Restriction of Secretary of State's power to control rates.

Orders of the Day — Rating and Valuation (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:14 pm on 29th March 1984.

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108D. No order under section 108B of this Act may be made in respect of any local authority whose expenditure has not risen in real terms in the immediately preceding financial year".'.—[Mr Dewar.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

We come to consider the Bill on Report after what I must categorise as a long and dreich consideration in Committee that I found peculiarly unrewarding, being an example of the worst sort of parliamentary trench warfare. I hope that the Minister will not resent me saying that I thought that he was something of an immovable object with very little interest in the arguments that were advanced. At times the whole exercise seemed to be merely a way of showing his determination to serve his master and to establish beyond doubt his orthodoxy on every facet of Tory doctrine. He does not need to worry, for there has not been a touch of innovation or originality in his approach to his job. There was not a hint of heresy to lighten the dark days.

The new clause represents a last effort at this stage of the Bill's consideration to strike at one of the most obnoxious and resented parts of the Bill. Clause 3 gives the Secretary of State power to reduce rate poundage in a given year as against the previous year. This will be set by grouping a number of local authorities in Scotland. There is a provision in the clause for individual authorities to go scrambling cap in hand, looking for individual mercy or derogations from the general ban and limitation.

The new clause sets out the thoroughly reasonable proposition that an order limiting rate poundage as I have described should be possible only if the local authority that is to be affected has had a rise in expenditure in real terms during the previous financial year. I hope that this is recognised by the House to be self-evidently sensible and that the clause will find favour with the House.

The power to make an order under clause 3 should be used only sparingly. That principle has been conceded by the Minister. He has made it clear that it is a power of last resort which will be used only after lengthy warning, and that it is something that he hopes he will never have to do. In that context, it is not unreasonable to suggest that we should further limit the circumstances in which it can be used by confining it to local authorities whose expenditure has risen in real terms in the immediately preceding financial year. That is the simple message of the clause.

Our arguments go against the principle of rate capping and against the powers that are being taken by the Secretary of State in the Bill. I referred to those powers earlier as being oppressive and offensive, and I make no apology for using stern language. In deciding whether we want the restriction that is embodied in the clause, we are entitled to ask whether the Government have made out their case, or any case, with a shred of intellectual respectability for introducing the Bill to Scottish statute law.

The basis of the Government's case is that they have been struggling for many a long and weary year with a set of obdurate, profligate and irresponsible local authorities which are putting at risk the recovery of the nation's economy. There are times when the Secretary of State appears to be obsessed with local authority expenditure. Figures are bandied around in the House and in Committee by Government and Opposition Members, and there are endless technical arguments on the shape of the graph of local authority expenditure over the past year or two.

I shall accept for the moment the Government's premise that there is a problem with the extent of public sector expenditure. That is not a premise that I actually accept, but that is the subject of a wider political argument. However, for the purpose of testing the Government's case that leads them to ask for untrammeled and unrestricted powers to make orders under the clause, I am prepared to accept that there is a problem. If there is one, it is not the responsibility of the local authorities to any great extent.

The Third Report from the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee for the Session 1983–84 is the result of an investigation of the Government's expenditure plans until 1986–87. It sets out simply the argument that I am trying to advance. The Select Committee states that by the test that the Government have applied to their own economic competency—the ability to reduce or at least contain public expenditure—they have failed miserably. The increase in the five financial years to 1983–84 is put in real terms by the Select Committee at 12·3 per cent.

I stress that I do not accept the premise on which the Government's case is built because there is room for expansion in the public sector, especially in Scotland where 351,000 people are in the dole queues. However, I shall accept it for the moment for the purpose of the argument. The Select Committee produces some extremely interesting figures in the first table which suggest that the root of the problem, if problem there be, is central Government expenditure and not local government expenditure.

Table 1 sets out a simple column of figures. If we consider local government expenditure in real terms and take a base figure of 100 for the year 1978–79, the first year for which the Secretary of State was responsible, local government expenditure has risen to 106·9. That provides some support for the argument that there is a problem, but central Government expenditure over the same period rose to 111·2. Therefore, the rise in central Government expenditure has been much faster and much greater than the rise in local government expenditure.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scottish Office)

Is the hon. Gentleman talking about current expenditure or capital and current expenditure together?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I am referring to public expenditure as defined in table 1 of the Select Committee's report. If the Minister is suggesting that the figures are an attack upon the integrity of the Government, I remind him that his right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) chairs the Committee. I believe that the report sets out an independent view which suggests that central Government expenditure has been rising considerably faster than local government expenditure since 1978–79. The Minister will no doubt make his own remarks and attack the figures later, if he wishes to do so. I shall give him some others that he may wish to use.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scottish Office)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I do not wish to disturb his speech, but he is using important statistics, so it is important to know whether we are talking about current expenditure or a mixture of capital and current expenditure.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden 4:30 pm, 29th March 1984

I believe that the figures refer to capital and current expenditure. I am sure that the Minister will be able to make his point in a little while.

If we take the totality of public expenditure, which is the Government's King Charles's head, and consider the basis for comparison used by the Select Committee, which was chaired by a distinguished Conservative Member, the simple and unanswerable fact is that central Government expenditure has been rising much faster than that of local authorities.

If we project those figures to 1986–87, it is evident that the Government plan their expenditure to remain static and that local authority expenditure should decrease to 96·9 — going back to our 100 base figure — below the 1978–79 level. I make that point in passing because it is interesting that the Government choose to victimise local authorities on that basis. Whether they will succeed is another question, but they intend to control local goverment expenditure much more severely than that of central Government.

There may be much argument about those figures. As the House knows the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities puts the increase in local authority spending in real terms since 1978–79 at 1·6 per cent., which is lower than the Select Committee's figure. Undoubtedly, the Select Committee, COSLA and others are united in the view that local authorities cannot be made the scapegoats for global public expenditure totals as Ministers have tried to do in seeking to justify an untrammeled right to bring in the sort of orders envisaged in clause 3. I believe that new clause 1 would sensibly limit the effect of that measure to some extent.

