I beg to move,
That Mr. Speaker do issue his Warrant to the Clerk of the Crown to make out a new Writ for the electing of a Member to serve in this present Parliament for the County Constituency of Brecon and Radnor in the room of Tom Ellis Hooson, Esq., deceased.
I mention Tom Hooson, and I think that it would be appropriate at this stage to remind hon. Members of his untimely death and pay a tribute to the service that he gave to the House. I must admit that to me Brecon and Radnor does not immediately suggest Tom Hooson, because I had a great friend from that area, Caerwyn Roderick. I believe that the name of Caerwyn Roderick is synonymous with Brecon and Radnor, and that is how I managed to get to know a little bit about the place and about the magnificent service that he gave to our party, the Labour party, and to my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), the then leader of the Labour party, in his capacity as parliamentary private secretary.
Therefore, when I heard that there was the possibility of the writ for Brecon and Radnor being delayed, and I read the usual outpourings in the press—it must have been about a fortnight ago—I thought that it would be a good idea to get the thing hurried along. It so happened that at that time there was the suggestion that other matters would be moved this Friday. I am not sure whether I was thinking of moving the writ early, before the shock waves of the suggestion of the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) hit the House of Commons, or whether it came after that, but it was about that time. I must make that point, because I am trying to show that it is purely a coincidence that my application falls on the day when other matters might have been discussed.
Mr. Tam Dalvell:
Before my hon. Friend leaves the question of Caerwyn Roderick, may I also mention Tudor Watkins? Only three days ago, I visited Lady Watkins in Brecon. He gave great service to the House between 1945 and 1970, and anyone who is interested in agriculture and hill farming should respect the memory of Tudor Watkins.
I, too, remember Tudor Watkins He had left by the time I came to the House, but I used to see him at Labour party conferences. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) went to see Tudor's widow the other day while on his tour of the Falklands, the General Belgrano and Miss Murrell He goes all over the country on a solo campaign which is gaining ground, and I am pleased to say that the General Belgrano and all those other matters will become an issue in the by-election.
My hon. Friend has a bit of a cheek, because he is part of a small group in the House which proposed to change the business of the day in a way which many people—not me—thought was an abuse of the procedures. Now he is trying to chide me for doing something to which I plead not guilty. In any case, Mr. Speaker, I think you would agree with me—I know you would—that we should talk about the issues that will be discussed during the by-election campaign, and not become involved in genetic engineering and other matters. I should say in passing that it is a bit rich that there is all this complaint about genetic engineering, yet the right hon. Member for South Down is acting as the master scientist and pottering about with that young embryo, the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden).
No, but I think that you would agree, Mr. Speaker, that that might become an issue in the by-election. It is fair to say that anything that can be discussed in the House of Commons will become an issue in the Brecon and Radnor by-election. The Labour party candidate, Richard Willey, is only too anxious to get on with the job of raising those issues—
My hon. Friend suggests that Mr. Willey may not be the greatest Left-winger of all time, but I shall be down there campaigning for him because he is the Labour candidate. I rest in the knowledge that our standard bearer in Brecon and Radnor will do a first-class job in raising all the issues that I may mention later, including the economy, the welfare state, and the countless other matters that may affect that rural area. It is between 30 and 40 miles wide—
It is perhaps nothing more than a coincidence, but I had a premonition that this might be a suitable day to raise the subject that the hon. Gentleman has raised, and I happened to come in armed with several books about the ralway history of central Wales. Will the hon. Gentleman refer during his speech to this vital consideration in the forthcoming by-election? If he does not, I hope that he will not consider it wrong of me to take up the point later in the morning.
On page 6 or 7,I have a section dealing with transport, especially the Transport Bill and privatisation. I am not sure whether the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) voted with the Labour party against the Transport Bill, but I shall let that pass. I know that our candidate, Richard Willey, will be campaigning on the Transport Bill and its effects on rural constituencies.
I am looking forward to Richard Willey sitting here, because I will advise him, as others advised me when I entered the House, that what one must get to know in this place, apart from all the politics, is the procedure. I shall suggest to Mr. Willey that he reads "Erskine May", because it may help him one day. He may need some background knowledge one unusual Friday. He will no doubt be campaigning about rail cuts and rail closures. I have no doubt that he will not be so parochial—
The hon. Gentleman should be, and I think he is, advancing his case as to whether I should issue my warrant in respect of this by-election. But I ask the hon. Gentleman not to go into too much detail of the issues in the campaign, and to stick to the writ and to the question whether I should grant my warrant.
You are absolutely correct, Mr. Speaker. Today is not a day to become engaged in argument and hassle. It is a day on which we must consider this serious issue. It may be that, after I have heard comments on my motion from the Government and certainly from my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore), who may advance other arguments about the nature of the writ and whether it should be accepted, on this rare occasion, I may take all those suggestions into account and come to a different conclusion myself. Today, I am ready to listen to alternative arguments.
As many hon. Members are not clear about the procedures involved in his application, will my hon. Friend make it clear that if we must vote on this matter we have a choice of setting a by-election date within 28 days or not setting a date for this Session since the Standing Orders state that the motion may be made only once? Therefore, will he make it clear that his application is not necessarily designed to be voted upon, but simply to persuade my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) to think of an alternative approach?
My hon. Friend has read "Erskine May", and I, too, have studied the matter. There may be an opportunity for other hon. Members to move motions that could affect the issue. But it does not matter because, as the right hon. Member for South Down, who is an expert in procedure, would be the first to agree, whatever happens today on a vote, the House is sovereign and it could, within the next few days, decide to overturn that decision.
This is one of the few areas, Mr. Speaker—I think that you will agree with me on this — where the Common Market has not ripped away our sovereignty. The House retains that power, and the Leader of the House could, if he wished, irrespective of the outcome of a vote today, decide to say that the House is sovereign and that we shall set a new date. The House has the power to do that, as it has power in many other areas, although sadly it is affected in many areas by Common Market regulations, which will no doubt become a feature of the by-election campaign, whenever it takes place.
A further reason why I believe that we can get this matter—
My hon. Friend raised an important point about the Common Market. Will he bear in mind that there is a problem there in relation to majorities and the exercise of a veto? Has he considered whether he wishes to exercise a veto on matters coming from the Government side of the House, or to rely on a majority?
I kept my eye firmly on you, Mr. Speaker, while my hon. Friend made that point, and I saw a little bit of a nod, which suggested that we should not travel down that road. There are areas where we should not tread today. We should keep to the straight and narrow. One thing is certain — the Common Market is not straight and narrow. It has gravy trains, but it is not straight and narrow.
When my hon. Friend develops that argument about whether a by-election in Brecon should take place within the next 28 days, possibly after a decision today, will he take up the point which I raised twice yesterday? Within that period of 28 days, there will be several thousand 16 and 17-year-old school leavers in Wales. One hundred and forty-four school leavers will chase one vacancy at a careers office in Wales. In Brecon there are only 10 vacancies for the hundreds of school leavers there. Brecon is one of only four careers offices in Wales which has 10 or more vacancies. Only the offices in Cardiff and Shotton have 11 vacancies or more. In Wales, 38 of the 42 careers offices have fewer than 10 vacancies. Indeed, eight of them have not a single job for young people, and seven have only one job each. Will my hon. Friend develop the question of the need for a speedy by-election so that the Labour candidate can give hope to those thousands of young school leavers, and attack the Government for their mass unemployment policies?
Although I am sure that others will do so, I intend to see to it that our friend in Brecon and Radnor will receive a copy of the report of today's debate while he advances the cause of our party in the election campaign. He will then be able to read all the comments made, including those of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) in his description of what I have loosely termed on other occasions Yosser-land. Young people in Brecon and Radnor and elsewhere cannot get a job when they leave school, even with all their O-levels, A-levels and other certificates. Unemployment will become a big factor in the campaign.
My hon. Friend referred earlier to Caerwyn Roderick. Will he bear in mind our friend's robust knowledge of the education needs of the Welsh people? Does he believe that, together with the problem of youth unemployment, education will figure largely in the by-election campaign? Does he agree that that needs to be brought to the fore?
The Government's education policy will be a prominent issue in the campaign; no one can deny that. I have some figures for Brecon and Radnor, and they are more pertinent than the general arguments.
I was about to say that another reason why we can have a fairly early by-election is that the parties have already lined up their candidates. I believe that the Welsh nationalists are dealing with the selection of their candidate this weekend. The hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), if he catches your eye later, Mr. Speaker, will probably tell us what the position is. I am told that the Social Democratic and Liberal parties are ready for the by-election.
I am not sure, as I have not gone into that matter. However, I have told the people of Brecon and Radnor to ask the alliance candidate which party and leader he supports, and to ask him whether he is in favour of getting rid of cruise or keeping cruise, as the Liberals and Social Deomcratics think respectively. That will be an important factor in the campaign.
My hon. Friend, who represents a Welsh constituency, is better versed in these matters than I am. He keeps a close eye on all things Welsh — even the choirs. He also knows a bit about them. Perhaps my hon. Friend will be able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and present the special Welsh considerations. I do not intend to use all the pages of my speech because the matter would be better debated. In view of the unusual number of hon. Members present this Friday, they should take part and make some additional points.
I know that the alliance has its candidate ready and, therefore, that is all right in terms of the general electoral considerations. I believe that it has transported people to Radnor on a semi-joint selection basis. I do not think that they voted on a one person, one vote system. The SDP sent representatives from the regions, but the Liberals adopted a different tactic. It was called joint selection, but those of us in the know understand how it works. I believe that the alliance bussed those people in with British School of Motoring money.
Before my hon. Friend leaves that important point, can he say from his expert knowledge of the internal workings of the SDP and Liberal parties in Wales whether their candidate has the support of the leader of the SDP in Wales or of the leader of the SDP in the United Kingdom? As my hon. Friend knows, the leader of the SDP in Wales, Mr. Gwynoro Jones, has no confidence in the leader of the SDP in the United Kingdom as a whole. Indeed, he is on record as thoroughly criticising the leader of the SDP in the United Kingdom. Does he agree that that is a crucial matter, of which the people of Brecon should become aware?
That will blow up during the campaign. When the writ is issued, many people will jump on that bandwagon. There is a great deal of comment in the local press about Gwynoro Jones. I managed to get hold of some of it many weeks ago. He became a Member of the House at the same time as me—I mention that en passant. I remember him well. The problem, to put it crudely and simply, is that Gwynoro Jones was the satellite of the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins). When the right hon. Gentleman lost the job as leader, it created friction, and Gwynoro Jones cannot settle down with the new leader of the SDP. Sparks will undoubtedly fly, and I look forward to them because it will help our candidate.
The hon. Gentleman says that we are allies, but there is plenty of evidence that I began the campaign for the writ many days ago purely in an attempt to accommodate the candidates down in Brecon and Radnor. If the hon. Gentleman listens carefully, he will find that that issue is dealt with. I know that he is upset because he is on the other side.
In nearly every respect. I have said from the outset that we are not involved in a game. This is a serious matter. We are debating this issue to give hon. Members an opportunity to discuss important topics on a Friday, when most hon. Members are around.
I have just seen where the Tory candidate was nominated.
One of the Liberals behind me who keeps rabbiting on says that there are two Tory candidates. If there are, all well and good. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will justify that comment in the campaign. He will be able to say so in his Focus leaflet which floats under doors day after day—their content will probably change day after day. By and large, the candidates of the main parties are ready for action. Our candidate has his troops massed on the Black mountains and on the Brecon Beacons.
There is another point which I referred to earlier but which I should like to re-emphasise in case some of my hon. Friends are a little worried about my moving the writ. There is a motion on the Order Paper which refers to using Friday as suggested by the hon. Member for Kemptown and which says that it is an abuse to do such a thing. There are differences between some of us who take an alternative view about that matter. I have not signed that—
Order. That comes when the hon. Gentleman has finished his submission. I welcome this new-found establishment figure. The hon. Gentleman is otherwise absolutely in order and I pay tribute to him for that. If other hon. Members who may be called to speak follow his example and watch me nodding or shaking my head, I shall not need to interrupt too often.
