Form of Ballot Paper

Part of Schedule – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 24th November 1997.

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Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Shadow Secretary of State 5:45 pm, 24th November 1997

I shall be brief. I agree with the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) that the schedule is unsatisfactory. We have debated the general point, but received only unsatisfactory replies. There are two separate questions on two issues. The proposed question rolls those two issues into one. It asks the public whether they are in favour of an elected mayor and a separately elected assembly. That cannot be satisfactory and no one other than Ministers thinks that it is. Nothing could be easier than to divide the question into two to cover an elected mayor and an elected assembly.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey slightly misjudges the Government's position. The Government will not agree to any amendment that is tabled. Whether we can or cannot agree on an amendment is not what the Government are about—they intend to stick absolutely to the formula in the Bill. It would be better if the Minister were entirely frank about that and did not try to base his defence on some technical argument that it is not good in this or that respect. We all know, and he knows above all, that there is no amendment that he, with Labour's majority, will accept.