The Minister may remember that when we were debating revenue figures on Second Reading I pointed out that the total over guidelines for 1983–84 budgets was £121 million for all Scottish local authorities. If one takes into account the £19 million clawed back by section 5 selective action and the £45 million that was taken back by general abatement there is an overspend on revenue — a distinction that the Minister will cling to—of only £57 million. That is a small fraction—perhaps 2 per cent.—of predicted expenditure of local authorities as a whole, which runs at about £2·6 billion. I believe that there is paranoia, lack of proportion and lack of perspective, Mr. Armstrong — [Interruption.] I apologise for not addressing you correctly, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I spent so long on the Bill in Committee that when I am on my feet anywhere else or at any other time I assume that I am still in Committee and address the Chair accordingly. I feel sure that most hon. Members who served or, that Committee have a fellow feeling, having been in the same prison, so to speak.

I hope that I have said enough to establish what I believe to be self-evident—the element of hysteria in the way in which Ministers try to establish that public expenditure is in some way the problem of local government alone, given the Minister's own terms of reference.

The second line of argument, as I understand it, is that Ministers need the power as a protection for the ratepayers and that it must not be limited by new clause 1. I do not wish to spend much time on that area of argument, but rates have risen substantially in the past few years. Even allowing for inflation, there have been substantial real increases. I regret that just as much as elected councillors, who have been left to strike the impossible balance between preserving essential services and compensating for the radical reductions in Government support which have resulted from the way in which rating and housing support grant settlements have been manipulated in recent years.

The Minister knows well that if we assume that the same percentage of expenditure was met by Government grants as was paid in 1978–79 that would be the equivalent for many local authorities of a substantial reduction in the rate poundage. In Glasgow the reduction in rate poundage would be the equivalent of 18p, and I am told that it would be 25p in Dundee. When Ministers complain about rate increases, they must consider their own part. They have a right to make radical reductions, but they cannot duck the consequences for maintenance of services.

Such rate increases could have been avoided only through substantial disruption of services and serious job losses in many areas. The Secretary of State purses his lips primly and shakes his head adamantly, but that is the experience of authorities that have taken such decisions and whose people are faced daily with the problem of maintaining important services.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scottish Office)

The hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that. How does he answer the charge that many authorities have kept their expenditure well within the guidelines with no sign of decimation of important services?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

The Minister must be referring to local authorities which provide low services or which do not have to deal with the substantial problems of urban deprivation in areas of declining population and industrial dereliction. Many authorities in west central Scotland are in that position.

The Minister may not accept my subjective evidence but I have spent much time with responsible councillors and officials. They are not trying to make trouble for anyone, but they face great dilemmas. If the Minister believes that the evident pain felt in local authorities is in some way synthetic, he is deeply mistaken.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scottish Office)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I have heard before his words about the effects of rate decreases on services. Indeed, I heard them last summer when Glasgow district council's representatives came to see me about the reduction that my right hon. Friend asked of them. In that context, can the hon. Gentleman explain how, if it was so difficult and dangerous for Glasgow district council to reduce the rate last August, the council decided to maintain its rate this year at the same level sought by the Government and proudly boasted that it had done so without cutting services?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

The council made a proud boast about no redundancies and has tried hard to maintain services, but if the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram), cares to leave Morningside and come to the part of Glasgow that I represent — I know that he has been to Glasgow recently, so I must not suggest that he is frightened to go there—and saw the deterioration in the district council's housing stock he would not be so complacent about what is happening in the local authority world.

It is sometimes assumed in Government circles that people do not want to pay for services, but want reduced rates, irrespective of the cost in terms of the lack of services. I do not believe that. It is a matter for argument, which should properly be conducted at the ballot box.

One of the reasons why I dislike the Bill so much is that it gives the Secretary of State powers to pre-empt decisions and arguments that are properly the preserve of local government. If the electors want services they will vote for parties that believe in providing them, knowing that increased rates will be almost inevitable. If the Minister is right about what people want, they will vote the other way and I shall have to live with disappointment and defeat for my point of view. My objection is to the fact that local communities will not have the right to choose because the Government are to be the arbiter, not just of rate levels under this clause but of rents under a later clause and are thus seeking to regulate the whole pattern of local authority spending. That is entirely wrong.

In new clause 1 we seek to restrict rate capping because we believe that the Bill is unnecessary and that any restriction of damage is to be welcomed and will help relationships between central and local government. The rate-capping proposal is friendless and unwanted. By and large, even Tory councillors in Scotland are embarrassed and silent about it. To be fair, many of them have voted against it through COSLA and have made it clear that they regard it as at best unnecessary. I have quoted the views of the leader of the Tory majority of Edinburgh district council who made his position very clear when he visited the House. Nor is he the only Tory councillor to have shown sufficient independence to say exactly what he thinks, an attitude sadly lacking on the Tory Back Benches here.

Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart

In the past two days Conservative Members of Parliament have spoken and voted against the Government on exactly this issue in respect of England and Wales, so we hope that they will join us in voting for the new clause to show that their principles extend to Scotland as well as to England.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I cannot answer for them, but we shall wait with interest to see what they do. My hon. Friend is certainly right in saying that those hon. Members have taken a difficult stand in terms of party loyalty on a matter of principle. I hope that they will continue to take that attitude when the same principle is at issue in the Scottish legislation.

Most Conservative councillors, understandably, believe that the Bill is unnecessary. Again, I give the Government the best of the case. If the Government believe that local authorities must be disciplined on expenditure, they have specific powers in relation to excessive and unreasonable expenditure under section 5 of the 1966 Act. If that does not work, there are the general abatement fallback powers, which are being streamlined in clause 1. In view of the plethora of powers available, it is clear that clause 3 is pointless overkill. That is a further reason for writing in a limitation to ensure that the power is used only in the circumstances with which it was originally designed to deal — that is, in cases of irresponsibility and overspending by an authority or a class of authorities. That safeguard, at least, must be built in.

The whole exercise has damaged confidence and done much to destroy the good will that is necessary if local and central Government are to work together for the best government of Scotland. It has been a tragic mistake and will lead to great bitterness in the months ahead. If the orders are used with the virulence with which the Government have used the other powers that they have taken in recent years we shall be in for a touch of the bully-boy tactics and, metaphorically if not literally, there will be civil war between St. Andrew's house and the regional and district councils of Scotland. That would be a tragedy and it would give us no pleasure. We stand firmly on the principle that, wherever possible, decisions should be made locally by the communities affected by them. We see no need whatever for this further layer of oppressive legislation on top of the considerable burden already placed on local authorities. If the Bill is to proceed, at the very least it should include the safeguard of new clause 1.