I shall shortly finish to enable Liberals, Tories, Welsh Nationalists and some of my colleagues from Wales to speak. It is a good idea to keep the Government up all weekend, but I am not too keen on the idea of keeping Back Benchers up and not causing the Government any trouble.
I have discussed the matter with my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar (Mr. Mikardo). We were talking about Friday. It has been a topic of conversation in the Tea Room and elsewhere. I asked him the other day, "What are the odds, Mik?" He said, "We have not got a book on it—the odds are so long that we shall be there all weekend." I said, "Well, I shall slip anchor on Friday." To which he replied, "That's running on Wednesday." Do not get me wrong, Mr. Speaker. I am not trying to score a victory by seven or eight lengths— a short head will do—but we need to have a little in reserve.
It will be a lively by-election. It will be about the fact that monetarism has failed—the Prime Minister's brand of monetarism, that is. There is a place for monetarism somewhere, but it is hardly likely to be developed in a highly technological country such as ours. I believe in my simple fashion that standing on one's own two feet went out with Robinson Crusoe—he had to get Man Friday to bail him out. The Government's philosophy and their record in the past six months will become a great feature of the campaign, as will their record on unemployment and the massive cost of it.
I think that my hon. Friend will appreciate what I have to say. When talking of the Government's record, he will recall his activities during the coal miners' strike. I do not want to raise that matter, but my hon. Friend may not be aware that one of the leaders of the Durham Miners Association, Jimmy Inskip, died last night. In view of my hon. Friend's interest in the mining industry, perhaps he would like to pay a short tribute to the leadership of the Durham miners, including Jimmy Inskip, who I do not doubt would have been joining my hon. Friend in the by-election had he still been alive.
I shall not make too much of that. My hon. Friend has got his name recorded and I suppose that that will suffice. Many miners will participate in the campaign, as they did in the county council election campaign. Many more than we expected participated and some of the results in the coalfields were exceptionally good. That includes parts of south Wales, of which Brecon and Radnor is a part.
I was discussing the main issues in the campaign and, as hurriedly as possible, mentioning the dole queues, education, state earnings-related pensions, the threatened abolition of wages councils and the Common Market, which is always a good runner in by-elections. We shall give our candidate some advice on that.
My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that I have, in my notes, details about hospital closures in Powys. I am skipping across such information on hospitals and education, for example, so that others can go into more detail. My hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Pavitt) is a long-standing hon. Member who I believe will be going at the end of this Parliament. I hope that he catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, as he can speak on behalf of the disabled and others as he has done so well during his many years in the House. I am sure that he could shed some light on the problems of nurses and others. The election campaign will be about the Health Service, pensions and the closure of railways.
My hon. Friend has mentioned several substantial issues that will be debated in the election campaign. Does he believe that political devolution will also feature largely in the campaign?
It has not done so for some years in Wales or Scotland. I shall not get involved in a matter which may not be significant in the campaign. I am sticking to the general issues. All the issues that I have mentioned will be debated at length. At the end of all that, we shall have a new Member of Parliament to represent that constituency.
My hon. Friend may be about to ask some awkward questions, so perhaps I would do better to suggest that, as he knows so much about procedural matters and once nearly moved a writ himself, he may wish to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, during this very lengthy debate.
The House of Commons is an unusual place. There are many heartaches and few blessings, but one thing is certain. This place, like life generally, is full of surprises. One comes here one morning and the unexpected happens. In a way, that is reinvigorating. Just as one is beginning to lose faith a little, something new happens. This Friday has been one of those unusual days. It was started by the right hon. Member for South Down, who put the cat among the pigeons. I know that the motion is in the name of the hon. Member for Kemptown, but I think that the right hon. Member for South Down will agree with me that there are days when we win and days when we lose and I have a sneaking feeling that this day will belong to those of us who are arguing for this writ and for an early by-election. That is the important point.
I am prepared to be flexible in these matters—
When the current leader of the Liberal party in the House today starts talking like that, I worry about his position vis-a-vis you, Mr. Speaker, because I do not want any unnecessary trouble and what the hon. Gentleman has just suggested borders nigh on heresy. He has suggested that plans have been made when we know that everything today has been spontaneous. I must admit that I had a little help from the Clerks in the Table Office. I shall not name them because they did a good job and I do not want to hamper their promotion.
I look forward to the continuation of this debate, Mr. Speaker. Having spent a few moments making the argument, 1 bring you this little blue form and rest my case.
I oppose the suggestions made by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) and perhaps two personal reasons qualify me to do so. I might easily have entered the House as a result of a by-election, because immediately before the last general election I was the Conservative candidate for Cardiff, North-West and a writ for a by-election would have been announced but for the calling of the general election. Therefore, I well understand what is involved in the organisation of a by-election and all the considerations that go with it.
I am somewhat appalled, however, that the hon. Member for Bolsover should proceed in this way today. It seems to have slipped his memory and that of certain other right hon. and hon. Members that our late colleague, Tom Hooson, who was an excellent Member of Parliament and a first-rate representative of the constituency of Brecon and Radnor, died only on 8 May. It was a sad, cruel and untimely death for a man who almost until the end worked extremely hard and assiduously on behalf of his constituents. That was just four short weeks ago. I suggest that in seeking this morning to move the writ for a by-election the hon. Member for Bolsover is proceeding with somewhat indecent haste.
I assure the hon. Member for Bolsover and the whole House that there is no reluctance on the part of the Conservative party to fight this by-election. As the hon. Gentleman has said, our candidate is already in place. Chris Butler is an excellent candidate and may be the only Welsh-speaking candidate to fight the by-election. He is also a constituent of mine, and I cannot speak too highly of him.
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that it would be completely unacceptable if the ejectors in that constituency could not elect a Member of Parliament before September, as they would be left unrepresented for a long period? It is important that the election should take place before people start going away on holiday, as the new proposals for holiday voting are not yet in operation. Does the hon. Member accept that the sooner the election takes place the better will be the opportunities for most people in the constituency to participate?
I do not disagree entirely with the hon. Gentleman's suggestion. He intervened earlier to point out the difficulties that would arise if the motion moved by the hon. Member for Bolsover were defeated. We do not want that to happen. As I have said, there is no reluctance on the part of the Conservative party to proceed to a by-election. I agree that it should take place relatively early, but I do not believe that today is the right time to pursue this. The hon. Member for Bolsover pointed out that the Welsh nationalists do not have a candidate in place yet. I have no brief to speak for Plaid Cymru, so I had better give way to its former leader.
Our candidate will be in place by tomorrow night, so that is no reason for holding back the election. More important, if the writ is moved today the by-election could take place on, say, 4 July, before the main holiday period begins. That is important not just from the point of view of people in Brecon and Radnor going away on holiday, but because of the impact of the tourist industry on the constituency, which would be a major problem if the by-election were held towards the end of July. In practice, that would mean holding the by-election over until the autumn and leaving the constituency without representation for the intervening period.
I know the significance of the remarks of the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), for we were both in the Brecon and Radnor constituency recently when the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs was investigating tourism in Mid-Wales. That visit took place just before the sad death of Tom Hooson. I agree that an early by-election is needed, but this is not the right moment to pursue it. I assure the Opposition that the Conservative party has an excellent organisation locally as well as an excellent candidate who is looking forward to contesting the seat at an early date. If the writ is moved today, Plaid Cymru will inevitably be at a disadvantage if its candidate is not adopted until tomorrow, because the announcement will not filter out until next week. I know that Plaid Cymru has a very small party organisation and has to save up for the deposit, which it will certainly lose yet again.
I suspect the motives of the hon. Member for Bolsover. He has rightly referred to all the important issues which will be fully debated and explored during the by-election campaign. Attention will be focused upon who comes third in the by-election. Will the Labour party be able to keep the alliance in third place or will Labour go down to that place? Is the hon. Member for Bolsover seeking to take a mean advantage by jumping the gun on Plaid Cymru, which is at present in fourth place, and trying to make sure that Plaid Cymru stays below the Labour party?
A moment ago the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) mentioned tourism and holidaymakers. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones) believe that an issue at the forthcoming by-election should be the legislation passed by the House during this Session, which implements a pledge made by our party at the last general election to give votes to holidaymakers? Does that not demonstrate the serious intention of the Conservative party to increase the franchise and enable people to vote at elections?
My hon. Friend is quite right. That important reform of our electoral system is widely welcomed throughout the country, particularly in the constituency of Brecon and Radnor, which is an important constituency for tourism. It is also a very important agricultural constituency. Because of the constraints placed upon the agricultural industry, those involved can have rather different holiday commitments. I assure the hon. Member for Bolsover that the Conservative party is looking forward to an early by-election in Brecon and Radnor. I am looking forward to Mr. Chris Butler, our excellent Welsh-speaking candidate, joining me on these Benches.
My hon. Friend has referred to a dangerous and emotive issue — the threat by the alliance to introduce the rating of agricultural land. It will be a very important by-election issue. It is unnecessary to debate today the issues which will be fully covered in the by-election campaign. The Conservative party is not reluctant about the holding of an early by-election, but this matter ought to be dealt with in the proper way.
Therefore, I urge the hon. Member for Bolsover not to pursue his motion. I anticipate that what both he and the Conservative party want to happen will happen very shortly.
I rise to support the motion that the writ be moved for the Brecon and Radnor by-election. Whether or not the by-election could be held on 4 July is another matter. If it could be held earlier— say on 27 June—that would be even better. The Brecon and Radnor constituency should be represented.
I rise to speak from no party political motive. As has already been mentioned, our candidate will not be selected until tomorrow evening. From a narrow party political point of view, it could be argued that we ought to wait longer before holding the by-election, so that the candidates can get to know the constituency. Brecon and Radnor parliamentary candidates need time in which to get to know the constituency, but it is even more important for the electors of Brecon and Radnor to have somebody to speak on their behalf. They ought not to be unrepresented throughout the summer.
Plaid Cymru is under no illusion about the outcome of the by-election. My party is unlikely to win it. Therefore, we can viewtion the by-election dispassionately. Nevertheless, a by-election presents an important opportunity for issues that are of concern to the community to be debated. Plaid Cymru wants to take part in that debate and to use the by-election as a means of impressing upon the Government, the Welsh Office and the House the pressing problems that face the constituents of Brecon and Radnor.
I know a fair amount about the constituency. Before I became a Member of Parliament I lived in the borough of Merthyr Tydfil. Part of the old borough of Merthyr Tydfil is now, as a result of the change in boundaries, part of Breconshire. When I was a councillor on the old county borough council, I was aware of the major problems that faced the people of Breconshire. Breconshire forms the hinterland to Merthyr Tydfil. The problems of 1974 are even more acute now, and the mechanism of a by-election is needed to focus upon them.
It would be right for me at this stage to add my tribute to the late Tom Hooson. He was a friend of many hon. Members. I got to know him well when we both sat on the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs but I knew him for many years before he became a Member of Parliament. He contested the Caernarfon seat in 1959 and obtained the highest number of votes that the Conservatives had had for several decades in that constituency. I am glad to say that the Conservative vote has subsequently declined.
Tom Hooson was held in very great respect in Wales. He served the Brecon and Radnor constituency with great diligence, as did his predecessors Caerwyn Roderick and Tudor Watkins. Both Caerwyn Roderick and Tudor Watkins knew in detail the problems of this constituency. Geographically, Brecon and Radnor is the largest constituency in England and Wales. Any candidate who takes part in an election there needs to have close knowledge of it. Tom Hooson succeeded in gaining that knowledge. Before he became the Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnor, he worked in it for a period, and learned about its problems. He was a good constituency Member of Parliament, and it provided him with the base for his support in the last General Election. It will be a challenge to his successor to live up to the standards set by Tom Hooson and also by Caerwyn Roderick and Tudor Watkins. Tudor Watkins was also involved in local government. He held office on the old Breconshire county council.
