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New clause

Firearms (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 18th February 1997.

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Lords amendment: No. 25, after clause 11, to insert the following new clause—Compensation scheme for firearms dealers

".—(1) The Secretary of State shall, in accordance with a scheme made by him, make payments to persons who on 16th October 1996 were wholly or mainly carrying on business as registered firearms dealers under the 1968 Act, in respect of any loss of business directly caused by the prohibition contained in section 1.

(2) A scheme under subsection (1) above shall provide for payments to be equivalent to one year of after—tax profits of the business, based on the average after—tax profits from the audited financial statements of the business for the three financial years, or for the total period of trading if less than three years, before the passing of this Act as calculated by a qualified person.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) above— business" means only the business or that part, of the business directly affected by the prohibition contained in section 1; andqualified person" means a person eligible for appointment as a company auditor in accordance with section 25 of the Companies Act 1989.

(4) A scheme under subsection (1) above may—

  1. (a) restrict eligibility for receipt of payments to claims made within a period specified in the scheme;
  2. (b) provide for the procedure to be followed (including any time within which claims must be made and the provision of information) in respect of claims under the scheme and for the determination of such claims."

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:30 pm, 18th February 1997

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

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

With this, it will be convenient to take Lords amendment No. 26, Lords amendments Nos. 27 and 93 and the Government motions to disagree thereto, and Government amendment (a).

I have to inform the House that all four of these Lords amendments involve questions of privilege.

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Will it be possible to have separate votes on Lords amendment Nos. 25 and 27?

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

If it is so desired, yes.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. On the last vote, the majority of Conservative Members of Parliament who are not on the payroll either opposed the measure or did not support it. The fact is that only a minority of the Conservative party supported the Government. That fact should be known because the matter now returns to another place, whose Members might like to know that the Conservative party supports what they did last time and would seek to support them if they continue.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

One must not use points of order to make points of policy or opinion.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Government are committed to paying compensation at a fair market value to people who hold firearms certificates for the higher-calibre handguns that the Bill will prohibit. These values would be those that applied immediately prior to my announcement in the House on 16 October last year.

I should like to remind the House of the arrangements that are planned. To qualify for compensation an owner will have to have held his firearm on a firearms certificate; or have held it by virtue of being a registered firearms dealer; or have been contracted to acquire his or her gun on 16 October; and will have to surrender it to the police. Owners will be able to choose between three compensation options.

First, there will be a basic flat-rate figure that an owner may claim for each high-calibre handgun he surrenders, whatever its make, age or condition. Secondly, there will be a list of market values—as applied immediately before 16 October 1996—for the most commonly held types of handgun. Those figures may be higher than the basic compensation figure and owners who hand in a gun of one of these types will be able to claim that value.

Thirdly, there will be owners whose guns do not fit within these arrangements or who want to obtain their own valuation. We intend that those who wish to will be able to submit valuations that they themselves have obtained. In cases of dispute there will be recourse to a second independent valuation of the gun.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Who exactly will do all that valuation? Item 12 of the letter that was circulated today by the Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe), states: Any discrepancies in the claim—including any relating to the condition of items claimed for under Option C—will either need to be resolved before the claim is accepted by the police. For some reason, that paragraph does not make complete sense, but the issue with which it deals is important. Can the Home Secretary explain the background to that provision?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Any arguments about the condition of the gun could be dealt with at the time the gun is surrendered to the police, but questions of valuation will not, of course, be decided by the police. They will be decided in the way that is properly set out in the letter and the accompanying document.

Owners will also be entitled to compensation on a similar market-value basis for ammunition, including expanding ammunition which the Bill would prevent them from owning and for accessories and other ancillary equipment which they own and which has no use other than in connection with prohibited higher-calibre handguns.

Photo of Mr Spencer Batiste Mr Spencer Batiste , Elmet

Within that list of accessories will there be included a machine for reloading ammunition, which a small business might have so that it could sell reloaded ammunition to others? Does that fall within my right hon. and learned Friend's category?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

It is highly likely to do so. I answer in that rather provisional way because the details are not yet fixed. We intend to discuss with the British Shooting Sports Council the question of precisely what these accessories will be and what their values will be. Examples that we have in mind include reloading equipment for cartridges, specialised holsters and spare parts.

There will also be ex gratia payments—separate from the compensation scheme—for shooters who own .22 rim-fire and other small-calibre handguns, which will not become prohibited by the Bill but which the Bill will require to be kept in licensed pistol clubs. Owners who cannot find a club in which to keep their pistol or who choose not to join a club will be able to apply for an ex gratia payment for their gun; but this will, as I said, be separate from the statutory compensation scheme.

Taking account of the concerns raised earlier in the passage of the Bill about the nature of the compensation scheme, we have decided that the scheme should be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Amendment No. 26 will enable parliamentary oversight of the scheme. I intend to lay the scheme in draft form before this House and another place. The scheme could not be made effective until approved by a resolution of this House and by a resolution in another place.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

If the Home Secretary was the owner of, for example, a Ruger Blackhawk 6in barrel, which I am told is quite a valuable gun, would he be content to accept 175 quid as compensation? Knowing him as I do, I bet he would not.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am sorry to say that I can offer no opinion on that question, as I do not own any such gun. However, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that, if any person who does own such a gun is not content with the amount identified in the list attached to the document, it would be open to him to come along with his own valuation and establish that the weapon is worth more than £175. If he makes his case and the valuation is a proper one, he would be compensated on that basis.

The provision that the scheme should be approved by the House would not alter the principles of the compensation arrangements that I have just set out. Both in this House and in another place very full consideration has been given to this issue and we have explained why the Government have decided that compensation should be paid for weapons, ammunition and other ancillary equipment. The amendment means that the details of the scheme can be fully considered by Parliament before it comes into effect.

