We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Requirement of Postal Ballot for Certain Ballots and Elections

Orders of the Day — Employment Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 10th February 1988.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 4:26 pm, 10th February 1988

I beg to move amendment No. 10 in page 16, line 40, (Clause 13), at end insert— 'except where it is reasonable for the union to believe, and it does believe, that a ballot conducted under the terms of section 3 of the 1984 Act would result in a substantial increase in the number of members participating in the ballot by comparison with a ballot conducted entirely by the postal method.'. The amendment seeks to allow a trade union, where it is reasonable if it believes that a workplace ballot would result in a substantial increase in participation compared to a purely postal ballot, to be entitled to use the workplace ballot.

Clause 13 as drafted will oblige unions to hold ballots for a political fund and for elections to the principal executive committee by postal ballot only. Our main objection to the clause is that there is no reason to suppose that postal ballots are inherently more democratic than are workplace ballots, or a combination of the two systems. Indeed, there is a great deal of evidence to the contrary.

Research produced by John Leopold in the Industrial Relations Journal last year, when he carried out work in regard to the political fund ballot that had recently taken place, reached the following findings. The average turnout in 38 unions using the workplace balloting method was 30 per cent. higher than the average for unions using the postal method. Only one union using a postal ballot achieved a turnout of more than 50 per cent., while only two unions using workplace ballots had turnouts of fewer than 50 per cent.

It is notable that those findings were not seriously disputed in the Green Paper. Chapter 5.13 of the Green Paper tacitly accepts that many unions will achieve better turnouts with workplace ballots than with postal ballots. Paragraph 5.13 merely claims, rather feebly: workplace ballots cannot guarantee a higher turnout". Of course, no one claims that they can. We merely argue that one reason unions should be free to choose them is that they tend, in almost every instance, to produce higher participation. Since the Government always talk about choice, how about a bit of choice for trade unions?

Paragraph 5.13 lets the cat out of the bag. It says: even if … workplace ballots do produce higher turnout levels they are not without … serious disadvantages. The rate of participation that most people would think was central to democracy is not the vital issue for the Government. They are happy to see the turnout reduced by clause 13. In many unions it would be reduced by up to one third. What concerns the Government so much?

Paragraph 5.13, which we discussed at considerable length in Committee, gives two examples of workplace ballots which have allegedly led to manipulation. The first, and most significant, is the Transport and General Workers Union general secretary election, which was rerun after an investigation by John Garnett of the Industrial Society found some irregularities. I point out that those irregularities were in fewer than 0.1 per cent. of the branches, or fewer than one in 1,000, but that is not something that we should ignore. Indeed, we do not.

Mr. Garnett did not find sufficient evidence of abuse to warrant a re-run. In fact, the union took the decision only after the personal intervention of the successful candidate, Mr. Ron Todd. The best that the Green Paper can make of this case — far and away the most important case that it cites—is that it suggests a need for more secure electoral arrangements. Of course, the Opposition agree, and so does the Transport and General Workers Union. That is why the union, without any prompting, tightened up its procedure between the first general secretary ballot and the second, going considerably further than Mr. Garnett had recommended.

Does the Minister seriously believe that postal ballots are not, in theory at least or in practice, open to just as much abuse as workplace ballots? In Committee I quoted to the Minister, but he never answered the point—we should like an answer—the words of the right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King), when Secretary of State for Employment in 1985. On 23 April he said: I understand from the research that, in a fully postal ballot conducted by the AUEW … 200,000 members never received a vote and 20,000 received a vote to which they were not entitled." —[Official Report, 23 April 1985; Vol. 77, c. 775.]

Mr. Eric S. Heifer:

Does my hon. Friend agree that the best voting method in the trade union movement was followed by my old union, the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers? Every quarter it had what was called a star night. If a member did not attend, he was fined. Voting took place on the star nights.

The chairman of the branch called out the names of those who were standing for election and they were recorded. They were then checked by the secretary and the members. After the vote had been taken and collected nationally, the national executive issued a form which showed the number of votes for each candidate. The number could be checked, because it was in print, by every member of the branch and the union.

There was nothing wrong with that democratic process. It was far better than leaving it in the hands of some people dealing with ballots by post, which could be rigged. The Government have changed that voting method, which was a good democratic practice. Of course, the Government supposedly know better than the democratic practices of unions.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

My hon. Friend makes a valid point. More than one method can seriously be considered. It is arguable—I agree with my hon. Friend—that existing methods, even on the Government's criterion of protection from abuse, are better alternatives than what the Government insist on, and they achieve a higher turnout.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the only way a postal ballot can be rigged is if the union officials who are sending out the ballot forms cook them? Does the hon. Gentleman agree that there is no possibility of putting pressure on people when they receive the vote at home but considerable pressure can be put on people voting in the workplace?

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The hon. Lady is a great deal more naive than I thought if she believes that postal ballots are not open to great interference by, for example, editorials in The Sun and the other Tory tabloids. They insist on having a full opportunity to interfere in union ballots. They have always done so, not least in the National Union of Mineworkers. I suspect that that is the prime reason why the Government insist on this method.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Vice-Chair, Labour Party

Is my hon. Friend aware that workplace ballots take place on a fairly big scale in the House of Commons? In 1975, when the present Prime Minister was elected leader of the Tory party after she beat the previous Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), a workplace ballot took place in the House of Commons among members of the Tory party, almost certainly including the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman), who wants some other form of ballot for trade unionists. They all took part. The hon. Lady probably voted for who knows? She probably squealed at the top of her voice as well while she was doing it.

The Government have double standards: one thing for them, another for trade unionists. They have just announced another ballot some time in the future for the Chinese in Hong Kong. The percentage vote will be 18 per cent.—about as much as an Iowa caucus.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

My hon. Friend has a point. I suspect that Tory Members are opposed to a postal ballot for themselves because most of them have two or more houses and it would not be clear to which the ballot was supposed to go.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Do not the rules of the House provide that Members who live, as I do, in a constituency 250 miles away from this honourable House and are proud to do so, must also live somewhere in London? Why be so derogatory about that? The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) says that we have two houses. Do not Opposition Members get precisely the same facilities?

