Determination of Maximum Rate of Precept

Clause 4 – in the House of Commons at 11:30 pm on 27th March 1984.

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Photo of Mr John Cartwright Mr John Cartwright , Woolwich 11:30 pm, 27th March 1984

I beg to move amendment No. 11, in page 4, leave out lines 35 and 36.

The amendment is tabled to draw attention to the extremely detailed powers of interference which the Secretary of State will have if the Bill is carried in its present form. Clause 4(2) provides that when the Secretary of State is determining the maximum rate or precept to be fixed by a designated authority he may take into account any financial reserves available to the authority. Nowhere in the Bill is there any definition of what "financial reserves" may be. In Committee the Under-Secretary was frank enough to say that the provision had been drawn in a vague way to enable the Government to draw into their net as many of those little pots of gold tucked away in squirrel holes in town halls as the Secretary of State could find. It is clear that many detailed reserves will be caught up in this provision if it is left in its present form.

There is, for example, the general rate fund balance. I was brought up in local government to refer to that as the working balance. It tends to be built up and to be raided to raise or lower the level of the rate, a skill which anyone in local government has to learn before becoming chairman of a finance committee. The balance must have sufficient funds in it to meet emergencies and other unforeseen demands. Maintaining that balance calls for an element of judgment based on experience of local circumstances.

Secondly, there is the housing revenue account, which is used to deal with the income and expenditure of a local authority's council housing. One needs the balance to be maintained at a sensible level to deal with the problems of management and maintenance of local authority housing and the capacity to meet unexpected problems in that housing. Again, that needs an element of judgment based on a knowledge of local circumstances.

Thirdly, there is the repair and renewals fund, which is established to meet the costs of planned maintenance of buildings and the repair and replacement of vehicles, plant and machinery. The fund is established as a sensible and prudent piece of housekeeping. The balance of the fund depends on a judgment of the condition and serviceability of buildings, plant and similar assets.

Lastly, there is the capital fund, which is sometimes built up by contributions from revenue and sometimes from the sale of capital assets. It is used to reduce interest charges on existing loans or to fund capital schemes, and once again that flows from a level of local knowledge and experience.

My objection to the provision is that the Secretary of State, without local experience, will have power to determine what is a proper and sensible level.

The setting of prudent balances is a matter for political judgment. Some may say that it is a matter of political manipulation and others that it involves the fine tuning of the local budget. I do not believe that it is right or proper for the Secretary of State to be sucked into such extremely detailed local decisions.

The Government said on the last amendment that it was wrong for civil servants to take all the decisions. It is difficult to believe that the Secretary of State will sit up late one night with his cup of cocoa and 25 sets of local authority accounts trying to sort out a sensible level of housing repair and maintenance in the London borough of Lambeth, for example.

Photo of Mr John Powley Mr John Powley , Norwich South

I must press the hon. Gentleman on the argument that he is developing. Perhaps he can give the House the benefit of his wisdom. What does he consider to be a prudent balance in local authority expenditure on the housing revenue account or the general rate fund account?

Photo of Mr John Cartwright Mr John Cartwright , Woolwich

That intervention misses my point. Only on the basis of local knowledge and experience can such a judgment be made. Even those who seek to make that judgment locally can get it wrong. When they get it wrong, the electors exert retribution. If the Secretary of State gets it wrong, he will not be subject to the will of local electors or ratepayers. We are talking about exercising a political judgment based on local knowledge and experience. I cannot believe that such a judgment can be exercised by the Secretary of State. Frankly, I do not believe that it will be exercised by the Secretary of State, although I heard what he said earlier this evening.

In the real world, civil servants in the Department will do the job. It is unfair that civil servants should be exposed to making such difficult and sensitive decisions about proper and sensible levels of reserves in the various and detailed accounts. I cannot believe that it is good for local government for central Government to become involved in this way. This is a classic case of Whitehall getting its fingers into detailed local authority tills. That is a great mistake, and I commend the amendment to the House.

Photo of Mr Michael Stern Mr Michael Stern , Bristol North West

I should first declare an interest in the subject of the debate as a chartered accountant and a partner in the firm of Halpern and Woolf, chartered accountants.

I shall address myself to the subject matter to which the amendment is related in the context that, unlike the proponent of the amendment, if anything I would castigate the Government for not going nearly far enough in the powers that they seek to take under the clause in looking at the areas of financial accounting of local authorities that are capable of what is called "creative accounting" nowadays.

