Referendum in Scotland

Orders of the Day — Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:38 pm on 30th July 1997.

Alert me about debates like this

Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 1, line 5, leave out ("Her Majesty may by Order in Council") and insert ("the Secretary of State may by order")

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office) 5:45 pm, 30th July 1997

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

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

With this, it will be convenient to take the following: amendment (a) in lieu of the Lords amendment, in page 1, line 5, leave out `such day as Her Majesty may by Order in Council appoint' and insert `11th September 1997'.

Lords amendments No. 5, plus the motion to disagree; No. 6, plus the motion to disagree, and amendment (a) thereto; No. 7, plus the motion to disagree; and No. 10, plus the motion to disagree.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

Lords amendments Nos. 1, 5, 6 and 10 are part of a group made by the Government at the request of the Opposition in another place to incorporate the material on the detailed conduct of the referendums as a schedule to the Bill. We shall debate the rest of that group later. Lords amendments Nos. 1 and 6 deal with the mechanism for specifying the dates of the referendums. The Government have stated their intention to hold the referendum in Scotland on 11 September and the Welsh referendum a week later on 18 September.

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan Labour, Cardiff West

Before my hon. Friend goes into the technicalities, will he clarify the position relating to arrangements for opening the sessions of the Welsh Assembly, in view of the somewhat bizarre articles on the front pages of today's editions of The Guardian and The Western Mail? They almost produced visions of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales using his well-known pull in Washington to persuade President Clinton to come over, step into the breach and—rather like President Kennedy before him—issue from the steps of Cardiff city hall the statement "Ich bin ein Cardiffer". I understand from the Press Association, however, that Buckingham palace has now said that the entire story was a fabrication.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The two journalists concerned, David Hencke of The Guardian and Michael Settle of The Western Mail, are respected journalists on highly respected newspapers, but they were both sold a pup, if not a corgi. Paragraph 1.20 of the White Paper states clearly: The Assembly will be a Crown body. The Government envisages that Her Majesty the Queen or Her representative would formally open the Assembly after each election. Following today's story, Buckingham palace issued a press release stating: The Guardian story is nonsense. The wording of the White Paper on this issue means precisely what it says and The Queen was kept informed throughout its preparation. Far from The Queen not wanting to open the Welsh Assembly, it would be very much part of her constitutional role to do so. As I was saying, the Government have stated their intention to hold the referendum in Scotland on 11 September, with the Welsh referendum a week later on 18 September. In its original form, the Bill allowed the dates of the referendums to be appointed by Her Majesty in Orders in Council. As I said earlier, we shall shortly deal with the amendments to incorporate those orders in the main Bill. Lords amendments Nos. 1 and 6 would replace the original mechanism for setting the dates with a power for the Secretary of State to appoint the dates by order.

The orders would have been used to set down 11 and 18 September. It makes sense to write the dates into the Bill now, rather than requiring an order to be made. We therefore propose amendments in lieu of Lords amendments Nos. 1 and 6 that would do that. Lords amendments Nos. 5 and 10 would then be rendered unnecessary.

Lords amendment No. 7 would require the referendums to be held on the same date. I fail to understand the Opposition's obsession with a single date. There is no reason why the Scottish and Welsh referendums should be held on the same day; they are separate referendums, being held in two separate countries on two separate sets of proposals. There would be as much sense in arguing that the referendum on our proposals for London should be held on 11 September as well.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley Leader and Party President, Plaid Cymru

Over recent weeks, it has been argued strongly that the referendums should be on separate dates. It has been pointed out that our arguments on behalf of Wales will gain the attention only of the London-based press—which, overwhelmingly, is the press that is read in Wales—if the referendum takes place on a separate date from the Scottish referendum. Otherwise, the Welsh arguments will be subsumed into the Scottish arguments. The two White Papers are, of course, quite different.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point, to which I shall return shortly.

We want the referendum to give the people of Wales an opportunity to demonstrate clearly that they endorse our proposals with as high a turnout as possible. To that end, we need to ensure that the people are well informed about our proposals, and that their decision is based on a full and thorough understanding of what the Assembly will mean, what it will do and what it will bring to Wales.

Photo of Mr Llew Smith Mr Llew Smith Labour, Blaenau Gwent

My hon. Friend said that the electorate should be well informed. Rather than spending approximately £1 million on propaganda to push the yes vote, could you not have spent the money on teachers who would otherwise be made redundant? If you refuse to do that, and insist that Government money—taxpayers' money—must be spent—

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. The hon. Gentleman has been here long enough to know that when he uses the word you, he addresses the Chair and not a colleague.

Photo of Mr Llew Smith Mr Llew Smith Labour, Blaenau Gwent

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister insists on using taxpayers' money to pay for a propaganda exercise. Surely that money could have been allocated to both sides so that the electorate, to use the Minister's words, could have been well informed.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

I fundamentally disagree with my hon. Friend and I shall explain why. It is no part of the Government's duty to conduct propaganda on behalf of either the yes or the no campaigns. It is part of the Government's duty to inform the electorate about the detail of our policies. Does my hon. Friend seriously suggest that the electorate should be ignorant of the policies on which we are holding a referendum? Surely not. People should be well informed, and the Government are spending prudently and modestly well under £1 million to inform the electorate about our proposals.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I welcome the Minister's assurance about spending a large amount to make sure that everybody is aware of the referendum issues. Does that mean that he will spend equal amounts on advancing arguments for yes and for no?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

Obviously the hon. Gentleman was not listening to the clear answer. We are not financing yes or no campaigns: we are explaining the Government's proposals.

Several hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

Hon. Members should calm down.

Does the hon. Gentleman wish the people of Wales to be ignorant of the Government's proposals? The answer is plainly yes. It would be extraordinary if the Government did not seek fairly to put the White Paper's proposals to the people so that, when they are invited to vote in a referendum, they are fully informed on the detail.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

Part of the argument put to the people of Wales in the White Paper is, "Look, you must go along with this proposal because it is part of a package of constitutional reform which will include the English regions." There is no package of constitutional reform and we do not know the proposals. It is piecemeal constitutional reform in which each section of the population is being kept in the dark about the intentions of the others. That is one of our reasons for objecting to the referendums being held on different dates. Can the hon. Gentleman not understand that?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

It is not clear from the hon. Gentleman's question whether he is advocating constitutional reform. Does he support the Government's proposals for devolving power to Scotland and Wales and, increasingly, to the English regions, starting with London next year? His intervention was interesting. I make it absolutely clear that the Government have been careful to put in the White Paper a considered programme for devolving power and decision making to the people of Wales.

We have made an excellent start on informing people. The White Papers for Wales and for Scotland have been best sellers in both countries. I am not sure whether they are selling as well as a Jeffrey Archer novel, although they are selling much better than many of my books. The White Papers are best sellers because there is a thirst for knowledge and an interest in Wales and Scotland in the proposals. The Government intend to continue to inform the public. Both White Papers have been reprinted twice and we shall continue to conduct an information campaign.

Photo of Mr Llew Smith Mr Llew Smith Labour, Blaenau Gwent

How many teachers could be employed using the £1 million that is being spent on this propaganda exercise? What is the subsidy per copy of the White Paper on the Welsh Assembly?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

It is curious and somewhat regrettable that my hon. Friend's question and his argument effectively play into the hands of the Tory Opposition. That is disappointing. I remind him that Conservative policy was responsible for sacking 600 teachers in Wales in the past year. We should concentrate on exposing Conservative attacks on teachers, nurses, the health service and education and on many other areas of public provision in Wales.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley

How many extra teachers could be employed using the £1 million that is being spent on the distribution of literature to the people of Wales?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

Crocodile tears by Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen will not do. The Conservatives were responsible for sacking almost 600 teachers in the past year and sacked more in the year before that. They also sacked nurses and cut housing provision. The right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) repatriated £100 million from the Welsh budget to the Treasury because he was not interested in supporting the Welsh people.

As well as reading our White Paper proposals, people need to debate them and to hear what different interests have to say about them. For that reason, it is important that the referendum in Wales is not held on the same day as the one in Scotland. Regrettably, the national media have a tendency to take less interest in events across Offa's dyke than in events beyond Hadrian's wall. If the referendums were held on the same day, there would be a real risk that our proposals for Wales would receive less public scrutiny and debate than would those for Scotland. People in Wales might arrive at the ballot box after having heard a great deal about a Scottish Parliament and relatively little about proposals for a Welsh Assembly. The people of Wales deserve better. The Conservatives are anxious to keep Welsh people in the dark because they fear a popular tide of opinion for a Welsh Assembly and for our proposals for devolving decision making.

I shall quote from an interesting study of experience in the last referendum in Wales in 1979. A pamphlet called "The Road to the Referendum" was produced by the Institute of Welsh Affairs—a reputable body which is financed by many different institutions in Wales, including some businesses and the Bank of Wales. That means that Sir Julian Hodge's Bank of Wales was involved in financing the pamphlet, which makes interesting reading, although I am sure that Conservative Members do not want to hear what it contains. It describes the 1979 experience in the following terms: In 1979 the Welsh and Scottish referendums were held on the same day, … and UK media attention was focused on Scotland … In consequence the distinctive Welsh case for devolution was never fully understood by the Welsh public … The case for holding the two referendums on different days … is persuasive and is an additional argument for an informed debate". That is the evidence presented by the Institute of Welsh Affairs in support of the Government's policy for separate referendums. [Interruption.] It is evidence from an important study, and the document makes a further point about media coverage in Wales and Scotland. It states: Wales's 'national' media are overwhelmingly located in London. It is estimated that in 1979 the daily circulation of the Welsh morning papers (Western Mail and Daily Post) was slightly less than 150,000 copies, whereas the London morning papers had a circulation in excess of 700,000 in Wales.The London press was largely uninterested in the devolution issue but when it did consider the subject, concentrated far more on the Scottish dimension … a similar pattern emerged in the coverage of the two referendum campaigns on the BBC and ITN main evening news programmes". That is an important point about media coverage.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

I shall finish my point and then let the hon. Gentleman intervene.

The pamphlet continued: The situation today with regard to London's media penetration of Wales is cause for even greater concern. The two Welsh dailies have suffered a significant decline in circulation. The Western Mail and Daily Post now have a combined circulation of less than 100,000 (source: UK Press Gazette/Audit Bureau of Circulation 1996). That figure was down from 150,000 last time. The contrast with the position in Scotland is striking. There 90 per cent. of the daily papers in circulation are produced in Scotland. The figures for Wales is 13 per cent. Furthermore, for television coverage Approximately 35 per cent. of the Welsh population live in what are described as 'overlap areas', enabling them to choose (as many do) to watch programmes from English transmitters. This compares with only 2.5 per cent. for Scotland.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

Before giving way, as I shall, I must emphasise the fact that there would be less Welsh-only coverage of the debate in Wales. That is why we need a separate day for the referendum, so as to focus debate on our separate proposals.

6 pm

Photo of Mr Richard Livsey Mr Richard Livsey Liberal Democrat, Brecon and Radnorshire

Will the Minister note that, during the 1979 referendum, the academic, Barry Jones of Cardiff, did a study of the coverage and discovered that the Western Mail was read by 14 per cent. of the population at that time, while The Sun, the most widely read paper, devoted only 1 sq in to coverage of Welsh devolution, all of which represented the no case?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

The hon. Gentleman makes the point well.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Opposition Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs, Scotland and Wales)

Will the Minister tell the House the Institute of Welsh Affairs' opinion of the White Paper, and whether it will support the yes campaign?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

The hon. Gentleman represents Essex. He is not a Member for a Welsh constituency, and knows nothing about the Institute of Welsh Affairs, yet he presumes to ask such questions. I should be happy to give way to him all the evening if he continued to ask that sort of question.

