I beg to move amendment No. 129, in page 9, leave out lines 7 to 42 and insert:
|London borough||Number of councillors of Greater London Council|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||4|
|Kensington and Chelsea||4|
|Barking and Dagenham||4|
|Kingston upon Thames||4|
|Richmond upon Thames||4|
Schedule 1 is referred to in clause 2(4), which provides:
Each constituent council shall not later than 1st April 1985—
that is the part that we are now concerned with—
appoint from among its members as councillors of the Greater London Council or … such number of persons as is specified in relation to that constituent council in Schedule 1 to this Act".
Schedule 1 specifies a certain number of councillors to be elected for each of the 32 London boroughs. The numbers vary from at least two to, at the most, four. So different boroughs will be entitled to nominate two, three or four councillors to the interim GLC.
The provision was introduced in the White Paper where the Government promised — a surprising, unusual and unexpected concession—that they would seek to ensure that for the year 1985–86 the boroughs' appointed representatives on the GLC shall so far as practicable reflect the balance of parties in those nominating councils. If the Government's plans are to be carried to fulfilment, 1985–86 will be the last year in the life of the GLC.
It will be immediately apparent to the Committee that for the first time the concept of the political party is referred to in legislation. On Second Reading it was clearly pointed out that we have not yet had to grapple with the definition of a political party in legislation. There are many circumstances in which, without definition clauses, it would be difficult to know how, on the premise which the Government are proposing, the figures in the schedule will reflect the balance of all parties in the 32 councils.
I gather that it is a matter of increasing public interest today that the City of London is missing from the list of local authorities which will nominate people to the interim GLC. Approximately 5,000 electors are resident in the City of London. At an earlier stage in our deliberations the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State said that at that stage he did not believe that the point that the City of London electors were excluded was valid. However, he graciously admitted subsequently that the Government would consider that matter because it appeared that the schedule had one initial defect—that the electors of the City of London, who are at the moment represented on the GLC, will not be under the present proposals for the year 1985–86.
I am grateful for that intervention. It means that at some stage and in some form the City of London will have to be added to the list. That is right because it is the 33rd first-tier local authority in London.
I wish to revert to the point that I made about the balance of parties. The balance of parties would mean, for example, that the independents in some of the London boroughs, whom one must presume will be there until the end of their period of election—in all these cases we are talking about May 1986 for that purpose—must be considered. We would need to know whether they would count as parties. The best example and the one with which I am familiar is my own borough, the London borough of Southwark.
At the moment the borough has two—there its an argument about a third—people elected who stood as independent labour and tenants' candidates. A third was elected at the same time. He died subsequently, and I am pleased to say that the Liberal party won the seat that the independent previously occupied. Will that group of two, or possibly three, be regarded as a political party? They stood with the same label and the same name on the ballot paper, and they used a familiar party political description — Labour. They were not entirely independents and therefore cannot fall simply into that category.
There are other independents elsewhere. How do we treat real independents, and how do we treat independents whose independence is tarnished by having a party political label attached to and qualifying it?
The second, and more substantive matter, is that there are in the 32 boroughs with which the schedule deals representatives elected under Conservative party, Labour party, Liberal party and Social Democratic party labels. Will those four parties, which are the four parties clearly and definitively represented across Greater London, be taken into account when the formula, for which this schedule is meant to be art explanation, is assessed? Is the balance of parties sitting in the local councils at the relevant time to be taken into account?
There was a debate which will be unhelpful to those hon. Members who are not as familiar with the position as London Members, as to the present composition of the 32 London boroughs. As the position changes regularly, and because I am not aware that there is any record of the present position immediately available to hon. Members, it may be helpful if I explain it. At the moment there are 16 Conservative-controlled boroughs in Greater London — half of the boroughs. That does not necessarily imply, and often does not mean, a majority of the votes. I shall return to that point later.
The Labour party controls 12 councils and the alliance controls one London borough — Richmond. Three London boroughs have mixed control. They are Hammersmith and Fulham, which has a Conservative-Liberal coalition of sorts, Waltham Forest, of which no party has overall control, and Brent, which has, of late, become an authority of which no party has overall control.
That is slightly different from the position in 1982, immediately following the elections, when the Conservatives controlled 16 boroughs, as they do now, the Labour party controlled 11 — it has since gained Lambeth—and there were five boroughs where no party had overall control, the fifth one being Richmond where the Conservative grouping and the alliance grouping each had 26 seats, there being no Labour members. Subsequently Richmond has passed into alliance hands as a result of the gain by the Liberal party of one seat from the Conservatives at the end of last year. Therefore, we are talking about 16 boroughs in Tory control, 12 in Labour control, one in alliance control and three with no single party in control.
Of the 16 boroughs that are Tory-controlled, in 11 the Conservatives had more than 50 per cent. of the vote and in five they had less than half of the popular vote—in Wandsworth it was 43 per cent., in Havering 44 per cent., in Ealing 41 per cent., in Harrow 45 per cent., and in Barnet 49 per cent. A fundamental question that the Committee has to address at an early stage in its deliberations is whether we treat parties which got over half of the vote, as well as over half of the seats, in the same way as parties which got under half the vote although under the electoral system they have over half the seats.
In regard to Labour-controlled boroughs, there are only four where the Labour party had a 50 per cent. or greater share of the vote at the last council elections—Islington with 51 per cent., Hackney with 55 per cent., Barking and Dagenham with 50 per cent. and Newham with 55 per cent. In the remaining seven authorities, as they were in 1982, or eight as they are in 1984 with the win by Labour in Lambeth, Labour had less than half the votes. Of those 12 authorities there is a group of eight and a group of four. Do we treat the group of four in which Labour had a majority of votes in the same way as the group of eight in which it did not have a majority of votes?
The next matter was touched on with disdain because the argument was so badly worked out and so many hon. Members objected to the ridiculous non-mathematics of the calculations that the Government proposed. At the moment Westminster city council, has 43 Conservative members and 16 Labour members. It is to send to the GLC four members. There are no Liberal members on Westminster city council although this is something we are seeking to remedy at an early opportunity. It may be helpful to remind the Committee that the Liberal party in terms of votes or seats is clearly the fastest growing party in London and with its alliance partners is streets ahead of the growth of any other political force in the capital. It has no seats in Westminster, and the balance was 43 Tory, 16 Labour, Tories, 50 per cent. of the vote, Labour, 30 per cent. of the vote. The anomaly was that the alliance parties had 18 per cent. of the vote, but no seats. Are the seats to be divided two to the Tory party with 43 per cent. and 43 seats in Westminster, and two to the Labour party, or do the Conservatives get a third seat, because they will have the right to decide.
At this stage I must remind the Committee that these decisions will be made by the councils in question, and not by sub-committees or balanced party groups. Westminster city council will meet one fine day, if the Bill becomes law next year, and it can decide, if it wishes, to send all four of its nominees from among its own ranks, thus discounting the 50 per cent. of the electorate and the 16 councillors who do not come from within the ranks of the Tory party. However, at least there is a consolation for Westminster, because there are two parties on Westminster city council, four seats, and two into four goes.
Unfortunately, that does not apply elsewhere. Camden is easier than some. In Camden, the Conservative party has 26 seats, the Labour party has 33 seats, and the alliance parties as yet do not have a seat. They polled 25 per cent. of the vote, but, under the system that the two parties who are in power in Camden have the seats there — seats perpetuate—they make sure that their two minorities gobble up all the seats between them. However, there are only two parties. Will the ruling Labour group in Camden want to take all four seats, as it will have the power to do, three of the four seats, reflecting the fact that it is larger in number of members of the council and in terms of the popular vote, or will it be generous and share the seats two and two? At least, once more, two into four goes.
I deal next with Islington, the third of the four member delegations going to county hall from 1985–86. In Islington, it is interesting that the position is reversed. The Conservative party has no seats. The Labour party has 51 seats, and it polled 51 per cent of the votes. The Social Democratic party has one seat, the only opposition seat, although it polled 22 per cent. of the vote. The Conservative party would rightly feel aggrieved, because at present the Conservative party in Islington, which has no seats, had a greater share of the popular vote than the Social Democratic party, which obtained one seat. The system that is the basis of the delegation to come to county hall is already contrived in a way that is disadvantageous, in this case, not only to the alliance parties, but also to the Tory party.
I ask the Tory party whether it will be happy that the 51 per cent. of the people who voted Labour in Islington will gobble up the four seats, because it has 51 out of the 52 seats in the council, whether it should share the seats three to one, recognising that it is the larger of the two groups on the council, or whether it should be generous, and share them two and two recognising that—
The hon. Gentleman has spotted an important point. It is theoretically possible for Islington council to divide its seats two and two, but, in spite of how the votes were cast in Islington, the hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that there is only one opposition councillor, so the solution has to be three and one or four and nothing.
It is no good saying that Westminster, Camden and Islington should treat their rights to nominate in the same way. They cannot, because, as the opposition parties in Islington, in terms of seats, they do not have a sufficient number of members in order to be able to send them, unless a seat were to remain vacant.
It would be helpful if the hon. Gentleman would explain why he is using the figures in his amendment rather than the figures in the Bill. While he is saying that the numbers going to County hall pose problems for the nominating authorities, he is arguing against his numbers and not those in the Bill. Have I understood his argument correctly?
The Minister makes a valid point. It is not mathematically difficult to understand from where the new numbers come. We are seeking, in an amended formula, to do what we believe would be less easily done under the Government's formula, for reasons to which I shall come.
Under the Government's proposals, the size of the GLC will be half its present size. There are 92 members now, whereas the total in the Bill is 46. Our amendment would double the Government's proposed numbers because that would permit greater flexibility, although it would be horribly ludicrous flexibility, as I am beginning to outline.
In the schedule there are 13 two-member councils, which totals 26; 15 three-member; and three four-member. The Minister is right to say that that produces a total—
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. Is it in order for the Committee to be delayed in this way while the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) rejigs his lecture? Might it be an idea for him to resume his seat now—he has delayed the Committee for a considerable time already—because he seems to be in some difficulty in making progress? Perhaps he will conclude his remarks and permit other contributions, which have been prepared properly, to be made.
Had many of the hon. Members who are now present been with us throughout the night, they would have a greater appreciation of the points with which we are dealing. In saying that, I am not criticising the two junior Ministers who have taken it in turns to answer the various debates. Indeed, they have done the job which, at least in part, I would have wished the Secretary of State to have done, because it is in the Bill. They have been sharing the burden of arguing a case that neither of them finds appealing, and they are doing it because they are answerable to their senior partner.
I accept what the Under-Secretary said about the original figures producing a total of 84, and I beg his pardon. Our proposals would increase that number, and I shall explain why. Although our proposals are not perfect —I am showing how imperfect they are—they would be considerably less perfect if there was a smaller amount to divide among what is often a considerable number of parties or groups who need to be represented.
The fourth authority to which I wish to refer is Hackney. There are three Conservative councillors there with 50 Labour and seven Liberal councillors. There is an interesting anomaly in that case. The three Conservatives were elected with 23 per cent. of the vote, whereas the seven Liberals were elected with 27 per cent. Thus, the Tories have been done down in Hackney under their system. There are three parties, so that for the first time, an even number of seats is available to be allocated among an uneven number of political parties. Under the Government's proposals, two seats are available to the Hackney electorate for representatives in county hall.
I shall ask the question that I asked a couple of weeks ago: How does one divide the two seats so that the balance of the three parties represented on Hackney council is reflected at county hall? Will the Conservative party reflect the Socialist majority of Hackney council? Will the Liberal party reflect the Labour majority of Hackney council? Will the Labour party be generous and allow the Conservatives and Liberals, although minorities, to reflect its views at county hall? The Committee requires no further elaboration to know that it is impossible for the balance of the parties to be represented in the delegation going from Hackney council to county hall. Our proposal would double the number of representatives.
It is possible—hon. Members are aware that fractions or decimals must be considered—to send at least one person from each of the three parties if four members from Hackney are represented. It is possible to ensure that each of the parties in the four boroughs to which I referred are represented at county hall in the delegations if the number of councillors proposed by the Government were doubled.
The position in Tower Hamlets is interesting. Tower Hamlets is another London borough that has no Conservative councillor. The Conservative party received 7 per cent. of the vote, resulting in no councillors; the Labour party won 47 per cent. of the vote, a majority, resulting in 31 councillors and, therefore, a majority on the council; and the Liberal party won 41 per cent. of the votes and gained 18 councillors. Two parties are represented in Tower Hamlets—the majority, the Labour party, and the Opposition, the Liberal party. Two seats are available under the Government's proposals, so the burghers of Tower Hamlets must decide whether to be generous and give the Liberal party one of the two seats or whether to choose both representatives from the Labour ranks.
If there were four seats, as we propose, the balance of parties would be more accurately reflected. If the Labour party were being as fair as it could be—there are no requirements on it—it could send to county hall three Labour members and one Liberal member.
Greenwich is the first of the authorities for which the Government propose three nominees. That takes into account the fact that it is a large borough but, as I understand it, not the fact that the four parties are represented on the present borough council. In Greenwich the majority party is the Labour party, which has 43 seats with 40 per cent. of the vote; the Conservative party has 16 seats and 33 per cent. of the vote; the Liberal party has two councillors and the Social Democratic party has one councillor.
Four parties are represented in Greenwich, and the Government propose that there will be three appointed members. Magic of magic, four into three does not go. One might envisage a formula if Greenwich council had six seats with which to play. The council could contemplate giving three seats to the Labour party, two seats to the Conservative party and the remaining seat to the alliance. That would be roughly fair. That is the type of example with which the Under-Secretary of State may deal. The hon. Gentleman may accept that that approach is possible under our amendment but not under the Government's proposals.
I come next to the borough that lies between Greenwich and the next borough on the list, Southwark — the borough of Lewisham. The Labour party is the controlling authority, and has just changed its leader. It has 41 seats, and gained 40 per cent. of the vote. It is a minority party in votes terms, but a majority party in seats terms. The Conservative party provides the only opposition. It has 26 seats, and 35 per cent. of the vote. Because of its size, under the proposals Lewisham will be able to send three people to county hall.
As the Under-Secretary says, that is all right, but the worrying thing is that occasionally those figures might be made, with a bit of give and take and generosity by the ruling group of one authority, to accommodate both parties in a roughly proportionate and suitable balance.
I anticipate that the Under-Secretary will say what in essence one of his colleagues said when we debated the matter earlier. He said that it would be possible for the matter to be enforced in the courts. For example, if the minority Conservative group in Lewisham borough found that none of is members was sent from its town hall to the GLC, no doubt it could challenge that in the courts. Clause 2(5) states:
Each constituent council shall, so far as practicable, exercise its power to make or terminate appointments under this Parliament of this Act so as to ensure that the balance of parties for the time being prevailing"—
the Committee will accept that I am talking about the present balance of the parties, which is the only valid collection of figures that we have to go on—
in that council is reflected in the persons who are for the time being members of the Greater London Council".
The Government might argue that if Lewisham borough council did not "so far as practicable"—whatever that means—
exercise its power to make or terminate appointments under this Part of this Act so as to ensure that the balance of parties for the time being prevailing in that council is reflected in the persons who are for the time being members of the Greater London Council"—
that balance is 26 Conservatives and 41 Labour and there are three seats—the Conservatives, having an interest and a status before the courts, could challenge it.
I intend to consider one of the fundamental points about the schedule and the quagmire into which the Government are precipitating themselves, as well as those who are seeking to comply with the Bill. The problem will be what the courts say. If the Under-Secretary can illuminate the Committee on that because he has received advice from legal officers in the Department of the Environment and possibly elsewhere, that would be helpful.
This problem will reappear when I refer to my borough of Southwark, which is particularly interesting because it does not have a straightforward division of parties. Not only there but elsewhere, one of the things that we must consider is whether the Government have announced for the third time that they are moving towards adopting proportional representation. We well remember the earlier two hesitant steps. The first was for the Northern Ireland Assembly seats in the European Parliament. That election was proportionally representative. The second step comes in the White Paper that gave rise to the Bill. This is particularly germane to the point. In the White Paper the Government propose that the Inner London education authority, in its indirectly elected form, which we understand is to be superceded in 1986 by a directly elected form, is to have a proportionally representative basis.
Here is the third example. Do the Government now accept that the GLC should represent proportionately those who have the right to send people to it? If the Government accept that for the year 1985–86 when there will be a particularly flawed method of nomination, why should not the same apply for direct elections? Why not use some other, direct basis for calculating the schedule? That alternative is open to the Government.
We all know the rules of the game. Amendments such as ours are tabled partly to probe the Government's attitude. The Under-Secretary may say that he has reflected after criticisms that the scheme would be unworkable. He may say that he would love to have a proportional system and that on Report or in another place an alternative will be proposed. That would be a proper concession, as opposed to the half-concessions and false dawns to which we have become accustomed. If that happened, the efforts by alliance Members to ensure that the Government are challenged on these issues will meet with some reward.
I represent one third of the London borough of Southwark. Southwark council comprises eight Conservatives, 53 Labour members, two Liberals and two independent members. There are three recognised parties and two independents.
As an aside, and using a different tone from that used in the rest of the debate, I should like to extend condolences to one of my colleagues who represents Southwark, the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden) whose wife died only last week. He struggled to bear her illness, yet it came as a great shock to him when Mrs. Bowden died. I pay tribute to him. I am sure that hon. Members will support my remarks. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
Southwark's positon is interesting, because it sends representatives from the three main political groups to the House of Commons. The Labour party is in control there — a minority party in terms of votes, but a majority party in terms of seats. The borough will have a fundamental problem. The present proposal is for three nominees from Southwark. Our proposal extends that to six. With only three nominees, it will not be possible to accommodate Conservative, Labour and Liberal members as well as one or both of the independents. With six nominees, the three main parties and the independents could be accommodated.
Lambeth might not want to do that. One hopes for better things, but if it did not fulfil the requirement to send a delegaion reflecting the balance of the parties, it could be challenged and the courts would adjudicate, but without precedents. The political position in Lambeth is interesting. The Labour party has just regained control. It has 32 members with one third of the popular vote. The Conservative party has 27 members with 39 per cent. of the popular vote. In terms of seats and votes cast, the council is totally out of proportion.