In the Bill there is no definition of the term "expenditure" that the Minister will look at in deciding on the authorities to be made the subject of action under the clause. I accept that there are difficulties in defining "expenditure", when the accounting bodies have been unable to agree on a satisfactory definition, and the Minister would be reluctant to impose a definition on them. Because there is no definition, it is essential and inevitable that the Secretary of State should take powers to look at areas that are essential for a study of the expenditure of a particular authority.

If the amendment were passed, it would render the Secretary of State powerless in deciding on the appropriate level of expenditure for a particular authority and whether that level of expenditure as declared by the authority bore any relation whatsoever to reality.

I shall describe one or two of the areas where it would be possible for an authority, with or without appropriate advice, so to fudge its expenditure for the year in which it suspects it is being considered for action under the Bill that it could manipulate the figures legally to justify its dropping out from consideration by the Secretary of State. It would be able to look again at its definition of the difference between capital and revenue expenditure. That definition is extremely woolly. To do so, it could use its balances to aid it in this exercise.

The local authority would be able to redefine the areas of expenditure that it decides to apply to areas covered by specific grant in a way that it has not done in the past. There is nothing in the Bill to stop the local authority doing so. It would be able to redefine the date on which it takes creditors into account, and doing so, legally, would have a major impact on its expenditure for the year in which it suspects it is subject to potential action. It would be able to run down its stocks of such items as stationery and consumables without any effect other than as brought in by the balances, which the amendment seeks to withdraw from consideration. It would be able to take a slightly rosier view than in the past of the value of its debtors—again, without there being any control under the Bill. Finally, it would be able to ignore, under the strict wording of the Bill, any audit qualifications that are imposed on it either by the district auditor or by the Audit Commission.

The powers given to the Secretary of State under the clause as it stands are weak enough. The amendment would make them totally nugatory. I should like to hear from the Minister when he sums up that he considers that he has sufficient powers, under the general powers in the Bill, to be able to take action against authorities that are tempted to consider the action that I mentioned. I hope that we shall hear from the Minister that, far from accepting the amendment, he will move in the opposite direction and warn local authorities that if there is any attempt to use creative accounting, whether through the use of balances or any other means I mentioned, the Secretary of State will be able to negate that use of accounting by which local authorities might escape from the effects of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Harry Cowans Mr Harry Cowans , Tyne Bridge

I welcome the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Stern) to the debate. He did not attend debates on the other controversial, constitutional issues, but at least he is here for this debate.

The Bill refers to "financial reserves". Nowhere does it define what "financial reserves" are. The hon. Gentleman portrayed all local government as a bunch of twisters. I do not believe that for one moment. It would have been better if the hon. Gentleman had said that the Government should define clearly what "financial reserves" are. I have news for him. There is no definition of "financial reserves" in any other statute introduced by the Conservative Government or the Labour Government. Local authorities are not a bunch of twisters. They work very hard and do not seek to twist the books, contrary to what the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West said. They are very prudent.

11.45 pm

It is prudent that a local authority should build up a reserve of many items. A local authority, led by its financial officer, looks ahead and builds up a reserve to cover, for example, pay awards and the cost of inflation, which, like the Oxford boat crew, goes up and down. If the local authorities have a financial reserve, they may not be caught by inflation.

The Bill is supposed to be about incentives. Conservative Members have frequently talked about "prudent", "safeguarding" authorities which are "looking after the ratepayers' interests" and are "not profligate spenders". Those local authorities are, however, penalised as soon as they seek to look after their reserves to take account of what happens in the real world. If Conservative Members are honest in their intentions, what is the incentive for any local authority to be prudent? A prudent local authority will build up a financial reserve against a rainy day. After the Bill is passed, all days will be rainy, so there will be a greater need for a financial reserve.

Many of the elements necessary to achieve a good financial reserve, such as interest rates—Conservative Members should know all about that—do not lie within the control of local authorities. Why penalise a local authority, which over the years has garnered, prudently obtained value for money, husbanded its money and built up a financial reserve? What big business, which Conservative Members are supposed to represent, does not have a financial reserve, look towards the future and put something by for a rainy day? Is big business penalised for doing that? According to the Conservatives' own rules, why penalise a local authority for doing what is all right for the barons of industry?

The Under-Secretary of State should clearly define financial reserves and tell local authorities, "It is good management and housekeeping if you save for a rainy day, and we shall not penalise you," or reject completely the argument that financial reserves will be penalised. Perhaps next year there will be a Bill to penalise all the businesses that are prudent, build up financial reserves and save for a rainy day. There may be some justice in the hon. Gentleman doing that. If he does not do it, there will be no justice.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

The speech of the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Cowans) reminded us of many happy hours in Committee. I can explain why my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Stern) is so sensitive about these matters. His reason is the same as mine. He has avidly been studying what has been happening in the county of Avon. He may share, for slightly different reasons, the embarrassment of some council officers at the crowing by some of the politicians in the Avon Labour group over their cleverness with the reserves. Of course, they have not been very clever. In the end they will be caught out. They have merely put off the evil hour. That is what caused my hon. Friend's worries, and I sympathise with him.

