The Social Fund

Orders of the Day — Schedule 3 – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 14th March 1988.

Alert me about debates like this

Lords amendment: No. 19, in page 17, line 18, at end insert— 3A. The following subsections shall he inserted after subsection (7)—(7A) The Secretary of State shall prepare an annual report on the social fund.(7B) A copy of every report prepared under subsection (7A) above shall he laid before each House of Parliament."

Photo of Mr Michael Portillo Mr Michael Portillo , Enfield, Southgate

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

The amendment was introduced to provide that Parliament should receive an annual report on the operation of the social fund.

I envisage that the report will include details of the types of applicants who received or were refused social fund grants and loans, as well as the numbers of payments and refusals and the purposes for which payments were or were not made. There will be information on the operation of the review process: numbers of applications, numbers of successful local office reviews, numbers of reviews referred to social fund inspectors, and so on; bearing in mind, of course, that the social fund commissioner will be preparing her own report and that we should aim to avoid duplication. The report will certainly include financial information and it is clearly necessary to have information provided on a regional basis rather than on a purely national basis. Finally, I would expect to see some general commentary on the operation of the scheme.

I trust that the House will accept what I have said in earnest, and will look forward to as much, and more, information on the actual operation of the social fund as we have endeavoured to provide in advance.

When the amendment was introduced in another place, it was greeted by Lord Ennals who said: My Lords, from these Benches I warmly thank the Minister for this amendment. It is good that he has made a commitment, and it is good that he has stood by that commitment. From our side we warmly welcome this." —[Official Report, House of Lords, 10 March 1988; Vol. 494, c. 862.] I hope that it will be equally warmly welcomed here.

Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Livingston

It is hardly surprising that the noble Lord welcomed the introduction of the amendment, since it was in fulfilment of a commitment given in Committee in response to Opposition amendments. We welcome the fact that we shall now have an annual report on the social fund and I am absolutely confident that the first annual report will make a compelling case for abolishing the social fund reverting to the previous system.

We wish to make several general points on the social fund; in view of the time available as a result of the guillotine motion, I shall perhaps contain those remarks until our amendment to Lords amendment No. 21, when we may have a fuller debate for the remaining 15 minutes.

Photo of Mr Ronnie Fearn Mr Ronnie Fearn , Southport

Amendment No. 19 evolved from an amendment that I tried to table in Committee to schedule 3, and I am delighted that my noble Friend Lord Banks took up the cause of that amendment with more success in another place. He agreed to withdraw that amendment after the Government conceded the need for an extensive study of the operation of the social fund and for the information to be provided in an annual report laid before each House of Parliament.

The amendment tabled by Lord Banks asked the Government to provide detailed information about the number of applications — that is the number of applications for loans and grants accepted and refused — together with a summary of the reasons for the decisions. It is important that the fund, which is a new and in my view extremely unwelcome departure from the normal social security system, is carefully monitored and that the results of the assessment are placed before Parliament for careful consideration.

The amendment does not specifically undertake to do that, but in another place the Government gave an assurance that the report would include detailed information about acceptances and refusals on a regional basis, and information about the reasons for the decisions together with other extensive information. I hope that the Secretary of State can confirm that that is so, especially the regional part.

Photo of Mr Bill Michie Mr Bill Michie , Sheffield, Heeley

Will hon. Members be able to get the information and the details from their constituency offices and not have to wait for a long report on a regional basis, if they request that information?

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

I realise that the Department does not control the business of the House, but can the Minister assure the House that it will press for maximum time to debate the annual report?

Photo of Mr Michael Portillo Mr Michael Portillo , Enfield, Southgate

On the last point, I am sure that that will be a matter for the usual channels at the appropriate time. We are talking about an event which is still some time hence. Obviously, the first annual report will be prepared when the first year is completed.

In response to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Michie), I am sure that local office managers will be as co-operative as they can be with hon. Members. Obviously, we shall also provide whatever information we can through parliamentary answers, which do not put taxpayers to disproportionate costs. The information will be collated finally in the annual report that can be debated by the House.