We offer the new clause to the House—or rather to the Minister, as Conservative Back Benchers are likely to take their instructions from him—as a last chance to limit the friction that will arise out of the Bill and in the genuine hope that even now the Minister will consider it sympathetically.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside 4:45 pm, 29th March 1984

I should make it clear that I shall not be taking instructions from the Government Front Bench. I rise to speak against the new clause because, although the arguments, like so many others, have been interesting and in some respects tantalising, the fact remains that we are in this position because of the actions of district and regional councils. I hope that the Government will reject the new clause.

Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart

The Back Benchers are now instructing the Government.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

It is interesting to consider what the situation would have been if the Bill and the new clause had been on the statute book now. [Interruption.] There is nothing frivolous or funny about the situation in Dundee. The Labour-controlled district council there could not have protected itself against itself. Rates there have risen by 207 per cent. in the past four years and constituents of mine with businesses in Dundee have seen those enterprises put at risk by the actions of the council. Jobs are therefore also at risk, and it is not only my constituents' jobs that are at risk. Jobs are at risk in five Labour clubs in Dundee because of the high level of rates.

The Tayside health board has faced massive rate increases. If the level of rates were the same as those in Perth and Kinross and Angus, the board would have £1 million more per year to spend on health care, which would be extremely important for the cottage hospitals in my own and other rural constituencies. The hundreds of thousands of pounds in rate increases on schools have also put educational facilities at risk. Money that should have been spent on education and health has been filched by Dundee district council.

Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart

The district council is elected by the people of Dundee. The candidates told the people of Dundee what they intended to do, and they were elected. In May the people of Dundee can choose again. If they make the same choice as they have made for some years past and elect a Labour council, will the hon. Gentleman withdraw all his criticisms, because that is what the people of Dundee want?

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

I shall not withdraw any of them. If the hon. Gentleman listens a little longer he will realise that he has once again scored into his own goal. The Dundee Labour councillors were not elected to put up rates to such an extent—because they did not tell the electorate so—that they could no longer pay the rates to the regional council on the five Labour clubs that they manage and run. My constituency has an interest in how those rates are collected, and this has a bearing on all the other services that I have mentioned. If rate levels had been realistic, that situation would not have arisen. The district council owes rates not only on the five Labour clubs, but on both its present and previous headquarters, as well as on the offices of the newspaper that it used to run but which is no longer published. The Labour councillors put up the rates in their area, but almost every commercial venture that they undertake suffers as a result of the excessive level of rates. Those councillors expect other business people and other ratepayers to pay rates which they themselves are unable to pay. Two of those Labour clubs owe rent to the district council which runs them—both rates and rents are a problem for them. The Bill also deals with rents—mostly domestic rents—but they are not covered by the new clause.

If the new clauses and the Bill were already on the statute book, I doubt whether they would have helped those Labour councillors to meet the penal level of rates that they have inflicted on themselves. Their positive action of raising the rates to such penal levels has made them unable to pay.

The Bill is long overdue. Those councillors have put cottage hospitals and village schools at risk because of the penal level of rates. They have sucked in money from facilities which my constituency desperately requires and wishes to keep. Any doubts that I ever had about the Government taking control of local government expenditure have vanished because of that. The Bill enables the Government to control expenditure——

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

The hon. Gentleman said it!

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

Real life is about what is happening, not about our theories. The evidence is plain — Labour councillors fail to run commercial enterprises effectively. Many people think that running such clubs is a licence to print money, yet those five clubs have not met their commitments. Those Labour councillors are totally unfit to run a council if they cannot even run a club. They could not be members of a responsible council. If they were responsible to those who elected them, they would resign. They have clearly shown that they are not fit to run a council, because they cannot pay the rates which they themselves set.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood , Roxburgh and Berwickshire

I support new clause 1. One of the most important results of the Bill is that it will do great damage to the relationship between local authorities and Government, which has traditionally been harmonious. During the past 10 or 15 years there have been temporary difficulties, but no real confrontations, head-on collisions or clashes of the sort which we may be storing up for ourselves if the Bill reaches the statute book.

I listened with interest to the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker). I do not altogether understand the basis of his arguments, because in my part of the world we do not suffer to the same extent from party political intransigence but I understand that it is a problem.

Sections 4 and 5 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1966 give the Secretary of State powers to take account of overspending by setting a general level of rate support grant. Under section 5 he has the power selectively to take account of circumstances which he thinks are getting out of hand in district and regional councils. Those powers are effective. The Minister keeps telling us about his sterling work last autumn when he took selective action against four councils and how it was a marvellous, effective and salutary exercise. If those powers which he has in his inside pocket are so readily available and effective, why does he need the extra powers for which he is asking? He said that he hopes never to have to use them. That is a bad principle on which to legislate. He could say that he needs powers for any number of hard-line, repressive actions which he hopes never to use. The House must recognise that that is a bad principle on which to legislate.

The Liberals are always fair, and therefore to be fair to the Government I looked carefully at the general election Conservative manifesto under the section headed "Local government: saving ratepayers' money". It states: In Scotland we are already effectively using powers to reduce the rates of councils which plan excessive and unreasonable expenditure. England and Wales now intend to introduce measures with a similar aim. The real reason for the legislation is that it is necessary, not for Scotland, but for England and Wales. The manifesto continues: If necessary we will propose in addition a general scheme of limitation on rate increases for all local authorities". What has happened since June that invokes the condition "if necessary" and suddenly makes the powers available under section 5 and 6 of the 1966 Act insufficient for the realities of today?