I would now like to say a few words about amendment No. 25, which concerns compensation for business losses by firearms dealers as a result of the Bill.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale , North Thanet

My right hon. and learned Friend has made it clear that the valuation is to be set at the date on which he made his announcement to the House and not before the tragedy at Dunblane. He must be aware that, terrible though that event was, it is the purchase blight placed on the value of firearms by the legislation that has affected what he now deems to be the market value. That will undoubtedly be an issue disputed in any appeal.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Indeed, it is because the purchase blight consequent on the legislation is important that I have said that the valuation should be as at the day before any announcement was made about the nature of the legislation. That is precisely the point and it is a precise response to my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Romsey and Waterside

It seems to me that purchase blight has already hit the list of valuations that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State handed us all at the beginning of the debate. The Home Secretary may not be the owner of a heavy-calibre pistol but indirectly, through the Palace of Westminster shooting club, hon. Members are the owners of two .38 calibre Smith and Wesson 14 6in barrel revolvers. They are listed in the document as being worth £225 each, but Target Gun magazine—which is currently regarded as one of the most reliable indicators of market value—puts the value of the pistols at £386. It seems that blight has hit the Home Office list, but not the market generally.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend makes an extremely interesting point, and I defer to him with his considerable expertise and knowledge of these issues. I would simply emphasise that the document that we have circulated, including the list of values to which my hon. Friend referred, has been circulated for consultation, so we shall be very interested to listen to arguments, such as that made by my hon. Friend, before we finalise even that list. Then, notwithstanding the definitive list, it will be possible for any individual shooter to say, "My weapon is worth more than the list says; would you please compensate me on that basis?" That would be a perfectly reasonable way to proceed.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , South Staffordshire

That is fine as far as it goes, but what proof of value will my right hon. and learned Friend require? Will he give the House an unequivocal assurance that a receipt or normal valuation by a qualified valuer, saying that the gun in question is worth £386, would be acceptable as proof?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend knows that valuation is not a very precise art. If someone wanted to argue that his gun was worth more than the value identified in the list when the list was in its definitive form, we would expect him to produce evidence from an expert in these matters, who would say, "I know about these things: I know the state of the market and I know about this type of gun, and it is my considered opinion that this particular weapon is worth more than the amount identified in the list." We shall expect that type of approach.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The receipt would show what was paid for the gun. That would be one of the factors to be taken into account, but obviously, as my hon. Friend will appreciate, only one.

Amendment No. 25 concerns compensation for business losses by firearms dealers as a result of the Bill. The Government recognise the strength of feeling in both Houses on that issue, but we cannot accept liability for business losses that might result from the introduction of legislation aimed at improving public safety. As far as I am aware, that would be unprecedented, and it would limit considerably the scope for future improvements, not just in firearms legislation but across the board.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Will the hon. Lady forgive me for a moment?

In other areas, such as transport, medicines, chemicals and pollution, the Government have not paid compensation for business losses that may have been incurred as a result of legislative changes. Where the effect of Government legislation is to deprive people of property or of the use of that property, it is broadly the case that the taxpayer provides some recompense for those people in relation to the value of the property. That principle has been a recognised part of English law for many years. It underpins our obligations under the European convention on human rights and is the principle that informed our compensation scheme.

The Government will pay compensation to firearms dealers on the same basis as home owners in respect of prohibited handguns and ancillary equipment that they owned or were contracted to acquire on or before 16 October 1996. However, our obligations do not extend to include compensation for business losses and other liabilities.

All businesses operate within a framework of legislation. In the case of the gun industry, the framework is stricter and more specific than that in many other industries. It regulates what types of guns and ammunition can be bought and sold and who may buy and sell them. It is right that there should be a strong framework to control the market in a product which is, potentially, extremely dangerous. Moreover, that framework of regulation has existed since the 1920s and everyone who works in the firearms industry operates within it.

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey , Vauxhall

Is the Home Secretary aware that, on a recent visit, one of the Australian Ministers—who is a Member of Parliament for Tasmania, where there was an appalling gun incident, as the Home Secretary knows—said that gun legislation received general support from all people in Australia only because compensation was treated seriously and everyone was compensated? If citizens generally, through our Government, are taking away people's rights, surely the least that the Government can do is to ensure that those people are compensated.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Grateful though I am to the hon. Lady for patiently waiting to intervene, I do not accept the point that she makes, for the precise reasons that I am giving. As far as I am aware, it would be wholly unprecedented to award such compensation. It would establish an undesirable principle; I do not believe that we should establish that principle.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton).

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

My right hon. and learned Friend knows that I have in my constituency one of the most successful, and one of the largest, wholesalers of arms and ammunition. Does he expect me to vote for a Government who are very likely to put that company, which has been in existence for more than 50 years and provides about 30 jobs in my constituency, out of business, and thereby make a large number of people—a majority of them women—unemployed?

Is what my right hon. and learned Friend is proposing real justice? I fully support the view just expressed by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey). If we are to deny people the right to continue a business that has operated legitimately for more than 50 years, we should fully and properly compensate them.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I understand my hon. Friend's point. I very much sympathise with his constituent and I hope that the dire consequences that my hon. Friend predicted will not come to pass.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I know that my hon. Friend will consider the wider implications of what he proposes; I have tried to address those wider implications. I have more to say about those wider implications; I do not believe that they can be lightly set aside or ignored.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend the Member for Calder Valley (Sir D. Thompson) has been waiting, and I have given way to my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) more than once.