In response to the hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Fearn), if he reads my opening remarks carefully, which I admit I rather hurried, he will see that I mentioned that the figures would be available on a regional basis.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 20, in page 17, line 39, at end insert—

"5A. The following subsections shall be inserted after subsection (9)— (10) The Secretary of State may nominate for an area a social fund officer to issue general guidance to the other social fund officers in the area about such matters relating to the social fund as the Secretary of State may specify.

(11) In determining a question under section 33 below or reviewing a question under section 34 below a social fund officer shall take account (subject to any directions or guidance issued by the Secretary of State under either of those sections) of any guidance issued by the social fund officer nominated for his area under section (10) above.

(12) A social fund inspector reviewing a determination shall be under the same duties in relation to such guidance as the social fund officer or inspector who made the determination.""

Photo of Mr Michael Portillo Mr Michael Portillo , Enfield, Southgate

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

This is an amendment identified in the process of consultation with independent counsel which gave rise to the other amendments brought forward by the Government in the Lords. I should like to take a little time to explain the reasoning behind this amendment.

Hon. Members who have followed the discussion of the Bill will remember that in Committee there was much discussion of the priority likely to be attached to different applications for payments from the social fund. Establishing the relative priority of applications is important, to ensure that the funds available to social fund officers at a given local office are used to best effect, so that, as far as is possible, in that office eligible applications of similar priority are treated similarly over the course of the year.

As part of this process, we were advised that it would be helpful for social fund officers to have guidance to which they could turn, and which made specific reference to the conditions and circumstances prevailing in their local office. Obviously, this is best done by a senior official working in that local office. We shall therefore be requiring local office managers to draw up guidance on the different priorities of various types of applications to their local office. This will help them to manage their budget over the course of the year and to ensure that similar applications are treated similarly.

For the sake of consistency, social fund inspectors clearly also need to take account of such local priorities. It is worth reiterating that nothing that we are proposing here will limit the discretion of a social fund officer. The amendment is aimed at being helpful to social fund officers in their determination of applications and at supporting them in the exercise of their discretion.

Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Livingston

In view of the new doctrine that surfaced earlier in our debate — that when the Opposition say nothing, they have entered into a binding agreement — I must say that we are not persuaded by the case for the amendment.

It is instructive to notice how difficult the Government are finding it to make the social fund proposal a practical proposition. At this late stage, with an amendment tabled only last Thursday, they are obliged to produce a whole new stream of guidance for the people who will try to turn into reality the Government's legislation. For several months, comments have been offered on the draft manual of guidance for the social fund. It is extraordinary that quite different guidance should now be proposed. However, there is no time adequately to press Ministers on the measure, which goes to prove the point that I made this afternoon—that the guillotine motion does not provide the House with an adequate opportunity to scrutinise the legislation, and I regret that we cannot go into the matter more deeply.

Photo of Mr Michael Portillo Mr Michael Portillo , Enfield, Southgate

There is nothing new about the guidance. The question is whether the Bill in draft provided adequately for such guidance. The intention that there should be guidance to local office managers to set priorities was always made explicit, and was referred to a number of times in Standing Committee. The hon. Member for Redcar (Ms. Mowlam) referred to the need for managers to be alert to take action to ensure that the highest priority cases were met throughout the year." —[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 15 December 1987; c. 577.] Clearly the hon. Lady was under no misapprehension about the Government's intentions, but when the Bill was examined by counsel it did not adequately meet the policies so clearly set out in Standing Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 21, in page 18, line 2, at end insert— 6A. At the end of subsection (1) there shall be added the words "in such form and manner as may be prescribed".

Read a Second time.

Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Livingston

I beg to move amendment (a) to the Lords amendment, in line 3, at end insert 'or accepted by a social fund officer'. The Opposition retain their strong objections to the social fund on the ground of principle. Those objections have been well established in previous debates, but the fact that, at this late stage, less than a full month before the social fund becomes operational, we are debating another five amendments to the primary legislation setting it up, demonstrates more vividly than anything we could say how shaky and imperfect the structure of the social fund is.