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) said that if local democracy was not working and the electorate could not effectively express its wishes about the way in which local authorities spend their money—if there is no effective system to enable them to take an interest in that, there is no point in having local democracy—there were ways of dealing with it other than those which the Government propose. If local democracy is at risk because it is not working, it is important that we should tackle the root of the problem and make sure that the system works. Proportional representation is one method of dealing with the problem and different systems of rating is another. Local democracy can be made more sensitive in a variety of ways, but the last thing that we need to do is to give Government more say in what is happening in town halls. The Government are tackling the problem in the reverse order. If they feel that voters at local government elections are not controlling local authorities, they should remedy that by changing the electoral system to make it more relevant and sensitive.

The Bill produces no great benefit for local authorities. If it is enacted and the penal provisions are exercised the year after that in which the rates were set and that happened to be an election year that changed the local authority administration, the Secretary of State may find himself inflicting a penalty on one local authority for rates set by its predecessor. That may happen this year, after our local government elections.

The Bill is unnecessary and friendless and it will not achieve what the Minister hopes to achieve. If he has to make use of it, he will have a hard job persuading the Opposition that the exercise is worth while. Therefore, I support new clause 1.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

I do not intend to delay the House for long, because the arguments of principle on rate capping have been deployed fully in Committee and, with regard to England and Wales, earlier this week in the Chamber. The speech to which the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) treated us was a graphic illustration of the path on which we are embarking. He gave us a parochial, detailed and bitchy little speech about circumstances, as he sees them, in just one local authority in Scotland. We shall get more and more of that because the Government are asking for powers to fix the budgets of local authorities in Scotland. It is extraordinary that Parliament here in London should be making such detailed, individual and local decisions. The House should not be fixing rates for local authorities, as the corollary of that is that the House should fix their budgets.

5 pm

I work from the simple premise that local councillors are best qualified to deal with local affairs. That is what they are there for, that is what they have been elected for and that is what they are accountable for. If people in Scotland do not like what their local authorities do, they can turn them out and elect others every four years. That will be far from the case if the Bill is passed without new clause 1. Without it, the present Secretary of State for Scotland will use the powers that he is taking under the Bill to make decisions that affect Scottish local authorities in spite of the fact that he does not have a vestige of a mandate to do so.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

Indeed. The Secretary of State for Scotland is not accountable to people in Scottish local authority areas, so it cannot be right for him to take such powers.

Another deplorable feature of the Bill is the fundamental dishonesty of the Government and the Secretary of State in droning on about local authorities being responsible for major increases in rates. We know that the cut in rate support grant is principally responsible for recent increases in rates. In 1979–80, East Lothian council levied 16p in the pound. That has increased to 28p in the pound for 1983–84. That is a substantial increase which has created difficulties for many ratepayers. Where do we go to find the culprit for that increase? I contend that the culprit is not the local authority but the Secretary of State. As a percentage of net expenditure, rate support grant was 45·9 per cent. in 1979–80 but is 29·6 per cent. for 1983–84. That is the principal cause of the increase in rates and it is the Secretary of State who is to blame. It is humbug for him to go on and on about being the protector of Scottish ratepayers—he is nothing of the sort.

The issues before us are far greater than what happens in Dundee, East Lothian or anywhere else. We are discussing an important constitutional issue, which many English Conservative Members have told us about recently. It is to the shame of Scottish Conservative Members that they have not done the same. We should give credit to the 11 Conservative Members who last night voted against parallel legislation for England being given a Third Reading. We shall watch eagerly to see how they vote when they are asked to make a decision on exactly the same principle as it affects Scotland.

New clause 1 attempts to improve a fundamentally obnoxious piece of legislation. I applaud my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) for his efforts to make the best of a bad job. Even with new clause 1, the Bill will remain fundamentally obnoxious and constitutionally obscene. Nevertheless, I support my hon. Friend's effort and obviously support new clause 1.

Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart

This is the first time that I have had an opportunity to speak on this Bill as I did not catch the Chair's eye on Second Reading and I was not a member of the Committee. I am therefore grateful for the opportunity that new clause 1 affords to tackle some of the basic principles involved.

I take issue with what the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) said. His attacks on Dundee district council are becoming repetitive and increasingly vindictive. If we examine the percentage increase in rates in the past few years we find that Dundee's increase is no higher than that of other district councils in Tayside. I do not disagree that its rate poundage is higher but, if anything, the percentage increase it has imposed is lower than that imposed by other authorities. Moreover, the average domestic rate bill in each of the three council areas is similar.

Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart

The hon. Member for Tayside, North shakes his head, so I shall give the figures for 1982–83. The average domestic rate bill in Angus was £225, in Dundee it was £296 and in Perth and in Kinross it was £239.

Although Angus and Perth and Kinross have a much lower rate poundage, they ask their domestic ratepayers to pay nearly as much as Dundee. Dundee has to have a higher rate poundage to achieve the same income because of the number of unemployed people and the amount of poor housing, which attracts a lower income, in its area. Because it is a more deprived area, it has to provide more services.

The hon. Member for Tayside, North said that five Labour clubs cannot pay their rates. I do not know about Dundee and it is not my job to comment on it, but Cathcart Labour party has a Labour club. We have not yet had difficulty paying our rates bill, but the club's income has dropped dramatically during the past five years. That has nothing to do with whether Glasgow district council asks for more rent or rates. In 1979, about 15 per cent. of the club's members were unemployed — that number has now increased to well over 30 per cent. The income of members has declined so dramatically that they can no longer afford to spend so much in the club. That is why the club's income is much lower than it was in 1979 and that is why the club has more difficulty paying rent and rates. That, I am sure, is the reason why many businesses have difficulty. It is not to do with the rates bill. Of course, if they have rates to pay, it becomes more difficult, but the real reason is the decline in people's incomes over the past few years.

This whole Bill—the new clause is attempting to do something about this — is an attack upon local democracy. It is an attack upon the ability of local authorities to decide for themselves.

The hon. Member for Tayside, North made the point that he thought that the district councils in Dundee should resign. The point that I made in my intervention was that that is exactly what they are going to do. All of them are going to resign on 3 May, and they will then be standing for re-election. The Government should leave any action, in this attack upon the local people of Scotland, until after those elections. No matter which party is elected by the people to control those district authorities after 3 May, the Government, in a democracy, ought to recognise that the people have spoken; they have had the opportunity to make their decision about local matters and that is the decision which they have made. Therefore, the Government ought to accept it and abide by it. That is the way democracy works.