The Institute of Welsh Affairs is an independent study group, which produced the dispassionate document from which I quoted—[Interruption.] Now the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) is laughing too. Is he denigrating the Institute of Welsh Affairs?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

I am pleased to see that, because the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) seemed to be doing so.

Our proposals for Scotland and Wales—

Photo of John Taylor John Taylor UUP, Strangford

We in the Ulster Unionist party certainly support the general thrust of the Government's proposals for devolution in Scotland and Wales, and agree that the referendums should be held on two separate dates. However, the Minister's presentation of media coverage is defective, in that it is not a simple matter of who reads which daily paper. The strength of the weekly newspapers in Scotland and Wales, which are read by all the people in both those nations, is important too.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

That is a fair point. However, I was pointing out that, as I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will accept, the situation in Wales is different from that in Scotland in terms of daily newspaper readership.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Conservative, Harborough

I am doubly grateful.

Does the Minister accept that, when we talk about media coverage, we are talking about more than newspapers? Whether for good or ill, most people nowadays get their political news from the television. It is therefore the coverage by Granada Television, looking into north Wales, by HTV and by the Welsh television section of the BBC that matters. Those broadcasting companies will give ample coverage, probably great coverage, to the Welsh democratic question. Why should the Minister lack the confidence to allow the debate to go out?

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Labour, Delyn

He does not know Wales.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

The hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) is another Conservative based in an English constituency who simply does not understand Wales. I urge him to become better informed. I dealt with the points about television earlier, when I cited evidence from the Institute of Welsh Affairs pamphlet.

It is a fact, although a regrettable one—I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr. Hanson) often complains about it—that a significant proportion, more than one third, of viewers cannot receive Welsh television channels such as HTV Wales or BBC Wales. The hon. and learned Gentleman must be joking if he thinks that Granada Television or HTV West will devote any time, let alone a significant amount of time, to coverage of Welsh issues. They simply do not.

Our proposals for Scotland and Wales are different. There is no reason for the two ballots to be held on the same day. Indeed, there are good reasons for them to be held on distinct days. However, there is every reason to give the people of Wales the time and the opportunity that they deserve to hear and debate our proposals before they go to the polling stations.

We propose to give Wales a real voice for the first time. Real democracy means giving people a real say about decisions over schools, hospitals and jobs. An Assembly will give Wales a better health service by ensuring that scarce resources are spent on nurses rather than pen pushers and form fillers, and better schools by setting tough new standards for literacy, numeracy and overall achievement.

An Assembly will also deliver better job opportunities by providing a voice in Europe and around the world to attract investment and to back Welsh companies. It will provide better value for money by bringing the quangos to public account, and will scrutinise spending decisions. I ask the House to support the Government in upholding the right of the people of Scotland and Wales to have referendums on separate days.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Opposition Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs, Scotland and Wales)

The Minister's closing remarks did not sound much like the dispassionate advocacy of fact without bias that he claims for the White Paper. When he said that the White Paper was some sort of dispassionate discourse on the pros and cons of a Welsh Assembly, that was one of the more laughable parts of his speech. If that is the basis on which he proposes to overturn Lords amendment No. 7, it rather undermines the strength of his case.

I welcome the fact that the dates of the referendums will be written into the Bill. It is better to put them in primary than in secondary legislation. However, I must point out to the Minister that there would be no need for the debate if the House had discussed the dates properly before the Bill went to the House of Lords.

We must be grateful to the other place for giving us the opportunity to have the debate that was denied us by the guillotine in Committee and on Third Reading. I am reminded of the fact that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) voted for the guillotine—and then got his come-uppance when he was not called to speak on Third Reading. Nothing gave me greater satisfaction than to see the biter bit in that way.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

I would gladly forgo a reasonable number of contributions in the House if that would limit the number of anti-Scottish remarks that we so regularly hear from the Conservative Benches. Does the hon. Gentleman really intend to tell the House that the most important aspect that the Conservative and Unionist party can find to talk about concerning the referendum for the Scottish people and the setting up of a Parliament, is the date on which the referendum will be held? Is that magnitude of the Conservative party's contribution?

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Opposition Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs, Scotland and Wales)

If the House of Lords had made the sort of amendments that the hon. Gentleman suggested, which a cursory thought suggests might have been beyond the scope of the Bill in any case—if they were not, why did he not table them himself? [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman tabled a convoluted amendment, concerning a complicated voting structure that some of my colleagues found difficult to support.

I suspect that if the other place had amended the Bill as aggressively as the hon. Gentleman suggested it should have been amended, he would have been the first to jump to his feet and say that it was none of the business of the other place, and that it should not be interfering at all.

This interesting set of amendments underlines the mix-and-match nature of the Bill and the paper, string and sealing wax approach of the Government, because we are amending some of the Government's own Lords amendments.

I wish to concentrate on amendment No. 7. It was felt strongly in the other place that there was no case for the referendums being seven days apart. The Government's only argument concerned media coverage, to which I shall refer later. It was made clear in the other place that the Government wanted as much information to be given to voters as possible. The House will forgive a hollow laugh at that if we consider all the guillotines applied to the Bill to get the debates over as quickly as possible and with as little information reaching the voters as possible.

My noble Friend Lord Crickhowell said that the last devolution referendums in the 1970s were conducted on the same day and that there was no lack of debate. It is only those who lost the argument by a majority of four to one in Wales who are complaining that the information was somehow defective. They are blaming the messengers rather than the message for the result.

If there were a real desire in the Government for the people of Wales and the people of Scotland to have the information that they need, the Prime Minister would fulfil his promise to the House and the Bills would be published in advance of the referendums so that the people of Wales and the people of Scotland would know the details of what they were voting on. That would be a dispassionate and unbiased presentation of fact, instead of the sales brochures issued by the Government.

If information were the determining factor, there would be a delay so that the Bills could be published and to facilitate the maximum amount of debate. Why will there be a gap of only a week? A week may be a long time in politics, but it is short in most people's imaginations. If information is the objective, why not have, say, a six-week or six-month gap between the referendums? The referendum on London, as the Minister pointed out, is not until 1 May, which gives ample time for proper discussion and debate after the publication of the White Paper.

The danger of allowing only a week before the Welsh referendum—given the problems of media coverage to which the Minister alluded—is that there will be saturation coverage in the national and London-based press, which is widely read in Wales, of the result of the Scottish referendum. One can imagine that result being heavily reported on Friday and Saturday, and in the Sunday newspapers, and that its implications will still be considered on the Monday and Tuesday. The debate in Wales will be swamped by the coverage of the Scottish result. Perhaps that is the real intention of the Government.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Opposition Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs, Scotland and Wales)

I should be delighted if there were adequate coverage of both decisions, but the compressed gap between the referendums suggests that they want the Scottish result to impinge on the Welsh decision.

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

Does the hon. Gentleman realise how insulting it is to imply that the people of Wales will simply catch on to the coat tails of the referendum affecting Scotland and that they do not have the ability to make up their own minds? We want the Welsh people to have the fullest possible information and debate to make the right decision—to vote yes.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Opposition Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs, Scotland and Wales)

The hon. Gentleman should make that point to Ministers who think that there will be some kind of domino effect to get the result they want.

Photo of Mr Gareth Thomas Mr Gareth Thomas Labour, Clwyd West

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that it is just as much in the interests of the no campaign to have the referendums in the two countries conducted on different days as it is in the interests of the yes campaign, bearing in mind the fact that a major part of the rhetorical attack by the Conservative party on the Welsh devolution proposals was the drawing of invidious comparisons between the Scottish and Welsh proposals? If the Conservative party is interested in a genuine and focused debate, why does it not support conducting the referendums on two separate dates?

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Opposition Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs, Scotland and Wales) 6:15 pm, 30th July 1997

I am not interested in helping the no campaign or the yes campaign with regard to the dates of the referendum. The dates should be as neutral as possible. What we have here is the pinnacle of the Government's efforts to manipulate the process of decision making. The process started a long time before the election, when some in the Labour party started to doubt the wisdom of the devolution project. The tartan tax was proving difficult to defend, so Islington Labour came up with the idea of a referendum in Scotland, which meant that there would have to be a referendum in Wales as well.

As ever, the Labour party treats Wales as Scotland's poor relation. A law-making Parliament for Scotland, but only an afterthought Assembly for Wales; tax-raising powers for Scotland, but no tax-raising powers for Wales; a referendum in Scotland with two questions, but a referendum with only one question in Wales. There will be an afterthought referendum for an afterthought Assembly. Is that the reason why Wales will lag Scotland by a week? One purports to be a Parliament; the other will be a talking shop. Why not put the Welsh referendum before the Scottish referendum? That would deal with the issue of newspaper coverage raised by the Minister and would prevent more effectively Scottish coverage interfering with the Welsh proposal, but that exposes the true intention of the Government's proposals.

The referendum was always a gamble. A yes, yes vote in Scotland depends on the speed with which the Government get to the referendum as the gap narrows week by week between the yes and the no voters. There must be no pause for thought. Debate must be curtailed, foreshortened, stifled and guillotined. A gamble that looked worth taking in Scotland suddenly looked reckless in Wales, where people voted the last time by four to one against. So the decision was taken that the referendum in Wales must be held in the wake of Scotland's momentous decision. That is not giving full and impartial information to the Welsh people—indeed, it is quite the reverse.

The Government want the Welsh referendum to be a week after the Scottish referendum to ensure that the last week of debate in Wales is framed, formed and dominated by what Ministers hope will happen in Scotland. That does not follow the precedent of the 1970s, but the devolutionists have learned since then. Too much debate before the decision and the superficial gloss of devolution fades under the light of real scrutiny.

Why not use the Scottish result to influence the Welsh vote? Successive US presidential elections, for example, have shown that the early results from the eastern states have affected behaviour in the western states still voting. The conduct of the recent accession of four new member states to the EU demonstrated the same logic—the country most certain to join, Austria, voted first, followed by Finland, Sweden and Norway. The intention was to ensure that Norway followed the results of the other applicant states.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

What authoritative evidence does the hon. Gentleman have for saying that western states follow eastern states in their voting habits because they declare at different times?

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Opposition Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs, Scotland and Wales)

The source material is available in the Library, and I have it here. If the Minister wants to read it, he is welcome to do so, but I shall not bore the House with it now.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Social Security)

Is my hon. Friend aware that, in the 1980 US presidential election, President Carter conceded on the east coast at 8 pm—four hours before the west coast closed—and that Democrats stopped working in the west coast? Scores of congressmen lost their seats because the Democrats realised that the presidential election had been lost.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Opposition Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs, Scotland and Wales)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for amplifying that matter. Those points and more are contained in the material that I obtained from the Library.

The reversal of amendment No. 7 is a hallmark of the less than impartial way in which Ministers are conducting this process. It proves Clement Attlee's adage that he could not consent to … a device so alien to all our traditions as the referendum, which has only too often been the instrument of Nazism and fascism. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that I have to quote a former Labour Prime Minister to make that point. If Ministers' ruses succeed, it will be a triumph of ministerial manipulation over real open and reasoned debate.

Apart from my name and distant antecedents, I do lack Welshness, but if I could claim to be Welsh I would feel insulted that Wales is to be treated in that way. It did not work with Norway's accession to the EU and there is no guarantee that it will work with Wales.

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me early in the debate. This is my first opportunity to address the House since my return at the general election, and, if you will allow me, I shall take this opportunity to thank colleagues on both sides of the House for the warm welcome that I received on my return and for their assistance in helping me to settle back into the House.

I also place on record my thanks to the people of the Vale of Glamorgan—the jewel in the Welsh crown—for returning me at the last election, following my short absence after the intervention of the overseas vote in 1992.