Photo of Mr Donald Thompson Mr Donald Thompson , Calder Valley

The helpful document on compensation from the Minister of State says: The Government has also agreed to make payments … This agreement does not extend to small-calibre pistols held in stock by dealers nor does it extend to ancillary equipment relating to them as there will continue to be a demand for such equipment. My right hon. and learned Friend took as examples transport and catering. In those industries, legislation is usually evolutionary, and a catering firm introduces new bits of kit and equipment to keep up with the times and with modern knowledge. However, the proposals before us are draconian. A man in my constituency makes nothing but ammunition for handguns. He employs five people. We shall put him out of business.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am not sure that I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. It is true that in some industries and in some cases, legislative change of the type that we are discussing is what my hon. Friend has described as "evolutionary", but there are many examples where that is not the case and where the result of a specific piece of legislation is very serious for the firm concerned. Obviously, one does not like that to happen and one greatly sympathises with those whose jobs may be at risk, but it has not been the case that, when we have dealt with such matters in the past, we have provided compensation for that type of consequence.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , South Staffordshire

This situation is virtually unprecedented. I should like my right hon. and learned Friend to give one example of a sector of legitimate business and industry totally destroyed by legislation without compensation, and without the opportunity for those employed in the industry to do something similar. That opportunity has gone. This is a unique situation, and I doubt that my right hon. and learned Friend can find precedent. Moreover, this would not establish precedent.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am not sure that I agree with my hon. Friend. One may test matters to some extent by considering the history of the firearms industry. As I said on Report, major changes have been made in the regulatory environment that applies to this industry several times in recent history, and those changes have had a massive impact on the shooting industry and on those who use guns for leisure purposes. In 1920, firearms controls were introduced for the first time. In 1934, fully automatic weapons were prohibited. In 1962, airguns and shotguns were made subject to restriction for the first time. In 1988, semi-automatic and self-loading rifles were prohibited. In 1992, disguised firearms were prohibited.

Many other minor changes have affected the operations of gun dealers and gun clubs apart from the major changes that I have just identified. All those changes were introduced to improve public safety, and some will undoubtedly have affected some businesses more than others; but none was made the subject of compensation for business. No one who works in the firearms industry can be unaware of the significance of regulatory controls on that industry.

Photo of Mr John Townend Mr John Townend , Bridlington

Is my right hon. and learned Friend really trying to tell the House that if at some future date a Government introduced a Bill to prohibit drink on the ground that it was bad for people's health, every brewery, off-licence and pub would have to shut? All those people would go bankrupt; would the Government say, "Because this is for the benefit of health, there will be no compensation"? Surely my right hon. and learned Friend cannot envisage such circumstances.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I take some comfort from the fact that, were any Government to introduce such an outlandish measure, my hon. Friend and I would be in the same Lobby opposing it resolutely—but I have every confidence that no such proposal would ever reach the statute book.

Photo of Mr Spencer Batiste Mr Spencer Batiste , Elmet

My right hon. and learned Friend has drawn a distinction between loss of business and loss of property. He is clearly not talking about compensation for a business's loss of profits, but what about plant and equipment, which can often be quite valuable and which has no other use?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I do not think so, for reasons that I have already given.

Photo of Mr Anthony Grant Mr Anthony Grant , Cambridge South West

Is not a legitimate firearms dealer entitled to say, "I understand that an appalling tragedy took place and that a careful inquiry was conducted under a distinguished judge, having been set up by the Government, but I did not and could not anticipate that the Government would decide—when Parliament was not sitting—to go against the recommendations of that inquiry, and that is why we are experiencing difficulties now"?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

With great respect to my hon. Friend, it is not easy to resolve the question whether the Government have gone further than Lord Cullen's recommendations. I pointed that out when we were discussing the last group of amendments. We certainly went further than Lord Cullen recommended in that he recommended that people should be allowed to keep single-shot pistols at home. He put forward that suggestion for consideration: he did not really regard it as a recommendation. We have said that no single-shot pistol should be kept at home—that no pistols of any kind should be kept at home.

Lord Cullen expressed a preference for disassembly of multi-shot pistols—we have just dealt with that—but said that if, for one reason or another, disassembly was not regarded as a viable solution, all private ownership of handguns should end, and that only handguns kept in and owned by clubs should be available for shooting purposes. I do not think that it can be argued that we have gone further than Lord Cullen in that respect, and I do not think that the question is as easy to resolve as is sometimes made out.

Photo of Mr Christopher Gill Mr Christopher Gill , Ludlow

I think that the House understands my right hon. and learned Friend's reluctance to establish a precedent by compensating people who have undoubtedly lost out as a result of the change in the law, but does this not send the country a terrible message? Are not law-abiding people being told, "You are entitled to run your businesses, but if we, Parliament, change the law at the drop of a hat, you will not be compensated, although you have been bona fide all your lives and your businesses are bona fide"? At the same time, as all hon. Members know, there are thousands of illegally held firearms that are not affected by the legislation, and to which the question of compensation simply does not apply. That, as I am sure my right hon. and learned Friend will recognise, is very rough justice.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

With great respect, I do not see how questions of compensation could apply to illegal firearms. We have a problem with such firearms, as I constantly acknowledge, and the police are doing their best to deal with it; but I do not think that the fact that we have not yet been able to eliminate illegal firearms relieves us of the responsibility to deal with the problem that arises when dreadful acts such as the one committed at Dunblane are committed with legally held firearms. That takes us back to debates in which we have engaged more than once during the Bill's passage.

Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Romsey and Waterside

Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I will, but then I must deal with Lords amendment No. 27.

Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Romsey and Waterside

Will my right hon. and learned Friend clarify a question relating to property? It applies both to the businesses that we have just been discussing and to the clubs with which my right hon. and learned Friend is about to deal.

We are not discussing big business. Dealers are small businesses, and we as a party are supposed to help small businesses. Clubs usually operate on very thin ice financially: they are generally mortgaged, and the ownership of the property—in the case of both clubs and businesses—is very tenuous. Destroying the business of dealers and the membership of clubs will put the ownership of property in jeopardy.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend clarify what Lady Blatch said in the debate on these amendments in the other place? She said: We"— the Government, that is— accept that where the effect of government legislation is to deprive people of property or of the use of that property, then it is right that taxpayers collectively should pay those property owners for the value of that property. This principle has been a part of English law for many years. It also arises from our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, and is the principle which informs our compensation scheme."—[Official Report, House of Lords. 4 February 1997; Vol. 577, c. 1592.] Will that apply to both clubs and dealers in this instance?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

It will apply—I used similar words a few moments ago—but I do not think that it will apply in quite the way that my hon. Friend suggests.

Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Romsey and Waterside

I thought that my right hon. and learned Friend would say that.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend is right in that respect. I think that he is well aware of the distinction that lies at the heart of my answer.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

I have listened to my right hon. and learned Friend with great interest, but I cannot quite follow the logic of the desire of the police and of the Home Office to get rid of illegal weapons. Surely, if compensation is to be paid to those who hand in such weapons, we stand a good chance of getting rid of rather a lot of them: it is nonsensical to deny that. Why not do it in that way?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am afraid that I am not attracted by my right hon. Friend's suggestion that wrongdoers should be rewarded with compensation. We had a successful amnesty last year, when a good many weapons were handed in, but I have no intention of compensating wrongdoers in the way that my right hon. Friend suggests.

Amendment No. 27 deals with clubs or associations that suffer losses as a result of the Bill. Some existing target shooting clubs that cater predominantly for pistol shooting may not be able to adapt to the new licensed arrangements; others which concentrate on providing rifle target or shotgun shooting, or adapt to these disciplines, will be little affected. Clubs will be eligible for compensation for prohibited handguns and accessories under the terms of the Government's compensation scheme, but we do not intend to compensate them for any other losses. The Government have not been, and cannot be, liable for business that may be lost by companies, clubs or associations when they introduce regulation in the interests of public safety.

The protection of the public is one of the overriding duties of Government. It would be a significant inhibiting factor if, on occasions when the Government are obliged to legislate in the interests of public safety, they were also obliged to pay for business losses that might result from that legislation. As I have said, we intend to pay fair compensation to dealers for lost stock, but in declining to compensate for business loss as well the Government must have regard to problems that that would create for any future legislation on matters of public safety.

Much as we regret the difficulties that many clubs and businesses may face, I believe that this is the right course for the Government to take.

7 pm

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson , Swansea East

I start from the simple proposition that the House should not pass legislation that offends the sense of justice and fair play of the ordinary British citizen. In my judgment, the response of the Home Secretary tonight shrieks of injustice. If the argument were put to ordinary British citizens, they would agree that it is wholly unfair and unjust.

In the Second Reading debate on 12 February I set out the example of a small family-run firm in my constituency—Shooters of Swansea. The family who own the business have no other assets. They have used their private homes as security. They have carried on the business with the support and encouragement of the local authority and always fully in accord with the local police. As day follows night, that pistol shooting business will be ruined and the owners will have no compensation.

Photo of Mr John Carlisle Mr John Carlisle , Luton North

I notice that the hon. Gentleman said that the club was run with the support of the local authority. Is he aware that many local authorities, mainly Labour-controlled, are actively discouraging gun clubs by making life distinctly uncomfortable for them? Will he persuade his Front-Bench colleagues, perhaps in relation to another Department, that Labour councils should be discouraged from doing that?

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson , Swansea East

I do not know what other local authorities may or may not do. I know that Swansea city council has given full planning and financial encouragement to that family business, and that it will be ruined.

Following legal advice from a leading silk, I set out various principles of law in the Second Reading debate, relying in particular on the case of Lithgow and the principle of the "fair balance," and the fact that in that case it was expressly said that whether that balance was fair depended in large part on the compensation offered to those who suffered.

In Committee in the House of Lords, it was said by the Earl of Lytton, who moved the relevant amendment, that no answer had been given to the legal points that I raised, based on the advice of a very senior practitioner in that field.

No answer was given then, and no substantial answer has been given today. I shall not detain the House with the arguments that were set out by Lord Lester in the other place. I will merely say that Lord Lester is a man of enormous experience in the field of human rights legislation. He set out the reasons why, in his judgment, there were indeed precedents—for instance, in Australia—of similar common law legislation where in the exceptional conditions of the gun legislation the Australian legislature, recognising that it must respond to the people's sense of fairness, compensated for business losses. A number of other examples were given—in planning law, for example, and in the rendering industry in connection with BSE.

Such examples and precedents could be cited, if the Government were so minded. The Government, however, are concerned not with fairness but with the effect on the Treasury. I understand that those advising the Home Office are fairly confident that if the matter went to the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights, the Government would be likely to lose. The problem is, of course, time. If the matter were litigated in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, it would take fully two years, and if it were litigated in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, it would probably take five years, unless and until that convention is incorporated into our domestic law.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson , Swansea East

I must be brief. If the Home Office is simply seeking to buy time, how moral is that? That is the morality of the insurance company that plays for time in the hope that the terminally ill patient will die. It is clear that many businesses will be ruined by the time the matter is litigated and the Home Office probably loses. That is thoroughly unfair and unjust. It will offend the sense of justice on which the House should rest its legislation.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

I am as depressed with our Front Bench tonight as I was in 1988 when we debated the Firearms (Amendment) Bill. In that case, too, the Government rushed into legislation and found it singularly unsatisfactory when it reached the House.

If only we had had a debate on Cullen in the House after the publication of the report and before policy legislation was decided on, we would have removed many of the anomalies facing us today.

In another place 115 amendments were tabled. I appreciate that some of those are meeting points proposed by their Lordships and from this House, but it is clear that additional drafting was required and many changes in the legislation, all of which could have been dealt with more satisfactorily if we had not hurried forward so quickly.

The Front Bench has not addressed the matter of timing. Presumably the Bill will be enacted shortly. What will be the timing of events thereafter? Will the Home Secretary, and his counterparts for Scotland and Wales, order the police to close down all gun and rifle clubs until they meet the security regulations? When will all the pistols have to be handed in? The average police station will hardly welcome thousands of pistols, which will require valuation and many of which will be the subject of argument as to whether they are antiques or heirlooms, whether they are flintlocks or percussion capped, and so on.