There is a local mandate as well as a national mandate for the Government. I do not believe, of course, that the present Government have a mandate to operate in Scotland at all but, leaving that aside, there is a local mandate for local government to decide its own affairs. The Government, by putting through a Bill of this sort, are refusing to give local democracy the opportunity to operate.

The argument we have heard from Conservative Members on this local mandate is twofold. First, it is that only 30 to 40 per cent. of the people vote. That is a spurious argument, because it can be assumed that, if people were as outraged by what their district council is doing as suggested by hon. Gentlemen, they would take the opportunity to vote against it. If they do not do so, there is a measure of passive support for what the local authority is doing.

The second argument is that local business men do not have the vote, but provide a fair amount of the rates, so they should have a say, presumably — I do not know whether this is going to happen—or the local mandate argument does not carry any weight. But, of course, that argument is not continued into national Government. There is no suggestion that the big companies which pay corporation tax and individuals who pay capital gains tax and the other taxes on business be given a say in the national Government of the day. Although, with the Conservative party, I think they are given a say, it is very much in the smoke-filled rooms of the Tory party; they are not given a legitimate say in how the Government operate. If that is true for the national Government, surely it is true for local government as well.

5.15 pm

I assume that the Government do not intend to reintroduce the business vote, which is one way in which their argument on business rates could be put into practice. They could reintroduce the old business vote and give businessmen two votes — one where they have their business and one where they have their home.

I hope that the Minister will be making some statement during the evening on whether he will be taking the same line as the Secretary of State for the Environment—that the Government have abandoned any attempt to reform the rating system.

Local democracy should be allowed to operate. The Government are making it much more difficult for local councillors to take the sort of decisions that they are elected to take. All Conservative Members who have been in local government must be aware of the frustration felt by councillors, who feel that their power is being taken away.

It would be possible to have some sympathy with, or at least to be rather more tolerant about, what the Government are doing in terms of local democracy if it were based on any decent, logical, economic policy, but it is not. It is based upon the fallacious economic theory that somehow or other, if public expenditure is cut, in particular the expenditure of what the Government call "spendthrift local authorities", this will allow money to flow into the private sector. The private sector will then invest that money in new industries and, as a result, there will be more employment.

That has been the argument for five years now and it has led only to increasing cuts in public expenditure on services provided and a concomitant increase in public expenditure on those who have been made unemployed and are receiving unemployment benefit and all the other social services which they need. So, far from having a decrease in public expenditure, we have had a decrease in services but the same level of public expenditure. At the same time, there has not been the increase in investment in industry in this country that the so-called cuts are supposed to have brought about. There has not been any increase. We have not yet reached the levels of investment in the economy that were pertaining in 1979.

The Government have put us through all this process of cutting public expenditure, cutting local government services, cutting local democracy and putting up taxes, for the sake of an economic policy that has dismally failed. All that we have got out of it is 3·5 million unemployed. Local authorities have to take a lot of the burden of looking after those 3·5 million unemployed and dealing with the economic and social problems created by that unemployment, but they are having to cut the services they provide.

At the end of the day—this is where Conservative Members really do not worry much about local government expenditure—it is the poorest in our society who most require the services which local government provides. The poorest in society, those who need help and protection, do not look to the Conservative party for them because they know very well that they will not get them.

This is a squalid measure which the new clause at least attempts to do something about. Even if the new clause is accepted, it will not solve all the problems, but it will take from the Secretary of State some of the powers which he has taken upon himself to curtail local democracy.

Photo of Mr Gregor Mackenzie Mr Gregor Mackenzie , Glasgow Rutherglen

I was interested in the comments of the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood), who asked why the Secretary of State found it necessary to introduce a Bill of this kind at all. Perhaps I could help him. The answer is very simple. The Secretary of State does not like the fact that far too many local authorities, particularly in the central belt, elect Labour councils which are doing things which the Secretary of State does not like them doing.

I believe that that is one of the reasons why the Secretary of State, if he cannot get his own way, and his party cannot get its own way with the electors, comes to the House of Commons and declares that, since he has been frustrated in his attempts to persuade the electorate to vote for Conservative councils, he will have to deal with the matter in this way.

Secondly, I wish to answer briefly the point made by the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker). I found his speech very worrying indeed. Much of it was very trivial, but I picked up one sentence in which he said that he was very much more in favour of central control than he had ever been before. I found that very peculiar coming from a Conservative Member of Parliament. I can only refer him to the quite exceptional speech by his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) last night. I disagreed with much of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, but there is one point that I wish to put to the hon. Member for Tayside, North.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman said: I commend to my right hon. and hon. Friends Junius's famous declaration to the English nation. I did not quite understand that bit, and I thought that I would let it pass, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say: What does this Bill do? It is a pure Socialist measure, and I take a high Right-wing Tory attitude to it." — [Official Report, 28 March 1984; Vol. 57, c. 373.] The right hon. and learned Gentleman then voted against the Bill.

I should have thought that the Bill was anything but a Socialist measure. Opposition Members, and particularly those who have been privileged to serve on local authorities, are very conscious of their obligations and powers as locally elected representatives. In a few weeks time there will be elections in Scotland and we shall see what the people of Glasgow and elsewhere think not only about the policies pursued by Glasgow district council but about this Government and their dictatorial attitude towards local authorities.

No matter how we may dress up this whole business, a fundamental principle is involved — whether people who are democratically elected members of a council should be allowed to pursue the policies on which they were elected. That point is vital, and I believe that it will be one of the main issues in the election contest.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

I respect the right hon. Gentleman, because he is a very experienced Opposition Member. He was a member of the Labour Government in the late 1970s who requested, invited and used other measures to bring about reductions in local authority expenditure. Does he now believe that they were wrong to bring about the biggest reduction in local government spending and support, in real terms, that has ever taken place?

Photo of Mr Gregor Mackenzie Mr Gregor Mackenzie , Glasgow Rutherglen

I can only say what I have told Conservative Members many times before. If they talk to local authority members over the length and breadth of Scotland they will find that they would rather have the rate support of about 68 per cent. that my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Millan), myself and our colleagues gave than the miserable figure that they are now getting. That is the answer, and the hon. Gentleman should not shirk it.