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

That is not a point of order.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The only further argument which has been advanced in the Green Paper for clause 13—Ministers leaned heavily on this argument in Committee—is that there is scope for subtler forms of pressure in a workplace ballot and there is a real question whether such ballots can ever be totally free from suspicion. I am sure that the House will take note of those words in the Green Paper. Despite the paranoia of the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman), the Green Paper offers not a shred of evidence to justify that assertion. That is not especially surprising. We are now leaving the realms of reason and entering the dark areas of conspiracy theory which always lurk deep in the Government's collective psyche. Faced with this, perhaps the Opposition should offer counselling, because I do not think that we shall be able to convince by reason alone.

What the Government regard as subtle pressure a rational person might regard as the legitimate and wholly democratic attempt by the union and its members to secure by persuasion a vote in line with the union's declared policies. In other words—I say this especially to the hon. Member for Lancaster—if it is blustering editorials in The Sun trying to influence a postal ballot, it is legitimate pressure; but if it is talking with other people at the workplace and other union members and activists, it is illegitimate and dangerous brainwashing. We condemn such utter rubbish.

Photo of Mr David Madel Mr David Madel , South West Bedfordshire

Would the hon. Gentleman explain his case further? Clause 13 states that an individual trade unionist can have a voting paper sent to him by post at his home address or any other address which he has requested". There is nothing to stop a trade unionist asking for his ballot paper to be sent to his place of work. He has the choice. Therefore, if he is worried that his ballot paper will get lost in the post, he can use that provision to overcome the problem.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The hon. Gentleman is being extremely ingenious, and it sounds as though he is being rather defensive on the Government's behalf. Clearly the purpose of a postal ballot is to ensure that one is sent the ballot paper and can deal with it in the privacy of one's home. The number of workers at a given workplace who would take the initiative to ensure that ballot papers were sent to them at the workplace would be negligible, although I suppose that technically it may be an option. The hon. Gentleman should not use jesuitical arguments to wriggle out of the Government's clear intentions in the clause.

Quite apart from the number of members participating, there are real practical difficulties in requiring large unions to conduct postal ballots. Let me give an example. The largest union — the Transport and General Workers Union—has an extremely diverse membership employed in various trades by literally tens of thousands of employers. There are about 1.3 million members in 8,500 to 9,000 branches. The members are employed not only in travelling occupations these include long-distance lorry drivers, coach drivers, air crew and travelling construction and agricultural workers—but at sea, in trawlers and lighthouses and on oil rigs and construction sites.

Furthermore, the union has a membership turnover —and I say this in answer to the question of the hon. Member for Lancaster about the post—of about 20 per cent. a year, or about 25,000 members a month. That is why the TGWU would have difficulties with postal ballots. —[Interruption.] If the hon. Lady wishes to make a speech on the matter, she can. I see the Minister pulling a face at the suggestion that his hon. Friend might make a speech, and I can understand that.

The co-ordination of elections, even with the central register of members that unions are required to collect under the Trade Union Act 1984, is a complex matter for large unions such as the TGWU. They require at least the degree of flexibility afforded by the Government's own previous anti-trade union Act—the 1984 Act—which is being taken away by the clause, if they are to ensure that every member is given a reasonable opportunity to take part in the democratic life of the union. Clause 13 as drafted will make that impossible. Perhaps that is what the Government intend, and that is precisely why we strongly oppose the clause.

Our case is simple. In our view, the participation rate is probably the single most important democratic criterion for a ballot. Workplace ballots fulfil that criterion to a far higher degree than postal ballots. That is why trade unions should be given the choice to adopt the most suitable ballot for them.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

The clause is another illustration of Government interference in the internal affairs of trade unions. I speak with some experience. The hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) was shouting while my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) was speaking, but I am not sure that she is a trade unionist.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

As a matter of fact, I am.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

In that case, it will be interesting to know what part the hon. Lady has played in her trade union. For example, does she ever attend a branch meeting?

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North 4:45 pm, 10th February 1988

I find that difficult to believe, and I would like some evidence from the hon. Lady that she knows what she is talking about.

I know what I am talking about. In a previous debate, I told the House that I am a national officer of my trade union, of which I have been a member for more than 30 years. I was an active member from day one.

I saw nothing wrong in the method used by unions, including mine, of conducting internal elections by the branch system. I did not consider it undemocratic. Ever since we came into existence 97 years ago, we have had elections. That may surprise Conservative Members, because they have not had much experience of democratic organisations. It took years and years for the Conservative party to get round to electing even its leader. The first such election was in 1965.

There is no election for the position of chairman of the Conservative party. His election is decided by whoever happens to be leader of the party at the time. That is why we make a valid comparison between the way in which the Communist party in the Soviet Union operates and the way in which the Conservative party operates.

I do not know whether the Communist party in the Soviet Union wants to lecture us on how to conduct our affairs, but the highly non-democratic organisation that now governs the United Kingdom certainly wants to lecture us and to pass legislation governing trade unions, which have always held elections. We did not have to be pressurised into holding elections. I challenge the House to name me a single trade union that did not hold elections from its inception. I certainly do not know of one. I am sure that the Minister will tell us if he has any such information.

My union is APEX—the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff. I have often strongly disagreed with its policies, but those policies are decided at the annual conference. If I disagree with them, I campaign, as I have done over the years, for different policies. I have sometimes succeeded and sometimes not. I was elected to the executive as a result of campaigning; at first I did not succeed and then I did. But I could not for the life of me see what was wrong with the branch system,.

Each year I would go along to the annual general meeting of my branch, where genuine elections took place. We would discuss the names to be nominated and ask each other, "What do you know of him or of this?" Two months later, when people had been duly nominated, we would have another branch meeting to decide how to cast our vote. We might spend 15 or 20 minutes on a particular position such as president or vice-president. Differing views would be expressed——

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

Will the hon. Gentleman enlighten us as to the proportion of members who attended those meetings?

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

That is an interesting question——

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I shall reply to the hon. Lady, whose question I should have anticipated. In all honesty, I must say that it was not a large number of people, but the branch meetings were open to anyone who was a member and they could not be held on an authorised basis if a single member had not been notified beforehand of the proceedings. Anyone who wanted to could turn up. We would have a 15 or 20-minute discussion to decide whether X or Y or A or B should be given our vote. We would have a general discussion about those people's qualities.

The Government decided to go beyond that and have workplace ballots. As I have already said, there is an argument for the branch method, but given the choice between a workplace or postal ballot, I think that far more people are likely to participate in a workplace than in a postal ballot. My union is in the process of having a postal ballot; the votes have to be in by next Monday. I would imagine, although I could be wrong, that the percentage of members voting in the current elections in my union on a postal ballot basis will be far smaller than the percentage of members who participated two years ago in the workplace ballot. I very much doubt that I shall be wrong.