The writ needs to be moved as early as possible before the election so that the campaign can be as long as possible. Every candidate ought to try to visit every community in the constituency. There are 93 villages in my constituency. I try to visit all of them during an election campaign. The constituency of Brecon and Radnor is substantially larger than mine. A candidate who wishes to visit all those communities during an election campaign needs as much time as possible in which to do so. Therefore, the writ ought to be moved as early as possible.
There are precedents for holding by-elections on days other than Thursday. That is a point to which we ought to apply our minds. Tom Hooson worked in detail on constituency problems. He was aware of them when he made his maiden speech on 23 May 1979. He raised a number of issues which inevitably will arise in the by-election for which we are pressing today. Those issues still need to be raised. One of the issues which he raised, to which I referred in an intervention during the speech of the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones), was the importance of tourism. He said of the town of Brecon that more people were coming into the tourist office there than anywhere else in south Wales. That shows the major importance of the tourist industry to the Brecon and Radnor constituency, and it is a factor that we should bear in mind in considering the moving of the writ and a suitable date for the by-election.
Tom Hooson was a member of the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs, which is currently studying tourism in Wales. In recent months Tom Hooson's presence has been greatly missed in that Committee. There is a need for him to be replaced and for the by-election to take place, to ensure that Brecon and Radnor has a voice at this important time when we are considering matters such as tourism.
The hon. Gentleman is talking about tourism in Wales and its relevance to the by-election campaign. Would he agree that the policy of the Wales tourist board in promoting farmhouse tourism has been particularly successful in the Brecon and Radnor constituency? Would the hon. Gentleman care to pay tribute to the Wales tourist board?
Although, perhaps, I should not refer to the work of the Select Committee and the study that is currently in progress, it is correct to say that, as Members of this House, we have had an opportunity recently to see at first hand the developments in farmhouse tourism. We have seen the way in which the Wales tourist board in the Brecon and Radnor constituency — and in the Montgomeryshire constituency — has developed the training, back-up and facilities for those involved in farming who want also to undertake tourism. Very high standards of provision have been developed in that way. Farms working in a cluster of 12 or more market themselves to get the maximum benefit for their area. It is a major development and it is of importance to the farmers of Brecon and Radnor.
During July, August and early September, the farmers of Brecon and Radnor will be very busy with their farming but they will also be involved at that time in tourism, and I accept what the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) said about that work of the Wales tourist board.
Before the hon. Gentleman's intervention I referred to Tom Hooson's work in the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs. I do not think that there can be many hon. Members of this House who, in their maiden speech, have referred in detail to a Select Committee as a major point. Tom Hooson regarded the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs as a body
in which we can achieve discussion that is realistic and formative to enable us to make pragmatic decisions."
The Select Committee needs people such as Tom Hooson and we certainly need to have the seat filled.
In his maiden speech, Tom Hooson also referred to an issue that is of immense concern to Brecon and Radnor when he said:
all hon. Members are anxious to see unemployment figures coming down".—[Official Report, 23 May 1979; Vol. 967, c. 1157-8.]
Unemployment in Wales at that time stood at 85,000. Today the admitted figure in Wales is over 170,000, so it has doubled since Tom Hooson made his maiden speech. Tom Hooson was right in 1979 to underline the importance of unemployment. With the figure now at more than 170,000, how much more does the issue of unemployment impact on the constituency?
Unemployment is not only a scourge of many urban areas; it is a pressing problem in rural areas. One of the major issues that will arise in the by-election is the problem of travel to work, because of the lack of a public transport system. I have correspondence from people living in Brecon and Radnor who fear the effects of the Transport Bill on communities. Unless there is a public transport system to serve the communities, it is next to impossible for many young unemployed people who are seeking work to go after the few jobs that may be available.
Tom Hooson often referred in his speeches to the fact that his constituency has the highest ownership of cars of any constituency in Wales. That is not because it is the richest constituency or the constituency with the greatest disposable personal income or wealth per capita. It is because a car is a prerequisite for people to get to and from work and about their normal everyday business. But, of course, many people—especially the young—may not be able to afford cars. That underlines the need to bring work to the people, rather than expecting them to travel to work in outside areas.
Another problem in Brecon and Radnor is the standard of the roads. The county of Powys has 261 miles of trunk road—more than any other county in Wales. My own county has 206 miles. Dyfed—a very large county—has 233 miles. Some counties, such as West Glamorgan, have only 28 miles; South Glamorgan has 26 miles. Yet the expenditure by the Welsh Office on trunk roads has been very small indeed in the Powys area in which the Brecon and Radnor constituency lies. I accept that there has been expenditure on the M4 in south Wales, going through Gwent and the Glamorgans, and there has been expenditure in north Wales in Clwyd and even in Gwynedd. But the county of Powys has been deprived of proper expenditure on roads. I have no doubt that in the forthcoming by-election the provision of roads will be an important issue and that many people will want to address themselves to it.
I realise that other hon. Members wish to speak, so I will move rapidly to the issue that concerned Tom Hooson most of all, and on which he made frequent contributions to debates in this House. I refer to the rate support grant structure in Wales, particularly as it affects the county of Powys and the area of Brecon and Radnor.
In the period before the by-election takes place, candidates of all parties would do well to study the mechanisms of the rate support formula. It is a complicated formula. Many people in Brecon and Radnor rightly feel that insufficient emphasis is given to the sparsity of population and the effect that it has on the cost of maintaining essential services such as roads, education and social security. As a result, the expenditure per capita on many services in Brecon and Radnor has to be much higher than in other areas to maintain the same level of service. Yet the grant that is given to the Powys county council has been inadequate, and it has been necessary year after year to bring in special devices and safety nets to avoid the full impact on Brecon and Radnor of the logic of the present rate support grant formula.
The safety nets, however, have not been sufficient to safeguard the residents of the constituency from continuing increases in the rate burden. There is a need to maintain services in the communities and to distribute the burden in an equitable fashion. If any of us were trying to pay tribute to Tom Hooson's work in this House, the best means of doing so would be to continue to put the arguments on rate support grant. Obviously, other rural areas of Wales are affected, as are areas in England such as the south-west and the north-west, although there the details of the formula are slightly different.
All the issues that I have mentioned require attention in the by-election. It needs to be held at an early date, so that the new Member, from whatever party he or she may be, will have an opportunity to speak on the important issues before the summer recess.
My hon. Friend says that I speak for myself. I do, but I also speak for many other hon. Members.
There are cogent reasons why we should pay tribute to the hon. Member for Bolsover. He has reminded us of the responsibility and power of Back Benchers. He has moved a writ. For far too long in the House the moving of a writ has been the subject of a cosy relationship between the Whips Offices. [Interruption.] I note an aspirate noise from the Liberal Chief Whip who has rather attenuated, not to say presumptuous, ideas of one day occupying the position of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.
There is no reason why the movement of a writ should be the subject of a cosy relationship between the Front Benches. Election to Parliament is as much a matter for Back Benchers as for the Government. The hon. Member for Bolsover has therefore done a great service in moving the writ. Although I am against the House granting the writ, I hope that the precedent will be borne in mind.
My hon. Friend appears to have made up his mind how he will vote on the motion as to whether we should move the writ for the Brecon and Radnor by-election. At the moment, I am unsure how I shall vote. I am therefore listening to the debate with great interest. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is important that we should know where the official Opposition and the Government stand on the issue? Does he therefore hope that we shall hear from our right hon. Friend the Leader of the House what advice he has to give to those of us who at the moment may be uncertain as to how we should vote?
I have always found my hon. Friend to be a fair-minded man. I am therefore not in the least surprised to hear that he is approaching the debate with an open mind. That is precisely what I should expect. Knowing him as I do, I am aware that he approaches the matter with not just an open mind, but an informed mind. I see the volumes on railways that he has beside him. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) will express their views, and that my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) will express his views because the issue of railways in Wales is a matter of the utmost interest to the people of Grantham and to the House. We need some specialised advice about railways.
The House needs the guidance of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. He has been in his place for much of this morning. I am sure that he will give us his guidance. The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney has a great contribution to make to the debate. I hope that it is not presumptuous of me, Mr. Speaker, to say that if the right hon. Gentleman rises in his place at about 11.30 or 12 o'clock, you might feel it appropriate to call him.
Those points, however, are at the margins. We must decide the holding of a by-election. The Conservative party is extremely anxious, in principle, to hold a by-election.
I am sure that the House would love to know why, in practice, the Government may not be keen to have a by-election, despite their principles. Is it something to do with the result?
No. The hon. Gentleman is too interested in trivial matters. We are interested in having a by-election because to begin with—for reasons that I shall deploy— I am a constitutionalist, and I am against upsetting carefully contrived arrangements that have stood the House in good stead. Although it happens to be coincidental, I am against, for example, the motion that has been promoted by the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell).
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that our procedures for calling by-elections are not exactly tried and tested and that they are, on the whole, a series of squalid deals? The most useful thing that could emerge from this debate would be for the matter to be referred to a Speaker's Conference on electoral law so that we could obtain a formula for calling by-elections which did not involve the Whips, but which brought about a by-election automatically fairly rapidly, so that people in the areas involved would obtain their rights to be represented in the House as quickly as possible.
I have never heard of an arrangement in the House which did not involve the Whips, other than today's debate, of course, which has been singularly untampered with by the Whips.
I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving way. His contribution is much more suited to a university knockabout than to the House of Commons. He said that the Whips have not been involved in the debate. If I were him, I should wait until about 12 o'clock and see how it unfolds. He can then satisfy himself that the Whips have not been involved.
I may have a premonition as to how the debate will unfold. I say with considerable confidence that this is not a debate about which the Whips have become unduly worried. It is a debate in which Back Benchers are interested, and they are interested in the other matters that the House is minded to discuss. However, at the moment, we are talking about the writ.
The Conservative party is anxious, in principle, to have a by-election—for a good reason. We have been in power in this Parliament for some two years. At that point, it is not surprising that, as a Government, we are less popular than previously. A by-election is a good moment for a party to deploy and explain its policies and to answer criticisms. I welcome the principle of by-elections, because we have good arguments on jobs, the economy, health care and education.
Although the hon. Gentleman discounts arguments from the Opposition, does he feel that the Government are delaying the by-election because they are worried about the inevitable result? Does he think that there is another matter to which the House should turn its attention—the fact that the deposit paid by candidates has not yet been affected by the Representation of the People Bill which is in another place at the moment? Does he believe that the Government are delaying their decision until the deposit can be increased? That will be a long time, because the Bill has to be dealt with in another place and there has to be a statutory instrument. Does he think that some constitutional jiggery-pokery is going on to which he should be addressing himself and about which the House should be worried?
Mr. Speaker does not think that we do. Other hon. Members may think that we do, in which event it would be proper for other hon. Members to suggest that we need the advise of a Law Officer. It would then be for Mr. Speaker to rule upon the matter. It is a most interesting point. Do we need the advice of a Law Officer? I think not.
The Government have decided—in my view, rightly — to increase deposits in by-elections, but that does not go to the essential nature of the by-election to which we are addressing ourselves. The Conservative party is likely to win the by-election at Brecon and Radnor, whatever happens. It is not anxious to exclude anyone from participation. Why should the Conservative party wish to do that? It has nothing to fear from a by-election. The House should realise that the Conservative party welcomes the prospect of a by-election, which raises the question—
Does my hon. Friend agree that there are probably two reasons why the Labour party may be especially keen to hurry on the by-election at Brecon and Radnor? First, the deposit may be cheaper in the immediate future than by the autumn. If it is to lose its deposit, it would rather lose £150 than £500. Leaving aside that sort of trivia, does my hon. Friend agree that in mid-term an Opposition think that they may be able to score points or win by-elections? However, as time goes on, the Labour party, the Liberal party and other parties recognise that the Government's fortunes, especially when backed by such excellent policies, are likely to improve in the mind of the electorate. Therefore, with the passage of time, the prospect of the Government winning the by-election at Brecon and Radnor becomes all the more certain.