That must all be sorted out. Yet no guidance has been given. Nothing causes greater annoyance than uncertainty. The Home Secretary has created a huge amount of uncertainty about the proceedings once the Bill becomes an Act.

As the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) and I have pointed out many times, if mountains of weapons are deposited in police stations all over the country, how will the valuations be carried out? An enormous amount of police time will be spent waiting for the relatively few qualified valuers of firearms to come and look at many individual weapons all over the country. The cost will be substantial.

Photo of Mr Andrew Rowe Mr Andrew Rowe , Kent Mid

I have no way yet of assessing whether what I have been told is true, but a respectable constituent of mine alleges that some of the people who were due for compensation after the Hungerford change in the law have still not received the money that was due to them.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

I have seen that in print during the past month or two.

The Home Secretary must tell us today about the position of the gun and rifle clubs and their buildings and ranges. In those ranges, highly qualified people carry out their international shooting practice. We have a tremendous reputation throughout the world for marksmanship. I speak as a past president of the National Small-Bore Rifle Association, and I know how important the ranges are. Are they to be shut down forthwith, until they fulfil the terms of the security regulations? What are the regulations to be? What will be the difference between regulations applying to indoor ranges and those applying to open ranges?

The Home Secretary must deal with all that. He has given us little information about the valuation of weapons. I appreciate that the Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe), has produced a document for us giving approximate prices, but they seem to vary only between £150 and £450. We all know that high-precision weapons will be considerably more valuable than that. It is relatively easy to value a shotgun, but it is far more complicated for precision weapons of the quality that we are talking about, which are used for international-standard shooting in this country. Who will carry out the valuations? Will they be carried out by the police? Will they be carried out sympathetically and helpfully? Will everybody be given time to discuss whether their weapon is a military heirloom, an antique or a museum piece? None of that is clear.

People want to know what will happen to their valuable possessions. It is bad enough having them confiscated, but it is even worse if one has kept a much-loved weapon very secure for many years only to have it whipped away at the drop of a hat. We pointed out time and again that we are not doing anything to help make people in this country safer. Of course I accept the tragedy of Dunblane and understand the horrors that those people had to face, but what we are doing is not the answer. In Australia, a high-powered, multi-shot weapon was used, but such weapons are illegal here anyhow. In New Zealand, a shotgun was used. Shotguns are legal here, but we do not deal with that in the Bill. That shows that we are not being consistent, and we cannot say that what we are doing tonight will make this country safer, when the place is awash with illegal weapons.

I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary will explain the procedures for all the people who will have their weapons taken away from them.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

The right hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) raised the issue of consistency. It is my belief that the application of consistent principles requires that the House supports the amendments that the Government have proposed today.

We accept, and always have—I do not think that there has ever been any argument across the Chamber about this, save on one occasion in 1988—that where individuals or businesses lose their property or property rights as a result of legislation or decisions made under legislation, for example, as a result of putting a road through a particular route, it is entirely proper that they should be compensated for that loss. That has been a consistent principle. It is also right that where people lose their business as a result of a motorway going through it, they should be compensated for that total loss of business.

Before we come to the issue raised by Lords amendment No. 25, it is worth bearing it in mind that—as many of my hon. Friends and I can testify—the motorway compensation principles do not work out all that equitably in practice. I have constituents whose houses are in the line of the M65 motorway link between the M6 and Whitebirk, to the east of Blackburn. Their houses are not directly on the line but are on the edge of the motorway. The Department of Transport has accepted that their property values have declined by more than 15 per cent.— a trigger point for compensation, but because according to the Department the noise levels have not increased sufficiently, those people cannot claim compensation. There are many similar examples.

I believe that those people should receive compensation, because their property rights have been directly and adversely affected. Their right to compensation must come way above the claim of those who lose a business as a result of legislation.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale , North Thanet

The Home Office has made it abundantly plain that it expects that small gun clubs will close because they will not be able to meet the security regulations, and as a result larger gun clubs will be set up. Those small clubs have members who have invested. They are not businesses. They are members' clubs. The members own them and have invested in the facilities. If the Bill goes through tonight, as planned, there will be no compensation for those people whatever. What does the hon. Gentleman think about that?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office) 7:15 pm, 18th February 1997

I understand that, and although sympathy may come free, I have every sympathy with people in that predicament. I do not, however, believe that on any careful examination such clubs or businesses are in a different position from businesses that were affected by other legislation. I ask Conservative Members in particular, who have always—very honourably—been concerned about the impact of legislation on the public purse, to think about the consequences of agreeing this precedent today, for precedent it is bound to be.

That is one example, but it is no different from the very adverse effect that legislation had on many businesses that made foam-filled furniture. They did so lawfully and honourably, but, following a change in the law they lost their businesses. The cattle deboning industry was wiped out and received no compensation whatever. Many pharmaceutical companies put drugs on to the market which are lawfully licensed, then some problem arises and they have to take them off. They may lose millions of pounds, as may their shareholders, but they receive no compensation at all.

Photo of Mr Terence Higgins Mr Terence Higgins , Worthing

Will the hon. Gentleman take into account the point made by his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) about the European convention on human rights? When voting on the amendment today, will he consider the implications of the convention, particularly if it should be incorporated? More important, the shadow Chancellor said very clearly that he would not do anything in excess of the Government's expenditure plans. It is quite clear that if compensation is to be paid—even in the restricted terms proposed by the Home Secretary—the policy that the hon. Gentleman advocates, that of a total ban on all handguns, is bound to be vastly in excess of what the Government propose to incur. What is his position on that?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

The compensation that would arise from a complete ban would not be vastly in excess—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It would not. It would be 20 per cent. more than the total, because the .22 ban affects only 20 per cent. of the total.