The hon. Member for Lancaster asked about the number of people that attend branch meetings. If the argument is that participation should be extended so that more people are involved, the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West was valid. If more people are likely to vote in a workplace than in a postal ballot, the workplace ballot is surely preferable. However, the important point is that the matter should be decided by the union. Some unions, including my own, prefer a postal ballot and that is a matter that the union executive and conference should decide.

In a democratic society, unions should not be dictated to. We know how Governments operate in dictatorships. Despite nine years of Thatcherism, I am glad to say that, in essence, this is still a democratic society. In such societies, trade unions should be able to conduct their own affairs.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

One of the Government Whips, the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-East (Mr. Lightbown) says, "Hear, hear." In a previous debate on the Bill, I made a sedentary intervention to the effect that some Conservative Members were involved in businesses that did not recognise trade unions. At that time, the hon. Gentleman nodded his head. We know that when hon. Members are appointed to the Government, they have to give up their shares and their directorships.

When the hon. Gentleman was conducting a business, no trade union was allowed to operate. Moreover, I imagine that the firm in which the hon. Gentleman was involved in a leading way would have victimised trade unionists if they had tried to organise their employment. So let us not have any lectures about democracy from the Conservative party when so many Conservative Members are directors of firms in which trade unionism is not allowed.

I have not the slightest doubt that this modest amendment will be defeated. If the Government are not willing to listen to reason on other matters, they will not listen to reason on this. It is nauseating to see trade unions being lectured day in and day out by an organisation such as the Conservative party, which does not believe in democracy in its own internal affairs.

The Minister is not sympathetic to Mr. Eric Chalker. Hon. Members may wonder, "Who is Eric Chalker?" I can tell hon. Members that he runs an organisation called the Tory Reform Movement, which is putting forward modest proposals. It believes, for example, that the chairman of the Conservative party should be elected. Surely there is nothing revolutionary about that. However, I imagine that if the Minister were lobbied by the Tory Reform Movement and by people such as Mr. Eric Chalker, he would show no sympathy whatever.

The Minister is not at all interested in democracy in the Conservative party and is the last person to lecture trade unions about how they should conduct their affairs. Trade unions have always been run on democratic lines. The members of trade unions are mere human beings and when occasionally there have been allegations of ballot rigging, the matter has been decided by a court. One type of ballot rigging, which I or my hon. Friends would be the last to defend, was decided against the people responsible, and rightly so, in the early 1960s in a court of law. As I say, trade unions do not require lectures about democracy, least of all from the Conservative party.

Photo of Mr David Madel Mr David Madel , South West Bedfordshire

I have two questions to ask. One of them has been partly answered by the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) because he spoke about the opening words of amendment No. 10: 'except where it is reasonable for the union to believe, and it does believe'". I take it from what the hon. Gentleman said that when he spoke about "the union", as does the amendment, he meant that the members of the union will take the decision under amendment No. 10 about whether they want a change in the way in which the voting is carried out.

I take it that the amendment does not mean that that decision will be made just by the general secretary or the executive council of the union but that it is the union members themselves who will vote on whether they wish to have a ballot system other than that laid down in clause 13. If it is the members of the union who will vote on that, then that is a perfectly reasonable starting point.

My second point is the one that I made in an intervention during the speech by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) who said that my point was jesuitical. I do not think it is. Clause 13(1) says that a voting paper can be sent to "any other address" that the individual member requests. It is perfectly reasonable for that other address to be the union member's place of work. If it is, it is up to employers to make sure that, if the voting paper goes to the place of work, it is easy for the employee to pick up the ballot paper and vote.

I take the point made earlier, that members of the Transport and General Workers Union have many different sorts of jobs. There are long-distance lorry drivers and people working at sea and on lighthouses, and on occasions such people would want the ballot papers sent to the place of work. When the Minister is winding up, will he confirm that line 30 of clause 13(1) means that "any other address" may be the place of work? If it goes out from the House that it can be the place of work, I expect employers and managers to respond in a positive way and to make sure that it is easy for each employee to have his postal ballot paper sent to his place of work and to record his vote in the way he chooses.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

I joined my trade union 50 years ago, and when I joined it I found that it was a very democratic organisation. I joined the Hertford and Ware branch of the union and the branch chairman was a distinguished local JP. He was portly, wore a bowler hat and a fob watch, and always came to branch meetings. He was a distinguished member of the local community.

Our union meetings were totally democratic. The only other branch of the union that I have ever been in was the Huyton branch just outside Liverpool. In the branches to which I belonged, there was always total democracy. As I said earlier, when we had a ballot for union officials or to decide any other issue, it was conducted in a most democratic fashion. Members who did not attend the branch meeting on the 'star' night when the elections took place, were fined. It was made absolutely clear that every member of the union should attend when there was to be an election for the appointment of a local official, a district committee or, in our area, a management committee, national officers or district or full-time officers.

Under the Government's policy, we know that if union members are fined by the union they can go to the court and be recompensed for not voting on democratic matters. We believed that it was important for people to vote and to attend branch meetings for elections to union positions, and I regard that as absolutely democratic. The chairman of the branch read out the names of all the people who were standing for election and they only stood if they had a minimum number of nominations from a number of branches.

The meeting was told that there were so many votes for George—I almost said George Brown, but he was not in my union. There might be five people standing and the votes for each of them were recorded. Every union member had a right to put down on a piece of paper the number of votes that were cast for each candidate. The details were sent to the national executive and a list was sent by them to each branch showing the votes that were recorded for each candidate. That meant that, if the votes did not tally, that if some branch official tried to swing the vote, every union member could see that and could say, "Hang on, that is not accurate," and the matter could be raised. That is democracy. That is what we grew up with in my trade union. It was always like that.

5 pm

When we had an issue such as a wage demand in the Liverpool area, we used to have a great aggregate meeting at which all the members of every branch in the area were called together. We used to use the Liverpool stadium. The negotiators would come together to explain to the members what they had been able to achieve for the membership. If the membership did not like it and said, "That is not good enough," they would vote it down at the meeting. The negotiators then had to go back to the employers and say, "Our membership is not having it," and they would have to discuss it again. If, in the last analysis, the membership said that it was not good enough and the employers said no, a ballot would be taken there and then in the branches and we would then take strike action throughout the entire area. To me, that has always been the basic democratic principle.