Our objections fall into two categories. I shall briefly rehearse them, but I shall not detain the House for long, because some of my hon. Friends may wish to speak. It is entirely wrong that help for the poorest in society should now come by way of loans rather than grants. If the Government accept that claimants from the social fund need help, they should not oblige them to pay for the help out of their own budgets.

Secondly, it is wholly illogical that such a fund should be cash-limited. If the Government accept — it appears to be the basis of the social fund — that it is there to meet need, and it is clear from the draft manual of guidance that it must he real and desperate need, claimants should not be put in the intolerable position of being told, as some of them may well be, that they qualify and meet all the criteria, but the money available in a particular office that month does not allow them to be included in the priority categories that will receive grant. Payment should be based on whether a claimant qualifies under the criteria, not on whether an office has a sufficient store of money left for the rest of the month.

These objections remain fundamental. The social fund is objectionable and when it is implemented in a month's time it will readily produce a stream of horror stories that will make many Conservative Members who voted for it Start running for cover when confronted by constituents who have been affected by being refused loans from the social fund.

I refer to three new pieces of evidence that confirm our objections and show how solidly based were the arguments that we advanced on the two previous occasions since the turn of the year when we debated the matter.

First, we had a parliamentary answer, provided, I think, by the Under-Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen), about the reduction in single payments. The Under-Secretary has repeatedly defended the cash limit on the social fund as preserving the current level of expenditure on single payments. That answer to my hon. Friend dramatically demonstrates the extent to which the expenditure on single payments has decreased over the past year.

9.30 pm

My hon. Friend asked the Minister to give the expenditure for the six months to October 1986 and for the six months to October 1987. The figures show that expenditure fell from £29 million in the six months to October 1986 to £15 million in the six months to October 1987. That was within my hon. Friend's region. That clearly demonstrates a very rapid reduction of about 50 per cent. It reflects the extent to which, under the Government, and as a result of the new criteria introduced in the summer of 1986, it is very much more difficult to obtain a single payment.

Secondly, the evidence of what that means in human terms is spelt out in the report published by the Child Poverty Action Group entitled Single payments: the disappearing safety net. I have time to read only one paragraph, but it is one worth sharing with the House because it demonstrates the desperation of people who are now being turned away. It says: Parents are taking children with splinters in their feet to advice agencies only to be told that floor coverings are no longer necessary household items. Families with young children are told that a cooker is unnecessary and they can live on Cuppa soup, sandwiches or fish and chips or that three pairs of socks are an adequate substitute for a pair of shoes. Claimants are supposed to make do with dangerous second-hand cookers. They are the kind of situations that are becoming increasingly commonplace and which we are willing to countenance in the midst of an affluent society. That was written on the basis of information provided by people all over the country to citizens rights offices and citizens advice bureaux — the people who are currently being refused single payments.

When the Government tell us that the cash limit on the social fund preserves the current expenditure on single payments, they are saying that they have reduced single payments to a floor. Now, with the social fund, they will turn that floor into a ceiling of maximum expenditure. Over the past two years, there has been a major reduction in the amount of help available to families receiving single payments which the social fund will now institutionalise as a cash limit.

The third and last piece of new information to which I shall refer and which confirms our criticism of that cash limit was provided by the Under-Secretary of State in the debate on Thursday instigated by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle). It was a debate on poverty and low pay and it took place during the proceedings on the Consolidated Fund (No. 3) Bill. I noticed that in his reply the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security gave as one of the reasons for ending single payments and introducing the social fund the fact that in 1984, which I presume was the last year for which he had figures, only one in five claimants who might have qualified obtained a single payment.

I fully agree with the Under-Secretary that the present take-up rate is extremely uneven. We can see that demonstrated every time a local authority starts a take-up campaign, because there is a large increase in the number of single payments. It is precisely because the take-up rate is so uneven and so much below 100 per cent. — probably it does not even approximate 20 per cent.— that it is entirely wrong to take the present level of expenditure and then turn it into a cash limit ceiling.