It also enables me to make a point to some of my hon. Friends who dislike the Bill that there are pressures from some members of the Conservative party who say that the powers that we are giving ourselves are only just enough to deal with the abuses that we face. They want to be sure that we are giving ourselves sufficient powers.

One reason why we need powers over reserves is that a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends wrote to my right hon. Friend and myself when we introduced the Bill and told us to watch out because local authorities would rate up in the year before the Bill was enacted and would then use their reserves to avoid the Bill's impact. I am glad to say that the message has got across and I do not think that that has happened, because we have seen low rate increases this year.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

Some of the local authorities that my hon. Friend has mentioned have taken note, but Cleveland county council has increased its precept this year by 20 per cent.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

I am sorry to hear that. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West is right. The powers in the Bill are necessary to make a real linkage between the expenditure level and the rate. If there were no such powers, all manner of weaknesses would be introduced into the linkage.

I hope that I can console the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge. I spent many hours trying to do so in Committee, but not always with complete success. One of the other reasons for having the powers over the reserves is to meet the point that he makes. We do not wish to preclude the authorities that may be rate-capped from being in the position of those admirable barons of industry to whom the hon. Member referred. That might be a reference to the owner of Oxford United football club or someone of that kind. The local authorities must have proper reserves, and it is essential that the Secretary of State, when setting the expenditure limit for a rate-capped authority, should be able to make provision for proper reserves. He would not be able to do that without the proposed powers over reserves.

The matter works both ways. The Secretary of State must ensure that there is no what the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge toughly referred to as "twisting" and also that there is a prudent level of reserves.

Photo of Mr Harry Cowans Mr Harry Cowans , Tyne Bridge

I see that, but the proper person to take that decision is the financial officer of the local authority.The Government are superseding that financial officer and taking over. The Minister has just said that he does not believe that he has sufficient powers. Are we already seeing the draft of the 1985 Bill?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

I was hoping to persuade my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North West that we have sufficient powers. I cannot deny that the Bill takes powers over local authorities. The hon. Member for Tyne Bridge discussed that matter for some hours, and I am not going to try to deny it now. It is an essential part of the Bill. We must argue that it is plainly necessary——

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Hampstead and Highgate

May I ask my hon. Friend not to agree too much with the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Cowans), because I thought that the oldest maxim in local government was to let the ratepayers' money fructify in their pockets and not in local authorities' large and ever-increasing prudent balances?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

My hon. Friend is entirely right. I think that the number of occasions when he will find that the reserves in a rate-capping authority are too low will be outnumbered by the number of occasions when it can return to the ratepayers money that should rightfully be back in their pockets.

We talk all the time as though they were local authority reserves. They are no such thing. Ratepayers' money which should be returned to them is sitting in bank balances.

It is essential to have the powers. The attempt to knock them out, which I thought was one of the weaker amendments to which the Committee had to listen, remains one of the weaker amendments when it comes before the House. I have no hesitation in asking my right hon. and hon. Friends to reject the amendment.

Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment

I listened with some amusement to the contribution of the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Stern), who described himself as an accountant. If it has taken the introduction of the Bill to make him aware of the various facets of creative accountancy in the City and elsewhere as well as in local government, do not know what he has been doing in his profession in the past few years.

The hon. Member made a sanctimonious speech about the situation in local government, but I do not believe for a moment that Conservative Members believe that it is better for local authority balances to be controlled by the Secretary of State or his officials in Whitehall than by the authority's finance committee and director of finance., because in most, if not all, cases the Secretary of State and his officials will have no real knowledge or understanding of the situation in that authority.

Far from this part of the Bill being a safeguard for ratepayers and local authority services, it is the reverse. It shows that there are no lengths to which the Government will not go to take absolute control over the budgets of local government even down to the balances and reserves and to remove flexibility and room for manoeuvre from the attempts of local councils and their directors of finance to mitigate the worst aspects of the cuts in rate support grant and the other financial penalties imposed on them by the Government.

It is monstrous for the Under-Secretary of State, the author of a famous book about the powers of Ministers accruing more and more to the centre of Government and Whitehall, to say that even in the marginal case of local government balances and reserves Ministers should have the last word and the power to dictate the fate and use of those balances. We reject his arguments not just as doctrinaire and contrary to his own views but as fatuous and impracticable. We shall therefore support the amendment moved by the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright).