It is an illustration of the level of ignorance and arrogance that abound in this debate that we are even here to discuss the amendment. That it could come from the other place in this form proves to me, and, I believe, to the people of Wales, just how little the Opposition and Members of the other place who voted this through know and understand about my country, Wales. They could not have challenged the decision to separate the dates for the referendums if they had had a cursory understanding of our country, which is much smaller than Scotland, does not have the same media infrastructure and is a completely different country. That explains why the two proposals before the two countries for both the referendum and the subsequent Bill are completely different.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State

If that is the case, why have only a week? The hon. Gentleman's argument suggests that one needs more time to make a distinction between the two.

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

A week is ample time for the people of Wales, who are very intelligent, talented, and able to make a decision. What we do not want is for the debate to be dominated in the media in the immediate run-up to the referendum by the Scottish arguments.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

If Welsh people are as intelligent, able and far-sighted as the hon. Gentleman describes, surely they could see through the discussion of the Scottish devolution question in the press that week and make up their own minds in Wales, without our necessarily having to make the votes a week apart.

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

We would support the fullest and most informed and open debate on this referendum. That is why we want all the arguments aired in the media in the week running up to the vote.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

When the matter was first debated in the House on Second Reading, we were assured that there would be ample time for discussing the Bill before the referendum. Then we were told that the Bill would not be published, and we would have the White Papers. Now we have them, and, effectively, we have five hours to discuss them both before Parliament goes into recess. How can that be a full discussion of the issues so that the people can make an informed choice?

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. This is an important, contentious and serious matter. A large number of hon. Members are trying to catch my eye, and, as we know, there is a limited amount of time for debate. If interventions could be kept short and few, it would assist the flow of the debate.

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

I thank you for those comments, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am beginning to regret extending thanks to both sides for my warm welcome back.

I must tackle an important point, which makes the difference between the two debates and votes that will take place in Scotland and Wales. As I said, Wales is a different country, and it faces different problems. One problem that I hope will be discussed in the run-up to the referendum on 18 September is that of the absence of a business voice for Wales—an absence which has developed in the past 18 years.

Hon. Members talk about this debate being a threat to the unity of the United Kingdom, and of a yes vote undermining that unity. Nothing could be further from the truth. A yes vote will strengthen the bond within the United Kingdom, not merely through a devolution of political power—important and essential though that is—but through what in some respects is more important: the devolution of economic power following the concentration of the past 18 years.

That concentration undermines the fabric of the United Kingdom—the fact that 35 per cent. of the gross domestic product of this country is now produced in a small part of the United Kingdom: in London and the south-east of England. A concentration of wealth has been moving in that one direction for far too long. If we do not reverse that concentration and the spread of jobs and investment, there could be serious problems for the bonding within this great country, the United Kingdom.

One of the main reasons why there has not been a diversification and devolution of economic power and investment in Wales is the appalling business image of Wales that has developed in the United Kingdom in recent years. The majority of investors in Wales do not come from overseas, and they are not indigenous. The majority of investment in the Principality comes from the rest of the United Kingdom. Two thirds of all investment in Wales is predominantly English, and as a country we depend on it.

I am sure that hon. Members are aware from earlier debates on the general subject that Wales has done well in attracting direct foreign investment—in fact, double the United Kingdom average. That is a good record, and one to be proud of.

What hon. Members may not be aware of—it is an issue that needs to be introduced in the run-up to the referendum, and a reason why we undoubtedly need a second date—is that Wales under-performs in relation to the other regions of the United Kingdom when it comes to the share of UK investment. That partly explains why, in 1979, Wales was the highest waged economy in the UK and now it is the lowest. That would explain why, in 1979, we produced above the average GDP per capita in the United Kingdom, but now Wales has the lowest, at 85 per cent.

We have attracted direct foreign investment; we have failed to attract investment from the United Kingdom. In other words, we can attract Lucky Goldstar from Korea—the other side of the world—but we have a great deal of difficulty in attracting investment from the other side of the Severn bridge, because we do not have a business voice for Wales. We do not have a focus for getting the message across that Wales in general, and south Wales in particular, is one of the most attractive investment locations in the European Union; the majority of investors in the United Kingdom think that it is not.

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. I have given the hon. Gentleman considerable latitude on his return to the House, but he is an old hand, and he knows that he must speak to the terms of the amendment.

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

I am attempting to do that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, by stressing the unique economic problem facing Wales that can be addressed only if we have votes on separate days. I want to make the point as clear as I can, because it causes me, as it should the people of Wales, great concern.

Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury 6:30 pm, 30th July 1997

The hon. Gentleman makes some powerful points, but to get all those points across to the people of Wales in one week would be rather difficult. Surely the referendums should therefore be either on the same day or, as has already been suggested, six months apart.

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

The people of Wales are entirely able to appreciate the point and make up their own minds on the matter.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley

As a Welshman, who has spent most of his life in Wales—I have been in politics for 23 years, 17 of which were in Welsh politics—I know that the Welsh people are intelligent and able. We should either have the referendums on the same day—because the Welsh people are intelligent enough to know that they are being offered something different—or sufficiently far apart to enable them to concentrate on the fact that the referendums are different.

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

The people of Wales are extremely talented, intelligent and able. That is why they cleared out the Tories at the last election.

We, and other regions of the United Kingdom, do not succeed in attracting our fair share of UK investment, mostly because of sheer ignorance, especially in London and the south-east of England. When asked how far south Wales was from London, more than 80 per cent. of English investors got it wrong by more than 100 miles.

When asked what were the dominant industries in south Wales—now, in 1997, not in 1937 or 1947—more than half the respondents thought that it was still dominated by coal and by metal manufacture, and was full of slag heaps and smoking chimneys. Nothing could be further from the truth, but that has impeded investment. People think that Wales, and industrial south Wales in particular, is a remote investment region in the European Union. That is stopping British investment into Wales.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Conservative, Epping Forest

The hon. Gentleman makes a powerful case about ignorance throughout the United Kingdom of affairs in Wales. I agree that there is considerable ignorance about Scottish and Welsh affairs, and, indeed, devolution.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, although the referendums are to take place on 11 September and 18 September, it would have been much better if the Government had had the courage to wait until the people of Wales and Scotland—and, indeed, the rest of the United Kingdom—had had the chance properly to consider what devolution would really mean? To overcome the ignorance of which he spoke, should not the devolution Bills have been put before the people before they were asked to vote in a referendum?

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I remind the House that interventions should be brief and to the point; they should not be small speeches.

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. That was not an intervention; it was indeed a speech.

I want to draw attention to perhaps the most worrying and disturbing reason why UK investors do not invest in Wales.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Conservative, Harborough

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am delighted to welcome the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith) back to the House, but I wish that he would concentrate on the amendment. We have limited time to discuss this issue, and his speech amounts to no more than a Government filibuster. I urge you to bring the hon. Gentleman to order.

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The Chair is responsible for deciding whether hon. Members are speaking to the point, but I must tell the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith) that I was in the Chamber when the other Deputy Speaker asked him to speak to the amendment, since when he has conspicuously failed to do so. I should be grateful if he would now do just that.

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

I will indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The point that I am trying to make about the amendment is that there are distinct and different arguments to be advanced in the run-up to the referendums for Scotland and Wales. That is why we most definitely need to have the votes on different days.

We do not attract our fair share of investment because of the sometimes appalling attitude towards us of English investors.

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman now bring his remarks to a very prompt close?

Photo of John Smith John Smith Labour, Vale of Glamorgan

I will indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The voice for Wales, the Welsh Assembly, could do a great deal in a short time completely to turn round the false business image of the Principality that exists in London and the south-east of England. That is why we should disregard the Lords amendment, and the people of Wales should vote resoundingly yes on 18 September, in the interests of the future jobs and prosperity of our country.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

I think that it was P. G. Wodehouse who said that it was not difficult to tell the difference between a ray of sunshine and a Scot with a grievance. Perhaps we could say that it is not difficult to tell the difference between a ray of sunshine and a Member of Parliament with an English constituency who has a grievance against Scotland and Wales. This parading of anti-Scottish and anti-Welsh prejudices will do absolutely nothing for any prospects of the revival of the Conservative party in those countries.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

If the hon. Gentleman will sit down for a second, I will give way to him a little later. I intended to make a very brief speech, but if the Conservative party continually diverts me with a series of interventions, who knows how long I could go on?

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

The hon. Gentleman's point about a hatred for Scotland and Wales among my hon. Friends is entirely false. He will know, if he has studied his Dod, that most of those who are speaking in this debate—even if, like me, they represent English constituencies—are 100 per cent. Scottish. I love Scotland more than he does, if I may say so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] As much as he does, then. On what grounds does he accuse us of hating Scotland?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

I do not try to evaluate hon. Members' love for their countries as the hon. Gentleman does. Whether he loves Scotland more than I do is a matter for debate, but in electoral terms, the people of Scotland certainly love my party more than they love his party or him personally, and his love of Scotland does not extend to trying to further his political prospects there; he obviously considers the pastures greener down south.

An interesting survey was conducted of Scottish attitudes to the Conservative party. I was not surprised to find that the majority of people in Scotland felt that the Conservative party was anti-Scottish, but I was surprised to find—this was just before the general election—that the majority of people who intended to vote Conservative thought that the Conservative party was anti-Scottish. I rest my case on that point.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Opposition Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs, Scotland and Wales)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way at such an apposite moment. Will he do all in his power to correct the misapprehension among the Scottish people? There are no anti-Scottish Members in the House as far as I am aware. Or is it part of his party's programme to foment resentment among the Scottish people to promote his nasty nationalism?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

I have often pronounced myself one of the most anglophile of all Scottish Members. I am prepared to defend that. I have certainly forgotten more about English history than many Conservative Members have ever learnt. We present our case for Scotland in a positive way. We do not spend our time being antagonistic about other nations. That contrasts heavily with the attitude of the Conservative party.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

At a time when a majority of Conservative voters in Scotland feel that the party is anti-Scottish, I believe that it is reasonable for me to draw that to the attention of the House. The hon. Gentleman should address himself to the remnants of the Conservative party and try to convince them that his party is not anti-Scottish, rather than direct his remarks to me.

Furthermore, at a recent Scottish Conservative conference held in the aftermath of the general election, one of the few things on which the delegates agreed was that the great difficulty that the party suffered was that it was seen as anti-Scottish. I have to say to Conservative Members gathered here that that seems to be a reality.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

I have not. I am trying desperately not to be condescending or patronising to the hon. Gentleman, who is making it difficult for me not to be. I shall try not to patronise him.

I offer a piece of gentle advice—that the nature of the arguments and the way in which they are put by Conservative Members is not conducive to an enormous revival of the Conservative party's fortunes in Scotland and Wales. In my party political interest, I suppose that I would say, "Keep putting the arguments in the way you are doing. Keep at it. You will continue to return zero Members of Parliament in Scotland." It would be impossible under proportional representation to return zero Members of the Scottish Parliament, but if the Conservative party continues to operate in the way it is, as a party and as a front organisation for the think twice campaign, there will be a prospect of its gaining no Members of the Scottish Parliament.

I intended to address some brief remarks to the amendment before I was led astray by the serried ranks of Conservative Members. Is there an argument that one cannot have change, whether constitutional or other, on different days in different countries of the United Kingdom? There may or may not be, but it is certainly not an argument that will be put with any conviction by the Conservative party. I seem to recall that the poll tax—a huge instrument of taxation—was introduced by the Conservative party, not a week earlier in Scotland than elsewhere but a full year earlier.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

The benefit was ours, yes. The Conservative party will have to acknowledge that the cost of the poll tax in administrative terms and in transitional relief was £1,000 million. If Conservative Members are worried about the cost of the Scottish Parliament, they might dwell on the fact that it would be possible to run a Scottish Parliament for half a century for the cost of one bad, undemocratic, unresponsive decision forced upon the Scottish people by the Conservative party.