However, that changed once the union became part of the Union of Construction and Allied Trades Technicians. It was changed by the new people who began to organise UCATT, and who brought various unions together. However, after a period, the membership said no and the union reverted to the democratic election of officials.

Nobody needs to tell our movement about democracy. We grew up with it. We created it and we fought for it. Over the hundreds of years since our movement was formed, some of our members have died or have been sent to Australia in chains because they fought for democracy in this country.

We do not need any lectures about democracy from this Conservative Government. In fact, the Government have consistently been the people who have restrained democracy in the country. Over the years, the Conservative party has fought every effort to improve the democratic rights of the people. Therefore, we do not need any lectures.

My hon. Friends have tabled a reasonable and, if I may say so without being insulting — I think it is right — a moderate amendment. I would have gone much further. However, it does not make any difference whether the amendment is moderate, because the Government steamroller over everything, whether it is moderate, Left-wing, hard Left, soft Left or anything else. It does not make any difference because, if it is democratic, the Government steamroller over it. That is the Government's attitude.

Although the Government are saying to the unions, "Go back to the membership," I advise them that we never needed to go back to our membership; we are the membership and have always been the membership. We have always encouraged our people to participate totally in the life of our unions.

We do not need to be told about democracy. As union members, if we want changes, we have things called rules revision conferences. Every few years we change our constitution. We do so by going back to the members who vote. If the members want to change to a postal ballot, that is their decision. It is not a decision for the Government — it is the members' right. When the Government impose that on union members, they are being authoritarian.

Although I know that, in a sense, I am unfortunately talking to the wind, I ask the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not on this side."] No, not on this side, but unfortunately I am talking to the wind as far as Conservative Members are concerned. In any case, the quicker we get television in here, the better. Look at all the empty Benches, including our own. When we are discussing a matter of great importance for democracy in this country, hon. Members are not here. To me, such matters mean more than anything else because we are talking about the rights of ordinary working people who have always fought for democracy, supported it and died for it. That is the point about our people.

Those who fought and died in the last war were not all members of the Conservative party. When I was a member of the Royal Air Force, I spoke in Banbury on the eve of a general election poll. I said then that to listen to the Tory party, one would think that Mr. Churchill had won the war on his own. What had the rest of us been doing? We all fought that war for democracy. We all fought against Nazism. That is why the late Harold Macmillan made the point that the miners, the dockers and the others who fought for democracy were our people.

We have nothing to be ashamed of. We are the ones who have consistently fought for democratic rights in this country. We do not need any lessons from the Conservative party. If hon. Members are honest about democracy, they will vote for my hon. Friend's modest proposal.

Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen , Nottingham North

Clause 13 is not quite the full-frontal attack on democracy that clause 3 was on Monday. However, the greatest insult that I can muster is to say that it runs it damn close. This clause contains a distillation of one of the key facets of Tory party policy —hyprocisy. It is hypocritical because the Tory party and the Government seek to corner the key words, the buzz words of "democracy" and "freedom". Their arguments have been exposed in Committee. However, on this occasion the buzz word is "choice" because if there is one thing that the clause does, it is to remove from 10 million trade unionists the possibility of choice in the way in which they conduct their elections.

It is important that, in moving the amendment, we make it clear that it is we in the Labour party who seek to restore choice to trade unions, against the Government who seek, by clause 13, to remove the possibility of choice. It is important to place one or two facts on the record. I had the privilege of serving in a national campaign related to political funds, in which all the unions did not follow one view. They chose many different ways in which to express their wish either to retain or not to retain political funds.

Some unions chose workplace ballots—for example, the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades, the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, the Union of Communication Workers, the National Communications Union, the General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trades Union, the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff, the Power Loom and Carpet Weavers and Textile Workers Union, the Ceramic and Allied Trades Union, the Transport and General Workers Union, the Confederation of Health Service Employees, the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers, the National Union of Domestic Appliances and General Operatives, the National League of the Blind and Disabled, the National Union of Footwear Leather and Allied Trades, the National Graphical Association, the Transport Workers Union, the National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers, the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers-TASS, the National Union of Public Employees, the National Union of Mineworkers, the Fire Brigades Union, and the Scottish Carpet Workers Union.

All those unions chose, of their own volition, a workplace ballot, which was carried out under the tight rules under which unions must administer their ballots and, in addition, the even more scrupulous and tighter rules that were put forward by the Government's own Trade Union Act 1984.

Other unions exercised their choice in a different way and, by and large, chose to go for a postal ballot system. They include the Furniture, Timber and Allied Trades Union, the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers-EFC, the Electrical, Electronic, Plumbing and Telecommunications Union, the National Union of Seamen, the National Union of Scalemakers, the Association of Cinematograph, Television and Allied Technicians, the Rossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives, the Musicians Union and the Union of Construction and Allied Trades Technicians. All exercised their choice in that way.

The one outstanding facet of those ballots, other than the fact that all those individual unions won their political fund campaign, was the turnout—the ability of people to turn out to vote for the unions in those nationwide ballots. It averaged out that 69 per cent. of those who could have voted did vote when it was a workplace ballot, but in postal ballots the average was 39 per cent. across those unions.

We are not being selective with figures. They are for national ballots held in 40-odd different trade unions. The figures stand the test. Clearly, a turnout of less than two thirds of the turnout possible under a workplace ballot was achieved by postal ballots. That is not to dismiss postal ballots. Trade unions have different circumstances and should be able to decide, but postal ballots produced a lower turnout.

The Government are saying, "We shall decide how you will ballot in future." They say to all those unions that have decided to use a workplace ballot, "I am sorry, but we are imposing on you a postal ballot, so the likely reduction in your turnout will be one third." The aggregate for the whole trade union movement will be 3 million, so 3 million working people will be robbed of the ability to cast a vote in key elections or in political fund campaigns. That degree of disfranchisement by the Government is unprecedented.

Indeed, in the past decades the Government have been loth to extend the franchise. It has taken about 100 years to force them to allow working people to have the vote in general elections to choose their Government. Even now, they are not content to maintain that position and are reducing the ability of trade unionists to vote in key elections.

Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen , Nottingham North

The hon. Gentleman does not agree, but I ask him to reconsider the figures, which cannot be contraverted.

The Government may come unstuck. The average percentage of people voting for a political fund in workplace ballots was 83 per cent. and in postal ballots it was 80 per cent. That is little difference, given the degree of national campaigning that went on. The Government, who are bad losers and took a right pasting in the political fund ballots, may well not achieve the outcome that they wish from changing the rules.