The largest party in persons represented and elected is the second largest party by 6 per cent. in votes cast in the 1982 Lambeth borough council election. The alliance parties, which at that time had five and now have three seats in Lambeth, had 27 per cent. of the vote. So there is the amazing position of a Labour group in control having won 33 per cent. of the vote, a Conservative group in opposition with 6 per cent. more and an alliance group with three seats with only 6 per cent. less than the ruling Labour group — third in that borough, but with the ruling group in second place.
How on earth will the council in Lambeth seek to represent those views with the three seats at its disposal at county hall? At least our proposal gives more flexibility. I shall come to the arguments about that in a moment, and I shall pray in aid what the Government said in the consultative paper that they issued subsequent to "Streamlining the Cities".
Wandsworth is well known as a Conservative-controlled borough. That does not mean that the Liberal and Social Democratic parties believe that it is a well-controlled borough. It has 33 Conservative councillors, and former members of the council are now Members of this House. Those 33 councillors have 43 per cent. of the vote. The 27 Labour councillors have 38 per cent. of the vote, but 19 per cent. of the vote for the alliance parties produced the usual, unfair, unbiased and incorrect one councillor.
Wandsworth has three seats at its disposal. It can be generous, and might be obliged to be so. We might have Labour, Conservative and Liberal members from Wandsworth. What we do not know is whether the Labour and Conservative parties will take the same view, or whether the alliance group controlling Richmond borough will take the same view, on how to define what is reasonably practical.
I am trying not be distracted by the manoeuvrings behind me, which appear to be the subject of great interest—
No. I appreciate that there will come a time when Conservative Members would usually want the opportunity to have lunch. If this matter continues, they might have to forgo that opportunity. I wish to press on, so that those with interest in the boroughs that we have not yet discussed will know the position.
Hammersmith and Fulham council comes in the category that hon. Members will remember, where no one party has a majority seat. Here, we enter into dangerous and difficult territory. Hammersmith and Fulham has but two seats with which to play. Two parties are in control of the council—the Conservative party with 23 seats and the Liberal party with two seats. The Labour party has 25 seats. The reason why the Conservatives and Liberals have control is because of such matters as the mayoral casting vote.
There is an important question to be answered. If the Minister can answer it, the estimation of him in the House — which is generally and traditionally good, although declining as he joins in the unhappy coalition seeking to propel this unconstitutional legislation through the House —will be much improved and hon. Members will be much the wiser. How can Hammersmith and Fulham council, as far as is reasonably practicable. allocate two seats among three parties when the coalition is the largest group and the opposition party is the second largest group? I should be intrigued to know the answer.
Yet again, there is another borough where the party with the second largest number of seats — the Conservative party with 23 seats—has more votes than the party with the largest number of seats—2 per cent. more than the Labour party, although the Labour party has two more seats.
Kensington and Chelsea is another easy borough. It has but two seats, and those well versed in Tory dominance and its historical reasons will know that 39 seats on Kensington and Chelsea borough council are held by the Conservative party and 15 are held by the Labour party. With those 39 seats, the borough has taken a long time to demolish town halls and carry out other municipalisation initiatives which have ingratiated them with the planning and development world. But the Conservative party has a majority and the Labour party is a minority, and the system means that the alliance is not represented in that royal borough. Of course, the alliance did not get fewer votes than did the Labour party, which had 22 per cent. of the vote—the alliance polled the same number of votes. The Government are trying to fit into this little box of a schedule and produce, as though by magic, the right, practicably balanced group of people. Such is the wonder of our electoral system that only two parties are represented, although one of them polled the same number of votes as did the party with no seats.
Waltham Forest goes back into the big league, with three seats. Under our proposal there will be more flexibility because—the Committee will be aware of the arguments—we would offer it six seats. Waltham Forest council has no overall control. The 25 Conservative councillors got the largest share of the vote, with 41 per cent. The 25 Labour councillors got 31 per cent. of the vote, and the seven Liberal councillors got 27 per cent. of the vote. What will they do? Will Waltham Forest council, with no overall control, do what one would expect it to do when no party has overall control, and stand up for its rights? I suggest that it does, because then each party will get a seat out of it.
Honour will be satisfied and all three parties will be represented at county hall. Of course, none of them sought election to county hall; none of them stood on a platform saying, "We are going off to county hall." None of them may have much time for county hall, none may be standing again in the 1986 election in Waltham Forest, and none may be interested in the things that county hall does. But if they are—I give them the benefit of the doubt—at least in lucky Waltham Forest all three parties can be represented in the sedate chairs of the GLC chamber.
Redbridge borough was an artificial creation that came about during one of the Conservative Government's previous schemes for reorganising local government. It did not exist previously, and its name is of such intrigue and interest that it must have been created by bureaucrats. It is a rare beast — a London borough in which the Conservative party has an overall majority of seats and an overall majority of votes. The Labour party is in the minority on both counts. But there is a third seat to dish out, and I imagine that the Conservative party, because it has an overwhelming majority over the Labour party, will give that seat to itself. Perhaps it cannot be criticised for doing so.
In Havering, the balance is not so easy. Havering hovers round the eastern flank of our great metropolis. The Tories have control there, even though drugs are an increasing problem and the signs of social malaise are, sadly, creeping apace. The majority of seats are held by the Tory party. A minority of votes gave the Tories that majority of seats. The Labour party has only 12 seats—
I welcome the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey to his present position. Many of my hon. Friends are pleased to see him there. Do the points that the hon. Gentleman is making compare favourably with, for example, Havering?
The London borough of Haringey—the hon. Gentleman will need to know this in order to participate in the debate—is spelt with one "r", but the place is spelt with two "r's". If one ever wants to know whether one is in the stadium or the council chamber, one simply refers to the number of "r's".
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. I think that the hon. Member is misleading the Committee. There is a district of the borough of Haringey known as Haringay, but there is an even older part of the borough known as Haringey, just like the borough.
I bow to the superior knowledge of the hon. Gentleman, who once represented a part of that borough.
I shall discuss Haringey later. It is further down the list. The borough of Barking and Dagenham groups two names under one borough label. The Labour party has control there and can rejoice in the fact that it achieved 50 per cent. of the popular vote. There are 37 seats for Labour and, by an amazing and bizarre coincidence, the Conservative party, with 23 per cent. of the vote, got three seats, and the alliance parties, with 15 per cent., got the same number.
Barking and Dagenham has a severe problem. It has three parties but two seats. It must be accommodated to the schedule of the Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State at the Department of the Environment. Only if our amendment is passed can the problem be solved. I am very willing to hear from the Government that a similar amendment will be tabled by them later today or as part of tomorrow's business — we are still dealing with yesterday's business at the moment—on Report. There must be an amendment if there is to be anything to report. If the Government brought in an amendment, they could accommodate the problem of Barking and Dagenham.
In Newham there are three seats available. There are, of course, no Conservative councillors in Newham. Sadly, the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) is not here, just when I have reached a point of particular interest to him. He will be sad not to have been able to speak on this subject—whether about the spelling or some other point. The Labour party has 54 seats and 55 per cent. of the vote. The alliance parties have six seats between them and 29 per cent. of the vote. There are two parties, but three seats. I expect that the Labour party will be entitled to send two people to county hall and that a representative of one of the two alliance parties will also be sent to county hall. I wait to hear from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary how he will accommodate the interests of both the alliance parties on this issue, if they differ.
I am approaching the subject in this methodical way because there are no statistics, even in the Library. It gave me as much as it could. If the Government proceed with indirectly elected bodies next year, the best available system will reflect representation in borough councils. That would solve the immediate problem and much of the rest of the Bill. We have argued that if, instead of pursuing this contorted, unconstitutional and illiberal way round the course the Government adopted proportional representation and rate capping which was in their manifesto but a short time ago, they would not need this contrived and fundamentally flawed Bill. I welcome the hon. Member for Newham, North-West back to the debate. I trust that he has benefited from his short rest.
We come next to Bexley. Hon. Members might know that it is the last on the list before the megaboroughs in terms of representation. Right hon. and hon. Members who represent the megaboroughs might realise that the Government accord only three boroughs the accolade of four people going to county hall. They are Bromley which, coincidentally, is Conservative controlled, Croydon which, surprisingly, is Conservative controlled and Barnet which, hon. Members will have guessed, is also Conservative controlled. However, we are still dealing with the last of the less well represented poor relation boroughs that can send only three people to county hall. In 1982, half of Bexley's electorate voted Conservative. The Tories won 41 seats. The Labour party got 24 per cent. of the votes and 14 seats and the Liberal party —representing the alliance—got seven seats although it got 2 per cent. more votes than the Labour party. Bexley does not have the same problem as other boroughs as it can send a Labour representative, a Conservative and a Liberal to replace those who are elected directly in Bexley to county hall. So much for the long line of smaller fish.
Bromley is well known for its interest in local government affairs. No doubt people there are falling over themselves to get in the county hall that they were suing only a short while ago. It is proudly able to send four people to the building across the river. The Conservatives might be entitled to swallow the majority of those places because they won 52 seats there with 57 per cent. of the vote. The Labour party got only five seats with 14 per cent. of the votes. The alliance, even with 28 per cent. of the vote—double that of the Labour party—got fewer seats. Such are the vagaries of the electoral system. That was a public relations point, but it is one of the objections that we hope can be partly resolved by the amendment.
Circumstances are equally bizarre in Croydon. It is also a big borough that will be able to send four people to county hall. The Conservatives have the majority there and the Labour party forms the opposition, but not because it came second in terms of votes. With 22 per cent. of the votes, the alliance got no seats.
What does the Croydon Conservative group do? Does it send — as it must, because it has no option —representatives of the Conservative and Labour parties, or does if try to make up for the alliance's disproportionate number of seats compared with votes, and give two seats to its opponents? If not, the Labour party will have only one seat, and the Conservatives will take the remaining three seats.
In Sutton—this was referred to in the middle of the night—the situation is rather anomalous. Incidentally, I welcome the Secretary of State to the Chamber, and look forward to him intervening on these issues. We have not had the pleasure of hearing from him since 5.15 yesterday afternoon. In Sutton, two seats are available. There are 46 Conservative seats with 51 per cent. of the vote, seven Labour seats with 14 per cent. of the vote and, rather anomalously, three Liberal seats with 35 per cent. of the vote. Again, in voting terms, the second and third parties are in the wrong place. However, the Conservatives could give away one of those seats and thus reflect the voting strength of one of them. I hope that the Minister will accept that all three parties representing the good people of Sutton could be accommodated, if four seats were allocated among them. The Conservatives could no doubt retain the fourth seat for themselves.
Merton is a Conservative borough and one of the minority with 51 per cent., or over half of the popular vote. The Conservative party has 44 seats. Merton is easier than some, because, despite the lack of proportion between seats and votes, Merton only has two parties currently represented — the second of which is the Labour party. Should Merton send one from each party or, as the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley) so felicitously put it, might it send one member from each of the two parties represented down in Merton?
Kingston upon Thames is a larger borough, but it has only two seats to dispose of. The Conservative party won the majority of seats and votes. The alliance parties came second in terms of seats and votes and the Labour party came third. The alliance has seven seats, the Labour party three seats, and the Conservative majority, 40 seats. But Kingston has only two seats to get rid of. Will the Labour party be excluded from representation?
Richmond has two seats. That is probably easy, because the Conservatives have the same number of seats, bar two, as the alliance parties now in control. There are 25 Conservatives, and 27 alliance councillors. Should the alliance parties be fair and give one of the seats to each of the component parties? After all they have always been separate parties. Alternatively, should they be unfair to themselves and fair to the Conservative party that they have just defeated, and allocate it one of their two seats?
When the rate-capping provisions were before the House a short while ago, Ministers came up with proposals that exempted many of their Back Benchers. They told them that authorities that had been good boys in the past would be exempted, and would not be the subject of the Government's rate-capping provisions. Conservative Members' votes were determined by what was said by the Secretary of State in response to their questions. Similarly, if the Under-Secretary of State can deal in turn with each of the boroughs, he can then deal with the questions that we need answered so that hon. Members know how to exercise their votes. An hon. Member may not be of the same party as the majority group on his council. His view of these proposals may well be affected by whether he thinks that his party will be represented on the GLC in its interim form.
Hounslow is a Labour borough and has two seats; 27 of its members are Conservatives and 33 are Labour. Neither party has a majority of votes, but as there are only two parties it is possible that that borough could be represented properly within the vague and approximate definitition that we have been given.
Hillingdon has three seats, which is convenient because that Conservative-controlled authority at present consists of the following political participants—57 Conservative Members, with a majority of votes last time round, so one cannot begrudge them their majority, 10 Labour members with 23 per cent. of the vote last time and only two alliance members, although they gained the second largest share of the vote. Nevertheless, as there are only three seats and three parties, we may be able to obtain in relation to that borough an answer to the question of principle. If the number of seats and parties is the same, will there be one each?
Our proposal would allow greater flexibility, but in any event we should like to know whether that is preferable to what the Government have proposed. Because Hillingdon is such an appropriate example, it may be helpful to ask whether the Under-Secretary of State accepts this premise, which is one of those on which our amendment is based. Cannot a more accurate reflection of the parties represented at local government level, whatever their make-up, their numbers or their differences, be obtained if the seats are shared among a larger number of people? If Hillingdon had six rather than three seats it would be possible to be more precise. Is not that a laudable, desirable and attainable objective which would be acceptable to the House and to the Government because the borough could then be more fairly represented on the GLC?
The second important point of substance is this. The interim councils will be in office for a year — 11 months, we are told. We do not like the fact that they are to be nominated. We opposed that throughout the night. When all the other Opposition parties deserted us, we have opposed the Bill and we shall continue to do so because it is fundamentally flawed and unconstitutional. Whatever the official Opposition — the Labour party appears effectively to have abandoned that role — have now done, they have abandoned their duty to oppose the legislation and to do what the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) said would be done with venom and vigour if his party were in Opposition—to oppose the Bill up hill and down dale, through night and day, morning and evening, until there was no opposition left. There was indeed no Opposition left, but that was because they had departed, not because they had exhausted the opportunities to oppose the Bill.
My hon. Friend has said that the official Opposition—the Labour party—abandoned the Bill throughout the night. That is certainly true, but I hope that he will pay a special tribute to the wonderful hirsute quartet from the Left who stayed with us throughout the night and argued man for man with us and in whose speeches the anger of the Labour Front Bench shone through. I hope that he will pay that tribute to the splendid hairy four.
My hon. Friend makes a valid point. Some Labour Members determinedly tried to keep their flag flying through the night. Sadly, their leaders did not follow but deserted them in action. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is your leader?"] I can answer that question. If hon. Members will stay a little longer than they have done previously they will be able to see and understand the presence and views of the leader. I do not wish to prevent discussion on the final amendment, which deals with the metropolitan counties or make sure that only London is considered. However, the next borough I shall deal with is Ealing. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary, who is one of the protagonists of the Bill, knows that borough well.
I shall give way in a moment.
Ealing council consists of 37 Conservative councillors, who have 41 per cent. of the vote, 30 Labour councillors, who have 35 per cent. of the vote, and three alliance councillors, who have 21 per cent. of the vote. It has three seats available and three parties which could lay claim to them. It does not reflect the balance which the Minister would wish, as the combined Opposition parties are greater than the Tory party.
I shall proceed quickly with the last five boroughs. In Brent no party has overall control. There are 31 Conservative councillors, 32 Labour councillors and three alliance councillors. They have three seats at their disposal and they could allocate one to each party.
Harrow is under Conservative control. There are 41 Conservative councillors, 13 Liberal members and six Labour members. It has only two seats. Will the Labour party lose out yet again?
Barnet, to which I have already referred, is a big borough. It has four seats at county hall. It consists of 48 Tory councillors and 12 Labour councillors. How will they be divided? Four fifths are Conservative councillors, one fifth are Labour councillors and four cannot be divided by five.
The hon. Gentleman is accurate, but it is of no help if half a member or two eighths of a member sits in county hall. If he or she did, he or she might not represent his or her constituents particularly well.
Haringey is the last Labour-controlled borough which we shall consider this morning or, at any rate, at this stage in our proceedings. It has two seats.
The hon. Gentleman spoke of sitting all night. Is he aware that Labour Members spent the last 20 hours in Committee arguing for industrial democracy? During that 20 hours not one word was spoken by an alliance Member from the two seats allocated to alliance Members on the highly important matter we debated. That was because the Liberal party has concentrated on a public relations stunt on the Floor of the House. Will he address his remarks to the procedings everywhere in the House? Labour Members have not slept all night and have been on their feet all night.
Hon. Members must judge whether this Bill is of constitutional and democratic importance. The leader of the Greater London council seems to think that it is, and the Labour members of the GLC and many of their colleagues from other parties seem to think that it is. Most national and local newspapers, commentators, academics, intellectuals, thinkers and voters seem to think so too. If we cannot serve them by arguing for a decent system of representation, we are certainly not doing the job which we were sent here to do.
I wind up with the boroughs of Haringey and Enfield.
The only relevance of the hon. Gentleman's question is that one of the odd things about the Bill is that it has produced an alliance of the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friends who are former Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers, the hon. Gentleman's right hon. and hon. Friends elsewhere on the Back Benches and the parties on this side of the House in saying that the Government are wrong and we are right. That is the alliance with which we are concerned.
Had the Government chosen to describe the people who should be sent to county hall next year in terms of left and right, perhaps we could address ourselves to that issue. It is possible that an amendment will be tabled by the hon. Gentleman to suggest that. While we are addressing the issue of political parties it is proper to conclude by addressing the practical problem that will face the Government in trying to implement the schedule.
Haringey has a Labour council. There are 26 Tory members and 33 Labour members with a possibility of two seats. There is no particular problem there.
The last borough on the list is Enfield, which has three seats. It is the borough of the motor cycle and the way north. There are 47 Conservatives and 19 Socialists, but there is a third seat. At the end of the day, who will it go to? Far more fundamentally, will it make a difference?