Nor does a Unionist party make a good case when it argues that constitutional change must take place on the same day in different countries. According to that argument, Wales could not have joined the Union until Scotland did, and Scotland presumably could not have joined until Ireland did. It is a farcical argument. If one accepts that Scotland and Wales are nations, surely they have the right to decide, whether on one day or another. The peoples of Scotland and Wales are adult enough to make up their own independent minds, on whatever day the referendums are held.

A much more substantial argument about the referendum is why there will be two questions in Scotland. It is farcical. Why will there be no independence question on the ballot paper? It seems passing strange that, in the debate on the Lords amendments, instead of discussing and reflecting on matters of substance, we are involved in a debate of little matter.

Although I caution the Conservative party that it should not continue in the vein that it has adopted, I dare say that we have a party political interest in a parade of more prejudice in the Chamber tonight. Either through its own activities or through its front organisation, the think twice campaign, the Conservative party should not place itself irredeemably in antagonistic opposition to the peoples of Scotland and Wales.

Even within the ranks of the Conservative party, there cannot be unanimity on the wisdom of the attitude that Conservative Members portray. I know that it is difficult for Conservative Members from English constituencies, in the aftermath of an election which saw their party cleared out of the nations of Scotland and Wales, to think beyond their constituencies and their regional interests, and anticipate the reaction in Scotland and Wales to the attitude that they are striking. However, it would benefit the debate if they tried to look beyond their prejudices.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell Labour, Linlithgow 6:45 pm, 30th July 1997

I have no difficulty in supporting my right hon. Friends on this matter, because the proposals for Scotland and Wales are totally different. I think that I was the one Scot who sat through the Welsh debate on Friday. After listening to my right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams), my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) and many other colleagues, I realised yet again that the position in Wales was different.

The events of last week, study of the White Paper, the hype surrounding the White Paper, the image created by the party at Edinburgh castle and, not least, The Scotsman on Friday morning going simply overboard, confirmed my view that we are at the beginning of a motorway without exit to something indistinguishable from a separate Scottish state.

Therefore, I believe that there should be two statements in the referendum. The first should be, "I want to remain part of Britain." The second should be, "I want a Scottish state separate from England." That is the choice, as indeed it may always have been. Any hope of an acceptable halfway house devolution solution evaporated with the decision to hold a pre-legislative referendum rather than a post-legislative one on the meaningful question, "Do you approve of the Scotland Act 1997–98, as passed by Parliament?"

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

I oppose the Government's proposals today, in the sense that they seek to fix a date. I would prefer not to fix a date. In other words, I should prefer to adhere to the procedure in the original Bill. Perhaps I might briefly explain the reason for that.

Devolution in Scotland can survive only if it is fair to England. I am not at the moment arguing against devolution in Scotland or Wales. I believe that it is contrary to the interests of the people of both countries, but that is a different point. Devolution can last only if it is fair to England. I believe that, if referendums are held in September—whether on the 11th or the 18th does not matter for these purposes—there will be a debate on a false understanding of the facts in Scotland and Wales. If the thing is to last, changes cannot be contemplated in Scotland and Wales which are distinct from appropriate arrangements here in England.

If we are to have devolution in Scotland and Wales, there will be a fundamental change in the way in which we govern the United Kingdom. That could take a number of forms. It could take the form of a federal constitution, with four national Parliaments and a federal Parliament. That is one way forward, which is perfectly logical.

Another way forward would be to say of Scottish Members that there must be a fundamental diminution in their number and role at Westminster and that they right to participate in the English debates needs to be reduced, so that—

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. May I remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman, as I have reminded other hon. Members, that we are debating a narrow amendment about two separate dates for the referendums. He must address his remarks to that.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

Forgive me, but the question that I am addressing, which is in order, is whether there should be a date fixed for the Bill or whether no date is fixed, as is the case at the moment, and it is left at the discretion of the Government to fix by Order in Council.

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. It is for the Chair to decide what is in order and what is not. I simply ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to address his remarks to the specific amendment before us.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

Forgive me, but the question that the House is considering is whether there should be a fixed date or no date. That is the question before the House at the moment. I am arguing that there should be no date, because one must look at constitutional changes and arrangements in the broad. One needs to contemplate what changes will have to be made to the entire government of the United Kingdom before the peoples of Scotland and Wales decide whether they want devolution in their respective parts of the United Kingdom.

If one insists on a date, whether it be 11 September or 18 September, it is certain that those broader proposals will not be put forward and argued. In other words, the peoples of Scotland and Wales, if they are to vote in referendums on either 11 or 18 September, will not do so in the full knowledge of the long-term consequences to the constitution of devolution in those two parts of the United Kingdom.

That is precisely why I say that we should not fix a date, so that we can set a later date, be it at the end of the year, perhaps next year, or the year after—it does not matter for these purposes—when we can give proper consideration to the consequences of devolution in Scotland and Wales.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley Leader and Party President, Plaid Cymru

I am following the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument about why there should be a longer period—a much longer period, possibly, as he sees it, for a fuller debate on possible alternative solutions and the implications for the England and the United Kingdom. Would not that argument be stronger if the Conservative party had fought the general election with positive proposals for the future of Wales and Scotland, and indeed the United Kingdom, rather than arguing that a thousand-year history would come to an end, and offering a totally negative attitude towards devolution?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

That is a matter for political debate. I am now expressing my own view. I am not hostile to the principle of devolution in Scotland and Wales if that is what the people there really want. I insist to the House on the importance of the referendums being conducted according to a full knowledge and understanding of the consequences of devolution in Scotland and Wales on the overall structures of the United Kingdom.

That debate has not been opened up, and will not be started before the referendums in September. That is a powerful argument against fixing a date in September.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Labour, Delyn

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggesting that I and the other 33 Labour Members elected on 1 May should break our promise to the electorate to hold an Assembly vote within the first year of the Parliament? That is what the right hon. and learned Gentleman is asking for. His party offered to maintain the status quo, and it was overwhelmingly defeated at the election.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

The hon. Gentleman has an obligation to speak truthfully to his constituents and to the people of Wales. I am sure that he will do so, and I am not suggesting for a moment that he would not. If he agrees with me, however, that the proposals now before the House in broad form in the White Papers for Scotland and Wales cannot be the end of the story because they do not address the problem of England and fairness of treatment for it, it follows inevitably that profound changes to the way in which we will have to govern the United Kingdom will be down the track—for example, a federal structure.

We need to ventilate that argument before the referendums, so that the people of Wales and Scotland have an opportunity to assess whether in reality that is what they want. If they do, so be it—that is what will happen—but we need to have an informed debate. That is why I am against a fixed date and in favour of an open date, in the I hope that I can persuade the Government that those referendums should be held on a later date rather than an earlier one.

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan Labour, Cardiff West

I support the rejection of the Lords amendments, which have tried to insist on having the two referendums on the same day, because of the old problem, sometimes known as the "and Wales" problem.

When we discuss politics and public affairs, we normally refer to England and Wales, and Wales is always the afterthought. Until quite recently, the famous entry in "Encyclopaedia Britannica" was "for Wales, see England", and reference was always to England and Wales. When it comes to discussing devolution, one always refers to Scotland and Wales. The problem of the "and Wales" afterthought is why we need a cordon sanitaire between the dates of the Scottish referendum and the Welsh referendum.

That is also why one could not have the Welsh referendum before the Scottish referendum. That would not solve the problem, because the degree of interest in Scottish devolution even among the London media—even though, by and large, the London media are not of great relevance in Scotland—is still so great that they would discuss the Scottish referendum and devolution in preference to Welsh devolution and the Welsh referendum, even if the latter were held first. The media would simply continue to discuss Scottish devolution even after that referendum, because there would be no Welsh devolution referendum to discuss. That is the problem.

How do we guarantee a suitable concentration of interest on Welsh devolution? We can only do so by making sure that there is a period when the Scottish referendum is over, which means that we and the London media could then concentrate on Wales.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

In effect, the hon. Gentleman is repeating the arguments made by the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain)—that the people of Wales are incapable of making that decision, and that they are ignorant. According to the Under-Secretary, it was The Sun wot won it. It is an insult to the Welsh people to suggest that they cannot make that decision without being sanitised from the London media. He is making an argument for a delay of six months.

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan Labour, Cardiff West

The hon. Gentleman needs to develop a little more expertise in the affairs of Wales and Scotland before he makes contributions to such debates. Obviously he was not listening earlier.

The issue is whether any part of the United Kingdom could expect to make an informed decision without media coverage. We rely on them. We can expect more measured coverage from the BBC, the ITV stations and Channel 4. We will also get detailed coverage from The Sun and other tabloids as well the broadsheets, which are not bound by obligations to offer balanced coverage. Among them all, however, people could expect to receive reasonably informed information.

One cannot expect such coverage if the media do not discuss Welsh devolution. We have found that, when it is covered, it is only by having 100 per cent. horse manure thrown at it, as we saw this morning in the article on page 1 of The Guardian, which was repeated word for word on page 1 of The Western Mail. Those articles implied that the Queen wants to tell the people of Wales that they will not get the real McCoy. This afternoon, however, we learned that that story was total garbage from start to finish.

Unfortunately, that is the type of coverage we get. It is not serious coverage, but we would get such coverage provided the dates of the referendums were kept apart by a reasonable period. We suggest that it should be a gap of seven days, and the Opposition argue that there should be no gap, or a gap of 14 days or 28 days. They cannot have it both ways—they must think that those referendums should be held either on the same day or on separate ones.

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan Labour, Cardiff West

I am sorry to tell the hon. Gentleman that most of his colleagues have acted like a rabble on this issue. Sometimes they argue for the same day; sometimes they argue for a six-month separation. Indeed, that is what the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) suggested just now. Which do the Conservatives want? The official position of the Opposition Front-Bench team is the same day, but the rest of the Tories are in disarray.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley

We say that the people of Wales are intelligent and able, so let us hold the referendums on the same day. The people of Wales can work out the issues for themselves.

7 pm

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan Labour, Cardiff West

The hon. Gentleman is a media expert: he sells newspapers for a living. He is known as Nigel the News. As good Welshmen, we are all agreed, of course, that the Welsh are an intelligent people. We should all be singing from the same hymn sheet—singing those old Welsh hymns such as Cwm Rhibble.

The issue, however, is not whether the people of Wales are as intelligent as the European average—they are far above that average; otherwise they would not have wiped out the Tory party on 1 May. The issue concerns whether they can be expected to come to an informed decision in the referendum vote if there is not enough media coverage. Unless the two dates are separated, coverage of the Welsh referendum will not be separate from coverage of the Scottish one in the media—that is the problem.

Just how intelligent coverage of the issue is became plain when Tory peers in the other place claimed that the Welsh media would do the job, and that it achieved the same penetration in Wales as the Scottish media do in Scotland. Those Tory peers distinguished themselves by calling the national newspaper of Wales the Western Morning News—until it was pointed out that that is a newspaper in the south-west of England.

Another Opposition peer distinguished himself by saying that S4C broadcasts to north Wales in the Welsh language—until it was pointed out to him that S4C is the national Welsh language television station. These people know nothing about the Welsh media, yet they try to lecture us, representing the constituencies of Wales, on it.

In this Chamber, the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) once again failed to understand the Minister's point about the "shadow effect". The problem is that 35 per cent. of the people of Wales have better television reception from transmitters in England than from Welsh transmitters, and many have no Welsh reception at all. The same does not apply to Scotland, of course.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Conservative, Harborough

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that I have got him off the hook of the Welsh media on a number of occasions. The important question concerns the Government's order of priorities. Why are they trying to overturn the Lords amendment when, as the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) pointed out, there are plenty of other, more important, issues to discuss?