I have strong feelings about this matter, as well I might, because my constituency faces the largest cut. The Bathgate local office, which meets the needs of my constituents, has a different experience from that described by the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) as the experience of his DHSS office. We had a budget of £2·25 million for expenditure on single payments in 1986–87. Next year we will have a cash limit on our social fund of £750,000—one third the level of expenditure of only two years ago. When we compare that with the amount available by way of grants rather than loans, we see that we have only £250,000 compared with expenditure of £2·25 million in grants two years ago. Collectively, that represents a cut in the benefits available to claimants in my constituency of £2 per head per week. That is a real cut in their standard of living.

For all those reasons, we wish to reiterate our strong-rooted objections to the social fund. However, we are happy to try to make the amendments presented to us as unobjectionable as humanly possible. That is why we have tabled our amendment to the Lords amendment. The Lords amendment provides, for the first time, that applicants may be required to submit their claim in a prescribed form. Until now, nobody has thought it necessary that there should be a prescribed form in order to submit a claim. I am bound to say that it is difficult to see why it should now be thought that we require a prescribed form.

I referred earlier to the suggestion by Ministers that it was a banking facility. The truth is that DHSS offices know more about their claimants than any bank manager. They know about a claimant's income in exhaustive detail. They retain the right, which no bank manager does, to send someone round to check up in the middle of the night if they feel like it. How much more do they need to know by way of a prescribed form?

Of course it is entirely proper and reasonable that the social fund officer should have the right to refuse an application that he does not think is in acceptable form. However, it is entirely wrong to oblige him to refuse it because it is not in the prescribed form. Therefore, we have tabled what I regard as an extremely modest amendment. It would enable the social fund officer to accept an application if it is in a form acceptable to him.

As I have said, it is a modest amendment, and I hope that the Minister will recognise its modesty by giving it a fair hearing and a fair wind. Today's debate began with stress being placed on what an awkward bunch the Opposition are, how they cannot agree and, if they do, how they cannot keep an agreement. Let us test the Minister's spirit of compromise and invite him to end the proceedings on a note of agreement by accepting our amendment.

Photo of Mr Michael Portillo Mr Michael Portillo , Enfield, Southgate

We are asking that applications for social fund loans or grants be made on a form. I reassure the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) that there is no intention that that should in any way stand as a barrier to applications being made. Of course applicants are able to seek the advice of the social fund officer, who can help to fill out the form, or of third party advice agencies.

It is desirable that we should have the form because, as the hon. Member for Livingston knows, we are moving away from a regulated system. Under a regulated system, if a piece of paper arrives, whether it be a letter or whatever, the adjudication officer may, in some instances, be able to judge that there is sufficient information on that piece of paper for him to know that it meets the regulation.

It is rather different when we are dealing with priorities and discretion. In that case, there is a whole range of information that the social fund officer will wish to have to ensure that he knows all there is to know about the application in order to have a full appreciation of what its priority should be. After all, the application form is then used as the basis for reviews. The applicant can have an interview with the social fund officer, and the form may he passed eventually to a social fund inspector for review. Therefore, it is appropriate that all the information should be in a form to ensure that the applicant has provided everything that could be relevant.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

Can the Minister say in what foreign languages the form will be provided?

Photo of Mr Michael Portillo Mr Michael Portillo , Enfield, Southgate

The form is written in exceedingly plain English. It has benefited from the advice of consultants. It is part of the Department's general move towards the use of plain English. When the hon. Gentleman sees the form, I do not think that he will have any complaint about it on those grounds. Of course, for some applicants it is always difficult to fill out a form. That is why I stressed that they can go to the social fund officer for help or they may go to third party agencies.

Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett Shadow Minister (Social Security)

Will the Under-Secretary of State help clarify something for me? The argument that he has just put about the desirability of having a form because of the detailed questions, is precisely the argument used by his hon. Friend the Minister in advocating to the House the abolition of weekly additions. He said that it was a good idea to get rid of them because of all the intrusive questions that people would have to be asked. The Under-Secretary is now praying that in aid.