We seek to amend the schedule to provide a better approximation than the Government have come up with, although by the most inadequate method of calculation which the Government insisted upon. It would at least provide a council with more members who could share the tasks and responsibilities among them and thus do their job more effectively. It would at least provide a council where it would be more possible that, if we were to have this aberration of a non-elected assembly for one year, there would be a divergence of views.
There would be enormous practical advantages, but I must warn the Committee that the amendment does not prevent the fact that under the Government's schedule, and under any other alternative which it would have been in order to table at this stage of our deliberations, we shall not be able to prevent the Government from converting an elected authority of one political colour into a non-elected nominated body with a different political allegiance.
As the Secretary of State said when he introduced the Bill on Second Reading, it is one of those unfortunate coincidences that in this wonderful panopoly of Government reform there should just happen to be a change, without a vote being cast, of the political representation of the 7 million people of Greater London. On behalf of those people and people who believe in elections, not dictation by Government, I ask the Minister to tell us whether he has thought of a semblance of a reason for resisting the amendment.
The monologue of the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) was enlivened by some contributions from my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames). My hon. Friend revealed his detailed knowledge of the geography of the metropolis and pronounced some of our villages in a dialect unfamiliar to many Londoners. He sounded to me very much like the sort of chap who failed his colour test at school.
It is difficult to understand why the alliance is being so unkind to the Government on this issue. It would have been easier for us to have said that the largest party takes all the seats. We did not do that. Indeed, we made it clear in the White Paper that the nominations would be required to reflect, as closely as practicable, the party balance on each nominating authority. We carried that through into the Bill and clause 2(5) provides that
the balance of parties for the time being prevailing in that council is reflected in the persons who are for the time being members of the Greater London Council".
The parties that would benefit from that provision are those which find it difficult to come first in an election. I should have thought that the alliance was easily the most advantaged of the three main parties by the Government's decision to allow minority representation on those transitional bodies. Far from decrying that part of the Bill, as the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey did for a long time, he should have welcomed it.
The Minister is seeking to make a party political point, whereas my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) —[Interruption.] — took great care not to do that. He mentioned at some length the way in which Conservative councillors would be disadvantaged by the proposals. Will the Minister answer that point?
About four or five years ago, there was something called the Lib-Lab pact. There was a spirit of bonhomie and co-operation between the two parties. That spirit seems to have evaporated from the speech to which we have been listening for the past one and a half hours.
A great deal of what the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey said was a red herring, as he produced the proportion of votes cast for councillors and adduced those figures to support his argument. If he looks at the new clause and the Bill, he will see that no reference is made to the votes cast for the councillors. It is clear that the balance of parties for the time being prevailing in the council is what matters. While that was an interesting debating point, it did not reinforce the hon. Gentleman's case for the new clause.
My confidence in the hon. Gentleman's argument was not reinforced by what he said at the beginning, when he added the figures in schedule 1, which clearly come to 84, and announced to the House that they totalled 42. He began also by arguing—
I hate to have to say this, but, for reasons that I hope my hon. Friend will understand, I did not catch the first part of his intervention.
There are some London boroughs, to which the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey referred, where the alliance has one quarter of the seats. If such a borough is entitled to four representatives on the transitional council, it would appear that the alliance would thus be entitled to one member. If we had adopted the "winner take all" system, the Conservative party or the Labour party on that authority would have taken all four. That is not a point that the hon. Gentleman should dispute.
The other point, with which I would not disagree, is that the greater the number of members of the transitional council, the greater the number of parties that can secure representation. One can get slightly closer to equity. The hon. Gentleman did not say that, by doing that, one doubles the size of the transitional council. The debate to which the Committee must address itself is the balance between equity — which was the thrust of the hon. Gentleman's speech—and efficiency, because there are clear consequences if one ends up with a large body.
It is worth reminding ourselves of what the Herbert committee said about the size of the GLC. The committee suggested that it should be about 100. The formula produced by the new clause gives a figure of 168, which would make the council—which, of course, would exist for only 11 months—an unwieldy body. I suspect that the members would spend most of that time learning each other's names. There is no need for a GLC of that size. We propose to reduce it from 92 to 84, which we believe is a manageable size and right in terms of efficiency.
Does the Minister think that it might have been easier for the Government not to set up transitional arrangements, but instead to expand the borough councils and district councils in the areas of the metropolitan councils by perhaps one third and to allow elections to take place next May to the expanded borough and district councils? Would that not have solved many of the Government's problems in appearing to abolish elections and to set up unwieldy and unrepresentative bodies?
Will my hon. Friend deal with the practicalities of a vastly enlarged body of 168? If we were to try to accommodate such a large number of members in County hall, there would be problems in finding seats for them. Equally, a horrific sum of money would have to be paid for attendance allowances and various supporting services. As the Conservative party always keeps its eye on public expenditure, this would be a serious mistake.
My hon. Friend is right. As a former member of the GLC, I am aware of the number of seats in the chamber. It would not be possible to accommodate a council of that size. My hon. Friend is right to point out that there would be consequences in administration costs for the GLC. The whole thrust of Government policy is to streamline the cities and to reduce overheads for ratepayers in London and the metropolitan county councils. An enlarged council would be a move in the wrong direction.
The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey invited me to go through the long list of boroughs and indicate exactly how I would apportion the proposed representation. The Committee will be pleased to hear that I have no intention of doing that. The Bill makes it clear that that is not the responsibility of the Secretary of State or Ministers in the Department of the Environment. The responsibility rests squarely on the council. We had quite a long debate on this on 10 May. At that time, my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave) said:
We believe that in the majority of cases the arrangements will be perfectly straightforward and there will be a pretty obvious way of making proportional membership fit in with the shape of a lower-tier council. In some cases, there will be two or three different ways of proceeding, and one method may be as good as another.
All that we have laid on the lower tier authorities is the duty to behave reasonably. If they do not, they may be taken to court. In such cases the court would have to decide not who the members should be, but whether the council had behaved in a reasonable manner or whether it had produced an absurd outcome."—[Official Report, 10 May 1984; Vol 59, c. 1113.]
That puts it in a slightly different perspective from what the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey said when he tried to give the impression that it was impossible to come up with a satisfactory solution. The council has to do its best, and it has to satisfy the court, if it goes to the court, that it has behaved in a reasonable manner. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West also suggested that we would consider the possibility of producing some sort of guidance on how we might envisage the arrangements working.
The balance is between equity, on the one hand, and a desire to get fair representation of minority parties and efficiency, on the other. Given the fact that these arrangements will last for only 11 months and that a GLC of about the same size as the present membership of 92 is about right—
In view of the very important nature of the argument that my hon. Friend is advancing, particularly concerning equity versus efficiency, and as an interregnum of some 11 months is involved, will he go into more detail as to how the equation is arrived at and how the comparison is made between equity and efficiency?
My hon. Friend raises an important issue. In the interests of efficiency, one needs a sufficient number of members on the transitional council to cover the various committees and to ensure that the responsibilities of the council are discharged. That is a clear argument against having a transitional council that is too small, as it could not cope if it went below a certain size. The argument the other way is that, if there are too many members, the administrative costs go up, as my hon. Friend implied, and we start to lose the thrust of the argument that we are trying to keep the costs down. We have the benefit of 20 years' experience of the GLC operating county hall, so we know approximately how many members are needed to discharge its functions. The functions will be approximately the same for the transitional year, so it is a fair comparison.
We have chosen 84 rather than 92 because that ties in with the number of parliamentary constituencies in London, which have recently been revised, and they are as objective a measure as we can get to achieve equal representation throughout London on the transitional body. The size of the GLC would come down from 92 to about 84. Having discussed this matter with councillors at county hall, who are in a good position to give us their views, we believe that 84 is about the right size.
My hon. Friend may have an opportunity, when the Committee addresses itself to parts II to VII of the schedule, to make detailed points on the west midlands, which is of vital concern to him.
Listening to the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey go through the list of boroughs, I was struck by the number where it seemed there was a fairly reasonable solution in terms of nominating people to the transitional council. The number of hard cases was certainly in single figures. The boroughs must do their best. We accept that there will not be a perfect solution, and there may appear to be some inequity. We dealt earlier with that part of the Bill which gave the Secretary of State power by order to suspend the elections. The alternative would simply have been to abandon the attempt to have any minority representation at all, and to take the easy way out. For reasons that we explained when we dealt with clause 2, on which I have touched again, we felt that that would be wrong. These are elected bodies at present with minority representation on them. If we had moved over to nomination by the majority party, there could have been councils in Yorkshire with no minority representation on them. That would have meant a change in the composition of those councils. For those reasons, we decided that the balance in the Bill was right.
I have tried to deal as best I can with the points raised by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey in his substantial speech. It is right that the Committee should acknowledge the amount of work that went into it, possibly by the Library giving him the relevant information.
We have to decide the balance of equity against efficiency. In the light of what I have said, I hope that the Committee will agree that the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey should be rejected, and that we should leave the schedule as set out in the Bill.
The last two speeches differed in length, in preparation and in degree of boredom. They had one fundamental and simple theme, the alliance between the alliance Benches and the Conservative Benches in a conspiracy to deny the people of London the right to vote. It is a conspiracy between parties determined to destroy the right of the people of London to elect their councils. [Interruption.] That is what we have witnessed today. That is what we have seen going on. [HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."] I come from Islington borough, and we need no lectures from Members on the alliance Benches about democracy. We all remember the way that SDP Members seized control of Islington council and stole the council from the electorate. In 1978, my borough council was a Labour council. Some of those people defected, called themselves the SDP, took control of the council, refused to resign and refused to face the people until they had to—and what happened when they did face the people in the 1982 elections? All bar one of them was chucked out. In all, 27 were thrown out by the electorate, and that one remaining miserable cur— [Interruption.]—got in with a majority of one after seven recounts.
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. I thought that I heard the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) use what I regard — I hope that the Committee also regards—as unparliamentary language. May I seek your advice because I think I heard the hon. Gentleman use a thoroughly unparliamentary expression?
The word I used to describe a councillor in Islington was taken from Shakespeare and is not, so far as I am aware, unparliamentary. I would not wish to use such language.
The Committee must appreciate that the fundamental purpose of the Bill is to deny the people of London and the metropolitan counties their right to elect their councils next year. No amount of playing with figures concerning the appointment of people from borough councils to another body — perhaps one to be called the Greater London council—can hide the fact that the alliance and Conservative Benches are agreed on wishing to deny the people of London the right to vote.
What they are talking about in the friendly repartee That is going on between those Benches is a squalid little manoeuvre regarding the numbers of people whom they can get to represent each borough. Are Liberal Members so desperate that they are willing to ignore the wishes of millions of Londoners? I understand that a petition will be presented shortly which will give the exact number of Londoners who are opposed to this change.
I will give way on a point of order only. [Interruption.]
What we are discussing is the principle of elections and democracy. I need not take up 80 minutes of the time of the Committee to describe democracy. Nor do I need the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) to lecture me on the meaning of that word. He failed to explain whether the Liberal party supports the Bill, opposes it, wants elections, wants appointments or is after proportional representation. He could only talk about the shabby little game of numbers representing each borough when the real issue centres around the fact that the ballot box has been stolen by the Conservatives with the connivance of the alliance.
Nearly 14 million people in Britain are about to lose their right to vote at elections. This bunch on the alliance Benches who masquerade as part of the Opposition are simply conniving in the destruction of democracy — [interruption]—by trying to grab a few public places for themselves. They have spent much time on this well-orchestrated publicity stunt, while upstairs in Committee on the Finance Bill their representative could not even bother to attend. That shows—
I shall do that, Mr. Dean, but I thought that I would first explain how their interest lies in a little chicanery and a bit of repartee with the Tory party, which illustrates that they are more concerned with those shoddy manoeuvres than they are with fighting the battle against the economic policies of the Conservatives which are creating misery and unemployment throughout the country.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way and will be even more grateful for a few moments silence from the Liberal Benches. Does my hon. Friend appreciate that, if the amendment were carried, there would be 168 members on the interim Greater London council, giving the Liberal party and the SDP a larger number of seats? It would do nothing for the fundamental, undemocratic nature of an appointed board, and I am sure that my hon. Friend would accept that point. My arithmetic reveals that even if we increased the numbers on the council, that body would end up with a Conservative majority. The political nature of the GLC would change from Labour to Tory, and a gerrymander would remain. Under the Liberal proposal, there will be a majority ranging from eight to 10 Conservatives, and, according to the Government's proposal, the majority will range between 12 and 18 Conservatives. Does my hon. Friend accept that, whatever happens, the undemocratic nature of the proposals is not altered and the political control of the GLC is still changed, which is what the Government have been trying to do all along?
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. I am sure that every democrat in the land will be pleased with my hon. Friend's efforts against this shabby and squalid Bill. He has pointed out the absolute truth—the Bill's purpose is to transfer power from the elected Labour authorities and Labour councils to a quango comprising people elected to borough councils with nothing to do with the GLC or, in the case of the metropolitan counties, the councils to which they were first elected. This is a means of specifically and deliberately preventing a large number of individuals who presently hold office at county hall from continuing to hold that office.
The proposals put forward by the alliance with the Conservative Benches — [Interruption.] —are the same thing with a little bit of icing from the cake for them. They are talking about the transfer of authority from Labour to Tory by a vote in Committee. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey managed to tell us during more than an hour of curious arithmetic and an even stranger knowledge of London's geography only that he wished to change the numbers representing each borough, but not the principle behind that.
I listened carefully to a great many things said by the hon. Gentleman during the past 18 hours. I did not notice much emphasis in his contributions on this fundamental and important issue. It appears that the Liberal and SDP Members are using this opportunity to grab public positions for themselves and some cheap publicity from their antics throughout the night. Outside, however, I did not see that kind of enthusiasm when campaigns were waged against the abolition of the GLC and the elections. Alliance Members have much less to say when television cameras and radio reporters are not available.
This is a matter of great importance, and it is good that it is being debated on the Floor of the House so that a few more hon. Members have a chance to discuss what is happening. The amendment is directed towards greater fairness in the distribution of places on the new interim GLC. The effect of the amendment is to increase from two to four the number of representatives from my borough. At present we have three elected representatives. In all the discussions that I have had with people in my constituency in this long-running campaign against the legislation, no one has said that the one thing that concerns him is the number of representatives from Islington. What my constituents want is the right to elect those representatives. That is the fundamental point that has been put to me.
This critical issue deserves a long debate. It also deserves a great deal more explanation from the Government of their intentions. They have produced the number of people that they would put on an interim authority, but the real issue is what the purpose of the authority is, what powers those people would have, and why it is so necessary to rush the Bill through Parliament when the abolition legislation has not yet been brought forward for full debate. It is not just putting the cart before the horse; perhaps it is killing the horse without even seeing the cart.
We must not look at the numbers in each borough, as the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey attempted to do. We do not need to go on a tour of London. We need the strongest possible opposition from everybody who is worried and concerned about democracy and representation. People should say so rather than put an enormous effort into merely considering the figures.
Thank you, Mr. Dean. Sometimes one is led from the path of true righteousness by shoddy little manoeuvres round the Committee.
I do not believe that the turnout at elections is necessarily a matter of overriding relevance. People want to know why their right to vote is being taken away and why people whom they elected to a borough council in 1982 are suddenly to assume responsibility for the running of several other services in London. They might not do that, but they might act as agents for the Secretary of State, who cannot be bothered to be present, and who is trying to destroy many of those services and jobs, and to make cuts. That is why the matter is so important.
I should have thought that hon. Members would all be concerned about the matter. My postbag has been full of letters—they are not just tear-off slips—and many of them are from people who have never written to a Member of Parliament before. [AN HON. MEMBER: "How does the hon. Gentleman know that?"' Because they told me that, and I believe what people tell me. They have expressed their concern at their loss of elected representatives. I think that most of the people in my constituency know perfectly well the views of the Islington, North Labour party and myself. They still write to express their grievances.
I should like to see some honesty from those who support the Bill. How many electors from their constituencies have written to them to say that they are opposed to the abolition of elections? How many people have they refused to see? Perhaps more significantly, even at this late hour, the Secretary of State might come to the Chamber pulling a huge trolley containing just a quarter of the letters written to him by people who oppose the legislation. It is not right for the legislation to be forced through when we do not know how much opposition has been mounted by people throughout London and the metropolitan counties. It is incumbent on the Government to demonstrate the validity of their case.
The Bill will destroy people's right to vote. It will destroy democracy for London and destroy the services which have been built up over the years. The Bill provides for the appointment of people to an interim body—to do what? We do not know. We do not know who will be responsible for all the services. We do not even know how much control the appointed people will have. The crucial issue is not how many from each borough are appointed, but democracy itself. That is what is at stake.
We have heard that this is the start of the decline of democracy in Britain. It certainly is. That is demonstrated by the fact that Conservative Members are prepared to sit up all night. They look most unhappy sleeping on the Government Benches. It must be uncomfortable. It must be uncomfortable for them to have to push through legislation which will cause some chickens to come home to roost. They know the opposition to the legislation and what a particularly nasty little Bill this is.
The Opposition comes from within the Chamber and from outside. Millions of people throughout the country are extremely angry with the legislation. They are angry that elections are to be snatched from them and that people whom they elected to do something else are to be brought in to supervise the butchery of the services which the 1981 elections brought them. The purpose of the legislation is to give the Secretary of State the power to appoint the butcher to destroy the services for which the people in the metropolitan counties and London fought.
The gravest disquiet exists in the inner cities. Hon. Members should recognise that. I do not see the difference between the amendment and the Government proposal, so hon. Members should vote, not only for the amendment, but against the Bill itself.
I did not expect to make this speech today. I turned up for another, more exciting, debate later, but I was stung into action by the provocative words of the hon. Members for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) and for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn). The subtle and persuasive style of Socialism of the hon. Member for Islington, North brings in more votes for the other parties. The more his views are listened to by his leadership, the better it is for the rest of us. Long may he carry on speaking.
Perhaps the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey sat down a little too soon. After 80 minutes, he was just getting under way and beginning to launch into a whole new chapter. He gave us a factual account, borough by borough. We were waiting to be transported by flights of fancy, or even of fantasy. He missed one or two tricks. In his Cook's tour of London, he presented us with the spectre of megaboroughs — I remember the word well. He trotted out a description of the conspiracy involved in three boroughs being blessed with four representatives while the others have to make do with three or two.