What is the Secretary of State really saying now? I understand him to be saying that he is denying local authorities the power to make up their own minds about various issues and that they are simply to be his agents. As I know from when I was a Minister, and as the Secretary of State will know, the Government place considerable responsibilities on local authorities. It is therefore very bad government for the Secretary of State to place additional responsibilities on them and then to deny them the means of raising the money to pursue his various ambitions.

I want to see local authorities working, and working effectively. I hope that the Secretary of State also wants that, but he has placed himself—with the help of his Ministers — in a position of confrontation with both Labour and Conservative-controlled local authorities, the like of which I have not seen in the 30 years in which I have been associated with local government. We want the Scottish Office, through the Secretary of State, to be more conciliatory. The right hon. Gentleman should not bully those with whom he does not agree but should, instead, seek their co-operation. If he adopts a more conciliatory attitude, there will be more co-operation and much more effective local government.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scottish Office)

It is always interesting to speak after the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Rutherglen (Mr. MacKenzie). He spoke about the local elections that are due to take place in a few weeks time, but perhaps he should not count his chickens—or votes—until they are hatched.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) reminded us rather nostalgically of the many happy hours that we spent in Committee. The only sour note that he introduced was when he said that he had found me an immovable force. But perhaps I was an immovable force only because during our Committee proceedings I never came into contact with an irresistible object.

However, I should remind the House of the reasons why we are seeking the powers which the new clause seeks to amend. Local authority expenditure is a significant part of all public expenditure and amounts to a quarter of it. As part of our policy of reducing public expenditure, we have made it clear to local authorities since 1979 that they would have to reduce their expenditure in real terms. However, that, quite simply, has not happened. In 1983–84 local authorities were still budgeting to spend more than they spent in 1979–80.

Equally, as a Government, we have had to look to the interests of ratepayers. Given, as the hon. Member for Garscadden rightly pointed out, the cumulative increases of the past few years, the Government must protect ratepayers from such excessive rate increases.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scottish Office)

I wonder what the right hon. Gentleman would say to his constituents if they suffered a few more rate increases of the size that we have seen in the past few years.

Photo of Mr Donald Stewart Mr Donald Stewart , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

My local authority has had to levy a rate of 152p in the pound to maintain very attenuated services, yet people have accepted that. They do not like it, but they know where responsibility for it lies. It is the function of councillors to act and then to be judged at the next election.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scottish Office)

The right hon. Gentleman and I will, I believe, be debating the issue next Monday evening. I am sure that he does not wish to rehearse his speech, and I do not wish to rehearse mine. We shall no doubt cover the points then. I think that he also feels that it is better to wait until Monday, when the matter can be discussed in context.

In the past four years there have been two years in succession when rate rises have been over 30 per cent. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Garscadden to say that high rate increases are caused by reductions in the rate support grant, but the Opposition should explain in a moment why, in that case, there were high rate increases in the years before the basic reductions in the rate support grant, whereas in the last two years rate increases have begun to taper off. The hon. Gentleman's argument is that when rate support grant is reduced there are high rate increases, and when it is not reduced there are low rate increases. I shall not trouble the House with the figures, as I have given them before, but if the hon. Gentleman studies them he will see that his argument is not true to experience.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke , Monklands West

In the years that have been mentioned rates went beyond the target mainly because the Government failed, in the RSG settlement, to take into account the level of inflation and the level of wage settlements that local councils had to meet.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scottish Office)

The hon. Gentleman is not looking up the actual statistics. If the hon. Member for Garscadden's argument is right, when reductions were made in the year 1982–83 to 1983–84 we should have expected high rate increases. In fact, we saw a 2 per cent. rate increase across the board before selective action, and only a 0·5 per cent. increase after selective action. This argument, which is constantly put forward by the hon. Member for Garscadden, bears no relation to the facts.

What bears much more relation is the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker), who showed in practical terms what the results of high rate increases such as he described mean in practice. Although, after these two years of high rate increases, the increases have been less, this is largely due to our success in tackling inflation, but rates are still higher than they need to be and local authorities are still continuing to spend above the Government's plans.

5.30 pm

The hon. Member for Garscadden compared expenditure by central Government to that by local government and I asked him at the time, because these figures are relevant to this debate, whether he was talking about all public expenditure or current public expenditure. He agreed that he was combining current and capital expenditure. If one takes current expenditure, and if one generously takes into account the last year of the Labour Government, the year 1978–79, one sees that the increase in central Government current expenditure to 1983–84 was 78·8 per cent., while the increase in local government current expenditure over the same period was 96·1 per cent. The statistics do not match the logic of the hon. Gentleman's case.

Against the background of cumulative levels of rate increases and continued overspending, it obviously makes sense for us to bring in the reserve power which I have described before, and which I shall describe again, but which I hope we shall never have to use. It will be brought in for use if the approved form of general abatement and selective action fails to bring local authority rates and expenditure into line with the Government's plans, and it will be available for use in the ratepayers' interests should we see an unacceptable level of rate increases across the board.

The hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) referred to this as a bad Bill, giving the reason that it was bad to bring in something which we hoped never to have to use. All I say to him, and to the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart), is that that is a strange attitude to take. Many of us put burglar alarms in our houses, not because we have been burgled, but because we want to prevent a burglary taking place. That is a logical and legitimate way in which to proceed and I shall not embarrass the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire by asking him whether he has a lock on his front door.

I move on to the new clause, and I may be unique in doing so in this debate. It is based on the assumption that a general rate limitation could be applied selectively. However, this is to misunderstand the nature of the provisions in clause 3. If a general rate limitation order is made, it applies to all the authorities within the class of authorities to which the order applies. Provision is, of course, made, as the hon. Member for Garscadden recognised, for exemption or derogation for individual authorities from the general limit. However, such exemption would be granted, as I said in Committee, only in exceptional circumstances. The fact that an authority's expenditure had not increased in real terms would not be a ground for exemption, given that the Government's policy since coming to office has been to achieve a reduction in local authority expenditure in real terms. However, in 1983–84 authorities were still budgeting to spend more in real terms than they spent in 1979–80. Quite apart from that, an authority's expenditure could still be far too high as a result of a period of expenditure increases, even though it might not have gone up in real terms from the previous year.