My hon. and learned Friend has made two important contributions to the debate. We know that the Labour party's funds are at a low ebb. We know also that its support in the country is not as powerful as it would like. We are aware that its finances are in dicky order. The best advice that we can give to the Labour party is that it is likely to lose its deposit in the by-election. It is clear that it wants to hurry on the by-election so that its loss is minimised.
My hon. and learned Friend was right to speak about the acceptance of the Government's policies. The policies that they have been implementing are achieving success. For example, we are told by the Opposition and others that we have a stagnant economy. Yet growth last year was about 3 per cent. Investment increased by about 9 per cent. and exports increased by about 10 per cent. We know that 613,000 jobs have been created since June 1983. These are matters to which the electorate needs to have regard
Is my lion. Friend aware that I fully share his confidence that the Conservative party will do extremely well in the by-election which is the subject of the motion before the House? However, I have one little worry — that the prospects for the Conservative party in the forthcoming by-election are likely to be damaged by the addiction of persons on the Treasury Bench to the Warnock report and hostility to the Bill that has been introduced by the right hon. Member for South Down.
I always listen to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) with the greatest respect. However, I think that he is wrong to say that the opposition to the Powell Bill, if I may so describe it—the Bill promoted by the right hon. Member for South Down—emanates solely from the Treasury Bench. There is widespread opposition to the Bill in this place. However, that does not alter the fact that that issue is not relevant to the motion that is before us.
I am sure that my hon. Friend would not wish to mislead the House. The Bill to which he has referred had an overwhelming majority on Second Reading. It completed its Committee stage and enjoyed a procedural majority of some size when it started on Report. The Bill has overwhelming support in the House and in the country.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance. You properly ruled at the beginning of the debate that we are discussing the Brecon and Radnor by-election writ, which has been moved by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), and you properly informed the House that we should not indulge in any discussion of matters which may be reached later today. However, there has been discussion, quite properly, of the issues which may be raised during the forthcoming by-election, should it be held on an earlier date than may have been anticipated. Bearing in mind the interventions of my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine), will you rule whether an issue that might be raised during the by-election is the one that has been raised by my right hon. and hon. Friends so that those who participate in the debate know whether they are in order?
We are discussing a writ for the Brecon and Radnor by-election. It may be that an allusion during this debate to the subsequent debate is in order, but it must be a passing allusion. It would not be in order to address the main issues that will feature in the later debate. It will be appropriate to deal with those issues when the House deals with the motion of the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden).
I am grateful Mr. Speaker. I listened carefully to what my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest and my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) had to say. I understood that they were raising the issue of the Warnock report in the context of the by-election. If I had not thought that, I should not have responded to their interventions. To have done so otherwise would have been grossly out of order. My right hon. and hon. Friends made their interventions in the context of the by-election that we all hope will take place within the foreseeable future, but both are wrong in asserting that the House, by an overwhelming majority, supports the Bill that has been introduced by the right hon. Member for South Down.
Indeed, Mr. Speaker. We were dealing with the Bill introduced by the right hon. Member for South Down in the context of the by-election. During the by-election the electorate will wish to make clear by letters, questions and by the ordinary processes available to it that it does not, as was suggested by my right hon. and hon. Friends, support the Bill by an overwhelming majority—a Bill for which they are devoted advocates.
Order. If the hon. Gentleman is called to speak in the subsequent debate, that will be the appropriate time for him to raise the objection that he has voiced.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) has told us that he is opposed to a misuse of parliamentary time. While the hon. Gentleman has been sitting in his place during points of order I have heard him ask for how long certain Opposition Members wish him to speak and whether it would be all right if he continued until 11 o'clock. Is that not an misuse of parliamentary time?
I have always done my best, Mr. Speaker, to enable you to hear everything that I say. However, on occasions I think it prudent to speak in a somewhat lower voice. I am always anxious, Mr. Speaker, as you know so well, to meet the convenience of the House, the convenience of yourself, the convenience of other hon. Members and especially the convenience of the two Front Benches.
As we are now close to 11 o'clock, I wish to make only one or two more points. I am in favour of an early by-election, but I am not in favour of twisting conventions out of shape. Our conventions and practices are designed to safeguard us all. Despite my enthusiasm for a by-election, I think that the long-established practice of leaving the moving of a writ to the Chief Whip of the party who has suffered the loss of a Member is, on the whole, the best procedure. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bolsover for enabling us to discuss the matter and for reminding us of the power of Back Benchers, but I hope that at the end of the debate—if it is pushed to a Division—the House will decide that the writ should not—
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that his case, that a writ be issued so that the electorate at Brecon and Radnor can make its views known on the Government's policies, means that he ought to agree that it would be even better if the whole Government resigned and allowed the country to express its views on their policies?
I felt that you were likely to take that view, Mr. Speaker, and that it would be improper for me to respond to the hon. Gentleman.
I merely invite the House to take the view that, nothwithstanding the eloquence of the hon. Member for Bolsover, we should not accede to his suggestion.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. At business questions yesterday, I supported my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray) in pressing the Leader of the House for a statement on Eurolex, the computer database of English, Scottish and European law. The Leader of the House said that he suspected that a statement today would be "trivialising the matter". I give the House my word that, whatever the business today, I would have tried to raise the desperate anxieties of Dr. Norman Price and 52 other sacked members of staff and the need for an urgent referral to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
The matter is urgent because the Eurolex database could be removed and—
Order. This sounds like a Standing Order No. 10 application, which we do not have on Fridays. What is the point of order for me? The matter was raised at business questions yesterday and dealt with. There cannot be a point of order for me.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. At business questions yesterday the Leader of the House gave the impression that he would at least contact Trade Ministers on this desperately urgent issue, with a view to a statement being made. I will not abuse your agreement to take my point of order, but will simply list the issues involved.
Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot do that. The matter was dealt with yesterday. I have had no request from the Government for permission to make a statement. What the hon. Gentleman is doing is totally out of order, and he knows that.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is a serious matter. The Leader of the House undertook yesterday to convey to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry a matter that may involve not only the future of computer databases for legal information services, but, by precedent, the growth of information services of any kind in this country. The present action may make it impossible for any computer information service in this country to grow—
Order. That is as may be, but we had the matter out in business questions yesterday. The hon. Gentleman must find another opportunity to raise it. He must not do so on this private Members' motions day. That is totally out of order and I cannot allow it.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You and the House will recollect that the Home Secretary confirmed yesterday that a young Tamil had been returned to Sri Lanka by mistake. The Home Secretary said:
The high commission in Colombo has been asked to contact the person in question".—[Official Report, 6 June 1985; Vol. 80, c. 435.]
I understand that the Home Office has received telegrams overnight from the high commission in Colombo confirming that the young man has been located.
I have two questions. May I urge the Home Office to make a statement to confirm the facts and what the Home Secretary said yesterday about ordering an urgent and thorough investigation? We need to know the outcome of any such investigation. Secondly, as Speaker and the honorary president of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, will you consider contacting the Speaker of the Sri Lanka Parliament to see whether he will reinforce the assurances given by the President of Sri Lanka that no Tamil seeking entry to this country need have any fear for his well-being?
Order. That is enough on that subject. I have had no requests for permission to make a statement on this matter. The hon. Gentleman's second point is not within my responsibilities, which are to this House.
Order. The hon. Gentleman is seeking to carry on a discussion that we had at business questions yesterday. I cannot allow that during private Members' time. The Government have not come forward with a statement and I cannot allow this discussion to go on.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I hope that a few words of mine will facilitate the passage of business, because I believe that the House wishes to get on to the issues raised in the motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden).
In respect of the matter raised by the hon. Members for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray) and for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), I am advised that the merger does not qualify for investigation under the Fair Trading Act. However, it is obviously a matter of great concern and I suggest that we continue the discussion through the usual channels.
Before the points of order were raised, the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) urged the House to reject the motion. The hon. Gentleman was misguided, because, in effect, he was agreeing that we should not have a by-election in Brecon and Radnor until after the end of this Session. That would be singularly unfortunate.
Although my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) pointed out that this is a sovereign House which is always able to undo things that it has done, I do not believe that the hon. Member for Grantham would suggest that we should go on to even more unusual procedures. Therefore, we should spend a few minutes looking at the principles involved in the motion.
All our rights and privileges as hon. Members stem from the fact that we are elected. They can be rights and privileges only if everyone in the country has the right to participate in elections. Therefore, it must be a fundamental principle that as soon as possible after the death of an hon. Member or after a vacancy is created for other reasons, a by-election should be held so that people have the opportunity to be represented in the House.
However unfortunate it may be that the matter has to be debated today, we should spend some time looking at the principles involved. Anyone who studies Hansard will see that there have been many arguments and perhaps wrangles about the way in which by-elections are called.
In the 1960s there was considerable abuse because by-elections were not called until nine or 10 months — sometimes even longer — after a vacancy had been created. That was obviously unsatisfactory. In 1973, a writ was moved to speed up the calling of a by-election and, although the motion was defeated in the House, a Speaker's Conference considered the matter and produced the compromise that is now in operation. However, it is clear from some of the arguments that we have heard today that that compromise has not worked particularly well. Certainly, the procedures for calling by-elections in recesses are particularly unfortunate.
Therefore, I wonder whether my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover, who has suggested that he is moving towards becoming an establishment figure, will look at the practices of establishment figures and try to manoeuvre a deal that would involve the Government giving a clear commitment that the by-election will be called speedily, and certainly by July?
Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover might then consider withdrawing his motion so that no vote was necessary and we would not have to choose between 27 June or 4 July and not having an election until November. Perhaps he would also press that the Leader of the House and other parties should agree, with your approval, Mr. Speaker, that the matter be referred back to an electoral conference so that we can find a procedure for calling by-elections automatically rather than as a result of manoeuvrings between the usual channels. We could have rules under which you, Mr. Speaker, set the procedure in operation automatically.
I wish to remind my hon. Friend that the event on 10 July 1973 to which he referred, when an attempt was made to move a writ for the by-election at Berwick-upon-Tweed, was overtaken when the then Leader of the House moved a motion to move on to the Orders of the Day. As a result, we voted upon the motion to move to Orders of the Day rather than on the moving of the writ.
I agree with my hon. Friend's general outline of the way in which we should proceed with by-elections. I hope that my contribution today will assist. His point about ensuring that the holding of a by-election is not prolonged is uppermost in my mind, as it was in the mind of the person who moved the writ for Berwick-upon-Tweed on behalf of the Liberal party and the Social Democratic party— although that was not really invented then, but was only a small force.
I have taken on board all the points raised by my hon. Friend because I know that he, like me, has been interested in these matters for many years.
I thank my hon. Friend for his helpful intervention. There is a growing belief that there should be an automatic procedure for by-elections. I hope that when the Leader of the House speaks he will give the House a clear indication of the date of the by-election. If he does so, and if he can persuade us that we can look forward to some automatic procedure to resolve these matters in future, we may feel it possible not to vote on a matter that could result in only two choices of by-election date.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), I believe that the House owes a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) for providing a relatively rare opportunity to have a full discussion of the proper time for a by-election. As has been suggested by several hon. Members, more often than not the date is agreed in the form of a deal between the Front Benches, from which Back Benchers, by definition, are excluded.
The House will agree that this morning's debate has thrown some light on some important issues about the way in which our democracy functions. It is right and proper that such a debate should take place. Those interested in the proper functioning of parliamentary democracy therefore owe a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Bolsover.
Far from being an abuse of the procedures of the House, such a debate strikes at the very heart of what the House is all about. It provides an opportunity to discuss one of the most crucial issues raised by the functioning of parliamentary democracy. The House will understand if I say that it raises in my breast a certain wry amusement to hear the hon. Member for Bolsover give a stirring speech about the urgency of holding a ballot. I hold the elevated, unpaid and utterly powerless post of parliamentary private secretary to the Secretary of State for Energy. That has led me to become something of a connoisseur of the hon. Gentleman's speeches about the proper timing of ballots.
The hon. Gentleman's view on ballots is not consistent. For the past 18 months I have sat behind the Treasury Bench listening to him, on many occasions, rehearsing the arguments that I have come to know almost as well as he knows them, about the propriety of holding a ballot as a result of the decision of the executive of the National Union of Mineworkers to call a national strike.