If we want to go along with the conspiracy theory, I have discovered a good conspiracy. The three boroughs in the schedule are Bexley, Bromley and Barnet. The hon.
Gentleman merely said the obvious—that they are all Conservative controlled, but so are many other boroughs. He probably had not noticed that three of the last four Conservative leaders came from those boroughs. If he really wanted to establish a conspiracy theory, he should have made that point.
Much of the hon. Gentleman's speech was devoted to relating votes cast to seats won. As he and many hon. Members know, I am in favour of proportional representation. Some of my colleagues, but not yet a majority, share my views. My concern is that the hon. Gentleman did not spell out why, in selecting votes cast and equating them to seats won, that was an exact equivalent. Those who study the subject know that can be so only if there is a list system for exact equivalent. I assume that I speak for every hon. Member when I say i hat any suggestion for a list system would be profoundly rejected—
Perhaps the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) did not spell out the facts because of a lack of stamina. One hour and 20 minutes is simply drawing breath in such a debate.
In a sense, I am flattered by an interjection from an hon. Member whom we all recognise as Parliament's past master. An hour and 20 minutes to the hon. Gentleman is a mere sneeze.
After a while, we are entitled to ask what system will be put forward. We know that it might be something called the additional member system. That provides direct membership relating to those elected. It would be a difficult system, not least because in local government we have become used to having multi-member boards. That is a fairly accepted concept. It would be going backwards if we adopted the AMS system. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey was probably referring to the single transferable vote system, but that would not have produced the exact equivalent about which he spoke.
The other point that underlined the hon. Gentleman's contribution, but which was never mentioned, was the single word "population". We know that London has had enormous shifts of population. The largest single reason for the figures in the schedule is that they are the latest reflection of the population. It is also the latest return from the parliamentary constituencies.
My constituency and borough have changed considerably during the past 10 years. Hackney used to have two seats. One was a safe Conservative seat and the other a safe Labour seat. It now has three very safe Conservative seats. That is due not only to population shifts. It highlights that the changes took place in the last redistribution.
I am not sure that the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey took long enough to move the amendment. In the absence of a little more clarity, I see little reason to support it, despite sharing his views generally on proportional representation.
This is an important discussion. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) for introducing the topic. There are one or two points about his proposals that need further examination. The first one that comes to my mind is that the public have had it spelt out to them—it is increasingly being spelt out by the Government—how the interim council will be operated and made up. We debated this at some length earlier in the Bill, so I shall not rehearse all the arguments about why the interim council should be run in this way. However, the numerical point is important. The public have been told of our proposals and the numbers which the Government are suggesting. It has been suggested that the interim council should have 92 members, as the GLC has 92 members. However, at present London has 84 parliamentary constituencies.
If we were to accept the hon. Gentleman's amendment, which calls for 168 members, on this point alone the public would not know where they were. In matters as important as the interim administration of London before the borough councils take over its government, any confusion in the mind of the public would be extremely bad and would result in a loss of respect for the system of government in London.
I raised the practical problems of having 168 members in county hall with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, and I must say that I was rather disappointed by his answers. I understand that we have all been working hard overnight, so it is my duty to help him on this point. Perhaps I can go over the practical aspects of such a suggestion in some detail. I have some knowledge of county hall, as I was a member of the London Transport Passengers Committee which met there and I spent many happy hours representing the travelling public of London in consumer matters to London Transport.
There is a real problem of seating in the chamber. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State was a member of the GLC, and we also have the benefit of the wisdom of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), who might wish to tell us about this. It seems to me, from many of the debates that I attended as an observer, that 168 members could not work properly if county hall were made the base of the interim council, which is a sensible place for it to be.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for sharing his experience with the Committee. For members to work properly in the chamber—hon. Members know a great deal about inadequate space—it is important to have sufficient space and comfort so that they can think clearly, rise to their feet and import their wisdom on London—
Perhaps I could correct that misinformation. County hall could accommodate with some comfort 168 members, and they would have far more facilities there than we have in the Chamber. Physically, they could be accommodated.
I am very glad to have drawn out the wisdom of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West, who has great experience in this sphere and has spent many hours at county hall doing things for London. I wonder whether he accepts the idea that there should be 168 councillors—
Will my hon. Friend develop his unique line of thinking on the relationship between accommodation and clarity of thought? Is there a relationship between clear thought and the amount of space available? Do American Senators have greater clarity of thought than Members of Parliament because of the large suites of offices available to them? I should not think so, but I should be interested to hear my hon. Friend's views.
I do not wish to be sidetracked from my point about the general practical difficulties, but I believe —and I am sure that psychologists will agree with me— that when a body of men and women who are thinking of weighty matters are packed too tightly, they suffer sheer physical discomfort. My own feeling is that if the 168 councillors were too tightly packed into their seats they would not be able to do the job as well as the smaller number that is proposed by the Government.
Is there a relationship between the amount of space occupied by a councillor and the length of time spent in debate on a particular issue? Might last night's episode give my hon. Friend some food for thought?
I do not think that I wish to develop that point further. If my hon. Friend wishes to do so, I am sure that the Committee will listen with great interest.
Other practical problems would be encountered. I am not being facetious in any way when I say that problems would arise in connection with the office space. County hall has to accommodate a large number of civil servants and bureaucrats as well as a number of members-92 at present. The offices would become exceedingly cramped and the members would not be able to do their job properly.
The same problem would arise in connection with another feature of county hall. The car park is grossly overcrowded. Many times, when attempting to park my car there when on official business, I have had to drive round and round to find a space and leave my car safely in the car park while engaged on my business.
Many members ride bicycles these days or take public transport, so that problem might not arise. In that case, however, there will be the problem of accommodation for bicycles. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State is perhaps the best-known cyclist in this place. Perhaps he has some thoughts on the matter. If we are to encourage cyclists — and we should encourage members of the interim council to cycle to work—they will need adequate accommodation.
Discussion of the car park suggests another question. Why should we be talking about 168 potential members? My hon. Friend will recall that legislation is under consideration which will remove London Transport from the control of the GLC. London Transport will go to a new authority in July. That change will reduce the functions of the GLC very considerably. Does my hon. Friend agree that, in these circumstances, there will be no need for 168 councillors? If the ILEA is directly elected in 1985, responsibilities will be still further reduced. That must render large numbers of councillors unnecessary.
My hon. Friend, who has great experience of London government matters, is right. Perhaps he will have an opportunity to develop that point later.
I do not want to go all around the building picking up every point, because I am not the resident engineer at county hall. However, we all accept that such a vast number of members will create problems in the present county hall restaurant, which overlooks the river. Facilities there are probably better than those that we have here. Members of the interim council might be discontented if they could not sit at the pleasant tables in the bay window.
I have already raised the issue of 168 members' attendance allowances with my hon. Friend the Minister. We all know that councillors can carry out their duties in many different ways, with different levels of dedication, and that their attendance times can vary. There will be a fair amount of work to do in the interim council. It would be unacceptable for Conservatives, with their eyes constantly on public expenditure, even to contemplate paying attendance and travel allowances to 168 members. That would double the present bill, and I therefore have to reject the suggestion of the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey.
My hon. Friend will be aware that there are already some professional councillors in county hall who live on their attendance allowance. If their number were increased substantially for the dying days of the GLC, does he agree that there would be a danger of there being even more professional councillors?
That is a strong point. I do not know how many full-time councillors there are in the present GLC. Perhaps the hon. Member for Newham, North-West can help, as he is a member of the majority party there and will know how many of his colleagues are full-time councillors and are therefore presumably drawing fairly considerable attendance allowances. With 168 members instead of 92 the bill will inevitably be larger, but it is difficult to say how much larger.
Another fundamental point about the membership of the interim council concerns expertise. It might be argued that 168 members provides a greater bank of expertise. There are those, such as the hon. Member for Newham, North-West, who have spent a lot of time in county hall, and we are obviously looking at replacing the present amount of expertise with something comparable among those drawn from the borough councils. However, it is not reasonable to expect that 168 such people can be found in London. From my fairly extensive discussions with leaders of the borough councils in London, I am well aware that they are rather alarmed about the provision of men and women of sufficient expertise and with a sufficient commitment to time. At present the GLC's meetings are held principally in the day time. That will cause great difficulties for councillors who are still engaged in running aspects of their own borough councils as well.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the majority party at county hall decided that GLC members needed, greatly increased secretarial support, so they expanded that side dramatically? If such secretarial help, research assistance, and so on, was made available to 168 people, there would be a considerable explosion in the number of staff and the costs involved. What would that do to our rates?
I am sure that my hon. Friend is absolutely right. My hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler) mentioned that space would be created by the change in the ILEA management and in the functioning of London Regional Transport. I am sorry, Mr. Dean, but I have been rather sidetracked by this new evidence of a Lib-Lab pact on the Opposition Front Bench. I see that the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey is being surrounded by Labour Front Benchers. That takes me back a year or two—
The hon. Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) has just mentioned the guilty men. Does not the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) regard himself as one of the guilty men by supporting a Bill which is all about gerrymandering and abolishing elections?
I cannot accept that criticism. I assume that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the fact that the interim council will be a representative rather than an elected council. However, I notice that the next amendment deals with a similar position in the metropolitan councils. That amendment has been tabled by the Labour party. I am glad that Opposition Members are beginning to see reason. Nevertheless, the hon. Gentleman cannot accuse me or any of my hon. Friends of gerrymandering.
Does my hon. Friend agree that, given the immense detail and breadth of work that has gone into preparing the Bill and the way in which he has so eloquently developed his argument, it is clear that there is real equity and the basis of real efficiency in what my right hon. and hon. Friends have been trying to do? Does my hon. Friend agree that that is the secret of the success of this whole operation?
With his usual perception, my hon. Friend has put his finger right on it. The Bill's whole purpose is to allow for the business-like transfer of the government of London from the present bureaucracy of the GLC, through the interim council, to the borough councils; the very form of local government which Mr. Livingstone — that well-known leader of the majority party in county hall—accepted as the best form of local government in London in his address to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in 1982.
It is correct to describe Mr. Livingstone as a well-known leader, as he is probably better known throughout the country than any hon. Member present in the Chamber. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that for the short period for which the interim council is supposed to operate the 168 people fighting to find a place in the chamber, a space in the car park and the best table in the restaurant will be hard put to do anything productive, because they will probably spend most of the 11 months for which they will be there trying to find their way around the 6½ miles of corridor at county hall?
In these days, when politics are so often seen as controversy, I am delighted to agree with the hon. Gentleman. He is absolutely right. County hall is a maze, just as the GLC has become a puzzle for the residents of London in recent years as they try to work out where their very high rates are going.
My hon. Friend will appreciate that I am a little numb from listening to 20 hours of Opposition speeches in the Standing Committee on the Finance Bill. On his earlier comment about car parks, does not the overcrowding in the car parks suggest a strange discontinuity between Socialist proclamation and practice, or does it show that the Government's economic success has made it possible for many more people to afford cars?
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. A very important meeting is taking place between the management of British Leyland—not just the shop stewards but the official trade unions under the chairmanship of Mr. Gerry Russell. Can you give us any guidance as to the likely timing of the debate under Standing Order No. 10, as a great many people are affected by the crucial issues involved? I merely seek guidance from the Chair so that we may let people know.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Dean. I hope that you will explain to the Committee that, as I understand it, we can proceed with the Standing Order No. 10 debate this afternoon if hon. Members feel able to terminate the Committee proceedings in time. I hope that you will also confirm that my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) sat down about two hours ago in good time to ensure that that would be possible. If hon. Members on both sides desired it, is not the procedure such that if we continued beyond 2.30 pm we should necessarily proceed first tomorrow to the Standing Order No. 10 debate on the situation at Bathgate about which the hon. Gentleman is rightly concerned?
Further to that point of order, Mr. Dean. I look to you for guidance. Is it in order for what is clearly an alliance between the Liberals and the Conservatives to prevent the discussion of a crucial issue for my constituents—the loss of their jobs at British Leyland? The Liberals have been preventing that debate because they are going along with the Government in creating redundancies. I hope that in your capacity as Chairman of the Committee and Deputy Speaker of the House you will make it clear to the alliance between the Government and the Liberals that my constituents—
Order. The hon. Gentleman is straying from the point of order. I shall deal with the reasonable points of order which have been made. The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) asked for guidance. The House is in Committee and the proceedings before the Committee are in order. It is not possible for me, as Chairman of the Committee, to anticipate what may happen when the Committee proceedings are completed. I cannot help the hon. Member further than that. The Committee must decide whether to continue with these proceedings or to adjourn. It is not a matter for me.
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. Is it not the case that because of the antics of this morning the urgent debate that Mr. Speaker decided we should have today on the crisis in the car industry will almost inevitably be lost or deferred? Is it not also true that the legislation, which all Opposition parties purported to oppose, will pass to Third Reading a day earlier than necessary because of the foolishness and foolhardiness of the Liberal party?
I must repeat what I have said. At the moment the House is in Committee and I am in the hands of the Committee. It is for the Committee to decide whether or not to continue its proceedings. There is nothing more that I can do to help the Committee.
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. You will recall, Mr. Dean, that we have sat through the night and heard long speeches from the hon. Members for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) and for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) until about 4 am, when most Labour Members disappeared. You will also recollect that, after that, the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) spoke for one hour and 20 minutes. Does it not come ill from either the Labour or Liberal parties now to suggest that, having sat through the Committee for more than 12 hours, we should be deprived of seeing the Bill through to the end?
Further to that point of order, Mr. Dean. Given that Mr. Speaker ruled that a Standing Order No. 10 application on the issue of British Leyland was more important than a debate on cruise missiles, at what point would it be in order for me, if the Committee does not make progress, to move that we invite Mr. Speaker to give his opinion about this dreadful delay?
I cannot help the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke). We are debating a simple matter. At the moment the House is in Committee. So long as the debate proceeds, the House will remain in Committee. If there were a motion before the Committee that the Chairman should report progress and ask leave to sit again, the Committee could take a view and, if necessary, vote on such a motion.
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. Will you clarify the position so that we understand it fully? Would another possibility be for the Government to move the Bill from Committee to Third Reading? Would not the consequence of that be that the Bill could be passed a day earlier as a result of the Liberals' actions? Is that technically the position?
It is not possible for me to help the right hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams). I understand his point, but at present we are in Committee. It is not possible for me to anticipate what might happen if we ceased to sit as a committee.
Can you help us, Mr. Dean, on what is an important point? It is clear, is it not, that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals want the debate that Mr. Speaker granted yesterday under Standing Order No. 10? Since that debate is of crucial importance to so many people, is it not in order for ways to be found for the debate that Mr. Speaker allowed yesterday to go ahead? Otherwise, if we proceed as we have been as a result of Liberal and Tory tactics, there will be no way in which that crucial debate can take place.
Order. This is now developing into a debate with no motion before the Committee, and that is irregular. I well understand the points that have been made. I am asking the Committee to appreciate what I can and cannot do. It is not possible for me as Chairman of the Committee to anticipate what might happen if we were to decide to go out of Committee.
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. Following a debate of over two hours of which I have taken careful note we have reached a stage where the amendment has been fully aired.
Are you in a position to accept a motion that the Question be now put? Are you in a position to accept a motion that the Question on this section of the debate be put?
|Division No. 330]||[1.38 pm|
|Abse, Leo||Freud, Clement|
|Alton, David||Garrett, W. E.|
|Anderson, Donald||George, Bruce|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Godman, Dr Norman|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Golding, John|
|Barron, Kevin||Hamilton, James (M'well N)|
|Berth, A. J.||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)|
|Bell, Stuart||Hardy, Peter|
|Boyes, Roland||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Haynes, Frank|
|Buchan, Norman||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)|
|Campbell, Ian||Howells, Geraint|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Hughes, Roy (Newport East)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Clarke, Thomas||John, Brynmor|
|Clay, Robert||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Cohen, Harry||Kennedy, Charles|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Lamond, James|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Craigen, J. M.||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Dalyell, Tam||Loyden, Edward|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Dewar, Donald||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Dixon, Donald||Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Dormand, Jack||Madden, Max|
|Dubs, Alfred||Marek, Dr John|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Maxton, John|
|Eastham, Ken||Michie, William|
|Ellis, Raymond||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Ewing, Harry||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Fatchett, Derek||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Nellist, David|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|O'Brien, William||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Park, George||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Parry, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Patchett, Terry||Torney, Tom|
|Pendry, Tom||Wainwright, R.|
|Pike, Peter||Wareing, Robert|
|Randall, Stuart||White, James|
|Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Robertson, George||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Rooker, J. W.||Winnick, David|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Woodall, Alec|
|Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Soley, Clive||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Stott, Roger||Mr. John Cartwright and|
|Strang, Gavin||Mr. Archy Kirkwood.|
|Adley, Robert||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Alexander, Richard||Grist, Ian|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Grylls, Michael|
|Amess, David||Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)|
|Ancram, Michael||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Harvey, Robert|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Hawkins, C. (High Peak)|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Hawksley, Warren|
|Bendall, Vivian||Hayes, J.|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Berry, Sir Anthony||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Best, Keith||Heddle, John|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Henderson, Barry|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Hill, James|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Hind, Kenneth|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hirst, Michael|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Holt, Richard|
|Bright, Graham||Hooson, Tom|
|Brinton, Tim||Howard, Michael|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Butterfill, John||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Carlisle, John (N Luton)||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Cash, William||Hunter, Andrew|
|Chapman, Sydney||Irving, Charles|
|Chope, Christopher||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Churchill, W. S.||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Jones, Robert (W Herts)|
|Coombs, Simon||Key, Robert|
|Cope, John||King, Roger (B'ham N'field)|
|Corrie, John||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Couchman, James||Knight, Gregory (Derby N)|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Knowles, Michael|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Lamont, Norman|
|Dicks, Terry||Lang, Ian|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Latham, Michael|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Farr, John||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Favell, Anthony||Lightbown, David|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Lilley, Peter|
|Forman, Nigel||Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Lord, Michael|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Luce, Richard|
|Franks, Cecil||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||McCrindle, Robert|
|Freeman, Roger||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Galley, Roy||MacGregor, John|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Maclean, David John|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||Madel, David|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Maginnis, Ken|
|Gow, Ian||Major, John|
|Greenway, Harry||Malone, Gerald|
|Gregory, Conal||Maples, John|
|Marland, Paul||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Martin, Michael||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Mather, Carol||Silvester, Fred|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Speller, Tony|
|Mellor, David||Spencer, Derek|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Squire, Robin|
|Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)||Stanley, John|
|Moate, Roger||Stern, Michael|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Moore, John||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Sumberg, David|
|Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Nelson, Anthony||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Nicholson, J.||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Ottaway, Richard||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Page, John (Harrow W)||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Thurnham, Peter|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Tracey, Richard|
|Pawsey, James||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Pollock, Alexander||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Porter, Barry||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Walden, George|
|Powley, John||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Price, Sir David||Waller, Gary|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Ward, John|
|Raffan, Keith||Warren, Kenneth|
|Renton, Tim||Watts, John|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)||Wheeler, John|
|Robinson, Mark (N'port W)||Whitfield, John|
|Rowe, Andrew||Wood, Timothy|
|Rumbold, Mrs Angela||Woodcock, Michael|
|Ryder, Richard||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Mr. Douglas Hogg and|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Mr. Michael Neubert.|
I beg to move, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
I shall be brief. The reasons why we are here have been well aired. We all know that the antics of the Liberal party have been such as to place at risk two items of business that are important to the people of Scotland, to the people of London and to the people whom we represent—
Indeed. As my hon. Friend says, it is important to the people of Coventry. The Liberals adopted these tactics without realising that they were about to shoot into their feet. We can preserve the business this afternoon and ensure that there is proper debate of these issues by moving swiftly to a vote on the motion.