In addition to that, the new clause is vaguely worded and unworkable. Perhaps the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) will be able to shed some light on these matters. What are "real terms", and how are they to be defined in the terms of the new clause? What is more important, what is the immediately preceding financial year"? If it means what it seems to mean, the clause would be unworkable. We have already discussed the timetable for rate limitation in Committee. The general rate limit would be set in the autumn of the financial year to which it was to apply—that is before the end of the immediately preceding financial year. Authorities would have to set a rate in accordance with the limit by 5 March before the information about their outturn for the immediately preceding financial year was available. By the time the information was available to make the clause work, they would be into the financial year to which the rate limitation order applied.

On that basis, as well as on the basis that the new clause is imprecise and misconceived, and is based on a misconception about clause 3 as a whole, I ask the House to reject it.

Photo of Mr James Craigen Mr James Craigen , Glasgow Maryhill

I am sorry that the Minister was unable to accept the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and others of my hon. Friends. It was significant that the only Conservative Member who spoke was the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker). I regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) was not a member of the Committee. Had he been so, he would have had the pleasure of spending over 100 hours with the hon. Member for Tayside, North and I have no doubt that there would have been some useful exchanges.

I wish to correct one misapprehension. My hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden is far too generous. I should never have described the Minister as an immovable force—immovable perhaps, but when it comes to force the Minister is the Scottish version of the Foreign Secretary.

It is regrettable that, at a time when the Prime Minister wants to extend privatisation, the Secretary of State, through this Bill, is seeking to bring Scotland's local authorities into Government ownership and outwith local accountability and public control. Rate capping has been sold to the general public as a kind of painkiller for the rating problem. My hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart need not worry about whether the Government intend to do anything about rating reform in the future. We need only read the Glasgow Herald of 24 March to see what the Secretary of State for the Environment, addressing the Conservative party central council in Birmingham, said, which was that rates are here to stay "for the foreseeable future."

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

What does the Minister think of that?

Photo of Mr James Craigen Mr James Craigen , Glasgow Maryhill

My hon. Friend must not be too impatient. This Minister never tells anybody anything.

This ostensive painkiller for the rating system will not numb the harsh truth that services will be cut even more, additional jobs will be axed, either through redundancy or natural wastage, and that local accountability will go for a Burton.

I am worried that the Government will, by denying local authorities some of their existing responsibilities, create a general climate of irresponsibility. Nobody will be responsible, or at least be seen to be responsible, for anything. The Government, by the rate support grant order for 1984–85, have largely decreed higher rate increases for the ratepayers in Scotland. It will mean £1 a week on the domestic household bill in Strathclyde alone, according to a statement made by the region's chairman of the finance committee earlier this month.

The right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) talked about his problems, and I am getting letters in Maryhill from some of his constituents who are attending Jordanhill college of education who are much concerned about the plight of Western Isles.

I recollect reading an article by the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) in which he wrote some time ago that the Prime Minister felt compelled to strike any institution with her handbag. That attitude to institutions is reflected in the Government's approach to local authorities. Rate capping, as it is euphemistically called, is the great Conservative betrayal of the ever-promised reform of the rating system. The Government have done a U-turn on rating reform.

It will be increasingly difficult to tell where the buck stops. One thing is sure—if one writes to the Minister or the Secretary of State they will say that it is not their responsibility. They will say that the district, the regional or the island councils make the decisions. If one approaches those authorities one will be told that everything is determined by the faceless civil servants sitting in the box and occupying the offices at St. Andrew's house.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has made it clear that it is opposed to rate capping. Even the Edinburgh chamber of commerce—which is not exactly affiliated to the Labour party—has said that it has some misgivings, judging by statements from the secretary of the chamber.

Once the truth sinks in after the legislation is operating the public will realise that it is a con trick. It will then be understood why only one Government Back Bencher, the hon. Member for Tayside, North, spoke on Report in favour of the proposal. More and more the Government will act as the trapper and local government as the trapped. Both will be ensnared in the process. I do not have much faith in the ability of the Secretary of State, and far less in that of the Minister responsible for local government in Scotland, to get us out of the mess.

The public will pay in the end. There will be more administration and more time will be spent on working parties and committees trying to sort out the budgetary problems. Scarce resources will be diverted from the local authorities to bureaucratic exercises and administration.

We should be concentrating our energies on trying to ensure that local authorities work as effectively as possible. The councillors, whom the people elect to serve on local authorities, should be responsible for ensuring that local government runs efficently. Local government has never been popular, but once the Government take a stranglehold on the local authorities in the way proposed in the Bill, unlimited and undesirable powers will, I fear, operate in an unjust manner. I hope that the House will give the new clause its approval.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time——

The House divided: Ayes 151, Noes 245.