The right hon. Gentleman's first point is very important. We thought very carefully about the European convention on human rights, and I am pleased that it is now being prayed in aid on both sides of the House. I look forward in the next Parliament to widespread support for its incorporation. After all, it was drafted in part by a distinguished former Conservative Lord Chancellor, Lord Kilmuir.

If one reads carefully the speech of Lord Lester of Herne Hill, who is unquestionably a great expert on the European convention on human rights, one will see that he picked his words with great care. At no stage did he say that in his opinion the compensation scheme proposed by the Government would run foul of the European convention. The most that he said was that it raised powerful arguments about breaches, and we know that when a lawyer says that something raises powerful arguments he is accepting that the case is not all that strong.

Lord Lester quoted the words of the European Court of Human Rights, which said that it has to be decided whether a fair balance has been struck between the demands of the general interest of the community and the requirement to protect an individual's fundamental freedom. That is a fair way of putting the issue before the House. Of course there is an issue of an individual's fundamental freedoms. I wish that, in a perfect world, we could compensate everybody and also protect public safety, but we do not live in a perfect world. We have to make choices. I think that the Government's amendment properly reflects a balance.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson , Swansea East

Perhaps the caution of Lord Lester is as much as one could expect from such a distinguished lawyer, but it is surely not difficult to distinguish cases such as the factory producing foam-filled mattresses, which my hon. Friend cited, from that of a shooting club, because a factory producing foam-filled mattresses can adapt the premises to produce other forms of mattress. By their nature, purpose-built premises such as those in my constituency cannot adapt and would be totally ruined.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

That wholly depends on the particular case. There will be some clubs or gun dealers who will be able to adapt their trade to take account—[Interruption.] Part of the gun trade would be rendered illegal. Part of it was rendered unlawful in 1988, but a large part of the gun trade—rifles and shotguns are still lawfully licensed—remains wholly lawful, and that may include country sports.

I wish to pick up a point that the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) made from a sedentary position about other areas in which businesses are affected by legislation. He has represented his constituents with great skill in respect of the textile trade in his constituency, as I have sought to do over the past 18 years in respect of my constituents. The textile industry is a shadow of its former self, not least as a result of Government decisions in accepting, for good reasons or ill, various changes in the multi-fibre arrangement. That arrangement—an international treaty—has led to the closure of whole swathes of the industry; yet not a penny of compensation could be or has been paid to those industries. That is why I say to hon. Members on both sides of the House that, whatever merit they may give the argument, a huge precedent would be created if we were to accept the amendment.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

I will not give way. I am about to finish because others wish to speak.

The effect of the precedent would be such that, when next we felt that there was a need to improve public safety through legislation, whether in respect of furniture, the pharmaceutical industry, the transport industry or firearms control, Governments and the House would always be constrained and often prevented from making decisions in favour of public safety by the enormous cost involved. Yes, as the European Court of Human Rights said, there is a balance to be struck between individuals' fundamental freedoms and the general interest of the community, but in my judgment and that of my hon. Friends, the balance on this issue must be struck in favour of the general interests of the community as a whole.

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

The argument seems to revolve very much around precedent. I am not a lawyer, but I am advised that the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 offers not only compensation in general but compensation for anticipated profit. The national compensation code deals with local authorities and Governments acquiring land, property or businesses and is being applied to businesses required to relocate or extinguish as a result of the channel tunnel rail link. Compensation is also addressed by the Land Compensation Act 1973, the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act 1977 and various pieces of highways legislation.

A Government ordinance to change the foam in a furniture factory, a drug failing or there being tighter control on effluent is completely different from ordinating the cessation of a legitimate business. I am deeply uncomfortable at the moral justice of what we are doing. The Australians very well understand the problem and have managed in their way to give full and fair compensation. If they can do it, we can do it. After all, theirs is a precedent and we can reasonably use it.

Lords amendment No. 27 concerning clubs is about not dealers or businesses but a handful of individuals who have perhaps put some of their own money against a mortgage, lease or whatever. The sums of money are infinitesimal. Indeed, we cannot estimate the global sum, but the level is about £1 million or £2 million. That is not a lot for the Government but a great deal for the unfortunate individuals involved. I am very, very ashamed of my Government for not agreeing with the amendments.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

I just want to ask the Home Secretary one factual question. Home Office officials must have been summoned to the Treasury and asked how much, in the next year and the year after, all the Home Office's proposals would cost. What answer did his officials give?

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

I rise to speak because I am incensed by what my Government are doing. The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) talked about a sense of justice. My goodness, how the Government with this Bill are legislating against justice in every way. Throughout today's debate, one Member after another, from both sides of the House, has pointed out the injustice, illogicality, nonsense and lunacy of the legislation. Surely nothing brings the House into greater disrepute than what it is doing today: legislating in ignorance against justice in order to achieve a particular objective and not permitting proper and full debate.

I asked my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary earlier what he expects me to do when 30 to 35 per cent. of the business of a family company that I represent—I believe that it was founded by the current chairman's grandfather—is outlawed almost retrospectively by the Government, probably putting its future viability in doubt, preventing it providing jobs for the next generation and putting a number of my constituents out of work as soon as the legislation hits the statute book.

Why does my right hon. and learned Friend not listen to the sense that is being spoken by Members of all parties? Whatever he may say, the Bill is a knee-jerk reaction to a horrific incident that we all regret. We all sympathise fully with all those who lost children on that occasion. He will come to rue the day that he allowed what I believe is dogma as a result of a particular occasion completely to dominate him—and the sense of justice to which the hon. Member for Swansea, East referred to go out of the window. My right hon. and learned Friend does this House no service, he does his party no service and he will not have my support in the Lobby.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

With the leave of the House, I should like to respond to some of the points that have been made in the debate.