I hope that if the motion is put to a vote my hon. Friends will think it right that we should continue the debate. We have made a lot of progress in a long sitting, and I think that there is a feeling in the Committee that this business should now be disposed of. In the circumstances, I think that we would do well to continue with the debate until the proceedings are completed.
I think, if I may say so, that the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) was a little hard. The Liberal party will have to defend itself. Some of its behaviour during the course of the night has been outrageous. [Interruption.] I was in the Chamber to see the astonishing spectacle of the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) addressing the Committee from the Dispatch Box.
Labour Members have also kept the proceedings going. One thinks of the speeches by the hon. Members for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist), who now seems to have seen the error of his ways, and for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Michie). There have been long debates at the instance of all the Opposition parties, and it ill lies in their mouth at this stage to want to bring the proceedings to a close.
I realise that there is great interest in and concern about a matter that is to be the subject of a Standing Order No. 10 debate. I have the assurance of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that that debate will still be held, presumably tomorrow. I understand the concern of hon. Members on both sides of the House, but that debate will be held. It will not be lost as a result of these proceedings continuing. Therefore, I hope that if the matter is pressed to a Division my hon. and right hon. Friends will feel it right to reject the motion and continue the debate.
The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) has quite usefully offered the House the opportunity to proceed with the debate on British Leyland today, instead of tomorrow, as the House would otherwise be obliged to do. There was no question at any stage that that debate could be threatened by a proper discussion of this Bill. If the hon. Member for Blackburn tempts me to disclose what hon. Members representing Labour London constituencies said about the Greater London Council (Money) (No. 2) Bill, it would be very unwise —[Interruption.] We have given the Bill the ample consideration that it deserved, Labour Members neglected it, and now we are happy to proceed, if other hon. Members of the Committee wish to, with matters which we can discuss today or tomorrow.
I was about to speak to that point, Mr. Dean.
We have heard an unwelcome statement from the Secretary of State, because only a few hours ago it was our clear understanding — indeed, it was the wish of the House—that we should today proceed to have a major debate under Standing Order No. 10 on the savage closures, in the commercial vehicle industry, and all their implications, at Bathgate and outside Leeds. It was also our understanding that we should debate a matter of considerable importance to London Members, the GLC legislation. As a result —I share some sympathy with the Secretary of State in this — of the extraordinary filibuster and nonsense that we have had from the Liberal party and its allies, apparently those debates have been lost.
The Secretary of State said that the Standing Order No. 10 debate would simply be postponed to another day. May we have clear confirmation of that, and may we be told whether it is for the Secretary of State for the Environment to make any such commitment?
Order. It may help if I remind the Committee, so that we do not have any confusion, that we are not at present on points of order. We are debating whether the Committee should report progress. Remarks directly related to that are in order.
Thank you for your guidance, Mr. Dean. If hon. Members had listened to me, they would have understood that—although, like others, I had missed a night's sleep—I was making a speech and not raising a point of order.
I was about to say that in an earlier point of order, when only a handful of hon. Members were present, I said that Mr. Speaker had given a ruling to the effect that he thought that the issue of Leyland and Bathgate transcended even the vital issue of cruise missiles. I am simply suggesting that the Committee should take no different a view from that taken by Mr. Speaker.
I must add— [Interruption.] Those who interrupt do the cause which they attempt to support no good whatever. Some hon. Members criticise people in industry, but when this afternoon the men from Bathgate come to hear our debate, they will not be particularly proud about the way in which we have conducted our affairs.
The announcement yesterday by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry was shattering for Bathgate and Scotland. We in Scotland are not prepared to wait for another day to debate a matter which, in the minds of many people, should have been debated yesterday.
The people of Britain look to the House of Commons for leadership and to us to assert democratic values. The best way to do that, in the interests of Scottish industry and democracy in the United Kingdom, is to support the course suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw).
Order. Perhaps the hon. Member was not in his place when I ruled on that earlier. I said then that it was entirely a matter for the Committee to decide whether to continue with its debate and that it was not possible for me to anticipate what might or might not happen when the Committee ceased to sit.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Dean. I put it to you that Mr. Speaker's ruling is that the emergency debate will take precedence over the next day's business. Whenever we cease to sit, the next debate before the House will be the emergency debate. Whether that occurs later today or tomorrow has nothing to do with you, Mr. Dean. That ruling has been made. Such a debate must take precedence the next day we sit. Will you please confirm that?
I hope that I can help the Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) has recognised that, in parliamentary terms, it is still Tuesday. I wish to respond to the point made by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). As I said, the Government recognise the great concern about the statement made earlier today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. It is, of course, for Mr. Speaker to determine when that debate will take place, but I should have thought that there would be everything to be said for it to take place on Thursday. If Mr. Speaker so decides, the Government would be happy to fall in with that decision. That is the assurance that I can give the right hon. Gentleman.
I rise on a single and specific point, which could determine the attitude of many hon. Members to the motion before the Committee. The Secretary of State said that, if today's business is wiped out, "presumably" the Standing Order No. 10 debate will take place tomorrow. Would it not be more courteous to the Committee if we had a statement from the Leader of the House rather than the Secretary of State for the Environment about how the future business of the House will be affected by what has happened today?
In wriggling out of their responsibility for sabotaging a debate on a crisis about jobs in Scotland and west Yorkshire, the Liberal and SDP Members are trying to shift the responsibility and blame on to others. Hon. Members who have been present throughout the night know that the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) spoke from 11.3 am to 1.20 pm. That speech unduly occupied the Committee. Had it not been for that speech, the Committee would have completed its proceedings and the crisis debate, promised yesterday by Mr. Speaker, on the threat to jobs in Scotland and west Yorkshire could have taken place. The blame for the loss of that debate lies squarely and firmly with Liberal and SDP Members.
Order. Before we proceed with the debate, I appeal to the Committee to restrict comments to the motion before the Committee. The motion before the Committee is that I do report progress and ask leave to sit again. It is not in order to go over what happened during the preceding hour.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) suggested that it was a simple issue of whether we should go on or stop. I suggest that it is a more complicated issue. I doubt that Labour Members are in a fit state to go ahead, because I believe that they have had far too much sleep. [Laughter.]
While I and hundreds of my hon. Friends were sitting up through the night passionately discussing the affairs of London, and how we can make the right judgment for the good of the people of London, I was staggered to find that those who went round the streets of London saying that they would fight the Bill tooth and nail were not present. There were times when the Opposition Front Bench was empty, and hardly a Labour Member was present. Sometimes there is a problem from having too little sleep, and sometimes there is a problem from having too much. Opposition Members have obviously been in their beds for so long that it would be a mistake for them to carry on with the debate.
On the other hand, there is a problem if we stop. If we do not go ahead with the debate, we shall simply give public appreciation to one of the most scandalous and irresponsible filibustering nonsenses that I have ever heard. You are aware, Mr. Dean, that I have been in the House for a long time. I have been present at some debates in which hon. Members spoke for a long time because they felt passionately about an issue, but very rarely have I heard hon. Members speaking for a long time, and trotting out absolute rubbish. I am afraid that that is what we have had from the Liberal party.
If we stopped now, it would simply give credence to an irresponsible act of contempt for the poor working people of Scotland, who want us to discuss their jobs and affairs today. It is a finely balanced issue. The people of London will be well aware that they have been shamefully let down by those who claim to be their champions in the Labour party, but we must also let them know that the Liberals and Social Democrats in the House of Commons act in a wholly irresponsible way that is an affront to democracy.
Therefore, on balance, I believe that we should go ahead with the debate, finish the episode and discuss it rationally, sensibly and not in the same wholly irresponsible and erratic way as the Liberal party.
I should like to support the motion moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw).
The intention is simple — it is to save today's business. Today, people have come down from Bathgate, who require that the House debate the issue that was decided upon earlier today. I should like to place on record my exception—which is the feeling of many of my hon. Friends—to the fact that the Liberal party, overnight, set out deliberately to destroy today's business, in the knowledge that, by their doing so, the crisis in Scottish industry would not be debated today, when many people came down from Scotland to witness our proceedings.
Furthermore, what has also not been drawn to the attention of a full House is the fact that the Finance Bill Committee sat all night—so Labour Members were not asleep, as the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) said—debating for 20 hours the arrangements for the Budget. Despite representations from the alliance, neither Liberals nor Social Democrats contributed in the Finance Bill last night to the debate on industrial democracy. They are important matters and the country should know that the alliance did not contribute.
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. The purpose of moving the motion was to ensure that we can go on to consider the business on the Order Paper for Wednesday. Am I right in believing that, unless we have a division in the next minute or so, we shall lose that business? I hope that hon. Members will bear that in mind.
|Division No 331]||[2.10 pm|
|Abse, Leo||Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil|
|Alton, David||Kirkwood, Archibald|
|Anderson, Donald||Lamond, James|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Ashton, Joe||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Loyden, Edward|
|Barron, Kevin||McCartney, Hugh|
|Beith, A. J.||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Bell, Stuart||Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Benn, Tony||McNamara, Kevin|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||McWilliam, John|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Madden, Max|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Maginnis, Ken|
|Buchan, Norman||Marek, Dr John|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Campbell, Ian||Maxton, John|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Meacher, Michael|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Michie, William|
|Cartwright, John||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Clarke, Thomas||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Clay, Robert||Nellist, David|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Nicholson, J.|
|Cohen, Harry||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||O'Brien, William|
|Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Corbett, Robin||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Park, George|
|Craigen, J. M.||Parry, Robert|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Patchett, Terry|
|Dalyell, Tam||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||Pendry, Tom|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||Pike, Peter|
|Deakins, Eric||Radice, Giles|
|Dewar, Donald||Randall, Stuart|
|Dixon, Donald||Redmond, M.|
|Dobson, Frank||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Dormand, Jack||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Dubs, Alfred||Robertson, George|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Eastham, Ken||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Edwards, Bob (W'h'mp'n SE)||Short, Mrs R.(W'hamp'n NE)|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Ewing, Harry||Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Fatchett, Derek||Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Soley, Clive|
|Forrester, John||Stott, Roger|
|Foster, Derek||Strang, Gavin|
|Foulkes, George||Straw, Jack|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Freud, Clement||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|George, Bruce||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Tinn, James|
|Golding, John||Torney, Tom|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Wainwright, R.|
|Hardy, Peter||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Wareing, Robert|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Weetch, Ken|
|Haynes, Frank||White, James|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Howells, Geraint||Winnick, David|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Woodall, Alec|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport East)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|John, Brynmor||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Mr. Allen McKay|
|Alexander, Richard||Henderson, Barry|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Hill, James|
|Amess, David||Hind, Kenneth|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Hirst, Michael|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Holt, Richard|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Hooson, Tom|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Howard, Michael|
|Bellingham, Henry||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Bendall, Vivian||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Berry, Sir Anthony||Hunter, Andrew|
|Best, Keith||Irving, Charles|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Jones, Robert (W Herts)|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Key, Robert|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||King, Roger (B'ham N'field)|
|Bright, Graham||Knight, Gregory (Derby N)|
|Brinton, Tim||Knowles, Michael|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Lamont, Norman|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Lang, Ian|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Latham, Michael|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Butterfill, John||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Carlisle, John (N Luton)||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Cash, William||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Chapman, Sydney||Lightbown, David|
|Chope, Christopher||Lilley, Peter|
|Churchill, W. S.||Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Lord, Michael|
|Coombs, Simon||Luce, Richard|
|Cope, John||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Corrie, John||McCrindle, Robert|
|Couchman, James||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Crouch, David||MacGregor, John|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Dicks, Terry||Maclean, David John|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Madel, David|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Major, John|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)||Malone, Gerald|
|Eggar, Tim||Maples, John|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Marland, Paul|
|Eyre, Sir Reginald||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Mates, Michael|
|Favell, Anthony||Mather, Carol|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Forman, Nigel||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Mayhew, Sir Patrick|
|Franks, Cecil||Mellor, David|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Freeman, Roger||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Galley, Roy||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Moate, Roger|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||Moore, John|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)|
|Gow, Ian||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Green way, Harry||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Gregory, Conal||Nelson, Anthony|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Neubert, Michael|
|Grist, Ian||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Grylls, Michael||Ottaway, Richard|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Page, John (Harrow W)|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Page, Richard (Herts SW)|
|Harvey, Robert||Pawsey, James|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hawkins, C. (High Peak)||Pollock, Alexander|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)||Porter, Barry|
|Hawksley, Warren||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Hayes, J.||Powley, John|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Price, Sir David|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Heddle, John||Raffan, Keith|
|Renton, Tim||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Robinson, Mark (N'port W)||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Rost, Peter||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Rowe, Andrew||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Rumbold, Mrs Angela||Thurnham, Peter|
|Ryder, Richard||Tracey, Richard|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Walden, George|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Silvester, Fred||Waller, Gary|
|Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)||Ward, John|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Soames, Hon Nicholas||Watts, John|
|Speller, Tony||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Spencer, Derek||Wheeler, John|
|Squire, Robin||Whitney, Raymond|
|Stanbrook, Ivor||Wilkinson, John|
|Stanley, John||Wood, Timothy|
|Stern, Michael||Woodcock, Michael|
|Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)||Yeo, Tim|
|Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Stokes, John||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Sumberg, David||Mr. David Hunt and|
|Taylor, John (Solihull)||Mr. Douglas Hogg.|
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. May I again try to clarify exactly what is happening and seek your guidance? As you know, we expected—and clearly we shall not now have—a debate under Standing Order No. 10 on the position at Bathgate and Leeds. We have been told by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry that he presumes, hopes, has an expectation of or will use his good offices to ensure that we have that debate tomorrow. However, I am not all that satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's assurances or about his ability necessarily to deliver in the present situation. I ask your guidance about when we shall know what is happening and whether we are to have a statement from the Leader of the House that will make it clear to us.
I urge this upon you, Mr. Dean, because, especially from the Scottish viewpoint and that of right hon. and hon. Members who represent Leeds constituencies, we are in an extremely difficult position. It is clear that, during the course of the evening, the Liberals stumbled into a strategy of trying to talk out today's business, but appeared to collapse in confusion and indecision half way through the morning, and Wednesday's business has now been killed quite cynically by the Conservatives, who seem to think that there is some party advantage in getting the Third Reading of the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Bill a day earlier than expected.
I regard this as a confused, muddled, chaotic and undignified state of affairs, which is resented by me and many of my colleagues. More importantly, it will be resented by the Scottish public. In my view, it is in the best interests of the House of Commons that the position be clarified as quickly as possible so that we know when we are likely to have an opportunity to express the deep bitterness, anger and frustration that is felt throughout Scotland about the way that the Bathgate workers have been treated by this callous Government.
It may be for the convenience of the House if I at once respond to what has just been said. Clearly, it appears that the business for Wednesday 23 May will be lost. That being so, I shall see that the usual channels immediately consider the situation, and I shall make a revised order of business for tomorrow which I shall make known as soon as I am in a position to do so.
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) and I represent 400 people whose jobs are to be lost. The House of Commons decided that that situation merited discussion today. We have told the people of Leeds that the Liberal party does not have the slightest interest in jobs. We have told them that the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Meadowcroft) is interested only in faffing about in the House of Commons. I want to know whether, in so doing, we are expressing the views of the House of Commons.
Order. I dealt with these points of order a number of times earlier. It may help the Committee if I repeat what I said, because I may anticipate some of the points that other hon. Members wish to raise.
My powers are limited. The House is in Committee, and we are now about to return to the debate on amendment No. 129. It is for the Committee, not for me, to decide for how long it will sit. It is not in my power as Chairman to anticipate what will happen when the House eventually resumes. However, the Committee will have heard what the Leader of the House said a few moments ago, and the right hon. Gentleman is in a much better position to help the Committee than I am.
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. I deeply regret the fact that the only results of the activities of the evening will be that Third Reading will be debated a day earlier and that we have lost Question Time.
Would you, Mr. Dean, crave the indulgence of the Leader of the House to make a further statement? It is not satisfactory merely to say that there will be a readjustment of tomorrow's business. A suggestion was made or a hope expressed — a pledge was made — by the Secretary of State for the Environment that the debate under Standing Order No. 10 would appear in that rearranged business. It would be helpful if the Leader of the House made it clear that he intended to honour that pledge.
I do not think that it would be appropriate for me to anticipate —[Interruption] —what business statement I will make. However, one would need to have the most monumental misconception of realities to suppose that the Standing Order No. 10 debate will not take place.
