Orders of the Day — Electricity Bill

– in the House of Commons at 5:31 pm on 24th July 1989.

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Lords amendments further considered.

Photo of Alan Williams Alan Williams , Swansea West 5:32 pm, 24th July 1989

For the reasons put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) and me already, I beg to move, That further consideration of the Lords amendments be now adjourned.

Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 34 (Dilatory motion in abuse of rules of the House):—

The House divided: Ayes 186, Noes 293.

Division No. 316][5.31 pm
AYES
Abbott, Ms DianeDunnachie, Jimmy
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Allen, GrahamEadie, Alexander
Anderson, DonaldEastham, Ken
Archer, Rt Hon PeterEwing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Armstrong, HilaryEwing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyFatchett, Derek
Ashley, Rt Hon JackField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Ashton, JoeFisher, Mark
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Flannery, Martin
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Flynn, Paul
Barron, KevinFoot, Rt Hon Michael
Battle, JohnFoster, Derek
Beith, A. J.Fraser, John
Benn, Rt Hon TonyGalloway, George
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Bermingham, GeraldGarrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Bidwell, SydneyGodman, Dr Norman A.
Blair, TonyGolding, Mrs Llin
Boateng, PaulGordon, Mildred
Boyes, RolandGould, Bryan
Bradley, KeithGraham, Thomas
Bray, Dr JeremyGrant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Buckley, George J.Grocott, Bruce
Caborn, RichardHardy, Peter
Callaghan, JimHarman, Ms Harriet
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Haynes, Frank
Canavan, DennisHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Cartwright, JohnHeffer, Eric S.
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Henderson, Doug
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Hinchliffe, David
Clelland, DavidHoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cohen, HarryHowarth, George (Knowsley N)
Coleman, DonaldHowell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Hoyle, Doug
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Corbett, RobinHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Corbyn, JeremyHughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cousins, JimHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cox, TomIllsley, Eric
Crowther, StanIngram, Adam
Cryer, BobJanner, Greville
Cummings, JohnJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Cunliffe, LawrenceJones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Darling, AlistairKennedy, Charles
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Lamond, James
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Leighton, Ron
Dewar, DonaldLitherland, Robert
Dixon, DonLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dobson, FrankLofthouse, Geoffrey
Doran, FrankMcAllion, John
Duffy, A. E. P.McAvoy, Thomas
McCartney, IanRowlands, Ted
Macdonald, Calum A.Ruddock, Joan
McKelvey, WilliamSalmond, Alex
McLeish, HenrySedgemore, Brian
Maclennan, RobertSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McWilliam, JohnShort, Clare
Madden, MaxSkinner, Dennis
Mahon, Mrs AliceSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Meacher, MichaelSmith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Meale, AlanSoley, Clive
Michael, AlunSpearing, Nigel
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Steel, Rt Hon David
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)Steinberg, Gerry
Morgan, RhodriStott, Roger
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Straw, Jack
Mowlam, MarjorieTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Mullin, ChrisTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Murphy, PaulThompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Nellist, DaveVaz, Keith
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonWall, Pat
O'Brien, WilliamWalley, Joan
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Patchett, TerryWareing, Robert N.
Pike, Peter L.Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Prescott, JohnWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Primarolo, DawnWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
Quin, Ms JoyceWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Radice, GilesWilson, Brian
Randall, StuartWinnick, David
Redmond, MartinWise, Mrs Audrey
Rees, Rt Hon MerlynWorthington, Tony
Richardson, JoYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Rogers, AllanTellers for the Ayes:
Rooker, JeffMr. Allen McKay and Mr. Ray Powell.
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
NOES
Adley, RobertBuck, Sir Antony
Aitken, JonathanBudgen, Nicholas
Alexander, RichardBurns, Simon
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBurt, Alistair
Allason, RupertButler, Chris
Amos, AlanButterfill, John
Arbuthnot, JamesCarlisle, John, (Luton N)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Ashby, DavidCarrington, Matthew
Atkins, RobertCarttiss, Michael
Atkinson, DavidCash, William
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Chapman, Sydney
Baldry, TonyChope, Christopher
Batiste, SpencerClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bellingham, HenryClarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Bendall, VivianConway, Derek
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Benyon, W.Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bevan, David GilroyCope, Rt Hon John
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnCouchman, James