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan Labour, Cardiff West

The hon. and learned Gentleman has not yet absorbed the lesson of the independent academic study done in 1979, which showed that Welsh newspapers are read by only 13 per cent. of the Welsh population, whereas Scottish papers are read by 90 per cent. of the Scottish population.

It is not just that the referendum legislation for the two countries is quite different; it is also the fact that the economic and media integration of Wales and England are very different from the Scottish situation. So a separation of the arguments in the media can be achieved only by two referendums held on separate days—seven days apart, under the Government proposal.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As you well know, I am all for free speech. Is it in order for the Conservative Whip to tour the Conservative Benches discouraging Conservative Members from speaking in the debate? He almost cut off my old university friend, the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne), in full flow.

Self-determination for Scotland, self-determination for Wales—but is it not in order to allow Tory Members self-determination?

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The order in which hon. Members speak, and whether they choose to speak at all, are not matters for the Chair.

Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat, Edinburgh West

The Conservatives are trying to raise to a point of principle the idea that two referendums must not be held a week apart. They seem to be a new form of Seventh Day Adventists. If the Almighty managed to create the world in seven days, the Welsh electorate should be able to absorb the necessary arguments in seven days. It is rubbish to maintain that the referendums can be held on the same day, although miles apart, but not a week apart.

Another suggestion is that the Government are cunningly following a plot devised by the European Union—successive voting. That great plot clearly did not work for the EU, in that Norway did not vote the right way. So if it is a plot, it is not a very clever one.

It is complete rubbish to say that adequate information was provided before the last referendum, as anyone who took part in it—I doubt whether many Conservative Members did—will testify. There was a serious lack of information, and that had an adverse effect on the result.

The Conservatives have also pooh-poohed the idea of the Government putting out a piece of paper summarising the White Paper. The Conservatives say that that is propaganda and a wicked misuse of public funds. I remind them that the Conservative Government spent a great deal of public money on propaganda in favour of the school boards, in favour of opting out—they hoped in vain that lots of Scottish schools would go for it—and in favour of local government reorganisation. There is thus a long history of Governments setting out information for the benefit of the citizen. Thereafter it is up to the yes and no campaigns to produce their own propaganda.

The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), who appears to have gone, argues that the exercise will lead inevitably to independence. I see no example in history of an intelligent form of devolution leading to independence. Indeed, there are many examples to the contrary. A federal system can lead to a country staying together which would not otherwise have done so. That will happen with this form of devolution.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Conservative, Vale of York

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Many of us have been waiting with great patience to speak on the Lords amendment. You have already said that Members should direct their remarks to the amendment. Would you care to repeat that ruling?

Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat, Edinburgh West

I am rebutting, one by one, arguments advanced in this debate.

Another Conservative argument is that we should do nothing until it becomes clear what should happen throughout the United Kingdom. One of the great merits of the Government's proposals for Scotland and Wales is that they will cause the English to think more carefully about how they want England to be run. That will be a great step forward. We should support the Government, because the arguments against holding the referendums seven days apart are spurious.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee

I wholly agree with the excellent arguments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan). The media attention that Wales would attract is certainly a key issue. There is certainly a Wales and England question, which my hon. Friend set out cogently.

I wholly reject the argument that we need more information. To those who have been slumbering, I would point out that there has been a general debate going on since the early 1970s and beyond in Wales and Scotland about the broad issue of devolution. The public will not be moved to vote either yes or no by the details of the Bill. They will come to a general view as to whether they believe that there should be an Assembly. The subsections of the Bill will be wholly irrelevant. If we are to have an intelligent and separate decision, as we suggest, we must proceed broadly along the lines that the Government want.

Photo of Mr Andrew Rowe Mr Andrew Rowe Conservative, Faversham and Mid Kent

There is a much more fundamental question, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will answer it. Given that the possible outcomes of both referendums will be to alter dramatically and irrevocably both the powers and the constitution of the United Kingdom House of Commons, how can it be justified that the English should be altogether excluded from the referendums?

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee

The hon. Gentleman set out that case at great length and with great cogency during the previous debate. We can raise as many bogeys as we will about fundamental change in the UK constitution as a whole, fragmentation and the slippery slope to the break-up of the United Kingdom, but I believe that our people are far too mature to fall for those bogeys.

Let me end by saying, yes, there are powerful arguments of substance, but there is also the question of procedure. On an issue relating to elections, the manner in which elections should be held and the timing of elections, the other place should exercise a certain restraint. We should not put particular weight on the views of the other place on matters of electoral politics. By definition, its Members are not themselves subject to elections, so we should give little weight to what they have to say. We should proceed as we were minded to proceed and reject what the other place has put forward. Let the people of Wales have what we want—our own referendum, unaffected by that in Scotland, on which we can have our own debate. Let us reject the amendment.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

I shall reply briefly to the debate and take up especially the points made by the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin), whom I welcome to the Dispatch Box. I shall go further and welcome him to come into Wales and campaign for the no vote—indeed, I am tempted to offer him his fare on the strength of his contribution this evening. The image presents itself of Essex boy—or perhaps I should say Essex boyo—invading Wales and taking on the people of Blaenau Gwent and the Rhondda. I invite him to come to the Neath valley—to Cwmllynfell or Ystalafera—to parade his wares around the doorsteps and press his case for a no vote. He would get a swift response, however, because the people of Wales are supporting Labour's campaign for a yes vote.

I was fascinated by one of the hon. Gentleman's slips of the tongue, when he said that he was not interested in helping the no campaign. That really shows that the Tories are on the run. Last Sunday, his leader pulled the rug from underneath the entire Conservative opposition, by saying that he virtually conceded that the Government would win the yes vote in Wales and Scotland and that he would not seek to reverse the decision. The right hon. Gentleman effectively conceded the case for devolution in Scotland and Wales, and now the hon. Member for North Essex says that he is not interested in helping the no campaign.

Furthermore, the hon. Gentleman tried to ride two horses at the same time, by saying both that he was opposed to the Government's proposals for Scotland and that he wanted those for Wales to be the same. In other words, he wanted a no vote in Wales because there were no tax-raising powers in the proposals for a Welsh Assembly. He really should clear his lines and decide what his opposition is based on. The hon. Gentleman also asked why Wales was not going first; I shall tell him. Quite simply, Wales is not going first because Scotland's school holidays are earlier than those of Wales and we want the people of Scotland and Wales to have the opportunity when they come back from their holidays to hear the arguments on both sides of the case and then to make up their mind fairly and freely.

The hon. Gentleman then made the extraordinary pronouncement on behalf of the Front-Bench spokesmen and officially on behalf of the Conservative party that referendums were an instrument of Nazism and fascism. Is he really saying that? We should be told. Is the Conservative party now saying that it will never support referendums in Britain because they are instruments of Nazism and fascism? That is the real face of the Tory party—denying the right of the people of Wales and Scotland to be consulted about our proposals for a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly.

The right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) also made a revealing slip, when he said that he might concede that the referendum should happen next year, or the year after, or the year after that—disappearing over the horizon. Why does he say that? Because he does not want a referendum and because he is afraid of the result whereby the referendum will give an overwhelming mandate for our proposals for a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly.

7.15 pm

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is also inviting the Government to do something that the previous Government did just about every other week they ruled, which is break our promises to the electorate. We promised that the people of Wales and Scotland would be offered a Welsh Assembly and a Scottish Parliament after a referendum in our first year of office. We are fulfilling our election promises in that respect, as we are doing in so many other areas of policy.

In conclusion, the Conservatives are really frightened of democracy. They are frightened of putting the matter to the people's vote in the referendums. I am not surprised that they are frightened of democracy, because they were wiped out in terms of parliamentary representation in Scotland and Wales. I am confident that we shall win the referendums in Scotland and Wales, and when we have done so, not only shall we have delivered democracy to Scotland and Wales, but we shall have beaten the Conservatives yet again.

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

The House divided: Ayes 349, Noes 134.

Division No. 75][7.17 pm
AYES
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)Barnes, Harry
Ainger, NickBarron, Kevin
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Battle, John
Allan, Richard (Shef'ld Hallam)Bayley, Hugh
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Beard, Nigel
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Armstrong, Ms HilaryBegg, Miss Anne (Aberd'n S)
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyBeith, Rt Hon A J
Ashton, JoeBell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Atherton, Ms CandyBennett, Andrew F
Atkins, CharlotteBenton, Joe
Baker, NormanBerry, Roger
Ballard, Mrs JackieBest, Harold
Banks, TonyBetts, Clive
Blears, Ms HazelDunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Blizzard, BobEagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Boateng, PaulEagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Borrow, DavidEdwards, Huw
Bradley, Keith (Withington)Ellman, Ms Louise
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)Ennis, Jeff
Bradshaw, BenEwing, Mrs Margaret
Brake, ThomasFearn Ronnie
Breed, ColinField, Rt Hon Frank
Brinton, Mrs HelenFitzsimons, Lorna
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)Flint, Caroline
Burden, RichardFlynn, Paul
Burnett, JohnFollett, Barbara
Burstow, PaulFoster, Rt Hon Derek
Butler, ChristineFoster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Byers, StephenFoster, Michael John (Worcester)
Cable, Dr VincentFyfe, Maria
Caborn, RichardGapes, Mike
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)George, Andrew (St Ives)
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Gerrard, Neil
Campbell-Savours, DaleGibson, Dr Ian
Canavan, DennisGilroy, Mrs Linda
Caplin, IvorGodman, Dr Norman A
Caton, MartinGodsiff, Roger
Cawsey, IanGolding, Mrs Llin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Chisholm, MalcolmGorrie, Donald
Church, Ms JudithGrant, Bernie
Clapham, MichaelGriffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Gunnell, John
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)Hain, Peter
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Clelland, DavidHamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Clwyd, AnnHancock, Mike
Coaker, VernonHanson, David
Coffey, Ms AnnHarris, Dr Evan
Coleman, Iain (Hammersmith)Harvey, Nick
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Cooper, YvetteHealey, John
Corbyn, JeremyHeath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Corston, Ms JeanHenderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Cousins, JimHenderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Cox, TomHeppell, John
Cranston, RossHesford, Stephen
Crausby, DavidHill, Keith
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)Hinchliffe, David
Cunliffe, LawrenceHodge, Ms Margaret
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)Hoon, Geoffrey
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John (Copeland)Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Cunningham, Ms Roseanna (Perth)Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howells, Dr Kim
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs ClaireHoyle, Lindsay
Dalyell, TamHughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Darling, Rt Hon AlistairHughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Davey, Edward (Kingston)Humble, Mrs Joan
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)Hurst, Alan
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Hutton, John
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)Iddon, Dr Brian
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)Ingram, Adam
Dean, Mrs JanetJackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Denham, JohnJackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Dewar, Rt Hon DonaldJamieson, David
Dismore, AndrewJenkins, Brian (Tamworth)
Dobbin, JimJohnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Dobson, Rt Hon FrankJohnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Donohoe, Brian HJones, Helen (Warrington N)
Doran, FrankJones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Dowd, JimJones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)
Drew, David
Drown, Ms JuliaJones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)Öpik, Lembit
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)Organ, Mrs Diana
Jowell, Ms TessaPearson, Ian
Keeble, Ms SallyPendry, Tom
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)Perham, Ms Linda
Keen, Mrs Ann (Brentford)Pickthall, Colin
Keetch, PaulPike, Peter L
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)Plaskitt, James
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)Pond, Chris
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)Pound, Stephen
Kirkwood, ArchyPowell, Sir Raymond
Ladyman, Dr StephenPrentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Lawrence, Ms JackiePrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Lepper, DavidPrimarolo, Dawn
Leslie, ChristopherProsser, Gwyn
Levitt, TomQuin, Ms Joyce
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)Quinn, Lawrie
Linton, MartinRammell, Bill
Livingstone, KenRapson, Syd
Livsey, RichardRaynsford, Nick
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)Robertson, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S)
Lock, David
Love, AndrewRobinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
McAllion, JohnRoche, Mrs Barbara
McAvoy, ThomasRooker, Jeff
McCabe, StephenRooney, Terry
McCafferty, Ms ChrisRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)Rowlands, Ted
Macdonald, CalumRuane, Chris
McDonnell, JohnRuddock, Ms Joan
McFall, JohnRussell, Bob (Colchester)
McIsaac, ShonaRussell, Ms Christine (Chester)
McKenna, Ms RosemarySalmond, Alex
McLeish, HenrySalter, Martin
Maclennan, RobertSanders, Adrian
McNulty, TonySavidge, Malcolm
MacShane, DenisSawford, Phil
McWalter, TonySedgemore, Brian
McWilliam, JohnShaw, Jonathan
Mahon, Mrs AliceSheerman, Barry
Mallaber, JudyShort, Rt Hon Clare
Marek, Dr JohnSimpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)Singh, Marsha
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, JohnSmith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Meacher, Rt Hon MichaelSmith, John (Glamorgan)
Merron, GillianSmith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Michael, AlunSmith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)Soley, Clive
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)Southworth, Ms Helen
Milburn, AlanSpellar, John
Miller, AndrewSquire, Ms Rachel
Mitchell, AustinStarkey, Dr Phyllis
Moffatt, LauraStevenson, George
Moonie, Dr LewisStewart, Ian (Eccles)
Moore, MichaelStinchcombe, Paul
Moran, Ms MargaretStoate, Dr Howard
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)Stringer, Graham
Morley, ElliotStuart, Ms Gisela (Edgbaston)
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)Stunell, Andrew
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)Sutcliffe, Gerry
Mountford, KaliSwinney, John
Mowlam, Rt Hon MarjorieTaylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Mudie, George
Mullin, ChrisTaylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Murphy, Paul (Torfaen)Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)
Naysmith, Dr DougThomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Oaten, MarkThomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)Timms, Stephen
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)Tipping, Paddy
O'Hara, EdwardTodd, Mark
Olner, BillTouhig, Don
Trickett, JonWhitehead, Dr Alan
Truswell, PaulWigley, Dafydd
Turner, Desmond (Kemptown)Willis, Phil
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)Winnick, David
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Tyler, PaulWise, Audrey
Vaz, KeithWood, Mike
Vis, Dr RudiWray, James
Wallace, JamesWright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wright, Tony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Ward, Ms ClaireWyatt, Derek
Watts, David
Webb, Professor SteveTellers for the Ayes:
Welsh, AndrewMr. Graham Allen and
White, BrianMr. Greg Pope.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Government amendment (a) in lieu of Lords amendment No. 1 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 2, in page 1, line 6, after "and" insert "income".