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 180, Noes 297.

Division No. 209][11.57 p.m.
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Barron, Kevin
Alton, DavidBeckett, Mrs Margaret
Anderson, DonaldBeith, A. J.
Archer, Rt Hon PeterBell, Stuart
Ashdown, PaddyBennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)
Ashton, JoeBermingham, Gerald
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Blair, Anthony
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Boyes, Roland
Barnett, GuyBray, Dr Jeremy
Adley, RobertForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Aitken, JonathanFowler, Rt Hon Norman
Alexander, RichardFox, Marcus
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelFraser, Peter (Angus East)
Amery, Rt Hon JulianFreeman, Roger
Ancram, MichaelFry, Peter
Arnold, TomGale, Roger
Ashby, DavidGalley, Roy
Aspinwall, JackGardiner, George (Reigate)
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Garel-Jones, Tristan
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Glyn, Dr Alan
Baldry, AnthonyGoodhart, Sir Philip
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Goodlad, Alastair
Bellingham, HenryGorst, John
Bendall, VivianGow, Ian
Best, KeithGower, Sir Raymond
Bevan, David GilroyGrant, Sir Anthony
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnGreenway, Harry
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnGregory, Conal
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterGriffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Bonsor, Sir NicholasGriffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Bottomley, PeterGrist, Ian
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Ground, Patrick
Boyson, Dr RhodesGrylls, Michael
Braine, Sir BernardGummer, John Selwyn
Brandon-Bravo, MartinHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bright, GrahamHampson, Dr Keith
Brinton, TimHanley, Jeremy
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonHannam, John
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Harvey, Robert
Browne, JohnHaselhurst, Alan
Bruinvels, PeterHavers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Bryan, Sir PaulHawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Buck, Sir AntonyHawksley, Warren
Budgen, NickHayes, J.
Burt, AlistairHayhoe, Barney
Butcher, JohnHayward, Robert
Butterfill, JohnHeathcoat-Amory, David
Carlisle, John (N Luton)Heddle, John
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Henderson, Barry
Carttiss, MichaelHickmet, Richard
Chalker, Mrs LyndaHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Chapman, SydneyHill, James
Chope, ChristopherHind, Kenneth
Churchill, W. S.Hirst, Michael
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Holt, Richard
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Hooson, Tom
Cockeram, EricHordern, Peter
Colvin, MichaelHoward, Michael
Cope, JohnHowarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Corrie, JohnHowell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Couchman, JamesHowell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Cranborne, ViscountHubbard-Miles, Peter
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHunt, David (Wirral)
Dicks, TerryHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Dorrell, StephenHunter, Andrew
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Dover, DenIrving, Charles
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardJenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Dunn, RobertJessel, Toby
Durant, TonyJohnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Eggar, TimJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Emery, Sir PeterJones, Robert (W Herts)
Evennett, DavidJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Eyre, Sir ReginaldKershaw, Sir Anthony
Fallon, MichaelKing, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Farr, JohnKing, Rt Hon Tom
Favell, AnthonyKnight, Gregory (Derby N)
Fenner, Mrs PeggyKnight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyKnowles, Michael
Fletcher, AlexanderLamont, Norman
Fookes, Miss JanetLang, Ian
Forman, NigelLatham, Michael
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Kirkwood, Archibald
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Lambie, David
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Lamond, James
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Bruce, MalcolmLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Litherland, Robert
Campbell-Savours, DaleLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Canavan, DennisMcDonald, Dr Oonagh
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)McGuire, Michael
Carter-Jones, LewisMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)McKelvey, William
Clarke, ThomasMackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Clay, RobertMcNamara, Kevin
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)McTaggart, Robert
Cohen, HarryMcWilliam, John
Coleman, DonaldMadden, Max
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.Marek, Dr John
Conlan, BernardMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Martin, Michael
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)Maxton, John
Corbett, RobinMaynard, Miss Joan
Corbyn, JeremyMeacher, Michael
Cowans, HarryMichie, William
Craigen, J. M.Mikardo, Ian
Crowther, StanMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Cunliffe, LawrenceMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Cunningham, Dr JohnMitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)Nellist, David
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)O'Neill, Martin
Deakins, EricPark, George
Dixon, DonaldParry, Robert
Dobson, FrankPatchett, Terry
Dubs, AlfredPavitt, Laurie
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.Pendry, Tom