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. It is now an hour and two minutes since the very good speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) — [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] —was interrupted by the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist), who attempted to move a closure motion, which you accepted. The Opposition have therefore lost one hour and two minutes in procedural motions, during which time the debate could have been concluded. I should like you, Mr. Dean, to rule on what took place immediately before the closure was moved by the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East, because it was in the knowledge and sight of every right hon. and hon. Member in the Chamber at the time that, when he attempted to move the closure, the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Cunliffe) attempted physically and by intimidation to—
My point of order concerns whether it was in order for the hon. Member for Leigh to press friendly and comradely persuasion on the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East and to try physically to pull him down to resume his seat. If we have intimidation in the ranks of the Opposition, it will not be long before Opposition Members try to intimidate all right hon. and hon. Members. I urge you, Mr. Dean, to rule on that point and to condemn the intimidatory tactics of the hon. Member for Leigh on the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East.
Order. I shall answer the point of order. Certain things have happened this evening that do not happen every day of the parliamentary week, but nothing has been out of order.
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. May I ask for your guidance and, through you, clarification from the Leader of the House? Yesterday's statement concerned British Leyland's corporate plan for Bathgate and Leeds and the privatisation of Jaguar. Most Jaguar cars are assembled in Coventry and many of my constituents work at that factory. Earlier, I moved the closure and my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) did the same later, and on both occasions Conservative Members denied workers at Bathgate, Leeds and Coventry their right to have the House of Commons discuss privatisation and redundancies.
I am anxious to enable the Committee to get on. Would it not, in the words of the Leader of the House, be a monumental misconstruction of Standing Order No. 10 to suppose anything other than that it will be taken on the next available sitting day? If you, Mr. Dean, are pressed on this matter again, I hope that you will make that quite clear to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar). I hope that if you are pressed further on related matters, you will remind members of the Committee that you have no option but to call those hon. Members who stand in the hope of being called to speak on amendment No. 129, and that it was Labour Members who tried to continue the debate after 12 noon. Indeed, on the motion to adjourn to the debate as late as 2.10 pm., it was Labour Members who prevented Wednesday's business being considered.
On a serious and short point of order, Mr. Dean. I understand that on 14 June there is an election to that great gravy train in Strasbourg, the European Assembly. In two minutes' time we are due to have the final Question Time on European issues before that election takes place. When shall we be able to cross-examine the Government on those matters before the election?
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. I am obliged to the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) for allowing me to put this point of order. As one of the London Members who have sat right through this historic debate, I am delighted to see the shed end so full. I only hope that all hon. Members present will remain for the rest of the debate.
My point of order is this. As the Leader of the House is here, will he tell us about another piece of business that has been lost—the Greater London Council (Money) (No. 2) Bill — and when that is to be discussed? Secondly, if we continue through the rest of the Committee stage of the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Bill, at what time is it expected that we shall reach Third Reading, as I understand that we shall go straight into that debate?
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. I appreciate your giving way yet again on this matter. It is important that all the workers threatened with job losses — today's debate on which has been lost due to the antics of the Liberals—should have a clear answer from the Leader of the House why that debate cannot take place today and when it is to be held. Will the Leader of the House now give a clear answer, as Labour Members are concerned about jobs and disturbed at the answer that has been given?
On a point of order, Mr. Dean. As you know, the request for a debate under Standing Order No. 10 was granted on the ground of urgency. That debate has now disappeared, along with the other business for Wednesday. In view of the vital concern about the British Leyland closure at Bathgate in Scotland, will the Leader of the House give an unequivocal guarantee that that debate will take place tomorrow without any doubt whatever?
As I believe the right hon. Gentleman is aware, there is nothing that I can do to help him on that. The Committee has heard the Leader of the House on two occasions and it has heard him say that at an appropriate moment he will make a business statement. As the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) and the whole Committee know, that is not a matter for me. We must now resume the debate. I call Mr. Tracey.
Order. I trust that the hon. Gentleman will not abuse a point of order. I remind him that it must be a genuine point of order and that it must not be one on which I have already ruled.
I shall endeavour to comply with that, Mr. Dean. I seek your guidance. It seems to me that there has been no clarification. Would it be in order for the Leader of the House, who in my experience is usually a most helpful man, to clarify the matter beyond doubt by telling us the timetable that we may expect?
I cannot anticipate the full statement that I shall make later, but I assure all those who are anxious about the Standing Order No. 10 debate that they will not be disappointed.
I have found the debate a rather upsetting experience. It has to be understood that this is an unusual situation for a new Member to find himself in. We have been debating these matters all night. I had the experience, having fallen asleep for a few moments, of waking up to hear the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) apparently attacking the boundaries of my constituency and referring — I think I heard correctly — to the skinheads of Surbiton. I take that as a grave affront to my constituents. I am afraid that my experience this afternoon has made me a little emotional.
I return to the point that I was exploring before I was interrupted more than an hour ago. I recollect that my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) had intervened to take up the practical difficulties of car parking in to county hall complex. He made a perfectly fair point when he said that these days more and more people are able to afford to buy cars, because of the Government's policies. With 168 members at county hall he foresaw the difficulty of more and more cars needing car parking facilities. I accept that point and I think that I had made it pretty fully before he intervened.
I conclude by considering the serious matter of the workload which will fall on members—who, we hope, will be leading members of the borough councils of Greater London when they are faced with having to take on the extra duties of being members of the interim council in county hall. I have heard from many of the leaders of councils in London that they would I find it extremely difficult to allow the time for four, six or perhaps even eight leading members of their borough councils to become members of the interim council in county hall. That is a critical factor in the discussion of this amendment, which, as we know, proposes to put 168 members—a completely unnecessary number—on the interim council in county hall.
The amendment is unacceptable to us. I accept that it was a great moment of glory for the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey to take over the Opposition Front Bench and to move the amendment from the Opposition Dispatch Box, but that does not make it any more valid as an amendment.
My hon. Friend may recollect that I was a member of the GLC. Therefore, I am most interested in his contribution. Will he reply to some of the points that I made from my experience? He rightly dealt with car parking. He may not be aware of it, but there are two car parks at county hall. That belonging to the members holds only about 15 cars. That is a difficult problem.
My hon. Friend may also not be aware, as he has not been a member of county hall, that the chamber there is somewhat small and could not hold 168 members. That might entail some difficulties in refurbishing the chamber.
Will my hon. Friend also comment on the point that members of the GLC have to put in a lot of time? As an experienced borough councillor, will he elaborate on whether borough councillors will have time to meet that commitment?
I must apologise to my hon. Friend, because earlier in my speech I dealt with the points that he has raised. I believe that he was delayed elsewhere and was unable to join us. He was with us for much of the night when, unfortunately, we lacked the wisdom of all but three Opposition Members who chose, despite what they are telling us about their interest in the government of London, to go home to bed, leaving the Liberal and Social Democratic parties to deal with their amendments.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the thrust of the lengthy speech by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) was to offer the possibility of choosing the interim administration at county hall by a form of proportional representation?
You will appreciate, Mr. Forrester, that if I were to start dealing with the advantages and disadvantages of what is called proportional representation, and the many different systems that seem to exist, I could be here for the rest of this afternoon and evening. I would rather not deal with that issue.
Perhaps my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary could give some guidance, but I have been intrigued to hear, during all the discussions of the interim council, that the council of the City of London seems to lack representation. That is important, because the City is a bastion of our heritage and history. I have great feeling for it, as I know other hon. Members do. It is a matter which we might possibly explore.
I disagree with most of what the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) has said about the GLC. I will, however, pay him credit for the attention that he has given to the subject during the night. I noticed him from time to time deep in meditation, no doubt to great purpose. He made some useful contributions to the debate.
I find myself agreeing with the hon. Gentleman that the amendment is unacceptable on a major principle. It is unacceptable because the concept of the interim council is one of the appointed member rather than the directly elected member. That makes the amendment unacceptable in principle.
Juggling with numbers and shifting them up a few does not make the amendment any more acceptable, because it does not alter the principle in any way. We wish to oppose the amendment, but, at the same time, some points must be made about the proposal with regard to numbers. I have regarded the amendment as a back door attempt by the Liberal-SDP alliance to obtain a few extra seats on this undemocratic body. There is a good chance that many members of my party serving on borough councils will refuse to serve on the interim council. I cannot see why a decent, directly elected Labour councillor would want to become the poodle of a Tory Government, being given a diktat from Marsham street and being told to go away and be a good boy or girl and do exactly what nanny says. I should have thought that that proposition was wholly unacceptable. It would be to me as a borough councillor, as I have been in the past, and as a GLC member, as I am at present.
With some assistance from the cavalry that have come refreshed galloping to his assistance, the hon. Member for Surbiton raised some points about the problems involved in accommodating 168 members of this indirectly elected body at county hall. The county hall chamber could accommodate 168 people. It tends to be somewhat more fully used on a council day than this Chamber is used on an average parliamentary day except when something of great fun and excitement is taking place, so that hon. Members can come in and play silly games. As I said earlier, 168 people could be accommodated adequately in more comfortable conditions than we have in this Chamber.
Whether or not 168 people could do an adequate job is another matter. For the moment we will set aside our objection in principle to having them there anyway. Let us assume that they are there and that they have 11 months in which to do a job. Anyone with experience of local authorities knows that it takes new members—most of these people will be new members—a considerable time to settle down and find their way around. I am sure that many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee had the same problem when they were first elected as Members of Parliament. These 168 new members in county hall will have a problem just finding their way around, getting to know which officers they should talk to, what they should talk about, how to find committee rooms and how to carry out business. It will take the whole 11 months for the new members to settle in.
We do not know how long the interim body will last. There is nothing in the Bill to specify how long it may be in operation. If the Secretary of State so wished, it might remain in being for three or four or more years, and then no doubt the 168 councillors from the boroughs would know their way around and could start making the right contacts and putting in a useful effort.
Would the 168 new members from the borough councils have time enough to do this sort of job? After all, they would have been elected to borough councils, and in those circumstances they would not expect to find themselves suddenly projected into county hall to take on many responsibilities, with daytime meetings which take up a lot of time and require a great deal of assiduous attention on the part of members. I do not think that they could do it.
In view of the responsibilities that the 168 members would have, what does my hon. Friend think of the suggestion that perhaps the London borough elections might be brought forward to enable the new members of the borough councils to tackle these problems rather than be in office for only a short time?
My hon. Friend has touched on another problem. Personally, I do not want anything that improves the Bill. In my view, the only way in which the Bill could be improved would be by setting fire to it or by putting it into a useful repository about the person of the Secretary of State. I do not think that amendments such as this could improve the Bill.
I take the point that my hon. Friend has made. If the interim body remained in being for longer than 11 months, we would have the borough council elections in London, which are due to be held in 1986. That would mean that a new set of people would come on to the interim body, because it has been stated clearly that only the borough councils in London could appoint members of the interim body.
The time available to borough councillors to serve on the borough council, on the GLC and also to have a job is important. Unlike hon. Members, who are lucky enough to receive a munificent salary, thanks to generous taxpayers, most members of the GLC, and the overwhelming majory of borough councillors, receive nothing other than a small attendance allowance.
The hon. Member for Surbition raised a point about the number of full-time councillors on the GLC. It is not very many. At the same time, the responsibility of chairing a major committee of the GLC with a budget of £300 million or £400 million, as is the case with the transport committee, the arts committee with a budget of £50 million, or the planning committee with a budget running into hundreds of millions of pounds, requires the full-time services of the councillor.
I believe that we have missed a great opportunity. We should have moved to having full-time councillors, as happens in many other European countries. I believe that the responsibilities justify this and that someone who works full-time in a job is in a better position to represent the members and to preserve their interests than someone who has to try to combine a number of functions and a number of jobs.
I know that a number of Conservative Members manage to do a very nice job in moonlighting by having positions as Members of Parliament and then going off to their consultancies and to the law courts to earn generous additions to their salaries. Unfortunately, that is not given to most borough councillors or to GLC members.
The hon. Member for Surbition was attempting to pluck a sum out of the air for Mr. Livingstone's remuneration as a full-time officer. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that Mr. Livingstone receives from county hall a large and generous sum of £7,000 a year for being leader of the GLC, which is the largest local authority in Europe, with a budget approaching £3,000 million. Whatever hon. Members may think of Mr. Livingstone's politics or his personality, I am sure they would feel that, for his talents, he is grossly underpaid and under-rewarded. Perhaps we should do something about this by voting him a large sum of money so that he can continue to represent the members of the GLC and the people of London in the fine and fitting way that he now does. However, not many members of the GLC work full-time, and there should be more, because of the responsibilities that they have to carry.
I return to the point that the borough councillors who will be pushed into running county hall after May 1985 will not have the experience of running a large authority such as the GLC, many of them will not have the knowledge, and many of them may not have the inclination to do it. However, like many people in local government, they volunteer their services, and regret at leisure that they volunteered. Many problems will be involved for such members.
After the hon. Member for Surbiton had talked about the size of county hall chamber and whether it would accommodate 168 people, he referred to the car park. Indeed, as one of his hon. Friends pointed out, there are two car parks. There is a members' car park, and there is a much larger public car park. At the time that the "Fares Fair" policy was being operated very successfully by the GLC, the amount of private road usage in London dropped dramatically and, indeed, the demands on the GLC car parks similarly dropped. That is a good lesson for the future.
If we establish a proper transport policy for London, such as the GLC has been pioneering—although this is to be taken away from the GLC—there will be ample room in the GLC car park for the 168 members. However, I hope that the 168 members will all acquire travel passes to allow them to use the tube and the bus, so that they will not wish to bring their cars to county hall—if, indeed, they are lucky enough to have cars. In that way they will have no need to use the spaces. Therefore, I do not think that car parking will pose much of a problem.
The hon. Gentleman then referred to the restaurant—cars, food and such matters are dear to Conservative Members. The food at county hall is very good. Its quality is certainly as good as that in the House of Commons. The company there is possibly what is best, because the company at county hall is much more pleasant than that in the House of Commons, although, of course, Mr. Forrester, I do not include you in that stricture. It would be difficult to accommodate 168 people if they all chose to come to lunch at the same time. Dinners are not served at county hall. That will disappoint many Conservative Members who look forward to an excellent dinner most evenings.
Those problems could, I suppose, be overcome with a little good will and by knocking down a few walls and putting a few more desks here and there. I regret to see the hon. Member for Surbiton leaving the Committee, because I like to see his friendly face opposite and hear his sotto voce comments. Perhaps he will permit me to give a resume of my remarks when he returns.
Thinking of the office accommodation at county hall, I believe that 168 people could probably be accommodated. There are some good offices there. Perhaps that is why, considering the devious mind of the Secretary of State, he wants to get rid of the GLC. There is great pressure on accommodation in the Palace of Westminster for hon. Members, who rightly demand the services and facilities needed by anybody wishing properly to serve his or her constituents.
From this building one can look across the bridge to the messages which appear from time to time on the county hall building. Such messages proclaim how many Londoners are unemployed because of Tory policies, or beg hon. Members not to scrap the elections because the vast majority of Londoners want them kept.
When members of the Government look at the building they probably think that it would be a nice place to go. "We could get some good offices there," is a thought that is probably at the back of the Secretary of State's mind. I have a room in county hall and I am happy to stay there. If the Secretary of State takes the building over for parliamentary offices, perhaps he will permit me to remain in room 174, where I spend some happy and productive hours on behalf of the GLC.
I recall that when speaking to a Conservative association meeting some time ago the Secretary of State suggested that perhaps county hall could be turned into a hotel. Indeed, I understand that he favoured the idea of a competition to discover what the place should be used for in the event of the GLC being abolished. Perhaps when he replies to this debate, as I hope he will, he will inform us of the ideas that he has for county hall. I have been asking him on a regular basis if he has thoughts on the subject, but so far he has declined to reply.
Does the right hon. Gentleman have it in mind, for example, to sell county hall to Trusthouse Forte PLC, a good friend of the Conservative party? A pamphlet was written in 1892—I shall read extracts from it if hon. Members wish—in which it was suggested that county hall should be turned into a hotel to be patronised largely by wealthy American tourists.
As I said, I am sure that 168 people could be accommodated there. Nevertheless, the point remains one of principle. Whether we have 82, 168, 10 or whatever the number turns out to be — when, perhaps, Labour members refuse to serve—the principle remains and the amendment does nothing to change it. That principle is that a directly elected local authority, which is at present controlled by the Labour party, is to be replaced by an appointed body on which the majority of members—whatever combination is used, the Secretary of State's combination or the Liberal amendment combination—will be Conservatives.
That is the essence of this legislation. That is the great gerrymander. Indeed, the GLC was conceived in a gerrymander by the Government of the day in 1963. Today we are witnessing a further gerrymander to change its political complexion. The Secretary of State has been widely condemned by many of the senior Members of the Conservative party for imposing such a gerrymander on the people of London. The cry, "Let the people of London decide at the ballot box in 1985" will remain the call that goes up from the Labour party and the rallying point for Londoners as we oppose the Bill line by line, whether it is debated in the House of Commons or the other place, and when we see the subsequent legislation.
I am opposed to the principles behind the measures. The attempt by the Liberal-SDP alliance to get a few seats by the back door will not do, and therefore cannot be supported by the Labour party.
The hon. Member for Surbiton—I regret that he has left the Chamber—mentioned the City of London. It is interesting that the City of London retains its ancient rights and privileges in all the legislation. I shall always remember a statement in the Herbert Commission report. Herbert said that logic has its limits and the City of London lies outside it. In logical terms the City of London is illogical, and in local government terms it is totally undemocratic. I am sure that the hon. Member for Surbiton has great feelings for the City of London, but it is another undemocratic body, just as the interim council will be undemocratic. Undemocratic bodies have the right to appeal to Conservative Members.
I do not wish to intrude into private grief, either in the SDP alliance in the Committee and in county hall or in the Conservative party in the Committee and in county hall. The Labour party is the only party totally united in both places in opposition to this measure, and we are consistent in that respect. I know that the alliance in county hall is opposed to the idea of an appointed council. I do not know whether it wishes to support the amendment in an attempt to improve the unimprovable.