Photo of Mr Michael Portillo Mr Michael Portillo , Enfield, Southgate

Whether it is an application for single payments or a social fund application, some of the questioning is bound to be intrusive, because it will be about means and resources. However, a letter applying for a single payment—which was a regulated system—might contain sufficient information for it to be decided whether the regulation was satisfied. In the case of a social fund application, it is obviously desirable that there should be a range of information so that the priority of the application can be judged.

With her great practical experience, the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) will know that, generally speaking, even single payment applications resulted in the adjudication officer sending forms out to the claimant to obtain the information required to determine the claims.

Photo of Mr Bill Michie Mr Bill Michie , Sheffield, Heeley

The Minister has said that, if any applicant is in distress, he can see the social fund officer, which basically means that he did not need the form in the first place. We should have more social fund officers, so that people do not go through that hoop. Is it the Government's intention that many applicants will give up before they become too distressed?

Photo of Mr Michael Portillo Mr Michael Portillo , Enfield, Southgate

Of course that is not our intention. That is why I stressed to the hon. Member for Livingston that the form had been written in plain English. I do not think that Opposition Members will have any complaint about it.

In sticking to the Lords amendment, I think that we are doing the best possible deal by the claimant. The Opposition amendment, quite unintentionally, might lead to confusion in the operation of the scheme. The ground for confusion would be uncertainty about the form and manner of applications. Moreover, the word "accept" is open to a number of possible interpretations. It could mean "receive", "take delivery of" or "find satisfactory". For all those reasons, "accept" is not a good word.

I hope that the hon. Member for Livingston will take it from me that we intend the prescribed manner to make it easy for applicants to make an application to the social fund. However, I welcome his realisation that the money going into single payments this year is broadly equivalent to the amount to be put into the social fund next year, it has taken him a long time to arrive at that realisation.

The hon. Gentleman repeated the theme that there had been some unfairness in the distribution between offices.

The figure for the allocation of social fund money per head of supplementary benefit case loads is £51 in Bathgate. In Bristol, South it is £36; in Halifax, £39; in Preston, £29; and in Glasgow, Provan, £106. If there is any unfairness, surely it is that Scottish cities are receiving more money than other parts of the country. The reason is that there has been a history of large take-up of single payments in those cities. In moving away from that history towards the underlying need of the population, we have taken only a small step in this first instance. That is why the Scottish cities are still benefiting to a large extent from the allocation made from the social fund in the first year.

The hon. Member for Livingston wishes only to quote what has happened to single payment expenditure in the past few years. He will know, however, that the amount of single payments rose from £60 million in 1980 to £350 million the year before last. Those figures are expressed in the same terms—as a real-increase—

It being six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion relating to Social Security Bill (Allocation of Time), MR. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to order this day, to put the Question already proposed from the Chair.

The House divided: Ayes 199, Noes 294.

