ArthurMcKay, Alan (Penistone)Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)MacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorWard, Michael
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)White, James (Pollok)
Deakins, EricMallalleu, J. P. W.Whitehead, Phillip
Dempsey, JamesMarks, KennethWilliams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Dewar, DonaldMarshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Dormand, J. D.Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Duffy, A. E. P.Mason, Rt Hon RoyWoof, Robert
Dunlop, JohnMillan, Rt Hon BruceWrigglesworth, Ian
Eadie, AlexMolyneaux, James
English, MichaelMorgan, GeraintTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Evans,loan (Aberdare)Morris, Rt Hon Charles R.Mr. Peter Snape and
Evans, John (Newton)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Mr. Joseph Dean.
Ewing, Harry (Stirling)
NOES
Canavan, DennisMahon, SimonStallard, A. W.
Cryer, BobMikardo, IanThomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)O'Halloran, MichaelWoodall, Alec
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)Parry, Robert
Flannery, MartinRichardson, Miss JoTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Home Robertson, JohnRodgers, George (Chorley)Mr. Kevin McNamara and
Litterick, TomSkinner, DennisMr. Stan Thorne.
Loyden, Eddie

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.