Eadie, AlexPenhaligon, David
Eastham, KenPike, Peter
Evans, John (St. Helens N)Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Ewing, HarryPrescott, John
Fatchett, DerekRadice, Giles
Faulds, AndrewRandall, Stuart
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Redmond, M.
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)Richardson, Ms Jo
Fisher, MarkRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Flannery, MartinRoberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelRobertson, George
Forrester, JohnRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Foster, DerekRoss, Ernest (Dundee W)
Foulkes, GeorgeRowlands, Ted
Fraser, J. (Norwood)Ryman, John
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldSedgemore, Brian
Freud, ClementSheerman, Barry
Garrett, W. E.Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
George, BruceShore, Rt Hon Peter
Godman, Dr NormanShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Gould, BryanSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Hamilton, James (M'well N)Skinner, Dennis
Hardy, PeterSmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Harman, Ms HarrietSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Harrison, Rt Hon WalterSnape, Peter
Hart, Rt Hon Dame JudithSoley, Clive
Haynes, FrankSteel, Rt Hon David
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Stott, Roger
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)Strang, Gavin
Home Robertson, JohnStraw, Jack
Howells, GeraintThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Hoyle, DouglasThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Hughes, Roy (Newport East)Tinn, James
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Torney, Tom
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Wallace, James
Janner, Hon GrevilleWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)Wareing, Robert
John, BrynmorWeetch, Ken
Johnston, RussellWelsh, Michael
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)White, James
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldWilliams, Rt Hon A.
Kennedy, CharlesWinnick, David
Woodall, AlecTellers for the Ayes:
Young, David (Bolton SE)Mr. John Cartwright and Mr. Michael Meadowcroft
Lawler, GeoffreyMurphy, Christopher
Lawrence, IvanNeale, Gerrard
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelNelson, Anthony
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Neubert, Michael
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkNewton, Tony
Lester, JimNorris, Steven
Lilley, PeterOnslow, Cranley
Lloyd, lan (Havant)Oppenheim, Philip
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Lord, MichaelOsborn, Sir John
Lyell, NicholasOttaway, Richard
McCrindle, RobertPage, John (Harrow W)
McCurley, Mrs AnnaPage, Richard (Herts SW)
Macfarlane, NeilParris, Matthew
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Patten, John (Oxford)
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)Pattie, Geoffrey
Maclean, David JohnPawsey, James
McQuarrie, AlbertPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Major, JohnPink, R. Bonner
Malins, HumfreyPollock, Alexander
Malone, GeraldPorter, Barry
Maples, JohnPowell, William (Corby)
Marland, PaulPowley, John
Marlow, AntonyProctor, K. Harvey
Maude, Hon FrancisRathbone, Tim
Mawhinney, Dr BrianRees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinRenton, Tim
Mayhew, Sir PatrickRhodes James, Robert
Mellor, DavidRidley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Merchant, PiersRidsdale, Sir Julian
Miller, Hal (B'grove)Rifkind, Malcolm
Mills, lain (Meriden)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Miscampbell, NormanRoe, Mrs Marion
Mitchell, David (NW Hants)Rossi, Sir Hugh
Moate, RogerRost, Peter
Monro, Sir HectorRowe, Andrew
Montgomery, FergusRumbold, Mrs Angela
Moore, JohnRyder, Richard
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)Sackville, Hon Thomas
Moynihan, Hon C.Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Mudd, DavidSt. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Sayeed, JonathanTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Tracey, Richard
Shelton, William (Streatham)Trotter, Neville
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Twinn, Dr Ian
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Silvester, FredVaughan, Sir Gerard
Sims, RogerWaddington, David
Skeet, T. H. H.Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Waldegrave, Hon William
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Soames, Hon NicholasWaller, Gary
Spencer, DerekWalters, Dennis
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Ward, John
Stanbrook, IvorWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Stanley, JohnWarren, Kenneth
Stern, MichaelWatson, John
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)Watts, John
Stevens, Martin (Fulham)Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)Wells, John (Maidstone)
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)Wheeler, John
Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)Whitfield, John
Stokes, JohnWhitney, Raymond
Stradling Thomas, J.Wilkinson, John
Sumberg, DavidWolfson, Mark
Tapsell, PeterWood, Timothy
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)Woodcock, Michael
Tebbit, Rt Hon NormanYeo, Tim
Temple-Morris, PeterYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Terlezki, StefanYounger, Rt Hon George
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)Tellers for the Noes:
Thornton, MalcolmMr. Carol Mather and Mr. Robert Boscawen.
Thurnham, Peter
Townend, John (Bridlington)

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Twelve o'clock, further consideration of the Bill adjourned, pursuant to order [29 February].

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered this day.