A point of principle must remain throughout the debate. We cannot accept the amendment, because it will do nothing to improve the undemocratic nature of the central proposal. Nothing can alter that fact, and therefore the Labour party cannot support the amendment.
This is the first occasion on which I have spoken in Committee since I moved the motion to report progress about an hour and 15 minutes ago in an attempt to save the business that was to be considered this afternoon. I hope that the Liberal party has learnt its lesson by its stupid antics today. Far from delaying this odious, vile and anti-democratic Bill, the Liberals have managed to achieve the bringing forward by one day the likely approval of the House of Commons to the Bill. I hope that people up and down the country—I include Portsmouth — understand that the Liberals are not serious about their politics and addressing themselves to the issue.
No, I shall not give way. The Liberals are not serious about their politics and addressing themselves to the issue. They are not serious about the preservation of jobs in Bathgate and Leeds or in the manufacture of Jaguar cars in Coventry. They are not serious about the fact that the Greater London Council (Money) (No. 2) Bill was due to be debated on the Floor of the House tonight. Many contracts were dependent on that legislation, and, consequently—
The Committee and the country will have learned from the debate that the Liberals are so incompetent that, when they get down to what they see as procedural tricks to delay Government business, they shoot into their feet. Rather than delay Government business, they advance it by one day. Let this go down in the history of the procedure of the House of Commons, and let this be a lesson to the novices on the Opposition Bench below the Gangway, that sometimes we have to think about the consequences of our actions. The Liberals thought that their actions would delay the Bill until after the recess, but they have brought the Bill forward by one day.
I shall take your advice, Mr. Forrester, and return to the item under discussion, which is amendment No. 129, moved by the alliance. I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) on his assiduity, and my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), with whom I had an interesting conversation earlier this morning about the problems caused by the intersection of Finsbury Park by three ward boundaries. They have eloquently made the main points against the amendment.
The key point is that we object lock, stock and barrel to the proposals in the Bill because of their anti-democratic nature. We also have a duty to examine, line by line, what the Government propose. I say that without giving approval to the interim council for the GLC, which is to take the place of elected councillors, by which device control of the GLC is to be changed. A Hobson's choice is offered by the alliance. It is more consistent with the scheme of the Bill to tie the number of persons to be nominated by each borough to the number of councillors represented on the GLC. I hope that when we debate amendment No. 126, the Government will accept that point, and the amendment.
It was not necessary, even within the scheme of the Bill, for the Government so to arrange things that political control of the GLC was switched when they introduced the interim council. I hope and trust that they addressed themselves to that point before they proposed the Bill. It was open to the Government to write into the legislation that the political complexion of the nominated councillors who were to replace the elected councillors for each borough should be the same at that of the elected councillors whom they replaced. For example, I believe that Westminster has two Conservative members on the GLC. The council would be required to nominate two Conservatives, which would preserve the present political balance, at least avoiding the charge that the Government were gerrymandering the successor body to the elected GLC and switching political control in that way.
Amendment No. 129 would double the size of council. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West said that that would place great burdens on the appointing councils and lead to other unacceptable consequences. I urge the Committee to reject the amendment.
I am glad that at last we are able to return to the debate on the amendment. I moved the amendment this morning because if we have to accept this appalling Bill it is better for it to be altered than unaltered. For that reason, since 5.15 yesterday afternoon, and in previous Committee sittings my right hon. and hon. Friends and I have insisted on opposing the Bill and all its clauses. We are seeking to amend it so that we have the best possible alternative if we do not succeed in defeating it. We continue to try to amend it, irrespective of how many hon. Members from other parties stay to support us.
We shall continue. We are no more bowed now than we were in the early hours of this morning. We shall oppose the Bill root and branch until it is not possible to oppose it further. The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) has heard that from us day in and day out. The Bill is unconstitutional and anti-democratic. It is totally unacceptable to those who believe in elected local government.
Knowing what is possible as we consider each amendment and each clause, we tabled amendments at each stage to try to improve the Bill. We are discussing such an amendment now. It does not deal with our fundamental and substantial objections to the bill. It could never do that. We cannot expect authorities to serve the public as well when they are no longer directly elected. The schedule provides for indirect nomination for a year. If we are forced reluctantly to accept a nominated authority we want that body to have the best possible chance of representing the people whom the present GLC directly elected councillors represent.
The amendment doubles the size of membership. I hope that I made my reasons clear this morning. The greater the number of councillors nominated, the more accurately they can reflect the balance of parties in the boroughs. That is the Government's intention and, if we are forced to accept the proposal, that is our wish.
The amendment would make more possible a sharing of the work load among those doing the job of running the Greater London council in 1985–86. They will serve only 11 months, but they will also serve on their own councils. They are more likely to do a good job if there are more of them.
If a larger number of people run the GLC the minorities stand a better chance of being represented. The female element in our society would stand a better chance of being represented.
If we have to have a non-directly accountable body for one year it is important that: as many people as possible, within the realms of practicality, take on that responsibility.
It comes ill from those who either have not travelled with us through the dark hours of last night opposing the Government, or those who are not determined, and we are determined, to oppose the Bill to the end, to criticise our actions in seeking to ensure that we go to the end in our attempts to improve the Bill on behalf of all those whom we represent. I represent almost 500,000 Londoners, and my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, (Mr. Cartwright) represents just under 500,000 people who voted for his party. On behalf of the people who supported our parties, we are determined to ensure that the arguments are firmly and directly put.
Unlike other parties, we have consistently advocated regional government for London. Unlike the Labour party —which, a few years ago, wanted to abolish the GLC but has now changed its tune, and I compliment it and welcome its support—and unlike the Secretary of State who was gracious enough to admit that in our debates on similar subjects a few years ago he took the contrary view, that the GLC should be expanded, but has now changed his mind, we have been consistent because we believe in regional government. If we must have that regional government for one year in hands that are not directly elected, the best course would be to follow the proposals in the amendment.
The Minister is right to say that the balance we must seek to strike is that between equity and efficiency. We are seeking democracy. In the balance between equity and efficiency, between fairness and the simple mercenary monetarist approach to local government, we shall come down every time on the side of equity because equity is nearer to democracy than is the Government's model of efficiency.
While not accepting for a moment that the amendment will do any more than marginally improve a thoroughly undesirable Bill — which we have opposed from the beginning and shall oppose to the end — I ask the Committee to support the amendment to ensure that it, at least, is passed in spite of the Government's opposition.
|Division No. 332]||[3.23 pm|
|Beith, A. J.||Penhaligon, David|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Wainwright, R.|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Wallace, James|
|Howells, Geraint||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Kennedy, Charles||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Maclennan, Robert||Mr. Paddy Ashdown and|
|Meadowcroft, Michael||Mr. Archy Kirkwood.|
|Abse, Leo||Caborn, Richard|
|Adley, Robert||Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)|
|Alexander, Richard||Campbell, Ian|
|Amess, David||Campbell-Savours, Dale|
|Ancram, Michael||Carlisle, John (N Luton)|
|Anderson, Donald||Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)|
|Arnold, Tom||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Ashton, Joe||Cash, William|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Chapman, Sydney|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Chope, Christopher|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Clark, Dr David (S Shields)|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)|
|Barron, Kevin||Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)|
|Bendall, Vivian||Clarke, Thomas|
|Benn, Tony||Clay, Robert|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)||Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Cohen, Harry|
|Berry, Sir Anthony||Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.|
|Best, Keith||Cook, Frank (Stockton North)|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Coombs, Simon|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Cope, John|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Corbett, Robin|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Corrie, John|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Couchman, James|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Cox, Thomas (Tooting)|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Craigen, J. M.|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Crouch, David|
|Bright, Graham||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Brinton, Tim||Cunningham, Dr John|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Currie, Mrs Edwina|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Dalyell, Tam|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Deakins, Eric|
|Buchan, Norman||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Dicks, Terry|
|Butterfill, John||Dixon, Donald|
|Dobson, Frank||Howell, Ralph (TV Norfolk)|
|Dormand, Jack||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Douglas, Dick||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Hughes, Roy (Newport East)|
|Dubs, Alfred||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Hunter, Andrew|
|Eastham, Ken||Irving, Charles|
|Edwards, Bob (W'h'mp'n SE)||Janner, Hon Greville|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Eggar, Tim||John, Brynmor|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Ewing, Harry||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Eyre, Sir Reginald||Jones, Robert (W Herts)|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Farr, John||Key, Robert|
|Fatchett, Derek||King, Roger (B'ham N'field)|
|Favell, Anthony||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Knight, Gregory (Derby N)|
|Flannery, Martin||Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Knowles, Michael|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Lambie, David|
|Forman, Nigel||Lamond, James|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Lamont, Norman|
|Foster, Derek||Lang, Ian|
|Foulkes, George||Latham, Michael|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Franks, Cecil||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Fraser, J. (Norwood)||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Freeman, Roger||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Gale, Roger||Leighton, Ronald|
|Galley, Roy||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Lewis, Terence (Worsley)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Lightbown, David|
|George, Bruce||Lilley, Peter|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Golding, John||Lord, Michael|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||Loyden, Edward|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Luce, Richard|
|Gow, Ian||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Greenway, Harry||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Gregory, Conal||MacGregor, John|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Grist, Ian||MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)|
|Grylls, Michael||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||McKelvey, William|
|Hamilton, James (M'well N)||Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Maclean, David John|
|Hanley, Jeremy||McNamara, Kevin|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Madden, Max|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Madel, David|
|Harvey, Robert||Maginnis, Ken|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Major, John|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Malone, Gerald|
|Hawkins, C. (High Peak)||Maples, John|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)||Marek, Dr John|
|Hayes, J.||Marland, Paul|
|Haynes, Frank||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Henderson, Barry||Mates, Michael|
|Hill, James||Mather, Carol|
|Hind, Kenneth||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Hirst, Michael||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)||Meacher, Michael|
|Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)||Mellor, David|
|Holt, Richard||Michie, William|
|Hooson, Tom||Mikardo, Ian|
|Hordern, Peter||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Howard, Michael||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)||Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Mitchell, David (NW Hants)||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|Moate, Roger||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|Molyneaux, Rt Hon James||Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Moore, John||Soley, Clive|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)||Speller, Tony|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Spencer, Derek|
|Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)||Squire, Robin|
|Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Stanley, John|
|Neale, Gerrard||Stern, Michael|
|Needham, Richard||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Nellist, David||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Nelson, Anthony||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Newton, Tony||Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Stokes, John|
|Nicholson, J.||Stott, Roger|
|O'Brien, William||Strang, Gavin|
|O'Neill, Martin||Straw, Jack|
|Oppenheim, Philip||Sumberg, David|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Ottaway, Richard||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Page, John (Harrow W)||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Park, George||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Parris, Matthew||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Parry, Robert||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Patchett, Terry||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Pavitt, Laurie||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Pawsey, James||Thurnham, Peter|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Tinn, James|
|Pendry, Tom||Torney, Tom|
|Pike, Peter||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Pollock, Alexander||Tracey, Richard|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)||Trippier, David|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Powley, John||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Price, Sir David||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Viggers, Peter|
|Radice, Giles||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Raffan, Keith||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Walden, George|
|Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Renton, Tim||Waller, Gary|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Ward, John|
|Richardson, Ms Jo||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)||Wareing, Robert|
|Robinson, Mark (N'port W)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)||Watts, John|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||Weetch, Ken|
|Rost, Peter||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Rowe, Andrew||Wheeler, John|
|Rowlands, Ted||White, James|
|Rumbold, Mrs Angela||Whitfield, John|
|Ryder, Richard||Whitney, Raymond|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Wilkinson, John|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Winnick, David|
|Sheldon, Rt Hon R.||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Wood, Timothy|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Woodcock, Michael|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||Yeo, Tim|
|Shersby, Michael||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Short, Mrs R. (W'hampt'n NE)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Silvester, Fred||Mr. David Hunt and|
|Sims, Roger||Mr. Michael Neubert.|
I beg to move amendment No. 126, in page 10, line 1, leave out from beginning to end of page 11 and add—
|'PART II |
|Metropolitan District||Number of Metropolitan County Councillors|
|PART III |
|Metropolitan District||Number of Metropolitan County Councillors|
|PART IV |
|Metropolitan District||Number of Metropolitan County Councillors|
|Metropolitan District||Number of Metropolitan County Councillors|
|PART VI |
|Metropolitan District||Number of Metropolitan County Councillors|
|PART VII |
|Metropolitan District||Number of Metropolitan County Councillors|
|Metropolitan District||Number of Metropolitan County Councillors|
Although there is consistency in terms of numbers, there is no consistency in regard to the nomination of successor councillors. When I first considered the transitional size of metropolitan councils, I expected the scheme that had been followed with the GLC to be followed in the metropolitan counties. My right hon. and hon. Friends who are concerned with metropolitan counties discovered, however, that representation on them is not tied to the number of elected county councillors in, for example, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Tyne and Wear, but has been plucked out of the air. In most cases, representation has been halved.
We do not understand why the Government have done that, unless they have been tempted to write in crude devices to gerrymander the Bill and fix political control. There was a prospect of the Government indulging in jiggery-pokery and fixing control of the GLC by fiat, but they might also be able to change the control of the West Midlands and, possibly, the Greater Manchester councils by fiat.
Now, as a result of the clearest vote of confidence that Labour received in local elections in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, there is no prospect of control of the transitional councils outside London changing as they would have changed if the Bill had been passed before the elections on 3 May. The nature of the party balance within the transitional councils will, however, be altered. In most cases, Labour had a substantial majority in the existing county councils. The proposals in schedule 1 and elsewhere mean that the balance of the parties will become much narrower. That, too, constitutes gerrymandering because it will affect the balance on committees and possibly the outcome of crucial votes in the councils themselves.
The only argument that the Government have advanced, as I understand it—I have not seen it myself — is very thin indeed. It is that there should be an arbitrary reduction of 50 per cent. in county council membership because during the 11 months in which the transitional councils will exist they will not have to prepare budgets as these will have been prepared by the outgoing elected councils. That may be true, but it applies equally to the GLC. Yet the Government have provided that the number of nominated representatives from the London boroughs should be exactly the number of elected GLC councillors. Moreover, although the transitional councils will not have to prepare budgets the Government's argument ignores the fact that work loads are likely to be greatly increased in preparing for the changeover and the devolution of services to boroughs, districts and joint boards. These bodies will also be greatly affected by the most serious loss of morale and efficiency flowing from the outrageous proposals elsewhere in the Bill.
Voter for voter, as it were, the metropolitan counties have more councillors than the GLC. The Minister may, of course, say that as each GLC councillor or nominated person will represent about 66,000 electors the same should apply to the metropolitan counties. That, however, ignores the fact that the councils are geared up to their present membership, as is the work load and the pressure on members. The whole committee structure of Greater Manchester, Tyne and Wear, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, the West Midlands and Merseyside council's plainly depends on the existing number of councillors. If the Government reduce the number of councillors by half, as the Bill proposes, they will add further unnecessary disruption to what is already a most unnecessary and disruptive piece of legislation.
Above all, the Government have been unable to deny the charge of gerrymandering. The Bill should not be called the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Bill but the "Local Government (Gerrymandering) Bill" because that is its only purpose and intent. It is a disgraceful piece of legislation which will be to the eternal shame of the Ministers in charge of it. They could at least make their desire and intent less obvious and provide some respectability for what they are doing. They intend to destroy the councils. If during the transitional period they intend to disrupt the lives of the staff who work for those councils and the services on which people in the area depend, the least that they can do is to reduce the disruption to a minimum and ensure that the councils continue with the present number of representatives, albeit from the boroughs.
Mr. John Mark Taylor:
We have heard a great deal about London and the Greater London council, but not very much about the provinces. I should like briefly to try to correct that and to declare that I address the Committee as a former leader of the West Midlands county council. Indeed, I think that I may be the only Member of the House who has been the leader of a provincial metropolitan county council. I am still a member, and that is something that I have in common with the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist), but it may well be that that is the only thing that I have in common with him.
I speak with some sensitivity on the questions before the Committee because my constituency, Solihull, is in the very midst of the West Midlands county council, and my constituents are greatly affected by the legislation that is now nearing the statute book.
It is worth noting—I do not recall the point having been made — that the provincial metropolitan county authorities have far more competences than the GLC, and dismantling them if the legislation goes to the statute book — may be a more complex affair. In addition to the GLC responsibilities relating to transport, highways, waste disposal, fire and so on, the West Midlands county council is an airport authority and a police authority, and has in general a wider range of functions than the GLC. It is against that background that I should like respectfully to make some points to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary and perhaps, via him, to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
If the legislation proceeds, will my hon. Friend please look favourably on the question of privatising Birmingham airport? Will he please remember the position of Solihull in the scheme of things? It is the smallest borough in the west midlands, and in some senses it is the most vulnerable. It is the intersection of a major motorway network and its environment already contains the airport, the National Exhibition Centre, and the principal railway station south of Birmingham. It has experienced rapid growth, and also green belt anxieties. Will my hon. Friend assure me that the position of Solihull will be very much borne in mind?
May it also be noted—and, if it is not too late, even reconsidered—that Solihull is set to have the smallest number of representatives on the interim authority? Will my hon. Friend also please bear in mind how many of the neighbouring authorities around Birmingham have reason to be anxious to retain a sturdy independence? Will he also take a caution from me that the arguments about the joint boards—which seem to be at the very centre of the intended structure —can, if they are not handled with great skill, become institutionalised? We should be aware of that.
Will my hon. Friend please be very careful on the subject of waste disposal? I have a feeling that, as some of the boroughs go back to being net importers of waste —and some of them net exporters of waste—there will be considerable quarrelling at the margin and also considerable political ideology.
Since other hon. Members have alluded to it, perhaps I may conclude by saying that my experience of sitting all through last night was that the Liberals acquitted themselves rather sturdily, whereas the Labour party's performance was somewhat undistinguished.
Finally, I hope that the Government will retain their sensitivity on all these matters—there are some very difficult questions among the legislative proposals—all the way to the statute book.
The hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. Taylor) posed a question in the middle of his remarks. He said, "If the legislation proceeds" — and went on to hope that the Minister would take the point that he was making into account. Even as we come to the end of this long Committee stage there is still a question whether the legislation will proceed.
As debates proceed through the night, salutary lessons are learned by all. So begins the understanding of many Conservative Members who troop through the Lobby with a certain amount of misgiving. In my experience, the shortage or absence of sleep increases such misgivings. I hope that they will come to ask the most important question of all—why was such a major constitutional change made with so little consultation in so short a time?
I am worried that so much of the Bill was clearly designed for London. I do not claim to be knowledgeable about the affairs of the GLC, but I do know something about the Greater Manchester council which is faced with a Bill that was clearly designed without regard to the particular problems that we have in our area.
The Greater Manchester council is a good council. I shall not go into the merits of the GLC but I do know that the Greater Manchester council is good. I know the arguments that led up to its creation; arguments that went on for 20 or more years and in which I was involved in the late 1950s. I argued the case for a large authority such as the Greater Manchester council against the wishes of many people in various political parties.
Greater Manchester grew from a small town, the centre of the commercial aspects of so much of the industry around it. It had a centre and several towns were based upon it, although they remained independent of it. The only valid solution was a body such as the Greater Manchester council. Of course, there were arguments about the kind of powers that it should have. I should have preferred to have seen education in the province of the Greater Manchester council but that is another matter. That could have changed over a period of time or I might have been convinced as to the value of what eventually happened.
The amendment changes the composition of the joint boards — a 50 per cent. reduction. If they are to be reduced one must ask what the county councillors do. I am not knowledgeable about what they do elsewhere but I do know what they do in Tameside and many other parts of Greater Manchester. They work hard. They are made up of people who know their areas. If one walks round with them during an election one becomes convinced that they know their areas and their people. They do not have a sinecure. They work hard and keep the communities together. People in my area such as George James, Mike Custance and Bert Davies are people of substance and merit. They have worked hard for their community over many years and are held in great respect. The fact that they are in this tier on the local authority does not mean that they failed to obtain seats elsewhere but that they felt that this was a most important task.
Dismissing them in this way is wholly wrong. Shamefully, the Minister did not take into account the work that such people do and the value of their work to the people. They have regular advice bureaux just like any of the district councils. They are well attended and integrated into the community. The Minister utterly failed —he could not have done other than fail with so little consultation — to appreciate the kind of people and arrangements with which he was dealing. Therefore, he stands condemned.
The virtue of a lengthy Committee stage is that the Committee becomes aware that the Government stand condemned for all that they are doing in this delicate area where people who represent others bring their views and understanding to bear on the subject of the GMC.
This proposal is wholly wrong and I hope that by a vote this afternoon we shall show the Government that they are wrong in this as in so much else of the Bill.
In contrast to the Opposition amendment, I believe that the figure given for the number of representatives from the districts to the transitional authorities is about right for a number of reasons. I had a certain amount of sympathy with what the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) said about the difficulty of obtaining fair representation in Greater London on the transitional authority bearing in mind that we were talking about two, three or four representatives.
As regards the metropolitan districts, one is talking about at least nine or 10 representatives from each district, and it therefore becomes easier to achieve fairness and adequate representation from each of the districts. The proposal seems to pass the acid test.
If one were to increase the numbers provided by the Bill, one would find difficulty in discovering sufficient people who were not already fully occupied within their districts to serve on the transitional authorities during the critical period. It would be difficult to find people who have the necessary expertise and experience, bearing in mind that in a district such as Leeds we already require 16 people willing to give up a great deal of their time to look after metropolitan county responsibilities in addition to their county responsibilities.
If one were to double that figure and ask for 32 people from each district, such as Leeds, it would be an impossible burden to impose on that authority, and the people of that area would suffer. That would be so also with other districts in West Yorkshire, such as Bradford, Wakefield, Kirkless and Calderdale. It is important to remember that there are hung councils in many of those areas—for example, Bradford and Calderdale. It would make life difficult to ask for more representatives for those district councils and would bring the work of those authorities to a halt.
It is clear, as the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) said, that the people in the metropolitan areas will have more representatives than people in the GLC area during the transitional period. Greater London is a much bigger area. I believe that for the relatively lighter responsibilities of the metropolitan county councils, the numbers provided in the Bill are about right. That is why I support my right hon. and hon. Friends' figures and reject the amendment.
I support the amendment, because it seems to deal logically with the numbers. It reinstates the exact numbers of people who served on the county councils. Presumably, when those figures were fixed by the boundary commission and passed by the House, they were assumed to be appropriate to run a large and complex body.
I listened carefully to the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Waller). He seemed to argue in favour of retaining the existing numbers of councillors rather than for the suggested numbers. If he says that it is difficult for, say, Leeds city council to put forward such a high number as 32 to play its part in the running of the county council for that year, he is saying, in effect, that roughly half the number who will come forward from each authority in west Yorkshire must take on double the burden. I should have thought that it was just as easy to expect people to share the burden at a lower intensity over the year than for half the number to do twice the amount of work.
As someone who has served on a county council, I think it is unfair to limit the opportunity to serve to those few who may be able, by reason of their occupation, to spend a vast amount of time away from their work, whatever it may be. Spreading the load seems to be the best way to carry out the duties.
I took note also of the comments of the hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. Taylor). I am glad that consideration is being given to the best way to cope with the transition, if the train principles of the Bill become law. The proposals in the amendment appear to have good logic behind them. Therefore, my hon. Friends and I will support it.
We have returned to a rational and quiet debate after the shenanigans of the last 12 hours. Some of us at least are grateful. When one has been in the Chamber for 24 hours, the yammering sometimes becomes too much. I shall not apportion blame, but there was quite a lot of noise. It is nice to return to the quiet and measured tones that we have just had.
With respect to the right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon), to whom we always listen with great attention on these matters, however many inquiries we had on such a matter, Ministers would still have to make a judgment. There are several constraints. We do not want the transitional councils to be too big, because they will not exist for more than 11 months. We want them to get the feeling of working together as a team without being too big or unwieldy. On the other hand, they must be able to fulfil the duties being laid on them, principally the reorganisation and handing down of functions to lower tier authorities.
There is a constraint on the other side, which was brought out wisely by my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Waller) — that we must always pay attention to not laying too great a burden on the lower tier authorities in terms of finding people with the relevant experience, capacity and time to do the job properly.
Ministers had to take a view, having regard to the conflicting constraints. Obviously we could not follow the GLC formula in the metropolitan counties because the parliamentary constituencies cross metropolitan district boundaries, and it would be difficult to allocate transitional council seats in those cases. The formula would not work exactly as it would for the GLC. We came to the conclusion—and this is a judgment for which Ministers must stand accountable to Parliament—that we should not overload the lower tier authorities; in particular, that we should try to have a council small enough to get to work quickly and to enable members to get to know each other. That meant that we should diminish the size of the present councils.
My hon. Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Taylor) made a speech full of pregnant meaning to those who know of his care and interest in the matter. He did not mention Walsall when he was talking about waste disposal, but I felt that there were other matters upon which we shall hear from him when we debate the main Bill. I assure him that, unlike Mary Tudor, my right hon. Friend has the word "Solihull" written on his heart, and there is no question but that we shall remember that important borough.
I listened to the arguments of the hon. Members for maintaining councils at their present size. Ministers, by the same route of argument, came to the same conclusion as my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley. For the same reasons that he did, I urge the Committee to reject the amendment.
|Division No. 333]||[4.04 pm|
|Abse, Leo||Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)|
|Anderson, Donald||Banks, Tony (Newham NW)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Barron, Kevin|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Beith, A. J.|
|Ashton, Joe||Benn, Tony|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Lambie, David|
|Blair, Anthony||Lamond, James|
|Boyes, Roland||Leighton, Ronald|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Lewis, Terence (Worsley)|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Loyden, Edward|
|Bruce, Malcolm||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Buchan, Norman||McKelvey, William|
|Caborn, Richard||Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Maclennan, Robert|
|Campbell, Ian||McNamara, Kevin|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||McWilliam, John|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Madden, Max|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Marek, Dr John|
|Clarke, Thomas||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Clay, Robert||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Cohen, Harry||Meacher, Michael|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||Michie, William|
|Corbett, Robin||Mikardo, Ian|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Craigen, J. M.||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Cunningham, Dr John||Nellist, David|
|Dalyell, Tam||O'Brien, William|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Deakins, Eric||Park, George|
|Dewar, Donald||Parry, Robert|
|Dobson, Frank||Patchett, Terry|
|Dormand, Jack||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Douglas, Dick||Pendry, Tom|
|Dubs, Alfred||Penhaligon, David|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Pike, Peter|
|Eastham, Ken||Radice, Giles|
|Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)||Redmond, M.|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Ewing, Harry||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Fatchett, Derek||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Robertson, George|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Flannery, Martin||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Foster, Derek||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Foulkes, George||Skinner, Dennis|
|Fraser, J. (Norwood)||Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|George, Bruce||Soley, Clive|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Stott, Roger|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Strang, Gavin|
|Golding, John||Straw, Jack|
|Hamilton, James (M'well N)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Tinn, James|
|Haynes, Frank||Torney, Tom|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Wainwright, R.|
|Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)||Wallace, James|
|Howells, Geraint||Wareing, Robert|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Weetch, Ken|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||White, James|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport East)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Winnick, David|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|John, Brynmor||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil||Mr. Don Dixon and|
|Kirkwood, Archibald||Mr. Allen McKay.|
|Adley, Robert||Arnold, Tom|
|Alexander, Richard||Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.|
|Amess, David||Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)|
|Ancram, Michael||Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Hind, Kenneth|
|Bellingham, Henry||Hirst, Michael|
|Bendall, Vivian||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Berry, Sir Anthony||Holt, Richard|
|Best, Keith||Hooson, Tom|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Hordern, Peter|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Howard, Michael|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Brinton, Tim||Hunter, Andrew|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Jessel, Toby|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Butterfill, John||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Carlisle, John (N Luton)||Jones, Robert (W Herts)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Key, Robert|
|Cash, William||King, Roger (B'ham N'field)|
|Chapman, Sydney||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Chope, Christopher||Knight, Gregory (Derby N)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)|
|Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)||Knowles, Michael|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Lamont, Norman|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Latham, Michael|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Coombs, Simon||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Cope, John||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Corrie, John||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Couchman, James||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Crouch, David||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Lightbown, David|
|Dicks, Terry||Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Lord, Michael|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Luce, Richard|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Eggar, Tim||MacGregor, John|
|Emery, Sir Peter||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Evennett, David||Maclean, David John|
|Eyre, Sir Reginald||Major, John|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Malone, Gerald|
|Farr, John||Maples, John|
|Favell, Anthony||Marland, Paul|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Marlow, Antony|
|Forman, Nigel||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Mates, Michael|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Mather, Carol|
|Franks, Cecil||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Freeman, Roger||Mayhew, Sir Patrick|
|Gale, Roger||Mellor, David|
|Galley, Roy||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Mitchell, David (NW Hants)|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Moate, Roger|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Greenway, Harry||Moore, John|
|Gregory, Conal||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Grist, Ian||Murphy, Christopher|
|Grylls, Michael||Neale, Gerrard|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Needham, Richard|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Nelson, Anthony|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Neubert, Michael|
|Hannam, John||Newton, Tony|
|Harvey, Robert||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Nicholson, J.|
|Hawkins, C. (High Peak)||Oppenheim, Philip|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)||Ottaway, Richard|
|Hayes, J.||Page, John (Harrow W)|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Page, Richard (Herts SW)|
|Heddle, John||Parris, Matthew|
|Henderson, Barry||Pawsey, James|
|Hickmet, Richard||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hill, James||Pollock, Alexander|
|Porter, Barry||Sumberg, David|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Powley, John||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Price, Sir David||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Raffan, Keith||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)||Thurnham, Peter|
|Renton, Tim||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Tracey, Richard|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Trippier, David|
|Robinson, Mark (N'port W)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Rost, Peter||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Rowe, Andrew||Viggers, Peter|
|Rumbold, Mrs Angela||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Walden, George|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Waller, Gary|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Ward, John|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Shersby, Michael||Warren, Kenneth|
|Silvester, Fred||Watson, John|
|Sims, Roger||Watts, John|
|Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)||Wheeler, John|
|Soames, Hon Nicholas||Whitfield, John|
|Speller, Tony||Whitney, Raymond|
|Spencer, Derek||Wood, Timothy|
|Squire, Robin||Woodcock, Michael|
|Stanbrook, Ivor||Yeo, Tim|
|Stern, Michael||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Stevens, Martin (Fulham)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)||Mr. Ian Lang and|
|Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)||Mr. Douglas Hogg.|
|Division No. 334]||[4.16 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)|
|Amess, David||Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)|
|Arnold, Tom||Coombs, Simon|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Cope, John|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Corrie, John|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Couchman, James|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Crouch, David|
|Bellingham, Henry||Currie, Mrs Edwina|
|Bendall, Vivian||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Berry, Sir Anthony||Dicks, Terry|
|Best, Keith||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Dunn, Robert|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Eggar, Tim|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Evennett, David|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Eyre, Sir Reginald|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Brinton, Tim||Farr, John|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Favell, Anthony|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Forman, Nigel|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Butterfill, John||Franks, Cecil|
|Carlisle, John (N Luton)||Fraser, Peter (Angus East)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Freeman, Roger|
|Cash, William||Gale, Roger|
|Chapman, Sydney||Galley, Roy|
|Chope, Christopher||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||Mitchell, David (NW Hants)|
|Good lad, Alastair||Moate, Roger|
|Gorst, John||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Greenway, Harry||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Gregory, Conal||Moore, John|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Grist, Ian||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Grylls, Michael||Murphy, Christopher|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Neale, Gerrard|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Needham, Richard|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Nelson, Anthony|
|Hannam, John||Neubert, Michael|
|Harvey, Robert||Newton, Tony|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Hawkins, C. (High Peak)||Nicholson, J.|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)||Oppenheim, Philip|
|Hawksley, Warren||Ottaway, Richard|
|Hayes, J.||Page, John (Harrow W)|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Page, Richard (Herts SW)|
|Heddle, John||Parris, Matthew|
|Henderson, Barry||Pawsey, James|
|Hickmet, Richard||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hill, James||Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Hind, Kenneth||Pollock, Alexander|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Porter, Barry|
|Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)||Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)|
|Holt, Richard||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Hooson, Tom||Powley, John|
|Hordern, Peter||Price, Sir David|
|Howard, Michael||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)||Raffan, Keith|
|Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)||Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)|
|Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)||Renton, Tim|
|Hubbard-Miles, Peter||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Hunter, Andrew||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Rost, Peter|
|Jessel, Toby||Rowe, Andrew|
|Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Ryder, Richard|
|Jones, Robert (W Herts)||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Key, Robert||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'field)||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Knight, Gregory (Derby N)||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Knowles, Michael||Shersby, Michael|
|Lamont, Norman||Silvester, Fred|
|Lang, Ian||Sims, Roger|
|Latham, Michael||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|Lawler, Geoffrey||Speller, Tony|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Spencer, Derek|
|Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel||Squire, Robin|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)||Stanley, John|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Stern, Michael|
|Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Lightbown, David||Stevens, Martin (Fulham)|
|Lilley, Peter||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Lord, Michael||Stokes, John|
|Luce, Richard||Sumberg, David|
|McCurley, Mrs Anna||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|MacGregor, John||Taylor, Teddy (Send E)|
|Maclean, David John||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Major, John||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Malone, Gerald||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Maples, John||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Marland, Paul||Thurnham, Peter|
|Marlow, Antony||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Tracey, Richard|
|Mates, Michael||Trippier, David|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Mellor, David||Viggers, Peter|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Walden, George||Whitfield, John|
|Walker, Bill (T'side N)||Whitney, Raymond|
|Wall, Sir Patrick||Wood, Timothy|
|Waller, Gary||Woodcock, Michael|
|Ward, John||Yeo, Tim|
|Wardle, C. (Bexhill)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Watson, John||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Watts, John||Mr. Carol Mather and|
|Wells, Bowen (Hertford)||Mr. Robert Boscawen.|
|Abse, Leo||Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)|
|Anderson, Donald||Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Deakins, Eric|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Dewar, Donald|
|Ashton, Joe||Dixon, Donald|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Dobson, Frank|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Dormand, Jack|
|Barron, Kevin||Douglas, Dick|
|Beith, A. J.||Dubs, Alfred|
|Benn, Tony||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Eastham, Ken|
|Blair, Anthony||Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)|
|Boyes, Roland||Evans, John (St. Helens N)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Ewing, Harry|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Fatchett, Derek|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Flannery, Martin|
|Buchan, Norman||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Caborn, Richard||Foster, Derek|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Foulkes, George|
|Campbell, Ian||Fraser, J. (Norwood)|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Garrett, W. E.|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||George, Bruce|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John|
|Clarke, Thomas||Godman, Dr Norman|
|Clay, Robert||Golding, John|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)|
|Cohen, Harry||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Corbett, Robin||Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Howells, Geraint|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Craigen, J. M.||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Hughes, Roy (Newport East)|
|Cunningham, Dr John||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|John, Brynmor||Pendry, Tom|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Penhaligon, David|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Pike, Peter|
|Kennedy, Charles||Radice, Giles|
|Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil||Redmond, M.|
|Kirkwood, Archibald||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Lambie, David||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Lamond, James||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Leighton, Ronald||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Robertson, George|
|Lewis, Terence (Worsley)||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Loyden, Edward||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|McKay, Allen (Penistone)||Skinner, Dennis|
|McKelvey, William||Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|Maclennan, Robert||Soley, Clive|
|McNamara, Kevin||Stott, Roger|
|McWilliam, John||Strang, Gavin|
|Madden, Max||Straw, Jack|
|Marek, Dr John||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Martin, Michael||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Tinn, James|
|Meadowcroft, Michael||Torney, Tom|
|Michie, William||Wainwright, R.|
|Mikardo, Ian||Wallace, James|
|Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Wareing, Robert|
|Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)||Weetch, Ken|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)||White, James|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Nellist, David||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|O'Brien, William||Winnick, David|
|O'Neill, Martin||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Park, George||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Parry, Robert||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Patchett, Terry||Mr. Frank Haynes.|