This legislation will not change an Act brought into being by a Labour Government or one of the revolutionary steps attributed to my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), who is accused of giving things away to trade unions. The legislation that is being changed was laid on the statute book by a Conservative Government in 1984. The Government are unpicking their legislation just four years after it reached the statute book. In 1984, the Government tried to murder the ability of trade unions to defend themselves politically and to campaign, but the system did not deliver All the ground rules are up for grabs again and there will be change.

This reminds me a little of the great affinity of the alliance, particularly the SDP, for postal ballots. The Government have now taken on postal ballots in their entirety and to the exclusion of any other form of balloting, as, indeed, the SDP sought to do. For the Government, just as for the SDP, these postal ballots are not an advance of democracy; they are a device for reaching their ends by different means. The Government will ditch postal ballots, just as Dr. Death, the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen), ditched them when they did not produce the results that he wanted. This is a farce. It is a fallacy to say that this is democratic and allows union members a choice, because it does not.

We have heard about corruption in ballots. The grossest ever corruption in trade union ballots is about to be perpetrated by the Government who will disfranchise thousands of people who would vote in a workplace ballot but who for some reason cannot vote in a postal ballot. On a re-run of all the political fund ballots, up to 3 million trade unionists may lose their ability to vote.

5.15 pm

As I said in Committee, this must be the largest vat of sour grapes ever trampled by the Government for having been hammered by 40-odd trade unions in retaining their political funds. The fact that the Government are had losers is writ large. This is just the latest in a long line of attacks on the political funds of trade unions, stemming from the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act 1927. It is not that the Government have dreamed up something new. They thought that they could bend the rules in 1984. They even set the question—trade unions were not allowed to set the question—yet they could not win. They specified how the unions must ballot, but they could not win. The Government have had every possible advantage and the trade unions, by a united campaign, turned that round into victory.

Because of the fear that the Government engender in trade unionists, not only were the political funds held, but the insurance workers—not a radical or revolutionary bunch of people—set up a political fund; the teachers in Scotland have been radicalised and set up a political fund; post office clerical workers and even the tax men have set up political funds. In some perverse way I thank the right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) for his foresight in introducing these political ballots. The nurses and other groups may be next.

There has been no obvious demand for this change. The Government are introducing it on the basis of dogma. The certification officer received seven complaints—up to 10 million trade unionists were balloted in this exercise—in the first year of the political fund ballots and five complaints in the second year. He received 12 complaints out of a possible 9 million, so there is no demand. The Bill, particularly this clause, has been introduced because of dogma alone. It is undemocratic and hypocritical. I hope that if it is not defeated tonight or in the other place, it will be the first clause to be repealed when we are returned to government.

Photo of Mrs Llin Golding Mrs Llin Golding , Newcastle-under-Lyme

I support the amendment but, like my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), feel that it does not go far enough. The same applies to this as to many other parts of the Bill: the matter should be for the unions to decide. It should be for the unions to determine how voting takes place.

What is the Government's justification for allowing the stock exchange, but not trade unions, self-regulation? The Minister has said that the unions must be controlled because of their power and influence. If that is the criterion, what of political parties? Should not their affairs be regulated by law? Does the Tory party intend to have a postal vote for elections or will it stick to conferences? Is it somehow different when it involves the Tory party rather than trade unions? Will hon. Members vote by post for the Tory chairman, or will he or, indeed, she, be appointed? Is the argument that Conservative Members and the Conservative party chairman are less important than union officials of a lower rank than president or general secretary? Are they less important than the chairman of the Conservative party?

Some unions like postal ballots. It makes sense when they have scattered membership. The last union ballot I participated in was with NUPE when I was branch secretary. We had three sorts of ballots. The first was a workplace ballot, where the members were informed with information which was readily available, then had discussions; then the union hired ballot booths from the local authority and set them up, the same as in the general election, and the members went in to vote in secret. That is how they organised it themselves, without anybody telling them to do it. The second method was by post, sent out by the union to members' homes. The response to that method was lower, but not considerably lower.

The third method was for me as branch secretary to deliver a vote to members' homes, to people such as caretakers who could not get to the workplace to vote. If the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) were still in the House, she would hear that postal ballots are delivered to members' homes and the person says, "Hello, Llin, come in and have a cup of tea." I would admire the garden, and then we turn to the vote, and they say, "Which way do you want me to vote?" As a good trade unionist, I would say, "Do what the executive recommends," or, "Have you read the leaflets?" or, "I think this, that or the other." Postal votes are influenced, and that was made clear to me as branch secretary when I went out to talk to members. It is there to be seen, and the Government are wrong in thinking that postal votes are not influenced.

It is for the union to decide where the membership should vote and how best to conduct it. Democracy consists of discussion, information and then voting. That is what we do in general elections and that is what happens in workplace ballots at all workplaces. It does not take place in postal ballots. In any case, it is easier to put pressure on people through postal ballots. Every Member of Parliament knows that calling to see somebody with a postal vote and having a little chat always pays dividends, because not only can the candidate put one side of the argument and dismiss the other side of the argument, but he does not have to argue both sides of the argument, as happens at work when people are airing their different opinions.

In the workplace, many views are voiced and members decide after listening to those views. The workplace vote generates a higher turnout because of greater informed interest, whereas the postal vote is often left on the mantlepiece. Small, well organised political groups can go around to houses with postal votes and put pressurre on people and influence the vote. It has occurred that pressure has been brought to bear on people in branches, and I would not like to see that perpetuated.

The Government, in preferring postal ballots to workplace ballots, have given way to the views of people without any practical experience at all. They have had no experience of trying to get members to take up their democratic rights. Members do not sit there waiting for the postal vote to drop through the letter box; someone must go to them to get them to vote and use the rights which have been won for them, often after a long and bitter struggle.

I understand that the Government are obsessed with postal voting because they think it will lead to a more secure electoral arrangement, but what is the use of a union having such a secure electoral system that members do not participate? Each union should decide on the best method for getting its members out to vote; it is not for the Government to decide.

Photo of Mr Roger Knapman Mr Roger Knapman , Stroud

Like the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) I am also concerned for disfranchised groups, but the clause is one of the jewels in the crown of this excellent Bill—but does it go far enough? There are still some underprivileged and potentially persecuted groups—disfranchised groups—which are urgently in need of the protection provided by the clause. One such group, admittedly of declining importance and reducing numbers, is sponsored by trade unions. My hon. Friends and I fully understand what they say and why they must say it.