Division No. 214][9.43 pm
Abbott, Ms DianeDobson, Frank
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Doran, Frank
Allen, GrahamDuffy, A. E. P.
Anderson, DonaldDunnachie, Jimmy
Archer, Rt Hon PeterEadie, Alexander
Armstrong, HilaryEastham, Ken
Ashton, JoeEvans, John (St Helens N)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Fatchett, Derek
Barron, KevinFaulds, Andrew
Battle, JohnFearn, Ronald
Beckett, MargaretField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Bell, StuartFields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Benn, Rt Hon TonyFisher, Mark
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Flannery, Martin
Bermingham, GeraldFlynn, Paul
Bidwell, SydneyFoot, Rt Hon Michael
Blair, TonyFoulkes, George
Boateng, PaulFraser, John
Boyes, RolandFyfe, Maria
Bradley, KeithGalbraith, Sam
Bray, Dr JeremyGalloway, George
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)George, Bruce
Buckley, George J.Godman, Dr Norman A.
Caborn, RichardGolding, Mrs Llin
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Gordon, Mildred
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Gould, Bryan
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Graham, Thomas
Canavan, DennisGriffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Grocott, Bruce
Clay, BobHardy, Peter
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHarman, Ms Harriet
Cohen, HarryHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Heffer, Eric S.
Corbett, RobinHenderson, Doug
Cousins, JimHinchliffe, David
Cryer, BobHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cummings, JohnHolland, Stuart
Cunliffe, LawrenceHome Robertson, John
Cunningham, Dr JohnHood, Jimmy
Dalyell, TamHowarth, George (Knowsley N)
Darling, AlistairHowells, Geraint
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Hoyle, Doug
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Dewar, DonaldHughes, Roy (Newport E)
Dixon, DonHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Pike, Peter L.
Illsley, EricPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Ingram, AdamPrimarolo, Dawn
John, BrynmorRadice, Giles
Johnston, Sir RussellRandall, Stuart
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)Reid, Dr John
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldRichardson, Jo
Kennedy, CharlesRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Kinnock, Rt Hon NeilRobertson, George
Kirkwood, ArchyRobinson, Geoffrey
Lamond, JamesRogers, Allan
Leighton, RonRooker, Jeff
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lewis, TerryRowlands, Ted
Litherland, RobertRuddock, Joan
Livingstone, KenSedgemore, Brian
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Sheerman, Barry
Loyden, EddieSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McAllion, JohnShore, Rt Hon Peter
McAvoy, ThomasShort, Clare
McCartney, IanSkinner, Dennis
Macdonald, Calum A.Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McFall, JohnSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
McKelvey, WilliamSnape, Peter
McLeish, HenrySoley, Clive
McNamara, KevinSteinberg, Gerry
McTaggart, BobStott, Roger
Madden, MaxStrang, Gavin
Mahon, Mrs AliceStraw, Jack
Maxton, JohnTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Meacher, MichaelTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Meale, AlanTurner, Dennis
Michael, AlunWall, Pat
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Wallace, James
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)Walley, Joan
Millan, Rt Hon BruceWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Wareing, Robert N.
Moonie, Dr LewisWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Morgan, RhodriWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Wigley, Dafydd
Mowlam, MarjorieWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
Mullin, ChrisWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Murphy, PaulWilson, Brian
Nellist, DaveWinnick, David
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonWise, Mrs Audrey
O'Brien, WilliamYoung, David (Bolton SE)
O'Neill, Martin
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyTellers for the Ayes:
Parry, RobertMr. Frank Cook and
Patchett, TerryMr. Frank Haynes.
Pendry, Tom
Aitken, JonathanBonsor, Sir Nicholas
Alexander, RichardBottomley, Peter
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBottomley, Mrs Virginia
Amess, DavidBowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Amos, AlanBowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Arbuthnot, JamesBowis, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Ashby, DavidBrandon-Bravo, Martin
Aspinwall, JackBrazier, Julian
Atkins, RobertBright, Graham
Atkinson, DavidBrittan, Rt Hon Leon
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Baldry, TonyBrowne, John (Winchester)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Batiste, SpencerBudgen, Nicholas
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyBurns, Simon
Bellingham, HenryBurt, Alistair
Bendall, VivianButcher, John
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Butler, Chris
Benyon, W.Butterfill, John
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnCarlisle, John, (Luton N)
Blackburn, Dr John G.Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterCarrington, Matthew
Cash, WilliamHolt, Richard
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs LyndaHordern, Sir Peter
Chapman, SydneyHoward, Michael
Chope, ChristopherHowarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Colvin, MichaelHunt, David (Wirral W)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Hunter, Andrew
Cormack, PatrickIrvine, Michael
Couchman, JamesIrving, Charles
Cran, JamesJack, Michael
Critchley, JulianJackson, Robert
Currie, Mrs EdwinaJanman, Tim
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Davis, David (Boothferry)Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Day, StephenKellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Devlin, TimKey, Robert
Dickens, GeoffreyKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Dorrell, StephenKnapman, Roger
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Dover, DenKnowles, Michael
Dunn, BobKnox, David
Durant, TonyLang, Ian
Dykes, HughLatham, Michael
Eggar, TimLawrence, Ivan