I believe that this point is relevant to the consideration by the House of the proper timing of a by-election in Brecon and Radnor. It throws some light on the thinking of the person advancing the argument for an immediate ballot in that constituency. His arguments for immediate ballots on important issues have not been entirely consistent.
The argument for an immediate ballot has not been powerfully maintained either by Opposition Members or by those of my hon. Friends who have said that they support an immediate or hasty move towards calling a by-election. There has been what I regard as an unhealthy confusion between haste and democracy. Haste is not necessarily democratic. It is as easy to hold a ballot that is too early as it is to hold one that is too late. That is precisely why, in the legislation surrounding—
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that one powerful reason why the writ should be moved today is the workload that each Member of Parliament has to bear on behalf of his constituents— those who visit the House, who write letters or who come to our surgeries? The longer the delay in the issuance of the writ, the longer that Brecon and Radnor will be deprived of a Member of Parliament. Is that not a wrong element of the enfranchisement of the electorate? Is it not in their interests that there be an early moving of the writ so that they can be properly represented?
Of course, that is one of the issues that the House must take into account when deciding on the proper time to hold a by-election in Brecon and Radnor. But other issues surround the timing — issues that, presumably, were taken into account when it was decided that there should be a minimum period as well as a maximum period between the dissolution of Parliament and polling day in the calling of a general election. Therefore, it is perfectly possible for the period to be too short as well as to be too long.
May I refer the hon. Gentleman back to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell)? Those of us whose constituencies neighbour Brecon and Radnor are finding that the constituents in Brecon and Radnor are coming into our constituencies. While we are happy to help them, such a position cannot continue because they must be properly represented in Parliament.
The hon. Gentleman is coming perilously close to suggesting that the date of the by-election in Brecon and Radnor should be decided to suit the convenience of neighbouring Members of Parliament. While I entirely concede that the representation of the constituents of Brecon and Radnor is important, it is also important that when they go to the polls they should understand the choice that is available to them. It is important that the candidates presenting themselves for election in that constituency have had the opportunity to deploy the arguments which, in the end, the election is all about.
On the points raised by the hon. Members for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) and for Neath (Mr. Coleman), I can tell my hon. Friend that my hon. Friends who represent Welsh constituencies have been helping out with the constituency burdens in Brecon and Radnor. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Robinson) has been dealing with the correspondence left by our late colleague, Mr. Hooson, and actually spent last weekend in the constituency.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am sure that what he has said is in the best tradition of the House of Commons. Hon. Members on both sides of the House would wish to ensure that where urgent constituency cases arise in a constituency that is, for the moment, not represented in the House, we should all do our best to ensure that the constituents do not suffer.
Will the hon. Gentleman concede and clearly state that this has nothing to do with sharing the burden of a constituency? The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) was that, by delaying the election, we are effectively disfranchising a whole constituency comprising about 60,000 people. Will the hon. Gentleman admit that?
I shall not admit that, because I am arguing not for indefinite delay but for sufficient delay to allow the issues that will be at stake in the by-election to be properly argued and deployed by the candidates. The issues that will be at stake are not simple. Brecon and Radnor is not a simple homogeneous constituency and it will take a significant period for the arguments to be deployed and the candidates to make themselves known.
To take this point to its logical conclusion, there could be an argument that by-elections should be held after the party conferences, because those conferences will give the people of Brecon and Radnor the opportunity to see the various leaders on television displaying their talent or lack of talent. That might be a good thing. I do not know; I am not arguing one way or the other. It is a point that the hon. Gentleman should consider.
The hon. Gentleman said — I think that I have followed his argument correctly—that it was necessary to have sufficient time before calling the by-election to enable the issues to be considered and the candidates to establish themselves. Why is this necessary in a single by-election when it is never the case when a general election is called? I should have thought that the same arguments apply.
I have given way to the hon. Gentleman once already.
The constituency of Brecon and Radnor is not a simple constituency. I know it perhaps better than most hon. Members, because I held my first paid employment in the town of Brecon. The southern end of the constituency contains people who work in the coal mines of south Wales and the northern end contains people involved in hill fanning and agriculture. It is almost inconceivable that any candidate, however accomplished his previous career, will have a background and degree of recognition in that constituency sufficient to allow his views and the electorate's reaction to them to be established without a reasonable period of debate during the election campaign.
I am drawing my remarks to a close.
I commend the hon. Member for Bolsover for giving the House the opportunity to discuss the proper time scale in which a by-election should take place. I hope that, in reaching its decision, the House will not confuse haste with democracy and will ensure that the decision is made in sufficient time to enable the constituents to be properly represented in the House. I hope that the matter is not so speeded up that the issues and personalities in the campaign are not given a proper airing.
I believe that the electors of Brecon and Radnor will be eternally grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). I say that with some knowledge, unlike some hon. Members who have spoken in the debate. From 1979 until I was elected to the House last year, I represented in the European Parliament the electorate of Brecon and Radnor. I believe that I have particular knowledge of the electors' wishes, especially since part of that constituency is now part of my constituency of Cynon Valley.
In view of my hon. Friend's experience as the MEP for that area and the fact that her constituency borders Brecon and Radnor, does she agree that we are looking to the convenience not of candidates but of electors? Brecon and Radnor contains many villages. Does she agree that these villages require individual attention and that, therefore, it is essential that they have representation by a Member as soon as possible?
In a moment.
I pay tribute, as other hon. Members have done, to Mr. Tom Hooson, the former Member for Brecon and Radnor. I worked with him for five years. As might be expected we did not always see eye to eye. In fact, he took considerable dislike to a poll that I took in the constituency on attitudes towards the Common Market. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover rightly said that the constituents in Brecon and Radnor have become increasingly hostile towards the Common Market.
Much reference has been made by hon. Members to the importance of having a Welsh-speaking candidate in Brecon and Radnor. As a Welsh speaker, I do not believe that it is necessary in that constituency, because only 17 per cent. of the electorate speak Welsh. The EEC has acted in a particularly punitive manner towards an important industry in the constituency — Welsh whisky. The production of Welsh whisky could have been a very important industry.
I am told that some people believe that Welsh whisky is superior to Scotch whisky. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] The Common Market objected not to the whisky's flavour but to the fact that it was labelled in the Welsh language. It was called not Welsh whisky but Welsh chwisgi. The Common Market said, "This important product of Brecon and Radnor cannot possibly be called Welsh whisky. It must have a bilingual label." The producers of Welsh whisky were forced—
I advise those who are thinking of spending some time during the next few months in this particularly beautiful constituency that, although it is not essential to speak Welsh, it is essential to be able to pronounce Welsh place names.
I make this point to hon. Members who intend spending time canvassing in the election. It is important, not to be able to pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llandysiliogogogoch, but at least to be able to say Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells and Brycheiniog, which is the Welsh name for Brecon, and Ystradgynlais, which is a very important town in the constituency of Brecon and Radnor because of its coal mining connections. There are strong feelings in that town about the rundown of the coal industry and the effect of lack of investment in the coal industry in Wales. That is a bit of advice to those who may be considering going to the by-election in the near future.
In view of what Mr. Speaker has just said about the hon. Lady being the last Back Bencher to be called in this debate, does she realise that she has a heavy responsibility? I may be deprived of the opportunity to concentrate on the transport aspects in the constituency. Therefore, will the hon. Lady, in her capacity as a former Member of the European Assembly and the representative there for the Brecon and Radnor constituency among others, say what importance she attaches to the continuance of the central Wales line as a railway artery through the constituency?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for making that point. It is of great significance to the economy of the whole of Mid-Wales, and particularly Brecon and Radnor, that that railway continues in its present form. Not only the railway, but a good bus transport service is needed, and the constituents of Brecon and Radnor are most concerned about those services.
There is another liquid of great importance in this by-election which I have no doubt will be referred to continually throughout the campaign, and that is water.
Will the hon. Lady confirm that this particularly good whisky is manufactured by a former Plaid Cymru candidate in the constituency? I do not know whether his name has been selected for this by-election but Mr. Dafydd Gittins has had considerable difficulty because of the EEC and deserves all support in the by-election to ensure fair play in the future.
The fact that this Plaid Cymru producer is a good publicist does not detract from the whisky. He obviously has an ally in the hon. Member.
Water is of particular importance in this constituency. It has some of the largest reservoirs in the whole of Wales and it supplies Birmingham. Unfortunately, the electors of Brecon and Radnor, like many other people in Wales, pay more for their water than people in Birmingham. This is a strong issue and a bone of contention in the area.
The people of Birmingham are extremely grateful to Wales for the beautiful flow of sweet water that we have. If the payments that we make to the people of Wales are not adequate, I am sure that some arrangement can be made.
Does not the hon. Lady realise that the electors of Brecon and Radnor may just as well be aggrieved by these proceedings, which are not designed to result in the issuing of a writ, to be brought to an end by other proceedings, but are designed to delay the by-election? Will they not also be aggrieved by the fact that they see the House of Commons being prevented from discussing issues on which either side may have strong views by a deliberate diversion?
I am pointing out some of the issues that are of pressing importance in the impending by-election, and to show why I think that the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover should be backed by all hon. Members.
A massive increase in water charges, which recently came into force, has made water a political issue in Wales once again. That is why we should pay considerable attention to the problem.
Brecon is renowned for another important production —Brecon bubbly. Recently, we have had considerable problems with the water supply in Norman Shaw South. As a show of support for an area that is suffering from massive unemployment and for a developing industry, we may introduce the beautiful Brecon-produced water known as Brecon bubbly into the restaurants of the House.
I respect your ruling, Mr. Speaker.
Tom Hooson was a perceptive man. However, he objected to the poll on the EEC that I carried out in the constituency. It showed that the majority of people were worried about the EEC's policies and the way that they were affecting the constituents of Brecon and Radnor. Mr. Hooson said in a debate on the economy and employment of Wales:
I would have very little confidence in the competence of even the present Cabinet to create jobs."-[Official Report, 6 May 1982; Vol. 23, c. 320.]
His words have, unfortunately, been shown to be true.
Mr. Hooson said—to those who will be considering whether to support the motion, this may be of some relevance—in his maiden speech:
In numerous post-war elections my party strove hard to win this seat. It is a remarkable tribute to Mr. Roderick and Lord Watkins, his predecessor . . . that between them they successfully fended us off for over 40 years. The best prizes in life are those that are hard to achieve, and this prize is quite simply the loveliest constituency in the country … I invite hon. Member to take their holidays in the constituency if they wait until we have completed the Brecon bypass."—[Official Report, 23 May 1979; Vol 967, c. 1156.]
The Brecon bypass is one of the few roads in Wales that have been completed while the Government have been in office. The time is now appropriate for hon. Members involved in the by-election to go to that constituency and use that wonderful bypass, unless they happen to be on the right side of the House, when they will obviously wish to linger a while in Brecon and Radnor.
It gives me great pleasure to support the motion. It is in the interests of the constituents of Brecon and Radnor, particularly the aggrieved farmers, who are suffering from the effects of milk quotas and the other cuts imposed by the Government to hold a by-election as soon as possible so that they can show their support for the Labour candidate.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I listened to your statement before the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) addressed the House that she would be the last Back Bencher that you intended to call in the debate. Normally, when under the ordinary procedures of the House we are engaged in debate, we know exactly when Front-Bench spokesmen will rise. Today, we have had very little warning. May I ask whether, on this very important matter of democracy in practice and at work, it is your intention to call those Back Benchers who feel deeply about representing their views to the Front-Bench spokesmen? There are strong feelings among Back Benchers about the moving of a writ and the representation in the House of constituents who at present are unrepresented. Will you be calling Back Benchers after the interventions of the two Front Bench spokesmen?
The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) is an experienced Chairman. In my view he should listen to what right hon. Members on the two Front Benches say. I hope that the hon. Gentleman was here at the beginning of the debate. I draw his attention to what I said then, which was that I hoped that proceedings on these matters would not be artificially prolonged and that today's proceedings would be conducted in our best traditions. If I now call the Front-Bench spokesmen, I think that the hon. Gentleman may be satisfied.