Opposition Members are fond of leafing through the Register of Member's Interests, so it comes as no surprise to find that the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) is sponsored by COHSE, so we understand his remarks, and the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) is sponsored by NUPE.

Photo of Mr Roger Knapman Mr Roger Knapman , Stroud

No. The hon. Gentleman has been begging me for months to make a contribution in the debate, and I am doing my best to intercede with the Minister on his behalf. The hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) shares that distinction with NUPE.

Photo of Mr Roger Knapman Mr Roger Knapman , Stroud

No. The hon. Lady has also asked me many times——

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

The hon. Gentleman has referred to me.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

The hon. Member does not understand what trade union sponsorship means. It means a link with a union for which one has political sympathy. In the case of NUPE, it represents many very low-paid women, typical of the women who live in my constituency, and I am proud to work with NUPE for the interests of those workers. I get no financial contribution of any kind for that work, and the hon. Member should understand that. Just because his hon. Friends take those kinds of jobs for large sums of money, he thinks that we are the same, but he will find that that is not so.

Photo of Mr Roger Knapman Mr Roger Knapman , Stroud

I understand from the hon. Lady that the relationship between hon. Members and their unions is very slight, but I suggest that Conservative Members understand why they say what they say.

Photo of Mr Robert Clay Mr Robert Clay , Sunderland North

I want to say a little more about the potential inadequacies of secret ballots, and to try to disabuse Conservative members of the notion that, other than the concession they have made that there is sometimes a poorer turnout, there is absolutely nothing else wrong with the proposition.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I missed the speech of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) because I went to check in the Register of Members' Interests what involvement he has with trade unions. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the hon. Member for Stroud has listed himself as a partner in R. J. and R. M. Knapman, builders, and a member of a Lloyds underwriting syndicate? Would my hon. Friend find it of some interest to know whether the firm in which the hon. Member is involved allows employees to be members of trade unions, whether trade unions are recognised, and what sort of internal democracy—postal ballots or otherwise—takes place in Lloyds underwriting syndicates?

Photo of Mr Robert Clay Mr Robert Clay , Sunderland North

One of the colleagues of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman), who is on the Standing Committee, had a different job every time he stood up to speak. Apart from his job here, he has been a management consultant for a building firm, like the one just referred to, and he had some other job. Goodness knows what sort of balloting went on there. The hon. Member for Stroud never spoke in Committee, to my recollection, so we never had the opportunity to raise those matters with him until tonight. I do not know whether he wants to respond to the question my hon. Friend has asked me—I cannot give the answer. He is sitting down; he obviously has something to hide. Postal votes certainly do not take place in Lloyds underwriters.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding) several time used the words "as in the general election" when referring to postal votes. When she described her activities as NUPE's branch secretary, she described how postal votes are distributed.

Last Monday and again today, my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) made a point about how we take votes in this House. He described it as the Longbridge method. However, we must consider the votes that elect Members to this place. The general election is more like a workplace ballot than a postal ballot. What would happen if we conducted parliamentary elections by postal ballot?

I ask hon. Members on both sides of the House to speculate on the outcry that would occur if there was one story of a house-owner—man, woman, mother or father—who said to a child who might be 18, 19, or 20 years old and still living at home, "I'm not having any Tory voters in this house. You had better show me that ballot paper before you submit it; otherwise you are out of the house." What a hoo-hah there would be if that sort of thing happened in a general election. However, that cannot happen because the general election is not conducted by postal ballot.

5.30 pm

We are not simply concerned about trade union officers delivering ballot papers. As the clause is drafted at present, there will be remedies—although they are not very reliable — and procedures that may ensure that ballot papers are sent out properly. However, not even this Government could conceive of a law that would regulate the way in which the ballot papers were returned. Someone must collect those papers. Even if the papers are supposed to be posted back through the Post Office, nothing will stop the practice that happens during a general election with postal votes. That procedure involves someone visiting a house and telling the occupant, "If you have not put in your paper yet, I'll put it in for you."

We are not just concerned about influencing how people vote. We do not know whether postal votes will even be submitted. At least in a general election one can check the register to discover whether a person with a polling number has submitted a postal vote. That cannot happen in trade union elections unless the Government have even more hidden agendas in mind in terms of registers of trade union members available for public inspection. We would not need blacklists any more; employers would have a national register of union members. The only way in which we can prevent the abuse of postal ballots is by creating even greater abuses.

As late as the 1960s, I can remember canvassing in a by-election not in a wild rural area, but in mid-Bedfordshire. I remember farm workers in tied cottages telling me that they believed that the farmer who owned the cottages knew how they voted. I remember how difficult it was to persuade people that the ballot was secret. My goodness, if there had been a postal ballot, those farm workers in tied cottages would have said that the owner came round and made them show him their ballot papers.

Conservative Members must explain why it has never been seriously suggested that hon. Members should be elected to this place on a postal ballot except where voters are infirm or blind or suffer some other disability. I stress that a postal ballot is not secret. If a method of voting by going out and recording a vote in a ballot box in a designated place which can be properly scrutinised is good enough for electing Members to this place, why is it not good enough for trade unionists? We are not even asking for that: We are simply asking that trade unionists should have that option if they believe that that is best.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

I will be very brief and ask a question. Is the Minister aware that not many days ago there was an election for the president of the National Union of Mineworkers? In Nottingham, British Coal—the employer — recognises only the other union, the Union of Democratic Mineworkers.

In years gone by, my experience has been that, when a ballot took place, facilities were provided at the workplace —the pit. In the presidential election, members of the NUM were denied that facility. They were told to take their ballot box on to the street and to ballot there. That is what happened.

I want to refer to the point raised by the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel) about postal ballots and ballot papers going to the employer. Bearing in mind what I have just said about the management not co-operating with NUM members in the recent ballot for the NUM president, if the Minister's answer to the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South-West is yes, can he assure us that there will be fair play for those NUM members in Nottinghamshire in future?

Photo of Andrew Welsh Andrew Welsh , Angus East

I want to ask a specific question. To save the Minister intervening at this point, he can answer me in his reply. I know that, rightly, the Government are keen to reduce bureaucracy affecting businesses and especially small businesses, and they have my support in that. However, this measure will do the opposite for trade unions which, to some extent, must rely on the voluntary and unpaid efforts of individual members.