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office

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

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 15 and 16 and the Government motions to disagree thereto.

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office

The people of Scotland will be asked whether they agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament and whether it should have tax-varying powers. The amendment would require specific reference to income tax-varying powers.

The key to this is to understand what the people of Scotland are asked to agree with. It is not some vague notion of an independent Scotland or some never-never promise of better things to come from the Conservative party; they will be asked whether they agree with the Government's proposals, and it says so on the ballot papers.

The Government have set out their proposals in the White Paper "Scotland's Parliament", published last Thursday. Chapter 7 sets out the financial arrangements for the Scottish Parliament, including the tax-varying power. Opposition Members are no doubt familiar with it. It says: Subject to the outcome of the proposed referendum on this issue the Scottish Parliament will be given a power to vary tax.The Government propose that the tax varying power should operate on income tax". It is crystal clear that the tax-varying power on which the referendum asks the people of Scotland to give their views is the power to vary income tax. The chapter describes in detail how the system would operate, the amount by which tax could be varied, who would be liable to pay it and what would happen in the event of the UK income tax structure changing.

We have consistently argued that the questions to be put to the people should be at the level of principle, backed up by the detail contained in the White Paper. If we are to add the word "income", why not also include the 3p in the pound limit or a definition of who should pay the tax? We could keep adding qualifications until the questions on the ballot papers were half a page long. Similarly, we shall not ask on the ballot papers whether a Scottish Parliament should have powers over the health service in Scotland or over any other matters set out in the White Paper.

I accept that a balance must be struck between keeping the questions simple and giving voters enough details so that they clearly know what they are voting for.

Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson Conservative, North Shropshire

Will the Minister look behind him and comment?

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office

Such a question does not require an answer. In any case, I should not like to dignify it.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell Labour, Linlithgow

Quality always makes up for numbers.

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office

I never have a problem with my hon. Friend's interventions. This evening, a completely fatuous amendment has been debated for a very long time because Conservative Members have not wanted to debate matters of substance.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat, Orkney and Shetland

I understand that the Government's proposals have been made available to the electorate in a shortened form. Can the Minister tell the House the extent of the detail on the tax proposals and when he expects those will go through letter boxes?

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office

At this stage, I am afraid that I cannot give the response required, but I shall write and confirm those details.

We believe that our original wording is right. Tax-varying powers are a sufficiently important aspect of the Parliament's powers to warrant a separate question, but it is not necessary to specify every aspect of the powers in the questions. That is done by the White Paper. To add the word "income" would create a false sense of precision. The referendum in Scotland will seek consent for the Government's proposals for a Scottish Parliament with tax-varying powers. The people of Scotland understand well enough what they are asked without the amendment.

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office

I shall not give way at this point, but I shall give way to the hon. Lady in a minute.

It is important in this brief debate to look at schedule 1 to the original Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill to capture the fact that the questions must be seen in the context of the White Paper. I draw Opposition Members' attention to page 23 of the White Paper, from paragraph 7.11 onwards, which deals with tax-varying powers. Paragraph 7.12 says: The Government propose that the tax varying power should operate on income tax, because it is broadly based and easy to administer. Income tax is relatively simple and easy to understand and has none of the difficulties associated with the other major tax bases: different rates of VAT on different sides of the border would cause practical problems and there would be specific difficulties with EU rules; corporation tax would place an unreasonable burden on companies operating in Scotland; National Insurance is inappropriate because of its direct link with the social security system; and council tax and non-domestic rates would over-burden the local government finance system and undermine the accountability of local government to its electorate. I submit—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) should sometimes think before he opens his mouth. He should know that what we call "non-domestic rates" are business rates in Scotland. A trip up north may make him more familiar with the language that I am trying to use as part of this wider educational exercise this evening.

I submit that the questions on the ballot paper are linked to the White Paper. Naturally, the White Paper spells out in detail what we intend and do not intend. Referring back to the intervention by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), an objective summary will go to every household in Scotland and will cover his point.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Conservative, Vale of York

On the educational exercise, will the Minister inform the Scots of the tax implications if they lose the 19 per cent. advantage in public sector expenditure that they currently enjoy? Will that be put to the Scots in the referendum campaign? Income tax will have to increase substantially if they lose that tax advantage from the UK.

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office

The education issue is important. When we start to link the tax-varying power with the Barnett formula and the other assigned budget implications, a full discussion and debate on the White Paper are required, as well as an insight into the debate taking place in the Scottish press on the tax-varying power.

The crucial point is that no one will put a cross on the ballot paper on 11 September without knowing in detail the implications of the Government's policies. We think that that is right and it is what the Scottish people want. On 11 September, they will be able to exercise a choice.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell Labour, Linlithgow

My hon. Friend refers to an objective summary. Who is to decide whether it is objective? What is objective in the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) and in my view may be two entirely different things.

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office

Without getting lost in the tautology or the semantics of a definition of objectivity, I believe that we are trying to summarise the key elements of a substantial and well-received White Paper to ensure that, when people vote, they have the benefit of that exercise and the objectivity that we could bring to it.

I recognise the cynicism of those on the Conservative Opposition Benches; old habits die hard. We want to make certain that people understand what they are voting about. People must be able to choose between options. They will have a chance to say yes or no. That is an important element of the democracy that we are trying to bring to the referendum.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party, North Tayside

Will the opportunity be taken in that objective exercise to present information that would knock aside the fallacy produced by the Conservatives that Scotland is subsidised, and set out some of the arguments advanced by the Treasury before the last general election, which showed that since 1979 Scotland had generated a budget surplus of £27 billion to the United Kingdom?

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office

I will not be drawn down that road so late in an evening. Suffice it to say that the hon. Gentleman's party will be part of a yes, yes campaign in Scotland. It is important to note that the Liberal Democrats will be involved in a yes, yes campaign north of the border. The Labour party will be involved in a yes, yes campaign. It is conspicuous that the Conservative party will not be represented. The think twice campaign—the no, no campaign—is merely a front, not for the Conservative voters of Scotland but for the out-of-touch Conservative leadership in the House, as has been ably demonstrated this evening by Conservative Front Benchers.

I have no difficulty in welcoming the fact that we will have a referendum. It is crucial that there are questions on the Parliament and on the tax-varying powers. We have conclusively linked the questions on the ballot paper to the White Paper, which contains substantial comment on the tax and answers the questions involved. I hope that the House will reject Lords amendment No.2.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State

Once again, we have heard from the Minister a mixture of condescension and bluster. The one thing that we never get from him is an answer. I hope that he begins to learn that he is now a Minister. He should start behaving like a Minister, not like a member of the Opposition. He holds an extremely important ministry in the Scottish Office and he should be worthy of it. What we have heard from him tonight and in previous debates has been entirely unsatisfactory.

The Minister said something extraordinary. He said that the position was clear—it is all about income tax; there are no other taxes. He went on to say that the amendment would create a false sense of precision. What on earth does that mean? The one thing that the people of Scotland need before they vote in a referendum is a sense of precision.

At present, there is no sense of precision. If the amendment were allowed to stand, there would be the precision that the only tax that could be varied would be income tax. I know, as do my hon. Friends, why the Minister is not prepared to allow a false sense of precision. It would be false, because not only income tax is being spoken about.

Failure to accept the amendment confirms that there is a can of tax worms lying beneath the surface of the document, and the Minister hopes that when the people of Scotland find that out after the referendum, it will be too late. It is sleight of hand to pretend that the reference is only to income tax. There are back-of-the-hand taxes, indirect taxes and a vicarious tax.

I realise that the Minister considers it essential to keep that from the Scottish people before 11 September. I shall ask him one or two questions to demonstrate why I hold that view. If income tax is the only tax concerned, why will he not accept that description, which makes the position clear?

The Secretary of State said in his statement last Thursday: Subject to the outcome of the referendum, the Scottish Parliament will be given power to increase or decrease the basic rate of income tax set by the UK Parliament by up to 3p. Fair enough. He went on to say: The Parliament will have a guaranteed right to raise or to forgo up to £450 million—index-linked—irrespective of changes in the UK income tax structure."—[Official Report, 24 July 1997; Vol. 298, c. 1043.] What happens—this is the key question—if there is a change in the bands, which is not declared by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or a change in taxable income, as happens at boom times and at times of recession, when 3p would raise more or less than £450 million? If it raises less, from where will the extra money come to maintain the guarantee that a Scottish Parliament could raise up to £450 million, as the Secretary of State said?

If the limit is 3p in the pound and that 3p will not get £450 million, which is guaranteed, the money will come from somewhere else—not income tax. That is why the Minister is not prepared to have that descriptor in the Bill.