I of course understand the strong feelings to which the measures have given rise and the indignation of my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), but I believe that the Government have come to the right decision on the question of the circumstances in which compensation should be payable. We have to look at these matters with a view to their wider implications, as I sought to explain to my hon. Friend in response to his intervention.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) asked a number of specific questions to which I shall attempt to reply in the time available. He asked about the transitional arrangements for the handing in of guns. Those are at present under discussion between the Government, the Association of Chief Police Officers and ACPO in Scotland. I very much hope that the matter will be able to be dealt with in precisely the spirit that my right hon. Friend suggested that it should be.

We expect to be able to publish the security criteria for clubs as a consultation document with the British Shooting Sports Council, the firearms consultative committee and others—I hope reasonably soon. We hope to bring forward for parliamentary approval a compensation scheme before Easter. The timing of the surrender and compensation arrangements, about which my right hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries specifically asked me, will depend on securing that approval.

The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) asked about the total cost of compensation to be provided under the Bill. That is of course dealt with in the explanatory and financial memorandum, which sets out that the total cost of compensation is estimated to be in the region of £150 million.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

I should like to ask my right hon. and learned Friend a short political question. He knows that the election is due by 1 May, that this Bill is bad legislation and that the Conservative party is opposed to it. Why on earth in God's name is he persisting with it?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend knows the answer to that question, because I have given it to him on a number of occasions. He has posed similar questions during our debates on the legislation.

The amendments, with which I invite the House to disagree, would extend the arrangements for compensation beyond any of those that we have had before in comparable circumstances. I do not believe that it would be justifiable to ask the taxpayer to pay for such an extension. We have had to strike a difficult balance between our responsibilities to the taxpayer and our desire to compensate those who will suffer as a consequence of the legislation. I believe that we have struck the right balance, and on that basis I invite the House to disagree with the Lords amendment.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the side amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 319, Noes 140.