Division No. 212][5.43 pm
Abse, LeoAshley, Rt Hon Jack
Archer, Rt Hon PeterAshton, Joe
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Kirkwood, Archibald
Barnett, GuyLambie, David
Barron, KevinLamond, James
Beith, A. J.Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Bell, StuartLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Benn, TonyLitherland, Robert
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Bermingham, GeraldLofthouse, Geoffrey
Blair, AnthonyMcCartney, Hugh
Boothroyd, Miss BettyMcDonald, Dr Oonagh
Bray, Dr JeremyMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Brown, Gordon (D't'mline E)McKelvey, William
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)McNamara, Kevin
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)McTaggart, Robert
Bruce, MalcolmMcWilliam, John
Buchan, NormanMadden, Max
Caborn, RichardMarek, Dr John
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Campbell-Savours, DaleMartin, Michael
Canavan, DennisMason, Rt Hon Roy
Carter-Jones, LewisMaxton, John
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Meacher, Michael
Clarke, ThomasMeadowcroft, Michael
Clay, RobertMichie, William
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)Mikardo, Ian
Coleman, DonaldMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Corbett, RobinO'Brien, William
Corbyn, JeremyO'Neill, Martin
Craigen, J. M.Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Crowther, StanPavitt, Laurie
Cunningham, Dr JohnPenhaligon, David
Deakins, EricPike, Peter
Dewar, DonaldPowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Dobson, FrankPrescott, John
Dubs, AlfredRandall, Stuart
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Eadie, AlexRichardson, Ms Jo
Eastham, KenRobertson, George
Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Evans, John (St. Helens N)Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
Fatchett, DerekRoss, Ernest (Dundee W)
Faulds, AndrewSedgemore, Brian
Flannery, MartinSheerman, Barry
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelSheldon, Rt Hon R.
Foster, DerekShore, Rt Hon Peter
Foulkes, GeorgeShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Fraser, J. (Norwood)Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldSilkin, Rt Hon J.
George, BruceSkinner, Dennis
Godman, Dr NormanSmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Gould, BryanSnape, Peter
Hamllton, James (M'well N)Soley, Clive
Harman, Ms HarrietSpearing, Nigel
Harrison, Rt Hon WalterSteel, Rt Hon David
Hart, Rt Hon Dame JudithStewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyStrang, Gavin
Haynes, FrankThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Healey, Rt Hon DenisThompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Heffer, Eric S.Tinn, James
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Torney, Tom
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)Wallace, James
Howells, GeraintWeetch, Ken
Hoyle, DouglasWhite, James
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Williams, Rt Hon A.
Hughes, Roy (Newport East)Winnick, David
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Woodall, Alec
Janner, Hon GrevilleYoung, David (Bolton SE)
John, Brynmor
Johnston, RussellTellers for the Ayes:
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldMr. John Home Robertson and Mr. Don Dixon.
Kennedy, Charles
Kilfedder, James A.
Adley, RobertAlison, Rt Hon Michael
Alexander, RichardAncram, Michael
Ashby, DavidGrant, Sir Anthony
Aspinwall, JackGreenway, Harry
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Gregory, Conal
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)Griffiths, Peter (Portsmth N)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Grist, Ian
Baldry, AnthonyGround, Patrick
Batiste, SpencerGrylls, Michael
Bendall, VivianGummer, John Selwyn
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Berry, Sir AnthonyHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnHanley, Jeremy
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterHannam, John
Body, RichardHarvey, Robert
Bonsor, Sir NicholasHaselhurst, Alan
Boscawen, Hon RobertHavers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Bottomley, PeterHawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Bowden, Gerald (Duiwich)Hawksley, Warren
Boyson, Dr RhodesHayhoe, Barney
Brandon-Bravo, MartinHayward, Robert
Bright, GrahamHeathcoat-Amory, David
Brinton, TimHeddle, John
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonHenderson, Barry
Brooke, Hon PeterHickmet, Richard
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Hicks, Robert
Bruinvels, PeterHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Bryan, Sir PaulHill, James
Buck, Sir AntonyHind, Kenneth
Budgen, NickHirst, Michael
Burt, AlistairHogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Carlisle, John (N Luton)Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Holt, Richard
Carttiss, MichaelHooson, Tom
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHordern, Peter
Chapman, SydneyHowarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Chope, ChristopherHowell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Churchill, W. S.Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hunter, Andrew
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Cockeram, EricJackson, Robert
Conway, DerekJessel, Toby
Coombs, SimonJohnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Cope, JohnJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Corrie, JohnJones, Robert (W Herts)
Couchman, JamesJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Cranborne, ViscountKershaw, Sir Anthony
Currie, Mrs EdwinaKing, Rt Hon Tom
Dickens, GeoffreyKnight, Gregory (Derby N)
Dorrell, StephenKnight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Knowles, Michael
Dover, DenLamont, Norman
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardLang, Ian
Durant, TonyLatham, Michael
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)Lawler, Geoffrey
Eggar, TimLawrence, Ivan
Emery, Sir PeterLee, John (Pendle)
Evennett, DavidLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fallon, MichaelLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Favell, AnthonyLester, Jim
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyLilley, Peter
Fookes, Miss JanetMcCurley, Mrs Anna
Forman, NigelMacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanMaclean, David John
Fox, MarcusMcQuarrie, Albert
Franks, CecilMajor, John
Fraser, Peter (Angus East)Marlow, Antony
Freeman, RogerMather, Carol
Gale, RogerMawhinney, Dr Brian
Galley, RoyMayhew, Sir Patrick
Gardiner, George (Reigate)Mellor, David
Garel-Jones, TristanMiller, Hal (B'grove)
Glyn, Dr AlanMoate, Roger
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMonro, Sir Hector
Goodlad, AlastairMoore, John
Gorst, JohnMoynihan, Hon C.
Gow, IanMurphy, Christopher
Gower, Sir RaymondNewton, Tony
Nicholls, PatrickStradling Thomas, J.
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.Sumberg, David
Osborn, Sir JohnTapsell, Peter
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Taylor, John (Solihull)
Parris, MatthewTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Pawsey, JamesTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Percival, Rt Hon Sir IanTerlezki, Stefan
Pink, R. BonnerThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Pollock, AlexanderThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Powley, JohnThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Proctor, K. HarveyThurnham, Peter
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyTownend, John (Bridlington)
Rathbone, TimTracey, Richard
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Trotter, Neville
Robinson, Mark (N'port W)Twinn, Dr Ian
Roe, Mrs Marionvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Rossi, Sir HughVaughan, Sir Gerard
Rowe, AndrewViggers, Peter
Rumbold, Mrs AngelaWaddington, David
Ryder, RichardWakeham, Rt Hon John
Sainsbury, Hon TimothyWaldegrave, Hon William
Sayeed, JonathanWalden, George
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Shelton, William (Streatham)Waller, Gary
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Ward, John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Shersby, MichaelWarren, Kenneth
Sims, RogerWatson, John
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Watts, John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Wells, John (Maidstone)
Soames, Hon NicholasWheeler, John
Speller, TonyWilkinson, John
Spencer, DerekWinterton, Mrs Ann
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Winterton, Nicholas
Squire, RobinWolfson, Mark
Stanbrook, IvorWood, Timothy
Stanley, JohnYeo, Tim
Steen, AnthonyYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Stern, Michael
Stevens, Martin (Fulham)Tellers for the Noes:
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)Mr. David Hunt and Mr. Michael Neubert.
Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Stokes, John

Question accordingly negatived.