This has been an important and very interesting debate, and I can understand why other hon. Members wish to make further contributions to it.
Like others, I listened with interest and enjoyment to what my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) said in his characteristically pungent speech when moving the motion for the writ for a by-election at Brecon and Radnor.
Hon. Members will know that the custom and practice of the House is for any new writ to be moved by the Chief Whip of the party to which the Member vacating the seat belonged. That is not a rule of the House, but it is and has been a long-entrenched custom. The question that has been very properly debated is whether we should depart from that custom on this occasion.
As I listened to the debate and the reasons advanced for holding an early by-election by moving the writ today, I found the arguments very compelling. They were put most persuasively. I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover has good reason to suspect that there is considerable nervousness on the part of the Government about the holding of an early by-election. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] They have every reason to be nervous, because there is no doubt that the outcome of an election will be determined in part by their neglect of the rural areas, especially Welsh rural areas, to which attention was drawn in a debate earlier this week. There is a clear and adverse swing against them occurring in the country as a whole, and this has been enormously reinforced, as Government supporters are beginning slowly to recognise, by statements about the future dismantling of so much of the welfare state.
I do not want to trespass on the party political part of the right hon. Gentleman's comments, but may I take him back to what he said a moment ago, because he moved rather quickly from the procedural aspect of the motion? If some of us who had hoped to catch Mr. Speaker's eye are not able to do so—we may have to wait for another occasion — will the right hon. Gentleman say from his experience whether, if today's motion is lost, it is open to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) or any other hon. Member at any time to seek again to move the writ for this by-election?
I bow to authorities greater than my own on this, but that is my understanding.
I want to return to the reason why I found the arguments for the moving of the writ and an early by-election so compelling. I have mentioned what I believe to be the undoubted anxieties of the Government. For several months now they have been anxious to avoid by-elections whenever possible. However, I have been impressed by the fact that hon. Members representing all parties have supported the moving of the writ. The hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) gave it his support on behalf of Plaid Cymru, the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones), a Welsh Conservative, said that he was in favour of going ahead, and many Opposition Members obviously said the same. The only exception to this almost unanimous view was the Liberal Chief Whip, the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), who seemed not at all anxious that we should even debate whether the writ should be moved. I can only assume that this reflects the undoubted anxiety that his party has because it has not even worked out its own arrangements with its alleged alliance partner in the area.
I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman misquoted me quite dramatically in that I sought to reassure the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) and the House that the Conservative party in Wales was not reluctant and was looking forward to an early by-election but that most emphatically I did not support the moving of the writ today, because I felt that these matters should be conducted in the proper way.
In that case, I take it that the hon. Gentleman has given the motion his qualified support. He is very much in favour of the matter not being delayed beyond the minimum time reasonable for the election to be held. I take that to be broadly in support of the motion that the writ should be moved at an early date.
It may be that from where the right hon. Gentleman is sitting he was unable to see that, before he rose to speak, I sought to catch Mr. Speaker's eye so that I could assert that Liberals would like the by-election as soon as possible so that our candidate could win it and that this morning's proceedings were not intended to bring that about, as he knows perfectly well.
Unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman did not make that speech. If he had made it, he would have found himself contradicting what he said in his earlier intervention.
As I say, I was impressed by the obvious support from all parties, with the exception of the Liberals, that the writ should be moved today. I was also impressed and was bound to be by the fact that so many hon. Members who represent Welsh constituencies and who know Wales backed the moving of the writ. I refer of course to the hon. Member for Caernarfon, my hon. Friend for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) and, if he will allow me to, the hon. Member for Cardiff, North.
There is undoubtedly a strong feeling in the Principality and among the Members of Parliament who are associated with it and who represent it, that there should be an early election. It is my belief from all that I hear from the area that the people of Brecon and Radnor want an early election, both because they want to be represented here in Parliament and because they wish to have the opportunity to pass their own judgment upon this Government. I think that the country would wish that also. I think that there is a strong wish throughout Britain that an opportunity should be provided to fire a warning shot across the bows of the Government as they plunge ever further into controversial and damaging policies in this Parliament.
My hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) referred to this. In the past there have been scandalous delays in the holding of by-elections. In July 1973 a former Member, Mr. Dick Taverne, whose general political conduct we in the Labour party have good reason to condemn and deplore, did a useful service to the House by drawing attention to the conventions of the time in the case of the Berwick-upon-Tweed by-election. He said that, unless a move was made, there would be a delay of no less than five months before that by-election could be held. He attempted to move a writ and to bring forward the by-election to make sure that the people of that constituency were not left unrepresented for such a long time.
In that same debate in July 1973 I recall the leader of the Liberal party drawing attention to a longer delay of six months affecting the by-election in Orpington in 1962, because the Government Chief Whip at that time was too frightened to move the writ. All that contrasts sharply with other occasions. For example, in June 1973 only three weeks were allowed to elapse before the by-election in Ripon took place.
The defence of the then Leader of the House our former colleague, Mr. James Prior — [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"]—I meant the former Leader of the House and our continuing colleague in the House the right hon. Member for Waveney (Mr. Prior). He said in the debate in 1973 that if Mr. Taverne moved the motion, it could not be moved again that Session. He therefore proposed an amendment to the effect that the House should pass to the Orders of the Day, which was carried. Mr. Taverne returned to the matter on 19 July 1973, but the debate was adjourned without a Division.
A most important factor influencing hon. Members on both sides of the House at that time was the work then going on in the Speaker's Conference, which was sitting at the time. It was properly argued that the issuing of writs and the delay in holding by-elections should be a subject for its consideration and report, and that the House should await the outcome.
That was a very important Speaker's Conference. I remind the House that it reported in November of that year and put forward several guidelines of which we should take note today. The most important were, first:
The motion for a writ for a by-election should normally be moved within three months of a vacancy arising".
The total period (from vacancy to the moving of the writ) should not be more than four months.
The Speaker's Conference also considered the custom of allowing the party that formerly held the seat to move the new writ and thus decide the date of the by-election. That was found to be reasonable. I have no reason to believe that any of the parties in the House have departed from that broad conclusion since then. No change was recommended, except for when a vacancy occurred during the recess. No formal resolution was made to give legal standing to those guidelines from the Speaker's Conference. However, the rule has been observed in almost every by-election since 1974.
Does my right hon. Friend accept that, because the House made no formal resolution on that matter, several other matters that were considered by that Speaker's Conference, especially the calling of by-elections during recesses, were never altered? Therefore, is there not a strong argument for having another Speaker's Conference so that this formal agreement and the other recommendations that came from the Speaker's Conference can be made part of the Standing Orders of the House?
My hon. Friend makes a serious point, but he will forgive me if I do not give him an off-the-cuff reply. I wish to consider his suggestion more carefully.
In most cases, by-elections have been held well within the time limit recommended by the Speaker's conference and, as we know, the vacancy in Brecon and Radnor occurred on the death of its Member on 8 May, which was only one month ago. If my hon. Friend has reason to fear that the Government will not move the writ for a by-election within three months of that date, it could well be right for us to support his motion. However, having listened carefully to what he said, I believe that on this occasion at least he has not established his anxieties with the evidence that I would need to convince me that the by-election would be unreasonably delayed. Although I do not know when the Government intend to move the writ, I have no evidence that they wish to break with the established convention, but that is a matter on which the Leader of the House could easily give us a cast-iron assurance.
For that reason, and because in a later debate today I shall try to persuade the House not to change its established rules and procedures without the fullest possible consideration and discussion, I urge my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover to withdraw his motion.
As I said at the outset, the main reason for my moving the writ was to test the opinion of the House. I also said that I might not secure the approval of the House for the withdrawal of my motion. If that were the case, other action would have to be taken. Of course, if we are assured of a relatively early by-election, my purpose will have been achieved. Another major reason for doing it was to show Back-Bench Members that they have the power to move writs for by-elections. Perhaps in the future other hon. Members will take a hand in matters when the Government of the day, of whichever colour, seem to be unwilling to move a writ.
I shall make the necessary withdrawal — [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."]— but I should also say that, if the House objects, I can do nothing about it. I am trying to be obliging today. Mostly it is revolution, but today it is roses, so I shall make the necessary withdrawal—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] DO you hear the voices, Mr. Speaker?
I am sorry that the desire of the hon. Member for Bolsover, (Mr. Skinner), who has had such a good morning, to withdraw his motion has been thwarted by the House. I hope that on further reflection the House will feel that the matter has been considerably canvassed and that we should proceed to consider other business.
I thank the hon. Member for Bolsover for opening his remarks with generous tributes to Tom Hooson who, during his time in the House, earned and deserved a friendship which ranged across all parties. I had the privilege of knowing him long before he came to the House, and I felt great personal sadness on his death.
The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) reminded the House that the debate has been a repeat of one held in 1973, which was initiated by Mr. Dick Taverne. It is an interesting commentary on the changing nature of politics that the hon. Member for Bolsover so easily sits with the Taverne arguments in this respect. The twin faces of Socialism doubtless will be fashioned and reconsidered as necessity requires. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the skill with which he is becoming a member of the Establishment.
I have only two observations to make, because the debate has to some extent answered itself. First, the time may have come to resolve the matter so that we can move to other issues for consideration later this morning. Secondly, how one resolves the question of calling by-elections is an important issue. As the right hon. Gentleman said, we are served by established conventions in this respect. Since 1911 it has been the convention that the Chief Whip of the party holding the seat should move the issuing of the writ, and that the writ should be moved within four months of the vacancy occuring. On the latter, I assure the House that there is no question of the Government doing anything other than abiding by that convention. On the former, my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary having the responsibility for moving the writ on behalf of the Government, which is being challenged, the House is invited this morning to substitute the hon. Member for Bolsover for my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary. With all the generosity in the world, I do not call that a fair switch. I cannot recommend that to the House.
On this occasion I suggest that we remain with our normal conventions and, therefore, I advise the House not to accept the motion. To negative the motion would, however, prevent it from being moved•again in the present Session, unless the House agreed to overrule that decision. Therefore, I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
this House do pass to the Orders of the Day.
I rise to oppose the amendment with all the strength that I can command and whatever eloquence I can muster. I oppose it for two reasons. First, it derives from a point put a little while ago by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch), who asked whether it would be proper for more Back Bench Members to express their views upon the matter which was before us—that is, the main Question. He was right. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that when you called my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) to speak, a considerable number of Back Bench Members on both sides of the House sought to catch your eye to speak. I know that we have spent some time on it, but this is a matter of great importance and I should have liked to make some observations on it. At least one dozen other hon. Members, divided pretty equally among the parties, also wanted to speak. Those hon. Members should have a chance to say what they want to say on the main Question before we proceed to the Orders of the Day.
My second reason for objecting to the amendment is that the Orders of the Day contain a motion which is a gross abuse of the privileges of the House and which contains the seeds of considerable danger — [Interruption.]
You probably did not hear it, Mr. Speaker, but the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) said that the House does not wish to hear what I have to say. Any hon. Member who does not wish to hear what I have to say, including the hon. Lady, is free to depart. I shall be so arrogant as to assume that those who choose to remain rather than go for a coffee or a pre-lunch sherry do so because they want to hear what I have to say.
I was about to say, when you kindly intervened, Mr. Speaker, that I thought that you and the House would take the view that that type of observation was not worthy of being credited with a rejoinder. It was intended to raise the temperature, and it lowered the tone of our proceedings. We can live without yah-boo stuff in the House, whether it comes from a male or a female hon. Member. Yah-boo stuff just lets us all down.
I shall continue to make my serious point, irrespective of interruptions. There were complaints earlier from my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and from the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) that the motion was an abuse of the time of the House. I should like to tell them, and anybody else who thinks like them, that those who have concurred with and connived in the use of a private Member's motion not to express the view of the hon. Member but to alter the arrangements for the business of the House and who then talk about others abusing the procedures of the House should remember the proverb about people in glasshouses not throwing stones. I oppose the amendment and our proceeding to the Orders of the Day because one of those orders is a clear abuse of the privileges and procedures of the House.