Blackburn, Dr John G.Cran, James
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Bonsor, Sir NicholasCurry, David
Boscawen, Hon RobertDavies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Boswell, TimDavis, David (Boothferry)
Bottomley, PeterDay, Stephen
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaDevlin, Tim
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)Dickens, Geoffrey
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Dorrell, Stephen
Bowis, JohnDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesDover, Den
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardDunn, Bob
Brandon-Bravo, MartinDurant, Tony
Brazier, JulianDykes, Hugh
Bright, GrahamEmery, Sir Peter
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterEvans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Fallon, Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon AlickFavell, Tony
Fenner, Dame PeggyLord, Michael
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyLuce, Rt Hon Richard
Fishburn, John DudleyLyell, Sir Nicholas
Fookes, Dame JanetMcCrindle, Robert
Forman, NigelMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)McLoughlin, Patrick
Forth, EricMcNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanMcNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Fox, Sir MarcusMadel, David
Franks, CecilMajor, Rt Hon John
Freeman, RogerMalins, Humfrey
French, DouglasMaples, John
Gale, RogerMarlow, Tony
Gardiner, GeorgeMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Garel-Jones, TristanMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gill, ChristopherMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Glyn, Dr AlanMaude, Hon Francis
Goodlad, AlastairMawhinney, Dr Brian
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Gorst, JohnMellor, David
Gow, IanMiller, Sir Hal
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Mills, Iain
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Mitchell, Sir David
Gregory, ConalMoate, Roger
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Monro, Sir Hector
Ground, PatrickMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynMoore, Rt Hon John
Hague, WilliamMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Hanley, JeremyMorrison, Sir Charles
Hannam, JohnMorrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Moynihan, Hon Colin
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Mudd, David
Harris, DavidNeale, Gerrard
Haselhurst, AlanNeedham, Richard
Hayes, JerryNelson, Anthony
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyNeubert, Michael
Heddle, JohnNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Nicholls, Patrick
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hill, JamesNorris, Steve
Hind, KennethOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hordern, Sir PeterPage, Richard
Howard, MichaelPaice, James
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Patnick, Irvine
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Patten, John (Oxford W)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Pawsey, James
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hunter, AndrewPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Irvine, MichaelPortillo, Michael
Irving, CharlesPowell, William (Corby)
Jack, MichaelPrice, Sir David
Janman, TimRaffan, Keith
Jessel, TobyRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Rathbone, Tim
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Redwood, John
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelRenton, Tim
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineRhodes James, Robert
Key, RobertRiddick, Graham
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Kirkhope, TimothyRoe, Mrs Marion
Knapman, RogerRossi, Sir Hugh
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Rost, Peter
Knowles, MichaelRowe, Andrew
Lamont, Rt Hon NormanSackville, Hon Tom
Lang, IanSainsbury, Hon Tim
Latham, MichaelSayeed, Jonathan
Lawrence, IvanScott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelShaw, David (Dover)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lightbown, DavidShelton, Sir William
Lilley, PeterShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Shersby, Michael
Skeet, Sir TrevorTredinnick, David
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Trippier, David
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Trotter, Neville
Speed, KeithTwinn, Dr Ian
Speller, TonyViggers, Peter
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)Waddington, Rt Hon David
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Squire, RobinWaldegrave, Hon William
Stanbrook, IvorWalden, George
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir JohnWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Stern, MichaelWaller, Gary
Stevens, LewisWalters, Sir Dennis
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)Warren, Kenneth
Stokes, Sir JohnWells, Bowen
Sumberg, DavidWheeler, John
Summerson, HugoWhitney, Ray
Tapsell, Sir PeterWiddecombe, Ann
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Wiggin, Jerry
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Wilkinson, John
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)Wolfson, Mark
Temple-Morris, PeterWood, Timothy
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Yeo, Tim
Thorne, NeilYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Thornton, Malcolm
Thurnham, PeterTellers for the Noes:
Townend, John (Bridlington)Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory and Mr. David Maclean.
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Tracey, Richard

Question accordingly negatived.

Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Chesterfield

May I go back to the point that I raised with you about hybridity, Mr. Speaker? I appreciate that what the Secretary of State said to the House—I do not know if he is still the Secretary of State—has no legislative authority and, having consulted the Table, I understand that only when the wording of the Bill was changed would the question of hybridity arise. I have had the opportunity of having a quick look at the Bill. I do not believe that you, Mr. Speaker, could possibly answer now the question that I am putting because there may be enough in what I am proposing to submit to persuade you that you should seek advice before you give a ruling against what I am saying.

5.45 pm

Clause 62 states: all property, rights and liabilities to which each Area Board is entitled or subject immediately before that date shall become by virtue of this subsection property, rights and liabilities of a company which, in relation to that Board, is nominated for the purposes of this subsection by the Secretary of State. However, the Secretary of State has said that that will not be the case any more. In effect, he has said that certain financial liabilities in respect of the Magnox stations will remain in the public domain.

Clearly, those are only words from a Secretary of State and have no legislative authority. However, had they been part of the long title of the Bill—the right hon. Gentleman has told us that the Bill will be interpreted in that way—you, Mr. Speaker, would have been bound to consider whether we were getting a mixed arrrangement for the supply of electricity which would affect private and public companies and consumers separately.

In view of the sensitivity of matters relating to hybridity, which affect the House and the protection of private rights and so on, I believe that you should not reject my submission out of hand until you have had the opportunity of considering it. Therefore, I submit that you, Mr. Speaker, in your judgment, should not allow the Lords amendments to be proceeded with until you have had the chance of taking that advice.

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

I will certainly consider carefully what the right hon. Gentleman has said, for, as he correctly stated, no legislative change is made to the Bill as a result of what the Secretary of State has said. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman submits his reasons for what he has just said to me in writing so that I may consider them carefully.

Now we move on to Lords amendment No. 158 with which—

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

Order. I do not think that I can say any more, and I am not prepared to rule on hybridity in the middle of Lords amendments.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

I simply want to ask you, Mr. Speaker, at what stage does the House have the opportunity to refer such a Bill, if it is indeed hybrid, to the Examiners of the Bill, who, as you know, consist of officials from both Houses, to check on the question of hybridity? Is it following a statement by yourself when you make a decision, Mr. Speaker, that a formal motion is moved, and is that motion subject to a vote like the vote that we have just had, in which the Government can use their vast majority to tear the procedures of this place apart and thus remove the rights which protect ordinary citizens, as they have just done?

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

That matter is hypothetical until I have seen the submission to be made to me on this matter.

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

Order. I repeat I cannot rule on hybridity in the middle of Lords amendments.

Photo of Mr Bruce Grocott Mr Bruce Grocott , The Wrekin

I am sure that you will recall, Mr. Speaker, as we all do, the tremendous seriousness that was attached to the issue of hybridity during the 1970s on crucial matters of legislation which, as far as I can recall, included a whole day's debate on whether a piece of legislation was a hybrid measure. We are all dealing with information that has come to light only recently and the information that I have received seems of similar import to the discussions that took place in the 1970s. Therefore, can we have your assurance that, when the ruling is made, the opportunity will arise, so far as it is in your power, Mr. Speaker, to determine it, for us to discuss it in the same way and with the same seriousness with which it was discussed in the 1970s?

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

I must first consider the submission that is put to me. Of course I do not control the timing of debates in the House, but I shall certainly bear in mind very strongly what the hon. Member has said.

Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Chesterfield

The point is that the passage of the Lords amendments today could lead to an attempt to get Royal Assent for the Bill immediately. Clearly, when the House has dealt with the Lords amendments, the Bill will have completed its passage through both Houses. [Interruption.] I do not know whether it depends on how the House rules on the matter. However, the point is that the matter of hybridity would have to be settled before the Bill was cleared for Royal Assent. Once the Bill has gone for Royal Assent, it becomes an Act of Parliament. There is, therefore, an urgency about the matter. When you come to it, Mr. Speaker, you would have to interpose your judgment between the final stages in either House and the Royal Assent. You have given me an opportunity to put in such evidence as I can, which will concern clauses 62 and 63 on the generating board.

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

The right hon. Gentleman should get in that submission as quickly as he possibly can.

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair , Sedgefield

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you confirm that it will be necessary to have a ruling on the question of hybridity before the Lords amendments are passed, since otherwise the opportunity is lost? The matter is therefore urgent.