Has the Minister any estimate of the extra bureaucratic costs and the effect on unions of imposing the extra burden? Is the Minister pressing the clause on ideological grounds, irrespective of the effect of the costs on trade unions? If not, will he tell the House what homework he has done on the effects of the clause? Is he thinking of extending the principle to other organisations, or will it apply only to trade unions because they are trade unions? I am not sponsored by a trade union, but I can tell when an organisation is being persecuted.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) stated fairly that we had debated this point at length in Committee. We have also debated it at some length this afternoon. He said that postal balloting cannot be said to be inherently more democratic than workplace balloting, and of course he is right. How hon. Members vote on this clause will depend on whether they believe that the turnout is the most important consideration.

It was obvious from the debates in Committee and from what we have heard from many hon. Members today that many of them believe that turnout is the most important point. I can understand the sincerity with which hon. Members make that point, but the Government do not accept that turnout must be the final criterion. If we had to pick the most important point, we believe that it would be the ability of a person to vote knowing that he is voting secretly and in a system that offers the best chance—not a guarantee, because there is no such thing—of being able to vote in a secure, safe, free and secret manner. That must be the best criterion.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West referred to the evidence and to the example given in paragraph 5.13 of the Green Paper. Many references have been made to that in our deliberations. Paragraph 5.13 refers to the election of the general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union. All credit should go to the TGWU for having that matter investigated. I remember that well. The press campaign that preceded the union's decision to act in that way was considerable. Whatever else we might try to accuse the hon. Member for Oldham, West of, I fully believe that he is as appalled about rigging in union elections as any Conservative Member. I hope that he will accept that from me. There is no monopoly on outrage about those matters.

Opposition Members have said that there were irregularities in only eight branches out of 9,500. Only 12 branches were investigated. When it becomes evident that some 799 votes out of 800 were signed by the same hand and the remaining paper was spoilt, there can be no doubt about the abuse. Indeed, The Observer—which is not an uncritical organ of the Conservative party — was prompted to say about that election that it had interviewed a trade union official who complained of having writer's cramp. I am as appalled about what happened as the hon. Member for Oldham, West.

However, we must tackle the fact that such a vice can occur within the system. I accept fully that the hon. Member for Oldham, West and his hon. Friends feel as badly about that abuse as Conservative Members. Therefore, the House must ask whether it is possible to devise a method that will ensure that those abuses do not happen.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

I refer the Minister again to the system used by my old union, the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers. It is far better than anything else that has been suggested. Is he aware that in trade unions, whatever their political or religious views, members vote for people because they think they are the best people? In my branch, one member belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. He always nominated a member of the Communist party. I once asked him, "Why do you do that?" He said, "Because he is the best trade unionist. His politics have nothing to do with it." That is democracy in a trade union.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

I would have come in due course to the contribution of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), but I will deal with it now. I accept what he has said about his experience in the trade union movement. I can understand that someone with his determination, commitment, industry and eloquence would never put up with some of the abuses which might happen. What we have to decide goes further.

Where trade union members do not have the benefit of the commitment of people such as the hon. Member for Walton to see that the procedure runs properly, can we provide a system that is free-standing?

The point has been made that many unions already have postal ballots. All we are saying is that essentially it is a question of trying to extend to all unions the benefits that some enjoy. It cannot be sufficient to leave it to the trade union when the present system can give rise to abuses which the hon. Member for Walton would deplore as much as I do.

5.45 pm

Another point ran through the contributions of several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) and the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen), the idea being that in some way we had abandoned the legislation which we passed as recently as 1984 and that we were embarking on a different course. If we consider the Trade Union Act 1984 as it finally emerged after debate in the House, it is clear that we had a commitment to the principle of postal balloting but it was said that in certain circumstances it need not take place.

The reason for my right hon. Friend taking that view was that he had heard, as we all had from trade unions, that it would be unfair to require postal ballots because unions had not had a chance to compile proper membership lists. We have moved on four years. We say that unions have had ample time to compile the lists and that it should now be possible to have a system of postal balloting.

In the end it must come down to this: can we leave this to the trade union movement and can we be certain that in every single case abuses will not take place? Obviously we cannot. Therefore, we have to devise a system which minimises the possibility of abuse. Although it is not a fail-safe or a guarantee, in the end a postal ballot comes nearer to that ideal.

Question put, That the amendment be made:

The House divided: Ayes 202, Noes 288.