The order also sets a dangerous precedent. In the next Session of Parliament the chance of a private Member's Bill being adequately debated in the House could depend not on the place of that Bill in the ballot, as it does under our regular rule, but on whether the promoter can persuade an hon. Member who has drawn a place in the ballot for private Member's motions to use that opportunity to create a timetable or non-timetable motion for the Bill. That is a fiddle; there is no other word for it. It is a crooked piece of procedure and we ought not to condone it. [Interruption.] Conservative Members usually need a little rest with a meal and some other refreshment before they get into this public school yah-boo attitude. They must have had a more than usually expansive breakfast.
We must be very careful about this matter because it could seriously interfere with the rights of private Members and the chance of private Members' Bills getting through. I believe that there is a case for examining whether there should be more private Members' time than there has been in recent Sessions, but that will come afterwards. If we accept the precedent in the motion of the hon. Member for Brighton, Kempton (Mr. Bowden), I believe that in the next Session private Members' Bills will not get the priority that they should have under the balloting method that we have always adopted and which, until it is changed—if it is ever changed, which I doubt —governs and always has governed our procedures on private Members' Bills.
Just think of all the undignified arrangements that there could be in the next Session. Whoever draws first place in the ballot for private Members' motions will be faced with a queue of Members with Bills at various stages asking him to put down a business motion to facilitate the passage of their Bills. That Member will then have to choose between the various Bills and the real object of private Members' motions will disappear.
It has been one of the great traditions of the House that Members lucky enough to draw a place in the ballot for private Members' motions express an opinion and ask the House to concur in that opinion about some important issue of policy which specifically affects their constituents. As we know, private Members' motions are very often concerned with the particular problems of individual constituencies.
If we reached the Orders of the Day on this occasion, it would be rather nice if the first two motions could be disposed of quickly so that we can proceed to the third motion which relates to conditions in Brighton, and especially in Kemptown. That would allow the hon. Member for Kemptown to do his duty by his constituents, who must be wondering why the hon. Gentleman has not used this great opportunity which comes at most once in a Parliament. I have been here for 35 years, but I have never yet drawn a place in the ballot. His constituents must be wondering why, having done so well, he has not taken advantage of it in order to seek policy changes which would benefit his constituents.
Does not the hon. Gentleman consider that he may have underestimated the danger? He appears to assume that the collusion which might take place with somebody who has been successful in the ballot would be restricted to that person and to the person who came top of the ballot. May I put to him an alternative proposition which could be a good deal worse. The hon. Gentleman, who is an experienced Member of Parliament, knows that one does not have to win a place in the ballot to present a Bill. The hon. Gentleman, or any hon. Member, can present a Bill for First Reading at any time. It is a very simple procedure. Far from the collusion having to depend upon an hon. Member who has been successful in a ballot working with the hon. Member who has been successful in the ballot for private Members' Bills, it could be much more sinister if the hon. Member who was successful in the ballot introduced for First Reading a Bill upon any subject that he chose. That would be an even greater corruption of the parliamentary procedure than that to which the hon. Gentleman has referred.
I was coming to that point. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) for making it. He has made it perhaps more clearly than I could have done. Therefore, I shall not abuse the time of the House by repeating what the hon. Gentleman said. There is a danger that this could be done with ten-minute Bills. All one would have to do would be to get a ten-minute Bill through the House unopposed and then go to an hon. Friend who had won first place in the ballot and get him to put down a business motion for that day. It would mean that ten-minute Bills which were passed on the nod in a thin House at midnight on a Wednesday could jump the queue ahead of all the balloted private Members' Bills. The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to this danger, and I am grateful to him for doing so.
Does the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) accept that there is another danger to which he has not yet referred —that the Government of the day could use this as a precedent? They could use the motion to introduce Government legislation by this means, which would prejudice private Members' legislation.
I do not know what divine inspiration has descended from Heaven upon Conservative Members. It is manifest that some of them have become mind readers. Like his hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) has anticipated precisely the point that I was about to make. It is within the knowledge of all hon. Members that occasionally Government Whips have been known sub rosa to seek to influence the course of private Members' business. They are not supposed to do so. I was very shocked when for the first time in the last Parliament, shortly after 1979, a Conservative Member asked me to pair on a private Member's motion. He was a new Member of Parliament. I said, "You cannot pair on private Members' business because you cannot be whipped on it." He said, "I've been." I was shocked. As the hon. Member for Grantham rightly said, there is great danger in this procedure. It is because the motion, which forms part of the Orders of the Day, opens the floodgates to that sort of procedure that I oppose the motion.
I accept that my hon. Friend has a far greater knowledge of procedure than I have. He may well have noticed that there is an amendment on the Order Paper in my name and that of the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg). It is designed to bring before the House today the Minimum Wages Etc Bill, to provide a minimum wage of £115 a week for the 8 million workers —one third of the work force—who are on low pay.
I accept my hon. Friend's arguments about precedent and the desirability or otherwise of that precedent, but will he agree that there are certain Labour Back Benchers who, if the precedent is set, will be more than happy to keep the House sitting for the whole weekend if that will mean that 8 million workers can have a decent rate of pay?
Here there are signs of yet another danger. My hon. Friend has referred to the amendment that he has tabled to the motion of the hon. Member for Kemptown. As we all know, the selection of amendments is within the discretion of Mr. Speaker. Therefore, in a situation such as my hon. Friend envisaged, Mr. Speaker would be faced with the task of having to decide between a number of different private Members' Bills and whether they should be given special time for debate. I am sure that neither you, Mr. Speaker, nor any of your successors— may the first of them be long distant—want to be faced with the obligation of having to make that choice.
I fear that the hon. Gentleman may have mislaid a page of his notes, because there is a further danger that he has not yet covered and that he might want to mention. I refer to the pressure that is brought to bear on hon. Members by outside interest groups. We are all familiar with the letters that are received by people who win high places in the ballot for private Members' Bills every November. The pressure groups outside are well aware that, depending on the result of that ballot, that is the one time of the year when a private Member has a realistic chance of introducing a Bill that will get on to the statute book.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, if the precedent were accepted and became a permanent part of the parliamentary process, every six weeks, when there is a ballot for private Member's motions, all those pressure groups would immediately write to hon. Members commending particular measures which it would be possible for a successful Member to introduce under the timetable motion proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden)?
What the hon. Gentleman says is right, but I would not look upon it as a grave danger, because I think that hon. Members are grown-up people and should be willing to deal sensibly with pressures upon them in relation to what they conceive to be the merits. I know that what the hon. Gentleman says is right because, although I have never drawn a place in a ballot for private Members' motions, I once drew No. 2 in the ballot for private Members' Bills, and I had 83 different proposed Bills presented to me in the course of 72 hours, some of them with huge bundles of documents which had obviously taken months to prepare. It is a problem, but I do not regard it as a danger.
I am sure that it is right to say that hon. Members can resist the pressures, but surely the hon. Gentleman should consider the effect on the groups outside. It is one thing for a group to know that once a year it has to make the sort of effort to which I referred. It is quite another thing every six weeks to have to organise and present an argument to the House of Commons. Under the present system it happens once a year, and if pressure groups are unsuccessful they know that they have to wait another year.
It has become increasingly evident while I have been speaking—not so much from what I have said as from the helpful and constructive interventions of hon. Members — that the procedure contained within the motion tabled by the hon. Member for Kemptown opens a whole can of worms. On those grounds, therefore, we should not proceed to the Orders of the Day. I apologise to any hon. Member who finds that my speech has been of a lower intellectual quality than his or her standard of speech, but I can only do my best, and I rest my case.
Yesterday, when I addressed a question to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, I was at a loss for words because they were not my words; they were those of Shakespeare. I shall not weary the House by doing that now. I know what I want to say today.
I am glad that I have caught your eye, Mr. Speaker, because I was worried that we would move to the business of the House before we had properly considered the matter which I believe to be of much greter importance—the moving of the writ for the by-election in Brecon and Radnor. I speak as a Back Bencher who is reluctant to give ground to anyone on the Front Benches, much as I respect the wisdom of leaving some matters to the judgment of the Front Bench.
I listened to the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) recommend to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) that he should withdraw his motion. I do not agree with that. I feel that we should have an opportunity today to consider a matter of the greatest importance — the representation in this Parliament of constituents deprived of such representation by the death of an hon. Member.
I should like to pay my tribute to the late Tom Hooson whom I so greatly respected, not just as a friend but as a wise counsellor in my party, and for his political activities here. He was a man of great diligence and activity in his constituency. The constituency is now deprived of the work of a Member of Parliament. I am not content to leave that matter in the hands of the Patronage Secretary without some debate.
For the first time that I can recollect in nearly 20 years, we have had a full debate about why there should be representation of all electors all the time in this Parliament. I abhor a vacuum, and there is a vacuum when there is even one person missing in the House. I am not interested in the 80 who sit on the Front Bench and have Government appointments, I am interested in the 650 Members. There should be 650 Members of Parliament to represent the electors.
It may be suggested that I have no right to interfere with judgments that are of importance to the Principality of Wales. I have no connection with Wales but I have a peculiar understanding of some of its problems. When I rose this morning on a point of order you referred to me, Mr. Speaker, as one of your panel of Chairmen of Committees. In a way, I represent you, Mr. Speaker, in Committee. I had the great and peculiar honour some months ago of chairing the Welsh Grand Committee. I was informed particularly and even peculiarly of the problems which face the people of Wales and their representatives in this place. It was a valuable experience for me. When I heard that it was felt by some that the interests of the electors of Brecon and Radnor should at least be aired in a debate I wanted to participate in it.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that there are two ways in which constituents can fail to be represented in this place? They cease to be represented when there is a delay in moving a writ for a by-election. Secondly, they would cease properly to be represented if a procedure were used which tied us all down and kept us in the House throughout weekends. That would mean that we would be unable to return to our constituencies to represent the interests of our people. We must be able to meet them and to discuss their problems and troubles. We should not move on to the Orders of the Day. If we do so, we shall be in danger of diminishing our ability to represent our constituents. I speak for myself and the other 649 Members.
I accept what the hon. Lady has said. She has brought us to the nub of the issue. I agree that it would be wrong for us to move on to consider the Orders of the Day. Following the initiative of the hon. Member for Bolsover, we should consider the writ and give it proper priority. The hon. Gentleman's move was not precipitate but it would be precipitate of us to move quickly to the other business, which would lead to many disadvantages for Members and electors. To do so would produce real disadvantages in the practice and working of democracy in this place. We should not do that. We should not even give ourselves the opportunity of doing so.
Perhaps we should provide an opportunity for consideration to be given to the procedure that has led to the appearance on the Order Paper of the motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden). We have a Procedure Committee and it could properly consider the innovation that has been brought before us by my hon. Friend, who, aided by some of his hon. Friends and, no doubt, by Opposition Members, has dreamed up the idea of prolonging the sitting of the House and, by the actions of one or two Members, enabling it to consider business over the weekend. If this procedure is adopted, we shall not be in our constituencies on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The hon. Gentleman has given reasons why there should be a full attendance in this place. There is an additional reason for the lack of attendance that has nothing to do with the replacement of deceased Members and the moving of writs. I refer to the part-time nature of many hon. Members who moonlight in other jobs. Perhaps we should consider moving a motion that states that a Member of this place should have only one job and that that job should be the representation of his or her constituents.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will agree that we have overlooked another important aspect. We have been talking about the difficulties which face us as Members of this place, but we have not discussed the difficulties that face the staff. With only a couple of days' notice, they could be kept here over weekends. This would obviously infringe their rights to leisure time at the weekends. They already work enough unsocial hours. They would be on a nerve-wracking edge if they did not know whether they would have to remain in the House over weekends. I know that the House and its wishes take precedence over these considerations, but surely the interests of the staff should be taken into account and, therefore, we should not reach the motion of the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden).