Division No. 79][7.29 pm
Ayes
Abbott, Ms DianeCunningham, Jim (Cov'try SE)
Adams, Mrs IreneCunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Ainger, NickCunningham, Ms Roseanna (Perth Kinross)
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Currie, Mrs Edwina
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)Curry, Rt Hon David
Amess, DavidDarling, Alistair
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)Davidson, Ian
Arbuthnot, JamesDavies, Bryan (Oldham C)
Armstrong, Ms HilaryDavis, Rt Hon David (Boothferry)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Day, Stephen
Ashby, DavidDeva, Nirj Joseph
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V)Donohoe, Brian H
Baldry, TonyDouglas-Hamilton, Rt Hon Lord James
Banks, Matthew (Southport)
Barron, KevinDowd, Jim
Bates, MichaelDuncan, Alan
Bayley, HughDunn, Bob
Beresford, Sir PaulDurant, Sir Anthony
Berry, RogerDykes, Hugh
Betts, CliveEagle, Ms Angela
Blunkett, DavidElletson, Harold
Boateng, PaulEmery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bonsor, Sir NicholasEvans, John (St Helens N)
Booth, HartleyEvans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Boswell, TimEvans, Nigel (Ribble V)
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs VirginiaEvennett, David
Bowis, JohnFaber, David
Brandreth, GylesFabricant, Michael
Bray, Dr JeremyFaulds, Andrew
Brazier, JulianFenner, Dame Peggy
Bright, Sir GrahamFlynn, Paul
Brown, Michael (Brigg Cl'thorpes)Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Browning, Mrs AngelaFoster, Rt Hon Derek
Burns, SimonFoulkes, George
Butler, PeterFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Callaghan, JimFox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Fox, Rt Hon Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Canavan, DennisFrench, Douglas
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n)Fyfe, Mrs Maria
Carttiss, MichaelGallie, Phil
Channon, Rt Hon PaulGarnier, Edward
Chisholm, MalcolmGeorge, Bruce
Clappison, JamesGerrard, Neil
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Golding, Mrs Llin
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushclilfe)Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Gordon, Ms Mildred
Clelland, DavidGraham, Thomas
Clifton-Brown, GeoffreyGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnGriffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Coe, SebastianGrocott, Bruce
Cohen, HarryGrylls, Sir Michael
Congdon, DavidGummer, Rt Hon John
Connarty, MichaelGunnell, John
Conway, DerekHague, Rt Hon William
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F)Hain, Peter
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Hampson, Dr Keith
Corbyn, JeremyHanley, Rt Hon Jeremy
Corston, Ms JeanHarris, David
Couchman, JamesHawkins, Nick
Cox, TomHeald, Oliver
Cran, JamesHeathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Cunliffe, LawrenceHenderson, Doug
Hendry, CharlesMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Heppell, JohnMitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test)Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hill, Keith (Streatham)Morgan, Rhodri
Hinchliffe, DavidMorley, Elliot
Hodge, Ms MargaretMorris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (Grantham)Moss, Malcolm
Home Robertson, JohnMudie, George
Hoon, GeoffreyMullin, Chris
Horam, JohnNeedham, Rt Hon Richard
Hordem, Rt Hon Sir PeterNelson, Anthony
Howard, Rt Hon MichaelNeubert, Sir Michael
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildf'd)Norris, Steve
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Hughes, Robert (Ab'd'n N)O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Olner, Bill
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)O'Neill, Martin
Ingram, AdamOppenheim, Phillip
Jack, Rt Hon MichaelPage, Richard
Jackson, Mrs Helen (Hillsborough)Paice, James
Jamieson, DavidPatnick, Sir Irvine
Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N)Patten, Rt Hon John
Jenkins, Brian D (SE Staffs)Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Jones, Barry (Alyn & D'side)Pickles, Eric
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Pike, Peter L
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)Pope, Greg
Jones, Robert B (W Herts)Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Jowell, Ms TessaPowell, Sir Raymond (Ogmore)
Kennedy, Mrs Jane (Broadgreen)Prentice, Mrs Bridget (Lewisham E)
Kilfoyle, Peter
Kirkhope, TimothyPrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Knapman, RogerPrescott, Rt Hon John
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (Derby N)Quin, Ms Joyce
Kynoch, GeorgeRaynsford, Nick
Lait, Mrs JacquiReid, Dr John
Lang, Rt Hon IanRenton, Rt Hon Tim
Legg, BarryRifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Liddell, Mrs HelenRobathan, Andrew
Lidington, DavidRoberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterRobertson, George (Hamilton)
Litheriand, RobertRobertson, Raymond S (Ab'd'n S).
Lloyd, Tony (Stretf'd)Roche, Mrs Barbara
Loyden, EddieRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Luff, PeterRumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasSackville, Tom
McAllion, JohnSainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
McAvoy, ThomasSalmond, Alex
Macdonald, CalumScott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
McFall, JohnSedgemore, Brian
MacKay, AndrewSheerman, Barry
McKelvey, WilliamShephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Maclean, Rt Hon DavidSimpson, Alan
McLeish, HenrySmith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
McLoughlin, PatrickSmith, Tim (Beaconsf'ld)
McMaster, GordonSnape, Peter
McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickSoames, Nicholas
MacShane, DenisSoley, Clive
Madden, MaxSpellar, John
Madel, Sir DavidSpencer, Sir Derek
Maitland, Lady OlgaSpicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Malone, GeraldSpink, Dr Robert
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Spring, Richard
Martin, Michael J (Springburn)Sproat, Iain
Mates, MichaelSquire, Ms Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Maxton, JohnStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Meacher, MichaelSteen, Anthony
Meale, AlanStephen, Michael
Mellor, Rt Hon DavidStewart, Allan
Merchant, PiersStraw, Jack
Michael, AlunStreeter, Gary
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)Sykes, John
Miller, AndrewTapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Wicks, Malcolm
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Temple-Morris, PeterWilkinson, John
Thomason, RoyWilletts, David
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Tipping, PaddyWilliams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Townsend, Sir Cyril (Bexl'yh'th)Winnick, David
Tredinnick, DavidWise, Mrs Audrey
Trend, MichaelWolfson, Mark
Trickett, JonWood, Timothy
Trotter, NevilleWorthington, Tony
Turner, DennisWray, Jimmy
Vaughan, Sir GerardYeo, Tim
Waldegrave, Rt Hon WilliamYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
Walden, George
Waterson, NigelTellers for the Ayes:
Watson, MikeMr. Matthew Carrington
Watts, Johnand
Wells, BowenMr. Richard Ottaway.
NOES
Alton, DavidHiggins, Rt Hon Sir Terence
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Hoey, Kate
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyHowell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Atkins, Rt Hon RobertHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)Hunt, Sir John (Ravensb'ne)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Hunter, Andrew
Barnes, HarryJackson, Robert (Wantage)
Batiste, SpencerJessel, Toby
Beggs, RoyJohnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Bendall, Vivian
Benn, Rt Hon TonyJohnston, Sir Russell
Bennett, Andrew FJones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Bermingham, GeraldJones, Dr Lynne
Biffen, Rt Hon John(B'ham Selly Oak)
Body, Sir RichardJones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Bowden, Sir AndrewJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir RhodesKellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Kennedy, Charles (Ross C & S)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Key, Robert
Butcher, JohnKing, Rt Hon Tom
Butterfill, JohnKirkwood, Archy
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Cann, JamieLawrence, Sir Ivan
Carlisle, John (Luton N)Lewis, Terry
Cash, WilliamLloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Churchill, MrLlwyd, Elfyn
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochf'd)Lord, Michael
Colvin, MichaelLynne, Ms Liz
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Mackinlay, Andrew
Cormack, Sir PatrickMaclennan, Robert
Dalyell, TamMaddock, Mrs Diana
Davies, Chris (Littleborough)Maitland, Lady Olga
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)Marland, Paul
Dover, DenMarlow, Tony
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'ld)Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Ewing, Mrs MargaretMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Forman, NigelMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Foster, Don (Bath)Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Fry, Sir PeterMoate, Sir Roger
Gale, RogerMolyneaux, Rt Hon Sir James
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnMonro, Rt Hon Sir Hector
Gill, ChristopherMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Godman, Dr Norman ANicholls, Patrick
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesNicholson, David (Taunton)
Gorst, Sir JohnNicholson, Miss Emma (W Devon)
Grant, Sir Anthony (SW Cambs)O'Hara, Edward
Hannam, Sir JohnOnslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Hardy, PeterPawsey, James
Harvey, NickPearson, Ian
Haselhurst, Sir AlanPorter, David
Hicks, Sir RobertRathbone, Tim
Rendel, DavidThompson, Sir Donald (Calder V)
Richards, RodThumham, Peter
Riddick, GrahamTownend, John (Bridlington)
Roe, Mrs MarionTracey, Richard
Rooney, TerryTwinn, Dr Ian
Ross, William (E Lond'y)Tyler, Paul
Rowe, AndrewViggers, Peter
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Shepherd, Sir Colin (Heref'd)Wallace, James
Skinner, DennisWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Welsh, Andrew
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)Whittingdale, John
Spearing, NigelWiggin, Sir Jerry
Speed, Sir KeithWigley, Dafydd
Steel, Rt Hon Sir DavidWilshire, David
Steinberg, GerryWinterton, Nicholas (Macclesf'ld)
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Sweeney, WalterTellers for the Noes:
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)Mr. Rupert Allason and
Taylor, Sir TeddyMr. Robert Banks.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment accordingly disagreed to.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Could it be recorded that in the 140 were the overwhelming number of those—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

Order. I am trying to listen to a point of order. Will Members leaving the Chamber do so quietly, please?

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Could it be recorded, as it was after the previous debate, that the 140 included the overwhelming number of those who had actually been in the Chamber listening to the debate?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

The hon. Gentleman has made his point. It is not a point of order for the occupant of the Chair.

It being after half-past Seven o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the remaining Questions to be decided at that hour, pursuant to the Order this day.

Lords amendment No. 26 agreed to [Special Entry].