I shall ask the Minister straight and hope that, for once, he will answer straight: under the proposals, would the Scottish Parliament be able to raise new taxes—for example, by the introduction of a property tax, as is rumoured in some of the Scottish papers, or some other form of indirect taxation? Will the Minister categorically say yes or no?

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office

The answer is no. The Parliament will have no powers to do that.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State 7:45 pm, 30th July 1997

We move on, then, to the next question. Does the White Paper's empowerment of a Scottish Parliament with control of local government expenditure, non-domestic rates and other local taxation allow restructuring of those forms of local taxation, or altering of the amounts that go to local government for those?

Would it be possible for a Scottish Parliament to decide to retain some of the revenue support grant to pay for its own programmes, possibly to make up for the shortfall in the £450 million, knowing that the effect would be to force councils to put up council taxes to meet it? If that power exists, does the Minister agree that that may not be a direct form of taxation, but that it is a back-door form of taxation? Would the Scottish Parliament be able to do that, or would something prevent it?

My hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) mentioned business rates or non-domestic rates. Is it within the power of the Scottish Parliament to restructure non-domestic rates in such a way that more taxation is borne by businesses in Scotland? In effect, the Parliament will have found a back-door means of raising revenue.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

As he is posing questions to the Minister, I ask my right hon. Friend to draw the Minister's attention to paragraph 7.26 on page 25 of the White Paper, which states: The Scottish Parliament will be responsible for determining the form of local taxation … It will therefore be able to alter the form of the council tax, or replace it if it so decides. That is a reference to the Scottish Parliament's power to introduce a variety of local taxes to replace the council tax. Unless we limit the schedule in the manner proposed in the other place, it could be treated as an authority for doing that.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for finding yet another indication in the White Paper that the Minister's initial assertion—that income tax is the only tax-varying power available to the Scottish Parliament—is incorrect. I hope that the Minister will face that fact.

Will the Minister also confirm whether the power to alter or restructure local government taxation would allow for the introduction of a local sales tax, for instance? Would that then allow a Scottish Parliament to hold back some of the non-domestic rates or revenue support grant to finance—again, through the back door—its own programmes in a way that is not possible through income tax? Will the Minister also explain what provision his income tax calculations make for the variations between pensioners—who apparently will have to pay income tax on their pensions in Scotland—and those who have savings or dividends and are not pensioners? What provision has been made to meet the variations that that could cause in the tax base?

In all seriousness, I urge the Minister to make a clear statement tonight. The Scottish people are already concerned about the prospect of having higher taxes than those in the rest of the United Kingdom. They already fear the disadvantage that they would experience in terms of business competitiveness and living standards. The Minister may disdainfully accuse us of not representing Scottish constituencies, but I have on-going Scottish connections and I visit Scotland. I know that people in Scotland fear the imposition of 3p on income tax—and their fear that there is a can of tax worms waiting to be opened is even greater. Everything that I have said tonight suggests that there is such a can of worms.

The Minister could calm the fear that other taxes are hidden within the foliage of the White Paper by accepting this simple amendment. If the Minister persists in rejecting the amendment, there can be only one interpretation, and it will strike fear in the hearts of Scottish taxpayers, whether direct or indirect. New taxes are the only possible explanation. Conservative Members are appalled by the crass proposition to have variable income taxation within the United Kingdom. We believe that that will work only to the disadvantage of Scotland—both businesses and individuals. We are even more appalled by the Government's covert agenda for further taxes.

The tartan tax is a body blow. The existence of a collection of clan tartan taxes, each more invidious than the other, would amount to a horrifying deception of the people of Scotland. We need to know what those taxes are. The only honourable way in which the Minister can deny the existence of such taxes is by withdrawing his disagreement with the Lords amendment and by clarifying that income tax will be the only tool available to the Scottish Parliament. If he does not take that opportunity tonight, we shall ensure that the people of Scotland are made aware of the can of tax worms that lies within the White Paper. We shall ensure that the canny people of Scotland—who are canny in every sense of the word—are not taken in easily by the deception perpetrated by the White Paper.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell Labour, Linlithgow

Leaving the worms metaphor aside, the measure is a Pandora's box of unintended consequences.

First, there is the "3 per cent. question". If more and more people, under Government policy, are removed entirely from tax liability, the burden of the 3 per cent. rate will be borne by a reducing percentage of the population. The Scottish Parliament's spending plans would then be increasingly dependent upon decisions about tax rates taken in Westminster, over which it would have no control.

Secondly, there is the "who pays question". Will everyone domiciled in Scotland be affected? What are the consequences for Inland Revenue? Will tax officers at Bootle, Shipley, London and elsewhere have to sort out Scots tax from English tax, and what will be the costs of so doing? Is it feasible in a single United Kingdom administrative and fiscal region to have different tax rates applying to the earnings or investment incomes of different citizens according to where they live or work in the United Kingdom?

Thirdly, there is the "peripatetic question". Will there be a wholly arbitrary exemption for companies? What will be done about peripatetic business men—or Members of Parliament, for that matter—who spend more than half the year outside Scotland? We might not be caught by the residency rule but, if we escaped, one can imagine the howls of outrage.

Fourthly, what about English people who are on "temporary secondment" to Scotland for six months? Will they be treated as being resident for a whole tax year, and therefore subject to higher Scottish income tax?

Fifthly, there is then the "question of tax varying". Assuming that the Barnett formula will be retained, what will be the consequences for the financial arrangements between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom if the Scots decide to increase income tax by 3p in the pound? Will the United Kingdom Government be expected to put the same amount into Scotland as though the income tax were the same as in England and Wales? If the Scots decided to cut taxes, would English taxpayers be expected to make up the difference?

Sixthly, I have alluded to the "Chirnside question" before. I must save time. It raises the same issues as the Boston tea party.

Seventhly, there is also the question of tax investment. If devolution leads to a higher-cost economy in Scotland, we must make decisions that take account of that fact. Firms such as Scottish and Newcastle would be deeply affected by this. Whatever one thinks about the management of such firms, the fact is that they employ many of our constituents. If there is a choice to be made between investing in the north or just south of the border, that will become a factor. We are not talking about taking operations away from Scotland; the issue is one of new investment in Scotland and is mixed up with the problems of rotating staff between Scotland and England.

Eighthly, there is also the "company question". Will there be a wholly arbitrary exemption for companies? What are the implications of having two fiscal regimes within one economy? The effect of a uniquely Scottish tax would be serious. Mutual and life assurance companies are concerned that any additional Scottish tax could result in clients moving to English companies for fear of incurring extra taxation. If tax levels in Scotland were made higher and business regulations different on either side of an artificial border, the extra costs and hassle would drive enterprising Scots investment and jobs to the bigger markets and wider opportunities south of the border.

Ninethly, there is the very important "pensions question". Pensions are taxed as income, like wages and salaries. Does Scotland want a system that gives pensioners a financial incentive to retire to England? I have spent eight consecutive years considering Finance Bills. Anyone who has been in Committee Room 10 night after night will know that they are vital questions that must be answered pretty quickly.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat, Orkney and Shetland

Hon. Members may recall that I made it perfectly clear on Second Reading and in Committee that the Liberal Democrats were sceptical of, and opposed, the second question. However, the House voted for it, and we must consider the consequences of deciding the precise wording. Perhaps it does not matter over much, as I think that the Government have the balance of the argument. The right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) pointed out, at the prompting of the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin), that the Scottish Parliament could alter or replace the form of council tax and could devolve control of non-domestic rates to councils. That would be a tax-varying power in addition to its income tax power.

With regard to some of the points made by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), it is made perfectly clear in the White Paper that the Government believe that income from dividends and savings should remain exempt from any income tax variation, so there would not be the kind of concerns that were being raised. The fact that there will be differences shows that, if one simply puts income tax on the ballot paper, it would give a misleading impression. People might think that all who are personally liable for income tax would be subject to the variation, whereas in fact only part of a person's income tax liability would be subject to the variation.

8 pm

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

First, I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on becoming a learned Gentleman. If the Government really mean to limit the question to income tax, why should not the Bill say so? Surely the meaning of a Bill should be clear on its face. I do not understand why, if it is the Government's intention that the question be limited to income tax, the Bill should not say just that.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat, Orkney and Shetland

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his kind words.

I think that I said that the Scottish Parliament will have the power to vary local taxation. The power to vary income tax is the power to vary not the whole of income tax, but only one part of it. Part—income from dividends—will be excluded. Therefore, it could potentially be misleading. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that it should be on the face of the Bill. We are talking about a ballot paper that will refer to the Government's proposals. I have already questioned the Minister about how far the abbreviated objective form of his proposals will go. If he heard the House today with regard to the tax-varying powers, he will have understood from the mood of the House that it must be full and complete. If that is what people are being asked to vote upon, it is important that, on that specific point, they are given a considerable amount of information.

I regret that the hon. Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh) has left the Chamber. I did not mean to be ungallant towards her. She referred to an education process, but her very question betrayed the fact that her understanding of the Government's proposals which will be put in the referendum was limited, and that is why the education process is needed. She said that the Scottish people would have to face up to the fact that they would lose some expenditure advantage and that income tax rates would rise enormously. For a start, the White Paper makes it clear that the Barnett formula has been retained. It also puts a limit on the powers of the Scottish Parliament to vary taxation. Therefore, the very premises of her question were wrong. That is why she should acquaint herself with the terms of the White Paper.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Conservative, Epping Forest

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way so gallantly. My hon. Friend the Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh) not being here, may I point out that the information that she was using came not from political sources but from the Scottish Law Society, which is a very fine body and well able to interpret what it sees in a White Paper? The confusion that the hon. Gentleman has highlighted would not exist if the Prime Minister had kept his promise to publish the Bill before the referendum.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat, Orkney and Shetland

I think that my interpretation of the White Paper is better than that of the Law Society of Scotland, if that is what the Law Society of Scotland has said. I am sure that the Minister will confirm that when he replies to the debate.

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox Conservative, Woodspring

Is not what the hon. Gentleman is describing the essential fraud of the second question, which is that, even if the second question is rejected by voters, any Scottish Parliament would still have tax-varying and raising powers?

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat, Orkney and Shetland

Inasmuch as it has powers with regard to local government taxation, the answer is yes. However, it ill becomes the architect of the poll tax to make such a point. The very man who stood at the Dispatch Box tonight and said how appalling it would be for Scotland to be out of line with the rest of the United Kingdom was the very man who imposed the poll tax upon Scotland a year ahead of the rest of the United Kingdom.

Let me keep this as simple as I can. The White Paper is there. A shortened version will be presented to the Scottish people. Let the Scottish people decide. I trust that they will decide yes.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion Labour, Dundee East

I intervene only briefly. I have to be brief anyway, given the guillotine. So far in this debate, for the past three hours, the only Scottish Back Bencher who has spoken has been my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell). I rise in part just to make it clear to the House that my hon. Friend does not represent the views of Labour Back Benchers. In fact, he is a bit of a loner in terms of his views on a Scottish Parliament.

I sometimes wonder whether my hon. Friend and I stood on the same election manifesto at the recent general election when we were committed to holding a two-question referendum. I am committed to a Scottish Parliament with tax-varying powers and I am here to argue for the manifesto on which both of us were elected. I only wish that he were here to do precisely that as well.

As the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) said, it is the height of hypocrisy for Tory Members to come here and worry about back-handed, back-door taxes being imposed on the people of Scotland. During the past five to 10 years, Tory Governments have continually cut revenue support to local councils, forcing them to increase council tax as a back-door method of taxation. For the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) to accuse the Labour Government of trying to do that is unbelievable hypocrisy, particularly coming from the very man who argued that Scotland should pay higher taxes than anywhere in the United Kingdom when he introduced the poll tax legislation a year in advance of it being applied anywhere else in the United Kingdom. He did not worry about Scots paying higher taxes at that time.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion Labour, Dundee East

I am not giving way. There is no time. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has made several long speeches tonight and the Scottish people will be delighted if he has to button his lip for a change.