Emery, Sir PeterLee, John (Pendle)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Evennett, DavidLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fairbairn, NicholasLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Fallon, MichaelLightbown, David
Farr, Sir JohnLilley, Peter
Favell, TonyLloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forman, NigelLord, Michael
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Forth, EricMacfarlane, Sir Neil
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Fox, Sir MarcusMaclean, David
Franks, CecilMcLoughlin, Patrick
Freeman, RogerMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
French, DouglasMcNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Gardiner, GeorgeMadel, David
Gill, ChristopherMajor, Rt Hon John
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir IanMalins, Humfrey
Glyn, Dr AlanMans, Keith
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMaples, John
Goodlad, AlastairMarland, Paul
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMarlow, Tony
Gorst, JohnMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Gow, IanMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gower, Sir RaymondMaude, Hon Francis
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Gregory, ConalMeyer, Sir Anthony
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Miller, Hal
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Mills, Iain
Grist, IanMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Ground, PatrickMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynMoate, Roger
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)Monro, Sir Hector
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hanley, JeremyMoore, Rt Hon John
Hannam, JohnMorrison, Hon Sir Charles
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Neale, Gerrard
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Nelson, Anthony
Harris, DavidNeubert, Michael
Hawkins, ChristopherNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Hayes, JerryNicholls, Patrick
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyNicholson, David (Taunton)
Hayward, RobertNicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Heddle, JohnOppenheim, Phillip
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelPage, Richard
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Paice, James
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)Patnick, Irvine
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Patten, John (Oxford W)
Hill, JamesPattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hind, KennethPawsey, James
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Porter, David (Waveney)Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Portillo, MichaelSumberg, David
Powell, William (Corby)Summerson, Hugo
Price, Sir DavidTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Raffan, KeithTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Rathbone, TimTemple-Morris, Peter
Redwood, JohnThatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Renton, TimThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Rhodes James, RobertThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonThornton, Malcolm
Riddick, GrahamThurnham, Peter
Ridsdale, Sir JulianTownend, John (Bridlington)
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Rossi, Sir HughTracey, Richard
Rowe, AndrewTredinnick, David
Rumbold, Mrs AngelaTrippier, David
Ryder, RichardTwinn, Dr Ian
Sackville, Hon TomVaughan, Sir Gerard
Sainsbury, Hon TimViggers, Peter
Scott, NicholasWaddington, Rt Hon David
Shaw, David (Dover)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)Waldegrave, Hon William
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Walden, George
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Waller, Gary
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Walters, Dennis
Sims, RogerWard, John
Skeet, Sir TrevorWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Watts, John
Soames, Hon NicholasWells, Bowen
Speed, KeithWhitney, Ray
Speller, TonyWiddecombe, Ann
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)Wilshire, David
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Winterton, Nicholas
Squire, RobinWolfson, Mark
Stanbrook, IvorWood, Timothy
Steen, AnthonyYeo, Tim
Stern, MichaelYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Stevens, LewisYounger, Rt Hon George
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)Tellers for the Noes
Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N)Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Stokes, JohnMr. Tristan Garel-Jones.

Question accordingly negatived.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I must put the rest of the Questions.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I must put the rest of the Questions. Then I shall take the point of order.

The Question is, That this House doth agree with the Lords—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I have just said that I shall take the hon. Gentleman's point of order later.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I am on my feet. I shall take the hon. Gentleman's point of order after I have put the Question.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Photo of Mr Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you now confirm that you are about to put the last 10 Lords amendments as a block as a result of the motion that we passed earlier this evening? Am I right in assuming that, if the House had wished to take an opinion on those 10 Lords amendments, it would have taken almost two and a halt' hours merely to vote on them, without even discussing them? The point that you are about to make by moving them as a block illustrates what we have been trying to say all day—there has not been sufficient time to discuss the Bill properly.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I am bound by the order of the House passed this afternoon.

I am now required to designate such of the remaining Lords amendments as appear to involve questions of privilege and put them to the vote. The only amendment in that category is amendment No. 33.

Question put and agreed to. [Special Entry.]

MR. SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Lords amendments Nos. 22 to 32 agreed to.