I think that sometimes both Front Benchers and Back Benchers neglect to consider the servants of the House, who serve us so magnificently and diligently without so much as a whimper of complaint. They do not have the Floor of the House to make such complaints. We should consider them and how we put them to disadvantage—even inefficiency—by making it almost impossible for them to carry out their task.
Inconvenience is caused not only to the servants of this House, but to the servant of my house— my wife. [Interruption.] I phoned her last night and she said, "Will you be in for dinner?" I said, "I do not know." She said, "What about breakfast on Saturday?" I said, "I do not know." She asked, "Should I buy a joint for Saturday lunch?" I said, "I do not know." She asked, "What about Saturday supper?" I said, "I do not know."
Sunday is a day of rest and the day of the family luncheon. It is impossible for me to decide what I can do at the weekend. My wife is in despair, wondering whether she will see me later tonight or not until the end of next week.
I shall consult my wife. I hope that there will be no report about what I have said about the servant in my house, because that might be misinterpreted. We use words here that are understood my hon. Members and are parliamentary language, but they might be misunderstood by my wife.
You have pleaded, Mr. Speaker, that we should be serious, and I agree. I have said that I will not quote Shakespeare again, though, heaven knows, he is serious enough. He is certainly as serious as the hon. Member for Bolsover, who has prompted me to support him.
The hon. Member for Bolsover is smiling today and is a different man from what he was in the past. He used to use derisory phrases about me. He once called me Wilfrid Hyde-White. I cannot think why. As the House saw yesterday, I am not a very good actor.
This is a serious matter and I know that some hon. Members, including my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, want to get on to the next business.
The hon. Gentleman's response to my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) should have been longer. She asked him about the conditions of those who work in this place. Like me, the hon. Gentleman will know that, as this place is a palace, it is not covered by the regulations that apply to shops, factories and so on. Fire regulations and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 do not apply here.
The hon. Gentleman will also know that most accidents take place towards the end of shifts or in periods of overtime. We may have witnessed such an accident this week when chemicals were put into the water supply at the Norman Shaw South building. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if the staff of the House are asked to work much longer than their normal working hours, not only will our working conditions be affected, but their health and safety will be put at risk?
I shall not go far up that road, but I am concerned about health and safety and I take the hon. Gentleman's point.
I will draw my remarks to a close. On an unusually well-attended Friday sitting, the hon. Member for Bolsover has given us the opportunity to consider the most important question of all, which is the representation of the people. That is what we are here for.
Much as I admired the perspicacity and tenacity of the hon. Member for Bolsover—
No. I have admired the fact that the hon. Member for Bolsover has made such use of "Erskine May" in the past five days that few of us have been able to get access to it, but I agree with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that we would not swap the Government Chief Whip for him. I trust the judgment of the Chief Whip. We have seen on the front pages this week an example of the magnificent judgment of my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip.
On that happy note, and without any more references to anyone, I must say that I am unhappy to move on to the Business of the House, but I hope that I have made my point.
|Alexander, Richard||Craigen, J. M.|
|Alton, David||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Ancram, Michael||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Ashby, David||Dewar, Donald|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Dicks, Terry|
|Beggs, Roy||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Beith, A. J.||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.|
|Bendall, Vivian||Dover, Den|
|Bennett, Rt Hon Sir Frederic||Dunn, Robert|
|Benyon, William||Durant, Tony|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Fallen, Michael|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Favell, Anthony|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Body, Richard||Forrester, John|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Fox, Marcus|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Fraser, Peter (Angus East)|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Gale, Roger|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Galley, Roy|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Bright, Graham||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Brinton, Tim||Greenway, Harry|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Grist, Ian|
|Burt, Alistair||Ground, Patrick|
|Butcher, John||Hamilton, James (M'well N)|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Butterfill, John||Hancock, Mr. Michael|
|Campbell, Ian||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Hannam, John|
|Cash, William||Hargreaves, Kenneth|
|Chope, Christopher||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Hawksley, Warren|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Hayes, J.|
|Clarke, Thomas||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Henderson, Barry|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Hind, Kenneth|
|Colvin, Michael||Hirst, Michael|
|Conway, Derek||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Coombs, Simon||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Cope, John||Holt, Richard|
|Cormack, Patrick||Home Robertson, John|
|Corrie, John||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)|
|Hume, John||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Robertson, George|
|Kennedy, Charles||Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)|
|Kilfedder, James A.||Rowlands, Ted|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'field)||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Lang, Ian||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.|
|Latham, Michael||Scott, Nicholas|
|Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Shersby, Michael|
|Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)||Silvester, Fred|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Sims, Roger|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Lilley, Peter||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant)||Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)|
|Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Stanbrook, Ivorv|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|McCrea, Rev William||Stevens, Martin (Fulham)|
|McCusker, Harold||Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)|
|MacGregor, John||Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Sumberg, David|
|McQuarrie, Albert||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Maginnis, Ken||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Major, John||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Malins, Humfrey||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Malone, Gerald||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Marlow, Antony||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Martin, Michael||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Mather, Carol||Tinn, James|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Tracey, Richard|
|Meadowcroft, Michael||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Mellor, David||Viggers, Peter|
|Merchant, Piers||Waddington, David|
|Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Walden, George|
|Mitchell, David (NW Hants)||Walker, Cecil (Belfast N)|
|Moate, Roger||Waller, Gary|
|Molyneaux, Rt Hon James||Ward, John|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Moore, John||Watts, John|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Wheeler, John|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||White, James|
|Nelson, Anthony||Whitney, Raymond|
|Neubert, Michael||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Nicholson, J.||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Onslow, Cranley||Wolfson, Mark|
|Page, Sir John (Harrow W)||Wood, Timothy|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Paisley, Rev Ian|
|Pawsey, James||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Mr. Peter Bruinvels and|
|Pike, Peter||Mr. Christopher Murphy.|
|Abse, Leo||Clwyd, Mrs Ann|
|Adley, Robert||Cohen, Harry|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Coleman, Donald|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Conlan, Bernard|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Cook, Frank (Stockton North)|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)|
|Bell, Stuart||Corbett, Robin|
|Benn, Tony||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Cox, Thomas (Tooting)|
|Boyes, Roland||Crouch, David|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Currie, Mrs Edwina|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Dalyell, Tam|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)|
|Buchan, Norman||Dobson, Frank|
|Caborn, Richard||Dormand, Jack|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J.||Dubs, Alfred|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Eadie, Alex|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Eastham, Ken|
|Clay, Robert||Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Fatchett, Derek||Ottaway, Richard|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Patchett, Terry|
|Flannery, Martin||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Foster, Derek||Prescott, John|
|Foulkes, George||Randall, Stuart|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Garrett, W. E.||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Haynes, Frank||Sheerman, Barry|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Howells, Geraint||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Skinner, Dennis|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Jackson, Robert||Soley, Clive|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Spearing, Nigel|
|Knowles, Michael||Spencer, Derek|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Stern, Michael|
|Lewis, Terence (Worsley)||Strang, Gavin|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Straw, Jack|
|McKelvey, William||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Thurnham, Peter|
|McWilliam, John||Torney, Tom|
|Madden, Max||Wareing, Robert|
|Maxton, John||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Meacher, Michael||Young, David (Bo/ton SE)|
|Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Needham, Richard||Mr. Ian Mikardo and|
|Nellist, David||Mr. Douglas Hogg.|
|Question accordingly agreed to.|
|Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:|
|The House divided: Ayes 225, Noes 86.|
|Division No. 233]||[12.52 pm|
|Adley, Robert||Cash, William|
|Alexander, Richard||Chope, Christopher|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Clark, Dr David (S Shields)|
|Ancram, Michael||Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)|
|Ashby, David||Clarke, Thomas|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Clegg, Sir Walter|
|Beggs, Roy||Clwyd, Mrs Ann|
|Bendall, Vivian||Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)|
|Benyon, William||Colvin, Michael|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Conway, Derek|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Coombs, Simon|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Cope, John|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Cormack, Patrick|
|Body, Richard||Corrie, John|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Craigen, J. M.|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Crouch, David|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Currie, Mrs Edwina|
|Boyes, Roland||Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Dewar, Donald|
|Bright, Graham||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Brown, M.(Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Dover, Den|
|Burt, Alistair||Dunn, Robert|
|Butcher, John||Durant, Tony|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Fallon, Michael|
|Butterfill, John||Favell, Anthony|
|Campbell, Ian||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)|
|Fox, Marcus||Mellor, David|
|Franks, Cecil||Merchant, Piers|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Gale, Roger||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Galley, Roy||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Mitchell, David (NW Hants)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Moate, Roger|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Greenway, Harry||Moore, John|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)|
|Grist, Ian||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Ground, Patrick||Murphy, Christopher|
|Hamilton, James (M'well N)||Needham, Richard|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Nelson, Anthony|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Neubert, Michael|
|Hannam, John||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Hargreaves, Kenneth||Nicholson, J.|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Onslow, Cranley|
|Hawksley, Warren||Ottaway, Richard|
|Hayes, J.||Page, Sir John (Harrow W)|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Page, Richard (Herts SW)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Paisley, Rev Ian|
|Henderson, Barry||Pawsey, James|
|Hind, Kenneth||Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Hirst, Michael||Pike, Peter|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Portillo, Michael|
|Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)||Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)|
|Holt, Richard||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Home Robertson, John||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Hubbard-Miles. Peter||Randall, Stuart|
|Hume, John||Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)|
|Jackson, Robert||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Robinson, P.(Belfast E)|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Ross, Wm.(Londonderry)|
|Kershaw, Sir Anthony||Rowlands, Ted|
|Kilfedder, James A.||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'field)||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Knowles, Michael||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Lamont, Norman||Scott, Nicholas|
|Lang, Ian||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Latham, Michael||Sheerman, Barry|
|Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel||Shersby, Michael|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Silvester, Fred|
|Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)||Sims, Roger|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Lewis, Ron (Car/isle)||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Lilley, Peter||Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant)||Spencer, Derek|
|Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Squire, Robin|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|McCrea, Rev William||Stern, Michael|
|McCrindle, Robert||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|McCusker, Harold||Stevens, Martin (Fulham)|
|MacGregor, John||Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)|
|McQuarrie, Albert||Sumberg, David|
|Maginnis, Ken||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Major, John||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Malins, Humfrey||erlezki, Stefan|
|Malone, Gerald||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Martin, Michael||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Mather, Caro||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Thurnham, Peter|
|Tinn, James||White, James|
|Tracey, Richard||Whitney, Raymond|
|Vaughan, Sir Gerard||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Viggers, Peter||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Waddington, David||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Wakeham, Rt Hon John||Wolfson, Mark|
|Walden, George||Wood, Timothy|
|Walker, Cecil (Belfast N)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Ward, John||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Wardle, C. (Bexhill)||Mr. Donald Thompson and|
|Watts, John||Mr. Archie Hamilton.|
|Abse, Leo||Haynes, Frank|
|Alton, David||Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Howells, Geraint|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Beith, A. J.||Janner, Hon Greville|
|Bell, Stuart||Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)|
|Benn, Tony||Kennedy, Charles|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Lewis, Terence (Worsley)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||McKelvey, William|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Madden, Max|
|Buchan, Norman||Maxton, John|
|Caborn, Richard||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Meacher, Michael|
|Clay, Robert||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Cohen, Harry||Michie, William|
|Conlan, Bernard||Nellist, David|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Corbett, Robin||Patchett, Terry|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Prescott, John|
|Dalyell, Tarn||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Dobson, Fran||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Dormand, Jack||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Dubs, Alfred||Shore, Rt Hon Peterv|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Eadie, Alex||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Eastham, Ken||Soley, Clive|
|Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Fatchett, Derek||Strang, Gavin|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Straw, Jack|
|Flannery, Martin||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Forrester, John||Torney, Tom|
|Foster, Derek||Wareing, Robert|
|Foulkes, George||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Garrett, W. E.||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Godman, Dr Norman|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Hancock, Mr. Michael||Mr. Ian Mikardo and|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Mr. Dennis Skinner.|
|Question accordingly agreed to.|
|Main Question, as amended, agreed to.|
|That this House do pass to the Orders of the Day.|