Division No. 175][5.45 pm
AYES
Abbott, Ms DianeEwing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Fatchett, Derek
Allen, GrahamFaulds, Andrew
Archer, Rt Hon PeterField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Armstrong, Ms HilaryFisher, Mark
Ashley, Rt Hon JackFlannery, Martin
Ashton, JoeFlynn, Paul
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Foster, Derek
Barron, KevinFoulkes, George
Battle, JohnFraser, John
Bell, StuartFyfe, Mrs Maria
Benn, Rt Hon TonyGalbraith, Samuel
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Bermingham, GeraldGarrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Blair, TonyGodman, Dr Norman A.
Blunkett, DavidGordon, Ms Mildred
Boateng, PaulGould, Bryan
Boyes, RolandGraham, Thomas
Bray, Dr JeremyGrant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Grocott, Bruce
Buchan, NormanHardy, Peter
Buckley, GeorgeHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Haynes, Frank
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Canavan, DennisHeffer, Eric S.
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Henderson, Douglas
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Hinchliffe, David
Clay, BobHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Clelland, DavidHolland, Stuart
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHome Robertson, John
Cohen, HarryHood, James
Coleman, DonaldHoyle, Doug
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Corbett, RobinHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Corbyn, JeremyHughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cousins, JimHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Crowther, StanIllsley, Eric
Cryer, BobIngram, Adam
Cummings, J.Janner, Greville
Cunliffe, LawrenceJohn, Brynmor
Cunningham, Dr JohnJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Dalyell, TamJones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Darling, AlastairJones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)Lambie, David
Dewar, DonaldLamond, James
Dixon, DonLeighton, Ron
Dobson, FrankLewis, Terry
Doran, FrankLitherland, Robert
Duffy, A. E. P.Livingstone, Ken
Dunnachie, JamesLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethLofthouse, Geoffrey
McAllion, JohnReid, John
McAvoy, TomRichardson, Ms Jo
McCartney, IanRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Macdonald, CalumRobinson, Geoffrey
McFall, JohnRogers, Allan
McGrady, E. K.Rooker, Jeff
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
McKelvey, WilliamRowlands, Ted
McLeish, HenryRuddock, Ms Joan
McNamara, KevinSalmond, Alex
McTaggart, BobSedgemore, Brian
Madden, MaxSheerman, Barry
Mahon, Mrs AliceSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Mallon, SeamusShore, Rt Hon Peter
Marek, Dr JohnShort, Clare
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Skinner, Dennis
Martin, Michael (Springburn)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Martlew, EricSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Maxton, JohnSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Meacher, MichaelSoley, Clive
Meale, AlanSteinberg, Gerald
Michael, AlunStott, Roger
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Strang, Gavin
Millan, Rt Hon BruceTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Mitchell, Austin (G'f Grimsby)Thomas, Dafydd Elis
Moonie, Dr LewisThompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Morgan, RhodriTurner, Dennis
Morris, Rt Hon A (W'shawe)Vaz, Keith
Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon)Wall, Pat
Mowlam, MarjorieWalley, Ms Joan
Mullin, ChrisWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Murphy, PaulWareing, Robert N.
Nellist, DaveWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
O'Brien, WilliamWigley, Dafydd
O'Neill, MartinWilliams, Rt Hon A. J.
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Parry, RobertWilson, Brian
Patchett, TerryWinnick, David
Pendry, TomWise, Mrs Audrey
Pike, PeterWorthington, Anthony
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)Wray, James
Prescott, JohnYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Quin, Ms JoyceTellers for the Ayes:
Radice, GilesMrs. Llin Golding and
Rees, Rt Hon MerlynMr. Frank Cook.
NOES
Adley, RobertBowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Aitken, JonathanBowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBowis, John
Allason, RupertBoyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Amess, DavidBraine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Amos, AlanBrandon-Bravo, Martin
Arbuthnot, JamesBrazier, Julian
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Bright, Graham
Ashdown, PaddyBrittan, Rt Hon Leon
Aspinwall, JackBruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Atkins, RobertBruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Atkinson, DavidBuck, Sir Antony
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Budgen, Nicholas
Baldry, TonyBurns, Simon
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Butcher, John
Batiste, SpencerButler, Chris
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyButterfill, John
Beith, A. J.Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Bellingham, HenryCarlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Bendall, VivianCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Carrington, Matthew
Benyon, W.Carttiss, Michael
Bevan, David GilroyCash, William
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnChapman, Sydney
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnChope, Christopher
Blackburn, Dr John G.Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bonsor, Sir NicholasClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Boscawen, Hon RobertColvin, Michael
Boswell, TimConway, Derek
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaCoombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Jack, Michael
Cope,JohnJanman, Timothy
Cormack, PatrickJessel, Toby
Couchman, JamesJohnston, Sir Russell
Cran, JamesJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaJones, Robert B (Herts W)
Curry, DavidKellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Key, Robert
Davis, David (Boothferry)King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Day, StephenKirkhope, Timothy
Devlin, TimKirkwood, Archy
Dickens, GeoffreyKnapman, Roger
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Dover, DenKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Dunn, BobKnowles, Michael
Durant, TonyKnox, David
Evennett, DavidLang, Ian
Fairbairn, NicholasLatham, Michael
Fallon, MichaelLawrence, Ivan
Favell, TonyLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fearn, RonaldLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fenner, Dame PeggyLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Lilley, Peter
Forman, NigelLivsey, Richard
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forth, EricLord, Michael
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanMcCrindle, Robert
Fox, Sir MarcusMacfarlane, Sir Neil
Franks, CecilMaclean, David
French, DouglasMaclennan, Robert
Fry, PeterMcLoughlin, Patrick
Gale, RogerMadel, David
Gardiner, GeorgeMalins, Humfrey
Garel-Jones, TristanMans, Keith
Gill, ChristopherMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Glyn, Dr AlanMawhinney, Dr Brian
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMellor, David
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Gorst, JohnMills, Iain
Gow, IanMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Gower, Sir RaymondMonro, Sir Hector
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Moore, Rt Hon John
Greenway, John (Rydale)Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Gregory, ConalMorrison, Hon Sir Charles
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Mudd, David
Grist, IanNeale, Gerrard
Ground, PatrickNelson, Anthony
Grylls, MichaelNeubert, Michael
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Nicholls, Patrick
Hampson, Dr KeithNicholson, David (Taunton)
Hanley, JeremyNicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Hannam,JohnOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Page, Richard
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Paice, James
Harris, DavidPatnick, Irvine
Hawkins, ChristopherPatten, John (Oxford W)
Hayes, JerryPawsey, James
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hayward, RobertPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidPorter, David (Waveney)
Heddle, JohnPortillo, Michael
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Powell, William (Corby)
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)Price, Sir David
Hill, JamesRaffan, Keith
Hind, KennethRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Rathbone, Tim
Holt, RichardRedwood, John
Hordern, Sir PeterRenton, Tim
Howard, MichaelRhodes James, Robert
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Riddick, Graham
Howells, GeraintRidsdale, Sir Julian
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Roe, Mrs Marion
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Rossi, Sir Hugh
Irvine, MichaelRost, Peter
Irving, CharlesRowe, Andrew
Rumbold, Mrs AngelaThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Ryder, RichardThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Sainsbury, Hon TimThornton, Malcolm
Sayeed, JonathanThurnham, Peter
Shaw, David (Dover)Tredinnick, David
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)Trotter, Neville
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Twinn, Dr Ian
Shelton, William (Streatham)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)Waddington, Rt Hon David
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Waldegrave, Hon William
Shersby, MichaelWalden, George
Sims, RogerWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Skeet, Sir TrevorWalker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Wallace, James
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Waller, Gary
Soames, Hon NicholasWalters, Dennis
Speed, KeithWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Speller, TonyWatts, John
Squire, RobinWells, Bowen
Stanbrook, IvorWheeler, John
Steel, Rt Hon DavidWhitney, Ray
Steen, AnthonyWiddecombe, Miss Ann
Stern, MichaelWiggin, Jerry
Stevens, LewisWilshire, David
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)Winterton, Nicholas
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)Wolfson, Mark
Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N)Wood, Timothy
Stradling Thomas, Sir JohnWoodcock, Mike
Sumberg, DavidYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Younger, Rt Hon George
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)Tellers for the Noes:
Tebbit, Rt Hon NormanMr. David Lightbown and
Temple-Morris, PeterMr. Stephen Dorrell.

Question accordingly negatived.