Earlier tonight, my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow was complaining about the effect of the tax-varying powers on local government in Scotland. He complained about the unified business rate. He referred to the negative impact of the Scottish Parliament having control of the unified business rate on Scottish businesses in particular. I am a personal friend of my hon. Friend, but I must ask him in all sincerity whether he has any conception of how arrogant is that argument. He is saying that only this Parliament can possibly get it right when it comes to business taxes in Scotland; that any other Parliament elected by the Scottish people would, by definition, be inferior to this Parliament; that it could not come to the right decision about how the business rate should be applied in Scotland or about whether the council tax or a local income tax was the way in which to finance local government services. He is saying that we in Westminster are so superior that other Parliaments could not possibly get it right when we always get it right.

Any hon. Member who has been here for the past 10 or 20 years knows how many local government Bills have been forced through the House, almost every one of them destroying one aspect or another of local government; almost every one of them getting it wrong in one way or another.

I, as a Scot, would be delighted if control over local government finance were transferred back to Scotland and decided on by elected representatives of the Scottish people who live in Scotland all the time, who are much closer to Scottish businesses and who understand the Scottish dimension much more than people in this Chamber ever can.

My hon. Friend should start to realise that Scotland is a nation with national rights, which is every bit as good as any other part of the United Kingdom and can come to decisions that are in the interests of the Scottish people. [Interruption.] If the right hon. Member for Devizes had changed his views and joined us on the Labour Benches, he would still represent a English constituency rather than one in Scotland. His views will not be tolerated in Scotland. That is why he had to go to Devizes. The Edinburgh people threw him out a long time ago and they were right to do so.

The reality is that all the changes proposed by the Labour Government, both in terms of varying the rate of income tax and giving control over the finance of local government to Scotland, are well known to the Scottish people. The Scottish Constitutional Convention has been debating those issues for six years. It has widely publicised its views. There has been a huge debate in Scotland. Everyone in Scotland knows what the powers of a Scottish Parliament will be. They are in the White Paper that was published only last week. There will be a debate between now and the referendum, but everyone knows the kind of powers that will be given to the Scottish Parliament. It is hokum and bogus for the Opposition to—

It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Supplemental Allocation of Time Order, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to the said Order.

The House divided: Ayes 330, Noes 131.

Division No. 76][8.9 pm
AYES
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)Caton, Martin
Ainger, NickCawsey, Ian
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Allan, Richard (Shef'ld Hallam)Chisholm, Malcolm
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Church, Ms Judith
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)Clapham, Michael
Armstrong, Ms HilaryClark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyClark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms CandyClarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Atkins, CharlotteClarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Baker, NormanClarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Ballard, Mrs JackieClelland, David
Banks, TonyClwyd, Ann
Barnes, HarryCoaker, Vernon
Barron, KevinCoffey, Ms Ann
Battle, JohnColeman, Iain (Hammersmith)
Bayley, HughCook, Frank (Stockton N)
Beard, NigelCooper, Yvette
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs MargaretCorbyn, Jeremy
Begg, Miss Anne (Aberd'n S)Corston, Ms Jean
Beith, Rt Hon A JCousins, Jim
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)Cox, Tom
Bennett, Andrew FCranston, Ross
Benton, JoeCrausby, David
Berry, RogerCryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Best, HaroldCunliffe, Lawrence
Betts, CliveCunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Blears, Ms HazelCunningham, Rt Hon Dr John (Copeland)
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon DavidCunningham, Ms Roseanna (Perth)
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, DavidCurtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Bradley, Keith (Withington)Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Bradshaw, BenDavey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Brake, ThomasDavies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Breed, ColinDavies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Brinton, Mrs HelenDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon (Dunfermline E)Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)Denham, John
Burden, RichardDewar, Rt Hon Donald
Butler, ChristineDismore, Andrew
Byers, StephenDobbin, Jim
Caborn, RichardDobson, Rt Hon Frank
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Donohoe, Brian H
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)Doran, Frank
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Dowd, Jim
Campbell-Savours, DaleDrew, David
Caplin, IvorDrown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethJowell, Ms Tessa
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)Keen, Mrs Ann (Brentford)
Edwards, HuwKeetch, Paul
Ennis, JeffKennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Ewing, Mrs MargaretKennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Feam, RonnieKing, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Field, Rt Hon FrankLadyman, Dr Stephen
Fitzsimons, LomaLawrence, Ms Jackie
Flint, CarolineLepper, David
Flynn, PaulLevitt, Tom
Follett, BarbaraLewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Foster, Rt Hon DerekLinton, Martin
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)Livingstone, Ken
Foster, Michael John (Worcester)Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Fyfe, MariaLove, Andrew
Galloway, GeorgeMcAllion, John
Gapes, MikeMcAvoy, Thomas
George, Andrew (St Ives)McCabe, Stephen
George, Bruce (Walsall S)McCafferty, Ms Chris
Gerrard, NeilMcCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
Gibson, Dr IanMacdonald, Calum
Gilroy, Mrs LindaMcDonnell, John
Godman, Dr Norman AMcFall, John
Godsiff, RogerMcIsaac, Shona
Golding, Mrs LlinMcKenna, Ms Rosemary
Gordon, Mrs EileenMcLeish, Henry
Gorrie, DonaldMcNulty, Tony
Grant, BernieMacShane, Denis
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)McWalter, Tony
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)McWilliam, John
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Mahon, Mrs Alice
Grocott, BruceMallaber, Judy
Gunnell, JohnMarek, Dr John
Hain, PeterMarsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Hanson, DavidMartlew, Eric
Harris, Dr EvanMaxton, John
Harvey, NickMeacher, Rt Hon Michael
Heal, Mrs SylviaMerron, Gillian
Healey, JohnMichael, Alun
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)Milburn, Alan
Heppell, JohnMiller, Andrew
Hesford, StephenMoffatt, Laura
Hill, KeithMoonie, Dr Lewis
Hinchliffe, DavidMoore, Michael
Hodge, Ms MargaretMoran, Ms Margaret
Hoon, GeoffreyMorgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Hope, PhilMorgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Hopkins, KelvinMorley, Elliot
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Howells, Dr KimMorris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)Mountford, Kali
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Humble, Mrs JoanMullin, Chris
Hurst, AlanMurphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Hutton, JohnMurphy, Paul (Torfaen)
Iddon, Dr BrianNaysmith, Dr Doug
Ingram, AdamO'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)O'Hara, Edward
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)Olner, Bill
Jamieson, DavidÖpik, Lembit
Jenkins, Brian (Tamworth)Organ, Mrs Diana
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)Pearson, Ian
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)Pickthall, Colin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)Pike, Peter L
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)Pound, Stephen
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)Powell, Sir Raymond
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)Stinchcombe, Paul
Primarolo, DawnStoate, Dr Howard
Prosser, GwynStrang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Quin, Ms JoyceStringer, Graham
Quinn, LawrieStuart, Ms Gisela (Edgbaston)
Rammell, BillStunell, Andrew
Rapson, SydSutcliffe, Gerry
Raynsford, NickSwinney, John
Robertson, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S)Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Roche, Mrs BarbaraTaylor, David (NW Leics)
Rooker, JeffThomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Rowlands, TedTimms, Stephen
Ruane, ChrisTipping, Paddy
Ruddock, Ms JoanTodd, Mark
Russell, Bob (Colchester)Touhig, Don
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)Trickett, Jon
Salmond, AlexTruswell, Paul
Salter, MartinTurner, Desmond (Kemptown)
Sanders, AdrianTurner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Savidge, MalcolmTwigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Sawford, PhilVaz, Keith
Sedgemore, BrianVis, Dr Rudi
Shaw, JonathanWallace, James
Sheerman, BarryWard, Ms Claire
Short, Rt Hon ClareWatts, David
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)Webb, Professor Steve
Singh, MarshaWelsh, Andrew
Skinner, DennisWhite, Brain
Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wills, Phil
Winnick, David
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)Wise, Audrey
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)Wood, Mike
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)Wray, James
Soley, CliveWright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Southworth, Ms HelenWright, Tony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Spellar, JohnWyatt, Derek
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr PhyllisTellers for the Ayes:
Stevenson, GeorgeMr. Greg Pope and
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)Mr. Graham Allen.
NOES
Amess, DavidDavies, Quentin (Grantham)
Ancram, Rt Hon MichaelDay, Stephen
Arbuthnot, JamesDonaldson, Jeffrey
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Baldry, TonyDuncan, Alan
Bercow, JohnDuncan Smith, Iain
Beresford, Sir PaulEmery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Blunt, CrispinEvans, Nigel
Boswell, TimFaber, David
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)Fabricant, Michael
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs VirginiaFallon, Michael
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterFlight, Howard
Browning, Mrs AngelaForth, Rt Hon Eric
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Burns, SimonFox, Dr Liam
Butterfill, JohnGale, Roger
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Chope, ChristopherGill, Christopher
Clappison, JamesGillan, Mrs Cheryl
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)Gray, James
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Clifton-Brown, GeoffreyGrieve, Dominic
Cormack, Sir PatrickHague, Rt Hon William
Cran, JamesHamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Curry, Rt Hon DavidHammond, Philip
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon DavidRowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Hogg, Rt Hon DouglasRuffley, David
Howard, Rt Hon MichaelSt Aubyn, Nick
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)Sayeed, Jonathan
Hunter, AndrewShephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Jack, Rt Hon MichaelShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Jenkin, Bernard (N Essex)Soames, Nicholas
Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreySpelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Key, RobertSpring, Richard
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Kirkbride, Miss JulieSteen, Anthony
Laing, Mrs EleanorSwayne, Desmond
Leigh, EdwardSyms, Robert
Letwin, OliverTapsell, Sir Peter
Lidington, DavidTaylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterTaylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Luff, PeterTemple-Morris, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasTredinnick, David
McIntosh, Miss AnneTrend, Michael
MacKay, AndrewTyrie, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon DavidViggers, Peter
McLoughlin, PatrickWalter, Robert
Madel, Sir DavidWardle, Charles
Malins, HumfreyWaterson, Nigel
Mates, MichaelWells, Bowen
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr BrianWhitney, Sir Raymond
Merchant, PiersWiddecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Nicholls, PatrickWilletts, David
Ottaway, RichardWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Page, RichardWinterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Paice, JamesWoodward, Shaun
Paterson, OwenYeo, Tim
Pickles, EricYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
Prior, David
Redwood, Rt Hon JohnTellers for the Noes:
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)Mr. Malcolm Moss and
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)Mr. John Whittingdale.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos 7, 10, 15 and 16 disagreed to.

MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER then put forthwith the Question in respect to the amendments designated by Madam Speaker, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendments.

Lords amendments Nos 11, 12, 13, 14, 17 and 18 agreed to [some with Special Entry].

MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER then put forthwith the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in all the remaining Lords amendments.

Lords amendments Nos. 3,4,8 and 9 agreed to.

MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER then put forthwith the Question on motions made by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendments.

Lords amendments Nos. 5 and 6 disagreed to.

Government amendment (a) in lieu of Lords amendment No. 6 agreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of their amendments to the Bill: Dr. Liam Fox, Mr. Peter Hain, Mr. Oliver Heald, Mr. John McFall and Mr. Henry McLeish (Chairman); Three to be the quorum of the Committee.—[Mr. McFall]

To withdraw immediately.

Reasons for disagreeing to certain Lords amendments reported, and agreed to; to be communicated to the Lords.